This sūrah of 12 verses was revealed in Madīnah. It takes its name from its subject matter as well as from the first verse, where the verb TalLaQa (“to divorce”) occurs. It contains rules additional to those mentioned in Sūrat al-Baqarah concerning divorce, the waiting period, alimony, and habitation.
- O (most illustrious) Prophet!1 When you (Muslims) intend to divorce women, divorce them considering their waiting-period (as appointed in Law), and reck- on the period (with due care), keeping from disobedience to God, your Lord, in reverence for Him and piety. (While the divorce is taking effect, during their waiting-period) do not drive them out from their houses (where they have lived with their husbands), nor shall they themselves leave, except in case they have committed an open indecency.2 These are the bounds set by God. Whoever ex- ceeds the bounds set by God has surely wronged his own self. You do not know: it may be that afterward God will enable some new situation (to come about between the concerned parties).3
- While all the other Prophets are mentioned in the Qur’ān with their names, the Qur’ān usually addresses God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, by his mission. This is done in order to refer to the fact that his mission has the greatest importance and that his position is unequaled among the Prophets. According to a rule of Arabic grammar, men- tioning something (a position, reputation, or an attribute) without specifying to whom it belongs, means that he who possesses this possesses it in the greatest degree. Therefore, this implies that God’s Messenger (the Prophet Muhammad), upon him be peace and blessings, is the greatest representative of the office of Prophethood.
- Islam orders that if a man wishes to divorce his wife, he should do so during the time when she is not in the course of a monthly period and he has had no intercourse with her. The wife is then to wait for three monthly courses, during which the husband is obliged to provide for her and cannot force her to leave the home. They can turn to each other during this period. If they do so, they do not have to renew the marriage contract. If they turn to each other after the end of this period, they have to renew it. This divorce can also occur for a second time; but if it is repeated for a third time, they can no longer turn to each other, unless the woman first marries another man and divorces him or is divorced by him. For other ordinances concerning divorce, see sūrah 2: 228–232, 234, notes 152–154; sūrah 33: 49, note 23.
- That is, there may be reconciliation between the divorced spouses and they may reas- sume their marital relations before the final divorce occurs. This statement is a warning to
observe the bounds set by God. If we observe them strictly, God may bring about a new thing that will please us. So we must submit to God and carry out His orders without transgressing the limits set by Him.
- Then, when they reach the end of their waiting-term, either retain them in a fair manner and in observance of their rights, or (the waiting-period having ended) part with them in a fair manner and in observance of their rights. And (as the commended way, in either case) call upon two (Muslim) men of probity from among you as witnesses, and establish the testimony for God (with due consciousness of your responsibility to Him). Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day is exhorted to act so. Whoever keeps from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, He enables a way out for him (of every difficulty),
- And provides for him from where he does not reckon. Whoever puts his trust in God, He is sufficient for him (for all his needs). God surely executes what He decrees; assuredly God has appointed a measure for everything.4
- That is, God has established certain causes, conditions, and limits, and a certain frame— and, therefore, a certain result for everything. Nothing occurs beyond the limits which He has established.
- Those of your women who have passed the age of monthly courses (or those who for some reason do not have monthly periods) – if you are in uncertainty about it – their waiting-period is three (lunar) months. As for the women who are pregnant (whether divorced or widows), their waiting-period is until they deliver their burden. Whoever keeps from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, He makes his affair easy for him.
- All that (which has been said) is God’s commandment which He has sent down to you. Whoever keeps from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, He blots out from him his evil deeds, and vastly enlarges reward for him.5
- Blotting out evil deeds means forgiving the minor sins that may have been committed in obeying God’s commandments. It is as stated in: If you avoid the major sins which you have been forbidden, We will blot out from you your minor evil deeds and make you enter by a noble entrance (to an abode of glory) (4: 31). So it may be inferred that disobedience to the orders and prohibitions of the Qur’ān concerning divorce and the waiting-period in these verses, within the framework of taqwā (piety and reverence for God), is a major sin. It may also be inferred that a believer should be careful concerning all of God’s command- ments (orders and prohibitions).
- House them (the divorced women during their waiting-period in a part of the house) where you dwell and provide for them, according to your means; and
do not harass them so as to straiten conditions for them (thus forcing them to leave). If they are pregnant, maintain them until they deliver their burden; and if (after delivery and the waiting-period has ended) they suckle (the baby) for you, give them their due payment. Take counsel with each other (about the matter and payment for suckling) according to customary good and religiously approv- able practice. If you find yourselves making difficulties (and so unable to come to an agreement), then let another (woman) suckle (the baby) on behalf of him (the baby’s father, who must settle the expense).
- Let him who has abundant means spend accordingly; and whoever is granted his provision in (narrower) measure, let him spend out of what God has granted him. God does not charge a soul with a duty except in what He has (already) granted it (of capacity to discharge that duty). God will bring about, after hard- ship, ease.
- How many a township has turned in arrogance from the commandment of its Lord and His Messengers, and so We called them to account with a severe reckoning (by exposing them to awesome calamities), and punished them with a dire punishment.6
6. This, as well as the following verse, is, in one respect, the summation of what befell the Jews, christians, and Muslims when they broke with God’s commandments in their daily lives.
- So they tasted the evil result of their own doings and the outcome of their doings was ruin.
- God has prepared for them a severe punishment (in addition, in the Here- after). So keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety to deserve His protection, O people of discernment who have believed! Indeed God has sent down to you a Reminder (this Book of guidance to what is true, instructing you in what is for your good and what is against it).
- (And as its embodiment, He has also sent you) a Messenger reciting (and so conveying) to you God’s signs and Revelations which show the truth clearly and illuminate your way, so that He may lead you out of all kinds of darkness into the light, and keep you firm therein. Whoever (truly and sincerely) believes in God and does good, righteous deeds, He will admit him into Gardens through which rivers flow, therein to abide forever. God has indeed granted him an excellent provision (as faith and good deeds in this world and Paradise in the Hereafter).
- God is He Who has created seven heavens and of the earth the like of them; His commands (concerning the creation and its operation, and the life of the
inhabitants of the heavens and earth) descend through them,7 so that you may know for certain that surely God has full power over everything, and that God indeed encompasses all things in (His) Knowledge.
7. The earth and the heavens are like two countries, under one government, that conduct important relations and transactions. For example, He directs the affair from heaven to the earth; then the affair ascends to Him in a day the measure of which is a thousand years of what you reckon (32: 5; and see note 4). Moreover, the earth needs the light, heat, bless- ings, and forms of mercy (like rain) sent from the heavens. Also, as all Revealed religions confirm, angels and spirit beings descend to the earth for certain purposes. Thus, we may deduce that the inhabitants of the earth can ascend to the heavens.
People can travel to the heavens via their minds, visions, and imaginations. Freed from, or purified of, their carnal and material being’s gross heaviness, the spirits of Prophets and saints travel in such realms; our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, traveled through all the realms of the heavens with his spirit and body, which gained the refinement of spirit; this is what we call the Ascension (Mi’rāj). And God lifted up Jesus, upon him be peace, with both his spirit and body to the heavens. The spirits of ordinary people do so after death, and then are returned to the intermediate realm (between this world and the next). Since those who are “lightened” and have acquired “subtlety” and spiritual refinement travel there, certain inhabitants of the earth may go to the heavens if they are clothed in an “ideal” body, energetic envelope, or immaterial body or form, and are light and subtle like spirits. And also, humankind can physically travel to the heavens.
The earth, as Said Nursi describes it (The Words, “15th Word,” 195), despite its small size and insignificance when compared with the heavens, is the heart and center of the universe with respect to its meaning and art, for it is our cradle and dwelling place. Moreover, it exhibits all the miracles of the Divine Names and concentrates and reflects God’s infinite activity as the Master, Sustainer, Trainer, and Ruler of all beings. It is also the center and pivot of the endless Divine creativity displayed in infinite liberality, particularly in the nu- merous small plant and animal species, as well as in the microcosm of samples of all that is found in the Hereafter’s truly vast worlds: the speedily operating workshop for eternal textiles, the fast-changing place of copies of eternal scenes, and the narrow, temporary field and tillage that rapidly produces seeds for the permanent Gardens (in the Hereafter).
Due to this immaterial greatness and importance with respect to art, the wise Qur’ān puts the earth on a par with the heavens, although it is like the tiny fruit of a huge tree when compared with the heavens. It places the earth on one side of the scales, and the heavens on the other, and repeatedly says, the “Lord of the heavens and the earth” (mentioning both together).