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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah - The Cow) > Section 31 (Verses 236 to 242)



Section/Ruku 31 [Verses 236 to 242]: Provision for divorced women and widows:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

236 There is no blame on you if you divorce women while yet you have not touched them, nor appointed for them a portion. And provide for them, the wealthy according to his means and the straitened according to his means, a provision according to usage. (This is) a duty on the doers of good.

 237 And if you divorce them before you have touched them and you have appointed for them a portion, (pay) half of what you have appointed unless they forgo or he forgoes in whose hand is the marriage tie.a And it is nearer to dutifulness that you forgo. Nor neglect the giving of free gifts between you.b Surely Allah is Seer of what you do.

 238 Guard the prayers and the most excellent prayer, and stand up truly obedient to Allah.a

 239 But if you are in danger (say your prayers) on foot or on horseback. And when you are secure, remember Allah as He has taught you what you knew not.a

 240 And those of you who die and leave wives behind, should make a bequest in favour of their wives of maintenance for a year without turning (them) out. Then if they themselves go away, there is no blame on you for what they do of lawful deeds concerning themselves. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.a

 241 And for the divorced women, provision (must be made) in kindness. This is incumbent on those who have regard for duty.a

 242 Allah thus makes clear to you His messages that you may understand.

 2. Commentary:

236a. The faridah or the portion is the dowry, so that even when no dowry has been agreed upon, and marriage has not been consummated, liberality must be shown to the divorced wife, and some provision should be made for her, even though the husband may be in straitened circumstances. [Back to verse 236]

237a. The husband is the person in whose hand is the marriage tie. His forgoing his due is equivalent to not claiming the half of the dowry which he is entitled to by this verse. Note that forgoing on the part of husbands is here stated to be the more commendable course. [Back to verse 237]

237b. By fadl is meant here the doing of an act of grace or bounty, that which one is not in duty bound to do; and therefore what is implied is the giving of free gifts. [Back to verse 237]

238a. Wasat, of which wusta is the comparative form, means both middle and excellent, for wasat refers sometimes to place and sometimes to degree (R). Al-Salat al-wusta means the best or the most excellent prayer, not the middle prayer, because wusta is in the comparative degree, and middle does not admit of comparison. In Hadith, the later afternoon prayer, ‘Asr, is spoken of as Al-Salat al-wusta (B. 56:98). This name may have been given to it because from the point of the businessman it is the busiest part of the day and hence he finds it most difficult to find time for it. But there are several other suggestions regarding what is meant by it, and maybe it does not refer to any particular prayer and means simply attending to prayer in the most excellent form. The guarding of prayers is not simply the observance of the outward form; it is both the form and the spirit to which attention is drawn. Prayers are to be said at stated times and a particular method is to be observed, for if regularity and method had not been adopted, the institution of prayer which is so helpful in keeping alive a true faith in God in the heart of a Muslim would have passed into mere idealism as in other religions. The fact is that to keep the spirit of man in touch with the Divine Spirit, an external form was necessary, and it is absurd to jump to the conclusion that because Islam requires an external form to be kept up, the Islamic prayer is devoid of spirit. The external form is needed to bring the inner faculty into exercise. As regards the spirit of prayer, attention is called to it again and again in the Holy Qur’an. On this very occasion, the injunction to guard the prayers is followed by the words: Stand up truly obedient to Allah. That is the spirit which prayer aims at generating, the spirit of obedience to God. Elsewhere we are told: “Prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil” (29:45). In fact, the Qur’an condemns prayers which are devoid of spirit (107:4–6). [Back to verse 238]

239a. The reference to danger is danger from the enemy, who might make an onslaught on the Muslims if they neglected their defence when attending to prayer. There is thus a reversion here to the subject of fighting, which is really dealt with throughout this chapter. The laying of stress on prayers in the previous verse is also due to the fact that prayer was in danger of being neglected when fighting. It should also be noted that the question of widowhood, which is being dealt with here, is closely associated with fighting, because wars must increase the number of widows. The subject of fighting is plainly reverted to in the next section. [Back to verse 239]

240a. There is nothing to show that this verse is abrogated by any other verse of the Holy Qur’an. Neither v. 234, nor 4:12, contains anything contradicting this verse. The former of these speaks of the period of waiting for a widow, but here we have nothing about the period of waiting; it simply speaks of a bequest on the part of the husband that the widow should be given an additional benefit, a year’s residence and maintenance. The latter portion of the verse plainly says that if the widow of her own accord leaves the house, she is not entitled to any further concession, and there is no blame on the heirs of the deceased husband for what the widow does of lawful deeds, i.e., if she remarries after her waiting period of four months and ten days is over. As regards 4:12, the fourth or eighth part of the property of the deceased husband is hers in addition to what she obtains under this verse, and 4:12 plainly says that anything which is to be paid under a will shall have precedence of the division of property into shares under that verse. Mujahid’s explanation of this verse is exactly the same: “Allah gave her (i.e., the widow) the whole of a year, seven months and twenty days being optional under the bequest; if she desired she could stay according to the bequest (i.e., having maintenance and residence for a year), and if she desired she could leave the house (and remarry), as the Qur’an says: Then if they themselves go away, there is no blame on you” (B. 65: ii, 41). [Back to verse 240]

241a. Note that this provision is in addition to the dowry which must be paid to them. Just as in the previous verse the widow is given an additional benefit, here a provision in addition to her dowry is recommended for the divorced woman. This shows how liberal are the injunctions of the Holy Qur’an regarding women. [Back to verse 241]



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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah - The Cow) > Section 31 (Verses 236 to 242)

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