This Surah is entitled Al Mujadalah as well as Al Mujadilah, the titlebeing derived from the word tujadiluka of the very first verse. As atthe outset mention has been made of the woman who pleaded with theHoly Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) the case of zihar pronouncedby her husband and urged him to suggest a way out of the difficultsituation in order to save her and, her children's life from ruin, andAllah has described her pleading by the word "mujadalah", the Surahcame to be known by this very title. If it is read as "mujadalah",itwould mean "pleading and arguing", and if it is read as "mujadilah",it would mean "the woman who pleaded and argued."
Period of Revelation
There is no tradition to tell as to when this incident of pleading andarguing took place, but there is a hint in the subject matter of theSurah on the basis of which it can be said with certainty that ithappened some time after the battle of the Trench (Shawwal, 5 A. H.).In Surah Al-Ahzab, Allah while negating that an adopted son could beone's real son, had just said this and no more; "And Allah has notmade those of your wives whom you divorce by zihar your mothers." Butin that Surah there was nothing to the effect that to divorce a wife byzihar was a sin or a crime, nor anything about the legal injunctionconcerning it. Contrary to it, in this Surah the whole law relating tozihar has been laid down, which shows that these detailed injunctionswere sent down some time after the brief reference to it in Surah Al-Ahzab.
Subject Matter and Topics
In this Surah instructions have been given to the Muslims about thedifferent problems that confronted them at that time.
From thebeginning of the Surah to verse 6 legal injunctions about zihar havebeen given, along with which the Muslims have been strictly warnedthat it is contrary to their profession of the Faith that they shouldstill persist in the practices of ignorance after they have acceptedIslam, that they should break the bounds set by Allah, or refuse toabide by them, or that they should make their own rules andregulations contradictory to them. For this there is not only thepunishment of disgrace and humiliation in the world but in theHereafter too there will be strict accountability for it.
In vv. 7-10the hypocrites have been taken to task for their secret whisperingsand consultations by which they conspired and intrigued against the"Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings), and becauseof their hidden malice and grudge greeted him, like the Jews, in amanner as to wish him ill instead of well. In this connection, theMuslims have been consoled, as if to say: "These whisperings of thehypocrites can do no harm to you; therefore, you should go on doingyour duty with full trust in Allah". Besides, they have also beentaught this moral lesson:"The true believers, when they talk secretlytogether, do not talk of sin and transgression and disobedience to theMessenger if they have to talk secretly together they should talk ofgoodness and piety."
In vv. 11-13 the Muslims have been taught certainmanners of social behavior and given instructions to eradicatecertain social evils which were prevalent among the people then asthey are today. If some people are sitting in an assembly, and morepeople arrive, they do not show even the courtesy as to squeeze in soas to make room for others, with the result that the new-comers haveto keep standing, or to sit in the door-way, or to go back, or seeingthat there is enough room yet start jumping over the people's heads tofind room for themselves. This often used to be experienced in theHoly Prophet's assemblies. Therefore, Allah gave the instruction, asif to say:"Do not behave selfishly and narrow mindedly in yourassemblies but do accommodate the new-comers also with an open heart."
Likewise, another vice found among the people is that when they go ona visit to somebody (an important person, in particular), they prolongtheir sitting and do not at all mind that encroaching upon his timeunduly would cause him hardship. Then, if he tells them to leave, theymind it; if he himself rises up from their assembly, they complain ofhis lack of manners; if he tells them indirectly that he has someother business also to attend to, for which he needs time, they turn adeaf ear to his request. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace)himself also had to experience such misconduct of the people, who intheir earnestness to benefit by his teaching did not at all see thatthey were wasting his precious time so badly needed for otherimportant works. At last, Allah in order to eradicate this bad manner,enjoined that when the people are asked to rise up from an assembly,they should rise up and disperse.
Another vice prevalent among thepeople was that each person wished to have secret counsel individuallywith the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) without any realneed, or would like that he should approach him during an assembly andwhisper something to him. This was not only embarrassing for the HolyProphet but also annoying for the people who sat in the assembly. Thatis why Allah imposed the restriction that anyone who wanted to consulthim in private, should first give away something in charity. Theobject was that the people should be warned of this bad manner andmade to give it up. Thus, the restriction was kept in force for ashort while, and when the people had corrected their behavior, it waswithdrawn.
From verse 14 to the end of the Surah members of the Muslimsociety, which was a mixture of the sincere Muslims and the hypocritesand the waverers, have been told plainly as to what is the criterionof sincerity in Islam. One kind of Muslims are those who are friendswith the enemies of Islam: they do not hesitate for the sake of theirinterests to be treacherous to the religion which they profess tobelieve in; they spread all sorts of doubts and suspicions againstIslam and prevent the people from adopting the Way of Allah. But sincethey are part of the Muslim community their false profession of Faithserves them as a cover and shield. The second kind of Muslims arethose who, in the matter of Allah's Religion, do not care even fortheir own father, brother, children, and family, to say nothing ofothers. They do not cherish any feeling of love for the person who isan enemy of God and His Messenger and His Religion. Allah in theseverses has explicitly stated that the people of the first kind, infact, belong to Satan's party however hard they may try to convinceothers of their Islam by swearing oaths. And the honor of belongingto Allah's party is possessed only by the Muslims of the second kind.They alone are the true Muslims: they alone will attain to truesuccess, and with them alone is Allah well pleased.