The real meaning of ‘TAQWA’

The word ‘taqwa’ occurs in the Quran many times yet it a term which many Muslims find hard to understand/explain. Some claim it is ‘God-fearing’, others that it is ‘piety’  with many nuances offered in between.

 

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For its true meaning, we must look to the Quran itself to see what Allah has told us about it and subsequently why it is so important.

 

1). Taqwa is the opposite of forgetting Allah

 

Surah Al Hashr (verses 18 & 19):

 

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ – وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ نَسُواْ اللَّهَ فَأَنسَـهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ أُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْفَـسِقُونَ

 

18. O you who believe! Have taqwa of Allah and let every person look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow, and have taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.

 

19. And be not like those who forgot Allah, and He caused them to forget themselves. Those are the rebellious.

 

So, verse 19 informs us that Taqwa is the opposite of forgetting Allah – it involves remembering Allah.

 

2). Taqwa is acquired by worshipping

 

(Surah Al Baqarah, verse 21)

 

يَـأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِىْ خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

 

O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may acquire Taqwa.

 

In other words, you worship Allah and a by-product is taqwa. Worship is everything Allah has told us to do.

 

3). ‘Taqwa’ is something Allah gives.

 

In Surah Muhammad (verse 17), Allah states:

 

وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْاْ زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَءَاتَـهُمْ تَقُوَاهُمْ

 

And as for those who accept guidance, He increases them in guidance and bestows upon them their Taqwa.

 

4). Allah defines the qualities of those who have taqwa in Surah Al Baqarah (verse 177):

 

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ وَالْمَلَـئِكَةِ وَالْكِتَـبِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَءَاتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِى الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَـمَى وَالْمَسَـكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَوةَ وَءَاتَى الزَّكَوةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَـهَدُواْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِى الْبَأْسَآءِ والضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

 

It is not Birr (righteousness) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west; but Birr is the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masakin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, performs As-Salah, and gives the Zakah, and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of the truth and they are Al-Muttaqun.

 

So, here Allah tells us those who have taqwa believe in Allah, the Day of Judgement, angels, books and prophets and then this is coupled with action – namely, giving in charity, freeing slaves, prayer, zakah, keeping promises and having patience.

 

Using these verses, the meaning of ‘Taqwa’ becomes clear:

1). It is remembering Allah.

2). It is acquired through worshipping.

3). Allah increases your taqwa when we do the right actions.

4). Those who have taqwa have the correct beliefs and carry out good deeds. 

 

The best word in the English language for a concept that is based upon remembering Allah, making sure you have the correct beliefs and making yourself worship Allah would be ‘vigilance’, a higher level of awareness.

 

 

Taqwa’ then, is to be ‘vigilant’, not physiologically (as you would if you feared a physical danger) but, in a spiritual/psychological sense.

 

Now, once we understand ‘taqwa’, we also realise its significance.

 

Imagine the case of someone we will call ‘Ahmed’. Ahmed thinks he will worship more and become a better Muslim once he has a higher lever of eemaan. This goes against what Allah says about taqwa. In fact, Ahmed must make himself worship more and when he does the good deeds, Allah will increase his level of taqwa. Taqwa is in fact the cornerstone of eemaan.

 

Now, ‘Ramla’ is a Muslim who believes but doesn’t really worship much. She believes those who are better worshippers or ‘more practising’ are that way because Allah has chosen them and given them stronger eemaan. Again, this is not the correct understanding. Ramla needs to make herself worship more and Allah will increase her in taqwa and subsequently, eemaan. It is a cyclic process – the more you do, the stronger a Muslim you become and the more you will keep doing.

 

In conclusion, ‘Taqwa’ is mentioned so many times in the Quran. It is the cornerstone of our belief in Islam and to understand it correctly is vital. We now know that in order to gain it, we must be vigilant of Allah and this vigilance makes us worship better. By way of that worship, Allah will increase our ‘taqwa’ (vigilance) and we will continue with the cycle of doing good.

 

May Allah (Glorified be He) make you, dear reader of the Al Muttaqqeen.

 

Questions on the headscarf

1). There’s a Hadith that clearly states that a women should cover all of herself, except for her face and hands. Aren’t your assertions that a woman shouldn’t wear a scarf going directly against this Hadith?

 

May Allah reward your efforts to uncover the truth about this issue. The hadith you mention is in the collection of Abu Dawud:

 

Aisha said, “Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of God (pbuh) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of God turned his attention from her and said, “O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her except that she displays parts of her body except this and this,” and he pointed to the face and hands.

 

Now, this hadith is categorised as weak because it is ‘mursal’. In other words there is a gap in the chain of narration – the narrator never met A’isha. Hence, Abu Dawud declared it weak. I realise that more recently, Sheikh Albanee decided it was ‘saheeh’ or authentic as he used it as proof that Muslim women are NOT required to cover the face. He asserted that this hadith must be authentic because it would then explain ‘except that which is apparent’ (the verse in Surah An Nur, which you can find here).

 

In other words, the categorization of ‘saheeh’ was not based upon an analysis of the chain but because he felt it fitted his understanding of the issue. So, it is still weak and cannot be used to base our actions upon. 

 

2).  How am I to understand the narration related to women going to Hajj at the time of the Prophet, when they covered their faces when men passed by? Isn’t this proof that women must cover their faces and heads?

 

The collection of Abu Dawood has this statement from Aisha, the wife of the Prophet:

 

عن عائشة قالت : ” كَانَ الرُّكْبَانُ يَمُرُّونَ بِنَا وَنَحْنُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مُحْرِمَاتٌ ، فَإِذَا حَاذَوْا بِنَا سَدَلَتْ إِحْدَانَا جِلْبَابَهَا مِنْ رَأْسِهَا عَلَى وَجْهِهَا ، فَإِذَا جَاوَزُونَا كَشَفْنَاهُ ”

 

Narrated Aisha, “The riders would pass us while we were in ihram with the Messenger of Allah. When they got close to us, one of us would draw her jilbaab from her head over her face. When they passed by, we would uncover our faces.

 

This account, however, contradicts the following hadith from Bukhari:

 

The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “The woman in the state of Ihram should not cover her face, or wear gloves.”

 

How can it be that the wives of the Prophet covered their faces in ihram when he clearly stated that a woman should not cover her face or hands and he was with them at this time? Obviously there is a problem with the authenticity of Abu Dawud’s account (The collection of Abu Dawud is deemed less authentic compared to Bukhari). So, we cannot use the account attributed to A’isha as credible evidence.

 

Some argue that this Hadith in Bukhari means women did cover their faces normally. However, by that same token, would these same ‘scholars’ claim that when Muslims were told in the Quran not to approach the prayer while intoxicated (4.43), it meant they were usually drunk? Of course not! 

 

If you would like more information about the issue of ‘covering the face’, please look here

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The Muslim headscarf – NOT Allah’s religion

B8BB95CA-2376-416B-A838-628B4640B3FBFor centuries, most of the clergy have claimed women must (at the very least) wear a headscarf. Women’s dress is probably the most talked about issue both in the Eastern and Western world and the headscarf is now synonymous with a woman’s religion.

 

Before we look at the evidence, we need the context, the backdrop – if you like. The culture of the Arabs at the time of the Prophet; the people were scantily clad and often exposed their private parts.* Keep this in mind as you read on.

 

As usual, I will let the evidence speak for itself and you can make up your own mind but prepare to be shocked.

 

I always start with the Quran – There are 2 verses in the Quran about how Muslim women should dress in public. The first is in Surah Al Ahzaab (59):

 

يأَيُّهَا النَّبِىُّ قُل لاًّزْوَجِكَ وَبَنَـتِكَ وَنِسَآءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَـبِيبِهِنَّ ذلِكَ أَدْنَى أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلاَ يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً

 

O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to lower their Jalabeeb over their bodies. That will be better that they should be known so as not to be harmed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

So, this verse commands:

 

1). All Muslim women to ‘lower’ their ‘jalabeeb’

The majority of ‘scholars’ claim the jalabeeb (plural of ‘jilbaab’) means to cover from head to toe. Some even include the eyes/one eye. They equate ‘jalabeeb’ in this verse with a cloak worn by modern day Muslim women. They present no evidence whatsoever to back up their claim. However, anyone with common sense will understand that the ‘jalabeeb’ here refers to something the women already owned. It simply refers to clothing/garment.

 

So, in other words, Allah told the women to cover more of their bodies than they currently were (remember the culture of the time!)

 

2). Women were commanded to lower their ‘jalabeeb’ so that they could be recognised as Muslims and as a result, not harmed.

 

Another significant point to note here is that many translations of the Quran wrongly translate ‘fa la yu’dhayn’ as ‘not be molested’, immediately connecting the concept of covering to sexuality.

 

The verses just before this one, using the same word (yu’dhoon), tell us about ‘harming’ God, the Prophet and the believing men and women. Common sense would dictate that it is obviously not anything sexual being suggested here – you cannot ‘molest’ God. 

 

In summary, this verse commands women to cover up their bodies more than they had been at that time to be different from the pagans. It is general. The specifics came later in the 2nd verse.

 

The 2nd verse is from Surah An Nur (31):

 

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَـتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَـرِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلاَ يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلاَ يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِى إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِى أَخَوَتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّـبِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُوْلِى الإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُواْ عَلَى عَوْرَتِ النِّسَآءِ وَلاَ يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ وَتُوبُواْ إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

 

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and cover their private parts and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent, and to draw their covers all over their Juyub and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their women, or their right hand possesses, or the Tabi`in among men who do not have desire, or children who are not aware of the nakedness of women. And let them not cover their legs so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.

 

Now, as mentioned, this verse is very specific. It includes:

 

1).  Women must cover their private parts (just like men are commanded in the verse prior to this one) and not expose them except that which is apparent. ‘That which is apparent’ is defined differently by ‘scholars’ – Some claim it is what is necessary to see (ie. one eye/eyes) while others propagate it is the face. BUT it is obviously related to the covering of the private parts. In other words, it means cover up the private areas except that which is impossible to hide (eg. the size of the hips or bottom).

 

2). Their ’juyub’ (plural of ‘jayb’) must be covered – this refers to covering the chest area/breasts/cleavage. Again, ‘and not to reveal their adornment except that which is apparent’ means cover the chest with fabric except that which is impossible to hide (eg. size of bust). The covering of the chest may be relaxed in the company of the list of people which follows.

 

‘Scholars’ claim the ‘khumr’ mentioned here means ‘headscarves’ but linguistically, the root خمر – also used to refer to ‘alcohol’ in the Quran – means ‘cover’. It is only over time that the word has now evolved to imply a headscarf when the Quranic meaning is the original one. Here, it means ‘cover with clothing/fabric’.

 

3). Their legs must be covered in a way which doesn’t make what they are covering visible/apparent. In other words, clothing must cover the legs and not be so tight/transparent that there is nothing left to the imagination.

 

This part of the verse is commonly translated as ‘And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment’ but the verb used here is the same verb as is used to state the chest must be covered (ضرب). Therefore, in the same verse, about the same topic, it has to mean the same thing.

 

Anyway, how would stamping your feet reveal anything except the sound of anklets? Any claims to this are based on shaky evidence.

 

The Quran makes it very clear. Women are commanded to cover their private parts, their chests and their legs. In other words, to dress modestly. So, where is the command to wear a headscarf ?

 

Well, put frankly – it isn’t in the Quran.

 

Despite all the attention given to how Muslim women dress, there is NO book on women’s dress in the collections of ahadith. In fact there is actually more information about men’s dress (eg. Gold, silk, covering the private parts)! So, it cannot be found in ahadith either. Surely, if the women covered their heads, we would have some evidence about how and when they wore it.

 

So, in conclusion, the headscarf does not seem to be based upon evidence and Allah’s religion. The reasons for it differ between communities and time periods in history. It is a concept intertwined with symbolism/recognition, belonging, misogyny, patriarchy, and culture. I am not the first to state this view and am sure will not be the last.

 

Sometimes, the truth is a bitter pill to swallow but our religious practices must be based upon evidence and our Lord’s commands, not what makes us comfortable because we are used to it. The headscarf is not a woman’s religion. It’s a direct result of centuries of misogyny, patriarchy and culture. More recently, it is now associated with belonging/recognition and even liberation. The solution to this is my answer to most problems in life – Knowledge. Muslims (men and women) need to know the real religion instead of relying on the mere opinions of clerics. It will be a tough road to begin with but we owe it to ourselves and to future generations. May The Almighty guide us all.

 

*If you read the Quran in it’s entirety (verses about covering the private parts) alongside ahadith about dress (easily found online), this becomes very clear.

 

 

 

 

Detangling the Muslim beard

C8F42E55-B1F7-4150-8C48-FFC0AA3436DEDepending upon the clergy to define our religion for us has led to different beliefs about a Muslim man’s beard. There are, broadly speaking, three different opinions:

 

1). The beard is not part of the religion.

2). It is only a recommendation and so is purely a matter of personal choice.

3). It is an obligation and must either be left to grow without cutting/trimming or be at least a fistful in length.

 

Disagreements between Muslims because there are differences between the ‘scholars’. 

 

Just as Muslim women are judged by how they dress, Muslim men who trim or shave their beards are also subject to criticism from other Muslims. Stereotypically, the longer the beard, the greater the piety of a man. Of course, like many stereotypes out there, this isn’t actually the case.

 

So, what is the truth about the beard?

 

The evidence is found in Ahadith:

 

عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ خَالِفُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ، وَفِّرُوا اللِّحَى، وَأَحْفُوا الشَّوَارِبَ ‏”‏‏.‏

 

Ibn `Umar said, the Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Grow the beard and cut the moustache short.’ (Bukhari)

 

There are other versions of this hadith with the same meaning. Men were ordered to keep the moustache short and to grow a beard. The rationale behind the beard is also given in the short hadith – to be different from those who were disbelievers in Islam.

 

So, those who place themselves in groups 1 and 2 above – believing that the beard is not a part of the religion are clearly GOING AGAINST the evidence. The terms used in the hadith are imperative, ordering an action (I have highlighted these).

 

On the other hand, those (in group 3) who claim the beard must be a certain length or never cut/trimmed have NO EVIDENCE. They use the following statement about Ibn Umar cutting his beard below a fistful and argue that the Companions knew the religion better than us.

 

Nafi’ said, ‘Whenever Ibn Umar performed hajj or umra, he used to hold his beard with his hand and cut whatever remained outside his hold’. (Bukhari)

 

I do not dispute that the Companions knew the religion better than us but there is a difference between a personal habit and following the command of Allah and His Prophet. Clearly, due to there not being any evidence from the Prophet or the Quran about the length of the beard, leaving a fistful after hajj/umra was the practice/habit of Ibn Umar. It was not a command of the Prophet and there is a lack of evidence that the Prophet himself grew his beard in this way.

 

So, in conclusion, once we move away from the opinions of the clergy, the truth is easy to see; A Muslim man has been ordered to grow a beard to be different from those of other faiths. It has absolutely nothing to do with how pious one is nor should it be used as ammunition against a person if the scarf/beard is missing. Tearing someone down is so much easier than lifting them up. Yet, as Muslims we aspire to leave the easy option behind us and struggle for what is right.

 

The painful truth of ‘Interest’.

C84C60CB-7679-4216-994C-D2D1E2D842F8Sometimes, because the truth is difficult to face, we create an ‘alternate truth’. An ‘alternate truth’ is basically a lie we tell ourselves so we can do what we desire without guilt, shame or accountability. This psychological process is subtle and we do not easily realise we are guilty of it.

 

One example of this is the issue of ‘interest’. There are those out there, albeit a minority, who are propagating that ‘interest’ is permitted when there is a dire need. For those of you unfamiliar with the topic, ‘interest’ (‘riba’ in Arabic) refers to ‘an increment in wealth as part of a borrowing/lending process’. Islam forbids Muslims from giving it, taking it and even being part of the transaction.

 

Allah says in Surah Al Baqarah, verse 275:

 

الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَواْ لاَ يَقُومُونَ إِلاَّ كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِى يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَـنُ مِنَ الْمَسِّ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَواْ وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَواْ فَمَن جَآءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِّنْ رَّبِّهِ فَانتَهَى فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ أَصْحَـبُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ

 

275.Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba,” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba. So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba, shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to Riba), such are the dwellers of the Fire ـ they will Abide therein.

 

And in the same Surah, verses 278 and 279:

 

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ وَذَرُواْ مَا بَقِىَ مِنَ الرِّبَواْ إِن كُنتُمْ مُّؤْمِنِينَ

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ فَأْذَنُواْ بِحَرْبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَإِن تُبتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَلِكُمْ لاَ تَظْلِمُونَ وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ

 

278. O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah and give up what remains from Riba, if you are (really) believers. 279. And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent,you shall have your capital sums.

 

The Quran is very clear on ‘interest’. It is categorically forbidden and the punishment for it is Hell. Taking it/giving it is asking for Allah to wage war against you.

 

Yet, despite this clear evidence, we have those who misconstrue and misinterpret evidence to falsely claim that interest is permitted in cases where there is a necessity. They cite buying a house to live in as an example of necessity.

 

They use evidence such as, ‘…..He (Allah) has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion or necessity….’ and claim this is proof ‘interest’ is permitted if necessity exists. They are misconstruing a PART of a verse from Surah Al An’aam (119). Look at the complete verse down below and the one before it – It is specific to food and has nothing to do with ‘interest’.

 

فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُم بِآيَـتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ

وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلاَّ تَأْكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلاَّ مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَّيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ رَّبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدِينَ

 

118. So eat of that on which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, if you are believers in His Ayat. 119. And why should you not eat of that on which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, while He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity And surely, many do lead astray by their own desires through lack of knowledge. Certainly your Lord knows best the transgressors.

 

Those who claim ‘interest’ is permissible in certain situations also use Allah’s words from Surah Al Ma’idah, verse 6: ‘….Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful.’ Again, taking parts of verses is extremely dangerous and leads to misguiding not only ourselves but others too. The verse actually reads:

 

يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلوةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُواْ بِرُؤُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَينِ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُباً فَاطَّهَّرُواْ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَآءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنْكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَـمَسْتُمُ النِّسَآءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُواْ مَآءً فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيداً طَيِّباً فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

 

6. O you who believe! When you stand (intend) to offer the Salah (the prayer), then wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba, purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from the Gha’it (toilet) or you have touched women and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favor to you that you may be thankful.

 

This verse tells us about ‘tayammum’ (purification when there is no access to water). It is very specific and is not connected to ‘interest’.

 

So, ‘Interest’ is clearly forbidden in Islam. When we look at the evidence with open hearts, the truth becomes apparent – We just have to find the strength to live by it.

YouTube isn’t for Muslim women

 

97F7DAA7-DB84-4194-918A-F93A2629688CRecently, I came across a YouTube video which was about Muslim female vloggers. It claimed these women, by making vlogs on make-up and clothing were directly disobeying a verse from the Quran. I have heard the same verse used many times by ‘scholars’ to propagate that a Muslim woman

 

-Must stay at home unless there is a real necessity to come out (i.e. must not have a job outside the home).

-Cannot wear make-up outside her home

-Must be completely shrouded so only her eyes are uncovered

-If she must leave the house, a male companion will accompany her

 

However, as I’m sure you’ll know, many people repeating the same mantra does not make the mantra a truth.

 

Let’s take a look at the verse. It is from Surah Al Ahzaab, verse 33:

 

وَقَرْنَ فِى بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلاَ تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَـهِلِيَّةِ الاٍّولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَوةَ وَءَاتِينَ الزَّكَـوةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُـمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيــراً

 

And stay in your houses, and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance, and perform the Salah, and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah wishes only to remove the Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.

 

Above is the common translation of the verse and the English translation is a direct reflection of what the ‘scholars’, for centuries now, have been interpreting the verse to mean. An interpretation tainted with deeply embedded misogyny and a need to control women. Yet, despite the layers of distortion and misguidance, the truth remains; The Quran holds the key to true understanding.

 

Firstly, if you loot at the verse before this one in the Quran, you will clearly understand these words are directed towards the wives of the Prophet. Secondly, the word (an imperative verb)  ‘قَرْنَ’  is interpreted as ‘Stay’ when its root ‘وقر’ is in fact the same for the noun used in Surah Nuh, verse 13:

 

مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا

 

What is the matter with you, that you do not hope for any majesty/dignity from Allah?

 

Hence, the true meaning of this part of the verse is ‘Dignify yourselves in your homes’.

 

Now, the meaning of ‘tabarruj’ is of paramount importance. It is often transliterated like this because many ‘scholars’ who studied the Quran did not have a definitive meaning for it but instead offered the opinions of other ‘scholars’ as possible interpretations. Yet, the answer, I believe is there if your mind is open enough.

 

In Surah An Noor, verse 60, Allah (using the same term ‘tabarruj’, in a different form) states:

 

وَالْقَوَاعِدُ مِنَ النِّسَآءِ الَّلَـتِى لاَ يَرْجُونَ نِكَاحاً فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْهِنَّ جُنَاحٌ أَن يَضَعْنَ ثِيَابَهُنَّ غَيْرَ مُتَبَرِّجَـتِ بِزِينَةٍ وَأَن يَسْتَعْفِفْنَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُنَّ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عِلِيمٌ

 

And the Qawa`id among women who do not hope for marriage, it is no sin on them if they discard their clothing in such a way as not to be those who do tabarruj/show their adornment. To refrain from tabarruj is better for them. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

 

Interestingly, here the ‘scholars’ have defined ‘tabarruj’ as ‘showing their adornment’ and correctly so. This would also correlate with the verse in Surah An Noor (31) which clearly outlines how and when exactly a Muslim woman should cover.

 

Now, going back to our initial verse (Surah Al Ahzaab, verse 33), ‘tabarruj’ means ‘not to show what Allah has told you to cover’. So, the translation of verse should read as the following:

 

‘And dignify yourselves in your homes and do not show of yourselves what Allah commanded you to cover, like women did in the times of ignorance…’

 

In other words, be dignified, honour yourself by only uncovering/showing your body in your home and do not be immoral by doing such outside. The two statements are one command. It is like saying, ‘Don’t consume margarine and use butter instead’.

 

This is further supported by sayings of the Companions about shamelessness and nudity when people would circumbulate the ka’ba naked. The collection of Bukhari, for example, offers the following:

 

Narrated Abu Huraira: “In the year prior to the last Hajj of the Prophet when Allah’s Apostle made Abu Bakr the leader of the pilgrims, the latter (Abu Bakr) sent me in the company of a group of people to make a public announcement: ‘No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year, and no naked person is allowed to perform Tawaf of the Ka’ba.’

 

In summary, the verse in Surah Al Ahzaab, despite being quoted by many – as evidence for the many things a woman cannot do, was in fact a simple command for the wives of the Prophet to dress appropriately or morally as defined by Allah in the Quran.

 

The reality is as Albert Einstein is quoted to have said. ‘Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.’ Yet, with the light of the Quran to guide us, as Muslims, we have no excuse.

Divorce – The Truth about Mahr, Khula & Halala

MAHR:

‘Mahr’ is commonly used to refer to the wealth given by a husband to his wife as part of the marriage contract. Many clerics WRONGLY claim that if the wife initiates the divorce process, she must pay this back to the husband, a ransom for her freedom.  

 

They use a verse in Surah Al Baqarah (229):

 

الطَّلَـقُ مَرَّتَانِ فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَـنٍ وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَأْخُذُواْ مِمَّآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلاَّ أَن يَخَافَآ أَلاَّ يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلاَ تَعْتَدُوهَا وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الظَّـلِمُونَ

229. The divorce is twice, after that either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness. And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of what you gave them (the Mahr, bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. Then if you fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah, then there is no sin on either of them if she gives back. These are the limits ordained by Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits ordained by Allah, then such are the wrongdoers.

 

and put it together with this hadith from Sahih Al Bukhari.

 

عن ابن عباس:  أن امرأة ثابت بن قيس بن شماس أتت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقالت : يا رسول الله ، ثابت بن قيس ما أعتب عليه في خلق ولا دين ، ولكني أكره الكفر في الإسلام . فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : أتردين عليه حديقته ؟ قالت : نعم ، قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : اقبل الحديقة وطلقها تطليقة  

 

This is usually wrongly used as evidence to claim that if the woman wants to initiate divorce, she must pay back the mahr. It is usually translated inaccurately (You can find the incorrect version easily – just do a search online) and the reason WHY she gives it back is completely overlooked.

 

However, the CORRECT translation is: 

 

The wife of Thaabit bin Qais came to the Prophet and said:  

 

Oh Messenger of Allah, I don’t find defects in Thaabit’s religion or manners but I hate the disbelief in Islam. So, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Will you return to him his garden?’. She said, ‘yes’. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Accept the garden and divorce her once’.

 

So, the woman gave back the garden/Mahr because Thaabit was not a believer in Islam.

 

Now, when this hadith is translated correctly and in its complete version, it is in accordance with the Quran that the woman returns the ‘mahr’ if her husband is a disbeliever. 

 

The Quran clearly states this in Surat Al Mumtahina, verses 10 and 11:

 

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا جَآءَكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَـتُ مُهَـجِرَتٍ فَامْتَحِنُوهُنَّ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَـنِهِنَّ فَإِنْ عَلِمْتُمُوهُنَّ مُؤْمِنَـتٍ فَلاَ تَرْجِعُوهُنَّ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ لاَ هُنَّ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّ وَءَاتُوهُم مَّآ أَنفَقُواْ وَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ إِذَآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَلاَ تُمْسِكُواْ بِعِصَمِ الْكَوَافِرِ وَاسْـَلُواْ مَآ أَنفَقْتُمْ وَلْيَسْـَلُواْ مَآ أَنفَقُواْ ذَلِكُمْ حُكْمُ اللَّهِ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ – وَإِن فَاتَكُمْ شَىْءٌ مِّنْ أَزْوَجِكُمْ إِلَى الْكُفَّـرِ فَعَـقَبْتُمْ فَآتُواْ الَّذِينَ ذَهَبَتْ أَزْوَجُهُمْ مِّثْلَ مَآ أَنفَقُواْ وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ الَّذِى أَنتُمْ بِهِ مُؤْمِنُونَ

 

10. O you who believe! When believing women come to you as emigrants, question them; Allah knows best as to their faith, then if you ascertain that they are true believers, send them not back to the disbelievers. They are not lawful for the disbelievers nor are the disbelievers lawful for them. But give them (disbelievers) that which they have spent (on their ‘mahr’). And there will be no sin on you to marry them if you have paid their due to them. Likewise do not keep the disbelieving women, and ask for that which you have spent (on their ‘mahr’) and let them (the disbelievers) ask for that which they have spent. That is the judgement of Allah, He judges between you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. 11. And if any of your wives have gone from you to the disbelievers then you succeed over them (gain victory); then pay those whose wives have gone, the equivalent of what they had spent. And have Taqwa of Allah, the One in Whom you are believers.

 

So, if the wife is divorcing the husband because he is a disbeliever, she must return the ‘mahr’. This is one situation when she will return it. 

 

In Surah An Nisa’a, verses 19 – 21, another situation is mentioned:

 

يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِثُواْ النِّسَآءَ كَرْهاً وَلاَ تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُواْ بِبَعْضِ مَآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلاَّ أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَن تَكْرَهُواْ شَيْئاً وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْراً كَثِيراً – وَإِنْ أَرَدْتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَءَاتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنْطَاراً فَلاَ تَأْخُذُواْ مِنْهُ شَيْئاً أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَـناً وَإِثْماً مُّبِيناً – وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَى بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَـقاً غَلِيظاً

 

19. O you who believe! You are not permitted to inherit women against their will, nor to make things difficult for them in order to get part of (the ‘mahr’) what you have given them, unless they commit open Fahishah. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good. 20. But if you intend to replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a Qintar, take not the least bit of it back; would you take it wrongfully without a right and (with) a manifest sin. 21. And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant.

 

In other words, the wife gives back the mahr if she has cheated (sex outside of their marriage) on the husband (open fahishah means with 4 witnesses or she herself has openly confessed to it). 

 

Despite what many scholars claim, the religion DOES NOT state the wife returns the mahr because she is the one who wants the divorce. Almost amusingly, they even include defiance & disobedience to husband, reviling him & his family as just cause to take back the mahr when the Quran commands the opposite.

 

The fact of the matter is that she only returns it if she wants a divorce because her husband is a disbeliever or because she has openly cheated on him which is why the initial verse from Surah Al Baqarah mentions ‘the limits ordained by Allah’. Men are commanded very clearly NOT to take back the mahr unless it is one of the 2 situations mentioned.

 

KHULA:

 

Firstly, the term ‘Khula’ has no real basis in the religion. In the collection of An Nisa’i, a different version of the hadith above includes the Prophet’s command to Thaabit “خذ الذي لها عليك وخل سبيلها”

which means ‘Take the mahr and leave her to her way’. The word خل (i.e ‘leave/depart’) is where the ‘scholars’ got ’Khula’.

 

The clerics then took this new invented definition and added to it that if a woman wants a ‘Khula’, she must take the matter to court and the judge(s) will make the decision as to whether her reasons are justified. In other words, they will decide whether she should get a divorce and if granted, she will return the mahr.

 

Neither the Quran or Sunnah dictates that there is a different way for a woman to initiate divorce (See my blog on Divorce). The entire concept of Khula is a mere reflection of how most societies work – where men have more power and control.

 

Now, if you have read the opinions of the ‘scholars’ on ‘Khula’, you will already know that they claim the ‘nikah’ (or marital contract is with the husband and because he bears the financial expenses in the relationship, he has more of a right to divorce). So, if the woman wants a divorce, they claim she must ask for ‘Khula’ and pay back the mahr.

 

They base this on the verse from Surah Al Baqarah (237): 

 

وَإِن طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ وَقَدْ فَرَضْتُمْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً فَنِصْفُ مَا فَرَضْتُمْ إَّلآ أَن يَعْفُونَ أَوْ يَعْفُوَاْ الَّذِى بِيَدِهِ عُقْدَةُ النّكَاحِ وَأَن تَعْفُواْ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَنسَوُاْ الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ

 

And if you divorce them before you have touched (had a sexual relation with) them, and you have appointed for them their due (mahr), then pay half of that, unless they (the women) agree to remit it, or he, in whose hands is the marriage tie, agrees to remit it. And that you remit is nearer to At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness). And do not forget liberality between yourselves. Truly, Allah is All-Seer of what you do.

 

‘Scholars’ claim ‘he, in whose hands is the marriage tie’ is evidence that the marital contract is in the ‘hands’ of the husband so he has more rights. In reality, an understanding of the pronouns used within the verbs indicate it is not the husband but, the woman’s representative (father, brother etc) who is meant here.

 

The religion is fair because our Lord is Most Just. Women have the same rights to divorce as men do. Anyone who claims differently has obviously not looked at the evidence with an open mind. 

 

In summary,

-Khula is an invented process.

-The man or any judge cannot take back the mahr (unless one of the 2 situations above is present)

-The man does not ‘own’ the marital contract. Rather, it is a mutual one.

 

HALALA:

 

When the divorce process has been initiated 3 times between the same husband and wife, the woman must now marry a different man. The wisdom in this is clear – any marriage which has been turbulent enough to initiate divorce thrice is one which is not working so we are ordered to move on.

 

Now, I believe it is often human nature to look for loop holes. However, there is a colossal difference between a loop hole and distortion. ‘Halala’ is an innovation and a complete distortion of the laws of Allah (Muslims are twisting the verse from Surah Al Baqarah (230) which you can find in my blog on Divorce).

 

By distorting the verse, Muslims are following a practice whereby the woman marries someone for the sole purpose of re-marrying her previous husband. There are, in fact, agencies, which for a payment, will marry the woman to a new man who will then have sex with her for one night and then divorce her so she can re-marry her previous husband. This is making a mockery of the institution of marriage and more importantly, the evidence from the Quran.

 

It is a direct consequence of Muslims following the opinions of scholars. This has led people to divorce in many incorrect ways (i.e. believing that merely uttering the word ‘divorce’ means you are divorced, without witnesses, without an iddah, without due process). Huge misunderstandings and innovations lead us to the completely unislamic and abhorrent practice of  Halala.

May Allah guide us back.