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.

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.

NO to Women leaders

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If I had a pound for every time I have heard the statement “A Muslim woman can’t do that!”, I would have become a rich woman long ago. 

 

One issue that stayed with me for many years is the one of leadership. According to some ‘scholars’, there is evidence from the Prophet – a hadith which states that I as a woman can not and should not, attempt to stand for roles of leadership, the judiciary, or even manage my own business myself. 

 

This is the Hadith in the collection of Bukhari;

 

Narrated Abu Bakra:

 

During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler’.

 

The ‘scholars’ usually quote a shorter version which removes the context. It reads;

 

He (The Prophet) said, “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler’.

 

Often, there are reasons added to this as to why women are simply wrong for leadership;

 

1). That women are too emotional.

2). Decision making is affected by hormonal changes during the menstruation cycle.

3). Women need to take care of the domestic sphere and children.

4). A female leader would then attempt to subjugate her husband and treat him like an employee.

5). Men are more intelligent.

 

Going back to the longer version of the hadith, context is always necessary to understand fully what is meant. 

 

The Prophet was talking about a specific nation – Persia and stating that the Muslims would be successful over the Persians. It was, simply put, a prophecy which later came true (after the Prophet’s death).

 

Let’s look at it from another angle also. The angle of real evidence. Looking both at history and current times, there are many examples of successful female leadership. These include the UK (Margaret Thatcher), Germany (Angela Merkel), Norway (Erna Solberg), and Taiwan (Tsai Ing-Wen) – to mention but a few.

 

If we believe the Prophet’s words to be true then how could the above hadith be a general statement about women not being able to be successful leaders when there are so many examples of just that?

 

In fact, the Prophet’s first wife Khadija had her own business empire and is a great example of female leadership. She certainly did not give it all up to become a Muslim nor was she expected to.

 

So, in conclusion, Islam does NOT tell us Muslim women cannot do a list of things. No, that list comes from the mouths of men and a mixing of misogynistic patriarchy with religion. Gender does not determine how good a job you can do – whether the job is in leadership, the judiciary, management, or any other sector. It isn’t WHAT you are that makes the difference. It’s WHO you are at your core, your values, and principles which makes a great leader. 

Marrying a virgin

Many Muslim men want to marry a virgin. They believe this is recommended by the religion. The clergy claim it is better to marry virgin women and they use the following hadith to support their opinion.

 

Narrated Jabir:

‘The Messenger of Allah met me and said: ‘O Jabir, have you got married to a woman since I last saw you?’’ I said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: To a virgin or to a previously married woman?’ I said: ‘To a previously married woman.’ He said: ‘Why not a virgin so she could play with you?’

An Nisa’i

 

 

It does seem that this hadith is suggesting what is popular opinion – that a virgin would have been a better choice for Jabir. Otherwise, why would the Prophet have questioned it?

 

As usual, let’s take a closer look.

 

Firstly, there is in fact, a longer version of the same account in Saheeh Muslim which is largely ignored by those claiming it is better to marry a virgin (regardless of whether they themselves are virgins or not!).

 

Jabir b. ‘Abdullah (Allah be pleased with them) reported: I married a woman during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). I met the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him), whereupon he said: Jabir, have you married? I said: Yes. He said: A virgin or one previously married? I said: Previously married, whereupon he said: Why did you not marry a virgin with whom you could have fun with? I said: Allah’s Messenger, I have sisters; I was afraid that she might intervene between me and them, whereupon he said: Well and good, if it is so. A woman is married for four reasons, for her religion, her property, her status, her beauty, so you should choose one with religion. May your hands be covered with dust.

Saheeh Muslim

 

This longer account points us to some very significant facts:

 

1). Jabir was young. It makes sense for young people to marry young partners in terms of equivalent life experience and outlook. That is why the Prophet was surprised and questioned his choice.

 

2). The Prophet said Jabir’s decision to marry someone who had been previously married (i.e more mature) was a GOOD one. Jabir’s decision meant the relationship between his wife and sisters would likely be a better one as opposed to marrying someone who would have been similar in age to them.

 

3). Most importantly, the Prophet gave Jabir and us vital information. That a woman is married for four reasons: her religion, her property, her status, or her beauty and the priority for Muslims should always be religion. ‘May your hands be covered with dust’ was a customary Arab warning – that choosing to marry for other reasons would be a really bad decision leading to one’s destruction.

 

In fact, the Prophet did not state that women at the time or any time were married because they were virgins nor that they should be.

 

The clergy argue the Prophet asking Jabir why he had not married a virgin means to marry a virgin is better. However, enquiring about a decision is NEVER the same as stating the decision was the wrong choice. 

 

Furthermore, if we look at the example of the Prophet, we realise that the Prophet’s first wife (Khadija) had been previously married not once but twice. After her death, all but one (Ayesha) of his wives were either divorcees or widows. His example shows that virginity is not a benchmark by which we measure anyone.

 

The companions followed the Prophet’s example – they often married wives of other companions after the husband’s death/divorce. 

 

In conclusion, women regardless of their faith should never be measured as purely sexual beings. How disgusting a belief that virginity is somehow the mark of a good woman or that it increases her appeal as a possible partner in marriage!

Islam always takes the high road. It is honourable and the actions of Muslims must be the same.