THE REALITY OF ZAKAH

I recently came across an interesting fatwa from a ‘scholar’; A man asked if his wife E5C42AE1-EAC7-413A-A343-5B2B145D603Ccould pay her zakah to his parents who were receiving food stamps and Medicaid. The ‘scholar’s’ response was that this was permitted.

 

 

I now had my own question – What exactly was this opinion based upon? As always, I looked to the Quran first.

 

In terms of evidence, the Quran has this verse in Surah At Tauba, (60), which categorises who can receive zakah:

 

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاء وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

Indeed, the alms are for the fuqaraa’ and the masaakeen, and those who work in the collecting and distributing of the alms, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and those who are over burdened with debts, and [for every struggle] in God’s cause, and the wayfarer: an ordinance from God – and God is All-Knowing, Wise.

 

*Note that the term ‘sadaqaat’ is used in the verse for ‘zakah’.

 

Most of the categories mentioned in the verse are easily understood. A lot of confusion however, is caused by the different opinions on the definition of ‘faqeer’ (the singular form of ‘fuqaraa’’) and ‘miskeen’ (the singular form of ‘masaakeen’) – You can find these opinions easily by searching online.

 

Allah (azza wa jal) makes clear the meaning of the word ‘faqeer’ in Surah Al Hashr, verse 8:

 

لِلْفُقَرَاء الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنصُرُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ

 

‘And for the fuqaraa’ of the emigrants, who were expelled from their homes and their money, seeking bounties from Allah and His pleasure, and helping Allah and His messenger. Those are the truthful.’

 

Here, the ‘fuqaraa’’ are clearly defined as those who had lost their homes and money. They did not have food, clothing or shelter – they were destitute. In today’s world, the homeless are destitute. Those in refugee camps are destitute. Those who cannot afford adequate food, heating and clothing are destitute.

 

Similarly, the story of Musa offers further proof of this definition. In Surah Al Qasas, verse 24, Musa describes himself as ‘faqeer’:

 

فَسَقَى لَهُمَا ثُمَّ تَوَلَّى إِلَى الظِّلِّ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

 

‘So he watered for their flock for them, then he turned to the shade and said, ‘My Rabb, indeed I am destitute for any good you can bestow upon me’.’

 

If you read the verses preceding this one, Musa left his home suddenly, out of fear, after killing a man. He had left everything and had nothing – no food, money, home or possessions. Again, the English term ‘destitute’ comes to mind. 

 

Now, to move onto the meaning of ‘miskeen’:

 

In Surah Al Baqarah, verse 184, Allah (azza wa jal) states:

 

أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

 

‘Fast for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, feed a Miskeen. So whoever pays the fidya, it is good for him. And that you fast is good for you if only you knew.’

 

There are other verses like this one where the word ‘miskeen’ is mentioned with food/feeding people. These verses include Surah Al Ma’un, 3,  Surah Al Fajr, 18, Surah Al Insaan, 8 and Surah Al Muddathir, 44. These verses tell us a ‘miskeen’ is one who is in need of food. Feeding those who already have food would obviously not be charity! So, those who have to go to food banks are ‘masaakeen’. Those who have to choose heating their homes over eating are ‘masaakeen’.

 

So now we know that ‘Faqeer’ is one who is ‘destitute’ while ‘Miskeen’ is ‘one who is in need of food’, let’s go back to where this blog started – the fatwa…There are 8 categories of people who can receive zakah as defined by the Quran. If one believes his family member/relative/someone he knows is in one of those categories, can he choose to give his zakah directly to them?

 

The answer is in the verse from Surah At Tauba above. You can see that one of the categories of people who receive zakah is those who collect and distribute the zakah. The zakah at the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) was collected and distributed by an agency of people – individuals did not decide who their zakah was going to.

 

This is mentioned in this verse too, also in Surah At Tauba (58):

 

وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَلْمِزُكَ فِي الصَّدَقَاتِ فَإِنْ أُعْطُواْ مِنْهَا رَضُواْ وَإِن لَّمْ يُعْطَوْاْ مِنهَا إِذَا هُمْ يَسْخَطُونَ

And of them are some who accuse you concerning (the distribution of) the alms. If they are given part thereof, they are pleased, but if they are not given thereof, behold! They are enraged!

 

 

Furthermore, in ahadith, we also have relevant evidence:

 

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

 

The Prophet (ﷺ) sent Mu’adh to Yemen and said, “Invite the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I am Allah’s Messenger, and if they obey you, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in every day and night (in 24 hours) and if they obey you, teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay zakah from their property and it is to be TAKEN from the wealthy among them and GIVEN to the poor.”

(Sahih Al Bukhari, book 24)

The way of the religion is that Zakah is to be collected and distributed – It is not given directly to ‘potential’ recipients.

 

So, a person cannot decide if they should give their zakah to a family member or a friend in need. It should be given to an organisation so that the process is objective and fair. This way, the financial help goes to those most in need. Those that claim zakah can be given to family/directly to a recipient are opening the whole system of zakah to corruption – Their claims are not based upon evidence.

 

It may be human nature to look for grey areas but, in the religion, there are none – It is black and white. The evidence is there, if we but look.

 

 

 

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.

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.

A million miles from how DIVORCE should happen

Divorce is one very evident issue where the clerics have taken Muslims away from the religion. The husband is WRONGLY given the right to divorce by just stating the word ‘Divorce’. It is viewed incorrectly as a word or a statement when, in fact, it is a PROCESS (Click here to see the divorce process displayed visually).

 

It’s time to look away from the clergy and fix our sights on the evidence. 

 

So, how is a divorce conducted according to the Quran?

 

It is clear in Surah Al Baqarah (verses 228 -30):

 

وَالْمُطَلَّقَـتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَـثَةَ قُرُوءٍ وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَن يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِى أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِن كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُواْ إِصْلَـحاً وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِى عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكُيمٌ

 

228. And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar (to those of their husbands) over them to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

 

*This verse tells us:

 

a). A declaration of divorce is followed by a time period of 3 menstrual cycles with no sexual relationship (called ‘iddah’ – see Surah At Talaaq, verse 1 for more evidence of this command). The wisdom of this is to know if there is pregnancy and a woman must wait for this iddah to be over before she can re-marry. If there is a pregnancy, the husband will have to support her financially for the pregnancy and the child after he/she is born. 

 

b). They can go back to being married, if they wish. In the case of pregnancy, the divorce maybe revoked within the iddah because there won’t be 3 menstrual cycles. Otherwise, they must wait until the iddah is completed (see below for references to verses on this). Either way, the divorce process was initiated so it is counted as one divorce (‘…right to take them back…’)

 

c). The husband is financially responsible for the wife from the time divorce is declared until the iddah comes to an end (…’a degree of responsibility..’)

 

NOTE: There is no iddah if the marriage was not consummated (See Al Ahzaab, verse 49).

 

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.

 

* So, 2 processes of divorce are permitted whereby the couple can decide, at the end of each iddah, to remain in the marriage.

 

فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا فَلاَ تَحِلُّ لَهُ مِن بَعْدُ حَتَّى تَنْكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَآ أَن يَتَرَاجَعَآ إِن ظَنَّآ أَن يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ

وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ يُبَيِّنُهَا لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

230. And if he has divorced her (the third time), then she is not lawful unto him thereafter until she has married another husband. Then, if the other husband divorces her, it is no sin on both of them that they reunite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah. These are the limits of Allah, which He makes plain for the people who have knowledge.

 

*A third declaration of divorce is irrevocable and means the marriage is over with no possibility of reconciliation. The couple CANNOT GO BACK TOGETHER. The woman now must marry someone else but there is still a waiting period of 3 menstrual cycles during which the husband must financially support her.

In the case of pregnancy, the husband continues to financially support the wife until the birth.  If the new marriage of the woman fails, they could re-marry.

 

Now, going back to the fact that divorce is a PROCESS, not an utterance, the religion dictates witnesses must be involved in the declaration of divorce and for the iddah to begin. The verse which clearly states this is in Surah An Nisaa’a (35);

 

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُواْ حَكَماً مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَماً مِّنْ أَهْلِهَآ إِن يُرِيدَآ إِصْلَـحاً يُوَفِّقِ اللَّهُ بَيْنَهُمَآ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيماً خَبِيراً 

 

35. If you fear a split between the two, appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All-Knower, Well-Acquainted with all things.

 

In other words, when a couple, one or both of them are thinking of divorce, they must involve 2 witnesses/arbitrators, one from each side to be present. These 2 people will be present in discussions regarding divorce so any declaration of divorce and initializing of the iddah will be observed so there can be no arguments or confusion later.

 

Interestingly, many claim that the husband can change his mind DURING the iddah . Yet the Quran clearly states in several places that the decision must be made and witnessed (by two people, one from each side) AT THE END OF THE IDDAH (except if there is pregnancy). These verses include; At Talaaq – 2, Al Baqarah – 231 and 232.

 

This is quite a lot to digest especially if you believed the word ‘divorce’ is uttered thrice and the marriage is irrevocably over. So, let’s connect the evidence to real life situations (Click here if you’d prefer to see this visually).

 

Situation where there is pregnancy:

Ayesha and Khaled are married. Khaled decides he wants a divorce. He calls 2 witnesses (one from each side) and after discussions, declares divorce. He must financially support Ayesha for 3 menstrual cycles. During the iddah, Ayesha realises she is pregnant. There is now a child to consider. Khaled decides he wants to give the marriage another go. There won’t be 3 menstrual cycles because she is pregnant so, they call the witnesses again & he declares his decision to give the marriage another go. Ayesha and Khalid continue as married but there is one count of divorce – on their record, if you like.

Or 

Khaled decides he still wants a divorce despite the pregnancy. He must support Ayesha for her new iddah (At Talaaq, verse 4) which is until their baby is born. She will not marry until after the birth and could re-marry Khaled if they so wish or another man.

 

Situation where divorce process has been initiated once or twice:

 

Halima and Umar are a married couple when Halima decides she wants a divorce. Two witnesses (one from each side) are called and she declares her decision to divorce Umar. The 3 menstrual cycle iddah (waiting period) begins. 

The 3 menstruations show Halima is not pregnant and she does not wish to stay in the marriage. Umar financially supports her until the iddah is over. She then can re-marry Umar (even if years passed by) or another man. But, if she re-marries Umar, there is one count of divorce (or two if this is the second time one of them has initiated divorce) on their marriage.

Or 

At the end of the iddah, Halima changes her mind and she calls witnesses to declare her decision. They are still married. But, because the divorce process was initiated, there is now one count (or two, if it is the second time) on the marriage.

 

Situation where divorce process has been initiated for the third time:

 

Ahmed and Sara have initiated the divorce process twice in their marriage already so there are two counts of divorce.

 

Ahmed decides he wants a divorce. He calls two witnesses (one from each side) and after discussion, declares his decision. The iddah begins and at the end of it, regardless of whether Sara is pregnant or not, they must separate. If she is pregnant, the iddah for her before she can re-marry is until she gives birth and Ahmed must support her financially during the pregnancy. If not, the financial support ends when the 3 menstrual cycles are complete. They CANNOT re-marry at this time.

 

If the new marriage resulted in divorce, Sara could decide to re-marry Ahmed but more on this in my next blog (I’ll also cover ‘Khula’, ‘mahr’ and the abominable practice of ‘halala marriages’).

 

In conclusion, I’m sure you’ll agree saying the word ‘divorce’ impulsively means nothing. It is a process which involves witnesses, a clear start of the divorce process, a waiting period followed by a declaration of a final decision). This process has been outlined clearly in the religion. It’s now our responsibility to follow it.

 

Hadith versus Quran

9EFE102F-4F53-4452-B7A0-4D820AC22B6BThe clergy misguide people in a number of ways:

1). Misinterpretation

2). Ignoring the context of the evidence

3). Propagating opinions or culture instead of actual evidence

4). Elevating the position of a hadith or saying of a Companion above the Quran

 

All of these imply poor researching skills. Today, I want to take a closer look at Number 4 – Elevating a hadith or saying of a Companion above the Quran.

 

Now, of course belief in ahadith or the Sunnah of the Prophet is a fundamental part of being a Muslim. We need to know the Sunnah so we know how to pray, exactly how to pay Zakah, and so on as well as the character of the greatest example of all time.

 

The problem arises when one or several ahadith are taken and followed without looking at the Quran. This is extremely corrosive to our understanding of the religion because the Quran, being Divine Scripture, the word of Allah, is protected while ahadith can be weak and were sometimes recorded in shortened versions where key bits of information are missing. 

 

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples;

 

Narrated Ibn Muhairiz:

 

I entered the Mosque and saw Abu Said Al-Khudri and sat beside him and asked him about Al-Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus). Abu Said said, “We went out with Allah’s Apostle for the Ghazwa [battle at which Muhammad was present] of Banu Al-Mustaliq and we received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus. So when we intended to do coitus interruptus, we said, ‘How can we do coitus interruptus before asking Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] who is present among us?” We asked (him) about it and he said, ‘It is better for you not to do so, for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist.”

Bukhari

 

This hadith from Bukhari is often quoted to claim sex slavery is permitted in Islam. Yet, the Quran states exactly the opposite in Surah An Nis’a, verse 25.

 

وَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ مِنكُمْ طَوْلاً أَن يَنكِحَ الْمُحْصَنَـتِ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ فَمِنْ مَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُم مِّن فَتَيَـتِكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَـنِكُمْ بَعْضُكُمْ مِّن بَعْضٍ فَانكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَءَاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَـت غَيْرَ مُسَـفِحَـتٍ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ فَإِذَآ أُحْصِنَّ فَإِنْ أَتَيْنَ بِفَـحِشَةٍ فَعَلَيْهِنَّ نِصْفُ مَا عَلَى الْمُحْصَنَـتِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِىَ الْعَنَتَ مِنْكُمْ وَأَن تَصْبِرُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

 

And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess, and Allah has full knowledge about your faith, you are one from another. Wed them with the permission of their own folk (guardians) and give them their due in a good manner; they should be chaste, not fornicators, nor promiscuous. And after they have been taken in wedlock, if they commit Fahishah, their punishment is half that for free (unmarried) women. This is for him among you who is afraid of being harmed in his religion or in his body; but it is better for you that you practice self-restraint, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

As you can see, the Quran commands men to marry these women NOT to take them as sex slaves!

 

Interestingly, the above hadith has several versions but all seem to go back to the same narrator – Ibn Muhairiz. Ibn Muhairiz narrated one other hadith in Sunan Ibn Majah which was categorised as weak (It reads: “I asked Fadalah bin Ubaid about hanging the hand (of the thief) from this neck, and he said: ‘It is sunnah. The messenger of Allah (saw) cut off a man’s hand then hung it from his neck”).

 

Additionally, there is a lack of information about this narrator and so his credibility should set off alarm bells for anyone seeking the truth.

 

Once we elevate or prioritise ahadith over the Quran, like a scientist who desperately wants his/her hypothesis to be proven true, we are likely to misinterpret other evidence. (See my blog on ‘Sex slavery’ if you are interested – for more on this subject).

 

Another example is the issue of divorce. The ‘scholars’ remain divided on whether stating ‘divorce’ thrice at one time constitutes an irrevocable divorce. Here it is not an issue of hadith versus Quran but a saying of a Companion prioritised over the Book of the Creator.

 

Many ‘scholars’ claim a husband saying ‘divorce’ three times at one time means that he has divorced his wife and they cannot re-marry until she marries another man. Their view is based upon the actions of Umar ibn Al Khattaab when he was Caliph. Umar passed this as law to teach the people not to take divorce lightly although this is not what the Quran states. In fact, the Quran clearly states each declaration of divorce has a waiting period of 3 menstruation cycles.

 

Surah Al Baqarah, verses 228,

 

وَالْمُطَلَّقَـتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَـثَةَ قُرُوءٍ وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَن يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِى أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِن كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُواْ إِصْلَـحاً وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِى عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكُيمٌ

 

And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

 

  • The verses which follow (229 & 230) tell us about the maximum number of three divorces before the divorce becomes irrevocable and the woman must then marry someone else.

 

In other words, many of the clergy are following what Umar did as opposed to what the Quran dictates.

 

There must be a hierarchy if we want to follow the actual religion and the primary source must come first.

 

1). The Quran

2). Hadith 

3). Sayings of the Companions and the Tab’ieen (the generation after the Companions).

 

So, this hierarchy means we must look at the Quran first and foremost. Then, ahadith must only be taken as evidence if they do not contradict the Quran. Subsequently, the opinions of the Companions can only be followed when they are in line with ahadith and the Quran. Opinions are after all opinions and not truth (There are, in fact, many records of the Companions differing in their views).

 

I believe it is easy to take ahadith without checking whether they are in accordance with the Quran and use them to propagate a certain view and give the masses a fatwa/judgement.  Over time, the more people propagate the same ahadith, the more the judgment attached to them is perceived as ‘truth’. Yet, it is not.

 

To research ahadith properly and actually study the Quran can take years and a lot of sustained effort. But, this is our religion, our path to Jannah and salvation does not come easily. As Muslims, our beliefs and actions must be based upon truth even when the path to truth is a struggle.

SEX SLAVES

 

07CBE534-77DA-469C-8A16-3BA1FF4703AAHistorically, raping of women has been a by-product of war and in more recent times, according to Amnesty International (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4078677.stm), it has become a military strategy.

 

As a Muslim, it troubled me greatly that Islam APPEARS to condone sex slavery. I read all sorts of rationalisations, often seemingly based upon verses from the Quran and ahadith – that it made sense as the institution of sex slavery would mean captured women were taken care of. Yet I could not understand why a woman would willingly have sex with a man who had fought against and killed her people. Of course, sanity dictates she would not. 

 

As usual, I researched the issue. 

 

The verses often quoted by ‘scholars’ are the two below.

 

Surah Al Mu’minun, verses 5 and 6: (Part of the description of believers)

 

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَـفِظُونَ – إِلاَّ عَلَى أَزْوَجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ

 

5. And those who guard their private parts. 6. Except from their wives or their right hand possessions, for then, they are free from blame.

 

Surah Al Ma’arij, verses 29 – 31:

 

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَـفِظُونَ – إِلاَّ عَلَى أَزْوَجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ – فَمَنِ ابْتَغَى وَرَآءَ ذلِكَ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْعَادُونَ

 

29. And those who guard their private parts. 30. Except from their wives or their right hand possessions — for (then) they are not blameworthy. 31. But whosoever seeks beyond that, then it is those who are trespassers.

 

Now, although the word ‘فروج’ in Arabic refers to ‘private parts’, it is often translated as connoting ‘chastity’. ‘Chastity’ means to ‘abstain from sexual intercourse’. The so-called ‘scholars’ wrongly interpret the verses and claim believing men can have intercourse with wives AND their slaves. 

 

In other words, they propagate that sex slavery is in the Quran which is completely INCORRECT if you look at the Quran in its entirety.

 

In Surah An Nur, verse 58, Allah makes it clear that what is meant by ‘guarding’ the private parts has nothing to do with sex with your slaves. 

 

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لِيَسْتَأْذِنكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُواْ الْحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ مِّن قَبْلِ صَـلَوةِ الْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَـبَكُمْ مِّنَ الظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِن بَعْدِ صَلَوةِ الْعِشَآءِ ثَلاَثُ عَوْرَاتٍ لَّكُمْ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلاَ عَلَيْهِمْ جُنَاحٌ بَعْدَهُنَّ طَوَفُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الاٌّيَـتِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

 

58. O you who believe! Let your slaves and slave-girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission on three occasions: before the Fajr prayer, and while you put off your clothes during the afternoon, and after the `Isha’ prayer. (These) three (times) are of privacy for you; other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the Ayat to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

 

Obviously, the slaves, like the children, asking for permission during these three times of the day (before fajr and after both dhuhr and isha’) when people would usually be in bed, tells us they were not having sex with their ‘masters’. ‘Guarding the private parts’ is about privacy and modesty NOT chastity. It means to cover the private areas of the body.

 

Furthermore, this verse in Surah Al Ahzaab (number 50), gives us further proof that sex slavery has no part to play in Islam.

 

يأَيُّهَا النَّبِىُّ إِنَّآ أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَجَكَ اللاَّتِى ءَاتَيْتَ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّآ أَفَآءَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمِّكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمَّـتِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَـلَـتِكَ اللاَّتِى هَـجَرْنَ مَعَكَ وَامْرَأَةً مُّؤْمِنَةً إِن وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلنَّبِىِّ إِنْ أَرَادَ النَّبِىُّ أَن يَسْتَنكِحَهَا خَالِصَةً لَّكَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ قَدْ عَلِمْنَا مَا فَرَضْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِى أَزْوَجِهِـمْ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُهُمْ لِكَيْلاَ يَكُونَ عَلَيْكَ حَرَجٌ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً

 

50. O Prophet! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their mahr, and those whom your right hand possesses — whom Allah has given to you, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who migrated with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her — a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those whom their right hands possess, in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

This verse gives us a list of those the Prophet could marry alongside his current wives.  If the ‘scholars’ claim it is proof that the Prophet was permitted to have sex slaves, they must also, by default, accept that a sexual relationship is possible with female cousins outside marriage!  In fact, the verse is proof for the opposite, the permissibility of marrying what the right hand possesses (i.e. slaves) just like the permissibility of marrying first cousins so clearly one can’t just have sex with them!

 

Lastly, Surah An Nisa’, verse 3 informs us again that female slaves are married not abused and raped.

 

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِى الْيَتَٰـمَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِّنَ النِّسَآءِ مَثْنَى وَثُلَـثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَٰحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَٰـنُكُمْ ذلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ

 

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or that which your right hands possesses. That is nearer to prevent you from injustice.

 

Just like the Klu Klux Klan claimed to be upholding Christian morality, Muslims who claim sex slavery is a part of Islam are misguided. It is up to the rest of us to act, not with force or violence but with the weapon of knowledge and a shield of true understanding. 

 

It is as Einstein said; “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

Let’s do something about it.

THE FACELESS MUSLIM WOMAN

niqab_2014-06-23_21-10

 

Many ‘scholars’ strongly advise that a Muslim woman should cover her face. It is apparently ‘highly recommended’ as the face is a cause for initial attraction. What this connotes is that she is somehow responsible for awakening in men the desires which may lead them astray.

 

We’re going to have a look at some of the evidence popularly used to claim Muslim women should cover their faces.

 

1. Sahih Bukhari has this hadith:

 

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: لقد كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصلّي الفجر ، فيشهدُ معه نساءٌ من المؤمنات متلفعاتٌ بِمُرُوطِهنّ ، ثم يرجعن إلى بيوتهن ، ما يَعرفُهُنّ أحدٌ.

 

Narrated ‘Aisha that Allah’s Prophet used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their woollen sheets, used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized.

 

These ‘scholars’ argue that because the women were unrecognisable, it must be because their faces were covered by their sheets.

 

There are in fact, several versions of the same hadith (found in Bukhari, Muslim, An Nisa’i and Abu Dawud). In the collection of Bukhari itself, another version of the hadith is as follows;

 

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: إن كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ليصلي الصبح فينصرف النساء متلفعات بمروطهن ما يعرفن من الغلس.

 

The meaning of this version is the same as the one I posted first EXCEPT for a tiny addition. This version gives the REASON the women were unrecognisable. The word on the end ‘ghuls’ means ‘darkness’. People could not recognise the women due to DARKNESS and not because they had their faces covered.

 

Interestingly, although there are a number of ahadith which include the reason (ie. because it was dark’), it is the version which doesn’t that is used most often. 

 

2. This hadith is from Bukhari also:

وقال أحمد بن شبيب حدثنا أبي عن يونس قال ابن شهاب عن عروة عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت يرحم الله نساء المهاجرات الأول لما أنزل الله وليضربن بخمرهن على جيوبهن شققن مروطهن فاختمرن بها 

 

Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) said, ‘May Allah have mercy upon the early emigrant women; when ‘And draw your scarves over your necklines’ (Surah An Noor, verse 31) was revealed, they took their ‘muruut’, tore them, and made covers of them.’

 

This hadeeth is usually translated INCORRECTLY with ‘fakhtamarna biha’ as ‘ covered their faces’  instead of ‘made covers of them’. The verb here ‘fakhtamarna’ (in bold) is from the same root as ‘khimaar’. Although ‘khimaar’ is now used to mean ‘headscarf’, it actually just means ‘cover’. It has certainly never been used linguistically to refer to a covering of the face. In fact men in the Middle East also wear a khimaar and it does not cover the face.

 

3. Most translations of verse 31 of surah an Noor read like this – ‘And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and preserve their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way).

 

The words in brackets will be understood by many who do not understand the Quran in its original Arabic as the words of the Almighty. Consequently, women may feel that they have no choice and that their faces and hands should be covered as well as their bodies. 

 

However, the words in brackets are NOT a part of the Quran but are the incorrect understanding of the translator and actually contradict other evidence from the Quran and Sunnah.

 

4. 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! 

 

I am sure you’ll agree there is a clear pattern emerging here. A significant proportion of the clergy, despite the evidence stating the opposite, feel strongly that women should cover their faces. The question we must ask is ‘why?’.

 

I believe it is due to two reasons; Firstly, the Muslim clergy spend decades studying the OPINIONS of those before them while they should be looking at the primary sources of the Quran and Sunnah. Secondly, many of these interpretations are founded in culture: cultures which are known for subjugating women, removing them from the public sphere, and placing the responsibility of morality upon their shoulders.

 

The evidence speaks for itself if we look with our own eyes and judge with our own intellects. Muslim women should never be faceless. Their presence, their contribution, and their value to society is paramount. Even more importantly, we must follow the religion, not mere opinions.

Muslim TOXIC families

4FCD53BB-1005-478C-ADA2-EEFE5C0B60E2Maybe you have noticed it too? The deeply rooted misconception that being Muslim somehow exempts one from mental health issues or being toxic. Mental health issues have long been taboo in the UK but the culture has been steadily changing so more people are now able to talk about suffering from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and so on. Yet, Muslim communities still, for the most part, consider mental health as something to hide from the outside world, an inconvenient truth.

 

Furthermore, there does not seem to be much spiritual help available for Muslims dealing with toxic (destructive, malignant, harmful) families. ‘Scholars’ usually quote verses like the one (2.27) I have pasted below (as well as 13.21 and 13.25) to encourage distressed, vulnerable Muslims to uphold the ties of kinship and not distance oneself from a toxic/abusive family. They state evidence about the importance of treating parents and relatives with respect, having patience, and making du’a/invocations. In other words, they completely side step the actual problem.

 

The issue is not the approach of the victim or the seeker of spiritual guidance but the family itself.

 

To get to the reality of the situation, let us scrutinise the evidence. As mentioned above, the clergy commonly quote Surah Al Baqarah, verse 27 (underlined below) so here are verses 26 and 27.

 

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَسْتَحْىِ أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلاً مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَآ أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَـذَا مَثَلاً يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلاَّ الْفَـسِقِينَ – الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَـقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَآ أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الاٌّرْضِ أُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْخَـسِرُونَ

 

26. Verily, Allah is not ashamed to set forth a parable even of a mosquito or so much more when it is bigger (or less when it is smaller) than it. And as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord, but as for those who disbelieve, they say: “What did Allah intend by this parable” By it He misleads many, and many He guides thereby. And He misleads thereby only the Fasiqin (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah). 27. Those who break Allah’s covenant after ratifying it, and put an end to (often translated as ‘SEVER’) what Allah has ordered to be continued (often translated as ‘JOINED’) and do mischief on earth, it is they who are the losers.

 

Firstly, including the prior verse gives us context. The description which follows in the next oft-used verse is of the ‘Fasiqun’ (the rebellious, disobedient). This verse is often translated as ‘and who sever what God has bidden to be joined’ and so interpreted as implying the ties of kinship. In actual fact, a closer look reveals this is one opinion (Ibn Jarir At Tabari) while others have concluded the meaning is a general one.

 

In other words, this verse, along with 13.21 and 13.25, the most commonly used, to answer questions on toxic families are NOT about upholding blood ties.

 

Moving away from the opinions of scholars and looking at it within the context of the whole Quran, you realise quite easily that what is meant here is not strictly ‘joining’ but ‘continuing’. It is describing those who broke a covenant they had ratified with Allah and then ‘discontinued/put an end to’ what they had been ordered with.

 

The clue is in the bold ‘word’ within verse 26.
يَقْطَعُون

 

Clerics are using the root ‘qata’a’ to mean ‘cut/sever’ which it does in many cases in the Quran (e.g 5.33, 2.166, 3.127 etc). However, there are other subsidiary meanings (Arabic is an extremely rich language with many words having many grades of meanings!) such as ‘divide/split’ (e.g. 7.160) and ‘to put an end to’ as in the story of Hud (7.72).

 

فَأَنجَيْنَـهُ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ بِرَحْمَةٍ مِّنَّا وَقَطَعْنَا دَابِرَ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِـَايَـتِنَا وَمَا كَانُواْ مُؤْمِنِينَ

 

72. So We saved him and those who were with him out of mercy from Us, and We put an end to those who belied Our Ayat; and they were not believers.

 

So, why are many ‘scholars’ wrong about this? The ‘scholars’ often follow the opinions of the ‘scholars’ before them, bypassing the actual evidence of the Quran. The result? We end up with a few verses being used (with the best of intentions!) to, in essence, trap vulnerable people in cycles of abuse when in fact the verses are about something else altogether.

 

Then, these opinions are coupled with social/cultural expectations whereby the nature of family relationships are built solely upon reciprocation – visiting one another, invitations to celebrations/family events as well as gift exchanging. Relationships which, to an outsider may appear fine but, are in actual fact, a facade, masquerading for some people, what has been a lifetime of toxicity.

 

Blood ties should be based upon love, mutual respect, loyalty, and care. Every person, regardless of religion, will feel deep down that there is something wrong when those who should be a safe haven for you are consistently causing you harm (including mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse).

 

So, what explicit evidence is there about cutting the ties?

 

There is a verse in Surah Muhammad, Verse 22,

فَهَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ أَن تُفْسِدُواْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَتُقَطِّعُواْ أَرْحَامَكُمْ

 

Would you then, if you were to turn back, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship.

 

And (4.1)

يَـأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِى خَلَقَكُمْ مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيراً وَنِسَآءً وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ الَّذِى تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالاٌّرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيباً

 

O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his mate, and from them both He created many men and women, and have Taqwa (fear) of Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and the wombs. Surely, Allah is always watching over you.

So, we have a verse stating severing the ties is clearly not good and a verse about having ‘taqwa/fear’ of Allah in them.

 

There are also ahadith like this one from Sahih Muslim,

 

حَدَّثَنِي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ أَسْمَاءَ الضُّبَعِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا جُوَيْرِيَةُ، عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، أَنَّ مُحَمَّدَ بْنَ جُبَيْرِ بْنِ مُطْعِمٍ، أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ أَبَاهُ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ” لاَ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ قَاطِعُ رَحِمٍ ” .

 

Jubair b. Mutlim reported that his father narrated to him that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:
‘The severer of the tie of kinship would not get into Paradise.’
What is ultimately key here is to understand what it means to ‘sever ties’ according to the Arabic language and the religion. It means for a family/blood relationship to be completely severed with intention. This would only happen if one person clearly communicates this to another (e.g. ‘You are dead for me’ or ‘We are finished – you are no longer my sibling/parent /child etc’). This is clearly not permitted in the religion. It has greater implications than visiting one another. It includes being cut from inheritance, financial support and in some cases, a removal of protection.

 

At the same time, as long as you are not ending the relationship, there are no stipulations that you need to visit them or allow them to visit you. A lot of what is being assumed by Muslims is based upon cultural or social norms and a misguided understanding of ‘upholding ties’.

 

In fact the religion states in the following hadith that simply reciprocating visits to each other’s homes or exchanging gifts is NOT what it meant by ‘upholding ties’.

 

The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “The one who maintains a relationship with his relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even if they break off the relationship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5645).

 

Indeed, you can put into place boundaries to protect your sense of self and personal safety. These may entail keeping in touch via phone or e-mail only or meeting infrequently in a public space.

 

Furthermore, upholding ties does not mean you should allow yourself to be put in harm’s way or to sacrifice your individual sense of self. This might include physical, emotional or sexual abuse or oppression, aggravating conditions such as eating disorders, PTSD, and even suicidal thoughts.

 

After all, the Prophet also said,

عَنْ أَنَسٍ رضى الله عنه قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم انْصُرْ أَخَاكَ ظَالِمًا أَوْ مَظْلُومًا قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ هَذَا نَنْصُرُهُ مَظْلُومًا فَكَيْفَ نَنْصُرُهُ ظَالِمًا قَالَ تَأْخُذُ فَوْقَ يَدَيْهِ

 

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Support your brother whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, we help the one being oppressed but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By seizing his hand.”

 

Please don’t stay oppressed. Dysfunctionality breeds dysfunctionality. Break the cycle.