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. 

When Biology becomes destiny for Muslim women

1BCFA7EF-724D-4359-96A6-61AA3CD1A793Biology becomes destiny.

Well, almost.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the news these past few months (i.e. Harvey Weinstein, salaries in Hollywood, and here at the BBC), you know that it is becoming glaringly obvious (if it wasn’t already) that women are deemed as lesser by the wider world (to different extents and in various ways, obviously depending upon where you live). The Muslim world takes this even further.

 

One of the ways in which this manifests itself is when Muslim men view women as a ‘trial’. This trial is one of sexual temptation, an allurement towards evil. The male Muslim clergy advise that men must be careful to lower their gaze, to marry if possible, to fast, and so on in order to curb the effects of this ‘trial’. So, women are not only lesser, they are a path to evil, the bad to the man’s good, yin to his yang.

 

This belief has led to Muslim women being forced to cover from head to toe in Persia and the Middle East. Even in the West, a Muslim woman is treated as spiritually inferior, kept separate in mosques, and even stopped from going out of the house lest she lead some poor male soul to distraction on her way to the local supermarket.

The incorrect idea that women are a ‘trial’ because of their sexual appeal comes from the misunderstanding of the hadith in Bukhari when the Prophet said,

” مَا تَرَكْتُ بَعْدِي فِتْنَةً أَضَرَّ عَلَى الرِّجَالِ مِنْ النِّسَاءِ “ 

 

The usual translation is, “I have not left behind me any fitnah (temptation) more harmful to men than women.”

 

‘Fitna’ is the key word here. It appears in the Quran many times so it is easy to check if it has been translated correctly. Here are just two examples.

 

(وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلاَدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (8:28

 

‘and know that your worldly goods and your children are but a trial, and that with God there is a tremendous reward.’

 

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انقَلَبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ

(22:11)

 

And there is, too, among men many a one who worships God on the border-line [of faith]: thus, if good befalls him, he is satisfied with Him; but if a trial assails him, he turns away utterly, losing both this world and the life to come: this, indeed, is a clear loss.

 

From these verses, you can see ‘Fitna’ does indeed mean ‘trial’ or ‘test’ but it has a generic meaning. There is no temptation or sexual connotation. It is not a case of mistranslation. Rather, the issue here is one of misunderstanding and the sexist culture within which such ahadith are interpreted.

 

What the Hadith is stating is that women are the greatest trial men have. The trial or test is in how they treat them. Is it a relationship of oppressor and oppressed or one of mutual co-operation and respect? Are Muslim men faring well in this trial when many Muslim women are amongst the most oppressed in the world? I think the evidence speaks for itself.

 

The clergy have attempted to make biology destiny for Muslim women and almost succeeded. However, when we reduce women like this to their sexuality, stripping them of what makes them human – their intellect and reason, we also at the same time reduce men to sexual predators and a sum of their desires.

 

In my opinion, that’s a lose-lose situation for us all. For how can we attain our best as individual Muslims and as a community if our opinions of each other are so lowly. The only way now is up and towards the actual evidence of the religion.

ISLAM. Religion of peace?

26751977-9F91-491A-A124-DC1A1A401B02Many a Muslim in the Western world, will claim Muslims are a peaceful people. This is based upon their translation of the Arabic word ‘Islam’ as ‘peace’. Others (Muslims and non Muslims alike) may find this idea of Islam as a religion of peace paradoxical. They see the contradiction in the wars and battles mentioned in Islamic history.

 

Understandably, this causes people to progressively lose trust in what Muslims are saying.
I wanted to take a closer look at the definition of the term ‘Islam’. As usual, I looked to the Quran first.

 

The Quran does call the path/religion to be followed ‘Islam’.

 

For example, in 5:3,

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الأِسْلاَمَ دِيناً

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion

 

So, on to what ‘Islam’ actually means according to divine scripture. A little knowledge of the Arabic language and one sees that the word ‘Islam’ is a noun derived from the verb ‘aslama’ which means ‘to submit’. I found a number of verses containing ‘aslama’. I have given you three here.

 

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ

When his Lord said to him, “Submit!” He said, “I have submitted myself to the Lord of the `Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).”)

Al Baqarah, verse 131.

 

أَفَغَيْرَ دِينِ اللَّهِ يَبْغُونَ وَلَهُ أَسْلَمَ مَن فِى السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ طَوْعًا وَكَرْهًا وَإِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ

Do they seek other than the religion of Allah, while to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly. And to Him shall they all be returned.

Al Imran, verse 83

 

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا لِّيَذْكُرُواْ اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَى مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الاٌّنْعَـمِ فَإِلَـهُكُمْ إِلَـهٌ وَحِدٌ فَلَهُ أَسْلِمُواْ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُخْبِتِينَ

And for every nation We have appointed religious ceremonies, that they may mention the Name of Allah over the beast of cattle that He has given them for food. And your God is One God, so you must submit to Him Alone. And give glad tidings to the Mukhbitin.

 

Surah al Hajj, 34

 

Subsequently, ‘Islam’ means ‘submission to God’. Not ‘peace’.

أَسلَمَ to submit (verb)
إسلامً Submission (noun)

 

The reason it is often defined as ‘peace’ is due to its root being confused with ‘salaam’ like in the Muslim greeting ‘assalamu alaikum’ which loosely translates as ‘peace be upon you’. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, Arabic is a very rich language with similar words sometimes conveying completely different meanings. Anyhow, the evidence that ‘Islam’ is NOT synonymous with ‘peace’ is there, as clear as day.

 

 

Furthermore, there is this clear hadith in the collection of Bukhari.

 

On the authority of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the Prophet (pbuh). Resting his knees against his (the Prophet’s) and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs, he said:

O Muhammed, tell me about Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, to perform the prayers, to pay the Zakah, to fast in Ramadhan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House  if you are able to do so.

(The hadith goes on but this is the part relevant here).

 

In the Prophet’s definition of Islam, there is absolutely no mention of ‘peace’.

 

Perhaps, some Muslims want to propagate a softer religion to appease the critics. I can understand that especially when we have seen acts of terror committed using the banner of religion. Yet, that doesn’t make things better.

 

Propagating Islam as ‘peace’, is first and foremost, not true and I believe religion must always be based upon truth. Secondly, we lose the focal point of the religion. Instead of paying attention to self improvement, the spotlight is turned away to social impact and global harmony. A top down approach, if you like. Making the religion easier because we can spend our lives looking outwards instead of looking in which would force us to work to improve our spiritual shortcomings.

 

Furthermore, trying to fit in by changing ourselves will never work. The parameters are constantly changing. How can you fit into something which is not concrete? In fact, it is being true Muslims and sticking to the evidence which is the best advert for the religion. A religion based upon submission to God in all that you do, demanding good from yourself and pushing away evil, displaying the best of manners and adding gentleness to your dealings with people, when a simple smile is charity, facing the world with the best version of you. Because a better you means a better world for all of us.

 

 

MARRIED at GUNPOINT

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Earlier today, I read an article online published by the Telegraph about an Indian groom who was forced by gunpoint into a marriage. Sadly, this did not shock me. In many cultures, both historically (even in the Western world) and in the modern era, parents decide to force their children, boys and girls, into marriages.

 

Some Muslims typically use the Prophet’s example to rationalise this vile, dehumanising practice. They believe Aisha was married to him when she was six years old and the marriage consummated when she was nine.

 

Some Muslims try to avoid discussing this issue, others feel they must be apologetic. The clergy try to explain it by stating girls matured at different ages 1400 years ago.

 

However, Islam transcends all restrictions of time or culture. For surely, if we restrict any religion to the time in which it was revealed, it means it must be forever transforming to reflect society and hence, over time, become unrecognisable from its original form. In fact, it is society and so, us as Muslims who must reflect the religion. Our understanding and practices based upon actual evidence as opposed to culture and the opinions of the clergy.

 

In fact, the aggregate evidence reveals that it is not possible for Aisha to have been this young when she married the Prophet. I cared enough to check the history. She had already been engaged to someone previously and looking at the ages of her siblings and the age gaps between her and her sister alongside the migration from Makkah to Medina, I came to realise that she was at least around 19 years of age.

 

I understand that many, both Muslims and non Muslims alike, will argue there is a statement from Aisha herself included in the books of Ahadith stating she was only six when she married the Prophet and that the marriage was consummated at nine years of age. However, analyzing ALL the evidence clearly indicates the recorded statement is in fact either completely inaccurate (ie. It was never actually said by Aisha) or the wrong numbers were passed down.

 

Going beyond this, the practice of forcing anyone, and often they are just children, has no place whatsoever in Islam. Islam, as a religion, requires no vindication. The evidence for this is in the Quran.

 

In Surah An Nisa’, verse 19, Allah states,

 

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

 

O you who believe! You are not permitted to inherit women against their will, nor to prevent them from marriage in order to get part of (the mahr/payment) what you have given them, unless they commit open Fahishah (adultery). 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.

 

The verse is clear. Women cannot be married against their will.

 

Subsequently, there is evidence the Prophet annulled such ‘marriages’. For instance, in the collection of Bukhari,

 

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ، عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ الْقَاسِمِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، وَمُجَمِّعٍ، ابْنَىْ يَزِيدَ بْنِ جَارِيَةَ عَنْ خَنْسَاءَ بِنْتِ خِذَامٍ الأَنْصَارِيَّةِ، أَنَّ أَبَاهَا، زَوَّجَهَا وَهْىَ ثَيِّبٌ، فَكَرِهَتْ ذَلِكَ فَأَتَتْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَرَدَّ نِكَاحَهُ.

 

Narrated Khansa bint Khidam Al-Ansariya: that her father gave her in marriage when she was a matron and she disliked that marriage. So she went to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and he declared that marriage invalid.

 

So, despite the oft-portrayed connection between forced marriages and Islam, this crime is actually based upon cultural practices. This is evident as those from the Indian sub continent, regardless of religion (Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims) have reports of forced marriages. There are stories of forced marriages in Africa (in Christian communities), the Middle East and in many other parts of the globe which never make it to the media.

 

In 2014, BBC news reported around 14 million girls around the world are forced to marry every year before their 18th birthday. I have met Muslim girls in such situations, often trying to convince themselves that they are doing ‘okay’ as they see no other alternative. Broken spirits, ashamed of a reality they had no choice in. Human rights ripped away from them. A form of modern day slavery.

 

In fact, the shame belongs to the coercers, those without honour, lacking in integrity. Muslims who go against the very essence of Islam.

 

While it is clear forced marriages are NOT a part of Islam and transcend religion, Muslims are both perpetrators and victims of this serious problem. A problem caused by a plethora of deeply entrenched patriarchy, culture, religious misunderstandings of the clerics and the masses, ignorance, oppression and often misogyny.

 

It is time for us, as Muslims, to own the problem. Each and everyone of us needs to go back to the grass roots of the religion and away from biased, culture influenced interpretations. Knowledge is empowerment and thus, liberation.

 

It is time for us to join the victims to say ‘NO’. ‘No, we will not give up our God-given rights. No, we refuse to be a part of backward cultural practices which go against Islam and no, we will not turn our backs on those Muslims who need our voices for their silent suffering.’

 

 

 

CAN THE QURAN HEAL ALL?

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I think we all know someone who either seems to be afflicted by jinn, black magic, marital discord, a chronic physical ailment or mental health issues. The common Muslim response to all these issues is reciting Quran (usually referred to as ‘ruqya’, meaning ‘incantation’) over these struggling souls.

 

Often, a ‘Raqi’ is called upon to carry out the ruqya. Raqis offer many different approaches, including coming up with a ‘diagnosis’, reciting Quran, writing down prayers/invocations put into water as a drink for the ‘patient’ and one can even buy ruqya oil or water! These ‘Raqis’ are not paid for their services but interestingly, do accept ‘gifts’ (usually of money).

 

For a long time now, many of the ‘scholars’ claim the words of the Quran are a cure for all ailments – incorrectly, according to the Quran and going against the example of the Prophet when they claim the whole Quran can be used in this way. This practice has now become widespread but, like many other elements of Muslim lives, is not actually based upon Islam.

 

If like me, you have ever wondered, despite these claims, HOW exactly the words of the Holy Book can cure people, then, read on.

 

Many years ago, I decided to have a look at what the Quran itself contains about this concept.

 

In Surah Al Isra’, there is the following:

 

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلاَ يَزِيدُ الظَّـلِمِينَ إَلاَّ خَسَارًا

 

17:82. And We send down of the Qur’an that which is a cure and a mercy to the believers, and it increases the wrongdoers in nothing but loss.

 

And, in Surah Fussilat,

 

قُلْ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ هُدًى وَشِفَآءٌ وَالَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ فِى ءَاذَانِهِمْ وَقْرٌ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِمْ عَمًى أُوْلَـئِكَ يُنَادَوْنَ مِن مَّكَانٍ بَعِيدٍ

 

41:44. Say: “It is for those who believe, a guide and a cure. And as for those who disbelieve, there is heaviness in their ears, and it is blindness for them. They are those who are called from a place far away (so they neither listen nor understand).

 

So, here, in both verses, Allāh states the Quran is ‘a cure’ alongside it being a guide and a mercy for those who believe. Just as in modern medicine, a cure in itself is wonderful but one needs to know which ailments it will relieve so as to administer it correctly.

 

If you keep looking, you find the answer in the words of our Lord in Surah Yunus, verse 57.

 

يَأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَآءَتْكُمْ مَّوْعِظَةٌ مَّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَآءٌ لِّمَا فِى الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

 

O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (Qur’an), and a healing for that which is in your breasts, a guidance and a mercy for the believers.

 

A true epiphany! The Quran is a cure for what is in the breast/chest. In other words, the words of the Quran, its message is the cure for every spiritual disease of the HEART (e.g. disbelief, doubt, polytheism, hypocrisy etc). There is no mention, however, of the word ‘Ruqya’ in these verses and it is definitely NOT a cure for all physical and mental/emotional issues.

 

So, armed with this knowledge, an examination of the example of our Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) to explore what ‘ruqya’ actually is (as it clearly isn’t reciting any words of the Quran as if they were some ‘spell’ which can eradicate any harm!), if we can indeed use any part of the Quran in this way and when it should be done, is absolutely necessary.

 

Firstly, it is clear ‘ruqya’ implies ‘dua’ or invoking Allah.

 

In Sahih Muslim, Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

 

Jibril (Gabriel) came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: “O Muhammad (ﷺ)! Do you feel sick?” He (ﷺ) said, “Yes.” Jibril supplicated thus (i.e., he performed Ruqyah): “Bismillahi arqika, min kulli shay’in yu’dhika, min sharri kulli nafsin aw ‘ayni hasidi, Allahu yashfika, bismillahi arqika. [With the Name of Allah. I do ruqya for you, from all that troubles you, and from every harmful mischief and from the evil of the eyes of an envier. Allah will cure you; and with the Name of Allah, I do ruqya over you].”

 

 

Secondly, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “There is no ruqyah except in the case of the evil eye or fever.” (al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood)

 

As well as,

 

The Prophet (pbuh) instructed the use of ruqya to anyone who was under the influence of the evil eye as Aisha (RA) narrated: “The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) commanded me, or he commanded (the people) to use ruqya to deal with the evil eye.” (Bukhari)

 

The wording of the hadith above makes the matter crystal clear. Ruqya is only for EVIL EYE or FEVER.

 

In terms of WHAT can be recited from the Quran,

 

Aisha (may Allaah be pleased with her) said, “When someone fell ill from the Prophet’s family he did ‘nafath’ on them (to blow three times over them reciting the two chapters of seeking refuge -Soorah al-Falaq and Soorah An-Naas). When he himself fell ill, the illness which lead to his death & I would (similarly) do ‘nafath’ on him and would wipe him with his own hands for it was more blessed than my hands.” (Muslim)

 

And in Sahih Al-Bukhari, Abu Said Al Khudri narrated,

 

Some of the companions of the Prophet (saws) came across a tribe amongst the tribes of the Arabs, and that tribe refused to take them in as guests. While they were in that state, the chief of that tribe was bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion). They said, (to the companions of the Prophet), “Have you got any medicine with you or anybody who can treat with Ruqya?” The Prophet’s (saws) companions said, “You refuse to entertain us, so we will not treat (your chief) unless you pay us for it.” So they agreed to pay them a flock of sheep. One of them (the Prophet’s (saws) companions) started reciting Surat-al-Fatiha and gathering his saliva and spitting it (at the snake-bite). The patient got cured and his people presented the sheep to them, but they said, “We will not take it unless we ask the Prophet (saws) (whether it is lawful).” When they asked him, he (saws) smiled and said, “How do you know that Surat-al-Fatiha is a Ruqya? Take it (flock of sheep) and assign a share for me.”

 

These ahadith clearly show the religion highlights Surahs An Naas, Al Falaq and Al Fatiha as the parts of the Quran used for ‘Ruqya’. Hence, it is clearly not correct to use other parts of the Quran as an attempt to cure someone (Religion must be based upon evidence as opposed to mere opinions).

 

Furthermore, if you take just a few minutes to look at these, you recognize that they are ‘duas’ – you are asking Allah for protection (An Naas and Al Falaq) or help and guidance (Al Fatiha).

 

This will be difficult for some of us to process. For so long, so many have stated the Quran heals all and it is understandably somewhat comforting to feel that you can do something productive to help one you love and care about.

 

However, sometimes immediate relief provides not a solution but further torment. Most importantly, one is adding something to the religion which we have all been warned against. Sadly, it can also mean that we, as a Muslim community, don’t give people the support they desperately need (e.g. counselling, medical intervention and so on).

 

From now on, let us not allow desperation to cure our loved ones blind us from the truth. If we open our minds and look at the actual evidence instead of listening to the voices of the clergy for a quick fix, we understand this issue and in the long term, the beauty of Islam.

 

In conclusion then,

  • The Quran is a cure for the diseases of the heart (e.g. doubt, hypocrisy, disbelief, polytheism).
  • ‘Ruqya’ is a type of ‘dua’.
  • There are certain parts of the Quran (ie. An Naas and Al Falaq as well as Al Fatiha) which, due to their nature of being invocations or duas, may be recited in cases of evil eye or fever. There is no basis to use other parts of the Quran.
  • Any cure or healing then, comes from the Lord only. For surely, the claim that the cure is in the actual words of the Quran is to contradict the fundamental belief that only the Lord has that power.

‘Ask the people of knowledge!’

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This is a very popular quote amongst Muslims. It is indeed from the Quran. So, let’s take a look at what the Quran actually states but I have to warn you first. It’s most likely going to be a shock to the system so brace yourself.

 

 

 

It comes up twice in 16:43 and 21:7.

 

 وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِى إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنْتُم لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ – بِالْبَيِّنَـتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

 

16:43 ‘And We sent not before you (O Muhammad) any but men, whom We sent revelation. So ask (plural form) Ahl Adh-Dhikr,(i.e. ‘people of the Reminder’) if you know not. (44). With clear signs and Books (We sent the Messengers). And We have also revealed the Dhikr (reminder/revelation) to you so that you may clearly explain to people what was revealed to them, and that perhaps they may reflect.’

 

وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِى إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْئَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ – وَمَا جَعَلْنَـهُمْ جَسَداً لاَّ يَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُواْ خَـلِدِينَ

 

21:7 And We sent not before you but men to whom We revealed. So ask (plural form) the people of the Reminder if you do not know. (8). And We did not place them in bodies that did not eat food, nor were they immortals.

It is obvious from the translation, even if one doesn’t understand Quranic Arabic that both the verses start off addressed to the Prophet, affirming that the messengers before him were all from mankind (as opposed to angels or any other kind of being). Then, the people are ordered to ask ‘the people of the reminder’ or ‘Ahl Adh dhikr’ if they do not know. It is worth noting that this is very specific. It is about asking these people on this specific issue.

So who are these people who will confirm all the messengers before Muhammad’s time were humans? These people are the Jews and Christians. They believe in the same Prophets as the Quran tells us about. If you read the rest of the Quran, this will appear to you as clear as day.

Where is the command to follow scholars, to delegate our morality, our religious principles? It is nowhere to be found. In fact the Quran states the opposite!

In 9:31, we are told

 

اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَآ أُمِرُواْ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُواْ إِلَـهاً وَحِداً لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ سُبْحَـنَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

 

‘They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and (they also took as their Lord) the Messiah, son of Maryam, while they were commanded to worship none but One God, none has the right to be worshipped but He. Praise and hallowed be He above what they associate (with Him).’

A well known hadith explains this verse.

Adi ibn Hatim (he was not a Muslim at this point) reported: I heard the Prophet reciting the verse in Surah At-Tawbah, “They have taken their priests and rabbis as Lords besides Allah.” (9:31) I asked: O Messenger of Allah, we don’t worship them and [The Prophet] replied: “but do they not make impermissible what Allah has made permissible and do they not make permissible what Allah has made impermissible and you do that?” I replied: ‘yes’ and he said: “then that it is [a form] worshipping them.” (Tirmidhi)

For over a millennium, the Muslim clergy have changed and twisted the religion so much that it is almost unrecognisable. The list is endless. From claiming that interest is permitted (when it is a major sin and that which is tantamount to Allah waging war against you), taking away women’s God given rights, making sex slavery acceptable, terrorism presented as jihad, propagating domestic violence and abuse, and so on and so forth.

Our principal enemy is, in reality, within us. It is us. We are leading ourselves astray. Following opinions instead of scripture, the creation instead of the Creator.

Furthermore, the Quran states

 

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعَذَابِ – إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ وَرَأَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الاٌّسْبَابُ – وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ لَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَتَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُمْ كَمَا تَبَرَّءُواْ مِنَّا كَذَلِكَ يُرِيهِمُ اللَّهُ أَعْمَـلَهُمْ حَسَرَتٍ عَلَيْهِمْ وَمَا هُم بِخَـرِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ

 

2:65. ‘And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment.) (166. When those who were followed disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them), and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them). (167. And those who followed will say: “If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us. Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire.’

There are other verses on this issue. Go ahead and have a look.

It’s ironic because the very foundation, the cornerstone of Islam is to worship one God (‘Allah’ in Arabic) and the term ‘Muslim’ (contrary to popular belief) means ‘one who submits to Allah’. Letting the Muslim clergy define the religion completely contradicts this and leads the global Muslim community astray.

It’s time to find our way back.

Beat her lightly

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Islam is not the rod with which men beat women. I have just watched yet another so-called ‘Sheikh’ on YouTube state the Quran allows men to beat their wives. Enough is enough. For generations, Muslim women around the world have suffered and continue to suffer from domestic violence and abuse because of such opinions.

Those in a position of power or authority will always present dogma so that they are not undermined. It has served the Muslim clergy well historically and to this day, feeds into a patriarchal culture whereby the husband is somehow responsible or a moral guide for the wife. Thus, she is deemed spiritually lesser, requiring discipline.

The whole argument pivots on the translation of one word – the Arabic verb ‘Dharaba’ (in Surah An Nisa’, verse 34). It is a word which has a huge array of meanings in the Quran including ‘to bring forth’, ‘to strike the ground with a stick’, ‘to deal with’ and so on. Context is all important in helping us to understand what it means in each case in the Quran.

The common misconception that Islam allows and even encourages wife beating is down to a sexist and cultural context within which, this word ‘Dharaba’ is wrongly translated as ‘beat/hit’. This translation works for those cultures where women are seen as lesser citizens, beings to be subjugated and ruled over. In other words, it is not Islam but men who legalize and normalize wife beating. Worse, they use the banner of Islam to hide what is blatantly oppression and wrongdoing.

If you study all the instances of ‘dharaba’ in the Quran and the example of the Prophet, it is clear it means ‘to go away/separate’.

The verse is very clear. If a husband sees ‘nushuz’(ie. an uprising – unreasonable demands) from his wife;

1). He admonishes/speaks to her about it
2). Forsakes her in the bed
3). Separates/goes away

This process is exactly what the Prophet did with his wives when they wanted more financially than he had to give. So my question now is, do the Fuqaha (jurists) know the religion better than the Prophet did?

What allows the same patterns to be perpetuated is that many Muslim women often do not feel able to come forward and seek help. They are afraid that they will be blamed instead of being comforted, reminded that, wife beating is a right of the husband. Terrified of what taking a stand will cost them. In unity comes strength so as Muslim women, we must stand with these women, with our hearts and minds, the correct knowledge of the religion in our hands.

I believe any change in society starts from within us. We, as Muslims, need to change our views so women can come forward and break the chains of silent suffering. We must offer comfort rather than judgement. Most important of all, our understanding and advice must be based upon actual knowledge and Scripture as opposed to deeply entrenched cultural and patriarchal injustices.

Like I said, enough is enough.

For detailed evidence, click this link.