Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Is friendship between a man and a woman allowed in Islam?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

This question is actually the second of three very related questions:

  1. Can a man talk to a woman whom he can legally marry (non-Mahram)?
  2. Can non-Mahram men and women be friends?
  3. Can a non-Mahram man and a non-Mahram woman be alone together?

The reason these three questions are related, and the reason this is an issue at all, is because of the intensity of the physical attraction between men and woman, which, if not controlled, almost certainly will lead to sex. Sex between men and women who are not married to each other is a major sin in Islam. The Quran calls it a debauchery and lists it as one of the very few offenses for which it has set a legal punishment.

To answer the third question above, the Prophet (PBUH) made it unambiguously clear that the answer is no. He said, as narrated by Ibn Abbaas (RA), “Let not a man be alone with a woman, except if with them is a Mahram (a man whom she cannot marry)”, authenticated and reported by both Al-Bukhaari and Muslim.

Why is that? After all, if people are respectful of each other and are God-conscious, they can be trusted not to engage in sin, right?

Wrong! The best people sin, because they’re human and because Satan has taken upon himself to seduce them into sin with whatever means available to him. You will hear people say, in justification of falling into the sin of fornication, “We did not plan this. It just happened!” They did not plan it, but it did not just happen! It was what was sure to happen.

To illustrate this point further, think of this parable. You are going to walk down Baker Street to get to a grocery store. I know that there is a great deal of construction work being done on Baker Street and that there are no warning signs. I know that even if you were careful where you step, you are almost certainly going to fall into one of the many holes there. If you decide to ignore my advice and take Baker Street anyway, and then fall in one of its pits, whom would you blame?

Therefore, if you can say with complete confidence that being face-to-face friends with a woman will never result in the two of you having sex outside matrimony, then the answer to the second question is yes!

But can you? The odds are against you.

If the friendship is not face to face, then the odds improve considerably. That is because a man is visually stimulated.

Bear in mind too that human emotions, such as love and loneliness, and desires, such as lust, often develop in an irrational way.

Similarly, we can answer the first question: if talking one-on-one to a woman will never lead to the two of them having sex, then the answer to that question is yes. Many scholars have ruled against it though, because they fear the worst, do not trust human nature, or simply to be on the safe side.

So, in summary, you can be friends with a woman whom you legally can marry if you can fulfill all of the following conditions:

  • Neither of you will ever engage in a suggestive dialog,
  • Neither of you will ever make an advance at the other, and
  • The two of you will never be alone together anywhere.

That being said, knowing human nature, especially if you are a young man, and knowing the constant whispering of Satan, the above conditions practically rule it out.

Is Islamic inheritance law unfair?

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

The British newspaper The Telegraph published today an article with the heading “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs”. The author, John Bingham, alleges in the article that British lawyers will now for the first time be able to write wills for their clients that “deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.”

Is that true? Have testators never been able to exclude from their wills heirs they resented, or wished to penalize, and given some heirs more than others and even given people who were totally unrelated to them a large portion of their estate? I doubt that, since the English law, as far as I know, regards the testator as the sole owner of his or her estate and therefore the only one who has a say in how the estate is to be distributed. Probate courts only interfere when a litigator contests the will as being contrary to common standards of fairness.

One article I found, written by a lawyers group, spells out how a testator can disinherit some heirs. I’m sure you can find many other.

However, is Bingham’s Islamophobic allegation true about Islamic law? Does Islamic law of inheritance deny women an equal share of inheritance and exclude unbelievers altogether?

Not quite as stated. The reason women inherit half of what men inherit is because Islamic law requires men to financially support women! If this requirement is not found in a Muslim community, then the division becomes invalid. I hope that the legal guidance the article refers to has taken into consideration that important proviso. Bingham really should have asked about it before he published his article.

And what about non-Muslims, can they possibly inherit from a Muslim? While some schools of thought do not allow it, there really is nothing in the Quranic verses that makes that ruling. A Muslim testator certainly can specify a bequest in his will, not to exceed one third of the estate, to be given to any one person or group who is not a regular heir.

The questions and answers page of this software may answer more of the readers questions about Islamic law of inheritance. God says in the holy Quran “Verily, God does not wrong even the weight of a speck.” (4:40) Don’t let Islamophobic writers give you the wrong impression about God.

Bingham also reports in the article that the legal guidance documents will exclude out-of-wedlock children and adopted children from inheriting. Is this true? Apart from the fact that any British testator can probably do that already under British law, Islamic law does not deprive out-of-wedlock children. The Quran does not say they are excluded! As for adopted children, they are not regular heirs for the reasons we explained in previous posts, but they can inherit by way of a bequest.

Next Islamophobic allegation in the article is the exclusion of people married in a church or in City Hall! Where is that written exactly in the Quran? If the reader can point to the verse, I’d appreciate it.

Is that guidance document “the first step on the road to a parallel legal system” for British Muslims, as the article quotes some campaigners? My humble answer to this question is that it can be, but never has to be. It all depends on how Islamic law is defined. If the definition is made by a school of thought, or some influential person, then the fears expressed in the article are legitimate. But that does not qualify as Islamic law. Islamic law is the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth, properly interpreted according to universally recognized logic, called in Islamic disciplines Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction). Anything else is somebody’s opinion.

This whole issue of fear of “Sharia”, which resulted in several American states banning Sharia altogether, mixes two things which are not always related: Islam and Muslims! What Islam teaches is not necessarily followed by Muslims, and what Muslims do is not necessarily taught by Islam. To ban unfair laws is a good thing regardless of who wrote those laws. But to ban something based on misunderstanding it, or on mixing it with something else, is unwarranted.

If I were to advise the Law Society of Britain, I would only say that what they are told is Sharia may not be. It could simply be a tradition, or somebody’s refutable interpretation, and therefore should not overrule British law. They and the detractors and even many Muslims may be surprised to learn that much of British law has always been Sharia-compliant. In fact, the beginnings of the English Common Law were much influenced by Islamic law.

The perils of the wrong mindset

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Brother,

I understand that riba (usury) is wrong. I understand that riba is like gambling. I understand that there are many views on insurance.

But, I need to have a fundamental understanding of why speculation is wrong. I know we have to work for our money.

I need to have the sin explained to me. Trust me I have done my share of reading on the matter. Yet, I do not have the basic definition of the sin of riba and gambling and it seems that they share the same root.

Indeed they do, and the Quran calls it Al-Maysir. The word means tools for easy gain.

It is not the ease that is wrong though. It is the belief in it. The central point, IMHO, is what you alluded to when you said that we have to work for our money. The biggest problem with all games of chance, and speculation is one of them, is that they set the wrong mindset. They entice people to believe that there is a shortcut out there. That is contrary to the laws of God which state that means, not gimmicks, lead to results. Gimmicks may work sometimes, or else no one would have ever tried them. But they are short lived and cause more harm than good.

Even Wall Street knows that, or at least they used to. When you open a trading account, you have to sign forms that can fill a book. Forms to explain to you the risks involved, some may even exceed the value of the entire portfolio! When you open an investment account, on the other hand, there are far fewer forms to sign. That is because, even though investments too carry risk, they are natural risks, whereas speculative risks are random. The difference between the two is that investments involve an asset: property, product or service, while speculation is a bet on how such investment will do. In financial circles this is called a derivative. We all know from the global financial crisis of 2008, the extent of harm speculative derivatives can do.

That is the peril of the mindset that is convinced that there is a shortcut to riches that requires no work, no sweat, and no asset. There is no such thing, but speculators won’t accept that disappointing conclusion, just like a gambler keeps telling himself that the next time he will recoup all his losses.

Investments can be win-win affairs, while speculation is always a zero-sum game.

Usury fits that profile too. It stems from the wrong mindset that treats money as a commodity and thus finds what it thinks is a great business model: buy money cheap and sell it for more. That’s right; economists actually call interest the price of money! Money is price, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t have a price.

While you did not ask it, other readers may be wondering: how else can an economy run? How can banking be done without interest? How does an Islamic system finance start-up companies or real estate purchases, etc.?

The answer is quite simple: partnerships. A financier may decide to finance a project in return for a percentage of its equity and profits. But that also means sharing the risk. That is a natural mechanism in the law of God that makes a financier scrutinize the project like his networth depends on it. The result is that frivolous projects won’t find financing, but quality ones will. Mortgage lenders would never lend money to home buyers whom they are almost sure cannot repay the loan, which is what caused the foreclosure crisis of 2008. On the flip side, rich people will still put their money in worthwhile and promising projects, which by their nature benefit a lot more people than the stakeholders.

That, in a nutshell, is Islamic finance. It brings wealth to investors and far reaching benefits to society, advancement of the economy and, most important of all, the right perception of money and finance. It is not a game for clever quants to play, it’s life enhancement for millions of people.

I apologize for not having a MBA. Your response was detailed, as usual. However, I need to go to a simpler and deeper understanding.

My question thus becomes this: How does interest oppress those who are the meek and poor. How is usury a tool of the oppressor.

In other words how is this haraam (forbidden). On a grand scale I see the consequences of poor decision making, giving loans to those who do not have the means of paying back thus leading to bankruptcy. But break it down for me.

For example the issue of adultery is simple to understand as it does destroy the fabric of the family.

I am not trying to be stubborn or argumentative. I need to be able to place my finger on the essence of the sin of interest.

Many people question why adultery is a sin. If the reason is, as you stated, that it breaks up families, then divorce should also be a sin, because it too breaks up families. But it isn’t. It is only strongly discouraged.

Many scholars, past and modern, have attempted to find material reasons why adultery is a sin. Some postulated that it results in paternity uncertainty. If that’s the reason, then modern science can solve this problem with a DNA test. Would that make adultery OK? Of course not.

Some suggest that the reason is unwanted pregnancies. If that’s the reason, then foster homes can solve this problem. Does that make adultery OK. Of course not.

Some guess that the reason is sexually transmitted diseases. If that’s the reason, then immunizations and other protections can take care of this risk. Would that make adultery OK? Of course not.

The interesting thing is that God already told us why adultery is a sin. He says in the holy Quran, “And do not approach fornication; it is a debauchery and a wretched path.” (17:32). It sets a wrong mindset. It makes people view sex, women and marriage differently from God’s moral law. That is what makes it a sin. Sin is violation of God’s law. God designed His laws for maximum benefit to mankind. When man breaks God’s law, it is an objection to God. Adultery sets the sinner on an evil path because he is deviated from the Straight Path and is distanced from God and becomes an easy prey to Satan.

You will observe the same about other sins prohibited in the Quran. Intoxication and unearned gain are prohibited in 5:90. God explains why in the next verse, “Satan only wants to sew between you enmity and hatred with intoxicants and unearned gain, shun you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. Are you ceasing?” (5:91)

God doesn’t say that intoxication can ruin your liver, or that it may endanger other people when you drive drunk. God doesn’t say that gambling can wipe out one’s life savings. God doesn’t mention that both are addictions that are very hard to be free from. God’s reasons are moral. Other material reasons may apply, but they are not why something is a forbidden sin. Intoxication sets a wrong mindset. It makes a person “drink to forget” his problems, instead of heading them on and solving them, gaining strength of character and wisdom in the process. Unearned gain sets the wrong mindset. It makes a person view others as “marks”, to borrow from con artists vocabulary. The right mindset that Islam encourages is that others are fellow human beings, dignified, worthy of respect and care, and having full capacity to be good and contribute to positive human progress.

The sin of interest is that it sets the perception and belief that you can have your money work for you instead of you working for your money. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “None of you would eat better food than food he earned by the work of his hands. God’s prophet David, upon him be peace, did.”, narrated by Al-Miqdaam ibn Ma`dikarib and reported and rated authentic by Al-Bukhaari.

I find it fascinating that God quotes people who have argued that usury is like trading. He does not refute their argument! Instead, He states unequivocally that He made trading lawful and usury unlawful (2:275). God doesn’t want us to be distracted by arguments why something He forbade is bad for us.

I beg you to help me with this. Where do trust funds find themselves. And what is the difference in Islam between a trust fund and inheritance?

Trusts are called Waqf in Islam. The word means holding an asset from being sold or donated and dedicating its income and facilities to designated people or purpose.

Waqf has two types: (1) Waqf Khayri (charitable trust/endowment) and (2) Waqf Ahli (familial trust). The first type is very highly praised in Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) has famously said, “All the work of a child of Adam ceases with his death, except three: an ongoing charity, a knowledge that benefits and a righteous child who prays for him.” Narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported and rated authentic by Muslim. This has motivated multitudes of Muslims throughout the ages to found thousands of charitable projects and endowments. The result was that nearly all needs of society were taken care of without the government having to do any of it! A stranded traveler knew that he can find a hostel where he could stay the night, warm and safe, at no cost. Orphans and widows didn’t have to be scared or hungry. Desert travelers knew there would be plenty of water wells they could drink from.

Waqf Ahli, on the other hand, has been controversial for a good part of a century now. It is banned by many Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Syria and Egypt. The reason is that they saw much abuse of it. They saw it as a way to concentrate wealth in a family, instead of letting it into the economy. Many people used it as a way to circumvent inheritance law. With familial trusts, they could favor some relatives over others, whereas inheritance law fixes heir eligibility and distribution amounts of an estate.

IMHO, abuse of a system is no reason to ban it, but rather is reason to regulate it. Waqf Ahli has been allowed, even suggested, by the Prophet (PBUH) when one has needy relatives, as has been reported about Abu-Talha dedicating his best garden to his poor relatives after he heard this verse, “You shall not attain godliness until you spend from what you love” (3:92). It is a good way to take care of one’s poor relatives while one is still alive, as well as after he, the trustee, dies. That is the difference between trusts and inheritance. The other difference is what I mentioned above about allotment of shares and designation of beneficiaries.

Nobody ever owns the asset under Waqf and the trustee’s heirs are supposed to carry on the upkeep of the trust. Perhaps that’s why many Waqf assets were neglected to the point of deterioration. That was another reason governments moved to ban them. It would’ve been better IMHO if governments took over the maintenance.

On hijab, niqab, beards and faith healing

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

The dean of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar university, Egypt, made announcements that are bound to get criticism. Dr. Aamina Nusayr said that Niqab (face veil) is a Jewish tradition and not part of Islam, while Hijab (head scarf) is. She criticized Salafis who let their beard grow to look like a “radish bundle” as she put it, and finally she said that healing with the Quran is hocus pocus; that the Quran heals the soul, not the body.

What do you think?

There is no evidence from the Quran that the Niqaab is required for Muslim women. The only evidence comes from hadeeths that state that the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) wore it. Some scholars view that as a mandate on all Muslim women, but the majority see it as a special status for the Prophet’s wives only. Other women may elect to wear it, but they are not required to. That view best matches the evidence. Whether the Niqaab is a Jewish tradition is something that Jewish readers and historians are better qualified to confirm or refute.

Dr. Nusayr said that 13 exegetes have interpreted the so-called Hijaab verse (24:31) to mean the head and neck, not the face. I agree that it does not address the face, but I respectfully disagree that it orders covering of the hair. The verse clearly orders covering the upper chest, using whatever the woman is wearing on her head. The assumption that the woman is wearing a head cover is what prompted most scholars to say that a head cover is required. But the verse never said it was!

So, why does the Quran make this assumption? It’s because everybody at that time covered their heads – women and men. In fact, that was the custom of all people, not just the Arabs, throughout the centuries. Only in the Twentieth Century did people start to go out with exposed hair.

The Hijaab verse requires women to cover their decollete area, that’s all. The reason is that many dresses at that time were tailored with an open decollete area, and Islam makes it clear that this area is a charm that can incite lust and therefore should be covered. A dress that does not have such design already complies with the Hijaab verse, whether the woman is covering her head or not.

Interestingly enough, the verse mentions one more thing that women of the time used to wear: ankle bracelets! Should we then conclude that ankle bracelets too are required?! I’m not aware of any scholar who suggested that. Ankle bracelets are neither required nor forbidden. They are simply allowed, just like head covers are. What is forbidden about ankle bracelets is banging the feet so that they chime, thus drawing attention to the woman’s legs though they are hidden. You can see the fallacy of the conclusion that because God mentions a head cover it must be required.

It also follows that ankle bracelets that chime all the time are forbidden even if the woman wearing them never bangs her feet. It also follows that a woman wearing ankle bracelets that never chime may bang her feet as much as she likes! Get it? The scholars who have been fixated on the words “their head covers” totally miss the points of the Hijaab verse, namely: (a) Women should cover areas of their bodies that tend to arouse men’s lust, and (b) Women should not draw attention to those areas even if they are covered. That would defeat the purpose of covering them!

As for the unruly long beard, the evidence for it comes from a hadeeth where the Prophet (PBUH) says, “Let the beards grow, and trim the mustaches. Do the opposite of the Magi.” Narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported by Muslim who rated it authentic.

It is important to realize that imperatives in religious texts are two types: mandates or recommendations. Scholars of Foundations have devised a simple rule to be able to tell which is which. If the order is accompanied by explicit words that it is a mandate, then obviously it is. If the flip-side of the order is prohibited, then the order is a mandate. Otherwise, the order is a recommendation. The consequence of this distinction, as the scholars defined it, is that with a mandate you are rewarded when you do it and punished when you don’t. With a recommendation, on the other hand, you are rewarded when you do it, but not punished when you don’t. There is no evidence that shaving a beard is prohibited. Therefore, the order in the hadeeth is a recommendation.

The other point to consider is that the hadeeth clearly states a contingency, namely, that Muslims should look distinctly different from the Magi. A command revolves around its contingency, as the scholars have concluded, so the hadeeth only applies if today’s Magi all have the same distinct look and a Muslim imitates that look. I rather doubt that today’s Magi all wear their facial hair the same way.

Finally, healing with the Quran is not hocus pocus. God says in it, “And We send down of the Quran what is a healing and a mercy for the believers” (17:82). This verse does not say whether the healing is spiritual, physical or both. Since it doesn’t, we have to assume both unless other evidence suggests otherwise. Verses 10:57 and 41:44 also make the same statement. There is evidence from the Hadeeth for and against faith healing. Evidence for it comes from `Aa’isha and evidence against it comes from Ibn `Abbaas. `Aa’isha’s narration quotes the Prophet (PBUH) making a supplication for a sick person, but he did not recite any verses. Therefore, we can conclude that faith healing (Ruqya) is not recommended, while supplications are. Furthermore, to say that this is the only way to heal is a stretch, since neither God nor His Messenger have suggested that. God is the Healer whether the medicine is the Quran, a supplication or pharmaceutical.

God knows best.

Do Muslims disrespect divorcées?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

I’m interested in Islam and have been reading up about it for the past few days now, although not as much as I’d like to. My job and my son take a great deal of time. However, I had this question that I was searching an answer for, and couldn’t find. Let’s say I were to become Muslim, would it still be okay to live as a single parent with my job etc.? In my culture – Hinduism – single parents are absolutely abhorred, even if they are divorcees like me. One of my biggest attractions to Islam has been when my friend told me how Islam respects women, even if what I read in the Indian press is otherwise.

If some of them do, it’s their problem. The Quran (the Word of God) and the Hadeeth (the words of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), say nothing about treating divorcees any differently from married women.

Some people think, that because Islam highly regards marriage and highly discourages divorce, that divorced women are to be looked down on. No basis for that whatsoever. In fact, most men recognize that divorces are more often the fault of the man. That is why, IMHO, God makes it a potential point of no return when a man divorces his wife for the third time. God wants to keep couples together, but He will not tolerate a man who plays a game with the sacred covenant that is marriage.

Islam teaches Muslims that they are brothers and sisters to each other,
“Verily, believers are siblings, so make right between your two siblings, and watch out for God that you may receive mercy” (49:10). And it teaches that women and men are allies to one another,
“Believing men and believing women are allies of each other; they promote virtue, curb the objectionable, establish prayer, give alms, and obey God and His Messenger. Those – God will have mercy on them. Verily, God is Mighty and Wise.” (9:71).
Thus, every Muslim man is expected to treat every Muslim woman as if she is his wife, mother, daughter or sister. And most Muslim men meet that expectation. You can see it in many Muslim countries.

Can I travel alone?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Asalamu alaikum, brother! So good to finally get in contact with you alhamdulela. I left the forum that you used to post on after you. I couldn’t find anything worth reading so I’m here on your blog now. 🙂

I have a question. My parents have a great issue with me traveling on my own. I am now 21 years old and have not been anywhere on my own for more than a day. Now that I’m graduating inshaa Allah and would like to continue my studies perhaps abroad, I’m finding it very hard convincing them to let me go on a leisure trip let alone to another country! In my opinion and although they say it is because I’m without a mahram, I think this is more culture than Islamically. So I need to prove that I don’t need a mahram so they would have no excuse inshaa Allah!

JazakAllah khairan! 🙂

Welcome to the blog, sister. It’s good to hear from you again. I enjoyed reading your posts on that forum.

The issue of women traveling alone is more than culture or tradition. Many of the hadeeths that forbid it are authentic, narrated by Ibn Umar, Abu-Sa`eed Al-Khudri and Ibn Abbaas and reported by Al-Bukhaari. These hadeeths all say that a woman may not travel by herself, only with a mahram (chaperon) if the trip will take two or more days of walking.

Why is that? To answer this question, one needs to picture Arabia in the Seventh Century. Traveling between any two points was hazardous even for men, but at least men carried their swords and could defend themselves from thieves and thugs along the uncharted roads. How could any woman by herself?

That is the contingency of the hadeeths. If there are no risks to a woman’s dignity or property while traveling by herself, then the hadeeths do not apply.

Can such assurance be made today? While there will always be some risk, because there are always thugs and rapists out there, one has to admit that the risk has become much less than it was in Seventh Century Arabia. Airports and airplanes are packed with security. There are police officers in every town. Roads are well lit.

And nowadays, there are many ways a woman can defend herself. I always recommend to whomever asks me that a woman carries in her handbag defensive weapons, such as mace, pepper spray or “shriek alarms” and learn martial arts techniques.

If you are going to travel abroad, learn all you can about the crime rate where you will be living and seriously take precautions, passive and active. Passive precautions are things like not going out at night, always closing doors and windows after dark, etc.

Your parents will be constantly worried about you while you’re abroad, so stay in touch with them. Modern technologies and communications make this easy. Get them cell phones with webcams if they don’t have them already and call them daily so that they can see and hear you and know that you’re doing well and are safe.

Does the Quran demean women?

Friday, June 24th, 2011

An Islamophobic blog wrote the following under the heading, “Top ten Quran quotes all women should know.” I know that you and others have answered such allegations many times, but please comment anyway.

  • A husband has sex with his wife, as a plow goes into a field.2:223 “Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like . . . . (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)

That web site caused my anti-virus program to launch into high gear! It is possible that it’s not only trying to spread lies about the Quran, but may also be trying to spread malware.

You need to understand the background of many Islamophobes when it comes to the issue of women. They come across as defending women’s rights, when in fact they are defending their rights to women. The way Western society has evolved affords men to have sex with women they are not committed to by way of legal marriage. This is a dream come true for many men. They have been pursuing this dream for centuries. They finally succeeded when they convinced women that sex without marriage is not a sin if it is by mutual consent between grownups. A majority of Western women, unfortunately, fell for it. The result is what you see everyday of children born out of wedlock, single mothers, abortions, abandoned children, cheating husbands, one-night stands, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, women treated as sex or display objects, etc. It is a truly sad state of affairs for women who may actually be duped into thinking that they are “liberated.” It is also a sad state of affairs for men who may be feeling in full control, yet their souls are in pain for violating God’s commandments.

It had to happen, because of human nature. That is why we all need God’s guidance to set us straight. The Quran is that guidance. Men who do not want women to listen to the Quran and mend their ways, will undoubtedly attack and try to demean the Quran. Did you know that more than half of new converts to Islam are women? That is what the men are afraid of! Muslim women will not date them.

Why do so many women accept Islam? Didn’t they read the Quran and see that top ten list? Why did the Quran not repulse these women, and on the contrary, attracted them? It’s because the Quran spoke the truth to them. God wants to honor women but most men’s natural impulses eventually will lead to disgracing them. As God clearly said in the holy Quran,

“God wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow lusts want you to swing a great swinging.” (4:27)

Isn’t it profound that God uses the same word that came to identify the “sexual revolution”: swinging?!

With that background well understood, you can now see through the men who claim to “defend women”.

Now, let me address their method. First, they quote a translation, which they pick from many available, because it can be easily assailed. Everybody knows that meanings often suffer through translation. They will not offer other translations that elucidate the meaning better, because they don’t want you to know the original meaning.

The other aspect of translation is that it is highly influenced by the translator’s culture and knowledge of Arabic, and it is also susceptible to the reader’s culture and knowledge of English!

That is why I always advise folks who ask me, to consult several translations before making a conclusion about a verse. This web site is one of many that show multiple translations to help the reader understand the Arabic verse better.

The other point to highlight about their attack method is that they take verses out of context. That’s a well-known pseudo reasoning technique, because it changes the premise. This is known in logic as a red herring.

Other techniques that apply to that blog are scare tactics, appeal to spite and indignation, and quoting common practice as valid reasoning.

That was a necessary foreword. Now, let me reply to the point quoted. Verse 2:223 does NOT say that women are fields to plow. The verse uses tilth as a metaphor for pregnancy. That metaphor has been used by all cultures throughout the ages. To this day, medical clinics that help women get pregnant are called fertility clinics. So, that blogger should start his attack by protesting in front of a fertility clinic demanding they change their name!

  • Husbands are a degree above their wives.2:228 “Wives have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with the generally known principles. Of course, men are a degree above them in status . . .” (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 165)

Notice how he changed the translation source? Now you understand how he operates?

This issue has been answered before in this post. The degree referred to is a degree of responsibility. The Arabic does NOT say “status”. This is consistent with the beginning of the sentence, “And due to them (women) is similar to what is expected of them.”

What should happen when an issue in the family must be decided? Islam teaches that the issue must be discussed between husband and wife, e.g., see verse 2:233. If there is no agreement reached after such discussion, then how would a decision be made? Islam says the man decides. Does that blogger suggest that the woman should decide instead? I doubt it.

Why does Islam make this rule? It is not because men are better than women in decision making, nor because men are better than women in analysis or intelligence. It’s because men have that responsibility from God, while women have other responsibilities. It’s a simple division of labor in order to get the needed work done.

  • A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female.4:11 “The share of the male shall be twice that of a female . . . .” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 311)

That’s because the male is responsible for the female in Islamic societies. In Islam, a woman never has to work, but she can if she wants to. If she chooses not to work, her financial support is guaranteed. If her husband, father, sons, uncles, etc. cannot support her, the government must!

What about the woman’s own money? She has no obligation to support any men in her family from it. Even if she’s rich! Her dowry, her inheritance, her savings and investments are her property. No one can demand her spend from it if she does not want to. On the other hand, the husband has to support his wife, and the women in his family who need support, from his money.

Do you see now why he inherits double? It is not unfair to women, it’s a responsibility upon men. The blogger did not care to make that clear.

  • A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony.2:282 “And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her.” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 205).

Doesn’t the verse explain why? The ruling is contingent upon forgetfulness, which was the norm for most women in financial matters throughout the ages. Up until the 1950s, you heard women in the US say that they “have no head for business.”

That started to change. When a contingency is no longer, so isn’t the ruling. Women with a “head for business” can therefore be witnesses, by themselves, of a debt writing. By the same token, men who have no head for business, and there are many, should not be witnesses to a loan by themselves!

Early Muslims understood this well. When they needed a testimony for an event that women are more familiar with than men, they accepted single testimonies from women. But the blogger would not want you to learn that.

  • A wife may remarry her ex—husband if and only if she marries another man and then this second man divorces her.2:230 “And if the husband divorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not remain his lawful wife after this (absolute) divorce, unless she marries another husband and the second husband divorces her. [In that case] there is no harm if they [the first couple] remarry . . . .” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 165)

That applies to the husband too, doesn’t it? He cannot remarry his wife except after that protocol takes place, and it may never happen. That teaches him not to be hasty with divorce. Islam wants couples to stay together, but that blogger wants women to be available to all men at all times.

  • Slave—girls are sexual property for their male owners.4:24 “And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands [as prisoners of war] . . .” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319).

That was necessary in those times as likewise treatment. Prisoners of war were taken slaves by the enemy. Most men would not accept that humiliation of their women.

Islam was the first religion to take serious steps toward ending slavery. The Quran is clear that prisoners of war must either be ransomed or pardoned (74:4). Freeing a slave is considered one of the top righteous deeds and an expiation of sins (90:11-13).

Islam calls for what should be, but legislates for what is. Legislating for what should be is wishful thinking.

  • A husband may simply get rid of one of his undesirable wives.4:129 “It is not within your power to be perfectly equitable in your treatment with all your wives, even if you wish to be so; therefore, [in order to satisfy the dictates of Divine Law] do not lean towards one wife so as to leave the other in a state of suspense.” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 381)

The blogger’s statement is a clear straw man argument. He reads into it what it does not say. In fact, it says the opposite! It orders men not to neglect any of their wives and favor one. Where does it say “get rid of”?

You can see that the blogger is running out of plausible, but misconstrued attacks, so now he’s inventing new ones.

The rest of the “top ten” have been answered many times before, so I won’t make this post longer by refuting them when others have done it so well, over and over again.

Does Islam allow marriage to children?

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Why the need to exploit children via..child brides? Does it not say in the Quran what puberty is? What are the motives behind child brides and its popularity? Who are the scholars who would preach such strange ideology? This is serious.

It sure is serious and must end, for it violates human rights, offends Islam, which is absolved of it, attributes abhorrence to the Prophet (PBUH), who is totally innocent of such foul charge, and contradicts the Quran!

The Muqallid scholars (strict followers of predecessors) are the ones who allow child brides. They are trapped by a Hadeeth that is rated authentic, attributed to `Aa’isha (RA) in which she is reported to have said that she was engaged at age six and married at age nine.

Despite the fact that that hadeeth was rated authentic, it has numerous problems. For one, it is solely narrated by her maid. The Arabs were mostly illiterate. They could not read, write or count. That goes double for their women and goes triple for the slaves. If we believe the Matn (content) of the hadeeth, it is most likely an error in counting: mixing six with sixteen and nine with nineteen, as I postulated in this previous post.

Hadeeths narrated by only a few narrators, called Aahaad in Hadeeth discipline, are not to be relied on for mandates or prohibitions. This hadeeth should never have been relied on for allowing what is obviously wrong.

But the problems with this hadeeth do not end there. It is contradictory to the Quran. The Quran has consistently referred to wives as “an-nisaa'”, the same word for women. Not girls. Children are referred to as “al-atfaal” and nowhere in the Quran or the authentic hadeeth is there any mention of allowance to marry a child!

You’re right that puberty is what transitions a girl into a woman. Verse 24:59 makes it clear that this is what ends childhood.

Taqleed (strict following of predecessors) is the culprit in this atrocity. People who follow blindly, even if what they’re following is abhorrent, illogical or factually false, will do wrong and think they’re doing good! What misguidance!

I read your previous post.

Child brides make no sense. No sense. But, in my manner I wish to bring this to light for Muslim women. We have many good and educated women with time on their hands. Insha’Allah I may be able to write an article and bring this light.
Is this hadeeth in Bukari..or Muslim?

Why are we so preoccupied with the age of Aisha. It seems to be one of the major stumbling blocks in our faith. I do not mean to be childish but we are stuck on it.

The Hadeeth is reported in both books. That’s why it’s so problematic. It defies the established consensus that all hadeeths in these two books are authentic. But the reality is that most hadeeths in these two books are authentic, but not all. For two centuries after the two authors, no one has said that all hadeeths reported in the two books were authentic. All they said was that the two books contain more authentic text than all other books, save the Quran.

It wasn’t until the Fifth Century A.H. (After Hijra, the Islamic calendar), that scholars started to declare that all hadeeths in Al-Bukhaari and Muslim were authentic. That broad statement did not go unchallenged, however. Ibn Hazm Azh-Zhaahiri, a highly regarded Sunni Imaam, has written and showed how some of the hadeeths in these two books were not authentic and should not have been included in them. More recently, Sheikh Al-Albaani, a very well known and very respected Hadeeth scholar made the same conclusion.

Once you free yourself from unwarranted assumptions, such as that one, you’re not stuck anymore. The Quran clears up any confusion, if you’re willing to make it judge any issue.

Mingling of the sexes

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Lets have a discussion on the mingling of sexes. There is so much confusion within the American Muslim world. Some communities have free mixing; some are segregated. I do not see evidence of the prohibition of mixing with the opposite sex. This prohibition really dehumanizes females. We are turned into sexual objects. The Prophet never limited the role of women.

Like you said, there is no evidence from the Quran or the authentic Hadeeth that the two sexes cannot be together, provided they are in a public place (otherwise it would be the forbidden Khulwa) and provided both sexes are dressed modestly and act properly. The extreme segregation applied to the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) only. We know that because the Quran made that clear,

“O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women. If you watch out [for God], then do not submit in speech, lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.
And abide in your homes and do not expose yourselves as [was] the exposition of the former [era] of ignorance. And establish prayer and give alms and obey God and His Messenger. God only wants to displace from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.” (33:32-33)

Extending that to all Muslim women is a matter of tradition, not Sunna. Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may God have been pleased with him, was once invited to dinner with the Prophet (PBUH). The two of them sat at the table with `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her. No segregation here. As they were eating from the same plate, Umar and `Aa’isha reached out to the the plate at the same moment and their hands touched. Umar was very upset but the Prophet (PBUH) was not! He saw that it was accidental.

I respectfully disagree that segregation is tantamount to dehumanizing either sex; it is acknowledging the potential harm and taking precautions against it. Would you live in a drug infested neighborhood if you don’t have to? Admitting that men are lustful does not dehumanize them; it is simply acknowledging a fact of life. Admitting that women are extremely attractive to men and that their effect on them can preempt their better judgement, is an admission to a widely known fact. We may resent that fact, but that doesn’t change it. Pretending otherwise is wishful thinking and ignoring the elephant in the room. You can see that in today’s world a lot. Both men and women keep telling themselves that what they are wearing or the way they are conducting themselves should not lead to adultery; that grownups can control themselves. Is that what actually happens? Hardly.

The example set by the Prophet (PBUH) and followed by the Sahaaba after him, in the congregational prayer in the mosque, best illustrates Islam’s view on segregation. Women and men pray together in the mosque, a public place, both dressed properly and behave decently, and all the women pray behind all the men. Doing otherwise would open the door to distractions and ugly attempts from men to touch the women or watch their bodies. Segregation in this manner protects both sexes. Outside the mosque, the same awareness should be present, i.e., women and men can work together and socialize but only if they act like ladies and gentlemen and dress properly. This is not a novel concept. Corporations have had dress codes and codes of conduct all employees must agree to.

Is the Niqab required for Muslim women?

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

This week, France applied its new law banning the wearing of the Niqab (face veil) in public. A Muslim French woman was fined a 150 Euros for wearing a niqab. What is your view on the niqab and on the debate about it. Belgium is doing the same thing, but the US sees the issue as a personal liberty issue.

It is not only a personal liberty issue, it is also a religious issue. Many Muslim women who wear the niqaab, do so out of conviction that it is required on them and that they would be living in sin if they didn’t wear it. Banning them from wearing it, therefore, is religious persecution.

Can society force a dress code on its citizens? Yes, but what are the limits? French society sees nothing objectionable when women wear very little clothing, but sees a great deal of problem, when they cover up on religious grounds. Sounds like an agenda, doesn’t it? If you listened to the French Parliament debate on the issue, prior to approving the ban, you’d be surprised that an advanced, enlightened society like France would put forward such ridiculous arguments for a silly law and broadcast the session! One of the silliest arguments was that people have the right to know whom they are talking to and the niqab prevents that. Solution: identification card! When it is very cold in France, people wear head cover to protect them from freezing. Those head covers expose only the eyes, just like a niqab does. How come those head covers are not banned?

That said, the niqaab is not required in Islam. It is not mentioned in the Quran or in the authentic Hadeeth. The hadeeth that some scholars build the niqaab case on, reported by Abu-Daawood and narrated by `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, about her sister Asmaa’, is vague about what the Prophet (PBUH) was pointing to when he said, “No woman who reached puberty should show of her body but this and this.” He pointed to his hands and head. The pro-niqaab scholars interpreted that to mean he pointed to the eyes. The pro-hijaab (veil that only covers the hair, like a scarf) interpreted it to mean he pointed to the face. Those are the majority of scholars. Others interpreted it to mean he pointed to the entire head, hence not even hijaab is required. The debate is not settled and probably won’t be any time soon, because the text is not definitive on it, therefore the conclusion cannot be certain. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that this hadeeth is rated Mursal (open ended). That is, it not certain that `Aa’isha said it because the narrator who said he heard from her, never met her! Other Hadeeth scholars rated it weak. That makes it an invalid evidence for a mandate, in the rules of Deduction Discipline (Usool-ul-Fiqh).

The funny thing about the debate is that all sorts of folks got into it on both sides. I’ve read arguments by feminists some of whom are for it and others are against it! To me, the matter is simpler than all this: It is every woman’s own business whether to wear the niqaab. It is not anybody else’s business. I am against the niqaab, because it is an unnecessary burden, but I’m also against a ban on the niqaab.