Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 230
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he divorces her
other than him
he divorces her
they return to each other
they (will be able to) keep
(are the) limits
He makes them clear
to a people
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
This is a good example of the remarkably precise diction of the Qur’ān.
The sūrah continues, giving more rulings relating to divorce: “Should he divorce her [a third time], she shall not thereafter be lawful for him to remarry until she has wedded another husband. If the latter’ then divorces her it shall be no offence for either of the two if they return to one another, if they feel that they will be able to keep within the bounds set by God Such are the bounds set by God He makes them plain for people who have knowledge.”
If a third divorce takes place in a marriage, it could only be a sign of serious and irreversible deterioration within that relationship. The best solution in this case would be permanent separation, and for each partner to seek happiness with someone else. However, if any or all of the three divorces were pronounced by the man lightly, or out of spite, or in the heat of the moment, here again, a drastic measure must be taken to prevent men abusing their divorce privilege. Such an unhappy relationship should not be perpetuated, since the man has no appreciation for it, nor is keen to protect it.
The question may here be put, therefore, as to why the woman should have to suffer the consequences of a rash utterance by her husband, thereby jeopardising her life, peace and security? The answer is that the ruling has to be realistic. Let us look at this more closely and ask: What would be the alternative solution? Should the man be forced to live with a woman in a marriage he has little or no respect for? Should he be told that his repeated divorcing of his wife is not enforceable and that his wife is his responsibility, whether he likes it or not? This, in fact, would be far more humiliating for the wife, and degrading to the marriage itself, neither of which Islam would condone. A more proper censure of the man’s behaviour would be to deprive him of the right to his wife and make him in the first and second divorces liable to pay a new dowry, under a new marriage contract, after he had failed to take her back before the passing of the waiting period. The third time a man resorts to divorce, the separation shall be deemed final and the woman has to marry someone else and be legally divorced by him before being able to return to her former husband. The first husband would stand to forfeit the dowry he had paid as well as all the costs he had incurred during the marriage. He will also, in any case, be liable for alimony payments. This is a practical and workable manner in which to approach this delicate and emotionally-charged situation.
If, after the third divorce, the woman marries someone else and this marriage is then terminated, in the normal course of events, by divorce or by the husband’s death, she may be reunited with the first husband as long as “they feel that they will be able to keep within the bounds set by God.” This indicates very clearly that the matter is not left to the couple to decide as they please, but it is regulated by terms and conditions set out by God for a proper social order that conforms to His will. These terms and conditions are fully expounded in the Qur’ān for all who are capable of learning and understanding.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
The scholars are unanimous that Surah al-Baqarah is Madani and that it was the first Surah revealed in Madinah. [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Fath al-Bari no. 160/8].
Despite it being the first Surah to be revealed in Madinah, it contains Ayaat from a later period also. In fact, according to Ibn Abbas [as mentioned in Ibn Kathir] the last Ayat revealed to the Prophet was Ayat no. 281 from Surah al-Baqarah and this occurred 8 days or so before his death [which corresponds to the year 11 Hijri].
8. Reasons for Revelation[ edit ]
In order to understand the meaning of this Surah, we should know its historical background:
1. At Makkah, the Quran generally addressed the polytheist Quraysh who were ignorant of Islam, but at Madinah it was also concerned with the Jews who were acquainted with the creed of Monotheism, Prophethood, Revelation, the Hereafter and Angels. They also professed to believe in the law which was revealed by God to their Prophet Moses, and in principle, their way was the same (Islam) that was being taught by Prophet Muhammad. But they had strayed away from it during the centuries of degeneration and had adopted many un-Islamic creeds, rites and customs of which there was no mention and for which there was no sanction in the Torah. Not only this: they had tampered with the Torah by inserting their own explanations and interpretations into its text. They had distorted even that part of the Word of God which had remained intact in their Scriptures and taken out of it the real spirit of true religion and were now clinging to a lifeless frame of rituals. Consequently their beliefs, their morals and their conduct had gone to the lowest depths of degeneration. The pity is that they were not only satisfied with their condition but loved to cling to it. Besides this, they had no intention or inclination to accept any kind of reform. So they became bitter enemies of those who came to teach them the Right Way and did their utmost to defeat every such effort. Though they were originally Muslims, they had swerved from the real Islam and made innovations and alterations in it and had fallen victims to hair splitting and sectarianism. They had forgotten and forsaken God and begun to serve material wealth. So much so that they had even given up their original name “Muslim” and adopted the name “Jew” instead, and made religion the sole monopoly of the children of Israel. This was their religious condition when the Prophet went to Madinah and invited the Jews to the true religion. That is why more than one third of this Surah has been addressed to the children of Israel. A critical review of their history, their moral degeneration and their religious perversions has been made. Side by side with this, the high standard of morality and the fundamental principles of the pure religion have been put forward in order to bring out clearly the nature of the degeneration of the community of a prophet when it goes astray and to draw clear lines of demarcation between real piety and formalism, and the essentials and non-essentials of the true religion.
2. At Makkah, Islam was mainly concerned with the propagation of its fundamental principles and the moral training of its followers. But after the migration of the Prophet to Madinah, where Muslims had come to settle from all over Arabia and where a tiny Islamic State had been set up with the help of the ‘local supporters’ (Ansar), naturally the Quran had to turn its attention to the social, cultural, economic, political and legal problems as well. This accounts for the difference between the themes of the Surahs revealed at Makkah and those at Madinah. Accordingly about half of this Surah deals with those principles and regulations which are essential for the integration and solidarity of a community and for the solution of its problems.
After the migration to Madinah, the struggle between Islam and disbelief (Kufr) had also entered a new phase. Before this the Believers, who propagated Islam among their own clans and tribes, had to face its opponents at their own risk. But the conditions had changed at Madinah, where Muslims from all parts of Arabia had come and settled as one community, and had established an independent city state. Here it became a struggle for the survival of the Community itself, for the whole of non-Muslim Arabia was bent upon and united in crushing it totally. Hence the following instructions, upon which depended not only its success but its very survival, were revealed in this Surah:
a. The Community should work with the utmost zeal to propagate its ideology and win over to its side the greatest possible number of people.
b. It should so expose its opponents as to leave no room for doubt in the mind of any sensible person that they were adhering to an absolutely wrong position.
c. It should infuse in its members (the majority of whom were homeless and indigent and surrounded on all sides by enemies) that courage and fortitude which is so indispensable to their very existence in the adverse circumstances in which they were struggling and to prepare them to face these boldly.
d. It should also keep them ready and prepared to meet any armed menace, which might come from any side to suppress and crush their ideology, and to oppose it tooth and nail without minding the overwhelming numerical strength and the material resources of its enemies.
e. It should also create in them that courage which is needed for the eradication of evil ways and for the establishment of the Islamic Way instead. That is why God has revealed in this Surah such instructions as may help achieve all the above mentioned objects.
At the time of the revelation of Al-Baqarah, all sorts of hypocrites had begun to appear. God has, therefore, briefly pointed out their characteristics here. Afterwards when their evil characteristics and mischievous deeds became manifest, God sent detailed instructions about them. [REF: Mawdudi]
9. Relevant Hadith[ edit ]
- Allah's Messenger said 'Any woman who asks her husband for divorce without justification, then the scent of Paradise will be forbidden for her.' [Tirmidhi]
- Allah's Messenger once went to the Fajr (Dawn) prayer and found Habibah bint Sahl by his door in the dark. Allah's Messenger said, "Who is this'' She said, "I am Habibah bint Sahl, O Messenger of Allah!'' He said, "What is the matter'' She said, "I and Thabit bin Qays'', meaning, (she can no longer be with) her husband. When her husband Thabit bin Qays came, Allah's Messenger said to him 'This is Habibah bint Sahl, she said what Allah has permitted her to say.' Habibah also said, "O Messenger of Allah! I still have everything he gave me.'' Allah's Messenger said:(Take it from her.)
- Abbas said that the wife of Thabit bin Qays bin Shammas came to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of Allah! I do not criticize his religion or mannerism. But I hate committing Kufr in Islam (by ignoring his rights on her).'' Allah's Messenger said:(Will you give him back his garden)
She said, "Yes.'' Allah's Messenger said 'Take back the garden and divorce her once.' [Bukhari]