Hi, could you send me the translation for the verses 186 to 188 of the second Surah. Also explain the meaning of these verses. It seems that initially it was not permitted, in the month of Ramadan, for the men to sleep with their wives even in the nighttime; later on the prohibition was removed. Is that right?
As far as your question regarding the Ramadan Ayah (verse) is concerned, I shall try to explain the issue very briefly.
As I understand it, the first part of the revelation regarding fasting in Ramadan, was from Al-Baqarah 2: 183 to 184. A simple translation of these verses follows:
O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may learn to live according to the commands of Allah. (183) A few numbered days. However, if anyone of you is ill or on a journey then the prescribed number should then be completed in other days. And for those who can bear it, feeding of an indigent, shall be a ransom. And he that gives more (than this) of his own freewill, it is better for him. And that you fast (and thus complete the number) is better for you, if only you knew. (184).
Later on, Al-Baqarah 2: 185 – 187 were revealed. In these verses:
The reason for prescribing Ramadan as the month of fasting was given.
The allowance of “fidyah” or ransom for any missed fast, (feeding of one indigent) was removed. As it was only a temporary allowance, to train the people, as obligatory fasting was quite a tough proposition. (185)
Questions asked about maintaining the sanctity of Ramadan were answered. (186-187)
Keeping the above explanation in perspective, I think that when Ramadan was initially prescribed as a month of fasting, people became overly cautious about maintaining the sanctity of this month. They thought it was better to completely abandon sexual relationships with their wives, even during the nights, throughout the sacred month of Ramadan. This restriction was never mentioned in the first revelation (or even later ones). It was only an overly cautious assumption of the Muslims. Thus, later on, when a question regarding the issue was put to the prophet, the verses that you have referred in your letter were then revealed.
I think that if you keep this explanation in mind while reading these verses, your basic assumption, i.e., “initially it was not permitted, in the month of Ramadan, for men to sleep with their wives even in the nighttime”, would not hold. It was not really a matter of permission… but was an over cautious assumption of the Muslims.
Please do let me no if more explanation is required.
10th October 1997