Enjoining certain Manners so that the Mothers of the Believers may be an Example; and the Prohibition of Tabarruj

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

These are the good manners which Allah enjoined upon the wives of the Prophet so that they would be an example for the women of the Ummah to follow. Allah said, addressing the wives of the Prophet that they should fear Allah as He commanded them, and that no other woman is like them or can be their equal in virtue and status. Then Allah says:

[فَلاَ تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ]

(then be not soft in speech,) As-Suddi and others said, this means, do not be gentle in speech when addressing men. Allah says:

[فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِى فِى قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ]

(lest he in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire,) means, something unclean.

[وَقُلْنَ قَوْلاً مَّعْرُوفاً]

(but speak in an honorable manner.) Ibn Zayd said: “Decent and honorable talk that is known to be good.” This means that she should address non-Mahram men in a manner in which there is no softness, i.e., a woman should not address a non-Mahram man in the same way that she addresses her husband.

[وَقَرْنَ فِى بُيُوتِكُنَّ]

(And stay in your houses,) means, stay in your houses and do not come out except for a purpose. One of the purposes mentioned in Shari`ah is prayer in the Masjid, so long as the conditions are fulfilled, as the Messenger of Allah said:

«لَا تَمْنَعُوا إِمَاءَ اللهِ مَسَاجِدَ اللهِ وَلْيَخْرُجْنَ وَهُنَّ تَفِلَات»

(Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from the Masjids of Allah, but have them go out without wearing fragrance.) According to another report:

«وَبُيُوتُهُنَّ خَيْرٌ لَهُن»

(even though their houses are better for them.)

[وَلاَ تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَـهِلِيَّةِ الاٍّولَى]

(and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance,) Mujahid said: “Women used to go out walking in front of men, and this was the Tabarruj of Jahiliyyah.” Qatadah said:

[وَلاَ تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَـهِلِيَّةِ الاٍّولَى]

(and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Taburruj of the times of ignorance,) “When they go out of their homes walking in a shameless and flirtatious manner, and Allah, may He be exalted, forbade that.” Muqatil bin Hayyan said:

[وَلاَ تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَـهِلِيَّةِ الاٍّولَى]

(and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance,) “Tabarruj is when a woman puts a Khimar on her head but does not tie it properly.” So her necklaces, earrings and neck, and all of that can be seen. This is Tabarruj, and Allah addresses all the women of the believers with regard to Tabarruj.

[وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَوةَ وَءَاتِينَ الزَّكَـوةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ]

(and perform the Salah, and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger.) Allah first forbids them from evil, then He enjoins them to do good by establishing regular prayer, which means worshipping Allah alone with no partner or associate, and paying Zakah, which means doing good to other people.

[وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ]

(and obey Allah and His Messenger.) This is an instance of something specific being followed by something general.