ISLAM—World's Greatest Religion!


In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Ideals and Role Models for Women in Qur’an, Hadith and Sirah

Assalam Alaykum brothetr and sisters,

I Know this Article is quite big,but really imp article,it will remove all women related misconception and lies with proofs from hadith and quran.so I Consider this a Must read !
JazakAllah khair
King
slave of Allah

Exhibitions portray ideals: all that is best in a person’s work, a society, a period of artistic endeavor and so on. A talk at an exhibition should do the same, so I shall begin by putting forward the ideals of Islam concerning women, and their role models.

I shall show how these ideals are set forth in the Qur’an, which Muslims consider to be the revealed word of God - Allah - in the Arabic language, and also refer to the Hadith and Sunnah, the reports of the sayings and the model practice of the Prophet Muhammad*.

These two sources make up the basis for the Islamic law, Shari’ah, the body of legislation and moral guidance constructed by the Muslim scholars. Although the Qur’an is taken as unchallengeable, each Hadith is open to well-founded scholarly question as to its authenticity; and the interpretations given to the Qur’an and Hadith, which frequently result in differences of opinion, are open to still further questioning. The many different opinions expressed by the scholars give latitude to Muslims to choose between them to find acceptable guidelines. The Islamic law is not as monolithic and unchangeable as it might appear, although it does have a base of absolutes on which to stand.

This preamble is important with regard to women in Islam, because it has often been observed by Muslim scholars that the Islamic family law as practised in some Muslim countries bears little resemblance to the liberating and sympathetic treatment of women pioneered by the Prophet Muhammad himself (pbuh). Even Mawdudi, considered by some to be among the most conservative of modern Islamic revivalist commentators, Abul A’la Mawdudi, has criticisms to make of the why Indian Muslim law has been practised1. So it is important to distinguish between current, or even past practice, and the spirit of the law – the ideals as laid down by Allah in the Qur’an and exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad*. Most modern writers on Women in Islam are agreed that it is vital to go back to these original sources and reinterpret them in the context of the societies in which we all live now in order to clear up corruptions which have been incorporated into the laws, both from indigenous cultural sources and European colonialist efforts to, as they thought, `reform’ the Shari’ah. So it is to these original sources, the Qur’an and Hadith, that I shall mainly refer.

The Quran has much to say both ABOUT women, and TO women. One Surah is called `Women’, another is named after Maryam the mother of Jesus (pbuh). Women appear in many other parts. In stories of the prophets we have

- Hawwa (Eve) the wife of Adam, no longer the temptress who leads Adam to sin but a partner jointly responsible with him and jointly forgiven by Allah soon afterwards.

- There is the wife of Nuh (Noah) (pbuh) who betrays her husband and is held up along with the wife of Lot as an example of a disbeliever (66:10-11).

- There is the wife of Ibrahim, who laughs at the news the angel brings, of the baby she is to have in her old age;

- the wife of Pharaoh, who saves the infant Musa (Moses) (pbuh) and, along with Maryam, mother of Jesus, is one of the two female examples of the good believer held up in Surah 66:10 & 11.

- The wife of Aziz, who tried to seduce Yusuf (Joseph), is nevertheless treated with some sympathy, when she shows her friends how handsome he is and they all cut themselves with their knives because they are distracted by his beauty;

and there are more women besides.

It is noteworthy that the four women I have mentioned as examples are presented to both male and female Muslims to show how it is possible to be true believers in difficult circumstances, and disbelievers in favorable circumstances.

- The two good examples believed in spite of the attitudes of those close to them, Pharaoh’s wife saving Moses from her husband’s wicked command to kill all the Hebrew firstborn sons, and Maryam confronting accusations of immorality when she brought home her baby after the virgin birth.

- The two bad ones disbelieved in spite of being married to prophets of Allah. In neither case do these examples show the traditional picture of the `submissive’ woman.

Then there are the contemporary women of the Prophet’s household, his wives and daughters. One of his wives, Umm Salamah, complained to him that the Quran was addressed only to men, and then a long passage was revealed to the Prophet* addressed clearly to men and women in every line, which states clearly the equal responsibilities and rewards for Muslim men and women.

For Muslim men and women – for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise – for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward.

(Qur’an 33:35)

Aishah, his youngest wife, caused a scandal when she went out into the desert to look for a necklace she had lost there and got left behind by the caravan. She was rescued by a young man and came back with him and rumors  spread that she had been dallying with him. This caused great pain to her and to the Prophet and it was a long time before they were relieved by another revelation (24:4),

demanding that people making such accusations against chaste women must produce four eye witnesses to the act or suffer a flogging themselves and have their evidence rejected ever after.

There are passages specifically addressed to the wives of the Prophet as a group. For example:

O Consorts of the Prophet! Ye are not like any of the (other) women. If ye do fear (Allah) be not too complaisant of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire, but speak ye a speech (that is) just.

And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like those of the former times of ignorance, and establish regular prayer, and give zakat (welfare due) and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless.

And recite what is rehearsed to you in your houses of the Signs of Allah and His Wisdom, for Allah is All-Subtle, All-Aware.

Qur’an 33:32-34

Other passages are addressed via the Prophet to his wives, daughters and the women of the believers.

Still others were revealed in answer to questions from ordinary women, like the one concerning the practice of divorce by abstinence within the marriage (zihar). A woman complained to the Prophet about this practice, which left the woman with no sexual satisfaction, but still not free to marry another husband and a verse was revealed condemning this practice.

Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah…

Qur’an 58:1

Another passage was revealed in answer to a woman’s complaint about the way her husband wanted to have intercourse with her (2:223).

So the Qur’an is a book which has a lot to say TO women and ABOUT women. What does it say? We have already seen that it does not condemn all women in the image of Eve as Christianity has been known to do; that it is often on the side of women who complain about injustice, in marriage, divorce and in false accusation. How does it view the creation of woman? Is she just a part of Adam and an afterthought? This is what it says, in the first ayah (verse) of Surat an-Nisa – The Women:

O Mankind, be conscious of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate (of the same kind) and from them twain has spread a multitude of men and women.

Qur’an 4:1

`A single soul’ is neither male nor female, although it could be understood to mean Adam it is not necessarily so. In fact `soul’ is feminine and `mate’ is masculine! Not that I’m suggesting that women came first, because in other parts of the Qur’an the creation of Adam is described. But the gender relationship here is ambivalent. And the mate was created from the `soul’ not the humble `rib’. No Muslim scholar could ever argue, after reading this, as some Christians have done, that women do not have a soul! They are made of the same soul as men. Their capacity for good and evil is identical with that of men. In 49:13, of the Qur’an we find that it is good deeds and awareness of Allah which make the believer, male or female, noble in the sight of Allah:

Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most pious.

and in 40:40:

Whoever does right, whether male or female, (all) such will enter the garden

The works of male and female are of equal value and each will receive the due reward for what they do:

Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any one of you, male or female…

Qur’an 3:195

Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to their actions.

Qur’an 16:97

The same duties are incumbent on men and women as regards their faith:

For Muslim men and women – for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise – for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward.

(Qur’an 33:35)

There are a few exceptions: women are given exemption from some duties,

- Fasting when they are pregnant or nursing or menstruating,

- Praying when menstruating or bleeding after childbirth, and

- The obligation to attend congregational prayers in the mosque on Fridays.

- They are not obliged to take part as soldiers in the defence of Islam, although they are not forbidden to do so.

But under normal circumstances they are allowed to do all the things that men do.

- Even when they are menstruating, on special days, like the two Id festivals, they are still allowed to come to the Id prayers, and menstruating women can take part in most of the actions of the Hajj pilgrimage.

But are women’s duties in social life different and complementary as most scholars assert? Is their sole function to keep house and bear and rear children while the men do everything else? Does the fact that they suffer disruption to their health when they menstruate make them unsuitable for any job outside the house, and fit only to maintain a happy and peaceful home, as Mawdudi would have us believe? This is an argument that is grossly exaggerated by male scholars everywhere to justify all kinds of discrimination against women. Mawdudi would have us believe that women scarcely enjoy a few days’ sanity in their lives, so disruptive are the effects of menstruation and childbearing. No doubt there is some truth in his description of such disruption, and allowances should be made by men, and other women for this, but this does not disqualify women from any task that men can do any more than it disqualifies them from creating happy and well-run homes.

Nor is there any basis in the Qur’an or hadith for such an attitude. The Qur’an mentions menstruation in 2:222:

They ask thee concerning women’s courses. Say: `They are a hurt and a pollution, so keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them as ordained for you by Allah.’

According to the interpreters of Islamic law, this means only that sexual intercourse is not allowed at such times, but any other form of intimacy is still permissible. To put it briefly, menstruation may be messy and painful but it is not a major disability.

Islamic law makes no demand that women should confine themselves to household duties. In fact the early Muslim women were found in all walks of life. The first wife of the Prophet, mother of all his surviving children, was a business woman who hired him as an employee, and proposed marriage to him through a third party; women traded in the marketplace, and the Khalifah Umar, not normally noted for his liberal attitude to women, appointed a woman, Shaff’a Bint Abdullah, to supervise the market. Other women, like Laila al-Ghifariah, took part in battles , carrying water and nursing the wounded, some, like Suffiah bint Abdul Muttalib even fought and killed the enemies to protect themselves and the Prophet* and like Umm Dhahhak bint Masoud were rewarded with booty in the same way as the men. Ibn Jarir and al-Tabari siad that women can be appointed to a judicial position to adjudicate in all matters, although Abu Hanifah excluded them from such weighty decisions as those involving the heavy hadd and qisas punishments, and other jurists said that women could not be judges at all. The Qur’an even speaks favourably of the Queen of Sheba and the way she consulted her advisors, who deferred to her good judgement on how to deal with the threat of invasion by the armies of Solomon. (Qur’an 27:32-35):

She (the Queen of Sheba) said, `O chiefs, advise me respecting my affair; I never decide an affair until you are in my presence.’ They said, `We are possessors osf strength and possessors of mighty prowess, and the command is thine, so consider what thou wilt command.’ She said, `Surely the kings, when they enter a town, ruin it and make the noblest of its people to be low, and thus they do. And surely I am going to send them a present, and to see what (answer) the messengers bring back.’

Women have sometimes headed Islamic provinces , like Arwa bint Ahmad, who served as governor of Yemen under the Fatimid Khalifahs in the late fifth and early sixth century.

A much vaunted hadith that the Prophet said, `A people who entrust power to a woman will never prosper’, has been shown to be extremely unreliable on several counts. It is an isolated and uncorroborated one, and therefore not binding in Islamic law, and in addition there is reason to believe it may have been forged in the context of the battle which Aishah the Prophet’s widow led against the fourth Khalifah Ali. In view of the examples set by women rulers in history, it is also clearly untenable and false.

To sum up, the qualifications of women for work of all kinds are not in doubt, despite some spurious ahadith to the contrary. Women can do work like men, but they DO NOT HAVE to do it to earn a living . They are allowed and encouraged to take the duties of marriage and motherhood seriously and are provided with the means to stay at home and do it properly.

The Muslim woman has always had the right to own and manage her own property , a right that women in this country only attained in the last 100 years. Marriage in Islam does not mean that the man takes over the woman’s property, nor does she automatically have the right to all his property if he dies intestate. Both are still regarded as individual people with responsibilities to other members of their family – parents, brothers, sisters etc. and inheritance rights illustrate this.

The husband has the duty to support and maintain the wife, as stated in the Qur’an, and this is held to be so even if she is rich in her own right . He has no right to expect her to support herself, let alone support his children or him. If she does contribute to the household income this is regarded as a charitable deed on her part.

Because of their greater financial responsibilities, some categories of male relations, according to the inheritance laws in the Qur’an, inherit twice the share of their female equivalents, but others, whose responsibilities are likely to be less, inherit the same share -mothers and fathers, for instance are each entitled to one sixth of the estate of their children, after bequests (up to one third of the estate) and payment of debts. (Qur’an 4:11):

For parents a sixth share of the inheritance to each if the deceased left children;

If no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth…

Women are thus well provided for: their husbands support them, and they inherit from all their relations. They are allowed to engage in business or work at home or outside the house, so long as the family does not suffer, and the money they make is their own, with no calls on it from other people until their death.

Nor are women expected to do the housework. If they have not been used to doing it, the husband is obliged to provide domestic help within his means, and to make sure that the food gets to his wife and children, already cooked. The Prophet* himself used to help with the domestic work, and mended his own shoes. Women are not even obliged in all cases to suckle their own children. If a divorcing couple mutually agree, they can send the baby to a wet-nurse and the husband must pay for the suckling. If the mother decides to keep the baby and suckle it herself, he must pay her for her trouble!

This is laid down in the Qur’an itself, (2:233):

The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term, but he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms…If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay what ye offered on equitable terms …

What basis does all this leave for the male attitude that women are only fit for maternal and household duties?

Nevertheless the womanly state in marriage is given full respect in Islam, and so are the rights of children. No Muslim woman could feel ashamed to say she was only a housewife. She is the head of her household, although the husband has the final say in major decisions.

According to a hadith:

The ruler is a shepherd and is responsible for his subjects, a husband is a shepherd and is responsible for his family, a wife is a shepherd and is responsible for her household, and a servant is a shepherd who is responsible for his master’s property.

Hadith: Bukhari

The wife must defer to her husband in respect for the fact that he maintains and protects her out of his means (Qur’an 4:34), but not if he tries to make her break the laws of Allah. Likewise children’s obedience and respect for parents goes only to the limits set by Allah. If the parents try to make them disobey Allah, then it is their duty to disobey the parents. If the husband wilfully fails to maintain his wife, she has the right to divorce him in court.

Women are also entitled to respect as mothers: Allah says in the Qur’an (31:14):

And we have enjoined on man (to be good to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him…

The Prophet* said:

Paradise lies at the feet of mothers…

and in another hadith the Prophet* told a man that his mother above all other people, even his father, was worthy of his highest respect and compassion.

In cases of divorce, the mother has first claim to custody of the young children, followed by other female members of her family, if she remarries or is unable to look after the children. The right reverts to the husband’s family only after the children reach an age of greater independence, which varies according to the school of law, and then the wishes of the child must be taken into consideration, if the example of the Prophet* is to be followed. In a disputed case, he asked the child:

This is your father and this is your mother, so take whichever of them you wish by the hand.

Hadith: Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Darimi

The boy went to his mother.

In another case a woman approached the Prophet telling him that her husband had embraced Islam while she had refused to do so, adding that her daughter was being deprived of mother’s milk as her father was taking her away. The Prophet made the child sit between mother and father and said both of them should call her. The child would go to whoever she chose. The child responded to the mother. The Prophet prayed to Allah to guide the child and the child then chose the father, and hence Rafi (the father) took the child (Hadith: Abu Dawud)3

Yet in this country it is still a novelty to give the child such rights.

Although the Islamic marriage contract is a civil agreement between the two parties , not a sacrament like the Christian one, it is not just a relationship of material convenience. The words used to describe marriage in the Qur’an are poetic and beautiful:

And among His signs is this: that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts, verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.

Qur’an 30:21

They are your garments and ye are their garments

Qur’an 2:187

Love, mercy, intimacy and mutual protection and modesty are the qualities expected of an Islamic marriage. Even in Paradise marriage remains as one of the great joys:

Verily the Companions of the Garden shall that day have joy in all that they do; they and their spouses will be in groves of (cool) shade reclining on thrones of (dignity); fruit will be there for them, they shall have whatever they call for; `Peace’, a word (of salutation) from a Lord Most Merciful.

Qur’an 36:55-57

Husbands are expected to treat their wives kindly during marriage and even during and after divorce . Allah says in the Qur’an:

… Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them, it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.

Qur’an 4:19

The Prophet* said:

The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.

(Hadith: Ibn Hanbal)

Married couples are urged in the Qur’an to deal with one another in a spirit of mutual consultation and agreement, even when contemplating divorce and the custody of children:

… If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them …

Qur’an 2:233

How much more so, then, should this spirit predominate in the happy marriage!

Marriage is also intended by Allah to be fruitful. In the Qur’an He tells us:

… He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle; by this means does he multiply you…

Qur’an 42:11

Your wives are as a tilth for you …

Qur’an 2:223

Yet contraception has never been forbidden in Islam, as the Prophet* gave permission for the withdrawal method, so long as the wife agrees. By analogy other methods of preventing conception are also allowed.

The practical aspects of marriage are covered by the marriage contract, in which the wife can specify conditions, and many Muslim women have taken advantage of this to take to themselves the right of divorce if, for example, the husband takes another wife (CARDS on Polygamy). It must include a marriage gift – sadaqah or mahr – to the wife from the husband, of an amount and nature agreed between them.

Usually, according to custom and convenience – a practice later endorsed in the Shari’ah – a young inexperienced woman would be represented in the negotiations by a `marriage guardian’ or wal_ who is there to see that her interests are served. This wal_ should be her father or grandfather, but it is possible for some older or more experienced women to appoint any person of their choice to act for them. When the Prophet* married the widow, Umm Salamah, her son acted as her wal_, and the Prophet* asked his permission to marry her. (Ibn Rushd) The wishes of close relations, in particular parents, must be taken into consideration, and their permission must be asked. According to some ahadith it is better to break off a marriage which displeases one’s parents, as they are the gateway to Paradise.

Parents have a responsibility to help their children find spouses,

Umar Ibn al-Khattab and Anas reported God’s Messenger* as saying that it is written in the Torah, `If anyone does not give his daughter in marriage when she reaches 12 and she commits sin, the guilt of that rests on him.’

Hadith: Baihaqi

and

Abu Sa’id and Ibn Abbas reported God’s Messenger* as saying: `He who has a son born to him should give him a good name and a good education and marry him when he reaches puberty. If he does not marry him when he reaches puberty and he commits sin, its guilt rests only upon his father.

Hadith: Baihaqi

But parents have no right to force young women to marry against their will after they have reached marriagable age . There is much evidence in the hadith to show that forced marriages are not legal and the wife has the right to have them annulled:

Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad* and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of Allah* gave her the choice … (between accepting the marriage and invalidating it).

Hadith: Ibn Hanbal

In another version the girl said,

`Actually, I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right (to force a husband on them).

Hadith: Ibn Majah

The Prophet* also advised that couples should see one another before getting married, so there is no Islamic basis for the custom of marrying young couples who have never set eyes on one another. If a woman does find that she cannot bear the man she is married to, even because she finds him ugly, Islamic law makes it possible for a court to give her a divorce from him. It is only necessary to prove that she hates him irrevocably – the court does not need to probe into the reasons for the hatred. The Prophet* granted divorces to at least two women in such circumstances. One of them, Jamila, the sister of the hypocrite Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, told the Prophet* about her objection to her husband Thabit Ibn Qais:

Messenger of Allah! Nothing can keep the two of us together. As I lifted my veil, I saw him coming, accompanied by some men. I could see that he was the blackest, the shortest and the ugliest of them all. By Allah! I do not dislike him for any blemish in his faith or his morals, it is his ugliness that I dislike. Had the fear of Allah not stood in my way, I must have spat on him when he came to me. … I am afraid my desperation might drive my Islam closer to disbelief.

The Prophet asked her if she would return the garden Thabit had given her, and she agreed to do this and was given a divorce.4 Thabit did not do any better with his other wife, Habibah. And there are also examples of similar cases from the times of the first three khalifahs.

Ideally speaking, women in Islam are treated like queens, indeed they are better protected than our British royal family is now! Not only are they are allowed to divorce their husbands, rather than live apart and unable to remarry, like Princess Diana, but they are also protected from scandal-mongers.

No-one is allowed, without permission, to invade their privacy in their houses (24:27-28) not even their husbands when they return from a long journey.

Men are not allowed to treat them with disrespect, to look at them more than once, or to touch them -even, some hadiths seem to show, to shake their hands – and if anyone spreads rumours about their chastity without the support of four eye witnesses to the act itself, they themselves are liable to punishment in this life and the hereafter (24:23)!

To make this demand for respect abundantly clear to the men, the wives of the Prophet are asked in the Qur’an to be modest in their appearance, and behaviour, to stay quietly in their houses and not make a great display of themselves as some well-known people were (and still are) prone to do; not to speak too pleasantly to men for fear of `those in whose hearts is a disease’, and to be pious and virtuous and pure.

Ordinary Muslim women too are urged to lower their gaze and wrap themselves closely in their outer garments, letting their head-coverings fall over their neck opening, so that they may be recognised as respectable women and not molested. The Prophet’s wives are also reported to have covered part of their faces with their cloaks when they were among strange men. Those who regard veiling as a form of exploitation should ask themselves which is more exploitative of women, the mini skirt or the veil?

Many Muslim women, from the Prophet’s wives onwards, have aspired to the same degree of modesty and virtue as these passages enjoin and yet managed to participate actively in society by doing good deeds, working to help support their families, and/or pursuing their education. Women figured prominently among the earliest scholars of Islam. The Prophet’s wife Aishah was one of the foremost transmitters of hadiths and, like other wives and Companions of the Prophet was often surrounded by students wanting to learn from her: one of her pupils, Urwah Ibn az-Zubayr said:

I did not see a greater scholar than Aishah in the learning of the Qur’an, obligatory duties, lawful and unlawful matters, poetry and literature, Arab history and genealogy.

Abu Musa al-Ash’ar_ said:

Whenever we Companions of the Prophet* encountered any difficulty in the matter of any hadith we referred it to Aishah and found that she had definite knowledge about it.

Hafiz ibn Hajar said:

… it is said that a quarter of the injunctions of the Shari’ah are narrated from her.

The Prophet* was keen to see that women were educated in Islam as well as the men and ordered the men to pass on what they had learned to their women:

Return home to your wives and children and stay with them. Teach them (what you have learned) and ask them to act upon it.

Hadith: Bukhari (CARD)

Muslim women have the right to have education from their husbands and if not, to go elsewhere to get it. An early Muslim scholar, of the Maliki school of law, named Ibn al-HÆjj, otherwise a strict critic of the over-liberal behaviour of the women in Cairo, wrote:

If a woman demands her right to religious education from her husband and brings the issue before a judge, she is justified in demanding this right because it is her right that either her husband should teach her or allow her to go elsewhere to acquire education. The judge must compel the husband to fulfil her demand in the same way that he would in the matter of her worldly rights, since her rights in matters of religion are most essential and important.

al-Mudhkal

Women can be educated by men. The Prophet sent Umar Ibn al-Khattab to teach the women of the Ansar:

It is reported by Umm `Atiyah thaat when the Messenger of Allah came to Madinah, he ordered the women of the Ansar (Muslims of Madinah) to gather in one house, and sent Umar Ibn al-Khattab to them (to convey the teachings of Islam). He asluted them while standing at athe door of the house and they returned his greeting. Then he said, `I am a messenger of the Messenger of Allah, sent especially to you.’

Hadith: Bukhari

And women taught men too, not only the wives of the Prophet but many others later were teachers of men , e.g. Aishah bt. Sa’id Ibn Abi Waqqas, who taught the first compiler of Hadith, Malik; and Sayyida Nafisa, granddaughter of al-Hasan, the Prophet’s grandson, who taught Imam Shafi’i, and much later a woman taught Ibn al-Arabi, the famous Sufi thinker and greatly influenced his thought.

According to the Prophet*:

It is the duty of every Muslim (male or female) to seek knowledge.

Hadith: Bukhari

Women’s views were listened to, respected, and usually supported, by the Prophet* as we have seen. Another example is when the Prophet’s pilgrimage to Makkah was stopped by the Makkans who made an agreement with him that he and the Muslims could return the following year. He told the people to shave their heads and offer their sacrifices where they were, but they did not obey, so he asked his wife Umm Salamah, and she advised him to lead them by doing so himself. He took her advice, and it worked. His successors, even the rather male chauvinist Khalifah Umar, did their best to follow his example in this. Umar, trying to regulate the exorbitant demands for mahr marriage gifts that women were making had to retreat after a woman stood up and disputed with him, quoting the Qur’an to support her case:

Umar forbade the people from paying excessive dowries and addressed them, saying: `Don’t fix dowries for women over 40 ouces. If ever that is exceeded I shall deposit the escess amount in the public treasury.’ As he came down from the minbar (platform), a flat-nosed lady stood up from among the women audience and said:

‘It is not within your right.’ Umar asked: `Why should this not be of my right?’ She replied, `Because Allah has proclaimed, “Even if you had given one of them (wives) a whole treasure for dower, take not the least bit back. Would you take it by false claim and manifest sin?’ (Qur’an 4:20)

When he heard this, Umar said: `The woman is right, and the man (Umar) is wrong. It seems that all people have deeper wisdom and insight than Umar.’ Then he returned to the minbar and said, `O people! I had restricted the giving of more than four hundred dirhams in dower. Whosoever of you wishes to give in dower as much as he likes and finds satisfaction in so doing, may do so.’

Hadith: Ibn al-Jawzi

Umar also used to seek the counsel of Shaffa the market inspector, pay due regard to her and hold her in high esteem. (Ibn Hajar al-Isabah quoted by Hasan Turabi)

So, to conclude, these are the ideals to which Muslim women can aspire and frequently have done in the past. In a truly Islamic society, they are guaranteed

- personal respect,

- respectable married status,

- legitimacy and maintenance for their children,

- the right to negotiate marriage terms of their choice,

- to refuse any marriage that does not please them,

- the right to obtain divorce from their husbands, even on the grounds that they can’t stand them (Mawdudi),

- custody of their children after divorce,

- independent property of their own,

- the right and duty to obtain education,

- the right to work if they need or want it,

- equality of reward for equal deeds,

- the right to participate fully in public life and have their voices heard by those in power,

and much more besides.

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

The Greatest of Calls

Asma Bint Shameem (Guest Author)

Allaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar!

The sound of the adhaan reverberates grandly through the air as it pierces the quiet night.  It resonates all around me, the voice of the Mu’adhdhin so deep, so intense, it seems to fill the space between heaven and earth.

I close my eyes and listen, reflecting on the awe-inspiring words of the call to the prayer, and I am totally overcome…overcome and moved by the grandeur, the majesty, the absolute power of these magnanimous phrases. What beautiful words!

Allaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar!

The whole earth shakes with this noble declaration of the Mu’adhdhin.

The skies tremble, mountains quiver and the seas roar. The sound permeates everything that exists, saturating all with the magnificence of these glorious words.

And they all reply back…repeating after the Mu’adhdhin….humming in unison…. singing the praises of their Rabb, the Creator of all.

And surely His is the Praise.

As for me, I am mesmerized and totally captivated, overwhelmed by an Iman rush I never experienced before.

Each cell in my body responds….every nerve in my being replies back.

Yes, without a doubt…Allaahu Akbar.

O Allaah, indeed, You are the Greatest.

Greater than any thing or any being, any worries or any problems, any distractions or any temptations, any wants or any desires, any enemies or any loved ones. You are Greater, Stronger, Bigger, Higher, Superior, more Powerful, more Capable, more Able, more Beloved, more Needed, more Worthy of my attention and worship than anything else. Nothing can supersede You or be better than You. There is nothing that can be put in comparison with You.

Indeed, Allaahu Akbar!  The Mu’adhdhin goes on….and spell-bound I listen.

???? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? – “I bear witness that there’s no deity worthy of worship except Allaah” With that testimony of faith, it’s as if time itself has stopped. The whole universe has come to a complete standstill….. Everything comes alive and responds; reverberating, resonating with the Words of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala…with His Praise, with His Glory, with His Majesty.Each rock and each leaf, every flower and every tree, the little bugs in the sand, and the birds in the sky….

every creature, every being, every mortal, every thing; the drops in the ocean and the atoms in space, all bear witness along with the Mu’adhdhin, declaring His Lordship, affirming His Majesty… admitting their subservience, their ultimate servitude. “Yes, it is only Allaah Who is the True Lord of all that exists….the Only One Worthy of worship.” Each and every single one of them fervently repeats these exalted words. And along with them, my heart joins in too.

“Indeed, Yaa Rabb, I too, bear witness that there’s no deity worthy of worship except You.”

As the Mu’adhdhin completes the rest of the call to the prayer, the lofty words cause my skin to shiver and my heart to tremble. It overtakes me. It permeates my very being… it throbs in my very soul.

Wallaahi, it is the most beautiful sound to my ears, after the Book of Allaah, the sweetest, the greatest, the most beloved to my heart.

Living in the US a major chunk of my life, I had forgotten what it is like to hear the adhaan. But recently moving to a Muslim country made me realize what a beautiful blessing of Allaah it is, when I hear the adhaan five times a day resonating all around me. And how I love it.

Subhaan Allaah! Yes sure, I had heard the adhaan before. But it had never affected me like this. What was the reason behind it? Why was it affecting me this way?And then it dawned on me. I had fallen in love with the adhaan.

I realized that all my life I had just heard the adhaan. I had never ‘listened’ to it I had never really paid attention to it nor ever reflected upon it. I had just heard the words and repeated them like a parrot.

But now that I am listening to it with the ears of my heart and reflecting upon these exalted words before repeating them, that’s when they have come alive for me and that’s when they really have meaning.

So great is this call to prayer and so exalted is the act itself that Allaah will forgive the one making the adhaan and every thing and every creature that hears the Mu’adhdhin will bear witness for him and ask forgiveness from Allaah on his behalf.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said:

“Whoever hears the Adhan, whether a human being, a jinn or any other creature, will be a witness for him (the Mu’adhdhin) on the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhaari]

No wonder the necks of the Mu’adhdhins will be the longest on the Day of Judgment as an honor given to them for performing such a noble task. And what an honor!

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) said:

‘The mu’adhdhins will be the people with the longest necks on the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]

That’s for the one making the adhaan. But not everyone of us is as fortunate. However, for the rest of us, there’s still hope.

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Anyone who, when he hears the mu’adhdhin, says

و أنا أشْهَدُ أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريكَ لهُ , و أن محمداً عبدُهُ ورسوله ، رضيت بالله رباً ، وبمحمد رسولاً ، وبالإسلام ديناً

‘I testify that there is no god but Allah alone with no partner and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.  I am pleased with Allah as a Lord, with Muhammad as a Messenger, and Islam as a deen,’ will have his sins forgiven.” [Muslim]

Just imagine! Your sins have forgiven just by sincerely repeating these words!

Umar bin al-Khattab (Radhi Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) said:

“When the Mu’adhdhin says,”Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar (Allah is Greatest, Allah is the Greatest)’; and you say, ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, and when he says, ‘Ash-hadu an laa ilah illa-Allaah (I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah),’ you say, ‘Ash-hadu an laa illaha illa Allah, and when he says, ‘Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasoolullaah (I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah),’ you say, ‘Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasoolah’, and when he says, ‘Hayya ‘alas-Salat (Come to prayer).’ You say: ‘La hawla wala quwwata illa billah (there is neither might nor any power except by Allah),’ and when he says, ‘Hayya ‘alalfalah (Come to saluation)’, you say, ‘Laa hawla wala quwaata ila billah (there is neither might nor any power except by Allah),’ and when he says, ‘Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest),’ you say from your heart (with sincerity), ‘Laa ilaha illa Allaah,’ you will enter Jannah (Paradise).” [Muslim]

Subhaan Allaah… Jannah!

And once the adhaan is finished, make dua for the Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) from the bottom of your heart, and insha Allaah, he (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) will intercede for you on the Day of Judgment.

That’s because he (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) said:

‘Whoever after listening to the Adhan says,

اللهم رب هذه الدعوة التامة والصلاة القائمة ،آت محمداً الوسيلة والفضيلة وابعثه مقاماً محموداً الذي وعدته.

‘O Allah! Lord of this perfect call (of not ascribing partners to You) and of the regular Salat (prayer) which is going to be established! Kindly give Muhammad the right of intercession and superiority and send him (on the Day of Judgement) to the best and the highest place in Paradise which you promised him.’ then intercession for me will be permitted for him on the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhaari]

So next time you hear the adhaan, don’t just ‘hear’ it…. Listen to it!

But don’t listen with your ears… listen to it with your heart….

Let it sink in deep inside you, let it overtake you. Reflect on the words and ponder over the meanings. Repeat after the Mu’adhdhin. Say the words with sincerity and wholeheartedness. Hear the whole universe responding to the adhaan along with you, testifying to the Oneness of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala and His Lordship, glorifying His Praise.

And it will become beloved to you.  Submerge yourself in the beauty and majesty of these magnanimous words, and it will affect you.

Value the blessing of hearing the adhaan. Don’t take it for granted.

Try your best to live your life according to these glorious words and insha Allaah, He will forgive you and enter you into Jannah.

As for me, I know that being a woman, it’s not for me to say the adhaan out loud nor can I ever be like the Mu’adhdhin. But there is one thing I do know. And that is that Allaah is not unfair. Rather He is al-Kareem, al-Jawaad.

So I hope with Him that He will reward me for my niyyah and He will count me among the Mu’adhdhins, those who call to prayer, those with the longest necks on the Day of Judgment, just by my repeating the words. And I hope that He will forgive me….. Aameen.

Asma bint Shameem

Click here  to read other Articles written by Sister Asma bint Shameem .

Some Interesting Articles related to Salah or Adhan

1) One Call and Impossible happens…

2) Adhan Miracle

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

8 ways of finding the right person to marry

Marriage is never an easy thing. We think of it as this amazing romantic bliss that we will somehow attain one day.

Sisters dream of marrying that amazing brother who has the character of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), the Eemaan of Aboo Bakr, the courage of Hamzah, the wealth of ‘AbdiRahmaan bin ‘Awf but the fact still remains, everyone wants to marry that one truly amazing person and it is not much different for guys.

We wish to bump into a Hoor al-‘Een that has lost her way from Jannah. I mean why wouldn’t that ever happen? It won’t happen, because you are daydreaming bro that’s why.

Now wake up and listen to this short lesson in some important “Do’s and Dont’s” along with other useful information inshaaAllaah.

#8 AVOID FACEBOOK SPOUSES

And any other social network for that matter

Since we spend most of our time online these days, it is very easy to try to fulfil all our needs online, even the need of finding a soul mate. Now don’t get me wrong, there are marriages who actually do work out, and I am not by any means hating on brothers and sisters who made it work (whatever floats your boats akhis and ukthis, just keep it halaal), but let’s face it, the Internet is a very weird place.

Everyone always tries to seem holier than they really are, even a Kaafir could pretend to be Muslim scholar for all you know.  In the good old days people married other people who they actually knew, and life was much more smooth, in very broad terms.

But today you marry someone who comes across as religious online only to find out on your wedding night he isn’t really that strict on Salah, oh and did I mention he has tons of friends who just happen to be girls? And not to mention he smokes (sorry forgot to tell you that too, my bad) the point is, be very careful concerning ANY online proposals.

If the person is serious and a good guy, drop them your wali’s number and don’t communicate with them anymore, then you’ll know if the person is really a gentleman or not.

#7 BEFRIEND GOOD PEOPLE

Looks more and more promising

This will open up the door for networking later on, because one of the main problems today is that a lot of people ask, ‘OK but how do I meet good potential spouses?’ and they often say ‘I don’t know anyone!’ but in reality everyone knows SOMEBODY.

Be it that friend who you only seem to meet at the masjid for big events, or your cousin who you don’t spend much time with, there is always someone you can befriend. But keep in mind that these individuals should be good practising people themselves because then they can help introduce you to other practising people who in turn might have brothers and sisters who are looking for marriage.

Trust me, it works. Try it for yourselves and see, but just don’t become that one sister (or brother) who ALWAYS talks about marriage and the opposite gender, because chances are you might get labelled as “thirsty” if not worse.

And if that fails, there is always facebook.

#6 BE AT GOOD PLACES

Do not confuse booty call material for wifey material

In the same way that you won’t find your amazing virgin niqabi wife at the club, dancing late into the night. You, yourself need to be looking in the right places, and this sort of brings us back to the previous point.

Attend lectures, study circles or maybe even volunteer to help at the masjid etc, all these activities will open up the door for you to meet the right people and once you get to know them you can raise the issue of marriage discreetly.

Remember most people who marry will tell you they got to know their spouse either through family and friends, or they might have actually met whilst doing the same activities, so try to be more active and don’t just sit at home feeling sorry for yourself. Oh and also stop going to the club.

DISCLAIMER: This website does not endorse any talking between the genders without the supervision of a Wali. Be a man and step up your game if you truly love her. Otherwise go to facebook.

#5 BE REALISTIC

Sometimes your knight in shining armour is just a miskeen dude in tin foil

Chances are, you’re not going to bump into Shaikh Sudais’s son, let alone the Shaikh himself, and even if you did, I highly doubt any of them would ask you for marriage (more like ‘SECURITY!’) So try to keep your hopes realistic, yes we all want to marry a Haafidh, we all want a sister who knows all about pleasing a husband but never had a boyfriend before. We all want a brother who is super pious with super long beard (the longer the beard the bigger the Taqwa right?) who also owns a house and has a car, plus he should be really knowledgeable too, like bin baaz knowledgeable, preferably not blind though, oh and a six pack wouldn’t harm either.

But we often forget, that when you marry someone, they still have their whole life ahead of them. Most of the wives of the major scholars married these amazing men whilst they still were ‘nobodies’ and similarly you teach your wife (with gentleness) how to be romantic and it is all a journey. If you think that you will marry that one complete person who has everything, you will never marry and that’s the harsh truth.

You will end up on facebook surfing from one profile to the other.

#4 INVOLVE YOUR PARENTS

I mean at least this brother has his own house, so that’s always a plus right?

Most people don’t like doing this, for whatever reason. Most girls are just simply too shy to bring marriages up to their parents, in case the parents look at them as “horny” or a victim of teenage hormones. Others are afraid that if they involve the parents they will feel pressured into marrying someone they don’t want to marry, only to please their parents.

You remember that one time your friend mentioned to HER parents that she wanted to get married? And for her parents to help her look for a decent brother? And how they totally misunderstood her and now you heard that your friend moved back to Bangladesh and has 7 kids at the age of 21? Yeah that’s totally not going to happen to you.

Now what I am suggesting is a middle path. Bring the topic up to your parents, or if you’re too shy, speak to your brother or someone else who can raise the issue with your parents. And then ask your parents to look around for you, remember they can only suggest but the final decision still lies with you. And most of us really don’t make use of this option, which is very sad.

Our parents are the only human beings alive on the face of this earth who would do anything and everything for us, so why not consult them?

#3 ARE YOU REALLY READY FOR MARRIAGE?

Believe it or not brothers, marriage is more than just mating and lying in bed. Shocking I know!

I don’t mean to scare you away by raising this question, as Muslims we should always aim to get married since it is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet.

But sometimes, some people rush into marriage. They think just because they are physically ready (have urges etc) that they should get married, forgetting that even the Prophet actually mentioned that those who have the MEANS to get married should do so. Now having the means is not just having a mature body, or even loads of cash. Rather it also about being mentally stable and able to cope with the hardships of marriage.

Don’t worry though, in marriage all you need is love to make things work (like they always say right?) so no need to over think things, love conquers all! Except that’s a total lie, marriage needs so much more, and even though love is a key element in marriage it is not always what keeps a marriage going.

Remember marriage is not all sunshine and fun, sometimes you will argue sometimes you wont love each other as much, what will happen then? Will you ask for a divorce just because the marriage isn’t fun anymore?

What if there are children involved, then what? The point is, prepare yourself for marriage mentally. Read up on the rights of the Husband and the rights of the Wife, don’t just marry because you’re 20 and feel you have to. This husband will be either your Jannah or Hell, do you really know what that means?

Similarly this wife and future children will be your responsibility as a husband, Allaah will ask you about them and everything they do, so be prepared.

#2 WOULD YOU MARRY YOURSELF?

Because that is how I roll

‘Ofcourse I would, I am pure awesomeness, I am the very defin…’ if that is your answer then I can tell you right now that you don’t really have the right mentality for marriage. We often get blinded by the search for the ultimate partner that we neglect to look at ourselves.

We cry and say why won’t anyone marry me? But do nothing to change ourselves. How do you treat people when you get upset? What do you do if you hold a grudge? Do not turn a blind eye to all these important issues, rather tackle them one by one. No one is perfect but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying.

If you truly and sincerely work on your own flaws, and really do become more caring and loving then you will notice how people will look at you differently. People will start to think of you as ‘wifey’ material because you are good with kids, because you care for others, because you forgive people and don’t hold grudges don’t gossip etc the list is long but if you take one step at a time you will be married before you know it.

Well you would know of it, ’cause I mean you couldn’t get married without knowing about it, right? So technically you would know about it, but yeah whatever.

#1 DU’AA

Dua is the weapon of the believer, why not use it?

Because like anything in life, Allaah is the true reason behind things. Even though some people often roll their eyes and think ‘Yeah right the old, make dua brother/sister’ but if you truly have faith in Allaah and know that He answers the prayers of those in need, you will never get tired of making du’aa to Him.

Take the story of Muusa alyhi salaam as an example, in Soorah Qasas we are told about how he left Fir’awn and was literally fleeing for his life, his one concern was saving his own skin. But what happened? He made du’aa to Allaah, and Allaah not only saved him but blessed him with a wonderful wife. So in short, if you make du’aa and don’t give up Allaah will help you, and that is a promise!

Read More Articles

Falling in Love Allowed in Islam

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Muslim women Paying fine for wearing niqab in France

Keep Going sisters , We r indeed proud of all of you… you are doing Jihad .Our Duas and Prayers are with all of you!

May Allah give you success .

ameen

This is really strange ,i mean  half naked woman , or even full naked woman running on beaches are not the problem,but Naqab is…What you think ? share ur views in cmnts !

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Sharia: A Practical Guide

Commonly asked questions regarding Sharia and Islam

How did Sharia start?

What, nowadays, is the authoritative source of Sharia?

What are the basic principles of Sharia?

Adultery
Murder
Zinah (sexual offences)
Is Sharia the same in all countries?
Individual rights vs needs of society?
Does Sharia make life easier or harder for the ordinary Muslim?
Why has Sharia become a synonym for cruelty and lack of compassion?
Sharia and dress
Forced and arranged marriages
Men having many wives?
Is it easier for men to divorce?
Sharia and food
The Prophet’s wife Aishah

In countries where Sharia law is enforced, how are specific punishments decided on and who makes these decisions?

Would many Muslims in Britain be in favour of Sharia law being implemented here?

What areas of law do Muslims in Britain think are mishandled by British state law?

How did Sharia start?

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) laid down the laws – some of them were direct commands stated in the revelation of the Qur’an; other laws grew up based on the Prophet’s own example and the various rulings he gave to cases that occurred during his lifetime. These secondary laws are based on what’s called the Sunnah – the Prophet’s words, example, and way of life.

So, all the laws of Sharia are based primarily on Qur’an and then on Sunnah, and after that, if there was no information in those two sources, judges were free to use their intelligence to make analogies. As in most legal systems, cases could then be referred to by later judges.

What, nowadays, is the authoritative source of Sharia?

Just the same as outlined above. What is important, however, is that judges are highly educated in Islamic law and jurisprudence, and this is an area where some damage was done during the colonial periods when Islamic schools of law were closed down with a great loss of knowledge and expertise which is only now being repaired slowly. The problem is that it is all too easy for an individual judge to make some pronouncement or invoke some penalty without full knowledge of the background of Sharia and the spirit behind the various laws and penalties.

What are the basic principles of Sharia?

These are to see the will of God done on earth as it is in Heaven (as in the Christian Lord’s Prayer). How can we possibly know this will? By study of the revealed scriptures and by choosing talented, intelligent and far-sighted merciful people of excellent character as our judges. The whole principle of God’s will is to bring about compassion, kindness, generosity, justice, fair play, tolerance, and care in general, as opposed to tyranny, cruelty, selfishness, exploitation etc. All the rules of Sharia are towards those ends.

The usual criticisms of Sharia – that it is so cruel as regards execution, flogging and cutting off hands, totally ignore all the extenuating circumstances that would lead to these penalties not being applied – they are known as hadd penalties (pl. hudud), the hadd being the extreme limit of the penalty. Thus, if a person was sentenced to having a hand cut off, he or she should not be sent to prison and/or be fined as well. People who regard these practices as cruel will never be persuaded otherwise, so Muslims usually leave that aside.

Their point is that the cutting of the hand for theft is a very powerful deterrent – Muslims care less for the callous and continual thief than they do for the poor souls who are mugged and robbed and hurt by the thieves. The Middle East is certainly not full of one-handed people – as any traveler would tell you. What we have lost here is the horror of dishonor that true Muslims still have.

They would do anything rather than offend Allah, and they of course believe that Allah sees every single thing that is done – there are no secrets. Even if you get away with something on earth, it has been seen and recorded and you will have to face judgment for it eventually, and the people hurt by your action will be recompensed. Of course, if you do not believe in God, or a judgment, or a life to come, the whole system is quite meaningless to you. In Sharia law, if a thief could prove that he/she only stole because of need, then the Muslim society would be held at fault and made to supply that need, and there would be no hand-cutting. Most thieves would think twice before risking a hand on mugging an old lady for her handbag!

In the UK, we live in a society where anything not fixed down that you take your eyes off for a second would risk being stolen – in Muslim society this is not the case. Nobody wants to have a thief in their family, village, street or society. They despise thieves, and of course, they also despise rapists, murderers, and adulterers.

Adultery

In the west, adultery has become so commonplace because of sexual freedoms – all the emphasis these days seems to be on finding sexual satisfaction; in Muslim societies, there is far less emphasis on sex – it is usually regarded as a weakness that can lead to all sorts of trouble. Family is far more important; the notion of a million unborn children per year being aborted, and single mothers, is abhorrent in Islam.

Murder

Sharia law for murder allows the death penalty, but is kinder than western law in one respect – after judicial judgement has been made, appeals are then allowed to the family of the murdered victims, and they are begged to be merciful. In Islam, it is always regarded as the height of mercy to forgive a murderer, even though one may have the right to take his/her life in reprisal.

The form of execution is not specified in Islam – i.e. it is not usually a stoning. Beheading used to be regarded as the quickest and most merciful way (as in Roman law, and the French guillotine); these days other methods may find approval. There are apparently far less executions in most Muslim countries than in the USA, for example.

The penalty for adultery is open to debate. Most scholars will insist that the penalty as laid down in the Qur’an was 100 lashes, and there were various rules for regulating how lashes were to be given too. Other scholars maintain that the old penalty for adultery as laid down by the previous prophets was stoning (as in the Old Testament). By New Testament times, the prophet Jesus had the famous case where a guilty woman was forgiven and sent away, told only to sin no more.

In some Muslim societies, judges and populaces might stone out of mistaken belief that this was what Islam required. In fact, Islam made it virtually impossible – to be sentenced to death for adultery, the couple had to be actually witnessed performing the physical act by four people who were in a position to identify both parties without doubt; this virtually ruled out the penalty, since adultery is taken for granted as a secret act and something not done in public.

Zinah (sexual offences)

There is some confusion over the meaning of the word zinah – this means a sexual offence, ANY sexual offence, and includes not only adultery but also sex before marriage and rape. In rape cases, the witnesses are no longer relied on since forensic evidence and scientific analysis can usually nail the offender. There is no suggestion whatsoever, anywhere, in Islam for a death sentence being required for sex before marriage.

Sometimes family members can become very shocked and upset about the behaviour of those in their families that they feel have brought shame upon them and may take matters in their own hands. We hear of girls being shot by fathers and brothers because of the shame. Sometimes these girls had not even had sex at all, but had just been chatting to males, or behaving in what is regarded as a shameful manner.

Many Muslim societies take a fairly lenient view of fathers thus killing their daughters, in a similar way to the old UK society taking a more lenient view of ‘crimes of passion’. However, it is still murder, and not something allowed in Islam, and Sharia judges would be obliged to bring the murderers to judgment. Whether such a father would get two year’s probation or be sentenced to death for murder would depend on the court judge, and would be subject to all the usual appeal procedures.

Is Sharia the same in all countries?

I’m afraid I do not know the answer to this, but certainly the principles are exactly the same in whatever country they are applied.

Individual rights vs needs of society?

Basically in Islam the needs of society always come first, with the proviso that injustices should always be able to be taken to judges who are not corrupt. The old Arab system allowed any person, no matter how humble, to take his/her case to the highest in the land personally. Islam brings a very strong sense of justice, and care of the oppressed and exploited.

Does Sharia make life easier or harder for the ordinary Muslim?

Much easier for those who strive to live the correct life pleasing to God and in kindness and peace with the neighbor; much harder for the one who is selfish, callous, cruel, exploitative, dishonest etc. There is virtually no sympathy for such people – unless they really are mentally ill, in which case they are not regarded as culpable in Sharia. All those before the age of puberty, or not of sound mind, are not regarded as culpable.

Why has Sharia become a synonym for cruelty and lack of compassion?

I think through two things – ignorance of the reality of Sharia law, and much publicized cases where Muslims in positions of authority have been very poor Muslims, if not non-Muslims in Muslim disguise. For example, 100 years ago we had stories of awful Turkish sultans, and people being rushed to blocks to have their hands cut off etc.

The media picks out certain cases and blows them up to make a big drama of them – they might pick on one particular murderer on death row in the USA and rouse everyone’s feelings, but totally ignore all the others due to be executed that day! A case like the Nigerian woman in danger of being stoned for adultery is a case in point. She might have been stoned by irate villagers, but on being taken into custody and judged by Sharia law she gets the opportunity to appeal and explain etc.

In her case, if it is true that she was raped, she most certainly would not be sentenced to death. What interests me is who were the rotten people who brought the case against her anyway?

Incidentally the correct Islamic method of stoning according to Sharia was similar to that advised by the Pharisees at the time of Jesus – the person was held fast in a fixed position, and a stone or rock that it took two men to lift (i.e. was heavier than one man could lift alone) was to be dropped to crush the head – it was not someone tied to a post and rocks hurled at them, although this has been done in some cultures.

The point was that if someone really had to be executed, it was to be done swiftly, with as little torture as possible, and usually publicly so that no vindictive person could do further nasty things behind the scenes and get away with it.

Sharia should promote gender equality. In fact, the natural Islamic tendency is to always consider women as the weaker sex in need of care and protection, and come down hard on the men who allow their womenfolk to get into difficulties.

Dress

Sharia does not require women to wear a burqa. There are all sorts of items of dress which are worn by Muslim women, and these vary all over the world. Burqas belong to particular areas of the world, where they are considered normal dress. In other parts of the world the dress is totally different. The rule of dress for women is modesty, the word hijab implies ‘covered’.

Some Muslim women feel that they should cover everything from neck to ankle, and neck to wrist. Others also include a head veil (this is the most controversial bit, and millions of Muslim women choose to wear it, or alternatively choose not to wear it – and there is much disagreement between the types!), and finally some choose to cover even their faces, although there is no Islamic text requiring this extreme. My own preference is a long black dress and a white headscarf – I have never worn a burqa in my life. Incidentally, when men try to enforce Muslim dress on women, this is forbidden – no aspect of our faith is to be done by coercion. It is up to the woman what she chooses to do – some choose full hijab and their men hate it!

Forced and arranged marriages

In Sharia Law any marriage that is forced or false in any way is null and void. It is not a proper marriage. This is a problem that seems to plague Muslim women from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh and nowhere else in the Islamic world – and it also applies to Hindus and some Sikhs from those areas too.

Forced marriage is totally forbidden in Islam. False marriage is too – for example, some of our teenage girls are sent back to Pakistan for a holiday when they are about 15, and sign things they do not understand, and then find out later that they have been ‘married’ even if it has not been consummated. UK lawyers are getting far better at studying Sharia these days, in order to protect these girls from this particular culture.

Forced marriage is not at all the same thing as arranged marriage. Muslims from many countries have a system of arranged marriages, in which the spouses may not have seen each other before marriage, but it always has to be with their free consent. The Prophet himself advised prospective spouses to at least ‘look’ at each other, until they could see what it was that made them wish to marry that person as opposed to any other.

Women forced into marriage, or seeking divorce for general reasons, have the same sort of grounds in Sharia as in the west – cruelty, mental cruelty, adultery, abandonment, etc. They may even request a divorce for no specific reason whatever, so long as they agree to pay back the mahr (marriage payment) made to them by their husband if the husband does not wish to let them go but are obliged to.

Men having many wives?

Men and women can have as many spouses as they can fit into a lifetime; but this is not generally approved. Women are requested to have only one husband at a time (there is evidence that wealthy Arab women were polyandrous before the coming of Islam – certainly wealthy men were polygynous), and men are limited to four at one time, whereas previously there had been no limit, and a wealthy and generous man was expected to cater for as many women as he could afford (in the absence of a welfare state).

Allah sent the proviso that no Muslim was ever to deliberately cause hurt or harm to another Muslim, so a man might not take extra womenfolk into his home if it would cause upset and distress (it was recommended when there were lots of widows after warfare, if the women were willing to be generous to bereft ‘sisters’).

Also, if a man could not provide equal treatment of his wives – equal food, clothing, money, living quarters, time spent with – he was refused permission for polygamy. Equal sexual activity was not ruled on, however. Some wives had no sexual relationship with their husbands at all after a while, or if they came into the household as widows of relatives. Don’t forget that most widows also came with their children. When the Prophet married the widow Sawdah he took on six of her children, and with Umm Salamah another four, for example.

Is it easier for men to divorce?

Yes, to a certain extent – but because of various cultural reasons. Most Muslim women until very recently in the UK would have found it hard to live after divorcing a husband, because they did not own property, had no jobs to support themselves or were burdened with young children. The same is often true in many societies to this day where it is not the norm for women to go out to work.

In Sharia, the custody of the children would normally go to the mother, but the father would have to pay for their upkeep. If the woman remarried, the children might well go to their own father – all this puts a woman off divorce, because of financial circumstances.

Regarding grounds for divorce, they are virtually the same as in the west, including incompatibility, and living apart for a length of time. The caliphs (successors of The Prophet Muhammad) ruled that couples should not be separate for more than 4 months without permission, and if they were it was grounds for divorce. If the woman wanted divorce but the man did not, she could approach a religious judge and be granted divorce so long as she repaid the husband’s mahr. Some women only ask very little, a few pounds; others put a price of thousands of pounds on themselves. The Indian subcontinent seems to abuse this too – since some husbands do not seem to pay it at all, and others even expect the bride to pay money to the bridegroom or his father!! The very opposite of Sharia law.

Sharia and food

The rules are those of haram (banned) and halal (allowed). All vegetable, fruit, grain and seafood is halal. Meat is halal providing it has been killed in the kindest possible way by a sharp instrument that pierces and kills swiftly (sharp knife, bullet, sword), and the appropriate prayers are said at its death (or at the time of eating if one is not certain).

Muslims may not eat any food that has been sacrificed to idols (e.g. Hindu meat), but kosher is fine. They may not eat any pork product or flesh with blood undrained from it; the most extreme Muslims will not touch anything that has animal fat included – even a biscuit – in case it is pork lard or gelatin from an animal not killed in the halal manner. If Muslims eat haram food without realizing it is haram (i.e. some butchers ‘fake’ their halal tickets), they are not held to blame, but judged by their intention. In cases of necessity, Muslims may eat anything available, even pork, rather than suffer hardship. Alcohol is haram.

The Prophet’s wife Aishah

No-one is absolutely certain of her age when she married the Prophet, but it could have been as young as 6; some scholars believe she was ten years older. However, the majority go for the age of 6.

The marriage that took place then was an agreement on paper, there was no physical relationship until Aishah reached puberty – but this in itself could have been at around 9 or 10 years old. That is not an unusual age for menstruation to start in hot climates, and once a girl is capable of producing a child she is regarded as technically a woman.

Sex for children under 16 is forbidden by law in the UK at the moment, but this has not always been the case and it is nonsense to suppose that there is no sexual activity amongst children under 16 in this country. No-one is able to stop them and if the girls get pregnant they frequently have abortions.

In Muslim countries it is considered far better to get youngsters married as soon as they show inclinations to have sex – then they can have it honourably, as much as they like, and the children born are not bastards. Many Muslim countries in fact do try to keep to the age of about 16 for marriage (as is the legal age in the UK), and prefer not to marry off their girls too young. Some societies expect marriages to be life-partnerships, but in others divorces are frequent if things do not work out and girls choose other husbands.

In the Prophet’s day, the normal age for boys to marry was about 15 and girls between 13-15, although some girls preferred to defer the role until their twenties if they had their own money. Don’t forget, there was virtually no contraception and marriage implied having a baby every two years or so.

The used to feed babies as long as possible to avoid too frequent pregnancy. As far as I know, the Virgin Mary was around 12-13 when she had baby Jesus, and she was living with her husband in one of these non-physical arrangements. The Prophet was certainly not a pedophile! He did not marry his first wife until she was 40, and he had no other wife until she died at the age of 65; then his second wife was in her 40s, to help him out while he was a single parent!

In countries where Sharia law is enforced, how are specific punishments decided on and who makes these decisions?

The specific punishments are decided on by the lawyers of the land, many of whom have been educated and trained in the west!

Would many Muslims in Britain be in favour of Sharia law being implemented here?

I think many Muslims in the UK would be in favour of Sharia law being implemented here, but true Sharia law is only really possible in a Muslim society, not in a non-Muslim or mixed society. Flogging for public drunkenness, for example, might make some of our louts and cruel men folk think twice before acting as they do, and thinking nothing of it.

I once left my expensive camera on a wall in Egypt and it was gone when I returned for it – no big surprise. What was a surprise is that someone in that village found out where my coach had gone next and took the trouble to travel nearly 100 miles to find me and return the camera – they had picked it up for safe-keeping and did not want any of their summer tourists (it is hard for Egypt to get tourists in August!) to think there was a thief in their village! I was also very impressed by the way people just left shop tills and went off to mid-day prayers, trusting that no-one would steal their money or stock.

I don’t think lawyers in the UK would ever bring back the death sentence, but many people here think that they should. Personally, I could never bring a case against a man seeking his death for adultery, and I would not be willing to put even the worst of criminals to death myself.

I feel the electric chair is far more barbaric than stoning. Incidentally the correct Islamic method of stoning according to Sharia was similar to that advised by the Pharisees at the time of Jesus – the person was held fast in a fixed position, and a stone or rock that it took two men to lift (i.e. was heavier than one man could lift alone) was to be dropped to crush the head – it was not someone tied to a post and rocks hurled at them, although this has been done in some cultures.

The point was that if someone really had to be executed, it was to be done swiftly, with as little torture as possible, and usually publicly so that no vindictive person could do further nasty things behind the scenes and get away with it. People gathering at executions were often those who had come to pray for and support the person being executed and not just ghoulish onlookers. I would feel just the same about witnessing such an execution as I felt about hanging when it was done here. I prayed all night before the execution of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hung in the UK.

What areas of law do Muslims in Britain think are mishandled by British state law?

I think Muslims generally are shocked by the general lack of respect and discipline here, especially if they are immigrants and not born here. They are particularly shocked by lack of discipline in schools and the difficulties faced by so many teachers in getting children to behave in class and actually learn.

They are shocked by the appalling rates of theft, drunkenness, drug addiction, sex outside marriage, abortions, rape of children and old ladies, homosexuality – especially when it is being put forward as quite normal and an acceptable alternative sexual lifestyle; homosexuals in positions of authority (from teachers to MPs).

They are also shocked by the general lack of respect for those in authority, and older people in general. In Muslim homes, children would probably be expected not to smoke in front of parents, not to sit down or start eating before them. They are terrified of their girls being chatted up, taken advantage of and made pregnant by British boys and men, who seem to be uncontrollably predatory and often drunk.

by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Why do we pray five times each day?

I read in the Qur’aan that a man should pray three times:  before sunrise, after sunset and in the middle of the day. So why do we pray five times? I hope that you will not give me the story that 50,000 prayers were enjoined then it was reduced to five. I want a convincing answer.
Praise be to Allaah.
1 –  What is mentioned in the question about the number of prayers is mistaken.

It was 50 then it was altered to 5 prayers, a favor from the Lord of the Worlds to the Muslims.
2 –  The rules of sharee’ah may be divided into two categories:

Those which may be understood on a rational basis; and those which are purely worship, the wisdom behind which is concealed from us and is not mentioned in either the Qur’aan or the Sunnah.

Examples of the first include:  the prohibition on alcohol and gambling.

Allaah has told us the reason why they are forbidden, which is:

“Shaytaan (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allaah and from As-Salaah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?”  [al-Maa'idah 5:91]

And there are other similar rulings.

Examples of the second kind include offering Zuhr prayer when the sun has passed its zenith, circumambulating the Ka’bah with it on one’s left (i.e., anticlockwise), the nisaab of gold being a quarter of ten percent;  Maghrib prayer being three rak’ahs, and many other such rulings.

What is mentioned in the question falls into this second category, which is things for which we do not know the reason from the Qur’aan or Sunnah, so we have to submit to the command of Allaah. This applies to all such rulings.

The Muslim has to accept the things for which Allaah has not explained the reason, and say as the believers say:  “We hear and we obey.”  He should not be like the Children of Israel who said:  “We hear but we disobey.”

Accepting what Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):  “He [Allaah] cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned” [al-Anbiya’ 21:23] is better for the believer in his religious and worldly affairs, for he is a slave who has a Lord, and the slave has no right to ask his Lord why He enjoined something.  Rather he has to submit to His command. If he tells us why, we should do it, and if He does not tell us why, we should still do it.
3 –  In al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah (1/49-51) there is a useful discussion which we will quote here:

With regard to understanding the reasons why things have been prescribed, we may divide the issues of fiqh into two categories:

1 –  Rulings whose wisdom may be understood on a rational basis, either because the reason is stated in the texts, or because it is easy to work out.

Such rulings are the majority of those that Allaah has prescribed, such as enjoining prayer, zakaah, fasting and Hajj in general, and such as enjoining the mahr (dowry) in marriage, ‘iddah (waiting period) following divorce or widowhood, spending on one’s wife, children and relatives, divorce when married life becomes unbearable, and many other such issues of fiqh.

2 –  Ruling which are enjoined on us as a kind of pure worship.

These are rulings in which the connection between the ruling and the action is not clear, such as the number of prayers, the number of rak’ahs and most of the actions of Hajj.

By the mercy of Allaah, such rulings are few in relation to the rulings the wisdom behind which may be rationally understood. These rulings are prescribed as a test to demonstrate whether a person is a true believer.  It should also be noted that sharee’ah – both general principles and minor details – does not prescribe anything that contradict common sense, but it may prescribe something the reason for which cannot be understood.

There is a big difference between the two.  If a person is rationally convinced that Allaah exists and that He is wise, and that He alone deserves to be acknowledged as Lord, and he is rationally convinced that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is a true Prophet, then he affirms that Allaah is the Sovereign and the Lord, and that he is His slave. Then if he is commanded to do something or is forbidden to do something, and he then says,  “I will not follow this ruling until I know the reason behind this command or prohibition,”  then he has proven himself to be false in his claim to be a believer in Allaah and His Messenger.   The human mind has a limit beyond which it cannot go.

The one who rebels against the rulings of Allaah that have to do with rituals is like a sick person who goes to a trustworthy doctor who prescribes various kinds of medicine for him, some to be taken before eating, some to be taken during the meal and some to be taken afterwards, in various amounts, and he says to the doctor:  I will not take your medicine until you explain to me the reason why this one should be taken before eating and this one afterwards, and this one during the meal, and why are they are varying amounts, some small and some big? Does this patient really trust his doctor?

The same may be said of a person who claims to believe in Allaah and His Messenger, then he rebels against the rulings the wisdom behind which he does not understand. The true believer, if he is commanded to something or forbidden to do something, says, “I hear and I obey,”  especially when we have explained that there are no rulings that can be rejected on the basis of reason.

Not knowing something does not indicate that it is not true.  How many rulings are there, the reason for which has been concealed from us in the past, then we discovered that there is great wisdom behind them?

The reason why pork is forbidden was unknown to many people, then we found out that it carries germs and disease and other bad things, and Allaah wanted to protect the Muslim society against them. The same may be said concerning the command to wash vessels that have been licked by a dog seven times, one of which should be with earth… and other rulings the wisdom behind which may be discovered one day even though it is hidden from us now.

And Allaah knows best.
Source: Islam Q&A

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