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Surah al-Baqarah (222-232)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنْ الْمَحِيضِ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّى يَطْهُرْنَ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمْ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ نِسَاؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَكُمْ فَأْتُوا حَرْثَكُمْ أَنَّى شِئْتُمْ وَقَدِّمُوا لِأَنفُسِكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ مُلَاقُوهُ وَبَشِّرْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ(٢٢٢-٣)

وَلَا تَجْعَلُوا اللَّهَ عُرْضَةً لِأَيْمَانِكُمْ أَنْ تَبَرُّوا وَتَتَّقُوا وَتُصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ  لَا يُؤَاخِذُكُمْ اللَّهُ بِاللَّغْوِ فِي أَيْمَانِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يُؤَاخِذُكُمْ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ  لِلَّذِينَ يُؤْلُونَ مِنْ نِسَائِهِمْ تَرَبُّصُ أَرْبَعَةِ أَشْهُرٍ فَإِنْ فَاءُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ  وَإِنْ عَزَمُوا الطَّلَاقَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ(٢٢٤-٧)

وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَنْ يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِنْ كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ  بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُوا إِصْلَاحًا وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (٢٢٨)

الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ فَإمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلَّا أَنْ يَخَافَا أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا وَمَنْ يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الظَّالِمُونَ (٢٢٩)

فَإِنْ طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا تَحِلُّ لَهُ مِنْ بَعْدُ حَتَّى تَنكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ فَإِنْ طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا أَنْ يَتَرَاجَعَا إِنْ ظَنَّا أَنْ يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ يُبَيِّنُهَا لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ (٢٣٠)

وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمْ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ سَرِّحُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ وَلَا تُمْسِكُوهُنَّ ضِرَارًا لِتَعْتَدُوا وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوا آيَاتِ اللَّهِ هُزُوًا وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَا أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ يَعِظُكُمْ بِهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (٢٣١)

وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمْ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ أَنْ يَنكِحْنَ أَزْوَاجَهُنَّ إِذَا تَرَاضَوْا بَيْنَهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ذَلِكَ يُوعَظُ بِهِ مَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ذَلِكُمْ أَزْكَى لَكُمْ وَأَطْهَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (٢٣٢)


And [now that the issue of marriage has been raised], they ask you about menstruation1. Tell them: It is a kind of impurity. So keep away from women during their menstrual periods and do not approach them until they are in a state of purity; then when they are clean after having a bath, approach them2 from where God has enjoined you3. Indeed, God loves those who constantly repent and those who keep themselves clean4. These women of yours are your cultivated land5; go, then, into your lands in any manner you please6 [and through this] plan for the future7 [of both this and the next world] and remain fearful of God. Bear in mind that you shall meet Him [one day]8. And [O Prophet!] Give glad tidings [of success and salvation] to the believers [on that Day]. (222-3)

[There are certain other issues regarding women also that you must know] and for your oaths9 do not make the name of Allah an obstacle to deal kindly and to observe the limits of Allah and to make peace among men, and [you should know that] Allah knows all and hears all. He will not hold you liable for your oaths sworn inadvertently. But He will take you to task for oaths sworn with your heart’s intention and [in reality], Allah is forgiving and lenient10. [So] those who swear to abstain from their wives11 must wait four months. If they change their mind, Allah is forgiving and ever-merciful12; but if they decide to divorce them, [know that] He hears all and knows all13. (224-7)

And [if the latter situation develops], the divorced women must keep themselves waiting for three menstrual14 courses15. And it is unlawful for them, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day, to hide16 what He has created in their wombs. And if their husbands wish to reconcile,17 they [— the husbands— ] have greater right to take them back [during this waiting period]. And [this is because there is no doubt that] just as according to [society’s] norms these women have obligations [towards their husbands], they also have rights18, although men [as husbands] have a status above19 women. [This is the directive of Allah] and Allah is mighty and wise20. (228)

This divorce may be pronounced twice [during the period of a marriage]21, and then a woman must be retained in honour or allowed to go with kindness. [If you decide to depart from them, then on this occasion] it is unlawful for you to take back from them anything you have given them22 unless both the husband and wife fear that they may not be able to keep within the bounds set by Allah. Then if you also feel that they will not be able to remain within the bounds set by Allah, then there shall be no offence for either of them [regarding the gifts given by the husband] if the wife seeks divorce [by returning them to him] in ransom23. These are the bounds set by Allah; do not transgress them. [And you should know that] those who transgress the bounds of Allah are wrongdoers24. (229)

If a husband [after revoking divorce twice in a marriage bond] divorces his wife [for the third time], he cannot marry her until she weds another man. But if this [second husband] also divorces her, it shall be no offence for either of them to return to each other, if they think that they can [now] keep within the limits set by Allah.25 Such are the bounds of Allah. He makes them plain to men who want to gain knowledge.26 (230)

And when you have divorced your wives and they have reached the end of their waiting period, either retain them with kindness or let them go with kindness. But do not retain them with the intention of harm so that you commit excesses against them. And [you should know that] whoever does this wrongs his own soul. Do not make a mockery of Allah’s commandments. Remember the favors He has bestowed upon you, and the Law and the wisdom which He has revealed, of which He instructs you. Fear Allah and know that He has knowledge of all things.27 (231)

And when you have divorced your wives and they have reached the end of their waiting period, do not prevent them from marrying their [future] husbands if they have come to an agreement according to the norms [of decency]. These words of advice are given to every one of you who believes in Allah and the Last Day; this is more decent for you and more chaste. And [in reality] Allah knows, but you do not.28 (232)



1. Since the basic objective of religion is purification, all divine religions prohibit sexual relations with one’s wife during their menstrual and puerperal discharge periods. As adherents to the creed and practices of Abraham (sws), the Arabs also considered such relations as unlawful. Their poetical compositions mention this fact from various aspects. There was no difference of opinion regarding its prohibition. However, there existed certain extremes and undue restrictions regarding the limits of withdrawal from one’s wife during these periods. It is evident from the answer given by the Qur’an that the actual question in fact pertained to these limits.

2. The implication being that during these days only intercourse is prohibited. A lady should not be thought of as untouchable during these days as was the view of the Jews, Hindus and some other nations. The Prophet (sws) through his own practice delineated that only intercourse is prohibited in these times and other forms of sexual relations can remain intact with one’s wife without any hesitation whatsoever. However, the question arises regarding the time of resumption of intercourse with her. The Qur’an has used two words for this: ‘تَطَهُّر’ and ‘طُهْر’. The form and scope  of the directive which can be derived from their usage in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi is:

طُهْر’ (tuhr) means the end of the state of impurity and the termination of blood while ‘تَطَهُّر’ (tatahhur) means the state of purity a lady enters into after the ceremonial bath. The verse regards ‘طُهْر’ (tuhr) as a condition for intercourse with the wife and it also says that once a lady has entered the state of purity only then should the husband approach her for this purpose. It emanates from this that though the basic reason for this prohibition is blood and once the blood stops this prohibition is lifted, however the appropriate way in this regard is to have intercourse after she has had a bath. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 526)

3. After the ceremonial bath, sexual intercourse with the wife should be done through the way that is prescribed by the Almighty. This guidance is ingrained in human nature and from this aspect it, no doubt, is a directive of the Almighty. If a person violates this directive he in fact violates a very obvious directive of the Almighty, and, as a result, will have to face punishment from Him.

4. While explaining the importance of these directives in the eyes of the Almighty, Islahi writes:

If one deliberates on the essence of tawbah and tatahhur, one comes to the conclusion that while the former means to cleanse one’s inner self from sins, the latter means to cleanse one’s outer self from filth and dirt. Viewed thus, both are similar in their essence and the Almighty holds both these traits in great admiration. On the other hand, people who lack these traits are disliked by the Almighty. It is evident from the context of this verse that those who do not refrain from intercourse with their wives during their periods of impurity and violate the limits ingrained in human nature in satisfying their sexual urge are detestable in the eyes of the Almighty. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 526)

5. The metaphor of ‘cultivated land’ is employed by the Qur’an to explain what is stated in the previous verses. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi  comments on this in the following words:

One very apparent reason for using this metaphor is the fact that just as for a cultivated land it is essential on the part of the harvester that seeds be sown in the appropriate season at the right time and that they be sown within the fields and not scattered outside them, similarly it is a norm of human instinct that one should not approach a lady for sexual intercourse during the menstrual cycle or from the anal side because the period of menses is a time during which women are sexually cold and not inclined, while anal intercourse is a painful and wasteful activity. Therefore, people who have not perverted their nature cannot indulge in such an activity. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 527)

6. Writes Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi regarding the objective of this guidance:

[This] alludes simultaneously to two things: On the one hand, it refers to the liberty, freedom and a free manner with which a farmer approaches his land, and on the other hand refers to the responsibility, caution and care which he must exercise in approaching his land. The word ‘أَنَّى شِئْتُمْ’ refers to the former and the word ‘حَرْثٌ’ to the latter. It is both this liberty and caution which ascertain the correct behaviour of a husband with his wife in this regard.

Every one knows that the real bliss of married life is the freedom a person has in intimate affairs barring a few broad restrictions. The feeling of this freedom has a great amount of euphoria around it. When a person is with his wife in intimate moments, Divine will seems to be that he be overcome with emotions but at the same time it is pointed out to him that he has come into a field and an orchard; it is no wasteland or a forest. He may come to it in whatever manner and in whatever way whenever he pleases, but he must not forget that he has landed in his orchard. The Qur’an has no objection on the discretion, choice and majesty with which he approaches his field if he knows full well where he is going and in no way is oblivious of this reality. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 527)

7. The implication being that a person should try to produce children who become an asset for him both in this world and in the Hereafter. The reason for this directive is to create awareness among parents of the great responsibility of a new child that they may plan properly.

8. The implication being that in this world the Almighty has given people respite so that they can do whatever they want to whether openly or secretly. However, they should remember that one day they will have to stand before their Lord and will be held accountable for all their deeds. Whatever they do, they should do while keeping in mind the fact that no one would be able to save them from the Almighty on that Day.

9. This verse is a prelude to the directive of ‘اِيلَاء’ (ila) the coming verses state. The implied meaning is that since swearing by the Almighty is tantamount to calling him to witness a person should in no way swear an oath that infringes upon the rights of the Almighty or those of His creation; however, if by chance a person happens to swear such an oath, he is directed to break it. A person should in no way embark upon usurping the rights of others or evading deeds of piety and virtue merely on the excuse that an oath has been sworn. The words ‘أَنْ تَبَرُّوا وَتَتَّقُوا وَتُصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ’ which delineate this fact are explained by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi in the following words:

The words ‘بِِرّ’ , ‘تَقْوى’ and ‘اِصْلَاح’ encompass all deeds of virtue. The word ‘بِِرّ’ embraces all virtues that relate to the parents, the relatives, the poor, the orphan and other members of the society. The word ‘تَقْوى’ covers all virtues that relate to the Almighty and ‘اِصْلَاح’ include all virtues that relate to the society [in general]. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 529)

10. The implied meaning is that one should indeed break all such oaths; however, this does not mean that a person will not be held accountable for such oaths. The Almighty will not punish him for an oath that is sworn without intention and purpose which a person just utters involuntarily. However, He shall punish a person for oaths which are sworn intentionally and voluntarily through which a pledge is made or which influence the rights and obligations of individuals or affect divine injunctions in any manner. As is the general rule for a sin, he will need to atone for it through sincere repentance; however, as 5:89 specifies, he will also have to compensate for it in the prescribed manner.

11. The actual word used is ‘اِيلَاء’. This is a term of the Arab Jahiliyyah society which means to swear an oath to sever sexual relations with one’s wife. Such an oath leaves the wife in an indefinite state and is as such against virtue and piety. Consequently, the Almighty has fixed a four month period after which a husband must decide to either resume the marital relationship or to divorce her.

It is evident from this directive that it is not allowed to sever sexual relations with one’s wife without a valid reason. So much so, if a person swears such an oath, he must break it. Such relations are the right of a wife and if a husband does not fulfill them, then he can be regarded a criminal both in the eyes of the law and before the Almighty in the Hereafter. In return, the wife also does not have the right to refuse compliance with these relations without a valid reason.

12. Although this oath was sworn to usurp rights and it is not lawful to swear such oaths, but if a person mends his ways the Almighty shall forgive him.

13. The implied meaning is that if a person decides to divorce his wife then he must abide by the rules and regulations that the Almighty has prescribed in this regard. He hears and knows everything. Excesses committed against someone else will not remain concealed from Him.

14. The actual Arabic word used is ‘قُرُوْء’. It is a plural of ‘قَرْءٌ’. In Arabic, this word means both the ‘menstrual period’ and the ‘non-menstrual period’. While presenting his research on this word, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

After much deliberation on the root of the word and its derived forms, I have come to the conclusion that its real meaning is that of ‘menstruation’. However, since every menstrual period is followed by a period of purity (طُهْر), the word is also used in this meaning. This is similar to the usage of words ‘day’ for ‘night’ and vice versa. Every language has such words. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 532)

This word in the opinion of this writer means ‘menstruation’ because in these verses the real issue is to ascertain whether a lady is pregnant or not. It is the ‘period of menstruation’ which actually ascertains this and not the ‘period of purity’. Moreover, women are asked to wait in this period and this waiting period can only be ascertained through the menstrual cycle because its beginning can be known with certainty.

15. In Surah Talaq, a husband is directed to divorce his wife while keeping count of the ‘iddat (waiting period). Here, in these verses, the Qur’an, has specified that this waiting period is equivalent to three menstrual cycles. This is the ‘iddat in normal circumstances. In certain specific ones, its time period changes as is mentioned in Surah Talaq (65:1-7) and Surah Ahzab (33:49).

16. The directive to observe the waiting period has been given for the very reason of ascertaining whether a lady is pregnant or not. Consequently, if she conceals the situation of her womb, the very benefits that the Almighty has placed in this directive would be lost.

17. A restriction is imposed here on the right of a husband to annul the divorce sentence stated in this verse so that this annulment should not be to torment or torture the wife but to create harmony and affection in the resumed marital life.

18. The rights and obligations that this verse refers to are delineated in Surah Nisa (4:19 and 4:32).

19. The right to annul a divorce is given to the husband because he is considered the head of the family and as such is responsible for providing for and protecting it. In order to maintain discipline in the family, it is imperative that, as the head of the family, he be given this right.

20. Since there is high probability that in such affairs one is bound to be governed by emotions and extreme reactions and as a result may commit one blunder after another, these two attributes – Mighty and Wise – mentioned at the end of the verse serve a special purpose. While referring to this purpose, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The Almighty is ‘Aziz (Mighty); hence, it is only His right to give this directive and He is also Hakim (Wise); hence, whatever directive He gives is based on wisdom. Men should always submit to His directives without any hesitation whatsoever. If they oppose His directives, this would amount to challenging His honor and only hasten to invite His wrath. Similarly, if they are naive enough to think that they are more wise and sagacious than the Almighty, they will be responsible for ruining the law and system of the society with their very own hands. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 533)

21. This refers to the divorce mentioned in the previous verses in which a husband can revoke his decision during the ‘iddat. In other words, if a husband has revoked his decision and the two have started living as husband and wife once again and still it seems that marriage cannot continue, then he can divorce the wife once again in a similar manner and will still have the right to revoke his decision this second time. However, if this happens for the third time, then the husband will no longer have this right.

22. This is an elaboration of the kindness with which a wife should be divorced: whatever wealth, property, clothes, jewelry and other items have been gifted to her by the husband should not be confiscated by him. Here it should be clear that the verse is not referring to the nafqah (maintenance) and mahr (dowry), which are the absolute rights of a wife and confiscating them is unthinkable. What is emphasized is that a husband should not take back any gifts he may have given her.

23. This verse mentions an exception to the directive instructing the husband not to take back any gifts from his wife at the time of divorce. If it is no longer possible to keep a marriage intact according to the Allah’s limits, and the family elders and society also supports the annulment, but a husband is unwilling to divorce his wife simply because he is concerned over losing wealth, property or other gifts he has given to his wife, then the issue can be resolved through the exception stated in this verse: the wife can give back part or all of the wealth gifted to her to release herself from her marital contract. In such cases, it would be lawful for the husband to accept these returned gifts.

24. This sentence relates to the whole group of directives given earlier on. While explaining it, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

These are the bounds set by Allah regarding one’s marital life. Just as you set up boundary walls around your lands and pastures and want that no one should set foot into them and if someone does so you consider it a challenge to your ownership and honor, similarly, the Almighty has erected boundaries around areas prohibited by Him. You are free to wander within them but are not allowed to cross them. Those who try to exceed these bounds should remember that they will become transgressors. The responsibility of the consequences of their transgression would rest with them, not the Almighty, and they would witness these consequences both in this world and the next. They will only wrong their own souls and will in no way harm the Almighty. The laws of the Almighty are totally based on human nature and on the welfare of His people. So, those who exceed these bounds, in fact, harm their own nature and disrupt their own welfare. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 536)

25. Once this third divorce is given, a husband does not have the right to annul it in the waiting period. However, in case the same husband and wife want to remarry one another, the Qur’an has imposed three restrictions on them:

Firstly, the wife should formalize her nikah (marriage contract) with someone else.

Secondly, the second husband divorces her because for some reason the marriage cannot be pulled along.

Thirdly, the two think that after re-marriage the two would be able to remain within the bounds set by the Almighty.

In the first and second conditions, the word ‘nikah’ only implies the legal marital knot and the word ‘divorce’ implies the divorce that one gives one’s wife when it is no longer possible to keep the marriage intact. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The real thing is that nikah is a known term referring to a marriage contract which takes place between a man and a woman with the intention of forever living together in the bond of matrimony. If this intention does not exist in a nikah, then in reality it is not a nikah; it is more of a plot conspired by a man and a woman. The option of divorce in marriage, upheld by the shari‘ah, is not part of the original scheme; it is only a last resort to deal with insolvable situations. Consequently, the true nature of a nikah is that it should be solemnized with the intention of living together as husband and wife permanently. If a person honors a nikah only for a certain fixed period, then this is called muta‘h, and it is totally prohibited in Islam. Similarly, if a person solemnizes a nikah with a lady and then divorces her just to provide her with a legal excuse to marry the first husband, then in religious parlance this is called halalah and, like muta‘h, it is also totally prohibited in Islam. A person who does such a despicable thing is like a pimp or pander or as a Hadith says such a person plays the role of ‘a rental male species for breeding’ and a person who does this and he who has it done are cursed by the Almighty’. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 537)

The third condition has been imposed in order to make divorce a very serious affair so that people do not carelessly indulge in it. They should only divorce their wives while remaining fearful of the Almighty and when they think that there is no possibility of keeping the marriage intact. Similarly, when they embark upon marrying someone, they should do so with sincerity of purpose and with the intention of creating a harmonious relationship. It is not befitting for a believer to adopt an attitude contrary to this.

26. The original Arabic words are ‘لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ’. In Arabic, just as a verb implies its conventional meaning, it also expresses intention. Here, the verb ‘يَعْلَمُونَ’ expresses intention, and is translated keeping in view this aspect.

27. This is an explanation of what is implied by retaining a wife with kindness. Writes Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

In the previous verses, the implied meanings were stated positively, but here they are stated negatively, in order to caution cruel husbands who could misuse the right of divorce as well as the right to revoke it in the ‘iddat period. Such an attitude, of course, is outright injustice and amounts to playing with the shari‘ah. Those who are bold enough to do this may think that they are oppressing their wives; however, in fact, they wrong their own selves. This is because those who toy with divine directives and exceed the limits set by the Almighty shall have to face a grievous punishment.

In the end, a reminder is sounded regarding the blessings of the Almighty: He has made Muslims a chosen ummah and sent a Prophet to them from among them to guide them. He has also blessed them with a book to guide them regarding good and evil. It is composed of the precepts of faith and law. If they repay this great favor by violating the limits of the Almighty and toying with His shari‘ah then they should contemplate the consequences of such a behavior. The verse goes on to warn Muslims to remain fearful of the Almighty and to keep in mind that He has knowledge of all their deeds. In other words, He is granting respite to people in spite of their mischief. However, once He decided to catch them, no one will be able to runaway from His grasp. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 539)

28. These verses direct believers regarding matters that can cause dispute after divorce. They are told that once a husband divorces a wife, he does not have the right to, in any way, hinder a decision she takes. He should not indulge in such tactics whether openly or through a hidden conspiracy. After being divorced, a woman can marry anyone she wants to at any time that suits her. If her decision regarding her second marriage is in accordance with the norms (ma‘ruf), it cannot be objected to in any way. The use of the word ‘الْمَعْرُوْف’ (al-ma‘ruf)  by the Qur’an shows that though a man and a woman are free to decide their affairs, they should not do something which is against decency or which may potentially harm the repute and honor of the ex-husband, future husband or the lady’s family. While explaining the last part of the verse Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

These sound words of advice are being given to those who believe in Allah and the Last Day. In other words, those who have belief in Allah and the Last Day should follow what is being advised since this is the outcome of true belief. Such an attitude is more pure and seemly. If a lady is impeded in anyway to re-marry, this may result in great evils in the family and society. It is from here that back doors to clandestine relations and fornication are opened, eventually bringing great disrepute to those whose false pride induces them to obstruct natural emotions through worthless customs. The words ‘And Allah knows, but you do not’, at the end imply that man’s knowledge and vision is very limited. He cannot fully grasp the ups and downs of life; therefore, he should follow what the Almighty is directing him to do. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 545)

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