Sura Al-Baqarah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-247

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The text now returns to the subject of divorce mentioned in verses 234-237. The command to take due care of all prayers (verses 238-239) put in between was to remind that the real thing in life is a constant orientation towards Allah, not only in prayers where it is more pronounced, but also in social relationships such as marriage and divorce, rather, in all areas of one's life. The message is: Follow rules set by Allah in your ultimate interest.

Verses 240-242 cited above give guidance on the provision of residence and maintenance for widows which has been explained in the commentary which follows.

1.In the Age of Ignorance, the period of waiting for a widow was one year, and in Islam, it came to be four months and ten days rather than one full year as we already know from يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا :'They keep themselves waiting for four months and ten days,' in Verse 234, explained earlier. However, women were given a certain advantage in this respect. Those were the days when the injunction of inheritance was not revealed and a wife's share in the inheritance was yet to be determined; in fact, the rights of all others simply revolved around the will of the deceased, as we have already learnt from the explanation of the verse 2:180. Therefore, it was made obligatory that a woman should be allowed to live in the premises of her late husband's house for one full year if she so desires. It was also mandatory under this arrangement that she be given her maintenance during this period out of what has been left behind by her husband. This rule is mentioned in this verse. Husbands have been instructed to make wills to this effect. Since this was the right of the woman and she had the choice to receive or leave it, therefore, it was not permissible for the inheritors to evict her out of the house, but it was permissible for her not to live in that house at her discretion, and leave her due for the inheritors. The condition, however, was that 'iddahor the waiting period of four months and ten days be completed. After the completion of this period she could leave the house of her husband and could enter into a new marriage with another person.' This is what is meant by the Qur'anic expression: "Then, if they move out, there is no sin on you in what they have done for themselves of the recognized practice." However, going out during the period of 'iddah and getting married was all counted as sin not only for the woman concerned but also for those who could stop her yet did not do so. When 'the verse of inheritance' was revealed, the woman received her ordained share in the house and in all other items of inheritance on the strength of which she had the choice to live in her section of the house and spend out of her share in the inheritance after the completion of four months and ten days, and this verse was abrogated.

Verse 241: The divorced women deserve a benefit
Providing compensatory benefits (متاع : mata)  for divorced women has also been dealt with in verses earlier than this, but that was restricted to two types of divorced women who were divorced before privacy and consummation. The first case of providing compensatory benefits was the giving of a set of clothes. The second case was of providing compensatory benefit in the form of half of the dower. Now remains the case of divorcees who were divorced after privacy and consummation. Here, providing compensatory benefits to one whose dower has already been fixed lies in giving her the full amount of dower or mahr . For one whose dower has not already been fixed, a post-consummation divorce will make it obligatory to give her mahr almithl or 'equivaleat dower' (as customarily given in the immediate family circle of the woman. If the word 'benefit' used in this verse is taken to mean 'dower', its payment is obligatory according to these details. However, if we take mata' to mean a particular benefit, that is, the giving of a gift or set of clothes, then giving this to a particular type of divorced woman is obligatory which has been pointed out earlier. In the rest of the cases, this is mustahabb or desirable. And should mata' be taken to mean maintenance or nafaqah, then it is obligatory until the expiry of 'iddah in the case of a divorce after which 'iddah has to be observed. The divorce may be revocable (رجعي) or irrevocable (باءن) it does not matter. To sum up, the verse, by using universally applicable words, covers all situations.

Verses 243 - 244
[٢٤٣]أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ خَرَجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَهُمْ أُلُوفٌ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ فَقَالَ لَهُمُ اللَّهُ مُوتُوا ثُمَّ أَحْيَاهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ

[٢٤٤]وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Have you not seen those who being in thousands, left their homes to escape death? So, to them Allah said,"Be dead!' Then He raised them alive. Surely, Allah is all-gracious to people, but most of the people are not grateful. And fight in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Verses 243 - 244)

Commentary
In a uniquely eloquent manner, the two verses (243, 244) appearing above and verse 245 which follows, present guidance that prompts the sacrifice of one's life and possessions in the way of Allah Almighty. Consequently, before stating related injunctions, an important event of history has been taken up which makes it clear that death and life are subservient to the destiny determined by Allah. Going into a battle in jihad is not the cause of death, and running away from it, out of cowardice, is not the means to avoid death.

On the authority of revered Companions (Sahabah) and their successors (Tabi'in), Tafsir ibn Kathir explains this event as follows:

There was a group of Israelites in a city which was struck by plague or some other epidemic. The whole group, some ten thousand in number, panicked. Leaving the city out of fear of death, all of them went out to camp in an open plain located between two mountains. Allah Almighty, in order to impress upon other peoples of the world that no living being can escape death by running away from it, sent two angels who stood on the two ends of the plain and sent forth some sort of shrill cry which caused all of them to drop dead instantly. Not one of them was left alive. When the people living in the adjoining area heard about this event, they hurried to the site. Making arrangements to shroud and bury ten thousand human beings was no easy task. They, therefore, enclosed the whole area with a fence of boughs making a hovel-like shed for the corpses which, in due course, were decomposed leaving bare bones lying around. After a long time, one of the prophets of an Israel, whose name has been identified as Hizqil or Ezekiel, passed through this location. He was amazed to see human bone structures strewn all over inside an enclosed shed. The whole story of these people was related to him through revelation. Prophet Ezekiel عليه السلام, prayed Allah to bring these people back to life. Allah Almighty answered his prayer and he was asked to address those crumbled bones in the following manner:

O bones, old and worn, Allah commands you to gather together Joint by joint, as you were).'

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