Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 2:228)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Rules of remarriage after divorce
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ ۚ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَن يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّـهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِن كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُوا إِصْلَاحًا ۚ وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ ﴿٢٢٨﴾
2:228 Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah (SWT) has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. Wives have [rights] similar to their [obligations], according to what is recognized to be fair, and husbands have a degree [of right] over them: [both should remember that] Allah (SWT) is almighty and wise.
Commentary: The verse lays down the rules of divorce. First, a divorced woman should wait for three periods of menstruation before another marriage:
وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ .. ﴿٢٢٨﴾
2:228 Divorced women remain in waiting for three monthly periods [before another marriage],
At-Tarabbus (التَرَبَّصْ) means to wait and to hold back. Bi Anfusihinna (بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ) means concerning themselves. Hence, Yatarabbasna bi Anfusihinna (يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ) means they should keep themselves in waiting. Qurūin (قُرُوءٍ) means menstruation. Thalāthata (ثَلَاثَةَ) means three. Hence, a meaning of the verse is: “A divorced woman should keep themselves apart (from another marriage) for three menstruations.” Qurūin (قُرُوءٍ) also means cleanliness after menstruation. The verse then states, “A divorced woman should keep themselves apart (from another marriage) for three periods of purity after menses.” The latter interpretation is consistent with the reported traditions that Thalāthata Qurūin (ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ) is three periods of cleanliness after menstruation [Tafseer–e–Namoona, Vol. 2, P.154].
Divorce must take place while the woman is in a state of purity without having an intimate spousal relationship after cessation of her menstruation. This purity is considered the first one. After that, she goes through second and third periods of menstruation. At her third menstruation or after that, she can marry another man. The period of waiting is called Al-iddah (العده) in the Islamic Jurisprudence.
The second rule is that she cannot hide a potential pregnancy or her menstrual cycles during the waiting period of Al-iddah (العده):
… وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَن يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّـهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِن كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ … ﴿٢٢٨﴾
2:228 … and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah (SWT) has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day…
The statement (مَا خَلَقَ اللَّـهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ) “what Allah (SWT) has created in their wombs” implies pregnancy and menstruation, since both child bearing and menstruation originate from the womb. The phrase (إِن كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ) “if they believe in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day” suggests that the divorced woman’s testimony is sufficient about her waiting period. Notably, the waiting period of a pregnant, divorced woman is until she delivers her child. After that, she can remarry. The third rule is that, in a recoverable divorce, the husbands (وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ) have the right (أَحَقُّ) to change their mind and take back their wives (بِرَدِّهِنَّ) during the waiting period (فِي ذَٰلِكَ), if the husbands desire reconciliation (إِنْ أَرَادُوا إِصْلَاحًا).
In Islam doctrine, people are treated equally, and everyone’s rights match their obligations. For instance, parents are obligated for the upbringing their children. Hence, they have the right of guardianship of their children. This is true in marital life. The verse states that the wives (وَلَهُنَّ) have rights equal (مِثْلُ) to their responsibilities (الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ), according to what is recognized to be fair (بِالْمَعْرُوفِ). Al-Ma‘rūf (الْمَعْرُوفِ) means well-known, and it implies just, fair, and reasonable. Al-Ma‘rūf has a comprehensive meaning which covers the guidance of reason, the laws of religion, nobility of character, morals and ethics.
To parallel, the men also have rights equal to their responsibilities. Since, men are responsible for the well-being of the family including their wives, men have a higher degree of right compare to that of women (وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ). In summary, the verse implies that women, or divorcees, are equal in rights with men, but that men are a degree above them due to the responsibility of caring for the well-being of their family. Therefore, Allah has given women rights in proportion to the responsibilities laid upon them, with the preservation of the authority of men over them [Al-Mizan, Vol.2, P.349]:
…. وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ ﴿٢٢٨﴾
2:228 … Wives have [rights] similar to their [obligations], according to what is recognized to be fair, and husbands have a degree [of right] over them: [both should remember that] Allah (SWT) is almighty and wise.
2:228 [وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ] And divorced women [يَتَرَبَّصْنَ] shall wail [بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ] concerning themselves [ثَلَاثَةَ] for three [قُرُوءٍ] menstrual periods. [وَ] And [لَا يَحِلُّ] it is not lawful [لَهُنَّ] for them [أَن] that [يَكْتُمْنَ] they conceal [مَا] what [خَلَقَ] created [اللَّـهُ] Allah [فِي] in [أَرْحَامِهِنَّ] their wombs [إِن] if [كُنَّ] they [يُؤْمِنَّ] believe [بِاللَّـهِ] in Allah (SWT) [وَالْيَوْمِ] and the Day [الْآخِرِ] the Last [وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ]. And their husbands [أَحَقُّ] have a better right (more entitled) [بِرَدِّهِنَّ] to take them back [فِي] in [ذَٰلِكَ] that period [إِنْ] if [أَرَادُوا] they wish [إِصْلَاحًا] for reconciliation. [وَلَهُنَّ] And for them (wives) [مِثْلُ] is the like [الَّذِي] of that which [عَلَيْهِنَّ] is on them [بِالْمَعْرُوفِ] to what is reasonable. [وَلِلرِّجَالِ] And for the men [عَلَيْهِنَّ] over them [دَرَجَةٌ] is a degree. [وَاللَّـهُ] And Allah (SWT) [عَزِيزٌ] is All-Mighty [حَكِيمٌ] All-wise.