A Medinan sura that discusses episodes in the Prophet’s home life. It chides two of the Prophet’s wives for an incident when a confidence was betrayed (verses 3–5) and urges all believers to submit themselves to God and to guard themselves and their families against Hellfire (verses 6–8). The sura closes by giving examples of believing and disbelieving women (verses 10–12).
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
Do Not Make Something Unlawful Which God has Made Lawful
1 Prophet, why do you prohibit what God has made lawful to you [a] in your desire to please your wives? Yet God is forgiving and merciful: 2 He has ordained a way for you [believers] to release you from [such] oaths [b] ––God is your helper: He is the All Knowing, the Wise.
3 The Prophet told something in confidence to one of his wives. When she disclosed it [to another wife] and God made this known to him, he confirmed part of it, keeping the rest to himself. When he confronted her with what she had done, she asked, ‘Who told you about this?’ and he replied, ‘The All Knowing, the All Aware told me.’ 4 If both of you [wives] repent to God––for your hearts have deviated––[all will be well]; if you collaborate against him, [be warned that] God will aid him, as will Gabriel and all righteous believers, and the angels too will back him. 5 His Lord may well replace you with better wives if the Prophet decides to divorce any of you: wives who are devoted to God, true believers, devout, who turn to Him in repentance and worship Him, given to fasting, whether previously married or virgins.
Hell is Fueled by People and Stones
6 Believers, guard yourselves and your families against a Fire fueled by people and stones, over which stand angels, stern and strong; angels who never disobey God’s commands to them, but do as they are ordered: 7 ‘You who disbelieve, make no excuses today: you are only being repaid for what you used to do.’
8 Believers, turn to God in sincere repentance. Your Lord may well cancel your bad deeds for you and admit you into Gardens graced with flowing streams, on a Day when God will not disgrace the Prophet or those who have believed with him. With their lights streaming out ahead of them and to their right, they will say, ‘Lord, perfect our lights for us and forgive us: You have power over everything.’
9 Prophet, strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Deal with them sternly. Hell will be their home, an evil destination! 10 God has given examples of disbelievers: the wives of Noah and Lot who married two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them. Their husbands could not help them against God: it was said, ‘Both of you enter the Fire with the others.’ 11 God has also given examples of believers: Pharaoh’s wife, who said, ‘Lord, build me a house near You in the Garden. Save me from Pharaoh and his actions; save me from the evildoers,’ 12 and Mary, daughter of Imran. She guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her from Our spirit. She accepted the truth of her Lord’s words and Scriptures: she was truly devout.
a. The Prophet had made an oath to abstain from something: either honey or conjugal relations with one or more of his wives. Razi gives several stories to explain this.
b. See 5: 89. If a Muslim swears an oath which may be counter to what is right, he is allowed release, provided he gives expiation.
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.