Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 233

۞ وَٱلْوَٰلِدَٰتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَٰدَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ ۖ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ ٱلرَّضَاعَةَ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلْمَوْلُودِ لَهُۥ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَا تُضَآرَّ وَٰلِدَةٌۢ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُۥ بِوَلَدِهِۦ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَٰلِكَ ۗ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالًا عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا ۗ وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمْ أَن تَسْتَرْضِعُوٓا۟ أَوْلَٰدَكُمْ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُم مَّآ ءَاتَيْتُم بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

Translations

Basic Translation
Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers' provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father's] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do.

Qur'an Dictionary

Click word/image to view Qur'an Dictionary
Word Arabic word
(2:233:1)
wal-wālidātu
And the mothers
(2:233:2)
yur'ḍiʿ'na
shall suckle
(2:233:3)
awlādahunna
their children
(2:233:4)
ḥawlayni
(for) two years
(2:233:5)
kāmilayni
complete
(2:233:6)

(2:233:7)
arāda
wishes
(2:233:8)

(2:233:9)
yutimma
complete
(2:233:10)
l-raḍāʿata
the suckling
(2:233:11)

(2:233:12)
l-mawlūdi
the father
(2:233:13)

(2:233:14)
riz'quhunna
(is) their provision
(2:233:15)
wakis'watuhunna
and their clothing
(2:233:16)
bil-maʿrūfi
in a fair manner
(2:233:17)

(2:233:18)
tukallafu
is burdened
(2:233:19)
nafsun
any soul
(2:233:20)
illā
except
(2:233:21)
wus'ʿahā
its capacity
(2:233:22)

(2:233:23)
tuḍārra
made to suffer
(2:233:24)
wālidatun
(the) mother
(2:233:25)
biwaladihā
because of her child
(2:233:26)

(2:233:27)
mawlūdun
(the) father
(2:233:28)

(2:233:29)
biwaladihi
because of his child
(2:233:30)

(2:233:31)
l-wārithi
the (father's) heir
(2:233:32)
mith'lu
(is a duty) like
(2:233:33)

(2:233:34)

(2:233:35)
arādā
they both desire
(2:233:36)
fiṣālan
weaning
(2:233:37)

(2:233:38)
tarāḍin
mutual consent
(2:233:39)

(2:233:40)
watashāwurin
and consultation
(2:233:41)

(2:233:42)
junāḥa
blame
(2:233:43)

(2:233:44)

(2:233:45)
aradttum
you want
(2:233:46)

(2:233:47)
tastarḍiʿū
ask another women to suckle
(2:233:48)
awlādakum
your child
(2:233:49)

(2:233:50)
junāḥa
blame
(2:233:51)

(2:233:52)
idhā
when
(2:233:53)
sallamtum
you pay
(2:233:54)

(2:233:55)
ātaytum
you give
(2:233:56)
bil-maʿrūfi
in a fair manner
(2:233:57)
wa-ittaqū
And fear
(2:233:58)
l-laha
Allah
(2:233:59)
wa-iʿ'lamū
and know
(2:233:60)

(2:233:61)
l-laha
Allah
(2:233:62)

(2:233:63)
taʿmalūna
you do
(2:233:64)
baṣīrun
(is) All-Seer

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The following ruling concerns the fostering and breast-feeding of infants after divorce. When a marriage breaks up, certain ties, commitments and relationships continue to exist between the divorced couple, foremost among which is the well- being and upbringing of children. The sūrah covers all possible eventualities.

A divorced mother continues to have a God-given duty towards her infant, no matter how acrimonious the separation from her husband. God’s mercy and compassion dictate that under no circumstances should the children be made to suffer, especially during the early years of life when they are still being breast-fed. Modern scientific research has shown that the mother’s milk is essential for the first two years of life for the healthy physical and psychological development of the child. Mankind needed to know this important fact and hence God, out of His infinite mercy, revealed it in the Qur’ān more than fourteen centuries ago.

In return, the mother has secured the right that the father must provide for her maintenance with fairness and good-will, as partners in their responsibility towards the infant and within their respective means.

No human being shall be burdened with more than he is well able to bear” The child should not be used by either parent as a pretext to put pressure on the other, and: “Neither shall a mother be allowed to cause her child to suffer, nor shall a father cause suffering to his child” Neither parent should resort to emotional blackmail or coercion to extort concessions from the other. Were the child’s father to die: “The same shall apply to the father’s heir.” The father’s heir takes over the responsibility to provide for the suckling mother in a fair manner. This is a case where gains and liabilities are shared within the family: the heir receives his share of inheritance and discharges the liabilities of the deceased. It is essential that this right of the mother, and that of her child, is respected and fulfilled in all situations.

If by mutual consent and after due consultation, the parents choose to wean the child, they will incur no sin thereby.” If, for health or other reasons, the parents, or the mother and the father’s heir, jointly decide that it would be in the child’s interest to take him off his mother’s milk before he has reached two years of age, they shall have the right to do so, provided they have had sufficient consultation over the matter, and act in the child’s interest.

Similarly, if the father chooses to have the baby suckled by someone other than the natural mother, and can show the distinct advantage of such action, he may do so provided that he ensures that the suckling mother receives her wages: “Nor shall it be any offence on your part if you engage wet nurses for your children, provided that you hand over what you agreed to pay, in a fair manner.” This ensures that the wet nurse would take good care of the child. The verse closes with yet further exhortation to all concerned to fear God and take account of His presence and overall authority. “Fear God, and know that God sees all that you do.” This, above all else, is a firm guarantee of proper and fair conduct by all.

Reflections

  • فِصَالً 'seperation' is the process of the physical separation of the the child from the mother. This period lasting 2 years. There are many lessons that can be learnt from the fact that it takes a baby to be 'physically separated' from its mother at birth and then over a period  the physical connection will diminish with less of the need for breast milk until its nourishment i
  • Ibn Kathir writes, "The suckling that establishes Tahrim (prohibition, i.e., one cannot marry his mother or sister from suckling) is what occurs before the two years end. If the infant is suckled only after two years of age, then no Tahrim will be established. At-Tirmidhi under Chapter: `Suckling establishes Tahrim within the first two years,'

Breast milk

  • Inability to produce enough milk is rare, with studies showing that mothers from developing countries experiencing nutritional hardship still produce amounts of milk of similar quality to that of mothers in developed countries.
  • Breast milk contains complex proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and other biologically active components. The composition changes over a single feed as well as over the period of lactation.
  • Breast milk has been used as a home remedy for minor ailments, such as conjunctivitis, insect bites and stings, contact dermatitis, and infected wounds, burns, and abrasions. Breast milk has also been used alternatively to boost the immune system of ill persons having viral gastroenteritis, influenza, the common cold, pneumonia, etc., because of its immunologic properties. However, breast milk should never be seen or construed as a "cure-all". Some medical experts are convinced that breast milk can induce apoptosis in some types of cancer cells. ' Apoptosis' is a process of programmed cell death that occurs in multicellular organisms.  In contrast to necrosis, which is a form of traumatic cell death that results from acute cellular injury, apoptosis is a highly regulated and controlled process that confers advantages during an organism's lifecycle. For example, the separation of fingers and toes in a developing human embryo occurs because cells between the digits undergo apoptosis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apoptosis

2. Linguistic Analysis

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  • Different words for 'year' used in the Qur'an

    حول 'full year' 
     سنة 'hard year'
    عام 'easy year'


Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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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

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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, Islam 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 Quran 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

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  • Al-Bara' bin `Azib narrated, "When Ibrahim, the Prophet's son, died, the Prophet said: «إِنَّ ابْنِي مَاتَ فِي الثَّدْيِ، إِنَّ لَهُ مُرْضِعًا فِي الْجَنَّـة "My son has died on the breast and he has someone to suckle him in Paradise."

  • Regarding the breastfeeding of after two years. Imam Malik reported this Hadith from Thawr bin Zayd who narrated that Ibn `Abbas related it to the Prophet . Ad-Darawardi reported this Hadith from Thawr who narrated it from `Ikrimah who narrated it from Ibn `Abbas. In this narration, which is more authentic, he added: وَمَا كَانَ بَعْدَ الْحَوْلَيْنِ فَليْسَ بِشَيْء  "Whatever occurs after the two years is not considered."

10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

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12. External Links

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