The 28th Juz of the Qur’ān covers 9 surahs and all of them are madani. Approximately four of the nine surahs address issues with regards to women. The first surah of the juz is Surah Mujadilah (the woman who contends/argues/complains). In Surah Mujadilah the chapter opens with the complaint of the woman who is being oppressed by her husband with the practice of dhihar (a pre islamic practice of estranging the wives by equating them to their mothers). In Surah Talaq we see that Allah swt is aware of all of our intentions, and even in instances of seeking a divorce we should work towards treating each other honorably. God’s laws are accompanied with ethical injunctions, one of our grandest tests is how we treat each other. In Surah Tahrim, the chapter opens up with discussing a time when Rasulullah (s) was going through a difficulty with some of his wives. Even in marital strife or conflict, the verse 6:66 encourages us to take care of our families and to help each other spiritually. The examples of four women are taken at the end of the surah: wives of Prophet Lut, Nuh and then Sayyidah Maryam and Sayyidah Asiyah. The examples show that our salvation is not contingent on who we are married to. Discussions on marital strife and women’s rights go back to Allah swt and how centered we are on Him.
Inna Hadha Al-Qur'ana Yahdee li-latee hiya aqwamu wa yubashshir Al-mu'mineen al-lathi ya'malun al-salihat anna lahum Ajran Kabira (17:9) [Indeed, this Qur'an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward (17:9)].
Juz 28. 'A'udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim. Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. I begin in the name of Allah, compassionate to all, merciful to each. As-salamu alaykum and welcome to the 28th episode in this podcast series titled: "Journeying Our Eyes through the Qur'an, Exploring 30 juz in 30 days". Today InshaAllah we will continue our journey through the pages of the Qur'an.
Over the past few days, we have gone through a few theme based discussions where we combined juz 25, 26 and 27. Today, however, we'll go back to a juz-based discussion as we take a brief look into the twenty-eighth year of the Qur'an. Interestingly enough, the twenty-eighth juz contains many Surah and themes which have to do with women. There are nine Surahs or chapters in this juz and all of them are Madani. What this means is that many of the themes explored in this juz have to do with Islamic law or the ways in which our beliefs come to life and are manifested in the ways in which we live and in the laws that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has mandated, like, for example, the treatment of women in society.
Approximately four of the nine surahs in this juz address issues with regards to women, many of which are about marital strife and pre-Islamic practices that were abolished with Islamic law. The four chapters that mention women include Chapter fifty eight, which is the Mujadilah, which means the female pleader or dispute; chapter sixty, which is Surah Al-Mumtahanah, which means the woman tested; chapter sixty five, which is At-Talaq, which means divorce; and finally chapter sixty-six, Surah At-Tahrim, which means the prohibition or the forbidding. We will try to touch on three of these four chapters today, with the exclusion of Al-Mumtahanah, which discusses the inclusion of early Muslim women into Islam, and how they were protected and given various rights when they sought refuge with the Muslims in Medina. But that's a story for another day.
The first Sura of this juz that we will explore for today is chapter fifty-eight, which is Surah Al-Mujadilah. Mujadilah means the woman who contends, argues or complains or disputes. So let's begin today's episode by reading the translation of the first few verses of the Surah: "Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has heard the statement of she who argued with you concerning her husband, as she complained to God, God heard your conversation. God is hearing and seeing (58:1). Those of you who estrange their wives but equating them with their mothers. They are not their mothers. Their mothers are none else but those who gave birth to them. What they say is evil and a blatant lie. But God is pardoning and forgiving (58:2). Those who estranged their wives by equating them with their mothers then go back on what they said, must set free a slave before they resume their relationship. To this you are exhausted. And God is well aware of what you do (58:3).
The story begins by discussing a pre-Islamic practice in which some of the Arabs would estrange their wives, not by divorcing them in a just manner, but rather by stating a phrase that equated them with their own mothers. They would say a phrase, and then their wife was not divorced from them, but also no longer had a real marriage with them and was left in a state of limbo. The way in which this chapter opens is particularly beautiful, where it mentions that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has listened to the complaint of a woman who has complained about this oppression from her husband with the practice of dhihar.
We know from other ahadith and verses of the Qur'an that there is a general principle, that between the oppressed and Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, there is no veil or obstacle for prayer. The complaint of an oppressed person in the eyes of Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, is taken extremely seriously.
After saying that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala hears the complaint of a woman who is in this position, the chapter enters a discussion where Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, orders the abolishment of this practice, calling it an evil lie. At the same time, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, allows those who participated in it, not knowing that it was a lie, to amend their actions to ones that are in line with Islamic practices and to turn to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in forgiveness for the sins that they have committed and the huge mistake that they have committed by participating in this practice.
An important point to note here is that we can easily see the way in which Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala discusses, marital strife and marital oppression and the importance of fairness and mercy between one another. Often, chapters like these are easily ignored or overlooked in conversations on these topics.
We can also see a similar way of speech in Surah At-Talaq, chapter sixty-five, where Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, addresses the wrong actions that some women have committed in a marriage which lead to divorce, and how someone should go about divorcing them in these cases. Even here, the injunction is to treat one's divorcee, or ex, in an honorable way and to keep Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in mind throughout, always abiding by Taqwah, or God consciousness. Let's take a look and read some of the first few verses of Surah At-Talaq over here.
Ya ayyuha an-Nabiyyu, idha tallaqtumu an-nisa'a fatalliqoohunna li'iddatihinna wa ahsu al-'iddata, wa attaqu Allaha Rabbakum; laa tukhrijoohunna min buyootihinna wa laa yakhrujna illa an ya'teena bifaahishatin mubayyinah; wa tilka hudoodu Allah; wa man yata'adda hudood Allah faqad dhalama nafsah; la tadree la'alla Allaha yuhdithu ba'da dhaalika amran (65:1) Fa idha balaghna ajalahunna fa amsikoohunna bi ma'roofin aw faariqoohunna bi ma'roofin wa ashhidoo dhawai 'adlin minkum, wa aqeemu ash-shahadata lil-Lah; dhalikum yoo'adhdhu bihee man kana yu'minu bil-Lahi wa al-yawm il-akhir; wa man yattaqi Allaha yaj'al lahoo makhrajaa (65:2). Wa yarzuqhu min haithu la yahtasib; wa man yatawakkal 'ala Allahi fa huwa hasbuh; inna Allaha baalighu amrih; qad ja'ala Allahu likulli shai'in qadira (65:3).
Oh, Prophet, if any of you divorce women, divorce them during the period of purity, and calculate their term, and be pious before God, your Lord, and do not evict them from their homes, nor shall they leave unless they have committed a proven adultery. These are the limits of God. Whoever oversteps God's limits has wronged his own soul. You never know. God may afterwards bring about a new situation (65:1). Once they have reached their term, either retain them honourably, or separate from them honourably, and call to witness two just people from among you, and give upright testimony for God. By that is exhorted whoever believes in God and the Last Day and whoever fears God, He will make a way out for him (65:2). And He will provide for him from where he never expected. Whoever relies on God, He will suffice him. God will accomplish His purpose. God has set a measure to all things (65:3).
As this chapter opens, we note that Rasul Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, faced issues of marital life to the extent that divorce was a serious discussion, and these injunctions about divorce are also meant for the wider community. While the topic of our podcast today is not about divorce and its various legislations or rules for which one can refer to their own marj'a, but from these chapters and verses together, we can know quite clearly that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is aware of all of us and our intentions when we are in marital strife.
There may be instances where we wrong our spouse or we seek divorce. But even in those instances where we have been wronged, we should work towards treating each other honorably and ultimately always keeping Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala in mind, never transgressing on the rights of others, despite the wrongs that they may have committed against us.
Sometimes when discussing sensitive topics like marital disagreements, divorce, etc., reading verses like these can be helpful, especially when dealing with legislation that might seem difficult to implement. There is a heart and a spirit to these injunctions, many of which can be understood from reading these chapters and treating one another honorably and in the way that Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, expects from His servants who only seek His pleasure. As we have mentioned in several of the earlier episodes of the series, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala's laws, when mentioned in the Qur'an, are always accompanied with ethical injunctions, with God's centredness.
As human beings, we are ethical creatures. And one of the grandest tests that we have in this game of life is how we treat each other. It is how we treat our parents, how we treat our spouses, and how we treat our children, and how we treat those around us. It's easy to treat someone well when things are going wonderfully, but it's a much more difficult test to treat others well and honorably in times of strife, or in times where we have been wronged, or in times of divorce. And this is why you see the concept of Taqwa mentioned so many times in a Surah, like Surah At-Talaq where divorce is one of its major themes. Even though the Surah is only 12 verses long, Taqwa is mentioned five times and moreover, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala promises us that if we act with Taqwa, He is going to help us. He is going to help us figure things out in ways that we could not anticipate. He will provide from us, from ways that we did not think to expect it from. As a part of verse two and verse three, we read the following:
wa man yattaqi Allaha yaj'al lahoo makhrajaa (65:2). Wa yarzuqhu min haithu la yahtasib; wa man yatawakkal 'ala Allahi fa huwa hasbuh; inna Allaha baalighu amrih; qad ja'ala Allahu likulli shai'in qadira (65:3). Whoever has Taqwa of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, whoever fears Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, Allah will make a way out for them and Allah will provide for them, from a place where this person never expected. Whoever has Tawakkul on Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, wa man yatawakkal 'ala Allah, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will be enough for them, and Allah will accomplish His purpose, reach His destination, reach what He has intended and Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, has set a measure to all things.
This chapter is full of reminders of how Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, responds to us when we act in the best of ways, and how He aids us with His incredible mercy. He reminds us of His precise measurements, of His precise or ordainment, and how provision and rizq is from Him and Him alone, meted out with accuracy and meted out according to His plan. Our responsibility is Taqwa, and when we have Taqwa, it is Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala who will help us out.
For the last part of today's episode, let's close with a small exploration of Surah At-Tahrim, which means the prohibition or the forbidding. I would highly encourage you to read this chapter in its entirety after finishing today's episode. The chapter begins by discussing a time when Rasul Allah, Salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, was going through a difficulty with some of his wives who were causing him a great distress. These wives were warned, and then a key verse is mentioned when it comes to building God-conscious families and ethical families who are concerned with Taqwa. The verse reads the following:
Ya ayyuha alladheena amanoo quoo anfusakum wa ahlikum naran waqooduha an-naasu wa al-hijaaratu 'alaihaa malaaa'ikatun ghilaadhun shidaadun la ya'soona Allaha ma amarahum wa yaf'aloona maa yu'maroon (66:6). Oh, you believe! Protect yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is people and stones over it are angels, fierce and powerful. They never disobey God in anything He commands them, and they carry out whatever they are commanded (66:6).
The beautiful part of this verse is the beginning where it says: quoo anfusakum wa ahlikum nara (66:6), that care for your family protect you and your own families from the Hellfire. Our care for our family should not be limited simply in terms of our physical survival and physical comforts, but rather in terms of our salvation. Even when there's marital strife or conflict, our primary goal is a family founded on God wariness, and Taqwa, is to help each other spiritually. It is to save each other from the fire of Hell and to protect the souls of one another.
This is also what lies at the heart of something like 'amr bi'l-maruf wa nahy anil munkar, when we truly love someone in the way that we love our families, we should also love and want what is best for them spiritually, doing anything that we can to help them in their path, their eternal path, their path of salvation.
Surah at-Tarim then ends by giving examples of four women and their spiritual statuses. The wives of prophet Lut and prophet Nuh, alayhum as-salam, all noted with contempt and their lack of spirituality, and then Sayyida Mariyam, salamu Allahi alayha, and Sayyida Asiya, salamu Allahi alayha, who are noted with reverence for their piety and God-centredness. It mentions these four women as examples. And there's an important point that can be concluded from this chapter, and that is that our salvation, though it is impacted by our families, it is not contingent on who we are married to.
But rather our salvation is contingent in terms of how we act and the relationships that we are a part of. And most crucially and focally, whether or not Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala plays a central role in our lives. The wives of prophet Lut and prophet Nuh, both married prophets of God. They were wives of prophets. They were raised in homes or they lived in homes of revelation. But Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, was not at the center of their lives and they betrayed their husbands who were prophets of God. And the point here is that they betrayed prophets of God.
Sayyida Mariyam, salamu Allahi alayha, on the other hand, was not married, but she only cared for Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala's pleasure and as such was chosen as an incredible woman of the world, as we explored in a previous juz. Lastly, Sayyida Asiya, salamu Allahi alayha, was married to a tyrant. She was married to the worst man on the face of the planet, and she was murdered for it. And yet all she cared for was Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala. Her husband didn't impact her spirituality. She rose above it. In the Qur'an she is eternalized in her Du'a, which is quoted at the end of the chapter where it says:
Rabbi ibni lee 'indaka baytan fil-Jannah, wa najjinee min Fir'awna wa 'amalihee wa najjinee min al-qawmi adh-dhalimeen (66:11). The Du'a reads: " My Lord, build for me with You a house in Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his works and save me from the wrongdoing people" (66:11). With all of these themes and discussions throughout this juz, we see that all of them, even when discussing marital strife and women's rights and whatever else in between, everything goes back to one thing and one thing alone. And that is Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, and how centered we are on Him.
As we close today's episode and enter the final two, we echo the Du'a of Lady Asiya, salamu Allahi alayha, and we ask and implore Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, for proximity to Him and an abode of the hereafter filled with the sweetness of His love.
Wa Al-Hamdulil-Lahi Rabbi Al-Alameen, wa salla Allahu alaa nabiyyina Muhammadin, wa alihi, al-tayibeen, al-tahireen. Wa as-salamu alaykum, wa rahmatullahi, wa baraktu.
Rabbana La tuzigh Qulubana (3:8) [Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate (3:8)]