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Sura 58
Aya 1

Chapter 58

The Pleader
al-Mujādilah ( المجادلة )

22 verses • revealed at Medinan

»The surah that mentions the complaint of Khawlah bint Thaʿlabah to the Prophet as The Pleader for dignity of women against the abominable practice whereby husbands estranged their wives from intimacy on false pretext. It takes its name from the phrase “pleads with you” (tujādiluka) mentioned in verse 1. The surah disallows a specific pagan divorce practice. 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 (verse 5 and verse 20), while those on God’s side will triumph (verse 22).«

The surah is also known as: She Who Argued, She Who Pleaded, The Disputant, The Dispute, The Disputer, The Disputing Woman, The Pleading Woman, The Woman Who Pleads.

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Muhammad Asad: In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:

قَد سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَولَ الَّتي تُجادِلُكَ في زَوجِها وَتَشتَكي إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَسمَعُ تَحاوُرَكُما ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَميعٌ بَصيرٌ

Muhammad Asad

BEGINNING with an allusion to the wrongs done to woman in pre-Islamic times, followed by a divine reductioad absurdum - and thus, a prohibition - of the pagan method of divorce known as zihar (see note 1 below, as well as a fuller explanation in note 3 on 33:4), the surah proceeds to questions of faith and its absence as well as their repercussions on man's social life, to the problem of hypocrisy, and ends with a discussion of the attitude which believers should adopt towards non-believers. The date of revelation may be placed at the beginning of the year 5 H. or, possibly, towards the end of 4 H. The customary title of this surah is based on the mention of "her who pleads" in its first verse.
GOD has indeed heard the words of her who pleads with thee concerning her husband, and complains unto God.1And God does hear what you both have to say:2 verily, God is all-hearing, all-seeing.
  • According to the classical commentators, this is a reference to the case of Khawlah (or Khuwaylah) bint Tha'labah, whose husband Aws ibn as-Samit divorced her by pronouncing the arbitrary pre-Islamic oath known as zihar (explained in note 3 on 33:4). When she pleaded before the Prophet against this divorce - which deprived her of all her marital rights and, at the same time, made it impossible for her to remarry - the iniquitous custom of zihar was abolished by the revelation of verses 24 of this surah. - In view of the sequence, as well as of several Traditions to this effect, there is no doubt that the above verse alludes, in the first instance, to the divine condemnation of zihar. However, the deliberately unspecified reference to "her who pleads concerning her husband" seems to point to all cases where a wife has reason to complain against her husband: that is to say, not merely to an appeal against an unjustified or cruel divorce, but also to a wife's demand for release from an unbearable marriage. Such a dissolution of the marriage-tie at the wife's instance - termed khul' - is fully sanctioned by the shari'ah on the basis of 2:229 and a number of extremely well-authenticated Traditions. (For a fuller discussion of this problem, see note 218 on the second paragraph of 2:229.)
  • Lit,, "does hear the mutual contentions of both of you (tahawurakuma)", i.e., of husband and wife alike, embracing with His infinite wisdom and justice the innermost motivations of both. Alternatively - if the above verse is understood as referring specifically to the case of Khawlah - the second person indicated by the suffix kuma ("both of you") may relate to the Prophet, who, before the revelation of this surah, thought that a divorce through zihar was valid and, therefore, repeatedly told Kbawlah, "Thou art now indeed unlawful to him" (Tabari). This opinion was subsequently - almost immediately - reversed by the divine prohibition of zihar expressed in verses 2 ff.