NameAt-Talaq is not only the name of this Surah but also the title of itssubject matter, for it contains commandments about Talaq (divorce)itself. Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud has described it as Surah an-Nisa al-qusra also, i.e. the shorter Surah an-Nisa.
Period of Revelation
Hadrat Abdullah bin Masud has Pointed out, and the internal evidenceof the subject matter of the Surah confirms the same, that it must havebeen sent down after those verses of surah Al-Baqarah in which commandments concerning divorce were given for the first time. Althoughit is difficult to determine precisely what is its exact date ofrevelation, yet the traditions in any case indicate that when thepeople started making errors in understanding the commandments of SurahAl-Baqarah, and practically also they began to commit mistakes, Allahsent down these instructions for their correction.
Theme and Subject Matter
In order to understand the commandments of this Surah, it would beuseful to refresh one's memory about the instructions which have beengiven in the Qur'an concerning divorce and the waiting period (Iddat)above.
"Divorce may be pronounced twice; then the wife may either bekept back in fairness or allowed to separate in fairness." (Al Baqarah229)
"And the divorced women (after the pronouncement of the divorce)must wait for three monthly courses... and their husbands are fullyentitled to take them back (as their wives) during this waiting period,if they desire reconciliation." (Al Baqarah 228)
"Then, if the husbanddivorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not remain lawfulfor him after this divorce, unless she marries another husband..."(Al-Baqarah : 230)
"When you marry the believing women, and thendivorce them before you have touched them, they do not have to fulfilla waiting period, the completion of which you may demand of them."(Al-Ahzab : 49)
"And if those of you who die, leave wives behind, thewomen should abstain (from marriage) for four months and ten days."(Al-Baqarah 234)
The rules prescribed in these verses were as follows:
- A man can pronounce at the most three divorces on his wife.
- Incase the husband has pronounced one or two divorces he is entitled tokeep the woman back as wife within the waiting period and if after theexpiry of the waiting period the two desire to re-marry, they can re-marry there is no condition of legalization (tahlil). But if thehusband has pronounced three divorces, he forfeits his right to keepher as his wife within the waiting. period, and they cannot re-marryunless the woman re-marries another husband and he subsequentlydivorces her of his own free will.
- The waiting period of the woman,who menstruates and marriage with whom has been consummated, is thatshe should pass three monthly courses. The waiting period in case ofone or two divorces is that the woman is still the legal wife of thehusband and he can keep her back as his wife within the waiting period.But if the husband has pronounced three divorces, this waiting periodcannot be taken advantage of for the purpose of reconciliation, but itis only meant to restrain the woman from re-marrying another personbefore it comes to an end.
- There is no waiting. period for thewoman, marriage with whom has not been consummated, and who is divorcedeven before she is touched. She can re-marry, if she likes,immediately after the divorce.
- The waiting period of the womanwhose husband dies, is four months and ten days.
Here, one shouldunderstand well that Surah At- Talaq was not sent down to annul any ofthese rules or amend it, but it was sent down for two purposes;
First,that the man who has been given the right to pronounce divorce shouldbe taught such judicious methods of using this right as do not lead toseparation, as far as possible however, if separation does take place,it should only be in case all possibilities of mutual reconciliationhave been exhausted. For in the Divine Law provision for divorce hasbeen made only as an unavoidable necessity; otherwise Allah does notapprove that the marriage relationship that has been establishedbetween a man and a woman should ever break. The Holy Prophet (uponwhom be Allah's peace) has said "Allah has not made lawful anythingmore hateful in His sight than divorce." (Abu Daud). And: "Of all thethings permitted by the Law, the most hateful in the sight of Allah isthe divorce, (Abu Daud)
The second object was to complement thissection of the family law of Islam by supplying answers to thequestions that had remained after the revelation of the commandmentsin Surah Al-Baqarah. So, answers have been supplied to the followingquestions:What would be the waiting period of the women, marriage withwhom has been consummated and who no longer menstruate, or those whohave not yet menstruated, in case they are divorced?What would be thewaiting period of the woman, who is pregnant, or the woman whosehusband dies, if she is divorced?And what arrangements would be madefor the maintenance and lodging of the different categories ofdivorced women, and for the fosterage of the child whose parents haveseparated on account of a divorce?