These Ayat contain a relief from Allah for the Muslims by ending the practice that was observed in the early years of Islam. At that time, Muslims were allowed to eat, drink and have sexual intercourse only until the `Isha' (Night) prayer, unless one sleeps before the `Isha' prayer. Those who slept before `Isha' or offered the `Isha' prayer, were not allowed to drink, eat or sexual intervourse sex until the next night. The Muslims found that to be difficult for them.
The Ayat used the word `Rafath' to indicate sexual intercourse, according to Ibn `Abbas, `Ata' and Mujahid. Similar Tafsir was offered by Sa`id bin Jubayr, Tawus, Salim bin `Abdullah, `Amr bin Dinar, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Az-Zuhri, Ad-Dahhak, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, As-Suddi, `Ata' Al-Khurasani and Muqatil bin Hayyan.
﴿هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ﴾
(They are Libas ﴿i.e., body-cover, or screen﴾ for you and you are Libas for them.)
Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that this Ayah means, "Your wives are a resort for you and you for them.'' Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said, "They are your cover and you are their cover.'' In short, the wife and the husband are intimate and have sexual intercourse with each other, and this is why they were permitted to have sexual activity during the nights of Ramadan, so that matters are made easier for them.
Abu Ishaq reported that Al-Bara' bin `Azib said, "When the Companions of Allah's Messenger observed fast but would sleep before breaking their fast, they would continue fasting until the following night. Qays bin Sirmah Al-Ansari was fasting one day and was working in his land. When the time to break the fast came, he went to his wife and said, `Do you have food' She said, `No. But I could try to get you some.' His eyes then were overcome by sleep and when his wife came back, she found him asleep. She said, `Woe unto you! Did you sleep' In the middle of the next day, he lost consciousness and mentioned what had happened to the Prophet . Then, this Ayah was revealed: r
﴿أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَى نِسَآئِكُمْ﴾
(It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of As-Siyam (fasting)) until...
﴿وَكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ﴾
(and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your fast till the nightfall. ) Consequently, they were very delighted.'' Al-Bukhari reported this Hadith by Abu Ishaq who related that he heard Al-Bara' say, "When fasting Ramadan was ordained, Muslims used to refrain from sleeping with their wives the entire month, but some men used to deceive themselves. Allah revealed:
﴿عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ﴾
(Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He turned to you (accepted your repentance) and forgave you.)
`Ali bin Abu Talhah narrated that Ibn `Abbas said, "During the month of Ramadan, after Muslims would pray `Isha', they would not touch their women and food until the next night. Then some Muslims, including `Umar bin Al-Khattab, touched (had sex with) their wives and had some food during Ramadan after `Isha'. They complained to Allah's Messenger . Then Allah sent down:
﴿عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ فَالـنَ بَـشِرُوهُنَّ﴾
(Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He turned to you (accepted your repentance) and forgave you. So now have sexual relations with them)'' This is the same narration that Al-`Awfi related from Ibn `Abbas.
﴿وَابْتَغُواْ مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ﴾
(. ..and seek that which Allah has ordained for you (offspring),)
Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Abbas, Anas, Shurayh Al-Qadi, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ata', Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi, Zayd bin Aslam, Hakam bin `Utbah, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, and others said that this Ayah refers to having offspring. Qatadah said that the Ayah means, "Seek the permission that Allah has allowed for you.'' Sa`id narrated that Qatadah said,
﴿وَابْتَغُواْ مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ﴾
(and seek that which Allah has ordained for you,)