Showing posts with label Intoxication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intoxication. Show all posts

Monday 23 December 2019

Surah Al Baqarah - The Cow: 2nd Chapter of Quran (Exegesis Section 3 Part III)

Sūrah Al Baqarah "البقرة" is the longest Sūrah of the Qurān with 286 verses and forty ruku, spanned over Juz' 1-3. 

Please read the Summary and the Overview of the Sūrah before reading its detailed exegesis so as to have a fair idea how this Sūrah has been compartmentalized into various sections and parts to emphasize on the important subject matter of the Sūrah:
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: [verses 40 to 121 (Ruku 5-14)] and has been further divided into two parts as under:
  • Part I:  (Verses 40-61) - Completed
  • Part II: (Verses 62-121) - Completed
Section 2: [verse 122-163 (ruku 15-19)] - Completed
  • Section 3: [Verses 164 - 242 (Ruku 20-40)]  It has been further sub divided into three parts as under:
  • Part I: (verses 164-188) - Completed
  • Part II: (Verses 189-216) - Completed
  • Part III: (Verses 217-242) - This Part
  • Section 4: (Verses 243-286) 
We have already presented the Introduction, Sections 1, 2 and 3 (Part I and II). We now begin with Part III of Section-3. The translation and exegesis / tafseer is in English. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles.

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

Ruku / Section 27 [Verses 217-221]
Note: Although Ruku / Section 26 finished with verse 216, but the subject of fighting that is discussed in verse 216 spills over to the first two verses of Ruku 27. Therefore we continued the discussion in Part II on verses 217-218 of Ruku 27 which discuss matters related to Fighting in the Sacred Month and Punishment for "murtad"- who turn back from Islam. 

For now, we begin exegesis of Ruku 27 from verse 219 onward in this Part.

In Part III, matters related to Prohibition of intoxicants and gambling, permission of incorporating the affairs of the orphans with their guardians and prohibition of marriage among idolaters (219-21), and Marriage ,divorce, eela, khula`, radaa`at, naan-u-nafqah of the deceased among the spouses and other issues of marital life (222-42) are discussed.

Verses 219-220 Drinking and gambling are sinful and Dealings with orphans:
( 219 )   They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they should spend. Say, "The excess [beyond needs]." Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.
This is the first injunction concerning intoxicating drinks and gambling, and here the matter has been left merely as an expression of disapproval. This was a preliminary step designed to prepare the minds of people for the acceptance of their prohibition. The injunction prohibiting the performance of Prayer when in a state of intoxication came later, and ultimately alcohol, gambling and the like were categorically prohibited see( 4: 43)and (5: 90).

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Wine: Khamr: literally understood to mean the fermented juice of the grape; applied by analogy to all fermented liquor, and by further analogy to any intoxicating liquor or drug. There may possible be some benefit in it, but the harm is greater than the benefit, especially if we look at it from a social as well as an individual point of view.

Gambling: maisir: literally, a means of getting something too easily, getting a profit without working for it; hence gambling. That is the principle on which gambling is prohibited. The form must familiar to the Arabs was gambling by casting lots by means of arrows, on the principle of a lottery: the arrows were marked, and served the same purpose as a modern lottery ticket. Something e.g., the carcase of a slaughtered animal, was divided into unequal parts. The marked arrows were drawn from a bag. Some were blank and those who drew them got nothing. Others indicated prizes, which were big or small. Whether you got a big share or a small share, or nothing, depended on pure luck, unless that was fraud also on the part of some persons concerned. The principle on which the objection is based is: that, even if there is no fraud, you gain what you have not earned, or lose on a mere chance. Dice and wagering are rightly held to be within the definition of gambling. But insurance is not gambling, when conducted on business principles. Here the basis for calculation is statistics on a large scale, from which mere chance is eliminated. The insurers themselves pay premia in proportion to risks, exactly and statistically calculated.

Hoarding is no use either to ourselves, or to any one else. We should use the wealth we need; any superfluities we must spend in good works or in charity.

Gambling and intemperance are social as ell as individual sins. They may ruin us in our ordinary every-day worldly life, as well as our spiritual future. In case it is suggested that there is no harm in a little indulgence, we are asked to think over all its aspects, social and individual, - worldly and spiritual.
( 220 )   To this world and the Hereafter. And they ask you about orphans. Say, "Improvement for them is best. And if you mix your affairs with theirs - they are your brothers. And Allah knows the corrupter from the amender. And if Allah had willed, He could have put you in difficulty. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
Before this verse was revealed many severe injunctions had already been revealed regarding the protection of orphans' property. It had been ordained that ' people should not even draw near to the property of the orphan' (6: 152)v; (17: 34) and that 'those who wrongfully eat the properties of orphans only, fill their bellies with fire' (4: 10). Because of these severe injunctions the orphans' guardians were so over awed that they even separated the food and drink of the orphans from their own; they felt anxious lest anything belonging to the orphans became mixed with their own. It is for this reason that they inquired of the Prophet (peace he on him) what the proper form of their dealings with orphans should be.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Verse 220 features yet another question in a series of several posed by the noble Companions. This question relates to the combining of the cost of maintenance of orphans. Since there was general lack of carefulness about the rights of orphans in pagan Arabia, as elsewhere, warning was given that consuming what belongs to the orphans is like filling bellies with embers of Hell. Consequently, the recipients of this warning were so scared that they, out of preventive measure, started preparing and storing meals given to orphans separately. In case the child ate less, food was left over and, naturally so, got decomposed. The reason: It was not permissible for them to use food which belonged to the orphans, nor did they have the right to give what belonged to the orphans in charity. This was a matter of sheer discomfort and a source of loss to the orphans as well. Therefore, the situation was brought to the notice of the Holy Prophet following which came the guidance given in this verse.

It is being said here that the purpose is not to compromise the welfare of the orphaned children. Since their welfare is served better through a joint expense system, there is nothing to worry about, for they are brothers-in-faith and brothers do share.

The above permission has been hemmed by a warning that Allah watches over the performance of guardians in this matter. He could have, by setting up a harder code of conduct, put them in trouble because He is All-Powerful. But, He has provided an easier code of conduct because He is All-Wise and does not obligate people with what they cannot do.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: [Verses 219-220]
Gambling and drinking in pre-Islamic times were a means through which the rich showed their generosity and helped the poor and needy. In winters, when cold winds blew in and caused conditions akin to drought, the courageous would gather at various places, drink liquor and, in their state of inebriation, slaughter any camels they could get hold of. They would pay the owner of the camels whatever price he demanded. They would then gamble on the meat of the slaughtered camels. Whatever parts of meat a person won in this gambling, would be generously distributed by him among the poor who would gather around on such occasions. In pre-Islamic Arabia, this was a matter of great honour and people who took part in this activity were considered very philanthropic and generous. The poets would narrate the accounts of their benevolence in their odes. On the other hand, people who stayed away from this activity would be called barm (stingy). It was this very benefit of drinking and gambling which prompted people to make an inquiry when they were regarded as prohibited items.

The actual words are: وَ اِثۡمُہُمَاۤ اَکۡبَرُ مِنۡ نَّفۡعِہِمَا. It is evident from the answer given by the Qur’an that the real reason for prohibiting something is the moral harm it causes. The Qur’an generally does not discuss the ills and harms which are not moral in nature. That the moral harm of drinking and gambling is what is implied here is evident from the fact that the word نَفْع (benefit) is used in contrast with the word اِثۡم (sin). Had a comparison between their worldly benefits and harms been intended, the word ضَرَر (damage) would have been used instead اِثۡم.

After repeated questions on this topic, the Qur’an has replied that after setting aside money for personal and business use whether of the present or of the future what remains is the right of the society they live in. The obligation of infaq pertains to this over and above amount. This is the utmost limit of the obligation of infaq that is imposed on a Muslim by his Creator. He is not required to do anything over and above this.

This gives the benefit of explaining something when people inquired about it – something which was originally concise and compact because this teaches people to reflect on the affairs of this world and the next. Writes thus Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:
… If all the questions discussed above are deliberated upon, it comes to light that these questions arose because generally a person is unable to assess in a balanced manner the benefits of this world and of the world to come. It is because of this imbalance that if people become inclined to religion they go as far as becoming ascetics and hermits so much so that to them warfare, in all circumstances, becomes something adverse to righteousness and piety; similarly, if they become inclined to mundane pursuits they go as far as to try to regard things like gambling and drinking as virtuous deeds merely because they provide a few benefits. The guidance provided by the Qur’an to human intellect actually equips it to overcome this unbalanced and extreme attitude and to view the requisites of both worlds in the correct perspective. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 515)
Ie., in this regard the real thing is the welfare of the orphans – which must always remain in consideration. If this objective can be achieved by combining their affairs, then this should be done and if it can be achieved by keeping them independent, then this measure should be resorted to. Whatever is better for them is better.

A warning is sounded by these words. People must know that God is fully aware of their intentions. He knows those who intend good for the orphans by this measure and those who have evil intentions hidden behind it. They should, therefore, must never try to exploit the permission given in this matter.

Ie., had not this permission of combining their affairs been given, people would have ended up in great difficulty but since the Almighty is wise (حَکِیۡم), He has been kind enough to make things easier for them so that they are easily able to serve the society in this manner. Hence, they must be grateful to the Almighty. If they try to misuse this opportunity, they must remember that He is also powerful (عَزِیۡز); no one can save them from His grasp.

Verse 221 It is unlawful to marry a mushrik:
( 221 )   And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.
This is the reason for, and the wisdom underlying the injunction mentioned above prohibiting marriage links with polytheists. Marriage does not consist merely of sexual relations between a man and a woman. It is a relationship which has deep social, moral and emotional implications. If established between a believer and a polytheist, this kind of relationship has many possible outcomes. On the one hand, it is possible that because of the influence of the believing spouse, the other partner, the family and the future generations may become receptive to Islamic beliefs and to the Islamic way of life. On the other hand, it is also possible that the spouse who is a polytheist may influence the thinking and mode of living of the believing spouse, the family and the future generations. Moreover this relationship may promote in that family a hotchpotch of Islam, downright atheism, and polytheism which, however welcome to non-Muslims, is in no way acceptable to Islam. No true believer can run the risk that either the ideas and life-styles which are organically related to atheism and polytheism may flourish among the members of his family, or that some aspect of his own life may bear the impress of atheism or polytheism.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Marriage is a most intimate communion, and the mystery of sex finds its highest fulfillment when intimate spiritual harmony is combined with the physical link. If religion is at all a real influence in life to both parties or to either party, a difference in this vital matter must affect the lives of both more profoundly than differences of birth, race, language, or position in life. It is therefore only right that the parties to be married should have the same spiritual outlook. If two person love each other, their outlook in the highest things of life must be the same. Note that religion is not here a mere label or a matter of custom or birth. The two persons may have been born in different religions, but if, by their mutual influence, they come to see the truth in the same way, they must openly accept the same rites and the same social brotherhood. Otherwise the position will become impossible individually and socially.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The word اَلمُشْرِكُوْن (polytheists) here qualifies the polytheists of Arabia. The Qur’an specifically uses this word for them. Other people of the world can be regarded as polytheists if they positively subscribe to polytheism like the polytheists of Arabia. They cannot be called polytheists if they have not willingly and intellectually adopted polytheism. For example, the Jews and Christians of Arabia were also involved in blatant forms of polytheism, but since they were originally upholders of monotheism and shunned polytheism, the Almighty while granting concession in the fifth verse of Surah al-Ma’idah that Muslim men can marry chaste women from among the Jews and Christians.

This explanation has been made so that it becomes evident to people that the standards of likes and dislikes must change once a person professes faith. While commenting on this aspect, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… In Islam, the standards of likes and dislikes are neither looks, nor social status nor race; being a free man or a bond man is also not bases in this matter. They are in fact based upon faith and righteous deeds. Muslims have therefore been told that their relationships and associations are not bound by race, creed or brotherhood; they are in fact subservient to faith and deeds. A charming princess of the Quraysh has no worth for them if she is not decked with the ornament of faith and a jet black African lady is like the graceful houri of Paradise for them if her heart is illuminated with the light of faith. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 519)
The verse delineates the underlying wisdom of prohibiting marriage with upholders of polytheism. If someone does so, he would actually be surrendering his household to the calls of Hell. The reason is that people who ardently adhere to polytheism would never be forgiven by the Almighty nor would they ever enter His Paradise. A person who marries among polytheists is actually making his abode in Hell. No sane person can do such a blunder.

Ruku / Section 28 [Verses 222-228]
Verses 222-223 Question about menstruation:
( 222 )   And they ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves."
The Arabic word adha denotes both a state of ritual impurity and sickness. Menstruation is not merely an impurity, but also a state in which the woman is closer to sickness than to health.

With regard to matters such as these the Qur'an resorts to metaphors and figurative language. Hence it instructs men not to approach women. This does not mean that people should either abstain from sitting together on the same floor or eating together when a woman has her monthly period making her virtually an untouchable, as has been the custom among the Jews, Hindus and certain other nations. The explanation of this injunction by the Prophet makes it clear that during this period men are only required to abstain from sexual intercourse; no change is postulated in other relationships, and the woman is to be treated in the normal way. (See, for instance, Bukhari, 'Hayd', 10, 'Itikaf', 2-4, 10, 19; Muslim, 'Hayd', 6-13; Abu Da'ud, 'Taharah', 102, 106 - Ed.)

The 'command' of God mentioned here is not a formal legal injunction from God, but that inherent urge with which the nature of both men and animals has been imbued and which is apprehended instinctively.

(The verse means, therefore, that after the end of the menstrual course people may again engage in sexual intercourse - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Azan: hurt, pollution. Both aspects must be remembered. Physical cleanliness and purity make for health, bodily and spiritual. But the matter should be looked at from the woman's point of view as well as the man's. To her there is danger of hurt, and she should have every consideration. In the animal world, instinct is a guide which is obeyed. Man should in this respect be better: he is often worse.

Haithu: A comprehensive word referring to manner, time, or place. The most delicate matters are here referred to in the most discreet and yet helpful terms. In sex morality, manner, time, and place are all important: and the highest standards are set by social laws, by our own refined instinct of mutual consideration, and above all, by the light shed by the highest Teachers form the wisdom which they receive from our Maker, Who loves purity and cleanliness in all things.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Since the basic objective of religion is purification, all divine religions prohibit sexual relations with one’s wife during their menstrual and puerperal discharge periods. As adherents to the creed and practices of Abraham (sws), the Arabs also considered such relations as unlawful. Their poetical compositions mention this fact from various aspects. There was no difference of opinion regarding its prohibition. However, there existed certain extremes and undue restrictions regarding the limits of withdrawal from one’s wife during these periods. It is evident from the answer given by the Qur’an that the actual question in fact pertained to these limits.

The implication being that during these days only intercourse is prohibited. A lady should not be thought of as untouchable during these days as was the view of the Jews, Hindus and some other nations. Muhammad(sws) through his own practice delineated that only intercourse is prohibited in these times and other forms of sexual relations can remain intact with one’s wife without any hesitation whatsoever.

However, the question arises regarding the time of resumption of intercourse with her. The Qur’an has used two words for this: تَطَهُّر and طُهْر. The form and scope of the directive which can be derived from their usage in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi is:

… طُهْر (tuhr) means the end of the state of impurity and the termination of blood while تَطَهُّر (tatahhur) means the state of purity a lady enters into after the ceremonial bath. The verse regards طُهْر (tuhr) as a condition for intercourse with the wife and it also says that once a lady has entered the state of purity only then should the husband approach her for this purpose. It emanates from this that though the basic reason for this prohibition is blood and once the blood stops this prohibition is lifted, however the appropriate way in this regard is to have intercourse after she has had a bath. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 526)

Ie., after the ceremonial bath, sexual intercourse with the wife should be done through the way that is prescribed by the Almighty. This guidance is ingrained in human nature and from this aspect it, no doubt, is a directive of the Almighty. If a person violates this directive he in fact violates a very obvious directive of the Almighty, and, as a result, will have to face punishment from Him.

While explaining the importance of these directives in the eyes of the Almighty, Islahi writes: "… If one deliberates on the essence of tawbah and tatahhur, one comes to the conclusion that while the former means to cleanse one’s inner self from sins, the latter means to cleanse one’s outer self from filth and dirt. Viewed thus, both are similar in their essence and the Almighty holds both these traits in great admiration. On the other hand, people who lack these traits are disliked by the Almighty. It is evident from the context of this verse that those who do not refrain from intercourse with their wives during their periods of impurity and violate the limits ingrained in human nature in satisfying their sexual urge are detestable in the eyes of the Almighty." (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 526)
( 223 )   Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers.
That is, God's purpose in the creation of women is not merely to provide men with recreation. Their mutual relationship is like that between a farmer and his tilth. A farmer approaches his field not just for the sake of pleasure, but to acquire produce. Similarly, man ought to approach the tilth of the human race with the purpose of acquiring produce, that is, offspring. What is of concern to the Law of God is not the particular mode of cultivating one's tilth, but rather that one should go only to one's tilth and not elsewhere, and that one should go there for the purpose of cultivation.

These words are susceptible to two meanings. First, that a person should try to maintain the continuity of the human race so that when he departs from this world there should be others to replace him in his tasks. Second, that one should be concerned with the quality of the coming generation, i.e., how far it is endowed with religious devotion, moral excellence and humanity, and that one should do all that is possible to promote these qualities. The latter part ot the verse contains the warning that those who deliberately neglect these two duties will he severely taken to task by God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Sex is not a thing to be ashamed of, or to be treated lightly, or to be indulged to excess. It is as solemn a fact as any in life. It is compared to a husbandman's tilth; it is a serious affair to him; he sows the seed in order to reap the harvest. But he chooses his own time and mode of cultivation. He does not sow out of season nor cultivate in a manner which will injure or exhaust the soul. He is wise and considerate and does not run riot. Coming from the simile to human beings, every kind of mutual consideration is required, but above all, we must remember that even in these matters there is a spiritual aspect. We must never forget our souls, and that we are responsible to God.

Our highest spiritual ambition should be the hope of meeting God. To uphold such a hope is to give glad tidings to people of faith. It would only be unrepentant sinners who would fear the meeting. Note how the most sensuous matters are discussed frankly, and immediately taken up into the loftiest regions of spiritual upliftment.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The metaphor of “cultivated land” is employed by the Qur’an to explain what is stated in the previous verses. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi comments on this in the following words:

One very apparent reason for using this metaphor for women is the fact that just as for a cultivated land it is essential on the part of the harvester that seeds be sown in the appropriate season at the right time and that they be sown within the fields and not scattered outside them, similarly it is a norm of human instinct that one should not approach a lady for sexual intercourse during the menstrual cycle or from the anal side because the period of menses is a time during which women are sexually frigid and not inclined, while anal intercourse is a painful and wasteful activity. Therefore, people who have not perverted their nature cannot indulge in such an activity. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 527)

Writes Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi regarding the objective of this guidance:
… [This] alludes simultaneously to two things: On the one hand, it refers to the liberty, freedom and a free manner with which a farmer approaches his land, and on the other hand refers to the responsibility, caution and care which he must exercise in approaching his land. The word اَنّٰي شِئْتُمْ refers to the former and the word حَرْث to the latter. It is both this liberty and caution which ascertain the correct behaviour of a husband with his wife in this regard.
Every one knows that the real bliss of married life is the freedom a person has in intimate affairs barring a few broad restrictions. The feeling of this freedom has a great amount of euphoria around it. When a person is with his wife in intimate moments, Divine will seems to be that he be overcome with emotions but at the same time it is pointed out to him that he has come into a field and an orchard; it is no wasteland or a forest. He may come to it in whatever manner and in whatever way whenever he pleases, but he must not forget that he has landed in his orchard. The Qur’an has no objection on the discretion, choice and majesty with which he approaches his field if he knows full well where he is going and in no way is oblivious of this reality. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 527)

Ie., a person should try to produce children who become an asset for him both in this world and in the Hereafter. The reason for this directive is to create awareness among parents of the great responsibility of a new child so that they may plan properly.

The implication being that in this world the Almighty has given people respite so that they can do whatever they want to whether openly or secretly. However, they should remember that one day they will have to stand before their Lord and will be held accountable for all their deeds. Whatever they do, they should do while keeping in mind the fact that no one would be able to save them from the Almighty on that day.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The verse 223 points out to the lawful ways of having sexual intercourse with one's woman. The permission of such intercourse has been subjected to two conditions. Firstly, it should take place at a time when the woman is pure from her menstruation. Secondly, carnal intercourse is not allowed at all. This verse begins with a comprehensive remark: "Your women are for you a soil to cultivate." Here the woman has been compared with a soil, while the husband has been compared with a cultivator. This is to indicate that the sexual intercourse has not been allowed for satisfying the sexual lust only, but also to make it a valid source for having children. By using this expression the Holy Qur'an has given a subtle indication to the prohibition of carnal intercourse, even with one's wife, because it can never be a productive act, and there is no question of 'cultivation' therein.

Subject to these two conditions (namely, the purity of the woman from her menses, and avoiding the carnal intercourse) one can enjoy whatever way he wishes to have sexual intimacy with his wife. In this context, it has been said, "Come to your soil from where you will". It indicates that in so far as the ultimate place (of penetration) is a 'soil' (which stands for the female vagina which is productive like a soil), one can elect whatever way he likes to reach this ultimate place. Thus, lying over the woman or beside her or beneath her, acceding to the vagina from any side, front or back, sitting or kneeling -- all these and similar other positions are allowed while performing sexual intercourse subject to the two conditions mentioned above.

Verses 224-225 Do not misuse oaths taken in the name of Allah:
( 224 )   And do not make [your oath by] Allah an excuse against being righteous and fearing Allah and making peace among people. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
Authentic Traditions indicate that if a person takes a vow and discovers later that righteousness and common good are best served by breaking that vow then he should do so. Expiation consists in either feeding or providing clothes for ten poor people, or setting free a slave, or fasting for three days (see 5: 89).

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Arabs had many special kinds of oaths, for each of which they had a special name in their language. Some of them related to sex matters, and caused misunderstanding, alienation, division, or separation between husband and wife. This and the following three verses refer to them. In ii. 224 we are first of all told in perfectly general terms that we are not to make an oath in the name of God an excuse for not doing the right thing when it is pointed out to us, or for refraining from doing something which will bring people together. If we were swayed by anger or passion or mere caprice, God knows our inmost hearts, and right conduct and not obstinacy or quibbling is what He demands from us.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This verse is a prelude to the directive of اِيلَاء (ila) the coming verses state. The implied meaning is that since swearing by the Almighty is tantamount to calling him to witness a person should in no way swear an oath that infringes upon the rights of the Almighty or those of His creation; however, if by chance a person happens to swear such an oath, he is directed to break it. A person should in no way embark upon usurping the rights of others or evading deeds of piety and virtue merely on the excuse that an oath has been sworn.

The words اَنۡ تَبَرُّوۡا وَ تَتَّقُوۡا وَ تُصۡلِحُوۡا بَیۡنَ النَّاسِ which delineate this fact are explained by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi in the following words: "The words بِرّ, تَقْوٰى and اِصْلَاح encompass all deeds of virtue. The word بِرّ embraces all virtues that relate to the parents, the relatives, the poor, the orphan and other members of the society. The word تَقْوٰى covers all virtues that relate to the Almighty and اِصْلَاح include all virtues that relate to the society [in general]." (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 529)

Note: Verses 225-27 should be read together with verse 224. The latter, though it is perfectly general, leads up to the other three.
( 225 )   Allah does not impose blame upon you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but He imposes blame upon you for what your hearts have earned. And Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.
This refers to oaths which one utters either through habit or without any intent and purpose. The breach of such vows neither entails expiation nor makes man liable to God's reproach.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It has been held that thoughtless oaths, if there is no intention behind them, can be expiated by an act of charity.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., one should indeed break all such oaths; however, this does not mean that a person will not be held accountable for such oaths. The Almighty will not punish him for an oath that is sworn without intention and purpose which a person just utters involuntarily. However, He shall punish a person for oaths which are sworn intentionally and voluntarily through which a pledge is made or which influence the rights and obligations of individuals or affect divine injunctions in any manner. As is the general rule for a sin, he will need to atone for it through sincere repentance; however, as verse 89 of Surah Ma’idah specifies, he will also have to compensate for it in the prescribed manner.

Verses 226-227 Limitation for renouncing conjugal rights:
( 226 )   For those who swear not to have sexual relations with their wives is a waiting time of four months, but if they return [to normal relations] - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
In the legal terminology of Islam this is known as ila'. It is obvious that harmony and cordiality do not always prevail in matrimonial life. There are occasions when strains and tensions develop, leading to discord and estrangement. But the Law of God does not approve of that discord which causes a husband and wife, who are legally tied to one another in matrimony, to remain for all practical purposes alienated from one another as if they had ceased to be spouses. For this kind of abnormal discord and estrangement God has fixed a limit of four months during which the spouses are required either to settle their difference, or to break the tie of wedlock so that each becomes free to contract marriage with someone with whom a harmonious matrimonial relationship appears more likely.

Since the verse mentions 'taking a vow', the Hanafi and Shafi'i jurists consider the injunction to be applicable only when a husband has taken a vow not to have sexual relations with his wife. According to them, the injunction does not apply if the husband merely forsakes sexual relations with his wife without taking any vow to that effect. The Maliki jurists are, however, of the opinion that irrespective of whether a person has taken a vow, the maximum permissible limit for abstaining from sexual relations in wedlock is four months. A statement to that effect is also attributed to Ahmad b. Hanbal. (See Ibn Rushd, Bidayat al-Mujtahid, vol. 2, pp. 98 ff. - Ed.)

According to 'Ali, Ibn Abbas and Hasan al-Basri, this injunction is related to the cessation of sexual relations as a result of unpleasantness in the relationship of the spouses. It would not apply, however, if a husband were to decide to abandon sexual relations with his wife out of some beneficial consideration - say because the wife is breastfeeding - at a time when their relationship was pleasant. According to other jurists, however, any vow which prevents sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is ila', and ought not to last longer than four months irrespective of the state of the matrimonial relationship when it was taken. (See Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur'an, vol. 1, pp. 355 ff - Ed.)

Some jurists have interpreted this verse to signify that if the spouses break their vow and re-establish sexual relations they will not be liable to any expiation and will be pardoned by God gratuitously. However, the majority of jurists are of the opinion that they, are required to expiate. The statement that God is Oft-Forgiving and Merciful does not mean that God has forgiven them. It means rather that God will accept their expiation and will forgive them for whatever excesses they may have committed against each other.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is: اِيلَاء. This is a term of the Arab jahiliyyah society which means to swear an oath to sever sexual relations with one’s wife. The particle مِنْ is used while keeping in consideration this meaning of the word. Such an oath leaves the wife in an indefinite state and is as such against virtue and piety. Consequently, the Almighty has fixed a four month period after which a husband must decide to either resume the marital relationship or to divorce her.

It is evident from this directive that it is not allowed to sever sexual relations with one’s wife without a valid reason. So much so, if a person swears such an oath, he must break it. Such relations are the right of a wife and if a husband does not fulfill them, then he can be regarded a criminal both in the eyes of the law and before the Almighty in the Hereafter. In return, the wife also does not have the right to refuse compliance with these relations without a valid reason.

Ie., although this oath was sworn to usurp rights and it is not lawful to swear such oaths, but if a person mends his ways the Almighty shall forgive him.
( 227 )   And if they decide on divorce - then indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
According to 'Uthman, Ibn Mas'ud, Zayd ibn Thabit and others the limit for the restoration of matrimonial relations is four months. The mere termination of that period proves that the husband has decided to repudiate the marriage and so divorce automatically ensues. It will be reckoned as an irrevocable (ba'in) repudiation. This means that separation between the spouses will come into force and the husband will not have the right to revoke it during the period of waiting ('iddah). The two parties will, however, have the right to re-contract marriage by mutual consent. Statements from 'Umar, 'Ali, Ibn 'Abbas, and also a statement from Ibn 'Umar, have been reported in support of this doctrine and have been accepted by the Hanafi jurists as the basis of their doctrine.

Sa'id ibn al-Musayyib, Makhul, Zuhri,. and some other early jurists agree with this doctrine to the extent that divorce comes into force after four months. But they consider that the husband may revoke it during the period of waiting; and even after the lapse of that period the spouses may re-contract marriage by mutual consent.

However, 'A'ishah, Abu al-Darda' and the majority of the jurists of Madina are opposed to this opinion and hold that after four months the matter should be placed before the court when the judge will order the husband either to resume matrimonial relations with his wife or divorce her. Statements from 'Umar and 'Ali as well as a statement from Ibn 'Umar have come down in support of this doctrine. This opinion has been accepted by Malik and Shafi'i. (See Jassas, vol. 1, pp. 359 f. - Ed.)

That is, if a man has abandoned his wife on unreasonable grounds, he should not feel secure from the wrath of God for He is not unaware of the excesses that he may have committed.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., if a person decides to divorce his wife then he must abide by the rules and regulations that the Almighty has prescribed in this regard. He hears and knows everything. Excesses committed against someone else will certainly not remain concealed from Him.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
If someone takes an oath that he will not have sexual intercourse with his wife, the case has four situations: (A) No time-limit was fixed. (B) A time-limit of four months was fixed. (C) A time-limit of more than four months was fixed. (D) The limit was identified as less than four months So, situations A, B and C are termed in shari'ah as 'Ila. The injunction covering these situations is: If the oath-taker breaks his oath within four months and resumes sexual intercourse with his wife, he will have to come up with kaffarah for his oath while his nikah (marriage) remains intact. And should it be that the time-limit of four months did expire and the oath-taker did not break his oath, an irrevocable divorce on his wife will become effective, that is, taking her back without remarriage does not remain correct any more. However, if they, by mutual consent, enter into marriage this will be correct. Halalah (an intermediary marriage of the woman with a third person) is not required. The injunction in the fourth situation is: If the oath is broken, kaffarah will be required and if the oath is completed, the marriage, even then, will remain valid. (Bayan al-Qur'an)

Verse 228 Waiting period after divorce: 
( 228 )   Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
Jurists disagree about the legal import of this verse. According to some, as long as a woman has not completed her third menstrual period repudiation will not have the effect of irrevocable divorce. This is the view of Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Ali, Ibn 'Abbas, Abu Musa al-Ash'arl, Ibn Mas'ud and several distinguished Companions of the Prophet. This is also the accepted doctrine of the Hanafi jurists.

On the other hand, another group of jurists is of the view that, as soon as the third monthly period of a woman begins, the husband ceases to have the right to revoke the divorce. This is the view of , 'A'ishah, Ibn 'Umar and Zayd ibn Thabit, and has been accepted by, the Shafi'i and Maliki jurists. It should be clear, however, that this injunction is applicable only when the husband has pronounced single or double divorce. In case of triple divorce, the husband ceases to have the right of revocation. (See Jassas, vol. 1. pp. 364 ff. - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Islam tries to maintain the married state as far as possible, especially where children are concerned, but it is against the restriction of the liberty of men and women in such vitally important matters as love and family life. It will check hasty action as far as possible and leave the door to reconciliation open at many stages. Even after divorce a suggestion of reconciliation is made, subject to certain precautions (mentioned in the following verses) against thoughtless action. A period of waiting (iddat) for three monthly courses is prescribed, in order to see if the marriage conditionally dissolved is likely to result in issue. But this is not necessary where the divorced woman is a virgin: Q. xxxiii. 49. It is definitely declared that women and men shall have similar rights against each other.

The difference in economic position between the sexes makes the man's rights and liabilities a little greater than the woman's Q. iv. 34 refers to the duty of the man to maintain the woman, and to a certain difference in nature between the sexes. Subject to this, the sexes are on terms of equality in law, and in certain matters the weaker sex is entitled to special protection.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is: قُرُوۡٓء. It is a plural of قَرْء. In Arabic, this word means both the “menstrual period” and the “non-menstrual period.” While presenting his research on this word, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… After much deliberation on the root of the word and its derived forms, I have come to the conclusion that its real meaning is that of “menstruation.” However, since every menstrual period is followed by a period of purity (طُهْر), the word is also used in this meaning. This is similar to the usage of the word night for the day which immediately follows it and vice versa. Every language has such words. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 532)
The word قَرْء in the opinion of this writer means “menstruation” because in these verses the real issue is to ascertain whether a lady is pregnant or not. It is the “period of menstruation” which actually ascertains this and not the “period of purity.” Moreover, women are asked to wait in this period and this waiting period can only be ascertained through the menstrual cycle because its beginning can be known with certainty.

In Surah al-Talaq, a husband is directed to divorce his wife while keeping count of the ‘iddat (waiting period). Here, in these verses, the Qur’an, has specified that this waiting period is equivalent to three menstrual cycles. This is the ‘iddat in normal circumstances. In certain specific ones, its time period changes as is mentioned in Surah al-Talaq (65:1-7) and Surah al-Ahzab (33:49).

The directive to observe the waiting period has been given for the very reason of ascertaining whether a lady is pregnant or not. Consequently, if she conceals the situation of her womb, the very benefits that the Almighty has placed in this directive would be lost.

A restriction is imposed here on the right of a husband to annul the divorce sentence stated in this verse so that this annulment should not be to torment or torture the wife but to create harmony and affection in the resumed marital life.

The rights and obligations that this verse refers to are delineated in verses 19 and 32 of Surah al-Nisa.

Ie., the right to annul a divorce is given to the husband because he is considered the head of the family and as such is responsible for providing for and protecting it. In order to maintain discipline in the family, it is imperative that, as the head of the family, he be given this right.

Since there is high probability that in such affairs one is bound to be governed by emotions and extreme reactions and as a result may commit one blunder after another, these two attributes – Mighty and Wise – mentioned at the end of the verse serve a special purpose.

While referring to this purpose, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:"… The Almighty is ‘Aziz (Mighty); hence, it is only His right to give this directive and He is also Hakim (Wise); hence, whatever directive He gives is based on wisdom. Men should always submit to His directives without any hesitation whatsoever. If they oppose His directives, this would amount to challenging His honour and only hasten to invite His wrath. Similarly, if they are naive enough to think that they are more wise and sagacious than the Almighty, they will be responsible for ruining the law and system of the society with their very own hands." (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 533)

Ruku / Section 29 [Verses 229-231]
Verses 229-230 Laws relating to divorce:
( 229 )   Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment. And it is not lawful for you to take anything of what you have given them unless both fear that they will not be able to keep [within] the limits of Allah. But if you fear that they will not keep [within] the limits of Allah, then there is no blame upon either of them concerning that by which she ransoms herself. These are the limits of Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah - it is those who are the wrongdoers.
This little verse aims at the reform of a serious evil that was rampant in the social life in pre-Islamic Arabia. According to the customary law of Arabia, a person was entitled to pronounce any number of divorces upon his wife. As a result divorce was resorted to at the least provocation and annoyance. In addition, the husband often exercised his right to revoke the divorce he had pronounced with the result that the poor wife could neither live with him in happiness nor free herself to contract a fresh marriage with someone else. Here the Qur'an seeks to shut the door on this injustice. According to this verse, a man may pronounce revocable divorce upon his wife not more than twice. Should he pronounce divorce for the third time after revoking it twice, the wife will be permanently alienated from him.

The appropriate procedure for divorce, according to the Qur'an and Hadith, is that a person should pronounce one divorce outside the time of the wife's menstrual period. After the first divorce he may pronounce a second in the next clear period if he wants to, though it is preferable that he should confine himself to pronouncing the first. In this case the husband retains the right to revoke the divorce at any time before the lapse of the period of waiting ('iddah) even if the period of waiting has lapsed, the couple have the right to re-contract the marriage by mutual consent. If the husband, however, pronounces divorce in his wife's third clear period he has no right to revoke the divorce, and the spouses are not entitled to re-contract the marriage. The pronouncing of triple divorce in one session is a highly sinful act according to the Law, and the Prophet has strongly denounced it. (See Nasii, 'Talaq', 6 - Ed.) It has even been established that 'Umar used to flog those who pronounced triple divorce in one session. Although this procedure of divorce is considered sinful, the founders of the four legal schools consider it to have legal effect, with the result that such divorce, in their view, becomes absolutely irrevocable.

This refers to the mahr (bridal gift) and the jewelry, clothes and so on which the husband offers as a gift to his wife, and to which he has no right of reclaim. It is, indeed, normally inconsistent with Islamic ethics that a person should reclaim anything he has made over to another by way of donation or gift. In the Hadith this disgraceful act is likened to a dog licking its own vomit. (See Bukhari, 'Hibah', 30; Nasiii, 'Hibah', 3, etc. - Ed.)

In the case of a husband, in particular, it is a matter of the utmost disgrace that, at the time of saying farewell to his divorced wife he should try to dispossess her of what he had once given her out of his own goodwill. On the contrary, the morals that Islam seeks to cultivate require that at the time of parting the husband ought to present her with a farewell gift. See (verse 241 below.)

In the terminology of Islamic Law this is known as khul', i.e. a woman's securing the annulment of her marriage through the payment of some compensation to her husband. Whatever settlement is made between a husband and wife should come into effect. If the matter is referred to the court, however, it will investigate only whether the wife has really become too disgusted with the husband to put up with him. (For the Traditions on the basis of which the author concludes this see the commentaries on this verse in Ibn Kathir and Qurtubi, see especially the latter, vol. 2, pp. 946-8 - Ed.) Once this is determined the court is entitled to fix the amount of payment incumbent on the wife as compensation for the repudiation of her marriage, and the husband will be bound to accept that amount and divorce his wife. In general, the jurists believe that the payment, thus fixed, should not be higher than the original mahr paid by the husband.

The divorce that comes into effect is irrevocable and brings separation into effect immediately. Since the woman has paid compensation, she has in effect purchased the right of repudiation and the husband, therefore, has ceased to have the right to revoke the divorce. If, however, the spouses agree to re-contract marriage, they may do so.

According to the majority of jurists the period of waiting under khul' is the same as under divorce. However, there are several Traditions in Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, etc., which show that the Prophet fixed the period of waiting at one menstrual period, and that 'Uthman applied this in a case which he decided. (See Ibn Kathir's commentary on the verse.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Where divorce for mutual incompatibility is allowed, there is danger that the parties might act hastily, then repent, and again wish to separate. To prevent such capricious action repeatedly, a limit is prescribed. Two divorces (with a reconciliation between) are allowed. After that the parties must definitely make up their minds, either to dissolve their union permanently, or to live honourable lives together in mutual love and forbearance - to "hold together on equitable terms," neither party worrying the other nor grumbling or evading the duties and responsibilities of marriage.

If a separation is inevitable, the parties should not throw mud at each other, but recognize what is right and honourable on a consideration of all the circumstances. In any case a man is not allowed to ask back for any gifts or property he may have given to the wife. This is for the protection of the economically weaker sex. Lest that protective provision itself work against the woman's freedom, an exception is made in the next clause.

All the prohibitions and limits prescribed here are in the interest of good and honourable lives for both sides, and in the interests of a clean and honourable social life, without public or private scandals. If there is any fear that in safeguarding her economic rights, her very freedom of person may suffer, the husband refusing the dissolution of marriage, and perhaps treating her with cruelty, then, in such exceptional cases, it is permissible to give some material consideration to the husband, but the need and equity of this should be submitted to the judgment of impartial judges, i.e., properly constituted courts. A divorce of this kind is called khula.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This refers to the divorce mentioned in the previous verses in which a husband can revoke his decision during the ‘iddat. In other words, if a husband has revoked his decision and the two have started living as husband and wife once again and still it seems that marriage cannot continue, then he can divorce the wife once again in a similar manner and will still have the right to revoke his decision this second time. However, if this happens for the third time, then the husband will no longer have this right.

This is an elaboration of the directive mentioned earlier about the kindness with which a wife should be divorced: whatever wealth, property, clothes, jewelry and other items of however much worth have been gifted to her by the husband should not be confiscated by him. Here it should be clear that the verse is not referring to the nafaqah (maintenance) and mahr (dower), which are the absolute rights of a wife and confiscating them is unthinkable. What is emphasized is that a husband should not take back any gifts he may have given her.

This verse mentions an exception to the directive instructing the husband not to take back any gifts from his wife at the time of divorce. If it is no longer possible to keep a marriage intact according to the God’s limits, and the family elders and society also supports the annulment, but a husband is unwilling to divorce his wife simply because he is concerned over losing wealth, property or other gifts he has given to his wife, then the issue can be resolved through the exception stated in this verse: the wife can give back part or all of the wealth gifted to her to release herself from her marital contract. In such cases, it would be lawful for the husband to accept these returned gifts.

These words bear clear evidence to the fact that the shari‘ah has granted the husband the right to divorce. The reason for this is quite obvious. A husband has always been charged with the responsibility of protecting his wife and providing for her because God has given him the natural ability to fulfill these responsibilities. On these very grounds, the Qur’an has regarded him to be the qawwam (head of the family) and explicitly stated: وَ لِلرِّجَالِ عَلَیۡہِنَّ دَرَجَۃٌ (and the husbands hold a degree of superiority over them). Consequently, both the nature of the responsibility and the respect for his position entail that he be given the right to divorce.

It is evident from this that if a wife wants to separate from her husband, she cannot divorce him; on the contrary, she will demand divorce from him. In general circumstances, it is hoped that every gentleman, seeing that there is no other way out, would accept this demand. However, if this does not happen to be the case, a wife can turn to the court of law.

This sentence relates to the whole group of directives given earlier on.

While explaining it, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: "… These are the bounds set by God regarding one’s marital life. Just as you set up boundary walls around your lands and pastures and want that no one should set foot into them and if someone does so you consider it a challenge to your ownership and honour, similarly, the Almighty has erected boundaries around areas prohibited by Him. You are free to wander within them but are not allowed to cross them. Those who try to exceed these bounds should remember that they will become transgressors. The responsibility of the consequences of their transgression would rest with them, not the Almighty, and they would witness these consequences both in this world and the next. They will only be unjust to their own souls and will in no way harm the Almighty. The laws of the Almighty are based entirely on human nature and on the welfare of His people. So, those who exceed these bounds, in fact, harm their own nature and disrupt their own welfare." (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 536)

Wrong (themselves as well as others): Zalimun: for the root meaning of zulm see ii. 35.
( 230 )   And if he has divorced her [for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterward until [after] she marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there is no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to each other if they think that they can keep [within] the limits of Allah. These are the limits of Allah, which He makes clear to a people who know.
It is known from authentic Traditions that it is totally illegitimate for a person to arrange the marriage of his divorced wife with someone else on the understanding that the latter will divorce her to make it possible for the former husband to re-contract marriage with that woman. Such trickery would in fact be an act of sheer sexual corruption and would not render the woman liable to remarriage with her former husband. According to a Tradition transmitted from 'Ali, Ibn Mas'ud, Abu Hurayrah and 'Uqbah ibn 'Amir, the Prophet pronounced his curse on those who arrange, as well as on those who agree to contract, such fictitious marriages. (See Muslim. 'Talaq', l5, 71; Nasa'i, 'Talaq', 8; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, P. 314 and vol. 5, p. 334; Al-Muwatta', 'Talaq', 27; Abu Da'ud. 'Talaq'. 10 - Ed.)

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Once this third divorce is given, a husband does not have the right to annul it in the waiting period. However, in case the same husband and wife want to remarry one another, the Qur’an has imposed three restrictions on them:
  • Firstly, the wife should formalize her nikah (marriage contract) with someone else.
  • Secondly, the second husband divorces her because for some reason the marriage cannot continue.
  • Thirdly, the two think that after re-marriage the two would be able to remain within the bounds set by the Almighty.
In the first and second conditions, the word “nikah” only implies the legal marital knot and the word “divorce” implies the divorce that one gives one’s wife when it is no longer possible to keep the marriage intact. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The real thing is that nikah is a known term referring to a marriage contract which takes place between a man and a woman with the intention of forever living together in the bond of matrimony. If this intention does not exist in a nikah, then in reality it is not a nikah; it is more of a plot conspired by a man and a woman. The option of divorce in marriage, upheld by the shari‘ah, is not part of the original scheme; it is only a last resort to deal with insolvable situations. Consequently, the true nature of a nikah is that it should be solemnized with the intention of living together as husband and wife permanently. If a person honours a nikah only for a certain fixed period, then this is called mut‘ah, and it is totally prohibited in Islam. Similarly, if a person solemnizes a nikah with a lady and then divorces her just to provide her with a legal excuse to marry the first husband, then in religious parlance this is called halalah and, like mut‘ah, it is also totally prohibited in Islam. A person who does such a despicable thing is like a pimp or pander or as a Hadith says that such a person plays the role of “a rental male species for breeding” and that a person who does this and he who has it done are cursed by the Almighty. (Amin AhsanIslahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 537)

The third condition has been imposed in order to make divorce a very serious affair so that people do not carelessly indulge in it. They should only divorce their wives while remaining fearful of the Almighty and when they think that there is no possibility of keeping the marriage intact. Similarly, when they embark upon marrying someone, they should do so with sincerity of purpose and with the intention of creating a harmonious relationship. It is not befitting for a believer to adopt an attitude contrary to this.

The actual words are: لِقَوۡمٍ یَّعۡلَمُوۡنَ. In Arabic, just as a verb implies its conventional meaning, it also expresses intention. Here, the verb یَّعۡلَمُوۡنَ expresses intention, and is translated keeping in view this aspect.

Verse 231 Treatment to the divorced women:
( 231 )   And when you divorce women and they have [nearly] fulfilled their term, either retain them according to acceptable terms or release them according to acceptable terms, and do not keep them, intending harm, to transgress [against them]. And whoever does that has certainly wronged himself. And do not take the verses of Allah in jest. And remember the favor of Allah upon you and what has been revealed to you of the Book and wisdom by which He instructs you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Knowing of all things.
It is absolutely improper that a person should revoke the divorce he pronounced on his wife before the lapse of the period of waiting merely in order to use this revocation as a pretext to harass and torment her . God commands that if a person revokes the divorce this decision should be prompted by a sincere desire to live together amicably. Should that intention be lacking, it is better to part company in a graceful manner see further( n. 250 above).

Muslims should not forget that by teaching them the Book and Wisdom, God entrusted them with the glorious task of guiding the world. They should also not forget that they were appointed the 'community, of the middle way' and appointed as witnesses to good and righteousness see (verse 143 above). It does not become them, therefore, to indulge in sophistry and to play with the verses of the Book of God, to exploit the words of the Law to their advantage in achieving ends counter to its spirit, and to slump into injustice and other evil behaviour instead of directing the world to the Right Way.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This is in continuation of the first sentence of ii. 229. Two divorces followed by re-union are permissible; the third time the divorce becomes irrevocable, until the woman marries some other man and he divorces her. This is to set an almost impossible condition. The lesson is: if a man loves a woman he should not allow a sudden gust of temper or anger to induce him to take hasty action. What happens after two divorces, if the man takes her back?  See  ii. 231.

If the man takes back his wife after two divorces, he must do so only on equitable terms, i.e., he must not put pressure on the woman to prejudice her rights in any way, and they must live clean and honourable lives, respecting each other's personalities. There are here two conditional clauses: (1) when ye divorce women, and (2) when they fulfill their Iddat: followed by two consequential clauses, (3) take them back on equitable terms, or (4) set them free with kindness. The first is connected with the third and the second with the fourth. Therefore if the husband wishes to resume the marital relations, he need not wait for Iddat. But if he does not so wish, she is free to marry someone else after Iddat.

Let no one think that the liberty given to him can be used for his own selfish ends. If he uses the law for the injury of the weaker party, his own moral and spiritual nature suffers.

These difficult questions of sex relations are often treated as a joke. But they profoundly affect our individual lives, the lives of our children, and the purity and well-being of the society in which we live. This aspect of the question is reiterated again and again.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is an explanation of what is implied by retaining a wife with kindness. Writes Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

… In the previous verses, the implied meanings were stated positively, but here they are stated negatively, in order to caution cruel husbands who could misuse the right of divorce as well as the right to revoke it in the ‘iddat period. Such an attitude, of course, is outright injustice and amounts to playing with the shari‘ah. Those who are bold enough to do this may think that they are oppressing their wives; however, in fact, they will only be unjust to their own selves. This is because those who toy with divine directives and exceed the limits set by the Almighty shall have to face a grievous punishment.

In the end, a reminder is sounded regarding the blessings of the Almighty: He has made Muslims a chosen ummah and sent a Prophet to them from among them to guide them. He has also blessed them with a book to guide them regarding good and evil. It is composed of the precepts of faith and law. If they repay this great favour by violating the limits of the Almighty and toying with His shari‘ah then they should contemplate the consequences of such a behaviour. The verse goes on to warn Muslims to remain fearful of the Almighty and to keep in mind that He has knowledge of all their deeds. In other words, He is granting respite to people in spite of their mischief. However, once He decides to catch them, no one will be able to runaway from His grasp. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 539)

Ruku / Section 30 [Verses 232-235]

Verse 232 There is no restriction on divorcees to remarry:
( 232 )   And when you divorce women and they have fulfilled their term, do not prevent them from remarrying their [former] husbands if they agree among themselves on an acceptable basis. That is instructed to whoever of you believes in Allah and the Last Day. That is better for you and purer, and Allah knows and you know not.
This is a directive to the relatives of the divorced woman. When a woman is divorced by her husband and he fails to revoke the divorce before the expiry of the waiting period, the relatives of the woman should not try to prevent the couple from re-marrying if they agree to do so. This verse may also be interpreted to mean that if a divorced woman wants to contract marriage with someone other than her former husband after the expiry of the waiting period, the former husband should not obstruct this marriage by making malicious propaganda against the woman he has forsaken.

That is an admonition to every one of you who believes in Allah and the Last Day; that is a cleaner and purer way for you. For Allah knows whereas you do not know.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The termination of a marriage bond is a most serious matter for family and social life. And every lawful divorce is approved which can equitably bring back those who have lived together, provided only there is mutual love and they can live on honourable terms with each other. If these conditions are fulfilled, it is not right for outsiders to prevent or hinder re-union. They may be swayed by property or other considerations. This verse was occasioned by an actual case that was referred to the holy Apostle in his life-time.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
These verses direct believers regarding matters that can cause dispute after divorce. They are told that once a husband divorces a wife, he does not have the right to, in any way, hinder a decision she takes. He should not indulge in such tactics whether openly or through a hidden conspiracy. After being divorced, a woman can marry anyone she wants to at any time that suits her. If her decision regarding her second marriage is in accordance with the norms (ma‘ruf), it cannot be objected to in any way. The use of the word الۡمَعۡرُوۡف (al-ma‘ruf) by the Qur’an shows that though a man and a woman are free to decide their affairs, they should not do something which is against decency or which may potentially harm the repute and honour of the ex-husband, future husband or the lady’s family.

While explaining the last part of the verse, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… These sound words of advice are being given to those who believe in God and the Last Day. In other words, those who have belief in God and the Last Day should follow what is being advised since this is the outcome of true belief. Such an attitude is more pure and seemly. If a lady is impeded in anyway to re-marry, this may result in great evils in the family and society. It is from here that back doors to clandestine relations and fornication are opened, eventually bringing great disrepute to those whose false pride induces them to obstruct natural emotions through worthless customs. The words “and God knows, but you do not,” at the end imply that man’s knowledge and vision is very limited. He cannot fully grasp the ups and downs of life; therefore, he should follow what the Almighty is directing him to do. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 544)

Verses 233-234 Requirement of breast feeding babies and Waiting period for widows:
( 233 )   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.
This injunction applies to the condition where the couple have separated either because of divorce, or klul' or ' faskh (annulment) or tafriq (repudiation as a result of judicial decision) and the woman is nursing a child.

If the father dies, whoever replaces him as the guardian of the child will be responsible for fulfilling this claim.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
As this comes in the midst of the regulations on divorce, it applies primarily to cases of divorce, where some definite rule is necessary, as the father and mother would not, on account of the divorce, probably be on good terms, and the interests of the children must be safeguarded. As, however, the wording is perfectly general, it has been held that the principle applies equally to the father and mother in wedlock: each must fulfill his or her part in the fostering of the child. On the other hand, it is provided that the child shall not be used as an excuse for driving a hard bargain on either side. By mutual consent they can agree to some source that is reasonable and equitable, both as regards the period before weaning (the maximum being two years) and the engagement of a wet-nurse, or (by analogy) for artificial feeding. But the mother's privileges must not be curtailed simply because by mutual consent she does not nurse the baby. In a matter of this kind the ultimate appeal must be to godliness, for all legal remedies are imperfect and may be misused.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The previous verses mention the directives regarding divorce. These verses now take up the issue of suckling the offspring. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while summarizing the directives of suckling that these verses mention, writes:

It is the responsibility of a divorced lady to suckle her offspring for two full years in case the husband wants her to complete the total suckling period.

During this period, it is the responsibility of the father to provide his divorced wife with food and clothing, keeping in view the norms of the society. In other words, the status of the husband, the needs of the divorced wife and her own status shall be kept in consideration while providing for her.

Neither of the parties shall be burdened beyond their capacity. Neither shall the mother be harmed in any way by taking advantage of the fact that she is the mother of the child nor the father be unduly pressurized in any way on the pretext that he is the father of the child.

If the father of the child is dead, his heirs will be responsible for all the above mentioned rights and obligations.

If through mutual consent and consultation, the estranged husband and wife decide to terminate the suckling period before two years, they can do so.

If the child’s father or, in his absence, the heirs of the child want to have the child suckled from some other lady instead of the mother, they are authorized to do so provided what has been agreed with the mother regarding her maintenance is fully honoured. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 545)
( 234 )   And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind - they, [the wives, shall] wait four months and ten [days]. And when they have fulfilled their term, then there is no blame upon you for what they do with themselves in an acceptable manner. And Allah is [fully] Acquainted with what you do.
The waiting period owing to the death of the husband is obligatory even for a woman with whom consummation of marriage has not taken place. A pregnant woman, however, is exempted from this. Her waiting period expires the husband's death and the childbirth is less than the waiting period prescribed by Law.

'To observe a waiting period' does not mean merely that they should refrain from marrying, but also from self-adornment.

Hence we find categorical directives in the Hadith that a widow should neither wear colourful and showy dresses and jewelry, make use of henna, kohl, and perfumes, nor set her hair in an attractive style. There is disagreement, however, as to whether the widow may go out of her house during the waiting period. 'Umar, 'UthmaAn, Ibn 'Umar, Zayd ibn Thabit, Ibn Mas'uid, Ummn Salamah, Said ibn al-Musayyib, Ibrahim al-Nakha'i, Muhammad ibn Sirin and the founders of the four legal schools are of the opinion that during the waiting period a woman should stay in the house in which her husband died. During the daytime she may go out to do necessary errands, but her residence should be her own home. On contrary, 'A'ishah, Ibn 'Abbas, 'Ali, Jabir ibn 'Abd Allah. 'Ata'. Ta'us, Hasan al-Basri. 'Umar ibn'Abd al'Aziz and the Zahiris are of the opinion that a widow may spend her waiting period wherever she likes, and may even go on journeys. (See the commentary on the verse in JassAs. vol. 1, pp. 418 f. - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The 'Iddat of widowhood (four months and ten days) is longer than the 'Iddat of divorce (three monthly courses, ii. 228). In the latter the only consideration is to ascertain if there is any unborn issues of the marriage dissolved. This is clear from xxxiii. 49, where it is laid down that there is no 'Iddat for virgin divorces. In the former there is in addition the consideration of mourning and respect for the deceased husband. In either case, if it is proved that there is unborn issue, there is of course no question of remarriage for the woman until it is born and for a reasonable time afterwards. Meanwhile here maintenance on a reasonable scale is chargeable to the late husband or his estate.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
In contrast with the waiting period (‘iddat) of a divorced lady, the waiting period of a widow has been extended by forty days. The reason is that while a husband has been asked to divorce his wife in the period of purity in which he has had no sexual intercourse with her, no such precaution can obviously be taken in the case of a widow. It is to exercise further care that one month and ten days have been added by the Qur’an to the waiting period (‘iddat) of a divorced lady.

Since the reason to observe the waiting period for a divorced lady and a widow is the same, all the exceptions that have been stated in the directive of divorce for a divorced lady shall also hold in case of the waiting period of a widow. Consequently, there shall be no waiting period for a widow with whom the deceased husband has had no intercourse. Similarly, the waiting period of a pregnant widow shall extend till childbirth. It is narrated in Bukhari (no. 5320) that when a pregnant widow Sabi‘ah (rta) presented her case before Muhammad(sws), her case was decided on these very grounds by him.

Ie., after the expiry of the waiting period, the wife is free to do whatever she deems appropriate for herself. However, she should follow the norms of the society in this matter. In other words, she should not indulge in any activity which damages the repute, honour and integrity of the family nor the conventions of the society. If all this is kept in consideration, then no blame can be cast on her or her guardians.

Writes Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

… What is implied is that people should not blame and censure one another without any reason by equating all un-Islamic customs with Islam. On the one hand, a situation should not develop where the guardians of the widow or the heirs of the deceased husband are censured on the grounds that they got tired of her much before she could mourn the loss of her husband. On the other hand, circumstances should not deteriorate so much that the widow herself is censured on the grounds that she became interested in re-marrying soon after her husband’s death. In all cases, only the bounds of the Almighty should be observed and one should remember that the Almighty is aware of all the deeds of his creatures. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 546)

Verse 235 There is no restriction on the remarriage of widows: 
( 235 )   There is no blame upon you for that to which you [indirectly] allude concerning a proposal to women or for what you conceal within yourselves. Allah knows that you will have them in mind. But do not promise them secretly except for saying a proper saying. And do not determine to undertake a marriage contract until the decreed period reaches its end. And know that Allah knows what is within yourselves, so beware of Him. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
If a person wants to marry a widow, then it is according to the norms that he make up his mind during her waiting period or inform her of his intentions in a very tacit manner. However, it is in no way permitted that he, without considering the sentiments of the affected family, send a marriage proposal to the widow or make some hidden agreement with her. On such occasions, whatever is said must never exceed the bounds of sympathy and expressing condolences. Consequently, the verses forewarn a person that since God fully knows that he will definitely express his intention in such a situation, it should not be in the form of a marriage proposal or some hidden or open agreement. This intention should be expressed in a manner that is befitting to the situation and in accordance with the norms of the society. Of course, once the waiting period expires, a person can decide to marry such a lady. At that time, he cannot be blamed in any way.

It stems from this directive that the behaviour of the widow should also befit the situation she finds herself in. On these very grounds, Muhammad (sws) directed such women to spend their waiting period in the house of their deceased husband in a state of mourning and to refrain from embellishing themselves. He is reported to have said: “A widow should not wear coloured clothes, neither golden nor red nor ochre. She should not adorn jewelry nor put on henna or stain her eyes with antimony.” (Abu Da’ud, no. 1960)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
A definite contract of remarriage for the woman during her period of 'Iddat of widowhood is forbidden as obviously unseemly, as also any secrecy in such matters. It would bind the woman at a time when she is not fitted to exercise her fullest judgment. But circumstances may arise when an offer (open for future consideration but not immediately decided) may be to her interests, and this is permissible. In mystic interpretation the cherishing of love in one's heart without outward show or reward is the true test of sincerity and devotion.

Ruku / Section 31 [Verses 236-242]
Verses 236-237 Dowry and divorce:
( 236 )   There is no blame upon you if you divorce women you have not touched nor specified for them an obligation. But give them [a gift of] compensation - the wealthy according to his capability and the poor according to his capability - a provision according to what is acceptable, a duty upon the doers of good.
This sundering of the matrimonial contract after it has been concluded does cause some harm to the woman; God has ordered, therefore, that the person concerned should compensate for the loss according to his capacity.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The law declares that in such a case half the dower fixed shall be paid by the man to the woman. But it is open to the woman to remit the half due to her or to the man to remit the half which he is entitled to deduct, and thus pay the whole.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Keeping dower and consummation in view, divorce can be of four situations. The injunction concerning the first two of these has been stated in these verses. (1) Dower is not fixed and consummation has not taken place. (2) Dower is fixed but consummation has not taken place. (3) Dower is fixed and consummation has taken place. Here the fixed dower will have to be paid in full. This injunction appears elsewhere in the Holy Qur'an. (4) Dower has not been pre-fixed but divorce was given after consummation. Here full mahr al-mithl (a dower as in the divorcees' family) will have to be paid. It means the amount of the dower will be the same as customarily given in the immediate family circle of the woman,. This too has been taken up in yet another verse of the Holy Qur'an.

The injunction related to the first two situations has been stated in the verses appearing here. Out of the two, the injunction for the first situation is: No dower is due but it is obligatory for the husband to give something on his own to the woman -- the least being a set of clothes. In fact, the Holy Qur'an has not fixed any amount for this gift. However, it does indicate that the affluent should give in accordance with their capacity, which carries an element of persuasion for the man of means who should not behave tight-fisted in this act of grace. Sayyidna Hasan, in a situation like this, gave a gift of twenty thousand dirhams to the divorced woman, and Qadi Shurayh, that of five hundred dirhams; and Ibn 'Abbas, has said that the lowest degree here is to give one set of clothes. (Qurtubi)
( 237 )   And if you divorce them before you have touched them and you have already specified for them an obligation, then [give] half of what you specified - unless they forego the right or the one in whose hand is the marriage contract foregoes it. And to forego it is nearer to righteousness. And do not forget graciousness between you. Indeed Allah, of whatever you do, is Seeing.
Magnanimity in dealings is essential if human relationships are to remain sound and pleasant. If everyone were to stick strictly to his legal rights and claims, a pleasant social life would he rendered impossible.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Him in whose hands is the marriage tie: According to Hanafi doctrine this is the husband himself, who can ordinarily by his act dissolve the marriage. It therefore behooves him to be all the more liberal to the woman and pay her the full dower even if the marriage was not consummated.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
if the dower had been fixed but a lady was divorced before having sexual relations with the husband, then the husband is liable to pay half the amount of dower fixed except if the wife willingly forgoes the total amount or the husband pays the full amount. The words used to convey this meaning are اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّعۡفُوۡنَ اَوۡ یَعۡفُوَا which occur on the basis of mujanasah. In my opinion, the Qur’anic words الَّذِیۡ بِیَدِہٖ عُقۡدَۃُ النِّکَاحِ refer to the husband because once the knot of marriage is tied, then he alone has the right to untie it. If the wife wants to separate from him, she cannot untie this knot; she will have to ask the husband to do so. No one should be perplexed with the indirect style in the words: الَّذِیۡ بِیَدِہٖ عُقۡدَۃُ النِّکَاحِ. A similar example has passed in verse 229 thus: اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّخَافَاۤاَلَّا یُقِیۡمَا حُدُوۡدَ اللّٰہِ.

While commenting on this verse, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… Although the husband has divorced the wife before conjugal contact was made and thus there exists one motive for his wife to forgo her right, yet the Qur’an here has urged the husband with regard to his honour and forbearance and his status as a husband not to desire his wife’s forfeiture of her dower share. Instead he should show magnanimity by paying her the full amount. The Qur’an has appealed to him on three grounds to make this sacrifice: First, the Almighty has given him the right to untie the marital knot just as he has the right to tie it. Second, it is more befitting for the “stronger” sex to show sacrifice and selflessness – the manifestations of true piety. Thirdly, the one degree of superiority a husband has been blessed with, by being made the head of the family unit being naturally suited for this task, requires that he take into account this aspect while dealing with the weaker sex. Its natural requirement is that he should be on the giving end rather than being on the receiving end. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 548)

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
In the second situation, when the woman's dower has been fixed before marriage and divorce occurs before actual consummation, the injunction says that the man shall be obligated to pay half of the dower already fixed. However, should the woman forgive, or should the man pay the whole, this will be matter of free choice as is evident from verse 237.

The use of the word ya'fu ('forgives') to cover even the payment of full dower, perhaps, reflects the customary Arab practice of the payment of dower amount simultaneously with the marriage. If so, the husband has become, in the event of a pre-consummation divorce, deserving of taking half of the dower back. Now, if he yields voluntarily and does not take his half back, this too, would virtually be an act of forgiving. And the act of forgiving has been declared more merit-worthy, and closer to Taqwa (the sense of being responsible to Allah, commonly rendered as piety or fear or righteousness in absence of an exact equivalent); because this forgiveness symbolically indicates that the severance of the bond of marriage was also done with magnanimity and good grace, which is the objective of the Shari'ah and certainly, deserving of great merit -- the forgiveness could come from the woman, or from the man, it does not matter.

Explaining the words of the verse الَّذِىۡ بِيَدِهٖ عُقۡدَةُ النِّكَاحِ in whose hands lies the marriage tie), the Holy prophet (peace be upon him) has himself said: 'the husband is the guardian (wali) of the bond of marriage.' This hadith appears in Darqutni as narrated by 'Amr ibn Shu'ayb from his father on the authority of his grandfather, and also from Ali and ibn 'Abbas.

This also proves that the authority to continue or terminate the bond of marriage rests with the husband. It is he who can pronounce talaq (divorce). The woman cannot divorce her husband.

Verses 238-239 Guarding the Salah (Prayers): 
( 238 )   Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.
Verses 238-39 are parenthetical, introducing the subject of prayer in danger. This is more fully dealt with in iv. 101-03.

Having mentioned the laws for the guidance of human society, God rounds off this address by emphasizing Prayer, for it is Prayers which instill in man the fear of God. They inculcate the feelings of goodness and purity and the disposition to obey the ordinances of God, and foster adherence to righteousness. Without Prayer it would be impossible for men to persist in observing the laws of God, and they would likely be swept away by a current of defiance and disobedience, as happened in the case of the Jews.

263. 'Re expression al-salat al-wusta has been variously interpreted to mean the Morning, Mid-Day, Sunset or Night Prayers. But no direct statement explaining this expression has come down from the Prophet himself. All the divergent opinions are deductions made by scholars. The opinion of the majority, seems to he inclined in favour of the Afternoon ('Asr) Prayer. since it is claimed that on one occasion the Prophet alluded to this as al-salat al-wusta. The event cited in support of this inference is that during the Battle of the Ditch the Prophet once so preoccupied with the problems posed by the siege of Madina, by the polytheists, that he could not perform his 'Asr Prayer within the scheduled time. and the time of sunset drew close. On that occasion the Prophet said: 'God fill the graves and houses of these people with fire. They have caused us to our wusta (mid-most) Prayer.' This statement led people to believe that the expression 'mid-most Prayer' referred to the

'Asr Prayer. It seems more likely, however, that the Prophet meant that the cares of the battle had prevented him and his followers from performing the Prayer in an excellent way; the delay in the Prayer meant that instead of praying with equanimity, concentration and total devotion, they were forced by circumstances to pray hurriedly.

The adjective wusta in addition to signifying the middle position of the subject that it qualifies, also signifies its excellence. Hence the expression could legitimately be interpreted both in the sense of the middle Prayer as well as in the sense of the Prayer which is performed at the right time and with full devotion and attention to God, a Prayer which contains all the attributes of excellence. The admonition which follows, 'stand before Allah as utterly, obedient servants', seems to indicate what was meant by the 'mid-most Prayer'.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Middle Prayer: Salutul-wusta: may be translated "the best or the most excellent prayer." Authorities differ as to the exact meaning of this phrase. The weight of authorities seems to be in favour of interpreting this as the 'Asr prayer in the middle of the afternoon. This is apt to be most neglected, and yet this is the most necessary, to remind us of God in the midst of our worldly affairs. There is special Surah, entitled 'Asr, of which the mystic meaning is appropriately dealt with under that Surah.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The implied meaning is that even in hardships and difficult circumstances, the prayer must be guarded. This includes giving due consideration and importance to its pre-requisites as well as its components and etiquette about which a person normally becomes indifferent in such circumstances.

The prayer alluded to here is the ‘Asr prayer. This piece of advice has been given keeping in view the circumstances that prevailed at the time of revelation of the Qur’an. In case of any change in circumstances due to a change in society and culture, this directive would of course relate to the prayer that would be the most susceptible to this state of affairs.
( 239 )   And if you fear [an enemy, then pray] on foot or riding. But when you are secure, then remember Allah [in prayer], as He has taught you that which you did not [previously] know.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The essence of the prayer is remembrance of the Almighty. The Qur’an has pointed out this aspect in a very befitting manner.

This refers to the way in which the prayer is offered as taught by the prophets of God. The followers of the religion of Abraham (sws) were well aware of its method before the advent of Muhammad (sws). The pious among them would offer the prayer in this manner. The Prophet Muhammad (sws) revived and reformed it and then passed it on to the Muslim ummah as a Sunnah. Here in this verse, the Arabs to whom no divine book had been sent are cautioned that such guidance provided by the Almighty to them through His Prophet (sws) is a great favour. It is only befitting for them to give due consideration to it and not show indifference to it like the Israelites.

The third section of the surah ends here. This section is basically composed of the directives of the shari‘ah. It ends with an emphasis on the directive of the prayer. The reason is to highlight the significance of the prayer and to stress the fact that no other directive in Islam occupies as much significance as the prayer. Like a sentinel it guards both a person’s religious concepts and his deeds. A person who is indifferent to the prayer is as if he is indifferent to religion as a whole.

Verses 240-242 Obligation of executing the "Last Will and Testament": 
( 240 )   And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind - for their wives is a bequest: maintenance for one year without turning [them] out. But if they leave [of their own accord], then there is no blame upon you for what they do with themselves in an acceptable way. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
The main discourse has already come to an end see (verse 238 an n. 262) above. These concluding remarks are supplementary,

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Opinions differ whether the provision (of a year's maintenance, with residence) for a widow is abrogated by the share which the widow gets (one-eighth or one- fourth) as an heir (Q.iv.12). I do not think it is. The bequest (where made) takes effect as a charge on the property, but the widow can leave the house before the year is out, and presumably the maintenance then ceases.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Both these verses are appended to the last verses of the section as an end note so that it becomes evident from their very placement that they were revealed after the original directives as their explanation. The words: “Thus does God explain His verses to you,” allude to this.

The actual words are: وَصِیَّۃً لِّاَزۡوَاجِہِمۡ مَّتَاعًا اِلَی الۡحَوۡلِ غَیۡرَ اِخۡرَاجٍ. In the opinion of this writer, the correct grammatical analysis of this sentence is as follows: the word وَصِیَّۃ is the object (maf’ul) of a suppressed verb; the word مَتَاعًا is the object of وَصِیَّۃ and the word غَیۡرَ اِخۡرَاجٍ is an accusative of state from لِاَزۡوَاجِہِمۡ. Most commentators consider the directive stated in this verse to be abrogated from the verses of inheritance that Surah al-Nisa mentions. However, quite obviously, it is an extension of another Qur’anic directive: the directive given to the husband to provide for and give shelter to his wife in his life time. It is for the husband that she accepts the restriction of the ‘iddat period; moreover, she should necessarily be given more time to decide for her future. This is the wisdom behind this directive and bears no relation to the directive of distribution of inheritance.

Consequently, everyone must understand that whatever directives have been given by God have benefits for themselves.
( 241 )   And for divorced women is a provision according to what is acceptable - a duty upon the righteous.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
It is evident from these words that this is an obligation upon the husband. If a person does not fulfill it, he would definitely be held liable in the Hereafter before his Lord, and in the Hereafter the weight and import of pious and virtuous deeds would suffer.
( 242 )   Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you might use reason.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This verse is in fact a further explanation of what is explained before. While commenting on this Qur’anic style, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… The style of first concisely stating some directive and then explaining it further after an initial explanation, actually trains and instructs our intellect to deliberate on various issues of religion and to reach the underlying wisdom and benefit behind them. By explaining His directives in a gradual manner, the Almighty has guided us on how to use our intellect and how to determine corollaries from given principles in the circumstances and affairs that we encounter. It is to this fact that the words لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ (that you may understand) point. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 557)

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah al-Baqarah with English subtitles:

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

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly 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. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
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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