The meaning of evil in the Ayah: 'Bad statements are for bad people (or bad women for bad men) and bad people for...'
Q: A debate took place between me and a Christian man. He surprised me by saying that there is an Ayah in the Qur'an in which Allah says,
Bad statements are for bad people (or bad women for bad men) and bad people for bad statements (or bad men for bad women). Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women)
and another Ayah in which Allah says,
O my Lord! Verily, my son is of my family! And certainly, Your Promise is true
O Nûh (Noah)! Surely, he is not of your family; verily, his work is unrighteous
Allah says in another Ayah, (Part No. 3; Page No. 271)
Allâh sets forth an example for those who disbelieve: the wife of Nûh (Noah) and the wife of Lût (Lot). They were under two of our righteous slaves, but they both betrayed them (their husbands by rejecting their doctrine). So they [Nûh (Noah) and Lût (Lot) عليهما السلام] availed them (their respective wives) not against Allâh and it was said: "Enter the Fire along with those who enter!"
And Allâh has set forth an example for those who believe: the wife of Fir‘aun (Pharaoh), when she said: “My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise"
as he claims, there is contradiction between these Ayahs. How can Allah (Exalted be He) say,
Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men)
although the wives of the prophets of Allah, Nuh and Lut were evil, and on the other hand, the wife of
was a good woman? As I do not have a convincing answer, please advise me about this. May Allah reward you with the best!
Allah (Exalted be He) says,
Bad statements are for bad people (or bad women for bad men) and bad people for bad statements (or bad men for bad women). Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women): such (good people) are innocent of (every) bad statement which they say; for them is Forgiveness, and Rizqun Karîm (generous provision i.e. Paradise).
This Ayah comes after the Ayahs which were revealed on the occasion of slander to confirm the innocence of
`Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) of the guilt that she was falsely charged with by
`Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, the chief of hypocrites, and in order to show her inherent chastity which was intensified by her relation to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).
The Ayah has two interpretations:
that evil words and deeds befit evil people, and good words (Part No. 3; Page No. 272) and deeds befit good people whose souls and manners are refined.
evil men and women befit each other; while pure, chaste men and women befit each other. Both interpretations befit the meaning of the Ayah, which is the innocence of
`Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) of the guilt that she was falsely charged with by
`Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul of committing adultery, in addition to those who were deceived by him.
Allah (Exalted be He) said,
And Nûh (Noah) called upon his Lord and said, "O my Lord! Verily, my son is of my family! And certainly, Your Promise is true, and You are the Most Just of the judges."
He said: "O Nûh (Noah)! Surely, he is not of your family; verily, his work is unrighteous, so ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge! I admonish you lest you should be one of the ignorant."
These two Ayahs mean that Allah (Exalted be He) says about Prophet Nuh (Noah, peace be upon him) that he had asked Him to fulfill His promise to save his son, as he had understood this from Allah's saying,
Embark therein, of each kind two (male and female), and your family? except him against whom the Word has already gone forth? and those who believe.
(Surah Hud, 11: 40). (Part No. 3; Page No. 273) He then said,
O my Lord! Verily, my son is of my family!
You had promised me to save my family, and Your promise is true and cannot be broken, and You are
...the Most Just of the judges.
He said: “O Nûh (Noah)! Surely, he is not of your family"
whom I promised you to save, for I have promised you I would save of your people only those who have believed. The evidence is the exception mentioned in Allah's saying,
...except him against whom the Word has already gone forth?
Thus, Allah admonished him for this inquiry by saying,
O Nûh (Noah)! Surely, he is not of your family
He explained this by saying,
...verily, his work is unrighteous
as he disbelieved in his father Nuh (peace be upon him) and disobeyed him. Thus, he was not considered one of his family from the perspective of religion, although he was his real son.
Ibn `Abbas and other people of the Salaf (righteous predecessors, may Allah be pleased with them) said, "No prophet's wife has ever committed Zina (sexual intercourse outside marriage). This is the truth, as Allah is too jealous to let a prophet's wife commit Zina. That is why Allah became angry with those who accused
`Aishah, the Prophet's wife, of committing Zina; they were blamed for this and she was declared innocent through Ayahs of Qur'an that will be recited until the Day of Judgment.
Allâh sets forth an example for those who disbelieve
in Surah Al-Tahrim after admonishing the Prophet's wives, especially
Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with them) for what they committed which does not befit their kind treatment to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He made a vow not to have intercourse with them for a whole month. Allah (Exalted be He) admonished them for the mistakes they had made to him (peace be upon him). (Part No. 3; Page No. 274) He threatened them with divorce and being replaced by better wives. Surah Al-Tahrim was concluded by two examples set for disbelieving women: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut, and two examples of righteous women:
Asiyah, Pharaoh's wife, and
Maryam (Mary) the daughter of `Imran. This is to prove that Allah is a Just Judge who knows no prejudice; every person is a pledge for what they have earned. Allah urges people to observe Taqwa (fear/wariness of offending Allah), and to be afraid of the Day when they will return to Allah; when no father can avail anything for his son, nor can a son avail anything for his father; when a man shall flee from his siblings, parents, wife and children, as everyone on that day will have enough to make him careless of others; when no bearer of burden (sins) shall bear the burden (sins) of another; and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) their load, nothing of it will be lifted even though they are near of kin; when no Shafa'ah (intercession) shall avail, except the one for whom Allah has given permission and whose word is acceptable to Him. Thus, Allah made it clear that the wives of Nuh and Lut were disbelievers, and they were married to two noble Messengers of Allah. Nuh's wife betrayed him by guiding the disbelievers to those who followed her husband; and Lut's wife betrayed her husband by guiding the disbelievers to his guests [so that they commit sodomy with them]. They used to do so out of betrayal and to keep the people away from following them. The righteousness of their husbands was of no avail to them, and it did not save them from Allah's punishment; both of them were told to enter Hellfire as a due punishment for their Kufr (disbelief) and betrayal. Their betrayal was not Zina; rather Nuh's wife guided the disbelievers to those who followed her husband; and Lut's wife guided the disbelievers to her husband's guests. Allah (Exalted be He) would not let a prophet's (Part No. 3; Page No. 275) wife commit Zina.
Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said about the interpretation of Allah's saying,
...but they both betrayed them (their husbands by rejecting their doctrine).
That they did not commit Zina. He added, "Never did a prophet's wife commit Zina; their betrayal was in religion."
Sa`id ibn Jubayr ,
Al-Dahhak and others held the same opinion. Allah set an example to those who believed in
Asia, the wife of
Fir`aun (Pharaoh) who was the most powerful tyrant of his age, to prove that living with disbelievers, if there is a necessity to do so, will not harm the believers, as long as they stick to their religion. On the other hand, the righteousness of prophets Nuh and Lut was of no avail to their disbelieving wives, as Allah says,
Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Auliyâ’ (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allâh in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them.
Fir`aun (Pharaoh) disbelief and tyranny did not harm his wife, as Allah is a Just Judge who does not call for account anyone for another's faults; He protected her, answered her Du'a' (supplication), built her a palace in Jannah (Paradise) and saved her from the intrigue of
Fir`aun (Pharaoh) and the rest of the unjust people. According to the interpretation of the previously mentioned Ayahs, Nuh's son was not an illegitimate child;
`Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was declared innocent in the Qur'an of the crime she was falsely charged with by the chief of hypocrites and the believers who were misled by him; the wives of Nuh and Lut did not commit Zina, but were disbelievers, as each of them told the disbelievers (Part No. 3; Page No. 276) bad things about their husbands so that people would not follow them; marriage between believers and disbelievers was Mubah (permissible) in the previous Shari'ahs; Allah saved
Fir`aun (Pharaoh) wife from his intrigue and protected her from the unjust people. Thus, it becomes clear that the mentioned Ayahs agree with and support, not contradict, each other.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.