By Mariam Habib
June 05, 2012
It has been a creeping realisation for some time now whether the custodians of our faith are doing more damage to the Islamic philosophy than the so-called infidels. Considering how loudly they talk of the Islamic Shariah, it is incredible that the same energy is not used to abolish some appalling deviations from the Shariah that are considered God’s will on a scale, which is incredible in its universal acceptance and horrific in its frequency of application.
Un-Islamic Practices Are Part And Parcel Of Our Marriage Contract
Quite a number of these un-Islamic practices are part and parcel of our marriage contract, the Nikahnama. First and foremost, is with reference to the girl's right of divorce or Khula, which is more often than not crossed out in the Nikahnama as a show of sincere faith on part of the girl’s family. How it came to pass that this God-given right came to be looked upon as a hidden agenda of treachery and/or a sign of non-commitment to the marriage itself is beyond me, since the man’s right to divorce is considered neither.
Plus, the fact that whether it is crossed out in the Nikahnama or not since it is a right ordained by the Almighty in the Holy Quran, no power can revoke it for a Muslim girl. All it achieves in case the marriage fails is a lot of bureaucratic red tape in courts and extended time in receiving the divorce certificate.
The Crossing Out Of The Khula Right To The Bride Is Heresy
This practice should actually be looked upon as heresy since in essence the people demanding the crossing out of the Khula right are revolting against God’s decree and the people accepting it are strengthening that revolt. Is it not boldly stating that they know better than God Himself how the Nikahnama should have been constructed?
Then we come to the question of Haq Mehr. Please explain to me how any sane person can accept the “batees rupay aath aane” amount without actually mutilating the true spirit behind it as ordained in the Holy Quran. Seeing how so many casually accept this figure as being sharaee reflects on how many of us actually take the time to read the Quran in a language they understand.
No amount has been specified in the Holy Quran when it comes to Haq Mehr. However, certain conditions have been stipulated that must be followed. First, that it should be in accordance with the groom’s financial standing without any injustice to either party and second that the amount should be mutually agreeable to both parties irrelevant of who suggests and who accepts. How difficult is this concept to grasp and who can find fault with such concise and just rulings?
Of course, there is the element of following the Sunnah. But it ends up being very self-serving since if that is the real reason behind such a stance, then it should also be stipulated that the entire expenditure of the marriage be borne by the groom.
The Actual Spirit Of The Sunnah Was Different
The Prophet’s Sunnah was based on the criteria provided in the Holy Quran. So if that very criteria is broken by the amount of “10 dirham” in present times, which in any case fluctuates due to changes in exchange rates, then it should not be difficult to gauge what the actual spirit of the Sunnah was.
It is interesting to realise how so many of the practices in Pakistan have no Islamic basis and thus are non-existent in other Muslim countries. It is lack of basic knowledge of our religion itself that leads to such gross deviations; where there are countless mosques a stone’s throw of each other and just as many imams it is, indeed, unfortunate that such a dearth of religious knowledge is the norm.
Just as easily as the prerequisites of the Nikah are abandoned for personal ends, the divorce proceedings are governed by inhuman and ruthless rites. In Islam if a man divorces a woman, he is supposed to let her stay in his house for the period of Iddat without transgressing on any of her previous rights of providing for her financially and treating her with respect. Yet, how many ill fated women have found them thrown out on the streets by the husband or his family after the three fateful words have been hurled at her without so much as a penny or a backward glance.
All Our Religious Zest Is To Relish In The Perceived Depravity Of Others
When did we reach the state where all our religious zest was to condemn others, to relish in the perceived depravity of others because it made us seem more pious, to embrace the very first sin ever committed by our arrogance in our piety or our intellectualism and all this while we had the source of divine knowledge right in front of us in the form of the Holy Quran.
If a true egalitarian society is to be achieved based on the principles of our religion, then scrutiny should begin and end with our own actions; all we must do is to pick up the Holy Quran and start reading, start understanding, start reforming; all things have to begin with our own selves and that in itself takes a lifetime.
Mariam Habib is a Pakistan-based freelance columnist.