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Researcher’s Companion to Ghamidi’s Surah al-Baqarah (224-29)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I Meaning & Morphology (الصرف و اللغة)

1. ‘قَرْءٌ

The word ‘قَرْءٌ’ is among those words of the Arabic language which are classed as ‘اَضْدَاد’. They are words which have two meanings entirely opposite to one another. It is the context which determines the shade of meaning in which they are used. Example of such words are ‘بَيْع’ which means both ‘sale’ and ‘purchase’, and ‘اَسَرَّ’ which means both ‘to reveal’ and ‘to conceal’.

As pointed out by the author (ref. 6), the context readily suggests that the word ‘قَرْءٌ’ here means ‘حَيْض’ (the period of menstruation) and not ‘طُهْر’ (the period of purity)1.

2. أَحَقُّ

The comparative degree in this word (‘greater rights’) does not imply that the wife also has the right to revoke divorce and that her husband’s right to divorce is only greater.  Instead, it actually suggests that, as pointed out by Zamakhsharī2, if a wife does not accept reconciliation, then the will of the husband shall prevail. In other words, the comparison is between the right of the husband and the wife’s rejection of the husband’s decision.

3. ‘دَرَجَةٌ

This indefinite noun here connotes ‘وَحْدَانِيَّه’. The implied meaning is that the superiority of husbands is not absolute; it is only in one sphere: as head of the family, as the context suggests. The previous verses mention the rights of the husband as head of the family. Also, this relative ‘superiority’ is not being mentioned regarding women and men generally, but within the framework of the marital relationship and in reference to a specific aspect.

4. ‘ال’ in ‘الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ

Technically speaking the ‘ال’ on ‘الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ’ is for ‘غهد’ and not of ‘جنس’as some exegetes contend. The implied meaning after taking into consideration this fact would be: ‘the divorce which has been mentioned above in which a husband can revoke his decision can be given twice only’.

II Eloquence & Style (الاساليب و البلاغة)

1. Tadmīn in ‘يُؤْلُونَ مِنْ نِسَائِهِمْ

The conventional preposition after ‘يُؤْلُونَ’ is ‘عَلى’. However, the preposition ‘مِِنْ’ after it shows the existence of Tadmīn. In other words, the verb encompasses the meaning of ‘drawing away’. While pointing it out Zamakhsharī writes3:

قد ضمن فى هذا القسم المخصوص معنى البعد فكانه قيل: يبعدون من نساءهم مؤلين  او مقسمين

Contained in this specific oath is the meaning of withdrawal as if the implied import is: they withdraw from their wives while swearing…

2. Khabr li’l-amr

In the expression ‘…وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ’, the predicate, which is in the form of a verb, connotes the imperative mood. Thus ‘Divorced women wait…’ is actually ‘Divorced women should wait...’ Such usage actually places emphasis on the imperative. It is as if the directive has already been obeyed. A similar expression is ‘…وَلْوَالِدَاتُ يُرضِِعْنَ اَوْلَادَهُنَّ’ (Mothers should suckle their offspring…(2:233)). Invocations like ‘رَ حِمَكَ اللَّه’ and ‘حَسْبِىَ اللَّه’ also reflect this usage.

3. Ellipses

i. As opined by Abū Hayyān4, the pithy expression ‘وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ’ that occurs at the end of verse 228 can be unfolded thus: ‘وَلَهُنَّ عَلَى اَزْوَاجِهِنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي لِاَزْوَاجِهِنَّ عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ’.

ii. One feature of Qur’ānic Arabic is that it does not employ words which can be avoided to convey the required meaning. For example, though there is a word (اَيْضاً) in classical Arabic for ‘also’, the Qur’ān has not used it at all. It uses the context to ‘insert’ this word in a sentence. This elliptical style of course adds to the eloquence of the language. Here, the words ‘فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ’ (2:229) present a very good example of this. In the preceding verse the word ‘يَخَافَا’ refers to apprehension of the husband and wife and here as ‘خِفْتُمْ’ it refers to the apprehension of the elders of the society. Thus, the word ‘also’ must be considered present or else the words would lose their stress and actual import.

III Exegesis and Explanation (الشرح و التفسير)

1. The part of verse 229 ‘…وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا’ till the end of the verse is often interpreted to mean the right of a wife to seek divorce from her husband (خُلع). 5Many commentators argue that these verses suggest that a woman must pay some money to her husband in order to liberate herself from him. However, if the context of the verse is taken into consideration, this cannot be the meaning of the verse, as pointed out by the author (ref. 15). The husband is first told that if he finally decides to divorce his wife, then he must be decent enough not to take back any gifts he may have given his wife. Then, in the aforementioned verse, he is told that in one exceptional case it is lawful for him to take back some gifts: when both parties desire legal separation, but the husband desists from divorce because he believes his financial loss, through wealth, assets or property, would be too significant. In such a case, it would be acceptable for the wife to return the gifts to her husband and for the husband to accept them.

IV Scriptures and Testaments (العهود  و الصحف)

 1. The Qur’ānic words ‘and for your oaths do not make the name of Allah an obstacle’ (2:224) are comparable to the following verse of the Old Testament:

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your Lord, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (Exodus, 20:7)





1. In A‘shā’s following couplets, for example, the word is used in this latter meaning:

ا فى كل عام انت جاشم غزوة       تشد لاقصاها عزيم عزائك         

مؤصلة مالا و فى الحي رفعة         لما ضاع فيها من قروء نسائكا

(Will you set out every year to bear the hardship of a war traveling to its peak areas with strong determination; such that you gain wealth and earn fame in return for the lost periods of purity of your wives.)

2. Kashshāff, Zamakhsharī, 1st ed., vol. 1, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ahyā al-Turāth al‘Arabī, 1997), p. 300

3. Kashshāff, Zamakhsharī, 1st ed., vol. 1, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ahyā al-Turāth al‘Arabī, 1997), p. 296

4. Abū Hayyān, Al-Bahr Al-Muhīt, 1st ed., vol.2 (Makkah: Dāru’l-Fikr, 1992), p. 460

5. This of course does not mean that she does not have the right to seek divorce. What is being implied is that these verses do not state this right.

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