As-salaam wa-alaikum, brothers and sisters.
Today’s selection covers the entirety of Surah 58, Al-Mujãdalah or the Pleading, verses 1-22. In this Surah, all false pretenses and superstitions, especially those which degrade the position of women such as divorce through Zihar (or calling one’s wife as one’s mother), are condemned, – as well as secret consultations between men and intrigues with falsehood, mischief and sedition.
Tafseer for this Surah covers the background which led to the outlawing of the pagan practice of divorce through Zihar.
Bis-millahi ar-rahman, ar-raheem.
In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful.
Allah has indeed heard the words of the woman, who pleaded with you against her husband and made her complaint to Allah, and Allah has heard what you said to each other. Allah hears all and sees all. Those of you who divorce their wives by Zihãr (calling them to be like their mothers) should know that they are not their mothers. Their mothers are only those who gave birth to them. Surely the words they utter are absurd and false. Allah could punish them for this but He forgave them, surely Allah is All-Pardoning, All-Forgiving. Those who divorce their wives by Zihãr, then wish to retract the words they uttered, shall have to free a slave before they touch each other. This is enjoined as a penalty for doing so. Allah is well aware of all your actions. He that has no slave, shall fast two consecutive months before they touch each other. He that cannot fast, shall feed sixty poor people. This is enjoined so that you may have faith in Allah and His Messenger. These are the limits set by Allah, and the violators shall have a painful punishment. Those who resist Allah and His Messenger, shall be humiliated as were those before them. We have sent down clear revelations; the disbelievers shall have a humiliating punishment. On the Day of Judgment, Allah will raise them all back to life, then inform them about what they have done. Allah has kept full record of their deeds even though they may have forgotten, for Allah is a witness over all things. 58:[1-6]
Are you not aware that Allah knows all that is in the heavens and in the earth? It cannot be that three persons converse in secret and He is not the fourth of them; or five persons converse in secret and He is not the sixth of them; whether fewer or more, wherever they may be, He is with them. Then on the Day of Resurrection He will inform them of what they have done, surely Allah has knowledge of all things. Have you not seen those who, though forbidden to hold secret counsels, persistently do what was forbidden? They hold secret counsels among themselves for sin, hostility and disobedience to the Messenger. Yet when they come to you, they greet you in words which Allah does not greet you with, and say to themselves: “Why does Allah not punish us for what we say?” Hell is enough for them, they shall burn in its flames, what an evil destination! O believers! When you confer together in private, do not talk about sin and hostility and disobedience to the Messenger; but to counsel about virtue and piety, and fear Allah, before whom you shall be brought together. Conspiring in secret is the work of shaitãn, who means to vex the believers; but he cannot harm them at all except as Allah permits; so in Allah let the believers put their trust. O believers! When you are asked to make room in your meetings, make room, Allah will make room for you in the Hereafter. And if you are told to rise up, then rise up: Allah will raise to higher ranks those of you who have faith and knowledge. Allah is aware of all your actions. O believers! When you want to consult the Messenger in private, offer something in charity before your consultation, that is best and purest for you. But if you lack the means, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Do you hesitate to give charity before your private consultation with him? If you cannot afford it – Allah will forgive you – so establish Prayer and pay Charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah is well aware of all your actions. 58:[7-13]
Have you not seen the ones who have befriended those people who are under the wrath of Allah? They are neither on your side nor yet on theirs and they knowingly swear to falsehood. Allah has prepared for them a severe punishment; evil indeed is what they are doing. They use their oaths as shields, and debar others from the Way of Allah. They shall have a humiliating punishment. Neither their riches nor their sons shall avail them anything against Allah. They shall be the inmates of hell and live there forever. On the Day when Allah will raise them all to life, they will swear to Him as they now swear to you, thinking that their oaths will help them. By no means! Surely they are the liars. Shaitãn has gained possession of them, and caused them to forget Allah’s warning. They are the party of shaitãn. Beware! Surely it is the party of shaitãn that shall be the loser. Those who resist Allah and His Messenger will be among the most humiliated. Allah has decreed: “It is I and My Messengers who will most certainly prevail.” Surely Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty. You will never find any people who believe in Allah and the last Day on friendly terms with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their relatives. It is they in whose hearts Allah has inscribed faith and has strengthened them with a spirit of His own. He will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. Allah will be well pleased with them, and they will be well pleased with Him. They are the party of Allah. Beware! Surely it is the party of Allah that will be successful. 58:[14-22]
Concerning the case which led to the outlawing of Zihar:
The immediate occasion was what happened to Khawlah bint Tha’labah, wife of Aws son of Samit. Though an adherent of Islam, he divorced her by an old Pagan custom: the formula was known as Zihar, and consisted of the words “Thou art to me as the back of my mother”. This was held by Pagan custom to imply a divorce and freed the husband from any responsibility for conjugal duties, but did not leave the wife free to leave the husband’s home or to contract a second marriage. Such a custom was in any case degrading to a woman. It was particularly hard on Khawlah, for she loved her husband and pleaded that she had little children whom she had no resources herself to support and whom under Zihar, her husband was not bound to support. She urged her plea to the Prophet [pbuh] and in prayer to Allah. Her just plea was accepted and this iniquitous custom, based on false words, was abolished.
This concludes today’s episode of the 17 Verses Podcast. I hope that this selection has helped increase your understanding of the holy Qur’an just a little bit.
Thank you and be well.