MUFTI MOHAMMAD ANWAR KHAN
The word “globalization”, in the present age, is most frequently used by the Mass media. According to the definition of the word presented by them, its meaning is that: in the past, the people of the world had extreme difficulty in interlinking with one another in different locations across the globe, in terms of communication, migration, for exchanging ideas and thoughts. However, the recent scientific discoveries, improved means of transport, and vast technological advances made in the mass communication sectors have turned the world into a courtyard. For the first time in the history of Mankind, it has become possible for the entire human race to tune in, and share their ideas with international thought, diverse cultures, fashions, and wisdom instantly. The advancements of the satellite technology, the invention of radio and television, and the arrival of the Internet on the world scene have caused the distance between countries to dramatically shrink, by crossing all geographical and manmade boundaries and barriers, to link the people of the world into a “Global Village.” This has resulted in a massive explosion and cohesion of modern thought and culture, which was spread to all the areas of the world, cutting across all geographical divisions, with the result that the whole world is influenced and overwhelmed by it.
Among the trends and fashions that have appeared across the globe as a result of “Globalization”, the most outstanding feature of this phenomenon was the liberation of women from all restraints. This resulted in women across the world accepting Western culture, and embracing modern thought that gave rise to “Women’s Liberation Movements,” which has spread to all the other parts of the globe. The end result of this phenomenon was that women started copying Western styles in their dresses, holding the same views, and behaving in the same manner as their counterparts in the other parts of the Western World. The entire credit for this phenomenon to develop into a mass-movement goes to the social and the political think-tanks of the United States of America. That was heavily indebted to, and influenced by European thinkers who spared no efforts in remaking of a New World Order. Their ideology was solely centered on promoting their ‘self-interests’ and political ambitions of the hegemony of the world by removing all cultural barriers that differed from their own. They made, and are making, all possible efforts to abolish the different kinds of conflicts and the clash of ideologies that sharply contrasted with their way of life in order to reshape the world into a new mold with a design that was never seen, imagined, experienced or heard in the former times of the History of the World.
Nonetheless, the Muslim women of the Islamic world always proved to be one of the biggest obstructions to their goals of globalizing the world, a plan that was masterminded by the US modernists, psychologists, policy-makers, and the other architects of strategies of the likes of Samuel Huntington etc. After a deep thought, they came to the conclusion that in order to overcome the monolithic brotherhood and the invincibility of the Islamic World, they need to first concentrate on breaking up of the strongest link in its chain. That is, of course, the Muslim family with its sound values, which bonds the Islamic society as a monolithic entity. The most easy to prey upon in this family unit would be the Muslim women who should be alienated from this unit by making them abandon their inherent Islamic values, religious rites, making them part ways with the Moral and Islamic Code of life demanded from them by the Religion of Islam.
After a long study, the US Strategists devised a comprehensive plan to liberate the Muslim women from their religion by a perverted method of brainwashing, leading them to believe that the Religion of Islam acts as a hindrance towards progress. It proves to be an obstacle in furthering their economic development, and acts as an obstruction in their careers, and in this way, making them hate the veiling of their faces as a curse. In order to translate their strategies into realities, they hatched different plots that showed their Western counterparts brazenly acting out parts scripted for them on television screens. They showed them as highly-educated, sophisticated, bold, outspoken, career-minded, materialistic, dressing them up in immodest clothes and alluring costumes, living their lives in the lap of luxury, surrounded by all the good and lasting things of the materialistic world.
If we turn through the pages of Islamic History, we come across a number of women who were highly educated scholars, businesswomen, accomplished linguists, gifted with brilliant minds. They occupied important posts, with a well-rounded education that was known to the world during their times, along with a sound religious education of Islam that made them despise all the evils of modern societies. They played an enviable role in propagating Islamic teachings, and battering their Western counterparts in all good things in life, by keeping themselves completely within the bounds set on them by the Religion of Islam. They have left a history of their lives recorded in golden words as examples that can be acted upon and followed by the generations of Muslim women to come.
However, many among the present day Muslim women who have completely divorced themselves from the excellent deeds and examples set by their illustrious predecessors of the Islamic world, have left the Muslim world shell-shocked and perplexed by becoming blindly dazzled by the glamour world. They have thrown all caution to the winds and have taken themselves in imitating blindly the Western way of life in their dress, their code of behavior and conduct, their devilish lifestyles and ideologies. They have accepted them as examples worthy to be followed in order to stay ahead with the times to achieve the comforts and the lasting benefits of the material world, after giving short-shrift to all the ‘good’ that has been taught to them by the Religion of Islam. As a result, they have fallen prey to the evil snares, and the devilish traps that were laid out for them by the enemies of Islam. This consequently has led them to break the family as a unit, with divorces becoming rampant among the Muslim community by women who have set out to chart their own careers, and in the process causing a rift that has sharply divided the Muslim Ummah into two camps. The first camp is the one which still insists on adhering to the Islamic Concept of family life and is labeled as “fundamentalist and conservative,” whereas, those who have thrown their lot with the opposite camp are called as “liberal, modern and progressive-minded Muslims!” Of late, there are a few among the fair sex of the freethinking camp who, after having discovered the error of their ways, being exploited by others, in their quest for name, fame and glory, are now reverting back to their Islamic roots. Now, they have realized the erroneous decision of leading a hollow life having fallen into the trap of following the footsteps of the “modern-thinking Muslim women.”
Those who remain back as loyalists of the so-called progressive camp do not realize that those in the West, who talk about their emancipation, and urge them to break the shackles of ‘self-restraint’ imposed on them by the teachings of Islam, have set out with a mission to destroy their modesty, chastity, and family lives. The empty slogans of liberating the Muslim women and their glib talks about sharing compassion with them are nothing more than misleading them, and putting them on the path of personal ruin and moral bankruptcy.
In the current world, pressure groups have been formed to loudly raise slogans about the torture, confinement, and seclusion of Muslim women. They encourage them through seminars, literature, and other forms of propaganda, actively aided in their task by the mischievous among the Media who by presenting one set of views to the general public, urge women to come out of their seclusion and participate actively in social, public, and political arenas of life. On the face of it, the idea presented by the modern analysts and the experts in the Mass Media may appear to many as excellent, impartial, and based on equality and justice, but in the long run, it is a dangerous signal to victimize and dehumanize womanhood.
The evils of modern trends, and the free inter-mixing of both the males and females, advocated by the champions of Women’s Liberation Movements have created grave threats and moral dangers to the very existence of womanhood. According to a report that appeared in a newspaper, 80% of the girls below the age of eighteen lose their virginity in the United States of America. One million girls who are still in their teens become pregnant every year as a result of having sex out of wedlock, and 56% of them give birth to illegitimate children and become unwed mothers at a very young age, whereas, the rest of them abort their fetuses or suffer miscarriages. All this happens under the name of ‘freedom of sex’ and takes place without entering into any responsibility for the children born out of such sexual unions or the sacred ties of matrimony. This phenomenon has resulted in a huge financial loss that costs seven billion dollars per year to the United States of America’s State Exchequer in providing medical care, and doling out welfare handouts to the unwed mothers to help them bring up their children.
According to a newspaper report, a nudist marriage ceremony was organized in Delray Beach, Florida, May 10, 1964, which went against all the norms and rules of a civilized society. The report said: “The shapely brunette wore a veil on her face, and high-heeled shoes - but nothing else - and her 23 year old groom wore only a Florida sun-tan when they were married today in what was described as the largest nudist wedding ever held. News reporters who were invited to attend watched the marriage ceremony. The best man, an octogenarian, carried the ring in his hand since he had no pockets. The only person wearing clothes was the local lawyer, who performed the ceremony on the beach in sunshine watched by some two hundred nude guests.”
The Land of the United States of America falsely projects the face of a civilized society. With its fake slogans of gender equality, justice, and liberating women, it wants the Muslim communities also to suffer from this epidemic - a way of life that has failed to project them as an enlightened society. In this way, they are inviting the Believing Muslim chaste women to immodesty, immorality, free-mixing, dancing, music, nudity, and exhibitionism etc. It wants the Muslim countries to emulate its example and keep themselves in tune with the immodest trends and other perversions before they can become accepted as a part of the group of progressive, free-thinking, open-minded, tolerant societies without realization that they are being misused by them for their target of globalizing the world, ushering in the “New World Order” to dominate the other countries of the world.
It was the Religion of Islam, Revealed to Prophet Muhammad by Allah, that for the first time in human history, it taught the humanity that a woman should be protected as a precious treasure, valued like a pearl, and should be treated as gently as a fragile glass, nurtured and provided by those family members entrusted with her well-being. Whereas they were exploited and kept as chattels in the pre-Islamic days by the males of the Arab society.
The self-styled, liberal-minded Muslims who protest, and say that the Muslim woman is a victim of injustice, cruelty, and aggression, and encourage the women to come out of their homes, are in fact, trying to alter the direction of nature, and thereby encroaching on the Divine limits set for them by the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (saws). In this way, they are acting unwittingly as partners to the “globalization trends,” which is in fact another name for “Americanization,” which aims at imposing its cultural dominance all over the Muslim world by dehumanizing Muslim women, and by making them deviate from the Right Path.
A Muslim woman should always try to obey the commands of Allah and the moral values laid down by Him and His Last Prophet Muhammad (saws). She should always do her best to emulate the example of pious Muslim women before her who were the torchbearers of true Islamic spirit in the first generation of Islam. She should never run crazily to follow the example of the present day actresses, models, and the social celebrities spawned by the Western culture. She should do her best to perform her duties towards Allah and His Religion. She should do her bit to arrest the new Globalizing or Americanizing trends by adhering to the Tenets of Islam as it had first been Revealed in the Holy Qur’an in all its pristine purity. Islam is the loftiest, the best, and the most beautiful religion, which has been perfected for human beings 1400 years ago, liberating both men and women. It is the religion that made them as harmonizing members and partners of a Muslim family - a unit and the strongest link of its society. It can really give a complete meaning and a sense of direction to life, of both Muslim men and women, to further their spiritual and material pursuits remaining within the limits set by Allah in the Holy Qur’an.
MUFTI MOHAMMAD SHUAIBULLAH KHAN
TRANSLATED BY MUFTI MOHAMMAD ANWAR KHAN
Sometimes, women have to face far extremely complicated problems and cruel conducts at the hands of their husbands and from the families into which they have married. Often, these problems appear to be unbearable for women, and appear to them as almost impossible to deal with e.g., the unjust treatment of the husband who always victimizes her with his brutality, and does not give her the allowances to meet the household expenses, which can be the cause of a serious matrimonial discord in the family. At other times, it happens that the husband is sexually impotent, and the wife is helpless to take any steps to get a cure if it is a medical problem, as it is bound to trample on the egos of all concerned if such sensitive matter is brought out into the open, leaving the door ajar for the disintegration of a family. In other cases, the husband is insane, and the wife fears some bodily harm or physical damage to her person from his hands. There are a host of other problems, which a woman may have to confront in the course of her married life, and learn to bear them, or get over the handicaps faced by her in order to sustain the marriage and stop it from breaking up.
Apparently, on one hand, there is a human sympathy to rescue women from these complications and entanglements, and to look for solutions for them, there is a serious requirement according to the Islamic Shariah that her legitimate needs should be addressed on an urgent basis in order to save the marriage from a certain collapse, on the other. But, regrettably, a grave misunderstanding exists among the Muslim masses that the Islamic Shariah does not have the answers to address all the modern issues faced by the Muslim women, which are troubling the newly married women in a family. It is generally believed that the Muslim Personal Law does not have what it takes to find solutions for these problems, and the only solution lies only in seeking a recourse in the government courts.
The basic reason for this misunderstanding is that, generally, the Fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifah is observed and practiced in our country, and in most of the cases related to women an Islamic Qazi (judge) is needed without whose interference there can be no solutions for the problems faced by the women in a matrimonial discord. Since there is no Muslim government in our country, India, and the Muslim community lacks a ruling authority, a Qazi appointed here may not be the Qazi of Islam. Consequently, his verdicts, if he has a narrow-minded understanding on the problems he is faced with, would also be unsound and unreliable. The general populace, therefore, deduces from this fact that the Islamic Shariah and the Muslim Personal Law are unable to find solutions for the problems faced by the Muslim women. It is because of the reason that in our country there is no learned Muslim Qazi nominated by the Government of India whose judgments can be upheld and made binding on the litigants by any Indian Court of Law. The reason is that there is no provision vested in the Constitution of India to grant such an authority to a judge belonging to the Muslim community.
With this growing misunderstanding, some more serious problems have cropped up. Some women have turned apostate and converted themselves to other religions on account of some illiterate people’s advice, thinking that such an act would break the tie of marriage and they would get rid of their cruel husbands. Whereas the fact is that conversion or apostasy cannot nullify the marriage. They will still remain as husband and wife. Our community is facing this tragic situation because generally people are unaware of the solutions presented to them by the Shariah to address all their problems. Hence, they fall prey to numerous misunderstandings and conjectures because of the want of a Qazi who can address their problems, and interpret the situation, in the broadest possible way - keeping within the bounds of the Islamic Shariah. As a result, it is wrongly understood that the Islamic Shariah has no solution for these problems and social matters. But, this is a dreadful misunderstanding, as we have affirmed it in the above lines. The Islamic Shariah has given reasonable solutions for all the problems faced by the women. It presents adequate solutions to address them on a sympathetic level taking their feelings and apprehensions into account that she has about getting a proper justice from the Islamic Courts of Law.
No doubt, there are a host of problems, which are impossible to deal with according to the Hanafi Fiqh, unless a Muslim Qazi mediates, and looks into the issue at hand from all possible angles. But we can never infer from this that these problems cannot be solved in the light of the Islamic Shariah, because there is a difference of opinion whether or not it is possible in India for the appointment of an Islamic Qazi to look into the problems faced by the Muslim society. In the existing set-up in India, a ‘Qazi’ can be appointed according to the Islamic scholars of Bihar. If the Muslim intellectuals have complete faith in his sound judgment and knowledge of the Islamic Shariah to address those problems, the judgments and verdicts of such a Qazi shall be effective and valid as of the judges of Islamic courts. These scholars have based their theory on the account of some passages found in the Hanafi Fiqh. For example, there is a regulation declared in the Fiqh of Ahnaf that a Qazi could be appointed by the approval of all Muslims. These people emphasize that if Muslims together appoint someone as a Qazi to arbitrate between them with their consent, then he will have the power and the authority of a judge as it is done in an Islamic State. On account of this thesis, several courts for Qazis (Darul-Qaza) have been established under which the rights of women are given full protection and defended against cruelty and misbehavior by their other relatives, by bringing appropriate solutions for all their problems and difficulties. The majority of the Muslim scholars in India in this regard hold the opinion that since India lacks an Islamic government, the Muslims do not have an authoritative power. Therefore, the Qazi appointed by the Muslim community will not have the power of an Islamic judge. Hence, his verdicts would not be binding on the contending parties. Now, there may arise a question in the minds of people of an Islamic society: what about the solutions for their problems, especially those facing women, while the fact remains that there is no Islamic Qazi appointed by the Government of India vested with full judicial powers, which can be made binding on the both the accusers and the petitioners, and they cannot be solved without him?
The answer to this question is that if the solution for problems faced by women appear to be impossible according to the Hanafi Fiqh, then we can always turn to other schools of thoughts in such difficult and complicated situations. The Hanafi Fiqh itself gives allowance for the same opinion that we could benefit from other Schools of Thought as well to find a solution to a problem. Since the different Schools of Thoughts of the eminent Muslim theologians, and Jurists of the Islamic Ummah are based on the teachings of the Shariah, the Muslims can also benefit from the rulings of another School of Thought. That also amounts to following the Shariah itself, as these rulings have been deduced by the Islamic Theologians of the other Schools of Thought from the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saws).
Keeping this point in view, the Islamic Scholars of the Hanafi School of Thought took an advantage of this opportunity that was allowed to them by the Hanafi Fiqh by following Imam Malik in solving such problems. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (ra) has declared the Shar’ee Panchayat as a substitute to an Islamic Qazi. Therefore, we may solve all our problems, which need the intervention of a Qazi and seek the judgment under the protection of a Shar’ee Panchayat. All the positive and negative aspects of a Shar’ee Panchayat, its limitations and conditions, pros and cons, have been clearly explained in Maulana Thanwi’s book titled “Al-Heelatun Najizah”.
In brief, one must turn to the Islamic courts or Shar’ee Panchayat for the solution of one’s problems. So, it is an unfounded and inappropriate objection to complain that there is no solution for all the problems faced by the women in the Muslim Personal Law Board.
From these details, it is clear that the Muslim Personal Law has a good solution for all kinds of problems concerning women.
Now, we believe it is significant to make a mention of some of the important problems relating to the Laws concerning Divorce in the Islamic Shariah.
One of the solutions for the problems and difficulties of a woman in the Islamic Shariah is that she should be given the right to divorce a man, in the same manner as he can do it, on her own. In the terminology of Fiqh it is called “Tafweez-e-Talaqe” (consignment of divorce), which is mentioned in the Hanafi Fiqh itself.
The detail for this is that if the woman fears cruelty on part of her husband, or she fears that there is a possibility that he may create trouble for her in a manner that could not be foreseen by her at that time, then she can take it in writing from the husband that if he behaved cruelly with her or is troubling her or threatening her guardian, or representative, she would be entitled to initiate a divorce that will automatically come into effect, if such matters come to pass. Later, if she is faced by any problem or trouble, she or her guardian will have the right to get the divorce on their own, so that she might save herself from his misconduct and cruelty. If the husband was forced to give the right of divorce at the exact time of Nikah or after it, the woman would be able to initiate a divorce on her own without taking in the refuge of a Qazi or an Islamic court to protect her rights.
Since a woman lacks the foresight of the unforeseeable consequences that may result in the long run and the social implications that may result because of her action on the entire Muslim community in initiating a divorce on her own, the guardian of the woman should not allow this right for women without a limit. Maulana Thanwi says that some reasonable limit or condition should be added to this clause in the marriage contract. For example, two persons will stand witness that the woman has been conducted with cruelty. If they verify it, the woman would be permitted to make divorce effective on her own, otherwise she will be denied that opportunity in the Islamic Shariah, if this clause is not included and made binding in the contract, which is done and agreed upon by both the parties. (See Al-Heelatun Najizah P: 34)
Either way, the sacred Islamic Shariah has allowed “Tafweez-e-Talaqe” (consignment of divorce) on such occasions. The Muslim Jurists have devoted a special chapter under the title of “Tafweez-e-Talaqe”, in which the rules and regulations regarding it are mentioned. We don’t need here to go deep into its detail. For more detailed information, one must look up the authentic Fiqh books and most importantly “Al-Heelatun-Najizah” by Maulana Thanwi.
A Missing Husband
A woman passes through a critical phase in her life when her husband has gone missing without a trace. His people are unable to locate his whereabouts or the reasons for his absence from his house. Here, the Muslim theologians differ on the matter of a woman who loses her husband in this manner. Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shafi‘ee, and some other Islamic jurists hold the view that a missing husband shall be supposed to be living until the time his contemporaries exist. His wife, therefore, shall remain as the wife of the missing husband. She would not be entitled to marry with some other person in his absence. When all his contemporaries no longer exist, the Islamic government will make a proclamation of his death. Later, his wife is permitted to marry anybody she likes after passing the Iddah of his death.
However, Imam Malik has chosen a more moderate way, following the example set by Umar, Ali, and Usman (ra). He remarks that the way out is that a woman whose husband has gone missing can marry some other person after waiting for him for four years and passing the Iddah of his death. But, the period of these four years will commence from the time of appealing to the court of a Qazi.
Obviously, the first opinion is very difficult for women in our current age, though it is highly supported with proofs, as you will find it in its place. While the other way is very simple and easy for women, particularly, in India there is no alternative except it. Therefore, the Hanafi scholars have chosen this way as an Islamic verdict. But it must be remembered that a Qazi is needed to break the marriage bond in this case. Where a Qazi is not found, a group of Muslims of a high moral character (Shar‘ee Panchayat) will deal with this problem and take the responsibility of nullifying the marriage, which has been described in detail in Maulana Thanwi’s “Al-Heelatun-Najizah”. The scholars should, therefore, read this book carefully before dealing with such sensitive problems.
There is an important thing about a missing husband, which must be understood: that is, when the Hanafi jurists and others had adopted “that unless the contemporaries of the missing person pass away, his wife cannot marry another person”, this rule was applicable during the period of time when such cases rarely happened. If they happened, they were for some reasonable causes like the husband was put into jail or he was stranded during a voyage on some foreign land, and for the inconvenience of postal services, which are available today, he could not give his family the location of his exact whereabouts. But, generally, the incidents of missing husbands, nowadays, take place on account of the misconduct of the husbands who desert their wives and move to somewhere else and, consciously, hide themselves and get married with another woman.
In previous times, such incidents took place because of some unforeseen calamities, so the Muslim theologians and scholars commanded such a woman to wait for her husband until his life can be expected. But the times have changed, and cases of misconduct on the part of the husbands have increased. It has been discovered that most of the supposedly missing husbands trick their wives in order to make them believe that they are lost. They do all that to get rid of their wives on this pretext. Now she will have no other recourse except seeking divorce from him in an Islamic court. The second theory that was found simpler and easier was that a woman should be permitted to marry only after waiting for four years following the opinion of the Maliki School of Thought.
Both the concepts are derived from the Islamic Shariah and are based on reliable proofs. From this, it became obvious that there is a better solution in Shariah for such women.
How to Get Free from a Careless Husband?
Some women suffer from hardships when their husbands do not take care of them and their needs by providing them with maintenance and necessary expenses for living nor do they fulfill their respective rights and duties towards their wives, which they are entitled to in the Islamic Shariah, because of which they undergo untold miseries and face several problems. Such a man is called “Muta ‘annit” in the terminology of Islamic Fiqh.
Under such circumstances, a woman, on one hand, is disturbed and upset on account of her allowances and daily expenses that are being denied to her from her husband, she faces the problem of self-protection, on the other, if she complains to others about her suffering and risks physical abuse from her husband. In this case, the Hanafi scholars are of the opinion that the woman shall not be separated from her husband. As a last resort, she may seek a “Khula”, which is bound by her husband’s will, and if he is unwilling, she must remain patient until it is granted to her.
Imam Shafi‘ee, on the other hand, is of the opinion that it is a proper thing to allow a separation from such a wayward husband and break the bond of marriage provided the husband is not capable of providing her with an allowance owing to his poverty. If he affords, the woman can go to the Qazi to seek his help in obtaining her living expenses from an Islamic court; but she is not allowed to demand separation as Allama Shami has made it clear. Since, it is an obvious fact that this is not applicable in India because of the lack of a Qazi, the Islamic scholars in our country have adopted what Imam Malik has said in this regard, that is, the woman has the right to be separated with certain conditions which have been mentioned in details in Al-Fiqh-alal-Mazahibil-Arba‘ah. Our scholars have accepted the opinion of Imam Malik with the addition of two conditions: One is that the woman cannot afford expenses on her own to maintain herself. Secondly, the woman has a strong fear of falling into sin. Though, these two conditions are not included as part of Imam Malik‘s opinion, these two clauses have been added; because we need acute compulsion in adopting other’s thoughts and theories in order that the compulsion may be proven as Thanwi has described in the footnote of his book “Al-Heelatun-Najizah”.
In brief, if these two conditions are met, the woman would be entitled to file her case to the Qazi or the Shar‘ee Panchayat in order to apply for being separated from her husband. Thus, the Qazi or the Shar‘ee Panchayat shall take necessary steps with regards to this case and the divorce will take place in their presence, and get the marriage nullified, so that the woman may go forward with her life.
How to Get Rid of an Insane Husband?
One of the most serious problems related to women is that her husband is mad for which the wife is greatly fearful and terrified. She fears that he might inflict on her numerous kinds of physical harm and mental torture, and make her life quite miserable for her, because of which she finds it not only difficult to carry on as his wife, but also finds it impossible to live with her husband any longer. If such a woman demands separation from her insane husband, would she be justified?
In this regard, Imam Abu Hanifah and his pupil Imam Abu Yusuf say that such a woman has no right to demand separation whereas the other renowned pupil of Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Muhammad Ibn Hasan allows such a woman the right of separation provided she fears harm and the pain that would be inflicted on her by her husband. Imam Shafi‘ee, Imam Malik, and Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, too, are of the same opinion. Even some Hanafi scholars have given judgment according to Imam Muhammad; but this opinion needs to be discussed in some detail. Since there is some ambiguity in this regard, Maulana Thanwi has noted that in such a case, a Qazi hearing the petition should proceed with caution. He says, “It is better that an insane husband should be given a chance for getting himself treated for his malady for one year. If he recovers within this period, then it is all right for the marriage to continue; otherwise, the Qazi or the Panchayat after deliberating over the case of the woman will separate them as husband and wife and nullify the marriage bond between them with the condition that the rules governing this issue in the Books of Fiqh are met.”
Note: These examples have been presented here only for the purpose of elaborating on the point that the Muslim Personal Law has the solutions for women’s problems. These solutions exist either in the rulings of the Hanafi School or can be borrowed from the rulings of the Maliki School of Thought. All that is presented here is meant only to shed light on this matter in a brief way. We cannot give here the complete details on this subject with its clauses and sub-clauses for this is beyond the scope of the limitations of this article.
Therefore, on such occasions, one must turn to Muslim theologians and Islamic jurists and act according to their issued verdicts. Everybody must not hold a Panchayat in order to solve the problems as they crop up in the Muslim community. It would cause division and disintegration amongst the Muslim masses. Being unaware of these problems and serious aspects and dimensions and the conditions required for them, which have been mentioned elaborately in Maulana Thanwi’s book “Al-Heelatun-Najizah”, people would not be able to solve them. Everybody should, therefore, try not to encroach, and interfere in this respect, which falls within the domain of the rulings of the Islamic Jurists who are well versed in these laws.
Professor Basheer Hussain and His Misunderstanding
Finally, we deem it necessary to make clear that Maulana Thanwi had issued this verdict (Fatwa) and similar juristic judgments following the thoughts of Imam Malik, which were supported by the majority of Muslim scholars. Based on the details, which we have given above and explained that a verdict derived from the Maliki School of Thought, also, bears the weight of being an Islamic declaration, no understanding person will ever dare to deduce that Maulana Thanwi, wrongly, interfered in the Shariah. Only an uneducated person who is not well versed in the Islamic books on this subject would consider that he and other Muslims have accepted and justified the “legislative” to interfere in the Shariah.
Oddly, Professor Basheer Hussain has deduced both the results in his article, “Uniform Civil Code” published in the Daily Salar, Bangalore, dated: 13, August, 1996 and later he committed the same mistake in his other article published in the same newspaper.
I have given a satisfactory answer to his misunderstandings and his erroneous remarks in an article titled “A Critical Analysis of the Objections on the Muslim Personal Law” in the same newspaper Salar, dated: 25-26-27, August, 1996.
In brief, Maulana Thanwi had adopted the thought of Imam Malik and left the Hanafi thought in certain cases in the light of Islamic teachings supported by the Qur’an and Hadith. It is an incorrect idea to declare such an act as interference into the Islamic Shariah, and to justify it is a clearly misleading notion based on ignorance and misunderstanding of the subject.
MUFTI MOHAMMAD ANWAR KHAN
The ban on Hijab has stirred a great deal of discussion that has gone far deeper than simply the issue of wearing the Hijab. The intellectuals and the analysts of the world are discussing the issues involved in depth, leaving their audience with a variety of opinions and questions to contemplate. Perhaps no other issue has stirred as much controversy as the recent decisions to impose the ban on the veil in many European public places and schools.
In the heat of the passions that have raged across the Muslim and the Western World, this issue has again ignited, and reinforced the view about the conflict between Islam and the West and the question of Western racism against Arabs and Muslims. The furor over Hijab opened the gateway to a host of other issues. The first incident over Hijab that was debated hotly took place in France in 1989. The modernists attempted to link it to the global winds of change that were taking place during the period 1989 - 1992. Before then, Muslims had been present in France for years, and the people of France had accepted the Hijab donned by the Muslim women as a part of their religion and culture, and there was not a single problem among the tolerant people of France about the right of Muslim women wearing the Hijab in public places, schools, and colleges.
It is extremely distressing for the Muslim world to observe that some people in the West simply like to attribute the problems faced by the Muslims of Europe to Islam. Then they link it to the problems of Muslim women in an Islamic society, and finally they deduce from their observations that it is all because of the issue of Hijab, which stops the Muslims and their women from getting integrated with the Western society. The larger questions relating to the problems of Muslims in Europe, like racism, unemployment, discrimination, and being treated as second class citizens even those Muslims who are born and brought up over there and acquired the citizenship of the Western countries, are simply brushed aside. If the Western politicians address these problems taking the bull by its horns, then they will emerge out among the guilty people who are responsible for the present plight of Muslims in the Western world - a responsibility they do not want to shoulder - for that will not be in their political interests to do so.
We would like to dwell on the subject and its diverse dimensions and answer to the most frequently asked questions and misunderstandings regarding Hijab. Let us first shed some light on what is considered in the West as the greatest symbol of women’s oppression and servitude in the Islamic world - the Hijab - the veil or the head cover worn by a Muslim woman to fulfill her obligatory duty enjoined upon her by the Islamic Shariah. A believing Muslim woman does not follow the rite of veiling herself as an act of compulsion imposed upon her by the males in an Islamic society, but to fulfill her sacred duty that has been enjoined upon her by the teachings of the Religion of Islam.
Lexically, Hijab is derived from the Arabic word “hajaba”, which means “to conceal something” or “to prevent from being seen or noticed by others”. The Islamic code of dress requires that a Muslim woman wears clothing that is loose and opaque. Whenever a Muslim woman leaves the house, or whenever the males in her house receive male visitors not belonging to the immediate family members, she is required to don on the Hijab, until the guests leave the house.
Now, let us examine whether the Hijab is mandatory on women of other religions. Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) comments in his book “The Jewish woman in Rabbinic literature”: It was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering which, sometimes, even covered the whole face leaving one eye free. He quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying, “It is not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered” and “Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen…. a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty.” It is clear from the words of the learned Professor that the Rabbinic Law clearly forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a bareheaded, married woman since uncovering the woman’s hair was considered equivalent to “nudity”.
Dr. Brayer also mentions in his book: “During the Tannaitic period the Jewish woman’s failure to cover her head was considered an affront to her modesty. When her head was uncovered she might be fined four hundred zuzim for this offense.” Dr. Brayer also explains that veil of the Jewish woman was not always considered a sign of modesty. Sometimes, the veil symbolized a state of distinction and luxury rather than modesty. The veil personified the dignity and superiority of noble women. It also represented a woman’s inaccessibility to others and signified that she was a sacred possession of her husband.
It is clear in the Old Testament that uncovering a woman’s head was a great disgrace and that’s why the priest had to uncover the suspected adulteress in her trial by ordeal (Numbers 5:16-18). The next question that immediately comes to our mind is: What does the Christian tradition say about Hijab? It is well known that the Catholic Nuns have been covering their heads for hundreds of years, but that is not all the tradition that is found in the New Testament. St. Paul in the New Testament has made some very interesting statements about the veil: “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man, neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.” (I Corinthians 11:3-10).
St. Tertullian in his famous treatise ‘On The Veiling Of Virgins’ wrote, “Young women, you wear your veils out on the streets, so you should wear them in the church, you wear them when you are among strangers, then wear them among your brothers…” Among the Canonical laws of the Catholic Church today, there is a law that requires women to cover their heads in church. Some Christian denominations, such as the Amish and the Mennonites for example, keep their women veiled to this present day. And, the reasons for the veil, as offered by their Church leaders of those particular denominations are: “The head covering is a symbol of woman’s subjugation to the man and to God.”
From all the above evidence, it is obvious that Islam did not invent the head covering for a woman or ordered the veiling of her face, but Islam reinforced the teachings of all the Prophets of Allah who came before Prophet Muhammad (saws). The Holy Qur’an urges the believing men and women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty, and then urges the believing women to extend their head covers to cover the neck and the bosom: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty… And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms….” (24:30,31). The Holy Qur’an is quite clear that the veil is essential for a woman to maintain her modesty, but why is modesty so important in the Religion of Islam? The Holy Qur’an further elaborates this fact in some of the other verses found in the Book of Allah: “O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should cast their outer garments over their bodies (when abroad) so that they should be known and not molested” (33:59). And, this is the sole reason why modesty is prescribed to protect women from molestation, in other words, modesty is protection. Thus, the only purpose of the veil in Islam is protection. The Islamic veil, unlike the veil of the Christian tradition, is not a sign of man’s authority over woman nor is it a sign of woman’s subjugation to man. The Islamic veil, unlike the veil in the Jewish tradition, is not a sign of luxury and distinction of some noble married women. The Islamic veil is only a sign of modesty with the sole purpose of protecting women, all the women who live within the boundaries set by the Religion of Islam. The Islamic philosophy is that it is always better to be safe, rather than being sorry at a later date.
In fact, the Holy Qur’an is so concerned with protecting women’s bodies and women’s reputation that a man who dares to falsely accuse a woman as being unchaste without producing adequate proof to this effect will be severely punished. It is stated in the Holy Qur’an: “And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations)- Flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors.” (24:4). If we compare this strict Qur’anic Law and attitude with the extremely lax punishment for rape in the Bible then we learn that: “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” (Deuteronomy, 22:28-30)
If ‘civilization ‘ offers enough protection to women of the Western world, then we should learn the answers about why is it considered unsafe for women in North America, who dare not walk alone in a dark street - or even across an empty parking lot? If education is the solution, then why is it that respected universities like University of Essex have a ‘walk home service’ for female students on its campus? If self-restraint is the answer, then why do the newspapers and the television channels of the world report cases of sexual harassment in the workplace on the news media on a daily basis?
According to reports: In Canada, a woman is sexually assaulted every 6 minutes”, 1 in 3 women in Canada will be sexually assaulted at some time in their lives”, 1 in 4 women are at the risk of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime”, 1 in 8 women will be sexually assaulted while attending college or university. A study has found 60% of Canadian university-aged males said they would commit sexual assault if they were certain they would not get caught.”
These alarming statistics show that something is fundamentally wrong in the Western Christian society. A radical change in the society’s lifestyle and culture is absolutely necessary. A culture of modesty is badly needed, modesty in dress, in speech, and in manners of both men and women. Otherwise, the grim statistics will grow even worse day after day, and the unfortunate women of the Western world will be paying the heavy price for forsaking modesty. Therefore, countries like Britain, and France, which expel young women from schools because of wearing a modest dress are simply harming themselves.
It is one of the great ironies of our world today that the very same headscarf revered as a sign of ‘holiness’ when worn for the purpose of showing the authority of man by Catholic Nuns, is reviled as a sign of ‘oppression’ when worn for the purpose of protection by Muslim women. The orthodox Muslim woman does not perceive the veil as inhibiting or oppressive. On the contrary, the veil guarantees her the full respect of the surroundings, and is considered by her as a privilege and not as a burden, which runs contrary to the popular belief held by the members of the non-Muslim society. The dignity of the wife or the daughters, or the dignity of any Muslim woman, for that matter, must be respected and protected. The Western world entertains the erroneous notion that the veil represents a compulsion from the husband and the religion. But women wearing veils, on the other hand, normally radiate devotion, and take pride in following their religion. They have chosen the veil as a clear demonstration of their Muslim identity. Of course, there may be families where the woman is forced, for instance to stay at home. But that does not imply that the Religion of Islam endorses this act.
Alain Badiou, one of France ‘s leading philosophers, and head of the Philosophy Department of the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris, once wrote when he saw some feminist ladies demand the President to impose a ban on Hijab: “Strange is the rage reserved by so many feminist ladies for the few girls wearing the Hijab. They have begged the poor president Chirac to crack down on them (Veiled ladies) in the name of the Law. Meanwhile the prostitution of female body is everywhere. The most humiliating pornography - depicting women in the receiving end - is universally sold. Advice on sexually exposing bodies lavishes teen magazines day in and day out. It is said virtually everywhere that the “veil” is an intolerable symbol of control over female sexuality. Do you really believe female sexuality is not to be controlled in our society these days? This naiveté would have made Foucault laugh. Never has so much care been given to female sexuality, so much attention to detail, so much informed advice, so much distinguishing between its good and bad uses. Enjoyment has become a sinister obligation. The universal exposure of supposedly exciting parts is a duty more rigid than Kant’s moral imperative!”
The relation between the Western and Eastern world is very complicated and may include several subjects that can be written down in many volumes. The idea of colonial wars and Western campaigns on the Arab and Islamic world left deep wounds in the latter. The great European countries profited a lot from these campaigns, especially France and Britain. When the Colonial Era ended, the Arabs and Muslims felt annoyed because of Western bias, which tilted towards the Israeli occupation of their lands. Three events that occurred in the past few years deeply affected the relations between the Arab and Islamic world and the West. First, it was the Al Aqsa Intifada, which erupted in the year of September 2000 against Israeli Occupation of the Holy Mosque of Aqsa that is sacred to all the Muslims of the world. The second reason was the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. And, the third was the war on Afghanistan and Iraq. During this period, both sides exchanged hostile feelings encouraged by the radicals of both the societies. At the same time, the Muslims are deeply appreciative of the fact that certain sections of society of the non-Muslim community, where the Age of Reason still exists, have seen the merits of the Religion of Islam. They have fearlessly sided with the Muslims after understanding their viewpoints, their religion and culture. They have debunked the myths of those people who have tried to transform this era into a Clash of Civilizations between Islam and the Western Christian world. They have frustrated the efforts of the Right Wing Christian Missionaries and the Politicians who have pledged allegiance to them for destroying the social fabric of Islam of which the Muslim family is a unit, by targeting the most vulnerable person in the family - the Muslim woman. On the other hand, the Muslim women who are well aware of the Western game plan have chosen not to walk into this trap and have bravely fought back for the right to wear Hijab and follow Islam as the religion of their choice!
MUFTI MOHAMMAD ANWAR KHAN
A woman, in the pre-Islamic times, had no status of her own. She was considered as a commodity, which could be purchased or sold, deprived of all her rights, her existence being without any consequence in the society. But, when the brilliant wisdom of the Religion of Islam dawned on mankind, illuminating the world, and the entire humanity was inspired by its teachings, the dark clouds of the Days of Ignorance gradually started vanishing from the face of the world. As a result, the Muslim woman emerged in the Islamic society to take her role as a responsible member. She was restored to all her dignity, and enjoyed the rights granted to her in the Holy Qur’an. The Muslim woman, on her part, played a commendable role in the past, by turning out a pious, and a morally sound generation of human beings who were true Muslims. They, in turn, contributed further to the enrichment, growth, and advancement of the Islamic Civilization.
In fact, when a Muslim woman observes the Religion of Islam both in its letter and spirit, she earns for herself the most valuable ornaments of chastity, modesty and self-respect, as a gift from Allah. In her role as a sister, she becomes a person who is the pride of her brother; in her role as a daughter she shields her father against the fires of Hell (if he brings her up with proper Islamic values, provides for her like all the members in his family, and gets her married in a decent way to a Believing Muslim with a good religious background). And, in her role as a wife she becomes a lively companion to her husband, acting as a willing partner in a supporting role, encouraging him to accomplish all his righteous endeavors that he has set out to do. She helps him lead a complete life as his pious and good-mannered wife. In her role as a mother, she bears the most responsible burden in a married life by rearing her children, bringing them up with intense love, immense affection, and constant care along with the right Islamic guidelines. She instills in their hearts and minds, as they grow into their adult lives, the spirit and ethics required for them by the teachings of the Islamic Shariah.
Finally, after she successfully passes through these stages, she is elevated to the highest rank in the Islamic society, and becomes the pioneer in running her household on Islamic teachings, and in turn acts as an important link in shaping up the perfect Islamic society after the teachings of Islam. If she does not fulfill the duties that are required from her by Islam, in her role as a sister, daughter, and a wife, then she risks pushing herself along with her entire family into the abyss of ruin in this world and in the Hereafter.
If a woman gets out of her house unveiled, showing her adornments immodestly, she brings about her own disgrace and self-abasement. If she spends her time in public places and entertainment parks, and lives a life that is solely dedicated in the pursuit of pleasure and entertainment, then she will not have the time to look after the needs of her family who will be totally dependent on her for guidance from time to time, and for their welfare. This will, in turn, render her a complete failure in cultivating their lives as decent human beings and proper citizens of an Islamic society.
We cannot simply understand how a woman who claims to be a Muslim and professes the Religion of Islam, offers all her Obligatory Prayers, and keeps all the fasts in the Month of Ramadan, walks in public places unveiled, completely careless of the Islamic traits that are required from her by the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (saws) on the subjects of guarding her modesty and chastity. She should deeply contemplate over the verse of the Holy Qur’an which reads, “And, say to the Believing women that they must lower their gazes and guard their private parts, and must not expose their adornments, except that which appears thereof, and must wrap their bosoms with their shawls (proper covering).” (24:31)
Today, the Muslim women of our society have developed a strong liking for the Western way of life - following the Western women and taking them as their role models. They are seen to adopt for themselves Western dresses without thinking about the unfortunate consequences that may follow as a result. They have started imbibing other improper traits in their character, like freely intermingling with men, earning a livelihood by pursuing careers in order to further material comforts, and participating actively in public affairs. They are throwing all caution to the winds in forsaking other Islamic traits that are required from them by the teachings of Islam. They think illogically, persisting in their erroneous beliefs, that they have touched the highest pitch of their social development and progress in their career by embracing the Western way of conduct in life. Their success and attainments in the vocations of their choice have deluded them into thinking falsely that they have attained the pinnacle of their success and glory by accepting the Western way of life. They have laid themselves, in the process, open to abuse and exploitation by others - unmindful of the other unfortunate consequences that may result to them, and to their family because of their actions.
A woman who totally believes in the teachings of Islam holds the future of the Islamic nation in her hands by molding the character and the destiny of her children on proper Islamic guidelines. The exalted place, which she occupies in her family, is definitely far higher and more dignified for her, if she holds fast to the teachings of Islam in their entirety, than what the Western way of life has to offer her in return. Therefore, we earnestly appeal to our Muslim sisters through these lines to hold fast to the teachings of Islam and protect themselves and their family from ruin, and be careful about the beguiling ways of the Western society- which has already torn apart the basic social fabric of its families, causing a severe division in the human civilization, and driving the whole edifice, on which their society stands, to come crumbling down.
In their failings as a society as a whole, your Western counterparts can never become a role model for you to become successful in your lives, in spite of the material allurements and other social trappings that their life has to offer them. This culture has led to their degradation as a society, and can never act as an example for Muslim women to attain the highest goals of spiritual and material successes in life.
It is our earnest prayer that Allah (swt) grants wisdom to our Muslim sisters to see the negative aspects of the Western society whose moral and social structure has failed them completely. It is our desire that our sisters-in-Islam know about this fact before it is too late for them.
(Mufti Anwar Anwar Khan can be accessed at: firstname.lastname@example.org)