¡ God has indeed heard the words of she who disputes with thee concerning her husband and complains to God. And God hears your conversation. Truly God is Hearing, Seeing.
* Those among you who commit ẓihār against their wives, those are not their mothers. None are their mothers save those who gave birth to them. Truly they speak indecent words and calumny. And truly God is Pardoning, Forgiving.
1-2 The majority of commentators agree that she who disputes refers to Khawlah bint Thaʿlabah, though some propose other names, which are, however, based upon different lineages of the same individual (Q). It is reported that after her husband said to her, “You are to me as my mother’s back,” Khawlah complained to the Prophet, saying,
“He has worn out my youth and I let him enjoy me, but when I grew older and could no longer bear children, he put me away, saying that I am as his mother’s back. O God! I complain to Thee,” and that she did not move from her position until the Angel Gabriel came down with vv. 1-4 (IK, Q, Ṭ, W). In other accounts of this story, the Prophet is reported to have said, “You are [now] forbidden to him,” implying that there was no way they could reconcile. But she objected that he had not invoked divorce as such, making a distinction between divorce and ẓihār, and complained again of her situation. The Prophet, likely seeing ẓihār as tantamount to divorce, again said, “You are [now] forbidden to him.” And they went back and forth in this manner until Gabriel came down with vv. 1-4 (IK, Q, T). That God is Hearing, Seeing (see also 4:58, 134; 22:61, 75; 31:28) would seem to indicate here that God hears and knows the pleas of all people, as in the case of Khawlah. More generally, it reinforces the notion of God’s Omniscience; see 4:58c.