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Islamic Society ( 10 Feb 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The ‘Islamic’ Principle of Kufu (Parity) In Marriage Propagated By Upper Caste Muslim Theologians in India Is Just a Cover for Caste-Supremacism


Islam does not sponsor any discrimination on the basis of caste, lineage, sub-caste and ethnicity while arranging marriages. Islam does not oppose marriage in a different biradari, superior or inferior. However, the issue of kufu (parity) has become a problem and an obstacle in marriages of Muslim boys and girls more so when the boy or the girl wants to marry a boy or a girl of his or her own choice outside their own caste and sub-caste (biradari). In some cases, the marriage between a boy and a girl belonging to different birdaris leads to even murder and breaking of close family ties. The decision of a girl to marry a boy of her own choice even without the consent of her guardians cannot be questioned. Opposing such a marriage merely on the basis of what is called the principle of kufu is making a travesty of Islam. The sense of caste or biradari’s superiority creates serious problems and leads to the opposition of such inter-community marriages and violates Islam’s principle of equality which Muslims claim to be what is called its unique selling proposition. In this article Maulana Abul Hameed Nomani discusses the issue of kufu from a positive point of view which aims to solve the problems of marriage of Muslim boys particularly girls who sometimes grow old waiting for the right match in their own biradari. -- New Age Islam Edit Desk


The Issue of Inter-Caste Marriages among Muslims and the Principle of Kufu

By Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani

Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk

February 8. 2013

To take the society along the path to peace and progress, it is necessary to solve the social issues with a right approach in a balanced way. For this purpose while it becomes necessary to have an understanding of the natural feelings of people, it is unwise to ignore the ground realities. An important social issue is the marriage between a man and a woman. While arranging a marriage, all the aspects that make their conjugal life better should be considered.  Equality of spouses is taken in consideration for the same purpose.

Recently, the issue of the equality of spouses in marriages has once again become a topic of discussion. But the fact is that the views on the equality of the spouses are divergent. Some people out rightly deny the importance of equality even criticizing jurists and Islamic scholars while the other faction claims that equality is the basis of marriage underlining their racial superiority and declare intercommunity marriages unlawful thought the neutral path crosses between the two divergent opinions. Even if there were no Qur’anic verses or Hadiths about the intercommunity marriages, it would have been wise to consider some equality or parity between the boy and girl for the sake of their better and harmonious conjugal relationships in future.

Man and woman are strangers to each other before marriage. Marriage unites them. This union is no child’s play nor is it their house of sand whose construction and destruction has no significance in life but it is a serious affair and therefore, for a stable conjugal life the issues that come under the category of equality should be taken into consideration. In this regard, the four imams and other modern jurists have also attached importance to the issue of equality and parity.

It is another matter that not everyone gives equal importance to the aspect of social or economic parity nor did it attain such significance which it was conferred in later ages, particularly in terms of biradari (sub-caste). The marriage outside biradari (community) has been regarded sort of a taboo in some sections so much so that the violation of this rule even leads to murders or the lives of both the boy and girl is ruined or in some cases ties are broken for life as a result of marriages outside the community. Obviously, it is not done in love for Shariah but it is done out of one’s ego or the imaginary honour of the family. And to prove their stand right, they seek justification for their acts in the jurisprudence baselessly. In Islamic jurisprudence, the will of the girl is uppermost and if her guardians arrange her marriage outside the community and in an unequal family out of social and religious compulsions, there is no limitation from Shariah on it. But this is not publicized. If it is done, the intensity about the issue of equality will be diminished to some extent.

The jurists have also put forward the argument that the girl feels humiliated by being the wife of a boy of a lower community or family and this feeling becomes an obstacle in a happy conjugal life.  But when the girl herself chooses such a boy and wants to lead a conjugal life with him and there is also no prohibited blood relation between them then there is no question of the girl feeling humiliated at becoming his wife. It should also be noted that those who attached undue importance to the issue of kufu (equality) overemphasise the above mentioned cause. This cause is important and considerable when the girl does not like the boy and her marriage is settled with someone without her consent. This happens rarely in today’s world. The problem arises when the boy and the girl like each other and want to tie the conjugal knot or being adults marry without the consent of the guardians. In this situation, the nature of the problem becomes different and the Nikah is declared null and void on this ground.

Recently, there were some cases in which it was said that since the marriage between the boy and the girl of different sub-castes was not held with the consent of the guardians, it was void and there was no need to give or take Talaq. So, the guardians were free to marry them off wherever they wished.  Undoubtedly, some later generation of Hanafi jurists have also given rulings against the general tradition of Imam Azam and later in a particular situation, this ruling got acceptance among other jurists. It is possible that under some  particular circumstances and for some reasons the Fatwas was issued but it is the need of the hour from the point of view of various difficulties in marriages that the general traditions and Fatwas should be followed as has been stressed by Mufti Irshad Ahmad Qasmi. But it is also to be made sure that no girl should marry without the consent of their guardians because it is against the modesty and propriety of girls.

The Shariah has made it detestable for girls to marry without the consent of the guardians. The Hanafi jurists have discussed the traditions regarding this from various aspects on the basis of their research and these traditions are more logically acceptable than those presented in connection with kufu (equality) in tribes and communities/sub-castes and cannot also be ignored with regard to the consent of the guardians because in the Hanafi school also the marriage outside community or sub-caste is quite permissible. In this situation, the consent of the guardian (wali) once again assumes importance. If the family, lineage and standard of living of the boy matches those with the girls and if there is mental, economical and educational harmony and congruity between the boy and the girl then honouring the girl’s choice and to prevent the sexual and social vices as indicated by the prophet (pbuh) it would be wise to marry her with the boy of her choice.

The marriage outside the community/biradari is not such that should be made a matter of life and death. Those who do it make their life along with the lives of their son or daughter hell unnecessarily. Nowadays many Muslim girls ignore the Shariah and enter into Haram un Islamic marriages. With the exception of marriages with pious ahl-e-kitab women, marriages with non-believers do not take place in the first place. In these circumstances, it is a wrong attitude and due to the ignorance about the circumstances that people put obstacles in the sundry marriages between the boys and girls from different communities on the basis of imparity. This attitude creates problems rather than solving them.

It is a welcome sign that scholars and jurists have paid attention to this issue and are busy finding a viable solution to it in the light of the Quran, Sunnah and the rulings of jurists. The scholars and intellectuals are in the know what the views and rulings of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Maualan Md Shafi Deobandi and Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan were about the issue of kufu (parity). But in the changing times and requirements the rulings and fatwas of renowned scholar and researcher Maulana Md Taqi Usmani and Bareilvi scholar of Quran and hadith Maulana Ghulam Rasool Sayidi have rendered the issue of kufu (equality) less significant and thus discouraged the issue that created problems in marriage rather than solving it. In his exegesis Batyan al Quran, Maulana Sayidi while explaining the marriage of Hadhrat Zaid and Hadhrat Zainab in Surah Ahzab and by discussing the Hadiths in Muslim Sharif has presented the issue from a new point of view highlighting the importance and meaning of kufu. Recently a collection of lectures and writings of Maulana Taqi Usmani titled Hamari Zindagi aur Islam (Our life and Islam) has been published in ten volumes from Maktaba Nayeemia, Deoband. In the 5th volume of the book, while discussing the implications of the extremist outlook against inter-community marriage, he has narrated a tragic story of a girl in America whose father has totally dissociated himself from her for marrying outside their community with the help of her mother and brother.

Criticising this attitude Maulana Usmani has written that people are still slave to their self-created dogmas and beliefs in relation to marriage. He later writes that some traditions of the prophet (pbuh) do encourage marriages in the same community equal in every respect so that the two families can harmonise themselves but it is wrong to say that out of community marriages are totally impermissible under Shariah or that such nikahs are totally void. The truth is that if the girl and her guardian agree on the marriage outside community, then the marriage is valid and there is no constraint or limitation from the Shariah. Therefore, if a girl is not getting suitable alliances from kufu (same caste), she can be married in other community. He later writes, “Laying so much stress on caste or community has no basis or justification.”(Islam aur hamari zindagi)

Those who lay undue stress on parity in marriage should think why a girl was compelled to marry outside her community. The truth is that in particular situations; marriage outside community is a solution, not a problem. So it should be seen as a solution.  It is not wise to create a problem out of a solution. I have discussed this issue of kufu in my book ‘The issue of kufu and the propagation of Islam’ in detail.  The following lines should also be an eye opener for a sensible person.

‘In today’s world the real problem is to prevent a boy, particularly a girl from marrying outside her religion where the marriage does not take place in the first place. Marriage outside the community but within the religion is not a problem.’

Source: Daily Hamara Samaj, February 5, 2013