The following chapter provides a summary of the tenets which describe
the status of men and women and their mutual relationships according to
The Quran. All these directives have been explained in the previous
letters, but there they are all scattered. In this chapter all the
directives have been collected under different respective headings, so
that whichever topic one seeks guidance on can be referred to at a glance.
These laws have been explained in detail in the previous letters; here
they have been presented without elaboration, except in places where an
explanation is considered necessary.
1. Status of Man and
1. Man and woman are branches springing from the same origin, so
biologically they do not have any priority over each other.
God created all of you from a single cell, from
which He then made pairs (7:189).
2. Man and woman are part of each other.
All you men and women are from each other
3. According to the principle of division of labour, men are endowed
with certain qualities which women lack, and women, too, have been
blessed with certain abilities which men do not have. By virtue of these
qualities, men have superiority over women, and women have superiority
God has given men and women priority over one
another (4:32; 4:34).
4. History tells us that the idea of a man being superior to woman
developed when the concept of owning private property became a norm in
society. Man made himself the owner of the private property, rendering
the woman economically dependent on him. The Quran stopped this
exploitation by ordering that men and women were the owners of their
What man earns will be his and whatever the woman
earns will belong to her (4:32).
In the same manner The Quran fixed a woman's share of inheritance
separate from the man. (This will be discussed again later).
5. Everyone should be rewarded for his or her actions.
I will not waste the deeds of anyone, may it be a man
6. It is incorrect to claim that Eve was deceived by Satan, and that
she then led Adam astray. According to The Quran, Adam and Eve are not
specific names given to a Man or a Woman. (Eve has not even been
mentioned in The Quran by her name). Adam and his wife have been
mentioned, and they stand for the men and women of the human species.
This leaves us with Satan's enticing, and The Quran is quite explicit in
this respect. It says: Satan lured both of them (2:36). Hence the
thinking that woman started to sin and that she is responsible for man's
shortcomings, is quite erratic. Both man and woman can err, and each is
responsible for his or her misdeeds.
7. All the qualities that have been attributed to Momin men, also
belong to Momin women.
Men and women have equal qualities and propensities and, as
such, those who have accepted Islam, those immersed in Islam; those
who are restrained, truthful and steadfast; those who do not violate
the limitations set by God; those who keep their sexual urges within
limits; and those who live within the boundaries of God's Laws, they
all stand an equal chance to reap the benefits of their good deeds or
to be punished for their bad deeds, and all deserve God's protection
from adversity (33:35).
8. Despite the basic common qualities, there is a difference between
the natural duties of men and women, and these should always be kept in
mind. According to natural division of labour, women are supposed to
bear and rear children and look after their elementary training. These
duties consume so much of their time and energy that they are rendered
incapable of earning a living. On the contrary men have no such hurdles.
That is why, in respect of the natural division of labour, The Quran
Regarding those qualities due to which one sex has superiority
over the other (that is, men over women and women over men), men are
responsible for earning the daily bread. This is not mandatory for
women. Out of their earnings men are required to fulfil all the needs
of women (4:34).
The income is to remain available for all household needs. It is not
that because man has earned it, the income belongs to him and he gives
her something out of it as charity. It is just the division of labour;
man is doing one thing and the woman another. When a woman's needs are
fulfilled in this manner, she will be able to develop the capabilities
she is endowed with and utilize these according to the directions given
1. The love of a wife and of children is a great attraction for man.
Therefore woman should not be considered an object of hate.
The love of wife and children has been made
attractive for men (3:145).
2. This relationship is bonded through Nikah (marriage). Nikah is a
contract which both the parties execute to lead a life as husband and
wife within the boundaries of God's laws.
This is a strong and binding contract (4:21).
3. This contract (Nikah) can be executed only by a mature man and a
mature woman and never by minors. The Quran itself calls 'maturity' the
age at which 'Nikah' could be performed. Hence in Surah An-Nisa, the
chapter called 'Women', it is directed:
When you become guardians of orphans, you should look
after them until they reach the age of 'Nikah'; and then if you see that
they have attained mental maturity, let them have their money and
Here you have been told to let the orphans have their belongings when
they reach the age of Nikah. Surah Al-Inam tells us:
Do not have ill intentions towards the belongings of
orphans and have their welfare at heart till they reach the age of
It is obvious that 'the age of Nikah' is maturity. According to The
Quran, until a boy or girl is mature, they do not attain the age of
Nikah. The Quran, as such, does not allow the marriage of minors, as
they have not yet reached the age of Nikah.
4. Nikah is to be performed with the consent of both man and woman.
Therefore, men are directed to marry those women whom they like (4:3),
and as regards women, men are directed:
It is absolutely wrong for you to take women forcibly
or against their will (4:19).
For Nikah it is necessary that you like the other person. To like the
other person, just good looks should not be aimed at. The Quran
emphasizes mental compatibility as much as possible.
5. If a woman of marriageable age does not want to negotiate this
contract herself, she can delegate the authority to somebody else to do
In Surah Al-Baqarah, there is some reference to somebody who can do
things on her behalf. This means a person in whom she willingly invests
the power to speak on her behalf. Therefore the Nikah of a minor,
through a guardian, is not possible.
6. A person who cannot afford a marriage, (or who cannot get a wife),
is advised to exercise control over himself.
If a person cannot arrange for or afford Nikah he
should keep himself restrained (24:33).
Sexual intercourse is absolutely illegitimate outside Nikah.
7. A Momin man cannot marry a non-believing woman, and neither can a
believing woman marry a non-Muslim (2:221). Its reason has been stated
8. Muslim men can marry the women from those people to whom the Book
has been revealed (5:5). However, this is only a conditional permission,
and all national interests and obligations have to be considered.
9. Nikah to the following women is absolutely forbidden: Mother, real
or step; daughter; sister; father's sister; mother's sister; brother's
daughter; sister's daughter; a girl who has nursed at the same woman's
breast which the boy has; nursing mother; wife's mother; and wife's
daughter from her first husband, if the daughter has been reared through
her. However, if after Nikah, one has not had any sexual relation with
his wife and he divorces her, then he can marry her daughter conceived
from a former husband. Simultaneously taking two sisters as one's wives
is forbidden. You can neither marry your real son's wife, nor a woman
who is already married to somebody else (4:22-24).
Nikah does not aim at being a license for sex, rather it behests all
the responsibilities that married life entails. If a man uses a woman
for his sexual pleasure only, and does not fulfil and respect the
responsibilities and restrictions which Nikah entails, then according to
the Quran, this is not a Nikah in the real sense of the word. The Quran
explains it in verse (4:24). This verse means to observe the
restrictions and discipline and not sexual satisfaction only. The root
of this word is "Safah", meaning to let it flow.
10. Nikah places equal right and obligations on the shoulders of both
men and women.
As a rule, a woman, too, has as many rights as her
11. The husband and wife should be supportive and confidants of each
other. Nothing should come between them.
They (men) are like raiment to you, and you (women)
the same to them (2:187).
12. A husband and wife's relationship should be so pleasant that
their home is like a haven of peace, harmony and tranquillity. Azwaj
(couples) are meant to be congruent, and The Quran says: so they are a
source of solace to each other. They should nurture love, caring and
companionship for each other (30:21).
13. This attitude expands relationships. That is why the Quran has
talked about relations with your own family, and with the family of your
14. If a man gets so preoccupied with the needs and love of his wife
and children, that he ignores God's prescribed boundaries and fails to
decipher between the legitimate and illegitimate, then the same wife and
children could become his doom and destruction. That is why The Quran
O Momins, surely some among your wives and children
are in fact your enemies. Be careful of them (64:14).
If, for their sake, you start hoarding wealth by hook or by crook
then these same riches could annihilate your world, and the hereafter,
too (64:15). That is why it is said:
If these worldly assets make the man forget the laws
of God, then he would be heading straight to hell (63:9).
If ever any worldly attraction becomes your stumbling block on the
path of organizing a society along the laws of God, then there is no
doubt of your destruction.
It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to save yourself from this
destruction-saving not only yourself, but your family, too. Your duty
towards them is not only to provide for them, but to keep them safe from
hell, too (66:6). (In this respect, you may refer to the section of
15. Sexual intercourse is a normal human phenomenon, so The Quran did
not find it necessary to give any special instruction, except that there
should be no such action during a woman's monthly periods (2:222). Sex
is aimed at human procreation only, as is evident form this verse:
Your wives fare like your fields, (in which you sow
seeds). Therefore you till your fields whenever you like, (meaning when
you want to sow the seed) (2:223).
Sex is forbidden during fasting, but is not forbidden during the
nights of the month of fasting (Ramadhan) (2:187). It is also not
allowed during "Aitikaf" (a period when you are attending round the
clock special session or meetings for pondering over serious state
business or matters).
3. Dowry (Meher)
1. In life, the duties of a woman are such that she cannot spare
enough time to follow a career. The Quran thus wants to make an
arrangement so as not to suppress her economic freedom completely. As
such there is a condition for Nikah, that when a man wants to marry, he
should give the woman something as a gift. This gift is generally called
Meher. The Quran has used three words for it, namely Sadaqa, Mataa and
Ujur, and has referred to it as wealth (4:24). However, it may not
necessarily be in the shape of money.
2. The Meher is not a compensation for anything. It is rather to be
presented as a gift, without considering it as any kind of compensation.
The Quran, therefore, has also used the word "Nihlatah" for it (4:4),
which means without "trading or exchanging", just like a bee deposits
honey in the hive without any thought of a return.
3. The Quran has not fixed any amount for Meher. Whatever both the
parties agree, with mutual willingness, can be the Meher. Since the
payment of Meher is essential, it should be whatever a man can afford
(2:236). However, on the excessive side, it could be a mound of
If you have given her a mound of gold, do not take it back
4. The Meher should be paid at the time of Nikah, although, with the
consent of the woman, the payment could be made later. There is a verse
in Surah Al-Baqarah which states that if you divorce a woman before you
have even touched her, and her Meher had been fixed, you are required to
give a half of it to her (2:237). It is clear from this verse, that a
situation where Meher has not been paid at the time of Nikah, can occur.
(See No.6 below).
5. Meher belongs to the woman and nobody has a right to deprive her
of it. However, of her own free will the woman can let go a portion of
it, or she can forfeit or write off the whole of it. Therefore:
(i) In Surah An-Nisa, it is said, "that women should be paid their
Meher willingly, and without a thought of exchange, but if they forego a
part of it, then accepting it is lawful for you (4:4).
(ii) In the same Surah it has also been said that a higher or lower
Meher could be agreed later, with mutual willingness or with the help of
arbitrators or courts.
(iii) Divorce before intimacy, as has been mentioned above, would
entail paying half the Meher but the woman, or her appointed
spokesperson, or a relevant court, could forgive it as well (2:237).
6. In a rare situation in which the Meher has not been agreed upon,
then it should be fixed according to the man's income and affordability
Marriage depends upon a pleasant relationship. Sometimes, however,
circumstances can create a strained relationship between a husband and
wife. The Quran tries its utmost to each such strain so as not to let
the relationship break.
1. One way in which relations can become strained is that in an angry
mood, a man may call his wife by a name, which he may later regret. For
instance, in his anger he may call her his mother, but after his anger
subsides, he regrets it immensely. In Arabic, such name calling is
called Zahar. In fact The Quran says that such frivolous swears do not
mean anything. These should not be taken in the real sense of the word
and it should not mean that your married life has come to an end.
Allah does not hold you, over your unrealistic or
frivolous swearing (2:225).
At another place, The Quran says: Your wife does not become your
mother just because you have said so (33:4), although it does ask Momins
to refrain from all kinds of frivolous indecencies (33:3). These include
the kind of swearing mentioned before. Since this unrestrained anger in
which a person says such insane things, pollutes the pleasant atmosphere
at home, it has to be stopped. Therefore The Quran has suggested some
atonement whereby before resuming conjugal relationship, one should:
(a) Free a slave. This order was meant for those times when the Arab
society retained slaves. If one does not have any slaves, then,
(b) One should fast continuously for two months; and
(c) If one is incapable of doing this, then one should feed sixty
destitute people. These are limits set by God. (58:4).
2. All the above refers to frivolous swearing when one is in an angry
mood, but if a man intentionally swears that he will not go near his
wife, then he should be held to it. This is referred to as 'llao' in
Arabic, which means curtailing a woman's rights. In such a situation
where people have uttered such a swearing, The Quran gives them a period
of four months to revert from what they have said. If they do so, then
it would not affect their conjugal relationship (2:226), although they
will have to give something to break their swear. Normally, this would
be either feeding or clothing ten destitute people or else to free one
slave. Anyone who is unable to do this should fast for three days
(5:89). If he has not reverted within four months, then this would be
construed to mean that he wants to break the relationship with a
divorce. Details of the divorce procedure are given later. Also refer to
(2:227). All this highlights the fact that the attitude of people who
leave their wives dangling by neither resuming conjugal relations nor
divorcing them, clearly goes against Quranic education. They should make
their decision within four months, following which the divorce procedure
3. Divorce means freeing oneself from the contract of Nikah. Since
this contract was made between two willing parties, namely a man and a
woman, no body has the right to revoke it, whenever one wants, by just
saying "divorce, divorce, divorce". The other person's rights have to be
safeguarded, too. That is why The Quran does not leave the decision to
an individual. The society is ordered to take up this matter establish
an organization which decides on disputed issues. Now a days, this is
either called the government, or the court. In this respect The Quran
If you see a mutual difference, a dispute or opposition or
enmity and fear a break between the husband and wife then constitute a
board of arbitrators. This board should have one representative from
the woman's family, and one from the man's family. This board should
seek a reconciliation. If they do so, it is likely that the husband
and wife might come together again (4:35).
4. If the judges can persuade them to come together, then well and
good, but if their efforts fail, then obviously they will have to report
to the organization that appointed them. This court will decide whether
a divorce should become effective and what the conditions should be
(these will be mentioned later).
The first verse in Surah At-Talaq (Divorce) reads:
O Messenger (PBUH), when you divorce your women, then
Here the Nabi (PBUH) has been ordered to make divorce effective, and
"Tallaqtum" is a plural word. This shows that this is an order for
the divorce cases of Muslims, who were in turn, ordered to
get their disputed problems resolved by the Nabi (PBUH) (4:65). In the
city centre, the Messenger of God (PBUH) used to decide on these matters
himself, but in the suburbs and or far off locations, subordinate
officers used to arbitrate. The Quran calls them "those among you whom
you have to obey or listen to" (4:59). After the death of the Messenger
of God (PBUH), his successors (caliphs) were performing this duty.
Therefore, in respect of divorce, it is the court that makes the
decision and the husband or wife cannot do so individually. The court
should announce its decision when the monthly period of the woman
expires, because 'Iddat' would be counted from the onwards (65:1). Iddat
which normally spans over three monthly periods (2:228), has been
5. When the couple have been divorced in the prescribed way, then the
woman cannot marry anyone else during the period of 'Iddat'. However, if
both of them want to reconcile, then the ex-husband can marry her again
during this period (2:228). You have seen that during 'Iddat' a woman is
restricted from marrying another man, except her former husband.
However, there is no limitation on the man. If he wants, could marry
another woman the very next day after the divorce. This is what is meant
by this verse:
In all matters women have their privileges
commensurate with their duties. However, men have an advantage over them
in this one respect (2:228).
6. If this divorced couple do not get re-married during the three
month period then following the announcement of the completion of the
'Iddat' in the presence of two just witnesses (65:2), the woman is free
to marry any other man. This would be called the first divorce. It must
also be made quite clear that the former husband and wife could remarry
after the period of 'Iddat'.
7. If following their re-marriage after the first divorce the former
husband and wife cannot sustain their second married life, so much so
that they have to separate again, then this would be counted as their
second divorce. If they so wish, they would even be allowed to marry
again after the second divorce. However, if they re-marry and divorce
again, then this would be their third divorce. In other words, in their
married life, the same couple has now reached the status of the third
After the third divorce, they cannot marry each other again, whether
during or after Iddat. This is what the verse (2:229) means. The first
two divorces are such that you can keep the same woman after performing
all the Nikah formalities, or she can be graciously released from the
marriage bond. However, this would not be allowed after the third
On the other hand, if after the third divorce this woman gets married
to another man, and is then either widowed or divorced, then she can
thereafter re-marry her former husband (2:230).
8. It should be remembered though, that following the first divorce
the man should not have any ill intentions of trapping and pestering
that woman again (2:231). On the other hand, if this woman wants to
marry her former husband again, then nobody should forbid her from doing
so (2:232). She should be free to willingly marry her former
9. Until now the mention of a strained relationship has been in
respect of complaints from the husband. At the same time, The Quran
instructs you as to what has to be done when the woman has complaints.
Surah 'An-Nisa' tells us that if a woman fears revolt or neglect, then
the first step should be towards a mutual compromise (4:128). It is
obvious that the procedures for reconciliation that was adopted when the
wife revolted, has to be resorted to (4:34). That is, appointing
arbitrators to help achieve reconciliation.
If the arbitrators fail in their efforts then the couple will have to
be separated (4:30), as per the procedures which have already been
explained. If the court witnesses that the man wants to keep the
marriage but the woman is transgressing then she will have to forfeit
something. This has been explained in detail in (2:229).
10. It has been mentioned earlier that 'Meher' is that wealth which a
man gives to a woman as a gift. It should normally be paid at the time
of Nikah, but if the woman so wishes, she can postpone its payment. As
divorce reverses the relationship of marriage, if the 'Meher' has not
been paid before, then it should be decided upon at this point. For this
Quranic law is:
(A) If woman wants to continue the marriage and man insists on
divorce, then nothing should be returned from the Meher (4:20).
(B) If the divorce is decreed before the man has touched the woman,
then he has to give one-half of what was fixed as Meher. However, the
woman or her attorney may agree to forego something out of it, and the
man, too, may decide to pay her the full Meher (2:237).
(C ) If divorce has been decreed before the consummation for the
marriage, and for some reason the Meher was not fixed, then the man will
have to pay according to what he can afford (2:236).
(D) If the reason for the divorce, is a woman's lewd behaviour then a
part of the 'Meher' may be withheld (2:19). Obviously, a court would
decide on this.
(E) As has been mentioned earlier, if a man wants to keep his
marriage going but the woman insists on separation, then a portion of
her Meher would stand forfeited (2:229). This, too, would be fixed by a
The specified period of time during which a divorced or widowed woman
cannot marry is called 'Iddat'. (As it has been stated earlier, during
the Iddat period of the first or second divorce she can marry her former
husband). This duration of Iddat is as follows:
1. (a) A divorced woman's 'Iddat' is the time spanning her three
monthly periods (2:228). This is the reason why the divorce is to be
effected after a woman's menstrual cycle is over, so that it is then
easy to count the period of Iddat (65:1).
(b) For those women who have had natural menopause, or who due to
some illness do not have their monthly periods, the duration of Iddat
would be three calendar months instead of three monthly periods
(c ) A pregnant woman's Iddat is till the birth of her baby (65:4).
At the time of the divorce, these women should inform that they are
(d) There is no Iddat for a woman who has been divorced before the
consummation of her marriage (33:49).
2. A widow's Iddat is a period of four months and ten days (2:234).
There is no separate law for a pregnant widow, but since the Iddat for a
divorce is till delivery (65:4), it can be inferred that even a pregnant
widow's Iddat will be till the time of childbirth.
3. During Iddat a divorcee's upkeep, board, lodging and maintenance
would be the responsibility of her ex-husband, and her lifestyle and
standard would be the same as she used to have as a married woman
(2:241;65:1;65:7). However, if she has been wayward, then the divorce
immediately ends her husband's responsibility (65:1).
4. For a widow, at least one year's maintenance and board and lodging
is necessary and should be provided for in the man's will (2:240); but
if she goes somewhere else of her own free will, then this would be the
end of such a responsibility (2:240).
5. During the period of Iddat Nikah cannot be performed, although
there is no restriction on negotiating for it
The economic system which The Quran wants to establish has no room
for hoarding wealth or accumulating properties. In this system everyone
contributes to the best of his or her ability, and it is then
responsibility of the system to cater to the needs of the society and
its dependents. However, until such a system gets established (and even
when it is established, then whatever a person has), The Quran has given
guidelines for the distribution of wealth and properties. Precisely, the
guidelines are the following:
1. It is mandatory on everyone to write a will for his or her
inheritance. This should cover all the inheritance, and could be for all
who are to inherit (2:240). Surah Al-Maida has given detailed directions
for the writing of a will. (5:106)
2. Upon death, the debts of the deceased are to be paid first. After
that, his inheritance would be divided according to his or her will
3. If something is still left over after paying the debts and
distributing according to the will, or if person dies without making a
will, then his inheritance would be divided in accordance with what is
written in The Quran. This explains the share belonging to men and women
4. The mode of division is that at first the husband's or wife's
share is to be separated, followed by rest of the recipients.
5. If a man dies childless then his wife will get one-fourth of the
inheritance. If they have children then the wife gets one-eighth (4:12).
Similarly, if a woman dies childless then the husband would get one-half
of her inheritance, but if she has children then he would receive
one-fourth share (4:12). In case of Kalalah, other directions apply
(4:12;4:176), but as this is a technical mater, it is not discussed
6. Son's share is equal to twice that of a daughter (girl one-third,
boy two-third). If there are two or more than two daughters (and no son)
then they all will share two-third. If there is one daughter then she
will get half. If the deceased had children then each of his/her parents
will get one-sixth. If there are no children and the parents are to
inherit, then the mother's share would be one-third, and if there are
brothers, then the mother would get one-sixth (4:11).
Note: Only salient features of inheritance have been briefly
mentioned here. A lengthily discussion would be required for the
details, and this cannot be done here. The division of inheritance is a
technical matter which requires a full knowledge of all the
7. The provision concerning the maintenance for a widow for a period
of one year, has been mentioned earlier (2:240).
1. Children have been made a source of great attraction for human
2. However, if humans start resorting to illegal actions for the love
of their children, this very same affection then becomes a stumbling
block in the fulfillment of the duties enjoined by God. As such,
offspring who had been a boon, becomes a bane (8:28). Since the
offsprings are connected to humans only in this worldly life (3:14),
they cannot help in anyway when it comes to abide by the laws enjoined
by God (58:17). Therefore wherever one faces a clash between following
God's laws and one's offsprings, then one should forsake children and
hold tightly onto God's laws (60:1-40). One has to disassociate with the
children who revolt against God's laws. In this respect the example of
the son of Noah is significant. His unwholesome actions earned this
remark from The Quran:
He is not from amongst you (11:46-47).
This does not refer only to children. Even if there is a conflict
about siding with one's mother, father, sister, brother, husband or wife
or other family members, and following the laws of God, one should
always give preference to the latter (9:24).
3. A healthy, strong and normal baby is a gift form God
(7:189-190). An intelligent, well spoken, pious and loving child, the
one who follows the laws of God and who is broad-minded towards his
parents, would be a blessing from God (19:12-14).
During the dark ages humans themselves used to kill their children.
Even today, in Australia and may be in some other places, one finds such
ancient tribes who kill their children at birth. (The Mothers - Volume
II. By Robert Briffault). The Quran sternly forbids this barbaric
Do not murder your children for fear of poverty
In Arabic the word 'murder' does not only mean to kill; it also
refers to depriving children of good training and education, and
exposing them to superstitions and wrong ideas. As civilized countries
do not literally kill their children, these laws would imply not
suppressing your children's abilities.
Since the dark ages human begins believe that girls are not at par
with boys. The Quran itself, informs about the Arabs:
Whenever anyone of them would get the news that a
girl had been born to him, he would be filled with anger and his face
would turn black (16:58).
At another place it has been mentioned:
They used to bury their daughters alive
(We rejoice today that such barbaric customs do not exist amongst us;
but the way we consciously get our daughters married where they die a
slow and gradual death due to the maltreatment meted out to them, is
this not tantamount to being buried alive)? The Quran forbade this
butchering custom. Hence the respected Messenger of God (PBUH) specially
used to take a pledge from women for not resorting to this vile custom
The Quran says quite clearly that boys and girls are born according
to His law. Therefore, it should never be thought of the boys that they
are a blessing of God, and that poor girls are a bolt from the blue.
Girls are born to some according to the laws of God and boys are born
to some according to His Laws. Some people get both sons and daughters,
and some do not get any children (42:49-50).
All this happens under God's law of nature. Therefore, girls should
not be thought of as a botheration, and nor should those who do not have
any children heave sighs of deprivation.
The nurturing of offspring is the responsibility of both the parents,
but in this respect the mother plays a far more important role than the
father. The right time for the training of a child is when it is still a
baby in his mother's lap. Some psychologists for instance Dr. Adler and
Dr. Jung, have specially studied child psychology, and the gist of their
research is that whatever a child is going to be when it grows it
becomes when still a babe in its mother's lap. Later, education only
reinforces the building that has already been made. That is why The
Quran has exempted a woman from earning her economical needs, so that
she can devote her full time and attention to this basic duty. Mothers
who do not perform this duty conscientiously, not only have delinquent
children but are guilty of ruining their society; since ruining
children, leads to the destruction of society itself.
It should be well understood that for developing the character of
children it is absolutely necessary that there is complete congruity and
harmony between the husband and wife. In the home which has upheavals
between husband and wife, the children can never be trained properly.
The Britannica Book of 1956, after citing various different statistics,
concludes that those children who become criminals at an early age, are
mostly those who have been brought up in an unhappy home with an
incongruent and inharmonious family. This makes it quite clear why The
Quran emphasizes a completely harmonious marital life.
Being criminals is just one aspect of the whole picture. If we
conduct proper research on the idiosyncrasies that are seen in older
people, we would find that the basic reason is the unwholesome
environment in which they were raised. A mother's weaknesses contribute
more to it, and especially if the children have been deprived of her
love, or that of both parents, they suffer form complex psychological
8. Nursing a Child (Breast
The Quran has not ordained as to how long babies should be breasted.
The circumstances would be the deciding factor in this respect. It has
been mentioned, by the way, in Surah Al-Ahqaf that a mother first keeps
the baby in her womb; then breast feeds; and all this takes about two
and a half years (42:15). In certain cases, however, the fixing of a
period for breast-feeding is a legal necessity. For instance, if a man
divorces his wife and she is still breast-feeding the baby, then
according to The Quran rearing the baby is the father's responsibility,
and if the father dies then it is the responsibility of his inheritors
(2:233). It has been directed that if they mutually agree that the
child's mother herself should breast-feed the baby, then he would have
to pay her. In this situation, the period could be of two years (2:233),
but if with mutual consent they want to wean the baby before-hand, then
they can also do so (2:233). He can also arrange for a surrogate mother
for breast feeding, instead of the real mother (2:233; more in 3:14;
65:6), (The legality of the period can be understood from this example.
If a man dies and his widow keeps on breast-feeding the baby, then she
can claim compensation through the court from his successors. However,
this will be till the child is two years old, and not beyond.
The Quran does not give any directives regarding the custody of the
children, when the husband and wife are divorced. This issue would be
decided by the court according to the circumstances of each individual
case. The guiding principle is to decide who can administer the correct
training and education to the children. The emotions of the parents will
also have to be taken into consideration. If the husband and wife sever
their relationship, it does not mean that they have also broken their
emotional link with their children.
9. Polygamy (More than one
1. This subject has been kept towards the end, because it is the most
important and there is considerable misunderstanding prevalent in our
society about it. It is generally accepted and acted upon according,
that a Muslim male can marry up to four times, whenever he desires. This
idea is completely repugnant to The Quran. In normal circumstances The
Quran allows one wife only. If it is not possible to continue with this
wife, as has been explained under the heading of 'Divorce', then the man
can marry again; but not in her presence. In Surah An-Nisa it says:
If you want to bring in another wife in place of your first,
then you should pay full (dowry) Meher to your first wife, and only
then bring in another in her place (4:30).
This makes it quite clear that the second wife can fill the place
vacated by the first, but she cannot come in her presence.
In accordance with The Quran it should be quite clear, that you
should not divorce your first wife just because you want to bring in
another. The Quran gives specific directives for divorce, which have
been mentioned in the chapter titled Talaq (Divorce). Nowhere in this
chapter has The Quran allowed you to divorce the first wife, if you want
to bring in another wife.
2. We have mentioned above that under normal circumstances The Quran
allows one wife only. This presupposes that special circumstances may
rise under which you could marry a second time in the presence of your
first wife. The Quran itself has explained such circumstances in Surah
This verse has four parts and their translations are as follows:
(i) The first part is: And if you fear it will not be possible to
find out an equitable solution of the problem of widows and orphans in
the society… In Arabic "Yatama" means the children whose fathers have
died, as well as those young women who are without husbands. They could
be widows or unmarried young women who cannot get husbands. A little
further ahead The Quran has used the words "Yatamun-Nisa" with these
This verse specifically refers to the circumstances in which you are
afraid that you would be unable to fairly address the problem of orphans
or women without husbands. In other words, you would not be able to
fulfil justly their needs, which they deserve or have a right to. The
meaning of their verse is quite clear. If in a state of emergency (like
for instance after a war when a great number of young men have been
killed), the conditions in a society are such that there a number of
orphaned children and young women are left without husbands, then the
law governing marriage to one wife is relaxed temporarily.
(ii) In second part it is said that if such a situation arises: then
marry from amongst them those who seem suitable, by twos, threes or
fours (as the situation demands).
You marry women you like out of these, and thus absorb them into your
family. In case of widows, their children, too, are included. This is
the just treatment for them. If this problem can be solved by marrying
two wives then marry two; if you can do it with three then marry three;
or in the same manner you may marry four.
(iii) That was a social decision. As an individual, the relaxation is
allowed to only that person who can do justice to all of them. If he
cannot be just, then despite the emergent conditions, he should have one
With reference to justice, it should be understood that
psychologically it is impossible to love each wife equally. No matter
how much you want to, you cannot do this type of justice, (What to talk
about your first wife who has been your life long companion then this
woman whom you are now bringing home not because you hate your wife but
because you have to respond to the collective need of society and
therefore make her a part of your family) (4:149). But you must do this
(4:129), that you should not tilt to one side only, and neglect the
(iv) The fourth part is: but if you fear that you will not do justice
then marry only one (4:3). Here the word "Tauolu" has two meanings. One
'being unjust', and the other is 'being burdened' by the expenses of too
big a family. Therefore when The Quran directs that if you cannot do
justice, then keep the principle of one wife, the aim of this directive
is firstly not to be unjust to one and secondly not be weighed down too
much by the responsibility of looking after two families.
3. The above dissertation makes it quite clear that according to The
(i) Law allows only one wife at a time. (Monogamy)
(ii) On the other hand, if a society is faced with a state of
emergency where too many orphaned children and many women are left
without husbands, then to solve such a collective difficulty, one way is
to make a temporary exception to the rule of one wife. If it was only
the problem of orphan children then other solutions could be considered.
But the problem is that of women of marriageable age and these Muslim
women cannot marry non-Muslims. They have to be absorbed by Muslim
homes. What else can be done other than allowing a family to have more
than one wife. It is obvious that this permission is a collective issue
and not that of an individual. Only the society can decide whether they
have such emergent conditions or not.
(iii) Even in the state of emergency, only that man will be allowed
to have more than one wife who
(a) can give just treatment to all of them; and
(b) can afford to justly provide for these families. (In a Quranic
society, this would be the responsibility of the society, but until such
a system is established, it will remain the responsibility of
If any one of these conditions is not fulfilled, then the law of one
wife will remain in force. If there is no such collective emergency in
the society, or even if the state of emergency exists but the man cannot
do proper justice or afford to look-after so many family members, then
he is not allowed second wife.
These are the extraordinary circumstances under which The Quran
allows more than one wife. Otherwise The Quran does not permit the
bringing in of a second wife, while the first is already
1. Our people do not stop at four wives only. They extend it further.
According to our customary religion, besides four wives, a Muslim man
can keep innumerable concubines and whenever he wants, he can sell them
to someone else. These matters are completely repugnant to The Quran.
According to The Quran neither a man nor a woman is to be
enslaved. To The Quran every human being is to be respected
2. At the advent of Islam, like in the rest of the world, slavery was
prevalent among Arabs, too. Prisoners of war were turned into slaves by
them. When they embraced Islam, they already had such slaves and
concubines in their homes. If Islam had ordered them all out, then there
would have been chaos in the society. Hence such laws were established
by which they were gradually either free or made part of the family.
Whatever laws The Quran contains about slaves, are intended for these
slaves who were already present in society. "Ma Malakat Aimanukum" means
those who are already in your possession. This is stated in the past
tense, meaning something that has been done before.
All the above concerned slaves and counbines who were already present
in the society. For the future, The Quran completely closed the door on
slavery. This was how it was done. For prisoners of war, the order was
quite clear. The Quran says that after over powering them: either be
gracious to them and let them go, or else take ransom and let them free
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After this order, the presence of slaves in homes has been completely
ruled out. Therefore, the keep of concubines in homes is going blatantly