By Dr. Shehzad Saleem
31 August 2015
VII. Family Issues
1. A Wife Cannot Go Out Without The Husband’s Permission
It is believed in religious circles that a wife cannot go out of the house unless she seeks permission from her husband. In this regard, a Hadith is also quoted. It reads thus:
عَنْ بن عُمَرَ عَنِ النَبِّي أَنَّ اِمْرَأَةً أَتَتْهُ فَقَالَتْ مَا حَقُّ الزَّوْجِ عَلَى اِمْرَأَتِهِ فَقَالَ … لاَ تَخْرُج مِنْ بَيْتِهِ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ (سنن البيهقي الكبرى ، رقم: ١٤٤٩٠)
Ibn ‘Umar reports from the Prophet that once a lady came to the Prophet and asked him about the rights of a husband on his wife. He replied: “… She should not leave his house without his permission.” (Sunan Bayhaqi, No: 14490)
It needs to be appreciated that a family by analogy is similar to a state. All citizens of a state are expected to abide by the rules and regulations of the country they live in. They are expected to adopt an attitude of adjustment and harmony with the country. This, of course, does not mean that they cannot differ with its policies. They have the inalienable democratic right to differ and present their differences in a befitting manner. This submission is actually an essential requirement for discipline and order without which anarchy may result. Similarly, in the case of a family set up, it is essential that the person who is its head be shown obedience. In other words, submission to authority is not specific to the gender of the authority. Whoever is the authority must be submitted to. Gender does not dictate submissiveness – it is authority which does. It is common knowledge that in different spheres of activities people have different abilities and justice entails that a person be made responsible according to his or her abilities and given authority on that basis. We have been informed by divine revelation that it is the husband who is more suitable to be the head of the family. Owing to this relative superiority, women are directed to submit to men not because men are superior human beings, but because in this particular case it is the men who have been vested with authority in accordance with 4:34. If women had been more suitable for the task of heading a family, men would have been similarly directed to adopt this attitude of adjustment.
Thus Islam requires that the wife adopt an attitude of adjustment and harmony with the husband and the husband is required to be affectionate and accommodating as far as possible to the needs of his wife. He must not impose any undue restrictions on her for this will ignite the wrath of God upon him.
With regard to a wife seeking her husband’s permission before leaving the house, the proper perspective must be understood. In general circumstances of mutual trust, there is no need for a wife to ask permission from her husband to go out. However, in certain circumstances in which the husband genuinely considers that going out might disrupt the family in any way, he has the authority to exercise his right of stopping her and in these circumstances, she should always ask permission to leave the house. In this regard, the husband must remember that if he imposes himself without any sound and justifiable reason, he would be crossing the bounds and invoking the displeasure of the Almighty. His wrong behaviour may even lead the wife to abandon him for which he would be solely responsible.
2. A Wife cannot refuse Sex to the Husband
On the basis of the following Hadith, it is generally understood that if a wife refuses sex to her husband she will be cursed by the angels:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا دَعَا الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ إِلَى فِرَاشِهِ فَأَبَتْ فَبَاتَ غَضْبَانَ عَلَيْهَا لَعَنَتْهَا الْمَلَائِكَةُ حَتَّى تُصْبِحَ (بخارى ، رقم:٣٠٦٥)
Abu Hurayrah reports from the Prophet (sws): “When a husband calls his wife to bed, and she refuses and [as a result] the husband spends the night in anger, then angels curse the wife all night till dawn.” (Bukhari, No: 3065)
In order to understand this Hadith, the following points need to be understood:
Firstly, a husband and wife safeguard the chastity of one another by providing one another a legitimate means of satisfying the sexual urge. This protection of chastity is essential for the preservation of the family unit – the very institution on which the stability of a society hinges. Hence anything which puts chastity in jeopardy is disliked by the Almighty.
Secondly, a man is an addressee of the directive mentioned in this Hadith on an equal basis. This is evident from the directive of ila mentioned in the Qur’an (2:226-7) in which the Arabs of the pre-Islamic period would swear to sever sexual relationship with their wives because of anger. Although the husbands were prescribed a period of four months to decide the fate of their wives by either resuming these relations or divorcing her, it is evident from the directive that in normal circumstances a husband is not allowed to sever sexual relations from his wife without a valid reason. So much so, if a person swears such an oath, he must break it. Such relations are the right of a wife and if a husband does not fulfil them, then he can be regarded a criminal both in the eyes of the law and before the Almighty in the Hereafter.
Thirdly, the basis of refusal by the husband or wife must also be taken in consideration. If either of them is tired, sick or simply not in the proper mood and in the appropriate frame of mind then it does not entail any wrath of the Almighty. It is only when a spouse starts to deliberately evade such natural needs of the other that the attitude becomes questionable.
3. A Husband has an Absolute Right to beat his Wife
The right given by the Qur’an to the husbands to physically punish their wives in certain circumstances is a thorny issue in the modern mind. The issue needs to be understood in its true perspective. The Qur’an says:
وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا (٣٤:٤)
And as for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them [first] and [next] refuse to share their beds and [even then if they do not listen] punish them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted and Mighty. (4:34)
The following implications of this verse need to be understood in their proper perspective:
a. Firstly, this measure can only be resorted to when a wife starts to challenge the authority of the husband and threatens to disrupt the family set-up. It is in fact a last resort to protect the institution of family from breaking up. It must not be resorted to in anything less in severity than a rebellious attitude from the wife. This rebellious attitude is termed as نُشُوز (Nushuz) by the Qur’an. It has not used the word “disobedience”. Any difference of opinion or altercation must not be resolved by this procedure. Disagreements and disputes must be settled mutually. It is only when the wife stands up against the authority of her husband that this procedure be employed.
b. Before resorting to physical chastisement, the two previous stages mentioned by the Qur’an (4:34) must elapse. The husband should first of all admonish his wife and convince her to give up her defiant behaviour. He should exercise all the patience he can muster to urge and beseech her to change her stance. If after repeated pleas and continuous admonition over a considerable span of time, the wife continues to persist in her rebellious attitude, he has the authority to go on to the second stage by avoiding marital contact with her. This detachment, it is clear, is a form of reproof, and a very strong appeal to the wife to correct herself. Again, this attitude should continue for a substantial period of time so that the point is driven home. It is highly unlikely that most wives would persist in their arrogance after these two initial stages. In all probability, patience, forbearance, and restraint would have conquered their hearts. However, even after this stage, if a wife refuses to accept the authority of her husband, the husband has the right to finally resort to gentle physical affliction.
c. If the husband is left with no alternative but to physically punish his wife, he must be very careful in this regard and must not wound or injure her. He should remember that this physical chastisement is similar to the one a mother gives to a rebellious son or the one a teacher gives to an unruly student. He must be aware that in case he misuses this authority in any way, he would be held responsible before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement. In this world also, his wife has the right to report his behaviour to the authorities who can punish him for any misconduct in this regard.
d. It finally needs to be considered that all rights must be exercised with prudence keeping in view the circumstances. Exercising one’s right is never obligatory. There can be circumstances in which a person chooses not to exercise this right.
4. Regarding Divorce and Divorce declarations51
Most people are ignorant of the proper way of divorcing wives. It is generally thought that a wife stands separated from her husband if the divorce is declared thrice. This notion is against the Qur’an which says that a lady must be divorced by just one declaration to the effect.
Moreover, there are many other misconceptions regarding divorce giving rise to the following questions:
I. Do Women Have A Right To Divorce?
Ii. Should The Wife Pay Money For Seeking Divorce?
Iii. What Is The Correct Procedure Of Divorce?
Iv. How Should Wrongly Given Divorces Be Tackled?
V. In Whose Custody Should The Children Be Given?
I. The Right To Divorce
When a man and a woman marry each other, it is their utmost wish to remain in this relation of wedlock forever. They are desirous of the fact that the change in times not change their commitment to each other and only death separate them in this world. But then, sometimes there does arise a situation when part they must. Differences become so pronounced that it becomes necessary to sever this relationship. If such circumstances do arise that a husband and wife must separate permanently, Islam lays down a specific procedure for this separation. In Islamic terminology this dissolution of marriage is called divorce. It says that both a man and a woman have an equal right to it. The only difference is that a man divorces a woman while a woman demands a divorce from her husband. The Qur’an explicitly states that it is the husband who has the right to give divorce:
ِبيَدِه عُقْدَةُ الِّنكَاح (٢: ٢٣٧)
In his hands, is the tie of marriage? (2:237)
Women, however, can seek divorce if they want to. If the husband refuses, she has all the right to take the matter to the court. The matter will then be decided by the ruling of the court.
This prerogative, sense and reason demand, should go to the head of the family. Since, according to the Qur’an, it is the husband who is the head of a family, therefore, he has been given this right. In other words, this right is not “gender specific” it is “authority specific”: whoever is entrusted with the authority of being the head should possess this right. Had women been more suitable to head a family, they would have been given this right.
A common misconception when a woman seeks divorce from her husband is that she must give some wealth to her husband on this occasion of separation. This has no basis in the Qur’an; on the contrary, the Qur’an says that it is not at all permissible for the husband to demand anything from his wife on this occasion. However, there are two exceptions to this:
Firstly, if a husband has gifted a lot of wealth and property to her wife and is afraid that in divorcing her he would lose all his riches, the Qur’an says that she can forgo some or all of her share and return it to her husband to end the whole affair. It is clear that this is only an exception and not a general principle as is generally held and practiced. It is allowed when only wealth is the husband’s reason for not divorcing his wife. The Qur’an says:
وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلَّا أَنْ يَخَافَا أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا وَمَنْ يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الظَّالِمُونَ (٢ :٢٢٩)
And [if you decide to depart from them, then on this occasion] it is unlawful for you to take back from them anything you have given them unless both husband and wife fear that they may not be able to keep within the bounds set by Allah. Then if you also feel that they will not be able to remain within the bounds set by Allah, there shall be no offence for either of them [regarding the gifts given by the husband] if the wife seeks divorce [by returning them to him] in ransom. These are the bounds set by Allah; do not transgress them. [And you should know that] those who transgress the bounds of Allah are wrongdoers (2:229)
Secondly, if the wife is guilty of open sexual misconduct. Since such a behaviour destroys the very foundation of marriage, a husband has been allowed to take back any gifts or wealth given to her. The Qur’an says:
وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ…. وَإِنْ أَرَدْتُمْ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُبِينًا وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَى بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنْكُمْ مِيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا (٤: ١٩-٢١)
And do not treat them with harshness that you may take away what you have given them – except where they have been guilty of open lewdness… And if you decide to take a wife in place of another, even if you had given the latter a whole treasure of wealth take not the least bit of it back: Would you take it by slander and usurping [her] rights? And how could you take it when you have lain with each other and [at the time of marriage] they have taken from you a solemn covenant? (4:19-21)
iii. The Procedure of Divorce
If a husband has decided to divorce his wife, he should first wait until she has completed her menstrual cycle and then desisting from any further carnal relationship, he should utter the divorce sentence just once. The wife, after she has been divorced in this way, must stay in her husband’s house for a period of three menstrual cycles. This period is called ‘iddat. If a woman does not have menstrual cycles owing to age, disease or any other reason, and still there is a chance of pregnancy, then she must wait for three months. For a pregnant woman this period is up to the birth of the child, while for a newly married couple who have had no contact, divorce does not entail any period of ‘Iddat for the wife. According to the Qur’an, there is one basic reason for this waiting period: to ascertain whether a wife is pregnant or not so that the lineage of the child does not remain a matter of doubt. Another thing which is achieved through it is that it affords the husband and other family members a chance to rectify the situation, for matters in which emotions and feelings run high, sometimes only time is needed for recovery.
During this ‘Iddat period:
(a) The husband cannot turn his wife out from the house except if she is guilty of adultery, nor should she leave the house herself.
(b) The wife, if she is pregnant, must not hide her pregnancy.
(c) The husband should continue to provide for her.
(d) A husband, if he changes his mind, can revoke his decision. The only thing required, according to the Qur’an, is that he should call in two persons to testify to his decision52.
If after this period of ‘Iddat, a man is still firm in his stance, his wife shall be considered as separated permanently. She is now a free woman and if she wishes to marry some other person, she has all the right to do so and must not be inhibited in any way. If circumstances change, she can even remarry her former husband. Furthermore, the Qur’an stresses that on this occasion of parting it is not at all lawful for a husband to take back any property or asset gifted to her53. This, it must be kept in consideration, does not pertain to Mahr (dower) only, but to every type of gift given to the wife. Not only should a husband not take back these gifts, he should, in fact, give her something on this occasion of separation. Even if her Mahr has not been fixed, it is better for him to give her something. If the Mahr has been fixed but the divorce occurs before the husband and wife have had contact, he must return half the money, unless the wife even forgoes this. In this case also, though it is better that he should give her the whole money.
However, in case the husband revokes his decision during the ‘Iddat period, there is no need for re-marriage. The two shall be considered as husband and wife once again. If after annulment of this divorce, due to some reason, the untoward situation arises a second time that the husband intends to divorce his wife, the Qur’an says that the husband can exercise his right of divorce for the second time as well. He should pronounce just one divorce sentence to repudiate his wife. Again, the post-divorce period shall be observed in the manner just described. Once again, if the husband wishes, he has the chance to revise his decision during this period, in which case the divorce shall be considered null and void and the two shall once again become husband and wife. If, unfortunately, for the third time, the situation arises that divorce becomes inevitable, the Qur’an says that a husband can exercise his right for the third time as well and pronounce the divorce sentence. After the expiry of ‘Iddat during which a husband will have to support and provide shelter to his wife (though the two are not required to live together), the wife shall be permanently separated from him. After divorcing his wife for the third time, he cannot re-marry her now, unless and until, the wife marries some other person and owing to some reason gets divorced from him – not under a planned strategy, but on account of naturally arisen circumstances. This last measure, actually, is meant to prevent this affair from becoming mere child play.
In the words of the Qur’an:
الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ فَإمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ (٢ :٢٢٩)
This divorce [in which the husband can revoke his decision in the ‘Iddat period] is permitted twice only, and then a woman must be retained with kindness or allowed to go with kindness. (2:229)
It is evident from these details that the Qur’an only prescribes one divorce sentence and stresses that a husband has the right to divorce her wife three times in one marriage contract. It does not at all approve the utterance of three divorce sentences in one go. Consequently, it is clear from these details that the two prevailing procedures of divorce ie (1) pronouncing three consecutive divorces in one instance, and (2) pronouncing each of the three sentences in three months are not at all prescribed by the Qur’an. When the Prophet (sws) came to know that a certain person had divorced his wife by pronouncing three divorce sentences one after the other, he stood up in anger and said:
أَيُلْعَبُ بِكِتَابِ اللهِ وَأَنَا بَيْنَ أَظْهُرِكُمْ (نِسائ ، رقم: ٣٤٠١)
In my presence, such playful attitude has been adopted with the Book of Allah. (Nasa’i, No: 3401)
iv. Tackling wrongly given Divorces
Mentioned above is the Shari’ah as far as the concept of divorce is concerned. However, as does happen with prescribed laws and procedures, situations arise in which a person is guilty of breaching the law and deviating from the right course. Human nature is prone to extreme emotional conditions in which it deviates from the path set forth by the Almighty. These deviations, it is extremely evident, are not part of the Shari’ah; they fall into breach of law category and it is up to the legislature of a country to enact laws about such departures. At times, such cases are even left to the discretion of the judge and at other times the judge himself is bound by the legislation done in this regard by the parliament.
In case of divorce, keeping in view various precedents, this deviation is generally of two types:
i) A husband divorces his wife during her menstrual period, or divorces her after he has had contact with her in her period of purity.
ii) A husband divorces his wife by pronouncing the divorce sentence thrice.
As far as the first deviation is concerned, an Islamic government can ask the husband to revoke his decision and carry it out in the proper manner at the proper time. The Prophet (sws) in his own times dealt with the case of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (rta) in a similar manner. When he was told that ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (rta) had divorced his wife during her menstrual cycle, he was really annoyed and remarked:
مُرْهُ فَلْيُرَاجِعْهَا ثُمَّ لِيُمْسِكْهَا حَتَّى تَطْهُرَ ثُمَّ تَحِيضَ ثُمَّ تَطْهُرَ ثُمَّ إِنْ شَاءَ أَمْسَكَ بَعْدُ وَإِنْ شَاءَ طَلَّقَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَمَسَّ فَتِلْكَ الْعِدَّةُ الَّتِي أَمَرَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تُطَلَّقَ لَهَا النِّسَاءُ (بخارى ، رقم:٥٢٥١ )
Ask him to take her back and keep her in wedlock until she is through with her menstrual cycle and then once again passes through this cycle and then is through with it. After this, he can either detain her [in wedlock] or divorce her before having sexual intercourse with her. Because it is this beginning of the ‘Iddat keeping regard of which the Almighty has directed [believers] to divorce their wives. (Bukhari, No: 5251)
In case of the second deviation, a deliberation on the injunctions of divorce, particularly on their linguistic aspects, reveals that there are three possible solutions:
(a) The husband can be called to court and asked to testify to the nature of these pronouncements: if he testifies that he had pronounced the three sentences in anger to only strongly assert his decision or that he had thought that pronouncing three sentences was the correct procedure of divorce, the court, if satisfied by his statement, can re-unite the husband and wife. In this case, it shall be clearly spelt out to the husband that he now has exercised one of his three chances to repudiate his wife. If on the other hand, a person testifies that he had consciously uttered the three sentences knowing that he was exercising his three rights in one time, the wife, of course, shall be divorced from him. The case of Rukana Ibn ‘Abdi Yazid (rta) was decided in a similar manner by the Prophet (sws)
(b) A second possible solution in this regard is that a state, while observing that people have adopted a carefree attitude in following this procedure, legislates that three divorce sentences shall be considered as three whether pronounced in anger or in a normal emotional state. A precedent of this solution can be found in the times of the Caliph ‘Umar (rta). He himself, in the capacity of a ruler in consultation with the members of the Shura, upon seeing that people had adopted a very careless attitude in this regard, as a punishment, promulgated three divorce sentences as final.
(c) A third possible solution in this regard is that the state while observing the fact that people are mostly ignorant of the correct procedure and in their ignorance thinks that the correct way of divorce is to pronounce the sentence three times, legislates that the three pronouncements shall be considered as one.
Any of these three ways can be adopted keeping in view the welfare of the Muslims. However, in adopting the second or third solutions, it is necessary that a legislation has been done in their favour, but as far as adopting the first solution is concerned, no prior legislation is needed and the matter can be left to the discretion of the judge.
iv. The Custody of Minors
In post-divorce scenarios, the matter of the custody of minor children has not been touched upon in the Shari’ah. In other words, it has been left to the welfare of the children. In case of a dispute, a judge should make this ruling after analyzing the situation of a case in the light of this principle
Perhaps the reason for which nothing has been fixed in the Shari‘ah in this regard is the varying circumstances which may be found in different cases.
5. Regarding Halalah54
The concept of Halala is one of the ugliest and shameful of issues of Islamic jurisprudence. According to the Shari’ah, if a man divorces his wife for a third time in his life, the two cannot re-marry unless the wife marries a second person and then that person due to some reason divorces her. In order to fulfil this legal requirement, subterfuges have been devised and marriages are planned with the understanding that a person will divorce the wife in order to make her legal to marry the first husband. In this regard, the jurists also impose the condition that before he divorces his wife he must have sexual intercourse with her. In religious parlance, this subterfuge in which a lady is made legally allowed for her first husband by marrying another person and then being divorced from her after having sexual intercourse with him is called Halala.
Needless to say, that all subterfuges amount to playing with the Islamic law and its spirit. Moreover, the condition of sexual intercourse imposed has arisen because of not understanding a very subtle comment of the Prophet (sws) in a Hadith. If its text reported by Bukhari is analyzed it is evident that a certain lady had married a person only to become legally permissible to marry her first husband. She demanded divorce from her second husband on the false grounds that her husband was sexually impotent. When the Prophet (sws) became certain of her scheme, he reprimanded her in very subtle words. He told her that she could only become permissible for the first husband after “tasting” her second husband. This of course was not a condition as has been generally construed: the implied meaning being that if according to her, her second husband does not have the ability to copulate with her then she can only be divorced from him after he copulates with her – which of course he will never since, according to her, he is not capable of it. Thus if anything can be deduced from this Hadith, it is prohibition of Halala and not vice versa. Hence it is absolutely prohibited and is tantamount to making fun of the law.
The text of the Hadith is as follows:
عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ أَنَّ رِفَاعَةَ طَلَّقَ امْرَأَتَهُ فَتَزَوَّجَهَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ الزَّبِيرِ الْقُرَظِيُّ قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ وَعَلَيْهَا خِمَارٌ أَخْضَرُ فَشَكَتْ إِلَيْهَا وَأَرَتْهَا خُضْرَةً بِجِلْدِهَا فَلَمَّا جَاءَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَالنِّسَاءُ يَنْصُرُ بَعْضُهُنَّ بَعْضًا قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ مَا رَأَيْتُ مِثْلَ مَا يَلْقَى الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ لَجِلْدُهَا أَشَدُّ خُضْرَةً مِنْ ثَوْبِهَا قَالَ وَسَمِعَ أَنَّهَا قَدْ أَتَتْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَجَاءَ وَمَعَهُ ابْنَانِ لَهُ مِنْ غَيْرِهَا قَالَتْ وَاللَّهِ مَا لِي إِلَيْهِ مِنْ ذَنْبٍ إِلَّا أَنَّ مَا مَعَهُ لَيْسَ بِأَغْنَى عَنِّي مِنْ هَذِهِ وَأَخَذَتْ هُدْبَةً مِنْ ثَوْبِهَا فَقَالَ كَذَبَتْ وَاللَّهِ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي لَأَنْفُضُهَا نَفْضَ الْأَدِيمِ وَلَكِنَّهَا نَاشِزٌ تُرِيدُ رِفَاعَةَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَإِنْ كَانَ ذَلِكِ لَمْ تَحِلِّي لَهُ أَوْ لَمْ تَصْلُحِي لَهُ حَتَّى يَذُوقَ مِنْ عُسَيْلَتِكِ قَالَ وَأَبْصَرَ مَعَهُ ابْنَيْنِ لَهُ فَقَالَ بَنُوكَ هَؤُلَاءِ قَالَ نَعَمْ قَالَ هَذَا الَّذِي تَزْعُمِينَ مَا تَزْعُمِينَ فَوَاللَّهِ لَهُمْ أَشْبَهُ بِهِ مِنْ الْغُرَابِ بِالْغُرَابِ(بخاري ، رقم: ٥٣٧٧)
‘Ikramah narrates that Rafa‘ah divorced his wife. Thereafter she married ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Zubayr Qurzi. ‘A’ishah says that she came to her wearing a green cloak and complained of her husband and showed ‘A’ishah her bruises – women do help one another – so when the Prophet (sws) came by, ‘A’ishah said: “I have only seen Muslim women being treated in such a way. Her skin is greener than her cloak.” ‘Ikramah says that when her husband came to know that she had complained to the Prophet (sws), he also came over to the Prophet (sws) along with his two sons from his other wife. Upon seeing her husband, she got hold of the end of her cloak letting it hang from her hand and remarked: My only complaint is that whatever he has is no more than this [soft cloth]. At this, ‘Abd al-Rahman said: “O Prophet (sws) of Allah she has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her; the truth of the matter is that she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rafa‘ah.” When the Prophet (sws) heard this, he said: “If this is the case then you shall not be permissible for Rafa‘ah unless ‘Abd al-Rahman tastes you.” Then, upon seeing the sons of ‘Abd al-Rahman, the Prophet (sws) remarked: “Are these your sons?” When he replied in the affirmative, the Prophet said: “Do you tell such lies [O ‘Abd al-Rahman’s wife]. By God, these [young boys] resemble ‘Abd al-Rahman n more than a crow resembles another crow.” (Bukhari, No: 5377)
Shehzad Saleem has been under the tutelage of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi since 1988 and is currently a Research Fellow of Al-Mawrid. He has Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from U.E.T Lahore, Pakistan and holds a PhD on the History of the Qur’an from the University of Wales, UK. He is the Editor of the Monthly Renaissance (1991-1995; 1998- to date).
URL of Part 1: http://www.newageislam.com/debating-islam/is-the-qur’an-an-incoherent-book?--fifty-common-misconceptions-about-islam-–-part-1/d/104381
URL of Part 2: http://newageislam.com/debating-islam/should-qur’an-be-interpreted-through-hadith?--fifty-common-misconceptions-about-islam---part-2/d/10439
URL of Part 3: http://www.newageislam.com/debating-islam/by-dr-shehzad-saleem/are-women-less-sensible-than-men?---fifty-common-misconceptions-about-islam---part-3/d/104400
please read Huruf-e-jaar instead of
Huruf-e-atf in the following lines
….but its meanings change with the
change of prepositions, called Huruf-e-atf like ba,ala,baina,an,fi, etc.
“…… As for those (women),
of whom you fear extramarital perversity
(nushuz), counsel them, leave them (alone) in their beds and assert on them (wadribuhunna); but if they listen to you, do not seek a
way against them. (Remember,) God is Sublime, Great” (4:34)." -By muhammad yunus - 9/2/2015 9:13:04 AM
Actual meaning of Nushuz:
When one of the spouses is refractory , it is called
Nushuz on the part of that spous,
whether husband or wife. the meaning of nushuz in the most authentic dictionary
"A dictionary of Modern Written Arabic",edited by J. Milton
Cowan" is given as animosity, hostility, antipathy, dissonace, discord, violation of marital
duties on the part of either husband or wife, ,recalcitrance of the woman toward her
husband, and brutal treatment of the wife by the husband. In the most authentic
Urdu dictionary, Al- Qamus-ul Jadid” edited by late Maulana Waheeduzzaman
Kairanwi, the former teacher of Arabic language in Darul Uloom Deoband, the
meaning of nushuz is given as “ nafarmani” ( disobedience). So there is no room
for the word nushuz being tanslated as extramarital perversity. The fact is that the so
called modern Islamist and some early mufassireen have brought this word to
dilute the western criticism of the harsh treatment of wife by putting the blame of adultery on the wife.
Nushuz can be on the part of the wife, the husband
or both can claim it to be from the other.
The Quran in another place uses the same word
(nushuz) for the atitude of prophet
Muhammad towards his aged wife hazrat Sauda.
S. 4:128-130 " And if a woman fears ill
treatment or desertion on the part of her husband, there is no blame on them,
if they effect a reconciliation between them, and reconciliation is better, and
avarice has been made to be present in the (people's) minds...
In the above text, women who fear mistreatment or
desertion are told that they can seek a means of reconciliation. What many
don’t realize is that this verse( 4:128) was actually revealed in relation to
prophet Muhammad’s mistreatment/ negligence of his wife Sauda bint Zamah because
she had become old and unattractive. The late Sunni scholar and exegete Ibn
"Making peace is better than separation. An
example of such peace can be felt in the story of Sawdah bint Zam'ah who WHEN
SHE BECAME AGED, THE PROPHET WANTED TO DIVORCE HER, but she made peace with him
by offering the night he used to spend with her to A'isha so that he would keep
her. The Prophet accepted such terms and kept her.
so If We agree to Mr Muhammad Unus's translation of
nushuz as adultery, he will be accusing
the prophet of committing this serious crime of adultery.
Now I take
verse 4:34, in which wife beating is permitted:
(asbab ul-nuzul) behind the "revelation" of the verse 4:34
is detailed by various Muslim scholars. The quote below comes from
Razi's commentary, "At-Tafsir al-Kabir," on 4:34
"A women complained to Muhammad that her
husband slapped her on the face, (which was still marked by the slap). At first
the prophet said to her: "Get even with him", but then added:
"Wait until I think about it". Later on, Allah supposedly revealed
4:34 to Muhammad, after which the prophet said: "We wanted one thing but Allah
wanted another, and what Allah wanted is best."
Now the meanig of ZARB (zaraba-yazribu).
As per the above mentioned dictionary, the meaning
of zaraba is: to beat, to strike and to hit if the word is used without a
preposition like it has been used in the verse 4:34 (wazribu hunna). It also
gives the meaning of giving example. but
its meanings change with the change of prepositions, called Huruf-e-atf like
We should also keep in mind that hazrat Umar said
that Before the advent of Islam, the men of Makkah resorted to beating their
wives in the case of recalcitrance; and sometimes resorted even to divorce
quickly for avoiding the headache.
means stubborn resistance to and defiance of authority or guidance.
Mr Muhammad Unus says, in response to my comment, “Our rendition (‘to assert’) symbolizes a gesture of beating
and is based on the Qur’anic use of this verb form in the verse 38:44, in which
the Prophet Job is commanded to take a ‘tuft of grass’ in his hand and fadrib (his wife) rather than break his
oath.” Let us
discuss the subject in some detail.
38:44 (Adressing prophet
Job) "And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith
(your wife), and break not your oath.''
The following commentary on
38:44 is taken from Tafseer Ibn Kathir.
"Here Allah tells us
about His servant and Messenger Ayub (Job) and how He tested him. These tests
afflicted his body, his wealth and his children, until there was no part of his
body that was healthy except his heart. Then he had nothing left in this world
which he could use to help him deal with his sickness or the predicament he was
in, besides his wife, who retained her devotion to him because of her faith in
Allah and His Messenger. She used to work for people as a paid servant, and she
fed and served him (Ayub) for nearly eighteen years.
Before that, he was very
rich and had many children, being well off in worldly terms. All of that had
been taken away until he ended up being thrown into the city dump where he
stayed all this time, shunned by relatives and strangers alike, with the
exception of his wife -- may Allah be pleased with her. She did not leave him,
morning and evening, except for when she was serving people, then she would
come straight back to him. (In spite of all her devotion) Ayub, peace be upon
him, (once) got angry with his wife and was upset about something she had done,
so he swore an oath that if Allah healed him, he would strike her with one
hundred blows. When Allah healed him, how could her service, mercy,
compassion and kindness be repaid with a beating? So Allah
showed him a way out, which was to take a bundle of thin grass, with one
hundred stems, and hit her with it once. Thus he fulfilled his oath and avoided
breaking his vow. This was the solution and way out for one who had Taqwa of
Allah and turned to Him in repentance."
Here is a wife devoted to
her husband with service, mercy
,compassion and kindness whom Allah wanted to rescue from unwarrented torture.
On the other hand is a rebellious and hostile wife who is still hostile even after
passing the two stages of admonition and sexual boycott and who according
quranic scheme needs even harsher treatment. I am surprised how a learned
scholer like Mr Muhammad Unus can equate the two situations?
The following is based on edited excerpts from the published
research of Michael P. Johnson, Pennsylvania State University:
There are four types of partner violence among married
patriarchal terrorism, (PT)
common couple violence, (CCV)
and mutual violent control.
The violence that most people associate with the term
“domestic violence,” i.e., recurrent, escalating, violent control of one’s
partner is Patriarchal terrorism which is mostly male.
When we fail to make important distinctions among types of
violence, we end up thinking that all violence is patriarchal terrorism which
is almost exclusively male and there is great gender asymmetry of domestic
violence. This is not so.
Surveys have shown that the per-couple frequency of violence
was much higher in the shelter literature which covers PT (65 incidents per
year per couple) than it was in the
survey literature covering random samples (6 incidents per year per couple). Second, patterns of escalation of the
violence were dramatically different (virtually certain escalation in the
shelter literature vs. six percent escalation in the survey literature
accompanied by considerable de-escalation).
Finally, the violence in the shelter literature was generally not
reciprocal, with only a minority of women fighting back, while about two-thirds
of the reports in the survey literature involved reciprocal violence.
These differences in the patterns of
violence are compatible with the position that there are two types of partner
violence in families, types that differ because of differences in the role of
the violence in the maintenance of power and control in the relationship. One form of violence, which he called
“patriarchal terrorism,” is part of a general pattern of power and control, in
which one person seeks to exercise general power and control over his partner
and uses a variety of control tactics, including violence, toward that
end. Shelter activists have long argued
that the violence of wife-beating is only one tactic in a general pattern of
power and control (Pence
and Paymar 1993). The general motive to control one’s partner
is manifested in the use of a wide range of control tactics, of which violence
is just one. The violence is likely to
have characteristics that reflect its origins in this general power and control
motive. First, as a consequence both of
socialization that encourages boys and men to see control as an essential
component of masculinity, and of patriarchal family traditions that emphasize
male control of family life, this form of violence is exercised almost entirely
by men. Second, the violence in patriarchal terrorism is
exercised relatively frequently, either in order to attempt to subdue
resistance, or in order to display one’s power.
Third, the violence in patriarchal terrorism almost inevitably escalates
over time, again in the service of general control over one’s partner. Fourth, the average severity of violence in
patriarchal terrorism will be relatively high, due to this escalation
process. Finally, in most cases of
patriarchal terrorism, the partner does not fight back. Although some women resist at first, in many
such cases they recognize the futility of trying to physically resist a man who
is determined to subdue them, through violence and through all of the other
means at his disposal.
The other form of violence, which
Johnson called “common couple violence,” does not involve a general pattern of
power and control. The violence erupts
as a response to a particular conflict, and while control may be a temporary
motive, the violence is not enacted in the service of a general interest in
controlling one’s partner. Thus,
compared to patriarchal terrorism, this form of violence is more gender
symmetric, occurs less frequently in the relationship, is less likely to
escalate over time, and more frequently
involves reciprocal violence.
From the discussion above, it
should be clear that what is permitted by verse 4:34 is CCV where control is
only a temporary motive to address a serious domestic issue of fidelity and not
PT which should be made a criminal offence.
A counter question that is asked
is “why does the Quran not sanction husband beating to correct a wayward
husband?” The simple answer is there is no need to do so. Wives do resort to
violence to control a wayward husband and there is considerable gender symmetry
as it concerns CCV. Researchers have found CCV to be an effective tool in
conflict resolution among young couples. The incidence of CCV deescalates, the
bonding improves and the understanding between the couple of boundaries that
cannot be crossed in the relationship gets perfected preventing any further
cause for CCV.
God understands human nature and the role of violence in human
relationships. The objective of verse 4:34 is clearly to limit man to resorting
to CCV only in case of gross misconduct by the wife and only as a part of a
three stage process. As far as the woman is concerned, since there is no verse
on the subject, she is not limited by the Quran and is free to indulge in it for
any behavior of her husband that greatly annoys her. In practical terms, she is
limited by what her husband will put up with which is related to the gravity of
his “misdemeanor”. In the case of Tiger
Woods, not only was he bashed up by his wife, but a contrite, repentant and
bashed up Tiger Woods was even divorced by the woman! No one sympathized with him
or thought his wife’s behavior in beating him up was “barbaric” etc., etc. nor did Tiger Woods retaliate. This is generally the case when a woman indulges in CCV. It is not even talked about as a problem because it isn't. Nor is verse 4:34 a problem which actually limits CCV among men rather than sanction it.
There is more on the subject in my article:
Wisdom: Marriage and Treatment of Women
"Third, regarding the highly controversial issue of wife
beating, the concluding God’s attributes (Sublime, Great) rule out any notion
of beating – even symbolically. Our rendition (‘to assert’) symbolizes a
gesture of beating and is based on the Qur’anic use of this verb form in the
verse 38:44, in which the Prophet Job is commanded to take a ‘tuft of grass’ in
his hand and fadrib (his wife) rather
than break his oath. While the Qur’an leaves it there enigmatically, Biblical
accounts are accommodative of the
classical Muslim commentators’ view that this simply meant flinging the tuft of
grass towards his wife, as a symbolic gesture of beating.8
Some of the early scholars of Islam including al-Tabari, al-Razi, al-Shafi’i,
also interpreted this verb form (wadribu) in the verse 4:34 in
similar manner, while the Prophet detested the idea of beating one’s wife and
is reported to have said: “Never beat God’s handmaidens.” The English language
does not have any suitable word for the symbolic gesture of beating to match
this situation, and so the word ‘assert’ in our rendering may be more
appropriate and less misleading than the traditional word, ‘beating’ to
maintaining thematic continuity with the next verse and compatibility with the
broader reciprocal and equitable role of men and women as the awliya’
(protector) of one another as enjoined by the Qur’an (9:71 above)."
4:34 . Muhammad Asad in his famous tafseer, “The Message
Of the Quran” interprets this verse more correctly. He writes,
take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more
abundantly on the former than on the latter,42 and with what they may spend out
of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who
guard the intimacy which God has [ordained to be] guarded.43 And as for those
women whose ill-will44 you have reason to fear, admonish them [first]; then
leave them alone in bed; then beat them;45 and if thereupon they pay you heed,
do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great! 42 Lit.,
"more on some of them than on the others".- The expression qawwam is
an intensive form of qa'im ("one who is responsible for" or
"takes care of" a thing or a person).
Thus, qama 'ala l-mar'ah
signifies "he undertook the maintenance of the woman" or "he
maintained her" (see Lane VIII, 2995). The grammatical form qawwam is more
comprehensive than qa'im, and combines the concepts of physical maintenance and
protection as well as of moral responsibility: and it is because of the
last-named factor that I have rendered this phrase as "men shall take full
care of women". 43 Lit., "who guard that which cannot be perceived
(al-ghayb) because God has [willed it to be] guarded". 44 T
he term nushuz
(lit., "rebellion"- here rendered as "ill-will") comprises
every kind of deliberate bad behaviour of a wife towards her husband or of a
husband towards his wife, including what is nowadays described as "mental
cruelty"; with reference to the husband, it also denotes "ill-treatment",
in the physical sense, of his wife (cf. verse 128 of this surah). In this
context, a wife's "ill-will" implies a deliberate, persistent breach
of her marital obligations. 45
It is evident from many authentic Traditions
that the Prophet himself intensely detested the idea of beating one's wife, and
said on more than one occasion, "Could any of you beat his wife as he
would beat a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?" (Bukhari and
Muslim). According to another Tradition, he forbade the beating of any woman with
the words, "Never beat God's handmaidens" (Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn
Majah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Hibban and Hakim, on the authority of Iyas ibn
'Abd Allah; Ibn Hibban, on the authority of 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abbas; and Bayhaqi,
on the authority of Umm Kulthum). When the above Qur'an-verse authorizing the
beating of a refractory wife was revealed, the Prophet is reported to have
said: "I wanted one thing, but God has willed another thing - and what God
has willed must be best" (see Manar V, 74).
With all this, he stipulated
in his sermon on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, shortly before his
death, that beating should be resorted to only if the wife "has become
guilty, in an obvious manner, of immoral conduct", and that it should be
done "in such a way as not to cause pain (ghayr mubarrih)"; authentic
Traditions to this effect are found in Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i and
On the basis of these Traditions, all the authorities stress that
this "beating", if resorted to at all, should be more or less
symbolic - "with a toothbrush, or some such thing" (Tabari, quoting
the views of scholars of the earliest times), or even "with a folded
handkerchief" (Razi); and some of the greatest Muslim scholars (e.g.,
Ash-Shafi'i) are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should
preferably be avoided: and they justify this opinion by the Prophet's personal
feelings with regard to this problem.
But the problem is that, here the prophet is contradicting
Allah ( or may be himself).
"It is one of the most critical and important verses of the
Qur’an. Most commentators have interpreted it in a manner that i) admits of a
man’s superior and commanding role, and a woman’s inferior and subordinate role
in marriage and ii) empowers a man to beat an allegedly wayward or disobedient
wife. They interpret the critical words and phrases of the verse in the
following traditional lines:
"Our rendition does not support a husband’s
superiority or a wife’s obedience to, or being beating up by her husband
regardless of cause, and is based on the interpretation of its critical words
and phrases from Qur’anic illustrations. Since this is a somewhat exhaustive
exercise, we have placed it in the footnote for those who may wish to verify
it, or fully satisfy themselves.7"
Men are the protectors and supporters of women. They shall take full care of women with
what they spend of their wealth. God has made men to excel in some areas and women
to excel in some areas. Men should ensure that women are able to stand at their feet
in the society. So, righteous women are obedient to God's ordinances and guard the
moral values even in privacy, the values that God has commanded to be guarded. If
you experience ill-treatment from them, apprise them of possible consequences. Next,
leave them in their resting places, and refer them for arbitration. If they pay heed
to you, do not seek a way against them. God is Most High, Most Great. [Qawwam
= Protector = Maintainer = One who helps others to stand at their feet. Nushooz
= Ill- treatment = Rebellion = To stand up against = To stand up against virtue =
Mental abuse = Domestic violence = To rebel against the permanent moral values
(2:259, 58:11). Nushooz by men (4:128). Wa'az = Admonishment = To apprise of
consequences (2:231, 3:66). 'Dharb' = Example (13:17, 16:74, 36:13) = To stop or
prevent (8:11, 43:5) = Travel = Referring to arbiters = To give examples (13:17, 16:74,
36:13, 43:58) = To withdraw (43:5)]
4:35 وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا