Surah Mujadila Ayat 2 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 2
Those who pronounce thihar among you [to separate] from their wives – they are not [consequently] their mothers. Their mothers are none but those who gave birth to them. And indeed, they are saying an objectionable statement and a falsehood. But indeed, Allah is Pardoning and Forgiving.
If any men among you divorce their wives by Zihar (calling them mothers), they cannot be their mothers: None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words (both) iniquitous and false: but truly Allah is one that blots out (sins), and forgives (again and again).
Those among you who divorce their wives by declaring them to be their mothers, such are not their mothers; none are their mothers except those who gave birth to them. Indeed what they say is highly contemptible and false. Verily Allah is Most Pardoning, Most Forgiving.
Those among you who make their wives unlawful (Az-Zihar) to them by saying to them “You are like my mother’s back.” They cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And verily, they utter an ill word and a lie. And verily, Allah is Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving.
Such of you as put away your wives (by saying they are as their mothers) – They are not their mothers; none are their mothers except those who gave them birth – they indeed utter an ill word and a lie. And lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
The ones of you who back away from their women, (i.e. their wives, to whom the husbands say, “Be as my mother’s back.” This is called ahihar, a pre-Islamic from of divorce) in no way are they their mothers; decidedly their mothers are none except those who gave birth (to) them, and surely they are saying a maleficent saying and a forgery. And surely Allah is indeed Ever-Clement, Ever-Forgiving.
Even if any of you say to their wives, ‘You are to me like my mother’s back,’they are not their mothers; their only mothers are those who gave birth to them. What they say is certainly blameworthy and false, but God is pardoning and forgiving.
Quran 58 Verse 2 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Mujadila ayat 2, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(58:2) Those among you who divorce their wives by declaring them to be their mothers, such are not their mothers; none are their mothers except those who gave birth to them. Indeed what they say is highly contemptible and false. Verily Allah is Most Pardoning, Most Forgiving.
3. Among the Arabs it often so happened that during a family quarrel, the husband in the heat of the moment would say to his wife: Anti alayya ka-zahri ammi which literally means: You are for me as the back of my mother. But its real meaning is: To have sexual relations with you would be like having sexual relations with my mother. Such words are still uttered by the foolish people, who, as the result of a family quarrel, declare the wife to be like their mother, or sister, or daughter, and make her unlawful for themselves like the prohibited women. This is called zihar. Zahr in Arabic is metaphorically used for riding and mounting. Thus, the conveyance is called zahr, because man rides on its back. As this word was employed in order to make the wife unlawful, it was termed zihar. In the pre- Islamic days this was looked upon as tantamount to the pronouncement of divorce, even of greater effect than that, for they took it to mean that the husband was not only severing his marital relations with his wife but was also declaring her to be unlawful for himself like his mother. On this very basis, the Arabs thought reunion could be possible after a divorce but it was impossible after zihar.
4. This is Allah’s first decision concerning zihar. It means that if a person shamelessly compares the wife to his mother, his this utterance does not make his wife his mother, nor is she endowed with the sanctity that the mother enjoys. The mother’s being mother is fact, for she has given birth to the man. On this very ground, she is eternally sacred and prohibited. Now, how will the woman who has not given him birth become his mother simply by a word of mouth, and how will sanctity and prohibition be established for her by reason, morality and law which, by virtue of this fact, is only reserved for the mother who gave birth. Thus, Allah by this condemnation abolished the custom of the pre-Islamic ignorance according to which the marriage contract between the husband, by pronouncing zihar, and the wife stood dissolved and she became absolutely forbidden for him like the mother.
5. That is, to liken the wife to the mother is, in the first place, an absurd and shameful thing which no noble person should ever think of, not to speak of uttering it with the tongue. Secondly, it is also a falsehood, for if the one who says such a thing is giving the news that his wife has now become his mother for him, he is uttering falsehood, and if he is declaring that he has henceforth bestowed on his wife the sanctity of the mother, even then his claim is false, for God has not given him the authority that he may treat a woman as his wife as long as he likes and then start treating her as his mother as and when he likes. The lawgiver is Allah Almighty, not he, and Allah has included in the order of motherhood the grandmothers, both paternal and maternal, mother-in-law, foster mother and the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) along with the woman who gave birth. Nobody has the right to include of his own whim another woman in this order, not to speak of the woman who has been his wife. This gives the second legal injunction. To pronounce zihar is a grave sin and forbidden act, the violation of which deserves to be punished.
6. That is, such an utterance actually deserves to be punished much more severely, but it is Allah’s kindness that He has, firstly, abolished the custom of ignorance and saved your family life from utter ruin, and secondly, has prescribed the lightest punishment for the culprits. And His supreme kindness is that the punishment too, is not any form of physical torture or imprisonment, but a few acts of worship and virtue, which are meant to reform you and help spread good in your society. In this connection, one should also understand that the acts of worship that have been prescribed by Islam as expiations for certain crimes and sins are neither mere punishments that they may be without the spirit of worship, nor mere acts of worship that they may entail no pain and suffering of the punishment. But both the aspects have been combined in them so that the culprit may experience pain as well as expiate his sin by means of performing a virtue and act of worship.
2. Those among you who make their wives unlawful to them by Zihar they cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And verily, they utter an ill word and a lie. And verily, Allah is Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving. 3. And those who make unlawful to them (their wives) by Zihar and wish to free themselves from what they uttered, (the penalty) in that case is the freeing of a slave before they touch each other. That is an admonition to you. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do. 4. And he who finds not, must fast two successive months before they both touch each other. And he who is unable to do so, should feed sixty of the poor. That is in order that you may have perfect faith in Allah and His Messenger. These are the limits set by Allah. And for disbelievers, there is a painful torment.
Ahmad recorded that Khuwaylah bint Tha`labah said, “By Allah! Allah sent down the beginning of Surat Al-Mujadilah in connection with me and `Aws bin As-Samit. He was my husband and had grown old and difficult. One day, he came to me and I argued with him about something and he said, out of anger, `You are like my mother’s back to me.’ He went out and sat with some of his people. Then he came back and wanted to have sexual intercourse with me. I said, `No, by the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Khuwaylah! You will not have your way with me after you said what you said, until Allah and His Messenger issue judgement about our case.’ He wanted to have his way regardless of my choice and I pushed him away from me; he was an old man.’ I next went to one of my neighbors and borrowed a garment from her and went to the Messenger of Allah . I told him what happened and kept complaining to him of the ill treatment I received from `Aws. He said,
(O Khuwaylah! Your cousin is an old man, so have Taqwa of Allah regarding him.) By Allah! Before I departed, parts of the Qur’an were revealed about me. Allah’s Messenger felt the hardship upon receiving the revelation as he usually did and then became relieved. He said to me,
(O Khuwaylah! Allah has revealed something about you and your spouse.) He recited to me,
(Indeed Allah has heard the statement of her that disputes with you concerning her husband, and complains to Allah. And Allah hears the argument between you both. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer.), until,
(And for disbelievers, there is a painful torment.) He then said to me,
(Command him to free a slave.) I said, `O Allah’s Messenger! He does not have any to free.’ He said,
(Let him fast for two consecutive months.) I said, `By Allah! He is an old man and cannot fast.’ He said,
(Let him feed sixty poor people a Wasq of dates.) I said, `O Allah’s Messenger! By Allah, he does not have any of that.’ He said,
(We will help him with a basket of dates.) I said, `And I, O Allah’s Messenger! I will help him with another.’ He said,
(You have done a righteously good thing. So go and give away the dates on his behalf and take care of your cousin.) I did that.”’ Abu Dawud also collected this Hadith in the Book of Divorce in his Sunan, according to which her name is Khawlah bint Tha`labah. She is also known as Khawlah bint Malik bin Tha`labah, and Khuwaylah. All these are close to each other, and Allah knows best. This is what is correct about the reason behind revealing this Surah. Therefore, Allah’s statement,
(Those among you who make their wives unlawful to them by Zihar) refers to Zihar, which is derived from Az-Zahr, meaning, the back. During the time of Jahiliyyah, when one wanted to declare Zihar towards his wife, he would say, “To me, you are like the back of my mother.” That was one way they issued divorce during that time. Allah allowed this Ummah to pay expiation for this statement and did not render it as a divorce, contrary to the case during the time of Jahiliyyah. Allah said,
(they cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth.) meaning, when the husband says to his wife that she is like his mother, or the back of his mother etc., she does not become his mother. Rather his mother is she who gave birth to him. This is why Allah said,
(And verily, they utter an ill word and a lie.) meaning, false and sinful speech,
(And verily, Allah is Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving.) meaning, `what you used to do during the time of Jahiliyyah, and what accidentally slips out of your mouth, unintentionally.’ Allah’s statement,
(And those who make unlawful to them (their wives) by Zihar and wish to free themselves from what they uttered,) Ash-Shafi`i said, “It means to keep her for a while after the Zihar, without divorcing her, even though his is able to do so.” Ahmad bin Hanbal said, “To return to having sexual relations with her or to merely intend to do so, but only after he pays the expiation mentioned in the Ayah for his statement.” It has been quoted from Malik that it is the intention to have sexual relations or to keep her or actually having sexual intercourse. Sa`id bin Jubayr said that this Ayah,
(and wish to free themselves from what they uttered,) meaning, if they want to return to having sexual intercourse which was forbidden between them. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it is to utilize her sexual organ, and he did not see any harm in doing what is less than that before paying the expiation. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas:
(before they touch each other.) “The `touching’ refers here to sexual intercourse.” Similar was said by `Ata’, Az-Zuhri, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan. Az-Zuhri added, “He is not to kiss or touch her until he pays the expiation.” The Sunan compilers recorded from `Ikrimah, from Ibn `Abbas that a man said, “O Allah’s Messenger! I pronounced Zihar on my wife, but then had sexual intercourse with her before I paid the expiation.” The Messenger said,
(May Allah grant you His mercy, what made you do that) He said, “I saw the adornment she was wearing shining in the moon’s light.” The Prophet said,
(Then do not touch her until you do what Allah the Exalted and Most Honored has ordered you to do.) At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Gharib Sahih.” Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i also recorded it. Allah said,
((the penalty) in that case is the freeing of a slave) indicating the necessity of freeing a slave before they touch each other. This Ayah mentions any slave, not only believing servants as in the case of the expiation for (unintentional) killing,
(That is an admonition to you.) meaning, a warning to threaten you in this case.
(And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.) meaning, He is All-Knower in what brings you benefit. Allah’s statement,
(And he who finds not must fast two successive months before they both touch each other. And he who is unable to do so, should feed sixty of the poor.) is explained by the Hadiths that prescribe these punishments in this order, just as in the Hadith collected in the Two Sahihs about the man who had sexual intercourse with his wife during the day, in Ramadan. Allah said,
(That is in order that you may have perfect faith in Allah and His Messenger.) meaning, `We legislated this punishment so that you acquire this trait,’
(These are the limits set by Allah.) meaning, the things that He has forbidden, so do not transgress them,
(And for disbelievers, there is a painful torment.) meaning, those who do not believe and do not abide by the rulings of Islamic legislation should never think they will be saved from the torment. Rather theirs will be a painful torment in this life and the Hereafter.
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