As-Salāmu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wabarakathuhu

May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be upon you beautiful people

"Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish." [Qur'an 17:81]

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Abrogation in the Quran


The Quran says in the following verse:

"None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?"

[Al-Qur’an 2:106]

A reference to this is also made in chapter 16 verse 101 of Surah Nahl. The Arabic word mentioned is ayat which means ‘signs’ or ‘verses’ and which can also mean ‘revelations’. This verse of the Qur’an can be interpreted in two different ways:

a. The revelations that are abrogated are those revelations that were revealed before the Qur’an, for example the Torah, the Zaboor and the Injeel.

Here Allah (swt) says that He does not cause the previous revelations to be forgotten but He substitutes them with something better or similar, indicating that the Torah, the Zaboor and the Injeel were substituted by the Qur’an.
(16:101)- “When we replace a message with another and God knows best what He reveals, they say you have made it up. Yet most of them do not know”

Read the above verse and think carefully.

I ask, who was there to question Prophet that you have made it up yourself?

1- it couldn’t be the Sahabas for they believed him to be Prophet, they would accept whatever prophet would had said.

2- Of course it couldn’t be pagans, as they didn’t believe in the Quran so it didn’t matter to them that what was earlier and what gets abrogated. “they” would never say such a thing on one verse being replaced by another and that you made up the later verse, as they did not actually believe the Quran was from God in the first place. They actually believed Muhammad had made up the entired Quran, so it is impossible for them to hold this belief and also say you have replaced a verse that was correct and true with one which is false and from you rather than God.

Furthermore if you look at the verses before 16:101 you can see God talking about those who break the covenant with God and those who sell it for a miserable price, so it is quite clear the Quran is referring to those people who had previous revelation, thus making “they” the Jews and Christians to whom the Gosepl and Torah were given.

Thus we understand when God says;

002.106

YUSUFALI: None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?

016.101

YUSUFALI: When We substitute one revelation for another,- and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages),- they say, "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not.
He means replace Torah and Gospel, which is replaced with something better which is the Quran

b. If we consider that the Arabic word ayat in the above verse refers to the verses of the Qur’an, and not previous revelations, then it indicates that none of the verses of the Qur’an are abrogated by Allah but substituted with something better or similar. This means that certain verses of the Qur’an, that were revealed earlier were substituted by verses that were revealed later. I agree with both the interpretations.

Many Muslims and non-Muslims misunderstand the second interpretation to mean that some of the earlier verses of the Qur’an were abrogated and no longer hold true for us today, as they have been replaced by the later verses of the Qur’an or the abrogating verses. This group of people even wrongly believe that these verses contradict each other.

Let us analyze a few such examples.

Produce a recital like the Qur’an / 10 Surahs / 1 Surah:
Some pagan Arabs alleged that the Qur’an was forged by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Allah (swt) challenges these Arabs in the following verse of Surah Al-Isra:
"Say: If the whole of Mankind and Jinns were together to produce the like of this Qur’an they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support." [Al-Qur’an 17:88]

Later the challenge was made easy in the following verse of Surah Al-Hud:

"Or they may say, "He forged it." Say, "Bring ye then ten Surahs forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsover ye can, other than Allah, if ye speak the truth!’." [Al-Qur’an 11:13]

It was made easier in the following verse of Surah Yunus:

"Or do they say, "He forged it"? Say: "Bring then a Surah like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!’."[Al-Qur’an 10:38]

Finally in Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (swt) further simplified the challenge:

And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah if your (doubts) are true.But if ye cannot – and of a surety ye cannot – then fear the Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones – which is prepared for those who reject faith". [Al-Qur’an 2:23-24]
Thus Allah (swt) made the challenges progressively easier. The progressively revealed verses of the Qur’an first challenged the pagans to produce a book like the Qur’an, then challenged them to produce ten Surahs (chapters) like those in the Qur’an, then one Surah and finally it challenges them to produce one Surah somewhat similar (mim mislihi) to the Qur’anic Surahs. This does not mean that the later verses that were revealed i.e. of Surah Baqarah chapter 2 verses 23 and 24 contradict the earlier three verses. Contradiction implies mentioning two things that cannot be possible simultaneously, or cannot take place simultaneously.
The earlier verses of the Qur’an i.e. the abrogated verses are still the word of God and the information contained in it is true to this day. For instance the challenge to produce a recital like the Qur’an stands to this day. Similarly the challenge to produce ten Surahs and one Surah exactly like the Qur’an also holds true and the last challenge of producing one surah somewhat similar to the Qur’an also holds true. It does not contradict the earlier challenges, but this is the easiest of all the challenges posed by the Qur’an. If the last challenge cannot be fulfilled, the question of anyone fulfilling the other three more difficult challenges does not arise.
Suppose I speak about a person that he is so dumb, that he would not be able to pass the year 10 in school. Later I say that he would not be able to pass the year 5, and further say that he would not be able to pass even the year 1. Finally I say that he is so dumb that he would not even be able to pass Nursery. One has to pass Nursery before one can be admitted to school. What I am stating is that the person is so dumbl as to be unable to even pass nursery. My four statements do not contradict each other, but my last statement i.e. the person would not be able to pass Nursery is sufficient to indicate the intelligence of that person. If a person cannot even pass Nursery, the question of him passing the year 1 or 5 or 10, does not arise.
Gradual prohibition of intoxicants

Another example of such verses is that related to gradual prohibition of intoxicants. The first revelation of the Qur’an to deal with intoxicants was the following verse from Surah Baqarah:
"They ask thee concerning wine and gambling say: ‘In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit’." [Al-Qur’an 2:219]

The next verse to be revealed regarding intoxicants is the following verse from Surah Nisa:

"O ye who believe! approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say" [Al-Qur’an 4:43]

The last verse to be revealed regarding intoxicants was the following verse from Surah Al-Maidah:

"O ye who believe! intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork; eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper."

[Al-Qur’an 5:90]

The Qur’an was revealed over a period of 22½ years. Many reforms that were brought about in the society were gradual. This was to facilitate the adoption of new laws by the people. An abrupt change in society always leads to rebellion and anarchy.

The prohibition of intoxicants was revealed in three stages. The first revelation only mentioned that in the intoxicants there is great sin and some profit but the sin is greater than the profit. The next revelation prohibited praying in an intoxicated state, indicating that one should not consume intoxicants during the day, since a Muslim has to pray five times a day. This verse does state that when one is not praying at night one is allowed to consume intoxicants. It means one may have or one may not have. The Qur’an does not comment on it. If this verse had mentioned that one is allowed to have intoxicants while not praying then there would have been a contradiction. God chose words appropriately. Finally the total prohibition of intoxicants at all times was revealed in Surah Maidah chapter 5 verse 90.
This clearly indicates that the three verses do not contradict each other. Had they been contradicting, it would not have been possible to follow all the three verses simultaneously. Since a Muslim is expected to follow each and every verse of the Qur’an, only by following the last verse i.e. of Surah Maidah (5:90), he simultaneously agrees and follows the previous two verses.

Suppose I say that I do not live in Birmingham. Later I say that I do not live in West Midlands. Finally I say, I do not live in England. This does not imply that these three statements contradict each other. Each statement gives more information than the previous statement. The third statement includes the information contained in the first two statements. Thus, only by saying that I do not live in England, it is obvious, that I also do not live in Birmingham. Similarly since consuming alcohol is totally prohibited, it is obvious that praying in an intoxicated state is also prohibited and the information that in intoxicants is "great sin and some profit for men; but the sin is greater than profit" also holds true.

Qur’an does not contain any contradictions

The theory of abrogation does not imply that there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, since it is possible to follow all the verses of the Qur’an at the same time.
If there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, then it cannot be the word of God

"Do they not consider the Qur’an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy (contradictions)."

[Al-Qur’an 4:82]

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Islam on slave girls/concubines

It is true that a lot of people push this subject ‘under the rug’ and do not understand it or are sometimes ashamed of this concept. That is because, today’s society and behavior is absolutely different from the conditions prevalent 1500 years ago at the time of Revelation of the Quran. There is no place on earth where this concept is practiced today, thus to really understand the concept in its entirety, we must try to imagine the times of the Revelation of the Glorious Quran.


Since time immemorial, slavery was an accepted practice; thus it was not Islam that started this practice, but rather Islam was the first system to inculcate the freedom of slaves and take steps to make them equal citizens of society. Slavery was abolished in modern society only a couple of centuries ago, and was openly practiced in almost all parts of the civilized world even until the early 1900s. But Islam made it a virtue to free slaves, and inculcate them into society as equal citizens, almost 1500 years ago

The prophet said regarding the rights of slaves:

Your servants and your slaves are your brothers. Anyone who has slaves should give them from what he eats and wears. He should not charge them with work beyond their capabilities. If you must set them to hard work, in any case I advise you to help them.

Source: Bukhari, Iman, 22; Adab, 44; Muslim, Iman, 38–40; Abu Dawud, Adab, 124

Ali reported that the last words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, were: "The prayer! The prayer! Fear Allah concerning your slaves ! "

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 158.

· Jabir ibn 'Abdullah said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, advised that slaves should be well-treated. He said, 'Feed them from what you eat and clothe them from what you wear. Do not punish what Allah has created.' "

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 188.

· Sallam ibn 'Amr reported from one of the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Your slaves are your brothers, so treat him well. Ask for their help in what is too much for you and help them in what is too much for them."

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 190.

· Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The slave has his food and clothing. Do not burden a slave with work which he is incapable of doing."

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 192.

Not one of you should [ when introducing someone ] say ‘This is my slave’ , ‘This is my concubine’. He should call them ‘my daughter’ or ‘my son’ or ‘my brother’.

Source: Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 2 ,4

For this reason ‘Umar and his servant took it in turns to ride on the camel from Madina to Jerusalem on their journey to take control of Masjid al-Aqsa. While he was the head of the state, ‘Uthman had his servant pull his own ears in front of the people since he had pulled his. Abu Dharr, applying the hadith literally, made his servant wear one half of his suit while he himself wore the other half. From these instances, it was being demonstrated to succeeding generations of Muslims, and a pattern of conduct established, that a slave is fully a human being, not different from other people in his need for respect and dignity and justice.

"The masters were obliged not to put slaves under hardship; slaves were not to be tortured, abused or treated unjustly. They could marry among “themselves with their master's permission - or with free men or women ! They could appear as witnesses and participate with free men in all “affairs. Many of them were appointed as governors, commanders of army and administrators. In the eyes of Islam, a pious slave has precedence over “an impious free man." Source: Al-Tabataba'i, Tafsir ( vol.16, pp. 338-358 )

The Prophet, had stipulated in his "last pilgrimage" speech:

"And your slaves ! see that you feed them such food as you eat yourselves and dress them what you yourself wear. And if they commit a “mistake which you are not inclined to forgive then sell them, for they are the servants of Allah and are not to be tormented! "

Source: Ibn Sa'd, op. cit., vol. II:1, p. 133

"Serve God, and join not any partners with Him ; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours “who are strangers, the Companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet), And what your right hands possess : for God loveth not the arrogant, the “vainglorious" Surah An Nisa, verse 36

The phrase "What your right hands possess" refers to one’s slaves (male and female). Allah swt ordains the kind treatment of slaves in the same verse where He commands man to worship Him and to treat his parents, relations and neighbours generously, and this signifies the importance of this ruling.

What were the rights of concubines?

The status was similar to that of wife. The children were exactly like the other children from the person’s legally wedded wife. They were to be given exactly the same rights as his other children. The children of the slave girl would inherit the property exactly as the other children. There was absolutely no difference amongst the children. And once any slave girl bore a child, she could not be sold to anybody else and thus became a permanent member of the household.

Then you will probably ask how is this any different from the modern days concept of a mistress/prostitution/adultery?

There is a huge difference between the slave girls of those times and the system of prostitution which is so prevalent as a disease in today’s society.

The slave girl was a social issue of the times, which if not solved by Islam would give rise to adultery and prostitution. In prostitution, the woman sells here services for a fee to anyone who is willing to pay. The slave girl was taken into a household as a full member.

In prostitution, the woman has sexual relationships with many men. The slave girl would have sexual relations only with the person she was given to; very similar to the husband-wife relationship, the only difference being that the wife came into the house through a marriage contract, and the slave girl was allotted to the person by the state.

Prostitution is a result of illegal lust, and is a huge sin in the eyes of Allah.

The allocation of slave girls was a issue of the times to envelope the woman taken as slaves in a war into the Islamic society. Prostitution and adultery do not have any responsibility attached to it. The man- woman have a one-off relationship and depart. The slave girls were a responsibility of the person, who spent on them, gave them a place to live, fed them, clothed them, and raised their children as his children.

The children from adultery and prostitution are regarded as born out of wedlock and grow up without the name and without the shadow of a father. The children of the slave girls were known as the children of the person, grew up with his other children, and had exactly the same rights and inheritance as the other offspring. The system of slave girls was accepted and respected by the Islamic society of the times. The slave girl was treated like his wife, and the children from these slave girls were treated like their children by society. No religion, no state, no moral society accepts and respects the institutions of prostitution and adultery. This is a disease of society and every moral society has tried to eradicate this disease with little success.

Despite this, it was not simply a case of forcing someone into having sex to satisfy your desires.

Below are three English translations to the Verse where Allah commands the Muslim men to not force their slave women into sex.

The following translations were taken from http://mama.stg.brown.edu/webs/quran_browser/pqeasy.shtml

Translation: Yusufali:

"Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is God, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them), (The Noble Quran, 24:33)"

Translation: Pickthall:

"And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you. Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful. (The Noble Quran, 24:33)"

Translation: Shakir:

"And let those who do not find the means to marry keep chaste until Allah makes them free from want out of His grace. And (as for) those who ask for a writing from among those whom your right hands possess, give them the writing if you know any good in them, and give them of the wealth of Allah which He has given you; and do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, when they desire to keep chaste, in order to seek the frail good of this world's life; and whoever compels them, then surely after their compulsion Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (The Noble Quran, 24:33)"

In all three translations, we clearly see that if the slave woman desires to keep chaste, then her Muslim master must not compel her into sex. It might sound odd to us today, but pagans back then were used to having sex with and raping their slave girls, even the ones who were married:

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: "Musaykah, a slave-girl of some Ansari, came and said: My master forces me to commit fornication. Thereupon the following verse was revealed: "But force not your maids to prostitution (when they desire chastity). (24:33)" (Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, Divorce (Kitab Al-Talaq), Book 12, Number 2304)"

So to women back then, it was something normal for a married slave woman to sleep with her master. It was something normal in the society at that time.

Allah Almighty in the Noble Quran not only allows for the slave man or woman to earn their freedom from their Muslim master, and receive money from their Muslim master to help them start their free life, but also commands the Muslim men to not compel their slave women into sex.
Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him also said:

Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari: "The Prophet said, "Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)." (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286)"

Islam came to liberate all slaves and to end the Judeo-Christian and Pagan slavery that was practiced before Islam. When Allah Almighty made lawful for the Muslim men to have sex with their slave women, He did it to keep the Islamic society back then during Islam's weak, partial and venerable times under control.

Also, if any compulsion was made unto the slave woman, then Allah Almighty will add more mercy and forgiveness unto her in the Day of Judgement. Below is the commentary on this exact section and point in Noble Verse 24:33 by Minister (Sheikh) Abdullah Yusuf Ali; may Allah Almighty rest his soul:

"The poor unfortunate girls, who are victims of such a nefarious trade (i.e., slave trade), will yet find mercy from Allah, whose bounties extend to the lowest of His creatures."

When Islam was reveled to Prophet Muhammad, slavery was a worldwide common social phenomenon; it was much older than Islam. Slavery was deeply rooted in every society to the extent that it was impossible to imagine a civilized society without slaves.

In spite of this social fact, Islam was the first religion to recognize slavery as a social illness that needed to be addressed. Since slavery was deeply rooted in the society, Islam did not abolish it at once. Rather, Islam treated slavery in the same manner it treated other social illnesses. Islam followed the same methodology of gradual elimination in dealing with this social disease as it did with other social illnesses, for example: the prohibition of alcohol in three steps.

Concerning having slave women, we would like to let you know that it happens to be a practice necessitated by the condition in which early Muslims found themselves vis-à-vis non-Muslims, as both parties engaged in wars. Slave women or milk al-yameen are referred to in the Qur'an as “Those whom your right hand possess” or “ma malakat aymanukum”; they are those taken as captives during conquests and subsequently became slaves, or those who were descendants of slaves.

Thus, it was a war custom in the past to take men and women as captives and then turn them into slaves. Islam did not initiate it, rather, it was something in practice long ago before the advent of Islam. And when Islam came, it tried to eradicate this practice, bit by bit. So it first restricted it to the reciprocal practice of war, in the sense that Muslims took war captives just as the enemies did with Muslims.

But as it aimed at putting an end to such issue, Islam laid down rules which would eventually lead to eradicating the practice. So it allowed Muslims to have intercourse with slave women taken as captives of just and legitimate wars. In so doing, the woman would automatically become free if she got pregnant. What's more, her child would also become free.

Not only that, Islam also ordered a Muslim to treat the slave woman in every respect as if she were his wife. She should be well fed, clothed and given due protection. In the family environment, she had the opportunity to learn about Islam and was free to accept it or reject it. She also had the opportunity to earn her freedom for she could be ransomed.

In the light of the above-mentioned facts, and the nature of the question posed by people, it's clear that some people misunderstand the wisdom behind the permissibility of having female slaves and think that it is meant to unleash men’s desires and give them more enjoyment. Never! That is not the point! It is, rather, means of freeing slaves; and this is clarified above in the fact that if a master got a female slave pregnant, then he could neither sell her nor give her away as a present. And if he died, she would not be considered part of his property. She'd receive her freedom and her baby would also be free.

But, we have to stress that this case should not be confused with that of female servants or maids, for they are free and not slaves. Therefore, it is forbidden to engage in sexual relations with them except through an Islamic marriage.

Slavery has been abolished by international conventions, and goes in line with aims and objectives of Islam, as it has called for centuries ago.

As for marrying slaves, it is something permissible under two conditions: first, if one is unable to pay the dowry of a free woman. Second, if there is fear of committing adultery if one doesn’t get married. This is clarified by the following verse: “And whose is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. This is for him among you who feareth to commit sin. But to have patience would be better for you.” (An-Nisaa’: 25)

This verse shows that Muslim men should abstain from illicit relations and seek enjoyment through marriage to free women or through their female slaves.

In conclusion, Allah has forbidden certain types of behavior and permitted other kinds of behavior as a safeguard to the individual and to the society. Allah has forbidden fornication and adultery. However, in the case of captives whom your right hands posses, it's something necessitated by the special circumstances which were created when the Muslims were at war.

This is not a practice for today which allows men to take extra sexual partners in addition to his wife, or a loophole as you put it. You have the same responsibilty to the slave girl as you would to the wife, with the same inheritence rights for the children born out of such relations hence it is more of a burden than a loophole to escape the 'treating wives equally' concept. Regardless of that, it is not a concept which is in practice today or encouraged for today. It was something specifically utilised and designed for 1500 years ago where the practice was already widespread. All Islam did was to bring structure to what was already in existence, and eventually aim to remove it all together. One may say it should be banned straight away, why the long drawn out process.

The reality is however human nature does not allow for such action. People gradually get use to change, and the Quran itself was revealed over a long period of time for this reason so people could gradually get use to the injunctions and guidelines and thus adapt better. That is exactly the case with this issue, rules were bought in to slowly eradicate the practice and give rights to women who without Islam would have nothing equivalent to rely upon

Surah 3 verse 178 explained "God gives respite for more sins"

Allegation:

"Let not the unbelievers think that We prolong their days for their own good. We give them respite only so that they may commit more grievous sins. Shameful punishment awaits them." If there is a chance for unbelievers to return to righteousness, why does Allah say he is "only" allowing them to live so they can "commit more grievous sins." It says nothing about giving the unbelievers a chance to become righteous. If they had a chance to become righteous due to their prolonged days, then this by definition would be for their own good.




Answer:

First of all to make it clear the translations use the word unbelievers which generally implies anyone who does not believe will be treated in so and so manner. The actual word used in arabic is 'kafir' or 'kafiroon' which means one who covers or conceals, in this case conceals the truth. So the harsh nature of the verses are actually referring to those who intentionally lie and conceal the truth as oppose to those who just generally do not believe.


"Wala yahsabanna allatheena KAFARoo annama numlee lahum khayrun li-anfusihim innamanumlee lahum liyazdadoo ithman walahum AAathabunmuheenun"

This difficulty in language is just due the different structures of arabic and english, like I said before there are multiple words to describe the one word in english

The literal translation of the arabic is:

"And (let not) those who disbelieved think/suppose (E) that We extend in time/life/enjoyment/delay goodness for themselves, but We extend in time/life/enjoyment/delay for them to increase (them in) sin/crime, and for them (is) a despised torture"

A more accurate translation is:

YUSUFALI: Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment

Now lets look at the verses before and after 3:178:

003.167

YUSUFALI: And the Hypocrites also. These were told: "Come, fight in the way of Allah, or (at least) drive (The foe from your city)." They said: "Had we known how to fight, we should certainly have followed you." They were that day nearer to Unbelief than to Faith, saying with their lips what was not in their hearts but Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal.

003.168

YUSUFALI: (They are) the ones that say, (of their brethren slain), while they themselves sit (at ease): "If only they had listened to us they would not have been slain." Say: "Avert death from your own selves, if ye speak the truth."

003.169

YUSUFALI: Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;

003.170

YUSUFALI: They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.

003.171

YUSUFALI: They glory in the Grace and the bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least).

003.172

YUSUFALI: Of those who answered the call of Allah and the Messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward;-

003.173

YUSUFALI: Men said to them: "A great army is gathering against you": And frightened them: But it (only) increased their Faith: They said: "For us Allah sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs."

003.174

YUSUFALI: And they returned with Grace and bounty from Allah: no harm ever touched them: For they followed the good pleasure of Allah: And Allah is the Lord of bounties unbounded.

003.175

YUSUFALI: It is only the Evil One that suggests to you the fear of his votaries: Be ye not afraid of them, but fear Me, if ye have Faith.

003.176

YUSUFALI: Let not those grieve thee who rush headlong into Unbelief: Not the least harm will they do to Allah: Allah's plan is that He will give them no portion in the Hereafter, but a severe punishment.

003.177

YUSUFALI: Those who purchase Unbelief at the price of faith,- not the least harm will they do to Allah, but they will have a grievous punishment.

003.178

YUSUFALI: Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment.

003.179

YUSUFALI: Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which ye are now, until He separates what is evil from what is good nor will He disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen. But He chooses of His Messengers (For the purpose) whom He pleases. So believe in Allah. And His messengers: And if ye believe and do right, ye have a reward without measure.

The verse you quote therefore is part of a running commentary on the hypocrites and those who concealed the truth. If you look at it as one isolated verse, it gives the impression that God condemns all unbelievers to hell no matter what they do, but no verse was ever revealed with the intention that it alone would be read. The Quran is revealed as a book and should be looked at as a whole.

It is beyond the principle of Allâh to punish a person or a community immediately after a sin is committed (16:61; 35:45). Under the fair system of justice, it is imperative that all sinners are given adequate opportunity, time and resources to arbitrate their case and nobody should be brought to book unless s/he was given proper hearing in the court of justice. Under the divine system of justice, all sinners are allowed enough time in life so that no person or community can express alibi of not getting an opportunity to rectify and amend. Thus, in the history of a nation it is not unusual to see anarchy and transgression continues unabated and sinners keep on averting divine punishment. God's giving respite to the sinners is not necessarily good for them since they are unable to utilize it in rightful manner. Due to their habitual rejection of truth and routine violation of moral, ethical and spiritual standards, the respite of time only increases their share of sin.

And again it links into the principle that all things are within the knowledge and power of the supreme being, and everything happens with his permission. So even though they do it, the ultimate power and creation of the whole system whereby which sins and good deeds take place is created by the designer, and that is God. The we do this and we do that is simply used to illustrate the power of God and that everything is under his control. It is a literary ploy to emphasise Gods greatness more than a malicious personal vendetta against non believers

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Why does Allah seal the hearts?

The verse in question:


"As for the unbelievers, it is the same whether or not you forewarn them; they will not have faith. God has set a seal upon their hearts and ears; their sight is dimmed and grievous punishment awaits them." (Surah 2 verses 6 and 7)

Firstly the context of the verses should be made clear. They were revealed at a time when the Prophet had just delivered the message of Islam to the people, and new Muslims were facing persecution and violence. Along with this there were a lot of political conversions from people who aimed to destroy Islam from within before it started spreading. These people were referred to as hypocrites.
There is a hadith on this issue:

"When a sin is committed for the first time, a black point, that is, a black stain occurs in the heart. If the person repents and asks forgiveness from Allah, the heart shines again. I the person does not repent and he repeats the sin, the stain becomes larger; in time, it becomes so large that it covers all of the heart like a cover. It is what is mentioned in the following verse in Chapter al-Mutaffifin: "By no means! But on their hearts is the stain of the (ill) which they do!" (al-Mutaffifin, 83/14). It is the stain mentioned in the verse."

There are a number of verses that show that their disbelief came about by their own choice and volition such as His sayings:

"But they preferred blindness over guidance." (41:17)

"Those are they who have purchased misguidance at the price of guidance, torment at the price of forgiveness." (2:175)

"Then whosoever wills let him believe, and whosoever wills let him disbelieve." (18:29)

"This is because of the (evil) which your hands have sent before you." (3:182)

"Evil indeed is that which their own selves have sent forward." (5:80)

The reconciliation between these verses lies in the fact that the seal and covering placed upon their ears, eyes and hearts is done as punishment from Allaah for their insisting upon disbelief and their denying the Messengers out of their own choice. So Allaah punished them for their doing this in a fitting and reciprocal way as He has clarified with His sayings:

"Allaah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief." (4:155)

"That is because they believed, then disbelieved, therefore their hearts are sealed so they understand not." (63:3)

"And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time" (6:110)

"So when they turned away (from the Path), Allaah turned their hearts away." (61:5)

"In their hearts is a disease and Allaah has increased their disease." (2:10)

"Nay! But on their hearts is the covering of sins which they used to earn." (83:14)

However the word veil mention in this verse (ghishawah) is the veil that you still can see through, it is temporary and can be removed. You would say what does that matter, but arabic is a rich language with several words for the one equivalent word in english so the choice of word is key and is for a specific reason. This is emphasised by a number of other verses that prove that some of the disbelievers did believe in Allaah and His Messenger (and hence became Muslims) such as His sayings:

"Say to those who have disbelieved, if they cease (from their disbelief) their past will be forgiven." (8:38)

"So were you yourselves in the past (i.e. disbelievers) until Allaah conferred upon you His Favours." (4:94)

"And some of these (disbelievers) believe therein." (29:47)

Their hearts are only sealed for as long as they wish to keep themselves in denial and ignorance. So, if a person wishes to open his eyes and learn, his seal will be removed. The seal is dependent on the actions and intentions of the person in question. So despite the verse in question, some individuals could be preached to and in fact were preached to successfully.

Just like the strengthening of one's heart and belief is attributed to Allah 8:10-11,10:57,18:14,48:4,57:27 the natural phenomenon of sealing of the hearts, ears, and eyes exists with the will of Allah, like each and every natural phenomenon such as rain etc., this is why it is attributed to Allah.Everything that occurs is within the boundary of the divine laws created and designed by God.

We must not think that "either I did it or God did it." Both did it. What do I mean? Let's say you choose to burn your hand with fire. Did you burn yourself? Yes

However, the existence of fire, the physical laws that surround the fire, the biological properties of your body and etc., are all created by God. So, your action was/is/ and always will be based on God's divine/universal laws. You yourself seal your own heart by rejecting the message of God, but God says that He seals your heart because your heart is sealed by the laws created by God. Everything is within the knowledge of God and hence everything happening in the scheme of things is due to God's will, but this does not negate your own free will. You still have consequences for your actions. It may sound slightly confusing but it is linked into the larger topic of predestination which is a different discussion entirely

So again for this specific verse, you commit the misdeed and as a result and based on God's divine laws, your misdeeds will lead to the sealing of your heart. This occurs because that is how God created and designed the laws. This and other verses similar to this show the consequences of negative actions. It is similar to the rusting of the iron, to the rotof a tree or to the smutting of the mirror out of negligence, because the human decay is similar to the decay of the nature

In other words, Divine destiny and decree are but a part and parcel of the regulations governing the cosmos and the necessity of an effect following its complete cause. And in the case of the volitional acts of the human being, will, decision, and intention are among the essential components of the complete cause and hence are necessary to bring about his volitional acts. When the human being performs a certain action, its effects inescapably leave their impression on the human soul and psyche. In this light, if the human being himself prepares the grounds for God sealing his heart, by the Law of the cosmos, its effects will haunt him.

In the light of what has been said the following points can be highlighted:

1. God sealing of the heart is the direct outcome of the volitional conduct of the human being.

2. As the sealing of the heart is part of the cosmic scheme of Divine destiny and decree, it is attributed to God

3. The human being whose heart has been tainted by the dross of sin can add to his spiritual contamination by repeating the past mistakes. It should be noted that this perpetuation of sin is on his own accord.

4. Although it is very difficult for the sinful human being whose heart is covered with the dross of sin to return to the path of righteousness and is very unlikely, it is not impossible. He can choose with a firm resolution to embark on purging his heart of the darkness of sin. In other words, if the soul and heart of the unbeliever and hypocrite become sealed and dark and debased such that no bright space remains, he is, to employ the words of the Quran, finished and there is no hope of his redemption. He has intentionally removed himself from the path of guidance and light and thus has shut the door of repentance on himself.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

What is Taqiyya?

The Anti-Muslim demagogues love to talk about this weird, so called, rule that permits Muslims to lie to spread Islam. I had never even heard of it until I was accused of it by someone in a discussion once. The basic idea, according to them, is that if any Muslim ever denies being a blood thirsty lunatic engaged in perpetual war against the West, they must be lying. Muslims are simply presumed guilty, and if we profess innocence that is only further evidence of our guilt.


It should be fairly clear to any rational being that lying to spread a religion is nonsensical. If I lie to you about what Islam is and you convert I haven't spread Islam because what you have accepted was a lie.

These constant stream of Islamophobes carping on about how Muslims are allowed to lie to non-Muslims whilst appealing to something called “taqiyyah” (also spelled, “takiya” and “taqiyya”) also end up convincing the average joe non muslim about this myth

Rather than relying on shoddy hate sites/Christian missionaries to educate us about taqiyyah we shall rely on SCHOLARLY authority – largely in the form of R. Strothmann’s relevant section in “Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam” (by H.A.R. Gibb and J.H. Kramers) and Cyril Glasse’s Concise Encyclopedia of Islam

What is “Taqiyyah”, “Takiya”, “Taqiyya”?

This term is spelt variously; “taqiyyah”, “takiya” or “taqiyya”.

“Takiya (A.), caution, fear (see glossarium to Tabari S.V. T-K-A) pr kitman, “disguise” is the technical term for dispensation from the requirements of religion under compulsion or threat of injury.” [1]

“Taqiyyah (From the root word waqa “to safeguard”; “self-protection” and hence “dissimulation [in order to protect oneself]”).” [2]

So, taqiyyah (takiya, taqiyya) is concerning dissimulation due to force – i.e. when an individual is forced to conceal.

Sadly, Islamophobes – in order to obtain an unchecked platform and/or demonise Muslims – have misapplied this term in their exaggerated claims of “Muslims are allowed to lie to the unbelievers”.

At what level of force is Takiya (Taqiyyah, Taqiya) justified?

“But an individual is not justified in takiya nor bound to hidjra [emigration] if the compulsion remains within the endurable limits, as in the case of temporary imprisonment or flogging which does not result in death” [1]

So, this make a mockery of the Islamophobes’ general suggestions of “Muslims are allowed to lie to the unbelievers” as even under threat of imprisonment and flogging Muslims are not justified in takiya. The level of force which justifies oneself in takiya is that of an unbearable level.

Takiya (taqiyya, taqiyyah) and the type of lies…

One may ask, what type of “disguise” is allowed under takiya (taqiyyah, taqiyya)?

Let’s be clear about takiya (taqiyyah, taqiyya); “The principle of dissimulation of one’s religious beliefs in order to avoid persecution or imminent harm, where no useful purpose would be served by publicly affirming them.” [2]

So takiya (taqiyyah, taqiyya) is not used to convert folk to Islam nor is it used in Islamic text books or anything of such a nature. It is simply a form of concealment used to avoid persecution!

For further clarity, we are not talking about general, everyday fibs here, thus the ethical question of dishonesty is bypassed:

“The ethical question whether such forced lies are nevertheless lies, such a forced denial of the faith nevertheless a denial, is not put at all by one “who conceal himself” as he is not in a state of confidence which would be broken by lies or denial.” [1]

Sadly, our Islamophobic counterparts attempt to convince the gullible that takiya (taqiyyah, taqiyya) allows Muslims to lie (or conceal) about aspects of their faith (Islam) as well as lie in general.

Famous case of Taqiyyah (Taqiyya, Takiya)

A common example of takiya (taqiyyah, taqiya) involves a Muslim (Ammar B. Yasir, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, p) being forced to worship idols and insult the Prophet of Islam. [1] [3]

The level of force the polytheists applied on Ammar bin Yasir can be imagined by Amr bin Maymoon’s statement, “The polytheists tortured Ammar with fire”. [3]

“Abu Ubaydah bin Muhammad bin Ammar bin Yasir said: The polytheists seized Ammar and they did not let him off until he was forced to insult the Messenger of Allah and say good things about their deities” [3]

Ammar bin Yasir told Prophet Muhammad (p) of what he was forced to say.

“The Prophet (p) said: “Say it again if they ask (i.e. force) you to do so”.” [3]

So, in order to avoid such torture the Prophet allowed Ammar bin Yasir to use “taqiyya”

If Jesus (pbuh) had done the same, our Christian friends would have lauded it as an act of piety and mercy. Instead we see Islamophobes exaggerating this form of concealment in order to demonise Muslims. It’s a crazy old world!

Taqiyyah and the Shi’ites (Shia)

"It is, however, associated most closely with the Shi’ites who practiced taqiyyah systematically and widely during periods of Sunni domination to hide their beliefs from Sunni Muslims. "[2]

Obviously, if these Shi’ites felt they would have been persecuted for publicly announcing their shia beliefs, one can understand why they concealed (used taqiyya) their beliefs.

Is taqiyyah allowed in the Quran?

Our Islamophobic friends jump up and down in joy whilst proclaiming taqiyyah (taqiyya, takiya) is allowed in the Quran. Let’s analyse (via scholarship) the two Verses they cite.

Quran 16:106 and taqiyyah (taqiyya, takiya)?

Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief - save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith - but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: On them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom. [Pikthal translation of the Quran 16:106]

The reason for this verse is unanimously said to have been the case of Ammar b. Yasir, whose conscience was set at rest by this revelation when he was worried about his forced worshipping of idols and objurgation of the Prophet. [1]

The story of Ammar bin Yassir is relayed earlier (see above).

Tabari says on Sura 16:106 (Tafsir, Bulak 1323 sqq.24.122): If any one is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue, while his heart contradicts him, to escape his enemies, no blame falls him on him, because God takes his servants as their hearts believe” [1]

The Quran’s (16:106) allowance of uttering disbelief whilst under extreme force is hardly justification for the outrageous smears the Islamophobes propagate.

Quran 3:28 and taqiyyah (taqiyya, takiya)?

Let not the believers take disbelievers for their guardians in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying. [Pikthal translation of the Quran 3:28]

This Verse instructs Muslims to not take the unbelievers as patrons over the believers but does allow for this in the case of fear. Tuqatan is used here (a verbal noun of taqiyyah). Tafsir Jalalayn explains:
“unless you protect yourselves against them, as a safeguard (tuqātan, ‘as a safeguard’, is the verbal noun from taqiyyatan), that is to say, [unless] you fear something, in which case you may show patronage to them through words, but not in your hearts” [Tafsir Jalalayn – 3:28]

It is hardly something Islamophobes can latch onto as evidence for their demonization of Muslims as this Verse allows concealment (taqiyyah, taqiyya, takiya) in the case of fear (i.e. to avoid persecution). We are essentially back to where we started as initially stated on taqiyyah:

Takiya (A.), caution, fear (see glossarium to Tabari S.V. T-K-A) pr kitman, “disguise” is the technical term for dispensation from the requirements of religion under compulsion or threat of injury. [1]

Taqiyyah (From the root word waqa “to safeguard”; “self-protection” and hence “dissimulation [in order to protect oneself]”). [2]

Lying about the Prophet Muhammad (p)

Islamophobes, in an attempt to obtain an unchecked platform, do suggest Muslims misinform (“use taqiyya”) about the Prophet Muhammad (p). This is an utter absurdity as it is a grave sin for a Muslim to misinform about the Prophet Muhammad as the Prophet stated:

“Whoever lies about me intentionally shall take a place for himself in hell” (al-Adhkar (y102), 510-12) [4]

In fact, presenting misinformation about the Prophet (p) was considered an extreme offense amongst early Muslim communities:

Habib ibn ar-Rabi’ said that it is disbelief to alter his [Prophet Muhammad’s] description and its details. The one who does that openly is an unbeliever. He is asked to repent. [5]

So much for the Islamophobes claims of “Muslims using taqiyyah” regarding Prophet Muhammad (p).

Conclusion

Taqiyyah (taqiya, takiya) is not something to be writing home about. To use this practice to brandish Muslims as untrustworthy (or to demonise them) is unscholarly and unjust.

If you do encounter an anti-Muslim bigot on the internet crying “taqiyya” (there are plenty about), please do send him/her to this group to be educated


References



[1] Article by R. Strothmann, Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, H.A.R. Gibb and J.H. Kramers, Fourth impression, 1995, E.J. Brill Leiden. New York. Koln p. 561 - 562
[2] The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam, Revised Edition, Cyril Glasse, Stacey International, 2001, p450-451.

[3] Men and Women around the Messenger, Sa’d Yusuf Abu ‘Aziz, Translated by Suleman Fulani, Darussalam, 2009, p. 286-287

[4] Reliance of the Traveller, Translated by Nuh Hamim Keller – Amana Publications, 2008, r8.0, p 747

[5] Muhammad, Messenger of Allah – Ash Shifa of Qadi Iyad, translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley, Madinah Press, 2004, p. 387

Marriages of the Prophet

Unbiased historians, both Muslims and Christians, are agreed that the number of marriages contracted by the Prophet of Islam was not as a result of lust or to satisfy the sexual desires. If this had been the case, he would not have married the twice-widowed Khadijah, 40 years old, at the youthful age of 25 when one is full of emotion and sexual urge.



Prophet Mubammad (s.a.w.) lived together with his first (and, at that time, only) wife, Khadijah, happily for 26 years with great mutual affection, despite the fact that young and beautiful girls of Arabia were easily available to him and were keen to be married to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Not even once, during that period, did the Prophet Muhammad (saw) take another wife. Undoubtedly he would have at least considered another younger wife simultaneously with Khadijah if he ever suffered from lust and fondness of young women, particularly when the country's customs wholly approved unlimited marriages.
Let us look at the life history of the Prophet of Islam. During the prime of his life, he remains satisfied with an aged and twice-widowed wife, and does not even think of another. Then during the last ten years of his life, after passing the age of fifty, in his old age, when he is surrounded by various difficult problems of the newly-born Islamic State, he starts marrying a number of wives.

Was it not a difficult exercise and heavy burden to marry widows and support their orphans? Was it easy for a perfectly dignified man in the person of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) to marry women of different outlook, characters and tribes, including some of much younger age who were still unaware of the full responsibilities of life?

Let us ponder over the reply to these questions as given by a famous western historian, Thomas Carlyle in his book "Heroes and Heroes Worship". He says in effect that contrary to what his enemies accuse him, Muhammad was never lusty and sexualize and that it was a slander only out of prejudice against him and this indeed is a great injustice.
John Devenport says, "and it may then be asked, is it likely that a very sensual man, of a country where polygamy was a common practice, should be contented for five-and-twenty years with one wife, she being fifteen years older than himself".


List of wives of the prophet of Islam:


After the death of his first wife, Khadijah, he married upto twelve wives in the following order:


Sawdah

A'ishah bint Abu Bark Siddiq (first Caliph)

Umm Salamah

Hafsah bint Omer Farooq (second Caliph)

Zaynab bint-Khuzaymah

Zaynab bint-Jahsh

Umm-Habibah (Ramla) bint Abu Sufyan

Maymunah

Zaynab bint-Umais

Juwayriyah

Safiyah

Khawlah bint-Hakim



Let us examine the circumstances and conditions under which these marriages had taken place.

In principle, it can be stated that the marriages were contracted with one or more of the following objectives:

(1) For the sake of caring for the orphans and looking after the poor widows. These were some Muslim women who had earlier enjoyed high dignity in the Arab society. But on the death of their husbands, their status and even faith were in jeopardy, because their tribal chiefs would take them back and compel them to renounce Islam, thus converting them back to polytheism.

For example, Sawdah had migrated to Abyssinia where her husband died, and she became absolutely without helper. It was the time when the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had lost Khadijah, his first wife; so he married Sawdah.

Likewise, Zaynab daughter of Khuzaymah, was an old-aged widow, who after the death of her husband was inflicted with poverty, despite her being amiable and being known as 'Ummul-Masakin' (Mother of the poor). Prophet Muhammad (saw) married her to uphold her dignity and she died of old age only after two years of that marriage.

(2) For the sake of enacting a new law and eradicating injustice by the ignorant tribes. For example, Zaynab bint-Jahsh was the daughter of the Prophet's aunt. She was married, at the recommendation of the Prophet, to Zayd ibn-Harithah, the freed slave and adopted son of the Prophet. This marriage was contracted to eradicate the discrimination against slaves and poor and to emphasize the Islamic equality and brotherhood, as Zaynab was from the family of Abd al-Muttalib, the grandfather of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the Chief of Quraysh, whereas Zayd was a slave who was freed by the Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Unfortunately, Zaynab due to her family pride, did not get along well with Zayd despite Prophet's persuasions. The rift between the two culminated into divorce. Meanwhile, the system of adoption of children was expressly forbidden by Allah (SWT). So, when Zayd divorced Zaynab, the Prophet of Islam, at the express command of God, married Zaynab; and, thus, put an end to the then prevalent belief that adopted sons were like real sons and that wives or widows of adopted sons were like daughters-in-laws.

(3) For the sake of freeing prisoners and slaves. For example, 'Juwayriyah' was from a prominent tribe of Banul-Mustalaq. In a war against Islam this tribe was defeated; and Juwayriyah, the daughter of their Chief, was held in captivity. Prophet Muhammad (saw) married her to set an example of protection and good treatment to prisoners of war.

On seeing that the prisoners had become relatives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) by marriage, the Muslims released all the prisoners of war held by them. According to Ibne Hisham, over one hundred families of Banul-Mustalaq were freed from captivity as a result of this marriage.

(4) For the sake of uniting some prominent Arab tribes who often were at logger heads with each other and to safeguard the internal political status of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) married A'ishah daughter of Abu Bakr Siddiq (first caliph) from the tribe of Bani Tim, Hafsah daughter of Omar ibn Al-Khattab (second caliph) from the tribe of Adi, Umm-Habibah daughter of Abu Sufyan from the tribe of Umayyah, Safiyah daughter of Huaiy bin Akhtab of the Jewish tribe of Bani an-Nadir, and Maymunah from the tribe of Bani Makhzum.

Umm-Habibah (i.e. Ramla) was daughter of Abu Sufyan of Bani Umayyah who was the bitterest enemy of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and had repeatedly fought against him. She, as a Muslim, was in great distress since she was divorced from her original husband (who had become a Christian in Abyssinia) and her father was a great enemy of Islam.

Seeing her deprived of every help from parent and divorced from husband, Prophet Muhammad (saw) married her in sympathy. This marriage also gave a chance to the people of Bani Umayyah to soften their hearts for Islam.

Safiyah was widowed daughter of Huaiy bin Akhtab, one of the chiefs of Jewish tribe of Bani an-Nadir. When the prisoners of this tribe were released by the Muslims, Prophet Muhammad (saw) married her in order to safeguard her status; and, thus, also linking himself with one of the great Jewish tribes of that time, and paving the way for them to come nearer to Islam.

Maymunah was 51 years of age and from a prominent tribe of Bani Makhzum whom Prophet Muhammad (saw) married in the year 7 after Hijrah.

The above marital history of Prophet Muhammad (saw) clearly shows the noble aim and objectives for which he married a number of wives. It is not difficult to see that none of these marriages was for personal satisfaction of sexual desires as unjustifiably accused by some. Also, it is important to remember that all of these marriages, except that with A'ishah bint Abu Bark Siddiq, were contracted with women who were widowed not only once, but often twice or thrice.

Polygamy in Islam

Polygamy (plurality of wives) is one of the controversial questions in the family system of Islam. The following are a few points worth of consideration in an effort to clarify the wisdom of polygamy and when it can be used:



Islam has emphasized that taking advantage of the permission of polygamy is conditional on the observance of several factors and circumstances -as it will be explained later. If the man lacks those material and moral conditions, or he is not competent enough to satisfy all of them, then he will not be eligible to take more than one wife. Also, Islam has emphasized that the basic objective of healthy marital life comes from mutual love and benevolence between the husband and the wife which normally can be found in the form of regular marriage - monogamy. Preservation of that cordiality, stability, and purity in the family life can be seen clearly in the Quranic doctrines as well as in the tradition of the prophet (p.b.u.h):


The Quran says:

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.”(Quran 30: 21)”

" live with them ( wife or wives) on a footing of kindness and equity” (Quran 4:19)

“And women (wives) shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (Quran 2:28)


Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) said:

"The best man among you is the best with his wife".


”The best of your women are those: Who are loving and kindly; who look after their chastity; Who are not arrogant or disobedient to their husbands; Who are faithful to their husband in their absence.”


Imam Ali (A.S.) said:

"By your chastity protect your wife from casting an evil eye on others stealthily and entertaining an idea of sin".

"Be kind to your wife and treat her well. Kindness will change her for the better, will keep her satisfied and will preserve her health and beauty".


Is there a perfect Solution?


As a realistic religion that legislates real solutions for humanity, Islam avoided any utopian doctrine. In many of its laws, Islam keeps in mind the flexibility of the law and the realistic factors and circumstances. A law can not be 100% good for every person, groups, culture, or country. However, Islam considers the over all values and gaining. If the advantages of a law overcome its disadvantages, then that law would be legislated and vise versa. This concept is driven from Quran: “They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great harm (sin) and some benefits for people; but the harm (sin) is greater than the benefits (2:219).”



Polygamy before Islam



Polygamy existed before the advent of Islam among several civilizations and religions. All that Islam has done is restricted it and make more organized and civilized.

In his book, History of Civilization (vol.1 p.61), Will Durant says:


The clerics in the Middle Ages thought that polygamy was an innovation of the Prophet of Islam. But that is not the case. As we have seen, it has been practiced in most societies before Islam.


Among the history lots of stories were narrated about men who cheated on their wives or got married with more than one. Take an example from the bible: some people accuse prophets and make them look sinful just not to say they had more than one wife. Isn’t that Abraham (peace be up on him) was married Sarah and from her he had Isaac and simultaneously he was married to his made and had from her Ishmael?



The following are some phrases from the bible

"After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him."

2 Samuel 5:13

"He (Solomon) had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines..."

1 Kings 11:3

"And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Genesis 4:19

"If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh..."

Deuteronomy 21:15

"if he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall her not diminish."

Exodus 21:10



The point here is not to say that monogamy never been practiced or not applicable. However, it is just a wondering that how come the legalized polygamy in Islam is inferior to the unlimited clandestine adultery in other religions and civilizations.



Polygamy and its Preconditions in Islam



Islam allows polygamy when:



a- The wife(s) has no objection about polygamy during or before the marriage contract. And if the husband disregards that, the wife has the right to raise that to the Islamic court.

b- Equitable treatment for all the wives

c- Number of wives not to exceed four



What was the purpose of the Verse 4:3?


Verse 4:3 was revealed to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him in Madina after he migrated to it from Mecca and established an Islamic state there right after the battle of Uhud in which the Muslims not only had lost badly against the Pagans, but also suffered a dramatic decrease in the number of Muslim men. The Muslim men before that battle were approximately 700. They became only 400 after the battle. This loss had left so many Muslim women (1) Widows, and (2) Not able to get married if they were single.


To make matters even worse, the Muslims had faced yet another battle against the Pagans in Mecca and its neighboring tribes who wanted to attack the Muslims in Madina to finish off Islam once and for all, and by the Jews and the Christians in Madina who betrayed the Muslims in the "battle of Trench" after signing a defense treaty with Muhammad peace be upon him against the Pagans.


The Quran limited the maximum number of wives to four. In the early days of Islam, those who had more than four wives at the time of embracing Islam were required to divorce the extra wives. Islam further reformed the institution of polygamy by requiring equal treatment to all wives. The Muslim is not permitted to differentiate between his wives in regards to sustenance and expenditures, time, and other obligations of husbands. Islam does not allow a man to marry another woman if he will not be fair in his treatment. Prophet Muhammad forbade discrimination between the wives or between their children.


Also, marriage and polygamy in Islam is a matter of mutual consent. No one can force a woman to marry a married man. Islam simply permits polygamy; it neither forces nor requires it. Besides, a woman may stipulate that her husband must not marry any other woman as a second wife in her prenuptial contract. The point that is often misunderstood in the West is that women in other cultures - especially African and Islamic - do not necessarily look at polygamy as a sign of women’s degradation. Consequently, to equate polygamy with degrading women is an ethnocentric judgment of other societies.


Even though we see the clear permissibility of polygamy in Islam, its actual practice is quite rare in many Muslim societies. Some researchers estimate no more than 2% of the married males practice polygamy. Most Muslim men feel they cannot afford the expense of maintaining more than one family. Even those who are financially capable of looking after additional families are often reluctant due to the psychological burdens of handling more than one wife. One can safely say that the number of polygamous marriages in the Muslim world is much less than the number of extramarital affairs in the West. In other words, contrary to prevalent notion, men in the Muslim world today are more strictly monogamous than men in the Western world.


Karen Armstrong, a well known writer and expert on Islam wrote in Muhammad: A Biography Of The Prophet:

"In seventh-century Arabia, when a man could have as many wives as he chose, to prescribe only four was a limitation, not a license to new oppression. Further, the Quran immediately follows the verses giving Muslims the right to take four wives with a qualification which has been taken very seriously. Unless a man is confident that he can be scrupulously fair to all his wives, he must remain monogamous. Muslim law has built on this: a man must spend absolutely the same amount of time with each of his wives; besides treating each wife equally financially and legally, a man must not have the slightest preference for one but must esteem and love them all equally. It has been widely agreed in the Islamic world that mere human beings cannot fulfill this Quranic requirement: it is impossible to show such impartiality and as a result Muhammad's qualification, which he need not have made, means no Muslim should really have more than one wife. In countries where polygamy has been forbidden, the authorities have justified this innovation not on secular but on religious grounds." -- p. 191


There are people who object to polygamy, but accept polygamous life as a form of human behaviour. Many eyebrows are raised at having a second wife, 'but to have at many 'mistresses' or 'girlfriends' as one likes is accepted in good grace. The contradiction between these two attitudes is conveniently ignored.


I am going to quote Mrs. Annie Besant and Dr. Havelock Ellis on this point. Mrs. Besant says: "There is pretended monogamy in the West, but there is really polygamy without responsibility; the mistress is cast off when the man is weary of her, and sinks gradually to the 'woman of the street, for the first lover has no responsibility for her future and she is a hundred times worse off than the sheltered wife and mother in the polygamous home. When we see thousands of miserable women who crowd the streets of Western towns during the night, we must surely feel that it does not lie within western mouth to reproach Islam for polygamy. It is better for woman, happier for woman, more respectable for woman, to live in polygamy, united to one man only with the legitimate child in her arms, and surrounded with respect, than to be seduced, cast out in the Street - perhaps with an illegitimate child outside the pale of the law -unsheltered and uncared for, to become the victim of any passerby, night after night, rendered incapable of motherhood despised by all." -- Annie Besant, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras, 1932, p.3.


Dr. Havelock Ellis writes: "It must be said that the natural prevalence of monogamy as the normal type of sexual relationship by no means excludes variations, indeed it assumes them. The line of nature is a curve that oscillates from side to side of the norm. Such oscillations occur in harmony with changes in environmental conditions and no doubt with peculiarities of personal disposition. So long as no arbitrary and merely external attempt is made to force Nature the vital order is harmoniously maintained. The most common variation, and that which must clearly possess a biological foundation, is the tendency to polygamy, which is found at all stages of culture, even in an unrecognised and more or less promiscuous shape. In the highest civilisation...'The path of social wisdom seems to lie on the one hand in making marriage relationship flexible enough to reduce to a minimum of these variations - not because such deviations are intrinsically bad but because they ought not to be forced into existence - and on the other hand in according to these deviation when they occur such a measure of recognition, as will deprive them of injurious influence and enable justice to be done to all the parties concerned. We too often forget that our failure to recognise such variations merely means that we accord in such cases an illegitimate permission to perpetrate injustice. In those parts of the world in which polygamy is recognised as a permissible variation a man is legally held to his natural obligations towards all his sexual mates and towards the children he has, by those mates. In no part of the world is polygamy so prevalent as in Christendom; in no part of the world is it so easy for a man to escape the obligations incurred by polygamy. We imagine that if we refuse to recognise the fact of polygamy, we may refuse to recognise any obligations incurred by polygamy. By enabling man to escape so easily, from the obligations of his polygamous relationship we encourage him, if he is unscrupulous, to enter into them; we place a premium on the immorality we loftily condemn. Our polygamy has no legal existence. The ostrich, it was once imagined hides his head in the sand and attempts to annihilate the facts by refusing to look at them; but there is only one known animal which adopts this course of action and it is called Man." -- Ellis, Havelock, The PsychoIogy of Sex, 1910, Vol. IV. Pp.491-92, 493-94

Islam does not allow marriage of multiple wives for males' sexual privileges and desires as Anti-Islamics claim. Verse 4:3 came to solve social problems. Unfortunately today, some Muslims intensify the Muslim's social problems in the Islamic countries by marrying multiple wives and bringing more illiterate and poor kids into the society which on the long run will only keep their entire society below the level of poverty. Therefore, Verse 4:3 doesn't allow polygamy just for anyone or any reason.


The permission to practice polygamy in Islam is not associated with 'mere satisfaction of passion'. It is rather associated with 'compassion' toward widows and orphans, a matter that is confirmed by the atmosphere in which the verse 4:3 was revealed - after the battle of Uhud in which many Muslims were killed, leaving widows and orphans for whom due care was incumbent upon the Muslim survivors.


Polygamy is neither mandatory, nor encouraged, but merely permitted in Islam.


"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them), THEN (MARRY) ONLY ONE…. (Qur’an 4:3)


This verse, when combined with another verse in the same chapter, shows some discouragement of such plural marriages.


“You are never able to be fair and just as between women even if it is your ardent desire…” (Qur’an 4: 129)


So in conclusion general, Polygamy is not allowed if it will become a destructive behavior and carelessness. And the husband who is misusing it, he is basically misusing the law. In such case, the impious human is the problem not the law itself. God legislates for all times, from the start of time till the end of time. The rule on polygamy simply gives structure to what was already in existence. It by no means is mandatory, the law just allows for it given the necessary circumstances should arise. Being a revelation of God, the Quran should aim to deal with as many issues as it possibly can so it can provide the relevant guidance for mankind. It is an exception rather than the general rule.


Does Islam allow/encourage marriage with prepubescent girls?

The marriage of Aisha is totally unrelated to the verses usually bought up by anti islamists

65:1 O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately) their prescribed periods: and fear Allah your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are the limits set by Allah: and any who transgresses the limits of Allah, does verily wrong his (own) soul: thou knowest not if perchance Allah will bring about thereafter some new situation.

65:2 Thus when they fulfill their term appointed, either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take four witnesses two persons from among you, endued with justice, and establish the evidence (as) before Allah. Such is the admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day and for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out.

65:3 And He provides from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.

65:4 Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if he have any doubts is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.

65:5 This is the Command of Allah, which He has sent down to you: and if anyone fears Allah, He will remove his ills from him, and will enlarge His reward.

65:6 Let the women live (in iddah) in the same style as ye live, according to your means annoy them not, so as to restrict them. And if they carry (life in the wombs) then spend (your substance) on them until they deliver their burden: and if they suckle your (offspring), give them their recompense: and take mutual counsel together, according to what is just and reasonable. And if ye find yourselves in difficulties, let another woman suckle (the child) on the (father's) behalf.

65:7 Let the man of means spend according to his means: and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief.

Sura 65:4 isn't talking about pre pubescent girls. It is talking about the iddah of a divorced woman. 4 months for a widow is the prescribed iddah, 3 months for a woman who you are in doubt about, and 9 months if the woman is pregnant. The three monthly courses for women is prescribed as a way to see if the woman is pregnant, if she is then by the end of three months you will know if she is pregnant or not. If she is pregnant then she can not marry until she delivers the baby. It is to ensure the child's lineage. During those three months the woman can not get married until all parties see if she is pregnant or not.

A woman can not bleed for the following reasons:
1. Medical
2. Born without a uterus (in which case she doesn't get a menses)
3. Post menopausal or menopause

Footnote on Sura 65:4 from Abdullah Yusuf Ali:
For normal women, the iddah is the three monthly courses after separation: if there are no courses or if the courses are in doubt, it is three calender months. By that time it will be clear whether there is pregnancy if there is the waiting period is still after delivery.

The verses are clearly speaking about divorce of women, and there are three categories of those women:

1- Women who are very old.

2- Women who have not had their monthly period at the time of the divorce.

3- Women who are pregnant at the time of the divorce.

For point #2, it doesn't necessarily have to mean that the woman was a young girl. It is clearly talking about the wife not having her period yet when the divorce happened. Women on average have 10 days of menstruation each month. Point #2 could be speaking about the 20 other days

I would like to add that many women do not have menstruation cycle even after reaching age of puberty, the verses in question also deal with this issue

**COUNTERCLAIM**

First the phrase: “Yaisna min al-maheedhi” which means “those women who are desperate of menses” is an indication to women who reached the stage of menstruation but do not menstruate and of those who reached menopause. Desperate of menses underlines that it concerns women who though reached the age, fail to menstruate too. Their 'Iddah period is three months.

Next comes, “Wallaee Lam yahidhna” which means “those who have not menstruated yet” This group of females are pre-pubescent girls who have not yet menstruated. Here the 'Iddah prescribed for them is equal to the previous group of women (ie. three months).

ANSWER:

واللائي
and those
لم
Did not
يحضن
have their periods
فعدتهن
so their waiting time
ثلاثة
Three
أشهر
Months

So it is referring to those who do not have their period, it does not mention kids or young girls. As i said it is referring to those who have not had their period yet, or those after puberty who still have not had a menstruation cycle even after reaching age of puberty. To say it is referring to pre-pubescent girls is incorrect, whether it is you saying it or any writer of tafsir. It is simply inserting something into the text which is not there, making that which is plain and clear more confusing

As respected as they may be, anyone can make mistakes.

Islamic rules on marriage:

1. The first condition required is puberty. Some girls, even if they are 17 years old still haven't had their first menstruation, so without this 1st condition marriage is impossible.

2. The second condition - 'Rushd' the girl has to be mature “enough to distinguish between good and bad" - (prudent judgement) and therefore be able to give an "INFORMED CONSENT".

3. Third condition - a girl has to be really ready mentally and physically to undertake the heavy responsibilities of marriage and child bearing, including the right and duties and the basis of fulfilling this condition is education. This is why in Islamic education is fundamental in all aspects. Academic education and the learning of skills is also very important.

4. If all those 3 conditions are present, then the last condition is that no one, even the parents can force their daughter to marry without her consent so without this the marriage is not valid. Coercion is also classified as a forced marriage.

Verses in the Quran have to be looked at in a hollistic context, and as I showed you the conditions of marriage, marriage of pre-pubescent girls would be impossible based on the Quran's very own conditions so to say this verse is referring to this is false. Hence it must be looked at bearing the conditions of marriage in mind, when done so if one continues to say it refers to pre-pubescent girls then it becomes an absurdity and an internal contradiction, which it is not. It only becomes as such to the one trying to force the issues and convince everyone this verse refers to pre-pubescent girls.

Conclusion:

 
Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest religious body in the Sunni world, has recently released a new manual on the rights of Muslim children.

"Marriage in Islam is regulated by certain rules, namely, children must reach puberty and maturity so that they can get married," it reads.

According to the Islamic Jurisprudence the conditions for marriage are:

1. The first condition required is puberty. Some girls, even if they are 17 years old still haven't had their first menstruation, so without this 1st condition marriage is impossible.

2. The second condition - 'Rushd' the girl has to be mature “enough to distinguish between good and bad" - (prudent judgement) and therefore be able to give an "INFORMED CONSENT".

3. Third condition - a girl has to be really ready mentally and physically to undertake the heavy responsibilities of marriage and child bearing, including the right and duties and the basis of fulfilling this condition is education. This is why in Islamic education is fundamental in all aspects. Academic education and the learning of skills is also very important.

4. If all those 3 conditions are present, then the last condition is that no one, even the parents can force their daughter to marry without her consent so without this the marriage is not valid. Coercion is also classified as a forced marriage.

So clearly an INFORMED CONSENT (Rushd) is required for a halaal marriage otherwise it is void in Islam. In this day and age, a girl at puberty is clearly not mature to give an informed consent. This is a requirement by Islamic law. If this law is not fulfilled the marriage is haram and 'void' in Islam. Coercing little girls is equivalent to forcing them so if there are such practices taking place in the world today I condemn them and needless to say they are totally unislamic.

In reference to the marriage of the prophet we have a different historical context. Various studies have proven that psychological maturity and adulthood were reached at puberty in pre-modern times:- it is imprudent of anyone to believe that they can bring the social norm of the 7th Century and apply it in the world today. Psychological maturity has delayed in modern times, much above the age of puberty whereby adulthood and maturity is supported by a structured education and legal system. That is the new social norm. Islam demands psychological maturity (required for an Informed Consent). Similarly trying to apply modern norms on 7th century arabia is also imprudent as maturity was reached alot earlier then