General injunctions for family life.
* In this verse it
is said that the right of man is superior. For this see the heading "Iddat".
The injunctions for family life are given in more details than any other subject
in the Holy Quran. In the social life of man 'home' is of utmost gravity. What
is it that we call Society The doors of different homes open daily and the
individual dwellers get dispersed in different directions; that is what makes a
society. In the evening the same people, return to their respective homes. These
very homes keep developing the future community. The upbringing of children
depends upon their internal atmosphere. The fate of the future of nation is thus
directly connected with the way children are brought up.
The concept of Nizaam-e-Rabubiyyat (the economic system laid down in the Quran)
is based on the principle that every earning member of the society shall work
according to his capacity and all that is gained by their collective efforts,
shall be spent in fulfilling the needs of all the individuals of the society. In
a miniature form, this system takes shape within the four walls of a home. The
earning member of the family does not keep to himself what he earns, nor does he
give priority to his own needs over the needs of the other members of the
family. His earnings are spent by all the members of the family. In so doing,
the earner does not bestow a favour upon the recipient, nor does the recipient
receives it as charity. The donor considers it to be his responsibility and the
recipient considers it to be his right. Based on the principle of the division
of labour, all keep themselves busy in the performance of their respective
duties. From this arises the feeling of mutual co-operation and thus a pleasant
atmosphere prevails. The result of this delightful prevalence produces the
occurrence of deep relationship of love and attraction which lasts for the rest
of their lives. Thus a good home presents an example for the good society.
That is why the Holy Quran has accorded such great importance to family life and
has provided detailed injunctions to make it examplary: and this aspect takes
precedence in our order of priority too in connection with Quranic injunctions.
INJUNCTIONS - FAMILY LIFE (1): THE STATUS OF MAN AND WOMAN.
Basically, according to the Holy Quran, there is no difference or distinction
between one child and another by virtue of his birth: (17:70) "We have made
every human being equally worthy of respect" is the ground rule. It is apparent
that both men and women are included in "humanity" and both of them are equally
worthy of respect. In pre-Islamic Arabia, a girl was considered inferior to a
boy, and sadness, depression and anger of spirits prevailed on the birth of a
girl. The Holy Quran has forcefully condemned this mentality and has described
it as follows: (16:58-59) "When news is brought to one of them of the (birth) of
a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief. The birth
of a girl is considered such a disgraceful event that he hides himself with
shame from the people because of the bad news announced to him. He begins to
think whether he should keep her alive with disgrace or bury her in the dust, in
order to save himself from this ignominy. Ah! What an evil (choice) he decides
The result of this degraded status of girls in the Arab society of that era, was
that they were kept devoid of literacy and art. They were considered foolish and
ignorant. There was no value of their opinions and they were considered unworthy
of consultation in settling affairs. It is apparent that when they are kept in
this position in successive generations, their intellect would gradually
degenerate. These were the women whom the Quran describes as: (43:18) "One
brought up among ornaments and unable to give a clear account in a dispute".
This was the abatement in a woman, on the basis of which the Quran had advised
that when a woman has to appear before a court of law, a second woman shall
stand by her side to remind her if she forgets or is confused. (See under the
heading "Evidence"). (2:282) "If one of them gets confused or forgets, the other
may remind her."
The Quran raised woman from this level and with proper education and upbringing
brought her to the level of man in all walks of life. Men were instructed not to
look down on women because: (3:194) The one of you is from the other". However,
in relation to certain natural functions, like 'childbirth' and the nurturing
and upbringing of children, there is their own distinct 'division of labour'.
From this point of view, in the 'allocation' of labour, men are superior to
women in some affairs, and women are superior to men in others. This is what is
meant by: (4:32;34) "Allah has made some of them excel others". In order to
fulfil their natural obligations, a woman's major part of life is spent in the
giving birth to and in upbringing of children. During this period she is not
capable of earning her own livelihood. Thus (as is stressed by the Quran) in a
family life, man is responsible for fulfilling the needs of the woman: (4:34)
"Men are the maintainers of women". This has been made clear so that men may not
think that women consume their earnings, while sitting at home, with no effort
on their part. Thus taking them as 'needy', men may consider them despicable and
abject. The Quran has explained to man that family life is a mutual affair; in
it the duties performed by woman are not within your reach; as such it is your
duty to provide for her and the children. This does not mean that the Quran
considers woman a disabled person entirely dependent on man. What has been said
relates only to distribution of work in family life; otherwise a woman can also
earn her livelihood and be its owner. It is said in Surah An-Nisa: (4:32) "Men
shall have what they earn and women shall have what they earn."
Since in family life the fulfillment of the needs of the wife and children is
the responsibility of man, in the inheritance of the property of parents a
daughter's share is half that of a son. (Details will be found in the chapter of
Besides the difference described above, the status of men and women is equal in
all affairs of daily life; equal to the extent that the Quran has used the word
Zauj for them. If two parts of a certain object are such that one remains
incomplete without the other, each one of these two parts is called Zauj i.e.
one serves as a means to complement the other, e.g. the two wheels of a cart: if
one is missing, or is weak, or comparatively smaller, the other shall become
useless. That is the relationship between a wife and her husband and their
positions in the vehicle of life. As far as belonging to different sexes is
concerned, there in no special competency that men possess and women do not.
Observe how the Holy Quran has described their qualities as parallel to one
another when it is said; (33:35) "It is a fact that as men can bow down to the
Divine Laws so can women; as men can be the believers in truth, so can women; as
men are capable of attesting and verifying their 'belief' by their personal
acts, so are women; as men possess the capability of not losing heart in the
event of trials, so are women; as men can go on submitting to the feelings of
their responsibilities, so do women possess this capability; as men are equipped
with the quality of self-sacrifice, so are women; as men can keep complete
control over themselves, so can women; as men possess the capability of keeping
themselves subservient to the Divine Laws, so do women.
As men and women both possess all the above qualities, the fruits of their deeds
should also be similar for each other. For the same reason Allah has prepared
protection and reward for both."
It can thus be seen from the above that there is no aspect of life in which men
are competent but the women are not. The Quran says: (4:124) "If having
professed Eemaan, any does deeds of righteousness (constructive and positive),
whether male or female, both shall get the life of paradise and not the least
injustice will be done in their recompense."
At another place the Quran states: (3:194 ; 16:97) "Never shall We deprive any
of you of the fruits of your efforts _ whether male or female. You are the
individuals belonging to the same kind: so why should there be any distinction
or classification between you "
To enjoin what is lawful according to the Divine Laws and prohibit what is
unlawful is the basic duty (function) of an Islamic State; and men and women
both can take part in the performance of this duty: (9:71) "The believing men
and women, are friends and associates (companions) of one another on account of
their sharing the motto of life, they enjoin what is just and forbid what is
evil; they establish the System of 'Salaat' and provide means of nourishment to
humanity, and obey Allah and His Rasoole - (the Divine Order). These are the
people who shall benefit from the means of nourishment provided by Allah and the
whole world shall witness the power and wisdom of the Divine Laws."
Thus a woman cannot be declared ineligible for taking part in state affairs
merely on account of her being a woman.
It is apparent from the principles laid down in the Quran that any law that
discriminates between men and women only on the basis of sex, is repugnant to
the Quran (Except in those matters where the Quran has specifically said so,
e.g., share in inheritance).
INJUNCTIONS - FAMILY LIFE (2): RELATIONS BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE
1. NIKAAH - (MARRIAGE CONTRACT).
Nikaah is a mutual contract between a man and a woman. It appears in Surah An-Nisa:
(4:21) "Your wives have taken a firm covenant from you". By virtue of this
contract a man and a woman pledge to accept the rights and obligations laid down
by the Quran in respect of their being husband and wife in order to lead a life
2. AGE FOR NIKAAH.
According to the Holy Quran, the age for Nikaah is the age of puberty. The Quran
has specifically mentioned: (4:6) "You should, as their guardians, keep
monitoring the orphans till they reach the age of Nikaah."
However, the Quran has not determined as to what can be the age of puberty
besides other factors, as it differs in different climatic conditions. At yet
another place it is stated as age of adolescence: (6:153) : (17:34) "until they
reach the age of adolescence." What this age is, has been explained by the Quran
at another place while pointing towards the different stages of human life. It
is said: (40:67) "Then He brings you forth as an infant, then lets you reach the
age of adolescence, then lets you become old."
Keeping the above verses in view, the matter becomes quite clear. In Surah An-Nisa
(4:6) was said i.e., till they reach the age of Nikaah (adolescence) and in
Surah An'aam has been said (6:153) ' till they reach the age of adolescence and
in (40:67) this age has been interpreted as an age (6:153) between childhood and
old-age i.e. the adolescence; it thus becomes evident that according to Quran,
the age of Nikaah is the age of puberty (adolescence). Thus the Quran has laid
down the age of marriage as the age of puberty both for the boy and the girl.
Therefore the question of marriages of immature people (before they reach
adolescence) does not arise. It is up to the Islamic Government to determine
this age (according to its environmental circumstances).
3. MUTUAL CONSENT.
Just as the age of puberty of both boy and girl is essential for the contract of
marriage, likewise their mutual consent is also mandatory: without it the
contract of marriage cannot take place. About men it is said: (4:13) "Marry the
woman of your liking."
About women it is said: (4:19) "It is not lawful for you to bring women into
your wedlock forcibly (without their consent)."
Since the Nikaah cannot be solemnised in childhood, the question of appointing a
guardian does not arise. However if the woman so desires she can appoint an
attorney in order to settle affairs on her behalf. The statement in Surah
Baqarah, (2:237) "In whose hands is the marriage tie", means the attorney
appointed by the woman, or the court itself having the power of dissolution of
4. CEREMONY FOR NIKAAH (MARRIAGE).
The Quran has not laid down any specific ceremony for marriage. There is not
even a mention of any special person who solemnises Nikaah. Since this is a
contract, whatever laws are laid down by the government for the ratification of
contracts, this contract should also be ratified (confirmed) according to the
It is essential for the government to make definite laws for the purpose.
Moreover, it is equally important to proclaim the solemnisation of Nikaah. A
marriage kept secret is not tenderised by the Quran. (5:5)
5. FORBIDDEN FOR MARRIAGE (MUHARRAMAAT).
The Holy Quran has declared in detail those men and women who cannot marry each
other. The list is as follows:
a) Marriage between a Muslim man or woman (monotheists) and polytheist man or
woman is unlawful. It is said: (2:221) "Do not marry unbelieving woman
(idolaters) until they profess Eemaan. A captive Muslim man is better than a
free Mushrik man regardless of how pleasing he may appear; it is because
marriage between persons of different ideologies makes family life a veritable
hell. This is why Allah's Law prevents you from such a union. On the other hand,
marriage between spouses with a similar ideology creates a paradisiacal family
life. Divine Law wants to bestow on you the contentments of paradisiac life and
protects you from various pitfalls. Allah explains to mankind His Laws clearly
so that they may see the truth laid open before them."
At another place it is said: (5:5) "Chaste Mu'min women", which means that it is
necessary for the woman to be a Muslimah.
b) Muslim men can marry women from amongst the people of the Book:(5:5)
"Chaste women from amongst the people of the Book are also made lawful to you"
under conditions laid down for marrying the Muslim women. But a Muslim woman
cannot marry a non-Muslim man (5:5). It clarifies the issue that Muslim men can
marry woman from the people of the Book but Muslim women cannot marry their men.
It therefore implies that:
i) Muslim men can marry Muslim women or women from people of the Book, and
ii) Muslim women can marry only Muslim men.
Remember that marriage between a Muslim man and a woman from the people of Book
is only permitted; it is not an injunction. An Islamic State can suspend this
permission for a period for the sake of social exigencies or those pertaining to
'Deen'. However, it cannot repeal this injunction (it can only suspend it for a
period); for example, the prohibition of selling meat for two days every week as
it is practised in Pakistan these days.
c) According to verses (4:20-24) the following women are declared unlawful for
marriage (with Muslim men): "Mothers (real or foster, those who have suckled
you), daughters, sisters, father's sisters, mother's sisters, brother's
daughters; sister's daughters, women who have suckled you and girls with whom
you have shared the suck, (your foster sisters); your wives mothers; your step
daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom you have gone in _
no prohibition if you have not gone in: (those who have been) wives of your sons
proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same
times, except for what is past; for Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful."
[The word Muhsanah means pious and chaste women, it also means 'married women'.
The latter meaning is applicable here].
The Holy Quran has not given the details of (breast feeding) itself i.e. as to
how the condition of suckling is fulfilled; neither has it laid down how the
condition of being a foster sister (sharing one mother's milk with you) is
satisfied. Its details shall be ascertained by the Islamic State. Remember that
only that woman shall be unlawful to you who has suckled you or the girl who has
shared the suck.
It has been said above that those women who are already married are also
unlawful, yet the Quran did make an exception in it. The women who had migrated
from Makkah and their husbands were present (it is apparent that those husbands
were non-Muslims, otherwise they could also have migrated) were also permitted
for marriage (6:10); an Islamic State can issue special orders in the light of
this exception, if such circumstances re-occur in any country.
Note: Adopted relations do not become real: thus it is said: (33:4) "Nor has He
made your adopted sons as real sons". (It shall be applicable to all adopted
sons as real sons). (It shall be applicable to all adopted relations). It shows
that the Quran gives no legal status to adopted relations.
In Surah An-Noor, a verse says: (24:3) "A man guilty of adultery or fornication
marries only a woman similarly guilty or a Mushirkah woman; and a woman guilty
of adultery or fornication can be married only by a man similarly guilty or by a
Mushrik man, that is unlawful for Mu'mineen."
But we do not consider this purport as true. The ensuing results from this are
apparent. In our view, the word Nikaah in this verse has been used for
cohabitation which is its basic meaning. Thus the verses mean as follows - If
any of the believing man or a believing woman is determined to remain chaste,
adultery or fornication cannot occur. It can occur only by their mutual consent.
[the question of Zina bil jabr (rape) is different]; only those people commit
this crime who do not believe in the Divine Laws; believers cannot act as such.
Thus this verse emphasises and vividly explains the abomination of the act of
fornication. That is why we have not given it in the list of "Muharramaat" ( )
(persons between whom marriage is unlawful).
As stated before, in the early days of Islam there were such women in Makkah as
had embraced Islam themselves but their husbands did not and they had migrated
to Madina leaving their husbands; believing men should marry them (60:10). From
this it can be deduced that by abandoning Islam, the marriage automatically gets
dissolved. But its legal decision lies with the Islamic Government.
The Quran has prescribed monogamy (one wife at a time), as a matter of rule. In
case of constancy becoming extremely difficult with the wife, (details shall be
discussed under the heading 'Divorce'), a second wife is allowed in her place:
(4:20) "And if you decide to take a wife in the place of another..."
Let it be made clear immediately that it does not mean that you are free to
divorce your wife any time you like and bring another one in her place. The
conditions under which divorce can be resorted to are being described in a
separate chapter. Monogamy; is the principle laid down by the Quran. But if any
particular circumstances crop up in society (for example on account of war) when
the number of widows and young girls increases and there is no satisfactory
remedy for it is in view, the Islamic Government can allow a man to marry more
than one woman (up to four) making an exception in the 'one wife' rule. But
there are two essential conditions under which it can be allowed: firstly, that
the man doing so can do justice with his wives; and secondly, that he is capable
of supporting this large family. If any of these two conditions cannot be
fulfilled, the second marriage is not allowed. Surah An-Nisa states: (4:3) "If
ever such circumstances occur (for example on account of a war) that in the
society men are lost (perished) and widows
and orphans (boys and girls) increase, especially women without husbands (4:127)
and an equitable and just solution cannot otherwise be found; under such
circumstances it is allowed, for the sake of protection of these widows and
orphans, that you can marry out of these women whom you like [those who are
willing to marry you (4:19)]. For this purpose exception is given in the
principle of 'one wife at a time'. In such an event, as the circumstances
require and as the society decides, two or three, or four wives at a time, can
be taken in marriage. But if you feel that in so doing you shall not be able to
keep the scales of justice balanced amongst the different family members, then
one man and one wife shall remain the law or the female slaves that you already
possess (have brought in your Nikaah). After the advent of Islam, the custom of
acquiring captives was abolished. In respect of possessing female captives, the
words "you already possess", are to be taken special note of. Limiting to one
wife is a much better course to avoid injustice in the family and to avoid
additional encumbrance due to abundance of progeny.
This is the only verse in the Quran that allows polygamy and, as can be
observed, it is conditional: "if you fear that you shall not be able to deal
justly with the orphans, then only one wife is allowed". Without the occurrence
of this condition, polygamy is disallowed. Let it be made clear that the word is
not limited to mean only orphan boys and girls; the unmarried girls and women
are also included in it. (see Lughatul-Quran). In the Quran itself you find the
word (4:127) i.e. orphan (widow) women. As regards the condition of maintaining
'justice' it is not possible in this respect. Here justice means that you do not
become so deeply inclined towards one wife that the other is left unattended to
and uncured for! (4:129)
"Remember that under the circumstances explained in verse (4:3), when you marry
more than one wife you shall have to deal with them justly. As far as love and
affection is concerned, it is impossible to deal with different wives equally.
You will not be able to dos so, no matter how much you desire it, because such
things are related to emotions and equality in sentiments is just not possible.
Here the 'justice' which is aimed at and which is possible, is that you do not
become so much devoted to one wife that the other remains totally neglected.
However, in social matters deal with them on the basis of equality. This shall
meet the demand of justice according to the Divine Law; and by so doing you
shall be protected against the pernicious effects of emotional inbalance. The
Divine Law in this manner makes room for your protection and nourishment."
Remember that when a nation feels the urgency to solve the problem of widows and
orphans, the women also shall take equal part in this decision; men alone shall
not decide it. It shows that even under the extraordinary circumstances the
consent of the first wife shall be mandatory, otherwise the home shall turn into
Except under the circumstances described above a second wife is not allowed.
7. FEMALE CAPTIVES.
During the period when the Quran was revealed, the slaves (captives), both men
and women, were part of the Arab society. The Quran closed the door of slavery,
and captive women who were part of the household, were either made a part of the
respective families (were taken into wed-lock) or were gradually freed. The
words whenever they occur in the Quran, mean 'those captive women who were
present in those days.' Now the question of slave women does not arise.
8. FACILITATIONS FOR MARRIAGE.
The society ought to provide facilities to those who possess competence for
marriage. The Quran addresses the Islamic society by saying: (24:32) "Make
proper arrangement for the marriage of those men or women who have not got the
adequate facilities for marriage."
But to get married is not an injunction; it is not necessary that men or women
"must" get married. Those who wish to lead an unmarried life and for whom the
means to get married are not available, should control their passions (abstain):
(24:33) "Those who prefer a celibate life or have not the wherewithal for
marriage, should exercise self-control."
During a state of extreme hunger, the Holy Quran has allowed the eating of
unlawful things (according to need), but has not allowed fornication or adultery
to satisfy one's sexual passions. Obviously man does not possess control over
hunger, but on the other hand sexual urges are purely thought-motivated.
Therefore the question of sexual constraint (helplessness) does not arise. An
Islamic Society creates an environment in which sexual stimulations are least
liable to occur.
9. SEXUAL INTERCOURSE.
Sexual intercourse is prohibited under the following conditions:
a) During menstruation;
b) While fasting, however, it is permitted during nights, in the month of
Ramadaan (before the start and after termination of the "fast");
c) While one is "in retreat" (I'tikaaf) in the mosques. (during the month of
10. OBJECT OF SEXUAL INTERCOURSE.
The Quran says: (2:223) "Your wives are as a tilth unto you, so approach your
tilths when you so desire."
This brings forth an important fact: one goes to the tilth in order to sow the
seeds, therefore the object of sexual intercourse ought to be the augmentation
of human race, not pleasure alone. This augmentation ought to be thoughtfully
planned; it should not only meet personal requirements but also collective
social exigencies. 'Approach the tilth' means, that you have sexual intercourse
when you desire to have a child. This system (of controlled mating) prevails in
nature. At yet another place the words (4:24) have been used for it; which means
that the object of marriage is fortification of your procreative energies within
the bounds of wedlock and not the mere satisfaction of your lust (not to let
your semen flow out purposelessly).
However, this is our deduction from the verses of the Quran.
11. THE OBJECT OF MATRIMONIAL LIFE.
The object of matrimonial life is that a husband and a wife cultivate love and
companionship, so as to make life tranquil at home (life of peace and solace);
thus it is said: (30:21) "Among His signs is that He created for you mates from
among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them and as such He
has created such a deep relationship between yourselves, as a means of
actualisation of potentialities for both of you. Verily in that are signs for
those who reflect."
As to how much concord is present in the relationship between husband and wife,
the Quran has beautifully described a metaphor, when it is said: (2:187) "They
are an apparel for you, and you are an apparel for them."
As far as the mutual rights and obligations are concerned, the Quran has
condensed it in one comprehensive sentence when it said: (2:228) "The
obligations of women shall be equal to their rights, one obligation against each
It has been described earlier that in view of the duties incumbent upon women,
on account of their biological structure, the responsibility of earning
sustenance for them rests upon men (4:34).
The relationship also expand through marriages Relationships of marriage
(in-laws) come into existence in addition to the relationship of lineage:
"In it are included both relationships of lineage and of in-laws."
a) In Surah An-Nisa, after giving the details of those between whom marriage is
unlawful, it is said: (4:24); (5:5) "Except such women, others are lawful
provided you seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property."
The term "Mahr" (dower) is used for these gifts in Fiqh (jurisprudence).
The word "Mahr" does not occur in the Quran, instead the words "Ajoor" or
"Saduqaah" have been used. The Quran has explained it further that (Mahr) is not
a compensation for anything. This is a gift, without the concept of remuneration
or reward. The Quran has also used the word "Nihlah" for it: (4:4) "And give the
women (on marriage) their dower as free gift". In giving a "gift" is no concept
of gain or compensation.
b) No amount for 'dower' has been stipulated by the Quran. Anything decided by
mutual consent is "Mahr" but because its payment is essential, it has also been
termed a 'duty' (Divine Command) (2:236-237), therefore it ought to be
proportionate to one's economic status. In this connection guidance is also
available in (2:236). It might expand to a heap of gold (4:20), In this verse
Qintaar means a heap of gold.
c) The payment of dower ought to be made soon after Nikaah at the time of
marriage. But it is evident from the verse 236 of Surah Al-Baqarah that an
(Occasion may arise when the amount of dower could not be fixed at the time of
marriage, In this verse it has been explained) (2:236)
"There is no blame on you if you divorce women before consummation or the
fixation of their dower."
It means that if for some reason the amount of dower could not be fixed at the
time of marriage, it can be determined later on.
d) Dower is the property of the woman; no one has the right to deprive her of
this amount. However, a woman can remit a part thereof if she so desires. (4:4)
"Pay the dower of your wives without any notion of a reward, like the honeybee
giving her honey (there is no concept of reward in it). Since dower is a gift
and not an exchange, woman cheerfully remits a part of it, you can by all means
use it for yourself."
A little later in the same Surah has been said that the amount of dower can be
altered by mutual consent. In the words of the Quran: (4:24) "But if you agree
mutually to vary the dower after it has been prescribed, there is no blame on
e) After marriage if divorce occurs before consummation, then:
i) If dower has not been fixed, then the man ought to pay something according to
his economic status. Surah Al-Baqarah says: [(2:236; 33:49)]
"There is no blame on you if you divorce women before consummation or the fixing
of their 'dower', but bestow on them (a suitable gift), the wealthy according to
his means: and the poor according to his means (so that the loss she has thus
suffered may be made good to a certain extent); gift of reasonable amount is due
form those who wish to do the right thing."
ii) If dower was fixed, half of it shall have to be paid; but if the woman or
her agent so agrees, or if the court of law thinks it necessary under certain
circumstances, it can also be remitted fully: (2:237)
"And if you divorce them before consummation, and the dower had been fixed, half
of the dower (is due to them) unless they forgo it willingly; or it is remitted
by him in whose hands is the marriage tie. And to forgo what is due to you is
more near to Taqwa (adherence to Allah's Law). And forget not that you have to
act with grace towards one another. Surly Allah sees all what you do."
Verse (2:237) should be kept in mind: "In whose hands is the marriage tie". It
is often deduced from this that the marriage tie is in the hands of the husband,
keeping in mind the common concept that only the man has a right to divorce. But
in our viewpoint this deduction is not correct. We shall elaborate on that
later. According to the Holy Quran the right to divorce belongs equally to the
man as well as to the woman. Here the meaning of the words can mean the woman's
agent in the court of law, or the court of law itself. (See also chapter on
f) If a woman is guilty of immodesty, something can be deducted from her dower:
(4:19) "O you who believe! (As has been said in 4:3, that a man should exercise
his choice in marrying a woman likewise the consent of woman is also necessary
for marriage). You are forbidden to become masters of women forcibly (against
their will, nor is it justifiable for you to keep them against their will with
the intent of bargaining to recover a part of what you have paid them; this is
not permitted except where they have been guilty of open immodesty". (In such a
case the court can allow you a part of it).
It is apparent that a case like this can only be decided by the law-court.
g) If a woman demands divorce (and the court of law agrees), she shall have to
pay something for it (2:229); it may not necessarily be out of the dower money.
(This is only for reference sake; details shall come under the heading
Note: (Dowry __ the paraphernalia of a bride __ is merely a custom which has not
been ordained by the Quran. It is extremely unfair on the part of man to demand
'Jahez' (dowry). The Quran has ordained man to give something; not to take
anything from the woman. (This is a HINDU custom which Muslims have
a) As has been stated earlier, the provision of sustenance of the wife is the
responsibility of her husband (4:34). Therefore as long as she remains in his
wedlock, he shall be responsible. This includes the place of residence as well.
b) During the waiting period of a divorced woman i.e. during Iddat, the above
stated responsibility shall lie on the husband [(2:241); (65:1); (65:6-7)]
except when she is guilty of immodesty (65:1). (Details shall be found under the
heading "Iddat" _ waiting period of a divorced woman).
c) As regards a widow, the responsibility for her maintenance still lies on the
man for a period of one year. Therefore he ought to leave a will for her; but
this responsibility remains no more if and when she leaves the home of the
deceased husband of her own free will. (Details shall be given under the heading
14. STRAINED RELATIONS.
i) As described earlier, the object of marriage is to lead a life full of love
and tranquillity; thus a careful selection of partners is an utmost necessity.
Yet circumstances may arise when mutual relations become strained. In some
events unpleasantness may be temporary, owing to tempers being volatile; for
example, a person, while angry, begins to talk absurdly or on account of
ignorance, calls his wife "mother", or anything like that; this is termed
"Zihaar" in technical terms; and when the rage cools down he feels ashamed. The
Quran says that such foolish talk an oaths should not be taken seriously.
(2:225) "Allah will not call you to account for absurd oaths, but you will be
accountable for such oaths that are taken with the intention of your hearts.
(Also 5:89) By calling your wife 'mother', she does not actually become your
mother: (33:4) "Nor has He made your wives, when you express so by 'Zihaar',
your mothers". Such foolish behaviour makes family atmosphere venomous. The
Quran, therefore, considers it necessary to penalise such behaviour. In such
cases before the resumption of sexual relations, the Quran ordains (a) freeing a
slave (this relates to the period when slaves were present); (b) if slaves are
not found, fasting for two months; (c) if one lacks endurance (for fasting for
two months), them feeding sixty indigents. In Surah 'Mujaadilah' it is said:
(58:3-4) "But those who call their wives mothers (or something like that), then
wish to go back on the words they had uttered, (it is ordained that such a one
should free a slave, before they copulate. To this you are exhorted; and Allah
is well acquainted with (all) that you do. And if anyone who has not the means,
he should fast for two months consecutively, before he copulates. But if one is
unable to do even that, he should feed sixty indigent ones: this is to ensure
that you do profess (Eemaan), a firm belief in the Divine System which has been
established by the Rasoole."
It is essential for a believer to keep himself bound by the limits laid down by
Allah. (In case one makes a mistake, its compensation lies in the steps
described above). But the people who reject these limits are non-believers and
there is a tormenting chastisement for them.
ii) The above relates to absurd oaths while in a state of anger. But if someone
willfully takes an oath, not to go to his wife (the term EELA is used for it in
Arabic). Such a state cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. The Quran has
ordained that such a person should decide within four months whether he wants to
keep his wife in wedlock or not: (2:226-227) "For those who take an oath of
abstention from their wives, a waiting period of four months is ordained
(because a woman cannot be left in this condition for an unlimited period). If
then they return (to their ordinary life), they are allowed, because a room has
been left for forgiveness and protection in such falterings [(95:89); (33:4);
(58:3)]; i.e. like penalty for breaking an oath. But if their intention is firm
for divorce, they should proceed in accordance with the Divine Law, which is
from Allah Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. He knows that separation is the
better course in such cases."
An Islamic state can formulate necessary laws for those who do not want to keep
their wives with them or for those whose whereabouts become unknown. The aim is
to provide protection to the rights of a woman and not to leave her entirely at
the mercy of her husband.
'Nikaah' is a contract between a sensible and mature man and woman to lead a
married life. The Quran provides such instructions under which this contract is
fulfilled with beauty and proportion, because the social life of a nation
depends on agreeable and favourable environments within the home itself. This
forms the basis for the proper up-bringing of a nation. But if in spite of all
that, occasion arises when it becomes impossible for them to live together, the
Quran allows separation, after the dissolution of the contract of marriage. This
act is called Divorce. (Keep in mind this meaning of the word divorce). The case
of marriage was left to the mutual consent of both parties on account of its
being a personal affair, but the dissolution of marriage remains no more a
personal affair because it affects the opposite party as well as their
offsprings in most cases. Thus it becomes a collective society affair, for which
instructions have been laid down by the Quran. There is one thing in this case
which is important and which needs clarification: whereas mutual discretion of
both parties was essential for marriage, as such the dissolution of marriage
cannot take place by the consent of one party alone. The husband cannot be
allowed to declare "Divorce, Divorce, Divorce" of his own free will whenever he
so likes and turn his wife out from the house; while on the other hand the other
party (wife) be made so helpless that she is compelled to bear many hardships in
order to be able to get rid of this commitment. The Quran has ordained equal
rights and obligations for a husband and a wife; their position is equal in this
respect also. Let us look at the instructions it gives to society. It says:
(4:35) "If you fear a breach between them (the couple), the concerned authority
should constitute a board of arbitration consisting of two members, one from his
family and the other from hers. Thus if the husband and the wife make up their
minds for reconciliation, the two arbiters should attempt to bring them close to
each other. The Divine Law shall bring about reconciliation because the law is
based on Allah's Knowledge, Who is acquainted with all things."
The term includes both man and woman. The complainant may be the man or the
woman; in both cases it is the duty of society to appoint an arbitration board.
If the woman feels an excess or disinclination from her husband, even then they
try to patch up their differences amongst themselves or ask for a board of
arbitration to be appointed. Thus it said: (4:128) "And if a woman fears
ill-usage from her husband or desertion, no blame is on them if they effect a
reconciliation between them for amicable settlement is always good", (or
otherwise ask for the appointment of a board of arbitration).
In Surah 'Al-Mujaadilah' (58th Chapter of the Quran) it is said: (58:1)
"Allah has indeed heard the woman who was disputing with you concerning her
husband, and complaining to Allah (about the maltreatment she was receiving at
the hands of her husband) and Allah was hearing the contentions of both of you.
Surely Allah hears and sees (all things)."
This also makes it clear that a woman can take her case to a court of law and
has full right to apply for divorce; however, the first priority of the court of
arbitration shall be to bring about reconciliation between them.
Remember, the Quran has used the term "Talaaq" (Divorce) both in respect of the
husband and the wife. The term "Khul'ah" (divorce obtained by a wife against a
ransom by herself or through an attorney) is nowhere to be found in the Quran.
Moreover, when it is said that a husband has delegated his right of divorce to
his wife this is not correct; according to the Holy Quran because husband and
wife have equal rights of divorce. Delegating the right of divorce by husband
("Tafweez" in juristic terminology) makes no sense.
If reconciliation cannot be brought about, the court which has convened the
board of arbitration shall declare dissolution of marriage. This shall be known
as Divorce. It is said in Surah At-Talaaq (65th Chapter of the Quran): (65:1) "O
Rasoole! When you pronounce decisions on divorce cases, tell the people
concerned that after this (the divorce) the issue of 'counting period' (Iddat)
is a matter of great importance and must be completed."
The Rasoole has been addressed in the verse (65:1) by the words : "When you
divorce women". Here the word used is "Tallaqtum" which is plural. Thus the
matter does not concern the divorce of any wife of the Rasoole himself. Such a
question never arose. As a matter of fact it is the status of the Rasoole as a
judge that is being addressed. Thus the word "Tallaqtum" means: "When you decide
the divorce cases of women". It makes clear that divorce is not an individual
affair allowing a man to divorce his wife any time he likes. Such decisions
shall only be announced by duly authorised courts. The court first appoints a
board of arbitration and if reconciliation fails, then it decrees the divorce.
Because the calculation of the period of Iddat defends upon the number of
menstrual periods, the execution of divorce ought to take place after the last
menstrual period is over. In the above said verse (65:1) after the words come
the words meaning 'to count (accurately)'. The court shall make this point clear
in its decision.
If the court finds that the husband does not want a reconciliation, it shall
grant a divorce, without taking anything back (of the dower money) from the
wife. It is thus said in Surah An-Nisa (4th Chapter of the Quran): (4:20-21)
"If you intend to take another woman in place of your present wife (it does, in
no way, mean that the desire to bring in a new wife can become a reason for
divorce ___ it only means that if, according to the conditions laid down which
were mentioned earlier _ the matter reaches the stage of divorce) and you have
given the latter a whole treasure (heap of gold) as dower, you should not take
back even a portion of it. (However, if the demand for a divorce was initiated
by the wife (2:229) or the wife is guilty of immodesty (4:19), a part can be
retrieved from her. In case no such conditions prevail, then you should not
slander her or accuse her of open wrong in order to compel her to surrender a
part of her dower. How can you do such a thing when your wives have taken a
solemn covenant from you, and you also have enjoyed marital relations with each
But if the woman is guilty of a shameful act which leads to adultery or
fornication, then: (4:19) "It is not lawful for you to try to detain them
forcibly so that you may fraudulently take away part of the dower that you have
given them, except when they have been guilty of open immodesty."
Or if she herself is unwilling to live with her husband, the court can order
some compensation to be paid to the husband. (2:229) "(In case of dissolution of
marriage), it is not lawful for you (men) to take back any of your gifts (from
your wives), except when a situation arises that this money is blocking the way
to the finalisation of divorce; and on the other hand on account of strained
relations, in case of the continuation of their marital relationship both
parties fear that they would not be able to safeguard the limits ordained by
Allah (in faithfully discharging their obligations) and the
society's judicial system also reaches the same conclusion, there is no blame on
either of them if she gives something for her freedom from the bonds of
Such conditions may arise that a woman gets married with ill intentions, and
having received the dower money, takes steps to seek divorce. In such cases,
forgiving a part of the dower shall serve as a deterrent against such nefarious
After the court declares divorce, the period of 'Iddat' shall begin. 'Iddat'
means the prescribed period before the end of which the woman cannot marry again
(Details are given under the heading 'Iddat'). It may be termed as "waiting
period". During this period (of Iddat), the divorced woman shall continue to
reside in her ex-husband's house and he is responsible of her maintenance. What
the Quran has said further, in this regard, needs careful attention. It is said
in Surah At-Talaaq (65th Chapter of the Quran): (65:2)
"Then when they (the divorced women) complete their appointed term, either take
them back in the recognised manner or part from them according to the law."
In Surah 'Al-Baqara' (2nd Chapter of the Quran) It is said: (2:229) "After that
either keep them according to the law or separate them with benevolence."
Again it is said: (2:228) "And their husbands have a better right to take them
back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation."
It is apparent from the above that during the period of 'Iddat' a chance is
given to rebuild the marital relationships. This clarifies two issues:
(a) If the wife is the one to initiate the divorce, then this means she does not
want to live with her husband and he then cannot keep her back forcibly. However
it is a different thing if she changes her mind.
(b) If it is the husband who initiates the divorce, although she wants to live
with him, the relationship can be re-established if he changes his mind. In such
an event, the Quran has warned the husband not to keep the wife back with the
intention of vexing her: (2:231) "Do not take them back with the intention of
causing them harm or to transgress the limits (imposed by Allah). If any one
does so, he only wrongs his own self."
The question now arises: is a renewal of the contract of marriage needed, or the
previous contract shall be considered sufficient In this respect the Quran has
used the term "Bil-ma'roof" which means a procedure recognised by the Islamic
Society in the light of the Quranic Guidance. Thus if the Islamic Society thinks
that a renewal of the contract of marriage is unnecessary, it shall be the
correct decision. And if it decides that a renewal is called for, that too shall
be a correct decision. After all, 'Nikaah' (the contract of marriage) is nothing
more than the recognition of the consent of a husband and his wife. However, in
verse (2:232) the Quran has used the word 'Nikaah', when it is said: (2:232)
"When you divorce women, and they are near the completion of the term of their
'Iddat' and both man and the wife are desirous to resume their matrimonial life,
O Members of the society! Do not prevent them from marrying their (former)
husbands, if they mutually agree.
Here again the world "Bil-ma'roof" is used: which means 'according to the way
recognised by the system of the state'. However, the government ought to keep it
in mind that the renewal of marriage during the period of 'Iddat' ought to be
carried out in a way which may be considered a contract of marriage.
If they have made up their minds to live together again, it shall be carried out
according to the above procedure; but if they decide on separation, two
witnesses shall be required: (52:2) "Then, when they approach the end of the
term appointed (look at the whole issue in a cool, dispassionate manner and if
constancy appears possible, why resort to separation). Get united in a
recognised manner; (but if constancy is not possible), part from them on the
recognised terms: and take for witness two persons from among you imbued with
justice i.e. those who are not inclined to any one party, and establish evidence
as a duty ordained by Allah."
After this the facilities available to them (the women) in the period of 'Iddat'
shall come to an end.
Thus the husband and the wife may reunite during the period of 'Iddat' or may
get separated. This shall be counted as ONE DIVORCE.
If this couple again becomes husband and wife (during or after the period of
'Iddat') but again decide to separate, its procedure shall be the same as
described above. This shall be the SECOND divorce.
After this second divorce if they once again decide reunion but this also
results in THIRD divorce, they cannot become husband and wife again, neither
during the period of 'Iddat', nor any time thereafter because: (2:229)
"A divorce is only permissible twice; after that the parties should either hold
together on the recognised terms or separate with kindness."
That is, after the third divorce, remarriage is not permissible.
However, if after the third divorce the woman gets married to some other person
but here also the union ends in divorce (or if she becomes a widow), she can
again establish the contract of marriage with the first husband. This has been
explained as such in the verses (2:229) and (2:230) (2:229-230)
"Remember! During the married life of a husband and wife, it is possible only
twice to either hold together on the recognised terms or separate with kindness.
[But if the divorce between them takes place the third time, they shall not be
able to remarry _ (2:230)] In case of dissolution of marriage, you are not
permitted to take back anything of what you have given to the wife. However, if
an occasion arises that this very factor becomes an impediment in the way of
dissolution of marriage and at the same time there is an apprehension that in
case of living together as husband and wife they shall not be able to keep the
limits laid down by the Divine Law, on account of their deranged relations; and
also the society's system of justice reaches the same conclusion that the
husband ought to get some recompense, in that case there is no harm that the
wife may agree to forego a part of what is rightfully hers and get herself rid
of the martial contract. These are the limits imposed by Allah; do not
transgress them, and whosoever does so, would be held guilty by the Divine
"So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably) he cannot, after that, remarry
her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her. In that
case, there is no blame on either of them, if they reunite, provided they feel
that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah. Such are the limits ordained by
Allah, which He makes plain to those who possess the knowledge of the exigencies
of social life."
These are the verses which are produced as an evidence to prove that if somebody
says 'Divorce, Divorce, Divorce', three times, they shall have to go through the
process of 'Halaalah'. This interpretation of the above verse is against the
Quran. As explained earlier, divorce means freedom from the contract of
marriage. The dissolution of marriage can take place only by following the
details described above. Divorce does not become valid by the verbal utterance
of the word 'Divorce' whether it is repeated once, thrice or a hundred times.
Three divorces mean the dissolution of Nikaah between a husband and his wife,
three times during their married life spread over a period of time. After two
dissolutions there still remains a chance for reunion; but after the third
dissolution there is no chance: it is final, except under the condition
described above. Even in that case marriage with another husband does not mean
sexual intercourse for one night (Halaalah); it means to live the life of a
husband and wife in a regular normal way.
As it has been said earlier, the dower ought to be paid during the process of
marriage contract. But if the wife ha postponed its receipt for a later period,
it shall now become an urgent recovery after the dissolution of the marriage.
(See heading 'Dower')
16. WAITING PERIOD FOR A DIVORCEE (IDDAT).
(a) 'Iddat' is the name given to a period in which a divorced woman or a widow
cannot remarry. In fact it is meant to make sure if she is pregnant; and in case
of pregnancy, the would-be child shall be the legitimate offspring of the former
husband. There is no 'Iddat' for man. The Quran says: (2:228)"Women have the
right relative to their obligations, but men have an advantage over them". The
advantage is that there is no 'Iddat' for man. He can marry another woman
immediately after divorce.
b) The 'Iddat' for a divorced woman is three menstrual periods (2:228). The
divorce comes into effect after the menstrual period comes to an end. This is
for the sake of certainty in the counting of 'Iddat' (65:1).
c) For old women who have reached menopause or for those who do not menstruate
on account of a disease, 'Iddat' shall be three months:(65:4)
[As stated in verse (2:228) __ the period of Iddat, normally, is three
menstruations, but] "such of your women as have attained the age of menopause,
for them the prescribed period is three months; and for those who have no
courses, (on account of disease) it is the same".
d) 'Iddat' for a pregnant woman is until the termination of pregnancy. (65:4)
"For those who are pregnant, 'Iddat' is until they deliver (their burdens)."
They should declare, in the event of divorce, that they are pregnant: (2:228)
"Nor is it lawful for them to hide what Allah has created in their wombs."
e) There is no 'Iddat' for a woman who is divorced before sexual intercourse:
(33:49) "O You who believe! When you marry believing women and then divorce them
before you have touched them, it is not required of you to count the Iddat in
respect of them (during which period the responsibility of their sustenance lies
with you and the women cannot marry any other husband), so give them suitable
provision and part from them in a goodly manner". [Marriage is a contract. When
you find it difficult to carry out the contract, end it in a lawful manner.
There is no need to create bitterness __ (2:228-236); (65:1-4)].
f) 'Iddat' for a widow is four months and ten days. (2:234)
"If any of you dies and leaves his widows behind, they shall wait for four
months and ten days (for second marriage). When the 'Iddat' ends, they are free
to make a decision about themselves according to law. They have the right to do
so. There shall be no blame on them that they have done this way or that way.
Remember, Allah knows all that you do."
In case she is pregnant, there is no separate injunction in the Quran for it.
But it can be deduced from the injunctions regarding divorced (pregnant) women,
that their Iddat shall also be until they give birth.
g) During the period of 'Iddat' the responsiblity for providing daily
requirements and shelter shall be on the man and its standard shall be the same
as during normal life. It is said in Surah At-Talaaq (65th Chapter of the
Quran): [(65:6-7); (2:241)] "Let the women live (during 'Iddat' period) in the
same style as you live, according to your means; annoy them not so as to tease
them. And if they are pregnant, you have to provide their sustenance until their
delivery, and if they suckle your (offspring) for your sake [i.e., if you cannot
make any arrangement for the suckling and by mutual consent it is settled that
she herself shall suckle], give them their due recompense, and enjoin one
another to do good; and if you disagree, another will suckle for him."
In determining the scope of providing sustenance to divorcees or compensation
for suckling, be considerate of the financial status of the husband. Let the man
of means spend according to his means: and the man whose resources are
restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no
burden on any person beyond what he has been given. If a difficulty arises for
the man on account of the extra expenses, a relief can be obtained according to
the Divine Law. (The court shall keep this in view).
But if during this period the woman commits an act of immodesty, the man then,
is no more responsible. (65:1) "O Nabi! When you decide the cases of divorce,
tell the people that the matter of 'Iddat' is of great importance. It must be
accomplished adequately. For this, it is necessary that an accurate count of the
prescribed period be kept, so as to submit totally to the injunctions laid down
by your Sustainer (2:228-236; 33-49). During this period do not turn out the
divorced women from your houses (65:2)."
During the period of 'Iddat' these are still their own homes. Nor shall they
(themselves) leave without a proper excuse. However, in case they are guilty of
some open immodesty, they can be turned out of the house. These are the limits
laid down by Allah, and any one who transgresses the limits of Allah, besides
doing wrong to others, he also wrongs his own self.
As stated above, the woman should not leave home and go to some other place
during Iddat. But if conditions are not favourable to stay there, she can stay
at some other place by permission of the court. This is our deduction from the
Quranic verse, in which it is said: (4:130) "And if they separate, Allah will
render them both free from want out of His ampleness". Allah shall make
arrangement for the fulfillment of their needs, i.e. the society (established
under the Divine Order) shall shoulder this responsibility.
h) For one year's provision of daily needs and residence, the husband should
leave a testament. But if before this, the widow leaves, of her own choice to
some other place, this responsibility (of the late husband) comes to an end:
(2:240) "Those of you who die and leave widows, should make a bequest for their
widows for a year's maintenance and residence, but if they leave (the residence)
of their own and make some other arrangement for themselves according to the
law, there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves. Remember! The
Divine Law is exalted in power and is based on wisdom."
i) During 'Iddat' a widow is not allowed to marry another person but there is no
restriction on discussing the possibility of marriage in the meantime: (2:235)
"There is no blame on you if you make an offer of betrothal or hold it in your
hearts. Allah knows that you would fancy to marry them: but do not take any
hidden promise of marriage from them, negotiate with them in a recognised
manner, but do not resolve on marriage during the period of Iddat: and always
remain conscious of the fact that Allah is aware of the ideas that flash across
your mind. You should know that Allah does not want to inflict any hardship on
you by means of these limitations. The object of these restrictions is to
protect your society from the injuries of wrong attitudes. He does not get angry
by your mistakes, so as to entangle you in strict laws. This is done by tyrant
rulers, not by Allah.
If (during 'Iddat' or afterwards) a woman intends to re-marry her former
husband, do not stand in her way: (2:232) "When you divorce women and they are
nearing the completion of their Iddat do not prevent them form marrying their
former husbands if they mutually agree to do so in the recognised manner."
Note: This does not apply after the third divorce).
The Holy Quran does not specify the period during which the mother should suckle
the child. The husband and the wife can mutually take a decision subject to the
requirements of the child's health. However, the Quran has said that it takes
two and a half years for a mother to keep the foetus in her womb followed by the
suckling of the child. (46:15) "We have enjoined upon man to be gracious to his
parents: in pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give him birth. The
carrying of the (child) to his weaning is a period of thirty months."
Even animals take part in the upbringing of their offsprings; but later on,
their grown up offsprings do not even recognise their parents. Thus the man is
asked to rise above the animal level during his life. "One of the demands of
human life is that he should treat his parents with benevolence. His mother bore
him and gave him birth with difficulty which she experienced day and night. This
continued not for a day or two but it took at least thirty months from pregnancy
to weaning. [(2:233); (13:14)].
At another place the suckling period is described as two years: (31:14) As
regards a divorced woman who carries a child in her lap, the Quran says:
i) The father of the child shall give the mother recompense for suckling the
child. (65:6) "And if they suckle the offspring for you, give them their
recompense and take mutual counsel together according to what is just and
reasonable. If any of you feels that the arrangement is heavy on him/her,
arrange for some other woman to suckle the child."
ii). Though the period of suckling is two years, but if by mutual consent they
want to reduce this period they are allowed to do so.
During the period of suckling, the expenses of food and clothing shall be
provided for the woman by the father of the child. The standard of this
maintenance shall be according to the financial position of the father. For so
doing, it ought to be kept in mind that neither the father nor the mother are
put in to difficulty for the sake of their child. If it is thought advisable
that the suckling be given by some other woman in place of the mother, it is
permitted: (2:233) "If, in the case of a divorce the wife is suckling a child,
the mothers should give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the
father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food
and clothing on the prescribed terms. No person shall have a burden laid on him
greater than he can bear. (The court ought to keep this mind): the mother shall
neither be treated unfairly on account of her child nor the father. (If however,
the father dies in the meanwhile), his heir shall be incharge in the same way as
had been decided by both of them. On the matter of weaning; if you both agree on
premature weaning and make alternative arrangements, there is no blame on them
provided the husband pays the settled compensation to the mother."
(Anyhow) you should always adhere to the Divine Law and keep this reality in
mind that Allah's Law of Requital oversees what you do. (For this' neither
observe the law as a mere custom, nor try to evade it).
18. CUSTODY (OF CHILDREN OF DIVORCED PARENTS).
There is no specific injuction in the Holy Quran as to who will have custody of
the underage children after the separation of their parents. The court can
decide on it according to the prevailing circumstances. The principle that ought
to be observed in this case is that neither the father nor the mother shall be
put to unnecessary hardships. An inference can be drawn for this rule in the
light of verse (2:233) described above. To achieve this objective the Islamic
Government shall also decide as to who shall bear the expenses of the children,
till they reach the age of maturity.
a) Besides mutual companionship the basic object of married life is the
augmentation of the human race. Even animals increase their progeny, but the
case is different with man. A young animal needs nourishment, after which it
becomes what it is destined to become. But a human child, in addition to
sustenance, needs education and upbringing which lifts him from the stage of
animal life to the stage of human life. Thus the parents undertake a dual
responsibility. It is the duty of an Islamic State to frame laws for the purpose
and make such arrangements that no child is deprived of sustenance, as well as
education and upbringing. The Islamic State shall issue necessary guidance to
the parents as to what extent their co-operation is required. The objective is
that no child is left without the development of his human potentialities on
account of negligence, ignorance, laziness, or mismanagement on the part of
parents or an incompetent system of government. Every child shall be provided
with an equal opportunity for upbringing. The Quran says: (17:31); (6:152) "Do
not kill your offsprings for fear of being reduced to poverty."
Here killing does not actually mean putting to death. (Murder in itself is a
crime, even if it is of one's own children). Here killing children means
depriving them of proper education and upbringing. In this regard an Islamic
State shall furnish surety that: (6:152) "We are responsible for your sustenance
as well as that of your children."
Remember in an Islamic Social Order, providing the mans of sustenance is the
foremost duty of the State.
b) A healthy, sound and sturdy child is a bounty from Allah (7:189-90) and an
intelligent and a chaste youth, with a loving heart and subservient to the
Divine Laws, is a 'Rahmat' from Him (19:12-14). In Surah 'As-Shoora' (42nd
Chapter of the Quran) it is said: (42:49-50) "Allah is the Supreme Sovereign in
the heavens and the earth, and the whole system of the universe functions under
His Laws only; so much so that even the physical life of man is not excluded
from its ambit. The astonishing Order of Creation including creation of man is
controlled by His Laws. According to this Law He bestows some with girls, while
others with boys and yet some with both boys and girls and some remain
childless. All this takes place according to His Laws. He is replete with
knowledge and full of power to control the destinies according to His measures
Thus whereas the creation of sex is controlled by the Divine Laws, to consider a
girl inferior to a boy was a mentality peculiar to the Arabs of pre-Islamic
days. Islam eradicated this. The Quran criticises it as follows: (16:58-59)
"When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child), his
face darkens and he is filled with grief. (He thinks the birth of a female child
so disgraceful that) he hides himself from his
people because of the bad news he received. He begins to think whether he should
suffer this contempt or bury the new born alive in the dust Ah! What an evil
choice they decide on their innocent girls!"
c) Wives and children have been made means of elegance in life by Allah; thus
they are worthy of the parents' kind attention: (3:13) "Love for women and
children has been made fair-seeming for people."
Yet one must not commit any act for their sake, which goes against the Divine
Laws and the Permanent Values ordained by Allah. (See 63:4; 8:28; 64:14-15). If
one does that it becomes a sedition for him. Thus whenever there is a tie
between a particular benefit for the wife and children on the one hand, and a
Quranic Value on the other, the Quranic Values shall be given preference:
It is said in Surah "At-Taubah" (9th Chapter of the Quran); (9:24) "(O Rasool)!
Say unto these people that if it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers,
your spouses or your kindred, or the wealth which you have gained, the commerce
in which you fear a slump, or the dwellings in which you delight, are dearer to
you than Allah and His Rasool (i.e. dearer than the establishment and
maintenance of the Divine System); wait until the results of such a behaviour
become manifest unto you according to the Divine Law. Remember Allah guides not
those who, leaving aside the right path, go astray."
It is so, because offsprings relate only to the physical life of man, they have
no value against the Divine Law: (58:17) An unrighteous offspring is not even
considered a member of one's family by the Quran. This has been explained in the
story of Noah in (11:45-46).
d) As long as the children are under the care and upbringing of their parents,
they should act under the parents' guidance, but when they are capable of
deciding their own affairs they should begin to act as such. The maxim "To obey
the parent is a duty" that has not been ordained by the Quran. The Quran has
repeatedly asked only to do good to the parents (4:36) .
The Quran states: (36:68) "If We grant long life to any, We reduce him to an
abject state in creation". Man begins to forget what already was in his
knowledge. (16:70) As such his condition becomes pitiable. Therefore he shall be
treated gently and not rebuked. Thus it is said in Surah Bani-Israel (17th
Chapter of the Quran): (17:23-24) "Thy 'Rabb' has decreed that you should be
subservient to none but Allah: (be subservient only to the Divine Law). Further
it is ordained that you be kind to parents, whether one or both of them attain
old age in your life. Say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but
address them in terms of honour. When they were youthful and active, they
provided you with sustenance (in addition to their own); now they have become
old and are not capable of earning. It is your duty to make good their
Give them protection with all the affection (as they did when you were young)
and say: my Rabb! Enable me to provide them with means of nourishment as they
had cherished me in my childhood.
(To look after the young is even practised by the lower animals, but the
practice of looking after the parents in old age is peculiar only to a human
being. That is why he has been instructed as such.)
But if the parents are following a wrong path, it must be brought to their
notice. This has been made clear in the story of Abraham: (19:41-45)
e) It is essential for an Islamic Government neither to leave the small children
at uncared for the mercy of their parents, nor to leave the aged parents uncared
for and dependent on their offsprings to the extent that they become the object
of scorn and degradation. For this an Islamic State ought to provide proper
guidance and make the necessary arrangements.
The basic meaning of the word "Yateem" (orphan) is the one who somehow or other
is left alone and helpless in society; he may be of any age. But in the context
of the subject under discussion, "Yateem" shall mean the children whose father
(or both parents) have died. The provision of sustenance, education and
upbringing of such children is the responsibility of an Islamic State. But the
question is not of upbringing alone: the real problem is that they should be
brought up in such a manner that the dignity of their 'self' does not get
injured. To keep such children in orphanages, fed on charity, is the destruction
of their human 'self'. This leads to the downfall of nations. In Surah 'Al-Fajr'
(89th Chapter of the Quran) it is said that one of the reasons for the
destruction of nations in that they do not treat orphans with honour: (89:17) .
Thus the real question is the cultivation of their self-respect. They should not
be brought under undue pressure: (93:9) .
A satisfactory arrangement for their proper nurturing is essential. They should
be treated as your own brethren: (2:220) "They ask thee about orphans. Say:
settling their problems is a deed that produces 'good'. Hence you live together
and if during the period of mutual living you have but to conduct their affairs
with your own, always keep in mind that they are your brethren. Allah knows
which of you means their good and which of you creates mischief. You are being
given such instructions because without it you could have fallen into
difficulties; but Allah wants to make things easy for you."
This provision of facilities does not mean that you go on doing what you like
without any hindrance.
Allah's Law of Requital is exalted in power, yet it is based on wisdom.
Their wealth and property, if there be any, must be protected with utmost care.
The one managing their affairs, if he is wealthy enough, should not take any
remuneration; but if he is needy, he can take a compensation for it. When they
reach the age of maturity and they become capable of handling their own affairs,
their wealth and property should be handed over to them in the presence of
witnesses: (4:5-6) "Remember! Allah has made wealth, the mainstay of a nation's
economy, therefore place it not in the custody of those who are weak of
understanding; feed them and clothe them therewith and speak to them words f
kindness and justice."
Also make arrangements for the upbringing of orphans; and keep checking as to
how far their potentialities are developed, until they reach the marriageable
age. (6:153; 17:34; 40:67). If then you find them of sound judgement, deliver
their property over to them. [But if they are not fit for it yet, act according
to (4:5)]. But in the meantime do not consume their property wastefully, nor in
a haste, fearing that they shall demand it when they become grown up. If the
guardian is well off, let him claim no remuneration, but if he is poor, let him
have what is just and reasonable. When you release their fortune to them, take
witnesses. While counting, keep it in mind that you are submitting the account
to Allah who knows what is hidden as well as manifest; therefore He is the Best
of all those who take account.
This point has been emphasised further in (6:153) and (17:37).
Do not take a single pence from their wealth unlawfully. It has been ordained in
Surah An-Nisa (4th Chapter of the Quran): (4:2) "According to this law no
difference remains between your own children and the orphans, therefore take
care of their rights and benefits like those of your own offsprings. Keep their
property safe with utmost care; do not exchange (your) worthless things for
their good ones; do not eat up their assets, keep their assets separate from
yours; embezzlement in their substance (by mixing it up with your own) is most
unjust. One who is left alone in the society, he ought to be helped rather than
his rights usurped."
It is said further: (4:10) "Those who unjustly eat up the property of the
orphans, they are filling their bellies with fire which leaves their passions of
greed ablaze". They being always dissatisfied, run after unlawful wealth like a
lunatic and thus put their own potentialities into a blazing fire.
If widows and orphans are left behind in society, marrying more than one wife
may be allowed by making exception to the law of monogamy, in order to give them
a respectable place in society. (Details were given earlier).
For an Islamic State it is essential to frame necessary laws under the guidance
of the Quran. According to the Arabic dialect, a boy is called "Yateem" (orphan)
till he reaches the age of maturity; and a girl continues to be called an orphan
till she gets married. Even widows can be included in the category of orphans.
REMOVAL OF A MISCONCEPTION
The injunctions and guidance for family life as stipulated in the Quran have
been stated, but the conventional meaning of a verse in Surah 'Nisa' (4th
Chapter of the Quran) remains yet to be corrected. The verse is as follows:
(4:34) It is usually translated thus: "Men are the masters of women because
Allah has given superiority to one over the other; for the reason that they
spend their money. Then those women who are pious and thus obedient, look after
what Allah has protected in them in the absence (of their husbands) with the
protection of Allah, but those who are feared to be of bad temper, you advise
them, keep their beds separate and beat them. After this if they obey you, do
not seek a way to accuse them. Allah is indeed the Greatest". (Translation by
late Maulana Mahmood Al-Hasan).
By virtue of this translation the following is deduced:
o Men are the masters of women.
o Pious women are those who are obedient to their husbands.
o If a women is not obedient to her husband:
i) the husband shall advise her and if she is still disobedient,
ii) keep her separate from his bedroom (which means discontinuation of conjugal
relations); and if she is still disobedient,
iii) beat her.
It is obvious that this sort of relationship between a husband and his wife goes
against the very grain and purpose of the teachings of the Quran which have been
explained in the previous pages. As a matter of fact, the purport of this verse
is as follows:
"As far as the natural duties of men and women are concerned, some of their
capabilities are different from each other. In some of them men have the
superiority, and in others, the women. As a result of the execution of these
duties, for a major portion of her time a woman becomes incapable of earning her
livelihood and thus it becomes the duty of her husband to provide her means of
the necessary sustenance. This is what is meant by the words . After such
arrangement, the women can give full time, satisfactorily, to their own duties
(such as bearing the children and their upbringing) so the women are required to
take care of their latent potentialities. But if an occasion arises that in
spite of all this a woman revolts and refuses to carry out her specific
functions without any sufficient cause, it shall not remain a personal affair.
It shall become a collective national issue, because it concerns the protection
and augmentation of the (human) race. Thus society should first admonish such a
woman. But if this procedure remains ineffective, her husband should be asked to
terminate copulation with her for a while so that its psychological effect may
bring about a change in her attitude. But if that also remains ineffective, a
court can order even physical punishment for her".
You must have noticed that this matter concerns the collective life of a nation
and it is of great importance. In this respect if women refuse to co-operate and
thus rise against the collective benefit of humanity, it becomes imperative for
society to take adequate steps to put a check on this revolt. It is a social
crime for which even punishment can be given. But that does not mean that men
are free to beat the women on account of being their masters. This concept is