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Researcher’s Companion to Ghamidi’s Surah al-Baqarah (222-232)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I Meaning & Morphology (الصرف و اللغة)

 1. ‘َالْمَعْرُوف

The word ma‘ruf in the Qur’an as well as in Arabic has two meanings:

1. the good and the equitable.

2. the norms and customs of a society.

For example, it is said in the Qur’an that Muslims enjoin the ma‘ruf and forbid munkar:

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ (٧١:٩)

And believing men and women are friends to each other. They enjoin what is ma‘ruf and forbid what is munkar. (9:71) 

Since the word munkar means ‘evil’, one can easily conclude that here the word ma‘ruf is used in the first meaning ‘good,’ given above.

Similarly, it is said in the Qur’an that if a Muslim has murdered a Muslim and if the family of the slain person forgives him, then he should pay diyah (fine) to them according to the ma‘ruf:

فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَأَدَاء إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ (١٧٨:٢)

Then for whom there has been some remission from his brother, [the remission] should be followed according to the ma‘ruf and diyah should be paid with goodness. (2:178)

Here the word ma‘ruf is used in the second meaning ‘custom’ given because first, the imperative verb used is ittiba’ (to follow) which collocates with this meaning and second, the latter part of verse 2:178 (pay it [– the diyah –] with goodness) becomes redundant if the first meaning is thought to be implied.

It is in this second meaning that the word is used all four times that it occurs in these set of verses. The norms and conventions of a society here point actually to the good and acceptable norms – those which human nature and intuition endorse as good.

2. ‘الكِتَاب

The way the word ‘الكِتَاب’ is used in 2:235 conclusively shows that here it means ‘law’ – that is the law which denotes the prescribe time period of ‘iddah.

3. Usage of the particle ‘س’

As pointed out in the translation, the particle ‘س’ in the word ‘سَتَذْكُرُونَهُنَّ’ denotes ‘certainty’ and ‘definiteness’. Its usage as a particle of future is not implied here.1

II Eloquence & Style (الاساليب و البلاغة)

1. Ellipses of a Preposition

In Arabic the preposition of a verb is sometimes suppressed in order to stress the action the verb denotes. In the expression ‘وَلَا تَعْزِمُوا عُقْدَةَ النِّكَاحِ’ ٢:٢٣٥, the preposition ‘عَلى’ has been suppressed after the verb ‘تَعْزِمُوا’. The implied meaning being that a person should not even think of declaring his decision of marriage until the prescribed waiting period expires.2

2. Usage of ‘عَشَرَ

In classical Arabic, whenever the ‘مَعْدُوْد’ (the counted object) is ellipsed – whether it be a feminine noun or a masculine noun – the ‘عَدَد’ (the numeral) may be masculine or feminine. It is not necessary that it follow the general rule.

Here it is obvious that the suppressed ‘مَعْدُوْد’ (the counted object) is ‘اَيَّام’ and, consequently, even though it is masculine, the ‘عَدَد’ (the numeral) is not ‘عَشَرَهَ’ as should have been the case in accordance with the general rule in this regard.

3. Addressees of ‘عَلَيْكُمْ

It is evident that in 2:234 while the addressees of the first ‘عَلَيْكُمْ’ are the guardians of the widow, the addressees of the second ‘عَلَيْكُمْ’ are those men who intend to propose to the widow.  

4. Use of the Verb ‘آتَيْتُمْ

In the Arabic language, a verb may be used in various degrees. For example, a verb may express intention, result or completeness depending upon the context in which it is used. The verb ‘آتَيْتُمْ’ (2:223), as pointed by Ghamidi in his translation (what you promised) expresses intention. Consequently, Zamakhsari points to this usage of ‘آتَيْتُمْ’ by saying: ‘مَا اَرَدْتُمْ اِيْتَاءَهُ3.

5. Suppression after ‘لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ

As pointed out by Ghamidi (note 5) words to the effect ‘فِى الفرِيْضهَ’ are suppressed after ‘لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ’. Most commentators do not acknowledge this suppression and take the verse to mean that there is no harm in divorcing wives if their husbands have not touched them or if their dower has not been fixed.

6. Mujanasah

As pointed out by Ghamidi (note 3) the literary device mujanasah (literally: of the same genre) is used by the Qur’an in ‘إِلَّا أَنْ يَعْفُونَ أَوْ يَعْفُوَ’. Mujanasah means the use of the same verb or noun in reply to some statement such that in this second instance of usage it is not used in its original meaning but used in a different meaning to which the context readily testifies. Here, of course, the act of paying the full amount of the dower by the husband cannot be termed ‘عَفْو’ (forgiveness). It is basically an act of magnanimity on his part.4 However, it is used in reply to the word ‘يَعْفُونَ’ as per mujanasah.

III Syntax and Declensions (النحو و الاعراب)  

1. The copulation of ‘تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً

The words ‘تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً’ are copulated to the negative particle ‘لَمْ’ and the implied meaning is ‘تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً لَمْ مَا اَوْ’.

2. Parsing of 2:234

The parsing of ‘وَصِيَّةً لِأَزْوَاجِهِمْ مَتَاعًا إِلَى الْحَوْلِ غَيْرَ إِخْرَاجٍ’ as pointed out by Ghamidi (note 16) must be kept in consideration: the word ‘وَصِيَّةً’ is the object (maf’ul) of a suppressed verb like ‘يُوْصُوْنَ’; the word ‘class="ArabicInLineText"مَتَاعًا’ is the object of ‘وَصِيَّةً’. A verbal noun like ‘وَصِيَّةً’ has the ability to drive a word into the accusative because of the presence of the verb factor in it. The word ‘غَيْرَ إِخْرَاجٍ’ is an accusative of state from ‘لِأَزْوَاجِهِمْ’.

3. Declensions of ‘فَرِجَالًا’ and ‘رُكْبَانًا

The words ‘فَرِجَالًا’ and ‘رُكْبَانًا’ are accusatives of state (حَال) from the suppressed imperative verb ‘صلُّوْا’. 

IV Coherence and Placement (النظم و النظام )

1. Placement of 238-8

As pointed out by Ghamidi (note 14), the third section of the surah ends on these two verses. This section primarily consists of the directives of the shari‘ah. The directive of prayer on which this section ends actually highlights the importance and significance of the prayer. If one is to remain steadfast on the whole shari‘ah of the Almighty, one must be very watchful and careful in observing the directive of the prayer. 

2. Placement of 241-2

It is evident from the placement of both these verses (note 15) that both were revealed as an explanation of the original directives. The tabyin verse alludes to this fact (‘اللَّهُ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ’ and ‘ِلِلنَّاسِ وَيُبَيِّنُ آيَاتِه’). It is to be appreciated that tabyin verses are in accordance with the promise made by the Almighty in Surah Qiyamah (75:19) and are actually an elucidation of a previous directive. They are revealed later and placed after the directive(s) they explain. (For more examples of such verses see: 2:187, 2:219. 2:266, 3:103, 24:58, 24:61)

V Exegesis and Explanation (الشرح و التفسير)

1. ‘Iddah of a Widow

The ‘iddah of a widow as 2:234 specifies is four months and ten days. For a divorced lady it is three months (three menstrual cycles), as stated in 2:228.

Ghamidi has pointed out (note 2) that the basic reason for the extended ‘iddah period of a widow is to be absolutely certain whether she is pregnant or not. In case of a divorced lady, the husband has been directed to divorce her in that period of purity in which sexual intercourse has not taken place. In such instances three menstrual cycles are enough to determine pregnancy. Obviously, in case of a widow no such care can be exercised; hence the ‘iddah period has been extended to a period after which pregnancy or a lack of it can be ascertained with certainty.

2. Origin of the Prayer

As pointed out by the author (note 12), the ritual of the prayer is an age old tradition of the Prophets of Allah. It is incorrect to conclude that this worship ritual was initiated by Muhammad (sws). Similarly the worship rituals of zakah, sawm and hajj existed in Arabia both among the Idolaters and the People of the Book. Thus the Prophet (sws) was not the first to give directives about them. He only cleansed them of certain innovations (bid’ah) which had crept into them over the years.

As far as the prayer is concerned, it was for its very establishment for which Abraham (sws) built the ka‘bah, as is mentioned by the Qur’an:

رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ (٣٧:١٤)

O Lord I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a barren valley by Your sacred House in order, O Lord, that they may be diligent in the prayer. (14:37)

We find the mention of this mode of worship even before Abraham (sws). While referring to the nation of the Prophet Shu‘ayb (sws), who, according to some authorities, lived much before Abraham (sws), the Qur’an says:

قَالُوا يَاشُعَيْبُ أَصَلَاتُكَ تَأْمُرُكَ أَنْ نَتْرُكَ مَا يَعْبُدُ آبَاؤُنَا (٨٧:١١)

They said: ‘‘O Shu‘ayb does your prayer command you that we leave worshipping those whom our fathers worshipped’’. (11:87)

While referring to the Prophets Abraham (sws), Isaac (sws) and Jacob (sws), the Qur’an says:

وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَةِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ (٧٣:٢١)

And We made them leaders guiding [men] by Our command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to be diligent in the prayer and to give zakah. (21:73)

While describing the life of the Prophet Ishmael (sws), the Qur’an says:

وَكَانَ يَأْمُرُ أَهْلَهُ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ وَكَانَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ مَرْضِيًّا(٥٥:١٩)

And he used to enjoin on his people the prayer and zakah. (19:55)

The Children of Israel were bound by a divine covenant to offer regular prayer, as quoted by the Qur’an:

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنْهُمْ اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًا وَقَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ لَئِنْ أَقَمْتُمْ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَيْتُمْ الزَّكَاةَ وَآمَنْتُمْ بِرُسُلِي وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْ (١٢:٥)

Allah did take a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We appointed twelve leaders among them and Allah said: ‘‘I am with you if you are diligent in the prayer, give zakah believe in my messengers, honor and assist them’’. (5:12)

Consequently, the Prophets of the Israelite tradition bade their nations to offer the prayer, as is specified by the Qur’an.

وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى مُوسَى وَأَخِيهِ أَنْ تَبَوَّأَا لِقَوْمِكُمَا بِمِصْرَ بُيُوتًا وَاجْعَلُوا بُيُوتَكُمْ قِبْلَةً وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ (٨٧:١٠)

We inspired Moses and his brother with this message: ‘Appoint dwellings for your people in Egypt, and make your [own] dwellings into qiblah and be diligent in the prayer’. (10:87)

The Prophet Moses (sws) had been told:

إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمْ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي (١٤:٢٠)

Verily I am Allah: ‘‘There is no god but I. So serve Me [only] and be diligent in the prayer to remember me’’. (20:14)

This is what Jesus (sws) had said:

وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ ‎وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا (٣١:١٩)

And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me prayer and zakah as long as I live. (19:31)

We know from the Qur’an that the sage Luqman who belonged to the ancient Arab tradition bade his son to offer regular prayer which shows that this act of worship was in practice in his times as well:

يَابُنَيَّ أَقِمْ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنْ الْمُنكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا أَصَابَكَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ (١٧:٣١)

O my son! Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just and forbid what is wrong. (31:17)

It is known from a hadith that Abu Darr Ghaffari (rta) used to pray even before he had met the Prophet (sws). While talking to his nephew during the course of a journey, he says:

وَقَدْ صَلَّيْتُ يَا ابْنَ أَخِي قَبْلَ أَنْ أَلْقَى رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِثَلَاثِ سِنِينَ قُلْتُ لِمَنْ قَالَ لِلَّهِ قُلْتُ فَأَيْنَ تَوَجَّهُ قَالَ أَتَوَجَّهُ حَيْثُ يُوَجِّهُنِي رَبِّي أُصَلِّي عِشَاءً حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَ مِنْ آخِرِ اللَّيْل (مسلم: رقم ٥٤٢٠)

‘O son of my brother! I used to pray three years prior to meeting the Prophet’. I asked: ‘‘For whom did you pray’’. He replied: ‘‘For Allah’’. I said: ‘‘In what direction did you pray’’. He replied: ‘‘In whatever direction the Almighty turned my face to; I used to offer the ‘isha prayer late at night’’. (Muslim, No: 5420 )

Similarly, Ka‘b Ibn Luiyyi, one of the Prophet’s ancestors used to address the Friday congregational prayers as is reported in history:

كعب بن لؤي…هو أول من سماها الجمعة فكانت قريش تجتمع إليه في هذا اليوم فيخطبهم ويذكرهم بمبعث النبي ويعلمهم أنه من ولده ويأمرهم باتباعه والإيمان

Ka‘b was the first person who named yawm al-‘urubah as yawm al-jumu‘ah (Friday). The Quraysh used to gather round him on this day. He would address them and remind them of the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and inform them that he would be from among his progeny, and would direct them to follow him and believe in him.5

In a hadith in which the Prophet (sws) has been taught to pray five times by Gabriel, it is said that Gabriel visited the Prophet (sws) on two consecutive days and taught him the starting and ending times of each of the five prayers. When he was about to leave on the second day, this is what he is reported to have said:

فقال يا محمد هذا وقت لأنبياء من قبلك

O Muhammad! It is in these times that the Prophets before you also prayed. (Abu Da’ud  No: 149)

Professor Abraham I. Katsh in his book ‘Judaism in Islam’ writes:

The rules and regulations concerning prayer in general would indicate that the five daily prayers originated with Jewish practices …. according to the Babylonian Talmud, we have only three daily prayers. However, Prof. Louis Ginzberg, in his monumental study on the Talmud Yerushalmi, shows that the institution of Jewish prayer originally called for five daily prayers instead of the known three ….Thus, we learn that the Jews in Arabia during the talmudic period really met five times daily for prayer in the synagogue; twice for the recitation of the Shema, and three times for the three regular ‘prayer’. For practical reasons, the two prayers in the morning were combined into one, as were the two prayers in the evening.6

All this evidence shows that the prayer (salah) was a previously introduced form of worship in the time of the Prophet (sws). It is precisely for this reason that we find no mention of its details in the Qur’an. The Qur’an just seems to be referring to it as a practice which was already being followed in the society, and needed to be properly rectified in some of its aspects.

3. Wrong instance of Abrogation

Most commentators maintain that the directives given in 2:240 are abrogated by some other verses of the Qur’an. While summarizing their views, Imam Razi writes: 

فثبت أن هذه الآية توجب أمرين أحدهما: وجوب النفقة والسكنى من مال الزوج سنة والثاني: وجوب الاعتداد سنة، لأن وجوب السكنى والنفقة من مال الميت سنة توجب المنع من التزوج بزوج آخر في هذه السنة، ثم إن الله تعالى نسخ هذين الحكمين، أما الوصية بالنفقة والسكنى فلأن القرآن دل على ثبوت الميراث لها، والسنة دلت على أنه لا وصية لوارث، فصار مجموع القرآن والسنة ناسخاً للوصية للزوجة بالنفقة والسكنى في الحول، وأما وجوب العدة في الحول فهو منسوخ بقوله: {يتربصن بأنفسهن أربعة أشهر وعشراً} (البقرة: ٢٣٤) فهذا القول هو الذي اتفق عليه أكثر المتقدمين والمتأخرين من المفسرين.

Thus it is proven that this verse (2:240) made two things obligatory: one, a year’s maintenance and residence, and two, a year’s ‘iddah because being provided residence and maintenance for a year from the husband’s money meant that the woman could not marry any other person in that one year period. Then the Almighty abrogated both these directives. As far as the directive of bequeathing maintenance and residence for a year was concerned, although the Qur’an says that a bequest can be made in favour of the wife to provide these and a h~adith says that no bequest can be made in favor of an heir. [Since a wife is the heir to her husband], the Qur’an and hadith taken together abrogate the fact that a bequest can be made to provide maintenance and residence for the widowed wife for a year. As for the one year period of ‘iddah from marriage for one year, it was abrogated by the Qur’anic verse: ‘يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا’ (they should keep themselves in waiting for four months and ten days). This [is a summary] of the views of most commentators of the past and those of later times.7

The author differs from the above summarized views of the commentators. He believes (ref. 16). that providing maintenance and residence for a year to the widow is actually an extension of his obligation of providing maintenance and residence to her when he was alive. At his death, it was not deemed appropriate that these services be discontinued forthwith. It is for the husband that she spends the ‘iddah period and thus after its expiry she should be given more time to decide her future except if she herself of her own accord leaves the house. The verses have nothing to do with inheritance and thus there is no question of any abrogation.






1. Similar usage of the particle ‘س’ can be seen in ‘فَسَيَكْفِيْكَهُمُ الله’ (٢:١٣٧).

2. For another example in which a preposition has been ellipsed to imply the required affect, see 1:5. Here also the preposition ‘ِالى’ is ellipsed after the verb ‘اِهْدِنَا’.

3. Kashshaff, Zamakhshari, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dar al-Ahya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1997), 309

4. For some more examples of mujanasah, see 42:40, 2:194 and 16:126.

5. Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-’Arab, 1st ed., vol. 8 (Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1400 AH), 58.

6. Abraham I Katsh, Judaism in Islam, p. 10

7. Razi, Imam Fakhr al-Din, al-Tafsir al-Kabir, 2nd ed., vol. 6 (Tehran: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah), 158.

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