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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 58 (Al-Mujadilah- The Pleading Woman) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 6)



Section/Ruku 1 [Verses 1 to 6]: Safeguarding women’s rights:
Chapter 58: (Al-Mujadilah: The Pleading Woman)
(Revealed at Madinah: 3 sections; 22 verses)

1. Introduction:

The title of this chapter is taken from the circumstances narrated in the first section. There was an old Arab custom of putting away the wife by calling her "mother", but she was not thus divorced, nor did she continue to hold the status of a wife. A Muslim did the same. The wife complained to the Holy Prophet, and it is by reason of her complaint that she is called Al-Mujadilah or The Pleading Woman. Islam took up the cause of woman in the greatest earnestness, as, in her person, half the human race was rotting under severe oppression, and Islam came to deal a death-blow to all kinds of oppression under which any class of society laboured. The whole of the first section is devoted to this matter. The second section condemns secret counsels against the Holy Prophet, which, owing to Islam having gained power, had become very frequent at Madinah — the hypocrites, and the Jews especially, taking part in these conspiracies. The third section speaks more plainly of the hypocrites and the Jews, and enjoins the Muslims to be wary of them, and, as they were hidden enemies of Islam, not to befriend them.

The last chapter having referred to the future conquests of the Muslims, this warns them of the secret plans of the enemies of Islam. Though this chapter deals with the conspiracies of the Jews and the hypocrites, it also deals with the rights of women, both of these being also the subjects dealt with in the 4th chapter, to which therefore it forms, as it were, a complement.

As regards the date of revelation, the chapter may be placed a little before the 33rd chapter, for the custom known as zihar is fully dealt with here, while only a reference to it is contained in the 33rd chapter. And as the case of Khaulah shows (see 1a) that the Prophet waited for the Divine revelation before giving a decision, it is evident that the reference to zihar contained in 33:4 was a later revelation.

2. Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

1 Allah indeed has heard the plea of her who pleads with thee about her husband and complains to Allah; and Allah hears the contentions of both of you.a Surely Allah is Hearing, Seeing.

2 Those of you who put away their wives by calling them their mothersa — they are not their mothers. None are their mothers save those who gave them birth, and they utter indeed a hateful word and a lie. And surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.

3 And those who put away their wives by calling them their mothers, then go back on that which they said, must free a captive before they touch one another. To this you are exhorted; and Allah is Aware of what you do.

4 But he who has not the means, should fast for two months successively before they touch one another, and he who is unable to do so should feed sixty needy ones. That is in order that you may have faith in Allah and His Messenger. And these are Allah’s limits. And for the disbelievers is a painful chastisement.

5 Surely those who oppose Allah and His Messenger will be humbleda as those before them were humbled; and indeed We have revealed clear messages. And for the disbelievers is an abasing chastisement.

6 On the day when Allah will raise them all together, then inform them of what they did. Allah records it, while they forget it. And Allah is Witness over all things.

3. Commentary:

1a. The woman referred to was Khaulah or Khuwailah, wife of Aus ibn Samit, who was separated by her husband in an old Arab form, the husband saying to the wife, Thou art to me as the back of my mother, the word zihar being derived from zahr, meaning back. The woman complained about it to the Prophet, who said that, as he had no revelation about it, he could not interfere. Then Aus wanted her to have conjugal relations with him, but she refused and came to the Prophet complaining of his bad temper. The Prophet wanted her to be more lenient but she was not willing. It was then that the Prophet received this revelation, according to which it was necessary that the husband should in such cases make an expiation before re-establishing conjugal rights (Ah, vol. VI, 410). [Back to verse 1]

2a. For this form of putting away the wife see 33:4b, where the abolition of this practice is also referred to. [Back to verse 2]

5a. Those who would not abide by the Divine commandments regarding the treatment of women are here told that this was not a light matter. They were in the ranks of those who opposed the Prophet. With these words the subject is changed to the conspiracies of the Jews and the hypocrites, who were now conspiring secretly against the Prophet. [Back to verse 5]



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Chapter 57: Al-Hadid (Iron)

Chapter 59: Al-Hashr (The Banishment)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 58 (Al-Mujadilah- The Pleading Woman) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 6)

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