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Quran Chapter 2 [part 11] - The Cow - Instructions for Life

213 Mankind was a single community, then God sent prophets to bring good news and warning, and with them He sent the Scripture with the Truth, to judge between people in their disagreements. It was only those to whom it was given who disagreed about it after clear signs had come to them, because of rivalry between them. So by His leave God guided the believers to the truth they had differed about: God guides whoever He will to a straight path.

214 Do you suppose that you will enter the Garden without first having suffered like those before you? They were afflicted by misfortune and hardship, and they were so shaken that even [their] messenger and the believers with him cried, ‘When will God’s help arrive?’ Truly, God’s help is near. 215 They ask you [Prophet] what they should give. Say, ‘Whatever you give should be for parents, close relatives, orphans, the needy, and travelers. God is well aware of whatever good you do.

216 Fighting is ordained for you, though you dislike it. You may dislike something although it is good for you, or like something although it is bad for you: God knows and you do not.’ 217 They ask you [Prophet] about fighting in the prohibited month. Say, ‘Fighting in that month is a great offence, but to bar others from God’s path, to disbelieve in Him, prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and expel its people, are still greater offences in God’s eyes: persecution is worse than killing.’ [a] They will not stop fighting you [believers] until they make you revoke your faith, if they can. If any of you revoke your faith and die as disbelievers, your deeds will come to nothing in this world and the Hereafter, and you will be inhabitants of the Fire, there to remain. 218 But those who have believed, migrated, and striven for God’s cause, it is they who can look forward to God’s mercy: God is most forgiving and merciful.

219 They ask you [Prophet] about intoxicants and gambling: say, ‘There is great sin in both, and some benefit for people: the sin is greater than the benefit.’ They ask you what they should give: say, ‘Give what you can spare.’ In this way, God makes His messages clear to you, so that you may reflect 220 on this world and the next. They ask you about [the property of] orphans: say, ‘It is good to set things right for them. If you combine their affairs with yours, remember they are your brothers and sisters: God knows those who spoil things and those who improve them. Had He so willed, He could have made you vulnerable too: He is almighty and wise.’

221 Do not marry idolatresses until they believe: a believing slave woman is certainly better than an idolatress, even though she may please you. And do not give your women in marriage to idolaters until they believe: a believing slave is certainly better than an idolater, even though he may please you. Such people call [you] to the Fire, while God calls [you] to the Garden and forgiveness by His leave. He makes His messages clear to people, so that they may bear them in mind.

222 They ask you [Prophet] about menstruation. Say, ‘Menstruation is a painful condition, so keep away from women during it. Do not approach them until they are cleansed; when they are cleansed, you may approach them as God has ordained. [b] God loves those who turn to Him, and He loves those who keep themselves clean. 223 Your wives are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like, [c] and send [something good] ahead for yourselves. Be mindful of God: remember that you will meet Him.’ [Prophet], give good news to the believers.

224 [Believers], do not allow your oaths in God’s name to hinder you from doing good, being mindful of God and making peace between people. God hears and knows everything: 225 He will not call you to account for oaths you have uttered unintentionally, but He will call you to account for what you mean in your hearts. God is most forgiving and forbearing. 226 For those who swear that they will not approach their wives, there shall be a waiting period of four months: [d] if they go back, remember God will be most forgiving and merciful, 227 but if they are determined to divorce, remember that God hears and knows all. 228 Divorced women must wait for three monthly periods before remarrying, and, if they really believe in God and the Last Day, it is not lawful for them to conceal what God has created in their wombs: their husbands would do better to take them back during this period, provided they wish to put things right. Wives have [rights] similar to their [obligations], according to what is recognized to be fair, and husbands have a degree [of right] over them: [both should remember that] God is almighty and wise.

229 Divorce can happen twice, and [each time] wives either be kept on in an acceptable manner or released in a good way. It is not lawful for you to take back anything that you have given [your wives], except where both fear that they cannot maintain [the marriage] within the bounds set by God: if you [arbiters] suspect that the couple may not be able to do this, then there will be no blame on either of them if the woman opts to give something for her release. [e] These are the bounds set by God: do not overstep them. It is those who overstep God’s bounds who are doing wrong. 230 If a husband re-divorces his wife after the second divorce, she will not be lawful for him until she has taken another husband; if that one divorces her, there will be no blame if she and the first husband return to one another, provided they feel that they can keep within the bounds set by God. These are God’s bounds, which He makes clear for those who know.

231 When you divorce women and they have reached their set time, then either keep or release them in a fair manner. Do not hold on to them with intent to harm them and commit aggression: anyone who does this wrongs himself. Do not make a mockery of God’s revelations; remember the favor He blessed you with, and the Scripture and wisdom He sent to teach you. Be mindful of God and know that He has full knowledge of everything. 232 When you divorce women and they have reached their set time, do not prevent them from remarrying their husbands if they both agree to do so in a fair manner. [f] Let those of you who believe in God and the Last Day take this to heart: that is more wholesome and purer for you. God knows and you do not.


a. To persecute people for believing in God is a worse offence than for the aggrieved party to fight back in the prohibited month. This further explains verse 191.

b. The Arabic expressions used here are clear euphemisms for ‘do not have sexual intercourse with them’.

c. When the Muslims emigrated to Medina, they heard from the Jews that a child born from a woman approached from behind would have a squint.

d. Before Islam, husbands could make such an oath and suspend the wife indefinitely. In Islam, if they do not go back after four months, divorce becomes effective.

e. By paying back all or part of the dowry in return for divorce.

f. Sometimes a woman’s father or brother would interfere to stop her reconciling with her husband. Here the Qur'an condemns such interference.

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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