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I'm researching several verses from the Qur'an and as it is my first time to delve into the Islamic religion I am having difficulty with some of the translations and such.

65: Divorce, verse 4, says, Pickthall, "And for such of your women as despair of menstruation, if ye doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months, along with those who have it not. And for those with child, their period shall be till they bring forth their burden. And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, He maketh his course easy for him."

But then we see...

65: Divorce, verse 4 says, Sahih International Translation, "And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women - if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him of his matter ease."

I've had it presented to me that this verse encourages marrying underage girls but as far as I can tell it has nothing to do with underage women but rather women undergoing menopause? Or reaching the age where they no longer experience menses.

Does this verse discuss an underage wife or simply a wife who is too old to menstruate?

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  • It seems to simply refer to women who don't menstruate. Unless there is some context or Hadith that show it refers to a specific group of women who don't mentruate? If not, I'm not sure why it would be assumed to refer to a specific group. The Hadith you stated also seems to cover all women who don't menstruate. Just my thoughts, I didn't want to answer since I'm not an expert. I've heard people quote this verse to say that Islam encourages marrying underage girls, but only from those who actively look for something to criticize. – Student Mar 6 '15 at 18:26
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    Exactly. I was recently confronted with a stupid FB image by a christian group claiming that Islam and Isis were encouraged by the Qur'an to do a list of horrific things with specific verses used as evidence to support these claims. I'm not a believer, but I don't think the religion is the problem so I'm trying to identify the individual verses, research them, so that I can both be educated further and to provide an argument to these outrageous claims. – randomblink Mar 6 '15 at 18:58
  • If anyone is bored enough, I'm putting together my response to their image in a Google Doc format I'm developing for use in debates. docs.google.com/document/d/… – randomblink Mar 6 '15 at 18:59
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    Two past questions concerning marriage of underage girls (and, I think, whatever stance is taken, it would also include underage boys): islam.stackexchange.com/questions/12363/… ; islam.stackexchange.com/questions/12409/… ; ETA: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/7572/… – Student Mar 6 '15 at 19:09
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For context, I shall quote a related Qur'anic ruling:

[Al-Baqarah 228] Divorced women remain in waiting for three [menstrual] periods…

This defines the period of waiting — the period in which a wife cannot re-marry and the couple still has the right to reconcile before the divorce is finalized — in terms of menstrual periods, at least in part as a measure to ensure that any potential pregnancy has a clear line of parentage.

There are a few ahadith relayed through Tafsir Ibn Kathir suggesting that the ayah you quoted (At-Talaq 4) was revealed in response to people explicitly asking about women who would not fall under that ruling, namely those who lacked regular menstrual periods: Those who were too young, those who were too old and those who were already pregnant.

However, the way the ayah is worded does not indicate or even suggest age, it simply applies the same ruling regarding menopausal women to "those who have not menstruated"; while this would obviously include girls who are too young to menstruate, it would also cover any women who, through disease or physical deficiency, do not have a menstrual cycle at all.

So, yes, it does imply prepubescent girls (among others), but it is wrong to say it in any way encourages marriage to underage girls. By itself, this ayah is simply an acknowledgement of a particular edge-case in a particular ruling: Sometimes divorced women don't menstruate, but people still needed to know how to apply Islamic Law regarding them.

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  • The translation for the original poster says 'And those who no longer expect mensuration', does 'no longer' not imply something that used to happen, but 'no longer' does? – Pureferret Mar 7 '15 at 11:44
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    @Pureferret Yes; that generally applies to menopausal women (but, again, could easily apply to any loss of menstruation due to disease etc). The "...and [also for] those who have not menstruated" refers to a second category of women who had never menstruated in the first place, but which would fall under the same ruling. – goldPseudo Mar 7 '15 at 18:34
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I'd like to share a few linguistic reasons why this verse cannot be referring to prepubescent girls, it involves some basic Arabic grammar.

The verse 65:4 with the Arabic text for reference:

وَٱلَّـٰٓـِٔى يَئِسْنَ مِنَ ٱلْمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَآئِكُمْ إِنِ ٱرْتَبْتُمْ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَـٰثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَٱلَّـٰٓـِٔى لَمْ يَحِضْنَ ۚ وَأُو۟لَـٰتُ ٱلْأَحْمَالِ أَجَلُهُنَّ أَن يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُۥ مِنْ أَمْرِهِۦ يُسْرًا

As for your women past the age of menstruation, in case you do not know, their waiting period is three months, and those who have not menstruated as well. As for those who are pregnant, their waiting period ends with delivery. And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make their matters easy for them.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

When negating using verbs (مضارع), the Quran uses four conjugations depending on the time for which negation is implied. For this answer the first two would suffice, but for sake of completion they are:

  1. لَمّا "Not Yet" is used in the Quran for things that have not happened but will happen in the future as seen in 62:3.

the mentioned لَمّا is followed by a present tense (مضارع), However لَمّا followed by a past tense denotes "when" and is very common in the Quran. The former only occurs around 7 times( 2:213, 3:142, 9:16, 10:8, 62:3 and 80:23)

  1. Past Negation that includes Future Negation, "do not (and will not)" is لَمْ which is used here. Arabic uses the present tense here although the intended meaning is in the past.

  2. The future negation, "will not" is لَنْ

  3. Past negation, "Do not", that doesn't include the future tense, Quran uses ﻵ followed by a present tense 2:18

To summarize the meanings by tense:

Past Present Future
1. لَمّا (Lamma) X X O
2. لَمْ (Lam) X X X
3. لَنْ (Lan) ? ? X
4. ﻵ (Laa) X X ?

X = Negation, O = Confirmation, ? = Ambiguity or Context Dependent

The category of women mentioned as "those who have not menstruated" uses the word 2. لَمْ for negation. لَمْ when used along with the present tense means "do not" and includes "will not".

Hence it cannot, linguistically, infer to prepubescent girls. For this to happen either:
(A) 1. لَمَّا, which would have referred exclusively to prepubescent girls or
(B) 4. ﻵ, which can be extended to include them should have occurred.

Therefore لَمْ يَحِضْنَ cannot linguistically refer to prepubescent girls. The translation simply mentions "have not" which, although satisfactory, doesn't refute the possibility of inferring said meaning.

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