In the beginning one of the rules followed by the Muslims in respect of the fasts of Ramadan was that even a short nap after iftar (breaking of a fast) would nullify the permissibility of having sexual intercourse with one’s wife. So, if someone would sleep for a short while after iftar and wake up again, he would lose the opportunity of sleeping with his wife during the rest of the night, despite that the fast was over. This rule was prescribed by the Holy Prophet (SAWS) and was not contained in the Holy Quran. But some Muslims broke the rule by sleeping with their wives after having a post-iftar nap.
Referring to these events, the Holy Quran first admonishes those people who did not follow the rule. Then, by abrogating the same allows the Muslims in future to sleep with their wives even when they had a nap after iftar. In this context the Holy Quran says:
“It is made lawful for you, in the nights of fasts, to have sex with your women. They are a cover for you, and you are a cover for them. Allah knew that you were betraying yourselves; so, He relented towards you and pardoned you. So, now you can have sexual intimacy with them, and seek what Allah has destined for you, and eat and drink until the white thread of the dawn becomes distinct from the black thread; then complete the fasts up to the night.” (2:187)
The following points with respect to this verse are worth consideration:
(a) The verse confirms that having sex during the nights of ‘Ramadan’ was not lawful before.
(b) The people who had sex during the nights of Ramadan before this verse was revealed are admonished by
describing their act as ‘betraying themselves’.
(c) The words, ‘so He relented towards you and pardoned you’, indicate that their sexual act was a sin, because ‘relenting’ and ‘pardoning’ occur only after a person commits a sin.
(d) The words ‘so now you can have sexual intimacy with them’ denote that it is only now that the sexual act during the nights of Ramadan has been made lawful.
All these points confirm the fact that the earlier prohibition of having sexual intercourse during the nights of Ramadan was validly made by a competent authority, and the Muslims were bound to abide by it.
But there is no verse in the Holy Quran to convey this prohibition. It was enforced only by the Holy Prophet (SAWS). Still, the Holy Quran not only confirms it, but also treats it as if it were in its own words. It is due to the fact that the Holy Prophet (SAWS) did not enforce this prohibition by his own will, it was rather, based on a revelation of Allah Almighty which is not contained in the Holy Quran.
Looked at from this angle, this verse on the one hand proves that there is a revelation which does not form part of
the Holy Quran , and on the other hand, it reaffirms the status of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) as a law-giver, and that his injunctions, both orders and prohibitions, are binding on the Muslims.