Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 2:222-223)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Family Law in Islam (Part-2)
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ ﴿٢٢٢﴾ نِسَاؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَّكُمْ فَأْتُوا حَرْثَكُمْ أَنَّىٰ شِئْتُمْ ۖ وَقَدِّمُوا لِأَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُم مُّلَاقُوهُ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٢٢٣﴾
2:222 And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is discomfort and distress, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are cleansed. And when they are purified, then come to them as Allah has enjoined upon you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly turn in (towards Him) and loves those who purify themselves.”
2:223 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.
Commentary: Before the advent of Islam, the people of Medina followed the Jewish belief that a menstruating woman was impure. Therefore, the people of Medina, similar to Jews, refused to have marital relations with their wives while they were menstruating. On the other hand, the people of Mecca had no restrictions. They believed if they were to conceive a child, the child would be ruthless and fond of shedding blood, which was an admirable trait for a man among the Bedouins!
Hence, some Muslims asked the Prophet (SAWA) about menstruation (وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْمَحِيضِ). The Quran replied: O! Prophet “say, it (menstruation) is harm (أَذًى), so keep away from wives during (فِي) menstruation” (قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ). “And do not approach them until they are clean (from menstrual discharge)” (وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ).
Some commentators translate the word (أَذًى) to hurt or physical injury. Others took it as synonymous with harmful. Thus, the verse either implies, “They ask you about menstruation. Say, it is an ailment” or “They ask you about (intimate acts during) menstruation. Say, it is harmful”. Hence, “do not approach them until they are clean.”
Once women have purified themselves at the cessation of their menstruation (فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ), they may be approached for having intimate relationships as Allah has enjoined upon you (مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللَّـهُ). The latter statement affirms the preceding sentence, which forbids a man from having intimate relations with his spouse while she is menstruating.
In the end, the verse states that “Surely, Allah loves those who turn to Him, and He loves those who purify themselves” (إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ).
The word (التَّوَّابِينَ) means returning to Allah (SWT) and implies repentance, and (الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ) means purifying and cleansing oneself. One could return to Allah (SWT) by asking for His forgiveness, obeying His commands, as stated in the verse. Similarly, one could be purified by washing oneself, performing ghusl (غسل) and wudu (وضو), performing good deeds, or acquiring spiritual knowledge (Al-Mizan, Vol.2, P.317).
The next verse states, “Your wives are tilth (a place of sowing of seed) for you” (نِسَاؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَّكُمْ). So, come to your tilth (your wives) whenever you wish (to have intimate acts) (فَأْتُوا حَرْثَكُمْ أَنَّىٰ شِئْتُمْ). The verse goes on to say, “And (by coming to your wives and having righteous children from them) do good beforehand for yourselves” (وَقَدِّمُوا لِأَنفُسِكُمْ).
The word Annā (أَنَّىٰ) is an adverb, meaning “when” or “where”. For instance, in this verse, (أَنَّىٰ شِئْتُمْ) means when you wish. Alternatively, in verse 3:36, (أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا) means from where is this [coming] to you?
… كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًا ۖ قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ …﴿٣٧﴾
Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you? (أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا). ” She said, “It is from Allah (SWT).”
Since intimate acts deal with human carnal desires, at the end of the verse, Allah (SWT) warns believers from indulging in sinful acts and deviation from the norms sets in His religion.
.. وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُم مُّلَاقُوهُ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٢٢٣﴾
2:223 …And fear Allah (SWT) and know that you will meet God. And give good tidings to the believers.
A Righteous Generation: Marriage, forming families, and having children ensure the continuity of human race. Otherwise, humanity would perish in the not too distant future. Furthermore, righteous children leave lasting good names and bring eternal rewards for their parents. Thus, Allah (SWT) created mutual attraction between two opposite sexes to pave the way for marriage. In many ways, children are the fruit of marriage.
The role of a mother in raising a righteous generation is often overlooked. There is a quote from Napoleon, who said, “Give me an educated mother. I shall promise you the birth of a civilized, educated nation.” The Prophet (SAWA) said, “Heaven lies under feet of mothers.” This statement implies that a mother’s upbringing sends mankind to eternal Paradise.
The verse likens the position of women in upbringing a child to the importance of fertile soil in producing agriculture. Rich land is a precious and irreplaceable asset to a farmer. A farmer can harvest good produce only in fertile soil. Similarly, good children are raised under the care of righteous mothers.
A narration from the Prophet (SAWA) states that:
اِذا ماتَ ابْنُ آدَمَ انْقَطَعَ أَمَلُهُ اِلاّ عَنْ ثَلاث: صَدَقَة جارِیَة وَ عِلْم یُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ وَ وَلَد صالِح یَدْعُو لَهُ
“When a person dies, his hope of receiving rewards is cut off except from three things: the charity he has provided in his life and which continues after his death, and the knowledge that left behind and still others benefit from it and the righteous children who pray for him.”
Another narration from Imam Sadeq (AS) states:
لَیْسَ یَتْبَعُ الرَّجُلَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهِ مِنَ الْأَجْرِ إِلاّ ثَلاثُ خِصال: صَدَقَةٌ أَجْراها فِی حَیاتِهِ فَهِیَ تَجْرِی بَعْدَ مَوْتِهِ، وَ سُنَّةُ هُدىً سَنَّها وَ کانَ تُعْمَلُ بِها بَعْدَ مَوْتِهِ، وَ وَلَدٌ صالِحٌ یَسْتَغْفِرُ لَهُ:
“There is no reward after death for a human being except for three things: the charity he has provided in his life and which continues after his death, and the guiding tradition that established it, and then people follow it after his death and the righteous children who pray for him.”
2:222 [وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ] And they ask you [عَنِ] about [الْمَحِيضِ ] the menstruation [قُلْ] Say [هُوَ] it [أَذًى] is a hurt [فَاعْتَزِلُوا] so keep away from [النِّسَاءَ] the women [فِي] during [الْمَحِيضِ] their the menstruation [وَلَا] And do not [تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ] approach them [حَتَّىٰ] until [يَطْهُرْنَ] they are cleansed [فَإِذَا] Then when [تَطَهَّرْنَ] they are purified [فَأْتُوهُنَّ] then come to them [مِنْ] from [حَيْثُ] where (as) [أَمَرَكُمُ] has ordered you [اللَّـهُ] Allah [إِنَّ] Indeed [اللَّـهَ] Allah (SWT) [يُحِبُّ] loves [التَّوَّابِينَ] those who turn in [وَيُحِبُّ] and loves [الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ] those who purify themselves.
2:223 [نِسَاؤُكُمْ] Your wives [حَرْثٌ] are a tilth [لَّكُمْ] for you [فَأْتُوا] So come [حَرْثَكُمْ] to your tilth [أَنَّىٰ] when [شِئْتُمْ] you wish [وَقَدِّمُوا] and send forth (good deeds) [لِأَنفُسِكُمْ] for yourselves [وَاتَّقُوا] And be conscious [اللَّـهَ] of Allah [وَاعْلَمُوا] And know [أَنَّكُم] that you [مُّلَاقُوهُ] will meet God [وَبَشِّرِ] and give glad tidings [الْمُؤْمِنِينَ] to the believers