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Surah Al Baqra Verses 231-240

231 When ye divorce women and they fulfil the term of their (`Iddat) either take them back on equitable terms or set them free on equitable terms; but do not take them back to injure them or to take undue advantage; if anyone does that He wrongs his own soul. Do not treat Allah's Signs as a jest but solemnly rehearse Allah's favors on you and the fact that He sent down to you the Book and Wisdom for your instruction. And fear Allah and know that Allah is well acquainted with all things. 261 262 263 264

232 When ye divorce women and they fulfil the term of their (`Iddat) do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands if they mutually agree on equitable terms. This instruction is for all amongst you who believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is (the course making for) most virtue and purity amongst you and Allah knows and ye know not. 265

233 The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child nor father on account of his child. An heir shall be chargeable in the same way if they both decide on weaning by mutual consent and after due consultation there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring there is no blame on you provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered on equitable terms. But fear Allah and know that Allah sees well what ye do. 266

234 If any of you die and leave widows behind they shall wait concerning themselves four months and ten days: when they have fulfilled their term there is no blame on you if they dispose of themselves in a just and reasonable manner. And Allah is well acquainted with what ye do. 267

235 There is no blame on you if ye make an offer of betrothal or hold it in your hearts. Allah knows that ye cherish them in your hearts: but do not make a secret contract with them except in terms honorable nor resolve on the tie of marriage till the term prescribed is fulfilled. And know that Allah knoweth what is in your hearts and take heed of Him; and know that Allah is Oft Forgiving Most Forbearing. 268

236 There is no blame on you if ye divorce women before consummation or the fixation of their dower; but bestow on them (a suitable gift) the wealthy according to his means and the poor according to his means; a gift of a reasonable amount is due from those who wish to do the right thing.

237 And if ye divorce them before consummation but after the fixation of a dower for them then the half of the dower (is due to them) unless they remit it. Or (the man's half) is remitted by him in whose hands is the marriage tie; and the remission (of the man's half) is the nearest to righteousness. And do not forget liberality between yourselves. For Allah sees well all that ye do. 269 270

238 Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers especially the middle prayer and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind). 271

239 If ye fear (an enemy) pray on foot or riding (as may be most convenient) but when ye are in security celebrate Allah's praises in the manner He has taught you which ye knew not (before). 272

240 Those of you who die and leave widows should bequeath for their widows a year's maintenance and residence; but if they leave (the residence) there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves provided it is reasonable and Allah is Exalted in Power Wise. 273


Commentry:

261 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 fulfil 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. For the meaning of Iddat see n. 254 above. (2.231)

262 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. (2.231)

263 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. (2.231)

264 Rehearse: zikr. Cf. ii. 151 and n. 156. We are asked to remember in our own minds, and to proclaim and praise, and be proud of God's favours on us. His favours are immeasurable; not the least are His Revelations, and the wisdom which He has given to us to enable us to judge and act up to His guidance. (2.231)

265 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. (2.232)

266 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 fulfil 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. (2.233)

267 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. (2.234)

268 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. (2.235)

269 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. (2.237)

270 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. (2.237)

271 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 Sura, entitled 'Asr, of which the mystic meaning is appropriately dealt with under that Sura. (2.238)

272 Verses 238-39 are parenthetical, introducing the subject of prayer in danger. This is more fully dealt with in iv. 101-03. (2.239)

273 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. (2.240)

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