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The true meaning (tafsir) of the 'Daraja/degree' men have above women (Quran 2:228)

(He is a new convert to Islam, from the Netherlands)



First it is important to know that:  ‘the best and most correct way to understand the meaning of a Quranic verse is to look at the explenation of the verse given by the Companions of the prophet’

The new Renaissance of Islam which is just beginning will, it is hoped, sweep away cobwebs and let let in full light of reason and understanding.


The need for an explenation of the verses Qu’ran arose quite early. Even before the whole of the Qu’ran was revealed, people used to ask the Prophet all sorts of questions as to the meaning of certain words in the verses revealed, or of their bearing on problems as they arose, or details of certain historica lor spiritual matters on which they sought more light. The Prophet’s answers were carefully stored in the memory of the Companions (ashab) and were afterwards written down. In the next generation, the Tabi’un, were those who had not personally conversed with the Prophet, like the Companions, but had conversed with the Companions and learned from them. Subsequent generations went always went back to establish a chain of evidence through the Tabi’un and the Companions.


(‘The Meaning of The Holy Quran’ Abdulah Yusuf Ali , chapter: ‘Commentaries on the Qur’an’ , page: xvii )    

the verse: And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise (2:228).

In other words, Allah :

(1) gave men and women similar rights; then

(2) He gave the men a greater degree of responsibility over the women than that of women over men. It follows that the rights owned to the wife are unnegotiable, whereas the husband has to give up certain rights. This is not a feminist reading but the actual explanation of Ibn `Abbas (companion of the prophet) according to al-Tabari in his Tafsir, and the latter preferred it over all other commentaries of that verse (Al-Tabari said the best explanation is that of Ibn `Abbas

Al-Tabari in his Tafsir narrated from Ibn `Abbas: "The daraja mentioned by Allah Most High here is the *forfeiting, on the man's part, of some his wife's obligations towards him* and his indulgence towards her, while he is *fully obligated to fulfill all his obligations towards her*, because the verse came right after { And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness} . Hence Ibn `Abbas said: 'I would not like to obtain all (astanzif) of my right from her because Allah Most High said { and men are a degree above them} .'"

(Source: fatwa by Sheikh G.F. Haddad at livingislam.com)


Careful reading of the verse in Arabic, and in the context of other verses, does not imply inequality. Rather, {And they [the women] have [rights] like [the obligations] they are under with beneficence} , as well as other verses, emphasizes the equality of man and woman in rights and obligations, in nature and mental characteristics, in responsibility and accountability towards Allah  ( but Allah swt gave the men a greater degree of responsibility over the women than that of women over men.) His Message. For example, the Qur’an says what means:

Then their Lord responded to them, “I do not waste the deed of any doer among you, any male or female. The one of you is as the other (Aal `Imran 3:195)

Surely the male donors and the female donors and [those] who lend to Allah a fair loan, it will be doubled for them, and they will have an honorable reward (Al-Hadid 57:18)

Surely [for] male Muslims  (Isaiah 56:5: Muslim is the future believers' name.  Sons and daughters titles will be "no more") and female Muslims  (Isaiah 56:5: Muslim is the future believers' name.  Sons and daughters titles will be "no more"), and male believers and female believers, and devout males and devout females and sincere males and sincere females, and patient males and patient females, and submissive males and submissive females, and male donators and female donators, and fasting males and fasting females, and males who preserve their private parts and females who preserve their private parts, and males who are much mindful of Allah and females who are much mindful of Allah – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a magnificent reward.  (Al-Ahzab 33: 35)

We should understand that equality is something different from sameness. Actually it is the latter that the feminist movement nowadays call for, while Islam and sound intellect totally reject it. Men and women are different emotionally as well as in physical characteristics and endurance. Hence they were naturally created for two different, but complementary, functions and roles. This has been demonstrated by the variance of roles of men and women in all ages, civilizations, and cultures. The long history of humanity did not witness women prophets. It would be absurd to ascribe this to male self-imposed supremacy or coercion. Rather one should ask: Why did Allah exclusively send His messages through men, unless this is His will and the norms of His creation.

The emotional character of women, their motherly instinct, and their basically tender, compassionate nature qualify them for their vital roles as careful mothers, affectionate wives, daughters, and sisters. Such roles are essential to form happy households, to raise healthy generations, and to create a closely-knit society.

Equally, men bear the major responsibility of earning for a living, harnessing and developing the resources of the earth, facing life hardships, and defending his family and the community against dangers. A man is responsible to financially support his wife (even if she is rich), his daughters until they are married, his sons until they are able to support themselves, his needy parents, as well as other blood relatives. To fulfill these major responsibilities, he should assume the role of Protector/ Guardian/ Leader, and this is what is meant by “a degree above them.” (in Islam men have a greater degree of responsibility over the women than that of women over men. It follows that the rights owned to the wife are unnegotiable, whereas the husband has to give up certain rights – like Ibn Abbas explainedin the hadith )

Thus, leadership (and the role of protector/guardian) does not thus imply any sort of inequality or dictatorship, also it implies no superiority or advantage before the law, since men are obligated to give their wives ‘kind treatment and companionship (this right of the wife is strongly emphasized by the Qur'an the Prophet ).

The Qur'an states:

O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may take away part of the dower [money given by the husband to the wife for the marriage contract] ye have given them, except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and God brings about through it a great deal of good. ( Qu’ran An-nisa 19)

Prophet Muhammad. (saw) said:

The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family. [Ibn Hibban]

The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 7396)

Islam further emphasizes the importance of taking counsel and mutual agreement in family decisions. The Qur'an gives us an example:
"...If they (husband wife) desire to wean the child by mutual consent and (after) consultation, there is no blame on them..." (Qur'an 2: 233).

Men should remember that they are obligated to be just and fair to their wives ( in this way they must exercise their role as protector/leader/guardian):

"Allah commands justice, the doing Of good, and liberality to kith And kin, and He forbids All shameful deeds, and injustice And rebellion: He instructs you, That ye may receive admonition. (The Noble Quran, 16:90)"


Tafsir Ibn Kathir on this verse:

The Command to be Fair and Kind

Allah tells us that He commands His servant to be just, i.e., fair and moderate, and that He encourages kindness and good treatment.

Source: www.tafsir.com   and check chapter sixteen verse 90.

Useful links:

http://www.islam-for-everyone.com  (by Nabil Haroun, originator of the website  )






Back to women in Islam and the Bible.

Brother Karim's section.


*  Science: GENETICALLY, women are less interested in math, problem solving and engineering than men.

(Click to play video)

Although physiologically speaking, men are not smarter than women, but genetically speaking, it's been scientifically proven that women have LESSER INTEREST than men in mathematics, problem solving and engineering.

Also, women in primitive societies were much more involved in raising children, cooking, milking, harvesting, and taking care of the family. Men were primarily more involved in trading, commerce, financial transactions, defense and all of the other physical jobs, such as metal smith, harvesting, carpentry, and other jobs.

Allah Almighty Said in the Glorious Quran:

"O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing; let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write: as God Has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear His Lord God, and not diminish aught of what he owes. If they party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable Himself to dictate, let his guardian dictate faithfully, and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her...."  (The Noble Quran, 2:282)

Does Science support the Quran's Claim?

These videos demonstrate the Scientific Proofs for these claims from renowned Biologist Dr. Lewis Wolpert and others...


Related Articles:

*  Equality between men and women in the Noble Quran by Dr. Tariq Al Swaidan.

*  Men and Women in Islam: Equal or Equally Balanced?

*  Is there equality between men and women in Islam?

*  "Two women equal to one man in Islam" is a lie.

* Why Two Women Witnesses?

*  Are women deficient in intelligence and religion? Answer, No!

*  Women's inheritance laws in Islam.

*  Women have no Inheritance in Islam?

*  Women's Rights in Islam.

*  The Bible does not prefer for women to be born, but Islam does.

*  The true meaning (tafsir) of the 'Daraja/degree' men have above women (Quran 2:228).

For ample more articles, visit:

  • Women in Islam and the Bible section.
  • The Overwhelming Scientific Miracles in the Glorious Quran section.

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