Response: In one of your responses, ie. the philosophy of mahr, you quoted
verse 4:25 ‘pay them their dowers according to the custom’. I have read
other translators that interpret the word that you have translated as
‘custom’ as ‘equitable’, ‘reasonable’. Can you give me the reason why you
chose the word ‘custom’?
Comment: The word ma‘rūf in the Qur'an as well as in Arabic has two
1. the good, the equitable, the right
2. the custom, the tradition, the convention
For example, it is said in the Qur’ān that Muslims enjoin the ma‘rūf and
And believing men and women are friends to each other. They enjoin what is
ma‘rūf and forbid what is munkar. (9:71)
Since the word munkar means ‘evil’, one can easily conclude that here the
word ma‘rūf is used in the first meaning ‘good’ given above.
Similarly, it is said in the Qur’ān that if a Muslim has murdered a Muslim
and if the family of the slain person forgives him, then he should that pay
Dīyah (fine) to them according to the ma‘rūf:
Then for whom there has been some remission from his brother, [the
remission] should be followed according to the Ma‘rūf and Dīyat should be
paid with goodness. (2:178)
Here the word ma‘rūf is used in the second meaning ‘custom’ given because
firstly the imperative verb used is ittibā‘ (to follow) which collocates
with this meaning and secondly, the second part of verse 2:178 (pay it
[--the Dīyah--] with goodness) becomes redundant if the first meaning is
thought to be implied.
Now as far as the verse in question is concerned, I admit that the word
ma‘rūf can be translated in both meanings given above. My reason for
preferring the second meaning is that for dowers, the real thing is the
custom and tradition of the society. I do not say that the other meaning is
incorrect when used here. I only say that the latter makes the directive
more meaningful and relevant to every society.