The New World Order
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Chapter 3: The Home (Appendix 3: Summary of Islamic Teachings)
Woman is a free person in the fullest sense of the word, as free as a man. She can earn property (The Holy Quran, 4:32); she can own it and dispose of it as she likes (The Holy Quran, 4:4); she can inherit property, like the male or along with the male heirs (The Holy Quran, 4:7). Spiritually too she stands on a level with the male (The Holy Quran, 3:194; 40:40; 16:97). She is even recognised as being the recipient of Divine revelation (The Holy Quran, 3:41; 28:7).
Marriage relationship is given the same importance as blood relationship (The Holy Quran, 25:54). Marriage serves a double purpose in human society, being the means of the moral uplift of man and of the multiplication of human race (The Holy Quran, 7:189; 30:21; 42:11). Celibate life is against the teachings of the Holy Quran which requires every Muslim to live in a married state (The Holy Quran, 24:32). If anyone has not the means, he should try to keep himself chaste by other means (Sahih Bukhari, 30:10; Sahih Bukhari, 67:6, 8). Marriage is a sacred contract which a man and a woman enter into by mutual agreement (The Holy Quran, 2:232; 4:21). Temporary marriage is forbidden (Sahih Bukhari, 64:40). A Muslim may marry a non-Muslim woman (The Holy Quran, 5:5). Marriage is forbidden within certain degrees of relationship (The Holy Quran, 44:23, 24). The rule is the marriage of one man with one woman, but in exceptional cases a man is allowed to take another wife (The Holy Quran, 4:3).
Marriage should be preceded by a proposal (Sahih Bukhari, 67:37). It is recommended that before making a proposal, a man should satisfy himself as to the desirability of the match (Tirmidhi, 9:5). The guardian must obtain the woman’s consent for marriage (Sahih Bukhari, 67:42); where a woman was given in marriage by her father and she disliked the match, the marriage was annulled (Sahih Bukhari, 67:43). Marriage among equals is recommended, but all Muslims being equal there is no limitation as to the choice of the mate (Ibn Majah, 9:46). Nobility of character is the most valuable gift of a woman which should be taken into consideration in marrying her (Sahih Bukhari, 67:16). A dowry must be settled on the woman at the time of marriage, there being no limitation as to its amount (The Holy Quran, 4:4, 20). The dowry may be increased or decreased by mutual consent after marriage (The Holy Quran, 4:24). Any conditions may be laid down at the time of marriage, so long as they are not against the law of Islam (Sahih Bukhari, 54:6). Marriage must be publicly proclaimed, and it is recommended that it should be held in a public place, and announced with the beat of duff (Mishkat al-Masabih, 13:3). The contract is given a sacred character by a sermon before the parties announce their acceptance (Abu Dawood, 12:31). A feast is recommended when the bride comes to the bridegroom’s house (Sahih Bukhari, 67:72).
Divorce is permitted, but it is stated to be
“the most detestable of all things permitted” (Abu Dawood, 13:3);
the right should, therefore, be exercised under exceptional circumstances. When differences between husband and wife arise, every effort should first be made for reconciliation and private judges should be appointed for the purpose (The Holy Quran, 4:35). Divorce may be resorted to only if reconciliation cannot be effected (The Holy Quran, 4:125–130). The wife can claim divorce for any good reason (The Holy Quran, 2:229; Musnad of Ahmad, 5, 277), even though there is no ill-treatment on the part of the husband (Sahih Bukhari, 68:12). Divorce should be pronounced during the period of cleanness (Sahih Bukhari, 65:65), and should be followed by ‘idda’ a waiting period of about three months. During this period, the wife should remain in the house of her husband, and the parties are free to re-establish marital relations (The Holy Quran, 2:228; 67:1). After the waiting period has passed away, the parties may remarry (The Holy Quran, 2:232). But the option for re-establishment of marital relations and remarriage is limited to two occasions (The Holy Quran, 2:229). The dowry settled on the wife at the time of marriage cannot be taken back by the husband on divorce, unless the wife is guilty of adultery (The Holy Quran, 4:20), or she wants a divorce without any fault on the part of the husband (Sahih Bukhari, 68:12). Divorce should be pronounced only once; its utterance thrice on one occasion is un-Islamic (Nasai, 27:6).
Special stress is laid on kindly and good treatment towards the wife.
“Keep them in good fellowship or let them go with kindness” (The Holy Quran, 2:229)
is a direction which requires kindness towards woman even when she is divorced. And again:
“Retain them in good fellowship or set them free with liberality, and do not retain them for injury” (The Holy Quran, 2:231).
Kindness is recommended even when a man dislikes his wife:
“Treat them kindly; and if you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it” (The Holy Quran, 4:19).
Good treatment of the wife is made an index of a man’s excellence:
“The most excellent of you is he who is best in his treatment of his wife” (Mishkat al-Masabih, 13:11).
Addressing the vast assemblage of people at Makkah, the Holy Prophet said in his Farewell Pilgrimage address:
“They (your wives) are the trust of Allah in your hands, so you must treat them with all kindness” (Sahih Muslim, 15:19).
Much of the happiness of home-life depends on its privacy. Going into houses without permission is strictly forbidden:
“Do not enter houses other than your own houses until you have asked permission and saluted their inmates” (The Holy Quran, 24:27).
The inside of the house is regarded as a sacred place which can be entered only on permission. A curtain at the door secures the privacy of the inmates, and what is known as Hijab or seclusion (The Holy Quran, 32:53) is only another name for this privacy. To ensure happier marital relations, it is recommended that a woman should not be alone in private with a man unless there is present a dhu-mahram, a very near relative (Sahih Bukhari, 67:112). For the same reason, too, free mingling of the sexes is discarded. Women have every right to go out of their houses for their needs (Sahih Bukhari, 4:13; Sahih Bukhari, 67:116), and there is no seclusion of women in this sense.
But when going out, they are required to be properly dressed; they should not make a display of their finery or uncover certain parts of the body such as the bosom (The Holy Quran, 24:30, 31). The wearing of an overgarment is recommended for this purpose (The Holy Quran, 33:59). What the Islamic social system really prohibits is the displaying of beauty in such a manner as to excite the passions of the other sex; it does not prohibit the going out of women for their needs. The veil or covering of the face was never required by Islam, and women said their prayers in congregation in mosques unveiled. When performing the pilgrimage, women were forbidden putting on a veil (Sahih Bukhari, 25:23). The Holy Prophet is reported to have said to a young woman who was not properly dressed:
“When the woman attains her majority, it is not proper that any part of her body should be seen except this and this,” and he pointed to his face and his hands (Abu Dawood, 31:30).