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Researcher’s Companion to Ghamidi’s Surah al-Baqarah (233-235)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I Meaning & Morphology (الصرف و اللغة)

1. َالْمَعْرُوف

The word ma‘rūf in the Qur’ān 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’ān that Muslims enjoin the ma‘rūf and forbid munkar:

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

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

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

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

Here the word ma‘rūf is used in the second meaning ‘custom’ given because first, the imperative verb used is ittibā‘ (to follow) which collocates with this meaning and second, the latter part of verse 2:178 (pay it [– the Dīyah –] 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 Iddat.

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’ 2:235, 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 عَشَرَا

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 the author in his translation (what you promised) expresses intention. Consequently, Zamakhsarī points to this usage of ‘آتَيْتُمْ’ by saying: ‘مَا اَرَدْتُمْ اِيْتَاءَهُ3.

III. Exegesis and Explanation (الشرح و التفسير)

1. ‘Iddat of a Widow

The ‘Iddat 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.

The author has pointed out (ref. 2) that the basic reason for the extended ‘Iddat 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 ‘Iddat period has been extended to a period after which pregnancy or a lack of it can be ascertained with certainty.



1. Similar usage of the particle ‘س’ can be seen in ‘فَسَيَكْفِيْكَهُمُ الله’ (2:137).

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

3. Kashshāff, Zamakhsharī, 1st ed., vol. 1, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ahyā al-Turāth al‘Arabī, 1997), p. 309

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