Another injunction given regarding such divorced women is with respect to the provision or gift that is given to them when being separated. Regarding this, Allah says, ‘So give them a present’. It means that the divorced wife should be given a gift by the husband while parting. It should be noted that while in other cases, the Mahr (dowry) or part of it is given to the wife after being divorced; in some cases, only a gift/present is given.
Based on the guidelines given in the Holy Quran, the following are the rulings regarding the Mahr (dowry) or bridal gift to be given to a wife who has been divorced:
i) If the wife was divorced after the marriage was consummated and the Mahr was already specified, then the husband is required to give the full Mahr (dowry) to his divorced wife.
ii) If the wife was divorced after the marriage was consummated, but the Mahr (dowry) was not specified, then the wife will receive such an amount in dowry which is normally given to women of her family.
iii) If the wife was divorced before the marriage was consummated, and the dowry was already specified, then the divorced wife will be entitled to half of the amount (fixed as her dowry) from the husband.
iv) If the wife was divorced before the marriage was consummated, but the dowry was not stipulated, then the husband will be required to give a gift to his wife when parting from her. In this case, no dowry becomes essential.
With respect to what the gift should be and the nature of it, some scholars have stated that it can be anything that is good and reasonable from wealth/money or clothing. (Safwatut Tafseer vol.12 pg. 66)
Many scholars have stated that the gift/provision mentioned in the verse and indicated to with the Arabic word ‘Mut’ah’, refers to clothing which a woman normally wears. This includes a large gown/cloak that covers the body from the head to the feet; a Khimar – large covering for the head; and a garment worn over the clothing of her upper body (Dir’un). (Fiqhul Islami Wal Adilatihi vol.9 pg. 6834)
This gift is given as a kindness to them and a means of easing the trauma that divorce has brought.
The other injunction given in the verse (v.49) regarding the divorced woman is, ‘and set them free in a handsome manner’.
Here, Allah commands the believing men to release their divorced wives gracefully. They should not be harsh to them, nor should they be abusive or bitter to them.
While commenting on this verse, the commentators have mentioned that by saying ‘and set them free in a handsome manner’ the believer is advised that he should not utter offensive words nor deprive the wife of her rights. He should also not take back anything that he had given to her before. The believing men are ordered to speak to their divorced wives in a good manner and release them from their marriages without causing any hardship or suffering to them. (Tafseer Al Bahrul Muheet vol.8 pg. 491)
Sura Al Ahzab continues in verse 50 to mention certain injunctions which were given specifically to the Prophet (S.A) regarding marriage. The verse states:
50. O Prophet (Muhammad S.A)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), and those (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses – whom Allah has given to you, and the daughters of your ‘Amm (paternal uncles) and the daughters of your ‘Ammah (paternal aunts) and the daughters of your Khal (maternal uncles) and the daughters of your Khalah (maternal aunts) who migrated (from Makkah) with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her; a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (captives or slaves) whom their right hands possess, – in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Here, the Prophet (S.A) has been informed that Allah has made lawful to him, those wives to whom he has given their Mahr (dowers) and those women who came in his possession through spoils of war.
As mentioned by the commentators of the Holy Quran, the ruling mentioned here is for all believers, however, the Prophet (S.A) was specifically addressed, to show that he was given an allowance by Allah to have more than four wives when it was not permissible for other believers to do so. Based on this, it was allowed for the Prophet (S.A) to keep as wives, those whom he had given the dower to, and those to whom he did not give it from among the captives of the spoils of war.
The verse continues to highlight the allowances given to the Prophet (S.A) with respect to his marriages and states, ‘and allowed for you (O Prophet) are the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who migrated with you (from Makka)’. Here, the Prophet (S.A) has been told by Allah that it was allowed for him to marry his cousins of the father’s family and of the mother’s family. This allowance was given to all Muslims, however, in the case of the Prophet (S.A), the allowance to marry any of his cousins was that she migrates also to Madina, whether the migration was in his company or not.
According to Hafiz Ibn Katheer, the allowance that was granted for one to marry a cousin, was one of moderation and being intermediate between two extremes which were practiced by the Jews and the Christians. Both of these groups did not consider it permissible for one to marry one’s cousin. The Shariah of Islam brought about its allowance and spoke against the extreme practices which both the Christians and Jews had adopted in their religion. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 499 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan)
The verse continues to mention another allowance given to the Prophet (S.A) and states, ‘and a believing woman if she offers herself (in marriage) to the Prophet and the Prophet wishes to marry her. This is specific to you and not to the other believers’. This means that if one of the believing and righteous women offers herself in marriage to the Prophet (S.A) on account of love for Allah and His Messenger, then if the Prophet wishes, he can marry her without giving her a dowry. This allowance has only been given to the Prophet (S.A) and not to other believers.
Having mentioned these allowances to the Prophet (S.A), Allah says, ‘Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them (the believers) about their wives and those slaves that their right hands possess, in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful’. Here, Allah tells the Prophet (S.A) that He has full knowledge of what He has made essential upon the general believers from the laws of maintenance, dowry, witnesses in marriage, not exceeding more than four wives in marriage etc. However, He has granted him (the Prophet) special allowances and injunctions so that there will be no difficulty or hardship upon him. Allah is great in His forgiveness and vast in His mercy, hence, on account of His compassion, He has granted special concessions and allowances to the Prophet (S.A) which the general believers were not given.