Monday 31 December 2018

Surah At Talaq - Divorce - Summary of 65th Chapter of the Holy Quran

Sūrat aṭ-Talāq is the seventieth surah with 12 ayahs / verses with two rukus, part of the 28th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. 

The surah is so named as the laws regarding divorce and Iddat (waiting period) before the divorce take effect have been discussed in the first seven verses of the surah. In the remaining verses from 8-12, tidings of exemplary punishment have been given for those who are rebellious against Allah's commandment with a view to instill fear of Allah and so that they adhere to the Divine laws as enunciated in the Holy Qur'an.

Since the subject discussed in this surah has relevance to matters and commandments already revealed in Surah Al Baqarah and Surah Al Ahzab, it would be useful to refresh one's memory about the instructions which have been given in the Qur'an concerning divorce and the waiting period (Iddat) above:
  • "Divorce may be pronounced twice; then the wife may either be kept back in fairness or allowed to separate in fairness." (Al Baqarah 229)
  • "And the divorced women (after the pronouncement of the divorce) must wait for three monthly courses... and their husbands are fully entitled to take them back (as their wives) during this waiting period, if they desire reconciliation." (Al Baqarah 228)
  • "Then, if the husband divorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not remain lawful for him after this divorce, unless she marries another husband..." (Al-Baqarah : 230)
  • "When you marry the believing women, and then divorce them before you have touched them, they do not have to fulfill a waiting period, the completion of which you may demand of them." (Al-Ahzab : 49)
  • "And if those of you who die, leave wives behind, the women should abstain (from marriage) for four months and ten days." (Al-Baqarah 234)
The rules prescribed in these verses were as follows:
  • A man can pronounce at the most three divorces on his wife.
  • In case the husband has pronounced one or two divorces he is entitled to keep the woman back as wife within the waiting period and if after the expiry of the waiting period the two desire to re-marry, they can re- marry there is no condition of legalization (tahlil). But if the husband has pronounced three divorces, he forfeits his right to keep her as his wife within the waiting. period, and they cannot re-marry unless the woman re-marries another husband and he subsequently divorces her of his own free will.
  • The waiting period of the woman, who menstruates and marriage with whom has been consummated, is that she should pass three monthly courses. The waiting period in case of one or two divorces is that the woman is still the legal wife of the husband and he can keep her back as his wife within the waiting period. But if the husband has pronounced three divorces, this waiting period cannot be taken advantage of for the purpose of reconciliation, but it is only meant to restrain the woman from re-marrying another person before it comes to an end.
  • There is no waiting. period for the woman, marriage with whom has not been consummated, and who is divorced even before she is touched. She can re-marry, if she likes, immediately after the divorce.
  • The waiting period of the woman whose husband dies, is four months and ten days.
Here, one should understand well that Surah At-Talaq was not sent down to annul any of these rules or amend it, but it was sent down for two purposes;
  • First, that the man who has been given the right to pronounce divorce should be taught such judicious methods of using this right as do not lead to separation, as far as possible however, if separation does take place, it should only be in case all possibilities of mutual reconciliation have been exhausted. For in the Divine Law provision for divorce has been made only as an unavoidable necessity; otherwise Allah does not approve that the marriage relationship that has been established between a man and a woman should ever break. The Holy Prophet (ﷺ) has said "Allah has not made lawful anything more hateful in His sight than divorce." (Abu Daud). And: "Of all the things permitted by the Law, the most hateful in the sight of Allah is the divorce, (Abu Daud)
  • The second object was to complement this section of the family law of Islam by supplying answers to the questions that had remained after the revelation of the commandments in Surah Al-Baqarah. So, answers have been supplied to the following questions:What would be the waiting period of the women, marriage with whom has been consummated and who no longer menstruate, or those who have not yet menstruated, in case they are divorced? What would be the waiting period of the woman, who is pregnant, or the woman whose husband dies, if she is divorced?And what arrangements would be made for the maintenance and lodging of the different categories of divorced women, and for the fosterage of the child whose parents have separated on account of a divorce?
Let us now read explanation of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

As highlighted earlier, the first seven verses of this surah concern the matters related to divorce. Thus care must be taken by both husband and wife to refrain from this sin as far as they can and try to keep their marriage bond intact. However, if nothing works out between the two, then they must break their bond in line with commandments of Allah, enunciated above and in the seven verses below:
1. O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately), their prescribed periods: And fear Allah your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are limits set by Allah: and any who transgresses the limits of Allah, does verily wrong his (own) soul: thou knowest not if perchance Allah will bring about thereafter some new situation.2. Thus when they fulfill their term appointed, either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take for witness two persons from among you, endued with justice, and establish the evidence (as) before Allah. Such is the admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out,3. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.4. Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.5. That is the Command of Allah, which He has sent down to you: and if any one fears Allah, He will remove his ills, from him, and will enlarge his reward.6. Let the women live (in ´iddat) in the same style as ye live, according to your means: Annoy them not, so as to restrict them. And if they carry (life in their wombs), then spend (your substance) on them until they deliver their burden: and if they suckle your (offspring), give them their recompense: and take mutual counsel together, according to what is just and reasonable. And if ye find yourselves in difficulties, let another woman suckle (the child) on the (father´s) behalf.7. Let the man of means spend according to his means: and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief.
The four schools of thought of Sunni Islam, i.e. Hanafi, Maliki, Shaafi and Hanbali interpret the manner of divorce slightly different from each other. Since majority of Sunni Muslims follow Imam Abu Hanifa, here in under the interpretation as per the Hanafi School of Thought:
  • The Hanafis regard divorce as of three kinds: Ahsan. hasan, and bid'i. 
  • The ahsan form of divorce is that one may pronounce only one divorce on one's wife during a tuhr (purity) period in which one must refrain from sexual intercourse and leave the wife to complete her waiting-period. 
  • The hasan form of divorce is that one may pronounce one divorce in each period of purity: in this case pronouncement of three: divorces, one each in three periods of purity, . is also not against the Shari'ah, although the best approved method is to pronounce only one divorce and leave the wife to complete her waiting-period. 
  • The bid'i form of divorce is that one must pronounce three divorces in a single sitting, or pronounce three divorces at different times during the same period of purity, or pronounce divorce during menstruation, or pronounce it in the period of purity during which one has had a sexual intercourse. 
  • Of these whichever course one may adopt one will be guilty a sin, This is the law in respect of the woman Marriage with whom has been consummated and who has regular courses. As for the woman marriage with whom has not been consummated, she can be divorced both in the state of purity and during menstruation, and this is according to the Sunnah. And if the woman is such a one marriage with whom has been consummated who no longer menstruates, or the one who has not yet menstruated, she can be divorced even after the sexual intercourse„for there is no chance of her being pregnant. And if the woman is pregnant, she also can be divorced after the sexual intercourse, for her pregnancy is already established. But the method of pronouncing divorce on these women according to the Sunnah, is that the divorce may be pronounced at the interval of one month in each case. 
  • However, the ahsan method is that only one divorce may be pronounced and the woman left to complete her waiting period. (Hedayah, fath alQadir, Ahkam al-Qur an (AI-Jassas), `Umdat al-Qari).
For the view point of other three Sunni schools of thought, please refer to End Notes of reference [1]. For divorce procedure among the Shia Muslims, read details at reference [4].

In the verses 8-12, the Muslims are being warned of the fate they would meet in this world and in the Hereafter if they disobeyed the commands they have been given through the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah and His Book and the rewards they would receive if they adopted obedience:
8. And many a town (population) revolted against the Command of its Lord and His Messengers, and We called it to a severe account (i.e. torment in this worldly life), and shall punish it with a horrible torment (in Hell, in the Hereafter).9. Then did they taste the evil result of their conduct, and the End of their conduct was Perdition.10. Allah has prepared for them a severe Punishment (in the Hereafter). Therefore fear Allah, O ye men of understanding - who have believed!- for Allah hath indeed sent down to you a Message,-11. An Messenger, who rehearses to you the Signs of Allah containing clear explanations, that he may lead forth those who believe and do righteous deeds from the depths of Darkness into Light. And those who believe in Allah and work righteousness, He will admit to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: Allah has indeed granted for them a most excellent Provision.12. Allah it is He Who created seven heavens, and, like them, the earth. His commandment descends among them. (All this is being stated so that you know) that Allah has power over everything, and that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge.
In the verse 12 above, “like of them” does not mean that He created as many earths as the heavens, but it means that He has also created several earths as He has created several heavens. “Of the earth” means that just as this earth which is inhabited by man is serving as bed and cradle for the creatures living on it, so has Allah made and set other earths also in the universe. which serve as beds and cradles for the creatures living on them. Moreover, there are clear pointers in the Qur'an to the effect that living creatures are not found only on the earth but also in the heavens. 

For instance, it appears in Surah Ash-Shura: 29:
And of his signs is the creation of the heavens and earth and what He has dispersed throughout them of creatures. And He, for gathering them when He wills, is competent.
In other words! the countless stars and planets seen in the sky are not all lying desolate, but like the earth there are many among them which are inhabited.

Note: The exegesis of this surah is  in quite details. Here only a fraction of details has been presented. Please read details at references [1] and [2] given below for clarification and details.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat aṭ-Talāq with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, the exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran are basically based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 

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