‘Your Wives are like your Cultivated Land’
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I am having problems in understanding the following verse of Sūrah Baqarah:

Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how you will. But do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah and know that you are to meet Him [in the Hereafter] and give [these] good tidings to those who believe. (2:223)

Could you please explain to me the meaning of this verse?


In my view, the correct translation and explanation of this verse is as follows:

Your wives are as a cultivated land to you. So come to your cultivated land in whatever manner you want to and extend forward for yourself, and keep fearing Allah, and you should know that you are to meet Him [one day], and give glad tidings to the believers. (2:223)

The context of this verse must be understood first to grasp its meanings. The preceding verse is:

They ask you concerning women’s courses. Tell them: They are an impurity. So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. And when they have purified themselves, approach them in the manner the Almighty has directed you [through your instincts] -- for Allah loves those who constantly repent and keep themselves clean. (2:222)

With reference to this context, the metaphor of cultivated land used for wives seems to imply the following: Just as seeds should be sown in a land at the proper time in the proper season and not be wasted by throwing them outside, similarly wives should not be approached for sexual intercourse from the anal side or during their menstrual cycles since this is not the right place or time to approach them. The period of menses is a time during which women are sexually cold and not inclined, while anal intercourse is against natural human nature. Every person should therefore avoid these. Viewed thus, this initial portion of the verse is a further explanation of the preceding verse. The next portion of the verse: ‘So come to your cultivated land in whatever manner you want to’ on the one hand refers to the liberty, freedom and a free manner with which a farmer approaches his land, and on the other hand refers to the responsibility, caution and care which he must exercise in approaching his land. Every one knows that the real bliss of married life is the freedom a person has in intimate affairs barring a few broad restrictions. The feeling of this freedom has a great amount of euphoria around it. When a person is with his wife in intimate moments, Divine will seems to be that that he should be overcome with emotions but at the same time it is pointed out to him that he has come into a field and an orchard; it is no wasteland or a forest. He may come to it in whatever manner and in whatever way whenever he pleases, but he must not forget that he has landed in his orchard -- something which has delicate roses in it.

The next potion of the verse: ‘and extend forward for yourself’ means that just as cultivable land provides a living for a person, a wife is a means to preserve the breed of humanity. These words show that the real objective in having intercourse with one’s wife is this preservation of man’s progeny; pleasure is just a secondary benefit, though by no means a trivial one. The other thing which these words refer to is the reward parents keep getting if the children they raise turn out to be pious because of the training and education they gave them.

The rest of the verse seems to require no explanation.

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