Date :Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 | Time : 01:22 |ID: 172462 | Print

Rulings on Divorce: Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:236-239) By Mohammad Sobhanie

Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:236-239), by Mohammad Sobhanie

Rulings on Divorce

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

لَّا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِن طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدَرُهُ مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٢٣٦﴾ وَإِن طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ وَقَدْ فَرَضْتُمْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً فَنِصْفُ مَا فَرَضْتُمْ إِلَّا أَن يَعْفُونَ أَوْ يَعْفُوَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ عُقْدَةُ النِّكَاحِ ۚ وَأَن تَعْفُوا أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَلَا تَنسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ ﴿٢٣٧

2:236 (There is) no blame upon you if you divorce (the) women whom you have not touched nor you specified for them an obligation (dowry). And bestow on them a gift – upon the wealthy according to his means and upon the poor according to his means- a gift of a reasonable amount, a duty upon the good-doers.

2:237 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 (that) they (women) forgo (it) or forgoes the one in whose hands (is the) knot (of) the marriage. And that (half of the dowry) you forgo, (is) nearer to (the) righteousness. And do not forget generosity between you. Indeed Allah (SWT), of whatever you do, is Seeing.

Commentary: A couple may get married, and before the start of their marital relations, realize that they are not suitable for each other as husband and wife. Can the couple terminate their marriage even if the marriage has not been consummated yet? What are the rules of divorce in this case?

A couple may get married without fixing the dowry at the time of the marriage ceremony. Later on, the couple wants to divorce. Is the wife entitled to a dowry?

Verse 2:236-237 states the ruling of divorce in these cases. In particular, it says a husband can divorce his wife before the marital relationship begins or if he has not yet set a certain dowry for her:

لَّا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِن طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ … ﴿٢٣٦

2:236 (There is) no blame upon you if you divorce (the) women whom you have not touched nor you specified for them an obligation (dowry)

The word (تَمَسُّوهُنَّ) means you have touched them, implying that marital relations took place. Also, the word (فَرِيضَةً) means an obligation, and refers to the dowry.

Four scenarios could be construed from verse 2:236:

  • Divorce before the consummation of the marriage and without an assigned dowry
  • Divorce before the consummation of the marriage and with an assigned dowry
  • Divorce after the consummation of the marriage and without an assigned dowry
  • Divorce after the consummation of the marriage and with an assigned the dowry

Case #1) A husband divorces his wife before the consummation of the marriage while he has not appointed her a dowry. In this case, the husband ends the marriage by giving her a suitable gift (وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ …مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ) according to his means (عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدَرُهُ). In particular, verse 2:36 states:

… وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدَرُهُ مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٢٣٦

2:236 And bestow on them a gift – upon the wealthy according to his means and upon the poor according to his means- a gift of a reasonable amount, a duty upon the good-doers.

The word (مَتِّعُوهُنَّ) means to give someone a thing that he can benefit from, the word (اَلْمَتاعٌ) is that thing which mankind benefits from, and often refers to non-monetary gifts since money directly does not benefit mankind. The word (مَعْرُوفِ) means fair, just, reasonable, acceptable to society and recognized in religion. The phrase (مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ) is the object of the verb (مَتِّعُوهُنَّ).  Hence (وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ …مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ) means bestow on them a fair and reasonable gift. The gift must be within the means of the husband.

Hence, the verse says: “upon the wealthy (the gift must be) according to his means and upon the poor according to his means” (عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدَرُهُ). The word (الْمُوسِعِ) means the wealthy and (الْمُقْتِرِ) the poor. Since gifts have a significant effect on preventing hard feelings in divorce, the verse reminds husbands that gifts should be given with generosity and benevolence (حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ).

The phrase giving “a duty upon the good-doers” (حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ) does not imply that giving a reasonable gift is a duty upon only the good-doers. Verse 33:49 (chapter Al-Ahzab) clearly states:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ …. ۖ فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحًا جَمِيلًا ﴿٤٩

33:49 O You who believe, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them… So, bestow on them a gift and release them (from the marriage contract) in an honorable manner.

Case #2) A husband divorces his wife before the consummation of the marriage while he has appointed her a dowry. According to verse 2:237, the husband should pay her half of the prescribed amount:

وَإِن طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ وَقَدْ فَرَضْتُمْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً فَنِصْفُ مَا فَرَضْتُمْ …. ﴿٢٣٧

2:237 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, the wife herself or her guardian remits this amount, then the other half also would be waived.

… إِلَّا أَن يَعْفُونَ أَوْ يَعْفُوَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ عُقْدَةُ النِّكَاحِ …. ﴿٢٣٧

2:237 … unless they (women) forego the right or the one in whose hand is the knot of the marriage (women’s guardian) foregoes it. The husband may also be termed the ‘‘one in whose hand is the marriage-tie’’ (الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ عُقْدَةُ النِّكَاحِ). Therefore, if the husband has already paid the full dowry and he remits it, then it will not be necessary for the wife to pay back the husband the half of that amount (Al-Mizan, Vol.2, P. 368)

In conclusion, verse 2:237 exhorts the separated couple to do good and be generous to each other by forgoing their own rights and giving the other party more than its due:

… وَأَن تَعْفُوا أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَلَا تَنسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ ﴿٢٣٧

2:237 … And that (the due portion of the dowry) you forgo, (is) nearer to [the] righteousness. And do not forget generosity between you. Indeed Allah, of whatever you do, is Seeing.

The word (الْفَضْلَ) translated here to generosity and literally means to exceed/surpass. The same meaning holds true for (الْفَضُول), though (الْفَضْلَ) refers to excellence in virtue, nobility and merit, while (الْفَضُول) is used for unwarranted excesses, like chattering and gossiping.

Case #3) A husband divorces his wife after the consummation of the marriage while he has not appointed her a dowry. In this case, the husband should pay the dowry of women like her.

Case #4) A husband divorces his wife after the consummation of the marriage while he has appointed her a dowry.  In this case, the husband has to pay the full dowry.

Importance of the Noon Prayer

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّـهِ قَانِتِينَ ﴿٢٣٨﴾ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ فَرِجَالًا أَوْ رُكْبَانًا ۖ فَإِذَا أَمِنتُمْ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّـهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٢٣٩

2:238 Guard the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand up for Allah devotedly obedient.

2:239 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.

Commentary: The Arabian Peninsula is very hot in summers, especially in the middle of the day. A group of hypocrites used the high temperatures at midday as an excuse for missing noon congregational prayers. Some believers followed the hypocrite’s reason, and fewer and fewer people began to participate. In this way, hypocrites began to disrupt the Prophet’s congregational prayers.

Zayd-Ibn-Thabit (Arabic: زيد بن ثابت‎) narrates on some hot days, only one or two rows of worshippers attended the Prophet’s congressional prayers. The Holy Prophet (SAWA) was upset about the disruption of the congressional prayer and threatened the perpetrators with severe punishment. The above verses were revealed and emphasized the importance of the noon congregational prayers [TafseereNamoona, Vol.2, P. 206].

The verse exhorts believers that they should not let hot weather or any challenges in life make them disregard their daily obligatory prayers. In particular, the verse states, “Guard the obligatory prayers” and in particular, “the middle prayer” (حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ). “And stand in obedience to Allah (SWT).” (وَقُومُوا لِلَّـهِ قَانِتِينَ). The phrase (وَقُومُوا لِلَّـهِ قَانِتِينَ) literally means to stand up (وَقُومُوا) for (لِ) Allah (لِلَّـهِ) and be devotedly obedient (قَانِتِينَ). The word (قَانِتِينَ) is derived from the word (قُنُوت), which is a supplication that is made while standing in prayer after the second rakat. It also means being humbly obedient.

The verse does not say which of the prayers is the middle prayer, but it is likely the noon prayer [TafseereNamoona, Vol.2, P. 207]. This interpretation is based on the fact that the noon prayer is performed in the middle of the day, and the verse was also revealed since people forsook the noon congregational prayer.

The next verse emphasizes that caring for obligatory prayers should never relax even in the most challenging circumstances, such as the battlefield.  If one is afraid of danger in such instances, he should perform the obligatory prayers either standing, walking, or mounted on a horse (فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ فَرِجَالًا أَوْ رُكْبَانًا). Once they reach safety (فَإِذَا أَمِنتُمْ), then they should maintain the obligatory prayers (حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ):

فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ فَرِجَالًا أَوْ رُكْبَانًا ۖ فَإِذَا أَمِنتُمْ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّـهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٢٣٩

2:239 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.

The word (رِجَال) is the plural of (راجِل) and means on foot. (رُکْبان) is the plural of (راکِب), which means rider.

The verse states that we should remember Allah (SWT) through the daily prayers as He has taught us what we did not know previously (فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّـهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ). Allah (SWT) blessed us enormously, one of the greatest blessings being the ability to pray and connect with Him. Hence, the meaning of the sentence is to remember Allah (SWT) with a remembrance equal to His favor in teaching us the obligatory prayer among other teachings concerning the rules of faith [Al-Mizan, Vol.2, P.370]

On the Day of Ashura, Abu Thumama al-Ṣa’idi (ابوثمامه صاعدی) came to Imam Hussain (AS) at noon and said: O Aba Abdullah! My dear, I see that the enemy have tightened the siege. I swear to God! Before you, I must be killed! But I would like to perform my last prayer – which is time – with you before I meet my Lord. Imam Hussain (AS) raised his head to the sky and said:

ذَکَّرْتَ الصَّلاةَ، جَعَلَکَ اللّهُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّینَ الذّاکِرینَ! نَعَمْ، هذا أَوَّلُ وَقْتِها

You remember the prayer; may God make you one of the worshippers. Yes, now is the time for the virtue of prayer. Some of the companions stood in front of the Imam and shielded him, and the Imam offered his last prayer under the arrows of the enemy.

Word-for-Word Translation:

2:236 [لَّا] There is no [جُنَاحَ] blame [عَلَيْكُمْ] upon you [إِن] if [طَلَّقْتُمُ] you divorce [النِّسَاءَ] the women [مَا] whom [لَمْ] not [تَمَسُّوهُنَّ] you have touched them [أَوْ] nor  [تَفْرِضُوا] you specified [لَهُنَّ] for them [فَرِيضَةً ] an obligation (dowry). [وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ] An make provision for them [عَلَى] upon [الْمُوسِعِ] the wealthy [قَدَرُهُ] according to his means [وَعَلَى] and upon [الْمُقْتِرِ] the poor [قَدَرُهُ] according to his means [مَتَاعًا] a provision [بِالْمَعْرُوفِ] in a fair manner [حَقًّا] a duty [عَلَى] upon [الْمُحْسِنِينَ] the good doers.

2:237 [وَإِن] And if [طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ] you divorce them [مِن] from [قَبْلِ] before [أَن] that [تَمَسُّوهُنَّ] you have touched them [وَقَدْ] while already [فَرَضْتُمْ] you have specified [لَهُنَّ] for them [فَرِيضَةً] an obligation  (dower) [فَنِصْفُ] then (give) half [مَا] of what [فَرَضْتُمْ] you have specified [إِلَّا] unless [أَن] that [يَعْفُونَ] they (women) forgo it [أَوْ] or [يَعْفُوَ] forgoes [الَّذِي] the one [بِيَدِهِ] in whose hands [عُقْدَةُ]is the knot [النِّكَاحِ] of the marriage. [وَأَن] And that [تَعْفُوا] you forgo [أَقْرَبُ] is nearer [لِلتَّقْوَىٰ] to the righteousness [وَلَا] An do not [تَنسَوُا] forget [الْفَضْلَ] the generosity [بَيْنَكُمْ] among you.  [إِنَّ] Indeed [اللَّـهَ] Allah [بِمَا] of what [تَعْمَلُونَ] you do [بَصِيرٌ] is All-Seer.

2:238 [حَافِظُوا] Guard strictly [عَلَى] on [الصَّلَوَاتِ] the prayer [وَالصَّلَاةِ] and the prayer [الْوُسْطَىٰ] the middle [وَقُومُوا] and stand up [لِلَّـهِ] for Allah [قَانِتِينَ] devotedly obedient.

2:239 [فَإِنْ] And of [خِفْتُمْ] you fear [فَرِجَالًا] then (pray) on foot [أَوْ] or [رُكْبَانًا] riding. [فَإِذَا] Then when [أَمِنتُمْ] you are secure [فَاذْكُرُوا] then remember [اللَّـهَ] Allah [كَمَا] as [عَلَّمَكُم] He (has) taught you [مَّا] what [لَمْ] not [تَكُونُوا] you were [تَعْلَمُونَ] knowing.

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