In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
65:1 O Prophet! When you [intend to divorce women, divorce them with a view to the waiting period appointed for them, and reckon the period [carefully], and be conscious of God, your Sustainer. Do not expel them from their homes, and neither shall they [be made to] leave unless they become openly guilty of immoral conduct. These, then, are the bounds set by God – and he who transgresses the bounds set by God does indeed sin against himself, [for, O man, although] thou knowest it not, after that [first breach] God may well cause something new to come about.
The plural “you” indicates that the whole community is thus addressed.
65:2 And so, when they are about to reach the end of their waiting term, either retain them in a fair manner or part with them in a fair manner. And let two persons of [known] probity from among your own community witness [what you have decided], and do yourselves bear true witness before God, thus are admonished all who believe in God and the Last Day. And unto everyone who is conscious of God, He [always] grants a way out [of unhappiness].
See 2:228 and the corresponding notes, especially note 215. – Most of the great jurists hold the view that the required three pronouncements of divorce, which make it final and irrevocable (cf. first paragraph of 2:229), must be made singly, i.e., spaced over the waiting period of three months, so as to give the husband time to reconsider his intention, and thus to prevent a hasty act which might be subsequently regretted. This provision is in line with the well-authenticated saying of the Prophet, “In the sight of God; the most hateful of all things allowed (abghad al-halali) is divorce” (Abu Da’ud, on the authority of Abd Allah ibn Umar). In other words, divorce is just barely permissible, and must not be resorted to unless it is absolutely evident that nothing can save the marriage from utter hopelessness.
65:3 And provides for him in a manner beyond all expectation, and for everyone who places his trust in God, He [alone] is enough. Verily, God always attains to His purpose, [and] indeed, unto everything has God appointed its [term and] measure.
i.e., during the waiting period. As shown in verse 6 below, during that period the husband is fully responsible for the maintenance of the wife whom he is divorcing in accordance with the standard of living observed during their married life.
65:4 Now as for such of your women as are beyond, the age of monthly courses, as well as for such as do not have any courses, their waiting-period – if you have any doubt [about it] – shall be three [calendar] months; and as for those who are with child, the end of their waiting-term shall come when they deliver their burden. And for everyone who is conscious of God, He makes it easy to obey His commandment.
e.g., by their husbands’ failure to provide for their maintenance. (This particular injunction does not imply a prohibition of a divorced woman’s leaving the home of her own free will).
65:5 [For] all this is God’s commandment, which He has bestowed upon you from on high. And unto everyone who is conscious of God will He pardon [some of] his bad deeds, and will grant him a vast reward.
Implying that in such a case she may be lawfully turned out of her marital home. Regarding the term fahishah (“immoral conduct”), see surah 4, note 14.
65:6 [Hence] let the women [who are undergoing a waiting period] live in the same manner as you live yourselves, In accordance with your means, and do not harass them with a view to making their lives a misery. And if they happen to be with child, spend freely on them until they deliver their burden, and if they nurse your offspring [after the divorce has become final], give them their [due] recompense, and take counsel with one another in a fair manner [about the child’s future]. And if both of you find it difficult [that the mother should nurse the child], let another woman nurse it on behalf of him [who has begotten it].
According to Ibn Abbas (as quoted by Razi) and several other authorities (see Ibn Kathir), this is an allusion to the possibility of reconciliation and, hence, a resumption of marital relations before the divorce becomes final (see surah 2, the second part of verse 228 and first paragraph of 229).
65:7 [In all these respects] let him who has ample means spend in accordance with his amplitude; and let him whose means of subsistence are scanty spend in accordance with what God has given him, God does not burden any human being with more than He has given him – [and it may well be that] God will grant, after hardship, ease.
Lit., “from yourselves”: i.e. persons who are sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances of the case.
65:8 And how many a community has turned with disdain from the commandment of its Sustainer and His apostles! – whereupon We called them all to an account with an accounting severe, and caused them to suffer from a suffering unnameable.
Sc., that the relevant decision has not been made in a frivolous spirit.
65:9 And thus they had to taste the evil outcome of their own doing, for, [in this world] the end of their doings was a ruin.
Lit., “whence he does not expect”. It is to be noted that the relative pronoun man (“whoever” or “everyone who”) – although grammatically requiring the use of the masculine gender in the verbs or pronouns to which it relates – applies to persons of either sex, as is evidenced by innumerable passages in the Qur’an: hence, the present passage, too, including the sentence that follows, must be understood as relating to the women as well as to the men in question; and the same holds good of verses 5 and 11 below.
65:10 [The while] God has readied for them [yet more] suffering severe [in the life to come]. Hence, remain conscious of God, O you who are endowed with insight – [you] who have attained to faith! God has indeed bestowed on you a reminder from on high.
i.e., for any physiological reason whatever.
65:11 [He has sent] an apostle who conveys unto you God’s clear messages, so that He might those who have attained to faith and do righteous deeds out of the depths of darkness into the light. And whoever believes in God and does what is right and just, him will He admit into gardens through which running waters flow, therein to abide beyond the count of time: indeed, a most goodly provision will God have granted him!
Lit.., “He grants ease out of his condition” – i.e., makes his condition easy: the implication being that God-consciousness makes it easy for the believer to submit gladly to whatever God may decree.
65:12 God is He who has created seven heavens, and, like them, [the many aspects] of the earth. Through all of them flows down from on high, unceasingly, His [creative] will, so that you might come to know that God has the power to will anything and that God encompasses all things with His knowledge.
Lit., “let them dwell wherever you dwell” – i.e., tropically, “let them share fully your standard of living”.