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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

58. The Dispute (1 – 21)

A Medinan sura which disallows a specific pagan divorce practice: the sura takes its title from the dispute referred to in verse 1 between a wife who had been divorced in this manner and the Prophet. The sura supports the woman. It goes on to state that those who oppose God and His messenger, who secretly ally themselves with Satan, who lie in their oaths and make intrigues against the Prophet, will be defeated and suffer humiliation both in this world and in the next (verses 5 and 20), while those on God's side will triumph (verse 22).

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1God has heard the words of the woman who disputed with you [Prophet] about her husband and complained to God: God has heard what you both had to say. He is all hearing, all seeing. 2Even if any of you say to their wives, ‘You are to me like my mother's back,‘a The pagan Arabs used to separate themselves from their wives by saying, ‘You are to me like my mother's back,’ which deprived the wife of her marital rights, yet prevented her from marrying again. Khawla, daughter of Tha'laba, against whom such a form of divorce was pronounced, complained to the Prophet and he said to her, ‘You are unlawful to him now.’ This revelation came as a result, changing the rule about such cruel treatment of wives (cf. 33: 4). they are not their mothers; their only mothers are those who gave birth to them. What they say is certainly blameworthy and false, but God is pardoning and forgiving.3Those of you who say such a thing to their wives, then go back on what they have said, must free a slave before the couple may touch one another again — this is what you are commanded to do, and God is fully aware of what you do — 4but anyone who does not have the means should fast continuously for two months before they touch each other, and anyone unable to do this should feed sixty needy people. This is so that you may [truly] have faith in God and His Messenger. These are the bounds set by God: grievous torment awaits those who ignore them. 5Those who oppose God and His Messenger will be brought low, like those before them: We have revealed clear messages, and humiliating torment awaits those who ignore them, 6on the Day when God will raise everyone and make them aware of what they have done. God has taken account of it all, though they may have forgotten: He witnesses everything.

7Do you not see [Prophet] that God knows everything in the heavens and earth? There is no secret conversation between three people where He is not the fourth, nor between five where He is not the sixth, nor between less or more than that without Him being with them, wherever they may be. On the Day of Resurrection, He will show them what they have done: God truly has full knowledge of everything. 8Have you not seen how those who have been forbidden to hold secret conversations go back afterwards and hold them, and conspire with one another in what is sinful, hostile, and disobedient to the Messenger? When they come to you they greet you with words God has never used to greet you, and say inwardly, ‘Why does God not punish us for what we say?’ Hell will be punishment enough for them: they will burn there— an evil destination.

9You who believe, when you converse in secret, do not do so in a way that is sinful, hostile, and disobedient to the Messenger, but in a way that is good and mindful [of God]. Be mindful of God, to whom you will all be gathered. 10[Any other kind of] secret conversation is the work of Satan, designed to cause trouble to the believers, though it cannot harm them in the least unless God permits it. Let the believers put their trust in God.

11You who believe, if you are told to make room for one another in your assemblies, then do so, and God will make room for you, and if you are told to rise up, do so: God will raise up, by many degrees, those of you who believe and those who have been given knowledge: He is fully aware of what you do. 12You who believe, when you come to speak privately with the Messenger, offer something in charity before your conversation: that is better for you and purer. If you do not have the means, God is most forgiving and merciful.

13Were you afraida Ashfaqtum is in the past tense. There is a lapse of time between verses 12 and 13 during which those who used to plague the Prophet with questions did not come forward at all, because of having to pay to charity each time. verse 13 relaxed this requirement. to give charity before consulting the Prophet? Since you did not give charity, and God has relented towards you, you should [at least] observe your prayers, pay the prescribed alms, and obey God and His Messenger: God is well aware of your actions.

14Have you not seen [Prophet] those who give their loyalty to people with whom God is angry? They are neither with you nor with them, and knowingly swear to lies. 15God has prepared a severe torment for them: what they do is truly evil. 16They have used their oaths to cover up [their false deeds], and barred others from the path of God. A humiliating torment awaits them— 17neither their wealth nor their children will be of any use to them against God— they will be the inhabitants of Hell, where they will remain. 18On the Day God raises them all from the dead, they will swear before Him as they swear before you now, thinking that it will help them. What liars they are!19Satan has gained control over them and made them forget God. They are on Satan's side, and Satan's side will be the losers: 20those who oppose God and His Messenger will be among the most humiliated.21God has written, ‘I shall most certainly win, I and My messengers.’ God is powerful and almighty.

Notes:

a The pagan Arabs used to separate themselves from their wives by saying, ‘You are to me like my mother's back,’ which deprived the wife of her marital rights, yet prevented her from marrying again. Khawla, daughter of Tha'laba, against whom such a form of divorce was pronounced, complained to the Prophet and he said to her, ‘You are unlawful to him now.’ This revelation came as a result, changing the rule about such cruel treatment of wives (cf. 33: 4).

a Ashfaqtum is in the past tense. There is a lapse of time between verses 12 and 13 during which those who used to plague the Prophet with questions did not come forward at all, because of having to pay to charity each time. verse 13 relaxed this requirement.

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