Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Waiting Period for the Divorced Woman


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Allah provides

Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 228 (Part 1)

This ayah contains a command from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that the divorced woman whose marriage was consummated and who still has menstruation period, should wait for three (menstrual) periods after the divorce and then remarry if she wishes.

This ayah contains a rule of Shari’ah concerning the mutual rights and duties enjoined upon men and women as well as explaining the degree of their role. Important details of this rule appear before and after this ayah through several sections.


“Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this (period) if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them (in responsibility and authority). And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” [al-Baqarah 2: 228]


Ibn Jarir related that ‘Alqamah said: We were with ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab when a woman came and said, “My husband divorced me one or two periods ago. He then came back to me while I had prepared my water (for taking a bath), took off my clothes and closed my door.” ‘Umar asked ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’oud, “What do you think?” He said, “I think that she is still his wife, as long as she is not allowed to resume praying (i.e., until the third period ends before he takes her back).” ‘Umar said, “This is my opinion too.” This is also the opinion of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Abu Ad-Darda’, ‘Ubadah bin As-Samit, Anas ibn Malik, Ibn Mas’oud, Mu’adh, Ubayy ibn Ka’ab, Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari and Ibn ‘Abbas.

They all stated that the Quru’ is the menstruation period.

Waiting Period in Different Situations:

– A woman who has regular menstruation period, for her the waiting period is three months

– For a woman who has an irregular cycle, for example, she menstruates every two months, then her waiting period would be six months

– For a girl who has not reached puberty then her waiting period will be same as that of menstruating women (three months)

– For a woman who has reached the stage of menopause, her waiting period will be of three months

– For pregnant women whenever the child is delivered their waiting period ends. This could be a day or complete nine months.

How to Calculate Waiting Period

As mentioned earlier, all the acts of worship are to be calculated according to the moon sighting. When calculating the waiting period for a woman, we will not take the Gregorian calendar into account but the lunar one.

For example, a woman’s menstruating cycle begins on the 1st of Muharram and it lasts for up to 3 – 4 days. On the 4th day, she takes bath and purifies herself. Her husband divorces her on the 5th of Muharram (remember that divorce cannot take place during menstruation). For this woman, her waiting period begins on 5th Muharram, continues till Safar and Rabbi ul Awwal. During these three months, she has experienced three menstrual cycles. On the 1st of Rabbi ul Thani when her menstruation begins that will be the end of her waiting period. Another opinion is that her waiting period ends at the end of the 4th menstrual cycle that is 4th Rabbi ul Thani. The latter is the most correct opinion.

A Woman’s Statement about Menses and Purity is to be Accepted

“…it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day.” This ayah warns women against hiding the truth (if they were pregnant or on their menses), indicating that they are the authority in such matters as they alone know such facts about themselves. Since verifying such matters is difficult, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala left this decision with them. Yet, women were warned not to hide the truth in case they wish to end the ‘Iddah [waiting period] sooner, or later, according to their desires. Women were thus commanded to say the truth (if they were pregnant or on their menses), no more and no less.


This is how Islam aims to protect lineage and prevent injustice. If the woman has conceived a child she must inform so that the child’s lineage is not mixed. The new husband should know who the child belongs to. Furthermore, if she’s pregnant then as per Shari’ah it is the father’s responsibility to pay for the child’s expenses. A third reason is that if the wife discloses that she’s pregnant with the child, there is a possibility that the husband will revoke the divorce. Both the parents would want to protect their marriage for the sake of their child. Therefore, no injustice should be done and one should be honest even at the time of divorce.tumblr_ntfxct2Pze1tdy4lbo1_500

What happens in our families when there is a divorce? Where do our morals and etiquette vanish? It is for this reason that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us of the Last Day – the Day when every person will have to give an account for his deeds and the injustices committed.

The Husband has the Right to take back His Divorced Wife during the Waiting Period

“And their husbands have more right to take them back in this (period) if they want reconciliation…” Hence, the husband who divorces his wife can take her back, providing she is still in her `Iddah [time spent before a divorced woman or a widow can remarry] and that his aim, by taking her back, is righteous and for the purpose of bringing things back to normal. However, this ruling applies where the husband is eligible to take his divorced wife back. We should mention that when this ayah (2:228) was revealed, the ruling that made the divorce thrice and specified when the husband is ineligible to take his divorced wife back, had not been revealed yet. Previously, the man used to divorce his wife and then take her back even if he had divorced her a hundred separate times. Thereafter, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed ayah 229 that made the divorce only thrice. So there was now a reversible divorce and an irreversible final divorce.


Notice how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala looks after the emotional well-being of women. A man should not revoke divorce to torture woman. If they intend to reconcile their differences and live with mutual love and harmony, then they should go ahead and seek reconciliation. If the husband cannot provide for the needs of the woman and abandons her to fend for herself, then he must keep calling her back and then abandoning her.

The Rights the Spouses have over Each Other

“And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable…” This ayah indicates that the wife has certain rights on her husband, just as he has certain rights on her, and each is obliged to give the other spouse his due rights. Muslim reported that Jabir said that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

فَاتَّقُوا اللهَ فِي النِّسَاءِ، فَإِنَّكُمْ أَخَذْتُمُوهُنَّ بِأَمَانَةِ اللهِ، وَاسْتَحْلَلْتُمْ فُرُوجَهُنَّ بِكَلِمَةِ اللهِ، وَلَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ أَنْ لَا يُوطِئْنَ فُرُشَكُمْ أَحَدًا تَكْرَهُونَهُ، فَإِنْ فَعَلْنَ ذَلِكَ فَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ضَرْبًا غَيْرَ مُبَرِّحٍ، وَلَهُنَّ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوف

“Fear Allah regarding your women, for you have taken them by Allah’s covenant and were allowed to enjoy with them sexually by Allah’s Words. You have the right on them that they do not allow anyone you dislike to sit on your mat. If they do that, then discipline them leniently. They have the right to be spent on and to be bought clothes in what is reasonable.”

Bahz ibn Hakim said that Mu’awiyah ibn Haydah Al-Qushayri related that his grandfather said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is the right the wife of one of us has? The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

أَنْ تُطْعِمَهَا إِذَا طَعِمْتَ، وتَكْسُوَهَا إِذَا اكْتَسَيْتَ، وَلَا تَضْرِبِ الْوَجْهَ، وَلَا تُقَبِّحْ، وَلَا تَهْجُرْ إِلَّا فِي الْبَيْت

“To feed her when you eat, buy her clothes when you buy for yourself and to refrain from striking her on the face, cursing her or staying away from her except in the house.”

Waki’ related that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “I like to take care of my appearance for my wife just as I like for her to take care of her appearance for me. This is because Allah says: And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable…


We find out from this ayah that the Qur’an tells the husband and wife the duties assigned to them Men are under the obligation to give women their rights and so are the women.

This indicates that each party should watch out on the fulfillment of its respective duties rather than go after demanding rights. And should they succeed in doing so, the issue of demanding rights will cease to exist, because the duties of men are the rights of women and the duties of women are the rights of men. When duties are taken care of, rights will be automatically fulfilled. These days the root of all troubles lies in the attitude of people who are alert to their rights but negligent of their duties.

As a result, rights are demanded on a war footing as is evident from the current confrontation between governments and masses, husbands and wives and between other authorities and their challengers. This indicator of the Qur’an has modified the confrontational aspect of the issue by stressing that everyone should make all possible effort to fulfill his or her duties and when it comes to his or her own rights try to overlook any infringements gently, forego and forgive. If this teaching of the Qur’an could become common universal practice, homes, families, even countries and governments will find that most of their conflicts have been resolved for good.

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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