The Quran

Commentaries for 2.230

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.230 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then went back to His saying: (Divorce must be pronounced twice) saying: (And if he hath divorced her) i.e. the third time, (then she is not lawful unto him thereafter) after the third divorce (until she hath wedded another husband) and the marriage must be consummated. (Then if he (the other husband) divorce her) this was revealed about 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Zubayr, (it is no sin for both of them) the first husband and the woman (that they come together again) with a new dowry and marriage contract (if they consider) if they know (that they are able to observe the limits of Allah) the rulings of Allah regulating the relationship between husband and wife. (These are the limits of Allah) these are Allah's rulings and obligations. (He manifesteth them for people who have knowledge) they are from Allah and believe them to be so.
2.230 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
If he, the husband, divorces her, after the two utterances [of divorce]; she shall not be lawful to him after that, after the third [utterance of] divorce, until she marries another husband, who has sexual intercourse with her, as reported by the two Shaykhs [Bukhārī and Muslim]. If he, the second husband, divorces her, then neither of them would be at fault, that is, the woman and her first husband, to return to each other, in wedlock, after the completion of the waiting period, if they think that they will maintain God’s bounds. Those, matters mentioned, are God’s bounds, which He makes clear to a people who have knowledge, [a people who] reflect.
2.229-230 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Divorce is Thrice
This honorable Ayah abrogated the previous practice in the beginning of Islam, when the man had the right to take back his divorced wife even if he had divorced her a hundred times, as long as she was still in her `Iddah (waiting period). This situation was harmful for the wife, and this is why Allah made the divorce thrice, where the husband is allowed to take back his wife after the first and the second divorce (as long as she is still in her `Iddah). The divorce becomes irrevocable after the third divorce, as Allah said:
الطَّلَـقُ مَرَّتَانِ فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَـنٍ
(The divorce is twice, after that, either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness.)
In his Sunan, Abu Dawud reported in Chapter: "Taking the Wife back after the third (Divorce) is an abrogated practice," that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah:
وَالْمُطَلَّقَـتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَـثَةَ قُرُوءٍ وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَن يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِى أَرْحَامِهِنَّ
(And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs,) (2:228) The man used to have the right to take back his wife even if he had divorced her thrice. Allah abrogated this and said:
الطَّلَـقُ مَرَّتَانِ
(The divorce is twice.)
This Hadith was also collected by An-Nasa'i. Ibn Abu Hatim reported that `Urwah said that a man said to his wife, "I will neither divorce you nor take you back.'' She said, "How'' He said, "I will divorce you and when your term of `Iddah nears its end, I will take you back.'' She went to Allah's Messenger and told him what happened, and Allah revealed:
الطَّلَـقُ مَرَّتَانِ
(The divorce is twice.)
Ibn Jarir (At-Tabari) also reported this Hadith in his Tafsir.
Allah said:
فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَـنٍ
(...after that, either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness.) meaning, `If you divorce her once or twice, you have the choice to take her back, as long as she is still in her `Iddah, intending to be kind to her and to mend differences. Otherwise, await the end of her term of `Iddah, when the divorce becomes final, and let her go her own way in peace, without committing any harm or injustice against her.' `Ali bin Abu Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "When the man divorces his wife twice, let him fear Allah, regarding the third time. He should either keep her with him and treat her with kindness, or let her go her own way with kindness, without infringing upon any of her rights.''
Taking back the Mahr (Dowry)
Allah said:
وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَأْخُذُواْ مِمَّآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا
(And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of (the dowry) what you gave them,) meaning, you are not allowed to bother or pressure your wives to end this situation by giving you back the Mahr and any gifts that you have given them (in return for divorce). Similarly, Allah said:
وَلاَ تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُواْ بِبَعْضِ مَآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلاَّ أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ
(...and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of what you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse.) (4:19)
However, if the wife willingly gives back anything with a good heart, then Allah said regarding this situation:
فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شَىْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْساً فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئاً مَّرِيئاً
(...but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm.) (4:4)
Allowing Khul` and the Return of the Mahr in that Case
When the spouses have irreconcilable differences wherein the wife ignores the rights of the husband, dislikes him and becomes unable to live with him any longer, she is allowed to free herself (from married life) by giving him back what he had given her (in gifts and Mahr). There is no sin on her in this case nor on him if he accepts such offer. This is why Allah said:
وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَأْخُذُواْ مِمَّآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلاَّ أَن يَخَافَآ أَلاَّ يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ
(And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of what you gave them, except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah (e.g., to deal with each other on a fair basis). Then if you fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah, then there is no sin on either of them if she gives back.)
Sometimes, the woman has no valid reason and she still asks for her marriage to be ended. In this case, Ibn Jarir reported that Thawban said that Allah's Messenger said:
«أَيُّمَا امْرَأَةٍ سَأَلَتْ زَوْجَهَا طَلَاقًا فِي غَيْرِ مَا بَأْسٍ، فَحَرَامٌ عَلَيْهَا رَائِحَةُ الْجَنَّـة»
(Any woman who asks her husband for divorce without justification, then the scent of Paradise will be forbidden for her.)
At-Tirmidhi recorded this Hadith and stated that it is Hasan.
Ibn Jarir said that the Ayah (2:229) was revealed about Thabit bin Qays bin Shammas and his wife Habibah bint `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. In his Muwatta', Imam Malik reported that Habibah bint Sahl Al-Ansariyah was married to Thabit bin Qays bin Shammas and that Allah's Messenger once went to the Fajr (Dawn) prayer and found Habibah bint Sahl by his door in the dark. Allah's Messenger said, "Who is this'' She said, "I am Habibah bint Sahl, O Messenger of Allah!'' He said, "What is the matter'' She said, "I and Thabit bin Qays'', meaning, (she can no longer be with) her husband. When her husband Thabit bin Qays came, Allah's Messenger said to him:
«هذِهِ حَبِيبَةُ بِنْتُ سَهْلٍ قَدْ ذَكَرَتْ مَا شَاءَ اللهُ أَنْ تَذْكُر»
(This is Habibah bint Sahl, she said what Allah has permitted her to say.)
Habibah also said, "O Messenger of Allah! I still have everything he gave me.'' Allah's Messenger said:
«خُذْ مِنْهَا»
(Take it from her.) So, he took it from her and she remained in her family's house.''
This was reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and An-Nasai.
Al-Bukhari reported that Ibn `Abbas said that the wife of Thabit bin Qays bin Shammas came to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of Allah! I do not criticize his religion or mannerism. But I hate committing Kufr in Islam (by ignoring his rights on her).'' Allah's Messenger said:
«أَتَرُدِّينَ عَلَيهِ حَدِيقَتَه»
(Will you give him back his garden)
She said, "Yes.'' Allah's Messenger said:
«اقْبَلِ الْحَدِيقَةَ وَطَلِّقْهَا تَطْلِيقَة»
(Take back the garden and divorce her once. )
An-Nasa'i also recorded it.
The `Iddah (Waiting Period) for the Khul"
At-Tirmidhi reported that Rubayi` bint Mu`awwidh bin `Afra' got a Khul` during the time of Allah's Messenger and the Prophet ordered her to wait for one menstruation period for `Iddah.
Transgressing the set limits of Allah is an Injustice
Allah said:
تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلاَ تَعْتَدُوهَا وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الظَّـلِمُونَ
(These are the limits ordained by Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits ordained by Allah, then such are the wrongdoers.)
This means that the laws that Allah has legislated are His set limits, so do not transgress them. An authentic Hadith states:
«إِنَّ اللهَ حَدَّ حُدُودًا فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا، وفَرَضَ فَرَائِضَ فَلَا تُضَيِّعُوهَا، وحَرَّمَ مَحَارِمَ فَلَا تَنْتَهِكُوهَا، وَسَكَتَ عَنْ أَشْيَاءَ رَحْمَةً لَكُمْ مِنْ غَيْرِ نِسْيَانٍ فَلَا تَسْأَلُوا عَنْهَا»
(Allah has set some limits, so do not transgress them; and commanded some commands, so do not ignore them; and made some things unlawful, so do not commit them. He has also left some matters (without rulings) as a mercy with you, not because He has forgotten them, so do not ask about them.)
Pronouncing Three Divorces at the same Time is Unlawful
The last Ayah we mentioned was used as evidence to prove that it is not allowed to pronounce three divorces at one time. What further proves this ruling is that Mahmud bin Labid has stated - as An-Nasa'i recorded - that Allah's Messenger was told about a man who pronounced three divorces on his wife at one time, so the Prophet stood up while angry and said:
«أَيُلْعَبُ بِكِتَابِ اللهِ وَأَنَا بَيْنَ أَظْهُرِكُم»
(The Book of Allah is being made the subject of jest while I am still amongst you)
A man then stood up and said, "Should I kill that man, O Messenger of Allah''
The Wife cannot be taken back after the Third Divorce
Allah said:
فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا فَلاَ تَحِلُّ لَهُ مِن بَعْدُ حَتَّى تَنْكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ
(And if he has divorced her (the third time), then she is not lawful for him thereafter until she has married another husband.)
This Ayah indicates that if the man divorces his wife for the third time after he divorced her twice, then she will no longer be allowed for marriage to him. Allah said:
حَتَّى تَنْكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ
(...until she has married another husband.) meaning, until she legally marries another man. For instance, if she has sexual intercourse with any man, even her master (if she was a servant), she would still be ineligible for marriage for her ex-husband (who divorced her thrice), because whomever she had sexual relations with was not her legal husband. If she marries a man without consummating the marriage, she will not be eligible for her ex-husband. Muslim reported that `A'ishah said that Allah's Messenger was asked about a woman who marries a man who thereafter divorces her (thrice). She then marries another man and he divorces her before he has sexual relations with her, would she be allowed for her first husband Allah's Messenger said:
«لَا، حَتَّى يَذُوقَ عُسَيْلَتَهَا»
(No, until he enjoys her `Usaylah (sexual relation).) Al-Bukhari also reported this Hadith.
Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah said, "The wife of Rifa`ah Al-Qurazi came while I and Abu Bakr were with the Prophet and she said, `I was Rifa`ah's wife, but he divorced me and it was an irrevocable divorce. Then I married `Abdur-Rahman bin Az-Zubayr, but his sexual organ is minute like a string.' She then took a small string of her garment (to resemble how small his sexual organ was). Khalid bin Sa`id bin Al-`As, who was next to the door and was not yet allowed in, said, `O Abu Bakr! Why do you not forbid this (woman) from what she is revealing frankly before the Prophet' The Prophet merely smiled. Then, Allah's Messenger asked her: c
«كَأَنَّكِ تُرِيدِينَ أَنْ تَرْجِعِي إِلى رِفَاعَةَ، لَا، حَتَّى تَذُوقِي عُسَيْلَتَهُ، وَيَذُوقَ عُسَيْلَتَك»
(Do you want to remarry Rifa`ah You cannot unless you experience his `Usaylah and he experiences your `Usaylah (i.e., had a complete sexual relation with your present husband).)''
Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and An-Nasa'i also recorded this Hadith. Muslim's wording is "Rifa`ah divorced his wife for the third and final time."
The word `Usaylah mentioned in the Hadith means sexual intercourse. Imam Ahmad and An-Nasa'i reported that `A'ishah said that Allah's Messenger said:
«أَلَا إِنَّ الْعُسَيْلَةَ الْجِمَاع»
(`Usaylah is sexual intercourse.)
The Curse on the Participants of Tahlil/Halalah
The reason for the woman (who was divorced thrice) to marry another man must be that the man desires her and has the intention of having an extended married life with her. These are the legal goals and aims behind marriage. If the reason behind the second marriage was to make the woman eligible for her ex-husband again, then this is the Tahlil that the Hadiths have cursed and criticized. In addition, when the reason behind this marriage (if it was Tahlil) is announced in the contract, it would make the contract invalid according to the majority of the scholars.
Imam Ahmad reported that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "Allah's Messenger cursed the one who does Tahlil, the one in whose favor it is done, those who eat Riba (usury) and those who feed it (pay the usury).'' At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i reported this Hadith and At-Tirmidhi said, "This Hadith is Hasan.'' He said, "This is what is acted upon according to people of knowledge among the Companions, among whom are `Umar, `Uthman and Ibn `Umar. It was also the saying of the scholars of Fiqh among the Tabi`in (second generation of Islam). And it has been reported from `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas''.
In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim reported that Nafi` said: "A man came to Ibn `Umar and asked him about a man who divorced his wife three times. Then, his brother married her to make Tahlil for his brother, without the brother knowing this fact. He then asked, "Is she allowed for the first (husband)'' He said, "No, unless it is a marriage that involves desire. We used to consider this an act of adultery during the time of Allah's Messenger.'' Al-Hakim said, "This Hadith has a Sahih chain although they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.''The wording of this Hadith indicates that the ruling came from the Prophet. Abu Bakr bin Abu Shaybah, Al-Jawzjani, Harb Al-Kirmani and Abu Bakr Al-Athram said that Qabisah bin Jabir said that `Umar said, "If the participants to Tahlil are brought to me, I will have them stoned.''
When does a Woman who was divorced Three Times become Eligible for Her First Husband
Allah said:
فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا
(And if he has divorced her) meaning, the second husband after he had complete sexual relations with her,
فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَآ أَن يَتَرَاجَعَآ
(it is no sin on both of them that they reunite) meaning, the wife and her first husband,
إِن ظَنَّآ أَن يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ
(provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah.) meaning, they live together honorably. Mujahid said, "If they are convinced that the aim behind their marriage is honorable.'' Next, Allah said:
وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ
(These are the limits of Allah,) His commandments and legislation,
(He makes plain)
لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ
(for the people who have knowledge.)
2.230 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Authentic Traditions warn against any pre-arranged scheme that a certain man should marry a certain divorced woman with the understanding that he would divorce her again to enable the former husband to remarry his divorced wife. This shall be an unlawful act and such a marriage shall be no marriage at all but adultery and the woman shall not become the lawful wife of the first husband by such a prearranged scheme. Hadrat `Ali, Ibn Mas'ud Abu Hurairah and `Uqbah bin-'Amir, all relate the Tradition to the effect that the Holy Prophet cursed all the persons who indulge in such devices.
2.230 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
If he divorces her she shall not be lawful to him after that until she marries another husband. If he divorces her then neither of them would be at fault [if they] return to each other A man finds it unbearable for his wife to marry another so [God] prevents him from choosing separation with the intention of keeping her from remarrying. He explains that once he has separated from her she will not be lawful for him until she does what he would find unbearable and that is a second marriage. So [this will make him] cautious as much as he is able in [initiating] divorce. Then He said “If he divorces her” meaning the spouse “then neither of them would be at fault [if they] return to each other” meaning if she remarries the first husband. Here the allusion is that love's hold on the heart makes what would otherwise be hard to endure easy for if after separating the spouses regret their lost union and then feel the greatest remorse there is no fault in their returning to each other. But the woman in this circumstance is protected from her husband by the threat of another husband for the husband would himself be making that possible [if he were to divorce her three times]. if they think that they will maintain God's bounds. Those are God's bounds which He makes clear to a people who have knowledge. This means that after they know how much they need each other as companions they will not separate again. The one who spoke for them said: I swore that if I were to meet you one more time I would never separate from you a second time.