In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 187 (Part 1)
By starting the ayah with the word uhilla [أُحِلَّ] it gives the meaning that these things were unlawful earlier.
Ibn Katheer writes this ayah contains a relief from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for the Muslims. It ends the practice that was observed in the early years of Islam.
According to a narration by Bara’ ibn ‘Azib radhiAllahu ‘anhu appearing in Saheeh Al-Bukhari, in the early days when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the permission to eat, drink and have marital intimacy was subjected to the condition that one does not sleep after breaking the fast. So, as the practice was, a post-iftar nap rendered all these conveniences unlawful. Some Companions ran into difficulties due to this restriction. Qays ibn Sarma al-Ansari radhiAllahu ‘anhu is reported to have reached home after a hard day’s labor. The time of iftar was near and there was nothing to eat. His wife said that she would go out and somehow get him something to eat. When she returned she found her husband asleep. He was too tired from his day-long work. By the time he got up, eating had become unlawful. He went on to fast for the next day in the same condition with the result that by afternoon, he fainted.
Similarly, some Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum were embarrassed getting involved in marital relations with their wives after they had taken a post-iftar nap. It was after such happenings that the present ayah was revealed in which the first rule was cancelled and permission was given to eat, drink and have marital relations, even after the post-iftar nap.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala explains the marital relationship in the most beautiful terms. He says, “They are clothing for you and you are the same for them.”
Why did Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala give the example of clothing and not something else? It is because clothing is the nearest to our body. Husband and wife are in an intimate relationship. Being so close to the other they know what shortcomings or strengths one has.
What is the function of clothing?
It protects us against harm; conceals us and adorns us. Likewise, a couple should protect one another; conceal each other’s shortcomings; and adorn one another.
Being closer to one another, husband and wife should not divulge their secrets. Neither should the guy share things about his wife with his family and friends nor should the girl reveal things about her husband to her family and friends. Private matters should not be made public because when one does that he is inviting other’s interference in one’s personal life.
As clothes are nearest to one’s body, spouses should be close to one another. Long-distance relationships are not encouraged in Islam. People who marry their daughters to foreign residents should take care of immediate settlement and co-residence. When it takes a long time after Nikkah [marriage contract] to reunite, it is bound to create differences and widen the distance.
Al-Bukhari reported from Abu Ishaq who related that he heard Al-Bara’ say: When fasting in Ramadan was ordained, Muslims used to refrain from sleeping with their wives the entire month, but some men used to deceive themselves. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed:
عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ
“Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He turned to you and forgave you.” Here turning to you means accepted your repentance.
This teaches us that when man intends to deceive another he is not deceiving but himself. When one sins, he is not harming others but himself.
“…and seek that which Allah has ordained for you,” meaning offspring. This is the purpose of marriage. The purpose isn’t only to make sexual intimacy lawful, but to have children as well.
A wife is neither a sex object nor a display item that one takes to social events and shows off. The main purpose of marriage is to increase one’s progeny. Therefore, Islam prohibits any other means of satisfying one’s desire except through marriage and doing it the right way (from where a child can be born).
Today, many women are encouraged to maintain their careers and discouraged to have children. Couples are told that they should think of their financial standing and children are a nuisance. Previously, China imposed a one child policy now as their population is aging, they are in need of more children and have amended their policy.
A woman is designed to rear children, expecting her to move up on the career or living merely as a sex object is disgrace to her existence. One can pursue their interests and also raise children.