Does Islam Consider Women As Tilth?

By Sulaiman Razvi

Islamophobic Hindus have made objection to verse 2:223. They have raised two questions about this verse which shall be answered in this article inshallah. I am not a scholar, I am just a common Muslim with basic knowledge, so may Allah forgive me if I make error in explaining Quranic verses here. First let’s read the verse,

Qur’an, Surah Baqara 2, verse 223 “Your wives are your tilth; go, then, unto your tilth as you may desire, but first provide something for your souls, and remain conscious of God, and know that you are destined to meet Him. And give glad tidings unto those who believe.” Translated by Muhammad Asad

First objection: Islam considers women as commodity by comparing womenfolk to tilth.

Answer: If you read Qur’an you will find that Allah has used many parables and simile to explain various things in the holy Qur’an. And what is mentioned in 2:223 is a simile. By mentioning women on par with tilth, Islam has not treated womenfolk as tilth or commodity. One should try to understand the meaning behind this simile. What it says is that women are not merely for enjoyment, it encourages to have children for propagation, to carry on family name, to treat women well. Just as a farmer sows seeds in the field and reaps benefits of crops so a man should sow his seed in his wife and reap the benefit of having children from her. The farmer does not go to his field merely for recreation and enjoyment but for cultivation to get produce from it. In the same way, a man should go to his wife to produce children. Islam is not concerned about how one sows the seed but it is concerned about production. Neither this verse treats women as child production factory, it is the nature of human beings to marry and have children for the propagation of human race. I am amazed that it’s Hindus who are raising this issue because Hindu texts also mentions women as tilth and further goes on explaining it.

Atharva Veda 14.2.14 This dame hath come, an animated corn-field: there sow, thou man, the seed of future harvest.

Here is the link to above Hindi translation by Arya Samaji scholar Pandit Kshemkaran Das Trivedi

Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati also wrote,

“Whosoever wastes this invaluable fluid in illicit intercourse with other people’s wives, prostitutes, or lewd men, is the greatest fool, because even a farmer or a gardener, ignorant though he be, does not sow the seed in a field or a garden that is not his own…It is a sin of the deepest dye to sow the seed, out of which great souls and distinguished men have sprung, in a bad soil (such as a prostitute) or to let a good soil be impregnated with a bad seed.” Satyarth Prakash, Chapter 4, Page no 138-9, by Swami Dayanand Sawarwati, Tr. Dr. Chiranjeeva Bhardwaj

Smritis also mentions this,

Manu Smriti 9.33 ”The woman is said to be like unto a field, and the man is like unto a seed; the origin of all creatures is (in) the union of the seed and the soil.” Tr. M.N. Dutt

Manu Smriti 9.51-53 Thus men who have no marital property in women, but sow their seed in the soil of others, benefit the owner of the woman; but the giver of the seed reaps no advantage. If no agreement with respect to the crop has been made between the owner of the field and the owner of the seed, the benefit clearly belongs to the owner of the field; the receptacle is more important than the seed. But if by a special contract (a field) is made over (to another) for sowing, then the owner of the seed and the owner of the soil are both considered in this world as sharers of the (crop).

Manu Smriti 10.69 As good seed, springing up in good soil, turns out perfectly well, even so the son of an Aryan by an Aryan woman is worthy of all the sacraments.

Narada Smriti 12.19 Women have been created for the sake of propagation, the wife being the field, and the husband the giver of the seed. The field must be given to him who has seed. He who has no seed is unworthy to possess the field.

Puranas also mentions it,

Padma Purana II.10.10-12a ”Kasyapa said:- …The father is the giver of the semen (i.e. seed); and the mother is always the soil….” Tr. N.A. Deshpande

Shastras also mentions it,

Vashistha Dharma Shastra 17.9 (Others say), ‘Carefully watch the procreation of your offspring, lest strangers sow seed on your soil; in the next world the son belongs to the begetter; (by carelessness) a husband makes (the possession of) offspring in vain.’

Apastamba Dharma Shastra Prasna II, Patala 6, Khanda 13, Verse7. Now they quote also (the following Gâthâ from the Veda): ‘(Having considered myself) formerly a father, I shall not now allow (any longer) my wives (to be approached by other men), since they have declared that a son belongs to the begetter in the world of Yama. The giver of the seed carries off the son after death in Yama’s world; therefore they guard their wives, fearing the seed of strangers. Carefully watch over (the procreation of) your children, lest stranger seed be sown on your soil. In the next world the son belongs to the begetter, an (imprudent) husband makes the (begetting of) children vain (for himself).’

Mahabharat also considers women as tilth,

Mahabharata Shanti Parva 13.49 “Bhishma said, ‘He who having begotten a son of his own loins, abandons him for some reason or other, cannot be regarded as the sire of such a son, for vital seed only cannot create sonship. Such a son must be held to belong to the person who owns the soil. When a man, desiring to have a son, weds a girl quick with child, the son born of his spouse must belong to him, for it is the fruit of his own soil. The person from whose vital seed the son has sprung can have no right to such a son. The son that is born in one’s soil but not begotten by the owner…

Mahabharata Adi Parva 1.120 The best of men are born in this world to beget children for discharging that debt. I would ask you, should children be begotten in my soil (upon my wives) as I myself was begotten in the soil of my father by the eminent Rishi?’

So how Hindus are going to explain these verses?

Another allegation: This verse is obscene

Answer: I fail to understand how a verse which merely tells you to love your wife as you like for propagation is obscene? This verse has maintained decency, it is one’s own lustful mind which is finding obscenity in this verse. This verse was revealed as a response to the Jewish superstitious belief that if one copulates with wife from behind then the offspring would be born as cross eyed. Ismail Ibn Kathir r.a explains it as,

“(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. For instance, 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… Muslim and Abu Dawud also reported this Hadith. 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…”

The verse has maintained decency, it’s not obscene at all. But these Vedic verses are surely obscene,

Yajur Veda 19.88 ‘Just as a wife, the recipient of semen, at the time of cohabitation keeps her head opposite to the head of the husband, and her face opposite to that of his, so should both husband and wife perform together their domestic duties. A husband is a protector like a physician. He lives happily like a child, and with tranquillity produces progeny with penis keen with ardour.” Tr. Devi Chand (Arya Samaj)

Atharva Veda 20.126.17; Rig Veda 10.86.16-17 “He whose organ [Penis] even in dream and even before cohabitation discharges genitive fluid may not be capable of having progeny. He whose long-shaped organ enters deep in the womb straight may be capable of having progeny. Almighty God is rarest of all and supreme over all. Tr. Vaidyanath Shastri (Arya Samaj)

Yajur Veda 19.76 ‘‘The generative organ [Penis] releases urine, but when it enters the womb [Vagina], it releases semen…” Tr. Devi Chand (Arya Samaj)

Atharva Veda 5.25.1 ‘The phallus of man which sows the seminal fluid, lays in the female organ as feather on a shaft, the seed of embryo which is drawn from limb to limb and from cloud and heavenly region.’ Tr. Vaidyanath Shastri (Arya Samaj)

These are just some examples, there are many more obscene verses in the Vedas including the one about sun god raping his wife by inserting his male organ in her mouth mentioned in Rig Veda Mandal 10, Sukta 17.

So reading these verses may help them understand. Long ago I was having a discussion with a Hindu who considered Quranic verse 2:223 to be obscene and went on to declare it as pornographic, astaghfirullah. I explained him this verse but he wasn’t convinced, I know how to handle such people who makes objections on Quran for merely maligning it so I showed him some verses from Vedas like mentioned above then suddenly he disappeared and the next day he was saying that these Vedic verses are not obscene at all as Ishwar is only giving knowledge of sexual intercourse through these verses. Can you handle such hypocrisy? They consider a Quranic verse which merely tells you to “approach your tilth when or how ye will” but considers such obscene Vedic verses as “Knowledgeable” when they explicitly mentions sex positions and sexual organs. One can read Quran 2:223 in front of elders and family members without any hesitation but can Hindus read such obscene verses from their Vedas in front of their family?