In many verses the Qur'an refers to the wives of certain people (some Prophets, Pharaoh etc.) but some times the word wife is referred to as imara(tu) امرأة (which is always translated wife of) like in:

  • Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, "Enter the Fire with those who enter." (66:10)
    ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ امْرَأَتَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَتَ لُوطٍ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَـلِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِينَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئاً وَقِيلَ ادْخُلاَ النَّارَ مَعَ الدَخِلِينَ

  • And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, "My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people." (66:11)
    ﴿وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً لّلَّذِينَ ءامَنُواْ امْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبّ ابْنِ لِى عِندَكَ بَيْتاً فِى الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجّنِى مِن فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجّنِى مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّـلِمِينَ

and in other occasions it is referred to as zawj(u) زوج (which often is translated as mate instead of wife) like in:

  • So We responded to him, and We gave to him John, and amended for him his wife. Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive. (21:90)
    فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ يَحْيَى وَأَصْلَحْنَا لَهُ زَوْجَهُ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ يُسَارِعُونَ فِى الْخَيْرَتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَباً وَرَهَباً وَكَانُواْ لَنَا خـشِعِينَ

  • And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, "Keep your wife and fear Allah ," ... (33:37)
    وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِى أَنعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَاتَّقِ اللَّهَ ...
    Referring here to Zayd ibn Haritah as the husband.

I wonder if there's a special significance in the use of These synonyms and like to learn/share it with a good explanation!

  • 1
    Verse 66:11 must use tā' maftūha (امرأت) rather than tā' marbūta (امرأة) as this is a known woman. Where did you quote it from with a tā' marbuta? I find this interesting.
    – III-AK-III
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 10:44
  • 1
    I see. This is not the most common way of writing "woman of". Whenever the name of the husband follows, it is امرأت rather than امرأة as in The Noble Quran or Legacy Quran. Not sure where QTafsir got this from, especially that 66:10 is using امرأت as expected. I reported the error to them.
    – III-AK-III
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 11:50

1 Answer 1



I am only translating and transferring knowledge I am exposed to, and I, or my sources, may be prone to errors and mistakes; Allah Knows best.

I heard a sheikh talking about this on TV some long time ago, so I have no reference, but here's my knowledge about the topic, and Allah Knows Best:

  • Wife زوج:
    When your wife is close and similiar to you, in harmony with you, your thoughts, ideas and percepetion of what's right and what's wrong; when she's in harmony with you mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and even sexually, she's your زوج. In arabic, زوج literally translates into "pair", so the way you say "my husband" or "my wife" in Arabic is by saying "my pair"
  • Wife امرأة:
    Your wife may not be in harmony with you; she thinks wrong of what you think is right or vice versa. امرأة literally translates into "woman" so you can also use it to refer to your wife, or to your woman.

The Quran mentions the wives of Musa, Lut, and Pharaoh as امرأة because the women of the prophets did not submit to Allah (unlike their husbands) and the wife of pharaoh submitted to Allah and was a good and humble woman unlike her husband. These women were not the "pairs" of their husbands.

Allah Knows Best.


After doing some more research here are some additional information.

  • In some cases where the holy Quran is mentioning a believer woman in harmony with her believer man who may also be a prophet, the holy Quran refers to the woman as امرأة (woman) rather than زوجة (pair). If you read these cases, you'll notice that the holy Quran is describing or emphasizing a the feminine role of the woman (like giving birth), which is why the term "woman" makes more sense in this context, in the Arabic language
  • In some other cases of 2 non-believing man and woman (like Abu Lahb), their nikah is invalid in the eyes of Allah, and there won't ever exist an actual spiritual harmony because their marriage lacks the blessings of Allah, which is why the word امرأة (woman) is being used instead of زوجة (pair)

Allah Knows Best.

  • I read more about it and here's what I found: when the holy Quran says امرأة about a believer woman, it's being mentioned in a context where the emphasis is on the femininity of the woman (giving birth) not on the harmony with her husband, so in terms of Arabic language it makes more sense to refer to these women in these contexts as امرأة (woman) rather than زوجة (pair)
    – Ahmad Tn
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:47
  • ... When the holy Quran mentions a non-believer woman married to a non-believer man (like Abu Lahab), it's because the Nikah of non-believers is not valid in the eyes of Allah, so the harmony will not exist between them because their relationship lacks the blessings of Allah.
    – Ahmad Tn
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:51
  • Please note that my answer and all my comments are not personal opinions but rather I am just transferring and translating information. The information in my comments above is referenced here
    – Ahmad Tn
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:52
  • 1
    IMO you should edit your answer to give the entire explanation in continuous form and should clearly cite your source. The link you gave cites جلاء الأفهام
    – UmH
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 16:48

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