English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 2: Al-Baqarah — The Cow (Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections, 286 verses)

Section 31 (Verses 2:236–2:242): Provision for Divorced Women and Widows



لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ اِنۡ طَلَّقۡتُمُ النِّسَآءَ مَا لَمۡ تَمَسُّوۡہُنَّ اَوۡ تَفۡرِضُوۡا لَہُنَّ فَرِیۡضَۃً ۚۖ وَّ مَتِّعُوۡہُنَّ ۚ عَلَی الۡمُوۡسِعِ قَدَرُہٗ وَ عَلَی الۡمُقۡتِرِ قَدَرُہٗ ۚ مَتَاعًۢا بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ ۚ حَقًّا عَلَی الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ﴿۲۳۶﴾

2:236 There is no blame on you if you divorce women while yet you have not touched them, nor appointed for them a portion. And provide for them, the wealthy according to his means and the restricted one according to his means, a provision according to usage. (This is) a duty on the doers of good.1

وَ اِنۡ طَلَّقۡتُمُوۡہُنَّ مِنۡ قَبۡلِ اَنۡ تَمَسُّوۡہُنَّ وَ قَدۡ فَرَضۡتُمۡ لَہُنَّ فَرِیۡضَۃً فَنِصۡفُ مَا فَرَضۡتُمۡ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّعۡفُوۡنَ اَوۡ یَعۡفُوَا الَّذِیۡ بِیَدِہٖ عُقۡدَۃُ النِّکَاحِ ؕ وَ اَنۡ تَعۡفُوۡۤا اَقۡرَبُ لِلتَّقۡوٰی ؕ وَ لَا تَنۡسَوُا الۡفَضۡلَ بَیۡنَکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ بَصِیۡرٌ ﴿۲۳۷﴾

2:237 And if you divorce them before you have touched them and you have appointed for them a portion, (pay) half of what you have appointed unless they forgo or he forgoes in whose hand is the marriage tie.2 And it is nearer to dutifulness that you forgo. Nor neglect the giving of free gifts between you. Surely Allah is Seer of what you do.

حٰفِظُوۡا عَلَی الصَّلَوٰتِ وَ الصَّلٰوۃِ الۡوُسۡطٰی ٭ وَ قُوۡمُوۡا لِلّٰہِ قٰنِتِیۡنَ ﴿۲۳۸﴾

2:238 Guard the prayers and the most excellent prayer, and stand up truly obedient to Allah.3

فَاِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ فَرِجَالًا اَوۡ رُکۡبَانًا ۚ فَاِذَاۤ اَمِنۡتُمۡ فَاذۡکُرُوا اللّٰہَ کَمَا عَلَّمَکُمۡ مَّا لَمۡ تَکُوۡنُوۡا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۳۹﴾

2:239 But if you are in danger (say your prayers) on foot or on horseback. And when you are secure, remember Allah as He has taught you what you did not know.

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یُتَوَفَّوۡنَ مِنۡکُمۡ وَ یَذَرُوۡنَ اَزۡوَاجًا ۚۖ وَّصِیَّۃً لِّاَزۡوَاجِہِمۡ مَّتَاعًا اِلَی الۡحَوۡلِ غَیۡرَ اِخۡرَاجٍ ۚ فَاِنۡ خَرَجۡنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ فِیۡ مَا فَعَلۡنَ فِیۡۤ اَنۡفُسِہِنَّ مِنۡ مَّعۡرُوۡفٍ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۴۰﴾

2:240 And those of you who die and leave wives behind, should make a bequest in favour of their wives of maintenance for a year without turning (them) out.4 Then if they themselves go away, there is no blame on you for what they do of lawful deeds concerning themselves. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.

وَ لِلۡمُطَلَّقٰتِ مَتَاعٌۢ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ ؕ حَقًّا عَلَی الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۴۱﴾

2:241 And for divorced women, provision (must be made) in kindness.5 This is incumbent on those who have regard for duty.

کَذٰلِکَ یُبَیِّنُ اللّٰہُ لَکُمۡ اٰیٰتِہٖ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۲۴۲﴾٪

2:242 Allah thus makes clear to you His messages that you may understand.



  1. The “portion” is the dowry due from the husband, so that even when no dowry has been agreed upon, and marriage has not been consu­mmated, libera­lity must be shown to the divorced wife, and some provision should be made for her, even though the husband may be in difficult circumstances.
  2. The husband is the person in whose hand is the marriage tie. His forgoing his due is equivalent to not claiming the half of the dowry which he is entitled to by this verse. Note that forgoing on the part of husbands is here stated to be the more commendable course.
  3. There are several opinions regarding what is meant by the term translated above as “the most excellent prayer”. Most probably it does not refer to any particular prayer and means simply attending to prayer in the most excellent form. The guarding of prayers is not simply the observance of the outward form; it is both the form and the spirit to which attention is drawn. Prayers are to be said at stated times and a particular method is to be observed, but this does not mean that the Islamic prayer is devoid of spirit. The external form is needed to bring the inner faculty into exercise. As regards the spirit of prayer, attention is called to it again and again in the Quran. Elsewhere we are told: “Prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil” (29:45). In fact, the Quran condemns prayers which are devoid of spirit (107:4–6).
  4. What the widow obtains under this verse is in addition to the share of the deceased husband’s property which she inherits under 4:11. It is plainly stated in 4:12 that anything to be paid under a will shall have precedence of the division of the property into shares under that verse.
  5. This provision is in addition to the dowry which must be paid to them. Just as in the previous verse the widow is given an additional benefit, here a provision in addition to her dowry is recommended for divorced woman. This shows how liberal are the injunctions of the Quran regarding women.