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Researcher’s Companion to Ghamidi’s Surah al-Baqarah (230-232)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I Meaning & Morphology (الصرف و اللغة)

1. يَعِظُكُمْ بِهِ

The particle ‘ب’ is a preposition of the verb ‘يَعِظُ’ and is not of ‘سببيه’. When this verb relates to two objects, the second object takes the preposition ‘ب’. Thus translation ‘He instructs you through it’1 would not be correct.2 The meaning of the expression, consequently, would be ‘He instructs you of these things’ and not ‘He instructs you through these things’.

The following Qur’ānic verse testifies to this usage:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَعِظُكُمْ بِوَاحِدَةٍ (46:34)

Say: ‘I do admonish you on one point. (34:46)

II Eloquence & Style (الاساليب و البلاغة)

1. Usage of the verb ‘بَلَغَ

In classical Arabic, as in indeed in most languages, verbs in the past tense sometimes connote an action that is yet to take place. While pointing out this aspect, Zamakhsharī writes:

فيقال: بلغ البلد إذا شارفه وداناه. ويقال: قد وصلت، ولم يصل وإنما شارف

… so it is said: ‘He has reached the city’ when a person is near it. Similarly it is said: ‘I have reached [my destination]’, whereas actually the destination has not been reached; one has only drawn near it.3

The verb ‘بَلَغَ’ is used in this sense in ‘وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمْ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ’ (2:231). In other words it implies the sense ‘about to reach’. In the very next verse: ‘وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمْ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ’, (2:232) it is used in its conventional meaning.

2. الى ما يئول اليه  تسمية الشئ

The word ‘أَزْوَاجَهُنَّ’ used in 2:232 is an example of a word being used for meaning that it will ultimately convey4: the future husbands are called husbands. This usage is very common in other languages also. For example, we call a medical student a doctor even though he is yet to become a doctor.

It would be incorrect to take this word in its actual sense, as some commentators have, thereby implying that a husband who divorces his wife should not impede her in any way to go back to her former husband. A woman if she wishes to re-marry, can remarry her former husband and she can re-marry someone else. 

3. الافعال مدارج (Gradations in Verb)

In classical Arabic, a verb can be used in various stages (مدارج). Thus the same verb can be used to express intention, decision, and severity of the actual meaning it conveys. For example the verb ‘أمَنُوْا’ can mean ‘they intend to believe’, ‘they have decided to believe’ or ‘they fully believed’. It depends on the context and usage as to which meaning is implied. Here the verb ‘يَعْلَمُوْن’ in the expression ‘لِقْومٍ يَعْلَمُوْنَ’ expresses ‘intention of knowing’. An accurate rendering of this expression would be ‘Those who want to know’. In other words, ‘تِلْكَ حُدُوْدُ الله يَبَيَّنُهاَ لِِقَوْمٍ يَعْلِمُوْنَ’ actually implies that the Almighty is explaining his bounds to only those who want to gain knowledge.

4. وجه الخطاب

Most commentators mention the possibility that the verb in the expression ‘فَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ’. (And do not stop them) can be directed at the guardians of the wife who may stop her from marrying some other person once she has been divorced. However, there is intrinsic evidence found within the verse that conclusively proves that the verb is actually directed at the husband who has divorced his wife. While referring to this intrinsic evidence Imām Rāzī writes:

المسألة الثالثة: اختلف المفسرون في أن قوله: {فلا تعضلوهن} خطاب لمن؟ فقال الأكثرون إنه خطاب للأولياء، وقال بعضهم إنه خطاب للأزواج، وهذا هو المختار، الذي يدل عليه أن قوله تعالى: {وإذا طلقتم النساء فبلغن أجلهن فلا تعضلوهن} جملة واحدة مركبة من شرط وجزاء، فالشرط قوله: {وإذا طلقتم النساء فبلغن أجلهن} والجزاء قوله: {فلا تعضلوهن} ولا شك أن الشرط وهو قوله: {وإذا طلقتم النساء} خطاب مع الأزواج، فوجب أن يكون الجزاء وهو قوله: {فلا تعضلوهن} خطاباً معهم أيضاً، إذ لو لم يكن كذلك لصار تقدير الآية: إذا طلقتم النساء أيها الأزواج فلا تعضلوهن أيها الأولياء وحيئنذٍ لا يكون بين الشرط وبين الجزاء مناسبة أصلاً وذلك يوجب تفكك نظم الكلام وتنزيه كلام الله عن مثله واجب، فهذا كلام قوي متين في تقرير هذا القول.

The commentators disagree regarding the addressees of the words ‘فَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ’. Most of them are of the opinion that the expression addresses the guardians of the divorced women. Some commentators, however, do say that these words address the husbands. I also subscribe to this opinion. The reason is that the verse ‘وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمْ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ’ is a single sentence composed of a prodosis (شرط) and an apodosis (جزا). The prodosis is ‘وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمْ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ’ and the apodosis is ‘فَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ’. There can be no doubt in the fact that the prodosis is addressed to the husbands. Consequently, it is imperative that the apodosis also be  addressed to the husbands. If this were not so, the verse would imply ‘When you divorce your wives, O husbands, you guardians should not stop them….’. This of course would create a disagreement between the prodosis and the apodosis and this would also dismember the coherence of the discourse, and it is essential to disregard such a thing from the message of God’.5

III. Exegesis and Explanation (الشرح و التفسير)

1. The implication of ‘تَنكِحَ

In the verse, ‘فَإِنْ طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا تَحِلُّ لَهُ مِنْ بَعْدُ حَتَّى تَنكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ’ the verb ‘تَنكِحَ’ is used. As pointed out by the author (ref. 1). Nikāh (marriage contract) is a well-known term of the Qur’ān and refers to marriage, which is a contract made by a man and woman who intend to live their lives together as husband and wife. If a divorce is planned at the beginning of a marriage merely to legalize the wife for the first husband then this is against the spirit of the marriage contract. The very words of the verse also go against such an arrangement. The particle of condition ‘إِنْ’ is used for exceptional and contingent situations. While pointing to this usage, Islāhī writes:

In Arabic ‘إِنْ’ is not used for routine and usual matters. Usually, it is used for rare and contingent occurrences. For regular matters, ‘اِذَاِ’ is used. 6

Moreover, there is no linguistic basis of construing that in this verse the verb ‘تَنكِحَ’ implies sexual intercourse7.

IV. Scriptures and Testaments (العهود  و الصحف)

1. The divorce verses of the Old Testament read as follows:

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives to her and sends her from his house, and after she leaves his house, she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then the first husband who divorced her is not allowed to marry her again after she had been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Deuteronomy, 24:1-4)

Some of the contrasting points regarding divorce between the OT and the Qur’ān are:

1. According to the OT, a husband can seemingly divorce his wife only on the grounds of indecency.8 The Qur’ān, on the contrary does not impose such a condition.

2. The divorce sentence according to OT must be in written form (certificate of divorce), while the Qur’ān does not impose this condition. Divorce sentences pronounced orally are also acceptable.

3. Contrary to the Qur’ān, the OT does not allow re-marriage between a former husband and wife, if after divorce, the wife is married to some other person and this second husband dies or divorces her.

4. The OT also does not allow a husband to exercise his right of a revocable divorce twice in the course of a marriage, as the Qur’ān does. He can only exercise it once.





1. See Islāhī, Amīn Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 539

2. Islāhī has translated it thus: ‘which He revealed for your instruction’, (Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 525

3. Kashshāff, Zamakhsharī, 1st ed., vol. 1, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ahyā al-Turāth al‘Arabī, 1997), p. 305

4. For more examples of such usage in the Qur’ān, see 12:36 and 71:27. In the former, the word ‘خَمْر’ and in latter ‘فَاجِر’ is used similarly.

5. Rāzī, Imām Fakhru’l-Dīn, 2nd ed., vol. 6, (Tehran: Dāru’l-Kutub al- ‘Ilmiyyah), p. 112

6. Islāhī, Amīn Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 638

7. Ibid., pp. 537-9

8. The New Testament limits this ‘indecency’ to ‘marital unfaithfulness’. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus (sws) says:

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery. (Matthew, 19:9)

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