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When does a Woman who was divorced Three Times become Eligible for Her First Husband

Allah said:

﴿ فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا

(And if he has divorced her) meaning, the second husband after he had complete sexual relations with her,

﴿ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡہِمَآ أَن يَتَرَاجَعَآ

(it is no sin on both of them that they reunite) meaning, the wife and her first husband,

﴿ إِن ظَنَّآ أَن يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ

(provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah.) meaning, they live together honorably. Mujahid said, "If they are convinced that the aim behind their marriage is honorable.'' Next, Allah said:

﴿ وَتِلۡكَ حُدُودُ ٱللَّهِ

(These are the limits of Allah,) His commandments and legislation,

﴿ يُبَيِّنُہَا

(He makes plain)

﴿ لِقَوۡمٍ۬ يَعۡلَمُونَ

(for the people who have knowledge.)

﴿ وَإِذَا طَلَّقۡتُمُ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فَبَلَغۡنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَأَمۡسِكُوهُنَّ بِمَعۡرُوفٍ أَوۡ سَرِّحُوهُنَّ بِمَعۡرُوفٍ۬‌ۚ وَلَا تُمۡسِكُوهُنَّ ضِرَارً۬ا لِّتَعۡتَدُواْ‌ۚ وَمَن يَفۡعَلۡ ذَٲلِكَ فَقَدۡ ظَلَمَ نَفۡسَهُ ۥ‌ۚ وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوٓاْ ءَايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ هُزُوً۬ا‌ۚ وَٱذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَمَآ أَنزَلَ عَلَيۡكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ وَٱلۡحِكۡمَةِ يَعِظُكُم بِهِۦ‌ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمٌ۬

(231. And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their prescribed period, either take them back on a reasonable basis or set them free on a reasonable basis. But do not take them back to hurt them, and whoever does that, then he has wronged himself. And treat not the verses (Laws) of Allah in jest, but remember Allah's favors on you (i.e., Islam), and that which He has sent down to you of the Book (i.e., the Qur'an) and Al-Hikmah (the Prophet's Sunnah ـ legal ways ـ Islamic jurisprudence) whereby He instructs you. And fear Allah, and know that Allah is All-Aware of everything).

Being Kind to the Divorced Wife

This is a command from Allah to men that when one of them divorces his wife with a reversible divorce, he should treat her kindly. So when her term of `Iddah (waiting period) nears its end, he either takes her back in a way that is better, including having witnesses that he has taken her back, and he lives with her with kindness. Or, he should release her after her `Iddah finishes and then kindly asks her to depart from his house, without disputing, fighting with her or using foul words. Allah then said:

﴿ وَلَا تُمۡسِكُوهُنَّ ضِرَارً۬ا لِّتَعۡتَدُواْ‌ۚ

(But do not take them back to hurt them,)

Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Masruq, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that a man used to divorce his wife, and when her `Iddah came near its end, he would take her back to harm her and to stop her from marrying someone else. He then divorced her and she would begin her `Iddah and when her `Iddah term neared its end, he would take her back again, so that the term of `Iddah would be prolonged for her. After that, Allah prohibited this practice. Allah has also threatened those who indulge in such practices, when He said;

﴿ وَمَن يَفۡعَلۡ ذَٲلِكَ فَقَدۡ ظَلَمَ نَفۡسَهُ ۥ‌ۚ

(...and whoever does that, then he has wronged himself.) meaning, by defying Allah's commandments. Allah then said:

﴿ وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوٓاْ ءَايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ هُزُوً۬ا‌ۚ

(And treat not the verses (Laws) of Allah in a jest,)

Ibn Jarir said that Abu Musa (Al-Ash`ari) narrated that Allah's Messenger once became angry at the Ash`ari tribe. Abu Musa went to him and said, "O Messenger of Allah! Are you angry with the Ash`ariyyin'' The Prophet said:

« يَقُولُ أَحَدُكُمْ: قَدْ طَلَّقْتُ، قَدْ رَاجَعْتُ، لَيْسَ هَذَا طَلَاقُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ، طَلِّقُوا الْمَرْأَةَ فِي قُبُلِ عِدَّتِهَا »

(One of you says, `I divorced her' -then says- `I took her back!' This is not the appropriate way Muslims conduct divorce. Divorce the woman when she has fulfilled the term of the prescribed period.)

Masruq said that the Ayah refers to the man who harms his wife by divorcing her and then taking her back, so that the `Iddah term is prolonged for her. Al-Hasan, Qatadah, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Ar-Rabi` and Muqatil bin Hayyan said, "He is the man who divorces his wife and says, `I was joking.' Or he frees a servant or gets married and says, `I was only joking.' Allah revealed:

﴿ وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوٓاْ ءَايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ هُزُوً۬ا‌ۚ

(And treat not the verses (Laws) of Allah in a jest,)

Then such men were made to bear the consequences of their actions.

Allah then said:

﴿ وَٱذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ

(...but remember Allah's favors on you,) meaning, by His sending His Messenger with the right guidance and clear signs to you:

﴿ وَمَآ أَنزَلَ عَلَيۡكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ وَٱلۡحِكۡمَةِ

(...and that which He has sent down to you of the Book (i.e., the Qur'an) and Al-Hikmah) meaning the Sunnah,

﴿ يَعِظُكُم بِهِۦ‌ۚ

(...whereby He instructs you.) meaning, commands you, forbids you and threatens you for transgressing His prohibitions. Allah said:

﴿ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ

(And fear Allah) meaning, concerning what you perform and what you avoid,

﴿ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمٌ۬

(and know that Allah is All-Aware of everything.) none of your secret or public affairs ever escapes His knowledge, and He will treat you accordingly.

﴿ وَإِذَا طَلَّقۡتُمُ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فَبَلَغۡنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا تَعۡضُلُوهُنَّ أَن يَنكِحۡنَ أَزۡوَٲجَهُنَّ إِذَا تَرَٲضَوۡاْ بَيۡنَہُم بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ‌ۗ ذَٲلِكَ يُوعَظُ بِهِۦ مَن كَانَ مِنكُمۡ يُؤۡمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۗ ذَٲلِكُمۡ أَزۡكَىٰ لَكُمۡ وَأَطۡهَرُ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ

(232. And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their prescribed period, do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands, if they mutually agree on reasonable basis. This (instruction) is an admonition for him among you who believes in Allah and the Last Day. That is more virtuous and purer for you. Allah knows and you know not.)

The Wali (Guardian) of the Divorced Woman should not prevent Her from going back to Her Husband

`Ali bin Abu Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "This Ayah was revealed about the man who divorces his wife once or twice and her `Iddah finishes. He later thinks about taking her back in marriage and the woman also wishes that, yet, her family prevents her from remarrying him. Hence, Allah prohibited her family from preventing her.'' Masruq, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, Az-Zuhri and Ad-Dahhak stated that this is the reason behind revealing the Ayah (2:232). These statements clearly conform to the apparent meaning of the Ayah.

There is no Marriage without a Wali (for the Woman)

The Ayah (2:232) also indicates that the woman is not permitted to give herself in marriage. Rather, she requires a Wali (guardian such as her father, brother, adult son, and so forth) to give her away in marriage, as Ibn Jarir and At-Tirmidhi have stated when they mentioned this Ayah. Also, a Hadith states that:

« لَا تُزَوِّجُ الْمَرْأةُ الْمَرْأَةَ، ولَا تُزَوِّج الْمَرأةُ نَفْسَهَا، فَإِنَّ الزَّانِيَةَ هِيَ الَّتِي تُزَوِّجُ نَفْسَهَا »

(The woman does not give another woman away for marriage and the woman does not give herself away in marriage, for only the adulteress gives herself away for marriage.)

Another Hadith states:

« لَا نِكَاحَ إلَّا بِوَلِيَ مُرْشِدٍ وَشَاهِدَيْ عَدْل »

(No marriage is valid except with the participation of a mature Wali and two trustworthy witnesses.)

The Reason behind revealing the Ayah (2:232)

It was reported that this Ayah was revealed about Ma`qil bin Yasar Al-Muzani and his sister. Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih, when he mentioned the Tafsir of this Ayah (2:232), that the husband of the sister of Ma`qil bin Yasar divorced her. He waited until her `Iddah finished and then asked to remarry her, but Ma`qil refused. Then, this Ayah was sent down:

﴿ فَلَا تَعۡضُلُوهُنَّ أَن يَنكِحۡنَ أَزۡوَٲجَهُنَّ

(...do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands.)

Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Abu Hatim, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Marduwyah and Al-Bayhaqi reported this Hadith from Al-Hasan from Ma`qil bin Yasar. At-Tirmidhi rendered this Hadith authentic and in his narration, Ma`qil bin Yasar gave his sister in marriage for a Muslim man during the time of Allah's Messenger . She remained with him for a while and he divorced her once and did not take her back until her `Iddah finished. They then wanted to get back with each other and he came to ask her for marriage. Ma`qil said to him, "O ungrateful one! I honored you and married her to you but you divorced her. By Allah! She will never be returned to you.'' But Allah knew his need for his wife and her need for her husband and He revealed:

﴿ وَإِذَا طَلَّقۡتُمُ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فَبَلَغۡنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ

(And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their prescribed period, ) until He said:

﴿ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ

(...and you know not.)

When Ma`qil heard the Ayah, he said, "I hear and obey my Lord.'' He then summoned the man and said, "I will honor you and let you remarry (my sister).'' Ibn Marduwyah added (that Ma`qil said), "And will pay (the expiation) for breaking my vow.''

Allah said:

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ يُوعَظُ بِهِۦ مَن كَانَ مِنكُمۡ يُؤۡمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۗ

(This (instruction) is an admonition for him among you who believes in Allah and the Last Day.) meaning, prohibiting you from preventing the women from marrying their ex-husbands, if they both agree to it,

﴿ مَن كَانَ مِنكُمۡ

(among you) O people,

﴿ يُؤۡمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۗ

(who believes in Allah and the Last Day.) meaning, believes in Allah's commandments and fears His warnings and the torment in the Hereafter. Allah said:

﴿ ذَٲلِكُمۡ أَزۡكَىٰ لَكُمۡ وَأَطۡهَرُ‌ۗ

(That is more virtuous and purer for you.) meaning, obeying Allah's Law by returning the women to their ex-husbands, and abandoning your displeasure, is purer and cleaner for your hearts,

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ

(Allah knows) the benefits you gain from what He commands and what He forbids.

﴿ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ

(and you know not) the benefits in what you do or what you refrain from doing.

﴿ وَٱلۡوَٲلِدَٲتُ يُرۡضِعۡنَ أَوۡلَـٰدَهُنَّ حَوۡلَيۡنِ كَامِلَيۡنِ‌ۖ لِمَنۡ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ ٱلرَّضَاعَةَ‌ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلۡمَوۡلُودِ لَهُ ۥ رِزۡقُهُنَّ وَكِسۡوَتُہُنَّ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ‌ۚ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفۡسٌ إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ لَا تُضَآرَّ وَٲلِدَةُۢ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوۡلُودٌ۬ لَّهُ ۥ بِوَلَدِهِۦ‌ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلۡوَارِثِ مِثۡلُ ذَٲلِكَ‌ۗ فَإِنۡ أَرَادَا فِصَالاً عَن تَرَاضٍ۬ مِّنۡہُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ۬ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡہِمَا‌ۗ وَإِنۡ أَرَدتُّمۡ أَن تَسۡتَرۡضِعُوٓاْ أَوۡلَـٰدَكُمۡ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ إِذَا سَلَّمۡتُم مَّآ ءَاتَيۡتُم بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ‌ۗ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ۬

(233. The mothers should suckle their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother's food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child. And on the (father's) heir is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on the father). If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no sin on them. And if you decide on a foster suckling-mother for your children, there is no sin on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you agreed (to give her) on a reasonable basis. And fear Allah and know that Allah is All-Seer of what you do.)