The Quran

Commentaries for 2.236

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.236 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(There is no sin on you if ye divorce women while yet ye have not touched them) while you have not had sex with them, (nor appointed unto them a portion) or have not specified a dowry for them. (Provide for them) as divorce requires, (the rich according to his means, and the strained according to his means, a fair provision) this is in surplus of the price given to the prostitute for her services (mahr al-baghiy), the least amount of it consists of a chemise, a head covering and a wrap. ((This is) a bounden duty for those who do good) it is an obligation upon those who believe in the divine Oneness of Allah because it is a substitute for the dowry.
2.236 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
You would not be at fault if you divorce women while you have not touched them (tamassūhunna: also read tumāssūhunna), that is, [while] you have not had sexual intercourse with them, nor appointed any obligation, dowry, for them (the particle mā, ‘while’, relates to the verbal action and is also adverbial) that is to say, there are no sinful consequences for divorcing them if you have not copulated with them or assigned them a dowry, so divorce them; yet make provision of comforts for them honourably, that is, in accordance with the Law (bi’l-ma‘rūf, ‘honourably’, is an adjectival qualification of matā‘an, ‘comforts’), giving them what they can enjoy, the one of ample means, the affluent among you, according to his means, and the needy man, of restricted income, according to his means — an obligation (haqqan, ‘obligation’, is either a second qualifier of matā‘an, ‘comforts’, or an emphatic verbal noun), on the virtuous, the obedient ones.
2.236 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Divorce before consummating the Marriage
Allah allowed divorce after the marriage contract and before consummating the marriage. Ibn `Abbas, Tawus, Ibrahim and Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that `touched' (mentioned in the Ayah) means sexual intercourse. The husband is allowed to divorce his wife before consummating the marriage or giving the dowry if it was deferred.
The Mut`ah (Gift) at the time of Divorce
Allah commands the husband to give the wife (whom he divorces before consummating the marriage) a gift of a reasonable amount, the rich according to his means and the poor according to his means, to compensate her for her loss. Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih that Sahl bin Sa`d and Abu Usayd said that Allah's Messenger married Umaymah bint Sharahil. When she was brought to the Prophet he extended his hand to her, but she did not like that. The Prophet then ordered Abu Usayd to provide provisions for her along with a gift of two garments.
2.236-237 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
After all some harm is done to the woman when the marital relation is broken even under such a condition. Therefore some compensation, according to one's means, must be paid.
That is mutual generosity in dealings is essential for the harmony and betterment of human relations. Social life can never be happy if each and every person insists on his own legal rights.
2.236 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
You would not be at fault if you divorce women whom you have not touched nor appointed any obligation for them; yet make provision of comforts for them honorably the one of ample means according to his means and the needy man according to his means-an obligation on the virtuous. If you have initiated the union with your mates but then change your mind [before the consummation] there is no fault on you if you choose separation for there is only One from whom it is not permissible to choose to separate. The companionship of human beings with one another is not obligatory but rather is described at most as permissible. But because your name and reputation are now part of theirs half of the determined amount [of the dowry] must belong to them since separation-however it comes about-is difficult. So [God] has established the required compensation for [the woman] who is made to drink from the cup of separation. If there was no determined amount the contract still requires the gift mutaʿ because her being made to drink from the cup of separation without [some compensatory] comfort is a terrible thing for her to suffer.