Surah An-Nisa',Verse 3
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِي الْيَتَامَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاء مَثْنَى وَثُلاَثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ
3. "And, if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry those women who seem good to you, two, or three, or four; but if you (still) fear that you will not act justly (between them) then ( marry ) only one or someone your right hands have acquired. That is more proper, that you may not deviate from equity."
Occasion of Revelation
Before Islam, it was customary in Arabia among many people that they took the orphan girls to their houses under the name of defraying and guardianship and then they married them and appropriated their property, too.
They assigned even their dowries less than what the ordinary amount was, since everything was in their own hand, and when they felt the least inconvenience from them, they would easily leave them off.
At that time the verse was revealed and instructed the guardians of the orphans that they could marry the girl orphans if they observed justice about them completely.
In this verse, another right, out of the rights of the orphans, is pointed out. It admonishes that at the time of marrying the girl orphans, if you fear that you cannot observe the right and justice about the conditions of matrimony, as well as their property, relinquish marrying them and refer to other women. It says:
"And, if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry those women who seem good to you…"
Then, it adds that you may choose from among them two or three or four to marry with. It says:
"… two, or three, or four…"
So, immediately after that it continues saying that this is in the case that you keep the perfect justice. But, if you fear that you do not observe justice unto those wives of yours, you must suffice to only one wife, so that you keep away from imposing cruelty and transgression against others. It says:
"… but if you (still) fear that you will not act justly (about them) then (marry) only one…"
Or, instead of taking a second wife, you may take advantage of the She-slave that you have, because their conditions are less heavy, although they must enjoy of their own rights, too. It says:
"… or someone your right hands have acquired…"
This action -choosing only one wife or your slave, better prevents you from cruelty and deviating from the path of equity. It says:
"… That is more proper that you may not deviate from equity."
Justice about Wives
What a man is enjoined to observe in justice about his wife is the observance of the equity in one's practical conditions and outward aspects of life, because applying justice in heartily affections is out of the ability of man.1
1. Islam is the supporter of the deprived class of the society, especially the orphans, and the girl orphans in particular, emphatically on the subject of chastity, matrimony, and misusing them.
2. It is not necessary to be assured of inequity of yourself to abandon marrying the orphans, but probability and fear from it of your own side, is enough either.
3. In choosing a wife, heartily willing is a principal.
4. On the whole, Islam agrees with conditioned polygamy for men.