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Case Study 5: Wife-Beating? Why Beat Around the Bush When There is No Validation in Quran!

Monday, February 1st, 2016
Case Study 5: Wife-Beating? Why Beat Around the Bush When There is No Validation in Quran!

The words wa-ḍribū hunna, used in the verse 4:34 of the Quran, are mistranslated as "and beat them" to justify wife-beating. Wa means "and", the word translated as "beat" is iḍribū, and hunna means "them" in the feminine tense. Translating iḍribū as "beat" is one of the most flagrant slaughters of a word in Quran.

(Note on terminology: The imperative iḍribū is a command in the plural to carry out the action known as ḍarb. Whenever a word occurs before an imperative such as iḍribū, the last vowel of that word replaces the initial i of the imperative; thus we have here: waḍribū. Note also that the Arabic letter represented by in modern transliteration used to be represented as dz, and is sometimes written as just d, as in some references below.)

The action of ḍarb has several meanings and connotations including to ‘seek away’ or ‘turn them away.’ Ignoring the Quran and Sunnah, some of the translators have chosen to use the most violent and the most out of context meaning of this word. Reading verse 4:34 in context of the immediately following verse 4:35, it becomes crystal clear, and leaves no room for any doubt, whatsoever, that this word is used here in its most non-violent and its most reconciliatory sense. Furthermore, all other verses in Quran addressing the exact same topic of a discord between a husband and a wife, one and all, in unison, prescribe civilized, community-based solutions and not violence.

The Prophet himself is on several records to have harshly condemned any and every sort of violence towards one’s wife. Since it is established that Prophet Muhammad was the ‘the Quran walking,’ it follows that he would never have condemned any act permitted by the Quran.

This word in itself is not the root cause of pain and suffering for women. Rather, the wrong meaning attached to it is what can become a justification for human rights violation in the name of Allah. Below are quoted its root, forms and meanings, all of which are far removed from its misuse to beat one’s wife:

Dzaraba – This word admits a great variety of meanings and interpretations as: To heal, strike, propound as an example, put forth a parable, go, make a journey, travel, mix, avoid, take away, put a cover, shut, mention, state, propound, set forth, compare, liken, seek away, march own, set, impose, prevent, fight, traffic with anyone’s property for a share in the profit, leave for sake, take away thing (with ‘an). Dzaraba bi arjulihî: He travelled. Dzarab al-ardza: Without or with : To travel. Dzaraba fulânun al-gha’ita: To go to relieve the bowels, go to privy, go for earning livelihood. Lâ tudzrabu akbâd al-ibili illa alâ thalâthati masâjida: La Turkal flâ yusaru ilaihâ: One must not ride to go but for three mosques. Adzrabu: To go and sworm. Dzârib: Depressed ground; Hard ground in a plain; sandy valley; Commissioner as he has to travel much. Dzarabtu lahû al-ardza Kullahâ: I went searching him everywhere. Dzarbun: Kind Manner; Lean; Thin; Similar; Alike; The act of striking; A blow; Going from place to place; Vicissitude of life; Affliction especially that which relates to one's person, as disease, death, degradation is common and general suffering. Dzaraba (prt. 3rd. p.m. sing.): He set forth, coined, propounded, compared, gave, mentioned, traveled, took away, avoided (with ‘An). Dzarabû (prf. 3rd. p.m. plu.): They set forth. Dzarabtum (prf. 2nd. p. m. plu.): Ye went forth, set forth. Dzarabnâ (prf. 1st. p. plu.): We have set forth. We put over a cover (with ‘Alâ). Yadzribu (imp. 3rd. p. m. sing.): He illustrates, sets forth, compares, likens. Confirms. Yadzribûna (imp. 3rd. p. m. plu.): They smite, travel. Yadzribna (imp. 3rd. p. f.plu.): She draws over, strikes. Lâ Tadzribû (prt. neg. m. plu.): Coin not. Nadzribu (imp. 1st. p. plu.): We set forth, narrate, will leave (with ‘An). Idzrib (prt. m. sing.): Strike; Go; Seek a way; March on. Idzribû (prt. m. plu.): You strike. Dzuriba (pp. 3rd. p. m. sing.): Held up; Will be set up. Dzuribat (pp. 3rd. p. f. sing.): They are smitted. Dzarbun (v.n. used in the sense of imperative to emphasize the command). Dzarban (v.n. acc.): Going about; Striking. (L; T; R; LL) The root with its above forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 58 times.1

The linguistic spread of the word Dzaraba is so extensive that the ‘Arabic-English Lexicon’ by Edward William Lane (London: Willams & Norgate 1863) allocates to it six pages of three columns each i.e. pages 1777 – 1783.2

At the end of this chapter are listed all the verses from Quran, a total of 53, in which the usage of Dzaraba is identified with all its variations and none of which mean corporal punishment. Even where Dzaraba is used for being ‘smitten’ or a physical ‘strike,’ that usage is fully qualified in the same or adjoining verses, with what, how to, how much and why, to smite or strike. However, it is never, ever used in the sense of beating or corporal punishment.

Wife-beating is an example where a disgusting behavior by men is justified by fishing in Quran for its validation. A barbaric meaning is injected ‘into’ Quran, rather than reading the decent rules of a civil society ‘out of’ Quran. Such abhorring reasoning is found not in Quran, but in certain translations, one of which is quoted below from Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi, the translator:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them excel over the other, and because they spend out of their possessions (to support them). Thus righteous women are obedient and guard the rights of men in their absence under Allah's protection. As for women of whom you fear rebellion [Arabic: nushūzahunna], admonish them, and remain apart from them in beds, and beat them [Arabic: iḍ’ribūhunna]*. Then if they obey you, do not seek ways to harm them. Allah is Exalted, Great (4:34).

* This does not mean that a man should resort to these three measures all at once, but that they may be employed if a wife adopts an attitude of obstinate defiance. So far as the actual application of these measures is concerned, there should, naturally, be some correspondence between the fault and the punishment that is administered. Moreover, it is obvious that wherever a light touch can prove effective, one should not resort to sterner measures. Whenever the Prophet (peace be on him) permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with reluctance, and continued to express his distaste for it. And even in cases where it is necessary, the Prophet (peace be on him) directed men not to hit across the face, nor to beat severely nor to use anything that might leave marks on the body. (See Ibn Majah, 'Nikah', 3 – Ed.)

If you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both want to set things right, Allah will bring about reconciliation between them. Allah knows all, is well aware of everything (4:35).3

Irrespective of who said what in their translation and then tried to reconcile the stated meaning of allowance for beating of wife with lengthy apologies, the fact remains the same, that they all advocate wife beating. Additionally, even if for the sake of an argument ‘beat them’ is assumed to be the correct meaning, then nowhere in Quran will one find the extent and limits of the allowed beating of wives by their husbands. Such translations essentially give a vengeful husband the ‘license’ to beat his wife into disfigurement or death? It only nurtures the evil of ‘honor killings.’

Before we take the translation of verse 4:34, sanctifying wife beating, seriously, we also read in the same translation and in the same chapter –“Do they not ponder about the Qur'an? Had it been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found in it much inconsistency (4:82)”4 With this standard of Quran we have to make sure if this translation of verse 4:34 is inconsistent with other verses, which factually it is. We do not have to remind the translator of verse 4:34 above that according to his own translation of another verse‘…They [–wives] are as a garment to you [–husbands] and you [–husbands] are as a garment to them [–wives] … (2:187).’5 If both spouses are garments of protection and grace for each other and if per chance, according to verse 4:34, the wife sheds her obligation of being a garment for her husband, it still remains obligatory for the husband to remain the garment of protection and grace, not that of violation, for his wife and resort to beating her. In another verse from the same translator it states “…Live with your wives in a good manner. If you dislike them in any manner, it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good for you (4:19).6 Unless someone can justify wife beating as being consistent with living with good manner (that is enjoined on the husbands) translation of verse 4:34 flagrantly contradicts 4:19. In another place in the same translation we find “…who restrain their anger, and forgive others. Allah loves such good-doers (3:134).7 According to this translation, on the one hand Quran encourages suppression of anger and promotes forgiveness while on the other in verse 4:34 it perpetuates anger when it gives the option to beat one’s wife. By the standards of Quran, where there is no inconsistency therein (4:82), this translator woefully creates inconsistency when he allows beating of a wife by her husband and thus leaves us no option but to reject his translation of verse 4:34.

Inflicting physical punishment on women was sadly common in many societies, and, unfortunately, some men derive the legitimacy of punishing their wives from the word Adzribu stated in this verse [4:34]. Adzribu is derived from dzaraba a word with a great variety of meanings and interpretations in the Arabic language and in the Holy Qur'an. Such meanings include to heal, strike, put forward an example, put forth a parable, make a journey, move away, travel, mix, cover, impose, prevent, or take something away. This word has been used in the Holy Qur'an fifty-eight times with different meanings (cf. 30:28; 43:5; 2:273; 2:60; 2:61;18:11;57:13). Thus, adzribu does not mean here [in verse 4:34] to strike physically and it certainly does not mean to inflict physical punishment on women. Meanings such as “take something away” or “put forth an example” (symbolically) can be used as the translation of this word here. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) [–the first and foremost exegete of Quran,] is reported to have said, "You will not find these men as the best among you who punish their wives" (Daud 12/42). Also, He rhetorically asked, "Could any of you beat his wife and then lie with her in the evening?" (Bukhari).8

If the verse 4:34 allows for physical punishment of one’s wife in a marital dispute, no matter how mild the punishment inflicted, then such a husband who beats his wife is merely following the injunction in Quran. How is it then even possible for the Prophet to abhor such a follower of Quran, if the Quran allowed wife beating in the first place. We have two choices in this example, either Quran as translated above is wrong or the Prophet is misquoted, but not both could be right simultaneously. Obviously, neither Quran can be wrong for its actual message of non-violence towards anyone, especially the women, nor the Prophet could be wrong for hadith attributed to him of non-violence towards wives. Once again, without even discussing the linguistics, we are left with no choice but to reject wife beating as the utterly wrong meaning attributed to Quran. On the reverse we have the following hadith about the Prophet:

Abu Abdullah Al-Jadali narrated: "I asked 'Aishah about the character of the Messenger of Allah. She said: 'He was not obscene, nor uttering obscenities, nor screaming in the markets, he would not return an evil with an evil, but rather he was pardoning and forgiving."[Tirmidhi]9

We also have another verse from Quran about the sublime nature of the Prophet and a corresponding hadith attributed to Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, that the Prophet was “the Quran walking” in his character:

68:4. And you possess outstandingly high standard of moral (excellence).10

Narrated Sa'd bin Hisham: “…I said: Mother of faithful [-Aisha], tell me about the character of the Messenger of Allah (). She asked: Do you not recite the Quran ? The character of Messenger of Allah () was the Qur'an…” [Sunan Abu Dawud’]11

How is it possible for a walking talking Quran to not have followed its injunction, and allowed wife beating? Rather on the reverse, we have hadiths from Aisha which only prove that he was a man far removed from violence and follower of Quran in this matter:

"The Messenger of Allah () never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything." [Ibn Majah]12

"Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam did not hit anything with his mubaarak hands, besides the time when he made jihaad in the Path of Allah. He did not hit a servant nor a women (wife, slave girl etc.)"[ Shama’il Muhammadiyah (–Tirmidhi)]13

“Messenger of Allah () never hit anything with his hand neither a servant nor a woman but of course, he did fight in the Cause of Allah. He never took revenge upon anyone for the wrong done to him, but of course, he exacted retribution for the sake of Allah in case the Injunctions of Allah about unlawful acts were violated.” [Muslim]14

In marital discord, no matter how egregious, and alleged on the wife, it cannot be left in the hands of a husband to inflict corporal punishment. In another place a verse from the same translation removes the authority to arbiter in a dispute from individuals and vests it with the government, relegates to the example of the Prophet and if the matter is beyond the former two, it shifts it into the hands of Allah:

Believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those from among you who are invested with authority; and then if you were to dispute among yourselves about anything refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you indeed believe in Allah and the Last Day; that is better and more commendable in the end (4:59).15

At least in the example of the Prophet, there is no wife beating to be found, but this translator did find it in Quran. One of the worst allegations in a marriage is that of a charge of adultery on a spouse, especially the wife, which for an arrogant ‘honor killer’ husband is a trigger happy moment. Even in such an extreme situation Quran does not allow beating of one’s wife, as conceded by Mawdudi (see his translation of verse 24:6-10 below). But, none-the-less, ignoring this, Mawdudi, allows for violence for merely “rebelling” against the husband in verse 4:34, whereas in Quran the matter is required to be referred to Allah, as explained in the verses from the same translator:

As for those who accuse their own wives but have no witness except themselves, the evidence of one of them is that he shall swear four times by Allah and declare that he is true (in his charge). Then the fifth time he shall declare that Allah's curse be upon him if he be false (in his charge). (As for the woman), it shall avert the punishment from her if she swears four times by Allah that the man is false (in his charge) and the fifth time she invokes Allah's wrath upon herself, if he be true (in his charge). If Allah had not shown you His grace and mercy and if Allah had not been most Forgiving and All-Wise, (you would have been in a great fix because of accusing your wives)(24:6-10).16

Even if the adultery is witnessed or falsely alleged, the authority to punish is not in the hands of individuals, but can only be carried out by the state:

The woman and the man guilty of fornication, flog each one of them with a hundred stripes – and let not any pity for them restrain you in regard to a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day, and let, some of the believers witness the punishment inflicted on them (24:2).17

As for those persons who charge chaste women with false accusations but do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes and never accept their evidence afterwards, for they themselves are transgressors, except those who repent and reform themselves; Allah is Forgiving and Merciful (24:4-5).18

Under any law, there cannot be a double punishment for a given crime because according to the translator under discussion “…do not commit aggression because Allah does not like aggressors (2:190).19 However, according to the same translation it may be allowed so, first beating of the wife by the husband (4:34) and later lashing by the state (24:2).

The weakness of the translation of verse 4:34 quoted above can be ascertained for its meaning of another word ‘Nashuz’ which is also referred to in the same verse and also in another place quoted below from the same translation:

If a woman fears either ill-treatment [Arabic: nushūzan] or aversion from her husband it is not wrong for the husband and wife to bring about reconciliation among themselves (by compromising on their rights), for settlement is better. Man's soul is always prone to selfishness, but if you do good and are God-fearing, then surely Allah is aware of the things you do (4:128).20

This translation reeks of double standards. The word ‘Nashuz’ is taken for rebellion by a wife in verse 4:34 and ill-treatment by a husband in verse 4:128. In the former case, when allegedly wife is at fault, the quoted translation sanctions violence against wife first which essentially defeats any chance of reconciliation in the subsequent verse 4:35. In the latter case, in verse 4:128, it advocates reconciliation alone when the alleged fault lies with the husband. Whereas, we know that in Quran a wife has equal rights and at par with the husband ‘… And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner…(2:228)’.21 Should we then presume that to reclaim their equal rights, denied by said translator in marital discord, wives too must resort to inflict spousal abuse? This self-created contradiction in Quran can be expunged merely by using the correct and contextual implications of the word ‘Adzribu’ in verse 4:34 for its non-violent meanings e.g. ‘seek away’ or ‘turn them away’. These meanings pave way for reconciliation between the estranged couple enjoined in the subsequent verse 4:35. By such appropriate meanings for ‘Adzribu’, both verses 4:34 and 4:128 are normalized and their mutual contradiction is thus resolved along with the contradiction with verse 2:228 and many other verses that specifically mention kind treatment of wives in general any specifically in marital discord. Such sensible approach does not diminish message of Quran. It only diminishes violence in the society and increases reconciliation in a household in which the consequent victims might not only be the spouses themselves, but also the children and other family members.

Quran addresses marital discord from both ends of the spectrum. It addresses the view point of the husband, the likely head of household, in verses 4:34-35 and the aggrieved wife in verse 4:128.

Aggrieved husband – The ignorant justify violence towards women while relying on verse 4:34 which according to them allows wife beating. This assertion is similar to stoning to death. The sources for both maybe found elsewhere, but not in Quran. The following is a plain reproduction of verses 4:34-35 and their footnotes from English Translation of the Holy Quran, by Maulana Muhammad Ali in its revised edition by Zahid Aziz. By contrasting Muhammad Ali’s translation to Mawdudi’s, readers can judge for themselves how ignorantly Quran is misused by some, the likes of which include Mawdudi, to condone an ignominious behavior of wife beating for which there is no room in Quran in its plain read below:

4:34. Men are the maintainers of women22, with what Allah has given some of them above others and with what they spend out of their wealth. So the good women are obedient (to Allah)23,…

Obedience here signifies obedience to Allah. This significance of the word is made clear by a comparison with 33:31, 33:35, and 66:5.

33:31. And whoever of you [– Prophet’s wives] is obedient to Allah and His Messenger and does good, We shall give her a double reward [– greater reward], and We have prepared for her an honourable sustenance.

…guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded…

This refers to their guarding the husband’s rights. The two qualifications of a good wife as given here are her obedience to God and chastity.

…And (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish24 them, and leave them alone in the beds25

The word translated here as desertion, when used about a woman in connection with her husband, means her rising against her husband. This is explained by the commentators in a number of ways; for example, her leaving the husband’s place and taking up an abode which he does not like or that the wife resisted her husband and hated him and deserted him. The remedy for her correction is that she is to be admonished, but if she persists in the wrong course, her bed is to be separated, i.e. a cessation of sexual relations.

…and turn them away (from wrongdoing)…

Editor’s Note: The words translated as “turn them away” use the term darb, and have often been translated as “beat them”. Maulana Muhammad Ali rendered them as “chastise them” and explained that very slight chastisement was allowed only in extreme cases, which should not leave an impression, and further that this permission is meant only for the crass type of people in society among whom such chastisement is acceptable. However, as he pointed out in his footnotes on verses 2:60 and 2:73, the verb darb signifies “all kinds of actions except a few”; and apart from striking it is used to mean, for example, marching on, setting forth a parable, and likening. In these other senses it is commonly used in the Quran. It is used in 43:5 as meaning to turn (something) away: “Shall We then turn away the Reminder from you…?”, which is how Maulana Muhammad Ali and many other translators have rendered this verse. This sense seems to be applicable here. Thus the meaning here would be that by admonishing and, if necessary, breaking off sexual relations, the husband should turn the wife away from her wrong course, or it may mean that if these measures fail he should turn her away from himself, i.e. divorce her. It may be added that the Quran clearly forbids a man from causing injury to his wife. In its rules for divorce, husbands are told about their wives: “retain them with kindness or let them go with kindness and do not retain them for injury” (2:231), “retain them with kindness or part from them with kindness … do not injure them in order to impose hardship upon them” (65:2, 6). In fact, only a few verses prior to v. 34 above, in v. 19, husbands have been instructed as follows about their wives: “Nor should you cause them hardship… And treat them kindly. Then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it”.

…So if they obey you, do not seek a way against them. Surely Allah is ever Exalted, Great.

4:35. And if you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbiter from his people and an arbiter from her people. If they both desire agreement, Allah will effect harmony between them. Surely Allah is ever Knowing, Aware.26

This verse lays down the procedure for divorce. It is not for the husband to put away his wife; it is the business of the judge to decide the case. He is required to appoint two arbiters, one belonging to the wife’s family and the other to the husband’s. These two arbiters will find out the facts, but their objective must be to effect a reconciliation between the parties. If all hopes of reconciliation fail, a divorce is allowed, but the final decision for divorce rests with the judge who is legally entitled to pronounce a divorce. Cases were decided in accordance with these directions in the early days of Islam.

Of note is that verses 4:34-35 outline progressive steps in a married relationship gone sour, where each step essentially gives a pause to rethink, forebear and reconcile i.e. to give a verbal advice – admonish them; temporary separation – and leave them alone in the beds; symbolic termination of certain privileges – turn them away; mediation – if you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbiter from his people and an arbiter from her people. If there was any remote possibility of allowance for ‘wife beating’ in verse 4:34, then for sure there is no residual chance for mediation as outlined in verse 4:35.

One of the criticism levelled against verse 4:34 is that it is male centric. Like any statue of law its narrative is that of male gender, but in no way negates the rights of the female gender. The reverse is equally applicable:

2:228. … And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner…27

The rights of women against their husbands are here stated to be similar to those which the husbands have against their wives. The change in this respect was really a revolutionizing one, for the Arabs hitherto regarded women as mere property. Women were now declared to have rights similar to those which were exercised against them. The equality of the rights of women with those of men was never previously recognized by any nation or any reformer.

Similarly, as pointed out in the footnotes quoted from Maulana Muhammad Ali above, other verses ensure as an injunction, explicit kindness towards wife even during the divorce process when each party might be expectantly hateful towards the other:

4:19. O you who believe, it is not lawful for you to take women as heritage against (their) will…

Among the pre-Islamic Arabs, when a man died his elder son or other relations had a right to possess his widow or widows, marrying them themselves if they wished, without settling a dowry on them, marrying them to others, or prohibiting them from marriage altogether. This is abolished by these words.

…Nor should you cause them hardship by taking part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency…

This passage remedies another evil. Some husbands who were dissatisfied with their wives gave them trouble in order to force them to claim a divorce and remit the dowry (i.e., the legally-due nuptial gift from the husband to the wife). This is disallowed. If the judge finds that the fault lies actually with the husband, he will not allow the dowry to be remitted in his favour. It can only be taken back if the woman is guilty of immoral conduct. In such cases, when the fault is with the woman, she may be required to return it wholly or in part.

…And treat them kindly. Then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.28

If per chance verse 4:34 is interpreted to allow ‘wife beating’ then such a deduction will create contradiction in Quran as the verse 4:19 above enjoins the husband quite clearly to treat them kindly always, even when there is property dispute during the divorce process:

4:20. And if you wish to have (one) wife in the place of another and you have given one of them a heap of gold, take nothing from it. Would you take it by slandering (her) and (doing her) manifest wrong?

Another social evil was that a husband, wanting to marry another woman instead, would accuse his wife of adultery or other gross immorality, thus compelling her to obtain a divorce by paying a large sum of money.

4:21. And how can you take it when you have been intimate with each other and they have taken from you a strong covenant?29

Marriage is here called a covenant or agreement between the husband and the wife. As there can be no agreement unless both parties give their consent to it, marriage in Islam can only be entered into with the free consent of the husband and wife.

In another place Quran ensures the kind behavior towards wife even at the conclusion of the divorce, a time when mutual hatred and apathy might run amok:

2:231. And when you divorce women and they reach their prescribed time, then retain them with kindness or let them go with kindness and do not retain them for injury so that you exceed the limits…

If the husband is proved to give injury to the wife, he cannot retain her, and she can claim a divorce. Injury to the wife may be of a general nature or one given with the object of compelling her to remit her dowry to obtain a divorce. It is for the judge to see that the husband is not taking undue advantage of his position. On the other hand, the husband is enjoined to show liberality to the divorced wife, and the judge would no doubt see that the injunctions of the Quran were observed. It is made clear in 4:35 that decision in matters of divorce rests with the judges appointed, not with the husband or the wife.

…And whoever does this, he indeed wrongs his own soul. And do not take Allah’s messages for a mockery,…

The injunctions relating to the kind treatment of women must not be taken lightly, we are told here. Retaining women to cause them injury has already been declared to be a transgression and emphasis is now laid on the proper observance of these injunctions by stating that these are most serious matters relating to the welfare of society as a whole.

…and remember Allah’s favour to you, and what He has revealed to you of the Book and the Wisdom, instructing you by it. And keep your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is the Knower of all things.30

If we read the above verses on a range of behavior expected of the husband towards his wife, then these verses quite vividly put the husband at the service of the wife i.e. Men are the maintainers of women (4:34) and treat them kindly (4:19). This benevolence is enjoined on husbands towards their wives even after divorce i.e. if…you have given one of them a heap of gold, take nothing from it (4:20) and when you divorce women and they reach their prescribed time, then retain them with kindness or let them go with kindness and do not retain them for injury (2:231).

Aggrieved wife Similar to verses 4:34-35 for aggrieved husband, the aggrieved wife is also given her equal and similar rights:

4:128. And if a woman fears ill-usage from her husband or desertion, there is no blame on the two of them if they effect a reconciliation between them. And reconciliation is better. And greed is met with in (people’s) minds. And if you do good (to others) and keep your duty, surely Allah is ever Aware of what you do.31

Quran addresses both husband and wife to be just in their marital dispute the cause of which might be beyond the individual spouses and extend to involve relatives and others, and the consequent arbitration requiring testimony, which it mandates in verses 4:35 and 4:128:

4:135. O you who believe, be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness for Allah, even if it is against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives — whether he is rich or poor, Allah has a better right over them both. So do not follow (your) low desires, that you deviate. And if you distort (the truth) or turn away (from it), surely Allah is ever Aware of what you do.32

In conclusion, there is no basis for aggression towards one’s wife in Quran and Sunnah. Quran does not allow any maltreatment of women even after their divorce. On the contrary, kind treatment must be shown towards women under all circumstances. If the dispute is beyond the prerogative of a household, the matter is referred to authorities, communal or governmental, who then have to arbiter in light of Quran and Sunnah.

—————————-

Listed below are all the verses from Quran, a total of 53, in which the usage of araba is identified with all its variations and none of which mean corporal punishment:

2:26. Surely Allah does not disdain to set forth [Arabic: yaḍriba] any parable — a gnat or anything above that. Then as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord; and as for those who disbelieve, they say: What is it that Allah means by this parable? Many He leaves in error by it and many He leads aright by it. And He leaves in error by it only the transgressors,33

2:60. And when Moses prayed for water for his people, We said: March on [Arabic: iḍrib] to the rock with your staff. So twelve springs flowed from it. Each tribe knew their drinking-place. Eat and drink of the provisions of Allah, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the land.34

2:60. And (recall the time) when Moses prayed for water for his people and We said (to him), `Go with your people and smite [Arabic: iḍrib] that particular rock with your staff.' So (when he did so) there gushed forth from it twelve springs so that every tribe came to know of its drinking place. (We said,) `Eat and drink of sustenance provided by Allâh and commit not transgression in the land like peace-breakers.'35

2:61. And when you said: Moses, we cannot endure one food, so pray your Lord on our behalf to bring forth for us out of what the earth grows, of its herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions. He said: Would you exchange what is better for what is worse? Enter a city, so you will have what you ask for. And degradation and humiliation were stamped [Arabic: ḍuribat] upon them, and they incurred Allah’s wrath. That was so because they disbelieved in the messages of Allah and would kill the prophets unjustly. That was so because they disobeyed and exceeded the limits.36

2:73. So We said: Strike him [Arabic: iḍribū-hu] with it partially. Thus Allah brings the dead to life, and He shows you His signs that you may understand.37

2:273. (Charity is) for the poor who are confined in the way of Allah, they cannot go about [Arabic: ḍarb-an] in the land; the ignorant man thinks them to be rich on account of (their) abstaining (from begging). You can recognize them by their mark — they do not beg of people demandingly. And whatever good thing you spend, surely Allah is Knower of it.38

3:112. Degradation will be [Arabic: duribat] their lot wherever they are found, except under a covenant with Allah and a covenant with people, and they shall incur the wrath of Allah, and humiliation will be made to cling [Arabic: duribat] to them. This is because they disbelieved in the messages of Allah and killed the prophets unjustly. This is because they disobeyed and exceeded the limits.39

3:112. Smitten [Arabic: ḍuribat] are they with ignominy wherever they are found unless they have a bond (of protection) from Allâh, or a bond (of security) from the people. They have incurred the displeasure of Allâh and have been condemned [Arabic: ḍuribat] to humiliation. That is so because they would disbelieve in the Messages of Allâh and would seek to kill the Prophets without any just cause. And that is so because they rebelled and had been transgressing as usual.40

3:156. O you who believe, do not be like those who disbelieve and say of their brethren when they travel [Arabic: ḍarabū] in the earth or engage in fighting: If they had been with us, they would not have died, or been killed; that Allah may make it a regret in their hearts. And Allah gives life and causes death. And Allah is Seer of what you do.41

4:34. Men are the maintainers of women, with what Allah has given some of them above others and with what they spend out of their wealth. So the good women are obedient (to Allah), guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded. And (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the beds and turn them away [Arabic: iḍ’ribūhunna] (from wrongdoing). So if they obey you, do not seek a way against them. Surely Allah is ever Exalted, Great.42

4:94. O you who believe, when you go forth [Arabic: ḍarabtum] (to fight) in Allah’s way, make investigation, and do not say to anyone who offers you salutation, You are not a believer, seeking the good of this world’s life. But with Allah there are abundant gains. You too were such before, then Allah conferred a benefit on you; so make investigation. Surely Allah is ever Aware of what you do.43

4:101. And when you journey [Arabic: ḍarabtum] in the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve will give you trouble. Surely the disbelievers are an open enemy to you.44

5:106. O you who believe, call to witness between you, when death draws near to one of you, at the time of making the will, two just persons from among you, or two others from among others than you, if you are travelling [Arabic: ḍarabtum] in the land and the calamity of death befalls you. You should detain them after the prayer. Then if you doubt (them), they shall both swear by Allah (saying): We will not take for it a price even for a relative, nor will we hide the testimony of Allah, for then certainly we shall be sinners.45

7:160. And We divided them into twelve tribes, as nations. And We revealed to Moses when his people asked him for water: March on [Arabic: iḍ’rib] to the rock with your staff; so out flowed from it twelve springs. Each tribe knew its drinking-place. And We made the clouds to give shade over them and We sent to them manna and quails. Eat of the good things We have given you. And they did not do Us any harm, but they wronged their own souls.46

8:12. When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, so make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So strike [Arabic: iḍ’ribū] above the necks and strike [Arabic: iḍ’ribū] every finger-tip of them.47

8:50. And if you could see when the angels cause to die those who disbelieve, striking [Arabic: yaḍribūna] their faces and their backs, and (saying): Taste the punishment of burning.48

13:17. He sends down water from the clouds, then watercourses flow according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam. And a scum like it arises from what they melt in the fire for the sake of making ornaments or tools. Thus does Allah compare [Arabic: yaḍribu] truth and falsehood. Then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing; and as for that which benefits people, it remains behind in the earth. Thus does Allah set forth [Arabic: yaḍribu] parables.49

14:24. Do you not see how Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable of a good word as a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are high,50

14:25. yielding its fruit in every season by the permission of its Lord? And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] parables for people that they may be mindful.51

14:45. And you dwell in the abodes of those who wronged themselves, and it is clear to you how We dealt with them and We made (them) [Arabic: waḍarabnā] examples for you.52

16:74. So do not coin [Arabic: taḍribū] likenesses for Allah. Surely Allah knows and you do not know.53

16:75. Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable: There is a slave, the property of another, controlling nothing, and there is one to whom We have granted from Ourselves a goodly provision, so he spends from it (on good works) secretly and openly. Are the two alike? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know.54

16:76. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable of two men: One of them dumb, controlling nothing, and he is a burden to his master; wherever he sends him, he brings no good. Is he equal with him who enjoins justice, and he is on the right path?55

16:112. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable: A town safe and secure, to which its means of subsistence came in abundance from every quarter; but it disbelieved in Allah’s favours, so Allah made it taste a pall of hunger and fear because of what they did.56

17:48. See, what they liken [Arabic: ḍarabū] you to! So they have gone astray, and cannot find the way.57

18:11. So We prevented [Arabic: faḍarabnā] them from hearing in the Cave for a number of years,58

18: 11. So We sealed [Arabic: faḍarabnā] up their ears (to cut them off from the outside world) in their Place of Refuge for (only) a number of years.59

18:32. And set forth [Arabic: wa-iḍ’rib] to them the parable of two men — for one of them We made two gardens of grape-vines, and We surrounded them with date-palms, and between them We made corn-fields.60

18:45. And set forth [Arabic: wa-iḍ’rib] to them the likeness of the life of this world as water which We send down from the cloud, so the vegetation of the earth becomes luxuriant by it, then it becomes dry, broken into pieces which the winds scatter. And Allah is the Holder of power over all things.61

20:77. And certainly We revealed to Moses: Travel by night with My servants, then strike [Arabic: iḍ’rib] for them a dry path in the sea, not fearing to be caught, nor being afraid.62

22:73. O people, a parable is set forth [Arabic: ḍuriba], so listen to it. Surely those whom you call upon besides Allah cannot create a fly, though they should all gather for it. And if the fly carry off anything from them, they cannot take it back from it. Weak are (both) the invoker and the invoked.63

24:31. And say to the believing women that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions and do not display their adornment except what appears of it. And they should wear [Arabic: walyaḍrib’na] their head-coverings over their bosoms. And they should not display their adornment except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or harmless male servants, or the children who do not know women’s nakedness. And they should not strike [Arabic: walā yaḍrib’na] their feet so that the adornment that they hide may be known. And turn to Allah all, O believers, so that you may be successful.64

24:35. Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. A likeness of His light is as a pillar on which is a lamp — the lamp is in a glass, the glass is as it were a brightly shining star — lit from a blessed olive-tree, neither eastern nor western, whose oil gives light, even though fire does not touch it — light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He pleases. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: yaḍribu] parables for mankind, and Allah is Knower of all things —65

25:9. See what parables they set forth [Arabic: ḍarabū] for you — they have gone astray, so they cannot find a way.66

25:39. And to each We gave [Arabic: ḍarabnā] examples and each did We destroy with utter destruction.67

26:63. Then We revealed to Moses: March on [Arabic: iḍ’rib] to the sea with your staff. So it parted, and each side was like a huge mound.68

29:43. And these parables, We set them forth [Arabic: naḍribuhā] for people, and none understand them but the learned.69

30:28. He sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] to you a parable about yourselves. Do you have, among those whom your right hands possess, partners in what We have given you, so that you are equal in it, you fearing them as you fear each other? a Thus do We make the messages clear for a people who understand.70

30:58. And certainly We have set forth [Arabic: ḍarabnā] for people in this Quran every kind of description. And if you bring them a sign, those who disbelieve would certainly say: You are only deceivers.71

36:13. And set out [Arabic: wa-iḍ’rib] to them a parable of the people of the town, when messengers came to it.72

36:78. And he strikes out [Arabic: waḍaraba] a likeness for Us and forgets his own creation. Says he: Who will give life to the bones, when they are rotten?73

37:93. So he turned upon them, striking [Arabic: ḍarban] with the right hand.74

38:44. And take in your hand [a] few worldly goods and earn goodness [Arabic: fa-iḍ’rib] therewith and do not incline to falsehood. Surely We found him patient; most excellent the servant! Surely he (ever) turned (to Us).75

38:44. And (We commanded him,) `Take in your hand a handful of twigs and strike [Arabic: fa-iḍ’rib] (the riding beast) therewith. And do not ever incline towards falsehood. Indeed, We found him steadfast. An excellent servant was he. He was always turning (towards God) in obedience.76

39:27. And certainly We have set forth [Arabic: ḍarabnā] for people in this Quran examples of every sort that they may be mindful.77

39:29. Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable: A man belonging to partners differing with one another, and a man (devoted) wholly to one man. Are the two alike in condition? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know.78

43:5. Shall We then turn away [Arabic: afanaḍribu] the Reminder from you altogether because you are a people committing excesses?79

43:17. And when one of them is given news (of the birth) of that the like of which he ascribes [Arabic: ḍaraba] to the Beneficent, his face becomes black and he is full of rage.80

43:57. And when the son of Mary is mentioned [Arabic: ḍuriba] as an example, lo! your people raise a clamour at it.81

43:58. And they say: Are our gods better, or is he? They set it forth [Arabic: ḍarabūhu] to you only by way of disputation. Indeed, they are a contentious people.82

47:3. That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood, and those who believe follow the Truth from their Lord. Thus does Allah set forth [Arabic: yaḍribu] their descriptions for people.83

47:4. So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, strike [Arabic: ḍarba] the necks; then, when you have overcome them, make (them) prisoners, and afterwards (set them free) as a favour or for ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (shall be so). And if Allah please, He would certainly exact retribution from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never allow their deeds to perish.84

47:27. But how will it be when the angels cause them to die, striking [Arabic: yaḍribūna] their faces and their backs?85

57:13. On the day when the hypocrites, men and women, will say to those who believe: Wait for us, that we may borrow from your light. It will be said: Turn back and seek a light. Then a wall, with a door in it, will be raised [Arabic: faḍuriba] between them. Within it shall be mercy, and outside of it punishment.86

59:21. If We had sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would certainly have seen it falling down, splitting apart because of the fear of Allah. And We set forth [Arabic: naḍribuhā] these parables to people that they may reflect.87

66:10. Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] an example for those who disbelieve — the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them, so they (the husbands) did not avail them at all against (the punishment of ) Allah, and it was said: Enter the Fire with those who enter.88

66:11. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] an example for those who believe — the wife of Pharaoh, when she said: My Lord, build for me a house with You in the Garden and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from the wrongdoing people.89

73:20. Your Lord knows indeed that you pass in prayer nearly two-thirds of the night, and (sometimes) half of it, and (sometimes) a third of it, as do a group of those with you. And Allah measures the night and the day. He knows that (all of) you are not able to do it, so He has turned to you (mercifully); so read of the Quran whatever is easy for you. He knows that there are sick among you, and others who travel [Arabic: yaḍribūna] in the land seeking of Allah’s bounty, and others who fight in Allah’s way. So read as much of it as is easy (for you), and keep up prayer and give the due charity and offer to Allah a goodly gift. And whatever of good you send on beforehand for yourselves, you will find it with Allah — that is best and greatest in reward. And ask forgiveness of Allah. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.90


NOTE: Many aspects of this chapter have been compiled with the help of online resource: http://corpus.quran.com/

1 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.328-329
3 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
4 ibid
5 Al-Baqarah: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
6 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
7 Al-I-Imran: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
8 ‘The Exegesis of the Holy Quran’ as Explained by Nooruddin, Excerpted from footnote to verse 4:34, p. 469.
9 ‘Jami` al-Tirmidhi’ – Chapters on Righteousness And Maintaining Good Relations With Relatives. Link: http://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/27/122
10 Al-Qalam – The Pen: Nooruddin
11 ‘Sunan Abu Dawud’ – Book of Prayer (Kitab Al-Salat): Voluntary Prayers. Link: http://sunnah.com/abudawud/5/93
12 ‘Sunan Ibn Majah’ – The Chapters on Marriage. Link: http://sunnah.com/urn/1263030
13 ‘Shama'il Muhammadiyah’ – Noble Character And Habits Of Sayyidina Rasoolullah. Link: http://sunnah.com/urn/1803300
14 ‘Riyad as-Salihin’ – The Book of Miscellany. Link: http://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/1/644
15 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
16 An-Nur: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
17 ibid
18 ibid
19 Al-Baqarah: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
20 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
21 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
22 This is the contractual duty of husbands in marriage keeping in view that women on their part bear with issues unique to their gender, for example, menstruation, pregnancy, labor, postpartum, breast feeding, childcare and home maker, besides nurturing a home and its environment out which the husband is able to undertake his stated obligations outside the home.
23 Despite that Men are the maintainers of women, there is no reciprocity of obliged subjugation of women to their husbands, and rather they are to adhere to laws of Allah in matters of daily living and not of a man, the husband. This nullifies the apparent material advantage of a husband over his wife.
24 Merriam-Webster: 1 a: to indicate duties or obligations to. b: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner. 2: to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to.
25leave them alone in the beds’ – a temporary separation, for example, to live in a separate room. This also prevents any abuse of the wife that might emerge from the all too common escalating arguments and consequent rage when there is close proximity of the disagreeing parties.
26 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
27 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
28 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
29 ibid
30 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
31 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
32 ibid
33 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
34 ibid
35 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
36 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
37 ibid
38 ibid
39 Al`Imran – The Family of Amran: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
40 ibid
41 ibid
42 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
43 ibid
44 ibid
45 Al-Maidah – Food: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
46 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
47 Al-Anfal – Voluntary Gifts: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
48 ibid
49 Al-Rad – Thunder: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
50 Ibrahim – Abraham: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
51 ibid
52 ibid
53 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
54 ibid
55 ibid
56 ibid
57 Bani Israil – The Israelites: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
58 Al-Kahf – The Cave: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
59 Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
60 Al-Kahf – The Cave: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
61 ibid
62 Ta Ha: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
63 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
64 Al-Nur – The Light: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
65 ibid
66 Al-Furqan – The Criterion: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
67 ibid
68 Al-Shuara – The Poets: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
69 Al-Ankabut – The Spider: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
70 Al-Rum – The Romans: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
71 ibid
72 Ya Sin: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
73 ibid
74 Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
75 Sad: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
76 Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
77 Al-Zumar – The Companies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
78 ibid
79 Zukhruf – Gold: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
80 ibid
81 ibid
82 ibid
83 Muhammad: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
84 ibid
85 ibid
86 Al-Hadid – Iron: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
87 Al-Hashr – The Banishment: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
88 Al-Tahrim – The Prohibition: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
89 ibid
90 Al-Muzzammil – The one covering himself up: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

Case Study 7: Hijab, the Niqab and the Beard! On the Faces or on the Minds? A Case of Mistaken Identity

Monday, December 14th, 2015
Case Study 7: Hijab, the Niqab and the Beard! On the Faces or on the Minds? A Case of Mistaken Identity

7:26. O Children of Adam! Indeed We have sent down to you a garment which covers your shame [Arabic: sawātikum]…1

While addressing all Children of Adam i.e. both men and women, this verse lays down the basis of any article of dress in Islam, least of which covers your shame. The Quranic injunction for a garment essentially states that all those parts of the body, which, if exposed are a source of individual shame or embarrassment, must be covered. In the light of this fundamental guideline of Quran all wearers of Veil or Hijab under the pretext of Islam, have to ask themselves if exposing their scalp hair, forehead, ears or face is shameful. A universal answer is in the negative, rather on the reverse; all these are a source of one’s identity and dignity. If due to some cultural pressure or misinterpretation of Quran, the face and hair of a woman carry a shame that needs to be covered, then by implication, the faces and scalps of men are equally shameful, which too must be covered by equal standards that are applied on women. Contrary to general assumptions, Quran is liberal enough to allow for a personal choice for one to cover one’s head with Hijab, or the face with a Veil (Niqab) or a Beard.

Parts of the body which need garments to cover public shame are explicitly outlined in Quran and are limited to the private parts of both males and females and female bosoms. By reduction, Quran forbids uncovering of gender differentiating anatomical regions between men and women, which are none but sexual in their function:

23:5-6. And who guard their private parts, Except from their spouses, that is those whom they justly and rightfully own in proper wedlock, in that case they are not to be blamed.2

24:31. And tell the believing women … cover their bosoms…3

Additionally, as we will discuss below, the dress in Quran is not only to cover the nakedness, but also is a source of elegance and modesty, both at home and in public life for both men and women. Both males and females are expected to dress and adorn within limits that eliminates the basis of any unwanted insinuation, attention, ridicule or scandal mongering.

Globalization and the freedom of thought that it provides by breaking cultural boundaries, also gives us individual freedom to choose a dress of our liking. But, it becomes a problem when a given dress is worn and enforced in the name of Islam, for which the Quran gives no basis. The closest case that can be made for a Veil in the name of Islam is that it nurtures chastity. But this kind of chastity preservation is no different than the chastity belt of the Europeans in the dark ages.

The so called ‘Islamic veil’ and the Beard are nothing but a cultural baggage of the old world, mistaken as identity of Islam. No matter how one slices and dices the Quran, metaphorically or literally, there is neither mention of dress articles of Hijab or Veil nor covering of the heads nor the faces of women. But, if pursued in the cultural context, the practice of Veil is essentially perceived to maintain the modesty of women in public while preventing lustful glances of men. Instead of taking men to task, men seem to be given a leeway in their behavior, while putting women to misery. This is a safe deduction, because such women are unveiled in their homes and around their close family members including men. Of note is that in Quran, there is no home bound woman. On the reverse, in Quran, a woman is expected to be immersed in public life, all of which are the obvious deductions in the verses quoted later. At the same time what prevents the reverse lustful glances of females from behind their veils to the men around them?

40:19. He knows the treachery of the eyes even (when they commit sinful acts secretly) and what the hearts conceal.4

For our discussion we will differentiate, where needed, between a Hijab and Veil5. The term Hijab will be used to mean a headscarf that covers the head, part of forehead, the ears and the area around the neck. The Veil is just an extension of Hijab in that it additionally covers the face, and depending upon local culture, may or may not leave the eyes exposed. At times, both Hijab and Veil will be used interchangeably when the discussion is about any dress article that covers the head of the woman.

For the specifics of dress code that is misattributed to Islam, suffice is to read the relevant sections in the book ‘Religion of Islam’6 by Maulana Muhammad Ali that fully expunge face veil from a policy perspective, based upon Quran, Sunnah and Hadith.

The purpose of this chapter is different, which is to refute the underlying themes, both in the thought and culture that create the basis of the Hijab, the Veil and the Beard. Veil and its enforcement are essentially based upon the male chauvinistic tendencies, in which the male ego is guarded more than the modesty of the woman. In turn, women, the half of the population, pay a heavy price for the protection of that male ego, both, in limitation of their role in the society as well as their unwarranted isolation which prevents them from living their lives to the fullest. Both, the eyes and ears are not only anatomical features, but are gateways to the faculty of hearing and seeing that ultimately affect the thinking. Any impediment, both physical and intellectual, of these faculties to grow is factually against Quran:

67:23. Say, `It is He Who has brought you into being and made for you ears (to hear), eyes (to see) and hearts (to understand). Yet little thanks do you give!'7

Hiding, to any degree, of the ears, the eyes or the skin, the presumed acts of piety, is not a source of virtue in Quran. Rather, the intention and righteous behaviors drive one’s virtues:

2:177. It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West [–the outwards acts], but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the traveller and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and gives the due charity; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty.8

Hijab – The term Hijab as used in Quran has the following meanings to it:

Hajaba – To cover, veil, hinder anyone from access, shut out. Hijâb: Veil, curtain, screen; Barrier. Mahjûbûna: Veiled; Shut out; Blind. Hijâb (n.): Barrier. Mahjûbûn (pct. pic. m. plu): Blinds. (L; T; R; LL) The root with its above two forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 8 times.9

Nowhere in Quran is the use of the term Hijab in context of an article of dress. The term Hijab is found in the following verses:

7:46. And between them [–the dwellers of heaven and hell] is a veil [Arabic: ḥijābun]10

17: 45. And when you recite the Qur'ân, We place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter, an impregnable screen [Arabic: ḥijāban],11

19:17. so she [–Mary] screened [Arabic: ḥijābun] herself from them.12

33:53. O you who believe, do not enter the houses of the Prophet unless permission is given to you for a meal, not waiting for its cooking to be finished — but when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken food, disperse — not seeking to listen to talk. Surely this gives the Prophet trouble, but he forbears from you, and Allah does not forbear from the truth. And [similarly] when you ask of them [–Prophet’s wife while they are in their homes] any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain [Arabic: ḥijābin]. This is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it is not fitting for you to give trouble to the Messenger of Allah, nor to marry his wives after him ever. Surely this is grievous in the sight of Allah.13

The verse 33:53 is often quoted to justify Hijab for women. What is missed in the reading of the verse is that it speaks of protecting the privacy of any house hold and upholding of moral and good manners in settings in which a non-family member approaches the woman of the house for borrowing of a favor while the man of the house may not be there. Any transaction thereof may happen without face to face contact as home is a private space and not a public place. It is a burden on the visitor to create the space and barrier from the lady of house and not vice-versa. In the stated verse there is not even a remote reference to a screen or a traditional Hijab to be placed on the face of the lady of the house. Even if for the sake of an argument, no matter how twisted that there is an implied Hijab as a dress code in the verse, then that piece of cloth rather be on the face of the visitor – And when you ask of them any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain.

Additionally, another verse establishes spiritual relationship between wives of the Prophet and the believers – The Prophet is closer to the faithful than their own selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers…(33:6)14. How is it even possible for a mother to hide from her children?

38:32. He [–Solomon] said, `I prefer the love of good things because they make (me) remember (God), my Lord.' And (he remained busy in his devotion and prayer), when these (horses) disappeared (while passing by) behind the veil (of distance) [Arabic: ḥijābi],15

41:5. And they [–who turn away from Quran] say: Our hearts are under coverings from that to which you call us, and there is a deafness in our ears, and there is a veil [Arabic: ḥijābun] between us and you…16

42:51. And it is not granted to a mortal that Allah should speak to him, except by revelation or from behind a veil [Arabic: ḥijābin], or by sending a messenger and revealing by His permission what He pleases. Surely He is High, Wise.17

Veil – As we have seen above that there is no dress article of Hijab in Quran, equally there is no injunction of Veil. By some convoluted logic, Hijab is extrapolated from the term Khimar, which is discussed next.

Khamira/Khamara – To cover over, conceal, veil, hide, ferment. Khamar: Any intoxicating thing; Any fermented drink; Grapes; Anything that clouds or obscure and covers the intellect. It includes all intoxicating substances. It is devil’s work (5:90). It is wrong to say that the moderate use of wine or such things is allowed and that only drinking to excess is prohibited. The Companions of the Holy Prophet never made use of a drop of such things after the prohibition was made known. The Holy Prophet said, A small quantity of anything of which a large quantity is intoxicating is prohibited (Abû Dâûd 25:5). Wine is also called Khamar because it covers or obscures or affects the intellect or the senses, or because it agitates and excites the brain so as to make it lose its power of control. Khumur plu. of (Khimâr): Head cover, scarf, covering and specially a woman’s head veil, screen. Khamar (n.): Any intoxicating thing. Khumur (n. plu. of Khimâr): Head cover; Scarf; Covering and specially a woman’s head veil; Screen. (L; T; R; LL) The root with its above two forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 7 times.18

In Quran, closest the term Khimar, which is confused with Hijab, refers to is the prevalent custom of headscarf in Arabs. Nowhere does Quran ordain to shroud one’s head with Khimar, the scarf or to befuddle it with Khamar – the intoxicant. Rather, Quran wants one to be clear headed, both literally and metaphorically:

45:23. Have you considered the case of him who has taken his own low desires for his god and whom Allâh has forsaken and adjudged as lost on the basis of (His infinite) knowledge, and whose ears and heart He has sealed and whose eyes He has covered with a veil? Who then will guide him after Allâh (has condemned him for his being given to evil ways)? Will you then pay no heed?19

Said terms do not ordain any covering, literal or metaphorical, for head or brain, male or female:

2:219. They ask you about intoxicants [Arabic: khumurihinna]20

5:90. O you who believe, intoxicants [Arabic: khamru]21

5:91. The devil desires only to create enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants [Arabic: khamri]22

12:36. And two youths entered the prison with him. One of them said: I saw myself pressing wine [Arabic: khamran]23

12:41. My two fellow-prisoners, as for one of you, he will serve wine [Arabic: khamran]24

24:31. And say to the believing women that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions and do not display their adornment except what appears of it. And they should wear their [i.e. their existing] head-coverings [Arabic: khumurihinna] over their bosoms…25 – Before Islam women used to appear in public with their breasts partly uncovered. The khimar (pl. khumr) means a head-covering, and women were thus required to cover their breasts with a part of their head-covering.26

47:15. (Here is) a description of the Garden promised to those who guard against evil. Therein are streams of water (which is) unstaling, and streams of milk the taste and flavour of which does not change, and streams of juice extracted from grapes [Arabic: khamrin]…27

The tenets of the head coverings for women are only to be found in Judaism and Christianity. Jewish women cover their heads when visiting synagogues and scarf is part of regular dress of a nun. Fact is that the authority for covering a woman’s head is found in New Testament, not Quran, which symbolizes degradation of a woman below a man:

1 Corinthians 11:7–10. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.28

Beard – “…hadiths are quoted to justify the most extremes of behaviour. And the Prophet’s own appearance, his beard and cloths, have been turned into a fetish: so now it is not just obligatory for a ‘good Muslim’ to have a beard, but its length and shape must also conform to dictates! The Prophet has been reduced to signs and symbols – the spirit of his behaviour, the moral and ethical dimensions of his actions, his humility and compassion, the general principles he advocated have all been subsumed by the logic of absurd reduction.”29

Besides Veil, facial hair/beard and headwear also are becoming symbols of a Muslim. It is ironic that outward appearance is now regarded as the gateway to Islam. It is a sorry state that hereditary Islam has fallen into the same category where it can be identified by its dress or appearance just like a catholic priest or a rabbi. On the contrary, Islam stresses morality of intentions, behaviors and actions. Instead of following the principles of a dress code, a specific dress article or grooming has itself become the principle. It is a classic example of maintaining the outward shell of a religion while killing its soul that we find frequently mentioned in Quran in which extensive examples explain the decay that set in the Islam of the Israelites.

Beard is an outcome of not shaving. Quran has nothing to do with the personal choice to shave or not. Little does a Mullah know that the injunction not to shave is not in Quran but in Torah:

Leviticus 21:5 ‘They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh.30

The only reference in Quran for a beard is essentially of ridicule when Moses on his return from the Mount Sinai found the Israelites worshipping the cow effigy and he in a rage held his brother, Aaron, by his beard:

20:94. (Aaron) said, `O son of my mother! [–Moses] do not hold me by my beard nor (pull me) by my head. (If I was not strict to them it was because) I was afraid lest you should say, "You have caused a disruption among the Children of Israel and did not preserve my word".'31

While there is no authority in Quran for headwear or the beard, one finds references in Old Testament, for grooming standards and cultural values that they engender:

Leviticus 19:27. You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.32

Jeremiah 14:3-4. Their nobles have sent their lads for water; They went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; They were ashamed and confounded And covered their heads. Because the ground is parched, For there was no rain in the land, The plowmen were ashamed; They covered their heads.33

Ezekiel 44:20. They shall neither shave their heads nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed.34

2 Samuel 10:4. Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away.35

1 Samuel 21:13. So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard.36

Enforcement of the Hijab, the Veil or the Beard in the name of Islam is essentially a fanciful conjecture. And, we know that Quran abhors such fancies in the matters of faith:

5:77. Say, `O People of the Scripture! do not exaggerate in (the matter of) your religion falsely and unjustly, nor follow the fancies of a people who had gone astray before (you) and had led many astray, and (now again) who have strayed away from the right path.37

The requirements of Hijab, Veil and Beard as articles of faith are extra-Quranic fatwas of Mullahs. This is where the lines are blurred between a Mullah, a Priest and a Rabbi. To the Mullah, Quran admonishes against attributing to it any cultural inventions, including the infamous face veil and home bound women etc., all of which invariably are restrictions on women alone:

7:33. …and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’38

Quran ridicules the blind followers of such dogma pushers and all those who take such edicts at par with word of God:

They take their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah (9:31).39 – This does not mean that they took them actually for gods; the meaning is that they followed them blindly in what they enjoined and what they forbade, attaching to them a Divine dignity. Muslims who accord a similar position to their ulama, spiritual leaders or saints are guilty of the same error.40

Those doctors of law who invent nonsense in the name of a religion and attribute it to Allah, Quran banes them in plain language:

2:79. Woe, then, to those who write the Book with their hands then say, this is from Allah; so that they may take for it a small price. So woe to them for what their hands write and woe to them for what they earn.41

Fact is that when the dogma mongers are confronted with authority from Quran negating their arguments for a Hijab, the Veil and a Beard, invariably it invokes their anger. No too surprisingly Quran also states the same about their reaction:

22:71-72. And they serve besides Allah that for which He has not sent any authority, and of which they have no knowledge. And for the unjust there is no helper. And when Our clear messages are recited to them, you will notice a denial on the faces of those who disbelieve — they almost attack those who recite to them Our messages. Say: Shall I inform you of what is worse than his? The Fire. Allah has promised it to those who disbelieve. And evil is the destination.42

Chasity is the goal and the Dress only one of its means – If Islam stands for modesty and chastity then for sure it also stands against ‘chastity belts’ and Masquerade Balls. The former is forced chastity, with or without intention of chastity of those that it is enforced upon. The latter can be non-chastity of intent under a veil. Veil, voluntary or enforced, which isolates a person from social life, is a concrete attempt in a ‘mobile’ monasticism:

57:27. …And We placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him [– Jesus], but as for monasticism they invented it themselves, We did not enjoin it upon them…43

In the stated verse, Quran clearly implies that it is a misconception that monasticism and self-renouncement leads to God. Veil and Hijab are a case in point. At least this verse rejects isolationism in the name of Islam. If the purpose of a veil is to promote chastity, then instead of a silly veil, Quran mandates chastity of thoughts and actions, one hidden, other open for both men and women:

6:151. Say, `Come, I will rehearse to you what your Lord has made binding on you; [i] it is that you shall associate not anything as partner with Him, [ii] and that you shall be good to parents, [iii] and that you waste not your children because of poverty. It is We Who make provisions for you as well for them too. [iv] (Allâh has also enjoined upon you that you) approach not indecencies, whether open or hidden, [v] and that you kill no soul which Allâh has made sacred, except in the cause of justice.' This has He enjoined you with, so that you may (learn to) abstain (from evil).44

7:33. Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin and aggression, which is never justifiable;…45

After establishing the above parameters, open and hidden, of thought and action as prerequisites for decency, Quran admonishes against attributing to it any dogmas, including the Hijab or the Veil or the Beard:

7:33. …and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’ 46

In its commands, Quran also mandates that while enforcing its injunction for decency in the society (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him). Hijab, Veil and Beard, find no authority in Quran.

One of the purposes of Quran is to promote collective social (Public) health so that morality and decency in the society is nurtured. Such attributes can emanate from voluntary rejection of unchaste intentions and behaviors and not from enforcement of chastity belts, nor from the Veil. Quran lays out the law of moral purity based upon intention to be pure:

24:21. O you who believe! do not follow the footsteps of satan. He that follows the footsteps of satan (should remember that) he (- satan) surely enjoins immorality and indecency. But for the grace of Allâh and His mercy (that rests) upon you, not one of you would ever have been pure, but Allâh purifies him who wishes (to be purified). And Allâh is All-Hearing, All- Knowing. 47

Besides explaining the relationship of the type of person and the corresponding deeds, Quran declares that good and bad are consequences of personal choices. Quran in its arguments creates intellectual space in the society for virtuous people by outlining the psycho-social principle governing their virtuous behaviors and vice versa:

24:26. The evil and impure deeds are (a characteristic) of impure people and the bad and impure people are (inclined) towards the bad and impure deeds. Similarly good and pure deeds are (a characteristic) of good and pure people and the good and pure people are (inclined) towards good and pure deeds. It is they (- the good and pure) who are innocent of all that they (- the accusers) may allege (about them). There awaits them protection and an honourable and generous provision.48

In promoting chastity in the society, Quran first focuses on the means of individual chastity for which, among other reasons, it enjoins recitation and meditation on Quran while observing the prayers:

29:45. Recite (preach, follow and meditate on) that which has been revealed to you of the Book (– the Qur'ân) and observe Prayer. Verily, Prayer restrains (the observer) from indecency and abominable things and loathsome deeds and from all that runs counter to reason and moral sense. Yet of all, the greatest thing is that Allâh will remember you and help you rise to eminence. And Allâh knows all that you do.49

Chastity can only be nurtured with chaste intentions and chaste environment. It has its roots in individual modesty. In order to prevent indecency, open and hidden, while expecting each gender to participate in public life, Quran addresses both men and women:

24:30. Tell the believers to restrain their looks (in the presence of women not closely related to them and so lawful for marriage) and guard their chastity. That is purer and best for them. Surely, Allâh is Well-Aware of what they do.

24:31. And tell the believing women to restrain their looks (also in the presence of men who are not near of kin and so lawful for marriage) and guard their chastity …50

While ensuring gender equality in public life, Quran prescribes a certain mode of dress for women, which in turn ensures their gender neutrality outside of home. The above verse continues:

24:31. … and not to disclose their (natural and make-up) beauty except such as cannot be helped (and is apparent) [as governed by the local customs and need of the hour e.g. in presence of a physician or in contemporary security checks] and draw their head coverings [that is still part of regular dress in certain cultures, and thus use it to] cover their bosoms [to avoid any sensuality that may be perceived. Note – head covering itself is not a must as it is more cultural than religious. The main purpose is to avoid low neck lines], and they should not display their beauty [of their figure] save to their husbands or to their fathers or to their fathers- in-law or to their own sons or to the sons of their husbands or to their own brothers, or to the sons of their brothers or to the sons of their sisters or their women (who are their decent companions) or to their bondsmen or to such of their male attendants as have no sexual appetite or to such young children as have yet no knowledge of the frailties of women. And let them not strike (the ground with) their feet so that which they (must) hide of their beauty or adornment [and to possibly avoid unnecessary attention to the jingle of their jewelry that is culturally worn around ankles]) may become known. And (O believers!) turn to Allâh; one and all, that you may attain (true happiness and) your ultimate goal. 51

The verse 24:31 gives a broad leeway taking into consideration the local customs which can change with time or need of the hour, e.g. in medical or security checks. Men and women are expected to lower their gaze viz-a-viz each other. If there are interposing veils between them, then the injunction to lower the gaze become superfluous. Lowering of gaze by itself implies that there is no veil between them. In the hadith of Asma,52 elder sister of Aisha – the prophet’s wife, who once wore a thin dress while visiting Aisha, the Prophet turned his face away, not lowered his gaze alone, points to necessity of dress to cover the nakedness of the body, else lowering the gaze would had sufficed for the prophet. The above verse essentially neutralizes the unintended sexual energy between genders. Besides the outward decorum, women are told to keep their voice firm; else they might be perceived weak and taken advantage of:

33:32. O wives of the Prophet [as model of character for others]! you are like no other women, if you would guard against evil, so be not soft in speech lest he who carries a disease in his heart should feel tempted, and you should speak decent words in a dignified tone.53

In the verses quoted so far there is an implicit public life for women which outline their behavior outside their homes. The following verse makes their public role even more explicit:

4:32. And do not covet the favours which Allâh has bestowed on some of you to excel others. Men shall have the share of the fruit of their labour, and for women is the share of the fruit of their labour. You had better seek from Allâh His bounty. Verily, Allâh has perfect knowledge of all things.54

In the verse 4:32 it is plainly clear that opportunity for labour and returns from labour for both men and women are at par without any distinction, though women may choose not to work, because:

4:34. Men are the maintainers of women, with what Allah has given some of them above others and with what they spend out of their wealth… 55

In Quran, chastity is a super-set of virginity. The best public policy for preserving the chastity is the institution of marriage, which is repeatedly emphasized in Quran as a societal duty, and is obvious in the following verses as well:

24:32. Arrange marriages for those of you who are single and for your male and female slaves as are deserving and fit (to lead a married life). If they are poor Allâh will grant them means out of His bounty; Bountiful is Allâh, All-Knowing.56

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty. (There is another commandment,) as for those of your bondsmen (or women) as ask for a written contract (of freedom for themselves on payment of ransom), write this (deed of manumission for them) provided you find good capabilities in them and give them out of Allâh's wealth which He has given you. (Another commandment for you is that,) with a mind to gain (by this unrighteous means) the benefits of the present life do not constrain your slave-girls to unchaste life (by keeping them unmarried) when they desire (to marry) to preserve their virtue. But if anybody forces them (to abstain from marrying and to become unchaste) they will find, after they are forced, that God is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.57

In the verses 24:32-33, even slaves, males and females, are to be married. However, it is a separate topic as to how effectively Quran abolished slavery within one generation after advent of Islam, without resorting to civil wars that United States endured.

Quran acknowledges the spectrum of chaste and unchaste tendencies in a society. There will always be a segment in the society that will deliberately draw attention towards itself and in the process provoke harassment, no matter how much uncalled for. Thus to prevent the harassment of chaste women outside their homes Quran gives a remedy:

33:59. Prophet! tell your wives, your daughters and women of the believers that (while going out of their houses) they should draw lower upon them the portions of their (loose) outer coverings from over their heads on to their bosoms (so as to veil therewith the arms, the neck, the hair and ornaments worn over them). This practice is more likely to help them to be distinguished (from other women who make a display of their beauty and ornamentation) and so saves them from trouble. Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.58

In the stated verse, there is no mention of head coverings as mistakenly assumed in general understanding and practice. It only focuses on outer coverings to be drawn over the clothes that otherwise might have been revealing of form and figure of the body. Said verse also has historical context for women living in a hostile environment, where their appearance, stance and gait are scrutinized and can they be sexually taunted or harassed, and if not, then at least gawked at. When early Muslims were in exile in Medina, the local poets from opposing tribes are on the record for their compositions of sensual ridicule of Muslim women. One such poet, Ka'ab bin Ashraf, using his poetry even instigated the Battle of Uhad in which Makkans attacked Medina in the third year of migration.  As to how far Ka'ab went in his personal attacks against Muslim women can be deduced by the following verses that he composed in which he sexually insulted Lubaba – Umm al-Fadl bint al-Harith. Of note is that Lubaba is the second woman to embrace Islam after her friend Khadija (Prophet’s first wife), and twenty years before her husband Abbas (Prophet’s uncle) became a Muslim. It is she who came to the defense of Abu-Rafi, Abbas’s freed Muslim slave, who was overjoyed by news of victory of Badr for which he was being tortured by Abu-Lahab (Prophet’s uncle and brother of Abbas), she split open Abu-Lahab’s scalp with a strike, who then died a week later of unrelated causes.59 Ka'ab wrote:

Are you off without stopping in the valley
and leaving Umm Fadl in Mecca?

Out would come what she bought from the pedlar,
her bottles, henna and hair-dye.

What lies between elbow and ankle is in motion
when she tries to stand up and does not.

Like Umm Hakim when she was with us,
the bond between us strong and unbreakable.

She is the one Amirite [-her tribe] who bewitches my heart,
and if she wished, she could cure my sickness.

The glory of women and of a people is their father,
a people held in honour, true to their oath.

Never did I see the sun rise at night till I saw her
display herself to us in the darkness of the night!60

The verse 33:59 continues into the next where sexual harassment of women is mentioned:

33:60. If the hypocrites, those who carry a disease in their hearts and the scandal-mongers (who circulate false rumours to cause agitation) in the city, do not give over (their evil designs and stop their activities), We shall (one day) make you exercise authority over them, then they will not dwell long in this (city) with you (as your neighbours).61

Nowhere in Quran is there an injunction to enforce Veil as a dress code; rather it mentions only the guidelines for modesty. How can one enforce such a specific code in a secular work environment or on non-Muslims? Appropriate clothing is integral to modesty:

7:26. O Children of Adam! We have given you a raiment that covers your nakedness and is a source of (your) elegance and protection. Yet the raiment that guards against evils, that is the best (of robes). That is one of the commandments of Allâh so that they may attain eminence.62

As far as chastity is concerned, it is in intentions and actions, which is the raiment that guards against evils, that is the best (of robes). While elucidating modesty and dignity for both men and women, Qur’ân actually mandates that both genders pay attention to their elegance:

7:31. O Children of Adam! look to your elegance (by dressing properly) at every time and place of worship, and eat and drink but exceed not the bounds, for He does not love those who exceed the bounds.63

Thus, the whole mankind is addressed in Quran when it states to look to your elegance (by dressing properly) at every time and…eat and drink but exceed not the bounds in either liberalism or conservatism of dress because He does not love those who exceed the bounds. While enforcing dress code at times Muslim societies get carried away beyond reason into conservatism that Quran abhors and on the reverse encourages the society to adorn itself and to be elegant:

7: 32. SAY, ‘Who has made unlawful Allâh’s beautiful things of adornment and elegance which He has produced for His servants and the delicious and pure things of (His) providing?’ Say, ‘They are primarily meant for the believers (and for the disbelievers too) in this present life (but) exclusively for (the believers) on the Day of Resurrection [in a metaphorical sense].’ In this way do We explain the Messages for a people who would know. 64

Thus, who has made unlawful Allâh’s beautiful things of adornment and elegance which He has produced for women that the veil, Niqab, tries to prevent? At least from women’s point of view, it would be a fallacy that the world is for men only and to overcome their fetish and guilt to gawk at women, men have to force women to wear Niqab. Instead of veil, Quran states in the verse, requoted:

7:33. Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin and aggression, which is never justifiable; and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’ 65

Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin irrespective of Niqab, and aggression, which is never justifiable to enforce Niqab. Niqab being a point and case where (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’

Preserving privacy, which is also integral to chastity, Quran lays out the following guidelines:

24:27. O you who believe! do not enter houses other than your own unless you have obtained willing permission and (mind!) you should greet the inmates of these (houses). That is better for you. You have been given this commandment that you may be heedful.

24:28. But if you find nobody in them do not enter therein, unless you have got (from the owners or the rightful care-taker previous) permission. And go back if you are told to go back, that would be pure and best for you. Indeed, Allâh is Well-Aware of all that you do.

24:29. It is no sin on your part to enter (freely) non-residential houses wherein your goods are lying [–places of business]. And Allâh knows all that you profess and all that you conceal.66

Privacy even within the family environment is to be respected:

24:58. O you who believe! it is binding on those whom your right hands possess (domestic servants) and those (of your children) who have not reached the age of puberty to ask your permission (before coming into your private rooms) in three instances, before the morning Prayer, and when you lay aside your clothes due to the heat (in summer) at noon and after the night Prayer. These are three times when your privacy should be respected. At other times no blame shall lie on you or on them (if they come to you without permission), for they have to move about (waiting upon you) some of you (attending) upon others (according to need). That is how Allâh explains to you His commandments, for Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

24:59. When the children among you reach the age of puberty they (too) should seek permission (to come to your rooms) just as those (elderly people mentioned) before them do. That is how Allâh explains to you His commandments and Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

24:60. And (as to the elderly spinsters who are past child-bearing age and) who do not hope for sexual intercourse, it is no offence for them to lay aside their outer garments provided they do not do it to display their beauty. But if they abstain (even from that) it is much better for them. Indeed Allâh is All-Hearing, All- Knowing.67

Thus, Quran not only gives the definition of modesty, it also outlines methods and public policy to enhance it. No dress code in Quran limits, rather encourages, each gender to be fully immersed in a productive public life. In can be safely deduced that the emphasis of Islam is to create a society in which each adult is connected with ties and perceives others through outcomes of a marriage, in which each adult male or female, barring a few exceptions, is married, and each person carries a relationship of belonging to a family as either a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a sister or a brother. No one is alone to be left as a target of harassment by others. A woman in Islam carries a dignified and loving existence as a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister.

With the discussion so far, we revisit one of the verses quoted earlier:

7:26. O Children of Adam! We have given you a raiment that covers your nakedness and is a source of (your) elegance and protection. Yet the raiment that guards against evils, that is the best (of robes). That is one of the commandments of Allâh so that they may attain eminence.68

Clearly, Quran defines basic standards for a dress – raiment that covers your nakedness; the purpose of dress which is to be – a source of (your) elegance and protection, both from the weather and any unwanted attention; goal of a dress – so that they may attain eminence.

Face veil defies the requirements of a dress in verse 7:26 i.e. it neither covers the nakedness nor is a source of elegance; yet in present times is a source of scrutiny for security purposes, thus denying any protection, except possibly against sunburn.  The Veil has yet to provide eminence in the work place, because it is a barrier to work in the first place.

The topic of the Veil once invoked the humor of Akbar Allahabadi (d. 1921), an Urdu poet from India:

Bay pardah nazzar aayeen joe chund bebe-yaan
Sighting of unveiled women

Akbar zameen mein ghayrat-e-quomi say garh gay-aa
Induced a chauvinistic guilt in Akbar (-the poet)

Poo-cha joe oun say aap kah pardah woh kaya hua
When I asked – what happened to your veil?

Keh-nein lugeen keh uqqal pay murd-oon key parh gay-aa
Women retorted, it’s now veiling the minds of the men

One cannot but agree with the response of the women. It is men, who mostly create, dictate and enforce dogmas. Veil is one of such dogmas. It can be safely extrapolated that Islam is nowhere to be found in a Hijab or a Veil or a Beard, though all three could be found in Islam of some cultures.


Note: There are many interwoven ideas drawn from ‘The Exegesis of the Holy Quran’ as Explained by Nooruddin, but could not be quoted due to their diffuse nature.
1 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)

2 Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin
3 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
4 Ghafir – Granter of Protection: Nooruddin
5 What's the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka? Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/24118241
6 ‘Religion of Islam’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali – Chapter 6: Marriage – Veil, Decent Dress; Chapter 10: General Regulations – Clothing.
7 Al-Mulk – The Supreme Power: Nooruddin
8 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
9 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 113
10 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
11 Isra – The Night-Journey: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
12 Maryam – Mary: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
13 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
14 ibid
15 Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
16 Ha Mim, also called Fussilat: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
17 Al-Shura – Counsel: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
18 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 166
19 Al-Jathiyah – The Fallen on the Knees: Nooruddin
20 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
21 Al-Maidah – Food: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
22 ibid
23 Yusuf – Joseph: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
24 ibid
25 Al-Nur – The Light: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
26 Footnote c (31-2) of verse 24:31 – Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
27 Muhammad – Muhammad: Nooruddin
29 RETHINKING ISLAM by Ziauddin Sardar, Professor of Postcolonial Studies, London, The Dawn, No. 7, 2002, p. 7-8, Surname. Link pdf: http://aaiil.org/suriname/dawn/2002_02.pdf
31 Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
37 Al-Maidah – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
38 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
39 Al-Bara’at – Immunity: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
40 Footnote c (31) of verse 9:31 – Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
41 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
42 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
43 Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
44 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
45 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
46 ibid
47 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
48 ibid
49 Al-Ankabut – The Spider: Nooruddin
50 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
51 ibid
52 Narrated Aisha (the Prophet's wife): Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) turned his attention from her. He said: 'O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. Abu Dawud, Book 32, Number 4092
53 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
54 Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
55 ibid
56 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
57 ibid
58 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
61 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
62 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
63 ibid
64 ibid
65 ibid
66 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
67 ibid
68 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

Issue 3: Quran degrades women as ‘tilth’ for sexual exploitation

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Issue 3: Quran degrades women as ‘tilth’ for sexual exploitation

– for which verse 2:223 is oft quoted. Little do they know that it is all about women’s rights. See below.

In Quran, the first bar on any possible exploitation of women is that it allows intimal relationships only within the bounds of marriage – And do not go near to fornication: surely it is an obscenity. And evil is the way (17:32)[1], And those who cannot find a match [–marriage] must keep chaste, until Allah makes them free from want out of His grace (24:33)[2]. Once a household is established through marriage, then the significant burden of responsibility for providing care, both material and emotional, rests on the husband – Men are the maintainers of women (4:34)[3]. Intimate relationships are only a subset of the superset of responsibility to be borne by the husband. This responsibility in itself prevents any inkling of selfish exploitation of wives by their husbands.

Before we take on the subject matter of this chapter it becomes pertinent to be aware of the stress laid on kind treatment towards wife in Islam as outlined by Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book ‘Religion of Islam’:

The Qur'an lays the greatest possible stress on kindly and good treatment towards the wife. "Keep them in good fellowship" and "treat them kindly" is the oft-recurring advice of the Qur'an (2:229, 231; 4:19, etc.). So much so that kindness is recommended even when a man dislikes his wife, for "it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it" (4:19). The Prophet laid equally great stress upon good treatment of a wife. "The most excellent of you," he is reported to have said," is he who is best in his treatment: of his wife" (Mishkat al-Masabih, 13:II-ii). "Accept my advice in the matter of doing good to women," is another tradition (Bukhari, 67:81). In his famous address at the Farewell Pilgrimage, he again laid particular stress on the good treatment of women: "O my people! you have certain rights over your wives and so have your wives over you …They are the trust of Allah in your hands. So you must treat them with all kindness" (Muslim, 16:17). [3a]

Islamic ideal of marriage which serves the purpose not only of the increase of the human race but also that of the spiritual advancement of both the man and the woman by referring to the quietness of mind which they find in each other,[4] which is outlined in verse below:

30:21. And of His signs are this, that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find quiet of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.[5]

Quran recognizes the natural outcomes of marriage which are conjugal relations, mutual comfort and wish of the parents to have a healthy progeny:

7:189. It is He Who has created you from one living entity, and from the same stock (that He created a human being) He brought into being his mate that he might find comfort in her. When he covers her (in conjugal relationship) she conceives a light burden and carries it about, then when she grows heavy (with the child), they both pray to Allâh, their Lord, (saying) `If You give us a good one (- a child with a sound mind in a sound body), we shall surely be of the grateful (to You).'[6]

Beauty of Quran is that it addresses different aspects of life in varying hues[7] and from many angles[8], and in a repeating[9] and interlinked logic[10], free of inconsistencies[10a], with excellent and useful proofs[10b] to expound its message and drive home the point. Similarly, in Quran the ordinary conjugal relationships become extraordinary. They are not merely physical, but have deeper implications in them. The children from the wedlock are not mere offspring needing nurturance but serve a higher purpose for moral refinement for everyone in the household. Rearing of children gives the opportunity for inherent godly qualities in parents to bloom e.g. the Divine attributes of Sustenance, Mercifulness, Beneficence, Forgiveness, Recompense, Hearing, Seeing, Judgment etc.:

64:15. Verily, your possessions and your children are a means to reveal your hidden attributes. As for Allâh there awaits an immense reward with Him.[11]

The dynamics of intimate relationships between husband and wife are governed by a series of verses in Quran, one of which under question and ignorantly maligned is as follows:

2:223. Your wives are a tilth [Arabic: Harthun] for you, so go to your tilth when you like, and send (good deeds) beforehand [i.e. before intimacy] for yourselves;[12] and have regard for your duty to Allah [that includes rights of a wife] and know that you will meet Him. And give good news to the believers [for a happy outcome of their marriage].[13] [Emphasis added]

The keyword in the verse is tilth that at times is misread for exploitation of women. In Arabic, the said term means a field that is prepared, ploughed and sowed for a crop:

Haratha – To till and sow, cultivate, cut a thing, acquire (goods); plough, study a thing thoroughly. Harth: Land prepared for sowing; Tillage; Produce of field; Crop; Garden; Gain; Wife. Tahruthûna (imp. 2nd p. m. plu.): You sow. Harthun (n.): Tilth. (L; T; R; LL) The root with its above two forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 14 times.[14]

Metaphor of farming – Your wives are a tilth for you, is an appropriate allegory for husbands in Quran that Allah also uses for Himself for His attribute of being a Creator e.g.

80:26-31. …We cleave the earth, a proper cleaving, So that We cause grain to grow therein, As well as grapes, vegetables, The olive, the date-palm, Orchards with dense trees, Fruits and herbage; [14a]

Similarly, the use of the word tilth in the manner of a fertile land under care of a farmer, for a married woman, naturally implies more restrictions than allowance for the husband, the tiller. ‘Farming’ expects a disciplined role from husband in his abstaining from an overbearing intimacy that wife cannot bear; protection of her pregnancy and giving rest/gap between pregnancies as it is done to the land between crop cycles to rejuvenate it.[15] This metaphorical reference to tilth for its said meanings naturally puts a bar on the misuse of women under the excuse of Mata’a in temporary marriages, where a woman like a prostitute could be passed from man to man or wife for a courtship with other males as in Niyoga, because no self-respecting farmer will permit seed from anyone else to pollute his land. The relationship between farmer and his land is that of ownership, protection and care while obligatory prevention of abuse of the latter. This relationship is based upon the attributes of the land which is like that of a mother that not only produces but provides nurturance, without asking much in return, except its care and respect. The critics of the verse perceive this verse as a one-sided intimate right of a husband towards his wife, but they fail to read a few verses later about her equal rights in all matters of marriage – And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner (2:228)[16].

The phrase – send (good deeds) beforehand for yourselves in the stated verse in terms of intimate relations with wife implies that such physical relations are to be nurtured under a spiritual bond between the couple. It is out of the same tilth which when tilled with spiritual seeds grows a spiritual shade and its accompanying coolness, both here and in the hereafter:

25:74-77. And they who say, Our Lord, grant us in our wives and our offspring the joy [Arabic – Qurratun : Coolness; Refreshment; Source of joy and comfort[17]] of our eyes, and make us leaders for those who guard against evil. These are rewarded with high places because they are patient, and are met there with greetings and salutation, abiding there — a goodly abode and resting place![18]

Tilth in Quran is metaphorically used in both spiritual and materialistic sense. Tilth if infused with spiritual blessings of respect, honesty, loyalty, love and affection can be a source for uplift of humanity as is clear from verse 2:223. On the other hand, tilth without spirituality is nothing but materialism as noted in the verses below:

3:14. It has been made fair seeming to the people the love of the desired things comprising women, sons, stored up heaps of gold and silver, well-bred horses, cattle and tilth [Arabic: Harth]. That is the provision of the present life. Whereas with Allah is the fairest goal (of life).[19] [Emphasis added]

3:116-117. Verily, as to those who disbelieve, neither their possessions nor their children shall avail them aught against (the punishment of) Allâh. And it is they who are the fellows of the Fire, therein shall they live long. That which they spend for the present life bears likeness with the wind wherein is freezing cold which smites the tilth [Arabic: Haratha] of the people who have done injustice to themselves, so it destroys it. Allâh does no injustice to them but they wrong themselves.[20] [Emphasis added]

Fire is a blessing and life sustaining. But, if misused, it can bring death and devastation. Similarly, a married life can be a blessing because it can provide joy and comfort in life. But, if this relationship is devoid of respect, honesty, loyalty, love and affection it can become a source of exploitation and misery that Quran admonishes against.

Compare the said use of the word tilth in verse 2:223 with that of the Bible for its explicitness and a focus on sensuality:

Proverbs 5:17-19.Let them be only your own, And not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love.[21] [Note: we cannot grace these pages with more filth from the Bible for which reader is referred to the link in footnote[22]]

It would be a fallacy to read the said verse 2:223 in isolation from the other verses in its vicinity which bring out the context of the message that is none but preservation of women rights, rather than the exploitation in a non-contextual read.

The verse 2:222 is in continuation of a topic from earlier verses 2:216-218 that highlight the state of war and from which emerge orphans (and widows) that are addressed in verse 220 (not quoted here). In current instance, with regards to women, the verse preceding 2:223 states:

2:222. And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is harmful; so keep aloof [i.e. sexually only] from women during menstrual discharge and do not approach them (for intercourse) until they are clean. But when they have cleansed themselves, go to them as Allah has commanded you. Surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.[23]

It is obvious that this verse is squarely addressed to the husbands and is a temporary injunction for a limited time only during each menstrual cycle of the wife. Of course, the non-accommodation of the temporary ‘unwell’ state of the wife by her husband during her menstruation is harmful for the wife and the marriage during which she might be in pangs of pain, undergoing roller coaster of emotions due to hormonal changes, not desiring intimacy and occupied with the burden of even a cultural guilt or shame because of the menstrual discharge. Essentially, she has to be given an emotional space of her own during a biological cycle that is beyond her control. In terms of embryology, her bodily functions are being prepared for next ovulation after the menstrual discharge is completed. It is at that time the verse 2:223 in question comes into play, i.e. her body is then ready for conception through intercourse and she acts as the garden from which the future generations can spring forth and the prime objective of marital relationship is achieved whence it becomes good news to the believers(2:223), i.e. the parents who follow the stated injunctions (2:222-223). There is no point, in a metaphorical sense, to till a land and sow it out of season.

Menstruation is a biological stage in a monthly hormonal cycle for a woman of childbearing age, which could be delayed or absent in adults due to certain factors. The humanistic accommodation that Quran mandates from husbands for this condition not only assures protection to the woman during marriage as mentioned in verse 2:222 above; it also protects her rights during divorce process as well:

65:1. Prophet! (tell the believers that) when you decide to divorce (your) women divorce them at a time when their `Iddat (- period of three monthly courses, for which they must wait before they can remarry) can be calculated; (the divorce should be given when she has cleansed herself after the menstrual discharge) and after divorce calculate the period (of `Iddat exactly). And keep your duty to Allâh, your Lord. You shall not turn them out (during this period of `Iddat) from their homes except they commit flagrant sin, nor shall they themselves go out (of them). These are the limits imposed by Allâh and he that violates the limits imposed by Allâh, indeed does injustice to himself. You never know (Allâh's will), for it may be that after this (divorce) Allâh will bring about a new situation (of reconciliation between you).

65:4. If you are in doubt (how to calculate the period) of such of your women as have despaired of monthly courses, then (know that) period for which they must wait is three months and (the same holds good) for such women as have not menstruated (for some other reasons [e.g. oligomenorrhea[23a], ammenhorea[23b], menopause[23c] etc.]). And (as to) pregnant women, their term (will end) when they are delivered of their burden (after giving birth to a child). And (bear in mind) for the one who keeps his duty to Allâh, He will provide facility in his affair for him.

65:6. Lodge (the divorced) women (during the prescribed period in some part of the house) where you are lodging, according to (the best of) your means. Do not harass them so as to make (their stay) hard for them. If they be pregnant, bear their expanses until they are delivered of the child…[24]

When the above quoted verses 2:222, 65:1, 4 and 6 are read in unison, it becomes crystal clear that during menstruation period of wife the husband is under obligation to treat her tenderly. Thus, it naturally begets to ask the critics of verse 2:223 as to how they justify their interpretation of the said verse for exploitation of women in a Book that contrary to their hateful views gives so much respect to a woman even in her apparently ‘unclean’ condition. Only a ruffian and a coward will mistreat and exploit her when she is ‘clean,’ not a follower of Quran.

These injunctions to respect a woman during her menstruation in Quran are diametrically opposite to Bible. While the issues surrounding menstruation in Quran are addressed to married women only, in Bible, all married and unmarried women are lumped together.  In Bible, every menstruating women is not only ostracized for her ‘uncleanliness’ but her uncleanliness is determined to be ‘infectious’ to everyone else as well, hence she is to be socially abandoned. During her menstruation she is considered to be in an ‘untouchable’ state of sin for no fault of hers. To make the matters worse, she even has to atone for her ‘sin’ as well when she becomes ‘clean’ seven days after the menstruation ends: 

Leviticus 15:19-24. ‘If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. And if any man lies with her at all, so that her impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

Leviticus 15:25-27. [repeats the theme of Leviticus 15:19-24 above]

Leviticus 15:28-30. ‘But if she is cleansed of her discharge, then she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take for herself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and bring them to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the priest shall offer the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for the discharge of her uncleanness.[25] [Emphasis added]

Note: The above is only a sampler from Old Testament. Those interested to read more on the subject may refer to the link in the footnote[26].

In the verses adjoining 2:222-223, Quran not only outlines the dignity and rights of a woman in her marriage and her right to divorce, it also tries to preserve the marriage if there is possibility of a thoughtless divorce:

2:224-228. And do not make Allah by your oaths a hindrance to your doing good and keeping your duty and making peace between people [inclusive of estranged couple].

–This verse refers to the pre-Islamic Arab custom of ila’, a way of temporarily putting off the wife which was effected by an oath in Allah’s name not to have sexual relations with her. The result of this was that the husband considered himself free from all marital obligations. The first step to bring about a reform in the relations of husband and wife was that this practice was abolished. It is in reference to this that the taking of oaths against the doing of good to others is prohibited. The fulfilment of marital obligations is thus referred to as the doing of good and observance of duty and making peace between people. But the subject is generalized and the taking of all oaths to forbid oneself the doing of good or fulfilment of obligations is prohibited. See also 66:2 footnote.[27]

And Allah is Hearing, Knowing. Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned.

– By vain oaths are meant unintentional or thoughtless oaths in ordinary conversation, and by what the hearts have earned is meant an oath intentionally taken.[28]

And Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing. Those who swear that they will not have sexual relations with their wives should wait four months,

Ila’ signifies an oath by a man that he shall not approach his wife. In pre-Islamic times the Arabs used to take such oaths frequently, and as the period of suspension was not limited, the wife was compelled sometimes to pass her whole life having neither the position of a wife nor that of a divorced woman free to marry elsewhere. The Quran declares that if the husband does not reassert conjugal relations within four months, the wife shall be divorced. Cases in which husbands desert wives, having neither conjugal relations with them nor divorcing them, must be dealt with practically as amounting to Ila’, so that after four months the wife should be free if she wants a divorce. [29]

then if they go back, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And if they resolve on a divorce,

–The Islamic law of divorce is elastic and does not strictly limit the causes of divorce. Divorce is allowed if sufficient reason exists, but the right is to be exercised under exceptional circumstances. A wife can claim a divorce according to the Islamic law, which was not a right conferred on her by Jewish and Christian laws on divorce as formulated in Deuteronomy and Matthew.[30]

Allah is surely Hearing, Knowing. Divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses.

–The period of waiting, or ‘iddat, forms the first condition in the Islamic law of divorce. But for cases in which marriage is not consummated, no period of waiting is necessary; see 33:49.[31]

And it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation.

–These words give a clear right to the parties to effect a reconciliation and re-establish conjugal relations within the period of waiting. No special procedure is necessary for this but both the divorce and the reconciliation must take place in the presence of witnesses. If, however, the ‘iddat is over and no reconciliation has been effected, the relation of husband and wife can be reestablished by remarriage, which right is given to the parties by v. 232.[32]

And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner,

–The rights of women against their husbands are here stated to be similar to those which the husbands have against their wives. The change in this respect was really a revolutionizing one, for the Arabs hitherto regarded women as mere property. Women were now declared to have rights similar to those which were exercised against them. The equality of the rights of women with those of men was never previously recognized by any nation or any reformer.[33]

and men are a degree above them.

–The statement that “men are a degree above them” does not nullify the rights asserted in the previous passage. The words are added simply to show that the husband is the head of the household.[34]

And Allah is Mighty, Wise.[35]

In summary, it is figment of an ignorant imagination that Quran allows sexual exploitation of women. The whole case in Quran is exactly the opposite and it assures their equal dignity and rights.


 

[1] Bani Israel – The Israelites: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[2] Al-Nur – The Light: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[3] Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[3a] Religion of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter: Marriage, Section: ‘Stress laid on kind treatment towards wife”, p. 481. Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/religionislam/religionislammuhammadali.shtml
[4] Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz: Footnote – 30:21 c (21)
[5] Al-Rum – The Romans: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[6] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[7] 16:69.varying hues which is a cure for the people. Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[8] 6:65. …Behold! how We explain Our Messages in different ways so that they may give thought. Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[9] 39:23. Allâh has revealed the best Message (the fairest discourse), this wonderfully coherent Book (the verses of which are mutually supplementing and) repeated, (narrating both sides of the case in various ways to drive home the divine injunctions to human minds). Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[10] 41:2-3. The compilation and orderly arrangement (of this Qur'ân) proceeds from the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful (God). (It is) a Book, the verses of which are detailed and clear in exposition. It is beautifully inter linked, (and it is in a language that) makes the meanings eloquently clear. It is very useful for a people who have knowledge. Fussilat – Detailed and Clear in Exposition: Nooruddin

[10a] 4:82. Why do they not ponder over the Qur'ân? Had it been from anyone other than Allâh, they would surely have found a good deal of inconsistency therein. Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[10b] 39:27. And We have set forth for the people all sorts of excellent and useful proofs in this Qur'ân that they may take heed. Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin

[11] Al-Taghâbun – Manifestation of Loss: Nooruddin
[12]
Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz: Footnote 2:223 c (223) – This verse shows that the real object of marital relations is not simply the satisfaction of sexual desires. (Editor’s Note: The comparison of women to the land that is tilled is to show that it is through them that the crop of the next generation of human beings grows and develops, both physically and in character. Men are also told here to do some act of moral goodness before approaching their wives sexually, and to have regard for duty to God which stands for having regard for one’s duties towards others as required by God. Thus the husband is required to be mindful also of moral duty and responsibility in the matter of sexual relations with his wife, so that it should not be merely an occasion for him to gratify his lust selfishly with no regard for moral goodness or the rights of his wife.)
[13] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[14] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 117
[14a] Abasa – He Frowned: Nooruddin

[15] Explanation of the word tilth by Nooruddin in his lectures published as “Haqaiqul Furqan”. Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=361&region=H1&CR=

[16] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[17] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 450
[18] Al-Furqan – The Criteron: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[19] Al `Imran – The House of Amran: Nooruddin
[20]
ibid 
[21] New King James Version. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+5%3A17-19&version=NKJV

[22] Sex and the bible: The verses you didn't learn in Sunday school – Link: http://www.examiner.com/article/sex-and-the-bible-the-verses-you-didn-t-learn-sunday-school

[23] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[23a] Wikipedia – Oligomenorrhea: Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligomenorrhea

[23b] Wikipedia – Amenorrhoea: Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amenorrhoea

[23c] Wikipedia – Menopause: Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menopause
[24] Al-Talaq – The Divorce: Nooruddin
[25] New King James Version. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+15%3A19-30&version=NKJV

[26] Women were considered Ritually Unclean. Link: http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/unclean.asp

[27] Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz: Footnote 2:224 – a (224)
[28] ibid  2:225 – b (225)
[29] 
ibid  2:226 – c (226)
[30] 
ibid  2:227 – d (227)
[31] 
ibid  2:228 – a (228-1)
[32] 
ibid  2:228 – b (228-2)
[33] 
ibid  2:228 – c (228-3)
[34] 
ibid  2:228 – d (228-4)
[35] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

Basis of alleged abrogation in Quran, Anything but

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Basis of Alleged Abrogation in Qur’ân[1], Anything But

The alleged theory of abrogation – that one verse abrogates another one in Qur’ân, would apply only if there are two or more verses addressing a common subject. The proponents of the theory allege that certain later revealed verses supersede the previous one on the same subject; hence the earlier verse stands abrogated. Fact of the matter is that just because the theorists could not reconcile different aspects of a matter in Qur’ân, they find refuge in their dogmas. On the contrary, any repetition of a subject matter in a different shade in different verses is intentional. Qur’ân is clear about why it repeatedly mentions a given subject from different angles and how various verses on a given subject are interlinked:

6:65. …Behold! how We explain Our Messages in different ways so that they may give thought.[2]

39:23. Allâh has revealed the best Message (the fairest discourse), this wonderfully coherent Book (the verses of which are mutually supplementing and) repeated, (narrating both sides of the case in various ways to drive home the divine injunctions to human minds).[3] [Emphasis added]

41:2-3. The compilation and orderly arrangement (of this Qur'ân) proceeds from the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful (God). (It is) a Book, the verses of which are detailed and clear in exposition. It is beautifully inter linked, (and it is in a language that) makes the meanings eloquently clear. It is very useful for a people who have knowledge.[4] [Emphasis added]

The term abrogation that we find in Qur’ân is not about abrogation within Qur’ân; rather it is abrogation of links in the chain of Laws that were revealed in earlier scriptures. The term Shariah should not be confused with Fiqh. Sharia is the Law in Qur’ân,whereas Fiqh is the human formulation of the Law in Qur’ân.

Abrogation in Qur’ân refers to the gradual evolution of Shariah that started with Adam, was refined by Noah, defined by Moses, adjusted by subsequent prophets until it was finalized by Muhammad (peace be upon them). Such a needed change in Law corresponded to the social evolution of the humanity:

95:1. I call to witness (four periods of human evolution including) the Fig[5] (symbolic of the era of Adam when the foundations of the human civilization were laid), and the Olive[6] (that of Noah, the founder of sharî`at),

95:2. And Mount Sinai[7] (that of Moses when the details of the Sharî`at were revealed),

95:3. And this Town of security[8] (of Makkah where with the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, the divine law was perfected and finalized),[9]

Social laws evolved over time. Whereas, the fundamental faith has essentially remained the same across all the prophets:

42:13. He has ordained for you the same course of faith as He enjoined on Noah (to adopt), and which We have revealed to you, and it is that (same faith) which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, Jesus, so keep the faith and do not differ in it. (He ordains you) to establish obedience (to Allah) and not to be divided (in sects) therein…[10]

While the Law did evolve over time with subsequent prophets, the core principles of the faith were not abrogated in any Book. Qur’ân stands as a guardian over these core principles :

5:48. And We have revealed to you the Book [–Qur’ân] with the truth, verifying what is (already) before it [–the prophecies in Scriptures] of the Book [–Qur’ân] and a guardian over it [–i.e. over the light and guidance in the previous Scriptures]…[11]

Being a guardian over all previous revelation shows that whatever was of permanent value in the previous scriptures has been preserved in the Qur’ân. The previous books contained a light and guidance for the people for whom they were meant, and they were commanded to judge by those books, but the Qur’ân is now the Book which judges all truth, wherever it may have been.[12]

On the other hand, the details and context of the Law transitioned from one prophet to another. During that transition some aspects of the previous Law thus stood amended or abrogated. This principle of a prophet abrogating a previous Law while preserving the guidance of Scriptures can be seen for Jesus in Qur’ân, in which he changes the Law of Moses where needed while verifying the core principles of Torah:

3:49-50. …and I [–Jesus] inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses. Surely there is a sign in this for you, if you are believers. And (I have come) verifying what is (already) before me of the Torah, and I allow you part of what was forbidden to you…[13]

Such improvements, modifications and abrogation of the Law continued across the prophetic chains till the time the prophethood itself ended with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when the abrogation of previous Scriptures was finalized and the final Law was revealed in Qur’ân:

2:106. Whatever Message We abrogate or abandon it, We bring a better (Message) than that [– Arabic: Khair am minha] or (at least) the like of it [–Arabic: Mislaha]. Do you not know that Allâh is indeed Possessor of power to do all He will.[14]

Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book “Prophethood in Islam” explains the verse 2:106 as follows:

The Qur'ãn does not mention the abrogation of Shari'ahs, because actually the whole Shari'ah (Law) is never abrogated in toto. After all, the first prophet who was raised by God was also given the command that God was one and He alone deserved to be worshipped and that there was no associate with Him. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who was sent last of all was also given the same message. Therefore, the Shari'ah of even the first prophet can never he abrogated in its entirety. As all the prophets had been basically given the same teaching it is not correct to think that a prophet could abrogate all the teachings of another prophet. It is for this reason that the Qur'an has thus not mentioned about the abrogation of Shari'ah, but has rather stated:

"Whatever message (or verse) We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or one like it" (Qur’ân – al-Baqarah 2:106).

This signifies that the words of God which are revealed to the prophets have sometimes to be abrogated and sometimes people forget them. In both these cases, God sends down other commands. That is His general practice. This does not specially refer to the Qur'an but it has been stated that God has been doing so from the beginning. Thus, after the words which follow the above verse, "knowest thou not that God is Possessor of power over all things? (Qur’ân – al-Baqarah 2:106)" it has been stated, "knowest thou not that God's is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth? (Qur’ân – al-Baqarah 2:107)" As a king finds it necessary to introduce changes from time to time for the betterment of his subjects, similar is the case with the Possessor of the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, as has been mentioned here that God reveals another command after abrogating the previous one or He sends the new command because the old one has been forgotten.[15]

To understand the term abrogation and its context in Qur’ân one has to read across previous Scriptures. Take for example the Mosaic Law of Retribution in Old Testament in which there is no forgiveness:

Leviticus 24:17-22. ‘Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal. ‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him — fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God.’[16] [Emphasis added]

In light of Qur’ânic verse 2:106, Jesus abrogated the same Mosaic Law and replaced it with a Law in which there is no retribution:

Matthew: 5:38-40. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.[17] [Emphasis added]

Qur’ân in turn abrogated the said Law of both Old and New Testaments and finalized it with a well-balanced law in which the right for a just retribution exists side by side with option of forgiveness because vengeance in every case is not necessary:

5:45. And therein We laid down (the following law) for them (- the Jews); life for life and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth and for (other) injuries an equitable retaliation. But he who chooses to forgo (the right) thereto for the sake of Allâh, it shall be an expiation of sins for him. And whoever does not judge according to (the law) which Allâh has revealed, these it is who are the very unjust.[18] [Emphasis added]

Again, Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book “Prophethood in Islam” explains the above quoted references from the Scriptures as follows:

It is, however, as clear as daylight that the Torah was not a complete and perfect book. Some of its commandments have been retained by the Qur'ân. For instance: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, and honour thy father and mother (Exodus 20:3, 14, 15, 12)." But some of the commands which were given according to the needs of the time. e. g., the severe law of retaliation, which was only a temporary measure, as the other aspect of the problem (i.e., forgiveness) was ignored in it, in such commands of course the need of change must have always been felt, (by various prophets) as happened in the case of Jesus Christ. If the Torah did not stand in need of such prophets who would make changes in the Law under God's instruction, from time to time, and in accordance with the needs of their age, then the Law of retaliation would not have been left incomplete for the Gospel to fulfil this deficiency. It was quite possible that God would have revealed to Moses the following perfect teaching: "And the recompense of evil is punishment like it; but whoever forgives and amends, his reward is with Allah? (Qur’ân – al-Shura 42:40)" Now retaliation is here not made compulsory but the words mithluha (like it) show that evil must be requited by punishment proportionate to the evil. On this golden rule are based today all the laws of justice of the civilized nations. And as in the Torah, vengeance in every case is not necessary. And then this teaching has removed the two defects of the teachings of the Gospel as well. Firstly, the exercise of forgiveness is not recommended in every case as has been done in the Gospel that "whoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also." This is quite impracticable and even a staunch follower of Christianity cannot make it a rule of his life. Secondly, the exercise of forgiveness has been made conditional, that is, one should only resort to forgiveness when it will mend the matter and be of some good to the wrong-doer. Now this perfect conception of justice is neither found in the Torah nor in the Gospel. The Torah contained a part of it which was imperfect because punishment was made compulsory, and the Gospel contained another part which was also defective because there forgiveness was made essential and no scope was left for punishment. The reason was that the Israelites were not yet so capable that Moses or Jesus Christ or the prophets who passed in between could give them complete and perfect teaching. And if it was, however, given to them it could not have helped them in any way. It was, however, expedient that they should be given at one time the Mosaic law of retaliation but when they went to the other extreme in the application of this law another aspect of the teaching was needed. This point finds support from Jesus Christ's own words:

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth '(i.e., Ahmad or the Paraclete) is come he will guide you unto all truth (St. John, 16:12-13)."

In short, this one instance is enough to prove that in the Shari'ah of Moses some matters needed alteration or modification even before the Shari'ah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah he upon him) came into operation.[19]

In summary, Law of Moses for Retaliation in Leviticus 24:17-22 was abrogated by Jesus who then replaced it with absolute forgiveness in Matthew 5:38. As a case in point in light of Qur’ânic verse 2:106, it is obvious that both Jews and Christians have either forgotten or abandoned both of the quoted references in not only their daily living but also in the laws that they implemented in their lands. Similarly, same Mosaic Law of Retribution is referred to and abrogated in Qur’ânic verse 5:45 with the option of forgiveness under the principle of abrogation – Whatever Message We abrogate or abandon it, We bring a better (Message) than that or (at least) the like of it (2:106). The Qur’ânic verse 5:45 has both the attributes of being better or the like of it of that in Leviticus 24:17-22 and Matthew 5:38.

It is to this abrogation or abandoning of a previous Law by subsequent prophets that Qur’ân states:

13:38. And most surely, We sent before you many Messengers and We gave them wives and children [i.e. Prophets were not monks and were part of social fabric of their societies]. Yet it was not possible for a Messenger to bring a sign [Arabic: biāyatin] but by Allâh's command. For everything [including the previous Law,] that has an appointed term, there is a (divine) law (to regulate it).[20]

Of course, Law brought by a prophet before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had a limited shelf-life till the time some aspects of it were amended or updated, in part or in whole, by a subsequent prophet. As to why these changes were allowed in the evolution of Shari’ah is explained in the next verse i.e. the ultimate Law giver is none but Allah Himself and the prerogative for such changes rests with Him:

13:39. Allâh repeals (the law relating to punishment) what He will and He establishes and confirms (what He pleases) and with Him is the source and origin of all laws and commandments [Arabic: ummu l-kitābi = Mother/Basis of the Book].[21]

Those who advocate abrogation of verses in Qur’ân just because they could not reconcile the different aspects of the message in different verses, fall back on verses 16:101, 2:106, 87:6-7 and 22:52 to form the basis of their alleged doctrine. Under this doctrine, certain verses which have been supposedly overridden by subsequently revealed ones, are nullified. They are mistaken in the first case for being unable to fully understand the different aspects of 'apparently' conflicting verses and secondly they are reading the verses wrongly to justify their conclusions that Qur’ân accepts its own abrogation. Let’s review these verses one by one to see if Qur’ân abrogates itself by its own words:

* 16:101. And Allâh knows very well the need of what He reveals, yet when We replace a revelation with another revelation they say (to you), `You are only a fabricator (of lies).' The truth is, however, that most of them know nothing.[22]

* 2:106. Whatever Message We abrogate or abandon it, We bring a better (Message) than that or (at least) the like of it. Do you not know that Allâh is indeed Possessor of power to do all He will.[23]

* 87:6-7. We will soon teach (you and) make you recite (the Qur'ân) so that you shall not forget (any part of it). Except whatever (other things which) Allâh will (and which things you are apt to forget as a human being). Indeed He knows all that is manifest and all that is hidden.[24]

* 22:52. And We have sent no Messenger, nor a Prophet before you but when he longed (to attain what he sought), satan (interfered and) put hindrances in the way of what he sought after. But Allâh removes (the hindrances) that are placed by satan, then Allâh firmly establishes His Messages. And Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.[25]

Firstly, the following verse is oft quoted to support validation of alleged sanctioning of abrogation in Qur’ân:

16:101. And Allâh knows very well the need of what He reveals, yet when We replace a revelation [–in a previous scripture e.g. Torah] with another revelation [–in a subsequent scripture e.g. Qur’ân] they say (to you), `You are only a fabricator (of lies).' The truth is, however, that most of them know nothing.[26] [Emphasis added]

It is an established fact that the above verse is from Makkah period. It is also known that abrogation theories are essentially about the Laws in Qur’ân. The details of Laws in Qur’ân were revealed only after migration of the Prophet to Medina. Is it not strange then to assume that Qur’ân is advocating abrogation of its own Laws while none had yet been revealed? The abrogation that Qur’ân speaks of while the Prophet is still in Makkah is the abrogation of the previous Scriptures.

This said verse clearly gives the principles of updating of the Law across the subsequent prophets. Those who take a narrow view of the said verse from within the Qur’ân fail to read the phrase – they say. Who is referred to by – they say? Because, once it is recognized as to who are they, it fully explains the meaning of the above verse and what is being substituted in – replace a revelation with another revelation. Essentially, Mosaic Law needed an upgrade because the Final Law, i.e. Qur’ân was to be universal whereas the Torah was nation and time specific only. The above verse also needs to be read in full context as to why Prophet Muhammad is being accused of being a fabricator. It is obvious in the stated verse that there was 'something' which Muhammad (PBUH) was bringing that was replace-ing an existing revelation i.e. Torah. Of note is that in the above verse the smear against Prophet Muhammad of being a fabricator itself identifies the allegers, who cannot be Muslims. It were the Jews who were so much perturbed by the extent of an existing revelation, Torah being replaced with another newer revelation, Qur’ân. It would be totally absurd to imagine even for a moment that Prophet Muhammad is being called by Jews of Arabia a fabricator of a select few verses of Qur’ân, in the manner of proponents of abrogation within Qur’ân, while rest of Qur’ân is 'genuine' and a non-fabrication to them. The criticism here is that he is an alleged fabricator of the whole Book – The Qur’ân. It is thus the whole of Qur’ân in its entirety, allegedly 'fabricated', which is replacing the whole of Torah and Evangel.

Qur’ân further rebukes this alleged forging of Qur’ân by the Prophet as follows:

17:73. And they had spared nothing in causing you [–Muhammad] (the severest) affliction with the purpose to turn you away from the revelations given to you, that you might forge in Our name something different from that which We have revealed to you. In that case they would surely have taken you for a special friend.[27]

It would be ridiculous to imagine that Jews were anxious and angry that Prophet is fabricating and replacing verses of Qur’ân. Rather, they would have been quite happy for the Prophet to make contradictions by his own hands and for him to fail because of such fabrications. Factually, it is the replacement of Mosaic Law which was provoking their objections.

The reply to above objections of Jews is further explained and contextualized in subsequent verses:

16:102. Say, `The Spirit of Holiness [– Angel Gabriel] has brought this (Qur'ân) down from your Lord to suit the requirement of truth and wisdom, (Allâh has revealed it) so that He may strengthen those who believe in their faith and so that (this may serve as) a guidance and good tidings for Muslims.[28]

The Spirit of Holiness is the term used in Torah in equivalence to Angel Gabriel in Qur’ân:

The Hebrew language phrase ruach ha-kodesh (Hebrew: רוח הקודש, "holy spirit" also transliterated ruaḥ ha-qodesh) is a term used in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and Jewish writings to refer to the spirit of YHWH (רוח יהוה). It literally means "the spirit of holiness" or "the spirit of the holy place". The Hebrew terms ruaḥ qodshəka, "thy holy spirit" (רוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ), and ruaḥ qodshō, "his holy spirit" (רוּחַ קָדְשׁ֑וֹ) also occur (when a possessive suffix is added the definite article is dropped). The "Holy Spirit" in Judaism generally refers to the divine aspect of prophecy and wisdom. It also refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of the Most High God, over the universe or over his creatures, in given contexts.[29]

Said objections were raised by none other than the Jews of Medina as no other religion in Arabia had anything to do with The Spirit of Holiness or its context in above verse. It was Jews who are told that their Torah is being abrogated by Qur’ân by revelations through Gabriel, not that a certain passage of Qur’ân is being replaced by a revelation with another revelation. In the latter case Jews would have no objection where Qur’ân abrogates itself. No wonder the Jews were unwilling to accept abrogation of Torah and Mosaic Law by Qur’ân. The Makkan idolaters taking cues from Christians alleged further that Qur’ân is a fabricated reformulation of Bible as taught by one of the Christian slaves. Qur’ân refutes those charges as well:

16:103. And We know fully well what they say (by way of objection) that this (Qur'ân) is (not revealed by God but it is) only what a human being instructs to him (- to Muhammad). But (strange it is) that the tongue of him to whom they (unjustly) allude (of making this insinuation) is foreign and wanting in clearness, whereas the language of this (Qur'ân) is chaste Arabic, plain and clear. [30]

To re-emphasize, the following verse outlines the paradox of the opponents, primarily the Jews of the time, then and even now, as to why they reject Qur’ân. On one hand they were awaiting the advent of the prophet and the Qur’ân, yet when one came:

2:89. And (now) when there has come to them the glorious Book from Allâh, fulfilling that (Prophecy) which is already with them, and previous to that they had been praying for victory over those who disbelieved, yet when that (long awaited Prophet and the Qur'ân) came to them which they recognised (also to be the truth), they disbelieved in it. (And because of this rejection) the disapproval of Allâh is the due for the disbelievers.[31]

The rejection of the Jews was not on the basis of the merits of Qur’ân, but their grudge towards a non-Israeli prophet, the bearer of Qur’ân:

2:90. Evil is that thing they have sold themselves for that they should reject that (source of guidance) which Allâh has revealed, grudging that Allâh should send down His grace on such of His servants as He pleases. Thus they have incurred (His) displeasure after displeasure. There awaits these disbelievers a humiliating punishment.[32]

According to Qur’ân the opposition of prophets was not a new behavior of Jews. They not only rejected Qur’ân and Prophet Muhammad, they also rejected Evengel and Jesus before as well. Not only that, they even tried to kill Jesus:

2:91. When it is said to them, `Believe in that (- the Qur'ân) which Allâh has sent down.' They say, `We believe only in that (- the Torah) which has been sent down to us.' And they deny every thing other than that (and which has since been revealed); though it (- the Qur'ân) is the lasting truth and corroborates that which is already with them (in their own Scriptures). Say, `Why, then, did you seek to kill the Prophets of Allâh in former times if you were (real) believers (in the former Scriptures)?'[33]

Qur’ân is cognizant of its recurring rejection by certain peoples:

2:92. Moses did come to you with clear arguments yet you took to the (worship of) the calf in his absence and you were not justified in doing so.

2:93. And (recall) when We took a covenant from you, (while you had encamped at the foot of Sinai) with (the summits of) the Mount towering above you, (and We had said,) `Hold fast to that which we have given you and obey.' (But) those (of you who were given this commandment) said, `We hear and we disobey.' Their hearts were, in fact, permeated with (the love of) the calf (worship) due to their disbelief. Say, `Evil is the way to which your faith leads you, if you are believers at all.'[34]

Qur’ân further denies that certain peoples are the chosen ones:

2:94. Say, `If the last Abode with Allâh is especially reserved for you excluding all other people, then invoke death (upon yourself standing against the Prophet of Islam) if you are on the right.'

2:95. But never shall they invoke it, on account of that which their own hands have sent before. Allâh knows these wrong doers very well.[35]

Secondly, verse 2:106 is also put forth to support abrogation in Qur’ân. Not so, especially when this verse is read together, in context, with the preceding verse as follows:

2:105. Neither those from among the people of the Scripture who disbelieved, nor the polytheists like that any good should be sent down to you from your Lord. But Allâh singles out for His mercy whomsoever He wishes [be it a non-Jewish Prophet – Muhammad] (to receive His mercy), and Allâh is of abounding bounty.

2:106. Whatever Message We abrogate or abandon it, We bring a better (Message) than that [–Arabic: Khair am minha] or (at least) the like of it [–Arabic: Mislaha]. Do you not know that Allâh is indeed Possessor of power to do all He will. [36]

Verse 2:106 continues to highlight the basis for Jewish opposition to the Qur’ân, as stated in the preceding verses 2:89-93, also quoted above. In addition, the immediately preceding verse, 2:105, is also about the people of Book i.e. Jews and Christians. Verse 2:106 is only and only about the previous Scriptures. Verse 2:106, even if read on it its own, still means that when a previous Divine Message is abrogated, God brings a better Message than that or the like of it. So, the natural question is what is the previous message that God has abrogated or abandoned? That answer is crystal clear in verse 2:105 where it mentions people of the Scripture, and by implication their Scriptures. Any allusion to Qur’ân abrogating any of its own verses in context of verses 2:105 and 2:106 is sign of sheer illiteracy or plain malicious distortion.

Maulana Muhammad Ali explains the verse 2:106 in light of verse 2:105 for its prophesized roots in Old Testament:

These words refer to Khair am minha (better one – Holy Qur’ân 2:106 – i.e., the abrogation of a message by a better one). The word Mislaha (like it – Holy Qur’ân 2:106 – i.e., message like one forgotten for its message, Torah) also refer to the prophecy of the Prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18, that is the teaching of the Holy Prophet would be like that of Moses.[37]

Deuteronomy 18:18. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.[38]

Similarly, Muhammad Asad comments on the same verse as follows:

The principle laid down in this passage – relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur'an – has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah ("message") occurring in this, context is also used to denote a "verse;" of the Qur'an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur'an have been "abrogated" by God's command before the revelation of the Qur'an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion – which calls to mind the image of a human author correcting, on second thought, the proofs of his manuscript – deleting one passage and replacing it with another – there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever, declared a verse of the Qur'an to have been "abrogated". At the root of the so-called "doctrine of abrogation" may lie the inability of some of the early commentators to reconcile one Qur'anic passage with another: a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been "abrogated". This arbitrary procedure explains also why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the "doctrine of abrogation" as to which, and how many, Qur'an verses have been affected by it; and, furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total elimination of the verse in question from the context of the Qur'an, or only a cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it. In short, the "doctrine of abrogation" has no basis whatever in historical fact, and must be rejected. On the other hand, the apparent difficulty in interpreting the above Qur'anic passage disappears immediately if the term ayah is understood, correctly, as "message", and if we read this verse in conjunction with the preceding one, which states that the Jews and the Christians refuse to accept any revelation which might supersede that of the Bible: for, if read in this way, the abrogation relates to the earlier divine messages and not to any part of the Qur'an itself.[39]

Next question is that what was that sent down to you from your Lord (2:105)? Of course, it was none but Qur’ân. Clearly there is a turf war between Jews and Muslims. By accepting Qur’ân as a revealed book, they naturally had to give up Torah as abrogated. This tussle between Jews rejecting Muhammad (PBUH) and Qur’ân instead of Torah is further brought to light by next verses:

2:108. Rather you (Jews!) like to question your Messenger (unduly) as Moses was questioned before? And he who adopts disbelief instead of belief, had undoubtedly strayed from the straight direction of the path.

2:109. Many of the people of the Scripture would love to turn you back after your having believed, into disbelievers, out of selfish envy, and after the truth (of this Qur'ân) has become apparent to them. But pardon (them) and overlook, until Allâh shall make manifest His will, indeed Allâh is Possessor of every power to do all He will.[40]

Thirdly, verses 87:6-7 are misinterpreted to mean that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was made to forget certain revelations so that the newer revelations could replace the ones forgotten by him, essentially abrogating the forgotten one.

Before we discuss the verses in question, it must be made clear in the reader’s mind that Divine revelation is not like ordinary knowledge attained through human efforts. In the former case, that knowledge is direct from God to Man via medium of angel and gets indelibly imprinted on heart of the recipient – And verily this (Qur'ân) is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. The Spirit, Faithful to the Trust (- Gabriel) has descended with it. (Revealing it) to your heart with the result that you became of the Warners (- a Prophet of God) (26:192-194) [41]. Whereas, the human knowledge that is limited by lapses in memory is attained by experience, reason and formal learning, symbolized by pen – Who taught knowledge by means of the pen, He taught human being what he did not know (96:4-5)[42].

Allamah Nooruddin in his translation contextualizes these same verses in question – 87:6-7 that bring out the context of possible human forgetfulness of prophet, which are only the non-revelation aspects of his life:

87:6. We will soon teach (you and) make you recite (the Qur'ân) so that you shall not forget (any part of it). [see verses 26:192-194 above]

87:7. Except whatever (other things which) Allâh will (and which things you are apt to forget as a human being) [see verses 96:4-5 above]. Indeed He knows all that is manifest and all that is hidden.

87:8. And We shall provide you (every) facility and make things easy for you.

87:9. Therefore keep on reminding (the people), surely reminding does good. [43]

Man is apt to forget, and the Prophet was a human being and he too was apt to forget. But he never forgot a word of the Divine revelation which came to him. He sometimes received long chapters on a single occasion, but the whole was so deeply impressed on his mind that once it was read out to him by the Holy Spirit, he repeated it without forgetting a word of it. Still more difficult was his task when chapters were received piecemeal. The reference in what Allah please is not to Divine revelation which the Prophet never forgot, but to other things which he forgot as a human being.[44]

The permanence of revelation of every verse of Qur’ân ever revealed is further affirmed and any contrary view, including the later developed abrogation theories, expunged in the following verses:

17:85. AND they question you about the revelation, and the human soul. Say, ‘The revelation and the soul is by the command of my Lord, (because) little is the knowledge there of that you have been given.’

17:86. Had We so willed We could surely take away [–alienation from the hearts and the memory of men, as well as its disappearance in written form[45]] that which We have revealed to you. If We did so you could find none to plead your cause (to restore it to you) against Our will.

17:87. But (it is) the special mercy from your Lord (that He will not do so [i.e. for the Prophet to forget any revelation]); His grace and favour upon you is very great infact.[46]

It sounds ridiculous for one to entertain even for a moment that a Prophet can forget a teaching whose teacher is none but Allah himself, as outlined by above-mentioned verses. Even if it is accepted that Prophet was made to forget some verses, then what about hundreds of Huffaz, those who had memorized Qur’ân during Prophet’s own life time and recited it in the same order one and all? Did they too forget along with the Prophet, yet we have no record of such forgetfulness, neither by the prophet nor by anyone else of significance?

The level of perfection attained by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) can be inferred in the following set of verses, if nothing else, at least in delivering of the Message:

53:1. I call to witness every part of the Qur'ân when it is revealed,
53:2. That your comrade (Muhammad) has neither deviated (from true guidance in his practices) nor has he erred (in his beliefs).
53:3. He does not say anything out of (his own) fanciful desire.
53:4. This (Qur'ân) is nothing but (pure) revelation, revealed (to him by God).
53:5. The Lord of Mighty Powers has taught him (this discourse).
53:6. (The Lord) Whose powers become manifest in manifold and frequent ways, with the result that he (- this Messenger of God) attained perfection and fullest vigour (both intellectually and physically).
53:7. And he attained to the zenith of heights (in his spiritual ascension).
53:8. Then he drew near to Him and afterwards he descended (to mankind, for their guidance).
53:9. So that he became (as it were) one chord to two bows or closer still.
53:10. Then He revealed that excellent and mighty (Qur'ânic) revelation which He had to send to His servant (Muhammad),
53:11. Whose mind made no mistake in (the interpretation of) that which he saw (during the ascension).
53:12. Will you doubt and dispute with him concerning that (sight) which he saw with his own eyes (it being no figment of imagination)?
53:13. And, of course, he saw Him (in His another manifestation to him) yet another time.
53:14. It was near the Sidrah which stands at the farthest end (of knowledge),
53:15. Near where also is the Garden which is the real eternal abode.
53:16. (This was) when the sublime thing (- the Divine Manifestation) which was to cover Sidrah had covered it.
53:17. (When he saw the Divine Manifestation) his eye deviated not (from the certainty of the Truth) nor did it wander away (from the invincible faith on which he stood).
53:18. (It was the moment when) he saw the greatly important signs of his Lord.[47][Emphasis added]

With the above discourse, doubting the capacity of a Prophet failing to remember revelations is tantamount to doubting God Himself, which is not possible.

Fourthly, similar to verses 87:6-7 above, it is alleged in certain translations that the verse 22:52 gives an opening to the idea that since Satan can interpose into the desire of a Prophet, thus God necessarily abrogates those revelations that got interposed by Satan. However, even the remote possibility of evil, no matter how much imagined, interposing between the Prophet and Allah is purged by Qur’ân:

26:210. It was not the evil ones who have brought this (Qur'ân) down.

26:211. It does neither suit them nor have they the power (to reveal it).

26:212. Infact, they (- the evil ones) are precluded from listening (to the Divine revelation).[48]

Still for the sake of argument even if the abrogation theorists are given some room in their assertion, then we draw their attention to the following parable in which there is a dialogue between God and Iblis, the Satan:

15:39. He [– Iblis] said, `My Lord! since You have condemned me as astray (and erring), I will surely make (evil of straying from the straight path) fair-seeming to them (as long as they stay) on the earth; I shall seduce them all,

15:40. `Except your (sincere) servants from among them; (Your) chosen and purified ones, (whom I shall not be able to seduce).'

15:41. (Lord) said, `The path (that My sincere servants follow) leads straight to Me.

15:42. `As for My servants, you have no authority over them. Different, however, is the case of such of the deviators who (choose to) follow you.[48a]

It is thus obvious that Iblis would attempt to lead astray all humanity, `Except your (sincere) servants from among them; (Your) chosen and purified ones, (whom I shall not be able to seduce).' The abrogation theorists now will have to decide for themselves if the Prophet was one of the chosen and purified ones or not, before we could even consider the role of Satan interfering in the desires of the Prophet to interject the satanic verses?

Allamah Nooruddin once again explains and contextualizes the hindering role of Satan in the alleged verse – 22:52 and its adjoining verses and removes any doubts that might creep up about abrogation. In the preamble to verse 22:52, the role of the Prophet, the reward for believers and the abasement of disbelievers is outlined:

22:49. Say, `O mankind! I am but a plain Warner to you all (against the evil consequences of refusal and misdeeds).'

22:50. There awaits protection and a generous and honourable provision for those who believe and do deeds of righteousness.

22:51. But those who strive hard against Our Messages seeking to frustrate (Us in Our aims and ends), it is they who will be the inmates of the flaming Fire. [49]

Of note is that verse 22:51above defines the term Satan i.e. those who strive hard against Our Messages seeking to frustrate. This definition of Satan is then used by Qur’ân in subsequent verses. Satan in following verses is just another term for oppositional forces and efforts that unleashed against the Prophet and not the actual ‘devil’ that the abrogation theorists allege. Rather, it is the attribute of the opposition to the Prophet who put hindrances in the way of Islam:

22:52. And We have sent no Messenger, nor a Prophet before you but when he longed (to attain what he sought), satan [–the opposition] (interfered and) put hindrances in the way of what he sought after. But Allâh removes (the hindrances) that are placed by satan [–the opposition], then Allâh firmly establishes His Messages. And Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

22:53. (Allâh permits the interference of satan) so that He may make (the hindrance which satan [–the opposition] puts in the way of the Messengers) serve as a trial for those whose hearts carry disease (of hypocrisy) and for those whose hearts are hardened (because of disbelief). Infact the wrongdoers have gone far (in their antagonism).

22:54. And (He permits this) so that those who have been given knowledge may know that this (Qur'ân) is the truth from your Lord and may believe in it and humble themselves before Him from their very hearts. And Allâh will indeed be the Guide of those who believe, to the straight and right path.

22:55. And those who have disbelieved will continue to have doubt about this (Qur'ân) until the Hour overtakes them suddenly, or the scourge of a destructive day befalls them. [50]

Any insinuation that Satan intercepted God’s message as misinterpreted in the verse 22:52 is removed by Qur’ân:

42:24. Rather they say, ‘He has forged a lie against Allâh (by presenting this Qur’ân).’ If Allâh so willed He would set a seal (against them) upon your heart. But Allâh eradicates falsehood (through you [– Muhammad]) and establishes the truth by (dint of) His words (-prophecies and revelation). He is indeed, One knowing full well (even) the innermost thoughts of the hearts.[51][Emphasis added]

The above verse makes plainly clear that Allâh eradicates falsehood and establishes the truth. Will the proponents of abrogation theory dare state that any verse of Qur’ân ever revealed to the Prophet is false or that it needed eradication? If so, which ones?

The proponents of abrogation theories might not be aware that their allegation of Satan interfering with Message given to any prophet is actually against the basic principle of Qur’ân. In contrast Qur’ân asserts that all Messages to mankind via Messengers are protected from any evil whatsoever by Allah Himself:

72:26. …so He makes His secrets known to none, except a messenger whom He chooses. For surely He makes a guard to go before him and behind him, that He may know that they have truly delivered the messages of their Lord; and He encompasses whatever is with them, and He keeps account of all things.[52]

Finally, for the record, unlike previous Scriptures, Qur’ân being the Final Law, it preemptively rejects any and every possibility, from many angles, of future development of abrogation theories about itself:

3:7. …and those firmly rooted in knowledge. They say: We believe in it, it is all [–without an iota of abrogation] from our Lord.[53][Emphasis added]

4: 82. Why do they not ponder over the Qur'ân? Had it been from anyone other than Allâh, they would surely have found a good deal of inconsistency therein [–in the manner of alleged abrogation theories that contradict each other].[54]

18:27. And recite (to these people) what is revealed to you of the commandment of your Lord. There is none who can change His words [–including the abrogation theorists], and you will find no refuge apart from Him.[55]

48:15. The believers are only those who (truly) believe in Allâh and His Messenger, and then doubt not [in the Message in the manner of Abrogationists who seed doubts about it]…[56]

If nothing else, the abrogation theorists have to justify their own recitation of even the alleged abrogated verses and still finding guidance in them:

27:92. `And to recite (to the people), and follow the Qur'ân; so one who (on listening to it) follows guidance, does it for his own good…[57]

In summary, the idea that Qur’ân speaks or hints about its own abrogation is purely extra-Qur’ânic. How this kind of thinking crept up may be best answered by its proponents, not Qur’ân.

The principle on which the theory of abrogation is based is unacceptable, being contrary to the clear teaching of the Qur’ân. A verse is considered to be abrogated by another when the two cannot be reconciled with each other; in other words, when they appear to contradict each other. But the Qur’ân destroys this foundation when it declares that no part of it is at variance with another: "Will they not then meditate on the Qur’ân? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy" (4:82). It was due to lack of meditation that one verse was thought to be at variance with another; and hence it is that in almost all cases where abrogation has been upheld by one person, there has been another who, being able to reconcile the two, has repudiated the alleged abrogation.[58]


[1] Reader is encouraged to review “Theory of Abrogation” in “Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali. Link: http://aaiil.org/text/books/mali/rlgnislm/holyquran.shtml
[2] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[3] Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[4] Fussilat – Detailed and Clear in Exposition: Nooruddin
[5] Genesis 3:6-7. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. New King James Version. BibleGateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+3%3A+6-7&version=NKJV

7:20-22. Then satan made an evil suggestion to them both, with the result that their shortcomings which were hidden from them, became manifest to them, and he said, `Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest you should become angels or become of the immortals.' And he ardently swore to them both (saying), `Most certainly, I am one of your sincere advisers.' Thus he led them on the way of guile and deceit. And when they tasted of the tree (and committed the things forbidden to them), their shortcomings became manifest to them. They (in order to cover themselves) began to stick the leaves of the garden over themselves and their Lord called out to them both (saying,) `Did I not forbid you from (approaching) that tree, and tell you that satan is to you an enemy disuniting (from Me)?' Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin.
[6] Genesis 8:6-11: So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. New King James Version. BibleGateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+8%3A6-11&version=NKJV
[7] Exodus 19:20. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. New King James Version. BibleGateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+19%3A20&version=NKJV
[8] 2: 125. And when We made the House (- the Ka`bah at Makkah) a frequent resort for mankind and (a place of) peace and security, and (We commanded), `Take to yourselves the place of Abraham (- the Ka`bah) for a centre (and face towards it) during Prayer.' And We enjoined Abraham and Ismail, `Purify and clean My House for those who perform the circuit (around it) and those who cleave to it for devotion and for those who bow down (before Allah) and prostrate (to Him in Prayer).' Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
16:112. And Allah sets-forth an excellent description of a township (-Makkah). It enjoyed a state of security and peaceAl-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Tin – The Fig: Nooruddin
[10] Al-Shura – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[11] Al-Maidah – Food: Nooruddin
[12] Al-Maidah – The Food: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz, footnote: a(48-1)
[13] Al`Imran – Family of Imran: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[14] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[15] Prophethood in Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali, An-Nubuwwat fil Islam translated and edited by S. Muhammad Tufail, p. 133. Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/prophethoodislam/prophethoodislam.shtml
[16] New King James Version. BibleGateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+24%3A17-22&version=NKJV
[17] New King James Version. BibleGateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205:38-40
[18] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[19] Prophethood in Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali, An-Nubuwwat fil Islam translated and edited by S. Muhammad Tufail, p. 131-132. Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/prophethoodislam/prophethoodislam.shtml
[20] Al-Rad – The Thunder: Nooruddin
[21] ibid
[22] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[23] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[24] Al-Ala – The Most High: Nooruddin
[25] Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[26] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[27] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[28] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[29] Holy Spirit. Wikipedia. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Spirit#Judaism
[30] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[31] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[32] 
ibid
[33] ibid
[34] ibid
[35] ibid
[36] ibid
[37]God’s Word and the Turning Away of the Jews: Friday Sermon of Hazrat Ameer (Head) Maulana Muhammad Ali Sahib – December 20, 1914 – http://aaiil.org/text/hq/sermons/mali/godwordjews.shtml

[38] New King James Version. BibleGateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+18%3A18+&version=NKJV
[39] Footnote. Verse 2:106. The Message of The Quran. Translated and Explained by Muhammad Asad.
[40] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[41] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[42] Al-Alaq – The Clot: Nooruddin
[43] Al-Ala – The Most High: Nooruddin
[44] Al-Ala – The Most High: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz, footnote: a(7)
[45] Footnote. Verse 17:86. The Message of The Quran. Translated and Explained by Muhammad Asad.
[46] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[47] Al-Najm – Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
[48] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin

[48a] Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
[49] Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[50]
ibid
[51] Al-Shura – The Counsel: Nooruddin
[52] Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[53] Al`Imran – The Family of Imran: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[54] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[55] Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[56] Al-Hujarat – The Chambers: Nooruddin
[57] Al-Naml – The Tribe of Naml: Nooruddin
[58] “Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, section: “Basis of Abrogation”. Link: http://aaiil.org/text/books/mali/rlgnislm/holyquran.shtml

Case Study 6: Consort Yes, but ‘Escort’ (—Mata`a) is a No! No! in Quran

Monday, December 8th, 2014
Case Study 6: Consort Yes, but 'Escort' (–Mata‘a[1]) is a No! No! in Quran

6:101. He is Wonderful and Primary Originator of the heavens and the earth! How (and whence) can there be a son for Him, when He has no consort [Arabic: Sâhibatun[2] – Spouse; Consort; Wife]? He has created all things and He has perfect knowledge of everything.[3]

Marriage is such a pristine institution in Quran that even Allah uses its sacred standard to rebut the allegation of son-ship of Jesus Christ i.e. How (and whence) can there be a son for Him, when He has no consort? The choice of words clearly implies the prerequisite of a marriage to children. Quran is replete with verses that outline the morality of relationships and laws and obligations of a public marriage of one kind only that which is solemnized by an agreed upon dower, ceremony of Nikah, and that which can end only by a formal public divorce or death of the spouse.

The word 'consort' used in the title of the chapter is taken from Merriam Webster Dictionary[4] for its meaning of spouse, which according to Quran is a status obtained only through a full legal and public marriage contract in which there are monetary safeguards for the woman at its inception, commitment of love and affection, provisions for maintenance for the wife during the marriage as well as at its end if the contract is terminated by a formal divorce or by inheritance if the spouse dies.

In pre-Islamic period, five kinds of unions were in the cultural norms of Arabia[5]. Permanent marriage – which with some modification is the one in vogue in Islam; Mata‘a – Temporary marriage; Istibdza or Extra-marital consented conjugal acts – same as Niyoga[6] in India; Polyandry, in which determination of paternity was at the sole discretion of the mother; and Prostitution.

Apparently, the practice of Mata‘a, the temporary 'marriage' was so much the norm in Arabia that it needed a repeat prohibition by the Prophet namely before the Khaibar expedition and during the Umra in the year following the Peace Treaty of Hudaybiah in seventh year of Hijrah, during conquest of Makkah and immediately afterward in Autas expedition in the eighth year of Hijrah, during Tabuk expedition in the ninth year of Hijrah and during the final pilgrimage of the Prophet in the tenth year of the Hijrah.

It is noteworthy that the Prophet is on the record prohibiting the Mata‘a especially when it was traditionally expected to be practiced the most when there were more men congregated then women, that too when men were far away for an extended period from their own wives and in war conditions when the androgenic impulses have run amok in the world history. This re-emphasis of prohibition continued during the reign of successors to the prophet, which only proves the deeply entrenched nature of this custom in pre-Islamic Arabian culture. Neither the Prophet indulged into a Mata‘a, nor his successors nor the (Shite) Imams after them.As Islam expanded beyond the cities of Makkah and Medina, it needed a constant reminder by the state for its prohibition for the new entrants into its fold.

Interestingly, when Hadiths are sliced and diced, the common factor that emerges is that all Hadiths point to prohibition rather allowance of Mata‘a. The advocates of Mata‘a can only hinge on one Hadith in which “The caller of the Prophet of God came to us and said: `The Prophet of God has permitted you to perform Mata‘a, that is the Mata‘a with women.'” This is usually attributed to the expedition of Autas, contrary to above mention of the same. Of note is that this hadith is not directly attributed to the Prophet, but to a third unidentified person who attributes it to the Prophet. It is just impossible for the Prophet to go against Quran, which allows only one kind of union and that is of full marriage, hence such a hadith seems to be a miscommunication or a misquote.

Before one even gets into the discussion of merits or demerits of Mata‘a one must keep in mind the definition of Prostitution[7] and how similar, not different is it from the former:

: the work of a prostitute : the act of having sex in exchange for money
: the use of a skill or ability in a way that is not appropriate or respectable

The main driver for Mata‘a is lust pure and simple. It is to this caving in to lust that all the justifications for this abominable practice are concocted contrary to injunction of Quran which is for one to remain chaste:

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty…[8]

If one gleans the nature of Mata‘a it becomes obvious that the parties agree to a fixed 'dowry' i.e. gift given to woman by the man for the contract to last for an agreed fixed time period before the woman declares that she gives herself to the man in 'marriage' against the monetary terms agreed upon for a fixed duration only. This declaration is only verbal, does not necessitate any witnesses and is neither registered with the authorities. There is no terminating formality of divorce. After the verbal contract, the two can choose to live together and have conjugal relations as ordinary ‘husband and wife’ with the difference that children born will be responsibility of and attached to the 'husband'. However, 'husband' is not required to maintain and support the 'wife', both during the contract and when the term of the contract is over. If the 'husband' dies during the contract, she has no right to inheritance from the 'husband' and vice versa. There are other commonalities practiced that are similar to a regular marriage e.g. woman can only contract with a Muslim whereas the options for man expand to include woman of the Book. After the contract is over, the woman cannot contract another Mata‘a or a marriage till a prescribed number of menstrual cycles completed by her. A simple question needing answer is that can the time period of agreed upon Mata‘a be longer than the expected life span of the parties, for example a hundred years, which essentially becomes a contract for life?

Interestingly, there is no bar on number of concurrent Mata‘a that the man may contract and the existing Mata‘a(s) does not limit the man from concurrently having up to four wives as well. The duration of Mata‘a can be as little as half an hour. On the reverse, there is no lifetime bar for a woman to continue to contract different partners and she possibly can make a living by being with different men, one after the other without observing the mandated menstrual cycle as there is no monitoring system in place. Another simple question for the proponents of Mata‘a is that a regular marriage draws its rules and regulation from Quran itself, and then what is the source for the details of Mata‘a ? Answer is that the source for Mata‘a and its details are entirely human that try to draw some of the injunctions from Quran about regular marriage, whereas, for all and sundry Muslims the source of Law and its details is none but Quran, not humans.

Proponents of Mata‘a quite proudly publicize the fairness of contract to the woman in that she is given a dower upfront. If Mata‘a is a contract that includes monetary or equivalent exchange then according to Quran any such contract has to be written down and witnessed, which paradoxically is not a requirement for Mata‘a which is neither witnessed nor written down:

2:282. O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things.[9] [Shakir] [Emphasis added]

Mata‘a is factually just another dignified name for prostitution which eerily becomes obvious as a daylight by merely replacing the word Mata‘a with 'Escort' and 'dower' with money in the above paragraphs. One wonders at to what happens when the man refuses to pay-up before the term of the contract expires? Who will enforce the contract since it is neither witnessed nor registered with any competent authority? What if a woman or for that matter a man fabricates an alleged Mata‘a with another person, how will the other party disprove the allegation, while knowing the fact that there are no witnesses required? What if the contract is for one night only and thereafter each of the two go their own way, the woman some time later becomes pregnant, who then determines the paternity and who bears the expenses of child rearing if the father disowns the child, whereas per Quran a pregnant mother cannot leave the home till she gives birth? How justifiable is such a contract where children may be raised away from their mothers? Can a married woman undertake Mata‘a, which is not allowed when verse 4:23[10] is read in conjunction with verse 4:24?

There is no word “Mata‘a” in Quran.The entire thrust for legitimacy of Mata‘a is based upon extra-Quranic sources, conjectures and hearsay. The word Mata‘a itself does not even mean “temporary marriage”.The advocates of Mata‘a also try to justify their entire practice by overstretching a single verse of Quran which is reproduced below from a plagiarized[11] translation by the author who belonged to the same sect which defends its practice:

4:24. And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) Allah's ordinance to you, and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit [–Istamta‘tum] by [marriage, hence], give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.[12][Shakir]

The keyword in above verse that is twisted to justify Mata‘a in Quran is Istamta‘tum[13] which in Arabic means: 'You people enjoyed', whereas Mata‘a itself too means: 'Comfort; Ease; Enjoyment'. Through word, play a flimsy logic is put forth that since both words mean enjoyment, hence by implication Mata‘a is parenthetically insert-able for Istamta‘tum in above verse. Since, Mata‘a was a pre-Islamic practice of a socially acceptable temporary marriage (read prostitution), hence the argument is made that the said verse permits the act of Mata‘a in the same manner as it was practiced before Islam. Fact is that there is nothing in this verse or anywhere else in Quran which can even provide an iota of a notion about a marriage that is started with non-permanence of intention right from its inception. The very nature of a time-limited marriage is against the spirit of marriage in Quran which equates the importance of a marriage relationship to that of a blood relationship which has no inherent time bar on it:

25:54. And He it is Who has created man from the water, then He has made for him blood relationship and marriage relationship, and your Lord is powerful.[14] [Shakir]

Of note is that in verse 4:24 before even the word Istamta‘tum is reached, implying any enjoyment, physical or emotional or both, there is a clear injunction to fully marry the woman before resorting to that enjoyment – provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. With regards to women except those whom your right hands possess [Arabic: ma malakat aimanukum], reader is referred to the chapter which explains this term that by it is meant prisoners of war who can be married – “Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines, Extra-Marital Relations – Zilch, Nada In Quran!” [Link]. Slaves which are different from prisoners of war, for them too besides the general injunction on singles to marry, Quran emphasizes their marriage, Quran identifies them by their gender, both males and females, and orders them to be kept chaste and marriages were to be obligatorily arranged for them, either by marrying them within the household or being given away in marriage, as married state is a natural state for adults in Quran and is an assurance for their chastity, whereas Mata‘a by its very time limited nature negates this injunction of Quran:

24:32. And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.[15] [Shakir]

The word Istamta‘tum is also used elsewhere in Quran that makes its use plainly clear. For example, while addressing the hypocrites:

9:69. Like those before you; they were stronger than you in power and more abundant in wealth and children, so they enjoyed [–Istamta‘tu[16]] their portion; thus have you enjoyed [–Istamta‘tum[17]] your portion as those before you enjoyed [–Istamta‘a[18]] their portion; and you entered into vain discourses like the vain discourses in which entered those before you. These are they whose works are null in this world and the hereafter, and these are they who are the losers.[19] [Shakir]

With the clarity of usage of Istamta‘tum in the above verse which is anything but Mata‘a, if the proponents of Mata‘a in verse 4:24 still insist as before, then they need to read the contextual outcome in following verse of a lustful contract for sexual relationships:

46:20. And on the day when those who disbelieve [in allowance of sexual relations only in a full marriage] shall be brought before the fire: You did away with your good things in your life of the world and you enjoyed them [–Istamta‘tum] for a while [read: Mata‘a , the so called temporary marriage for a while], so today you shall be rewarded with the punishment of abasement because you were unjustly proud in the land and because you transgressed [by indulging in Mata‘a ].[20] [Shakir]

If for the sake of argument the case for Mata‘a in verse 4:24 as an implied replacement for Istamta‘tum is accepted, then using the same standards, the above verse 46:20 squarely points to the destination of Mata‘a participants as nothing but the hell fire. With this, we rest our case and for the proponents of Mata‘a we leave them with these verses to self-reflect therein:

68:35. What has happened to you? How do you judge?

68:37. Or have you a book wherein you read,

68:38. That you have surely therein what you choose [as the basis of Mata‘a ]?[21] [Shakir]

Even to give room for discussion for an implied altering for Mata‘a the words of Quran is an unwarranted accommodation because according to Quran:

18:27. And recite what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord, there is none who can alter His words; and you shall not find any refuge besides Him.[22] [Shakir]

The verse fragment in 4:24 – Then as to those whom you profit by [–Istamta‘tum], implies the mutually beneficial and affectionate relationship between couples that emanates from the wedlock which Quran frequently shores up and emphasizes from various angles. For example:

30:21. And (it is one) of His signs that He has created spouses for you from your own species that you may find comfort in them. And He has induced mutual love and tenderness between you. Behold! there are signs in this for a people who would reflect.[23]

2:187. (Though during Fasting you must abstain from all the urges of nature including the sexual urge) it is made lawful for you on the nights of the fasts to approach and lie with your wives (for sexual relationship). They are (a sort of) garment for you and you are (a sort of) garment for them. Allâh knows that you have been doing injustice to yourselves (by restricting conjugal relations with your wives even at night), so He turned to you with mercy and provided you relief; now enjoy their company (at night during Ramadzân) and seek what Allâh has ordained for you…

25:74. And who (in their prayers) say, `Grant that our wives and our children be (a source of) comfort for (our) eyes and make us a model for those who guard against evil.'[24]

7:189. It is He Who has created you from one living entity, and from the same stock (that He created a human being) He brought into being his mate that he might find comfort in her. When he covers her (in conjugal relationship) she conceives a light burden and carries it about, then when she grows heavy (with the child), they both pray to Allâh, their Lord, (saying) `If You give us a good one (- a child with a sound mind in a sound body), we shall surely be of the grateful (to You).' [25]

Maulana Muhammad Ali in his landmark work “Religion of Islam” under section on “Marriage”[26] discusses the moral, psychological and social aspects of Islam in light of Quran, which is excerpted below:

Multiplication of the human race through marriage: It will be noted that, in the above verses [4:1, 7:189, 16:72, 30:21, 42:11], the multiplication of the human race is mentioned as one of the objects of marriage. But it may be said that the multiplication of the race can be brought about without marriage, as with the lower animals; that is to say, without uniting one man with one woman for their whole life. This would be only true if man lived upon earth like other animals, if there was nothing to distinguish him from the brute creation, if there were no such thing as civilization, no society, no sense of respect for one's own obligations and the rights of others, no sense of property and ownership. Deprived of its civilization there would be no human race at all, but a race of brutes in human form. The family, which is the real unit of the human race and the first cohesive force which makes civilization possible, owes its existence solely to marriage. If there is no marriage, then there can be no family, no ties of kinship, no force uniting the different elements of humanity and consequently, no civilization. It is through the family that humanity is held together and civilization made possible.

Feelings of love and service developed through marriage: The institution of marriage is also responsible to a very great extent for the development of those feelings of love and service which are the pride of humanity today. The mutual love of husband and wife — a love based not on momentary passion but lifelong connection — and the consequent parental love for offspring leads to a very high development of the feeling of love of man for man as such, and thus to the disinterested service of humanity. This love is described as a sign of God in the Qur'an: "And of His signs is this, that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find quiet of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion" (30:21). The natural inclination of the male to the female and of the female to the male finds expansion through marriage and is developed, first, into a love for the children, then a love for one's kith and kin, and ultimately into a disinterested love for the whole of humanity. The home, or the family, is in fact the first training ground of love and service. Here man finds real pleasure in the service of humanity, and the sense of service is thus gradually developed and broadened. It is in fact a training ground for every kind of morality, for it is in the home that a man learns to have a sense of his own obligation and responsibilities, to have a respect for others' rights and, above all, to have a real pleasure in suffering for the sake of others. The Prophet is reported to have said: "The best of you is he who treats his wife best" (IM. 9:50).

Marriage and 'free love": The Western world is undoubtedly leaning more and more to "free love" in the place of marriage, but "free love" will certainly prove the ruin of Western civilization. Marriage is being discarded, not on account of any inherent defect in it, but simply because it entails certain responsibilities on both parties to the marriage contract, and it is really these responsibilities that are shirked in avoiding marriage. Marriage undoubtedly strengthens the ties of the natural love of the two mates, but it also requires them to share each other's cares and sorrows; for human life has its cares and sorrows as well as its pleasures. "Free love" makes each of the mates selfish in the extreme because, while the male and the female become each other's partners in happiness, each is free to leave the other, uncared for, in his or her sorrow. Marriage again makes the two mates jointly responsible for the welfare of the children, but in "free love," either the procreation of children is altogether avoided, and thus the end which nature has in view in the union of the male and the female is defeated, or when either of the parents has had his or her satisfaction of the other, the children may be left without a shelter. The institution of marriage is found in all countries and all nations, has been practised in every age for thousands of years and has worked to the advancement and welfare of humanity on the whole. Free love, if practised on so large a scale for half a century, would either put an end to the human race altogether, or bring such chaos in society as would destroy its very foundations. It may suit a few irresponsible, selfish persons who are the slaves of their passions, but there can be no spark of true love in a union which may end abruptly at the whim of either, and it can serve no useful purpose for humanity in general.

In light of elucidation of institution of marriage in Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali above Mata‘a if at all is close to ‘free love’ and steers clears of other virtuous objectives that a marriage naturally entails. He writes further, excerpted below:

Mut'ah[27] or temporary marriage disallowed: A marriage for a fixed period was recognized before Islam. It went under the name of mut‘ah, meaning profiting by or enjoying a thing. Besides the temporary marriage, four kinds of union of man and woman were recognized by the pre-Islamic Arabs (Bu. 67:37). The first of these was the permanent marriage tie which, in a modified form, was recognized by Islam. The second was known as the istibdza' [footnote: " From bidz' meaning a portion or a large portion of wealth, sufficient to carry on a trade (R)]." The following explanation of this word is given in Bukhari and other authorities: "A man would say to his wife, Send for such a one and have cohabitation with him; and the husband would remain aloof from her and would not touch her until her pregnancy was clear" (Bu. 67:37; N.). This is exactly the form which goes under the name of niyoga in the reformed Hindu sect, Arya Samaj. The third form was that in which any number of men, less than ten, would gather together and have cohabitation with a worn-an, and when she became pregnant and gave birth to a child, she would call for all those men and would say that the child belonged to such a one from among them, and he was bound by her word to accept the responsibility. Fourthly, there were prostitutes who were entered upon promiscuously and when one of them bore a child, a man known as qa'if (lit., one who recognized) was invited and his decision, based on similarity of features, was final as to who was the father of the child. The last three forms only legalized adultery in one form or another and Islam did not recognize any of them, nor was any such practice resorted to by any Muslim at any time.

Temporary marriage stood on a different basis, and reform in this matter was brought about gradually. Recently the idea has appealed to the Western mind which is seeking in temporary marriage, by way of experiment, a remedy for the rigidity of the Christian marriage laws. Islam, however, discarded the idea of temporariness in marriage, because it opens the way to loose relations of the sexes, and entails no responsibility of any kind on the father for the care and bringing up of the children, who, with the mother, might thus be left quite destitute. Occasions may arise for the dissolution of a permanent marriage, and will continue to arise as long as human nature is what it is, but the remedy for this is divorce and not temporary marriage. The moment the idea of temporariness is introduced into marriage, it loses its whole sanctity, and all responsibilities which are consequent on it are thrown off. According to the Qur'an, the union of the two sexes is only lawful because of the acceptance of the responsibilities consequent thereupon, and the idea of a temporary marriage is not in accordance with it. A union of the sexes with the acceptance of the consequent responsibilities is called ihsan (marriage), and without such acceptance it is called safah (fornication), and the Qur'an allows the first while it forbids the second (4:24).

Deceptively, Mata‘a for what it means and what it tries to achieve, whether in pre-Islamic history and even now, is primarily carnal enjoyment. In a reverse relationship the word Istamta‘tum has been implied to mean Mata‘a, irrespective that the two words are poles apart in their usage and the heinous immorality that Mata‘a engenders. The advocates for Mata‘a are only trying to launder a pre-Islamic pagan practice by concocting a legitimacy through Quran.

Mata‘a is anything but marriage. Its proponents will also agree upon the principles of marriage and what it stands for in light of Quran.

Firstly, there are no secret marriages in Quran, while Mata‘a can be a secret contract as witnesses are not a requirement:

4:25. And those of you who have not the means (- social or financial) to marry free believing women (may marry) such of your believing bonds women as your right hands own (by being captives in war). Allâh knows very well (the state of) your faith, you are all (sprung) one from another, so marry them with the permission of their guardians and give them their dowers with equity, they being properly married, not (committing fornication), to pursue their lust nor taking secret paramours[28][Emphasis added]

5:5. This day all good and pure things have been made lawful for you. And the food of those who have been given the Scripture is lawful for you (provided the food does not include anything forbidden in Islam), and your food is lawful for them. And (lawful for you for marriage are) the chaste women from among the believing women and chaste women from among those who have been given the Scripture before you, provided that you pay them their dowers (to live with them) after contracting valid marriage, not committing fornication, nor seeking secret love affairs by taking secret paramours. And whoever denies the commandments of (the true) faith, no doubt (he will find) his deeds have gone in vain and he will be of the losers in the Hereafter.[29] [Emphasis added]

Secondly, marriage mandates husbands to be responsible for supporting their wives and family, while in Mata‘a there is no such expectation of the husband or even from the wife:

4:34. Men are the maintainers of women…[30]

Thirdly, in Quran no marriage can be terminated without appointed arbiters from each side for reconciliation before decreeing a divorce, while Mata‘a is a self-expiring contract:

4:35. And if you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbiter from his people and an arbiter from her people. If they both desire agreement, Allah will effect harmony between them. Surely Allah is ever Knowing, Aware.[31]

Four, in Quran for a marriage to be revoked by a divorce, it is a must to have two witnesses, a condition that does not exist in Mata‘a.

65:2. And when they are about to reach their prescribed term (of `Iddat) either keep them (by revoking the divorce) in an honourable and fair manner or part with them in honourable and fair manner and two honest and just persons from among you witness (your decision). (Let the witnesses) bear true testimony for the sake of Allâh (regarding the situation that resulted in the pronouncement of divorce). Thus the person (who acts according to these guidelines and) who believes in Allâh and the Last Day is exhorted. And he who takes Allâh as (his) shield, He will always make a way out (of his ordeals) for him.[32]

Five, even in a divorced state, men are responsible for provisions for the woman, a requirement that does not even exist in Mata‘a:

65:6. Lodge (the divorced) women (during the prescribed period in some part of the house) where you are lodging, according to (the best of) your means. Do not harass them so as to make (their stay) hard for them. If they be pregnant, bear their expanses until they are delivered of the child. And if they suckle (the child) for you (as the period of waiting is over with delivery) pay them their dues (for suckling), and (in order to settle it) consult together in all fairness (making only reasonable demands on one another). But if you find it mutually difficult (to come to a settled agreement) then let another woman suckle (the child) for him (- the father).

65:7. Let a man with (plentiful) means spend (for the maintenance of the suckling woman) according to his means. And let him whose means of subsistence are limited spend according to what Allâh has given him. Allâh burdens no person (with responsibility) beyond what He has given him. Allâh will soon bring about easy times after hardships. [33]

Six, upon the death of either spouse, the living spouse and children in absence of a will of the deceased are assured a default portion, while Mata‘a has no such provisions for the 'wife' or the 'husband':

4:12. And for you is half of that which your wives leave behind, if they have no child; but if they have a child, then for you is one fourth of what they leave behind, after (the payment of) any bequest they may have bequeathed or (still more important) of any (of their) debt. And for them (- your wives) is one fourth of what you leave behind if you have no child; but if you leave a child, then, for them is an eighth of what you leave after (the payment of) any bequest you have bequeathed or (still more important) of any debt. And if there be a man or a woman whose heritage is to be divided and he (or she – the deceased) has no child and he (or she) has (left behind) a brother or a sister then for each one of the twain is a sixth; but if they be more than one then they are (equal) sharers in one third after the payment of any bequest bequeathed or (still more important) of any debt (provided such bequest made by the testator and the debt) shall be without (any intent of) being harmful (to the interests of the heirs). This is an injunction from Allâh, and Allâh is All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.[34]

Seven, even in case the deceased husband had bequeathed his house to someone other than his wife, her rights and welfare are to be guaranteed by the deceased husband’s family, whereas in Mata‘a there is no such thing as widowhood and the corresponding responsibilities for the society:

2:240. And [for] those of you who die and leave wives behind, there is a binding injunc-tion (of God) for their wives for a year's maintenance without being turned out (of their homes). But if they go out (of their own accord during this period) there is no blame on you with regard to what they do about themselves in an equitable and decent manner. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.[35]

In summary, by the standards of Quran for marriage, whatever Mata‘a maybe, it for sure is not a marriage if nothing else for its temporariness and it fails all the requirements of what marriage means and what a marriage achieves. There is no room for a temporary marriage in Quran and such a justification in none but a fabrication, because it is not only immoral, it depreciates the status of woman, makes her more vulnerable to exploitation, removes safety net around her and destroys the institution of family, the cornerstone of any society. Mata‘a is not a marriage, rather an adultery pure and simple. Any adultery in any shape or form, be it in the garb of temporary 'marriage' is condemned in Quran:

17:32. And Keep away from adultery and fornication; surely, it is an abominable act and an (extremely) evil practice.[36]

The indulgers in Mata‘a are no different than what the following verse expounds in regards to relationships outside the allowable marriage in Quran:

24:3. The fornicator and adulterer cannot have sexual relations (without lawful marriage) except with a fornicatress and adulteress or polytheistic woman (of low morality), and the fornicatress and adulteress, none can have sexual relations with her except a fornicator and adulterer or a polytheistic man (of low morality). And this (adultery and fornication) is forbidden to the believers.[37]

Mata‘a is essentially sexual relations outside wedlock. Such a relationship is a sure recipe for moral failure whereas restrained sexuality within the bounds of a full marriage is a requisite for moral success:

23:1. Truly, success in this life and in the Hereafter does come to the believers,
23:2. Who turn (to God) in all humility in their Prayer,
23:3. And who keep aloof from all that is vain and idle,
23:4. And who act conscientiously for the sake of purity (and regularly present the Zakât),
23:5. And who guard their private parts,

23:6. Except from their spouses, that is those whom they justly and rightfully own in proper wedlock, in that case they are not to be blamed,

23:7. But those who seek anything else (to satisfy their sexual desire) beyond this, it is they who are the transgressors,
23:8. And who look after their trusts and their covenants,
23:9. And who are strict in the observance of their Prayers.
23:10. It is they who are the real heirs;
23:11. Who will own Paradise where they shall abide for ever.[38][Emphasis added]

Reader are encouraged to read “Part Three – Chapter 6: Marriage” in “Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali [pdf link] for a comprehensive yet a broad view about Marriage in Islam and is various legal and social aspects including a discussion about Mata‘a and its historical ambiguities.


[1] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 525 – Mata‘a (n.): Comfort; Ease; Enjoyment; Provision; Household stuff; Utensils; Goods; All kinds of things necessary for the life of human beings and cattles and goodly provisions for them. Matta‘tu (prf. 1st. p. sing.II.): I allowed to enjoy worldly provision. I gave comfort. Matta‘ta (prf. 2nd. pp. sing. II.): Thou bestowed the good thing of life. Matta‘na (prf. 1st. p. plu. II.): We have provided with good things. Umatti‘u (imp.1st. p. sing. II.): I will give comfort. I will provide worldy provision. Numatti‘u (imp. 1st. p. plu.): We shall grant provision. Yumatti‘u (imp. 3rd. p. sing.II.): He will cause to enjoy. Matti‘û (prt. m. plu.): You provide provision. Tamatta‘ûna (2nd. p. plu. pip.): You will be given comfort. Yumatta‘ûna (3rd. p. plu. pip.): They were allowed to enjoy. Yatamatt‘ûn (imp. 3rd. p. plu.): They enjoy themselves. Its imp. 3rd. p. plu. acc. Is Yatamatta. Tamatta‘a (prt. m. sing. V.): Enjoy. Tamatta‘û (prt. m. plu. V.): Enjoy yourselves. Istamata‘a (prf. 3rd. p. sing. X): Benefited. Istamta‘tum (prf. 2nd. p. plu.): You people enjoyed. Istamat‘û (prf. 3rd. p. m. plu. X.): They enjoyed. Amti‘atun (n. plu. its sing. is Matâtun). (L; R; T; LL) This root with its above forms has occurred about 70 times in The Holy Qur’ân.
[2] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 307 – Sâhibatun: Spouse; Consort; Wife.
[3] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[4] Link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/consort
[5] 'Religion of Islam' by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 449-452
[6] Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niyoga
[7] Link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prostitution
[8] Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[10] 4:23. Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brothers' daughters and sisters' daughters and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster-sisters and mothers of your wives and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in, but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them), and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already passed; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [Shakir] – Al-Nisa – Women: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[11] Shakir’s Quran translation — blatant plagiarism of the first edition of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation –
Deception perpetrated on readers of the Holy Quran. Link: http://ahmadiyya.org/movement/shakir.htm
[12] Al-Nisa – Women: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[13] See footnote 1 above
[14] Al-Furqan – The Criterion: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[15] Al-Nur – The Light: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[16] See footnote 1 above
[17] See footnote 1 above
[18] See footnote 1 above
[19] Al-Bara’at – Immunity: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[20] Al-Ahqaf – The Sandhills: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[21] Al-Qalam – The Pen: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[22] Al-Kahf – The Cave: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[23] Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
[24] Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
[25] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[26] 'Religion of Islam' by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 447-449
[27] Also spelled as Mata’a
[28] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[29] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[30] Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[31] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[32] Al-Talaq – The Divorce: Nooruddin
[33] Al-Talaq – The Divorce: Nooruddin
[34] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[35] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[36] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[37] Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
[38] Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin

Issue 5: In Islam the testimonial rights of women are half those of men

Monday, November 10th, 2014
Issue 5: In Islam the testimonial rights of women are half those of men

Even before the issue of ‘half’ testimonial capacity of women is discussed and refuted, it begets one to keep in mind that Quran sets the golden rules of testimony in plain words without differentiating between men and women:

2:140. …And who is more unjust than he who [Arabic: mimman – ‘one who’ i.e. man or a woman] conceals the testimony he has from Allâh. And Allâh is not at all unaware of what you do.'[1]

5:106. … `We will accept for this (-our oath) no price; (we will bear true evidence) even though he (in whose favour or against we bear evidence) be near of kin, nor will we hide the testimony (enjoined to be borne uprightly) by Allâh, for if we do so, we shall certainly be among the sinners.'[1a]

In light of above verses it is plainly clear that no witness, neither man nor a woman, can conceal the testimony. The deposition by either has to be accepted at par. For the sake of argument, the debate for alleged ‘half’ testimonial capacity of a woman would only arise if there was also a male co-witness, the alleged ‘full’ witness. If there is no male co-witness, then what will be the testimonial status of the woman witness? Will her ‘half’ then not be treated as ‘full’ because the verse 2:140 demands of her to be in witness stand for her testimony? At the same time one may ask a fundamental question that in the same verse since Allah Himself does not deny or dilute the testimonial rights of a woman then how can humans reduce it for her? On the reverse, in the words of Quran, anyone lowering the testimonial rights of a woman as compared to a man would be plain unjust, simply put, it will be against Quran.

In support of the allegation in current issue usually verse 2:282 is quoted. If we look closely at this verse it becomes obvious that critics confuse the factual concession afforded to women over men rather than her testimonial capacity being usurped:

2:282. O you who believe, if you borrow debt for a future period, then you shall record it. And let a scribe of justice record it for you; and let not the scribe refuse to record as God has taught him. Let him record and let the person who is borrowing dictate to him, and let him be aware of God, and let him not reduce from it anything. If the one who is borrowing is immature or weak or he cannot dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate with justice; and bring two witnesses from amongst your men; if they are not two men, then a man and two women from whom you will accept their testimony, so that if one of them becomes occupied[2], then the one can recall [in place of] the other. And let the witnesses not refuse to come if they are called. And do not fail to record it no matter how small or large until its maturity. That is more just with God and better for the testimony, and better that you do not have doubts; except if it is a trade to be done on the spot between you, then there is no sin upon you if you do not record it. And have evidence if you trade. No scribe shall be harmed nor any witness; for if you do so then it is vileness on your part, and be aware of God and God teaches you and God is aware of all things.[3][Emphasis added]

Firstly, nowhere in Quran is it stated that testimony of a woman is half of that a man. Neither does the Quran reduce the testimonial capacity of a woman to less than a man nor does it nullify it like that of a child. The examples of legal capacity of a woman as a witness at par with that of a man can be found in verse after verse and in diverse legal settings and circumstances that might be even more serious than those of verse 2:282. Some of these examples of equality of man and a woman as a witness can be found in Quran in matters of handing over the inheritance to orphans on attaining their majority, allegations of immodesty that might permanently damage a woman or end her marriage into a divorce, certification of a will or termination of marriage:

4:6. And keep on testing the orphans until they attain the (age of) marriage, then if you perceive in them sound judgment deliver to them their property and do not consume it extravagantly and hastily as they grow up (fearing lest they should claim it when they attain majority). And let him (- the guardian) who can afford to do without, let him avoid remuneration, but he who is needy may charge reasonable remuneration with equity. And when you hand over to them (- the orphans) their property let there be some witnesses [male and/or female] to attest. And Allah is enough as a Reckoner (and call you to account). "[4]

4:15. As to those of your women who commit sexual perversity, call in four of you [male and/or female] to witness against them, and if they bear witness then …[5]

5:106. O you who believe! when death comes to one of you (and you wish to make your will) let there be present among you, at the time of making the will, two just persons [male and/or female] from among you or two others [male and/or female] from among the outsiders, in case you are journeying in the country and the calamity of death overtakes you…[6]

24:4. Strike eighty times on the bodies of those who calumniate chaste women and who do not support (their accusation) with four witnesses [male and/or female], and never accept their testimony (because) it is they who are the disobedient (and break the law);[7]

24:11-13. Verily, those (- hypocrites) who brought the false accusation (against âishah, the wife of the Prophet), are a section of your own people. Do not think this (- incident) to be bad for you, rather it is good for you. (As for the accusers,) everyone of them shall receive (his due punishment according to) that which he has accomplished in the form) of sin. As for him (- Abdullâh bin Ubayy bin Salûl) who among them took the principal part thereof (in fabricating and spreading malicious scandal against her) there awaits him a grievous punishment. When you heard of this (accusation) why did not the believing men and believing women have a better opinion in respect of their own people and say, `This (charge) is an obvious lie?' Why did they (- the fabricators of this charge) not bring four witnesses [male and/or female] in support of this (accusation of theirs)? Since they failed to produce the (required) witnesses, it is they who are the very liars in the sight of Allâh.[8]

65:2. And when they are about to reach their prescribed term (of `Iddat) either keep them (by revoking the divorce) in an honourable and fair manner or part with them in honourable and fair manner and two honest and just persons [male and/or female] from among you witness (your decision). (Let the witnesses) bear true testimony for the sake of Allâh (regarding the situation that resulted in the pronouncement of divorce). Thus the person (who acts according to these guidelines and) who believes in Allâh and the Last Day is exhorted. And he who takes Allâh as (his) shield, He will always make a way out (of his ordeals) for him.[9]

Secondly, the above-mentioned stipulation in verse 2:282 is only for contracts and transactions and is not for the common understanding of a witness to an event in daily life for example witness to a crime. Nowhere in Quran can a woman not be the sole witness.

Thirdly, in verse 2:282 when it states  – and bring two witnesses from amongst your men; if they are not two men, then a man and two women from whom you will accept their testimony, Quran is merely setting the stage for a possible future need. In doing so, Quran is only expanding the witness pool as a precaution if the witnesses are ever needed, irrespective of statutes of limitations – And let the witnesses not refuse to come if they are called. If a dispute does arise about the transactional matter and when called to testify, there is no requirement in Quran of more than one witness, though more than one may be called upon. In situations where there is a requirement of more than one witness for adjudication of the case, Quran quite explicitly enjoins so – Strike eighty times on the bodies of those who calumniate chaste women and who do not support (their accusation) with four witnesses (24:4); let there be present among you, at the time of making the will, two just persons among you or two others from among the outsiders (5:106).

Fourth, in big scheme of things, in verse 2:282 it is clearly a concession for a woman and her burden is shared by a peer if needed for a testimony. The woman is different than a man in that she could be occupied with issues unique to her gender, for example menstruation, pregnancy, labor, postpartum, menopause, childcare and home maker. Given her situation she may not be physically available, able to travel or bear the rigors of the court etc. Clearly in such extraneous circumstances she has a substitute and in doing so the justice is neither delayed nor denied for the dispute because provision of timely justice is one of the injunctions in Quran, for example:

38:21-22. Have you heard the news of the adversaries (of David) who scaled the rampart of the fortress (to take David unawares in his chamber)? When they intruded upon David and (found that) he had become alert (on account of) them, they said, (by way of an excuse,) `Have no fear. We are two parties litigants. One of us has transgressed against the other, therefore judge between us as justice demands, and delay not (by giving the date of decision,) and guide us (in our litigation) to the fair way.[10] [Emphasis added]

Conversely, it can be implied that if the woman witness is not occupied, then the aide is not needed.

Fifth, “The Holy Qur’an does not say that no case should be decided except on the testimony of two witnesses, but requires ordinarily the calling of two witnesses at the time of the transaction, so that the deficiency of one may be rectified by the other. Cases may be decided on circumstantial evidence as well, which is sometimes stronger than the evidence of witnesses. The Holy Qur’an itself speaks of Joseph’s innocence being established on circumstantial evidence”[11]

It is this emphasis on circumstantial evidence on which Quran makes its case in a different matter when it states about Jesus coming down alive from the cross:

2:72. And (recall also) when you had (nearly) killed a (great) man (- Jesus), then you differed among yourselves respecting it (- the crucifixion). And Allâh will bring to light that (- Jesus did not die on the cross) which you had been hiding.

2:73. So We said, `Judge it in the context of its other circumstances.' That is how Allâh brings the dead (for Jesus being dead to all appearances) to life, and He shows you His signs so that you may refrain (from evil). [12][Emphasis added]

Witnesses are the cornerstone of a justice system. The ultimate role of witness(es) is to prevent a dispute upfront and still if the dispute so arises, then witness(es) help in the resolution the dispute between the affected parties. The fundamental expectation of the disputants from the judge is – judge between us as justice demands, and delay not (38:22) the carrying out of justice in a timely manner while taking into account all the facts i.e. Judge it in the context of its other circumstances(2:73), irrespective of number of witnesses because witnesses too can err, for example:

5.106. O you who believe! when death comes to one of you (and you wish to make your will) let there be present among you, at the time of making the will, two just persons [male and/or female] from among you or two others [male and/or female] from among the outsiders, in case you are journeying in the country and the calamity of death overtakes you. In case you doubt (their honesty in giving evidence), you shall detain both (the witnesses) after Prayer, then let them both swear by Allâh (and bear witness) saying, `We will accept for this (-our oath) no price; (we will bear true evidence) even though he (in whose favour or against we bear evidence) be near of kin, nor will we hide the testimony (enjoined to be borne uprightly) by Allâh, for if we do so, we shall certainly be among the sinners.'

5.107. But if it be discovered that these two have become guilty of sin, then let two others stand in their place from among those (heirs) against whom the (former) two (witnesses) who were in a better position (to give true evidence) are sinfully deposed, and the two (latter witnesses) swear by Allâh (saying), `Surely, our testimony is truer than the testimony of those two and we have not exceeded the bounds of justice (in bearing the evidence) for, in that case, we shall certainly be of the wrongdoers.'

5.108. This way is more likely to ensure that they (-the witnesses) will give the testimony in its true form and nature or atleast they will be afraid that other oaths will be taken after their oaths (to counter them). Therefore take Allâh as a shield and listen (to Him) for Allâh guides not the disobedient people to the way of success.[13]  

In Quran, the testimonial capacity of women is equal that of men. It is one of the many areas where distractors of Quran try to stirrup an argument where there is none to begin with. In Quran, the mutual relationships and the respective roles and obligations of men and women in the community are independent yet complementary, compassionate, considerate and cooperative. They are neither adversarial nor competitive.


 

[1] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin [1a] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[2]taḍilla’ – from [Arabic] Dzalla:To lose one’s way, go astray, fail, disappear, err, wander from, forget, waste, deviate, be misled from the right path, go from the thoughts, wander away, lurch, adjudge to be erring. Dzallatun: Anxiety; Uncertainty; Absence. Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 333.
[2] Al-Araaf – The Height of Discernment: Shabbir Ahmed.
[3] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Free Minds
[4] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[5] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[6] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[7] Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
[8] Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Talaq – The Divorce: Nooruddin
[10] Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
[11] Yusuf – Joseph – Verses: 12:26-27: Explanatory footnote: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[12] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[13] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin

 

Issue 1: Muslims should not take Jews and Christians as friends

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Issue 1: Muslims should not take Jews and Christians as friends

The verse 5:51 is often quoted as a broad injunction for Muslims to disassociate themselves from any ties of friendship with all Jews and Christians. That is factually wrong and quoted out of context. The full context of the said verse is discussed below:

5:51. O you who believe! do not take these Jews and the Christians for allies [Arabic: ‘awliya’]. They are allies of one to another (when against you), and whoso from amongst you takes them for allies, is indeed one of them. Verily, Allâh does not guide the unjust people to attain their goal.[1] [Emphasis added]

The emphasis in the said verse is on “these”, and its use, even if taken for its historical reasons, limits its addressed audience only to those who were among the opposing communities including Jews and Christians of Medina and its vicinity at the time when Muslims of Makkah had migrated to Medina to escape thirteen years of relentless persecution. “these” initially signed alliance treaties but were factually united against the city government of Muslims that was established in Medina under the Prophet. “these” are on record for aiding and abetting attacks on Medina by Makkans. In the use of identifier “these” Quran contextualizes “these” in the verses adjoining the said verse and throughout implores and makes a case to the hostile people of the Book to remedy their antagonism against Islam based upon their current behavior, their historically erroneous stance towards pervious prophets and for them to self-reflect in the virtuous teaching of their own Scriptures. Simultaneously, Quran also identifies for Muslims the attributes of followers of other religions which qualify them to be their friends and allies:

5:50. Do they seek to enforce the law of (the days of) ignorance? [i.e. when might was right, there were no human rights, women were mere property, slavery was rampant etc. before Islam]

Addressing the hidden alliances of the hypocrites of Medina who were strategically aligning on both sides of the divide, on one hand professing to be Muslims and wanting to be counted in their ranks, while on the other hand were colluding with the opponents as well, Quran states:

5:52. Now you shall see those [weak at heart Muslims] in whose hearts is a disease (of hypocrisy) vying one with another towards them (- the Jews and Christians [who were powerful and influential in Medina] to take them for allies). They [i.e. early Muslims of Medina, essentially the hypocrite faction] say, `We are afraid lest a misfortune should befall us [by not siding with the powerful that expectedly were to overcome the nascent Muslim community in Medina].' But it is well nigh that Allâh will bring about a victory or some other (more remarkable) event (in favour of Islam) from Himself; then they will become more remorseful (and ashamed) for what they secretly harboured in their minds.

5:53. And those who have believed will say (at that time), 'Are these they who swore by Allâh their most solemn oaths that they were surely with you?' Their deeds have gone waste (and their machination failed), so that they have become the losers.

Quran outlines the conduct of Jews against the Muslims as the basis for the latter to give up their friendship with “these” referred before:

5:57. O you who believe! do not make those who take your religion lightly and consider it worthless, from among those who were given the Scripture before you and the other infidels, your allies [while they maintain a hostile stance towards Islam and Muslims in turn are enjoined only to withdraw their friendship without any intended aggression]. And keep your duty to Allâh if you are (true) believers.

5:58. And when you call (the people) to Prayer, they [the Jewish communities of Medina] take it lightly [i.e. make mockery] and consider it [-Islam and its prayers] worthless [like a sport i.e. not to be taken seriously and a religion not worth adopting]. They do so because they are a people who do not understand.

5:59. Say, `O People of the Scripture! do you find fault with us [Muslims] only because we believe in Allâh and in that which has been revealed to us, and in that which was revealed before (us [on to you i.e. Torah, Evangel etc.])? Whereas most of you are disobedient (to God) [and flaunt His standards of fairness even in their own religions].'

5:60. Say, `Shall I inform you of those who shall receive from Allâh a recompense worse than that of those (who try to find fault with Us)? They are those whom Allâh has deprived of His blessings and upon whom He brought His displeasure and indignation and of whom He has made (as) apes and swine [in their behavior who copy and imitate each other without thinking and have no moral boundaries and thus degenerate to lower moral level of animals] and who serve the transgressor (- the devil) . It is these who are indeed worse-placed and farther astray from the right path.'

5:61. And when they [Jews of Medina] come to you they say, `We believe,' while, infact, they enter without faith and go out without it. And Allâh knows best all they conceal.[2] [i.e. they would strategically convert and revert in the then time of state of war with Makkans and were a source of dissent and treason]

Despite the rancor of the opponents, Quran analyzes such behavior of the people of the Book towards Muslims and exhorts them from their own Scriptures to modify their immoral conduct:

5:66. If they had only observed the Torah and the Evangel and that which has been revealed to them (now) from their Lord, [because no Divine Book will endorse such behaviors as above,] they would surely have eaten (of good things) from above them [i.e. spiritual gains] and from under their feet [i.e. material gains], (thus would have enjoyed the boons of the heaven and the earth). [Quran does not measure all members of the opposing tribes with the same yardstick and acknowledges that] Though there is amongst them a community who is moderate (and of balanced mind), yet a large number of them are such that evil are their deeds[3][which are on record in the secular neo-Islamic history].

Without imposing its own message Quran reminds the people of the Book to follow their own Scriptures for a virtuous behavior and its outcome. In doing so, it places the righteous Jews and Christians at par with Muslims::

5:68. Say, `O People of the Scripture! you stand nowhere unless you observe the Torah and the Evangel [that too teaches unity of God, contrary to their doctrine of Trinity] and that (- Qur'ân) which has (now) been revealed to you from your Lord.' And certainly that which has been revealed [i.e. Quran] to you [all] from your Lord will increase many of them in ordinate rebellion and disbelief; so do not grieve for the disbelieving people.

5:69. Verily, those who have believed and those who judaised and the Sabians and the Christians, whosoever believes in Allâh and the Last Day and does righteous deeds [as taught in their own Scriptures], they shall have no cause of fear nor shall they ever grieve.[4]

In order to rectify the hostility of opponents of Islam, Quran draws attention to history in which the ancestors of Jews of Medina exhibited antagonism to their prophets and now in the same manner they too were opposing Prophet Muhammad:

5:70. Surely, We took a covenant from the Children of Israel [for upholding unity of God in their beliefs and actions] and We sent Messengers to them. Every time there came to them a Messenger with that (Message) which did not suit their fanciful desires, (they defied him so that) some they treated as liars and others they sought to kill [e.g. Prophets John and Jesus[5] before and now Prophet Muhammad].

5:71. And they thought there would be no punishment (for them) so they willfully became [morally] blind and deaf [in the same manner as morally low apes and swine – v. 5:60]; (then they sought Allâh's pardon) then Allâh turned to them (with mercy with the advent of Jesus), yet again many of them became blind and deaf. And Allâh is Watchful of what they do.[6]

Still, Quran only enjoins a temporary halt of relationship with those alluded to in verse 5:51 above because:

60:7. It may be that Allah will bring about friendship between you and those of them whom you hold as enemies. And Allah is Powerful; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.[7]

Giving up of one’s company with the opponents of Islam by a Muslim can be as short lived as switching from an aggrieving discussion by such people to something else:

4:140. And He has already revealed to you in this Book (the commandment) that when you hear Allâh's Messages being denied and being ridiculed you should not sit with such (absurd people) unless they engage in a topic other than that, for in case (you do not leave their company) you will be indeed like them. Allâh is going to assemble the hypocrites and the disbelievers in Gehenna one and all.[8]

While expunging any notion of across the board rejection of Jews and Christians by Muslims, Quran is quite clear about what makes a friend or a foe of Muslims:

60:8-9 Allah does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you for religion, nor drive you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly. Surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah forbids you only with regard to those who fight you for religion, and drive you forth from your homes and help (others) in your expulsion, that you make friends of them; and whoever makes friends of them, these are the wrongdoers.[9]

On the contrary, not surprisingly Quran teaches how to make friends even with those who have evil designs against Muslims that we particularly see as a working example in early Islamic history:

41:34-35. And good and evil are not alike. Repel (evil) with that (benign and graceful way) which is best, and lo, the person between whom and you there is enmity will behave as if he were your warm-hearted friend. Yet it is only the steadfast and patiently persevering who are allowed this (grace) and it is only those who possess a large share of good who are allowed this (moral standard).[10]

Despite treacherous behaviors by certain sections of other religions, Quran does not lump all the adherents of those religions together as one nor does it claim righteousness for Muslims alone:

3:113. They (- the people of the Scripture) are not all alike. Among these people of the Scripture there are some upright people. They rehearse the Message of Allâh in the hours of the night and they prostrate themselves (in His worship).

3:114. They believe in Allâh and the Last Day and enjoin good and forbid evil, and they vie one with another in (doing) good deeds. And it is these who are of the truly righteous.[11]

The bottom line alliance to be sought by Muslims is summarized as:

5:55. Your real ally is only Allâh, and His Messenger, and those who believe, who observe Prayer and present the Zakât, and they bow down (in obedience to Allâh).

5:56. And whoso takes for his allies Allâh and His Messenger and those who believe, (let him know that surely such a one is the party of Allâh) and it is the party of Allâh that is truly triumphant.[12]

The current and recent geopolitical history of the world and how it has affected the Muslim nations stands as a testament to the truth and wisdom outlined in verse 5:51 in context of its adjoining verses and the message of Quran in toto.

Dr. Zahid Aziz in his book “Islam, Peace and Tolerance” on pages 37-42 brings to light the subject of verse 5:51 in an even more diversified manner that reader may refer to [pdf – link].


[1] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[2] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[3] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[4] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[5] Matthew 17:11-13 – Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. [New International Version]
[6] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[7] Al-Mumtahanah – The Woman Tested: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[8] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Mumtahanah – The Woman Tested: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[10] Fussilat – Detailed and Clear in Exposition – Nooruddin
[11] Al-Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin

[12] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin

Case Study 1: Fidel or Infidel, Who determines – Man or God?

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Case Study 1: Fidel or Infidel, Who determines – Man or God?

Before we discuss the loggerhead question of Fidel[1] vs. Infidel[2], it necessitates first to determine the very definition of a Fidel in Quran . The core definition for a Fidel is that which the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) applied to himself:

39:11. Say, `Verily, I have orders to worship Allâh, being truly sincere to Him alone in obedience.
39:12. `And I have orders to be the foremost among those who surrender themselves (to His will).'
39:13. Say, `If I disobey my Lord I have to fear the torment of a dreadful day.'
39:14. Say, `It is Allâh I worship, being purely sincere to Him in my obedience.[3]

The above delineation of belief is further expanded into its progressive stages in Quran 49:15[4] for the believers, by their declaration – The believers are those only who believe in Allah and His Messenger, by their immersed belief – then they do not doubt, and then by their actions – and struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah. Such are the truthful ones.

The above core of belief is supplemented to include co-beliefs which only strengthen the core itself:

4:136. O you who believe! maintain faith in Allâh and in His Messenger and in this perfect Book which He has revealed to His perfect Messenger and in the Scripture He revealed before. And whoso denies Allâh and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day, he has indeed strayed far away (from the truth).[5]

The nature of man-God connection thus established in above-mentioned verses is a personal and private one in which there are neither intermediaries nor any human approver:

39:3. Beware! Sincere and true obedience is due to Allâh alone. Those who choose others as a patron beside Him (say), `We serve them only that they may bring us near to Allâh in station.' (It is absolutely wrong.)…[6]
39:44. Say, `All intercession belongs to Allâh entirely. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, then towards Him you shall (all) be brought back.'[7]

Additionally, Quran delineates the truly faithful from others:

57:19. And for those who believe in Allâh and His Messengers they alone are the truthful people and faithful witnesses in the sight of their Lord, they will have their full reward and their light. But those who disbelieve and cry lies to Our commandments are the very inmates of Hell.[8]

The faithful who believe in Allâh and His Messengers in turn have to fulfill the purpose of their faith by action and various virtuous means, because both the theory and practice of faith have to be synchronous and mutually complementing. For example:

2:277. Verily, those who believe and do deeds of righteousness and regularly observe the Prayer and go on presenting the Zakât shall have their reward from their Lord; they shall have no cause of fear, nor shall they ever grieve.[9]

In summary, the principal ingredient for a Fidel is faith in Allah and everything that flows from Him, the Messengers – both human and angels, Book/Scriptures, and awareness of accountability, be it on the Last Day or every day. The core expectations from a Fidel are the deeds of righteousness complemented with payers for conscious awareness of God, self and mankind while presenting Zakat.

With the definition of a Fidel out of the way, the next question needing answer is who determines if someone is infidel or unfaithful in his or her belief? Is it the burden of man or God?

In Quran, to be a Fidel is an undertaking by one’s free will and not by a decree of God:

42:8. And if Allâh had wanted (to enforce His will) He would have made all these people one nation (of believers)…

If contract to be Fidel is solely between the individual and God, so then is its negation by that individual as well. Any oath between man and God is based upon what is in the mind, and not in what is uttered vainly:

2:225. Allâh will not call you to account for what is vain (and unintentional) in your oaths, but He calls you to account for what your minds resolve and accomplish (by intentional swearing). And Allâh is Great Protector (against faults), Highly Forbearing.[10]

The above verse sets in stone that for God, what matters is in the hearts. Can a human peek into the heart of another to determine what resides therein? Never!

Frequently, one comes across fatwas (–religious opinions or judgments), the declarations from pulpit calling a fellow citizen, usually a professing Muslim, an infidel. Not infrequently, the cleric(s) of one sect declare other sect(s) outside the pale of Islam. One wonders how a human can be a judge of a fellow human in the issues of faith and belief which are the sole matters of one's heart. Even worse, how do the people accept such declarations from the pulpits as words and intention of God? Strange are utters of such words and even stranger are the minds which give credence to such a nonsense.
 
In Quran, we find that it is only and only God, Who, by His closeness to the individual knows what's in someone's heart:

50:16. We created a human being and We know what (dark) suggestions his mind makes to him. We are nearer to him than even (his) jugular vein.[11]

Faith is a matter of the heart, an unseen matter to everyone else. As to how pure is the faith of anyone, its judge is not even the Prophets, but only Allah:

5:109. (Imagine) the day when Allâh will gather together all the Messengers and asks, `What response did you receive?' They will say, `We have no real knowledge (about the minds of the people), surely it is You alone Who have true and perfect knowledge of all things unseen.'[12]

On the flip, no pulpit, no matter how zealot it maybe can speak on behalf of Allah as no man can perceive what is in His ‘mind’:

5:116. And when Allâh said, `O Jesus, son of Mary! did you say to the people, "Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allâh?"' He (-Jesus) replied, `Glory to You! it was not possible and proper for me to say thing to which I had no right. If I had said, You would indeed have known it, (for) You know all that is in my mind but I do not know what is in Yours. It is You alone Who truly know all things unseen.[13]

Even the angels cannot peek into someone's thoughts; rather they merely are a witness to the obvious actions and uttered words of the individual:

50:17-18. Behold, the two recording (angels) sitting one on (his) right and one on (his) left go on preparing the record (of his deeds). He utters not a word but (it is noted down by) a guardian (angel of his who) stands ready by his side (to record his words).[14]

Thus, if someone professes or for that matter rejects the faith, angels can only record the spoken words or related actions. They have no say in the matters of the 'truthfulness' of the heart of that person. It would be a separate subject matter of what Quran means by angels, which for sure are not the winged creatures depicted in religious art.

In the above verses, a human is totally factored out of the capacity to peep into someone else's mind and dig out the faith or lack thereof. This prerogative is only with the Creator of mankind, which is further explained:

5:7. …Verily, Allâh knows well what is in the inmost depths of the minds.[15]

The following verse acts as a preamble for the verses to follow, which brings to light the befuddled matter of belief in which the loudest claims to faith from the pulpit are commonly considered honourable, whereas Quran states the opposite, that – Surely the most honourable of you in the sight of Allâh is he who guards against evil the most, and not by one who carries the noisiest trumpet and wields the so called religious authority:

49:13. O mankind! We have created you out of a male and a female, and We have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognise (and do good to) one another. Surely the most honourable of you in the sight of Allâh is he who guards against evil the most. Verily, Allâh is All- knowing, All-Aware.[16]

Anyone can say anything, even profess faith (read fatwa issuer), but in the eyes of God, has no bearing till the words match the underlying mind:

49:14. The Arabs of the desert say, `We believe.' Say, `You have not yet truly believed, (you should) rather say, "We obey and have submitted," for true faith has not yet entered your hearts. But if you obey Allâh and His Messenger He will not diminish aught of your deeds.' Surely, Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.[17]

The ‘We believe’ in above verse elucidates the entry point into Islam for each individual. The threshold for being a Muslim is to submit. Only thereafter the faith and its corresponding righteous deeds sinks in with varying degrees of personal effort, commonly known as iman[18]. Traditionally, the entrance into Islam is the declaration – La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullah i.e. "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

The next verse further clarifies the previous one about one's faith, in which actions have to speak louder than the words uttered:

49:15. The believers are only those who (truly) believe in Allâh and His Messenger, and then doubt not, and who strive hard with their possessions and their lives in the cause of Allâh. It is they who are the true to their words (and Muslims of a high standard).'[19]

It is a common experience that rarely does one ever come across fatwa issuer(s) who will strive hard with their possessions and their lives in the cause of Allâh (49:15) and hardly guards against evil (49:13).

Interestingly, the following verse mocks the public confessions to win approval of the audience, the modus operandi of the fatwa issuers. The confessions at times can be forced, coerced, voluntary or strategic:

49:16. Say, `Would you make known your faith to Allâh, while Allâh knows whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth? And Allâh knows all things full well.'[20]

Thus, the above verse lays it out in black and white that God is the sole validator of one’s declared faith, because He alone is the judge of what a person confesses by tongue and what the corresponding belief in the heart is.

The declaratory effort of fatwa mongers to ascribe infidelity to someone else usually has a hidden secondary gain, the nature of which maybe material and/or political, but in doing so they at least imply to include themselves within Islam, while excluding others. Quran ridicules any such a drama: 

49:17. They lay you under obligation because they have embraced Islam. Say, `Lay me not under any obligation on account of your (embracing) Islam. On the contrary Allâh has bestowed a favour on you, because He has guided you to the true Faith, if you are truthful.'
49:18. Verily, Allâh knows the hidden realities of the heavens and the earth. And Allâh sees all your deeds.[21]

The above verses, if read from the perspective of the victim of a fatwa of being declared an infidel, factually put the fatwa issuer in the witness stand instead, who in turn has to equally defend his own faith, by the same standards that he applied on his victim.

How irrelevant in Quran is the issue of ascribing someone as infidel can be judged by the next verse. Even in a state of war, when a Muslim community might be threatened by enemy spies faking as Muslims or the hypocrites within their midst, a professor of faith has to be accepted into the fold of Islam on even a simple gesture of greetings by the latter:

4:94. O you who believe! when you set forth in the cause of Allâh, then make proper investigations (before you dub anyone as a disbeliever), and do not say to him who offers you `Salâm', (- peace, the Muslim salutation to show himself thereby a Muslim,) `You are not a believer.' You seek the transitory goods of this life, but Allâh has good things in plenty with Him. You were such (disbelievers) before that (you accepted Islam), but Allâh has conferred His special favour on you, hence do make proper investigations. Surely, Allâh is Well-Aware of what you do.[22]

Of note in the above verse is the phrase make proper investigations, which can only be conducted from the observable actions and not by guessing at the thoughts hidden in someone's mind. Quran reminds those who call themselves Muslims, yet others as non-Muslims, or doubt sincerity of others, not to forget that they themselves were such (disbelievers) before that (you accepted Islam) and what they currently claim.

When the pronouncers of heresy are confronted with this explicit injunction of the Qur'an, they argue as to whether they should consider a Jew or a Christian as a Muslim simply because he greets them with the Islamic salutation. They never seriously think that this verse is a part of the Qur'an and to despise it in this manner is nothing less than despising the Word of Allah. There can be no other meaning to this verse except this: that the person greeting Muslims with the Islamic salutation in no case is to be considered an unbeliever. There is no doubt that "thou art not a believer” can only be applied to a person who does not declare his belief in Islam. Thus the Qur'an has indicated a clear notion that when a person greets you with the Islamic salutation to show that he is a Muslim he should not be called an unbeliever. In the presence of this express teaching of the Qur'ãn, insistence on declaring a Muslim an unbeliever is a clear deviation from the Word of Allah. This verse does not, in any way, suggest that if a Jew or Christian or Hindu greets you with the Islamic salutation he is to be taken as a Muslim. Here, it is about a person who discloses his identity of being a Muslim by offering the Islamic salutation and such a person should by no means be considered an unbeliever.[23]

It may be noted that Quran places a high importance to the salutation 'Salam' i.e. 'Peace' because any humble utterer and believer in these words is termed as a servant of God:

25:63. And the servants of the Beneficent are they who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, Peace![24]

In light of the above verses 3:94 and 25:63, it baffles one's mind that there are certain pulpits amongst Muslims which thrive on labeling the proffers of 'Salam' and 'Peace' as Infidels, while the Quran calls the same as servants of the Beneficent.

As to the blind followers of fatwa mongers who declare others infidels, Quran has express revulsion towards them and their fate:

2:165. (Inspite of all these evidences in support of the unity of God) there are some people who take to themselves compeers as opposed to Allâh. They love them as they should love Allâh. But those who believe are stauncher in (their) love for Allâh. And if only those who committed this wrong could but see (the time) when they shall see the punishment, (they would realize) that the complete power only belongs to Allâh and that Allâh is Severe at inflicting the punishment.
2:166. (At that time) when those who were followed (- the leaders) shall disown and sever themselves from their followers and they shall see the punishment (with their own eyes) and all their ties and means shall be cut asunder
2:167. And (at that time) the followers shall say, `If we could only return (to the life of the world) we would disown them and sever ourselves from them as they disowned and severed themselves from us.' Thus Allâh will make them regret their deeds and they shall never (of themselves) get out of the Fire.[25]

The fatwa mongers tend to be unaware of their haughty and condescending attitude that Quran admonishes against:

31:18. `And do not turn your face away from people in scorn and pride, nor walk about on the earth haughtily. Surely, Allâh does not love any self-conceited boaster.
31:19. `Rather walk with modest pace and talk in soft gentle tone. Surely, the most repugnant of voices is the braying of the donkey.'[26]

Little do such boasters of faith with their haughty attitude know that by the standards of Quran those who dare to declare the Kalima reciters as infidels, their repugnant proclamations are equated with braying of the donkey in Quran or to put it bluntly, they make as ass of themselves by their such attitude and behaviors.


[1] From the Late Latin name Fidelis which meant "faithful"
[2] An unbeliever with respect to a particular religion – Merriam Webster
[3] Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[4] Al-Hujurat – The Apartments: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[5] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[6] Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[7] Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[8] Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[10] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[11] Qâf – Allah is Mighty: Nooruddin
[12] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[13] Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[14] Qâf – Allah is Mighty: Nooruddin
[15] Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[16] Al-Hujurât – The Chambers: Nooruddin
[17] Al-Hujurât – The Chambers: Nooruddin
[18] The word iman, generally translated as faith or belief, is derived from amana (ordinarily rendered as he believed) which means, when used intransitively, he came into peace or security; and, when used transitively, he granted (him) peace or security. Hence the believer is called al–mu'min, meaning one who has come into peace or security because he has accepted the principles which bring about peace of mind or security from fear; and God is called al-Mu'min meaning the Granter of security (59:23).
Use of the word Iman in the Qur'an: The word iman, generally translated as faith or belief, is used in two different senses in the Qur'an. According to Raghib, the famous lexicologist of the Qur'an, iman is sometimes nothing more than a confession with the tongue that one believes in Muhammad, as for example in these verses: "Those who believe (amanu) and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, they have their reward with their Lord…" (2:62); "O you who believe (amanu)! Believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book which He has revealed to His Messenger" (4:136). But, as Raghib has further explained, iman also implies the condition in which a confession with the tongue is accompanied by an assent of the heart (Tasdiq-un bi-l-qalb) and the carrying into practice of what is believed (Amal-un bi-l-jawarih), as in this verse: "And for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers, they are the truthful and the faithful ones with their Lord" (57:19).
The word iman is, however, also used in either of the two latter senses, meaning simply the assent of the heart or the doing of good deeds. Examples of this are: "The dwellers of the desert say: We believe (amanna). Say: You believe not, but say, We submit; and faith has not yet entered into your hearts" (49:14). Here belief clearly stands for the assent of the heart as explained in the verse itself. Or, "What reason have you that you believe not in Allah, and the Messenger invites you that you may believe in your Lord and He has indeed made a covenant with you if you are believers" (57:8), where "believe in Allah" means make sacrifices in the cause of truth, as the context shows. Thus the word iman, as used in the Qur'an, signifies either simply a confession of the truth with the tongue, or simply an assent of the heart and a firm conviction of the truth brought by the Prophet, or the doing of good deeds and carrying into practice of the principle accepted, or it may signify a combination of the three. Generally, however, it is employed to indicate an assent of the heart, combined, of course, with a confession with the tongue, to what the prophets bring from God, as distinguished from the doing of good deeds, and hence it is that the righteous, as already remarked, are spoken of as those who believe and do good. – “Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 91-92, Sixth Edition, printed: 1990.
[19] Al-Hujurât – The Chambers: Nooruddin
[20] Al-Hujurât – The Chambers: Nooruddin
[21] Al-Hujurât – The Chambers: Nooruddin
[22] Al-Hujurât – The Chambers: Nooruddin
[23] “Heresy in Islam or Refutation of Declaring a Muslim an Unbeliever” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Translated and edited by Sheikh Muhammad Tufail, M.A., p. 24, English edition 1995.
[24] Al-Furqan – The Criterion: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[25] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[26] Luqman – Luqman: Nooruddin

Forced distortions into Quran, Alas!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Forced Distortions into Quran, Alas!

6:71. Say, `Shall we call, besides Allâh, upon that which can neither profit us nor harm us (by itself), and shall we be turned back on our heels (and led astray) after Allâh has guided us, like one whom the evil ones have made to follow his caprices (leaving him) utterly bewildered in the land; (whilst) he has companions who call him to the guidance (of Allâh, saying), "Come to us".' Say, `Verily Allah's guidance is the only perfect guidance. And we are commanded (by Him) to submit to the Lord of the worlds.'[1] [Emphasis added]

5:45. …And whoever does not judge according to (the law) which Allâh has revealed, these it is who are the very unjust.[2] [Emphasis added]

No judgment – be it single or collective, and with a big name to back it – can bind us if it goes against Quran and good conscience. The word of God is the only criterion for testing genuineness of the Hadith. No word or action alleged as coming from the Prophet can be accepted as such if it controverts anything in the Quran.[3]

The previous section was aimed at the advocates who abrogate the verses of Quran because they can not reconcile some verses against the others. Abrogation is a simple way out for them from their ignorance. But, on the opposite, there are other kinds of advocates who draw injunctions from outside the Quran and then somehow interject their sources and interpretations into Quran. Once having corrupted the very basis of the Message and the Principles of the Quran, thereafter, they by using circular arguments attribute the source of their dogmas and fancies to Quran. Little do they know that they read their own minds into Quran, rather than what Quran is stating in plain terms.

68:36. What is the matter with you? How do you judge?

68:37. Or do you have a book in which you read [–besides Quran]

68:38. that you shall surely have in it whatever you choose?

68:39. Or do you have covenants from Us on oath, extending to the day of Resurrection, that you shall surely have whatever you judge?

68:40. Ask them which of them will vouch for that.

68:41. Or do they have associate-gods [– i.e. their ‘mighty’ scholars, experts, books and interpretations]? Then let them bring their associate gods [– against the logic and wisdom of Quran], if they are truthful.[4]

 


[1] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin 

[2] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin 

[3] 'Apostasy in Islam' by Khwaja Kamaluddin, Islamic Review, p. 261, June 1925 

[4] Al-Qalam – The Pen: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines, Extra-marital Relations – Zilch, Nada in Quran!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines{1}, Extra-marital Relations – Zilch, Nada in Quran!{2},{3}

“There is no verse in the Quran or any instance in the Holy Prophet’s life sanctioning what is called concubinage.”{4}

Slavery was rampant before Islam. Captives were taken in wars or in slavery raids, out of which both males and females ended up as slaves and concubines. Slave trade was of epidemic proportion until the arrival of Islam. Islam dried-up the swamp of slavery simultaneously by stopping the inflow of new slaves into the cesspool while it drained out the cesspit itself.

Quran separates slaves (Arabic: abad) who were already in bondage at the time of advent of Islam from those captured in a battle as prisoners, translated as – whom your right hands own or possess (Arabic:mimma malakat aimanukum). Thus a Muslim’s bondsman resulting from a war is not a slave but a fallen foe{5} and the entrusted Muslim of that fallen foe is not a slave master but a guardian (see v. 4:25 below).

In early Islam, there were neither prisons nor prison camps; hence the war captives were distributed under the custody of families who were responsible for their safety and wellbeing at par with their own self. Islam put a stop to any new slaves and existing slaves were to be released for any and every excuse. Captives allowed were only those captured in a battle and mechanisms were put in place for their release as well. These topics are now of historical importance only as under international treaties the captives in war have rights and protections as Prisoners of War. Credit goes to Quran, which eliminated these atrocities thousands of years before the modern ethics took hold only recently.

Quran discusses human rights across a wide spectrum of human behavior. It firmly establishes the fundamental equality of mankind to exclude from the minds the ideas of racial and economic divide that if not checked soon turn human tendencies into abuse of the weak of physique, gender, status, means, nation or race. The scrooge of slavery and its consequent exploitation of body and soul of its victims pervaded the human cultures from times immemorial because of dearth of this fundamental check on the psyche of man. A refresher of certain baseline teachings of Quran is in order that formed the basis of the charter of human rights from the very inception of Islam and are summarized below.

Equality of mankind, irrespective of national origin, race, tribe or gender:

10:19. And (all) people are but a single nation, then they disagree…{6}

49:13. O mankind! We have created you out of a male and a female, and We have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognise (and do good to) one another. Surely the most honourable of you in the sight of Allâh is he who guards against evil the most. Verily, Allâh is All-knowing, All-Aware.{7}

Without any exception, no extra-marital sex is allowed in Quran, which is not only a check on an ordinary human tendency, but also prevents the historical unchecked exploitation of the slaves who were an easy prey of their masters:

17:32. And Keep away from adultery and fornication; surely, it is an abominable act and an (extremely) evil practice.{8}

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty…{9}

With arrival of Islam, slavery was banned and no new slaves were inducted. No slave trade or slavery raids are allowed in Quran; individual liberty could be taken away only in case of prisoners taken in an actual battle. Of note is that the only war permitted in Quran is a defensive one:

8:67. It does not behove a Prophet to keep captives unless He has triumphed after a regular bloody fighting in the land. (If you take captives without warfare,) you desire the temporary and frail goods of this world, while Allâh desires (for you the good of) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.{10}

Prisoners of war, both men and women are to be released no matter what soon after the war is over, with or without a ransom:

47:4. … After you have bound them fast in fetters (as prisoners of war), then, afterwards, (release them, a must), either by way of grace or by (accepting) ransom. (That is the law,) until war lays down its weapons (and it is over).{11}

Contrary to the usual practice of sexual exploitation of the then existing bonds-women, the concubinage, was totally banned by Islam. Sexual relationships were allowed only after a full marriage, which not only restored dignity to bonds-women, but also made them a useful member of the society. The following verse in itself is a proof that a bonds-woman is not a concubine, but a marriageable woman:

4:25. And those of you who have not the means (- social or financial) to marry free believing women (may marry) such of your believing bonds women as your right hands own (by being captives in war). Allâh knows very well (the state of) your faith, you are all (sprung) one from another, so marry them with the permission of their guardians and give them their dowers with equity, they being properly married, not (committing fornication), to pursue their lust nor taking secret paramours…{12}

Note the mention of the word guardians of prisoners of war in the above verse, which is not the same as slave owners. The next verse reinforces the previous one:

4:26. Allâh desires to make clear (His commandments) to you, and guide you to the (righteous) ways of your predecessors, and to turn to you with mercy. Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.{13}

Any deviation from verses 4:25-26 by any action, intent or interpretation is nothing but lust, pure and simple, which is condemned in the next very verse:

4:27. Whereas Allâh desires to turn to you with mercy, those who follow (the dictates of their) lusts want you to drift far away (from the right path).{14}

Given the fact that as the Arabian society converted to Islam, there were existing slaves in the households of new Muslims. For all Muslims the details of 'high virtue' in Quran included 'to set slaves free', and that's what happened in Islam where the righteous beliefs were bridged to righteous deeds and homes were not only cleansed of slavery but the emancipated were rehabilitated in the society as well. Of note is that the same verse also binds the faithful to establish their former slaves to full independence because most if not all the former slaves fell into the category of orphansneedy and deserving of charity:

2:177. It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the traveller and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and gives the due charity; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty. {15}

Similarly, in challenging mankind for not taking 'uphill path ' of moral progress, Quran puts in the premier position ' freeing of a captive ' and a collective societal effort to 'exhort one another to be compassionate ' to rid the society of the evils, besides others, of slavery:

90:10-18. And We have pointed out to him the two conspicuous high ways (of right and wrong)? Yet he would not attempt the uphill path of steep and difficult ascent. And what should make you know what the uphill path of steep and difficult ascent is? (It is) the freeing of a captive (from the bondage of slavery, debt and other afflictions), Or feeding in the time of famine an orphan, near of kin, or a downtrodden poor man. And what is even more, then he is of those who believe and exhort one another to be patiently persevering and exhort one another to be compassionate (towards God's creation). These (who follow this hard path) are the blessed ones (- the people of the right hand). {16}

Existing slaves were to be released on any and every excuse as restitution for violation of any moral law, no matter how trivial custom it might have seemed then. For example:

58:3. Such of those who thus happen to call their wives their mothers and then retract what they have said, must free a slave before they two touch each other (for re-establishing conjugal relationship). This is what you are enjoined (to do in case you commit such a hateful thing). And Allâh is Well-Aware of what you do.{17}

In a masterly stroke, the above verse not only established the dignity of a helpless wife in an otherwise male dominated society, but simultaneously expunged one more from the ranks of the slavery.

State treasury as well individual wealth was to be used for emancipation of existing slaves:

9:60. Compulsory charities (- Zakât) are meant for the destitute and the needy, and for its functionaries, and (for) those whose hearts require to be consoled (in all sincerity), and for the emancipation of the slaves, and for (the relief of) those in debt, and (for spending) in the cause of Allâh, and for the wayfarer. (This is) an obligation imposed by Allâh, for Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.{18}

In the above verse the slaves were not only to be freed but once freed, they were to be rehabilitated in the society by the state treasury as they were destitute and the needy in their new found freedom.

Besides the general injunction on singles to marry, to emphasize the marriage of slaves, Quran identifies them by their gender, both males and females, and orders them to be kept chaste and marriages were to be obligatorily arranged for them, either by marrying them within the household or being given away in marriage, as married state is a natural state for adults in Quran and is an assurance for their chastity:

24:32. Arrange marriages for those of you who are single and for your male and female slaves as are deserving and fit (to lead a married life). If they are poor Allâh will grant them means out of His bounty; Bountiful is Allâh, All-Knowing.

The next verse eliminates prostitution of slave-girls by their masters, which was the norm of Arabia before Islam. On one hand it stops sexual relations with slave-girls by disallowing any such advances toward the potential victims by their masters, on the other, Quran does not rant empty lectures to avoid evil, but gives solution to shun evil, in this case the marriage of slave-girls:

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty…(Another commandment for you is that,) with a mind to gain (by this unrighteous means) the benefits of the present life do not constrain your slave-girls to unchaste life (by keeping them unmarried) when they desire (to marry) to preserve their virtue. But if anybody forces them (to abstain from marrying and to become unchaste) they will find, after they are forced, that God is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.{19}

Thus Quran keeps at bay the potential aggressors, the guardians of the slaves and captives, from their potential victims, the slaves. The only mechanism to bridge the two for any sexual relations was a full marriage contract and all the obligations that fall under a free marriage contract. These mechanisms remained air tight till the time the existing slavery dissipated under the overall multipronged interventions both through Quran and change that emerged in the society in due course under the Prophet.

Even, the existing captives were given the right to buy their freedom by a written contract of payment in installments of the loan that they may ask for from their own very masters. Once a captive, male or female, asked for such a contract, it could not be refused by the master:

24:33. …(There is another commandment,) as for those of your bondsmen (or women) as ask for a written contract (of freedom for themselves on payment of ransom), write this (deed of manumission for them)…{20}

Further, as an addendum to above freedom contract, the masters were obligated to invest in their slaves to establish them financially before and after their freedom so that they could not only buy their own freedom if not given for free, but also pay back the back the loan, if incurred:

24:33. … provided you find good capabilities in them and give them out of Allâh's wealth which He has given you…{21}

Additionally, in the verse 24:33, when read in toto, for the slave-girls, there in an implication of an extra injunction on the owner to ensure their chastity for which they were to be given means of sustenance. This in turn eliminates the risk of them falling into prostitution of their own accord only to sustain themselves.

Slavery was so much entrenched in the society that to raise slaves to a higher social status needed an incremental reform. For example, in the following verse, slaves, male or female were to be preferred in marriage over the otherwise higher clan status of the idolaters:

2:221. And marry not an idolatress until she believe; while a believing maid is certainly better than an idolatress even though she may highly please you. And do not give (believing women) in marriage to an idolaters until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a (free) idolater even though he may highly please you. It is they who invite to the Fire, but Allâh calls to the Paradise and to the protection by His command. He makes His Messages clear for the people so that they may take heed.{22}

The above verses set in stone equality of mankind, hence the basis of slavery were abolished. Bar was placed on any extra-marital sexual relationships, which excluded any possibility of concubinage which is another name and function for female slaves. Existing slaves, both men and women were protected from exploitation. Every means and excuse was utilized for their emancipation. Taking of newer slaves was prohibited. Prisoners of war were to be released, with or without ransom. It is absurd to even imagine that while Islam puts so much emphasis on freeing of slaves, that it also allegedly allows taking of slaves. Slavery is forbidden, as shown above. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, even freed prisoners for them teaching children and adults as their ransom. Below is an excerpted article from 'The Light' (February 24, 1984, pp. 13-17){23} which is a rebuttal to even the present day 'scholars' of Islam who make a case for concubinage, which is not only laughable but deplorable by standards of Quran:

If there is to be no slavery, then there can be no concubinage either, for concubines are nothing but female slaves turned into mistresses. There is no question of buying female slaves in the market. As for the female prisoners of war, they are to be set free without ransom, or with light ransom, as in the case of male captives. But the trouble about the female prisoners of war is that if they are sent back, even free, their menfolk are not prepared to take them back as they assume that the women must have been ravished by the captors, as was the common practice among Arabs before Islam, and as is the common lot of female prisoners today in all non-Islamic countries, even of the West.

Such disgraceful treatment of the female prisoners of war was not possible in the Holy Prophet's time or even under the Early Caliphate. When the moral standards were of the highest possible order not a single case is to be found in the history of those periods.

"And whoever among you cannot afford to marry free believing women, (let him marry) such of your believing maidens as your right hands possess. And Allah knows best your faith (i.e., do not set high standards for the faith of such women). Some of you are like others: So marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dowries justly … then if they are guilty of adultery when they are taken to marriage, they shall suffer half the punishment for free married women … " (4:25).

This important verse requires the following elucidation:

(1) If a Muslim cannot afford to marry a free believing woman, he may marry one of those ‘whom your right hands possess’.

(2) The much misunderstood term ‘whom your right hands possess’ has been much exploited. It is taken to mean concubines. To describe a concubine bought from the market or from her master as one 'whom your right hands possess' is a complete misnomer. The very use of the words whom your right hands have taken possession of (which is the correct rendering of the Arabic phrase mimma malakat aimanukum) clearly points to women captured in battle. That is where the right hand is used to take possession of a prisoner. To apply that phrase to a woman bought from a slave market or from a master is totally unwarrantable.

(3) The Holy Qur'an still speaks of such a woman being taken in marriage with the permission of her master. Who is this master? It was the practice of the Holy Prophet and the latter-day Muslim commanders to distribute all prisoners, male or female, to the soldiers as part of the spoils of war. They were kept in homes, sometimes in a better way than the master or the mistress of the Muslim home, but always at least on the same scale of living. It is this 'master' spoken of in the verse under consideration. If they are now kept in a war prison, the Government holding them is the ‘master’.

(4) Why are ‘those whom your right hands possess’ mentioned in this and other places separately from free women? That is also explained in this very verse. If the former are guilty of adultery after marriage, their punishment is to be half that of free married women. It is because of the separate treatment under the Quranic law of these women who have come recently from a non-Muslim society and, therefore, the same high moral standards cannot be expected from them, that their separate mention was required.

Incidentally, the punishment of stoning to death for married men or women found guilty of adultery cannot possibly be permissible in Islam:

(a) The Holy Qur'an, which is the paramount authority on Muslim law, does not prescribe stoning to death for any crime whatsoever.

(b) It prescribes instead one hundred strokes for adultery, whether committed by man or women, married or unmarried.

(c) One hundred strokes can be halved as required in verse 4:25 of the Holy Qur'an, but not the stoning to death.

Anyway, because of the clear ban on sexual indulgence outside marriage (24:33) and the requirement that even the women 'whom your right hands possess' must be married properly (4:25), concubinage is simply not permissible in Islam.

The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, being the perfect exemplar, properly married those female prisoners of war whom he took as wives. Much has been made by the Christian critics of the case of Mary the Copt, who was presented to the Holy Prophet by the King of Egypt. That he had married her too is now an established fact beyond doubt.

It may be added to above quoted article, that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by personal example, married two women prisoners of wars on advice of his peers who were 'whom your right hands possess'. Both were set free, namely Safiyya and Juwairiya. Both were daughters of chieftains vanquished in the battle and their marriages to the Prophet became a source for not only ending tribal enmities but resulted in the release of other captives under the Muslims as those captives were now relatives of the Prophet:

33:50. O Prophet, We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses, out of those whom Allah has given you as prisoners of war, …{24}

To reemphasize, the mention of the two types of women i.e. wives (Arabic: azwaaj)and whom your right hand possesses is only to distinguish the status of spouses in terms of those who were free women and those who were captives of war before their marriage. After their marriage, all of them were wives of equal dignity, and none remained as whom your right hand owns. It is the personal examples like these in which the Prophet eliminated slavery in his own household and elevated the dignity of former slave-girls to free wives in the society that no wonder Quran speaks so highly of the Prophet’s life as an example to be followed in matters of uplift and equality of mankind, besides many other virtuous deeds:

33:21. Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar…{25}

To sum it up, the nonsense of concubinage in Islam emanates because of the concoctions of the so called ‘scholars’ of ignorance and not of Quran, who are then oft re-quoted by their blind followers. To such scholar and their followers Quran admonishes very clearly for their advocacy of concubinage:

4:27. Whereas Allâh desires to turn to you with mercy, those who follow (the dictates of their) lusts want you to drift far away (from the right path).{26}

 


{1} Merriam Webster – Concubine: a woman with whom a man cohabits without being married: as 

a : one having a recognized social status in a household below that of a wife 

b : mistress 

{2} Reader is encouraged to read a detailed analysis on the subject: 

'Marriage of Slaves' in “Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 488-495. 

'Islam and Slavery' – There is no concubinage in Islam, by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Islamic Review, p. 7-12, January 1958. 

{3}“The Quranic Message of Universal Freedom” by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, p. 1-8 , Paigham-e-Haqq, April/June, No. 66, Organ of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam, Fiji, 1994 

{4} Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz: Footnote to verse 4:25 

{5} Islam on Slavery by Al-Haj Lord Headley and Khwaja Kamaluddin, p. 20. 

{6} Yunus – Jonah: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{7} Al-Hujurat – The Chambers: Nooruddin 

{8} Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin 

{9} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{10} Al-Anfal – The Voluntary Gifts: Nooruddin 

{11} Muhammad – Muhammad: Nooruddin 

{12} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{13} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{14} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{15} Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{16} Al-Balad – The City: Nooruddin 

{17} Al-Mujadilah – The Pleading Woman: Nooruddin 

{18} Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin 

{19} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{20} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{21} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{22} Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin 

{23} ‘Slavery and Concubinage’ – The Founder of Ahmadiyya Movement as a Defender of Islam – II, The Light (February 24, 1984, pp. 13- 17) http://aaiil.org/text/acus/mga/mirzaghulamahmadahmadiyyamovementdefenderislam2.shtml 

{24} Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{25} Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{26} Al-i-Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin