In his book, فتح المنان في نسخ القرآن, Ali Hasan Al-Areedh narrates the argument of Abu-Muslim Al-Asfahaani in refuting this case. It demonstrates once again that Al-Asfahaani, rahimahullah, was the genius everybody said he was! He said that what is meant in 4:33 by الذين عقدت أيمانكم
are spouses. He said the verse itemizes all kinds of relationships that entitle an heir to inherit from: Parents, other blood relatives, and spouses. Thus, his translation of the verse is,
"We have made heirs to what parents, relatives and spouses leave behind, therefore give the heirs their share."
How brilliant! I'm amazed that a Persian man was able to master the Arabic language better than some native Arabs. I'd add support to Al-Asfahaani's argument that God has called marriage a "knot", عقدة
, and that in Arabic a contract is called عقد as in 5:1
for instance. Once a reasonable interpretation is found that makes an abrogation claim unnecessary, it should be given more priority than abrogation, since the claim of abrogation is also based on interpretation, in this case, of what the words الذين عقدت أيمانكم
meant and there is no real consensus about that either.
Al-Areedh doesn't seem to give that interpretation much weight, leaning once again, to what other scholars opined. He propounds their opinions and they are much varied as quoted in the OP above. Some thought that the words الذين عقدت أيمانكم
refers to slaves. Iraqi jurists advocate that. Others said it meant foster children. Others, such as Abu-Ja`far, Ibn Abbaas and Mujaahid, said it meant virtual brothers as was the case immediately after Hijra to Medina. Others, such as Sa`eed ibn Jabeer, Mujaahid, Ataa', Al-Hasan, Ibn Al-Musayyib, Abu-Saalih, Sulayman ibn Bishr, Ash-Sha`bi, Ikrima, As-Suddi, Ad-Dhahhaak, Qataada, Muqaatil, Ibn Hubbaan, Al-Aloosi in his exegesis, Abu-Ja`far and Abu-Haneefa, they all said it means allies.
I said earlier that the words imply to me a bequest, and Al-Areedh accepts that as one valid interpretation. I still think that's a reasonable interpretation, but I now see Al-Asfahaani's interpretation more compelling. What I would do, however, is not limit the words to those contracted for marriage, but those contracted in general, verbally (promise) or in writing, and by virtue of the contract are entitled to or have been promised a share in the estate. That would include promises made to slaves, all bequests, all debts, virtual brothers, allies, etc. In fact, that is what one would reasonably understand from the phrase من بعد وصية يوصى بها أو دين
which is repeated several times in the inheritance verses, making the inheritance verses elaborating, rather than abrogating of 4:33.
Abdul-Muta`aal Al-Jabri, in his book, لا نسخ في القرآن...لماذا؟, pages 62-63, fully agrees with Al-Asfahaani and adds that prior to Islam, wives were inherited! Islam established their dignity and their right to inherit from their husbands. He also says that there is a wisdom behind transferring money from one family to another: that people recognize that property is not and should not be confined in one family or tribe. Money needs to be moving and not concentrated in the rich, per
Al-Jabri was big on social justice, which he called socialism, but was adamantly against communism and capitalism. He believed, and I agree, that Islam has perfectly outlined the practical actions that lead to social justice.