Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah exposited on the legal ruling of she whose dowry had been specified, saying: (And if ye divorce them before ye have touched them) before you have had sexual intercourse with them (and ye have appointed unto them a portion) you have specified a dowry for them, (then (pay the) half of that which ye appointed) half of the dowry you specified, (unless they (the women) agree to forgo it) unless the woman forgoes her right and leaves it to the husband, (or he agreeth to forgo it in whose is the marriage tie), or the husband forgoes his right and gives the woman her full dowry. (To forgo) your rights (is nearer to piety) is nearer to piety for the God-fearing. Allah says here to the husband and wife: it is more conducive to God-fearing if you forgo your right to the other; (And forget not kindness among yourselves) Allah says to both: continue to be kind and generous to each other. (Indeed Allah is Seer of what ye do) of acts of kindness and generosity.
And that you pardon is nearer to godwariness. And forget not bounty among yourselves. Surely God sees what you do.
Godwariness lies in pardon, and paradise lies in godwariness, just as He says: “The next world with thy Lord belongs to the godwary” [43:35]. The folk of realization have said that godwariness has a beginning and an end. The beginning is what He says: “And that you pardon is nearer to godwariness,” and the end is what He says: “And forget not bounty among yourselves.” Its beginning is that you recognize what is rightfully due to you from your brother, but then you pardon it and let it go. This is the way station of submission and the conduct of the worshipers. Its end is that you recognize what is rightfully due to him from you and you prefer him over yourself. As much as you see disloyalty and offense from him, you offer him your apology. This is the station of tawḤīd and the description of the state of the sincerely truthful. In its meaning they have sung,
“When we are ill, we come to you and tend to you. When you sin, we come to you and apologize.”
To this the Prophet alluded when he said, “Shall I point you to the best character trait of the folk of this world and the next? You join with him who cuts you off, pardon him who does you wrong, and bestow on him who deprives you.”
And if you divorce them before you have touched them, and you have already appointed for them an obligation, then one-half of what you have appointed, must be given to them and the other half returns to you; unless it be that they, the women, make remission, and forgo it, or he makes remission, by leaving her the entire amount, the one in whose hand is the knot of marriage, the husband to be, or as Ibn ‘Abbās is reported to have said, ‘The legal guardian, where the female is a minor’; in which case nobody would be at fault; yet that you should remit (wa-an ta‘fū is the subject) is nearer to piety (aqrabu li’l-taqwā is its predicate). Forget not kindness between you, that is, to be bountiful towards one another; surely God sees what you do, and will requite you accordingly.
The Wife gets half of Her Mahr if She is divorced before the Marriage is consummated
This honorable Ayah is not a continuation of the Mut`ah (gift) that was mentioned in the previous Ayah (i.e., divorce before the marriage is consummated). This Ayah (2:237) requires the husband to relinquish half of the appointed Mahr if he divorces his wife before the marriage is consummated. If it was discussing any other type of gift, then it would have been mentioned that way, especially when this Ayah follows the previous Ayah related to this subject. Allah knows best. Giving away half of the bridal-money in this case is the agreed practice according to the scholars. So, the husband pays half of the appointed Mahr if he divorces his wife before consummating the marriage.
Allah then said:
إَّلا أَن يَعْفُونَ
(unless they (the women) agree to remit it,) meaning, the wife forfeits the dowry and relieves the husband from further financial responsibility. As-Suddi said that Abu Salih mentioned that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah's statement:
إَّلا أَن يَعْفُونَ
(unless they (the women) agree to remit it,) "Unless the wife forfeits her right.''Furthermore, Imam Abu Muhammad bin Abu Hatim said that it was reported that Shurayh, Sa`id bin Musayyib, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi, Al-Hasan, Nafi`, Qatadah, Jabir bin Zayd, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Ad-Dahhak, Az-Zuhri, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Ibn Sirin, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and As-Suddi said similarly.
(...or he (the husband), in whose hands is the marriage tie, agrees to remit it.)
Ibn Abu Hatim reported that `Amr bin Shu`ayb said that his grandfather narrated that the Prophet said:
«وَلِيُّ عُقْدَةِ النِّكَاحِ الزَّوْج»
(The husband is he who has the marriage tie.)
Ibn Marduwyah also reported this Hadith, and it is the view chosen by Ibn Jarir. The Hadith states that the husband is the person who really holds the marriage tie in his hand, as it is up to him to go on with the marriage or end it. On the other hand, the Wali of the wife is not allowed to give away any of her rightful dues without her permission, especially the dowry.
Allah then stated:
وَأَن تَعْفُواْ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى
(And to remit it is nearer to At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness).)
Ibn Jarir said, "Some scholars said that this statement is directed at both men and women.'' Ibn `Abbas said:
وَأَن تَعْفُواْ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى
(And to remit it is nearer to At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness).) indicates that the one who forgives, is nearer to At-Taqwa (piety).'' A similar statement was made by Ash-Sha`bi and several other scholars.
Mujahid, An-Nakha`i, Ad-Dahhak, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Thawri stated that `liberality' mentioned in the Ayah refers to the woman giving away her half Mahr, or the man giving away the full Mahr. This is why Allah said here:
وَلاَ تَنسَوُاْ الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ
(And do not forget liberality between yourselves.) meaning, kindness (or generosity), as Sa`id has stated. Allah said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
(Truly, Allah is All-Seer of what you do.) meaning, none of your affairs ever escapes His perfect Watch, and He will reward each according to his deeds.
And if you divorce them before you have touched them but you have already settled a dower on them then one half of what you have appointed unless it be that they make remission or he makes remission the one in whose hand is the knot of marriage; yet that you should remit is nearer to piety. Then [God] mentions that remission is more perfect and more commendable either on the part of the woman in the half due to her or from the husband in the half returned to him. Forget not kindness between you; surely God sees what you do. It is said that whoever lacks kindness faḌl and is content with the obligatory will soon neglect the obligatory [as well]. It is said that to forget kindness is to become ever more niggardly. Part of the way of noble people sunnat al-kirām is that even when there are no obvious occasions for acting with nobility they nonetheless sharpen the eyes of generosity and look for more subtle opportunities to act with kindness-and they are given many such opportunities.