Keep Or Release, But In A Good Way

Allah jalla wa ‘alā says:

الطَّلاَقُ مَرَّتَانِ فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ

“Divorce can happen twice, and [each time] wives either be kept on in an acceptable manner or released in a good way.” (2:229)

Allah jalla jalālahu also says:

وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النَّسَاء فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ سَرِّحُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ

“When you divorce women and they have reached their set time, then either keep or release them in a good manner.” (2:231)

In these two noble verses, Allah commands His servants to show iḥsān – the best and most righteous of conduct – to our wives during the two states of either remaining married, or getting divorced. They are commanded to treat them with iḥsān and ma‘rūf and not evil and transgression. “Ma‘rūf” is the good which is automatically accepted by all those with sound fitrah, nobility and rightly guided intellects – it is universal good moral behavior.

This therefore prohibits harming them with either words or actions, indeed this meaning has been emphasized again and again in many verses and ḥadīth. There is a very severe threat and warning to those who might exploit and take advantage of them such as the end of this very verse when Allah says:

تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللّهِ فَلاَ تَعْتَدُوهَا وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللّهِ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“These are the boundaries set by Allah: do not overstep them. And those who overstep Allah’s boundaries are indeed the Oppressors.” (2:229)

The Arabic in the verse reflects a huge amount of emphasis on the level of oppression committed by such a husband: note how this is a nominal sentence (al-jumlat’l-ismīyyah), the use of the demonstrative pronoun (ism’l-ishārah) “tilka”, the use of the separate isolated pronoun (al-ḍamīr’l-munfaṣil) “hom”, and the use of the definite term “al” when it comes to “Oppressors”.

It would be fair to say that the seriousness of this crime is almost entirely lost in translation.

Allah also commanded those who divorce their wives to give them a gift of significant value due to the damage that has been caused, and in order to soothe their hearts. He made it a duty upon the Muḥsinīn and a duty upon the Muttaqīn – the people who do righteousness, and those who are always mindful of Allah in whatever they do:

وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدْرُهُ مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“But make fair provision for them, the rich according to his means and the poor according to his – this is a duty upon those who do righteousness.” (2:236)

And He also said:

وَلِلْمُطَلَّقَاتِ مَتَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ

“Divorced women shall also have such maintenance as is considered fair: this is a duty upon those who are always mindful of Allah.” (2:241)

Here, one learns that from the components of taqwa and iḥsān is to be kind and generous at the time of divorce, through a monetary gift; but what also becomes clear is that whoever doesn’t give this right to women then they cannot be from the people of taqwa or iḥsān – the Muttaqīn or Muḥsinīn.

So what then of those who prevent these women from their right and then go further than that by abusing them, cursing them and even beating them like animals?!

Manliness is not found in the beating of women, but in the protection of women. It is not found in throwing them out, but in giving them shelter. It is not found in humiliating them, but in being honourable to them.

In fact, when Allah allowed the disciplining of a wife who violates her marital duties, He reminded the husbands at the end of the same verse by saying:

 إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا

“Indeed Allah is most High and Great.” (4:34)

It is as if to say, “O you so powerful, proud arrogant husband, don’t forget that Allah is Higher than you, and Greater. So be warned, and again be warned lest you be oppressive or transgress; and if you do go there, then remember that it is Allah Who will be your opponent, and woe be upon he whose opponent is Allah.”

The Prophet (ṣallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in respect of women, “Treat women kindly” (Bukhāri and Muslim).

He also said to Anjasha (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu) who was driving the caravan of women on camels, “Slow down, you’re carrying fragile glass vessels” (Bukhāri and Muslim). The use of glass as a similitude to women is to illustrate how easy it is to damage them, and how impossible it is to repair the damage afterwards.

If I was to actually put forward to you all the evidences from the Book and the Sunnah on this matter, this would become very lengthy, so it is just a reminder. And the reminder benefits the Believers.

And Allah knows best.


  •' Abdul Matin says:

    As salamu alaykum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatahu Sheikh Khelan,

    Jazak’Allah for the beautiful reminder, as is always the case with your articles or your guest appearences on Logical Progression that i get to see, no matter how small the writing or short the speech i am left with eons of contemplation.

    I wonder if i might ask a question related to this topic. I know that divorce is a thing that is the last resort and extremely disliked in our deen, although out of Allah swt Mercy we still have that right.
    However, if a person feels that divorce is upon him or her because of whatever reasons would that man or woman be rewarded more for staying married out of a wish not to break a contract made with themselves and Allah swt rather than going through with the divorce?

    Fi’Aman Allah
    Abdul Matin

  • Jazak Allah Khairan for this reminder which I wish would reach out to all the members of the Muslim society in order to preserve the beautiful institution and relation of marriage.

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