“Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…..” [Quran 2:223]
Christian Missionaries often bring this verse to show that Quran compares Women with a tilth and degrades her.
If you have a good understanding of Arabic language you will see that in no way this degrades woman. Yes, woman is called the tilth for man, but it is not that a parallel is being drawn between her and tilth. Actually it is a simile, that it is man whose seed a woman carries in her womb.
The Arabic transliteration is:
“Nisaokum harshun ‘lakum fa’ tu harshakum anna’ shi’tum…..”
This verse was revealed because Jews used to say to Muslims in Medina that if the husband made the intercourse (in the vagina) from the back of the woman, then the child will come cross-eyed.So, Allah used this beautiful example to tell Muslims that however the seed was put in the ’tilth’, the result will be the same.This verse begins with a comprehensive remark, “Your wives are as a tilth unto you”. Here the woman has been compared with the soil while the husband has been compared with the cultivator.The word ‘Harsh’ was translated to ’tilth’ which means cultivation of land.The similarity is that, if a man put his seed in the women. The seed will grow up till it becomes a child. Just like it happens when the farmer put seeds of a plant on soil it grows! It indicates that as long as it is in the vagina, one can go whatever way he likes. Be it lying over the woman, beside her, or beneath her,or behind her.So basically,this verse is the refutation to the Jewish superstition and in no way degrades woman.
Now let’s see why this verse is revealed. I have quoted below Tafsir Ibn Kathir.
The Reason behind revealing Allah’s Statement: “Your Wives are a Tilth for You”.
From Tafsir Ibn-e-Kathir:
(Your wives are a tilth for you,)
Ibn `Abbas commented, “Meaning the place of pregnancy.”
Allah then said:
(…so go to your tilth, when or how you will,) meaning, wherever you wish from the front or from behind, as long as sex takes place in one valve (the female sexual organ), as the authentic Hadiths have indicated.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Al-Munkadir said that he heard Jabir say that the Jews used to claim that if one has sex with his wife from behind (in the vagina) the offspring would become cross-eyed. Then, this Ayah was revealed:
(Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth, when or how you will,)
Muslim and Abu Dawud also reported this Hadith.
Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) declared that the Jews used to say:When a man has intercourse with his wife through the vagina but being on her back. the child will have squint, so the verse came down:” Your wives are your tilth; go then unto your tilth as you may desire” (ii. 223)[Sahih Muslim 1435 a]
Jabir (b. Abdullah) (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Jews used to say that when one comes to one’s wife through the vagina, but being on her back, and she becomes pregnant, the child has a squint. So the verse came down:” Your wives are your ti’Ith; go then unto your tilth, as you may desire.”[ Sahih Muslim 1435 b]
This hadith has been reported on the authority of Jabir through another chain of transmitters, but in the hadith transmitted on the authority of Zuhri there is an addition (of these words):” If he likes he may (have intercourse) being on the back or in front of her, but it should be through one opening (vagina).” [Sahih Muslim 1435 c]
Muhammad bin Al Munkadir said I heard Jabir say The Jews used to say “When a man has intercourse with his wife through the vagina, but being on her back the child will have a squint, so the verse came down. Your wives are a tilth to you, so come to your tilth however you will.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 2163]
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:Ibn Umar misunderstood (the Qur’anic verse, “So come to your tilth however you will”)–may Allah forgive him. The fact is that this clan of the Ansar, who were idolaters, lived in the company of the Jews who were the people of the Book. They (the Ansar) accepted their superiority over themselves in respect of knowledge, and they followed most of their actions. The people of the Book (i.e. the Jews) used to have intercourse with their women on one side alone (i.e. lying on their backs). This was the most concealing position for (the vagina of) the women. This clan of the Ansar adopted this practice from them. But this tribe of the Quraysh used to uncover their women completely, and seek pleasure with them from in front and behind and laying them on their backs.When the muhajirun (the immigrants) came to Medina, a man married a woman of the Ansar. He began to do the same kind of action with her, but she disliked it, and said to him: We were approached on one side (i.e. lying on the back); do it so, otherwise keep away from me. This matter of theirs spread widely, and it reached the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: “Your wives are a tilth to you, so come to your tilth however you will,” i.e. from in front, from behind or lying on the back. But this verse meant the place of the delivery of the child, i.e. the vagina. [Sunan Abi Dawud 2164]
Ibn Abu Hatim said that Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir narrated that Jabir bin `Abdullah told him that the Jews claimed to the Muslims that if one has sex with their wife from behind (in the vagina) their offspring will become cross-eyed. Allah revealed afterwards:
(Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth, when or how you will,)
Ibn Jurayj (one of the reporters of the Hadith) said that Allah’s Messenger said:
(From the front or from behind, as long as that occurs in the Farj (vagina).)
Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “The Ayah,
(Your wives are a tilth for you) was revealed about some people from the Ansar who came to the Prophet and asked him (about having sex with the wife from behind). He said to them:
(Have sex with her as you like as long as that occurs in the vagina.)
Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin Sabit said: I went to Hafsah bint `Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr and said, “I wish to ask you about something, but I am shy.” She said, “Do not be shy, O my nephew.” He said, “About having sex from behind with women.” She said, “Umm Salamah told me that the Ansar used to refrain from having sex from behind (in the vagina). The Jews claimed that those who have sex with their women from behind would have offspring with crossed-eyes. When the Muhajirun came to Al-Madinah, they married Ansar women and had sex with them from behind. One of these women would not obey her husband and said, `You will not do that until I go to Allah’s Messenger (and ask him about this matter). ‘ She went to Umm Salamah and told her the story. Umm Salamah said, `Wait until Allah’s Messenger comes.’ When Allah’s Messenger came, the Ansari woman was shy to ask him about this matter, so she left. Umm Salamah told Allah’s Messenger the story and he said:
(Summon the Ansari woman.)”
She was summoned and he recited this Ayah to her:
(Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth, when or how you will.) He added:
(Only in one valve (the vagina).)”
This Hadith was also collected by At-Tirmidhi who said, “Hasan.”
An-Nasa’i reported that Ka`b bin `Alqamah said that Abu An-Nadr said that he asked Nafi`, “The people are repeating the statement that you relate from Ibn `Umar that he allowed sex with women in their rear (anus).” He said, “They have said a lie about me. But let me tell you what really happened. Ibn `Umar was once reciting the Qur’an while I was with him and he reached the Ayah:
(Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth, when or how you will,) He then said, `O Nafi`! Do you know the story behind this Ayah’ I said, `No.’ He said, `We, the people of Quraysh, used to have sexual intercourse with our wives from the back (in the vagina). When we migrated to Al-Madinah and married some Ansari women, we wanted to do the same with them. They disliked it and made a big issue out of it.
The Ansari women had followed the practice of the Jews who have sex with their women while they lay on their sides. Then, Allah revealed:
(Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth, when or how you will,)”
This has an authentic chain of narrators.
Imam Ahmad reported that Khuzaymah bin Thabit Al-Khatami narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:
(Allah does not shy from the truth – he said it thrice-, do not have anal sex with women.)
This Hadith was collected by An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.
Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i reported that Ibn `Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:
(Allah does not look at a man who had anal sex with another man or a woman.)
At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Gharib.” This is also the narration that Ibn Hibban collected in his Sahih, while Ibn Hazm stated that this is an authentic Hadith.
In addition, Imam Ahmad reported that `Ali bin Talaq said, “Allah’s Messenger forbade anal sex with women, for Allah does not shy away from truth.” Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi also reported this Hadith and said, “Hasan”.
Abu Muhammad `Abdullah bin `Abdur-Rahman Darimi reported in his Musnad that Sa`id bin Yasar Abu Hubab said: I said to Ibn `Umar, “What do you say about having sex with women in the rear” He said, “What does it mean” I said, “Anal sex.” He said, “Does a Muslim do that” This Hadith has an authentic chain of narrators and is an explicit rejection of anal sex from Ibn `Umar.
Abu Bakr bin Ziyad Naysaburi reported that Isma`il bin Ruh said that he asked Malik bin Anas, “What do you say about having sex with women in the anus” He said, “You are not an Arab Does sex occur but in the place of pregnancy Do it only in the Farj (vagina).” I said, “O Abu `Abdullah! They say that you allow that practice.” He said, “They utter a lie about me, they lie about me.” This is Malik’s firm stance on this subject. It is also the view of Sa`id bin Musayyib, Abu Salamah, `Ikrimah, Tawus, `Ata , Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Urwah bin Az-Zubayr, Mujahid bin Jabr, Al-Hasan and other scholars of the Salaf (the Companions and the following two generations after them). They all, along with the majority of the scholars, harshly rebuked the practice of anal sex and many of them called this practice a Kufr.
(. ..and send for your own selves beforehand.) meaning, by performing the acts of worship while refraining from whatever Allah has prohibited for you. This is why Allah said afterwards:
(And fear Allah, and know that you are to meet Him (in the Hereafter),)
meaning, He will hold you accountable for all of your deeds,
(…and give good tidings to the believers (O Muhammad ).) meaning, those who obey what Allah has commanded and refrain from what He has prohibited. Ibn Jarir reported that `Ata’ said, or related it to Ibn `Abbas,
(…and send for your own selves beforehand.) means, mention Allah’s Name, by saying, `Bismillah’, before having sexual intercourse.” Al-Bukhari also reported that Ibn `Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:
(If anyone of you on having sexual relations with his wife said: `In the Name of Allah. O Allah! Protect us from Satan and also protect what you bestow upon us (i.e., the coming offspring) from Satan,’ and if it is destined that they should have a child then, Satan will never be able to harm him.)
INDEED ALLAH KNOWS THE BEST!