At-Talaq is not only the name of this Surah but also the title
of its subject 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
evidence of the subject matter of the Surah confirms the same,
that it must have been sent down after those verses of surah
Al-Baqarah in which commandments concerning divorce were given
for the first time. Although it is difficult to determine precisely
what is its exact date of revelation, yet the traditions in
any case indicate that when the people started making errors
in understanding the commandments of Surah Al-Baqarah, and
practically also they began to commit mistakes, Allah sent
down these instructions for their correction.
Theme and Subject Matter
In order to understand the commandments of this Surah, it would
be useful to refresh one's memory about the instructions which
have been given in the Qur'an concerning divorce and the waiting
period (Iddat) above.
"Divorce may be pronounced twice; then the wife may either
be kept back in fairness or allowed to separate in fairness." (Al
"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
"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 fulfill a
waiting period, the completion of which you may demand of them." (Al-Ahzab
"And if those of you who die, leave wives behind, the women
should abstain (from marriage) for four months and ten days." (Al-Baqarah
The rules prescribed in these verses were 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 keep the woman back as wife within the waiting
period and if after the expiry of the waiting period the two
desire to re-marry, they can re- marry 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 re-marry unless
the woman re-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 keep 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 it is only meant to restrain the woman from re-marrying
another person before it comes to an end.
There is no waiting. period for the woman, marriage with whom
has not been consummated, and who is divorced even before she
is touched. She can re-marry, if she likes, immediately after
The waiting period of the woman whose husband dies, is four
months and ten days.
Here, one should understand well that Surah At- Talaq was not
sent down to annul any of these 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 should be taught such judicious methods of using this
right as do not lead to separation, as far as possible however,
if separation does take place, it should only be in case all
possibilities of mutual reconciliation have been exhausted.
For in the Divine Law provision for divorce has been made only
as an unavoidable necessity; otherwise Allah does not approve
that the marriage relationship that has been established between
a man and a woman should ever break. The Holy 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 second 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
So, answers have been supplied to the following questions:What
would be the waiting period of the 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?And 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?