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Islamic Teaching Course. Vol.3,

Jamal A. Badawi, Ph.D.

Based on his lecturers. Audio lectures are available on  



bullet G-l Human Brotherhood and Equality I
bullet G-2 Human Brotherhood and Equality II
bulletG-3 Human Brotherhood and Equality III
bulletG-4 Brotherhood of Faith
bulletG-5 Social Relationships and Choice of Friends
bulletG-6 Social Responsibility I
bulletG-7 Social Responsibility II
bulletG-8 Emancipation of Slaves I
bullet G-9 Emancipation of Slaves II
bullet G-10 The Place of Family in Islam: Introduction
bulletG-11 Position of Women in Ancient Civilization
bulletG-12 Women in Judaea-Christian and Muslim Scriptures
bullet G-13 Women in Judaea-Christian and Muslim Scriptures II
bullet G-14 Position of Women in Islam - Spiritual Aspect
bulletG-15 Position of Women in Islam - Economic Aspect
bullet G-16 Position of Women in Islam - Social Aspect
bulletG-17 Position of Women in Islam - Political Aspect I
bullet G-18 Position of Women in Islam - Political Aspect II
bullet G-19 Muslim Women in History I
bulletG-20 Muslim Women in History II
bulletG-21 Muslim Women in History III
bullet G-22 Muslim Women in Recent History
bulletG-23 Muslim Women in Contemporary Society
bullet G-24 Islam's View of Sex
bullet G-25 Selection of Spouse and Engagement
bullet G-26 Engagement (continued)
bullet G-27 Marriage Laws in Islam I (Forbidden Categories)
bullet G-28 Marriage Laws in Islam II (Validity of Marriage)
bullet G-29 Marriage Laws in Islam III (Marriage Contract)
bulletG-30 Marriage Laws in Islam IV (Marriage Contract)
bulletG-31 Polygamy in Islamic Law I (Historical Perspectives)
bulletG-32 Polygamy in Islamic Law II (Historical Perspectives)
bullet G-33 Polygamy in Islamic Law III (Why is it allowed?)
bullet G-34 Polygamy in Islamic Law IV (Woman's options)
bulletG-35 Polygamy in Islamic Law V (Prohibition or Legalization)
bullet G-36 Marital Relations I (Wife's Rights)
bulletG-37 Marital Relations II (Wife's Rights)
bulletG-38 Marital Relations III (Related Issues)
bulletG-39 Marital Relations IV (Husband's Rights)
bulletG-40 Marital Relations V (Husband's Rights)
bullet G-41 Marital Relations & Children's Rights
bulletG-42 Rights of Parents
bulletG-43 Rights of Relatives
bulletG-44 Marital Problems
bulletG-45 Dissolution of Marriage I
bullet G-46 Dissolution of Marriage II



In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful

If you are a newcomer to Islam, a Muslim who is re-discovering true Islam for the first time, or someone who is simply interested in the faith which claims almost a billion followers all over the world, Islamic Teachings Course can answer many of your questions.

This, the third of five volumes in the Islamic Teachings series tackles the major topic of the Social Teachings of Islam. The first volume addressed the issues of Islamic monotheism, prophets and prophethood, Muhammad in the Bible, Muslim Beliefs and the Pillars of Islam. The second volume deals with the moral teachings of Islam and the fourth and fifth volumes (yet to be published) will delve into the Economic and Political systems of Islam (volume four) and the Miracle of the Qur'an (volume five) - this last volume will also contain an index.

Non-Muslim readers will notice that interchangeable use has been made of Arable and English words describing the central fundamental personalities and concepts, e.g. Allah (God), Zakah (poor-due), Salah (prayer), Khalifah (Trustee) and so on. This is to achieve communication with those who do not know the Islamic term for important religious concepts and also to Islamize the English words so that inshaAllah, God Willing, all His monotheistic peoples of the world will come to understand and use the Islamic terms which are purer and more precise than the English phraseology. The abbreviations (SAWS), (AS) and (KA) which occur in the text after the names of the prophets or their companions, are simply shorthand for the salutation, peace and blessings of God be upon him, or, may Allah be pleased with him/her, said whenever their names are mentioned.

The material contained in this series of books in the Islamic Teachings Course can be used as the basis of a group or self-study course. Ideally, the audio cassettes from which the material contained in this series of books was summarized, should also be obtained - by phoning or writing to The Islamia Schools Trust, (London) or, The Islamic Information Foundation, (Canada) - see inside cover for full addresses.

For group study, cassettes can be distributed to students at the rate of one per week. They should listen to the cassette and be prepared to discuss what they have heard during class time - the written material contained in the series of books can be used as a study aid which helps students in memorize the material and to help focus the discussions. The organizer of the course or the teacher could use the question and answer formal to go round all the students and test their understanding of the material.

For those interested in self-study, again, it is recommended that the cassettes be obtained and the cassettes and these books can be worked through systematically at a pace which suits the individual. The course can be followed as easily by a busy mum, or by someone traveling in his/her car, or a person who lives in a remote area, isolated from other Muslims.

Return to contentsContents

G-l Human Brotherhood and Equality I


1. What is the relationship between the topic of human equality and brotherhood and the previous six series in the 'Islamic Teachings' series?
2. Summarize the main areas coveted by the social system of Islam.
3. Almost every belief and faith professes the value of human equality and brotherhood, but is there anything unique about the way in which Islam regards these values?
4. How does human equality and brotherhood relate to matters of belief in Islam?
5. How does the moral code of Islam relate to human equality and brotherhood?
6. How is the story of Adam and Eve (AS) depicted in the Qur'an and are there any differences between this version and others?

'Relationship between this topic and previous series'
The first five series in essence focused on belief and worship; the sixth investigated the moral teachings of Islam. The connection between these and the current subject is that Islam is a way of life and not simply a religion (narrowly defined as a system of belief and worship). The Qur'anic word for Islam is Deen and this indicates that it is a comprehensive and complete guide for the whole of human existence - not just in matters of belief and worship, but also in moral, commercial, political and social areas of life.

'Summary of topics which fall within the subject of social system of Islam'
There are two major areas of interest in this subject:
a. The extent to which the social system of Islam is founded on Islamic beliefs, moral teachings and the basic principles which determine how the social system should be established and run according to the revelation of Allah. This conceptual foundation includes the principles of human equality, brotherhood, justice, balance in the life of society, social solidarity, co-operation and leadership. All of these are necessary for the foundation of an ideal and truly Islamic state.
b. An examination of the relationships between and among the members of the family ? the family being the archetype (original model) of every society.

'Human equality and brotherhood related to matters of belief in Islam'

The corner-stone of belief in Islam is pure, pristine monotheism: the belief that there is only one sole Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. This belief has a direct bearing on ideas of human equality and brotherhood because belief in a single Creator and Sustainer who created all mankind - male, female, black, white etc. - gives a clear idea that all human beings are equal as servants of Allah. In contrast, if one believed that God had one or more partners sharing in His power and authority, then there could not be one single humanity and brotherhood. Further, any belief in the existence of an intermediary between man and God would negate the ideas of human equality that Islam teaches. It is clear from the foregoing that monotheism definitely has important implications for human brotherhood and equality.

Islam not only teaches the oneness of God, it also teaches that all prophets from Adam (AS) onwards, through Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (AS) were brothers, the cream of humanity, selected to convey the single message of guidance to their people. This guidance was essentially,
a) knowledge of Allah;
b) knowledge of the Self - our role on earth and the purpose of our existence and
c) guidance for life.

Thus, all the prophets are viewed as links in the same chain of revelation which stretches throughout human history. It follows therefore, that all who claim allegiance to these prophets and try to follow them belong to one brotherhood.

'The moral code of Islam and human equality and brotherhood'
Islam docs not view life as consisting of separate compartments for religion, state, secular, sacred etc; all aspects of life are interconnected into an organic whole. Thus, there is a relationship between belief, worship, the moral code, economic life, political life, and social life and therefore Islam's teachings on human equality and brotherhood do have foundations in its moral teachings. Islam's moral code prohibits drinking, gambling, adultery, fornication, the taking of interest, etc. at an individual level. The prohibition is however, designed to have a social application because those who indulge in any of these prohibited acts would not only be harming themselves, but would harm society also. Similarly, the moral virtues that Islam enjoins on the believer are not just for individual moral piety, but for the collective social good also. If people were to practice the sincerity, forgiveness and compassion and were trustworthy, etc., the effect on society would be noticeable. Similarly, if these virtues were absent, then harmful results would equally be apparent.

'The story of Adam and Eve (AS) as depicted in the Qur'an'
The story of Adam and Eve, as it is told in the Qur'an, forms part of the conceptual foundation of Islamic human brotherhood and equality. The story is part of a theme which runs throughout the whole of the Qur'an. The most interesting points to note are:
a. The fact that the Qur'an does not throw the blame for the first mistake on the shoulders of Eve alone. Adam and Eve are said to be equally to blame for the mistake of disobeying Allah and allowing themselves to be tempted by Satan. This point has important implications for human brotherhood because there is no blame attached to one section of humanity (i.e., women) for the 'fall of men'; thus, the true equality of all, men and women, is upheld by the Qur'an.
b. The fact that the Qur'an relates how both Adam and Eve repented and prayed to God and were forgiven by Him means that there is no concept of 'original sin' in Islam - a stigma which, according to some teachings, all generations since Adam (AS) have earned. It follows from this that Allah did not put human beings on the earth by way of a punishment; on the contrary, they are on the earth for a noble purpose, that is, to be the Khalifah (trustee) of Allah.

The story of Adam and Eve can thus be seen as a symbolic lesson in the consequences of obedience and disobedience, it is also proof of the fact that God is forgiving and has chosen mankind and guided them to a way of achieving happiness in this life and in the Hereafter. Thus, all human beings are equal in the sight of God and share a fundamental brotherhood despite their different sex, race, color, ethnic origin and status.

In answer to question 6: CH.20 v.122.

Return to contentsContents


G-2 Human Brotherhood and Equality II


1. How does the Qur'an relate the story of Adam and Eve (AS) and what are the implications for human equality and brotherhood of the way in which the Qur'an relates the story?
2. Are there any specific references in the Quran which enshrine the principles of human equality and brotherhood?
3. Within this basic framework of equality, is there any basis for distinguishing between human beings?

Summary: 'Implications for human equality of the way in which the Qur'an relates the story of Adam and Eve (AS)'
The story of Adam and Eve is related in several different places in the Qur'an (see below). One of the earliest and fullest accounts however, is given in CH.2 v.28-38. There are many interesting points to note about this Qur'anic account of the story of the first man and woman, however, the most important of them are as follows:

a. That Allah created the earth and made it capable of sustaining life even before He had created the first people. This is noteworthy because it indicates that God always intended that the essence of human life was not to be sin, but responsibility and trusteeship on the earth.

b. When Allah told the angels He was putting a vice-gerent or trustee on the earth, it is interesting to note that they wondered at this - how did they know that the human species could be corrupt and mischievous? The most likely answer is that the angels knew Allah would create the human species from clay. Though he would have something of the spirit of God, he would also be of a material and physical nature and therefore would be susceptible to materialism, greed and evil. The importance of this is that since all human beings were created from clay originally, (i.e., Adam and Eve, the father and mother of mankind were created from clay) and all human beings are born through the very same reproductive system, there is no fundamental basis for one human being claiming superiority over another human being.

c. When the angels wondered at the creation of the human species, Allah said. "I know what you know not". That is, God had blessed human beings with knowledge that the angels did not have. This knowledge is described by the Qur'an as Asma: knowledge of the names of things; the aptitude to receive and implement God's law and message and the free choice to select right or wrong, good or evil. Again, no human being can claim superiority over any other when all are equal in the aptitudes that Allah has given them.

d. That Allah asked the angels to bow down (prostrate) to Adam is of very great significance because it shows the special status and dignity which is accorded to all human beings by God.

e. The consequences of haughtiness, pride, and false claims to superiority are shown in these verses - no human being should claim a superior status on such a weak basis as nationality, sex, race, etc. The lesson from the Islamic presentation of the story of Adam and Eve is, therefore, that all human beings are equal as regards their origin, their nature and their mission on this earth; they are also equal in terms of the temptation to which they are subjected by Satan and the potential for good and improvement that they all have.

'Specific references in the Qur'an which enshrine the principles of human equality and brotherhood'
There are several specific references in the Qur'an which uphold the principles of human equality, and brotherhood in Islam.

a. The first general point to note about the Quran is the style in which it addresses the people. He says, "Ya ayu han naas", 'Oh Mankind!'. Note that there is no distinction between black, white, rich, poor, Muslim, non-Muslim etc., Allah addresses everyone equally. This form of address reminds all mankind that they were created by one Creator.

b. Secondly, the right of all human beings to enjoy the bounties which Allah has created on earth is clearly implied by CH.2 v.168 of the Quran. All mankind has an equally fundamental right to the resources with which Allah has blessed the earth.

c. Thirdly, the Quran specifically enjoins respect between sexes and asks that special reverence should be paid to the mother. The Quran says very clearly that men and women have the same origin and therefore are fundamentally equal.

d. Finally, the Quran reiterates again and again that all mankind shares the same destiny of having to stand for accountability on the Day of Judgment.

'Basis for distinction between human beings'
Although, as has been shown here, there is absolute equality in the spiritual and human sense between all human beings (no human is better than another because of incidental things like race, color, and nationality), it is also true that good and bad are not equal. In Islam there is an objective and fair way of distinguishing between people and the Qur'an specifics this:

'...the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he or she) who is most righteous'.

Thus there is only one basic source of distinction between human beings in the sight of God, that is righteousness or piety (Arabic: Taqwa). Taqwa enshrines everything which is good - good in belief, good in moral qualities and good in relations with other humans. The Qur'an also lays that God created people in different nations so that they may 'know each other'. It is interesting to contrast this reason for the differences between people with the story as it is told in the Bible. The Bible says that God deliberately created differences in the languages of people so that they would not be able to communicate, because it says, God was worried that men were becoming too powerful. (Story of the building of the Tower of Babel). In the Qur'an, the differences between people is portrayed as a blessing which creates a mosaic of languages, races and nationalities on the earth.

In answer to question 1: CH.2 v.28-38; CH.38 v.71; CH.7 v.ll.
In answer to question 2: CH.2 v.21; CH.2 v.168; CH.4 v.1-2; CH.19 v.93-5.
In answer to question 3: CH.49 v.13, CH.30 v.22.

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G-3 Human Brotherhood and Equality III


1. What was the attitude of the Prophet (SAWS) to the issue of human equality?
2. Is there any indication that equal treatment should he accorded to non-Muslims also?
3. Although the Qur'an often addresses mankind in general, it also addresses the believing Muslims alone on many occasions, some people may be confused by this and think it undermines the concept of human brotherhood - does it?
4. What is the position of Islam on those who make distinctions between those born into Islam, those who have converted to it and those who have come to it via only one of their parents?

Summary: 'Attitude of the Prophet (SAWS) to the issue of human equality'
The Prophet's attitude to the question of human equality is clearly illustrated in a number of fields:
a. At a time when religious establishments dominated religious life (C7th AD), the clergy claiming an almost divine authority to be the spokesmen of God, the Prophet (SAWS) taught that although jurists and scholars could be respected and had the right to interpret the Scriptures, they could not equate their own interpretation with the word of God. Thus in Islam there is no institution equivalent to 'the Church': a religious institution which claims an exclusive right to interpret Scriptures and give its views with the authority of the divine revelation itself. The Prophet (SAWS) ensured that there could be no such religious domination by one group of people.
b. He emphasized the fact that all human beings were equal to each other: including prophets. Thus he forbade people from adoring him because he said that this could lead to deification.
c. He taught that the basic equality of the human race meant that no human being should kneel or bow down before any other person. Allah alone is worthy of prostration.
d. He practiced Islamic teachings on human equality in an exemplary way also: when he joined a gathering, he never pushed his way to the front, but simply sat in the nearest available space. He also spoke against those who claimed distinction for themselves - whether on the basis of wealth, lineage, color or race. His final statement on the question of human equality was made in his Farewell Lecture on the Last Pilgrimage when he said: 'Oh! mankind, your God is one, your father is one, Lo there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor of a red or white over a black, except by the virtue of taqwa (piety)'. It is interesting to note that the people who first heeded to his call and became Muslim, came from a wide range of backgrounds and races: Abu Bakr was a rich noble; Bilal, a poor black slave; Suhaib, a Roman and Salman, a Persian, etc. On accepting Islam all were part of one single brotherhood around the Prophet. In fact some of the Quraish (the noble tribe who governed Mecca) indicated that they would be interested in the message of Islam if it were not for the fact that the poor and down-trodden were embracing it. The Prophet (SAWS) refuted them by saying, 'Oh God, may I live as a poor person and die as a poor person and resurrect me on the Day of Judgment in the company of the poor'.

'Should equal treatment be accorded to non-Muslims?'
There is both implied and explicit evidence that equal treatment should be given to all mankind. Thus for example the Qur'an says that the penalty or compensation due to the family of a person who is accidentally killed (manslaughter) is exactly the same whether the victim is a Muslim or non-Muslim. The sanctity of life, honor and property of every person, including non-Muslim, who lives peaceably with Muslims is upheld by both the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet (SAWS). The Prophet (SAWS) said, "Whoever is unjust towards, or hurts a non-Muslim, who is living under the protection of Muslims, hurts me". The early Muslims who lived after the demise of the Prophet clearly understood this and, as the book by Abu Yusuf called 'Kharaj' says, tried to ensure that all who were living in the Islamic state were treated fairly: including, the Jews and Christians. In view of this, those scholars, (like Professor W. C. Smith), who say that Islam does not have guidelines for regulating relations between Muslims and non-Muslims are clearly wrong. Islam has a whole body of regulations to govern the proper relationships which should exist between Muslims and non-Muslims.

'The meaning of the Qur'an when it addresses the believing Muslims alone'
Although the Qur'an asks all of mankind to 'worship your Lord', it naturally addresses the believers alone when it asks them to do the specific religious duties pertaining to their faith: e.g., the five daily prayers and fasting. Islam's brotherhood of faith is not a substitute for the broader human brotherhood, it is a brotherhood of faith within the boundaries of the greater human brotherhood. Furthermore, Islam teaches that Muslims must respect and honor all human beings and therefore the brotherhood of faith cannot be exclusivist and chauvinistic: if it was, it would go against the teachings of the Qur'an. Moral behavior in Islam is not contingent on whether the Muslim is dealing with his fellow Muslims or with non-Muslims. However, any human brotherhood is enhanced if its members agree together in matters of faith: on one God, one Message, one Final Prophet and one Scripture preserved. Islam also teaches tolerance; if God had willed, says the Qur'an, he could have made all mankind one nation.

'Position of Islam on those who distinguish between born Muslims, those who have embraced Islam, and those who are Muslim through one parent only'
Islam is the natural state into which all human beings are born. Every child is born with Fitra , the instinctive yearning to submit in Allah, therefore, every child is a Muslim. When a person who was brought up in another religion by his/her parents decides to become a Muslim, he is simply reverting to this natural fitra: he embraces Islam and is re-embraced by it. Thus, there should be no distinction whatsoever between a person who was born into Islam, a person who has reverted to it and a person who has come to it via only one Muslim parent. Islam teaches that faith is basically a matter between an individual and His Creator, no one has the right to tell another person that he is, or is not, a Muslim. No one can be forced into the faith and no one can be prevented from embracing it by others.

In answer to question 1: The Prophet (SAWS) said that anyone who is happy and proud to have people standing up for him will have a seat in Hellfire. He also said, "Allah does not look into the nobility of your descent, nor your lineage, nor your bodies, nor your property, but He looks into your heart and whoever has a pious heart, God will have compassion on him - you are all the children of Adam - most beloved of you in the sight of Allah is he who is most pious." CH.18 v.28.
In answer to question 2: CH.4 v.92.
In answer to question 3: CH.2 v.256; CH.3 v.75; CH.10 v.19.
In answer to question 4: CH.30 v.30; CH.9 v.11.

Return to contentsContents


G-4 Brotherhood of Faith


1. Is there any superiority that Muslims who speak Arabic (the language of the Holy Qur'an) enjoy over others and do the Muslims who live in and around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina enjoy special distinction?
2. What is the meaning of 'Ummah' and how does it differ from the term 'nation'?
3. How does the concept of 'brotherhood of faith' or 'Ummah' supersede the boundaries of time?
4. Do blood relationships take precedence over the brotherhood of faith?
5. Are there any specific examples of people who upheld the superiority of the brotherhood of faith?

'Is there any superiority in knowing Arabic or living close to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina?'
Although there is a very definite blessing in being able to read Arabic - the language in which the Qur'an was revealed - it is wrong to say that a righteous person who does not speak this language is any less of a Muslim than one who does. The Qur'an, as the word of Allah is holy, no language however, including Arabic, can be regarded as holy and so no special superiority should be claimed by those who happen to know it. Again, there is a blessing and very great source of inspiration in living in or near the holy cities of Mecca and Medina: however, no resident can claim any superiority because of this. Behavior and understanding and practice of Islam are the only criteria which distinguish one believer from another together with faith, sincerity and good deeds. Islam allows no parochialism or nationalism: all Muslims belong to one single 'Ummah'.

'Meaning of 'Ummah' and its difference from the concept of 'nation"
The word 'nation' is commonly defined as a group of people who share one particular language, or reside in one land / geographical area and/or share a common history and interests. Islam's brotherhood of faith, 'Ummah', is described in the Qur'an as a community or fellowship of believers which transcends the boundaries of place and time. Islam rejects the principle of nationalism because the glorification of the 'nation' has been, and is, the root of many of the world's problems. The two World Wars fought in this century are proof of this. In one hadith, the Prophet (SAWS) said, "He is not of us who calls for 'asabiya (fanatical parochialism or nationalism), and he is not of us who dies for such a cause". When one of the companions asked for clarification, the Prophet (SAWS) said that, 'asabiya is to support one's own people in injustice - internally, where the majority suppresses and oppresses the rights of minorities and externally, where one nation or race claims superiority over his neighbors and therefore denies them their rights.

'How the brotherhood of faith or Ummah supersedes the boundaries of time'
The Qur'anic use of the term 'Ummah' very clearly suggests that not only does it extend horizontally across all places and ethnic groups, but it also extends vertically in history so that the believer feels that he is not only part of a given community in his own age, but is also part of the community of believers who lived in the past. When the Qur'an says that all believers belong to one brotherhood, it is clearly implied that this brotherhood includes the followers of all the prophets from Adam (AS) onwards. All who believed in Allah and tried to pursue His pleasure and obey Him are part of one community or brotherhood. Islam is not narrow and exclusivist, it says that salvation is a universal grace of Allah which will be granted to the sincere believers who accept all God's prophets and messengers.

'Blood relationships take precedence over the brotherhood of faith?'
In Islam, it is the brotherhood of faith which takes precedence over all other relationships, including the blood relationships. The brotherhood of faith has as its foundation belief in God and love of Him and therefore the Qur'an warns against allowing the relationship of blood to supersede that of faith (even though in Islam the believer must honor and respect his relations). The Qur'an also, however, advises the believer about how he can achieve a just balance in his relations with the brotherhood of faith on the one hand and relatives on the other, although the Qur'an teaches that if the spouse or close relative of a Muslim is a disbeliever, he/she must not allow this relationship of blood to supersede loyalty to Allah because in the end the believer will not be able to help his or her disbelieving relative/spouse achieve salvation. Salvation, though contingent on the grace of God, is also, for the most part, contingent on the practice of true faith and good actions and this is an individual responsibility.

'Specific examples of people who upheld the brotherhood of faith'
The Qur'an gives four notable examples of how noble prophets and other pious people chose the brotherhood of faith and loyally to Allah in preference to their disbelieving relatives. The first example is that of a father who believed: Noah (Nuh (AS)) and his son who did not. The second is that of a believing son: Abraham (Ibrahim (AS)) and his father who chose to remain an idolater; on seeing his father's stubbornness. Abraham dissociated himself from him. Thirdly, there is the example of a husband who was pious. Lot (Lut (AS)) and his wife who was not and so was promised Hellfire because, she was of the wicked. Finally, the opposite, a pious God-fearing wife and an evil, disbelieving husband: Assiya (according to Muslim tradition) was the wife of the Pharaoh, she chose to remain steadfast in her belief even though she was ordered to renounce her faith by her husband, on pain of death. She refused to comply, praying that Allah' would count her among the people of Paradise. In addition to these four examples, the Prophet (SAWS) mentioned three other women who achieved 'perfection' because they chose faith in preference to the relations of blood and marriage: Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet; Fatima, his daughter and Mary, the mother of Jesus (RA). It is interesting to note that each of the prophets in these examples could not save their respective, son, father and wife from the punishment of Allah.

In answer to question 3: CH.49 v.10; CH.59 v.10; CH.23 v.51-2; CH.2I v.92 (this verse appears after the names of the prophets are given.)
In answer to question 4: CH.9 v.24; CH.31 v.15.
In answer to question 5: CH.ll v.46; CH.9 v.114; CH.66 v.10; CH.66 v.11.
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G-5 Social Relationships and Choice of Friends


1. What is the significance and role of friendship in the Islamic social system?
2. How does 'good spirit' fit in with Islamic teachings?
3. Are there certain situations in which Muslims may not mix freely?
4. What does Islam call a sound basis for friendship?
5. What measures nourish friendship?

'Significance and role of friendship in the Islamic social system'
Friendship is a significant part of the social system not only from the Islamic perspective, but from the sociological perspective also. This is because friendship has an important role in molding an individual's mind, thinking and attitude. In addition to these, friendship can also shape the extent of an individual's spirituality and moral well-being; it follows therefore that the wellbeing of society as a whole depends on the wisdom with which each individual selects his friends. From the Islamic point of view, if friendship is based on love of God and commitment to the faith, then it will be blessed; however, if it is based on trivial factors, then it is not likely to last. In addition to this, both the Qur'an and the prophetic tradition contain warnings against friendship with people who may take the believer away from the straight path of truth rather than help him to become a better believer. For instance, the Prophet (SAWS) said, "Individuals follow the same way of life and thinking as their close friends, therefore let each of you be careful about who he is taking as his close friend". The Qur'an warns that many of the disbelievers will be on anguish on the Day of Judgment because they will realize that they had allowed themselves to be led away from the right path by friends. In another verse Allah warns that those people who were friends in disbelief will be enemies on the Day of Judgment.

'How 'good spirit' fits into Islamic teachings'
Islam is not a faith for individualists, even though it does specify in detail the relationship which should exist between an individual and Allah. Islam teaches that man should not be totally detached from what is going on in the world. The Prophet (SAWS), with the authority of the Qur'an, condemned monasticism. This is because although at first sight it appears to be spiritually uplifting to live in a monastery, sacrificing one's life to worship God and study Holy Scripture; in fact this is not the ideal because it is an attempt to achieve individual salvation without changing society. In contrast to this, Islam encourages people to interact and to mix together; it desires collective actions and co-operation between believers who should get to know each other. The extent to which this is so can be seen from the fact that many of the pure acts of worship in Islam are designed to inculcate a community spirit, e.g., the Friday and Eid prayers which must be prayed in congregation (only obligatory on men). In addition to this, the Prophet recommended that the normal daily prayers should be prayed in congregation also, even if the 'congregation' consisted of just two people!

'Situations in which the Muslim may not mix freely'
Muslims are not obliged to keep company with those people who take faith as a joke or belittle it. Islam teaches believers to keep away from such people: friendship should not be sought at any price. In addition to this, if there is evil in a particular society, setting or group and by involving himself with this group the Muslim is not going to be able to affect a decrease in the evil, then he should keen away from that particular group or social setting. However, if a believer has some ability or talent which may enable him/her to correct wrongdoing and evil, he should act to try and correct that society or group; if he fails to get results, then he is right to keen himself apart. When the Prophet (SAWS) was asked, "Who is the best type of person?" He replied, "The person who strives in the path of Allah with his life, property, time and so on, striving to do his best. After this, the next best person is he who secludes himself to worship Allah alone (because of the rampant nature of evil in society)". It may be that even in the worst situation, there will be some people who agree that they should uphold faith in God and His immutable laws of moral conduct and so they join forces to form a small community or fellowship of faith - in Islam, this would be much more desirable than one individual isolating himself.

'The basis for sound friendship, according to Islam'
It is clear from both the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) that any friendship which stems from love of Allah and a belief in, and pursuit of His path is on a sound basis. In contrast to this, friendship which is based on a particular benefit to be gained, clubs, social class, or ethnic group cannot be regarded as a sound basis for a friendship. The Prophet (SAWS) is recorded as saying that Allah said, "Those who love each other in My glory, they will be under the shadow of My protection on the Day of Judgment, at a time when there will be no protection but Mine".

'The measures which nourish friendship'
There are eight specific measures which nourish friendship according to the Qur'an and the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (SAWS):
a. Avoiding corruption, hypocrisy and egotism because they can change hearts and destroy friendship.
b. Social courtesies such as asking a fellow Muslim his name and from where he came.
c. If a person feels he/she loves a brother/sister in faith for the sake of Allah, he/she should tell the other so.
d. Visiting one's close friends. This nourishes friendship and the glad tidings of Paradise are given to a person who visits a friend for no other motive than concern and friendship
e. Exchanging gifts.
f. Reciprocating kindness with kindness.
g. Accepting invitations for a meal.
h. Unselfishness: The Prophet (SAWS) said, "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself" - particularly if that brother is in need.

'Things to be avoided to protect friendship'
a. Avoid belittling or mocking one's brother Muslim.
b. Refrain from taunting him and hurting his feelings.
c. Refrain from using nicknames or titles that he/she hates.
d. Avoid backbiting and spying on friends.
e. Be humble and avoid snobbishness.
f. Avoid attributing evil motives to the actions of friends.
g. Avoid those acts that threaten brotherhood: that is, observe the Islamic prohibitions on drinking, gambling, cheating, etc.
h. If three or more people are together it is wrong for two of them to have private conversations together, particularly in a language that the other(s) do not know.

Finally, if disputes do arise, a sincere Muslim is the first to try to make peace.

In answer to question 1: CH.25 v.27-30, CH.43 v.65-7.
In answer to question 2: CH.57 v.27. When someone asked the Prophet (SAWS) about the different degrees of faith, the Prophet replied that a believer who mixes with the people, tries to do useful work among them, is patient and perseveres even if they insult or hurt him, is better than one who does not mix with people and has no patience if hurt by them.
In answer to question 3: CH.6 v.70.
In answer to question 6: CH.49 v.1l.

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G-6 Social Responsibility I


1. What is the Muslim view of the relationship between religion and social responsibility?
2. Is there proof in the Qur'an which shows that Islam is not just for individual development, but is also for community/social development?
3. Are there specific mechanisms in Islam which enable social development to take place?
4. Explain 'wa amur bil ma'roof wan ha 'anil mankar' ('enjoin good and forbid evil').
5. Is there a specific directive which describes how one should 'enjoin good and forbid evil '?
6. The answer to question 5 (above) clearly establishes a priority of measures, is there any significance in this?
7. Generally speaking, appeals for social responsibility and involvement in the community meet with apathy from the people. Is apathy an acceptable attitude?

'The relationship between religion and social responsibility in Islam'
Islam regulates the individual's relationship with Allah and seeks to nourish that relationship, however, this relationship should he regarded merely as a stepping-stone towards total orientation and should affect the individual's attitude towards all other activities in life. Islam is not an individualistic religion, it attempts to regulate not only the man-God relationship, but also the man-man relationship. Without this, Islam would not be a complete faith: it would be as if a person said. "I have a house", when in actual fact, all he had was the foundation of a house.

'Proof from the Qur'an that Islam is not just for individual development'
The most conclusive proof that Islam is concerned to promote social development as well as individual development comes from the fact that almost all Qur'anic injunctions, commands and teachings are addressed to Muslim people in general and not to the individual. Thus, for example, in matters of ritual worship, all Muslims are exhorted to 'Establish prayer'. Similarly, the plural form of address is used with the commands to pay the poor-due, avoid gambling, drinking and the taking of interest. In addition, the Qur'an gives advice on social and political organization: Muslims are advised to decide their affairs 'by mutual consultation'. All these examples show quite clearly that Islam expects Muslims to co-operate together in the performance of their religious duties and this means social development and social involvement are part and parcel of the religious duties of a Muslim.

'The specific mechanisms which enable social development in take place'
There are three mechanisms to note:
a. The mechanisms related to education and motivation. These encourage the individual to understand his/her role not simply as a good citizen in a specific community, but in the whole world.
b. Institutions like the family, political organizations and economic institutions which, if they are cooperating together, will enable the community to achieve overall social development.
c. The unique obligation that Islam lays down in the Qur'an for every believing Muslim, namely: 'Wa anur bil ma'roof wan ha 'anil munkar', that is 'enjoin good and forbid evil'.

'Explanation of 'Wa amur bil ma'roof wan ha 'anil munkar"
'Wa amur bil ma'roof wan ha 'anil munkar' is obligatory on all Muslims. According to the Qur'an, believing men and women who enjoin good forbid evil and believe in Allah, receive His compassion; furthermore, any community or society which practices this injunction is a good society and is therefore better than any which does not do so. It is clear from this injunction that, it is a basic requirement in Islam that Muslims should cooperate together to do what is pleasing to God and to fulfill their individual roles as trustees on earth. The Qur'an warns Muslims that unless they carry out this obligation to enjoin good and forbid evil, they will be punished, just as in the past, people who did not forbid evil were punished along with the disbelievers. True believers must take positive steps to change evil in society in order to make it a better society.

'The method of enjoining good and forbidding evil'
The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, "Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand (i.e., positive action); and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart - and that is the weakest of faith". (Hadith 34 in An-Nawawi's collection of 'Forty Hadith')

'Significance of the priority of actions given above'
From the hadith related above, it is clear that the Prophet (SAWS) had in mind an order to the priorities ranging from the best possible action to the weakest action, then the tongue (i.e., speaking out against evil) and finally, the heart (where the Muslim feels bad about the evil that he sees but feels powerless to do anything). However, a Muslim who sees evil should not disregard peculiar circumstances and automatically apply the teachings of this hadith. For instance, if a Muslim comes across children who are being cruel to an animal, it is better if he intervenes immediately (with his 'hand') and frees the animal before exhorting the children to be kind to animals. On the other hand, if a friend is, for example, addicted to alcohol, no good will come of simply snatching the alcohol from him/her. It would perhaps be better to give kind and friendly words of advice to the friend when he or she is in a sober period. It is clearly implied in this hadith that words alone, whether in the form of speeches, articles or lectures, are not enough in the fight against evil. Major reforms in society cannot take place without the community joining together in concerned action.

'Islamic attitude towards apathy'
Islam is quite clear that apathy is not the right attitude for believing Muslims to have - the Prophet (SAWS) said, 'Anyone who does not care about the affairs of the believers, he is not one of them'. There are three main reasons why people are reluctant to take up social action to correct the wrong they see in the society:
a. The fear of losing friends through being critical.
b. The individual fears that he/she will be the only person among millions who has to crusade against evil,
c. Apathy.

The first excuse is not acceptable because friends who do not like any weakness to be pointed out in them, must be very egotistical and this is not a very Islamic attitude, if everyone used the second excuse then nothing good could ever happen because of everyone's negativity. In Islam, every Muslim should contribute whatever he/she can, however little, simply to please God. The third reason for reluctance to take up social action perhaps stems from Muslims thinking that so long as they attain their own personal salvation, then that is enough. However, this is not right; though it is true that it is impossible to forbid evil in every circumstance, (for instance, when powerless to prevent an armed robbery), nevertheless it is a fact that criminals are cowards who grow in courage because they believe that people are acquiescing to their crimes. Islam does not want individual heroes, it wants man involvements and a general attitude in society that evil must be fought and prevented form taking place. People who think that evil is affecting others and not themselves and who therefore see no need to 'get involved' or 'be nosey' may find that the problem comes right to their own doorstep.

In answer to question 4: CH.9 v.71; CH.3 v.110; CH.3 v. 104.
In answer to question 7: In complete contrast to people who are too self-centered to admit to personal weaknesses, Umsur (RA) the second Caliph said, "May Allah mercy on (i.e., bless), anyone who gives me my faults as a gift". CH.8 v.25.
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G-7 Social Responsibility II


1. How should a Muslim respond to a person who says that the obligation to 'enjoin good and forbid evil' goes against the principle in the Qur'an that there should be 'no compulsion' in religion?
2. How should the Muslim respond to someone who might say, "so long as I am a believer and follow the right path, there is no reason why I should concern myself with those who are astray and who are called 'misguided' by the Qur'an itself?"
3. Is there any guarantee that abuse of the will of God will not take place in the Islamic situation? (Some individuals and communities have been known to use this concept of the will of God in their own way in order in order to justify wrongdoing and injustice).
4. How does social concern ('enjoining the good') relate to worship and which of these is more important?
5. Give examples of how social concern can be converted into action.
6. What is Islam's concept of social justice?
7. What would be the main characteristics of a truly Islamic society?

'The apparent contradiction between the Islamic principle of 'enjoining good' on the one hand and 'no compulsion in religion' on the other'
It is a cherished Islamic principle that no individual can be made to believe what he/she does not wish to believe by force or any other improper means. This is what the Quranic injunction that there should be 'no compulsion in religion' means; the obligation to 'enjoin good and forbid the evil' does not negate this freedom in the least. No society however, can tolerate the spread of evil, corruption and indecency in society just because it upholds the value of 'no compulsion in religion'; it is not an interference in freedom of belief to stop people from destroying society with evil which itself infringes their rights. The Islamic community has a mission to propagate good and forbid evil and this is a protection of freedom from those who wish to tamper with the rights of other members of society.

'Believers attitude towards the 'misguided''
There is an ayat in the Qur'an which appears to say that believers should not be concerned about those who are astray (CH. 5 v.105). In fact, this ayat means is that if there is a person who does not believe, but at the same time does no harm to, nor infringes the rights of Muslims, then the believers should not be concerned if he/she freely chooses to remain astray. However, if an unbeliever attacks the very roots of the Islamic society in which he is living, it is wrong and indeed alien to the spirit of Islam to be unconcerned about this threat. The proof for this comes from the hadith of the Prophet himself which was used by the first Caliph, Abu Bakr (RA) to advise the people that they were wrong to think that this ayat permitted them to turn a blind eye to evil in society. In this hadith the Prophet warns that if there is evil or rebellion in society but Muslims do nothing to check it, Allah will engulf everyone in punishment.

'Islam's safeguards against the abuse of the concept of the 'will of God''
It is very difficult for any faith to guarantee that no one of its followers will abuse the idea of the 'will of God' for his own purposes. Islam is no exception; however, what Islam can guarantee is that its teachings have certain inbuilt mechanisms which make it impossible to give a theological justification for wrongdoing by claiming. "It was God's will that I did so and so"; the principles of Islam are clearly set out and it is easy to prove that a person has violated these principles even though he may claim that he is doing 'God's will'. The chief mechanism by which this is possible is the fact that Islam draws a clear line between revelation from God as a decisive and specific expression of His will and the claims that some individuals make to have experienced revelation i.e. they feel that a spirit, which they believe to have come from God, guides them to do certain things. Though at first sight personal insight appears attractive, it is no substitute for actual revelation. The Quran is the revealed source of knowledge about God's will, which was clarified by the explanations of it given by the Prophet Muhammad, who was guided by the Angel of revelation in what he taught. The manifest danger in believing that revelation comes from a personal guiding spirit can be seen from cases such as that of the 'Yorkshire Ripper' who murdered several women and then claimed that it was God who wanted him to do this.*

'Social concern and worship'
Islam's concept of worship is not simply restricted to the areas of pure ritual worship alone. The Qur'an defines righteousness as belief in Allah (faith), giving to the poor (social justice), prayer (pure act of worship), fulfilling promises, perseverance, steadfastness and social responsibility. Since all of these are part of the Islamic definition of righteousness, it is impossible to separate social concern and worship.

'Converting social concern into action'
Social solidarity is one of the principal ways in which social concern can be translated into action. Social solidarity is required in the following areas:
a. The family, because the family is the cornerstone of society and the unity, love and affection within a family can be passed on to the whole community, whilst, conversely, problems in society can often be traced back to broken families.
b. In the job situation: every Muslim must do his or her best.
c. In society every individual should look upon himself as a guardian of the interests of society as a whole.
d. There should be co-operation to keep society together.
e. Social concern: for instance the Prophet (SAWS) said, "He is not a believer who sleeps with a full stomach whilst his neighbor is hungry".

'Islam's concept of social justice'
The Qur'an, when it refers to the just balance with which Allah created the universe and mankind, uses the term Adl. This same term is used to command just balance in the social sphere of human interaction. The Qur'an commands that trust should be placed in the hands of the trustworthy; that those who judge, must do so with justice, that the social structure should be just, that there should be no persecution of one group to another, and that there should be economic justice and moderation in matters of government and politics.

'The main characteristics of a truly Islamic society'
a. Ultimate authority in society is in the hands of Allah.
b. Obedience from society is therefore motivated by recognition of the spiritual sanction of the state as the upholder of God's law.
c. Society will be motivated by a historical mission which will be a mercy to all mankind and teach universal brotherhood.
d. Society will be balanced and just, coordinating spiritual and material progress and taking care of all members of society.

In answer to question 1: CH.2 v.256.
In answer to question 2: CH.5 v.105. The Prophet (SAWS) warned that Allah will certainly punish a community which does nothing to check the oppression and evil being perpetrated by villains in the community.
In answer to question 3: *If people differ on how to interpret 'the will of God' in a particular context, the Islamic mechanism of Ijma ' (consensus) comes into play. This involves Islamic jurists and scholars coming to some decision on how to interpret the will of God in relation to the specific problem on the basis of evidence in the Qur'an and the prophetic tradition. Even then, the interpretation could not be applied by an individual who wants to take the law into his own hands. It is for the Islamic state to enforce the will of God on earth.
In answer to question 4: CH.2 v.177, The Prophet (SAWS) said that a person who makes the effort of looking after an orphan or a needy person gets the rewards of someone who is sacrificing his/her life for the sake of God, or someone who spends the night in prayer and the day in fasting.
In answer to question 5: CH.5 v.2. 'The believers in their mutual concern and affection should be like one body, when any part is aching, the whole body aches for it', said the Prophet (SAWS).
In answer to question 6: CH.82 v.7; CH 4 v.58.

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G-8 Emancipation of Slaves I


1. What was the situation with regard to slavery when the Prophet (SAWS) began his mission?
2. Elaborate on the psychological approach Islam made to emancipate those held in bondage.
3. Are there any other teachings which detailed how people in bondage were to be treated, and what rights did Islam require to be recognized?
4. Is there any evidence that these teachings influenced the attitudes of the Muslims?
5. Apart from the individual appeal, did Islam initiate any legal provisions to facilitate the emancipation of those held in bondage?
6. Why didn't Islam simply abolish slavery at one stroke?
7. Why is it that the final prohibition of slavery did not occur in the lifetime of the Prophet (SAWS) even though the prohibition of alcohol occurred in it?

'Slavery at the time when Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) began his mission'
Slavery was widely practiced in the C7th AD when the prophetic mission began, although the forms which it took varied from place to place. Human material for the practice of slavery came basically from three sources:
a. captives taken during battles,
b. the kidnapping of free people for slavery and
c. people unable to repay their debts.

Generally speaking, the practice of slavery, wherever it took place, was characterized by extreme brutality: the slaves were stripped of all humanity and were treated as a 'possession' or 'thing': totally at the disposal of the master. In many of the contemporary legal systems, masters were permitted to torture and kill their bondsmen ? the Romans permitted this as a form of entertainment. It was in this situation that Islam sought not only to emancipate slaves physically, but also to bring about a change in the minds of both the slaves and their masters: freeing both of them from attitudes which prevented them from recognizing the basic equality which all human beings share.

'Islam's psychological approach to emancipation'
a. Firstly, the whole structure of Islam is founded upon the cornerstone of prohibiting servitude to anyone except Allah alone, and in fact, 'Islam' means to achieve peace through submission to the Creator of all things.
b. Secondly, the idea that no human should be in servitude to any other was reinforced by the Qur'an's teaching on the fundamental brotherhood and equality of all human beings; for example, the Qur'an says in more than one place that all men were created from 'a single soul'. These teachings were confirmed by the teachings of the Prophet (SAWS) who said in one hadith, for example, 'All mankind is descended from Adam and Adam was created from dust'.
c. In addition, Islam teaches that in the differences between peoples' race, languages, complexion and state are to be found the signs of the creation of Allah; further, in God's sight, the noblest of people are the most pious and so He recommended in the Qur'an that believing Muslims should marry a believing bondsman or woman in preference to an unbeliever even though he may be a free person of noble birth. Thus the idea of bondage as being permanent began to be questioned in the minds of the people, it began to be regarded as a transitory, temporary stage that some people went through.

'Islam's teachings on how slaves were to be treated'
The Qur'an and the Sunnah are replete with instructions on how the slave is to be treated. In one ayat of the Qur'an, belief in one God is tied to the command to be compassionate to certain categories of people and among the people listed is the bondsman/woman. In addition, the Quran indicated that slavery should not be regarded as a permanent and inherent institution, but as a transitory phenomenon. The Prophet (SAWS), in appealing for compassion to slaves said, 'They are your brothers, if it had been God's will, the roles would have been reversed (and you would have been the slaves)'. The specific rights that Islam afforded to slaves are as follows:
a. Full rights to believe in and practice the faith of their choice.
b. The right to be fed and clothed out of what the master used lo feed and cloth himself; furthermore, the slave was protected from being given tasks beyond his capacity if the master had a difficult task which he wanted his bondsman to perform, the Prophet said that the master should help him with that task.
c. The master had to be forgiving to his slave.
d. If an ex-slave was elected lo a position of leadership amongst the Muslims, he had the right to command obedience so long as 'he establishes the Book of God'; he could also lead congregational prayers.
e. The Prophet (SAWS) taught that it was hurtful to address a slave as 'My slave boy/girl', instead the correct form of address should be, 'My son' or 'My daughter'.

'How these teachings changed attitudes'
There is plenty of evidence that Islam's whole approach to the question of human brotherhood and slavery caused many people to change their attitudes. For instance, one of the earliest converts to Islam was an Ethiopian slave called Bilal (RA); he was tortured severely by his master for becoming a Muslim until he was rescued from his ordeal by Abu Bakr (RA) who bought him and then set him free. Bilal became an extremely prominent member of the Muslim community and was the personal Muaddhin (person who makes the call to prayer) of the Prophet. On one occasion some people saw Abu Bakr wearing clothes which were worse than his slaves. When asked about this, he replied that whilst he himself was an old man, his slave was young and therefore liked to wear nice clothes and so he gave them to him. Finally, one of the Prophet's companions was involved in an argument with a black man and in anger said, 'You son of a black woman!' The Prophet was very upset and told the companion, Abu Zarr, 'There is no difference between the son of a white woman and the son of a black woman'. Abu Zarr was so ashamed of what he said that he put his face on the ground so that the black man could put his foot on Abu Zarr's cheek. In addition to these examples, it is well known that many of the richer Muslims bought slaves to set them free, and many former slaves and sons of slaves rose to prominent positions in the Islamic community.

'The specific legal provisions that Islam instituted to emancipate slaves'
a. The rights of the families of slaves to retribution for any violence which had been committed against one of their members was upheld.
b. Emancipation of slaves was encouraged by the Qur'an which said that one of the ways to attain salvation was to free a slave.
c. The Qur'an made freeing of a slave a prescribed form of atonement for certain sins, e.g., involuntary manslaughter, non-fulfillment of an oath, deliberate breaking of a fast and divorce by Al-Dihar (disliked form of divorce). Thus, when anyone committed one of these sins, he had the option of atoning by freeing a slave. In addition, if a master jokingly said his slave was free, or slapped his slave, the slave automatically became free.

'Why Islam did tint make slavery illegal at one stroke'
Slavery was a very deep-rooted institution, it had strong economic, social and political roots and therefore would have been very difficult to get rid of at one stroke. The example of what happened in the USA when its government decided to end slavery without first doing the necessary groundwork is instructive. Islam succeeded because it first set about changing the attitudes of people. In addition, Islam closed the door to new sources of slaves almost immediately because the Prophet (SAWS) forbade the kidnapping of free people for slavery and he recommended that debtors should be helped. Captives from battles remained as such until they ransomed themselves or were exchanged for Muslim captives. Finally, the freeing of slaves was made a highly commendable act.

'Why there was no final prohibition of slavery in the lifetime of the Prophet (SAWS)'
Although there was a final prohibition of alcohol in the lifetime of the Prophet (SAWS) there was none for slavery. This is because whereas alcohol was a personal indulgence which had already been severely restricted even before the actual ban came into force, slavery was a deep-rooted social evil which required much more work. Even after one generation, there were some Muslims who insisted on violating Islam's injunctions on the treatment of slaves.

In answer to question 2: CH.4 v.l; CH.2 v.221; CI1.4 v.25.
In answer to question 3: CH.4 v.36; CH.2 v.256. It is recorded that up until his last moment, the Prophet (SAWS) constantly repeated, 'I command you to be mindful of two things, prayer and what your right hand possess (i.e., treatment of slaves)'.
In answer to question 5: There is a hadith in which the Prophet (SAWS) said, 'Whoever kills a slave, we will kill him; whoever mutilates a slave, we will mutilate him and whoever sterilizes a slave, we will sterilize him'.

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G-9 Emancipation of Slaves II


1. Is it correct to say that Islam immediately eliminated all sources of new slavery, except war captives?
2. Although Islam did not prohibit slavery, is there any documentary evidence to indicate that the institution of slavery was meant to be a transitory phenomenon and not a permanent one?
3. What is the position of Islam on the question of concubines?
4. In Islam was it possible for the slave to initiate his own freedom or was he dependent on being released by his master?
5. Was it at the discretion of the master of a slave to refuse to accept Mukataba from his slave?
6. How were the bondsmen able to gain the funds necessary to obtain their freedom?

'Did Islam close all sources of slavery except war captives?'
It is true to say that Islam immediately eliminated all new sources of slavery except war captives. However, the Muslims do not initiate war against peaceable people; they do not engage in wars for national glory and to extend their territory; nor do they go to war with the expressed intention of raiding other communities for the purpose of kidnapping people for slavery. In Islamic jurisprudence, war is allowed in just two circumstances:
a. To repel aggression and
b. To remove human tyranny.

The people who were taken captive by Muslims in these types of legitimate wars were aggressors and it was therefore right to take such people into captivity. Islam's teachings on the treatment of these captives were basically, that they should be treated with compassion; after this, the future of these prisoners of war was not necessarily enslavement. However, given that there were no prisons or concentration camps in the C7th AD, the only way in which to look after the captives was to place them under the supervision of the Muslims who had participated in the battle. This was a temporary stage of bondage until hostilities ended, and afforded the Muslims security.

'Evidence that the institution of slavery was a transitory phenomenon'
Qur'an says that after defeating the enemy, the Muslims had one of two choices with regard to their captives:
a. To free them without condition as an act of compassion,
b. To ransom them - that is,

i. On the payment of a certain amount, they would be freed, or
ii. Could be exchanged for Muslims who were held captive, or
iii. Would be freed after putting a particular skill or talent that they had at the service of the Muslim community.

'Position of Islam on concubines'
The institution of concubinage was common among the Semites according to historians. Concubinage - a form of slavery for women is, as with slavery in general, unacceptable in Islam. Islam approached the task of ridding society of this form of slavery with the same degree of care as it used with slavery in general.
In Islamic teachings, women captured on the battlefield are entitled to the same compassionate treatment as male captives. Since it was however, by no menus normal for women to be taken captive and because of the fact that (a) women were more vulnerable to attacks, i.e., rape; and (b) had probably already lost their breadwinners (husbands, fathers or brothers) on the battlefield, the victorious Muslims had to not only ensure the captive women's safety, but also had to ensure that they were protected from the economic pressures which could lead them into prostitution. Because of these two considerations, Islamic law permitted co-habitation with women captives in the following ways:

a. The relationship was similar to that of marriage, the woman captive was regarded as a wife for all practical purposes.
b. The only difference between real marriage and this co-habitation was the absence of consent from the woman, but, given the exigencies of war and captivity, where there are restrictions in a number of spheres, this is understandable.
c. The women are not imprisoned, but were supported and so saved from the economic pressures which might, for example, have led them into prostitution.
d. Both the women captives and the men were saved from being led into temptation because each captive had a husband to live with who provided her with a home, food, clothing and the satisfaction of the instinctive need for a husband.
e. The situation of concubinage was not inherited: if the captive woman bore a child to her husband, the child was free on at birth and the woman became free on the death of her husband.

It is recorded in the prophetic tradition that the Prophet recommended that a woman captive should be freed and then offered marriage - whether she accepted or not, she became free.

'Ability of a slave to initiate his own freedom'
The mechanism of Mukataba was the way in which a slave could initiate his own freedom from a master. Islam was the first religion to introduce such a scheme. By the mechanism of mukataba, any person in bondage could approach his master and offer him a mutually agreed sum of money and buy his freedom on payment of the said amount. The slave automatically became a freed man on payment of the sum. Mukataba was the deed/contract which secured the slaves' freedom.

'Could the master refuse the contract?'
In the Qur'anic ayat referring to the freeing of slaves from their bondage, it does not say, 'you may give them freedom if they offer mukatada ...; the Qur'an commands 'Give them freedom' ... and in fact it goes on to say that the masters should give their bondsmen financial help so that they can obtain their freedom as soon as possible. It is recorded that the second Caliph Umar (RA), forced one of his companions to give freedom to a slave who had offered mukataba. If it had been at the discretion of the master to accept or refuse the slave's request, Umar would not have been justified in forcing his companion in this way.

'How the bondsmen were able to gain the necessary funds to obtain freedom'
The Qur'an specifics that Zakah or poor-due should be given to certain categories of people for specific reasons and one of those specified is, 'to free people in bondage'. Therefore, a person who was seeking freedom was legally entitled to receive zakah in order to obtain his liberty.

In answer to question 1: It is recorded that after the Battle of Badr, the pagan captives of the Muslims were so impressed by the fact that the Muslims gave them their best food and treated them with compassion that many of them voluntarily embraced Islam.
In answer to question 2: CH.47 v.4.
In answer to question 3: There is a hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) in which he said that a person who looked after and taught his woman captive about the teachings of Islam, and then freed her, proposing marriage to her on doing so, would get a double reward.
In answer to question 5: CH.24 v.33.
In answer to question 6: CH.9 v.60. In addition to this, during the reign of Caliph Ali (RA), a slave came to him and said that he wanted to obtain his freedom, but could not afford to do so. Ali immediately organized a collection for the man and he was able to gain his freedom.
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G-10 The Place of Family in Islam: Introduction


1. What is the significance of the 'family' and how does it fit into the overall topic of Islam's social system?
2. What are the main issues to be investigated when dealing with the topic of the family in Islam?
3. How does Islam define 'the family'?
4. Is it right to say that the Muslim family is mainly an extended family?
5. How could a Muslim answer people who might say that the relations, duties and responsibilities of the members of the family do not require legislation?
6. What is the role of lineage in the family structure of Islam?
7. If an individual's father is not known, is it justifiable to give him the name of the adopting family?
8. Is adoption legal or illegal in Islam?
9. What are the basic objectives and functions of the family in Islam?

'Significance of the family in Islam'
Islam teaches that the cornerstone of the social system is the family: the progress and welfare of society or its breakdown can be traced to the strength and unity, or, weakness of the family. The weakness of the family is not the only source of problems like juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, alcoholism, teenage pregnancies, and divorce, but it is one of the crucial indicators of the weakness of society.

'Main issues in the topic of the family in Islam'
a. The definition of the family; questions of lineage and adoption.
b. Woman as the foundation and cornerstone of the family.
c. The role Islam accords to women.
d. The structure of the family.
e. The mutual duties and responsibilities of parents and children.
f. Family problems: dissolution of marriage, divorce and remarriage.
g. The law of succession and inheritance in Islam.

'Definition of the family in Islam'
At the most general level, the entire human race is one family which has as its common parents, Adam and Eve (AS). The Qur'an often addresses the whole of mankind as ‘the children of Adam'. At another level there is the Family of Believers, the Ummah, which consists of all those who have followed the prophets sent to them, from Adam and Noah to Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (AS). More commonly, the family is defined in Islam as a number of people tied together by the relationship of blood or marriage.

'The Muslim family 'mainly an extended family'?'
The concept of a 'nuclear' family is common in the West, that is a family consisting of just the parents and their children. The concept of an 'extended' family is common in non-Western cultures and is characterized by children, parents, grand parents and sometimes in-laws sharing one household. Islam does not specify that a Muslim family should be cither nuclear or extended. Not every relative however, has an equal degree of relationship with any particular individual. The first and most important degree of relationship is that of husband and wife, their children and the grand parents. Other relatives form a second or third degree, although this is not to say that the individual has no obligation or responsibility at all towards these other relatives. Whereas the first degree of relations have unequivocal and precise rights, the rights and obligations owed to other relations are not unequivocal and different schools' of jurisprudence have different ideas about what these rights and obligations are.

'Why laws are necessary to regulate the relations of the family?'
Although the nature of duties and obligations among members of a family are instinctive in human nature, it is important to realize that the law exists only to supplement and enforce these innate feelings and not to replace them, and as a guarantee or protection that the rights or responsibilities that each member of the family has with regard to others will be fulfilled with justice and equality. In the absence of the law, there could be problems arising from the fact that the innate nature of the father to treat all his children equally could be over-ridden by an attachment to one particular child, and so this child is especially favored, for example, in inheritance, leaving the other children with their rights denied. Islamic family law establishes minimum basic rights to guarantee the interests of each family member. Thus, in Islam, family relations are governed by a balance between the innate sense of duty felt by family members and what is laid down as a minimum by the law.

'The role of lineage in the family structure of Islam'
Lineage or lineal duty has an essential role in the Muslim family because from it stems the duties, obligations and responsibilities of family members. The most important Islamic teaching on this subject is that no person should claim a child as his own when it is only adopted and no child should falsely claim to be the real son of a particular person. Two other Islamic teachings are that,
a. The pre-Islamic practice of divorce by Ad Dihar (where an angry husband would say that his wife is like my mother' is unlawful because it is a form of falsification, and
b. An adopted child could not be given the family name of his/her foster parents and be called a real son /daughter.

'If an individual's father is not known, is it permissible to give him the family name of his foster parents?'
The Qur'an orders Muslim who have adopted children to proclaim their parentage, that is more equitable, however, if the child's father is not known because the child was born out of wedlock or lost his father, then the Qur'an says, ‘they are your brothers in the faith and your clients' to be treated with compassion. It is wrong to give a child a new identity.

Adoption - legal or illegal in Islam?'
If by ‘adoption' - one means that a child is adopted and given a new family name; or that an adopted child is given exactly the same share of inheritance as the natural children of a man, then adoption in this sense is illegal because the child's true identity is masked and the natural children have more claim to any inheritance than adopted children. If by adoption it is meant, however, that an orphan or abandoned child is looked after by a family as an act of compassion, being given shelter, food, clothing and other needs, then this is legal and indeed a great act of humanity for which Allah promises great rewards. Though the adopted child does not inherit on the same footing as the natural children, it is commendable for the adopter to bequeath something to him.

'The basic objectives of the family in Islam:'
a. The family is not a casual or spontaneous organization of people, but is a divinely ordained institution. Islam does not recognize 'group' marriage and other abnormal 'family' arrangements.
b. Family and marriage is regarded as noble and sacred: a social contract which confers mutual rights and obligations on the couple.
c. The family should not be separated from the fellowship of faith.
d. Islam upholds the basic 'equality' of the sexes and it does not prevent husband and wife from adopting different roles, but their roles should be complimentary and in keeping with what Allah has ordained.

'The functions of the family:'
a. Preservation of the human race by procreation.
b. The protection of the morals of society and individuals by providing the only legitimate avenue for the satisfaction of the sexual urge.
c. Providing for the socialization and value orientation of children.
d. Satisfying the psychological and emotional needs of people.
e. Providing social and economic security.
f. Motivating an individual to work hard, sacrifice his own welfare and become beneficent for the sake of his family.

In answer to question 3: CH.4 v.l; CH.49 v.10.
In answer to qucstion.6: CH.33 v.4-6.
In answer to question 7: CH.33 v.5. The Prophet (SAWS) had a son whom he had adopted and named Zaid ibn Muhammad (Zaid son of Muhammad). When the injunction came from Allah ordaining that adopted children should be given their true identity, the Prophet (SAWS) changed Zaid's name to what it should have been, i.e., Zaid ibn Haritha.

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G-11 Position of Women in Ancient Civilization


1. What is the relevance of examining some of the historical aspects of the position of women in Islam?
2. How were women viewed by some of the Eastern Civilization?
3. Did the ancient civilizations of Europe treat then women in a better way?
4. How were women treated in the Middle East in ancient times?
5. Were there any exceptions to this almost universally negative attitude towards women?
6. What is the position of women according to the Bible on the one hand and the Qur'an on the other?

‘Significance of examining the historical position of women'
The point of highlighting the position of women in ancient history is to show the extent to which Islamic teachings on this subject were hundreds of years ahead of their time. This is not surprising since Islamic teachings have, as their source, Divine revelation from the eternal wisdom and perfect knowledge of Allah.

'The position of women in Eastern civilizations'
In ancient China, the attitude of the Chinese to their women can be summed up in the words of the C3rd BC poet, Hu Suan who said, ‘how sad it is to be a woman, nothing on earth is held so cheap'. The 'sage' Confucius described the main function of the woman as obedience: in childhood and early youth she must obey her father, in marriage: her husband and in widowhood: her son. Further he said that the quality of her obedience was that it should be unquestioning and absolute. (In Islam absolute obedience is due only to God). The Buddhist cultures also portrayed women as basically inferior to men and full of sin - it appears that there was nothing to be dreaded more than the woman. In Hindu cultures, (dominated by the Law of Manu which said, 'the woman whose mind, speech and body are kept in subjugation acquires high renown in this world and the next), the position of women was not much better than in any of the other Eastern cultures. In fact it was possibly worse as she was denied religious knowledge (women had no business' with the books of the Vedas and the laws derived from it); she was not allowed to re-marry after her husband's death, nor inherit from him, and indeed had sometimes to enter his funeral pyre to die with him.

'The position of women in Western civilizations'
Athenian women were regarded as minors, subject to either their father, brothers or other male kin. Their consent was not required at the time of marriage and a woman received from her parents, ‘her husband and her lord'. Roman women were regarded as ‘babes' or minors incapable of acting independently in any matter. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, if a woman got married, her property immediately passed to her husband and she could not dispose of her own property without his permission. Women were also unable to make a contract or a will, even though it was in respect of their own property.

'The position of women in the Middle East in ancient times'
There were two main traditions in the Middle East: the Hebrew and Arabian. In Arabia, the face of a father who had received news of the birth of a daughter would darken in anger and female infanticide was often practiced - female children were sometimes buried alive. The major reason for this inhuman practice was the fear of any 'shame' that daughters could bring; in contrast to this, the news of the birth of a male was joyfully received. It was also common in pre-Islamic Arabia for widows to be inherited as part of the estate of their husbands.

‘Exceptions to this universally negative altitude towards women'
It would be wrong to say that in all these civilizations, many of which lasted for hundreds of years; every single woman was treated in this negative way and that there is no example whatsoever of women being treated with respect. Women who were born into nobility were generally better treated, in addition, some women were able to make an impact on society because of their personalities, their determination and the extent of their talents. The general attitude of men and the legal systems which reflected it, did however condone the unfair treatment of women. There is an interesting paradox though in the evidence from archaeological discoveries which show that in many of the ancient civilizations God was represented by a female image. In ancient Egypt, Babylon, Sumaria, Greece and Rome a goddess was worshipped as the supreme deity. Although the name of the deity differs, in all cases, there was no simple fertility cult in these glorifications of a woman into deity. The mother goddess was the creator and law giver, the queen of heavens and the judge. Related to this myth of god-the-mother is the idea of a ‘sacred son' and lover through whose mystical union all existence was granted continuity. He represented an eternally dying and resurrecting god.

‘The position of women according to the Bible and the Qur'an'
An important part of the historical study of the position of women is the focus on those civilizations which were influenced by the teachings of Divine revelation - that is the Judaic, the Christian and the Islamic civilizations. Even though there are many points of similarity between Islam and these two other revealed faiths, many of the erroneous statements about Islam's view of women are written by Jewish and Christian people in the West who do not support their views with evidence from the scripture of Islam. ‘There is a lot of misinformation about what Islam says on the subject of women and one of the ways in which to arrive at the truth is to compare the authoritative statements of Christianity on this subject with those of Islam so as to present an objective picture about the positions of both faiths on the status of women.

Encyclopedia Britannica.
'Marriage East and West' - by David and Vera Mace.
'History of Civilizations' - vol. 13, by E. A. Alien.

In answer to question 5: In ancient Egypt this goddess was called Isis; in Babylon, Tyamat; in Greece, Demetre; and in Rome, Malen. It is interesting to note that in connection with the myth of the godmother, the following creation story was written over a 1000 years before the book of Genesis appeared: ... ‘In the beginning there was Isis, oldest of the old, the goddess from whom all becoming arose. Mistress of heavens, mistress of the house of life, mistress of the word of God'. Similarly, the myth of the resurrecting and dying sacred son appeared over a 1000 years before a similar concept about Jesus (AS) appeared.
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G-12 Women in Judaea-Christian and Muslim Scriptures I


1. What are the essential areas to be examined in a comparative study of women in the Biblical and Qur'anic scriptures?
2. What similarities and differences are there between the two religious teachings on the creation of live?
3. Who was responsible for the first sin - Adam or Eve?
4. Is the idea of the serpent unique to the Bible?
5. What are the similarities and differences between the Judaea-Christian and Islamic traditions on the questions of pregnancy and childbirth?
6. Is the attitude that Islam teaches people to have towards women going through their monthly cycle similar to that which the Judaea-Christian tradition teaches?

‘Essential areas to be covered in a comparative study of attitudes towards women in the Bible and the Qur'an:'
a) The creation of Eve
b) The first sin and who bore the responsibility for it
c) The pains of pregnancy and childbirth
d) The treatment of women during the monthly cycle

'The creation of Eve according to the two teachings'
The Bible and the Qur'an are agreed in saying that Adam was created first and ‘then from Adam, Eve was created'. The Bible, however, gives additional detail to the story saying, in Genesis, that Eve was made from the rib of Adam. The Qur'an contains no such statement, it simply stales that God created a single soul and 'of it' created its mate. Thus, the implication is that Adam and Eve were created from the very same nature which goes beyond the physical rib to physical, mental and spiritual similarity of the sexes.

'Responsibility for the first sin'
In both the Judaea-Christian and Muslim traditions it is recorded that God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from a particular tree (the Qur'an does not say what type of tree it was). That there was a violation of this commandment is also agreed upon. The way in which the violation took place however, is described differently by the two traditions. The Bible says that the primary responsibility for sin lies with Eve because she was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree and then she tempted Adam to do so. In the Islamic tradition, there is no mention of a serpent whatsoever. The Qur'an says that it was Satan who tempted them into sin because he was jealous of the special status which had been given to them by Allah. In the span of the eight verses which deal with Adam and Eve's disobedience, the words 'both of them' are used fifteen times - there is no evidence therefore that it was Eve alone who was to blame for the sin. This conclusively removes any idea of women alone being to blame for the first sin, indeed there is evidence in both the Qur'an and the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) that the primary responsibility for the sin rests on the shoulders of Adam. In any case the Qur’an records that both Adam and Eve repented their mistake and Allah accepted their repentance and forgave them; thus there is no concept of original sin in Islam.

‘Is the idea of the serpent unique to the Bible?'
Archaeological finds have shown that in ancient traditions, there was a symbolism attached to the serpent as the embodiment of all evil. Thus there are often images of the 'godmother' with the serpent coiled around the tree of life in the garden of the world and this imagery was made many centuries before the Hebrew scriptures appeared.

'Similarities and differences between Judaea-Christian and Islamic attitudes towards pregnancy and childbirth'
The Bible in Genesis says that a woman suffers in pregnancy and childbirth because of Eve's sin in eating from the forbidden tree - God is supposed to have promised her, 'I will multiply your sorrow' because of her sin. The way in which the Bible advises treatment of women in their post-natal period is also significant: if the woman gives birth to a son, she is 'unclean' for seven days plus a further thirty-three days. If a female child is born, she is ‘unclean' for two weeks and then a further sixty-six days. After this period is over (in both cases), the woman has to go to the priest and make offerings of monument for her uncleanliness and her sin. In contrast to this view, Islam portrays pregnancy with beauty and sympathy, saying that at this time the parents will pray together for the birth of a child who will be pious. It admonishes all Muslims to be compassionate towards parents and especially the mother because 'in weakness upon weakness' did she bear her child. Furthermore, pregnancy is described as a jihad or struggle for which mothers will gain reward and in some hadiths of the Prophet, it is said that any woman who dies in childbirth or after it receives the reward of one who has died a martyr! The waiting period after childbirth before which a woman cannot perform Islamic religious duties like prayer and fasting and cannot have intimate relations with her husband is just forty days - maximum. There is no question of the woman having to offer any atonement either.

'The view of the two traditions towards the woman's monthly cycle'
In the chapter of the Bible called Leviticus, it is stated that during their monthly cycles, women should be 'put apart' for seven days and anyone who touches a woman in this state or touches her bed or a place where she sat is 'defiled' until the evening and must take a bath. After her monthly flow ends, women have to make two offerings of atonement to the priest: a cleansing offering and a sin offering because the flow of blood is a sin. In contrast to this, Islamic law puts no restriction on any relationship between a woman experiencing her monthly cycle and the rest of her family, except that marital relations with her husband must be suspended for obvious reasons. The Prophet (.SAWS) never separated his bed from that of his wife during her monthly cycle. In addition, the Qur'an does not describe the menstrual flow as an uncleanliness or a pollution, it calls it 'a pain' or 'hurt' - which entitles women in extra consideration and compassion. Finally, there is no idea of having to make atonement after the end of the monthly cycle, women simply have to take a bath.

In answer to question 2: CH.4 v.1; Gen. CH.2 v.2-12.
In answer to question 3: Gen. CH.3; CH.38 v.71; CH.7 v.11; CH.2 v.31, CH.15 v.28; CH.17 v.61; CH.20 v.115. The Prophet (SAWS) said that on the Day of Judgment, people will go to Adam (AS) and ask him to intercede for them with Allah. He will refuse to do so saying. "Allah told me not to eat from the tree and I disobeyed therefore I am unworthy to intercede".
In answer to question 5: Gen. CH.3 v.l6; CH.7 v.189; CH.31 v.14; CH.46 v.15. The Prophet (SAWS) said that if a woman dies in her post-natal period, her infant will ‘drag her into Paradise'.
In answer to question 6: Lev. CH.15 v.19.
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G-13 Women in Judaea-Christian and Muslim Scriptures II


1. How is the rape victim to be treated according to the Bible on the one hand and the Islamic traditions/teachings on the other?
2. What is the position of each of the scriptures in the case of a husband who accuses his wife of adultery?
3. How is marriage viewed in the two faiths?
4. Many Christians think that the OT is no longer applicable and so would say it is inappropriate to compare this scripture with the Islamic tradition. How should a Muslim respond to this point?
5. What was the view of Jesus (AS) on the nature and position of women according to the NT?
6. Did the disciples uphold the same views as Jesus (AS) on this question?
7. How can one reconcile the attitude of Paul towards women with the veneration of Mary (RA)?
8. Is there any evidence that Paul's attitude towards women influenced the Christian church?

'Attitude towards rape victims in the two traditions'
According to the OT, if a man rapes a married woman then both should be stoned; however, if the victim is a virgin, then he has to pay a sum of compensation to the girl's father and is required to marry the girl and cannot divorce her. In Islam, the woman who is raped is regarded as a victim of aggression and therefore is not punished. The punishment prescribed for the rapist according to Islam can be execution, but may involve a very heavy fine which is paid over to the father of the girl as compensation. Islamic teachings do not authorize the victim to be given in marriage to the rapist as this is in fact a form of reward for the rapist for his wrong-doing. Indeed the Qur'an advises believing men and women not to marry unchaste people and rapists are of course unchaste.

'The Islamic and Judaea-Christian traditions compared on their attitude towards women who are accused of adultery by their husbands'
According to the OT, if a husband suspects his wife of infidelity, she should be taken to the priest who goes through various rites and rituals in which he curses some bitter water and asks her to confess that her husband is right in his accusation; if she refuses to confess, she is made to drink the water and if she is telling the truth nothing happens to her, but if she is lying, the curse takes effect and 'her thighs rot and belly swells up'. Clearly, the woman is assumed to be guilty until proved innocent. In Islamic law, if a husband accuses his wife, he must strengthen his accusation by swearing five times that he is truthful; the woman is considered innocent unless proved guilty and can make a rebuttal of her husband's statement simply by swearing five times that she did not commit adultery and that her husband is lying. The wife's word is given equal weight to the husband's and so the matter ends with the separation of the couple. If a person suspects a woman of adultery who is not his wife, then he may not, make any accusation against her unless he has at least three other witnesses to the fact - these witnesses must be people who are noted for their piety and truthfulness. If the person who makes the accusation fails to corroborate his statement with three other witnesses, then he is punished with a minimum of eighty lashes. The idea behind the strict regulations and severe punishments in this area is that Islam seeks to preserve the reputation of honest women and establish the principle that they are innocent until proved guilty.

'How marriage is viewed in the two faiths'
According to the Judaic law of the Old Testament, the most universally practiced form of marriage was the 'Baal' type where the wife passed under the dominion of her 'lord' (husband). The Encyclopedia Biblica (ed. by Shayan), says that the '... girl's consent in marriage is unnecessary and the need for it is nowhere suggested in the law...' (although ordinary human affection would normally lead the parents to allow their daughters , some voice in the matter), In the same work, 'betrothal' is defined as 'to gain possession of a wife on payment of the purchase money'. Divorce is therefore an absolute right of the husband because the wife is 'his property'. In contrast to (his, both the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS) make it clear that it is a condition of the marriage of a girl that she should consent in order that the contract he valid. The payment which is made by the man to the woman is regarded as a gift and is not in any sense 'purchase money'. As a result of this, therefore, divorce has nothing to do with property rights, it is simply a matter of the compatibility of husband and wife.

'The place of the OT in comparing the Islamic teachings on the position of women with that of the Judaea-Christian tradition'
Although it is true that the OT's Judaic laws are no longer applied today, it is nevertheless important to review its teachings on the position of women for the following reasons-
a. The Gospel writers and the disciples kept on referring to the OT in order to show how it contained prophecies relating to the coming of Jesus (AS). Naturally therefore, it should be used as a source or background for studying other topics also.
b. Jesus (AS) said that he came to fulfill the law of Moses and not to destroy it.
Thus, even though Christians may argue that the OT is no longer appropriate, it is part of the heritage which was relied on after the end of the mission of Jesus (AS), especially by Paul.

‘The view of Jesus (AS) on the nature and position o] women'
Jesus did not have a negative attitude towards women and there is no evidence in the NT that shows him supporting the attitude towards women that is shown in the OT. He is however reported as rejecting the concept of original sin and so by implication he did not think that women had to bear the guilt of that sin. In one comment on the pains of childbirth he is reported as commenting that in spite of the pains, after the child is born, the woman feels happy - this observation is not negative like OT comments on pregnancy and childbirth. It is reported in the Gospels that many of the followers of Jesus were women and some of these women were witnesses to the important incidents in his life.

'The attitude of the disciples towards women, after the completion of the mission of Jesus'
Although some of the disciples of Jesus can be shown to have had a sympathetic attitude towards women, the majority and especially Paul had views on women which were diametrically opposed to those of Jesus. Paul said that 'a woman should learn in silence' and that he would not allow her to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man but to be in silence. He reiterates the OT view that Adam Was formed first and that it was Eve who was deceived by the serpent and so was in transgression and not Adam. He added that women can only be saved in child-bearing, faith, holiness and charity; and that whereas man was made in the image of God, women were made in the image of man and so were inferior to him. In fact, such was his hostility to women that he practiced celibacy and invited others to do the same.

'Reconciling this attitude with the veneration of Mary (HA)'
Even though the overall altitude towards women in early Christian history was neither healthy or fair, Mary was nevertheless venerated in Christian theology because it was believed that she had 'given birth to God'. This idea was not, as has been show above, new because many of the very ancient civilizations held to a similar myth and thus venerated the female image even though the general position of women in those particular societies was not good.

'The evidence that Paul's teachings influenced the Church'
There is no doubt that Paul had an immense influence over early Christianity, not just in the area of attitudes towards women, but also in the more fundamental areas of belief. The evidence that Paul's negative teachings on women influenced the Church can be seen in the writings of the earliest 'church fathers' who represented women as the door of hell, the mothers of all human ills and said that women should be ashamed at the very thought of being female and so should live in continual penance (Lecki). St Augustine and all the other early church fathers were equally scathing ,in their remarks about women and some held every woman responsible for the 'sin' of the first woman, Eve, who, they believed, caused the fall of Adam.

In answer to question 1: Deut. CH.22 v.22; CH.24 v.26.
In answer to question 2: Numb. CH.5 v.12-28.
In answer to question 3: Gen. CH.3 v.16; Gen. CH.24 v.58; CH.4 v.4. It is interesting to note that there is an old Israelite prayer which is recited by Jewish men and it reads: ‘Thank you Lord for not making me a woman'.
In answer to question 5: John CH.16.
In answer to question 6: 1st Peter CH.3; 1st Tim. CH.2 v.l1; 1st Corinth. CH.ll v.3; 2nd Corinth. CH.11.
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G-14 Position of Women in Islam - Spiritual Aspect


1. What is the position of women according to Islam?
2. What is the position of women in Islam from the spiritual aspect?
3. Are there any explicit references in the Qur'an which indicate that believing and righteous women are rewarded in the same way as believing men?
4. Is this spiritual equality between the sexes translated into the practical area of equality in the religious duties Islam prescribes?
5. What are the concessions that Islam accords to women in the religious duties that it sets out?
6. Some may say that these concessions point to a lower status for women and that it is wrong that women should be prevented from worshiping God just because of certain feminine bodily functions - how could the Muslim answer these charges?
7. Ordination of women has become an issue in Christianity, is it permissible in Islam for women to be ordained?
8. How can a Muslim answer those who say that women are accorded second class status because they are made to stay behind the men for prayers and religious instruction in the mosque?
9. Why were all the prophets male and does this suggest that all religions are male-orientated?

‘The position of women according to Islam'
Islam has dignified women and restored to them their humanity and rights. In some 'Muslim' communities women are treated in a manner which is not Islamic because of ignorance and non-application of Qur'anic teachings, however, an objective analysis of the teachings of Islam, the Qur'an, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and its law, all show that in the spiritual, human, economic and social spheres, Islam's position on the status of women stands up to any test.

‘The position of women from the spiritual aspect in Islam'
a. Firstly, Islam does not hold the first woman, Eve, responsible for tempting Adam into committing the first sin.
b. Secondly, at a time when in the Christian world there was doubt and debate about whether women have a soul and whether they were part of the human race (C6-C7th AD), the Qur'an was revealed and asserted that the first man and woman were created from the same essence and that when Allah created human beings (both male and female) he breathed into each one of them 'something of His spirit' and thus each man and woman, is ingrained with the pure spirit of God.

'Evidence that believing men and women will be rewarded in the same way'
The Qur'an contains many verses which indicate that believing and righteous women will be rewarded in exactly the same way as men who are believing and righteous. One such example of the spiritual equality that exists between men and women in Islam is the following verse from CH.3 of the Qur'an: ‘Whosoever doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily We shall quicken with good life and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do' (CH.16 v.97).

‘Practical implications of the spiritual equality between men and women in respect of religions duties'
Both men and women have exactly the same religious duties that is all Muslims must affirm the testimony of faith, perform the five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, give Zakah (poor-due) and make the pilgrimage if they can afford to do so. However, there are certain exemptions and concessions that apply to women because of their natural bodily functions.

'The concessions or exemptions'
When a woman is going through her monthly cycle or recuperating during the post-natal period, she is not required to perform salah (the ritual five daily prayers), and is exempted from having to fast - a duty that is normally required of all adult Muslims. Nursing mothers are also exempted from fasting, but must make up any missed fasts at a later time, just as other women who have missed some fasting must. Women in these categories, however, do not have to make up for missed prayers. A concession which is given to all women is that they are exempted from the obligation to take part in Jihad (in the sense of collective struggle undertaken by Muslim men against evil, in society, or the world in general) i.e., women cannot be conscripted.

'Answer to those who say these concessions place women on a lower status than men'
Muslims should argue that these concessions to women are not an indication of lower status for them, but a tender consideration of the difficulties that women face in their post-natal period, or in their monthly cycle, or when nursing. Fasting from dawn to dusk for example is a duty which should not be undertaken by a nursing mother or a woman in her post-natal period because it would not be good for building her own strength or that of her child. Similarly, women going through their monthly cycle experience many psychological and physiological changes in their bodies which make it difficult for them to perform daily prayers, let alone fast. In compassion, Islam exempts women in these situations from these religious duties - though this does not mean that they are prohibited from worshipping Allah in ways other than the specific form of the salah. Indeed in Islam all the acts that a Muslim performs in his daily life can be acts of Ibadat (worship) so long as the acts are legitimate nets and are done with a good intention. Once women have got over their post natal period or monthly cycle, and have taken a bath, they are able once again to resume the religious duties from which they had been exempted.

‘The ordination of women in Islam'
The question of the ordination of women is totally inappropriate and irrelevant in the Islamic context because there is no 'church' in Islam and therefore no clergy - men are not ordained into any type of priesthood. There is no clergy in Islam, even though Islam allows Muslims to specialize in Islamic studies and therefore become authorities in field such as Islamic law and teachings - thus they can act as religious scholars and leaders. In Christianity, the role of the priest is twofold - a) to conduct the ritual service, and b) to render services to the community and give them religious instruction. In the Islamic framework where ritual is not a major part of its teachings, the form and nature of the 'ritual' five daily prayers make it inconceivable that women should be prayer leaders. In respect of services to the community and religious instruction, there is no restriction whatsoever on women undertaking such duties.

'Why women pray behind men'
The Muslim prayer does not simply involve quiet supplication whilst being seated; the salah includes bowing, prostrations and standing therefore, logically, there is only one place where women could be situated when in congregational prayers and that is behind the men. The reason for this is that if they were in front of the men, or standing amongst them (shoulder to shoulder) neither men nor women could perform the prayer without disturbing the concentration which is required for this spiritual communication with Allah. Thus the positioning of the women has nothing to do with status, but is simply a matter of etiquette and modesty.

'Why all the prophets were male'
Islam teaches that prophets are not selected by people and so there is no question of there being male or female bias. Prophets are selected by Allah and He is neither male nor female. Possible reasons for a man always being chosen for this role include the fact that the Prophet's role is not simply to prophesy, but to go out into the community and combat evil and enjoin goodness, even though he may suffer hurt and abuse by doing so. Thus, he not only leads the believers in their ritual worship, but also may have to lead them in battle. It is inconceivable, therefore, that a woman, perhaps someone who was pregnant, could face up to such duties, indeed. Allah does not select any man to be a prophet - He selects men who have special fortitude. Thus, there have been no women prophets not because women are unqualified spiritually, but simply because the rigors that prophets must face are too great.

In answer to question 2: At the time when the Qur'an was being revealed, a Christian conference of bishops in Rome tried to decide whether women belonged to the human species and whether they had souls! In the end, after heated discussion they did say 'yes' to both questions, out only by a tiny majority. CH.7 v.189; CH.42 v.11; CH.4 v.1; CH.16 v.72; CH.30 v.21; CH.32 v.9; CH.15 v.29.
In answer to question 3: CH.74 v.38; CH.3 v.195; CH.16 v.97.
In answer to question 6: It is important to note that men are also prohibited from performing salah when they are in a state of Janub, i.e., they have not bathed after having marital relations with their wives.
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G-15 Position of Women in Islam - Economic Aspect


1. Does Islam recognize the right of women to own property independently of their husbands?
2. Compare this with the position in the West since the Industrial Revolution.
3. Under Islamic law are women entitled to a share of what is bequeathed by husbands and other relatives?
4. What is the response to someone who thinks it unfair that the woman's share should be half that of the man?
5. Is it permitted for Muslim women to seek work and are they entitled to equal pay for equal work?
6. What is the response to someone who suggests that a woman who chooses to remain at home and not pursue a career is somehow unproductive?
7. What is the response to someone who says that the answer to the above question displays negative 'traditional' views?

‘Women owning property'
In Islamic law women have an unqualified right to own property, a right that does not change on marriage. A woman is also free to dispose of her property, (bequeath it, rent it, sell it, invest it), in any way she likes, without consulting any one else. Incidentally, a Muslim woman is not required to change her maiden name on marriage, she retains her own name: a symbolic demonstration of the fact that even on marriage, Islam recognizes her independent legal personality.

'Western position on women and their property'
According to the Encyclopedia Americana, in English Common Law* all the real property held by a woman at the time of her marriage became the property of her husband - he was entitled to the rent from the land and any profit that might be made from managing it. Though small reforms were made, for example to prevent the husband from transferring his wife's property without her consent, it was not until the late 1870s onwards in England (and even later elsewhere in Europe) that married women achieved the right to enter contracts and own property. In France these same rights were not recognized until 1938. Many Western writers have expressed astonishment that Islam should have recognized property rights for women as early as the C7th AD; this is because they wonder how Muhammad could have initiated these rights for women at a time when women themselves were subject to inheritance and abuse. They forget that Prophet Muhammad was not the maker of these laws, it was Allah who promulgated them and He acts according to right and justice, totally independent of particular social environments.

‘Muslim women's right to a share in inheritance'
At the time of the Prophet (SAWS), women themselves were an object of inheritance because they were considered to be part of the possessions of a man. Pre-Islamic Arabs were not the only community to have such views. The Qur'an however, established the right of women to a share in inheritance and indeed determined the shares that male and female heirs of the deceased should have. This 'determined share is calculated by Allah Himself in His wisdom and cannot be changed: indeed any will which recommends the exclusion of a particular heir renders that will null and void! Furthermore, the verse of the Qur'an detailing the Islamic position on inheritance was revealed in response to a complaint made by a Muslim woman to the Prophet (SAWS) (see below).

The Islamic law of inheritance is extremely detailed, but its two most salient features are that -
a. The extent of the share of inheritance is dependent on the heir's relationship to the deceased; and
b. In most cases, the male's share of the inheritance is twice that of the female's. This is due to the variant financial responsibilities of the male and the female in Islam.

'Women's share of inheritance - unfair?'
The shares to be allotted out of any inheritance are determined by Allah and not by any human being. To conclude that Islamic law is unfair to women because they get half the share of men in most circumstances is to view this particular aspect of Islamic law out of its context. In actual fact, taking Islamic law as a whole, women are much more favored financially than their male counterparts for the following reasons: a. During the period of engagement prior to marriage, any gifts given by the woman's fiance are her own.
b. On marriage, she is entitled to receive a marriage gift, Mahr, (which usually takes the form of money) and this is her own property.
c. If the woman has any properly prior to her marriage, this property continues to be at her sole disposal after the marriage - her husband can have no claims on it.
d. Even if the wife is rich, she is not required to spend a single penny on the household; the full responsibility for her food, clothing, housing, medication, recreation, etc. is her husband's.
e. Any income the wife earns through investing or working is entirely hers, to be spent as she alone wishes.
f. In case of divorce, if there is any deferred part of the mahr still to be paid, it becomes due immediately.
g. The divorced woman is entitled to full maintenance during the waiting period which follows divorce, and is also entitled to maintenance for her children.

Thus, one can see that overall, women are not at all discriminated against; in fact it is clear that men need the extra share of inheritance in view of the commitments they have not only to their own families, but also to other poor relatives who may be dependent on them.

‘Women and work'
There is no legal provision in either the Qur'an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS) which prohibits women from seeking a career or a job. Indeed in the ideal Islamic society it is desirable that a woman is treated and nursed by women, and that female children are educated by women teachers - not only at primary levels (where boys and girls benefit from having women teachers), but at advanced levels also. In Islamic law, however, the most significant role for a woman is that of motherhood and household management: if there is a conflict between this and a career, Islam says motherhood should take precedence because of its importance to society. It follows from this that in normal circumstances there is nothing to prevent women from taking up a career, and if they do so, they are entitled to equal rates of pay with men doing similar work.

'Motherhood - unproductive socially?'
When social development is measured not just in terms of earning money, but also in terms of moral and spiritual advance, then motherhood is every bit as important socially, if not more so. Why is it that going outside the home is considered to be a 'career' whilst work done inside the home is not? If a woman cooks in a restaurant for strangers she is considered to be fulfilled and following a career, but if she stays at home and cook's, sews and manages the affairs of her loved ones, she is considered to be 'at home' and inferior. The biggest problems in contemporary society result from looking down on the role of the mother, yet no one is as productive as she: a husband would become bankrupt very quickly if he had to pay her for all the work she does: sometimes she is 'on call' 24 hours 1 day! There is no greater fulfillment than a happy home with healthy and well brought up children.

'Is the above a negative traditional view?'
To equate tradition with 'bad' and modern thinking with 'good' is incorrect. One can see the price that Western society is paying for the breakdown in traditional family values every day. The breakdown in the family structure leads to women seeking employment in order to support themselves which in turn leads to children on the streets: a prey to criminals. It also leads to young people remaining unmarried which causes other problems.

In answer to question 2: In 'Muslim Institutions', Demombynes says, '..the Qur'anic law gives the, wife ... a status which is in many respects more advantageous than that bestowed by modern European laws...'
In answer to question 3: CH.4 v.7 (revealed after a woman complained to the Prophet (SAWS) that her brother-in-law had taken the whole of her recently deceased husband's property even though she had two daughters.
In answer to question 5: In one hadith, the Prophet (SAWS) said that Allah loves people to do any job they are doing properly. If a woman has children requiring her attention, she will be taking the right decision if she shelves her plans for a career in order to give her children the full attention that they need.
Encyclopedia Americana (International edition), pub. 1969, volume 19, pp.108.
'Muslim Institutions', Maurice Gaudefroy Demombynes (translated by John McGregor)
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G-16 Position of Women in Islam - Social Aspect


1. What is the Islamic attitude towards the birth of girls and what was the common sentiment on this prior to Islam?
2. Are there any specific directives to Muslims to be kind to females?
3. Is a female entitled to education in the same way as the male?
4. Are there certain areas of education which are permissible for girls whilst others are prohibited?
5. What does Islam say about the woman as a wife?
6. Are there any specific privileges that Islamic law bestows on mothers?
7. Is it right for a Muslim man to require his wife to wear one particular type of dress and to cover up, whilst he ignores the dress code himself?
8. Some writers depict the ideal Muslim woman as being confined to the home, is this an accurate picture?

'Islamic attitude towards the birth of girls'
Prior to the advent of Islam, female infanticide was practiced by the Arabs.
Islam not only succeeded in uprooting this evil practice - the Qur'an openly declared it to be murder - but also sought to end the prevalent notion that the birth of a girl was not as auspicious as the birth of a boy. Islam teaches that the birth of any child is a great blessing.

'Specific directives to be kind to females'
There is a hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) that says whoever looks after two girls until they mature, "He and I (the Prophet) will be as close as this" (and the Prophet gestured the closeness of his two fingers). Other texts in the prophetic tradition make the same point, e.g. "Whoever had a daughter and did not bury her alive, nor insult her, nor favor his son over her, Allah will admit him into Paradise". In his own life, the Prophet gave a practical demonstration of these teachings.

'In Islam may a female seek education?'
It has already been shown that there is no text which prohibits women seeking work, indeed, in the ideal Islamic society it is necessary that women should fill certain posts; it follows therefore that women need to have the education and training necessary to take up such important professions as teaching, medicine and nursing, to name just a few. Furthermore, in Islam, learning is not simply a right of everyone, it is a duty and responsibility: the Prophet (SAWS) said. "Seeking knowledge is mandatory on a Muslim male and female". This saying of the Prophet is confirmed by the Qur'an which says that Allah endows a higher status on those who are knowledgeable.

‘Are there limits to the knowledge/education that women may seek?'
There is no provision in Islamic law which specifies those areas of education 'permitted' to women or those areas prohibited. The areas of study which are prohibited to both male and female are few, but include: sorcery and magic for instance. Areas of knowledge which are mandatory for both men and women to study include: fundamental Islamic beliefs, acts of worship, moral teachings, etc. There are certain fields which are particularly recommended for women to study so that they can equip themselves better for the role that Allah has created them for, and these are: medicine, nursing, home management, health care, child psychology, etc. All other fields in the arts, humanities and sciences are permitted areas of study to both men and women so long as they are beneficial.

‘The woman as a wife'
Marriage is viewed as a partnership in Islam. When a woman marries, she is not becoming a slave or a master: only Allah is the Master and all men and women are His bondsmen and bondwomen. The Qur'an does not describe marriage as an inevitable evil, but as a blessing that God endows on man: it is a source of tranquility, peace, mutual love and affection. It follows from this that marriage in Islam requires that there is consent by both parties before the validity of the union is recognized. With regard to the treatment of women in general and wives in particular, the Prophet (SAWS) was very clear and his comments can be summed up as enjoining equity. For instance, he said, "The most perfect believers are those who are best in conduct and the best of you are those who are best to their wives".

'Privileges that Islam bestows on the mother'
The Qur'an ranks compassion and kindness to parents, especially the mother, next to injunctions to worship Allah alone. To a Muslim, the Western practice of putting elderly parents away in a nursing home seems heartless and cruel, indeed it is un-Islamic (see Qur'anic references given below). The Prophet (SAWS) is reported as having said that “Jannah (Paradise) is at the feet of the mother". The Prophet (SAWS) also said that "It is only the generous in character who are good to women and it is only the wicked who insult them".

'Women's observance of the dress code'
The compliance of a Muslim woman with the Islamic standards of dress and behavior should not result from pressure brought to bear by male relatives, her husband or the social norms of society, but from a genuine and sincere desire to obey Allah and please Him. In fact, many Muslim women wear the Islamic dress in spite of opposition from husbands and even from ungodly secular governments in so-called 'Muslim' countries where harassment and actual violence is directed at women trying to obey Allah by covering themselves. Furthermore, it is incorrect to say that the Islamic dress code restricts women lo wearing one particular type of clothing, whilst for men there is no restriction whatsoever; both men and women are required to cover in an appropriate way, certain specified parts of their bodies, although no direction is given as to exactly what clothing, is worn to achieve that level of concealment. The choice in this regard is left to the individual.

'Ideal Muslim woman - confined to the home?'
This idea that Muslim women are confined to their homes is quite wrong. It is even incorrect to say that Islam prefers women to stay indoors all the time. On the contrary, it is mandatory for a woman to learn, and permissible for her to go out to work. Misunderstandings on this point may have arisen from incorrect understanding of a verse in the Qur'an which says, 'stay in your homes and do not bedeck yourselves as in the days of ignorance...' This verse, addressed to the wives of the Prophet in particular, but also to all other pious women simply advises women to stay at home if there is no good reason to go out. It suggests that it is better to stay indoors and concentrate on making a warm and happy household than to go out for no particular purpose. Conclusive proof that women are not required to stay indoors at all times comes from a saying of the Prophet (SAWS), who said, "Allah has allowed you to go out for your needs".

In answer to question 1: CH.81 v.8-9; CH.16 v.58.
In answer to question 6: CH.17 v.23; CH.31 v.14.
It is reported that a man came to the Prophet (SAWS) and asked, "Who amongst all people is most worthy of my good company?" The Prophet replied, "Your mother". The man asked, "Who next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother". The man asked again, "Who next?" Again the Prophet said, "Your mother". Then, in reply to the same question he said, "Your father". Thus, three times he mentioned the priority of the mother. The Prophet (SAWS) is also reported as saving, "Women are but the twin half (or other half) of men, (therefore) they should be treated well".
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G-17 Position of Women in Islam - Political Aspect I


1. Is it permissible for Muslim women to participate in the political life of the community?
2. Is it permissible for Muslim women to express their views on social and legal matters?
3. What is the Islamic position regarding voting rights for women?
4. What is the response to those who say that bay'a had nothing to do with politics, but was simply a declaration of allegiance given to the Prophet (SAWS) as Messenger of Allah?
5. What is the position of Islam on the eligibility of women to he elected to offices of leadership, or to participate in the process of law making?
6. Are there any examples of how women in the earliest Muslim community participated in public affairs?

'Permissibility of Muslim women's participation in political affairs'
Islam is a deen, a way of life, thus it touches on everything including the moral, spiritual, social, political and economic. It is apparent from the Qur'an that the responsibility for maintaining a cohesive society is the responsibility of both males and females: they must co-operate in everything which is righteous, (see reference to the Qur'an given below). This text shows that the totality of believing men and women are supposed to co-operate together, support one another and be the friends of one another in all aspects of social life (including that which is called public affairs, administration, Government). Furthermore, the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) contain instructions to Muslims exhorting them, whether male or female, to enjoin good and forbid evil. Obviously, this exhortation to give advice to other Muslims, to correct and guide them applies at both the private level and the public level. Every Muslim has a duty to participate in the affairs of society.

'Permissibility of Muslim women expressing their views on social and legal matters'
During the lifetime of the Prophet (SAWS) and during the period of rule by the four rightly-guided Caliphs, Muslims behaved and organized themselves in a way that was true to their faith. One can see that in this period women were permitted to voice their views on a number of different social and legal issues and did do so. The first few verses of CH.58 for example, were revealed in response to a woman who came to plead with the Prophet (SAWS) over the way in which she was treated by her husband: ...'God has indeed heard and accepted the statement of the woman who came to plead...' During the Caliphate of Uthman (RA), Aisha (RA) often criticized his decisions and was never told to stop interfering in 'mens' affairs. Again, at the time when Ali (RA) was elected, Aisha objected strongly to his selection, but nobody denied her right to voice an opinion, although later on she regretted what she had said and realized that she had used bad judgment in opposing the selection of Ali. Uthman is recorded as having upbraided one of his aides for attempting to prevent his (Ulhman's) wife from speaking about political affairs. He said, "Let her speak for she is more sincere in her advice than you are!" Thus, women did participate in public affairs; even though the primary function of women in Islam is to be the home-makers, this does not preclude them from full participation in other areas of social and political life.

'Islamic position on voting rights for women'
In the first functional Islamic political system established by the Prophet, the government was not elected by voting. A nominee for public office - the tentatively selected ruler - could only be legitimized if enough people went to him and offered him Bay'a (an oath of allegiance which pledged obedience and support for the ruler provided he followed the commands of God). There is evidence in both the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) that women did engage in giving bay'a. For example verse 12 of CH.60 orders the Prophet to 'Accept! the pledge' of women who came to give allegiance to the Prophet and Islam. Also it is clear from historical sources that the crucial Pledge of Aqabah, a bay'a made to the Prophet (SAWS) by a delegation of people from Medina, included women. Later in his prophetic mission, any man who came to make bay'a to the Prophet did so according to the same precepts as those specified for women in CH.60 v.l2.

'Bay'a - not a political right for women, only a religious allegiance given to the Prophet?'
When women gave bay'a to the Prophet (SAWS), they were not simply giving a pledge to the Prophet of Allah, they were giving their pledge to someone who was the Head of the Muslim community and the Head of its state. Furthermore, the conditions of the pledge were not simply that they should refrain from doing anything which contravened Islam's moral and religious teachings, but also that they should not disobey the Prophet in any order or command which was fair and reasonable - see CH.60 v.12 - this included commands of a political or military nature, in Islam, the moral, spiritual, social and economic areas or life are all interrelated.

‘Eligibility of women to be elected to offices of leadership/participate in law making'
Although the actual process of selecting and electing a leader differs from the West, in essence both the Islamic and the Western models are similar. The key to any proper decision making in Islam is Shura (mutual consultation). Although the first Muslims did not construct a formal building and call it a 'parliament', to which people were elected to meet and discuss various issues, the Caliph would invite people for consultation and to advise him on different issues. After the death of the Prophet (SAWS), there was a growth in the concept of Ahl al hal wal at (lit. people who have the right 'to tie and untie', i.e., any one who had the ability, expertise and experience to give sound judgment in public or political affairs would be regularly consulted by the Caliph. Even during the time of the Prophet (SAWS), women would sometimes be approached in their homes for their opinion or advice on a particular matter. No one is reported as having objected to such deputations visiting women to take their advice; the only requirement was that any consultation was done within the Islamic framework of Adab (good behavior).

'Example of how early Muslim women participated in public affairs'
The second Caliph, Umar (KA), having noticed that people were paying extravagant amounts of Mahr (the marriage gift which is paid to the bride), proposed to place a ceiling of 400 dirhams on it. Any one exceeding this limit would, he said, have the money they paid in excess of 400 dirhams confiscated and given to the public treasury. A woman immediately objected to his pronouncement from the back of the mosque, saying. "You have not right to do this!" When asked why, she quoted a verse from the Qur'an which says that even if a man gives his bride a ton of gold, he may not take it back from her '...except by oppression and injustice...', thus, she argued, since Allah permitted a rich bridegroom to bestow a large marriage gift on his bride, a mere Caliph could not legislate otherwise without contravening the teachings of the Qur'an. There was no public outcry in the mosque because the woman had challenged Umar. Indeed, Umar (RA) said, "The woman is right and Umar is wrong". He also reproached his own lack of knowledge saying, "Everyone is more understanding than you Umar". Thus, a policy proposal made by the Head of State was reversed by an ordinary woman on constitutional grounds.

In answer to question 1: CH.9 v.71. The extent to which it is important for Muslims to enjoin good and forbid evil can be seen from a hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) in which he said, "True faith is advice".
In answer to question 2: CH.8 v.l; CH.60 v.12.
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G-18 Position of Women in Islam - Political Aspect II


1. Can it be said that the way in which a woman overturned a proposal by Umar to limit the amount of mahr that is paid resembles the modern parliamentary political process?
2. Does Islamic law object to women holding positions of leadership or public office in the community?
3. What text from the Qur'an or the Shariah precludes a woman from the being the Head of a state? What reasons are given?
4. What is the basis for excluding women from serving as judges?
5. Does the fact that the Islamic law says that if there are not two male witnesses, one man and two women can be used, indicate a lower status for women?

'Argument between Umar and the woman - resembles modern political processes?'
There are six ways in which it is possible to draw a parallel between what happened during the reign of Umar (RA) and what happens today in parliament:
a. When Umar stood up in the mosque to propose a ceiling in the amount that was payable for mahr, it was in fact the Government producing a proposal to reform a particular aspect of marriage law.
b. The venue for the discussion may not have been a parliamentary building, (it was the mosque), but in Islam, the mosque is not just a place for worship. The mosque has traditionally been used by Muslims to discuss and decide on social issues, political issues, etc. Armies were often sent out from the mosque, foreign emissaries were received there and so on. Although there were no official delegates serving as members of the House, nevertheless it was similar to parliament because people would gather there to hear what their ruler had to say and have discussions with him.
c. The fact that Umar made his proposal in public suggests that people were entitled to express their opinion about his decisions.
d. People from all walks of life were present and could freely criticize if they wished.
e. In the event it was a woman who voiced a criticism of the proposal and the basis of her objection was that the proposal violated the terms of the Constitution: for Muslims the Qur'an, the word of Allah, is the Constitution and no human being can change any aspect of its provisions.
f. Umar, on understanding the point that the woman made, immediately withdrew his proposed law, conceding that it was unconstitutional.

The fact that the narrator of this historical incident does not give the name of the woman involved shows that she was not a prominent or well known member of the Muslim community - she was an ordinary person whom nobody knew. Furthermore, even though the mosque was full of worshippers, many of whom were members of the family of the Prophet (SAWS) and his closest companions, not one of them objected to the fact that a woman had spoken, which shows that it was permissible for her to participate in public affairs. This was by no means the only time when women participated in the affairs of state - when Umar (RA) was martyred, Abdur Rahman ibn Awf was asked to consult people about which of the two short-listed candidates for succeeding to the Caliphate should be chosen: women were among those who were consulted.

'Woman holding positions of leadership and public office'
‘Leadership' is commonly thought of as meaning the head or chief of formal organization; however, it has a broader meaning which conotes positions which are important, carrying the responsibility of directing people. It has already been shown that in the ideal Muslim community, it is desirable to have Muslim women serving as doctors, nurses, teachers etc. - are these not positions of importance, responsibility, leadership because they involve the direction and guidance of people? Even if a woman is not employed outside the home, but is busy looking after her infants, she is still holding a position of leadership, responsibility and guidance because there is nothing more important to society than directing the new generation to the right path, (see the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) referred below). With respect to the specific area of leadership in the sense of holding public office, there is nothing in the Shariah (Islamic law) which says in unequivocal terms that women may not hold positions of leadership or public office. Indeed there is an indication that it is proper for women to hold public office in particular areas, for instance the education field, so long as this position and its nature does not prevent the Muslim woman from fulfilling her other more important obligations. There are three exceptions to this general permissibility of holding positions of public office and that is that women are excluded from being eligible to be the Head of State, a Judge or the Commander of an army.

‘Texts which support this exclusion and possible reasons for it'
Although there is no text from the Qur'an to confirm the exclusion of women from positions of leadership, there is a hadith of the Prophet in which he said, "People will not prosper if they choose as their Head of State, a woman". He is said to have made this remark on hearing that the Persians had selected the daughter of their recently deceased Emperor to rule over them. Jurists have specified that the Prophet was particularly referring to the selection of a woman as a Head of State*. There are several possible reasons for this comment by the Prophet, firstly, it should be remembered that the Prophet was speaking in a specifically Islamic context. In Islam, the Head of the Muslim community is not simply spokesman of his people, with duties and responsibilities to them, he is also the person who, leads the prayers and heads the army in the battlefield: he is not simply a figure-head. It has already been shown that Muslim prayers are such that women cannot be in front of men and even in the most 'liberated' Western societies, one does not see women with so militaristic a mentality that they wish to command armies. In Islam, the position of leadership of the community is not a prize that people fight for, it is a burden and a responsibility which is bestowed on the most fitting person by the people.

'Basis for excluding women from judges'
There is no unanimity amongst jurists on this question. There are those who say that by analogy with the foregoing, Muslim women should not serve as judges a) because the role of the judge has similarities with the role of the ruler; and b) since the head of the family is the husband, it cannot be that a woman should hold as high a position as that of judge. A minority view, however, is that since the above saying of the Prophet (SAWS) specified that women should not serve as rulers in the Islamic state, it cannot he used to exclude women from any other position (At Tabari). Another view, as expounded by Abu Hanifa for example, is that since the Qur'an indicated that women may serve as witnesses in financial transactions, they may also judge on financial and other matters.

'Lower status for women in Islam's witnessing rules?'
The Qur'an says, with respect to the witnessing of financial dealings, that if two men are not available, then one man and two women will suffice. If women indeed had only half the value of a man, then in Islamic law, their testimony would have been rejected altogether. The reason for this rule about the witnessing of financial documents is given by the Qur'an in a very clear verse which establishes the rule (i.e., CH.2 v.282): ...'because if one of them forgets, the other will remind her...' The Qur'an is not saying that women are more forgetful than men, it is simply trying to provide an extra safeguard because debt and financial matters in general cause great sensitivity to arise between people - a fully occupied mother, for instance, could easily forget the terms of some complicated financial matter that she was asked to witness.

In answer to question 2: The Prophet (SAWS) said, "Each one of you is a leader and will be held responsible for his trust: the ruler for his people, a man for his family, a woman for her children and household, a servant or employee for his work - each person is responsible for the trust which is placed with him".
In answer to question 3: *Further research is needed on this subject because one scholar has cast doubt on the actual hadith and the usual interpretations placed on it.
In answer to question 5: CH.2 v.282.
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G-19 Muslim Women in History I


1. Is it permissible for a Muslim woman to be a witness in matters other than financial?
2. Are there examples in Islamic history of Muslim women achieving prominence in matters of faith?
3. Was there any recognition of the faith of Khadijnh (RA)?
4. Did the Prophet (SAWS) say anything about Khadijah's qualities?
5. Are there any examples of Muslim women who achieved prominence independently of their husbands?
6. Are there examples of Muslim women suffering persecution because of their belief in the new faith?
7. Is there an example of a Muslim woman's exposure to danger?

'Women as witnesses'
Some jurists, among them Abu Hanifa, say that a woman's testimony is permissible in all areas except that of criminal cases. The reason given for this view is that women are by nature more emotional than men and so may be shocked and disturbed by crime and will not therefore be able to give reliable testimony. This, however, is not a universal view - other famous jurists, e.g., Al Zuhri have said that a woman's testimony is to be accepted in any matter and certainly, there is nothing conclusive in either the Qur'an or the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) prohibiting women from witnessing any matter other than financial dealings. As to whether the rule that one man and two women should witness financial transactions, applies to all other areas of witnessing, is a matter of interpretation; however, most scholars feel that it is against the spirit of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah to extend this rule to other areas. This is because:
a. Witnessing is mentioned seven times in the Qur'an, and on only one occasion is there a requirement that a two men are not present, a man and two women will suffice (i.e., CH.2 v.282).
b. In CH.24 v.6-9, it is clear that the testimony of a woman is equated exactly with that of a man in the case of adultery: where one spouse accuses the other of infidelity, the accusation by one: spouse is held to be just as valid as the denial by the other.
c. In the other five verses on witnessing, the Qur'an does not specify whether witnesses should be men, women or a combination of them both (see references below).
d. Sayings from the prophetic tradition seem to contradict the view that, as in financial matters, there must be two men or one man and two women, for instance, according to tradition, the Prophet is reported as having settled many disputes on the basis of one statement under oath and one witness - there is no indication whether the witness was male or female , i.e., it could have been either.
e. It is clear from the Qur'an that to witness or testify to something is not simply a right or privilege, but is an obligation and duty on all Muslims. The Qur'an says that any one who is invited to give witness should not abstain from doing so because concealing the truth is a sin.
f. Finally, it is clear that to bear witness is a duty that all Muslims should undertake for the sake of Allah, thus if there is an incident and the only witness to this is a woman or even two women, it is inconceivable in view of Islam's position on justice that any proceedings against those involved in the incident should be dropped, simply because there are no male witnesses to it.

'Example of a Muslim woman achieving prominence in matters of faith'
The honor of being the first person to embrace Islam is not given to a man, but to a woman: Khadijah (RA) the first wife of the Prophet, who without hesitation supported and believed in her husband when he claimed to be a Prophet. Prior to the coming of Angel Gabriel to him, the Prophet (SAWS) used often to retire to a cave on Mt. Hira to meditate and contemplate - Khadijah, his wife never once objected to his being away for long periods of time. After his first terrifying encounter with the Angel Gabriel, the Prophet, in a state of trembling fear rushed home to tell his wife what had happened instead of disbelieving him, she immediately comforted him and assured him that since he had always been a good man, Allah would never harm him. Khadijah not only believed in him, but strengthened him by sharing all his suffering and difficulties, especially in the early part of his prophetic mission when the pagans showed great hostility to him and his message of Islam. Though Khadijah was a rich, noble woman, she stayed by the side of the Prophet and suffered hunger and thirst with him when the pagans established a boycott of the Prophet and his tribe: refusing to trade with them or allow them to buy food, obtain water etc.

'Recognition of Khadijah’s faith'
The highest recognition possible - that of Allah and His Angel Gabriel - came to Khadijah (RA) for her devotion to and belief in the Messenger of Allah. The occasion was when, one evening, Khadijah was about to come to the Prophet with some food for him. Angel Gabriel appeared and said, "Convey to her (Khadijah) greetings and peace from Allah and from me. Give her glad tidings that God has prepared for her a house in Paradise which is made of pearls, wherein there is neither noise nor fatigue nor suffering".*

'The Prophet’s comments on Khadijah’s qualities'
During their married life together, the amount of love and affection that the Prophet showed to his wife is exemplary. He married her when she was 40 and he was 25 years of age, yet he did not take another wife until after she had passed away at the age of 65 - thus he spent his most active years with her alone which shows that theirs was a stable and happy marriage. It is related that the Prophet (SAWS) spoke about women who had achieved 'perfection' in the sight of God, and amongst noble women such as Assiah the wife of Pharoah and foster mother of Moses (AS); and Mary the mother of Jesus (AS), was Khadijah, his own wife. Such was his affection and appreciation of her, that even after her death he was faithful to her memory - often praising her, sending charitable gifts to her family and friends etc. Indeed his affection for her was such that on one occasion, Aisha (RA) was aroused to feel jealousy for her deceased predecessor. The Prophet explained her supremacy over all his other wives saying, "She accepted Islam when other people disbelieved; she had faith in me when other people disbelieved; she supported me with her property, putting it at my disposal when other people withheld their financial support and, Allah gave me all my children through her". (Only one child was born to a wife other than Khadijah).

'Examples of women who achieved prominence independently of their husbands'
Zainab, the daughter of the Prophet, became a Muslim as soon as her father began to preach Islam. However, her husband refused to become a Muslim, so, without hesitation she separated from him, knowing that it was not right to be married to a non-Muslim.
Umm Habiba, became a Muslim whilst her father, a non-Muslim, was violently opposed to Islam and the Muslims: she showed him that to her mind, the bonds of faith were greater than the bonds of kinship.
Fatimah bt al Khattab was the sister of Umar ibn al Khattab who was violently opposed to Islam. When her brother came to her house angered by the news that she and her husband were Muslims, she stood firm even though she was hit so violently by Umar that her face bled, (Umar actually became a Muslim shortly after this incident).

'Examples of Muslim women suffering persecution'
Sumaya was the first person to be martyred for the cause of Islam - her resistance to pagan attempts to force her to renounce her faith resulted in such frustration that Abu Jahl, a leader of the pagans, stabbed her to death. Another woman lost her eyesight through torture, and still others, although not tortured themselves, saw their fathers, husbands and children being tortured, yet they still were not deterred.

'Examples of women bring exposed to danger'
There are many examples of Muslim women exposing themselves to danger for the sake of Islam. One of the youngest to do so was Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr (RA). When the Prophet and he had escaped from Mecca, Asma refused to reveal their whereabouts to the pagans even though she was hit by one of them; and later she stole away to where they were hiding with provisions and news of what the pagans were doing: at the time she was in her early teens.

In answer to question l: Abdul Qadr ‘Auda, 'Criminal Law in Islam', pp.315. CH.2 v.282; CH.24 v.6-9; CH.4 v.l5; CH.5 v.106-7; CH.24 v.4; CH.24 v.13; CH.65 v.2
In answer to question 2: It is reported that when the Prophet (SAWS) lied down Mt. Hira in fear after his first encounter with Angel Gabriel, Khadijah assured her husband that God would not ordain an evil experience for him when ... "you are kind to your neighbors and relatives, you help those who are weak, you are charitable, you speak the truth, you are hospitable and you comfort those who suffer".
In answer to question 3: *Scholars have said that because Khadijah (RA) never raised her voice to her husband, but suffered the noise of the unbelievers upbraiding her husband, her home in Heaven is without 'noise'. She would also be free of fatigue and suffering, say the scholars, because she never caused them to her husband.
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G-20 Muslim Women in History II


1. Are there any examples of Muslim women playing a role in the propagation of Islam (Da’wa)?
2. Are there examples in Islamic history distinguishing themselves in the area of scholarship and learning?
3. Were women active in the social areas, e.g., performance of charitable deeds?
4. Did Muslim women involve themselves in the war effort?
5. Were there any occasions when women actually participated in the battle?
6. What response is there to those who dismiss these early examples of women defending Islam, on the basis that Islam was weak and new at that time?

'Muslim women propagating Islam'
It is an obligation on every Muslim to propagate Islam and invite non-Muslims to accept it. This, like education, is not a right or a privilege but it is a duty and responsibility for both men and women. Examples of Muslim women from early Islamic history who performed this laudable duty include:
Urwa bt Abdul Muttalib, who publicly supported the Prophet (SAWS) during the early part of his mission when the pagans were at their most antagonistic towards Islam.
Umm Saleem, (mother of the famous Anas): After the death of her husband, a rich and noble pagan, Abu Talha, proposed marriage to her. She acknowledged that his was a good offer, but nevertheless rejected it saying, "I am a believer and you are an unbeliever". Furthermore, she criticized his idolatry and when he tried to tempt her by telling her of all the gold and silver he had, she said, "I have no need for your gold and silver, but if you turn to the truth, become a believer, a Muslim. I will marry you and your belief will be my mahr (marriage gift). I do not want any other marital gift from you". Later, Abu Talha did become a Muslim and married her.
Umm Shariq, who secretly visited the homes of pagan women and invited them to Islam even though she knew that Muslim were being persecuted for their faith.

'Scholarship and learning'
Many Muslim women achieved prominence in scholarship and learning during the time of the Prophet, and after him, but the most prominent, of these were:
Aisha (RA), the wife of the Prophet, who was one of the most important sources of prophetic traditions. An eminent Islamic scholar, Abu Musa Ashari is quoted as saying, "Whenever we (scholars) had any complex problem pertaining to Islamic law, we used to go to Aisha and always found that she had some knowledge of it". Aisha often gave Fatwas, decisions, on problems or disputes which required solution.
Asma bt Yazid, a Medinan lady who made bay'a to the Prophet when he came to Medina. She was able to acquire so much knowledge that it became her 'profession' to educate, and many scholars of the following generation derived their knowledge from her tuition.

‘Social action - charitable deeds'
Since women are by nature compassionate, kind, sell-sacrificing and ready to show concern, social welfare is an area in which women can and did excel. From the earliest period of Islam when the practice of Muslims matched most closely the teachings of the faith, one finds many examples of unmatched generosity and willingness to sacrifice. For instance, after the death of the Prophet (SAWS), Abdullah bin Zubayr, a relative to Aisha (RA) brought her (Aisha) a gift of 100,000 dirhams. She immediately distributed the entire amount to the needy; it so happened that she was fasting on that day. When she went home to break her fast at sunset, she found she had no food; she had not for one moment thought about herself when she distributed the 100,000 dirhams.
Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet (SAWS) was so beloved by her father that she was known as 'her father's daughter'; in spite of this, when she and her husband Ali (RA) went to the Prophet to request that he gives them a servant to help them at home, (they were very poor and had to do all the grinding of grain and carrying of water by themselves - to the point that Fatima had blistered hands and Ali had an injured back), the Prophet refused saying, "I cannot provide you with this when there are so many Muslims whose stomachs are aching from hunger". Compare this answer with the altitude of modern-day rulers who squander public money on their family and relatives. Fatima and Ali (RA) did not complain about the Prophet's decision, but gladly accepted an alternative from him: he taught them special supplications to say at different times of the day. Spiritual elevation and the opportunity for increased worship of Allah was accepted by them as being better than simply having an easier and more comfortable lifestyle.
Umm Shifa, was appointed by Umar, the second Caliph, to stay in the market place and protect consumers from being cheated by stall holders. Her opinion was highly valued by Umar (RA).

‘The involvement of Muslim women in the war effort'
Women played an important supporting role in all the defensive battles that the Muslims had to fight alongside the Prophet (SAWS) to safeguard early Islam. They accompanied the men into the war zone and then provided food, drink, nursing services and other logistic help. The evidence for this comes in the form of sayings recorded in the authentic collections of hadith in which various women, particularly Rabia bt Ma’ud, Umm Atiya, Aisha, Um Ayman, Umaya bt Qais Ghafaria, Umm Saleem, Nusayba bt Kab, Umm Taher, Hamna bt Jahsh, Safiya bt Abdul Muttalib, etc. relate how they accompanied the Prophet (SAWS) into various battles in a supporting role. For instance, Umaya bt Qais Ghafaria relates that she pledged allegiance to the Prophet when she was a teenager and asked if he would allow her and other women to accompany him to the forthcoming battle, he said. "Come with the blessings of Allah".
And these women were merely the leaders of countless others whose names are not known, but who participated with them (RA).

'Occasions when the women actually participated in the battle'
Umm Saleem: during the battle of Huneyn, when the Muslims were under fierce attack, Umm Saleem tied a dagger to her waist and told her husband, Abu Talha, that she would kill any pagan who came too close. Neither the Prophet (SAWS), or her husband objected to this.
Nusayba bt Kab, protected the Prophet (SAWS) heroically when his life was in danger during the battle of Uhud. She put herself between the pagans and the Prophet and took up a sword to defend him with the other few Muslim men who were doing so.
Asma bt Yazid killed nine Roman soldiers with a tent pole after the position of the Muslims became critical during the battle of Yarmuk - she had gone out simply with the intention of playing a supporting role.
Safiya bt Abdul Muttalib also killed an enemy soldier with a tent pole during the battle of Khandaq.

'Women defending Islam today'
Danger and oppression do not know any specific time or place: although it is true the need to defend Islam permitted the early Muslim women to fight in its cause, it is incorrect to say that no such circumstances arise now. One has only to look at Muslim men and women struggling against persecution in Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, etc. However, whilst it is obligatory for men to participate in battle to defend Islam, for women this is not so; but they should not be prohibited from joining the battle if need be. Essentially, Islam does not want a mother to leave her infant at home in order to participate in battle, but, those who are free should not be stopped from doing so; women, may not, however, be conscripted.

In answer to question 4: The extent to which women did participate in the war effort can be seen from a saying of Umm Atiya recorded in a collection of hadith. She says that she went to seven battles with the Prophet (SAWS) - her role was to distribute supplies, luggage, food, water, as well as nursing and medical services.
In answer to question 5: It is reported that the Prophet (SAWS) said of Nusaybah bt Kab, "Whether I turned to the right or the left, I saw Nusaybah bt Kab defending me". It is also recorded that she sustained twelve wounds.
In answer to question 6: Some people use the following hadith of the Prophet to say that women should be prohibited from participating in battle: when Umm Kabsha went to him and asked him for permission to take part in a battle, he said, "I am afraid that if I allow you, it will become established practice". To derive that lesson from the hadith is incorrect because it has already been shown that the Prophet permitted women to join their men folk in battle. On the other hand, the Prophet is also quoted as saying to a woman, "Your jihad is the good pilgrimage" - (the woman had complained that since it is not obligatory for women to do jihad by fighting, so they will be unable to get the highest rewards of Allah).
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G-21 Muslim Women in History III


1. What is the reason for focusing on Muslim women who achieved prominence in the early days of Islam?
2. What is known about the situation of Muslim women at later times?
3. What are the reasons for the decline?
4. Relate specific examples of Muslim women being deprived of their legitimate rights, accorded them by Islamic law?
5. How do these examples show an unduly strict altitude towards women?
6. Is there any reference from the Qur'an or prophetic tradition which lends support to the points made in answer to the above?
7. What proof is there that it is not unlawful for males to hear a woman’s voice?
8. Why do some Muslims say a woman's voice is 'awra?

'Reason for focusing on the early period of Islam'
The early days of Islam present a perfect model for Muslims of today because at that time people used to adhere more closely to the precepts of their faith —particularly in the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah when he was guiding their actions: only consenting to those things which conformed with right action. With specific reference to the rights of women, it is clear from this early period of Islam that whereas the social norm was the denial of any rights and independent legal status for women, Islam, through the word of Allah in the Qur'an, sought to institute reforms to change this and establish defined rights for women.

'Situation of Muslim women in later times'
Even though Islam established definite rights for women, and required all Muslims to recognize them, it would be incorrect to say that in all the approximately 1400 years since the advent of Islam, Muslims have been faithful to their Islamic teachings in this respect and treated women in the way that Islam expects. Since the proper treatment of women in the initial period of Islam, there has been a great deal of variation in the Muslim society's treatment of women - ranging from downright oppression and denial of their rights to sincere attempts to treat women in the way specified by the Qur'an. Whether a particular Muslim community treated women in the former or latter way has depended on which country they were in (over 50 countries in the world today have Muslims constituting the majority community), what local customs and traditions are etc. However, in general it can be said that status and treatment of women by Muslims has improved or declined depending on the progress or decline of the Islamic civilization as a whole.

'Reasons for the decline in Islamic civilization'
A decline in the Muslims' commitment to their faith was responsible for the decline in Islamic civilization. When the Muslims began to pay mere lip service to their faith, and were no longer committed to it with sincerity, there was a decline in their civilization. This led to increased ignorance and the growth of improper notions which affected both males and females, although the resulting oppression of Muslim women was greater in degree. Thus, men did not accord women the rights given to them by Islam and women, though they knew what Islamic law had accorded them, must be blamed for not resisting the gradual erosion of the rights given to them by the Qur'an and the example of the Prophet and his contemporaries.

'Specific instances where women's rights were denied'
There were many areas in which the rights accorded to women by Islam were denied to them by men, but four areas are particularly significant:
a. Prevention of women from going to the mosque
b. Daughters given in marriage without their consent
c. The practice of 'purdah' or seclusion of women
d. The voice of a woman came to be regarded as ‘awra, i.e., no man should hear the voice of a woman he is not related or married to.

'Why these four restrictions are contrary in Islam'
a. There are many authenticated hadiths which show clearly that the Prophet (SAWS) himself instructed men to allow their womenfolk to attend the mosque if they wished, and that this was done.
b. In Islamic law, a proposed marriage becomes null and void if the free consent of both parties is not given.
c. Contrary to popular opinion, 'purdah' is a practice of seclusion which has nothing to do with Islam, but was a practice extensively used by the Hindus, Persians, Byzantines and even some Christians. The word 'purdah' is nowhere to be found in the Qur'an; Hijab, which is found in the Qur'an is a different thing altogether. Hijab means modesty in dress and behavior and avoidance of the free mixing of the sexes in order to protect public morality and women from molestation. Hijab does not prevent women from going out for their legitimate needs and from participating in the social affairs of society. Related to this is the question of 'harem', originally coming from the word 'haram', ‘prohibited', which referred to the quarter of a Muslim household which belonged exclusively to the women of the house - wife, children, other female relatives, etc. To protect the privacy of these women, no male stranger would be permitted to enter the harem.* Nowadays, 'haram' or 'harem' is popularly portRayed as a place where so-called 'Muslims' keep their concubines and mistresses in corrupt luxury. From the Islamic point of view, such a practice would be totally abhorrent.

'References from the Qur'an and Sunnah which prove that (a) to (d) above are without basis'
With regard to going out, the Qur'an and collections of prophetic sayings are replete with evidence that women are permitted to go out of their homes. For instance, the very fact that v.59 of CH.33 was revealed shows that Allah does not prohibit women from going out, but simply requests them to be suitably attired. The Prophet himself is reported as having said, "Allah has allowed you to go out for your legitimate needs". In addition to this, it is clear that the Prophet (SAWS) often visited the homes of relatives and friends where the chief host was a woman: he spoke to these women, shared food with them and often asked them for things, e.g., he asked Rabia bt Ma'ud to bring him some water for ablution whilst he was visiting her. Though the gatherings were mixed, everyone observed the Islamic code of modesty, it is clear from this that there was no absolute seclusion of women.

'Proof that a woman's voice is not 'awra''
The proof that it is not prohibited for a man to hear the voice of a woman who is a stranger to him, comes in the form of references in the Qur'an and sayings of the Prophet (SAWS). If it was completely unlawful for a woman's voice to be heard, CH.33 v.32 would not have been necessary: this verse advises the wives of the Prophet to speak in a customary (and not seductive) way to any strangers who speak to them. In addition to this, there are many sayings in the traditions which report that women came to the Prophet to report, suggest, question, request etc. These all prove that a woman's voice is not 'awra, forbidden from being heard by men. Indeed, many of the famous scholars of Islam obtained some of their knowledge from women teachers.

'Basis upon which some claim, that the voice is ‘awra'
Islam's teachings on the rights of women, as they are found in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, are unalterable. However, some people have given their own interpretation to some of these teaching. Thus they say that women could enjoy a great deal of latitude at the time of the Prophet because they were more pious and pure than women today. Others say links between the sexes should be restricted because there is a greater fear of temptation nowadays, because men are more immoral and so on. Still others generalize restrictions which were specifically designed to protect the Prophet's wives.

In answer to question 3: Allah says in the Qur'an that He will not change the condition of a people until they change themselves (by following guidance and obeying the commands of Allah). CH.13 v.11.
In answer to question 5: Aisha (RA) is reported to have related several times that she went to the mosque for the night prayers along with other women and no one objected.
*Historians say that the harem was not a prison, but a very pleasantly laid out part of the Muslim home, containing fountains and gardens.
In answer to question 6: CH.33 v.59. In addition, there is a hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) in which he warned Muslims not to loiter on roadsides unless they could fulfill the following conditions: "Lower your gaze (so as not to stare at passing women), avoid hurting people, respond to greetings of peace with a similar greeting, ordain all that is good and decent and forbid all that is evil". It is clear from this that the Prophet (SAWS) expected women to be outside their homes.
In answer to question 7: CH.33 v.32; CH.58.
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G-22 Muslim Women in Recent History


1. What has been the attitude of Muslim women in recent history?
2. Why is it that the first of these approaches proved to be unsuccessful?
3. What was the viewpoint of those who believed that the status quo should be maintained?
4. Comment on the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) which seems to suggest that a woman only needs to pray, fast, uphold her chastity and obey her husband to go to Paradise.
5. Is it true that the Prophet (SAWS) said that after him, 'men would be tempted by women' - what are the implications of this saying?
6. Some people have quoted the Prophet as saying that women are at a disadvantage to men in matters of religion and the mind, in what context did he say this?
7. Explain the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) in which he says that 'a woman is like a bent rib'.
8. How could a Muslim convince doubters that the interpretations given to the Prophet's sayings related above are valid in the context of Islamic teachings?

'Attitudes of Muslim women in recent history'
It is possible to define three main strands of thought in contemporary history:
a. belief that total Westernization is necessary
b. belief that it is necessary to merely uphold the status quo
c. the call for Islamic revival (increasingly gaining momentum)

The call for total Westernization began to be made from the late C19th, coming at a time when Muslim civilization was at its lowest ebb, not only because of internal decadence and backwardness, but also because of colonial domination - the entire Muslim world was then under the tutelage of Russia, France, England, Italy or the Netherlands. Since this period of decline appeared to coincide with the rising power of the West, Muslims were led to believe that the main reason for the backwardness and social decay of the Muslims was their religion, Islam. The West sought to convince the Muslims that the only way to progress and regain strength was to adopt Western ways in a wholesale fashion. Those Muslims who were not familiar with their faith, particularly those who had a history of collaboration with the occupying powers* believed this diagnosis and called on fellow-Muslims to follow the West uncritically. As part of this process, women were asked to uncover, that is, refrain from wearing modest dress.

'Westernization - why it proved to be no answer'
From the Islamic perspective, there is nothing wrong in reform or improvement. For any change to be successful, however, it must be based on the religion beliefs and values of the people involved. Wholesale adoption of Western values and practice, without any rational process of assessing what is suitable and what is unsuitable, is in itself evidence of decadence and ignorance! Islam teaches that reform cannot be made on the basis of rebellion against Allah, yet this is what the Muslims were doing when they decided to imitate the West uncritically. It is not surprising that the process of Westernization has not been successful. Furthermore, if people had really looked, they would have found that Islam did have the answers to all the dilemmas and challenges posed by the Western challenge - therefore instead of importing new ideas, they should have simply applied Islam's teachings. With particular regard to women, Islam does protect their rights and dignity; if Muslim men were not observing these rights, then the logical thing to do would have been to make them apply it, instead of merely importing something different.

'Views of those who upheld the stunts quo'
Those who called for an upholding of the status quo in Muslim society were reacting with fear to the social and moral threats they saw in the wholesale importation of Westernization, their apprehension being compounded by the fear that Islam did not have the ability or vitality to face the onslaught. They worried that along with the wholesale adaptation of Western ways, the moral laxity of the West would also be imported and thus there would be free mixing of the sexes, morality would decline, women would no longer cover themselves, the institution of the family would break down and so on. These fears were used as an excuse to deny women their rights using the pretext of misinterpreted hadiths which seemed to suggest that women were less than men or, a source of temptation.

'Does a woman merely have to pray, fast, maintain her chastity and obey her husband in 'order to go to Paradise?'
There is such a hadith of the Prophet in which he says that a woman can enter Paradise by any of its doors if she does the things listed above. To interpret this however as saying that all a Muslim woman has to do to gain Paradise is pray, fast and maintain her chastity is erroneous. There are two reasons for this:
a. There are five basic pillars in Islam which are obligatory on men and women - this hadith taken by itself suggests that Muslim woman should not give Zakah or perform Hajj: this is clearly incorrect.
b. During the lifetime of the Prophet (SAWS), it has been shown that women participated in all types of activities outside the home, with the consent of the Prophet.

'Did the Prophet say 'men would be tempted by women'?'
This fear was expressed by the Prophet and it is recorded in authentic collections of hadith. However, when one goes to the original Arabic text, the word used is Fitna and this word is often translated as 'temptation' though it also means 'test' or 'trial'. It is in these senses that the Qur'an uses the same word in the very same context to say that 'surely your wealth and your children are a 'test'/'trial'/'temptation'... (see references below). Thus, Allah is not saying that a spouse, wealth und children are in themselves negative, a fitna, but that when one is blessed with these things, they should not keep a person away from the remembrance of Allah. Everything in life is a lest.

'Are women at a disadvantage compared to men in respect of their minds and their religion?'
The context in which the Prophet (SAWS) said that women were at a disadvantage to men in mailers of religion and mind is important to note. He was exhorting women to do good deeds and in so doing, made an allusion to the fact that Allah had created men and women differently. When someone asked him how women were at a disadvantage to men in matters of religion, he replied: when a woman is in her monthly cycle she cannot perform the ritual prayer (it is a rule of Islam's teachings on purity that neither a man nor a woman can perform prayers if they are bleeding, unless they are purified by bathing first). The Prophet therefore appealed to women to make up for their missed prayers (something that they are not at all blamed for), by doing more good deeds. When asked what he meant when he said that women are at a disadvantage in matters of the mind, he replied that he was referring to the fact that in the case of financial dealings, the Qur'an specifics that if two men are not available to witness a financial agreement, a man and two women can suffice - something which has been explained in earlier sections. In no way was the Prophet saying that women are less intelligent than men. To have said so would go against the teachings of Islam.

'Is a woman 'like a bent rib'?'
This tradition has been recorded in different ways in different collections of hadith: in some it appears that the Prophet had said women are created 'from a rib' and in others he appears to have said, "a woman is like a rib". It is clear from explanations that the former is wrong translation and the later meaning is right. What the Prophet meant was that just as a rib is by nature curved and so will break if attempts are made to straighten it, so also women have a particular nature or inclination and if a man, perhaps the husband, tries to change this nature by force, then, like a rib, she will break - some jurists have interpreted this to mean that there will be a divorce. Thus, the Prophet was not insulting women, but merely appealing to men to be tolerant to their female companions: wives, daughters, sisters. The proof that this is the correct interpretation of this saying is the fact that in another hadith, the Prophet is reported as having said, "Be kind to women because they are like a rib, I recommend you to be kind to them".

'Proof that these interpretations are valid'
The primary sources of Islam are the Qur'an and the Sunnah: the words of Allah and the interpretation given to them by the Prophet. If one goes through the Qur'an, one will find no verse which in any way suggests that women are inferior to men; equally, one would not find any prophetic tradition which contradicts the teachings of the Qur'an. Thus, it is only when one picks isolated hadiths and quotes them out of context that one can get an erroneous view about Islam's position on, and view of women. The Qur'an makes it clear that men and women will get an equal reward for any good deeds that they do in any sphere of life.

In answer to question 1: *For instance in Egypt, Qasim Amin and Huda Sharawi.
In answer to question 5: CH.8 v.28; CH.64 v.14.
In answer to question 8: CH.74 v.38; CH.33 v.35.
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G-23 Muslim Women in Contemporary Society


1. What is the difference between the Islamic revivalist approach to the Western challenge and the previous two approaches discussed?
2. Is there a broad program which indicates methods to achieve this?
3. How can a Muslim answer those who say that custom is an acceptable source of Islamic law?
4. What is the role of a contemporary Muslim woman in trying to improve her position in society?
5. How can a Muslim woman contribute to social development through family involvement?
6. What is the role of the Muslim woman in the broader social context?
7. What role do Muslim women have in aiding the growth and development of women's status and involvement in society?

'Islamic revivalist approach to the Western challenge'
There are four basic premises upon which the Islamic revivalist approach to the Western challenge is based:
a. An awareness that the Muslim women of the first Islamic community were involved in the affairs of the society and that it was during the decline of the Islamic civilization that impediments began to be introduced to prevent them from participating in social affairs. The Islamic revivalist movement therefore calls for the active involvement of women within, of course, the bounds of Islamic law;
b. That any reform or improvement to change the status quo should be based on the word of Allah as revealed in the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS): in particular, his exemplary treatment of women and his statements enjoining good treatment of them on all Muslims. In addition, there should not be blind imitation of imported ideas because Muslims should be leaders not laggards, initiators and not imitators.
c. Recognition that it is an aspiration of Muslim women to pursue happiness, respect and dignity, all of which are allowed to them and indeed are enshrined in Islamic teachings;
d. Realization that the problems and challenges that the Islamic civilization faced were not due to the inadequacy of Islam and Islamic law, but were the result of the fact that Muslims were not applying Islam’s teachings. Therefore, there is a need to go back to the pure, original teachings; the problem is with the Muslims and not with the religion of Islam.

'A broad program which would realize these premises of the Islamic revivalist approach'
Any reform movement which is religiously based must have as its most basic foundation faith in God. This means there should be a willingness to receive and accept the guidance of Allah in organizing, planning and reforming the life of the human being: whether on an individual or collective level. This is the spiritual part of the program. The intellectual part rests upon a proper understanding of Islam through its most authentic sources. There must be a preparedness to use the criteria establish by Allah to distinguish right from wrong: without qualifying these criteria according to time, space, social pressures, the desire to appear modern, etc. Finally the practical or applied element consists of implementing the teachings of Islam in letter and spirit without being diverted by local customs and practices which threaten to modify Islamic teachings.

Custom may contribute to Islamic law, but it cannot be an unconditional, unqualified source for it. Indeed, many local customs can be un-Islamic. In Islam, the relationship between what is customary and Islamic law must be positive or at least neutral. If what is customary is contrary to the teachings of Islam, then custom has to be rejected in favor of Islam. Islamic law cannot be qualified by it.*

'Role of Muslim women in improving their position in society'
Improvement begins on an individual level with awareness that every female, like every male, is a trustee of God on this earth; and carries a grave responsibility for fulfilling the commands of God. A Muslim woman with this foundation and motivation could go a long way towards achieving development and improvement at individual, social and political levels.

'How Muslim women can contribute to social development through family involvement'
The family is the most potential area in which Muslim women can work as their contribution to social development. The way in which a woman as an unmarried daughter relates to her mother, father, brothers, sisters and wider circle of relatives can contribute a great deal to creating an atmosphere of warmth and love in the home: something which Islam, teaches is an essential element in family life. A daughter who is conflict-seeking and unduly militant will not contribute to creating such an atmosphere, whereas one who is patient and conscious of the need to set a good example will be. The woman as a wife should be a truly Muslim wife: carrying out her responsibilities and demanding her rights. She should encourage and inspire her husband to perform his various roles as a Muslim man and should not put barriers in his way if he tries to do this. If she has children, the most noble function she can perform is to be a good mother: not only in terms of the child's material needs, but also his spiritual needs; she should he his first school: inculcating Islamic values in the child.

'Role of women in the broader social context'
The Muslim woman should, in the broader social context, regard herself as a sister to all other Muslims, with the duty (as spelled out in CH.9 v.7l) to enjoin good on them, ask them to refrain from erring and to actually take action to forbid wrong or indecency in her community. She should be aware that her life is important and meaningful and that she has a mission to fulfill, a trust, for which she will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. This accountability cannot be avoided. To fulfill her trusteeship, the Muslim woman (like a Muslim man) should first purify herself, inculcate in herself a firm faith in Allah and believe that His teachings are indeed both true and valid in all aspects of life. In addition, she is required to be consciously submissive to God, which means she should never place her own prejudices, likings and inclinations above the commands of Allah. The second stage is to view Islam as a complete way of life (deen) and therefore, to obey the commands of Allah in all aspects of her own life: not only in the acts of worship which are incumbent on all Muslims, that is, prayer, charity, fasting, remembrance of Allah etc., but also in dress, manners, behavior and so on. She should also equip herself with the skills, abilities and knowledge necessary to play an active role in society, within the bounds of Islamic law. Thirdly, the Muslim woman should have a spirited approach to her work; she should show patience and perseverance in persuading other Muslims that it is legitimate for her to be involved in social activities: enjoining right and forbidding wrong is a duty for both males and females in Islam. Finally, the Muslim woman should participate in the have found that Islam did have the answers to all the dilemmas and challenges posed by the Western challenge –therefore instead of importing new ideas, they should have simply applied Islam's teachings. With particular regard to women, Islam does protect their rights and dignity; if Muslim men were not observing these rights, then the logical thing to do would have been to make them apply it, instead of merely importing something different.

'The role of Muslim men in aiding their Muslim sisters'
Many of the above responsibilities have to be shared. On the individual level, the duties and responsibilities of the male are identical with the female. At the family level, the man should treat his mother, wife or daughter in the way that Islam requires: he should accept her as an independent personality, with individual identity and rights. He should recognize that she, as an individual is responsible before Allah for her actions, therefore he should instill in her a self confidence which will allow her to perform her Islamic duties and responsibilities. Some Muslim men behave in such a way that they become an obstacle to the involvement of their wives or daughters in Islamic work. In actual fact they should not only permit such activities by their womenfolk, they should actively encourage them. Islam teaches that the role of a woman is not simply confined to her family duties, her duties extend beyond this: fundamentally Islam requires her to be a good and productive member of society. It follows from this that Muslim men should encourage and help Muslim women to acquire the unnecessary knowledge, skills, administrative and organizational abilities, etc. which will enable them to be socially effective.

In answer to question 3: *An example of positive social custom is a local tradition of generosity or hospitality, which fits in with Islamic teachings. A neutral custom which has no bearing on Islamic law is, for example, a traditional preference for a particular type of diet. An example of a custom or tradition which goes against Islamic law is the practice of giving daughters in marriage without their consent.
In answer to question 6: CH.9 v.71.
*An example of how she could contribute socially is to be involved in efforts to eradicate the problems of poverty, illiteracy, disease, ignorance, etc. if they exist in the community in which she lives.
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G-24 Islam's View of Sex


1. Explain the connection between this topic and the previous topic of the 'family in Islam'.
2. Explain the general framework of Islam's view of sex.
3. Are there any references from the Qur'an or the prophetic tradition which support the general framework mentioned above?
4. What does Islam regard as excessive behavior in matters of sex? What are the consequences of such behavior?
5. How does Islam seek to solve the problems of sex without falling into the dangers mentioned earlier?

'The relation between this topic and the family in Islam'
The family in Islam is the cornerstone of society and the social system of Islam, and the cornerstone of the family is the woman: she has the crucial role of establishing and maintaining the integrity of the family. Islam views sex as a practical aspect of its perception of the family.

'Islam's perception of sex'
Sex is an aspect of human behavior; however, in Islam, behavior of any kind is not divorced from the belief, understanding and basic frame of mind of a person. Thus, a person who believes in Allah, understands his individual responsibility to fulfill his God-given mission on this earth, and realizes that this earthly life will end with death, then resurrection and accountability, will definitely behave in a different way from someone who has none of these beliefs. Actions are tied to an individual's perception of his destiny. It follows from this, that in the Islamic perspective, when trying to reform or improve any type of behavior, including sexual behavior, it is necessary to reform the beliefs of the erring individual or society in the first place.

According to Islamic teachings, the human being has three aspects: the spiritual, intellectual and the physical. Naturally, he has an aspiration to satisfy all these aspects and, uniquely, Islam provides satisfaction to all of them; thus for the spirit, Islam enjoins remembrance and worship of Allah. For the intellect, there is Allah's invitation to all human beings that they should ponder on, and understand the universe and the natural laws that He has created to govern both it and mankind. Finally, for the physical aspect there is the permission to satisfy the need for food, sex and other material things. In Islam there is no sense whatsoever of the satisfaction of the sexual needs being contradictory to the spiritual nature of man. Islam permits human beings to satisfy all these three types of legitimate needs, the only qualification being that they should be satisfied according to the commands laid down by God: i.e., they should be satisfied in a wholesome and pure manner, without excess.

'Examples from the Qur'an and Sunnah which support this framework'
The Qur'an is replete with information on the relationship of faith and belief to good deeds and corrects behavior. The Qur'an also contains references which prove that the human being does indeed have three aspects: spiritual, intellectual and material, (see references below). It follows from this, that Islam teaches that it is legitimate for man to attempt to satisfy the needs created by the three aspects of his being: ...'fair in the eyes of men is the love of the things they covet: women, children, heaped up hoards of silver...' (CH.3 v.14). The Qur'an does not condemn man for having this love, it simply reminds him that '...such are the possessions of this world's life, but in nearness to God is the best of goals to turn to...' Thus it asks him to strike a balance between legitimate pursuit of material gain and the pursuit of the rewards of the Hereafter. The only uncleanliness and impurity comes from the immoral and excessive pursuit of material pleasures, particularly when it is done by using unlawful methods.

'Excessive behavior in matters of sex'
It is possible to identify two extremes pertaining to sexual morals which have appeared throughout history. The first is the view that sex is unclean and contrary to goodness, spirituality and faith in Allah - something to be suppressed and resisted. This view resulted in the institution of monasticism and celibacy; and in the belief that marriage and sex were inevitable evils, rather than blessings from God. The second more predominant view is that which allows the pursuit of sexual and other pleasures regardless of moral considerations and the harmful effects on both individuals and society at large. It is known from historical sources that the former view led to psychological problems and the association of sex with demonic powers; whereas the latter led to widespread adultery, fornication, preoccupation with sex, the development of sex as a business, etc. Both of these extremes go against human nature which on the one hand requires that certain desires are fulfilled, in moderation, within the moral framework that religious teachings provide, and at the same time protects the individual and the family from the dangerous consequences of unhampered pursuit of sexual satisfaction.

'Consequences of unbridled pursuit of sexual desire'
It has been noted by many observers, including non-Muslims, that a great many harms result from an over pre-occupation with sex. There is harm to the health of the individual, his moral character, his ability to be patient and to persevere and so on (for instance, it has been noted by historians that some well-known military defeats can he put down to the sexual problems experienced by the losing army). When an individual satisfies this sexual desire regardless of necessity, his moral character is destroyed because his indulgence leads to selfishness, opportunism, lack of responsibility and care for family, lying, deception, internal conflicts in the conscience of the individual, drug addiction, theft, rape and even murder. And it is not just the individual who suffers; society as a whole and the family in particular, suffers from the degradation of the human being in this way.

'Islam’s solution to the problems of sex'
Islam attacks the problem on a number of different levels. On the individual level: Islam teaches that an individual should be brought up in such a way that his heart contains Taqwa, sincere God-consciousness. Thus he will be able to persevere in the face of any temptation created by powerful sexual promptings. Together with this faith, he should additionally be made aware of the teachings of Islam and know right from wrong: thus he will never be confused between vice and virtue, and will realize that Islam prohibits in no uncertain terms, the satisfaction of the sexual urge outside the bounds of marriage, (Islam prohibits not only pre- and extra-marital sex, but also all other types of perversions, e.g., homosexuality, which are common-place today). In return for this strictness in defining when needs may be legitimately fulfilled, Islam teaches a very healthy attitude to sex, encouraging its satisfaction within the bound of marriage. The Prophet (SAWS) acting on the injunctions in the Qur'an is recorded as having said several things on this topic. From what he said and practiced himself, it is clear that a) marriage and sex are permissible to Muslims, and indeed are things that Allah rewards the Muslim for, providing his actions fall within the boundaries of Islam; b) there is a certain etiquette in sexual behavior between spouses which should be followed to avoid selfishness; and c) for those who wish to preserve their chastity, but do not have the means to marry, the practice of fasting is available.

In answer to question 3: CH.18 v.107; CH.15 v.29; CH.32 v.9; CH.38 v.72; CH.2 v.31; CH.16 v.78; CH.6 v.2; CH.38 v.71; CH.3 v.14-5; CH.28 v.77.
In answer to question 6: The evidence for Islam's healthier attitude towards sex can be seen from the selection of sayings of the Prophet (SAWS):
a. "I am the most pious of you and the most fearful of Allah, however I pray and I sleep; I fast but I break my fast, and I get married, and whoever of you deviates from my way is not of me".
b. "Whoever gets married has completed half of his faith, and therefore let him be conscious of Allah in the other half of his faith".
c. He said that there are three types of people who deserve the help of God: those who struggle in His path, a person who seeks his freedom, and the person who wants to get married to maintain and protect his chastity. He also surprised his companions by saying that whenever a husband and wife share intimate relations, they are rewarded because they have satisfied their legitimate needs in a halal way.
d. Finally, the Prophet (SAWS) said, "Muslims should not go to their wives like animals but should send a messenger". When asked what this 'messenger' was, he replied, "The tender kiss or pleasant talk". He also prohibited the divulging of information about intimate relations.
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G-25 Selection of Spouse and Engagement


1. Since marriage has such a central position in Islam, what is its basic significance and philosophy?
2. What criteria does Islam suggest one should follow when selecting a spouse for marriage?
3. Are there any such criteria to guide females in selecting their marriage partners?
4. In Islamic law is it permissible for a woman to take the initiative in seeking marriage to a man?
5. Many non-Muslims who know that dating and courting are not permissible in Islam, wonder at how a spouse can be selected Ewhat is the Muslim's answer?

'Significance and philosophy of marriage in Islam'
It is clear from the Qur'an that marriage can be looked at on three different levels:
a) as a source of overall human solidarity and cohesiveness;
b) as the cornerstone of the family structure and the only legitimate way of continuing the human race (function of procreation); and
c) the specific relationship which exists between a husband and his wife (see Quranic reference below).

In one of these references from the Quran, marriage is described as a sign of Allah. This is because marriage is a sign of God’s love of, and interest in, the needs and nature of mankind. This approach should be contrasted with that of some non-Islamic sources which view marriage as a reminder of the fall and sin of mankind! The use of the word azwajan in this reference, (CH.30 v.21), is important as it means ‘spouseE which is a neutral term referring to male or female. This shows that marriage is a mutual matter in Islam Eit is not simply a question of a man finding his mate. This implies that there is both human and spiritual equality between the sexes.
More to add here....


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G-26 Engagement (continued)


1. What is the reason for the precaution that prospective couples should be in the company of members of their families when talking to each other?
2. Is it permissible for one to see one's fiance - without the family being aware of it?
3. In engagement, are there any special or recommended procedures to follow?
4. What happens if after giving the engagement gift, the engagement is broken? Should the gift be returned?
5. Is the answer to the above equally true of a woman's gift to her fiance
6. In addition to the gifts which may be given, are there any additional financial liabilities which result from becoming engaged?
7. Are there any other basic rules to observe in engagement?
8. What is the importance of compatibility and how does it affect the selection of a spouse?
9. What are the categories of women whom it is not lawful for a man to marry?

'Reason for the prohibition against prospective couples meeting each other in privacy'
Since engagement is only the first step towards marriage, and not marriage itself, the possibility that the eventual outcome of the engagement may not be marriage has to be considered. For this reason, it is vital to protect the reputation of both the man and woman especially with regard to their chastity. Therefore they are not permitted to meet in private. In addition to this, it is quite possible for an unscrupulous man to exploit the dreams of a girl about getting married and use any privacy afforded during the engagement period to achieve whatever he wants from the girl and then abandon her without marriage, and possibly with a pregnancy. In general, therefore, Islam's moral teachings say that no male and female should be alone together unless they are married or closely related: this injunction is a protection and safeguard.

'Permissibility of observing one's fiance'
It is permissible to look out for one's fiance, if necessary to increase one's own affection for him/her etc. For instance it is related that Jabir bin Abdullah, one of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) used to hide behind a tree to watch his fiance prior to his marriage to her.

'Procedures to follow in engagement'
In Islam there are no particular formalities to be followed in the matter of the engagement. It is simply an informal promise of marriage by a man to a woman, usually signified by the giving of a gift and a small party which serves as a means of announcing the engagement.

'What happens if the engagement is broken after an exchange of gifts?'
In Islam, Hiba, (gifts) have certain rules attached to them. There are two main categories of gifts: those for which no return is ever expected, (e.g., a gift given to a poor or needy person) and the gift given in return for, or in expectation of something: e.g., the engagement gift given in expectation of marriage. With this second type of gift, jurists say that if an engagement is broken by the female side after the giving of the gift, then the man is entitled to have the gift returned to him if it is still available, (if it is not available, because it was used up or sold, he is entitled to compensation). If on the other hand, the break comes from the male side, he is not entitled to get his gift back according to the Maliki school of thought; but is entitled to get it back if it is readily available, according to the Hanifi and other schools of thought.

'A woman's gift to her fiance'
If a woman gives a gift to her fiance and then the engagement is broken, the same rules as above apply to the return of the gift.

'Other financial liabilities which result from engagement'
Since engagement is simply a promise to yet married, a moral obligation which should not really be broken without a good excuse, there are no additional financial liabilities for a man making a proposal of marriage. Note, that contemporary jurists have said that if a man, on his engagement requests his fiance to give up her job and she does so, then, if the engagement is broken, she is entitled to receive compensation from him. Jurists such as Dr. Sabuni say that the amount of compensation she receives should be equal to one half of the mahr (marriage gift) which had been proposed.

'Basic rules to observe in the matter of engagement'
a) The Prophet (SAWS) said that a man should not engage a woman who is already engaged to someone else. This is not only a matter of courtesy, but also prevents bad feeling and disputation between the individuals and families concerned.
b) The same applies to a woman: she should not intervene between a man and his fiance to initiate a proposal of marriage to him.
c) A Muslim should not get engaged to a woman who is in the statutory period of waiting after being divorced (revocable divorce): he must wait for three months following the divorce because it may be that the estranged couple will be able to reconcile their differences and return together.
d) A woman who is recently widowed may not be approached on the subject of re-marriage for one hundred and thirty days. However, it is permissible in this case, and in the case of a woman who has been irrevocably divorced and is in her three month waiting period, to hint at the possibility of marriage; this is known as Ta'arid.
e) One should observe the need for compatibility between the man and woman before initiating engagement.
f) One should not become engaged to a woman who is in one of the prohibited categories specified by the Qur'an.

‘The importance of compatibility'
The Prophet (SAWS) said "A woman should only be married to a person who is good enough for, or compatible with her". Some jurists have interpreted this to mean that the man should be of the same financial, social and educational status as the woman, however, a better interpretation which is in fact supported by the Qur'an is that so long as there is reasonable promise of success in the marriage, then the couple are compatible. Furthermore, since every true believer is compatible with every other true believer, it is clear that the main point of compatibility is piety. The Prophet (SAWS) permitted marriages between people of vastly different social status and financial backgrounds, knowing that it is not these criteria which make for compatibility. This is not to say that other factors should not also he considered in matching a couple: it is obvious that in most cases, a 70 year old man and 20 year old girl would be incompatible and a big gap in educational backgrounds could preclude a proper rapport between two people.

‘Categories of women (and man - the same rule applies) who are not lawful to be sought in marriage'
Permanent prohibition:

A man is prohibited from ever marrying the following categories of women:
a) Women who have a relationship of lineage to him as ancestors (e.g., mother), descendants (e.g., daughter or grand daughter), the branches of his parents and grandparents (e.g., aunts and nieces) and other descendants of his parents (e.g., sisters - full or half).
b) Women who are related to him through marriage for instance, mother-in-law, step daughter, a widow or divorcee of his father or his son.
c) Women who are related to him through suckling, for the Prophet (SAWS) said, "Anything prohibited by lineage is also prohibited by suckling". Thus a man may not marry the woman who suckled him nor other girls suckled by her, nor the sisters of the foster mother.

Temporary prohibition:
A man may not marry a woman who does not believe in any revealed religion, until she believes; and he may not marry a woman in her waiting period after divorce.

In answer to question 1: Note the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) in which he says, "Let no man be in privacy with a woman who is not lawful unto him, or Satan will he the third".
In answer to question 7: An example of Ta'arid is to say to the widow or woman who is in her waiting period, "I am hoping to get married soon" or "I am praying to Allah that He will give me a pious wife like yourself", or words to this effect.
In answer to question 8: CH.49 v.10; CH.49 v.13; CH.2 v.221.
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G-27 Marriage Laws in Islam 1 (Forbidden Categories)


1. Explain the reason for the prohibitions against marrying certain categories of women.
2. Are there any other restrictions which apply?
3. If the adulterer or fornicator repents, if he/she given a second chance in Islam?
4. If there is an accusation of adultery in the marital relationship, does that accusation invalidate the relationship between the couple?
5. What are the restrictions which prevent Muslims front marrying non-Muslims?
6. Is it permissible for a Muslim to marry a woman from the People of the Book?
7. What is the response to those who argue that since Christians for example, associate partners with God, inter-marriage with them should not take place, because they are not really the People of the Book?
8. What precautions should one take when considering marriage to a non-Muslim who is a member of the People of the Book?

'The forbidden categories in Islam's marriage laws'
The prohibited categories of women to whom a Muslim man may not get married are detailed in one verse of the Qur'an, namely CH.4 v.22-24. Taking each prohibited category in turn, it is easy to see the logic behind the prohibition:
a) The prohibition against marrying a widow or divorcee of one's father or a step-mother ended a pre-Islamic practice which was based on the idea that a wife was part of the estate of her husband and could be inherited along with his other possessions. Islam asserted the principle that a woman cannot be the subject of inheritance, but on the contrary is entitled to something from the estate of her husband. A step-mother, whether widowed or divorced is considered to be as a mother, and therefore may not be married to her son or step-son.
b) In almost all culture's, mothers, daughters and sisters are not considered for marriage because the love, adoration and respect one has for these close relations should not be marred by the love engendered by sexual desire.
c) Aunts (whether on the father’s or mother’s side) are like mothers and so may not be married; equally, nieces are like daughters, and for the same reason cannot be married.

All these categories of women are maharim, irrevocably and totally prohibited for marriage. (Equally maharim for women is marriage to the widower of their mother, or step-fathers; brothers, sons, uncles, etc).
Apart from the instinctive, non-sexual feelings all normal human beings have towards these categories of women. Islam also prohibits marriage to these categories of relatives because marriage is supposed to expand the circle of relations, in order to strengthen the Islamic society. In addition to this there is the medical consideration: it is well-known that inter-marriage amongst one's relations can harm the off-spring*.

A Muslim is also prohibited from marrying,
d) A close relative through the relationship of suckling: the woman who suckled a baby is regarded as its mother, therefore a boy may not marry his foster-mother, any other children she suckled (because they are his sisters), or the sisters of the foster-mother: they are his aunts.
e) His daughter-in-law, because in Islam she is considered to be like his daughter.
f) Two sisters at the same time. The sisters' relationship would obviously be strained if they were both married to the same man simultaneously.
g) A woman who is already married.

'Other restrictions relating to chastity'
In one verse of Qur'an, the Qur'an says that those guilty of adultery or fornication should not be permitted to marry those who are chaste and innocent of such actions. This prohibition is a manifestation of the following concerns: a) Islam's moral teachings prohibit all types of illicit sexual relationships. This restriction ensures that those guilty of breaking Islam's moral code in this respect will get no reward for their evil actions. On the other hand, the chaste are rewarded with the permission to marry only from amongst themselves. b) These serious consequences act as a deterrent to those contemplating such illicit relationships. c) Since the purpose of Islamic marriage is tranquility and fellowship, and one cannot have this if one partner is God-fearing and chaste whilst the other is unchaste, Islam ensures that two people who are incompatible in this respect will not be married together. d) Concern for the medical harms which result from illicit relationships, such as venereal disease.

'Repentance fro in those guilty of adultery and fornication'
In Islam, sincere repentance must take three specific forms:
a) the wrong action must cease immediately;
b) the wrongdoer must feel remorse for his/her wrongdoings; and
c) he/she must be determined to never fall into the same error again. If this true repentance takes place, then in Islam, there is a chance of forgiveness from Allah. It is not clear from the Qur'an whether the prohibition against marrying those guilty of fornication or adultery is irrevocable or not. By and large, Muslim jurists agree that since even greater sins than adultery and fornication can be forgiven, then with true repentance, adulterers and fornicators may be forgiven too.

If a Muslim wishes to marry a woman who has been guilty of involvement in illicit relationships, jurists normally advise that as a safeguard, the man should wait for between one to three months to see whether his intended is going to have any issue from those illicit relationships. If she is pregnant, then he must wait until she has delivered her baby before he can marry her.

'The effect on marriage of the accusation of adultery'
Islam's teachings in the case of an accusation of adultery by one spouse against another have been mentioned already in G-13. Although no particular punishment is prescribed - the wife for instance, if accused, simply has to swear that she is innocent of her husband's accusation it is obvious that the marriage relationship cannot continue between the couple. In Islamic law, they should separate and the divorced woman becomes irrevocably prohibited to her former husband.

'Other restrictions - related to the religion of the intended spouse'
In Islamic law, a Muslim (male or female) is not supposed to get married to a person who associates partners with God, is an atheist, (or a committed Marxist), or rejects Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) as the last messenger of God.

'Permissibility of marrying a woman from the People of the Book'
The Qur'an specifically permits Muslim men to marry ...'the chaste women from among the People of the Book'- The term People of the Book is usually interpreted as meaning Christians and Jews. The jurists have said that it also applies to people who sincerely believe in God and His prophets and revelations. This concession is not a recommendation, it is simply a gesture of tolerance and goodwill towards this group of believers.

'Answer to those who say that the Christians are not really the People of Book since they now associate partners with God'
It is known that at the time of the Prophet (SAWS), some of his contemporaries, e.g., Abdullah ibn Umar, argued along the lines that the Christians of their day were not true followers of Jesus (AS) because they believed that he was God incarnate, or the son of God, etc. In spite of this, Allah revealed to Muslims in the Qur'an that there was a distinction between the polytheists and idolaters on the one hand, and Jews and Christians on the other: they are distinguished as the 'People of the Book'. It is clear that the Qur'an makes it lawful for Muslim men to marry chaste women from among them; although many jurists and scholars, e.g., Abdullah ibn Umar have discouraged it, or said that Muslims intending to do this should take precautions.

'The precautions'
One of the most competent jurists of contemporary times, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, in his 'Fatwa Muassira', has said that:

  • The Jews or Christian woman one is interested in marrying should be a believing/practicing member of her faith not someone who just happens to be from a so called 'Christian'/'Jewish' country.
  • The woman should be chaste - the Muslim should investigate whether her moral upbringing has been in line with Islam's moral teachings as far as is possible. For instance, if the woman is unmarried she should be a virgin.
  • She should not be from a people who are enraged in hostility against Muslims: the Qur'an warns against befriending such people.
  • It should be ascertained that there will be no negative consequences from the marriage - either for the Muslim himself, or for other Muslims.

Possible harms include,
  • the fact that Muslim, women, who may only marry Muslim men, will suffer from the fact that Muslim men have chosen to marry non-Muslims;
  • the threat to family stability if the Muslim man is not capable of directing his children in an Islamic way because of the dominating influence of his non-Muslim wife. If there is a possibility of these or other negative consequences from marriage to a non-Muslim, then it is not lawful for the Muslim man to marry non-Muslims: particularly in an environment or society which is characterized by anti-Islamic pressures as a norm.

In answer to question 1: *The medical harm which results from inter-marriage amongst close relations prompted one jurist, Al Ghazali, to say that it was not recommended to marry one's cousin, even though the Qur'an does not prohibit this.
In answer to question 2: CH.24 v.3; CH.5 v.6; CH.4 v.25; CH.24 v.26.
In answer to question 3: CH.24 v.3; CH.25 v.68-70.
In answer to question 5: CH.2 v.221; CH.60 v.10.
In answer to question 6: CH.5 v.6.
In answer to question 7: CH.22 v.17; CH.98 v.l.
In answer to question 8: CH.60 v.89; CH.58 v.22.
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G-28 Marriage Laws in Islam II (Validity of Marriage)


1. Is there any evidence from the Qur'an which supports the prohibition on Muslim women marrying any non-Muslim man?
2. Why is it that a Muslim female is prevented from marrying a man from among the people of the Book?
3. What is the answer to those who say that Muslim men who marry non-Muslims are just as likely to be the risk (particularly in respect of their children) as Muslim women?
4. What happens in the case of a non-Muslim married couple, one of whom subsequently embraces Islam and wishes to practice the faith?
5. Is the marriage contract in Islam a civil or a sacred one?
6. What are the main conditions for the validity of the marriage contract?
7. What additional conditions are required?
8. Is it permissible for a Muslim woman to marry without the permission of her guardian? If so, what evidence is available to support this view?

'The prohibition against Muslim women marrying non-Muslims'
The Qur'an specifically prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims. The verse of the Qur'an which contains this injunction was revealed when there was an influx of Muslim women into Medina who had fled from their non-Muslim husbands and families in Mecca. In CH.60 v.10 of the Holy Qur'an, Prophet Muhammad is advised to test the women to see if they have indeed fled for the sake of Allah and if they have, '...then send them not back to the unbelievers for they are not lawful for them'. From then on, all non-Muslim men were prohibited lo Muslim women for marriage (including man from among the People of the Book). The prohibition against Muslim women marrying men from among the People of the Book is also clear from the fact that in CH.5 v.6, it does not say that chaste men as well as chaste women are permissible to Muslims as spouses, only chaste women from amongst the People of the Book are permitted.

'The reason for the prohibition on Muslim women marrying men from among the people of the Book'
First1y, this injunction is not man-made, it has Divine origins; Allah is guiding and protecting mankind through this prohibition. Possible reasons for it centre on the fact that since it is the roll of the husband to be the leader and director of his family, it is natural therefore that the religious freedom of the Muslim woman would be at stake if she was married to a non-Muslim husband. Whereas a Muslim man who is married to a Jewess or Christian woman would a) recognize her religion as being divinely inspired, b) acknowledge the prophethood of Moses or Jesus (AS) and the scriptures that they received from God and c) respect the religious freedom of his wife etc, a non-Muslim husband would, in almost all cases, fail in these three respects. Since Islam is not simply a matter of belief but a complete way of life, affecting in the Muslim's behavior, social actions and family relations, there is a very real danger that a woman's commitment to her faith and her religious freedom would be undermined by marriage to a non-Muslim.

'Answer to those who say that this same risk applies to Muslim men who marry Christian or Jewish women'
Islam does acknowledge that Muslim men may be at risk in terms of their own faith and more importantly the faith of their children, if they marry non-Muslim women, that is why it says it is unlawful for them to marry non-Muslim women if there is any indication of negative consequences resulting. In Islam the basic purpose of any marriage is fellowship and partnership in the spiritual and intellectual as well as physical areas of married life. The basic rule is that a Muslim should marry a fellow Muslim because they will enjoy the experience of sharing the same beliefs. When Islam allows Muslim men to inter-marry with Jews and Christians, this is a gesture of good will and tolerance, but it is a qualified gesture. It is also important to bear in mind that something which in general might be permissible - can be unlawful if it is harmful, and inter-marriage may be in this category.

'Islam's position in the case of a non-Muslim couple, if one spouse decides to embrace Islam'
If a non-Muslim man decides to embrace Islam, there is no difficulty if his wife chooses to remain a non-Muslim. If on the other hand, the wife becomes a Muslim and her husband refuses to follow her, things become difficult because a Muslim woman should not be married to a non-Muslim; instantaneous divorce however is not essential. Islamic jurists usually recommend a waiting period in which time is given to the husband to consider whether he would also like to embrace Islam in order to keep his family together, (there should be no matrimonial relationship between the couple during this period). If the husband embraces Islam, believing his wife's decision to be right, they resume their married life together; if not, there has, ultimately, to be separation. This is a very difficult problem which many non-Muslim women who embrace Islam are facing - the commitment and courage of these women in wanting to practice Islam is reminiscent of the courage of the early Muslim women.

'The Islamic marriage contract - sacred or civil'
The Islamic marriage contract is not a 'sacrament' or 'sacred' and therefore it is not a requirement that marriages be officiated by a priest or religious official. This is because in Islamic law, there is no distinction between the sacred and the mundane, the civil and the religious. Also, there is no aversion to sex and marriage in Islam as there is officially in Christianity. As a result, there is no necessity for a priest to officiate at an Islamic wedding (in fact there are no priests in Islam) Traditionally, however, families like to have an Imam to supervise the conduct of the marriage ceremony and especially to bless the couple. The Islamic marriage contract is 'sacred' in the sense that it is something which is based on Divine decrees: it is a solemn covenant between two people.

'Conditions for the validity of the marriage contract'
a. Acceptance of, and agreement to the marriage contract by both parties: i.e., the husband and the wife-to-be must specifically agree to the contract in a direct and unequivocal way*.
b. There must be two competent witnesses (Muslims) to the contract. If the Muslim is marrying a non-Muslim woman, a witness from her side is acceptable according to some jurists (e.g., Abu Hanifa).
c. The wife and husband-to-be must not be from among the categories prohibited in Islamic law.

'Additional conditions which may be applicable'
a. In the rare case of the marriage of a minor, Islamic law says that there must be specific consent from the child's guardian, or if there is no guardian, from an Islamic judge.
b. There should be no deception, misinformation or concealment of facts relating to disease, disability etc. on the part of either of the marriage partners. A request to invalidate the marriage can be made if deception is discovered.
c. If a woman marries herself to a man without the consent of her guardian, the guardian may apply to have the marriage invalidated in the interests of the girl, e.g., if a girl, when she is at an emotional age, decides to marry a drug addict, her father can apply to have the marriage invalidated in his daughter's best interests.

'Permissibility of a Muslim woman giving herself in marriage unilaterally'
According to some jurists, e.g., Abu Hanifa, a woman may marry without her guardian's consent. The majority of jurists disagree with this view because the Qur'an and sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) indicate quite clearly that a marriage contracted without the consent of the girl's guardian is void. Those who take the opposite view say that there are verses of the Qur'an which show that marriage is in the hands of women; and, since she is free to negotiate a financial agreement, she should also be able to negotiate a marriage contract for herself (see references below).

In answer to question 1: CH.60 v.10; CH.5 v.6.
In answer to question 6: *A typical formula for accepting and agreeing to a proposal of marriage is: Girl's Father: "I give you my daughter (name) in accordance with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS) and in accordance with the mahr agreed between us and Allah is my witness". Bridegroom (or his agegnt): "I accept marriage to your daughter in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS) and in accordance with the mahr agreed between us and God is my witness".
In answer to question 8: CH.24 v.32; CH.2 v.232. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported as saying, "...if a woman marries without consent from her guardian, her marriage is void".
Return to contentsContents


G-29 Marriage Laws in Islam III (Marriage Contract)


1. What is the role of the guardian in the marriage of an adult woman?
2. Is there no minimum age of marriage in Islam, since it seems to permit the marriage of minors?
3. What does Islam teach about a woman's right to choose or accept a man as her husband, and how does this teaching compare with the actual practice of Muslims?
4. Is the marriage gift in Islam equivalent to a dowry?
5. Is it right for the family of the bride to use her marriage gift to buy furniture and so on for her?
6. Is there any formula for arriving at the amount of mahr - is there a minimum or maximum amount?

'Role of the guardian in the marriage of an adult woman'
There are two opinions about whether it is necessary for the guardian of a woman to consent to her marriage. Those jurists who say that the consent of the guardian is needed and indeed mandatory for the validity of a woman’s marriage, do so on the basis of

  • the fact that the Qur'an, when talking about marriage seems to address itself to the guardians because they are in charge of supervising and arranging the marriage;
  • sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) which indicate a marriage is void if the guardian, (usually the father of the girl), has not been involved in consenting to it;
  • in terms of protecting the long-term interests of the girl, it is required that she should have the advice and counseling of someone who loves and cares for her, i.e. her parents/guardians.

Those who disagree with this view and say that it is not necessary for a woman to have her guardian's permission to marry (e.g., the Hanafis) base their view on
a) verses in the Qur'an e.g., CH.2 v.230 and 232 which seem to address women directly on the subject of marriage;
b) Islamic law which says women may negotiate civil contracts, e.g., financial ones, therefore it should also be possible, by analogy, for them to negotiate their own marriage contracts;
c) understanding the saying of the Prophet that a guardian should consent to a marriage, as applying only in the case of the marriage of a minor. Whatever one's views on this difference of opinion, it is nevertheless true that most Muslim women prefer to be represented by their guardian* during the actual marriage ceremony (at the time of consenting to and signing the marriage contract).

'The marriage of minors'
The Qur'an and the Sunnah contain no specific directives on the minimum or maximum age for marriage. This is because Islam is a religion for all mankind, for all times and all places; it therefore has to be flexible and allow for local practice amongst a particular group of people in a particular time or place. It is however important to distinguish between child marriage - the marriage of a minor and the actual consummation of the marriage. As sociologists have shown*, the marriage of minors was common before and after the advent of Islam, but this did not necessarily mean that the husband-wife relationship began immediately; the reason for contracting the marriage whilst one or both parties were minors has been explained in terms of creating greater unity and cohesion in society because of the promise of marriage between the families concerned. The consummation of the marriage took place when one or both of the parties concerned attained maturity. Islam, whilst permitting the continuation of this practice, instituted several reforms, namely:
a) the prior consent of the guardian (or a judge) became essential;
b) the marriage was not to be consummated until the girl was grown up (an adult);
c) the girl, when she attained maturity, would have the option of either agreeing with the marriage contracted for her in her youth, or opting out of the marriage, i.e., she could revoke the marriage (a principle known as 'the option of majority'. It is an essential principle in Islam that women should have the freedom to consent to their marriages.

'Right of a woman to choose her husband and the practice of Muslims in acknowledging this right'
True Islam as represented in the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS) and in Islamic law is very clear in establishing the principle that a woman does have the right to consent to a proposed marriage partner. However, the adherence of Muslims to this teaching ranges from behavior which can be merited with a grade 'A' to behavior which deserves behavior of Muslims in this respect by comparing it with the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. When the Qur'an describes marriage as a partnership of compassion and so on, it is clear that this ideal cannot be attained if one or other of the parties to the marriage has been forced into the marriage. It is equally clear that the Prophet (SAWS) on more than one occasion declared null and void the marriages of women who came to complain to him that they had been married without their consent (see below).

‘The difference between the Islamic marriage gift and dowry'
The Islamic marriage gift is not a dowry - the money, which a bride brings with her from her parents to give to her husband. The Islamic institution of marriage gift is also unlike the practice of peoples who regarded women as an economic asset which fathers would lose on their marriage, and so needed to be compensated for with a purchase price which the bridegroom had to pay. The Islamic marriage gift Mahr is a gift which is given by the man to his bride to be. It is clear from the Qur'anic verses on this subject that this marriage gift is a Sadaqah, a free gift which symbolizes love and the commitment to build a happy life together. It is also very clear that the mahr may not be given to the father of bride and is therefore in no sense a purchase price for the loss of his daughter. Mahr, once freely given, becomes the property of the wife, and she can dispose of it in any way that site likes even returning some or all of it to her husband as a gesture of good will.

'The right of the bride's family to make use of the mahr'
Mahr is the property of the bride, therefore it is contrary to Islamic law for the family or the bride to take the gift and spend it against the wishes of the girl. Furthermore, since it is the full responsibility of the husband to establish and provide for the household, it is particularly inappropriate for the family of the bride to take their daughter's mahr and spend it on furnishing the new home against her will. However, many Muslim families, with the consent of the bride-to-be take the marriage gift, add more money to it and then present it to the couple so that they can begin their life together with a large sum of money, or with furnishings etc. that they have bought from the combined amount. Note that whatever is bought out of the mahr is the sole property of the bride.

'Formula for arriving at mahr'
There is nothing in the Qur'an or the Sunnah which lays down a minimum or maximum amount of mahr. The aim of Islamic law is to facilitate and make easy marriage between couples, it does not therefore establish maxima and minima which might stop people from marrying. It is recorded that at the time of the Prophet (SAWS), couples were married on the gift of a pair of shoes in one instance, for some surahs of the Qur'an in another and for simply believing in Islam in a third case. The Prophet (SAWS) is recorded as saying that the most blessed marriage is that which is easy, i.e., is not too costly. On the other hand, in respect of the maximum limits to mahr, it is recorded that when Umar (RA) attempted to put a ceiling on mahr, he was prevented from doing so by the argument of a woman who proved, using evidence from the Qur'an, that if a man wished to give his bride a whole treasure as his marriage gift to her, this was permissible. Islam makes it clear however, that marriage should not be turned into a commercial enterprise by the parents of the bride - demanding higher and higher amounts of mahr before consenting to give their daughter in marriage: the noble objectives of marriage should be kept above material considerations.

In answer to question 2: "History of Human Marriage" - by Edward Weston-Mark.
In answer to question 3: CH.30 v.21. It is recorded in Bukhari that the Prophet (SAWS) declared null and void the marriage of a woman who had been married to a man by her father without her consent. The Prophet was also reported as saying, "A woman who has been previously married has more right to consent to her marriage than her guardian, and even the virgin girl should be asked for permission and her permission is her silence". Finally, when another woman complained to the Prophet that she had been married without her consent, he offered to declare the marriage void; she however said, "I accept the match, but I just came to complain to you so that women would know that their fathers have no right to force husbands on them".
In answer to question 4: CH.4 v.4.
Return to contentsContents


G-30 Marriage Laws in Islam IV (Marriage Contract)


1. If the amount of the marriage gift is not specified at the time of signing the marriage contract, would this cause the marriage contract to be invalidated?
2. What happens in a case where the mahr (marriage gift) is specified, but the full amount is not paid at the time of the signing of the marriage contract?
3. From the strictly legal point of view, when does the marriage gift become due to the wife in full?
4. If divorce occurs before consummation of the marriage, does the wife have any claim on the full amount of the marriage gift?
5. Is it permissible to mention other types of conditions in the marriage contract?
6. If the bride wishes to put conditions such as that the couple should remain in a particular province or location, will these types of conditions he valid?
7. Apart front the minimum legal requirements for marriage, are there any other commendable or desirable requirements?
8. At one time Islam permitted temporary marriages, is this type of marriage still permissible and what is it?

'Specifying the marriage gift'
Islamic jurists agree that the specification of the amount of mahr is not a prerequisite for the validity of the marriage itself. It is however preferable, to avoid future squabbles, to take the precaution of specifying the amount of the marriage gift at the time or signing the marriage contract. The contract itself need not be written down if there are two witnesses, but again it is preferable to have the contract written down. If the amount of the marriage gift was not indicated at the time of the marriage, and future difficulties arise, Islamic jurisprudence adopts the principle of Mahr il mithli to arrive at what would be the customary or normal marriage gift for a woman of her social standing and education: the judge's decision in fixing the mahr is binding.

'Where the full amount of mahr is not paid at the time of marriage'
In Islamic law, the marriage contract is not invalidated if the full amount of mahr is paid at a time later than the actual marriage. Marriage law is flexible in this respect to facilitate the easy transaction of marriage; the mahr, therefore, can be paid in full on marriage, may be wholly deferred, or may be paid in part only, with the rest of the amount deferred until a later time - this is last is called Muajil in Islamic jurisprudence. It is, however, preferable to give the bride all, or at least part of her gift at the time of marriage and before consummation as a sign of commitment and devotion.

'When the full amount of mahr is due'
There are three conditions in which the full amount of mahr becomes legally due:
a) on consummation of the marriage, the full amount of the gift or what is remaining to be paid becomes due;
b) if either of the spouses dies before consummation of the marriage then the amount becomes due;
c) if, after the marriage contract is signed but before the couple begin their life together, they share any privacy, it is assumed that they consummated the marriage - even though this may not have occurred in actual fact. This assumption is made to protect the woman in case she is divorced; the assumption of consummation gives the wife a legal claim to the whole of the marriage gift; this is beneficial because the woman, who may be with child, will need all the support possible if she is separated.

'Marriage gift of a woman who is divorced before the marriage is consummated'
Islamic law is very generous to women in consideration of their needs and to dissuade unscrupulous men from exploiting them. Thus, in the case of a woman divorced before her marriage is consummated, she is entitled to half of the marriage gift which had been promised to her. If the marriage gift was not specified at the time of the marriage, the bridegroom, says the Qur'an, should give his divorced bride Muta' or a consolation gift. If, however, the marriage is broken because of deception or information that had been concealed, the marriage is invalidated and there is no consolation gift.

'Permissibility of mentioning conditions of marriage in contract'
Islamic law permits either spouse to include in the marriage contract any condition that is lawful and legitimate; furthermore, according to a saying of the Prophet (SAWS), any conditions which are lawful and mutually agreeable to the spouses should be observed by the couple. This is because although all contracts entered into by a Muslim should be honored, the contract most worthy of honoring is that which makes ..."nuptial relations permissible", said the Prophet. There is only one qualification to this and that is the conditions must not make a lawful thing unlawful, or an unlawful thing lawful.

'Permissibility of the condition that the bridegroom must promise not to move, away from a given location or area'
The opinions of Muslim jurists fall into two categories on this question. One group e.g., Shafi and Hanafi, say that such conditions are not valid because it is permissible to travel and such conditions imposed by the bride restrict a Muslim's lawful freedom to travel. Other jurists, e.g., the Hanbali say that such conditions are valid and enforceable if the bridegroom agrees to them at the time of the signing of the marriage contract. He is simply agreeing to restrict his behavior in one matter i.e., moving away from a given place or locality.

'Recommended/ commendable actions at the time of marriage'
a) It is preferable to have the marriage ceremony supervised by someone who will give a benediction: i.e., will praise God and His messenger (SAWS) and give a brief lecture about marriage in Islam based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah - advising the husband and wife about their duties towards each other.
b) The ceremony of the bridegroom's offer and acceptance of marriage to the bride should take place and should be witnessed.
c) After the marriage contract is sealed, the person officiating at the marriage could pray for the couple and congratulate them using the phrase, Barakah Allah ft kum (the blessings of Allah be upon you).
d) It is highly desirable to announce and advertise the marriage so that everyone can share in the joy of the couple, and so that it can be established that the couple (who will be seen together from then on) are legitimately married.
e) The bridegroom should, on the day of the wedding or soon after, invite friends and relations to a meal or party. It should be a party at which Islamic moral teachings are upheld and to which the poor and deserving are invited.

'Temporary marriage'
Just as drinking was permitted for a time by Islam until it was slowly banned, so also the promiscuous ways of the pre-Islamic Arabs had to be tolerated for a period whilst Islamic reform was instituted. With regard to temporary marriages, the Prophet (SAWS) allowed Muslim men who were on extended periods away from home, (on military campaigns), to contract temporary marriages as an alternative to sterilization or adultery/fornication. These marriages were not just for one night, but usually for periods of some months and the conditions of the marriage were the same as for ordinary marriages except that there was no intention of permanency. As time went on, and Muslims became stronger in their faith, this form of marriage, like drinking, came to be totally forbidden. Temporary marriage is forbidden because,
a. The purpose of marriage according to the Qur'an is permanency of relationship between a couple and
b. The Prophet (SAWS) is quoted as having prohibited temporary marriages ..."until the Day of Judgment".

In answer to question 4: CH.2 v.236-7.
In answer to question 5: CH.5 v.1; an example of a condition which would be unlawful is one where a woman says to her husband to be, "I will marry you on condition that you divorce your first wife". The Prophet (SAWS) specifically said that a man may not marry another woman at the expense of His first wife".
In answer to question 7: In order that the news of a wedding may be publicized widely the Prophet (SAWS) recommended that it take place in a mosque. He also said that the 'worst gathering' is that to which only the rich are invited and the poor are neglected.
In answer to question 8: CH.16 v.72; CH.30 v.21.
Return to contentsContents


G-31 Polygamy in Islamic Law I (Historical Perspectives)


1. What is polygamy?
2. Is the ideal Muslim family a polygamous one?
3. What is the historical background to polygamy? How was it practiced among some of the ancient civilizations?
4. What was the attitude of Jewish people to polygamy?
5. What was the practice of the Jewish people in the matter of polygamy?
6. Is it true to say that Christianity has always been explicit in prohibiting polygamy?
7. Is there any historical evidence which shows that churches consented to the practice of polygamy?

'Polygamy' is a broad term which means the practice of having more than one spouse at a time. More specifically, this term includes two distinct types of plurality of spouses:
'polyandry' - which means that a woman has more than one husband at one time; a practice which is not only opposed by Islam, but also by all the major monotheistic faiths.
'polygyny' - where one man retains more than one wife at one time. Polygamy is generally and commonly used to refer to this latter form of plurality of spouses.

'The ideal Muslim family'
Contrary to popular opinion, the ideal Muslim family is a monogamous one, even though polygamy is neither prohibited nor unlawful in Islam: it is simply permissible. Islam did not introduce polygamy, it had already been in existence in many ancient civilizations and had been accommodated by Judaism and Christianity to greater or lesser extents. Islam however, is the only monotheistic faith which dealt openly and frankly with polygamy and established controls over its practice.

'Historical background to polygamy'
Sociologists and social historians have shown that polygamy was practiced by almost all ancient peoples and civilizations for instance, the Egyptians, Persians, Indo-Europeans, Pre-Islamic Arabs and the Slavs amongst others. Even in those societies where the law forbade polygamy, people who wanted to practice it were able to do so and there was provision in the law to enable them so to do. For example, in the famous Code of Hamurabi, monogamous marriages were declared to be the norm, but concubines were permitted to men in addition to their wives. Similarly, even though the Greco-Roman laws were strictly opposed to polygamy, it has been shown that liaisons between married men and mistresses were commonplace.

'Polygamy and the Jewish civilization'
It is a commonly held notion that polygamy is against the teachings of Judaeo-Christian law, in fact this is not so. It is clear from the Old Testament that many of the prophets, kings and judges had more than one wife and there is no hint of a suggestion that this was immoral or in any way incorrect. For example, Gideon is described as having many wives, and OT says that he was so holy that the spirit of God had come upon him. Abadon who ruled Israel for eight years had forty sons and so must have had more than one wife. Rehoboam had eighteen wives and three score concubines, David had a hundred wives and Abraham, honored as the patriarch of monotheism, had two wives.

'The practice of the Jewish people in the matter of polygamy'
In his 'Short History of Marriages' vol.III, published in 1926, sociologist Edward Weston-Mark says, “Among European Jews, polygyny was still practiced up until the Middle Ages and among Jews living in the Mohammaden (sic) countries, it occurs even to this day. An expressed prohibition of it was not pronounced until the convening of the Rabbinical Synod at Worms in the beginning of the C11th. This prohibition was originally made for Jews living in Germany and North France, but it was successively adopted in all European countries. Nevertheless the Jewish Marriage Code retained many provisions which originated at the time when polygyny was legally in existence'.

Those who say that the Jews living in the Muslim world practiced polygamy only because they began to imitate the Muslims are wrong because Islam does not permit Muslims to interfere with the Personal Law of any non-Muslim communities living under its jurisdiction. Had the Jews living amongst the Muslims wanted to prohibit polygamy, they would have been able to do so without interference from the Muslim authorities. It is also interesting to note that when the state of Israel was established in the land of the Palestinians in 1948, it is recorded that some Yemeni Jews who migrated to Israel brought with them two or more wives.

'Christianity and polygamy'
It is a commonly held notion that Christianity contains a strict prohibition against polygamy; this however is not proven by reference to the Bible which, although containing references which suggest that monogamy is the norm*, nevertheless does not contain any specific ban on polygamy. The OT is part of the heritage of Christianity and Jesus (AS) is quoted as saying "I came not to destroy the law of the prophets, I came to fulfill' - thus it is not possible to say that there is any text in Christian scriptures which prohibits polygamy. Some possible reasons why polygamy was in fact less common among Christians than among Jews, include:
a) The attitude of early Christians towards sex and marriage: they regarded them an inevitable evil, to be avoided if possible, not an ideal.
b) The pre-occupation of early Christianity with 'soul-saving'.
c) The fact that Christianity spread to the Greco-Roman world first and since the norm here was monogamy, Christianity did not introduce anything new.
d) Early Christianity, according to Weston-Mark took root among the poorer people who could not afford the expense of more than one wife.

'Historical evidence for Christianity permitting polygamy'
Edward Weston-Mark, in 'History of Human Marriage' says '...Considering that monogamy prevailed as the only legitimate form of marriage in Greece and Rome, it cannot be said that Christianity introduced obligatory monogamy on the Christian world'... and ...'Although the New Testament assumes monogamy as the normal or ideal form of marriage, it does not expressly prohibit polygamy except in the case of a Bishop or Deacon.'

'The fathers (of the Church) accused the Jewish rabbis of sensuality, but no Council of the Church in the earliest centuries opposed polygyny and no obstacle was put in the way of its practice by kings in countries where it had occurred in the times of paganism.' Specific instances of this approval are:
a) Mid C6th, the Armaic King of Ireland had two queens and two concubines;
b) Charles the Great had two wives and many concubines and one of his laws seems to imply that polygamy was known among priests;
c) Phillip of Hess and Frederick William II of Prussia contracted bigamous marriages with the consent of the Lutheran clergy: Martin Luther is quoted as saying, " has not been forbidden by God..."
d) After the Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years War, (1650), the Frankish Christag at Nuremberg passed a resolution saying that every man should be allowed to marry two women - the population had declined drastically;
e) Certain sects of Christianity, e.g., the Anabaptists and Mormons give avowed support to polygamy.

In answer to question 5: The Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by J. Hastings, says, 'polygamy meets us as a fact; for example, Abraham, Jacob, the judge, David, Soloman .... In Deut. CH.17 v.17, the King is warned not to multiply wives, but later regulations fixed the number at eighteen for a king and four for an ordinary man'.
In answer to question 6: *e.g., Adam and Eve are portrayed as a monogamous couple and God is said to have made one man for one woman.
'Short History of Marriages' vol. III, Edward Weston-Mark, pub. 1926.
'The Dictionary of the Bible', edited by J. Hasting, pub. 1963, (ref. is to pp.624).
'History of Human Marriage', Edward Weston-Mark, pub. 1925.
Return to contentsContents


G-32 Polygamy in Islamic Law II (Historical Perspective)


1. Do the Mormons continue to encourage and support the practice of polygamy?
2. Why should polygamy be practiced by all these different races and cultures throughout history?
3. Is it true to say that Islam did not introduce polygamy, but just sanctioned its practice?
4. Is there an explicit reference to polygamy in the Qur'an?
5. What is the meaning and context of CH.4 v.3's reference to orphans?
6. What is meant by 'justice' in the context of plural marriages?

'The Mormons practice of polygamy'
In 1847 the Mormons established themselves in their 'Promised Land' of Utah and adopted the practice of polygamy quite widely under the leadership of Brigham Young, the Founder of the Mormon faith. Polygamy was considered by them to be divinely sanctioned. In 1890, when polygamy was outlawed by Federal Statute, the Mormon church continued to encourage the practice of polygamy until their property began to be confiscated. At this point the new President of the Mormon church, Wilson Woodruff, issued a Manifesto banning polygamy and claimed that this ban had also been divinely inspired - it was inspired after church property began to be confiscated! Nevertheless, as late as 1967, Ben Mercon in the periodical, 'Journal', (June issue), reported that at least 30,000 Mormon families were still secretly clinging to polygamy.

'Reasons for the practice of polygamy'
Sociologists, for instance, Hammudah Abd al 'Ati, have said that the practice of polygamy is not necessarily anti-social or irrational, but is a multi-dimensional and complex phenomenon which could have many reasons. In his book, "The Family Structure in Islam", Al 'Ati suggests several possible reasons for the practice of polygamy:
a) A married man may become so overwhelmingly attracted by another woman that he wishes to marry her;
b) The first wife may have a sexual (or other) failing which makes her incapable of satisfying her husband's needs;
c) Cultural reasons such as the greater status given to plurality of wives may influence a person to marry more than once;
d) Women in some cultures prefer to be the second or third wife of a rich man, rather than be monogamously married to a poorer man.

a) A low sex ratio of men to women might leave relatively more women without the chance of marriage and so they might find polygamy a better alternative.

a) The sexual nature of man is more pre-disposed to polygamy because of the opportunity for domination that it can give.

a) Polygamy is a force which helps to bind families and tribes together in some cultures and is used to cement alliances;
b) It helps to lighten the burden on the women in a particular household if chores are shared amongst several wives.

a) Where infant mortality is high and the chance of increasing the human resources of the family is therefore reduced, polygamy ensures that there will definitely be plenty of working hands available.

Thus, Abd al 'Ati concludes by saying, ...'these reasons interact with one another and at the same time, with other social forces, such as traditions, public morality, custom and law...' to justify its continuance (p.110).

'Did Islam sanction polygamy as it existed?'
Islam did not invent or introduce polygamy, nor did it sanction the practice of polygamy as it had existed before the advent of the Prophet of Islam (SAWS). Indeed, it can be said that Islam is the only monotheistic faith which restricted its practice and established stringent regulations and conditions before it could be practiced. In Islam, polygamy is neither an obligatory duty nor even a commendable act, it is simply permissible under certain conditions. Furthermore, in Islamic law, even acts which are permissible can become prohibited if any other major principle of Islam is threatened by it; for instance, if a man in taking a second wife, commits any injustice, his intention to get married again can be declared illegal (because of the injustice involved), even though in principle polygamy is allowed.

'References to polygamy in the Qur'an'
The most important reference to polygamy in the Qur'an is CH.4 v.3 in which it is clear that,
a. polygamy is not a 'must' for every Muslim;
b. the permission to marry more than one wife is conditional;
c. there is permission to marry a maximum of four wives, whereas before, as was shown earlier, it was possible to have many wives;
d. the verse connects permission to marry more than one wife with a specific situation: the question of dealing justly with any orphans that a Muslim may have under his wardship.

'The meaning of the verse's reference to orphans'
According to Aisha (RA), the wife of the Prophet (SAWS), when she was asked about the context in which this verse was revealed, she said that it was to guide the Prophet in the matter of a man who was guardian of some orphan girls. It is important to note that this verse was revealed soon after the Battle of Uhud in which many Muslim men were martyred leaving behind young children, girls of marriageable age and young widows. These widows and orphans not only needed food and shelter but also a family environment and so they were placed with guardians. It happened that one guardian had become attracted to one of the orphan girls and wished to marry her as his second wife, but without paying her an appropriate marriage gift for a girl of her beauty and wealth. This verse of, the Qur'an warns the Muslim to be just to orphan girls and not to marry them unless he is willing to pay the full marriage gift that is due to her. If this is not possible, and the man would still like to marry, he can take two, three or four wives from elsewhere. One of the famous scholars of the Qur'an in his 'Al Kashaf Al Tafsir' says that this verse permits plurality of wives if there is fear of committing adultery. He said that the Qur'an's stern warnings against injustice to orphans on the one hand and against adultery on the other hand made sincere Muslims very scared and polygamy was a concession which enabled them to escape falling into one of these two evils - although the verse does also say that the man considering taking another wife must be certain that he will deal justly with his wives.

'Justice in respect of polygamous marriages'
It is an absolute condition of the validity of polygamy in Islam that the husband who is contemplating his move should be sure that he will deal justly between his wives: without this, any good reasons for wanting a second wife will be immaterial. The Prophet (SAWS) was recorded as saying. "Whoever had two wives and was biased towards one of them, he will come on the Day of Judgment with one of his sides lowered" - a symbol of the fact that he is 'marked' for not being equitable. In Islam, the husband who is thinking of taking more wives should be confident of being able to attain the maximum humanly possible decree of justice in his treatment of them. That means he should give them an equal quality and quantity of food, clothing, medication, recreation, housing, time, compassion and mercy. The only area in which complete justice is impossible is in the degree of affection and love that the man can have for his different wives; even the Prophet (SAWS) prayed, ..."O Allah, this is my justice (or division) in what I could control so do not blame me for what You control and I do not control." Another condition of polygamy is mentioned in the Qur'an which says that one wife should not be left in suspension whilst another is given all the love and attention of her husband.

In answer to question 2:
'The Family Structure in Islam', Hammudah Abd al 'Ati
'Sokomo Law and Custom', H. Cory, pub. New York, 1953.
'In the Heart of the Bantu Land', D. Campbell, pub. London, 1922.

In answer to question 4: CH.4 v.3.
In answer to question 5: 'Al Kashaf Al Tafsir', By Asghar Makshari.
In answer to question 6: CH.4 v.129.
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G-33 Polygamy in Islamic Law III (Why is it allowed?)


1. What is the response to those who say that Islam prohibits polygamy and that there is a specific Qur'anic verse which says this?
2. What is the significance of permitting a maximum of four wives, as opposed to any other number?
3. If the norm in Islam is monogamy, what reasons can there be or permitting the taking of more than one wife?
4. What possible social reasons are there for permitting the practice of polygamy?
5. What possible individual circumstances could justify the practice of polygamy?

'Prohibition of polygamy in the Quran'
Those who say that polygamy is prohibited by the Qur'an support their view by saying that although CH.4 v.3 permits polygamy, it also says that there must be justice in the treatment of the wives; this is a pre-condition for permitting polygamous marriages. Since, later in the chapter, (in v.129), Allah says, ...'but you will never be able to do justice...' this proves, they argue that it is prohibited to practice polygamy since justice can never be achieved. This argument is not at all well-founded for a number of reasons:
a) It is clear from CH.4 v.3 that a man may many more than one wife, it is therefore inconceivable that the Qur'an should be inconsistent, saying on the one had that a man may practice monogamy or polygamy and then on the other prohibiting polygamy because absolute justice is impossible and cannot be achieved.
b) It is a historical fact that the Prophet (SAWS) and his companions practiced polygamy; it is inconceivable that they would have done so if it was a violation of Islamic law as set out in the Qur'an. It is true that 'Adl (justice) is a pre-requisite before a man can contract a marriage to a second woman, however, this 'justice' refers to the equitable treatment of wives in what is humanly possible and achievable by the husband. Therefore, a man who takes more than one wife must be able to deal justly with them in terms of the provision of food, clothing, housing, time, recreation, etc. This reference to 'justice' in v.129, alludes to the difficulty, nay, impossibility, of being just to wives in terms of the instinctive emotional feelings of affection and love. The Qur'an warns men who have more than one wife to be aware of the fact that they are likely to be unjust in this respect and that therefore cautions them that they should take care not to leave one wile in 'suspense' whilst the other, or others, have all his attention and affection.

'Significance of permitting a maximum of four wives'
The Qur'an states that a man may marry up to four wives; the reason for the selection of the number four is of course known to God; if the maximum number has been set at three, five or any other number, someone would have queried it. Possible explanations, however for the selection of the number four are:
a. It is said that the maximum number of days a wife is happy to be without her husband is three days. If the maximum is four wives and the husband rotated daily between them, they would be alone for three days only.
b. Only very rich people can keep more than four wives.

Neither of these usual explanations are satisfactory. It is however possible to say that four represents a balance between monogamy on the one hand and sensuality/unlimited plurality of wives on the other. The maximum of four wives is enough to cover all possible extenuating circumstances which might make polygamous marriages necessary - i.e. war, low sex ratio and so on. In addition to this, four is a maximum. If the particular problem faced by the husband can be solved by having just two or three wives, this is better, and if one wife is sufficient, then this is the norm and even better.

'Possible reasons for taking more than one wife'
Before discussing the reasons that may make polygamy the most appropriate solution in a particular situation, it is necessary to make some points about this question.
Firstly, the topic of polygamy evokes very strong emotions, but it is important to remember that Islam's permission of conditional polygamy has not come from a human being: it has come from Allah, through direct revelation. Since Allah is neither male or Female, it is not possible to say that the concession of polygamy comes from a bias in favor of men. The fact is that there are valid reasons for permitting this practice and Islam acknowledges these realities. An understanding of these reasons must be sought on the basis of a fundamental belief in Allah and in His divine wisdom and mercy. It is not appropriate for a Muslim to say, "I will not believe in God unless I can find good reasons for Islam's permission of polygamy". The Qur'an, which perfected and established the faith of Islam, is the seal and culmination of the revelations from God sent throughout time and as the seal therefore, it must have flexibility in its laws so that it can solve any human problem irrespective of time, place and circumstance. It could not be called a universal faith if it only addressed itself to the problems of people in the C7th AD, nor would it be a universal faith if it was only conditioned to the needs of a particular nation or group of people living in a particular geographic setting.
Finally, it could not claim to be a universal, culminating message if it only solved a certain number of problems in a particular situation, but was silent about a host of other circumstances, situations and problems. There have been, there may be now and there will be in the future a host of reasons on an individual or social level which make polygamy a necessary and appropriate solution to certain problems, Islam therefore makes provision for a circumscribed and conditional polygamy to meet this requirement in a judicious way.

'Possible social reasons for polygamy'
a) A low sex ratio in a particular community resulting in a greater proportion of women to men. Many of these women may be girls of marriageable age, widows or divorcees; if there was strict monogamy, all of these women would have little chance of benefiting from married life and could be tempted into indulging in immoral and illicit relationships.
b) War has been a fact of life in human history and universally it is the case that men take the brunt of the casualties that result from wars, causing an imbalance in the sex ratio of men to women. It is noteworthy that after World War II, even the Europeans gave serious consideration to polygamy as a practical way of redressing the imbalance which resulted from the death of so many young men*.
c) Men are usually involved in the more dangerous types of jobs, for instance, mining and construction; if there are many deaths from an accident in any of these fields, again, many women are left behind, some of whom need the warmth of family life which marriage offers; again, polygamy is a practical solution.
d) Individuals with strong sexual desires may, if faced by a rule of strict monogamy, be tempted to satisfy their desires by immoral or illicit methods. Adultery and extra-marital relations are not only an offence against the law of Allah, but they also have a cost for society in terms of illegitimate children and so on.
e) In some cultures polygamy is an intrinsic part of the culture of a people; in Africa for instance, recognizing this fact, even the Church permitted pagan converts to Christianity to keep their several wives.

'Example of a personal reason which would justify polygamy'
If a young man in his 20's who is happily married and has two children, suddenly finds that his wife has contracted a serious illness (mental or physical) or has met with an accident which makes her incapable of sharing intimate relations as before, what alternatives would be open to him?

a) He could try to control his instinctive needs for the rest of his life if necessary - something that not all men would find easy;
b) He could keep his wife, but at the same time engage in illicit relationships with mistresses;
c) He could divorce his wife in her time of need and re-marry;
d) He could marry a second wife who would satisfy his needs, be a mother to his children and an aid in the task of caring for the first wife: the only solution which would meet the criteria of morality, practicality and kindness, all in one.

In answer to question 1: CH.4 v.3 and CH.4 v.129.
In answer to question 3: *In Munich in 1948 at an International Youth gathering, the problem of low sex ratio resulting from the War was discussed. The suggestion from the Muslim participants that polygamy could be a solution to this problem was at first treated with disgust, but after rational discussion had taken place, polygamy was included among the recommended solutions to the problem. Also, it is recorded that in 1949, the people of Bonn requested that the Constitution should include a provision permitting polygamy if the need for it should arise.
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G-34 Polygamy in Islamic Law IV (Woman's options)


1. What personal reasons could make polygamy the most obvious alternative in certain circumstances?
2. What are the options available to the second wife of a man in a polygamous marriage?
3. What options and forms of protection are there for the first wife of a husband contemplating the taking of another wife?
4. If the marriage contract did not place any restrictions on the husband's ability to take other wives, does the first wife still have a unilateral right to divorce her husband?
5. If the judge is not convinced that any real harm has been done to the first wife of a husband who is marrying again, is there any other option for her?
6. If the woman offers to make a payment to release herself from marriage to her husband, is the husband obliged to release her from the marriage?
7. Why is polyandry forbidden in Islam - why shouldn't women have more than one husband?
8. If the husband of a woman is barren or chronically ill, what can a woman do when she is not permitted to have more than one husband at the same time?

'Personal reasons which could justify polygamy as a viable alternative'
a) Barrenness:
If a wife is found to be unable to bear children, but the couple really wish to have children, a desire which is innate to most human beings, the husband has one of three choices:
i) To try to overcome this desire for children and become resigned to the fact that he will never have children of his own;
ii) To divorce his barren wife (even though he may love her) in order to re-marry;
iii) To adopt a child; note however that in Islam a child can only be fostered, it cannot be adopted in the Western sense.

If this satisfies the desire of the couple it is a good solution, however, many husbands have a desire to have a child of their own. In such a case a second wife may be the most preferable course of action as it may be for some people a morally superior and a more compassionate option.

b) Differences:Some couples, (although this is rare), have tremendously different characters in terms of their disposition to have intimate relations: a husband, for instance, may be very demanding in this matter and this could be totally incompatible with the disposition of his wife. Rather than force the husband to use back-door methods to satisfy his needs through adultery, Islam's provision of conditional polygamy allows a man, in this rare case, to satisfy his needs with a second wife in an open, protected, legal marriage.

'Options available to a second wife in a polygamous marriage'
The basic rules of marriage in Islam which were discussed previously apply in the case of a polygamous marriage also; that is, the agreement and consent of both of the parties to the marriage contract is a prerequisite for its validity. If a woman does not agree to marry a man and be his second wife, and yet she is forced into such a marriage, it would be declared null and void. Thus a woman is in a position to choose of her own free will to enter into marriage with a man who is already married. Aside from the emotional reactions to this type of marriage which is born of social prejudices, it is possible to find many instances in which such a marriage may be the most preferable alternative for a woman:

Example 1: A widow or divorcee with perhaps three children whose prospects of marriage are very bleak may come to the conclusion that it is better to taste the warmth of family life, with a husband, and a step-father for her children, albeit as a second or third wife, rather than face lifelong loneliness and struggle on her own.
Example 2: Where the sex ratio is low and there are many women available for marriage, but not enough young men, the only viable alternative for women who do not wish to be spinsters, nor break the moral codes to satisfy their physical and emotional needs, may be to get married to a man as his second or third wife. These examples are not theoretical: it is possible to see suffering and deprivation among women today which in turn leads to them breaking the moral laws; Islam offers a clean and practical solution to these problems.

'Options of the first wife in a proposed polygamous marriage'
Although it is not a prerequisite for a man's marriage to a second woman that the first wife should agree and consent - the first wife does not have such an automatic veto - it is in the spirit of Islam for there to be appropriate discussion and consultation with the first wife. It would reflect very badly on the character of a husband if he got married to a second woman in secret and then surprised his first wife with the fact afterwards. It is however possible for the wife to have a form of veto on the husband taking a second wife; this is possible if, at the time of marriage, she had stipulated as a condition of the marriage that he should not take a second wife. All jurists agree that if a husband agrees to this condition, then it is legally enforceable on him - i.e., he cannot take a second wife without breaking the marriage contract with his first wife. Another form of protection for the first wife, which again amounts to a form of veto, is 'Aisima (Delegated Repudiation), this is where at the time of the marriage, a husband transfers his unilateral right of divorce to the wife. Then, if the husband takes a second wife and the first wife is not happy with this, she can sue for divorce.

'Options of a woman who did not secure any safeguards at the time of her marriage'
In Islamic law, if a wife is unhappy about her husband taking a second wife, but is unable to take either of the two courses of action given above because no such provisions were made in the marriage contract, it is still possible for her to seek divorce from her husband. She is entitled to go to a judge and ask for divorce from her husband on the grounds that he has caused her harm or has been unjust to her in taking another wife.

'Options for a woman if the judge refuses to grant the divorce'
If the judge refuses to grant the first wife a divorce on the grounds of her husband's re-marriage, there is still a way open to her through the unique Islamic system of Khula'. Khula' means that even if there is no fault on the part of the husband in taking a second wife and he is equitable and just to all of the family, the first wife, being still unhappy with the situation, can obtain separation from him by paying some financial compensation to him in order to release herself from the marriage tie. The compensation is usually the return to the husband of the marriage gift that he had given his wife.

'Can the husband refuse to accept separation?'
If a woman returns her marriage gift under the system of khula - then the husband is obliged to release his wife from the marriage and the marriage is dissolved.

'Why polyandry is forbidden in Islam'
Permission to have a plurality of spouses is only given to men in Islamic law. The Qur'anic verses which allude to this question are quite specific in indicating that it is only the men who are allowed to take more than one spouse. Islam's prohibition against women taking more than one husband (polyandry) is not unique; it is very difficult to find incidents of polyandry practiced by women even if one searches throughout human history. Polygyny (having several wives), on the other hand was widely practiced in all civilizations and amongst the Jews and Christians. Reasons why polyandry should be so rare despite the many diverse cultures and peoples who lived throughout history may include:
a) From the biological point of view, whereas a husband can father several children, a woman can only bear the child of one husband; since it is a universal human norm that each child is entitled to know and indeed insists on knowing his lineage, if a woman was married to more than one man, there would be no knowing who the father of each of the children was.
b) Socially, it is true of almost all cultures in all times that the role of leadership in the family is taken by the male. If a woman was married to more than one man, there would be competition between the husbands for the leadership role and this could easily result in violence breaking out between them.
c) From the psychological point of view, it has been shown that women, unlike men, take a view of sex which is often more tied to the emotional side than the physical side. It follows from this that her feelings tend to concentrate more on one subject therefore women are by nature more monogamous than men are - that is, normal, virtuous women who have no inclination towards promiscuity.

'Options of a wife whose husband is chronically ill or barren'
A wife faced by this situation has the same options as her male counterpart, except that she may not marry a second husband at the same time as her first:
a) She can resign herself to the condition of her husband and continue to look after him;
b) She can terminate her relationship with him, obtain a divorce (which she would be legally entitled to) and then re-marry.

In answer to question 7: CH.4 v.3 and CH.4 v.129.
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G-35 Polygamy in Islamic Law V (Prohibition or Legalization)


1. What are the disadvantages of polygamy?
2. What are the relative harms and benefits of polygamy?
3. To what extent is polygamy common in the Muslim world?
4. How should one view those people who call for the prohibition of polygamy?
5. How could Muslims answer someone who says that restrictions on the practice of polygamy should he applied to prevent abuse of it?
6. Would it be relevant and useful if non-Muslim societies had legislation permitting the practice of polygamy?
7. Are there any Western scholars who have called for the legalization of polygamy?

'Disadvantages of polygamy'
a) Jealousy: Even though the first wife of a man who is polygamously married may be very noble in terms of her faith and commitment to Allah, no woman is happy about a situation in which another woman shares her husband's love, affection and resources and jealousy and ill-feeling can develop easily.
b) Equality: Most men would find it very difficult to keep more than one wife because of the financial outlay that this involves, particularly as Islam lays on the husband the strict requirement that he should treat each wife with absolute justice.
c) Harmony: The presence of more than one wife in the household could result in incessant quarrelling between them, or even between the husband and his wives who could co-operate together against him. These conflicts and the competition for power and favor from the husband could be passed onto to the children of the different wives.

Limited polygamy has been made permissible in Islamic law as a concession to mankind; like all concessions, however, it is open to abuse. It is nevertheless true that as a solution to certain types of problems, polygamy offers a wholesome and beneficial alternative, in spite of the disadvantages listed above.

'Weighing the relative harms and benefits of polygamy'
In societies where polygamy is totally outlawed, it can be argued that problems which arise due to the unavailability of this option due to its prohibition are in fact much greater than the result of allowing polygamy would be. In the extenuating circumstances listed earlier, individuals are faced by an extremely limited and unnatural set of choices if the alternative of polygamy is closed to them. They could be faced with suffering for the rest of their lives because they are deprived of the warmth of married life and of the opportunity to satisfy their instinctive needs in a moral and wholesome manner. At the same time, the temptation to indulge in relations which are morally corrupt could become overpowering which, in turn would lead to the disintegration of the family and society*. Muslims, evaluating the options available from the standpoint of opposition to immorality in any form, would find that given the choice between polygamous marriage, in which a husband enters into a second marriage in the open, with full legal safeguards for his new wife and her children and hypocritical monogamy on the other hand, where a man is officially married to one wife but keeps mistresses, the former option is purer and more wholesome. Sexual relations without a commitment to marriage are repulsive to the Muslim; there is no protection for the women involved in such relations, Allah's moral teachings are flouted and all the time there is the possibility that the suspecting first wife will discover the shocking truth about her husband's illicit relationships. Note, Islam does not view polygamy as a general rule for everyone, it provides a solution for exceptional problems: a solution which is at the same time, practical, moral and wholesome.

'Incidence of polygamy in the Muslim world today'
Non-Muslims usually equate Islam with starting polygamy and also assume that in countries where Islam prevails, polygamy is rampant. Both views are totally incorrect. That all Muslim men are polygamously married is a false stereotype, studies have shown that the overall percentage of Muslim men who are polygamously married is a fraction of 1%. These studies have also shown that there is no indication that this practice is on the rise and therefore for the foreseeable future, the incidence of polygamy will continue to be at this meagre fraction of a percentage.

'Answer to those who wish to prohibit polygamy'
Even though some Muslim scholars have supported the call to abolish polygamy, it is a call which reflects an apologetic and superficial view towards something permitted by God. They are merely reacting to unfair accusations made against Islam by biased non-Muslims in various reference works. Objectively speaking it is not appropriate to prohibit polygamy for a number of reasons:
a) From the Islamic standpoint no human authority can supersede the divine authority of Allah. Since He, in His wisdom, has granted man the concession of polygamy, (it is a practice which is permissible according to the Qur’an), no man has the authority to prohibit something God has permitted, simply because of attacks by biased non-Muslims. Allah knew that polygamy would be an appropriate solution to certain types of problems and that it is better than either divorce or adultery, hence its permissibility in Islam;
b) Since polygamy is practiced by less than 1% of the Muslim population, it is not an alarming problem which demands such a drastic response as outright prohibition;
c) To prohibit the practice of polygamy is a negative action which does not provide any alternative solution to the Kinds of problems of that polygamy solves - in a real life situation, such as was discussed previously, it would be of no help to the individuals involved if polygamy as a solution was dismissed as repulsive, with no other more pure and wholesome alternative being provided.

To date, only one 'Muslim' country has altered its Islamic based constitution to totally ban polygamy. The ruler of this country is not committed to Islam and therefore follows whatever comes from the West whether it is appropriate or not. The consequences of this ban are ridiculous because whereas a man who is married polygamously to a second wife, for whom he is legally responsible is punished with a jail sentence; another man who has only one wife but has illicit relations with mistresses for whom he shows no commitment and responsibility will be free, when he is brought before the same judge as the first.

'Restricting the practice of polygamy'
Polygamy is permissible in Islam, a concession to the nature of man, however, like all permissible things, it is open to abuse by unscrupulous people; the idea of preventing such abuse by imposing restrictions on the practice of polygamy is not opposed by Islam - in fact, Islam does provide some restrictions of its own which govern the permissibility of polygamy. These are: financial ability to support more than one wife and observance of complete justice in the treatment of all of the wives. Polygamy in Islam is conditional on the observance of these two limits. Any further legislation which restricts the practice of polygamy in order to prevent abuses would be permissible so long as it does not go against Islamic law; that is, it should not be a disguised, 'back-door', prohibition of polygamy. If it were, it would force people to break the moral codes of Islam because the recourse of polygamy would be unavailable to them. Many famous Muslim scholars and jurists have addressed themselves to the task of restricting the practice of polygamy to prevent abuse of it*, however, some of the reformers have suggested changes which, in effect, take away from the individual the right to determine the conduct of his own personal life - this right is transferred to the hands of a judge. Other reformers, (for instance, Shaikh Muhammad Abu Zahra^, a famous jurist), have said that questions of such sensitivity should not be determined by a judge: the religious conditions that Islam lays down as a pre-condition for the practice of polygamy are based on the ethical convictions of the individual and therefore should not be turned into legal conditions which require a judge's intervention.

'Should non-Muslim societies permit polygamy?'
Polygamy could resolve some of the social problems that exist in the non-Muslim societies of today, even though non-Muslims seem to be more repulsed by polygamy than the immorality and high divorce rates that a lack of polygamy can give rise to. Since all mankind whether in the east, west, north or south have the same basic human nature, and share the same types of social problems in husband-wife relationships, so, polygamy is a universal solution to these common problems faced by man.

'Western scholars who have advocated polygamy'
Many objective Western scholars have said that polygamy is a valid and legitimate solution to certain problems. For instance, Annie Bessant has said that there is pretended monogamy in the West, but that in fact there is polygamy without responsibility. R. Landorff, Prof, von Ernfeldt and Prof. Havelog Ellis, are all on record as saying that polygamy must be considered natural and legitimate...

In answer to question 2: *i.e., where a husband, with no option but to re-marry, divorces his first unfortunate wife, thus destroying the family.
In answer to question 5: *As early as the late C19th famous scholars such as Shaikh Muhammad Abduh and his student Rashid Rida were discussing solutions to the problem of abuse of the concession of polygamy.
In answer to question 5: ^The ideas of Shaikh Muhammad Abu Zahra seem to have been successfully implemented in Syria where a 1953 law said that a Judge may refuse to grant a man permission to marry polygamously; if the man nevertheless decided to take another wife, the marriage contract would be regarded as legal, although a penalty fine would be imposed. The decision to marry polygamously is thus left to the conscience of the individual.
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G-36 Marital Relations I (Wife's Rights)


1. What are the main rights and obligations which result from marriage?
2. What are the ethical foundations of marriage in Islam?
3. What are the rights of a wife in Islam?
4. How is maintenance defined in Islam and what is the basis of this right in the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS)?
5. What specific items must be provided by the husband under the obligation to provide maintenance?
6. Does the provision of healthcare and medication fall under the provisions of maintenance?
7. If the husband loses his job for some reason or his business collapses, and he is unable to support his wife at the levels that she was used to, what options are available to her?
8. If a husband is miserly, can his wife take from his property without his knowledge to provide for herself and her family?
9. What circumstances make a wife ineligible to receive maintenance from her husband?

'Rights and obligations resulting from marriage'
The results of the marriage contract are that
a) The wife becomes eligible to receive her marriage gift;
b) Islamic rules prohibiting incest extend to apply to the mother-in-law of the husband and other similar relations;
c) Any conditions which were mutually agreed between the man and woman at the time of the signing of the contract become binding on both parties;
d) The husband and wife have mutual inheritance rights from the time of the marriage;
e) The wife becomes eligible for full maintenance;
f) All children born henceforth to the couple are legitimate.

In addition to these points, it is important to note that the wife continues to be an independent legal personality in the eyes of Islamic law despite her marriage: she does not have to change her religion if she happens to be a Jew or Christian; she keeps her maiden name; if she belongs to a particular school of Islamic thought, she does not have to change this to the school of her husband, and continues to enjoy the right to enter into financial or other contracts and to dispose of her personal property as she wishes.

'The ethical foundations of marriage in Islam'
The mutual rights and responsibilities of husband and wife in Islam which stem from the marriage contract are not simply legalistic rules, they are based on the ethical foundations and principles of marriage in Islam. This ethical foundation, which comes from the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS), says that:
a) Both husband and wife must keep at the forefront of their minds their servitude to God. They must realize that as 'vice-gerents', the human being's primary role on earth is to serve Allah and act as His trustee. This function requires that men and women cooperate together to fulfill this responsibility and those men and women who are bound together in marriage are especially responsible for supporting each to other to obey the commands of Allah and the role that He has established for them. The Qur'an specifically says that believing men and women are the helpers and supporters of each other.
b) Marriage itself is described by the Qur'an as a solemn covenant, it is therefore a profound step, a step which should not be taken light-heartedly by any person.
c) The Qur'an is replete with references suggesting that marriage is a blessing and a gift which allows a relationship of love, compassion and cooperation to develop and is one of the ethical foundations of marriage in Islam. The most expressive of these verses is CH.2 v.187. In this comprehensive statement, Allah says, 'Your wives are a garment for you and you are a garment for them'. This is an extremely apt and tender metaphor because just as a garment beautifies the wearer, so also marriage beautifies a person by enabling him/her to complete half of the faith; marriage gives spiritual and emotional warmth in the same way in which garments give physical warmth. Just as a garment is the closest thing to one, so also, marriage brings the wife and her husband together; marriage protects men and women from illicit and harmful relationships in the same way that garments keep out bad weather and finally, marriage conceals the faults of husband and wife just as clothes conceal that which should be covered by human being.

The Prophet (SAWS) emphasized the ethical foundations of marriage in Islam when he said, in reply to a questioner who had asked about the best form of wealth, "The best wealth is a tongue which is wet with the remembrance of Allah and a heart which is thankful to Allah and a believing, pious wife who helps her husband to keep to the practice of his faith."

'Rights of a wife'
Jurists usually divide the rights of a wife into two categories:
a) The financial rights - maintenance and so on; and
b) The non-financial rights - that is the way in which the husband must treat and dwell with his wife.

'Maintenance in Islamic law according to the Qur'an and Sunnah'
It is a principle of Islamic law that no matter how rich a wife may be, she is entitled to full maintenance from her husband: it is his responsibility to provide for all of her needs. This principle is supported by both the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) - see below. It is the moral responsibility of the husband to provide for the needs of his family and his fulfillment of this requirement cannot be considered to be an act of charity: it is a duty on him. In Islamic law the husband and wife should co-operate and make their mutual contributions to the marriage, however the wife is not required to contribute financially although she may do so if she wishes.

'Specific areas in which the husband must maintain his wife'
a) Residence: The husband must provide appropriate lodging for his wife which is consistent with his financial resources. The minimum requirement for such lodging is that it should be comfortable and afford privacy and independence for the wife. The majority of jurists also say that the husband (and for that matter the wife) cannot lodge relatives in the family home without the consent of the other spouse; it is also necessary for the husband to ensure that any relative he brings to his house to stay with the wife must be people who will not hurt her.
b) Food: The husband should provide sufficient food for his household, according to what is customary.
c) Clothing: In the interests of justice, Islamic jurisprudence contains quite a lot of detail on this subject, see below.
d) Helpers: Many jurists say that in addition to the above, if the wife comes from a wealthy family and is used to having a home-help, or if she is a sickly person, then it is the legal responsibility of the husband to provide his wife with an assistant.

'Healthcare and medication'
Since Islam requires the husband to take care of all of the reasonable needs of his wife and there is no firm evidence in either the Qur'an or the Sunnah excluding provision of health-care and medication, one can deduce that the husband should pay for any expenses resulting from medical treatment that his wife receives.

'Options of the wife if her husband becomes unable to support the family'
In such a situation, the majority of jurists agree that a wife has one of two options: to endure the hardship with her husband, or to seek separation from him. In addition to these options, Hanafi jurists say that the wife could be sponsored and supported by her nearest male relative, the relative who would have looked after her if she had not been married; alternatively, they say that the wife could borrow money to tide the family over the crisis and this amount would be considered a debt on the husband, to be repaid by him when his circumstances improve. The minority, Zahiri jurists say that if a wife is capable of supporting her family from her own resources then she should be required to do this because the harm resulting from divorce is greater than any harm she may incur from spending her wealth on the family. They also say that the husband is not required to pay back to his wife the amount she had spent on the family. If however, the husband refuses to provide for his wife or falsified his true financial position at the time of the marriage and neglects the needs of his wife, then she is entitled to seek divorce.

'Options of a wife if her husband is a miser'
During the life-time of the Prophet (SAWS), Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan complained to the Prophet that her husband did not give her enough living expenses for the family, ..."except for what I take from his property and spend without his knowledge". The Prophet (SAWS) permitted her to continue to take secretly from the property of her husband but simply cautioned her to be 'fair' and to take only that which was sufficient to meet the needs of herself and her family. This permission is based on an Islamic principle that a Muslim is entitled to use his own hands to take a right that is due to him. If a husband's miserliness cannot be corrected amicably, his wife also has the right to go to court so that a judge can assign maintenance for her.

'Circumstances which make a wife ineligible for maintenance'
There is consensus among jurists that if a wife is obstinate, rebellious, or refuses to yield to reason and fairness etc. then she is not entitled to be maintained by her husband - especially if she goes to live away from the family home without his permission, or if she travels to some place without his consent and then attempts to present him with the bill for her upkeep. Apart from this, any wife, of whatever age or personal circumstance, is entitled to maintenance; even the wife in her waiting period after divorce is entitled to maintenance.

In answer to question 2: CH.9 v.71; CH.4 v.21; CH.16 v.72; CH.7 v.189; CH.30 v.2l; CH.2 v.187. In addition, the Prophet (SAWS) is reported as saying, "There is some joy in life and the best joy is a good and pious wife".
In answer to question 4: CH.4 v.34.
In answer to question 5: CH.65 v.6. The extent to which Islamic jurisprudence is concerned to ensure that men treat their wives in a just manner when it comes to providing maintenance for them can be seen in the fact that it specifies that if a man is rich, he is legally required to give his wife or wives silk clothing, whereas if he is poor, cotton is permissible.
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G-37 Marital Relations II (Wife’s Rights)


1. What do the non-financial rights of a wife include?
2. If the relationship between husband and wife is not too good, does the wife still have these non-financial rights?
3. What is Islam's view of jealousy?
4. What are some of the other rights of a Muslim wife?
5. What do the answers to the above questions say about Islam's view of marital relationships?

'The non-financial rights of a wife'
The non-financial rights of a wife are, in Islam, more important than the financial rights. This is because it is considered inappropriate for a husband to give his wife all her financial rights, but then deal with her as if she is an asset and not a human being. Marriage, in Islam, is not simply a partnership in food and drink; it is a partnership in feeling, affections, relationships, sharing happiness and sorrow, love etc. The evidence for this can be found in both the Qur'an and in the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS). For instance, the Prophet (SAWS) said, "The most perfect believers are those with the best character/conduct and the best of you are those who are best to their wives". In his own dealings with his wives the Prophet (SAWS) was a model of a good husband: he shared his life with them, and was not simply 'nice' to them in a formal way. He engaged in a natural and simple interaction with his wives and avoided hurting and harming his wives in any way; in reply to a companion who asked, "What is the claim of a wife on her husband?" He replied, 'Feed her when you eat with the same food, cloth her when you cloth yourself, never slap her on the face (i.e., insult her), never swear at her and never desert or depart from her..."

'Rights of a wife if her relationship with her husband is not good'
The non-financial rights of a wife are not idealistic, they are standards which each Muslim should try to attain as much as he is able. If the relationship between husband and wife is not good, then these rights of the wife in respect of treatment by her husband still apply because,
a) It is a basic ethical teaching of Islam that relations between all people, even Muslims and non-Muslims should be based on justice and equity in spite of personal feelings - it is even more appropriate that this should be observed in the relations between a husband and his wife;
b) No human being is free from faults and shortcomings, therefore no husband should be over-critical and seize on the faults of his wife whilst disregarding his own failings;
c) The Prophet (SAWS) said, "Let no believing man hate a believing woman (i.e., his wife). If he hates/dislikes one aspect of her conduct he should, find something else that is good and which he can admire". Islam teaches that Muslims should not have 'dream-boy' and 'dream-girl' fantasies about their spouses: over-expectation or idealistic conceptions of one's spouse can lead to overlooking of her/his good points and concentration on his/her shortcomings, which is unfair.
d) Even though books and films portray marriage as romantic and idealistic, in actual fact this is a very simplistic picture, it takes more than romance to establish a household; mutual concern and good relationships are much more important.

'Islam's view of jealousy'
Jealous behavior by a spouse where this involves protecting his/her partner from the flirtatious behavior of others is not frowned upon by Islam; in fact it is good that each spouse should protect the other from indecency. Jealousy in the sense of over-possessiveness however, is not permitted in Islam. On the first type of jealousy, the Prophet (SAWS) is recorded as saying that one of three types of people who will not enter Paradise is he/she who does not care about who flirted and courted with his/her spouse. At the same time however, he said that although Allah likes people to be jealous of their spouses in the interests of decency, He dislikes those men who are suspicious of the intentions and actions of their wives; he taught that no man who has been away from home should burst in upon his wife hoping to catch her out because he suspects her of infidelity.

'Other rights of a Muslim wife'
In respect of intimate relations, a wife has the right to have her instinctive needs fulfilled by her husband: indeed most jurists agree that this is a duty to his wife which he must fulfill. The extent to which the contemporaries of the Prophet (SAWS) understood and applied this wholesome and natural rule, and did not regard it as a taboo subject can be seen in an incident which occurred during the caliphate of Umar (RA). Whilst on his rounds one night, Umar passed by a house where he heard a woman lamenting that she was lonely and without company. On enquiring about her he discovered that her husband was away on a military campaign and that she was missing him badly; after ascertaining from his daughter Hafsa (RA) that a woman could pass only three or four months comfortably without her husband, Umar (RA) immediately issued a decree stating that no man sent on a military expedition or in a delegation should be away for more than four months: one month for traveling, one month or the return journey and two months for conducting the business. In another incident, a woman complained to the Caliph Umar that her husband was so pious that he spent every single day in fasting and every single night in prayer, i.e., he kept away from intimate relations with her. Umar did not understand the problem that the woman was facing but his companion Ka'b Al Assad understood perfectly and so Umar asked him to act as judge and solve this problem. Ka'b judged that the husband could worship God as he liked for three days in the week and the fourth day belonged to his wife.

'Significance of these examples for Islam’s view of the marital relationship'
These examples show that in Islam, subjects such as sex and marital relations are not taboo subjects. Normal marital relations are a blessing from Allah on the emotional, psychological and physical levels. It is because of this that the Prophet (SAWS) said that every time a husband goes to his wife for marital relations, they are rewarded by Allah because they have satisfied their instinctive needs in a wholesome and natural way, rather than in an illicit way. He also taught an etiquette for intimate relations so that the marriage union would be a successful and satisfying one for both parties: he said that the husband should approach his wife in a nice way, should pray to God that any offspring which result from the union are protected from Satan and should ensure that his wife, is also satisfied by the intimate relationship.

In answer to question 1: CH.4 v.19. The Prophet (SAWS) said, "I commend you to be kind and considerate to women". He also said, "It is only the generous in character who are good to women, and it is only the wicked who insult them". Examples from the life of the Prophet which show the way in which he himself treated his wives with a natural compassion and consideration include, a) the incident in which he challenged Aisha (RA) to a race; and b) the fact that when he saw the young Aisha playing with dolls with her friends, he did not disapprove, but watched with enjoyment.
In answer to question 2: CH.5 v.9; The Prophet (SAWS) exhorted Muslims to make allowances for the natural temperament of their wives, he advised them to be tolerant and not to try to forcibly change their wives, "A woman is like a curved rib, so be kind and considerate to her" (implying that if one didn't do this, the rib would break, i.e., there would be divorce).
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G-38 Marital Relations III (Related Issues)


1. What provisions does Islamic law make in the case of a husband who persistently fails to discharge his matrimonial duties towards his wife?
2. What is the position of Islam on birth control?
3. What reasons justify the practice of birth-control in Islam?
4. What is Islam's position on the question of abortion?
5. What is Islam's view of test-tube babies and surrogate motherhood?
6. If a wife has a medical problem which prevents the egg from entering the uterus, does Islamic law permit the couple to seek treatment which involves artificial conception methods?
7. Is it permissible in Islamic law for a couple to go to a sperm-bank?
8. Is surrogate motherhood permissible in Islamic law?

'The Islamic ruling concerning a husband who docs not engage in intimate relations with his wife'
That a woman should have her instinctive needs as a wife satisfied is a basic right accorded to her by Islam, therefore, Islam takes a very serious view of any husband who denies his wife these rights by failing to discharge his responsibilities towards her in this matter. Before the advent of Islam, some Arabs practiced Eela' whereby a husband would take an oath of abstention from relations with his wife as a means of harming or punishing her. She remained a wife but was denied intimate relations and the right to seek separation - a situation which sometimes went on for years. The Qur'an ended the practice by stating that if after the oath, eela' lasts for four months, the husband must revoke his oath and return to his wife, or allow her to re-marry. In the Shafi' school of thought a husband may be imprisoned or punished in other ways if he does not opt for one of these two alternatives after four months.

The word 'birth-control' is in common currency nowadays, however, Muslims believe that it is only Allah who ordains birth and death: hence, the many incidences of conception and child-birth even though contraceptive methods are used to try to prevent this from happening. Generally speaking, Islam encourages the birth of children, the Prophet (SAWS) is recorded as saying in more than one place that Muslims should '...marry and have children'. In addition to this, Muslim scholars do not accept the alarmist Malthusian-inspired theories which say that unless population growth is controlled, 'there will only be standing room on the earth'. Allah assures believers in the Qur'an that He will provide for individuals and their families; this fact explains the lack of consensus amongst Muslim jurists that birth-control is acceptable as the national policy of a Muslim country. Islam does, however, permit the practice of birth-control methods on a personal, individual basis providing that personal circumstances justify its practice. There is evidence at that the time of the Prophet (SAWS), a form of birth-control was practiced amongst some of the Muslims and it is clear that he knew of this and yet it was not prohibited. The Prophet did, however, warn that if Allah willed it, then a child would be born and no one could prevent conception from taking place because it had been ordained by Allah. Those who voice a minority opinion which says that birth-control is not permissible at all in Islam, do so because,
a. It is considered an irresponsible act and
b. It is considered to involve the 'hidden' killing of a child.

They are clearly in the wrong in holding this opinion however because firstly, some couples may have very good reasons for needing to practice birth-control and therefore it is not irresponsible of them to try to prevent conception; secondly, since the aim of birth-control is to prevent conception, there cannot be any justification for the view that 'killing' is involved. Note, however, that any methods of birth-control which involve early abortion of the fetus (e.g., Inter-Uterine Device), are in fact abortion and are therefore prohibited (haram), whereas any method which simply attempts to prevent fertilization from taking place is allowed.

'Reasons which would justify the practice of birth-control'
a) Protection of the life of the wife - if for medical reasons the life of a woman may be threatened by pregnancy, it is permissible for her to take steps to avoid conception;
b) Strong and clear indications that any child conceived will be definitely deformed or handicapped is also an acceptable reason for trying to avoid pregnancy;
c) According to sayings of the Prophet (SAWS), it is not desirable for a woman to fall pregnant whilst she is still suckling a baby because of the harm which may be done to the baby, therefore, again, the practice of birth-control may be permissible; the period of suckling recommended in Islam is two years;
d) Poverty and lack of resources may also justify birth-control, although the Qur'an says that God will provide for the whole family. This concession applies only to those in really straitened circumstances, where, for instance, the wife, with several children already, cannot cope, with any more;
e) Other personal reasons, e.g., the wife's wish to complete a course of study before embarking on motherhood.
It is for the individuals concerned to consult their own consciences to see if birth-control is justified or not. Note, a man may not practice birth-control without consulting his wife who has a right to have a child.

Abortion is unlawful except in a case where the life of the mother is at stake. Contemporary scholars have also said that if, in the very early stages of the pregnancy, there are indications that the child will be deformed, abortion is permissible though this is not a majority opinion. Since Muslims believe that after 120 days the soul is breathed into the fetus, abortion before four months is recommended if there is a necessity for it, but after four months, abortion is clearly unlawful. In all circumstances, however, abortion is detestable because the biological life of a child begins on day one of the conception. Muslims reject the feeble arguments put forward by those who want abortion 'on demand' - it is an unwarranted taking of human life.

'Test-tube babies and surrogate motherhood'
There are three types of medical problem which might occasion recourse to treatments such as test-tube fertilization and surrogacy:
a. Where the husband and wife can produce their sperm and egg respectively, but due to some problem with the wife, the egg is unable to enter the uterus to be fertilized. Doctors therefore take the sperm and egg from the parents and fertilize them in a test-tube before returning the fertilized egg to the womb of the mother.
b. Due to the barrenness of the husband, the sperm of another man, taken from a sperm bank, is used to fertilize the egg of the woman and she gets pregnant in this way.
c. Surrogate motherhood, where the fertilized egg of husband and wife are implanted in another woman, who is hired to carry and deliver the baby.

Islam views these in different ways,
'Case a'
Jurists agree that because the sperm and egg of the married couple are used; this form of treatment for infertility is allowable.
'Case b'
The majority of jurists consider this form of infertility treatment to be unlawful because a) it is the closest possible thing to adultery; and b) leads to confusion about the lineage of the child as the sperm used to fertilize the mother's egg is not that of the natural father.
'Case c'
This is a more controversial subject, but Yusnf Al Qaradawi, a contemporary jurist, has said that surrogate motherhood is incompatible with Islam because:
a) It destroys the beauty and meaning of motherhood and the special relationship between mother and baby resulting from the presence of the natural mother's blood in the baby, the pain and suffering of the child-bearing and birth etc, all things for which a mother is respected in Islam;
b) From the legal point of view, in Islam the 'mother' of a child is she who gives birth to it and suckles it;
c) It encourages an irresponsible attitude towards child-birth, commercializes it;
d) Difficulties could arise if the surrogate mother finds that after nine months of bearing the baby and delivering it, she is so attached to it that she does not want to be separated from it; in Islamic law no person should be harmed and it would obviously hurt the surrogate mother if the baby was taken away from her when she was in this state. Thus, for this and other reasons, there is great doubt surrounding the permissibility of surrogate motherhood.

In answer to question 1: CH.2 v.226.
In answer to question 2: The authentic collections of hadith contain plenty of evidence that contemporaries of the Prophet (SAWS) went to him to report that they practiced ‘Azl (a particular form of birth-control). The Prophet never prohibited them from the practice, but he used to say, "If Allah wanted to create a child, you could not prevent it..."
In answer to question 4: Al Ghazali has said, (to paraphrase), that all abortion is wrong. To abort a fetus when it is already a lump of flesh is however, even more wrong and if the fetus is 120 days old, the sin is even greater. To kill the child on its birth is the greatest sin.
In answer to question 8: 'Contemporary Verdicts', Shaikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi.
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G-39 Marital Relations IV (Husband’s Rights)


1. Are there any instances in which it would he considered justifiable to use surrogate mothers?
2. If it were true that parents could choose the sex of their child, what would be the position of Islam on this?
3. What are the rights of a husband in Islamic law?
4. What is the basis of the husband's right, that he should be obeyed?
5. Is it correct to translate the word Qawamun, which appears in CH.4 v.34, as 'superior' so that the verse reads 'Men are superior to women because...'?

'Surrogate motherhood'
Some Muslims who think that surrogate motherhood is permissible under certain circumstances cite, as evidence for their view, the fact that Shaikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi, in his 'Contemporary Verdicts', outlines certain conditions under which surrogate motherhood can be practiced. They fail to realize that in making these points, the scholar is simply saying that if surrogate motherhood comes to be widely practiced among people and if scientists working in the field reject ethical codes designed to protect, natural creation, then certain controls should be implemented to reduce the danger of such practices. The conditions mentioned by Shaikh Qaradawi are:
a) The surrogate mother should be a married woman so that no doubts are cast on her chastity;
b) She needs her husband's permission to carry the baby of another couple since it is a course of action which will affect him;
c) The fertilized egg of the barren couple should not be implanted until a waiting period of approximately three months has elapsed. This is to ensure that the surrogate mother is not carrying a child of her own and to preclude the possibility of confusion about the identity and lineage of the fetus;
d) The natural father of the fetus being carried by the surrogate mother should fully support and maintain the surrogate mother while she is bearing the child;
e) All the rules in Islam preventing incest would extend to apply to the surrogate mother because as a person giving birth to the baby, she is regarded as its mother; thus, for example, her own children would be regarded as the brother or sister of the surrogate child.

Yusuf Al Qaradawi specifically warns Muslims not to get involved in the practice of surrogate motherhood saying that it should be ...'rejected as an approach in Islamic law and should be forbidden...'

'Choosing the sex of one's child'
Although there have been reported trials in which scientists try to predetermine the sex of an animal fetus, such trials have not proved successful in experiments with human embryos. In theory however, it is possible that scientists will be able to identify the sperm which is made up of mainly masculine y chromosomes (if a male child is wanted) and select this sperm to fertilize the female egg, so producing a male child. The Muslim response to such developments would be that although scientists are attempting to determine the sex of an embryo, still the absolute power of creation belongs to Allah: the scientists are not creating anything - indeed the Qur'an promises that they will never even be able to create a fly, let alone anything else. Furthermore, the Qur'an says that Allah gives some parents the gift of male children only, others have only females and yet others have a mixture or are barren, therefore, if these scientific theories were to be realized, it would not alter the fact that man cannot achieve or create anything except by the leave of Allah. Another point to make is that those Muslims who frown on parents' attempts to find out the sex of their child, claiming that to do so would be to encroach on the divine knowledge of Allah ('...only Allah knows what is in the wombs') are clearly over-stretching the meaning of this verse. The absolute knowledge of God is not diminished in the slightest by a parent's discovery of the sex of the child that Allah has created in the mother's womb - the knowledge about the character of the child, his/her destiny, where he/she will die etc, all remain the sovereign knowledge of Allah.

'Rights of the husband in Islamic law'
The rights of the husband vis-a-vis his wife are summed up in the following saying of the Prophet (SAWS), "The best of women is the wife who, if you look at her pleases you, if you ask her to do something she obeys you and if you are away, she safeguards her chastity and your property". The implication of the first part of this saying is that just as a husband is required to respect his wife, treat her with love and consideration and never hurt her, so also the wife is expected to treat her husband in the same way. She must do her best to provide for his well- being and comfort and she should reciprocate his consideration and affection. Since the purpose of marriage is to achieve happiness and tranquility, both husband and wife should make themselves as cheerful and attractive to each other as possible. The wife in particular is required to beautify herself (within the bounds of Islam's moral code) in order lo please her husband. According to a saying of Ibn Abbas, a companion of the Prophet (SAWS), the husband should also beautify himself for his wife in order to please her because she has the same rights on him as he has on her. Beautification and adornment in Islam are primarily for the purpose of pleasing one's spouse and therefore the practice of non-Muslim women in looking their best when they go out of their homes whilst they look their worst at home, is rejected by Muslims.

'Basis of the husband's right that he should be obeyed'
Obedience is a word which creates differing perceptions in people; to some it gives the idea or total subordination and subjugation; in others it creates the impression of unquestioned acceptance of authority; and in yet others it simply means co-operation and a lack of stubbornness. Thus, it is important to define what is meant by 'obedience' in Islam. The basis of the obligation on Muslim wives to be obedient to their husbands is found in CH.4 v.34 of the Qur'an which describes pious women as being obedient to Allah and to their husbands, safeguarding their chastity and their husband's property when he is away etc. Immediately before this, husbands are described as the Qawamun of women, which is usually translated as meaning the 'maintainers' and 'protectors' of women, although many erroneous interpretations of the word have been given, e.g., that men are 'superior' to women. Thus the obligation on wives to be obedient to their husbands stems from the fact that they spend of their sustenance on their wives and protect and maintain them and are the ones with the ultimate responsibility for leading the family.

'The meaning of Qawamun'
To translate 'qawamun' as 'superior' is totally erroneous. There is no single verse in the Qur'an which categorically states that men are superior to women, and CH.4 v.34 where the word 'qawamun' appears is no exception. There is also no evidence from the prophetic tradition that such a sentiment was expressed by the Prophet (SAWS). Thus, the meaning of the verse given above, namely that. 'Men are the protectors and maintainers of women'... is the most accurate rendering of the Qur'an's meaning. There has been confusion in the minds of non-Muslims, because of incorrect translations and mistaken interpretations of those translations, about why this position of 'protector' has been given to man. The Qur'an explains the situation when it says that men are protectors over women because Allah has '..made some of them to excel over others of them...' Non-Muslims have thought that the 'them' refers exclusively to men and 'others' exclusively to women, but there are two pieces of evidence which show that this assumption is wrong:

a) Grammatical: Although the Arabic pronoun used in this phrase is a masculine pronoun, this does not necessarily indicate that it refers to all men excelling over all women; it is a grammatical rule in Arabic that masculine pronouns can be used when referring to men and women collectively. Thus, the meaning of the verse could be that some of them (men and women) excel over others (men and women) for some particular reason.
b) Leadership: Since this verse was revealed in the context of defining marriage relationships and giving the burden of responsibility for the family to the husband, the verse could mean that because of their duly to spend on and maintain the family, husbands have a degree of preference* over their wives. This does not mean, however, that all men have, a categorical superiority over all women.

In answer to question 3: CH.25 v.74; CH.2 v.228.
In answer to question 4: CH.2 v.228; CH.4 v.34.
In answer to question 5: CH.2 v.228; CH.4 v.34.
*The appearance of the word Fadl in CH.4 v.34 is noteworthy because it appears in many places in the Qur'an to indicate the blessings Allah has given to mankind. It is therefore a neutral term which in this context indicates that men are protectors and maintainers of women because they have been blessed with the ability to spend in support of their wives. It does not indicate therefore, that all men have a superiority over all women.
'Contemporary Verdicts', Shaikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi.
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G-40 Marital Relations V (Husband’s Rights)


1. Are there any sayings of the Prophet (SAWS) which confirm the obligation on a wife to obey her husband?
2. Why is that some people hold the view that by giving the responsibility of leadership of the family to the husband, Islam promotes male superiority?
3. How can a Muslim refute the views discussed in question 2?
4. Why should not the female be the leader of her family?
5. What are the limits and boundaries of a woman's obedience to her husband?

'Obligation of a wife to obey her husband - according to the Prophet'
There are several sayings of the Prophet which indicate that the wife is obliged to obey her husband and indeed, will be rewarded with Paradise if she does so. For instance, in one famous saying he said that if a wife observes the five daily prayers, safeguards her chastity and obeys her husband, then on the Day of Judgment it will be said to her, "Enter Paradise by any of its doors". He also said that if a husband dies whilst happy and pleased with his wife, she will enter Paradise, whereas if, on the other hand, he dies whilst he is unhappy with her due to a grave misdemeanor on her part, her prayers will not be answered. When a woman, speaking on behalf of other women, complained to the Prophet that women had no opportunities to receive the rewards that men receive from martyrdom because they are not required to fight but merely give logistical help during battles, the Prophet replied. "Tell all the other women that obedience to your husbands and the acknowledgement of their claim on you is equivalent to that" (i.e. martyrdom). Finally, the Prophet (SAWS) is reported as having said, "If I were to command any human being to prostrate before any other human being, I would have ordered the wife to prostrate before her husband because of his claim on her". There are two observations to be made on this statement:

a) The Prophet (SAWS) is speaking hypothetically because in Islam no human being is allowed to prostrate, submit or show adoration to any thing or person except Allah. Thus, this saying has nothing to do with the subjugation of women to men as some people have supposed, but has more to do with trying to create and facilitate co-operation, integration and cohesion within the family; this can be understood in the following advice a wise mother gave to her daughter before her marriage: "Be to your husband like a slave and he will be to you like a slave"; i.e., he will reciprocate the love, affection, co-operative attitude and submissiveness that he is shown.
b) The saying underlines the importance of co-operation within the family.

'Reasons why some people believe that Islam gives an inferior status to women'
Those who argue that Muslim women are given an inferior status to Muslim men in Islamic teachings usually point to three areas in which they believe this is demonstrated. They point to the fact that since women generally receive half the share of an inheritance compared to male family members, they are considered to be worth only 'half of a man'. This same conclusion, they say, can be drawn from the fact that in financial dealings, two women witnesses are needed whereas one man would suffice; lastly the fact that the Qur'an stresses a leadership role for husbands and a role of obedience for women, but not the reverse, shows again that Islam gives women an inferior status to that enjoyed by men. These views which are usually held by non-Muslim scholars who do not understand the depth and inter-relatedness of husband and wife relations in Islam, are also held by some Muslims who do not understand Islam's teachings on the mutual rights, duties and status of men and women.

'Refutation of the points raised above'
Taking each criticism that non-Muslims make of the respective status of men and women in turn,

a) The Qur'an is specific in saying that the inferiority or superiority of one human being over another is only by virtue of his or her piety;
b) The Qur'an says in addition that mankind was created from 'a single soul', therefore men and women are equal, women are in no way worth only 'half of a man';
c) With repaid to shares in inheritance, the way in which the shares are determined has more to do with the differing financial responsibilities of men and women, than with their sex - see G-15;
d) In respect of financial contracts, the fact that one man as opposed to two women must witness such transactions has nothing to do with the inferiority status of women, but is simply a means of ensuring that women, who are normally less experienced in financial matters, can nevertheless provide reliable testimony if called upon to do so;
e) To promote efficiency, every social unit must have a division of labor or differentiation of roles. Islam provides for the reasonable sharing of rights and responsibilities between husbands and wives even though there is not mathematical equality in their respective rights and functions. The fact that the husband has the role of leadership by virtue of the fact that he is the protector of his family does not indicate that he is superior to his wife and his position is balanced by the obligations he thereby has towards his family.

'Why females cannot be the leaders of their families'
There are three erroneous assumptions which underpin the question of why the wife cannot be the head of her household:
a) That the leadership of the family by the husband constitutes bias towards one sex at the expense of the other;
b) That the headship of the family confers superiority on men, whereas lack of it is equaled with inferiority for women; and
c) That Islam's requirement that wives should acknowledge the authority of their husbands and obey them constitutes negation of their own identity, personality and means, in effect, subjugation to men.

All of these assumptions are false.

Firstly, mutual rights, obligations and functions of husband and wife are defined by Allah in the divinely revealed scripture, the Qur'an, which is a book of guidance that was exemplified in the life-style of the last Prophet (SAWS). Since God is neither masculine nor feminine, He cannot be held to be biased towards one or other of the sexes, He orders and directs man on how to establish an ordered family and social life.

Secondly, the role of leadership in the family does not imply the unqualified superiority of men over women; if one studies the teachings of Islam it is possible to see that it encourages and enjoins leadership in all situations and circumstances. For instance, in daily prayers, if two or more people stand together to pray, one is required to lead the others in prayer; when three or more people travel, the Prophet advised them to choose one from amongst themselves to be the leader of the group; the Prophet (SAWS) addressing all Muslims is reported as having said, "Each one of you is a shepherd" (a leader who is responsible for a trust); and finally, sociologists have shown throughout human history, in almost every case of family organization studied, it is possible to identify two types of family leadership which co-existed: 'instrumental' leadership relating to relations between the family and the outside world; and 'expressive' leadership, relating to the inner functions of the family. In almost every family studied, the former role was played by men and the latter leadership role was played by women; only in one parent families were the dual burdens of leadership undertaken by only one spouse.

Thirdly, the husband's role of leadership in the family does not mean that the wife must lose her own personality and identity in subjugation to him; this would be contrary to the limits and boundaries of Islam. Islam simply teaches that since the husband is fully responsible for maintaining the family, it would obviously be wrong if the role of leadership was given to the wife. Marriage is a mutual relationship and involves interdependence; therefore even though the husband has a leadership role, his wife should be consulted and has a say on any family matter (the principle of Sbura).

'Limits and boundaries of a wife's obedience to her husband'
In Islam, wives do not owe their husband absolute, unqualified obedience. The only One who deserves complete submission from a human being is Allah, the One, Absolute, Creator and Sovereign of the universe. Obedience to any other creature of Allah whether he is father, husband, employer or ruler is derived from obedience to Allah. Thus, in the words of the Prophet (SAWS), "No obedience is due to any human being if one is commanded to do things which constitute disobedience of Allah". Blind obedience or un-critical acceptance of authority is not Islamic, therefore, if a husband orders his wife to refrain from wearing Islamic dress or asks her to drink alcohol (for instance), she would be right in refusing to obey him. Furthermore, Islam teaches that a husband may only command obedience from his wife in matters where he has a legitimate claim or right over her. Therefore, for instance, he cannot command her to dispose of her own property in ways that he wishes. Another check on the husband's right to obedience is that he may only command obedience in what is fair, customary or reasonable; the Prophet (SAWS) in fact said that obedience is only required in what is 'reasonable'. Finally, a husband is not permitted to demand obedience like a capricious dictator; shura (mutual consultation) is an important Islamic requirement in all social dealings and this should be especially true of the husband-wife relationship within the family. Again, the wife does not owe her husband absolute obedience: his right to demand obedience is not unequivocal.

In answer to question 3: CH.49 v.l3; CH.4 v.l.
In answer to question 4: ‘The Handbook of Modern Sociology' by Zeldith contains detailed information on the patterns of role differentiation that sociologists have identified in the history of human families.
In answer to question 5: Note that a woman does not have to obey her husband if he demands that she follow a faith against her wishes; she is also entitled to express her point of view and may not be prohibited by him from doing so. CH.60 v.l2 shows that even the Prophet (SAWS) was commanded by Allah only to demand obedience from women who came to pledge fealty to Islam and himself in 'just matters' CH.2 v.232.
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G-41 Marital Relations & Children’s Rights


1. Does Islam lay down practical instructions on how a Muslim couple can give effect to the rights accorded to the husband?
2. Why should a wife be obliged to allow her husband access for intimate relations?
3. Does Islamic law require women to carry out all household chores?
4. What are the different categories of a child's rights?
5. What is meant by the child's right to life?
6. What is meant by the child's right to a clear lineage?
7. What is meant by the child's right to a proper upbringing?

'Practical implementation of Islam's teachings on husbands' rights'
Islamic teachings do specify in practical terms the way in which the rights that it accords to husbands can be practically implemented by a newly married couple:

a. The exemption of the wife from being solely responsible for maintaining and providing for the household is balanced by her obligation to run the household in her husband's absence. It follows from this responsibility accorded to her that the wife may not leave the house without the permission and knowledge of her husband. This obligation is to ensure that a certain discipline is maintained within the family: the husband has a right to know where his wife is. This is not, however, a blanket obligation which in effect prohibits women from leaving the house under any circumstances. In Islamic law, a woman may leave the house, if necessary without the husband's permission, to fulfill her obligations towards Allah, e.g., to perform Hajj, seek knowledge about her faith, participate in the defense of her community and so on. Also, once her husband has given her permission to go regularly to work, visit people or do shopping, she need not get his permission every single time she wants to go out.
b. According to the Prophet (SAWS), the greatest claim on a wife is from her husband, therefore even though she may continue to be close to her own relatives (especially parents) after she has married, if obligation towards parents comes into conflict with obligation towards husband, then the wife must fulfill her duties towards her husband first.
c. If the work of the husband requires him to travel, his wife may be required to accompany him because he is responsible for maintaining and supporting her; she may not refuse to move home. There are exceptions to this obligation and that is where the wife had stipulated in her marriage contract that she would not leave her home/locality and the husband agreed to this as a condition of his marriage to her. The husband must abide by his undertaking in this situation. In addition, if the new residence being offered by the husband does not meet the minimum standards required by Islam for lodgings, the wife has a right to refuse to move. A husband may not, however, move home with the deliberate intention of hurting his wife.
d. The husband has the right to request his wife to leave her job if he feels that her continuing employment is having a detrimental effect on family stability. Again, if the wife specified in her marriage contract that she should be allowed to work, then her husband may not force her to give up her job.
e. A Muslim wife may not entertain guests in the family home without the consent of her husband.
f. She may not sell or give away his possessions without express permission from him, though she may take some of his money to spend on herself and her family if he is miserly.
g. The Muslim wife may not deny her husband legitimate access for intimate relations.

'Basis of the obligation on wives to oblige their husbands' requests for intimate relations'
In almost all religions and cultures, including Islam, the purpose of marriage is to legitimize sexual access to one's spouse and to benefit from the other emotional, physical and moral benefits that the union of two people can bring. It follows from this that it would be unfair for either spouse to deny access to the other for intimate relations. Just as the Muslim husband can be legally obliged to fulfill his responsibilities towards his wife, so also the wife, in Islamic teachings, is obliged to satisfy her husband's legitimate requests for intimate relations. This obligation was specified by the Prophet (SAWS) on more than one occasion. Furthermore, a Muslim wife may not engage in voluntary fasts or voluntary pilgrimage without the permission of her husband because her performance of these two acts of worship would prevail her from being available to her husband for intimate relations. This obligation on the wife does not, however, permit the husband to be inconsiderate and demand intimate relations with his wife when she is feeling unwell or very tired. In addition, she is permitted to prohibit him from approaching her when she is fasting, in her monthly period, or recovering from child-birth in the post-natal period. When Islam prohibits adultery and fornication so strongly, it is natural that it should also enjoin on wives the necessity of obliging their husbands' legitimate requests in order to preserve the integrity of the family and prevent their men-folk, from falling into temptation.

'Household chores'
A great number of jurists, including Malik and Shafi' say that the wife is not required to perform the household chores and they prove their view by referring to CH.2 v.228 which says that women have the same rights as their husbands have over them. These scholars say that household chores are neither an explicit or implicit part of the marriage contract and the husband's legitimate claims on his wife. A contrary view is put forward by other jurists such as Ahmad, for example. They argue that since CH.2 v.228 says that husbands and wives have equal rights over each other, it is logical that if the husband is required to provide for the household, this should be balanced by an obligation on the wife to look after the internal affairs of the household; this, they argue, is simply a matter of role differentiation and is not a problem of rights and equality. The scholars who uphold this view support it by saying that the Prophet (SAWS) received complaints from his own daughter Fatima (RA) about the hard housework that she was doing, yet did not grant her request for a servant. This shows, they say, that the Prophet did not think it inappropriate that she was doing the household chores. The question, however, is whether the Prophet obliged women to do the household chores because it was their obligatory duty, or whether they did this work voluntarily. Whatever the answer, the Islamic view of marriage requires that husband and wife co-operate together and help each other; just as it would be unfair if the husband was required to do all the housework after a hard day at work because his wife had been lazy, so also it would be unfair if the husband refused to touch any housework despite the condition of his wife, the presence of guests, etc.

'Rights of children'
The rights of children fall into three categories,
a) the right to life
b) the right to a clear lineage
c) the right to proper care and a good upbringing.

'The right to life'
Life comes from Allah, therefore, no parents have the right to assume that they can dispose of their children because they have the right to control their lives hence Islam's prohibition of abortion in all but the most extenuating circumstances and its prohibition of infanticide whether for reasons of fear of poverty or displeasure with the nature of the child that has been born.

‘The right to clear lineage'
This right confers on the child an inalienable fight to a secure identity. Thus he has a right to know his father, or if his father is not known then he should be able to establish his lineage through his mother. It neither parent is known, then the Qur'an describes such orphans as ‘your brothers in faith and your clients' - thus they should not be given a new identity and a new family name which masks their true lineage. Islam prohibits the falsification of identity, including that which occurs in Western types of adoption.

'The right to a proper upbringing and care'
Parents must receive the birth of a baby with joy and happiness irrespective of its sex because it is a gift from Allah. Secondly, Islam teaches that the parents should express thanks to Allah for His blessing by having a gathering when the child is a week or two old. At this gathering (‘Aqiqah), the child is named and his/her hair is shaved so that some, money (equivalent to the weight of the hair), can be given in charity. It was also the practice of the Prophet to slaughter lambs soon after the birth of his children and feed friends, relatives and the poor from them.
As the child grows, he or she has a right to complete care from his/her parents: physically, emotionally and materially. If the child has property of his/her own but the parents are poor, then the parents may use the child's property to look after him/her. The child has a right to be taught about Islam and in particular should be taught the Shahadah - the testimony of faith. He or she should also be taught the prayers, must be prevented from falling into unbelief and should be given a good religious upbringing by the parents. Children also have the right to be treated equitably - there should be no bias in favor of one child.

In answer to question 1: There is one exception to the general rule that a Muslim wife should give up her job if requested to do so by her husband; thai is, if a woman is performing a job which is regarded as Fardi Kafaya by the Muslim community (e.g., she is a mid-wife, doctor, etc), then Hanafi jurisprudence (for example), says that she may not be prevented from providing this essential service to the community.
In answer to Question 3: CH.2 v.228.
In answer to question 5: E. Weston-mark. 'The Origin and Development of Moral Ideas', has shown that in Biblical times, a father had rights over his family which included the right to lake away life from any of his children, i.e., he could kill any one of them if he wanted to.
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G-42 Rights of Parents


1. What does the Quran say about the relationship Muslims should have towards their parents?
2. What did the Prophet (SAWS) say about the rights of parents?
3. What is specifically meant by the order to treat parents with goodness?
4. What circumstances render a Muslim liable to maintain his parents, what is the limit of this obligation and is it a moral or a legal obligation?
5. If one's parents are not Muslim, are they still entitled to one's support?
6. Is a Muslim expected to treat his parents with compassion and kindness even though his parents may not he treating him with kindness?

'Qur'an's teachings on behavior towards parents'
There are several verses in the Qur'an which enjoin on man the duty of being kind and compassionate towards his parents; in almost every case, this injunction appears soon after the injunction to worship only one God, this shows how important it is in Islam to treat parents properly. There is one particularly beautiful verse in the Qur'an, (CH.17 v.23-24), which commands Muslims to show kindness to parents and forbids them from making or uttering even the smallest gesture or word of reproach to them. No impatience, disrespect or contempt may be shown to parents. Furthermore, the verse tells man to ...'lower the wing of humility'... to parents; the metaphorical use of the word 'wing', calling to one's mind the way in which birds tenderly and gently lower their wings for their offspring. The reason for the necessity of showing compassion towards parents is also given in the verse which reminds man that his parents and particularly his mother, suffered and sacrificed for him when he was young, weak and totally dependent.

'The Prophet (SAWS) on the rights of parents'
The Prophet's statement on the question of behavior towards parents was an elaboration of what was already contained in the Qur'an. When asked "What kinds of deeds are best in the sight of God?", He replied, "To pray on time, to be good and kind to parents and to struggle in the path of God". Thus kindness towards parents came between two of the most important religious duties that Islam lays on man. The reward for being good and kind towards one's parents was mentioned on several occasions by the Prophet (SAWS); on one occasion he said that those who are obedient to their parents and to God also will be in the 'Highest of the High (places in Paradise)'; in another saying he equated kindness towards parents with Jihad, striving in the way or Allah, and often promised people that if they were kind, obedient, and close to their parents - particularly the mother - their reward would be similar to that of someone who performs pilgrimage or does jihad. In other sayings he indicated that the pleasure or anger of God was in the pleasure or anger of parents; and that people who are kind to their parents earn forgiveness from God. The importance of gaining the pleasure of one's parents was also emphasized by the Prophet when he said that the earnest prayers of a parent for or against his child are always answered by God. In conclusion, the Prophet (SAWS) said. "Be kind and good to your parents so that Allah may make your children good to you when you grow old and be chaste and your wife will be chaste".

'Definition of the 'goodness' in relation to behavior towards parents'
The Arabic word which appears in the Qur'an and in the sayings of the Prophet in connection with the treatment of parents is Bir, often translated as 'goodness'; however, this is insufficient as 'bir' also includes qualities such as righteousness, kindness, compassion, reverence, respect, obedience and even patience. A Muslim should demonstrate all of these qualities when dealing with his parents. The Prophet (SAWS) said that anyone who treats his parents with 'coldness' is not treating them with 'bir' and that one should always show love to parents and never raise one's voice when speaking to them. His daughter, Fatima (RA) displayed the type of behavior which is appropriate in a child: whenever her father visited her, she would rise, greet him with a kiss and then, out of respect for him, seat him in her own place. The Prophet (SAWS) used to greet her in the same way.

'Maintenance of parents'
Children are responsible for the maintenance of their parents in three circumstances:
a. If the parents are destitute and do not have the resources to meet their daily needs.
b. If the parents are not able to earn a living for themselves.
c. If their son is able to provide for them, (his ability to do so being determined by whether he has more food than he requires to tide himself over for one day and one night).

If parents are in need and the son has the means to maintain them, then he is required to provide for all their basic needs, namely food, lodgings, clothing and general comforts. He would also be required to maintain any person who was dependent on his parents for support and help. This obligation to look after parents is both a moral and a legal responsibility. Proof of this comes from the fact that a man came to the Prophet complaining that his father wanted to take some of his property; the Prophet (SAWS) said, "You and your properly belong to your father". Thus, no Muslim should be stingy or miserly when it comes to serving his parents, or indeed grandparents; if he does neglect them, then he can be forced by law to maintain them.

'Non-Muslim parents'
It is a basic rule in Islam that all parents are entitled to good and kind treatment from their offspring, whether they are Muslim or not. At the time of the Prophet, many of the Muslims who embraced Islam had difficulties with their parents, but the Prophet (SAWS) taught them to be kind to them, and to obey them except where they demanded actions which were contrary to God's laws. CH.31 v.15 specifies the way in which Muslims should treat their non-Muslim parents; it is clear from this that obedience to parents is required of every Muslim, but if that obedience comes into conflict with obedience to God, then one's duty towards Him comes first. The Qur'an specifically criticizes those who are blind to the truth and follow the wrong path simply out of obedience and loyalty to fathers and forefathers: the Qur'an warns every human being to '...beware the Day when no father will be able to help his son and no son will be able to help his father'. Secondly, this verse also says that even though a Muslim should not obey his non-Muslim parents if they try to divert him from Islam, he nevertheless should be kind and give them, 'good company' and be helpful to them so long as they show no aggression towards Muslims and Islam.

'If parents are not kind and compassionate'
The Prophet (SAWS) was telling his followers about the rewards of obeying Allah by being compassionate to parents, and warning them that those who displease God by being bad to their parents will have two doors to the Hellfire opened to them when someone asked, "O Prophet, even if his parents are unfair and unjust to him?" The Prophet answered, "Even if his parents are unfair" and he said this three times. It is important to remember that when they are old, parents may be in feeble health, mentally and, physically, and so can become impatient, over-sensitive and less tolerant. Muslims should therefore be patient and kind to them, refraining from disobeying and rebelling against them. The Prophet classed the evil of rebellion and abuse of parents in the same category as murder; he also said such actions would cause Muslims to be cursed and that they would be denied Paradise because their good deeds would be rejected by Allah.

In answer to question 1: CH.4 v.36; CH.6 v.151; CH.2 v.83; CH.19 v.14 & 32, in which prophets Jesus and John are quoted as saying that they were kind to their parents.
In answer to question 2: It is related that a man came to the Prophet (SAWS) and said, "I would like to strive in the path of Allah and lay down my life for the sake of truth but I am not able to do so". The Prophet asked him if he had parents alive, the man answered that he had a mother. The Prophet said, "Go and be good to her and you will get the reward of those who perform pilgrimage and fight in the way of God". In another hadith it is recorded that he said, "Keep close to her (the mother's) feet so that you can serve her". The Prophet had previously said that Paradise lay at the feet of the mother.
In answer to question 5: CH.31 v.15 tells Muslims of the circumstances under which they are permitted to disobey their parents. It is said that this verse was revealed after the mother of a Muslim convert called Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, attempted to blackmail her son into renouncing his faith by vowing a fast until death.
It is important to note that non-Muslim parents should be helped and should be shown kindness in ordinary circumstances; this is clear from the Prophet's answer to Asma bt Abu Bakr (RA) when she asked if she should continue to help her non-Muslim mother: "You should still be kind to her and help her because the Qur'an does not prohibit a Muslim from being kind and helpful to those who are not aggressive and hostile to Muslims".
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G-43 Rights of Relatives


1. What should a Muslim do for his parents after their death?
2. What are the Muslim's obligations towards second degree relatives, (i.e., relatives other than wife, parents and children)?
3. Do these obligations apply even if the relatives are not kind to him?
4. Are these obligations towards relatives legal or moral in nature?
5. What are the conditions under which a Muslim is legally required to maintain his second degree relatives financially?
6. What are the Islamic Teachings on divorce?
7. Is it true that in Islam divorce is very easy as claimed by critics who say that all a Muslim has to do is to say, "I divorce you!" three times and that is the end of the marriage?
8. Are there any procedures in Islamic teachings which help to reduce abuse of Islamic divorce laws?

'Obligations towards parents after their death'
The Prophet (SAWS) is reported as having said that Allah considers it an act of kindness if offspring -
a) fulfill any unfulfilled oath or promise made by their parents;
b) clear any debts left by them and
c) protect their parents from being cursed by people.

It is also commendable, according to the Prophet, to visit the graves of one's parents and pray for them regularly because, he explained, a dead person cannot take any mere good deeds with him after his death except in three cases;
a) If he gave a charitable gift or endowment which continues to be a bounty for the community after his death.
b) If he imparted knowledge to people which continues to benefit them long after his death.
c) If he brought up pious children who regularly pray for his forgiveness.

'A Muslim’s obligation towards second degree relatives'
The importance of maintaining ties with kith and kin and being compassionate towards them is stressed by both the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (SAWS); in fact the Qur'an says that the breaking of ties with kith and kin is analogous to making corruption on the earth.

'Obligation towards relatives'
Reciprocity is not the criterion a Muslim should use when attempting to fulfill his obligations towards his relatives; just as in the case of parents, the fact that they may not be kind has no bearing on the Muslim's duty to be kind to them. This is the lesson of the following advice that the Prophet (SAWS) gave to Ali (RA), "Should I tell you, Ali, about the most noble of characters in this life and the Hereafter? It is to be kind and keep cordial contacts with your kin and relatives or with any one who breaks ties with you; second, to give to him who deprived you; thirdly to forgive him who oppressed you".

'Obligations towards relatives - moral or legal?'
Muslim jurists agree unanimously that the very least that could be said about these obligations is that they are based on moral-religious foundations. When it comes to specifying the financial responsibilities that a Muslim can be legally required to discharge towards his second degree relatives, there are different opinions among jurists. The Shafi, Maliki and Jaffari schools of jurisprudence say that though a general concern of the well-being of one’s relatives is a moral and religious obligation, Muslims do not have a legal obligation to maintain second degree relatives financially; such a burden must fall on the whole community. Hanbali and Hanafi schools however, say that all Muslims are obliged to support their relatives, the extent of the obligation being dependent on either the potential share of inheritance which the relative is entitled to receive from the benefactor (or vice versa), or the degree to which the relative would be eligible or ineligible to marry in the benefactor's family.

'Conditions in which a Muslim is required to maintain second degree relatives'
To qualify for financial support, a second degree relative who is seeking help should be,
a) closely related to the person;
b) very needy;
c) unable to earn for a good reason and
d) a Muslim.
Though from the legal point of view a Muslim is not required to support a non-Muslim relative, from the moral point of view he should help any needy person he knows. These conditions do not apply in the case of first degree relatives, that is wife, children or parents: a Muslim is obliged to support them, even if his wife is a non-Muslim. He is also obliged to support his daughter: though she is capable of earning, she may prefer not to do so and this is her right Islamically.

'Islamic teaching on divorce'
Sociologists have shown that throughout the history of human marriage and in differing societies and cultures, there has always been some kind of mechanism to end unsuccessful marriages. Differences however, lie in the extent to which the mechanism of divorce is easy or difficult to implement in response to a crisis in relations between a husband and his wife. In some societies and religious doctrines, divorce, though permissible, could only be sought on the death of one of the spouses or when adultery had been alleged. Following divorce, neither spouse was permitted to remarry. In other societies, the liberalization of divorce procedure has resulted in it becoming very easy to break a marriage and there are no checks against abuse of the system. In the past, the pre-Islamic Arabs divorced their wives on the whim and today history has repeated itself: one can see that in some states of the USA it is possible to divorce, get married and then divorced again within the space of a day.

Neither of these extremes have helped to solve the problems arising from divorce and in fact they can be seen to have created additional problems. The nature of human beings, with all their shortcomings and failings, makes it impossible to expect that by simply restricting the availability of divorce one can keep an unsuccessful marriage intact; the result of over restriction has been that people abuse, ignore, or even defy the laws restricting divorce. Over-liberalization, on the other hand, has resulted in equally harmful effects: the disintegration of the family as an institution and damage to society as a whole. In contrast to these extremes, the view of Islam on the question of divorce can be summed up as moderation. Although Islam emphasizes the importance and sanctity of marriage and the need for its continuance and permanence, it also recognizes that human nature is such that not every marriage will be a successful one. Rather than confine both spouses to a life-time of misery in an unsuccessful marriage, Islam makes legal provision for divorce as a last and final resort, although it is a highly discouraged action according to the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet. The Prophet (SAWS) said, "The most detestable act that Allah has permitted is divorce"; this saying however, refers to divorce in situations where there is no good reason for it and the provision is simply being abused - divorce for a good reason would not be detestable and may even be commendable! In all cases however, divorce should be the last resort after all other avenues have been explored in trying to reconcile the couple.

'Is divorce easy in Islam?'
Just as the simple phrase, "I do" is the climax of all the complex preparations which take place prior to the marriage ceremony, so also in the case of divorce, the words, "I divorce you", should be merely the last stage of a whole series of procedures which have gone on prior to its utterance. It is true that some people take divorce very lightly and abuse it, but then the same is also true of the marriage vows. It is a fact that even among Muslims there are some people who are not God-conscious and so abuse Islamic instructions on the conduct of proper divorce proceedings. These abuses are then presented to non-Muslims as the ideal Islamic method of divorce when they are not. Even though divorce in Islam and indeed marriage in Islam are simple and without bureaucracy, it does not mean that either marriage or divorce is treated lightly.

'Procedures designed to reduce possibility of divorce'
There are many things that Islam has instituted to prevent the need for divorce arising. These include; an objective criteria for selection of the spouse; advice on procedures to follow when the first serious differences arise between husband and wife, measures to follow if wife is at fault, measures to follow if husband is at fault and the fact that divorce does not take place at the exact time of its pronouncement to allow time for a final reconciliation.

In answer to question 1: CH.14 v.40-41.
In answer to question 2: CH.4 v.1; CH.47 v.22; There is a hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) in which he said, "He or she who believes in Allah and the Last Day should be generous and hospitable to guests, remain quiet unless there is something that is good to be said and keep cordial relationships with relatives."
In answer to question 3: The Prophet (SAWS) is reported as having said, "A person who keeps cordial ties with his relatives is not the one who simply reciprocates, but is the person who keeps ties even when relations try to break them".
In answer to question 6: CH.4 v.2l. Divorce may be obligatory for the good Muslim if his/her spouse shows no interest in reconciling differences which have occurred. It may be commendable to divorce if for example, the wife neglects her religious duties anf there is a fear that the children will follow her example. Divorce, although discouraged in Islamic teachings, is permitted for genuine reasons. Two hadith which discourage divorce are: “If a woman provokes her husband into divorcing her, she will not get the smell of Paradise", and “He is not of us who tries to spoil the relationship between a wife and her husband".
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G-44 Marital Problems


1. What can be done to prevent recourse to divorce?
2. If the wife is at fault, what is her husband permitted to do?
3. What are the restrictions on the husband's rights to chastise his wife?
4. What are the comparisons that can he drawn between divorce and chastisement?
5. If the husband is at fault, is the wife permitted to chastise her husband?
6. What procedures can be instituted if both husband and wife are at fault?

'Islam's measures to prevent recourse to divorce'
To try to reduce the possibility of divorce, Islam recommends a number of safeguards:
a) Care should be taken in selecting one's spouse to ascertain his or her religious convictions, character and compatibility;
b) Both husband and wife should carry out their family duties and responsibilities towards each other in the way ordained by Allah in the Qur'an and according to the practice of the Prophet (SAWS);
c) If mutual dislikes develop between the husband and wife, neither should be too quick to pass a critical judgment on the other.

'Husband's rights if wife is at fault'
If the wife commits an extremely undesirable action, (not simply a minor mistake which can easily be forgiven and overlooked), an error which undermines the relationship between husband and wife and threatens the stability of the family, then this is called Mushuz in Islamic jurisprudence. Mushuz, refers to actions constituting rebelliousness, haughtiness, obstinacy, immorality, lack of consideration and failure to co-operate with the husband. In such a situation, CH.4 v.34 of the Qur'an (which had previously established grounds for the different roles of husbands and wives and had praised pious and obedient wives), suggests a phased scheme of disciplinary action that the husband can introduce in order to correct his wife's behavior:

a) Kind exhortation: using the affection and love he has for his wife to warn her against causing the break-up of the family and to appeal to her sense of God-consciousness and reasonableness;
b) Separation of beds: if the wife fails to respond to the first step (and only the most unreasonable wives will act like this). CH.4 v.34 advises the husband to refrain from approaching his wife for intimate relations. The aim of this measure is to attempt to reduce her haughtiness and pride and to lest the amount of true love and affection which exists between the husband and wife;
c) Chastisement: as a last resort, with the unwanted alternative of divorce looming, a husband is permitted to use a symbolic form of chastisement in the privacy of the home in order to correct his wife if it is thought that this would be an effective measure.

This measure can only be used if all previous attempts to correct the wife's rebelliousness, unreasonable behavior and obstinacy have failed. It is a last resort measure which is governed by strict rules to prevent abuse.

'Restrictions on the husband's right to chastise his wife'
Firstly, such chastisement should not be carried out without very good reason, the wife should have committed a very serious breach of faith to warrant such a measure. The husband cannot, for example, simply vent his anger on hit wife because of a hard day at the office or other such reason. In addition, this step may not be implemented without having tried the first two measures beforehand. Furthermore, using the prophetic tradition as their guide, jurists have laid down very strict guidelines on how the chastisement should be carried out:

a) According to the Prophet (SAWS), no Muslim may strike another on the face;
b) Even though it may be on a matter of breach of discipline, no Muslim may swear at or use abusive language to another Muslim,
c) The chastisement should be such that it will not leave any mark on the body and will not give rise to any injury to the recipient.

Hearing all of these restrictions, one contemporary of the Prophet (SAWS) called 'Ata asked, records the noted scholar Ibn Abbas, "What chastisement with what?" He replied, "With a meshwak". A meshwak is a short twig similar in size to a toothbrush which is used to clean teeth. The chastisement is thus only a symbolic show of displeasure and serves the purpose of awakening the wife to what she is doing before the drastic prospect of divorce is considered. In spite of this, almost all jurists are unanimous in saying that it is preferable to avoid chastisement, particularly where it is known that it will be counter-productive. In the majority of cases, the behavior of the wife will improve without resorting to this measure, but if chastisement is resorted to and it has the desired effect, then the Qur'an prohibits the husband from seeking excuses to discipline his wife in a similar way for any small future fault. He must not abuse his authority.

'The analogy between divorce and chastisement'
Both divorce and chastisement are permitted but are highly discouraged in Islamic teachings. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported as saying on more than one occasion that Muslims should be kind to their wives and that wives are a trust from Allah and therefore this trust should not be betrayed by being cruel to them. On one occasion, some women came to the Prophet (SAWS) to complain that their husbands beat them. He said, "These husbands are not the best among us". He also said, "The best of you is he who is best to his family and I am the best to my family". The Prophet (SAWS) never raised his hand against any of his household, including servants.

'Rights of the wife if the man is at fault'
The fact that on average husbands are physically much stronger than their wives diminishes the possibility of wives successfully chastising their husbands. In addition the fact that the husband does have the position of head of the family means that if the wife attempted to physically chastise him the result could be automatic divorce which would defeat the purpose of this concession given to husbands in attempting to correct their wives. However, if the husband is clearly in the wrong and is cruel or unfair to his wife, she has several options open to her:
a) She should exhort him with kindness to do good and appeal to his reason;
b) She should try to ascertain the cause of her husband's aversion to her and his cruelty and see if any concessions and compromises can be made on both sides to improve the situation;
c) She can complain to a judge about the conduct of her husband, the judge (according to the Maliki school of thought) may exhort the husband to change his ways. If he refuses, the judge can order a temporary separation of the couple to correct the obstinate husband and if this also does not work, he may order that the husband be physically chastised or even jailed;
d) As a last resort, she can initiate divorce proceedings against her husband because of his continued bad conduct.

'What happens if both husband and wife are equally at fault'
CH.4 v.35 of the Qur'an says that if there is fear of a breach between the married couple, both husband and wife should appoint arbitrators from among their families or friends to attempt a reconciliation. The authority that the appointed arbitrators have depends on the school of jurisprudence followed, Hanafi and Shafi schools say that the arbitrators can only recommend a solution to the couple, but Ibn Abbas gives the arbitrators a quasi-judicial role with the right to decide that the couple should be separated if their differences appear irreconcilable. However, since CH.4 v.35 does not mention anything about divorce, it should be assumed that the arbitrators may only recommend ways to bring the couple together so that their differences are reconciled.

In answer to question 2: CH.4 v .34-5.
In answer to question 4: The Prophet (SAWS) discouraged the chastisement of wives saying, "Wouldn't you feel ashamed to chastise your wife by beating her like an animal during the day, whilst at night you wish to embrace her?"
In answer to question 5: CH.9 v.71 describes men and women as the helpers and supporters of one another, encouraging each other to do good. CH.4 v.128.
In answer to question 6: Although the Qur'an says that arbitrators chosen by the couple experiencing marital problems should come from among relations, it is permissible to choose close friends as arbitrators. The Qur'an specifies family relatives because it assumes that they will be more interested in the welfare of the family and will have a better understanding of the background of the husband and wife.
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G-45 Dissolution of Marriage I


1. It is a commonly held notion that divorce is the exclusive right of the husband in Islam, is this true?
2. Under what conditions may a wife unilaterally divorce her husband?
3. On what grounds can a Muslim wife seek divorce from her husband in the courts?
4. When is divorce by mutual consent applicable?
5. Why is it that Muslim wives cannot have an absolute unilateral right of divorce like husbands have?
6. Why is it that in Islamic law neither spouse is obliged to seek divorce through the judicial process?
7. What conditions are necessary for a divorce to be valid?
8. Which of the different degrees of anger would invalidate a pronouncement of divorce by a man?
9. At which times is a husband prohibited from divorcing his wife?

'Right of pronouncing divorce'
In Islam, the husband's unilateral right to divorce his wife is balanced by a wife's unilateral right to obtain a divorce in certain circumstances. A wife is also entitled to initiate a procedure for divorce in the court and of course husband and wife are permitted to separate by mutual agreement. Thus a wife does have basically the same rights as her husband to initiate a divorce to end an unhappy marriage.

'Conditions under which a wife can unilaterally divorce her husband without seeking the court's approval'
a) Delegated Repudiation, (Aisima), where at the time of marriage or afterwards, the husband transferred his unilateral right of divorce to his wife; and
b) Conditional Repudiation, where at the time of the signing of the marriage contract, the wife stipulated certain conditions to her husband, the breach of which would result in a divorce.

'Grounds on which a wife can seek divorce from her husband in the 'courts''
a) Inability or refusal of the husband to maintain his wife (even if she happens to be rich, it is still the full responsibility of the husband to maintain her).
b) Abuse/mistreatment (which includes beating and swearing, cursing and attempting to force her to do wrong).
c) Impotence of the husband (in recognition of the wife's legitimate instinctive needs).
d) Incurable, repulsive disease in the husband or insanity.
e) Extended absence or desertion by the husband:

i. If his whereabouts are known, he is given a chance to return to his wife before the divorce takes effect;
ii. If his whereabouts are unknown, a six month or one year waiting period is placed on the wife. If the husband fails to return, the wife is divorced from him.

f) Imprisonment of the husband.
g) Deception or concealment of important information at the time of the marriage.

'Divorce by mutual consent'
There are two methods of divorce by mutual consent:
a) Mubarra', where husband and wife mutually agree to release each other from the marriage vows - they also agree among themselves the financial and other conditions for the release;
b) Self-redemption (Khula'), where, if the wife is unhappy with the conduct of her husband and has genuine grievances which she fears will cause her to fall into error if she continues in the marriage, then she obtains separation by returning her husband's marriage gift in return for the dissolution of the marriage.

Conditions which should be observed when using Khula' method of divorce are,
a) There must be a genuine reason for seeking divorce;
b) Dissolution may be imposed on the husband if he refuses to let his wife go;
c) No husband may pressurize his wife into asking for khula' so that he can regain the marriage gift; and
d) This form of dissolution can take place at any time.

'Why women do not have an unconditional unilateral right of divorce'
Although Islamic law makes it possible for husband and wife equally to initiate divorce to end an unhappy marriage, there are differences in the methods and procedures open to them. The reason why Islam does not give a wife exactly the same unconditional unilateral rights of divorce as that held by the husband is that it would be detrimental to the whole family - including the wife - for the following reasons:

a) The intention of marriage is permanency and continuation. Whilst husbands are capable or making an emotional and impulsive decision to divorce their wives, a woman is even more prone to making such decisions which may afterwards be bitterly regretted. Thus, if a woman had the unilateral unconditional right to divorce her husband, she might make a mistaken decision to divorce and then when it was too late, regret the decision;
b) Although both husband and wife suffer as a result of a divorce (psychologically for instance), a man has the additional burden of a heavy financial responsibility. He loses the whole of the marriage gift, the wife is entitled to maintenance whilst in the waiting period (which can be as little as three months or as much as nine months); she is entitled to child maintenance if young children are in her custody; according to some jurists she would also be entitled to a consolation maintenance for a year etc. The fact that a husband has so much to lose financially if he divorces his wife, acts as a natural deterrent from abusing his right of divorce. If Muslim women had such a right, however, there would be no such check on them because they do not have any financial responsibilities towards their husbands.

This lack of an unconditional unilateral right of divorce does not prevent a wife from seeking divorce from her husband, if she has good reasons for it, in any of the ways described above.

'Divorce using the judicial process'
If there is mutual agreement between the husband and wife to divorce, as for example in the case of divorce through Mubarra', then there is no reason for the courts to intervene and impose a solution on the couple. In the Islamic perspective, to have a divorce in court, with all the delays it involves is not preferable to an amicable quick out-of-court divorce which frees both parties to re-marry. Another disadvantage of court action in this matter is that it creates a situation in which both sides have to justify their actions and positions vis-a-vis each other in front of a judge and therefore the proceedings could quickly descend into a bitter dispute between the spouses and their respective supporters. Of course where serious points arise in the course of the divorce, recourse to the judicial process should be made. Generally however, since divorce is a very private matter, it is better if it is handled outside the court between the couple concerned and their arbitrators.

'Conditions necessary for a divorce to be valid'
a) The husband uttering the divorce statement must be sane, conscious and should not have been pressurized into making the pronouncement by some outside party.
b) The words used to pronounce the divorce must be clear and unequivocal, whether the divorce is given orally, in written form or through a messenger.
c) There are certain situations in which the pronouncement of divorce is prohibited and these parameters should be observed. The pronounced divorce could be invalidated if,

i. The husband is under the influence of drugs or drink and so does not know what he is saying;
ii. The husband is known to be someone who is very loose with his tongue and regularly uses the words of divorce against his wife without meaning it (the atonement for such an unintentional divorce would be the feeding of ten people for a day or fasting for three days);
iii. The husband is in a very great rage and does not know what he is saying.

'Types of anger which invalidate a declaration of divorce'
The great jurist Ibn al Qayim made the following sub-division of the types of anger:
a) Extreme anger, where a person is raving and so does not know what he is saying. A man who divorces in this state will find that Islamic law does not recognize the validity of the divorce.
b) Moderate degree of anger: Divorce usually occurs when a person is angry, however, if the decision to divorce is a pre-meditated decision which is nevertheless expressed in an angry tone, the divorce will stand.
c) Medium degree of anger (a controversial category): This is when a husband divorces his wife when he is in a state of anger which is not yet extreme, but nevertheless the result of hastiness, the man regrets the divorce and so Islamic jurists concur that the divorce should not be allowed to stand because:

i. There is a saying of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) that there is no divorce if a person is in a strong state of anger;
ii. It is a Qur'anic principle that Allah does not hold human beings responsible for what was unintentional in their oaths;
iii. Medium degree of anger can be said to have a similar effect to intoxication on a man and,
iv. The main purpose of Islamic marriage law is to protect and maintain the integrity of the family and therefore every chance for reconciliation should be given to the couple.

'Times when the pronouncement of divorce is prohibited'
A man cannot divorce his wife:
a) When she is in her monthly cycle (though a woman can obtain khula' during this state).
b) If her 'fresh purity' following menstruation has been compromised by intimate relations with her husband. In such a case, she cannot be divorced until she is pure again following her next menses.
c) When she is in her post-natal rest period.
It is contrary to the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS) to divorce during these times and jurists say that a pronouncement of divorce in any of these periods would be invalid.

In answer to question 4: CH.2 v.229; CH.4 v.19; It is reported that the Prophet ordered Thabit ibn Qais to release his wife from their marriage in return for the orchard that he had given her for a marriage gift.
In answer to question 8: Proof that extreme anger invalidates a declaration of divorce can be seen from the following saying: "Divorce is only when there is a deliberated intention". (Hadith)
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G-46 Dissolution of Marriage II


1. Why is divorce prohibited at the times mentioned in the last section of G-45?
2. If all the conditions for pronouncing a valid divorce are observed, does the divorce become effective immediately?
3. During the waiting period following divorce, where does the wife, stay and who is responsible far her maintenance?
4. Is it permissible for a wife to re-marry after divorce?
5. If a woman is divorced from the same husband a third time, is it true, that there can be no further attempt at reconciling them?
6. Are there any guarantees in Islamic law that the financial rights of the wife and her interest in the custody of the children will be respected?

'Reasons for the prohibition of divorce at certain times'
The prohibition of divorce during the woman's monthly cycle has two reasons:
a) The woman at this time is in a state of 'hurt' as the Qur'an says, and it would be unfair to add an extra source of worry and anxiety to her at this time;
b) During this period, the husband is not permitted to approach his wife for intimate relations - this may be a source of tension in their relationship and may lead him to make a hasty and ill-judged decision to divorce.

It is prohibited for a husband to even utter an intention to divorce at this time. The reasons for the prohibition of divorce during the post-natal period are similar to those above: a woman is in need of physical and psychological care following the delivery of her baby and again, her husband may not approach her for intimate relations during this period. A woman cannot even be divorced during pregnancy, though the intention to divorce may be made known to her. The prohibition of divorce in the period following menstruation and after intimate relations have taken place between husband and wife is in place because of the possibility that the wife may have conceived. Confirmation that the wife is expecting may serve to reconcile the couple and since the lineal identity of the baby also has to be established, no divorce can take place. Divorce can only take place after the fresh purity of the wife following her menses and if no intimate relations have taken place.

'Waiting period following divorce'
The pronouncement of divorce does not immediately result in separation. There follows a waiting period (iddat), which is usually three months long (to cover three feminine cycles), although the iddat can be as much as nine months if the woman is expecting and as little as one month in the case of khula' divorce or where a husband divorces his wife at the end of a period of fresh purity. If the divorce takes place soon after the signing of the marriage contract, but before consummation has taken place, then there is no waiting period. During the waiting period following divorce, intimate relations between Husband and wife are forbidden, if these do take place, this is considered a sign of reconciliation between husband and wife and a revocation of the divorce.

'Lodging and maintenance of the wife during the waiting period'
Instructions in the Qur'an make it clear that a wife who has been divorced is entitled to continue to live in her home as if there was no divorce. She may not be forced out of her home and indeed she should not leave it of her own accord unnecessarily. During the waiting period she is entitled to full maintenance from her husband and is also entitled to receive good treatment. The reasons for Islam's insistence that the wife remain at home supported by her husband during the waiting period following divorce are:
a) The waiting period could be a test of the love of the couple for each other and could result in reconciliation and revocation of the divorce; if the revocation occurs, there is no need for a new marriage contract or an application to the court, though it is preferable to have the revocation formally witnessed. The couple will be deemed to have used up one of the two possible revocable divorces available if revocation occurs during the waiting period following pronouncement of divorce.
b) It serves to confirm whether or not the wife is pregnant.
c) Finally, the waiting period also serves as a transition period for the husband and wife so that they can prepare physically and mentally for their new lives apart from each other.

It is important to note that from the legal point of view, during the waiting period, the couple are considered to be husband and wife. If therefore, either husband or wife passes away, the remaining spouse is entitled to an appropriate share of the inheritance left by his/her partner.

'Re-marriage after divorce'
It is permissible for the divorcee to re-marry after the expiry of the waiting period following divorce. Islam attaches no stigma to re-marriage, though in certain cultures, (both Muslim and non-Muslim), the marriage of a divorced person is discouraged. Islam, on the contrary, allows everyone a second chance to build a happy marriage, whether to a new person or to the ex-spouse. Marriage to the ex-spouse is permissible where, after the lapse of the waiting period following the first revocable divorce, a new marriage contract is signed and a new marriage gift is made to the wife. Such a re-marriage between the same couple is allowed a second and third time before the divorce becomes irrevocable. The extent to which Islam affords every opportunity to the couple to reconcile can be seen in the fact that the Qur'an actually forbids people from trying to prevent a wife from reconciling with her husband.

'Irrevocable divorce'
If a wife is divorced a total of three times from her husband, then it is clear that there is a serious problem. The couple, clearly, are not able to reconcile their differences permanently or one or other of the parties is not taking the marriage seriously. In such a case, to restore the respect for divorce, the third divorce will be final and the husband and wife are finally prohibited from ever re-marrying. The only possible circumstance in which they could re-marry is when the ex-wife has married another man and that man dies or divorces her for a genuine reason, thus freeing her to re-marry her first husband. It is not permissible for a woman to deliberately and premeditatedly arrange a marriage to another man with the intention of obtaining a divorce so that she can re-marry her ex-husband. If the husband divorced his wife three times in a single breath and then regrets his action, it is permissible for him to return to her and it is treated as if one possible revocable divorce out of two has been used up. It is good practice for there to be at least one month between each of the three divorces given to a wife by her husband.

'Financial and custodial rights of a divorced wife'
If divorce takes place before consummation of the marriage, then the wife is entitled to receive one half of the promised marriage gift as a consolation. If the divorce takes place after consummation, the wife would be entitled to:
a) The full amount of marriage gift due to her.
b) Keep all the engagement and marriage gifts given to her.
c) Full maintenance during the iddat period, whether this is three or nine months.
d) Payment from the father if she is suckling his child.
e) Child support from the father if she has custody of young children.
f) To a consolation gift (some jurists say that this is merely commendable, others say that it is a requirement).

The Islamic rule on child custody is that a mother is more entitled to young children (usually those under the age of seven years), it is also considered more appropriate for a mother to have the custody of daughters until they are adolescent or even until they are married so that she can impart the appropriate guidance to them as they grow up. There are two conditions however; these are that the mother should be fit to have custody and be of good reputation and that secondly, she should not re-marry. This last condition is based on a saying of the Prophet (SAWS) in which he expressed fears for the interests of the child if the woman re-married. Generally, however, Islam favors custody of the children remaining with the wife or the nearest female relatives to the children, (if the mother is unavailable).

In answer to question 2: CH.65 v.6; CH.2 v.228; CH.65 v.4; CH.33 v.49.
In answer to question 3: CH.65 v.6; CH.65 v.1.
In answer to question 6: CH.2 v.237; CH.2 v.236 and v.241 which mentions that it is desirable/required for a husband to give his divorced wife Mat'an, a gift.
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