It is difficult to determine precisely when this Surah was revealed. However, it appears that when the people started making errors in understanding the commandments of Surah Al-Baqarah, and began to commit mistakes, Allah sent down these instructions for their correction.
- Laws of divorce (for details see below).
- Iddat (waiting period before the divorce takes effect) is commanded to be three menstruation periods, three months if menstruation is not applicable, and in case of pregnancy it is the delivery of child.
- Rebellion against Allah's commandment may bring stern reckoning or exemplary punishment, so fear Allah and adhere to His laws.
In order to understand the commandments of this Surah, it is useful to refresh one's memory about the regulations which were given concerning divorce and the waiting period (Iddat).
"Divorce may be pronounced twice; then the wife may either be kept back in fairness or allowed to separate in fairness." (Al Baqarah 229)
"And the divorced women (after the pronouncement of the divorce) must wait for three monthly courses and their husbands are fully entitled to take them back (as their wives) during this waiting period, if they desire reconciliation." (Al Baqarah 228)
"Then, if the husband divorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not remain lawful for him after this divorce, unless she marries another husband..." (Al-Baqarah : 230)
"When you marry the believing women, and then divorce them before you have touched them, they do not have to observe a waiting period, the completion of which you may demand of them." (Al-Ahzab : 49)
"And if those of you who die, leave wives behind, the women should abstain (from marriage) for four months and ten days." (Al-Baqarah 234)
The rules prescribed in these verses are as follows:
- A man can pronounce at the most three divorces on his wife.
- In case the husband has pronounced one or two divorces he is entitled to take the woman back as his wife within the waiting period, and if after the expiration of the waiting period the two desire to remarry, they can remarry and there is no condition of legalization (tahlil). But if the husband has pronounced three divorces, he forfeits his right to keep her as his wife within the waiting period, and they cannot remarry unless the woman marries another husband and he subsequently divorces her of his own free will.
- The waiting period of the woman, who menstruates and marriage with whom has been consummated, is that she should pass three monthly courses. The waiting period in case of one or two divorces is that the woman is still the legal wife of the husband and he can take her back as his wife within the waiting period. But if the husband has pronounced three divorces, this waiting period cannot be taken advantage of for the purpose of reconciliation, but is only meant to restrain the woman from remarrying another person before it comes to an end.
- There is no waiting period for the woman, who is divorced even before the marriage is consummated. She can remarry, if she likes, immediately after the divorce.
- The waiting period of the woman whose husband dies is four months and ten days.
One should understand that Surah At-Talaq was not sent down to annul or amend any of these rules, but was sent down for two purposes:
- The man who has been given the right to pronounce divorce should be taught such judicious methods of using this right so that it may not needlessly lead to separation. However, if separation does take place, it should only be when all possibilities of mutual reconciliation have been exhausted. In Divine Law, provision for divorce has been made only as an unavoidable necessity. Allah does not approve of the dissolution of a marriage. The Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) has said: "Allah has not made lawful anything more hateful in His sight than divorce." (Abu Daud). And: "Of all the things permitted by the Law, the most hateful in the sight of Allah is the divorce." (Abu Daud)
- The object was to complement this section of the family law of Islam by supplying answers to the questions that had remained after the revelation of the commandments in Surah Al-Baqarah. Answers are given to the following questions:
- What would be the waiting period of women, marriage with whom has been consummated and who no longer menstruate or those who have not yet menstruated, in case they are divorced?
- What would be the waiting period of the woman, who is pregnant, or the woman whose husband dies, if she is divorced?
- What arrangements would be made for the maintenance and lodging of the different categories of divorced women, and for the fosterage of the child whose parents have separated on account of a divorce?