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Al-Imtihan Verse

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Al-Imtiḥān Verse (Arabic: آية الامتحان) or the Verse of Examination, is the tenth verse of Qur'an 60 (al-Mumtahana), concerning the examination of woman believers who went from Mecca to Medina and claimed that they had converted to Islam, in order to make sure that they really believed in Islam.

On Ibn Abbas's report, women's conversion to Islam was examined by testimonies or swearing. According to the verse, if their belief in Islam was verified, then they would be permitted to stay in Medina. Otherwise, they were returned to Mecca. Some jurists appeal to the verse to show that it is forbidden for Muslims to marry unbelievers.

Text and Translation

Occasion of the Revelation

According to Hudaybiyya Peace Treaty, Muslims and polytheists agreed that if people escaped from Medina to Mecca they could live there, and if a person escaped from Mecca to Medina then they had to be returned to polytheists. After the treaty, a woman called "Subay'a" or "Umm Kulthum" converted to Islam and went from Mecca to Medina. The polytheists asked Muslims to return her to Mecca. According to exegetes, al-Imtihan Verse was revealed on this occasion and the Prophet (s) was commanded to examine the belief of women who alleged to have believed in Islam, and if their belief was assured, then they would not be returned to Mecca.

According to Qur'anic exegetes, the refusal to return believing women to Mecca was not contrary to the letter of Hudaybiyya Peace Treaty, because the treaty was silent about women. Allama Tabataba'i also believes that the treaty only referred to the return of men.

Explanation of the Verse

The verse ten of Qur'an 60 (al-Mumtahina) is known as al-Imtihan Verse or the Verse of Examination. The verse is concerned with women who fled Mecca to Medina and claimed that they had converted to Islam. On this verse, such women had to be examined to make sure that they were believers in Islam. According to Ibn Abbas, the belief of these women was examined by testimony or swearing.

Al-Tabrisi, an important Shiite exegete of the Qur'an, believes that the examination was intended to show that Meccan women did not escape Mecca from the fear of their husbands or out of desires to move to a new place and that their only motivation was their conversion to Islam.

According to the verse, it is forbidden for Muslim women to marry unbelievers. Thus, they stayed in Medina and the mahr they had received from their ex-husbands was returned to them. Also, if a Muslim woman escaped from Medina to Mecca, Muslims could get back the mahr they had given to her. Some jurists have appealed to the phrase, "Do not hold on to [conjugal] ties with faithless women", to show that it is forbidden to marry unbelievers.

References