ISLAM AND SOCIETY
LEADERSHIP, THE STATE AND LAW
“ who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation..”(Qur’an;42:38).
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Humanity, Religion, Culture, Ethics, Science, Spirituality & Peace
Islam is a not a riligion based in worship and rituals only, it is a Din (complete way of life), encompassing religious, social, economic, legal, political and all other aspects of life. The virtuous believers shoul establish the state based on the law of the God: “We wrote this in The Psalms (Psalms;37:29) after the reminder (Torah):that as for the land, My righteous servants shall inherit it.”(Qur’an;21:105). Islam makes no sharp division between spiritual and secular affairs, it expects governments to be imbued with righteousness. The system of government in an Islamic society is to be based on consultation (shura), the democratic way spelled out by Qur’an fourteen centuries ago: “who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation;” (Qur’an;42:38). Even Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked to consult people in worldly matters: “and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs; and when you make a decision to do something, then put your trust in Allah”(Qur’an;3:159). Obedience to authority is emphasized in Islam: “O believers! Obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you. Should you have a dispute in anything, refer it to Allah and His Messenger”(Qur’an;4:59). The obedience of ruler is in right (ma’roof) not in evil (munkir): “..and that they will not disobey you (Muhammad) in what is right (ma’roof), then accept their allegiance and pray to Allah for the forgiveness. Surely Allah is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.”(Qur’an;60:12). Respect to authority is also found in Bible: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”(Romans; 13:1-4). “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”(1Timothy; 2:2).
The people charged with authority (Ulu-l-amr), running the government are to be respected and obeyed by the Muslims otherwise there can be no order or discipline resulting in to anarchy, however not on the matters which are in conflict with the faith and fundamentals of Islam. Narrated by Abu Dharr; “My friend (i.e. the Prophet) advised me to listen (to the man in position of authority) and obey (him) even if he were a slave maimed (and disabled).”(Sahih Muslim Hadith number 849). The social and economic dealings, as well as educational and political systems are also part of the of Islamic way of life. The model Islamic state was established at Medina by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his life time. The urgent need for a successor to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as political leader of the Muslim community (632 C.E) was met by a group of Muslim elders in Medina who designated Abu Bakr, the Prophet's close associate and trusted companion, as caliph. The first four Caliphs Abu Bakr, 'Umar I, 'Uthman, and 'Ali whose reigns constituted what later generations of Muslims would often remember as a golden age of pure Islam, largely established the administrative and judicial organization of the Muslim community and continued the policy of expanding the Islamic reign into new territories. Thus Caliphate is the political-religious state comprising the Muslim community, the lands and people under its dominion in the centuries following the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
CALIPHAT VERSES AUTOCRATICY :
Sovereignty: The sovereignty belongs to Allah. The temporary limited authority to rule the fellow beings, which Allah grant to some human over others as part of His Wisdom, Knowledge and Plan, will cease to exist on that Day: “..Allah grants kingship to whom He pleases and Allah has boundless knowledge."(Qur’an;2:247); “He is the One Who has made you the inheritors of the earth and raised some of you in ranks over others so that He may test you in what He has given you. Surely your Lord is swift in retribution; yet He is also very Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;6:165). In this world people depend on one another, though the ultimate dependence is always on Allah. But here a father helps a son to excelll; husband and wife influence each other's destinies; human laws and institutions may hold large masses of mankind under their grip; falsehood and evil may seem to flourish for a time, because a certain amount of limited free-will has been granted to man: “If your Lord had so willed, He would have certainly made mankind one single nation but that is not what He wants, so they will continue to differ. except those on whom He has bestowed His mercy; and that very freedom of choice and action is the whole purpose of their creation. That is how the Word of your Lord, that He will fill Hell with jinns and human beings all together, will be fulfilled.”(11:118-119). Man has been provided with natural inspired guidance and endowed with intellect, so that he can use his reason and freedom of choice: “by the soul and Him Who perfected it and inspired it with knowledge of what is wrong for it and what is right for it: indeed successful will be the one who keeps it pure, and indeed failure will be the one who corrupts it!”(Qur’an;91:7-10)"Who hath ordained laws and granted guidance;” (Qur’an;87:3); “It was not We that wronged them: they wronged their own souls:”(Qur’an;11:101) ;“O Muhammad, declare: "O mankind! The truth has come to you from your Lord! He that follows guidance (Right Way) follows it for his own good, and he that goes astray does so at his own risk; for I am not a custodian over you.”(Qur’an;10:108); “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Qur’an;2:256), "Truth has come and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.”(Qur’an;17:81). The system of rule should be established with justice with in ambit of Qur’an and Sunnah.
Kingdom of Heaven: In hereafter there will be no big or small king, but He alone : “The day when they come forth, nothing of them being hidden from Allah. Whose is the sovereignty this day? It is Allah's, the One, the Almighty.”(Qur’an;40:16), (Man) will have no power and no helper.”(Qur’an;86:10). “Master of the Day of Judgment.”( Qur’an;1:4), “It will be the Day when no one shall have the power to do anything for another: for, on that Day, Allah shall keep the entire command to Himself.”(Qur’an;82:19). There will be believers and unbelievers, pious and sinners but no one will even be able to speak without His permission. The negative proposition: “no one shall have the power to do anything for another” is full of meaning. Personal responsibility will be fully enforced on the Day of Judgement. The good and the pure will have been separated from the evil and the rebellious; the latter will have been rendered inert, and the former will have been so perfected that their wills will be in complete consonance with Allah's Universal Will. The Command, thence forward, will be wholly with Allah. The pious believers will be told: “This is Paradise; you have inherited it by virtue of your past deeds.”(Qur’an;43:72).
Caliph : The ideal Islamic state is to be administered by a Caliph (Arabic khalifah, "successor"), who is elected through mutual consultaion (bai’t), which may be called democracy in modern terms. The Caliph hold temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority, the empire of the Caliphate grew rapidly through conquest during its first two centuries to include most of Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Spain. The modern philosopher and political theorist, Rousseau (1712-78 C.E) admits, the practicability of the Islamic polity and records in ‘Social Contract’, that; “Muhammad held very sane views, and linked his political system well together; and as long as the form of his government continued under the Caliphs, who succeeded him, the government was indeed on and so far good”. After first four caliphs, the caliphate became hereditary against the original democratic spirit of this institution, however some good aspects were retained. The dynastic struggles later brought about the Caliphate's decline, and it ceased to exist with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258 C.E. Later various Muslim rulers emerged all over the known world but they were hereditary, never even close to the first four caliphs. The last and biggest of its time, the Ottomans rule ended in 1922. Presently most of the governments in the predominantly Muslim countries are run by either hereditary kings, dictators, or some forms of democracies. One thing common to all types of Muslim governments in the history has been their inclination towards Islam. Even now the people are keen to revive the golden era of the first four caliphs, known as ‘The Rightly Guided Caliphs’.
The Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-661 C.E) :
The pious Companions of Prophet (peace be upon him), being the vanguard of Islam, have been granted salvation by Allah in Qur’an: “The vanguard (of Islam) the first of those who forsook (their homes-(Muhajirin)) and of those who gave them aid (Ansar) and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds well pleased is Allah with them as are they with Him:”(Qur’an;9:100). The vanguard of Islam-those in the first rank-are those who dare and suffer for the Cause and never flinch. The first historical examples are the Muhajirs and the Ansar. The Muhajirs-those who forsook their homes in Makka and migrated to Medina. Then come the Ansar, the Helpers, the citizens of Medina who invited them, welcomed, helped them and who formed the pivot of the new Community. Then are mentioned all who follow them in good deeds: not only the early heroes and ordinary men and women who had been Companions of the Prophet or had seen him, but men and women in all ages who live noble lives. In spite of all their sacrifice and suffering they rejoice in the precious gift of the good pleasure of Allah, and their salvation is the supreme felicity which such Good Pleasure gives.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had rightly guided successors among his blessed companions, who followed his footsteps (Sunnah) to the best of their abilities in spreading knowledge, preaching Islam, and managing the affairs of Islamic State. The best among them and the most entitled to the caliphate was Abu Bakr as Siddiq(632-634 C.E), then 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab (Caliph from 634-644 C.E), then 'Uthman Ibn Affan(644-656 C.E)and then 'All Ibn Abi Talib (656-661 C.E), may Allah be pleased with them all. Thus their succession to the caliphate was according to their virtues. Allah, the Exalted, who possesses infinite wisdom, would not appoint a ruler over the best of generations unless he was the most superior among them and had the best claim to caliphate. The inferior among those rightly guided companions can be superior in a specific virtue to those who were better than him but that he does not deserve absolute superiority, for the elements constituting superiority are varied and numerous. The best among the Muslim Ummah are the Prophet's Companions, then their followers, and then those who followed them. A group of this Ummah will always remain victorious on the right path, unharmed by those who let them down or those who oppose them, until the Day of Judgment. The disputes that took place among the Prophet's Companions were the result of sincere interpretations that they worked hard to reach. Whoever was right among them will be rewarded twice, and whoever was wrong among them will be rewarded once and his mistake will be forgiven. It may not be appropriate for any believer to criticize them rather they deserve of beautiful praise. Muslims should purify their hearts from hatred and malice against any of them, because Allah said about them: “As for those who believe and do good deeds - We never burden a soul with more than it can bear - they are worthy of Paradise, wherein they will live forever. We shall remove whatever ill-feeling they may have in their hearts against one another…”(Qur’an;7:42-43),"They are not equal: those among you who spent and who fought before the conquest of Makka. Those are higher in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards. But to all Allah has promised a great reward" (Qur’an;57:10). And Allah said about other Muslims: "And those who came after them say: 'Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith, and do not put in our hearts any malice against those who have believed. Our Lord, You are the most Kind, Most Merciful"' (Qur’an;59:10).
Umar ibn Al-Khattab ( 586–644 C.E) :
The contributions of all the Rightly Guided Caliphs are enormous, however the comments by Michael Hart, who included Umar ibn Al-Khattab (586–644 C.E) among 100 most influential men of history are noticeable. Michael Hart writes: It may occasion some surprise that ‘Umar’ a figure virtually unknown in the West has been ranked higher than such famous men as Charlemagne (Charles the Great,742-814C.E, King of the Franks and Holy Roman emperor) and Julius Caesar (100-44 BC, Roman general and statesman). However, the conquests made by the Arabs under Umar, taking into account both their size and their duration, are substantially more important than those of either Caesar or Charlemagne. Umar ibn al-Khatab was the second, and probably the greatest, of the Moslem caliphs. Umar became one of the closest advisors of the prophet Muhammad, and remained so throughout Muhammad’s life. In 632 C.E, Muhammad died without having named a successor. Umar promptly supported the candidacy of Abu Bakr, a close associate and father-in-law of the Prophet. This avoided a power struggle and enabled Abu Bakr to be generally recognized as the first caliph (ie, as the successor” of Muhammad). Abu Bakr was a successful leader, but he died after serving as caliph for only two years. He had, however, specifically named Umar (who was also father in law of the Prophet) to succeed him, so once again a power struggle was avoided. Umar became caliph in 634 C.E, and retained power until 644 C.E, when he was assassinated in Medina by a Persian slave. On his deathbed, Umar named a committee of six person to choose his successor, thereby again averting an armed struggle for power. The committee chose Othman, the third caliph, who ruled from 644 C.E to 656 C.E.
It was during the ten years of Umar’s caliphate that the most important conquests of the Arabs occurred. Not long after Umar’s accession , Arab armies invaded Syria and Palestine, which at that time were part of the Byzantine Empire. At the Battle of the Yarmuk (636 C.E), the Arabs won a crushing victory over the Byzantine forces. Damascus fell the same year, and Jerusalem surrendered two years later. By 641 C.E, the Arabs had conquered all of Palestine and Syria, and were advancing into present-day Turkey. In 639 C.E, Arab armies invaded Egypt, which had also been under Byzantine rule. Within three years, the Arab conquest of Egypt was complete. Arab attacks upon Iraq, at that time part of the Sassanid Empire of the Persians, had commenced even before `Umar took office. The key Arab victory, at the battle of Qadisiya (637 C.E) occurred during Umar’s reign. By 641C.E, all of Iraq was under Arab control. Nor was that all: Arab armies invaded Persia itself, and at the battle of Nehavend (642 C.E) they decisively defeated the forces of the last Sassanid emperor. By the time `Umar died, in 644 C.E, most of western Iran had been overrun. Nor had the Arab armies run out of momentum when Umar died. In the East, they continued their push across North Africa.
Just as important as the extent of Umar’s conquests is their permanence. Iran, though its population became converted to Islam, eventually regained its independence from Arab rule. But Syria, Iraq, and Egypt never did. Those countries became thoroughly Arabized and remain so to this day.
Umar, of course, had to devise policies for the rule of the great empire that his armies had conquered. He decided that the Arabs were to be privileged military caste in the regions they had conquered, and that they should live in garrison cities, apart from the natives. Umar’s achievements are impressive indeed. After Muhammad himself, he was the principal figure in the spread of Islam. Without his rapid conquests, it is doubtful that Islam would be of the territory conquered during his reign has remained Arab over since. Obviously, of course, Muhammad, who was the prime mover, should receive the bulk of the credit for those developments. But it would be a grave mistake to ignore Umar’s contribution. The conquests he made were not an automatic consequence of the inspiration provided by Muhammad. Some expansion was probably bound to occur, but not to the enormous extent that it did under Umar’s brilliant leadership.
THE HOUSEHOLD OF THE PROPHET (PEACE BE UPON HIM) :
In Arabic language word ‘Ahlul-Bait’ (literary meaning: people of the house) is a polite form of addressing the wife and members of the family specially the wives. This word ‘Ahlul-Bait’ (people of household) has been used at three places in Qur’an; firstly for Sarah, the wife of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), secondly, for the mother of Moses and thirdly for the wives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Qur’an: “They (angels) said (to Sarah): "Dost thou wonder at Allah's decree? The grace of Allah and His blessings on you O ye People of The House! (Ahlal-Bait) for He is indeed worthy of all praise full of all glory!"(Qur’an;11:73); “And we ordained that He (infant Moses) refused suck at first, until (his sister came up and) said: "Shall I point out to you the people of a House that will nourish and bring Him up for you and be sincerely attached to him?”(Qur’an;28:12); “And stay quietly In your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former times of Ignorance; and establish regular prayer, and give regular charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. and Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the (Prophet’s) household, and to make you pure and spotless.”(Qur’an;33:33). It is obvious from the contents and the context, that this verse refers to the wives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The word of God can not be changed: “O Prophet! Recite what has been revealed to you from the Book of your Lord: no one is authorized to change His Words and if you dare to make any change, you will find no refuge to protect you from Him.”(Qur’an;18:27). However in case of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the term ‘Ahlal-Bait’, in addition to his wives, also includes his daughter Fatima, his cousin and son-in-law Ali and his grandsons (children of Fatima and Ali), Hasan and Husain in accordance with the narrative of Umme Salama. It is also supported by Aisha who narrated: “Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel's hair that there came Hasan ibn Ali. He wrapped him under it, then came Husain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Hasan). Then came Fatimah and he took her under it, then came Ali and he also took him under it and then said: Allah only desires to take away any un-cleanliness(rijsa) from you, O people of the household(ahlal baiti), and purify you (thorough purifying) (wa yu-tahirakum tathira)”. (Sahih Muslim Hadith, Hadith 1118).
The Household of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is highly revered by Muslims. There is special significance about the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him).The position of the Consorts of Purity (azwaj mutahharat), the wives of the holy Prophet is very special. Their position was not like that of ordinary women or ordinary wives. They had special duties and responsibilities. They were not like ordinary women, nor was their marriage an ordinary marriage, in which only personal or social considerations enter. They as mothers of believer (Umuhatul Momineen) had a special position and special responsibilities, in the matter of guiding and instructing women who came into the fold of Islam. Islam is a Way of Life, and the Muslims are a family: women have as much place in Islam as men, and their intimate instruction must obviously be through women. While they were to be kind and gentle to all, they were to be guarded on account of their special position lest people might misunderstand or take advantage of their kindness.
The only youthful marriage of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was his first marriage at the age of 25 years with Khadija, the best of women and the best of wives. Their married life lasted for twenty-five years, and their mutual devotion was of the noblest, judged by spiritual as well as social standards. During her life he had no other wife, which was unusual for a man of his standing among his people. When she died, his age was 50, and but for other considerations, he would probably never have married again, as he was most abstemious in his physical life. The considerations which governed his later marriages were many, some were legislative, some were political and others were humanitarian. Due to compassion and clemency, when he wanted to provide for suffering widows, who could not be provided for in any other way in that stage of society; some of them, like Sauda, had issue by their former marriage, requiring protection. To help in his duties of leadership, with women, who had to be instructed and kept together in the large Muslim family, where women and men had similar social rights. Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, was intelligent and young, she learned Islam directly from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and ultimately became an important authority on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Hadith, which she taught for long time. Zainab, the daughter of Khuzaima, was specially devoted to the poor; she was called the "Mother of the Poor". The other Zainab, daughter of Jahsh, also worked for the poor, for whom she provided from the proceeds of her manual work, as she was skillful in leather work. But all the Consorts in their high position had to work and assist as Mothers of the Ummah. Theirs were not idle lives, like those of Odalisques, either for their own pleasure or the pleasure of their husband. The Household of Prophet (peace be upon him) is highly loved by the Muslims. The tragic martyrdom of Hussein Ibn Ali, along with his companions in 680 C.E at Karbla (Iraq) is the most awful episode of Muslim history, which is deeply regretted by the all Muslims.
SHARI’A-THE ISLAMIC LAW & LEGAL SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT :
The peaceful coexistence is the basic requirement of any community for its survival, development and expansion. Law, may be defined as the discipline concerned with the customs, practices, and rules of conduct of a community that are recognized as binding by the community. The enforcement of the body of rules is through a controlling authority. Total and unqualified submission to the will of Allah is the fundamental tenet of Islam: Islamic law is therefore the expression of Allah's command for Muslim society and, in application, constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his religious belief. Known as the Shari'ah (the path leading to the watering place), the Islamic law constitutes a divinely ordained path of conduct, that guides the Muslim toward a practical expression of his religious conviction (rituals) and all aspects of life (social, economic, political etc) in this world and the goal of divine favour in the world to come.
Roman Law : The Western Civilization has been following Roman Law and its derivatives. Romans considered ritual law (fas) to be God-given and social law (lex) as man-made. Hence it dealt with matters of succession (who was to inherit what), obligations (including contracts, such as loans, entered into by individuals), property and possessions, and persons (which included family, slaves, and citizenship). The Roman law, as a legal system and as basis for the law codes has affected the development of law in most of Western civilization as well as in parts of the East. It was the law of ancient Rome from the time of the founding of the city of Rome in 753 BC until the fall of the Western Empire. However it remained in use in the Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire until 1453 C.E.
The Biblilc Law: The Old Testament include the Law given by God through Moses, commonly referred as Mosaic law, which was also confirmed by Jesus by saying: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Mathew;5:17-20 also the Beatitudes, Matthew; 5:3-12 and the Lord's Prayer Matthew; 6:9-13). However Paul changed by saying; “But now we are Discharged from the Law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.”(Romans;7:6). The New Testament lays down the general principles of good government, but contains no code of laws for the punishment of offenders: “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”(Romans;13:9).Punishment proceeds on the principle that there is an eternal distinction between right and wrong, and that this distinction must be maintained for its own sake. It is not primarily intended for the reformation of criminals, nor for the purpose of deterring others from sin. These results may be gained, but crime in itself demands punishment.
The Jewish law (Talmudic Law and Jurisprudence) is considered to be of ‘divine’ origin. Thus, for example, unfairness in labour relations was considered a religious sin and caring for the sick a religious obligation. Though familiar with the concept of natural law (ethical principles inherent in the nature of things and apprehensible through human reason), the rabbis objected to making nature the basis of law. Even rabbinic ordinances were regarded as having validity only because the authority of the rabbis is sanctioned by the Torah. This however remained the personal law for Jews for centuries, being a minority in various countries. With the rebirth of a Jewish national state (1948) and the connected revival of Jewish culture, the Talmud has achieved renewed importance. Orthodox Jewry has always focused upon its study and has believed it to be the absolute Halakhic ("practice," "rules of conduct") authority. This belief has now become even further intensified. While rabbinic courts in Israel have jurisdiction only in the area of family life, it has become one of the aims of religious (Orthodox) Jewry there to establish Talmudic law as the general law of the state.
Canon Law : In Christianity, the Churches followed Canon Law which in its wider sense includes precepts of divine law, natural or positive, incorporated in various canonical collections or codes; may be defined as that body of rules and regulations (canons) concerning the behaviour and actions of individuals and institutions within certain Christian churches, which have, through proper priestly authority, defined and codified such rules. Canon law has had a long history of development throughout the Christian Era. Not a static body of laws, it reflects social, political, economic, cultural, and ecclesiastical changes that have taken place in the past two millennia. During periods of social and cultural upheaval the church has not remained unaffected by its environment. Thus, canon law may be expected to be involved in the far-reaching changes that have come to be anticipated in the modern world. The Western Civilization separated the religion form state, by declaring the religion to be personal matter of individual and initially depended on Roman Law, later on Civil Law, also called Romano Germanic Law, the law of continental Europe, based on an admixture of Roman, Germanic, ecclesiastical, feudal, commercial, and customary law. European civil law has been adopted in much of Latin America as well as in parts of Asia and Africa and is to be distinguished from the common law of the Anglo-American countries. The Common law is the system of laws originated and developed in England and based on court decisions, on the doctrines implicit in those decisions, and on customs and usages rather than on codified written laws.
ISLAMIC LAW (SHARI’A) :
Since Islam is a complete code of life covering all aspects including social, economic, political, military and other aspects of human life, hence the Islamic law (Shari’a) spells out the moral goals of the community, where state and religion are not separate entity. In Islamic society, therefore, the term law has a wider significance than it does in the modern secular West, because Islamic law includes both legal and moral imperatives. For the same reason, not all-Islamic laws can be stated as formal legal rules or enforced by the courts. Much of it depends on conscience alone. The Shari’a duties are broadly divided into those that an individual owes to Allah (the ritual practices or 'ibadat) and those that he owes to his fellow men (mu'amalat). It is the latter category of duties alone, constituting law in the Western sense, that is penal law. The other laws include; offenses against the person, homicide, law of transactions, family law, succession law, procedure and evidence etc. The Qur’anic revelations laid down basic standards of conduct for the first Muslim community established under the leadership of the Prophet (peace be upon him) at Medina in 622 C.E. The Qur’an is the book of guidance for the believers, it also lay down the parameters of legal code. The Qur’an contains about ninety verses directly and specifically addressing questions of law. Islamic legal discourse refers to these verses as Allah's law and incorporates them into legal codes. The remainder of Islamic law is the result of jurisprudence (fiqh), human efforts to codify Islamic norms in practical terms and legislate for cases not specifically dealt with in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Although human generated legislation is considered fallible and open to revision, the term Shari’a is sometimes applied to all Islamic legislation. Modern scholars have however challenged this claim, distinguishing between Shari’a and fiqh and calling for reform of fiqh codes in light of modern conditions.
The common topic of discussion among modern scholars is that, the government in the Muslim state should primarily be concerned with maintaining peace, equitable justice based upon Islamic law and other matters of statehood: “…those who do not judge by the law which Allah has revealed, are indeed disbelievers.”(Qur’an;5:44). However as far as the religious matters are concerned they think that state has the responsibility of making arrangements to establish Salah (regular prayers) and system of Zakah (obligatory charity), taking inference form verse : “…but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;9:5), “These are the people who, if We establish them (in power, authority) in the land, will establish Salah and pay Zakah, enjoin justice and forbid evil; the final decision of all affairs is in the hands of Allah.”(Qur’an;22:41), “Let there be no compulsion in religion..”(Qur’an;2:256). They think that implementation in all other matters, should be left to the individuals through persuasion to enjoin good and forbid evil. Use of force like Taliban, forcing the men to keep beard, women to cover face, not to attend schools and colleges etc is not considered appropriate. Similarly to the performing Hajj and many other matters are left to the individual Muslims for which they is answerable to Allah. The Bible also emphasies similar aspectc:“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter; 3:10-13)
Ijtihad : It means ‘independent reasoning’ as opposed to taqlid (imitation). In the absence of direct guidance from Qur’an or Sunnah for a given situation, the exercise of rational judgment by a competent authority is termed as Ijtihad.It is a unique and important component of Shari’a. Ijtihad started during the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who while sending ‘Muadh ibn Jabal’ to Yemen, asked him: "According to what will you judge?" "According to the Book of God," replied Muadh. "And if you find nothing therein?" "According to the Sunnah of the Prophet of God." "And if you find nothing therein?" "Then I will exert myself (exercise Ijtihad) to form my own judgment." The Prophet was pleased with this reply and said: "Praise be to God Who has guided the messenger of the Prophet to that which pleases the Prophet." The rules of Ijtihad were framed by Abu Bakr, the first Caliph. He laid down the principle that in deciding a case he would obtain guidance the first instance from the Holy Qur’an. If the Holy Qur’an was silent in the matter, he would look for guidance to the traditions of the Holy Prophet as duly authenticated. If the traditions were also silent he was to decide the case according to his best judgment He held: "If my decision is just then it will be from God. If it is erroneous, it will be mine, and may God pardon me." Ijtehad is fallible since more than one interpretation of a legal issue is possible.
Differences of Shari’afrom Western Systems of Law :
In classical form, the Shari’a differs from Western systems of law (based on Roman Law) in two principal respects. In the first place the scope of the Shari’a is much wider, since it regulates man's relationship not only with his neighbours and with the state, which is the limit of most other legal systems, but also with his Allah and his own conscience. Ritual practices,(ibadat) such as the daily prayers, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage, are an integral part of Shari’a law and usually occupy the first chapters in the legal manuals. The Shari’a is also concerned as much with ethical standards as with legal rules, indicating not only what man is entitled or bound to do in law, but also what he (obligatory) ought, in conscience, to do (halal), something that is lawful and permitted in Islam, or refrain from doing (haram) not permissible. Accordingly, certain acts are classified as praiseworthy (mandub), which means that their performance brings divine favour and their omission divine disfavour. There is an other category not halal or haram but some thing doubtful, classified a Undesirable (makruh), it is divided into Makruh Tahrimi "that which is nearly unlawful without it being actually so," and Makruh Tanzihi "that which approaches the lawful or undesirable yet is closer to the lawful." For example it is undesirable (makruh) for a person to buy back what he has given in charity (sadaqah, or zakat), or "to wish for one's death, or pray to Allah for it, due to poverty, distress, illness, or the like. However in neither case is there any legal sanction of punishment or reward, nullity or validity.
Thus the Shari’a is not merely a system of law, but a comprehensive code of behaviour that embraces both private and public activities. The second major distinction between the Shari’a and Western legal systems is the result of the Islamic concept of law as the expression of the divine will. Shari’a law though appears to be rigid in certain aspects but there is room for flexibility in fiqha through Ijtehad to meet the challenges of growing and changing needs of society. In Islamic jurisprudence it is not the society that moulds and fashions the law, but the law that precedes and controls society, however the legitimate changes and requirements of the modern society are kept in view with in bounds of Divine Will. The Western Law, is not based on the Bible, they have discarded the Law of Moses, which Jesus declared as his mission, when he said: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. . . . Whoever thenrelaxes one of the least of these Commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;”(Mathew;5:17-20). By contrast in the Western Law, it is the society that moulds and fashions the law thus consumption of alcohol, homosexuality, gay marriages (not permitted in Bible) have been made legal, on the desire and public support of the Western Society, where as in Shari’a, it is not possible to make such laws which are unnatural and clearly against the Divine Will, manifested in Qur’an and Sunnah.
Formulation of Shari’a -Historic Perspective :
The process of Fiqh began with the first Caliph Abu Bakr, and he is regarded as the 'Father of Fiqh'. The formulation of Islamic law (Shari’a,) continued from the mid eighth century and by the end of the 9th century, the law had achieved a definitive formulation in a number of legal manuals written by different jurists. Throughout the medieval period this basic doctrine was elaborated and systematized in a large number of commentaries, and the voluminous literature thus produced constitutes the traditional textual authority of Shari’a law. The thesis of Imam Shafi formed the basis of the classical theory of the roots of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), which crystallized in the early 10th century. Juristic "effort" to comprehend the terms of the Shari'ah is known as ijtihad, and legal theory first defines the course that ijtihad must follow. In seeking the answer to a legal problem the jurist must first consult the Qur’an and the Sunnah, failing any specific solution in them he, must employ analogy (qiyas) or certain subsidiary principles of reasoning istihsan (equitable preference) and istislah (the public interest). The legal theory then evaluates the results of ijtihad on the basis of the criterion of ijma' (consensus). As an attempt to define Allah's law, the ijtihad of individual scholars could result only in a tentative conclusion termed zann (conjecture). But where a conclusion became the subject of unanimous agreement by the qualified scholars, it became a certain (yaqin) and infallible expression of Allah's law. Because majority Muslims do not have an official dogmatic authority, this is an informal process that often requires a long period to formulate. The reasoning by Ijtihad was first employed when Islamic theologians and jurists in liberated territories were confronted with the need to integrate local customs and laws with the Qur’an and Sunnah. Later, Islamic authorities considered that this original thinking may not be against the spirit of the Qur’an and Sunnah , hence they laid down strict rules limiting its use. Because of the profound changes in the Muslim world community during the last few decades, however, a renewed emphasis has been placed on the innovative thinking of Ijtihad. It must however be kept in view that ijthad is can not be applied to the basic belief, doctrine and worships as described in Qur’an and Sunnah.
SCHOOLS OF LEGAL THOUGHT (MADHHABS):
There is unity among the Muslims, they all worship none but Allah, (One God), follow The last Messenger (Rasool) Muhammad (peace be upon him) and The last Scripture –Qur’an, one Qibla-Ka’ba (direction of prayer), then the question arises; Why so many groups among Muslims? This is due to difference in understanding and interpretations of the Scripture and Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the matters related with implementation of certain religious, political, social and other duties. As far as the basic faith and fundamentals of Islam are concerned there is no scope for difference of opinion because they have been made absolutely clear. Incidental difference of opinion among the scholars in understanding of a Hadith to derive meanings either ‘literally’ as per the ‘text’ or based on ‘analogical reasoning’, is perfectly acceptable, as evident form Hadith; Narrated by Ibn Umar: On the day of Al-Ahzab (i.e. Clans) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "None of you (Muslims) should offer the ‘Asr prayer’ but at Banu Quraiza's place." The 'Asr prayer became due for some of them on the way. Some of those said, "We will not offer it till we reach it, the place of Banu Quraiza," while some others said, "No, we will pray at this spot, for the Prophet did not mean that for us." Later on it was mentioned to the Prophet and he did not berate (rebuke) any of the two groups. (Sahih Al Bukhari; Volume: 5, Hadith Number: 445 ). It is established that if the Companions, who were direct recipient of guidance and instructions from the Prophet (peace be upon him), could develop differences in understanding of his instructions, it is perfectly normal for the Muslim scholars to form their genuine opinions based on either textual authority of Hadith or analogical reasoning. It is a well known fact that God has not gifted all humans with same level of intellect due to His wisdom and plan. The level of understanding differs from man to man. “He has raised some of you in ranks over others so that He may test you in the gifts He has given you.”(Qur’an6:165). Hence basic Schools of Legal Thought (Madhhabs) developed in Islam, not deviating to the basic tenants of Islam. History is full of examples where by individuals and groups, deviating form the fundamental doctrine of Islam were rejected by the faithfuls.
Sunni Schools of Legal Thought (Madhhabs) : The Term "Sunni", means from linguistic point of view a follower of a method. In an Islamic sense, the term Sunnah means the method shown by the Prophet (peace be upon him). It refers to the majority of Muslims who gave allegiance to the Muslim state, starting with Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and going through the Umayyad, the Abbasids, etc. They do not recognize the Shiite claim that Ali had a stronger claim to succeed the Prophet, (peace be upon him), as the ruler of the Muslim state. They maintain that anyone has an equal claim provided that he meets the qualifications required for the post. Beginning in the mid eighth century, the four major Sunni schools of legal thought (madhhabs) Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali and the Shi’a Jafari madhhab (Twelvers) emerged. The four Sunni schools of thought started in the second and early part of the third centuries of the Islamic era. Imam Abu Hanifah (699-767 C.E), was the earliest of the four scholars, he was of Persian origin but lived in Iraq. Imam Malik ibn Anas (715-795 C.E) lived in Medina most of his life. His grandfather was a companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Imam Al-Shaf’ie (767-820 C.E) was born in Gaza and traveled when still a young boy to Medina where he studied under Imam Malik. He also traveled to Iraq where he met the leading scholars of the Hanafi school of though such as Imam Abu Yusuf. He then traveled to Egypt where he spent the last five years of his life. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855 C.E) lived mostly in Baghdad. He was a close friend of Imam El Shaf'ie. Both learned from each other, although Imam Ahmad, the younger scholar, was keen to maintain this close relationship which lasted until El-Shaf'ie left Baghdad for Egypt. None of these scholars started with the aim of establishing a school of his own. However, they distinguished themselves as scholars of the highest caliber. Each of them had a large number of students, many of whom later became eminent scholars in their own right. Sufficient it is to say in this regard that Imam Ahmad was a student of Al-Shaf’ie, while Al-Shaf’ie studied under Malik for 9 years and under Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan of the Hanafi school for three years. These schools differ in their methodologies, which help them to arrive at verdicts to questions that are put to them.All Sunni schools use systematic reasoning to deal with areas of law not covered by the Qur’an or Sunnah. They differ primarily in their emphasis on textual authority or analogical reasoning, but each school recognizes the conclusions of the others as being perfectly legitimate and within the framework of orthodox Islam. Other minor schools also developed but they were short-lived.
The Hanafi were also called ah-ur-rai w’al kiyas (people of judgement and analogy) in contradistinction to other Sunni schools also referred as ahl-ul-hadis (traditionalists par excellence), the terminology now mostly synonymous with Wahabis or Humbalis (Deobandi). The strict unquestionable blind adherence to a respective school is known as Taqlid, which has marred the development and progress of thought. The new phenomenon of last century has been emergence of a movement among Sunnis called Ghair Muqalidin (Non Conformists). They do not restrict to any one school and use the great base of knowledge of early doctors to meet the new challenges of this age.
Shi’a-Jafari School of Thought: Linguistically speaking, the term Shi’a means followers or supporters. In a historical context, it means the supporters of Ali ibn Abu Talib, the Prophet's cousin, who became the fourth Caliph of the Muslim state. When he took over, there was a split between him and other groups of Muslims over the question of dealing with those who mounted the rebellion against his predecessor, Uthman ibn Affan. At this time, there was no such sect as Shi’a. However, after he was assassinated, his supporters wanted his son, Al Hassan, to take over. They maintained that succession should remain among his descendants. The Shi’s continued to oppose the Umayyad and Abbasid governments for a very long time. This lead to the provision of a religious backing to the political opposition. Hence, the rise of the Shiite school of thought which institutionalizes the role of the Imam. Shi’a Muslims, believe that Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) religious leadership, spiritual authority, and divine guidance were passed on to his descendants, beginning with his son-in-law and cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, his daughter, Fatimah, and their sons, Hasan and Husain. Sunnis and Shi’as differed in their understanding of ‘who held the power to interpret Shari’a’. For Sunnis, the scholars had this right, as delegated by the actual ruler. Shi’a s initially believed that only an Imam (in this case, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) could interpret Shari’a because the Imam, like Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was believed to be infallible. When the line of appropriate descendants ended, this tradition was reinterpreted to grant judicial authority to the fuqaha as the Imam's representatives. Shi’a legal thought and jurisprudence is known as “Jafari”: Named after the sixth Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (699-748 C.E) the son of Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth imam, and great-grandson of the fourth caliph, Ali.On his mother's side, Ja'far was descended from the first caliph, Abu Bakr. This may explain why he would never tolerate criticism of the first two caliphs. Shi’a legal thought recognizes four sources of Islamic law; the Qur’an, the Sunnah (including traditions reported by the Prophet and the imams), Consensus (which must include the Prophet's or an infallible imam's opinion to establish its validity), and Human Reason. Human reason is capable of inferring categorical judgments drawn from both pure and practical reason. Whatever is judged necessary by reason is also judged necessary by revelation. This correlation between reason and revelation has allowed Shi’a jurists to derive religious rulings on many issues not covered in normative sources such as the Qur’an and Sunnah. Since 1959 the Jafari school of jurisprudence has been afforded the status of "FifthSchool" along with the Four Sunni schools by Al-AzharUniversity in Cairo. The other two legal schools that share the Jafari origin are the Zaydi and the Mustali Fatimid Ismaili jurisprudences. These two are closer to Sunnis in their derivation of religious practice.
Following on Geographical Basis : Majority of Muslims, all over the world follow Sunni schools of thought (over 80-85%). Each school tends to predominate in certain areas: the Hanafi in the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Turkey and to some extent in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Palestine; the Maliki in North Africa; the Shafi'i in Southeast Asia; and the Hanbali in Saudi Arabia. There are three main branches of Shi’as today: the Zaydis, the Ismailis (Seveners), and the Ithna Asharis (Twelvers or Imamis). The Zaydis (followers of Zayd ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn) are located in Yemen, Iraq, and parts of Africa. They represent the activist groups who believe that the Imam ought to fight for his rights and be a ruler of state. The Ismailis (Seveners) are named after their seventh Imam, ‘Isma’il’. They founded the Fatimid Empire (909- 1171 C.E) based in Egypt and represent esoteric Shi’aism. The Ithna Asharis (Twelvers or Imamis) are the largest and most moderate group. They believe in twelve Imams, beginning with Ali and ending with Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is believed to have gone into occultation and is expected to return at the end of time as the messianic Imam who will restore justice and equity on earth. He is therefore referred to as Imam al Muntazir the expected or awaited Imam. The Imamis have large following in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, also in reasonable numbers in India and Pakistan.
TheShari’a Punishments :
The Shari’a punishments for some crimes appears to be harsher in comparison with the modern civil law followed internationally. It is to be kept in view that Islam is not for one specific period, race or community, it is for all times for all people, hence the punishments are appropriate according to the human nature. The punishments prescribed in the previous scriptures, remain applicable unless specifically changed through Qur’an or Hadith. The commonalities are : “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.”(Leviticus; 20:10). “He who kills a man shall be put to death.”(Leviticus; 24:17), “fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has disfigured a man, he shall be disfigured.”(Leviticus; 24:20).
The killing of innocent is major crime in Qur’an and Bible: “He who kills a man shall be put to death.”(Leviticus; 24:17). Allah says in Qur’an: “You shall not kill anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.”(Qur’an;17:33). Offenses against the person, from homicide to assault, are punishable by retaliation (qisas), the offender being subject to precisely the same treatment as his victim. But this type of offense is regarded as a civil injury rather than a crime in the technical sense, since it is not the state but only the victim or his family who have the right to prosecute and to opt for compensation or blood money (diyah) in place of retaliation. For six specific crimes the punishment is fixed (hadd): death for apostasy and for highway robbery; amputation of the hand for theft; death by stoning for extramarital sex relations (zina) where the offender is a married person and 100 lashes for unmarried offenders; 80 lashes for an unproved accusation of unchastity (qadhf) and for the drinking of any intoxicant. Outside the hadd crimes, both the determination of offenses and the punishment therefore lies with the discretion of the executive or the courts. While the execution of punishments is strict, highest standards of fairness, justice, evidence and clemency are applied in establishing the (hadd), but once the crimes is established the punishment is carried out without any compassion as evident from Ahadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah: A woman from the tribe of Makhzum committed theft. She was brought to Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) and she sought intercession from Umm Salamah, the wife of Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him). Thereupon Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said: By Allah, even if she were Fatimah, I would have her hand cut off. And thus her hand was cut off.(Sahih Muslim Hadith.786).
Death by Stoning for Adultery:
Death by stoning is not some thing introduced by The Prophet (peace be upon him) only, this mode of punishments already existed in Bible prescribed for certain heinous offences like idolatry, blasphemy and fornication etc (Leviticus; 20:2; 24:14, 24:16; Deuteronomy;13:10; 17:5; 22:21). Also mentioned of Achan (Joshua;7:25), Naboth (1Kings;21:1-29), Stephen (Acts; 7:59), Paul (Acts; 14:19; 2 Corinthians;11:25). Adultery (zina) is also prohibited in Islam, Allah says : “And come not near unto zina (adultery & fornication). Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way.”(Qur’an;17:2). In Islam death by stoning is resorted to when the crime of adultery is fully established through four eye witness or self confession by the accused as evident from a Hadith: Malik related to me from Yahya ibn Said from Said ibn al-Musayyab that a man from the Aslam tribe came to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and said to him, "I have committed adultery." Abu Bakr said to him, "Have you mentioned this to anyone else?" He said, "No." Abu Bakr said to him, "Then cover it up with the veil of Allah. Allah accepts tawba (forgiveness request) from his slaves." His self was still unsettled, so he went to Umar ibn al-Khattab. He told him the same as he had said to Abu Bakr, and Umar told him the same as Abu Bakr had said to him. His self was still not settled so he went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said to him, "I have committed adultery," insistently. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) turned away from him three times. Each time the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) turned away from him until it became too much. The Messenger of Allah(peace be upon him) questioned his family, "Does he have an illness which affects his mind, or is he mad?" They said, "Messenger of Allah, by Allah, he is well." The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Unmarried or married?" They said, "Married, Messenger of Allah." The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) gave the order and he was stoned. (Al-Muwatta Hadith, 41.2).
Forgiveness and Exemption:
Forgiveness from sin and exemption from Hadd was granted by Allah according to a Hadith: Narrated by AbuUmamah; We were sitting in the mosque in the company of Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). Someone came in and said: Messenger of Allah, I have committed an offence which deserves the imposition of hadd upon me, so impose it upon me. Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) kept silent. He repeated it and said: Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) I have committed an offence which deserves the imposition of hadd upon me, so impose it upon me. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) kept silent, and it was at this time that Iqamah (prayer call) was pronounced for prayer (and the prayer was observed). When Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had concluded the prayer, the person followed the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) AbuUmamah said: I too followed Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) after he had concluded the prayer, so that I might know what answer he gave to that person. That person remained attached to Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), I have committed an offence which deserves imposition of hadd upon me, so impose it upon me. AbuUmamah reported that Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him: Didn't you see that when you left the house, you had performed ablution perfectly well? He said: Allah's Apostle, of course I did. He again said to him: Then you observed prayer with us. He said: Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him), yes, it is so. Thereupon Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said to him: Verily, Allah has exempted you from the imposition of hadd, or he said: From your sin.”(Sahih Muslim Hadith, 6661). These Ahadith indicate the approach of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his pious companions like Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (later the 1st Caliph) and Umar ibn al-Khattab (later the 2nd Caliph) in hadd.
Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), relaxed the Law on adultery. Once an adulteress was brought in front of Jesus, to be stoned to death according to Mosaics Law, he said: “.."Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”(John;8:7). His voice rose in the middle of the Temple, making a new law on adultery, for the sinless to judge sin. There was none eligible; Jesus asked her not to do it again. No mortal can judge sin, only God the Most Merciful. Hence Jesus relaxed the Law of stoning to death for adultery. The incidence has been recorded in Gospel of John: “but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At break of day however He returned to the Temple, and there the people came to Him in crowds. He seated Himself;and was teaching them when the Scribes and the Pharisees brought to Him a woman who had been found committing adultery. They made her stand in the center of the court, and they put the case to Him.” Rabbi,” they said, “this woman has been found in the very act of committing adultery. Now, in the Law, Moses has ordered us to stone such women to death. But what do you say?” They asked this in order to put Him to the test, so that they might have some charge to bring against Him. But Jesus leant forward and began to write with His finger on the ground. When however they persisted with their question, He raised His head and said to them, “Let the sinless man among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”Then He leant forward again, and again began to write on the ground. They listened to Him, and then, beginning with the eldest, took their departure, one by one, till all were gone. And Jesus was left behind alone - and the woman in the center of the court. Then, raising His head, Jesus said to her, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” No one, Sir,” she replied. “And Ido not condemn you either,” said Jesus; “go, and from this time do not sin any more.”(John;8:1-12).
Point to Ponder :
Death by stoning for adultery has not been mentioned in Qur’an which says: “The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication (az- zaaniyah wa- az- zaane) flog each of them with a hundred stripes: let not compassion move you in their case in a matter prescribed by Allah if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.”( Qur’an;24:2), “As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness (faahi-shah -immoral conduct), call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify then confine them to the houses until death take them or (until) Allah appoint for them a way. And as for the two of you who are guilty thereof, punish them both. And if they repent and improve, then let them be. Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful.”( Qur’an;4:15-16). However execution of death by stoning for adultery is established through the Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him), while the verses mentioned are considered to be of earlier peiod. It is generally viewed by the scholars that some of the Mosaic Laws if not changed, continue in Islam, punishment of adultery being one of them. If the relaxation of this punishment by Jesus (John:8:1-12) is accepted as valid because it is mentioned in Qur’an: “I (Jesus) am appointed to confirm that which is before me from the Torah and to make lawful to you some of the things forbidden to you. Now I have brought you the signs from your Lord, therefore fear Allah and obey me.”(Qur’am;3:50). The execution of this punishment by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his pious companions seems to be in line with the Mosaic Law as relaxed by Jesus: “Let the sinless man among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”(John;8:7). Qur’an says: “That Allah may forgive (O Muhammad) your past as well as your future sins, and may perfect His blessings upon you, and keep you on the Right Way,”(Qur’an;48:2); “(O’ Apostle) Therefore, you should know that there is no god but Allah; implore Him to forgive your sins and to forgive the believing men and believing women; ..(Qur’an;47:19); “..Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah's party. Lo! is it not Allah's party who are the successful?”( Qur’an;58:22). Now no one can claim that his sins have been forgiven, only Allah knows the best. It is also logical that such a serious punsihemtn should be awarded by the pious judge with firm faith after completing all legal formalities. However, the scholars may look in to the matter in the light of aspects highlighted above. This is a complex lengthy and debatable academic exercise for the sholars only. The existing ijma of scholars from fourteen centuries remains in force unquestionably.
THE MENACE OF SECTARIANISM, INTOLERANCE AND EXTREMISM :
Islam Rejects Sectarianism : Islam rejects sectarianism intolerance and extremism, which was the cause of decline of previous believers and corruption of scriptures. Initially the people followed the teachings of their Apostles and scriptures but later followers innovated and corrupted the original message creating sects. Allah says: “Mankind was one nation having one religion. Later when people invented other religions, Allah appointed Prophets as bearers of good news and warnings; and revealed to them the Book with the True Guidance to settle the matters of dispute between mankind. But the very people to whom it was given, started disputes after the clear arguments had come to them, because of rivalry between one another. Allah has guided the believers by His will to the truth in those matters in which they had differences. Allah guides whom He pleases towards the Right Way.”(Qura’n;2:213).“Be not like those who became divided into sects and who started to argue against each other after clear revelations had come to them. Those responsible for division and arguments will be sternly punished” (Qura’n;3:105).“In fact, your religion is one religion, and I am your only Lord: so fear Me Alone. Yet people have divided themselves into factions and each faction rejoices in its own doctrines - well! Leave them in their heedlessness for an appointed time. Do they think that, in giving them wealth and children, We are eager for their welfare? By no means! They do not understand the reality of the matter.”(Qura’n;23:52-56)“those who divide their religion into sects and become separate groups, each group rejoicing in its own circle. When an affliction befalls the people, they turn in prayer to their Lord in repentance. But when He let them taste a blessing from Him, lo! Some of them begin to ascribe other powers a share in their Sustainers divinity, showing no gratitude for What We have given them. Enjoy yourselves; soon you will find out your folly.”(Qura’n;30:32-34).“Surely those who divide the religion into sects and identify themselves as a sect, O Muhammad, you have nothing to do with them. Their case will be called to account by Allah Himself, He will inform them as to what they did.”(Qura’n;6:159).
Richness of Islamic Scholarship : Initially during the period of ‘Rightly Guided Caliphs’ there was unanimity among the believers. However with the expansion of Caliphate to resolve new issues confronted by the Muslim society, the scholars formulated the responses basing on Qur’an and Sunnah. The very existence of main schools of thought is a testimony to the richness of Islamic scholarship. There are no differences among the main schools of thought with regard to the principles of faith or the essentials of worship. The differences relate more to matters of details. For generations after generations, Muslims prayed and lived side by side without ever the thought of belonging to one school of thought rather than another having any bearing on their mutual relationship or their dealings with one another. However this harsh fact can not be overlooked that; in certain period of history and in particular places, rigid adherence to different schools of thought are found who advocate a total boycott of the followers of others. Such trends existed in periods of backwardness, when scholarship lost its creative aspect and concentrated merely on imitation.
In reality the greater the understanding of the principles of Islam and the scholarly methods employed by scholars, the greater is tolerance. It is only inward-looking, narrow minded and rigid students who advocate total adherence to a particular school and a rejection of every thing else. Such an attitude is alien to Islam. If tolerance prevails then it is a bright period in the history of Islam. If intolerance takes over, then it must be a period of backwardness. Perhaps the worst manifestation of rigidly and narrow-mindedness is the total refusal by the followers of one school of thought to join the followers of another in prayer. This is against the practice and the teachings of the Imams who founded these schools of thought. Imam Al-Shaf’ie, for example, offered his prayers according to the manner followed by the Hanafi school of thought when he prayed in the mosque of Imam Abu Hanifah in Baghdad. He did that out of respect to the great scholar who had preceded him. Those who refuse to join an Imam (prayer leader) who belongs to a different school of thought are not only rigid and narrow-minded; they are ignorant as well. Had they known what exactly differentiates one school from another, they would have realized that what unites them is much greater than what divides them. They would have known that they all worship in an acceptable manner. Hence they would not allow their differences to affect their unity. It should be kept in view that God accepts worship when it is devoted purely to Him. All schools of thought teach how to make the prayer (Salah) dedicated to God alone.
Sunni & Shi’a: Keeping historical political differences apart, in theology the ‘institution and the role of the Imam’ is the difference between Shi’as and Sunnis. The Shi’as accord great respect to Ali, placing him above other companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), in their esteem. It should be remembered that Allah says:“As for those who believe and do good deeds - We never burden a soul with more than it can bear - they are worthy of Paradise, wherein they will live forever. We shall remove whatever ill-feeling they may have in their hearts against one another…”(Qur’an;7:42-43), But neither this, nor the other digressions, make it justifiable to consider them nonbelievers. How can anyone say so when they declare that they believe in the oneness of God and the message of His messenger, Muhammad(peace be upon him). The brothers in faith have to move forward together.
Deviations(Bid’ah) & Fisq : There is general tendency among Muslims to blame others for ‘deviations’ (Bid’ah) equating it with “fisq”, which may not be appropriate. Fisq means transgression. Deviations’ (Bid’ah) means to add or invent something, which is not there. The two are not synonymous. As far as a person who practices certain ‘deviations’ is concerned, the matter really depends on what sort of deviations he practices. If it is something is related to the principles of faith, and he invents something new, then it need to be critically examined. He may be guilty of something, which takes him out of the fold of Islam altogether. Suppose that a person elevates some one to a degree, which makes him to share divinity or powers of Allah or considers some one as good as a prophet knowingly that there is no prophet after Muhammad (peace be upon him), such a person is surely falling in to disbelief. However this being a sensitive matter, should be decided by the government in consolation with authentic scholars, as was done in case of ‘Qadianis’ by government of Pakistan. On the other hand, if the Deviations’(Bid’ah) relates to a matter of detail then that represents no more than a slip or a mistake or even committing something forbidden. Every one is subject to mistakes and is liable to commit even a grave sin, but if repents, and declare that he genuinely believe in the Oneness of God and in the message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he is to be believed as such, Allah alone knows the matters of heart.
Extremist and Intolerant Groups : In recent days a new group has emerged which tries to reject all schools of thought claiming that following any of them is an innovation. This is again a terrible idea, which results in further disunity of the Muslim community. What makes matters even worse is that this new group gives disproportionate importance to certain matters of detail and define their relationship with others on the basis of these details and how they approach them. For example, wearing a beard, refraining from smoking, standing astride in prayer so as to ensure that the feet touch the feet of other people standing on right and left, looking in one direction after finishing prayer so as not to shake hand with those who sit next, and similar matters are given such importance. This gives an impression that unless these matters are handled exactly as this group says, a person stands to incur God’s wrath and receive grievous suffering in the Hereafter. If they are asked as to; what they have left to God’s forgiveness? they look puzzled, as if they are being asked in the Greek. To these people and to those who follow rigidly their schools of thought, elevating them to status of separate religions, it is appropriate to declare that this is not the way the Prophet (peace be upon him), has taught, nor is it the way the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), practiced. He taught tolerance and they practiced the perfect standard of tolerance. Rigidity was alien to their nature.
Tolerance and Equitable Treatment of Non Muslims Minorities : Tolerance and moderation is the hallmark of Islam, Allah says :“We have made you (Muslims) a community of the middle way (keeping balance in extremes) so that you may testify against mankind and that your own Messenger may testify against you.”(Qur’an;2:143). Human life of Muslims and non Muslims alike, has a very high place in Islam, Allah says: “whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land (through judiciary), it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed the mankind and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). Muslims are encouraged to act towards all the non-Muslims living in Islamic state with kindness and equity. As per Qur’an; "As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity. Indeed, Allah loves those who act equitably"(Qur’an;60:8). There are numerous Hadith, which encourage Muslims to be kind to others. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the main enforcer of human rights safeguarding the legitimate interests of minorities. The monks of Mount Sinai were provided protection. On establishing the first Islamic state at Medina, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) entered into many alliances, treaties with the Muslims and the non-Muslims, securing peace and tranquility for the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Charter of Medina, in fact was the first ever written constitution in the history of mankind. This was based on the contract agreed upon by Muslims, Jews and others, stipulating that they all would be treated as equal citizens of Medina, giving the non-Muslims right of choosing a legal system they wished their affairs be governed by, be it Islamic or Jewish law or pre-Islamic Arab tribal traditions. This confirms the principle “no compulsion in religion”, freedom of expression and religious practice was open to everyone. It gave the right of protection, security, peace and justice; not only to Muslims, but also to the Jews who lived in the City of Medina, as well as the allies of Jews who were non-Muslims. The Jews were recognized as a separate political and ethnic minority, and allowed to practice their religion quite freely. In fact, Jews were considered on an equal bases as Muslims under the Islamic State. Narrated Abdullah bin Amr : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever killed a Mu'ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling)."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.49). Narrated Amr bin Maimun: The second Caliph Umar (after he was stabbed by a man from minority), instructed (his would-be-successor) saying, "I urge him (i.e. the new Caliph) to take care of those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him) in that he should observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their behalf (to secure their safety) and he should not over-tax them beyond their capability." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 4.287).
The strong emphasis placed on the need to behave with equity towards minorities has been heeded by Muslims throughout the ages. Minorities in the Muslim State have always enjoyed a fair and kind treatment by the Muslim majority. On the personal level, there is nothing to stop any Muslim from forging a friendship with non-Muslims who harbor no ill intentions against Islam or its followers. The English educationist and historian, Thomas Arnold observed: ‘During the Muslim rule, on the whole, the level of tolerance exhibited towards non Muslims was missing in Europe till modern times’. However Muslims have been cautioned against intrigue of enemies of Allah: “Have you not seen the ones who have befriended those people who are under the wrath of Allah? They are neither on your side nor yet on theirs and they knowingly swear to falsehood. Allah has prepared for them a severe punishment; evil indeed is what they are doing. They use their oaths as shields, and debar others from the Way of Allah. They shall have a humiliating punishment. Neither their riches nor their sons shall avail them anything against Allah. They shall be the inmates of hell and live there forever. On the Day when Allah will raise them all to life, they will swear to Him as they now swear to you, thinking that their oaths will help them. By no means! Surely they are the liars. Satan has gained possession of them, and caused them to forget Allah's warning. They are the party of Satan. Beware! Surely it is the party of Satan that shall be the loser. Those who resist Allah and His Massenger will be among the most humiliated. Allah has decreed: "It is I and My Massenger who will most certainly prevail." Surely Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty.”(Qur’an;58:14-21).
UNITY OF MUSLIM UMMAH :
The sectarian killing of Muslims by Muslims and even non Muslims, suicide bombing on the name of Islam is the most unfortunate phenomena which can only benefit the enemies of Islam. In the present time, it is more important to stress points of agreement rather than points of disagreement, because what unites Muslims is much greater than what disunites them. With the enemies of Islam trying hard to sow the seeds of discord among Muslims, such nefarious designs must be frustrated through unity of Muslims, following different schools of thought. The example of ‘Yathrab’ a town torn with civil and tribal feuds and dissensions before the Messenger of Allah set his feet on its soil. After that, it became the City of the Prophet, Medina, unmatched Brotherhood was established and it became the pivot of Islam. Later the Arabs were united under the banner of Islam to become the torch bearers of Islamic Civilization now covering the globe. The seeds of Arab Nationalism sown by colonial powers in Arab and non Arab Islamic world has only added to the further disunity of Muslim Ummah, realizing the dream of enemies of Islam. Why can’t Muslims learn the lessons and revive the same unity with diversity and display the Muslim brotherhood based on tolerance and mutual existence. Marmaduke Pickthall noted: “It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance”. Muslims should remember what Allah says: “All together hold fast the rope of Allah (Faith of Islam) and be not divided among yourselves. Remember Allah's favors upon you when you were enemies; He united your hearts, so by His favor you became brethren; you were at the brink of the fiery pit and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may be rightly guided.”(Qur’an;3:103).
The system of government in an ideal Islamic society it to be based on consultation (shura), the democratic way spelled out by Qur’an fourteen centuries ago. Obedience to authority is important for stability and to avoid anarchy, also mentioned in Bible (Romans; 13:1-4) and Qur’an (4:59). The model Islamic state is to be administered by a Caliph (Arabic khalifah, "successor"), who hold temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had rightly guided successors among his blessed companions, who followed his footsteps (Sunnah) to the best of their abilities in spreading knowledge, preaching Islam, and managing the affairs of Islamic State. The Western Civilization has been following Roman Law and its derivatives, while the Islamic law (Shari’a) spells out the moral goals of the community, where state and religion are not separate entity. In Islamic society, therefore, the term law has a wider significance than it does in the modern secular West, because Islamic law includes both legal and moral imperatives. Beginning in the mid eighth century, the four major Sunni schools of legal thought (madhhabs) Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali and the Shi’a Jafari madhhab (Twelvers) emerged. The Shari’a punishments for some crimes appears to be harsher in comparison with the modern civil law followed internationally but it is to be kept in view that Islam is not for one specific period, race or community, it is for all times for all people, hence the punishments are appropriate according to the human nature. Most of the punishments prescribed in the Bible remain applicable unless specifically changed through Qur’an or Hadith. Sectarianism is rejected by Islam, tolerance and moderation is its hallmark. Islam accords great value to human life, whether Muslims and non Muslims alike. It is with the correct knowledge of Qur’an and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that the Muslims can develop unity among their ranks.
“O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you might get to know one another. Surely the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous. Allah is All-Knowledgeable, All-Aware.”(Qur’an; 49:13).“You (Muslims) are the best community which has ever been Raised for the guidance of mankind. You enjoin good, forbid evil, and believe in Allah..”( Qur’an; 3:110)
ISLAM- THE COMPLETE WAY OF LIFE :
Islamic social philosophy is based on the belief that all spheres of life, spiritual, social, political, and economic form an indivisible unity that must be thoroughly imbued with Islamic values. This ideal forms such concepts as "Islamic law" and the "Islamic state" and accounts for Islam's strong emphasis on social life and social duties. Even the cardinal religious duties prescribed in the five pillars of Islam have clear social implications therefore, religious authorities have had considerable political influence in the Muslim societies. Because the mission of the community is to "enjoin good and forbid evil" so that "there is no mischief and corruption" on earth. The Muslims men and women are required to be dressed modestly. Family life has an important position in the Islamic society, Islam strictly forbids adultery, homosexuality and other immoral acts. According to Qur’an: “You shall not commit adultery; surely it is a shameful deed and an evil way.”(Qur’an;17:32). Bible also forbids adultery: “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.”(Leviticus; 20:10),“Even lustful looks have been condemned in Bible: “But I say to you, that every one looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. (Jesus in Mathew;5:28).
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY:
Slavery - International System:
When the message of Islam was preached, slavery was a very common practice in all-human societies, it was an international system. The Greeks, Romans, the ancient Germans whose legal and social institutions have mostly influenced the modern world, recognized and practiced all kinds of slavery, praedial servitude as well as household slavery. Slaves were generated in many ways, probably the most frequent and common was their capture in war, either by design, as a form of incentive to warriors, or as an accidental by-product, as a way of disposing of enemy troops or civilians. Other methods of slavery was kidnapping through slave-raiding or piracy expeditions. Many slaves were the offspring of slaves. Some people were enslaved as a punishment for crime or debt, others were sold into slavery by their parents, other relatives, or even spouses, sometimes to satisfy debts, sometimes to escape starvation. A variant on the selling of children was the exposure, either real or fictitious, of unwanted children, who were then rescued by others and made slaves. Another source of slavery was self-sale, undertaken sometimes to obtain an elite position, sometimes to escape destitution. Although slavery existed almost everywhere, it seems to have been especially important in the development of two of the world's major civilizations, Western (including ancient Greece and Rome) and later Islamic civilization. There was no escape from this system where it had to be applied on the basis of ‘an eye for an eye,’ until the world could get rid of that system and replace it with something that does not involve enslaving anyone.
Slavery Among Hebrews and Christianity:
Slavery as it existed under the Mosaic law has no modern parallel. That law did not originate but only regulated the already existing custom of slavery: “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession for ever; you may make slaves of them, but over your brethren the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness.”(Leviticus 25:44-46). (also Exodus;21:20-21,26-27; Joshua;9:6-27). The gospel in its spirit and genius is hostile to slavery in every form, which under its influence is gradually disappearing from among men. The Hebrews practiced two forms of slavery, the Israelites and non Israelite slaves. The Israelites were enslaved in bondage as a punishment of a crime or to clear debt, legally they could gain freedom after six years of servitude. The non Israelites captured in wars or purchased were not entitled to gain freedom and were maltreated. Christanity as a religion did not oppose slavery. Except general advice to the masters to give due to the servants, the teachings of Jesus did not express disapproval of slavery. Christianity did nothing to eliminate slavery, even the Church held slaves and considered it to be a lawful system. The cruel treatment o slaves in America are well known.
Gradual Elimination of Slavery by Islam:
Islam does not approve of slavery. Islamic legislation includes a variety of ways to ensure the reduction and eventual eradication of slavery. As the atonement for many offenses, granting freedom to a slave in addition to repentance was made obligatory. A portion of Zakah funds (Charitable donations) was also used to help anyone who could buy his own freedom in return for a sum of money, which he would pay to his master. Alternatively, slaves would be bought with Zakah funds and then set free by the Muslim authorities. According to Qur’an: “- - - Alms- - -For the freeing of people in bondage - - -This is a duty ordained by Allah, and Allah is All-knowing, Wise.”(Qur’an;9:60). The institution of slavery was discouraged and the owners and other people were enjoined to give financial help to the slaves to earn their freedom under the law of Mukatabat and marriage with virtuous slaves. Allah says in Qur’an: “..And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum) give them such a deed if ye know any good in them; yea give them something yourselves out of the means which Allah has given to you…”(Qur’an;24:33). “Marry those among you who are single or the virtuous ones among your slaves male or female..”(Qur’an;24:32).
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar; The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are three types of people whose prayer is not accepted by Allah: One who goes in front of people when they do not like him; a man who comes dibaran, which means that he comes to it too late; and a man who takes into slavery an emancipated male or female slave.”(Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 593). "A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said to him: 'Guide me to a deed that makes me close to Heaven and far from Hell.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Free a person and redeem a slave.' " (Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 3.67). Narrated by Abu Huraira; The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever frees a Muslim slave, Allah will save all the parts of his body from the (Hell) Fire as he has freed the body-parts of the slave." Said bin Marjana said that he narrated that Hadith to 'Ali bin Al-Husain and he freed his slave for whom 'Abdullah bin Ja'far had offered him ten thousand Dirhams or one-thousand Dinars.(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, 3.693). Narrated by Al Marur bin Suwaid; I saw Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a cloak. We asked him about that (i.e. how both were wearing similar cloaks). He replied, "Once I abused a man and he complained of me to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked me, 'Did you abuse him by slighting his mother?' He added, 'Your slaves are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority. So, if one has one's brethren under one's control, one should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them (in their hard job).' "(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, 3.721).
Like the nuisance of Riba (Usury), in the present time, the evil of slavery was so much ingrained in the society that its elimination had to come gradually as Muslim society developed. There was an important reason for that, which is to help slaves cope with their new status. Had Islam issued an order to free all slaves straightaway, that would have created social chaos, as many would not have been able to cope. This happened in the US when slavery was abolished by law. Many former slaves went back to their masters to serve them, because they could not earn a living without them. The Islamic approach to the eradication of slavery is a better one. However, the slavery continued in Muslim societies for much longer than what could have been expected because of historical and continuation of international slavery.
Views of Non Muslims Scholar: The renowned Orientalist Annemarie Schimmel in the book titled "Islam: An Introduction" has comprehensively summarized the Slavery in Islam; “Slavery was not abolished by the Koran, but believers are constantly admonished to treat their slaves well. In case of illness a slave has to be looked after and well cared for. To free (manumit) a slave is highly meritorious; the slave can ransom himself by paying some of the money he has earned while conducting his own business. Only children of slaves or non-Muslim prisoners of war can become slaves, never a freeborn Muslim; therefore slavery is theoretically doomed to disappear with the expansion of Islam. The entire history of Islam proves that slaves could occupy any office, and many former military slaves, usually recruited from among the Central Asian Turks, became military leaders and often even rulers as in eastern Iran, India (the Slave Dynasty of Delhi), and medieval Egypt (the Mamluks).”
PROHIBITION OF RIBA (USURY) :
History of Usury in Judaism & Christianity:
In modern law usury, is the practice of charging an illegal rate of interest for the loan of money. In Old English law, the taking of any compensation whatsoever was termed usury. With the expansion of trade in the 13th century, however, the demand for credit increased, necessitating a modification in the definition of the term. Except for Geneiss;23:9, Jeremiah;32:10, and Ruth; 4:8, Scripture makes no reference to transaction procedures. Interest is however prohibited in Bible: “Take no interest from him or increase, but fear your God; that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.”(Leviticus;25:39-37 also Deuteronomy; 23:19-20). The violation of this law was viewed as a great crime (Psalms;15:5; Peter; 28:8; Jeremiah; 15:10). After the Return, and later, this law was much neglected (Nehemiah; 5:7,10). The Jews consider that usury is prohibited with in Jews and that they could charge interest from gentiles: “Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.”(Deuteronomy;23:20). Thus the Jews became to be known as money lenders, hated by the masses in Europe due to their exploitation by Jews who charged the interest at exorbitant rates. In the Middle Ages the Christian Church attempted to enforce certain moral commands adverse to commercial transactions. The taking of interest for loans of money was considered income without true work and, therefore, sinful and prohibited. There was also an attempt to generalize the idea of a just price. Although both rules, and especially the former, influenced the law and the economy for centuries, neither of them finally prevailed in the secular world. The growth of finances, industry, and land estate ruled the rabbis to develop laws concerning contracts, partnerships, and legal arrangements to circumvent the biblical prohibition against usury. A series of modes of transaction effecting the transfer and acquisition of property evolved. Usury then was applied to exorbitant or unconscionable interest rates. In 1545 England fixed a legal maximum interest; any amount in excess of the maximum was usury. The practice of setting a legal maximum on interest rates later was followed by most states of the United States and most other Western nations.
Prohibition of Usury in Islam :
“Your wealth and your children are but a trial. It is Allah with Whom is the greatest reward.”(Qur’an;64:15).
Defining Usury (Riba): Riba (literally ‘usury’ or ‘interest’) is prohibited in Islam, for the principle is that any profit sought should be through own exertions and at our own expense, not through exploiting other people or at their expense. The Arabic term Riba is considered synonymous to ‘usury’ which has been defined in the writings of a number of very early Muslim scholars, it may help to understand its broader meanings. In his commentary on the Qur'an, Imam Al-Razi says: "The usury based on time delay was the type commonly practiced in pre-Islamic days. A man would lend another person some money for a specified term stipulating that he would charge him a specified amount every month while the principal amount remained intact. When the agreed time arrived, the lender would request repayment. If the borrower cannot pay, he increases the monthly payment and the time of the loan." Al-Jassas says: "It is well known that usury in pre-Islamic days was simply a loan given for an appointed time with a stipulated increase. That increase compensated for delay. This is prohibited by Allah." Mujahid says: "In pre-Islamic days, when a man had borrowed money from another, he would come to him and say: I will pay you so and so if you allow me a longer period for repayment." Qatadah says: "The usury practiced in pre-Islamic days took the form of a sale made for a specified term. When payment is due and the buyer does not have the money to pay the seller, he agrees to pay him extra in return for a postponement." Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal defines usury in the same terms, saying: "If a man had lent money to another and the time of repayment was due, the lender would say to the borrower: You either pay me now or increase the amount to be paid. If he does not settle the debt then and there, one agrees to increase the amount and the other extends the time for repayment." All these definitions agree on the nature of usury. It is financial compensation for time delay. This is what is known as "increase in lieu of time extension." All scholars and all Muslim schools of thought are unanimous that this type of Riba is strictly forbidden. However as regards to the other explanations of Riba (Usury) there is room for difference of opinion. 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, (2nd rightly guided Caliph) according to Ibn Kathir, felt some difficulty in the matter, as the Apostle left this world before the details of the question were settled. Riba (Usury) was one of the three questions on which he wished he had more light from the Prophet (peace be upon him). Muslim scholars, ancient and modern, have worked out a great body of literature on Riba, based mainly on economic conditions as they existed at the rise of Islam.
Increase in Lieu of Quality: There is another type of Riba, which is known as "increase in lieu of quality". This takes the form of exchanging two quantities of the same kind, such as dates for dates, wheat for wheat, rice for rice. A person may offer 1.5 kilogram of dates or wheat or rice, etc. in return for one kilogram of the same type but of higher quality. There is no doubt that there may be several types of the same produce and their qualities differ immensely. Prices could range from the very cheap to the very expensive, with the latter being two or three or four times as much as the price of the former. It is conceivable that people would like to barter some of their produce for a smaller amount of a higher quality type. But this again is forbidden in Islam as evident from Hadith of Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him); Narrated by Abu Said al Khudri: Once Bilal brought Barni (i.e. a kind of dates) to the Prophet and the Prophet asked him, "From where have you brought these?" Bilal replied, "I had some inferior type of dates and exchanged two Sa’s (measurement of weight) of it for one Sa of Barni dates in order to give it to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to eat." Thereupon the Prophet(peace be upon him) said, "Beware! Beware! This is definitely Riba! This is definitely Riba! Don't do so, but if you want to buy (a superior kind of dates) sell the inferior dates for money and then buy the superior kind of dates with that money."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.506). Narrated by Ibn Umar: At an other occasion the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; "The selling of wheat for wheat is Riba except if it is handed from hand to hand and equal in amount. Similarly the selling of barley for barley, is Riba except if it is from hand to hand and equal in amount, and dates for dates is usury except if it is from hand to hand and equal in amount. (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.379).
Modern Banking Transactions: While there are some differences between such usurious practices and banking transaction in today’s world; but there are also essential similarities. In a loan obtained from a bank, a borrower pays a regular amount of interest, which does not affect the principal. This is similar to the practice of pre-Islamic days when a borrower used to pay every month a certain sum to the lender, while the principal remained the same. Moreover, in a banking transaction, when the loan is repaid over a longer period of time, the amount of interest charged is also higher, although its rate may remain the same.
Strict Prohibition of Riba in Qur’an:
It should be well understood that there is no case of prohibition stated in the Qur'an more forcefully than the prohibition of Riba. Allah warns the believers that they must desist from practicing usury or they would face a war declared on them by Allah and His messenger(peace be upon him): “O You who believe! Fear Allah and waive what is still due to you from usury if you are indeed believers; or war shall be declared against you by Allah and His Apostle. If you repent, you may retain your principal, causing no loss to debtor and suffering no loss.”(Qur’an;2:278-279). However some eminent scholars have argued that banking transactions and the system of interest is different from Riba as called in Islam.
The Islamic law of transactions as a whole is dominated by the doctrine of prohibition of Riba.Basically, this is the prohibition of usury, but the notion of Riba was rigorously extended to cover, and therefore preclude, any form of interest on a capital loan or investment. And since this doctrine was coupled with the general prohibition on gambling transactions, Islamic law does not, in general, permit any kind of speculative transaction the results of which, in terms of the material benefits accruing to the parties, cannot be precisely forecast. The charging of interest is strongly prohibited according to Qur’an; “Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Evil One by his touch hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord desist shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (the offence) are companions of the fire: they will abide therein (for ever)”.(Qur’an;2:275). “Allah will deprive usury of all blessing but will give increase for deeds of charity: for He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked.”(Qur’an;2:276). “That which ye lay out for increase through the property of (other) people will have no increase with Allah: but that which ye lay out for charity seeking the Countenance of Allah (will increase): it is these who will get a recompense multiplied.”(Qur’an;30:39). Prophet Muhammad (peace by upon him) reemphasized the abolishment of usury in his Last Sermon at Hajj, he said;” All usury transactions, which have been made in the past days of ignorance, are hereby abrogated. You may claim only your capital, neither inflicting nor suffering any injustice. Allah has decreed that no usury is permissible. The first usury transactions I abrogate are those of my uncle, Al-Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib,”. In some Muslim countries efforts are being made to replace the ‘Interest’ with Islamic compliant substitutes.
Interpretations of Riba: Owing to the fact that interest occupies a central position in modern economic life, and specially since interest is the very life blood of the existing financial institutions, a number of Muslims have been inclined to interpret it in a manner which is radically different from the understanding of Muslim scholars through last fourteen centuries and is also sharply in conflict with the categorical statements of the Prophet (peace be on him). According to Islamic teachings any excess on the capital is Riba (interest). Islam accepts no distinction, in so far as prohibition is concerned, between reasonable and exorbitant rates of interest, and thus what came to be regarded as the difference between usury and interest; nor between returns on bonus for consumption and those for production purposes and so on. Hence the Islamic mode of Riba free banking, is gaining popularity. In Islam the basic principles of the law are laid down in the four root transactions of (1) Sale (bay'), transfer of the ownership or corpus of property for a consideration; (2) Hire (ijarah), transfer of the usufruct (right to use) of property for a consideration; (3) Gift (hibah), gratuitous transfer of the corpus of property, and (4) Loan ('ariyah), gratuitous transfer of the usufruct of property. These basic principles are then applied to the various specific transactions of, for example, pledge, deposit, guarantee, agency, assignment, land tenancy, partnership, and waqf foundations. Waqf is a peculiarly Islamic institution whereby the founder relinquishes his ownership of real property, which belongs henceforth to Allah, and dedicates the income or usufruct of the property in perpetuity to some pious or charitable purpose.
Inflation and Riba: Inflation is the very real problem, which makes it difficult for anyone to advance money to another for a period of time without making a loss on transaction. That not only apply to a loan given to another person, but also to money kept in a current account, which pays no interest. Any form of saving which does not give returns, is a losing value because of inflation. There must be no injustice, perpetrated or suffered. That is the divine order stated clearly in the Qur'an: “You shall inflict no injustice and shall suffer none.”(Qur’an;2:279), “O my people! Give full measure and weight in all fairness. Do not defraud people of their goods and do not spread mischief in the land.”(Qur’an;11:85). All this requires thorough study so that scholars are able to come up with answers to present-day problems, instead of applying the rulings of earlier scholars to later problems. Using interest to offset the drop in money value caused by inflation has some merit. Here the purpose is to maintain the real value of what a person has. The question is whether it is permissible to do that or not. This is a very difficult question and scholars have not come up with a definitive ruling on this point. The problem will remain until a satisfactory answer is found to ensure fairness to investor, lender and borrower, without exploitation.
Types of Riba- Thoughts:
There are scholars who argue that fixing a guaranteed rate of returns in advance is acceptable because it protects the interest of the individual investor. The rector of Al-Azhar has come strongly in favour of this method. Dr Riazul Hasan Gillani, holds doctorate from Al-AzharUniversity according to him: Certain kinds of Riba were considered undesirable(makrooh) but not prohibited according to Fatawa Alamgiry & Imam Abu Hanifa. There were three kinds of Riba, and with the exception of one form, the remaining two were undesirable (makrooh) but not prohibited(haram). The three forms of Riba were Riba Uddain (Debt: Something owed, such as money, goods, or services) Ribaul Qarz (Loan: Something lent for temporary use) and Ribaul Fazal, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited Riba Uddain (Debt) through a decree but did not enforce it on the two forms which were declared undesirable(makrooh) but not prohibited(haram). Dr Gillani elucidates that under Islamic injunctions a woman’s demand for divorce is undesirable (makrooh) but if she insists, it could not be denied to her. If somebody dealt in makrooh Riba, he was not committing a sin. The believers were advised to avoid makrooh Riba, but not prohibited as they were from Riba Uddain (Debt).
According to Sheikh Al-Azhar Dr. Syed Mohammad Tantawi, a prominent modern-day jurist opines that, the government savings schemes do not fall into the category of Riba at all, because these are investment schemes and not Qarz schemes. Among the other scholars who think that the interest is different from usury, most notable is Dr. Ma’roof Ad-Dawaleebi, who is a scholar of high repute and who has been involved in politics, being former prime minister in Syria and an advisor to the king of Saudi Arabia for many years. Earlier he has been a professor of law in the University of Damascus. This has given him the very important mix of looking for practical solutions and a high standard of scholarship.
Eminent Pakistani scholar, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi views usury as an evil which is fully integrated in the present international financial system. It should be replaced by Islamic financial system at least in the Muslim societies, till then one should avoid it as far as possible. However, under unavoidable circumstances one have to live with this evil as was the case of slavery, which was gradually phased out. He argues that while there is prohibition of taking Riba, there is no restriction of paying extra on loan because the loan is taken under necessity or compulsion, according to him, Qur’an and Hadith forbids taking Riba or assisting in collection of Riba. Taking lead from the Qur’anic doctrine of necessity, whereby the prohibited (Haram) becomes temporarily permissible under certain extreme conditions; “…But (even so) if a person is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits thy Lord is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;6:145), he opines that the widows, orphans, sick, retired elders who have no other source of income may invest in government saving schemes to get subsistence to survive.
All Types of Interest, Riba Forbidden: The majority of Islamic scholars still consider all types of interest as Riba, hence forbidden. “...There is none who can change His words..”(Qur’an;18:27). There is no doubt that Riba is prohibited, but there was some thing about Riba which even 'Umar bin Al-Khattab wanted to know more form Prophet (peace be upon him) before he left the world. Till Ummah develops a consensus on the serious issue of defining the Riba, the advice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) be followed, who advised the Muslims to consult their hearts after having studied a matter carefully.
ENJOINING GOOD & ESCHEWING EVIL:
The use of violence as means to enforce their version of Islam by the religious fanatics is not a new phenomena. The most common pretext is the enforcement of the Qur’anic commandment: ‘Enjoining Good & Eschewing Evil;’ a noble cause, but evil means of violence and coercion. To achieve the political objectives rather than with sharing and alleviating their sufferings and aspirations, the name of Islam, so deer to the simple innocent but ignorant Muslims is exploited. It is high time that the exploitation of the religious feelings of socially and economic deprived simple people, who are ever ready to lay down their lives on the name of Islam be stopped. The methodology of implementation of Qur’anic commandment of ‘Enjoining Good & Eschewing Evil needs to be analyzed and understood in the overall teachings of Qur’an, Hadith, the historic context.
Scenario : The state (include most of governments in Mulim countries) on its part has done nothing to towards implementation of Qur’anic commandment of ‘Enjoining Good & Eschewing Evil’, rather under the slogan of ‘Enlightened Moderation’ it appears to have resorted to ‘Enjoining Evil & Eschewing Good’ by implication if not deliberately. Qur’an says: “The hypocrite men and the hypocrite women, they are all alike. They enjoin what is evil, forbid what is just, and withhold their hands from doing good. They have forgotten Allah; so He has forgotten them. In fact the hypocrites are transgressors.”(Qur’an;9:67). Obedience to rulers in only right matters not in evil (munkir): “..and that they will not disobey you (Muhammad) in what is right (ma’roof), then accept their allegiance and pray to Allah for the forgiveness. Surely Allah is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.”(Qur’an;60:12). Muslims can develop and gain respect among the community of nations by adhering to their cultural values, which are inherently deep rooted in the Islamic traditions. Just a simple look at the most common dress of women folk reveal that they are dressed in the moderate Islamic way since centuries, which besides meeting the religious requirements, is also convenient in the extreme weather conditions and the role rural women play in the economic and social life. The women dressed in semi naked westrn dress displayed in the media and advertisements is not the popular dress of ordinary Muslim women. Some forms of obscenity and vulgarity are condemned even in the most modern European culture. The pantographic web sites are routinely blocked to save the youth. They are condemned in media. Many countries, specially China has censor to block such web sites. Recently the Net Café have grown like mushrooms without any check. They are openly showing pornographic movies with impunity, destroying the moral fiber of youth. There is need to check this free for all degradation of morality under the garb of modernity. The development is required in the field of science, technology, industry, economy and education, (religious as well as secular) to change the mindset, which require short term and long term measures.
Divine Purpose of Creation:
The Divine purpose of creation may be kept in view, which in short is to; Test the human during limited life span on earth, those who obey Him by their free will and live according to His guidance, will be rewarded for good deeds and those who disobey will be punished in hereafter. It is mentioned in Qur’an: “The One Who created death and life, so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds: He is the All-Mighty, the All-Forgiving.”(Qur’an;67:2 also at 18:7, 2:155-157, 3:142). “Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return.”(Qura’n;21:35). Allah says: “Mankind was one nation having one religion. Later when people invented other religions, Allah appointed Prophets as bearers of good news and warnings; and revealed to them the Book with the True Guidance to settle the matters of dispute between mankind. But the very people to whom it was given, started disputes after the clear arguments had come to them, because of rivalry between one another. Allah has guided the believers by His will to the truth in those matters in which they had differences. Allah guides whom He pleases towards the Right Way.”(Qura’n;2:213).
Faith is a matter of personal conviction, which can not be forced upon others: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Qur’an;2:256), "Truth has come and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.”(Qur’an;17:81). “This is Paradise; you have inherited it by virtue of your past deeds.”(Qur’an;43:72). If He wanted all humanity could have been on true guidance. Allah does not want to force the belief upon human: “If your Lord had so willed, He would have certainly made mankind one single nation but that is not what He wants, so they will continue to differ except those on whom He has bestowed His mercy; and that very freedom of choice and action is the whole purpose of their creation. That is how the Word of your Lord, that He will fill Hell with jinns and human beings all together, will be fulfilled.”(Qur’an;11:118-119). Man has been provided with guidance and endowed with intellect, so that he can use his reason and freedom of choice to either follow the true path or the evil way of devil : "Who hath ordained laws and granted guidance;” (Qur’an;87:3). “Say "The Truth is from your Lord": let him who will believe and let him who will reject (it)- -(Qur’an;18:29). “Notwithstanding that no human being can ever attain to faith otherwise than by God’s leave, and (that) it is He who lays the loathsome evil (of disbelief) upon those who will not use their reason?(Qur’an;10:100). “..whosoever follows My guidance will not lose his way nor fall into misery. But whosoever turns away from My Message verily for him is a life narrowed down and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment." (Qur’an;20:117-124).“When those who believe in Our revelations come to you, say: "Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed mercy upon Himself. If anyone among you commits evil because of ignorance and thereafter repents and mends his ways; you will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;6:54); “He is the Forgiving, the Loving, (Qur’an;85:14). Hence while implementing the divine command of ‘Enjoining Good & Eschewing Evil’, the other commandments related with the divine plan of creation may be kept in view.
Muslims - A Moderate Community, Inheritors of Qur’an and Legacy of Abraham: Though Judaism and Christianity claim their roots with Abraham (peace be upon him), it is Islam alone, which can truly declare to be the intact legacy of Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah says: “Jews and Christians say: "Be Jews or Christians, you shall then be rightly guided." (O Muhammad), say: "By no means! We follow the faith of Abraham, the upright one; and he joined not gods with Allah.”(Qur’an;2:135), “(O Muhammad),Say: Lo! As for me, my Lord has guided me unto a straight path, a right religion (din qiyam), the community of Abraham, the upright, who was no idolater.”(Qur’an;6:161),“Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters.”(Qur’an;3:67), “Say: Allah speaks truth. So follow the religion of Abraham, the upright. He was not of the idolaters.”(Qur’an;3:95). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him ), the last messenger of God, said: “..you (Muslims) are an heir to the heritage of Abraham”(Sunan Abu Dawood;770). Allah appointed Muslims to inherit Qur’an, but He categorizes them in to three groups: “We have given the Book (Qur’an) as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen, among them there are some who wrong their own souls, some follow a middle course and some, by Allah's leave, excel in good deeds; which is the supreme virtue.”(Qur’an;35:32).
As inheritors of legacy of Abraham and Qur’an, Muslims have a great responsibility, Allah says: “We have made you a moderate (justly balanced) community so that you may be witness against the mankind and that your own Messenger may be witness against you…”(Qur’an;2:143). The essence of Islam is to avoid all extravagances and extremism on either side. It is a sober, practical balanced (wasat) religion. When two persons dispute, they advance extravagant claims. A just witness comes between them, and brings the light of reason to bear on them, pruning all their selfish extravagances. So the mission of Islam is to curb, for instance, the extreme formalism of the Mosaic law and the extreme "other-worldliness" professed by Christianity. Similarly use of violence is against the spirit of moderation. The witness must be unselfish, equipped with first-hand knowledge, and ready to intervene in the cause of justice. Such is the position claimed by Islam among rival systems. Similarly, within Islam itself, the position of witness to whom disputants can appeal is held by the last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him). Qur’an advises patience in enjoining good and forbiding the evil, because the persuation and preaching requires patience: “O my son! Be constant in prayer (Salah), enjoin good and forbid the evil. Endure with patience whatever befalls you, surely this shows your determination in conducting the affairs.”(Qur’an;31:17). The scholars can draw their conclusion form advise to Childreen of Israel : “Why do not the Rabbis and the doctors of laws forbid them from their (habit of) uttering sinful words and eating things forbidden? Evil indeed are their works.”(Qur’an;5:63).
Universal Responsibilities: The Muslims beargreat responsibility with in themselves and then to the mankind, Allah says: “You (Muslims) are the best of peoples which has ever been raised for the guidance of mankind. You enjoin good, forbid evil, and believe in Allah.”(Qur’an;3:110). Islam being the Universal Religion urges its adherents to realize their global responsibility towards guidance of mankind, for Islam is just submission to the Will of Allah. This implies (1) Faith, (2) doing right, being an example to others to do right, and having the power to see that the right prevails, (3) avoiding wrong, being an example to others to eschew wrong, and having the power to see that wrong and injustice are defeated. Islam therefore lives, not for itself, but for the mankind as a whole.
Responsibilities of State, Law and Muslims :
The basic purpose of believers is the attainment of desires; happiness, in this world and the next; success; prosperity; freedom from anxiety, care, or a disturbed state of mind; as opposite to failure; misery; punishment or penalty; agony or anguish. To achieve this Allah says: “Let there arise from among you a band of people who should invite to righteousness, enjoin good and forbid evil; such are the ones who shall be successful.”(Qur’an;3:104). The ideal Muslim community is happy, untroubled by conflicts or doubts, sure of itself, strong, united, and prosperous: because there has to be a group among themselves who should invite them to all that is good; enjoins the right; and forbids the wrong. Such arrangements should however be made under the state and with in the law of the land, to guard against anarchy and instability. Some people justify using force to eradicate vice and force goodness in the society by interpreting this verse with Sahish Muslim Hadith number 16, narrated by AbuSa'id al-Khudri; I heard the Messenger of Allah as saying: “He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart and that is the least of faith.” Obviously if there is an overall degeneration in the society, then as small group is not in a position to force their decision upon the majority even with good intentions. In such circumstances Prophet (peace be upon him) has urged the believers to use their tongue, i.e. preaching and persuasion through peaceful means (which was done during the initial 13 years at Makkah). This Hadith may also be understood with other Hadiths: Narrated Awf ibn Malik; The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, who invoke God's blessings upon you and you invoke His blessings upon them. And the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you and whom you curse and who curse you. It was asked (by those present): Shouldn't we overthrow them with the help of the sword? He said: No, as long as they establish prayer among you. If you then find anything detestable in them, you should hate their administration, but do not withdraw yourselves from their obedience.”(Sahih Muslim Hadith number 861, similar Hadith number 860 has been narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri). Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri; The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best fighting (jihad) in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler.”(Sunan of Abu Dawood No.2040). It is evident that instead of using force and violence against Muslim rulers, the use of words, advise and peaceful protest is the preferable option.
Narrated AbuTha'labah al-Khushani; AbuUmayyah ash-Sha'bani said: I asked AbuTha'labah al-Khushani: What is your opinion about the verse "Care for yourselves". He said: I swear by Allah, I asked the one who was well informed about it; I asked the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) about it. He said: “No, enjoin one another to do what is good and forbid one another to do what is evil. But when you see niggardliness being obeyed, passion being followed, worldly interests being preferred, everyone being charmed with his opinion, then care for yourself, and leave alone what people in general are doing; for ahead of you are days which will require endurance, in which showing endurance will be like grasping live coals. The one who acts rightly during that period will have the reward of fifty men who act as he does. Another version has: He said (The hearers asked:) Apostle of Allah, the reward of fifty of them? He replied: The reward of fifty of you.” (Sunan of Abu Dawood No.2037).
Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil – An Implementation Methodology:
The implementation methodology could be deduced from guidance provided by Allah: “Make due allowance for man’s nature, and enjoin the doing of what is right (amr bil a’rif); and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant.”(Qur’an;7:199). While explaining this verse Muhammad Asad writes: “According to Zamakhshari, khudh-al-‘awf means: ‘Accept what comes easily to thee (or ‘what is willingly accorded to thee’) of doings and the nature of men, and make things easy (for them), without causing them undue hardship (khulf); and do not demand of them efforts that may be too difficult for them.’ This interpretation – which has been adopted many other classical commentators as well–is based on the identical explanation of the phrase khudh al ‘awf by ‘Abd Allah ibn az- Zubayr and his brother ‘Urwah (Bukhari), as well as by A’ishah and, in the next generation, by Hihsam ibn ‘Urwah and Mujahid (Reference; Tibri, Baghawai and Ibn Kathir). Thus, in accordance with the Qur’anic statements that “man has been created weak”(Qur’an;4:28) and that “God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear”(Qur’an;2:286, 6:152, 7:42 & 23:62), the believer is admonished to make due allowance for human nature and not to be too harsh with those who err. This admonition is the more remarkable as it follows immediately upon a discourse on the most unforgivable of all sins- the ascribing of divine powers or qualities to any one or anything but God.” It may also be kept in view that the man is also under trial :“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return.”(Qura’n;21:35).
Islam granted the basic human right of individual privacy, 1400 ago once such freedom and personal liberty was unthinkable in any society: “O believers! Avoid immoderate suspicion (guesswork), for in some cases suspicion is a sin. Do not spy on one another, nor backbite one another (to say something about another behind ones back that if one hears it, dislikes it). Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Surely you would abhor it. Fear Allah; for Allah is the Accepter of repentance, Merciful.”(49:12). The implementaion of these injunction by Caliph Umar is a good example of moderation inimplimentain of rule of law. On night Umar, the second Caliph, during his routine night watch hear some singing sound form a house. He climbed up the wall and found a man with wine and a woman. He asked him that how he could hide such immoral violation of commands of Allah? The man replied that the Caliph has already violated three command of Allah; first by spying on a believer (Qur’an;49:12), secondly, by not entering a house through door (Qur’an;2:189), and thirdly by entering the house without permission of the owner (Qur’an;24:27-28). The Caliph had no answer and had to leave quietly however he took a promise from him not to indulge in such immoral activates in future. Not even the most civilized governments can grant such a freedom to their citizens even in this present era of civil liberties and human rights.
The other most common evil is of spreading foul slanders, scandals, which is strictly prohibited, by Allah: “Those who love to spread foul slanders among the believers will have a painful punishment in this life and in the Hereafter. Allah knows and you do not know.”(24:19). This Qur’anic warning against foul slander and by obvious implication against any attempt at seeking out other people’s faults finds a clear echo in several well-authenticated sayings of the Prophet: “Beware of all guesswork (about one an other) for behold, all (such) guesswork is most deceptive (akdhab al-Hadith); and do not spy upon one another, and do not try to bare (other people’s) failings: (Muwatta’ almost identical version of this Tradition have been quoted by Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawood); “Do not hurt those who have surrendered themselves to God (Muslims), and do not impute evil to them, and do not try to uncover their nakedness(i.e., their faults): and do not impute evil to them, and do not try to uncover their nakedness (on the day of judgement)” (Tirmidhi); and, Never does a believer draw a veil over the nakedness of another believer without God’s drawing a veil over his own nakedness on Resurrection Day” (Bukhari). All these injunctions have received their seal, as it were, in the Qur’anic exhortation: “Avoid immoderate suspicion (guesswork), for in some cases suspicion is a sin.”(49:12).
Hence the scholars are of the view that invitation towards righteousness, enjoining good and forbidding evil is to be done in the society by scholars and citizens through peaceful preaching, reason and wisdom as Allah says in Qur’an: “Call people to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and best advice, and reason with them, if you have to, in the most courteous manner: for your Lord knows best who strays from His Way and He knows best who is rightly guided.”(Qur’an;16:125); “Good deeds are not equal to the evil ones. Repel other's evil deeds with your good deeds. You will see that he with whom you had enmity, will become your close friend.”(Qur’an;41:34). “Repel evil with good - We are fully aware of their slanders”(Qur’an;23:96). However under grave circumstances force may have to be applied appropriately against evil and mischief threatening the peaceful environments, with in the ‘zone of authority’ only by those people, charged with authority, like a father in his house, head of institution with in his organization and the government with in state: “These are the people who, if We establish them (in power, authority) in the land, will establish Salah and pay Zakah, enjoin justice and forbid evil; the final decision of all affairs is in the hands of Allah.”(Qur’an;22:41), “..enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and observe the limits set by Allah..”(Qur’an;9:112). “Verily Man is in loss. Except such as have Faith and do righteous deeds and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth and of Patience and Constancy.”(Qur’an;103:2-3). Consequently while keeping in view divine plan of creation, the scholars and Muslim should preach to ‘Enjoin Good and Eschew Evil’ through peaceful means. Under no circumstances people should take law in to their own hands as it will create anarchy (fasad, fitna) and destabilize the state as happened in the initial days of Islam through the extremist and violent sect, the Khawarij.
Avoiding Reemergence of Fitnah :
The term Fitnah (‘trial,’ or ‘test’), is used in Islamic history, which refer to heretical uprisings, especially the first major internal struggle within the Muslim community (656-661 C.E), which resulted in both civil war and religious schism. During the reign of the third caliph, 'Uthman, certain rebellious groups accused the Caliph of nepotism and misrule, and the resulting discontent led to his assassination. The rebels then recognized the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law, 'Ali, as ruler but later deserted him and fought against him, accusing him of having committed a grave sin in submitting his claim to the caliphate to arbitration, they are called Khawarij. The word kharaju, from which khariji is derived, means "to withdraw" and Khawarij were, therefore, seceders who believed in active dissent or rebellion against a state of affairs they considered to be gravely impious. The basic doctrine of the Khawarij was that a person or a group who committed a grave error or sin and did not sincerely repent ceased to be Muslim. According to them mere profession of the faith"there is no god but God; Muhammad is the prophet of God" did not make a person a Muslim unless this faith was accompanied by righteous deeds. In other words, good works were an integral part of faith and not extraneous to it. The second principle that flowed from their aggressive idealism was militancy, or jihad, which the Khawarij considered to be among the cardinal principles, or pillars, of Islam. Contrary to the orthodox view, they interpreted the Qur’anic command about "enjoining good and forbidding evil"(Qur’an;3:104) to mean the vindication of truth through the sword. The placing of these two principles together made the Khawarij highly inflammable fanatics, intolerant of almost any established political authority. They incessantly resorted to rebellion and as a result were virtually wiped out during the first two centuries of Islam.
A moderate group of the Khawarij, the Ibadis, avoided extinction, and its members are to be found today in North Africa and in Oman and other parts of East Africa, including ZanzibarIsland. The Ibadis do not believe in aggressive methods and, throughout medieval Islam, remained dormant. Because of the interest of 20th-century Western scholars in this sect, the Ibadis have become active and have begun to publish their classical writings and their own journals. Although till recently Chasidism has been considered essentially a story of the past, which left permanent influence on Islam, because of reaction against it. It forced the religious leadership of the community to formulate a bulwark against religious intolerance and fanaticism. Positively, it has influenced the reform movements that have sprung up in Islam from time to time and that have treated spiritual and moral calmness and status quo with a quasi-Khawarij zeal and militancy.
The phenomenon of Talibanization in Afghanistan and adjoining areas of Pakistan, bears some resemblance to the Khawarijism, due to the intolerance and militancy being displayed by them against fellow Muslims to enforce their vision of Islam. It appears that; “We are chasing an Islamic order stripped of its humanism, aesthetics, intellectual quests and spiritual devotions…. concerned with power not with the soul, with the mobilization of people for political purposes rather than with sharing and alleviating their sufferings and aspirations .” (Eqbal Ahmad). In order to avoid other Fitnah gaining rootsin the Muslim Ummah, there is strong need to undertake short term and long term measures to satisfy the needs of morality, security, justice, social inequality and economic conditions of masses and level of education in religious institutions so that the unity and development of Muslims is not affected.
PERMISSIBLE FOOD :
Muslims are allowed to eat everything which is good for the health and permissible. “O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you.”(Qur’an;2:168). The permissible (Hilal) animals are to be slaughtered in Islamic way by reciting the name of Allah. There are certain prohibition in eating and drinking etc for the betterment of Muslims: “This Day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you..” (Qur’an;5:5), “He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. but if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is He guiltless. for Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.” (Qur’an;2:173).
Similar prohibitions are also mentioned in Bible: “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”(Acts;15:29), “You shall not eat anything that dies of itself”(Deuteronomy;14:21),“Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”(Genesis;9:4) Leviticus 17:14-15, Deuteronomy 12:16, 1Samuel 14:33 and Acts 15:29 also at Revelation 2:14. Pork is also prohibited in Bible: “And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you.”(Leviticus;11:7-8) also Deuteronomy 14:8 & Isaiah 65:2-5. Consumption of alcohol and gabling is prohibited in Islam: “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.”(Qur’an;5:90). According to Bible: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs;20:1),“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians;5:18). Muslims are allowed to consume permissible (Hilal) food from the people of the book (Jews and Christians).
The tradition of circumcision is part of Sunnah of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), while Christians have abandoned it, Muslims being the faithful true followers of Abraham, strictly adhere to this practice: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle (Muhammad, peace be upon him) said, "Five practices are characteristics of the Fitra: circumcision, shaving the pubic region, clipping the nails and cutting the moustaches short."( Sahih Bukhari Hadith;7.777). It is mentioned in Bible: “And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.”(Acts;7:8 also at John;7:22). Jesus (peace be upon him) was also circumcised: “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke;2:21).
HUMANITARIAN OBLIGATIONS :
Humanitarian obligations (Haqooq-ul-Ibad) are highly relevant in Muslim communities. Generally Haqooq Allah, the duties towards Allah (belief, rituals, prayers) are over emphasized while duties toward fellow human beings are given a low priority in practice, both at the individual and community level. Since a good balance is the main characteristic of Islam and its code of living so, the responsibilities toward other human beings are indeed given a very strong emphasis in Islam.
Bible on Human Obligations:
Obligations towards fellow humans have been emphasized in Bible at ‘Romans; chapter 12: “love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”(Romans;12:10),“Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”(Romans;12:12), “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”(Romans;12:12),“If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans;12:18-21).
Islamic Role Model :
The Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him) is the role model for the Muslims. The virtues like justice, truthfulness, kind and courteous behaviour with fellow humans, fairness in trade, dealings, respect of life and property of others, helping underprivileged, oppressed and weak, Muslim or non Muslims alike are hall mark of Islam, the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is full of practical examples. The rights of parents and non Muslims have been elaborated separately due to their special significance. During his last address to the Muslims Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said; “O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.……You know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. You are all equal. Nobody has superiority over other except by piety and good action.” He said that a Muslim has a "sanctity" which means that he must always be respected, well treated and immune from assault on his person, property and integrity. Hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) defines the relationship of brotherhood between Muslims, and what it entails in practical life. He says that a Muslim is a brother to every Muslim: the one never treats the other unjustly, nor lets him down, nor tries to humiliate him." He also told that the "sanctity" of a believer is "in God's view, greater than the sanctity of the Ka’bah." The Hadith implies that all rights, minor or major, that belong to a Muslim must be always respected. A person at the receiving end of injustice is sure to have God's help. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that; "supplication by a person treated unjustly goes directly to God without any hindrance." This very statement should be sufficient to make anyone who exercises any degree of power to be on his guard lest he should treat anyone unjustly. Moreover, mutual help between members of a Muslim community is highly emphasized.
Helping Each Other: The Prophet (peace be upon him) says: "Whoever helps his brother with a certain need shall have God helping him in accomplishing his own purpose." Prophet (peace be upon him) himself was the best example of extending a helping hand to all and sundry. Even the weakest member of the community could draw on an inexhaustible source of help from the Prophet (peace be upon him). Prophet (peace be upon him) was also the head of the Muslim state, would let even a slave make any demand on his time and service. It may be kept in view that the Arabian society in the pre-Islamic days was highly unjust to both women and slaves.
Charity: Islam places great emphasis on charity. Zakah (compulsory charity) is an important pillar of Islam, while Sadqah isthe alms disburse voluntarily to help deserving poor and destitute over and above Zakah. Allah says: “Righteousness is not whether you turn your face towards East or West; but the righteousness is to believe in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Books and the Prophets, and to spend wealth out of love for Him on relatives, orphans, helpless, needy travelers, those who ask for and on the redemption of captives; and to establish Salah (prayers), to pay Zakah (alms), to fulfill promises when made, to be steadfast in distress, in adversity, and at the time of war. These people are the truthful and these are the pious.” (Qur’an;2:177). “They ask you what they should spend in charity. Say: "Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, Allah is aware of it.”( Qur’an;2:215). “The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain that sprouts into seven ears, each bearing one hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wishes. Allah has boundless knowledge.” (Qur’an;2:261). “Surely the charitable men and the charitable women, and those who give a goodly loan to Allah, shall be repaid manifold, and also be given a liberal reward besides it.” (Qur’an;57:18).“O believers! Spend out of the sustenance which We have provided for you before the arrival of that Day when there will be no bargaining, friendship or intercession. It is the unbelievers who are wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;2:254). If charity is practiced with the true spirit of Islam there will be no poor person left in society. Narrated Haritha bin Wahb: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "Give in charity because there will come a time on the people when a person will go out with his alms from place to place but will not find anybody to accept it." (Sahih Bukhari Hadith Number: 9.236)
Rights of Neighbors: Prophet (peace be upon him) was also the best of neighbors and he emphasized that neighbors have a claim on our kindness. He mentioned that; "The Angel Gabriel has reminded me so often of the rights of a neighbor until I began to think that a neighbor may have a claim to inheritance." This means that the status of a neighbor should be viewed as comparable to that of a family member.
Equality and Respect: On the other hand, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard one of his companions say to Bilal (an African companion) during an argument, "You son of a black woman", he was very angry indeed. He said to that man: "You insult him on account of his mother? You certainly have not purged yourself from the values of an ignorant society." All that gives just an idea of the sort of emphasis Islam attaches to the rights of individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable in society.
Treatment of Women: The Prophet (peace be upon him) appreciated good treatment of women, he said: "The best among you are those who treat their wives best. I am indeed the best of you in the way I treat my wives." When this is compared with the notion that prevails among the overwhelming majority of men in the Muslim world, it is found to be at variance with the Prophet's instructions. In his last address, Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have right over you. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery”.
Treatment of Servants: Prophet (peace be upon him) was very kind with his servants. Anas ibn Malik reports: "I served the Prophet (peace be upon him), for ten years and he never said to me: Why did you do this? or why did you omit that?" Delegations visiting Medina often thought that Anas and his mother belonged to the Prophet's own family.
Lack of Human Obligations a Sin: It should always be remembered that God may forgive all sins that relate to human obligations toward Him, but He will not forgive anything that is due to a human being (Humanitarian Obligations) until that person is ready to forgive it. Hence, the Muslims have to perform their obligations like worship and simultaneously be kind to the other human in the society, which is also a form of worship being part of Islamic duties.
Rights of Animals: Apart from human, a believer has to be kind with the animals: Narrated Sahl ibn al-Hanzaliyyah: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) came upon an emaciated camel and said: “Fear Allah regarding these dumb animals. Ride them when they are in good condition and feed them when they are in good condition.”(Sunnah Abu Dawood, Hadith.1065)
OBLIGATIONS TO PARENTS :
Emphasized in Previous Scriptures :
Islam attaches great importance to the human rights which include respect, love and obedience to the parents, and others living around in the society, specially the weak and underprivileged. The respect of parents has always been part of great civilizations, cultures and teachings of previous scriptures. It is mentioned in Qur’an; “And remember We took a covenant from the children of Israel (to this effect): worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents and kindred and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people;”(Qur’an;2:83). The ten commandments given to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him)on Mt.Sinai, included respect of parents. The Commandments are recorded virtually identically in Exodus;20:2-17 and Deutronomy;5:6-21, it is mentioned; “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” According to the New Testament, Jesus (peace be upon) said: “For God commanded, Honour your father and mother: and, He who speaks evil of or mother, let him surely die.” (Mathew;15:4).
High Priority after Tawhid : It may be noted that the respect and good behavior towards the parents have been mentioned immediately after belief in One Allah, in Qur’an: “Your Lord has decreed to you that: You shall worship none but Him, and you shall be kind to your parents; if one or both of them live to their old age in your lifetime, you shall not say to them any word of contempt nor repel them and you shall address them in kind words. You shall lower to them your wings of humility and pray: "O Lord! Bestow on them Your blessings just as they cherished me when I was a little child. Your Lord knows best what is in your hearts. If you do good deeds, certainly He is most forgiving to those who turn to Him in repentance.”(Qur’an;17:23-25). The spiritual and moral duties have been amalgamated here.
Individual Act of Piety: The kindness to parents is an individual act of piety. Hence this matter must be approached with gentle humility: for the parental love, remind him of the great love with which Allah cherishes His creatures. There is something here more than simple human gratitude; it goes up into the highest spiritual region. The Muslim is asked to honor their father and mother, upon much higher and more universal grounds, such as befit a perfected revelation. In the first place, not merely respect, but cherishing kindness, and humility to parents, are commanded. In the second place, this command is bracketed with the command to worship the One True God. Parental love should be like a type of divine love: nothing can ever really compensate for that which have been received. In the third place the spiritual advancement is tested by this: no one should expect Allah's forgiveness if one is rude or unkind to the parents who unselfishly brought him up.
No Right in Deviation to Faith and Worship: While there is deep respect for the parents but in the matters of faith and worship, they have no right to force their children. They cannot and must not hold up before them any worship but that of the One True God. Children and parents must all remember that they have all to go before Allah's tribunal, and answer, each for his own deeds. But even then, it does not mean that one should be arrogant or insolent. Allah says: “We have enjoined on man kindness to parents: but if they (either of them) strive (to force) thee to join with Me (in worship) anything of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not. Ye have (all) to return to Me and I will tell you (the truth) of all that ye did.”(Qur’an;29:8). “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command) "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.” But if they strive to make the join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not; Yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration) and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): in the End the return of you all is to Me and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did." (Qur’an;31:14-15).
Qur’an on Kindness to Parents :
Allah has repeatedly asked the children to be good and kind with parents, He says : “We have enjoined on man Kindness 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. At length when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years he says: “We have enjoined man to treat his parents with kindness. With much trouble his mother bore him, and much pain did she give him birth. His bearing and his weaning took thirty months. When he reaches the age of full strength and becomes forty years old, he says: "My Lord! Grant me the grace that I may thank you for the favors which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do good deeds that will please You, and grant me good children. Surely I turn to You in repentance and surely I am of those who are Muslims. Such are the people from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and overlook their misdeeds. They shall be among the residents of paradise: true is the promise that has been made to them in this life. But those who rebukes his parents and say: " Fie upon you both! Do you threaten me with a resurrection, whereas many a generations have passed before me and none has come back from among them?" And they both cry for Allah's help and say: "Woe to you! Be a good believer. Surely the promise of Allah is true." But he replies: "This is nothing but tales of the ancients.” (Qur’an;46:15-17). The respect to parents could result in great rewards as Allah says in Qur’an: “Those who believe and work righteous deeds from them shall We blot out all evil (that may be) in them and We shall reward them according to the best of their deeds.” (Qur’an;29:7).
Traditions of Apostle (peace be upon him):
There are many traditions (Hadiths) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which emphasize the respect and high status of parents: Narrated by Mu'adh ibn Jabal; “Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) instructed me to do ten things saying: (1). Do not associate anything with Allah even if you are killed and burnt on that account. (2). Don't be disobedient to your parents even if they command you to abandon your family and your property……..” (Transmitted by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi Hadith: 61). Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: A woman was my wife and I loved her, but Umar hated her. He said to me: Divorce her, but I refused. Umar then went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and mentioned that to him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Divorce her.(Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number.2437). Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr: A man said to the Prophet(peace be upon him),"Shall I participate in Jihad?" The Prophet(peace be upon him) said, "Are your parents living?" The man said, "Yes." the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Do Jihad for their benefit."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:8.3). Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr: The Prophet(peace be upon him) said, "Al-Kaba'ir (the biggest sins) are: To join others (as partners) in worship with Allah, to be undutiful to one's parents,"(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 9.9). Narrated by Anas : The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about the great sins He said, "They are:(1 ) To join others in worship with Allah. (2) To be undutiful to one's parents. (3) To kill a person (which Allah has forbidden to kill-murder). (4) And to give a false witness." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:3.821).
HUMAN RIGHTS OF NON MUSLIMS :
In communities which base their civil rights on brute strength, the weaker go to the wall, and public opinion expects nothing else. Even in modern democracies of the saner sort, it is often told that it is the fate of minorities to suffer; strength of numbers here becomes the passport to power and privilege. Islam, while upholding balanced views in general, enjoins the most solicitous care for the weak and oppressed. The minorities are treated with justice in every way-in rights of property, in social rights, and in the right to opportunities of development. The non-Muslim living under the protection of a Muslim state is referred as Dhimmi, a free non-Muslim subject. They are exempt from duties of Islam like military service and zakat, instead they are required to pay jizyah (poll-tax). Historically some Islamic governments paid this poll tax for poor non-Muslim subjects or reduced it to mere symbolic tax. If the State cannot protect those who paid jizyah, then the amount they paid is returned to them. Islam guarantees full protection and security of the State including freedom of religion to all. The killing of innocent people is strictly prohibited, according to Qur’an: “..if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the life of all mankind: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear Signs yet even after that many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”(Qur’an;5:32). Thus the notion that the minorities are treated as second class citizens in an Islamic state is based on malicious propaganda.
Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) :
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the main enforcer of human rights safeguarding the legitimate interests of minorities. The monks of Mount Sinai were provided protection. On establishing the first Islamic state at Medina, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) entered into many alliances, treaties with the Muslims and the non-Muslims, securing peace and tranquility for the Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The Charter of Medina : The Charter of Medina, in fact was the first ever written constitution in the history of mankind. This was based on the contract agreed upon by Muslims, Jews and others, stipulating that they all would be treated as equal citizens of Medina, giving the non-Muslims right of choosing a legal system they wished their affairs be governed by, be it Islamic or Jewish law or pre-Islamic Arab tribal traditions. This confirms the principle “no compulsion in religion”, freedom of expression and religious practice was open to everyone. It gave the right of protection, security, peace and justice; not only to Muslims, but also to the Jews who lived in the City of Medina, as well as the allies of Jews who were non-Muslims. The Jews were recognized as a separate political and ethnic minority, and allowed to practice their religion quite freely. In fact, Jews were considered on an equal bases as Muslims under the Islamic State.
Safety, Security and Protection of Non Muslims: Narrated Abdullah bin Amr : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever killed a Mu'ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling)."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.49). Narrated Amr bin Maimun: The second Caliph Umar (after he was stabbed by a man from minority), instructed (his would-be-successor) saying, "I urge him (i.e. the new Caliph) to take care of those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him) in that he should observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their behalf (to secure their safety) and he should not over-tax them beyond their capability." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 4.287).
Freedom of Faith: There are no forced conversions in Islam, the non Muslim subjects have the right to freely choose to convert to Islam or keep practicing their faith. But once a person converts to Islam, it is obligatory to practice his faith to be a good Muslim. Apostasy has always been considered as a capital offence in all the religions and political systems of the world, because it is considered as a high treason against the established norms of society. The Bible prescribes death by stoning for apostasy:“You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God..”(Deutrony;13:10). The pagan Romans brutally killed the early Christians on same ground. Subsequently this practice was repeated by the Christian Church against opposing Christians, who were killed and burnt alive. Death penalty for apostasy remained in force in England for long time. It was abolished due to social and cultural developments. In early Islam, the pagans of Makka, and Jews of Medina used to indulge in this practice to gain intelligence and to demoralize the fragile expanding Muslim community of Median. Hence apostasy is considered as a major sin in Islam. Whether it is punishable by Islamic law is a debatable matter among Muslim scholars. Some believe that the apostate should be punished after trial because they consider this crime as a betrayal, high treason against the community, while others opine that if someone changes his faith and does not challenge the Islamic society, it is a matter between him and Allah, Who will punish him in hereafter. However, both opinions agree that it is a major worst form of sin punishable by Allah. As per Qur’an; “Those who turn back as apostates after Guidance was clearly shown to them the Evil One has instigated them and buoyed them up with false hopes.”(Qur’an;47:25). Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases:In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits adultery and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.17). Non-Muslims are allowed to teach their faith to their followers, but they are not allowed to go against the mainstream of the Muslim society.
Kindness and Equity: Muslims are encouraged to act towards all the non-Muslims living in Islamic state with kindness and equity. As per Qur’an; "As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity. Indeed, Allah loves those who act equitably"(Qur’an;60:8). There are numerous Hadiths, which encourage Muslims to be kind to other religious communities, especially those who constitute minorities in the MuslimState. As a result many deserving non Muslims were able to get very high positions in the Muslim hierarchy. Islam does not forbid engagement in respectful and peaceful dialogue with others, especially the People of the Book, provided that neither side exploit the illiteracy or dire financial need of others so as to psychologically manipulate them in the name of outreach.
Legal and Dietary Freedom : Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. The rights of minorities are well protected in Islam. Another interesting fact in Islamic history is that although Muslims are prohibited from preparing, selling and consuming alcohol, whereas the ruling is not the same with non-Muslim. If non-Muslim minority in an Islamic state wish to do so, and do not involve Muslims, they would actually be given this right, they even consume pork, strictly prohibited for the Muslims. This points out that the concept of human rights in Islam has often been given a much negative view. While throughout Europe and America, Muslims are not permitted to make the call to prayer (adhan) on loud speakers, church bells ring freely in the Muslim world.
Special Status of People of the Book : The Christians and Jews are called People of the Book in Qur’an. Muslims are asked to call upon the People of the Book for common terms, that is to worship One Allah, and to work together for the solutions of the many problems in the society. “Those who believe (in the Qur'an) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians (monotheistic followers of John the Baptist) and who believe in Allah and the last day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.”(Qur’an;2:62).
Equitable Muslim Rule of Spain: The history of Islam proves this, when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in dominant Islamic societies. The Spain was under the tyrannical, suppressive and corrupt rule of King Roderick, who after death of King Witiza, in 710 through intrigue managed to become king. Roderick was a brute ruthless, tyrant and corrupt ruler, he faced a revolt of the Basques and was never recognized in the Northeast. He even did not spare the daughter of Count Julian the governor of Ceuta and raped her. Meanwhile, Witiza's family had made contact with the Muslims for assistance against oppressor rule of Roderick, Count Julian also requested Musa bin Nasir, the Muslim governor of North Africa for help. He after getting approval of Caliph sent Tariq bin Zyad to Spain in 711 C.E, by 713 C.E Spain was under Muslim control. This rapid success can be explained by the fact that Hispano-Visigoth society welcomed the end of tyrannical rule of Roderick. The Jews, harassed by the legal ordinances of Toledo, were particularly hostile toward the Christian government. Moreover, the Muslim conquest brought advantages to many elements of society: the burden of taxes was on the whole less onerous than it had been in the last years of the Visigoth epoch; serfs who converted to Islam (mawali; singular: maula) advanced into the category of freedmen and enrolled among the dependents of some conquering noble. This group formed the majority of the population because during the first three centuries religious, social and economic motives induced a considerable number of natives to convert to Islam, there were no force conversions. Jews were no longer persecuted and were placed on an equal footing with the Hispano-Romans and Goths who still remained within the Christian fold. Thus, in the first half of the 8th century, there was born a new society in Muslim Spain.
In Spain under the Umayyads and in Baghdad under the Abbasid Khalifahs, Christians and Jews enjoyed a freedom of religion that they did not allow each other or anyone else. In contrast forced conversions to Catholicism have been documented at various points throughout history. The most prominently cited allegations are the conversions of the pagans during Emperor Constantine (306-337 C.E); of Muslims, Jews and Eastern Orthodox during the Crusades(1095-1291 C.E) ; of Jews and Muslims during the Spanish Inquisition; and of the Aztecs by Hernando Cortes in South America.
The Jews which fled from Spain during the Inquisition, were welcomed by the Muslims and they settled in the heart of the Islamic Ottomans Caliphate. They enjoyed positions of power and authority. In contrast the Muslims who lived in Christian Spain were persecuted and prejudiced against on account of their faith. When the 2nd Caliph Omar took Jerusalem from the Byzantines in 634 C.E, he insisted on entering the city with only a small number of his companions. Proclaiming to the inhabitants that their lives and property were safe, and that their places of worship would never be taken from them, he asked the Christian patriarch Sophronius to accompany him on a visit to all the holy places. The Patriarch invited him to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but he preferred to pray outside its gates, saying that if he accepted the invitation to pray in church, later generations of Muslims might use his action as an excuse to turn it into a mosque. A mosque was built on the spot where Omar prayed. The Christians entrusted the Muslims, and as such the key of the Church in Jerusalem kept in the hands of the Muslims.
Freedom of Worship: It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. Muslims during their rule granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Throughout the Muslim world, churches, synagogues and missionary schools were built within the Muslim neighborhoods. These places were protected by Muslims even during the contemporary crises in the Middle East. As per Qur’an; “…Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another there would surely have been pulled down monasteries churches synagogues and mosques in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is Full of Strength Exalted in Might (Able to enforce His Will).”(Qur’an;22:40)
Marriage with Women of People of the Book : Islam is not exclusive faith, social intercourse, including food and inter-marriage, is permitted with the People of the Book. According to Qur’an: “This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers but chaste women among the People of the Book revealed before your time when ye give them their due dowers and desire chastity not lewdness nor secret intrigues. If anyone rejects faith fruitless is his work and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).” (Qur’an;5:5).
Racisms Rejected: Any man or woman, of any race or faith, may, on accepting Islam, freely marry any Muslim woman or man, provided it be from motives of purity and chastity and not of lewdness. As always, food, cleanliness, social intercourse, marriage and other interests in life, are linked with the duty to Allah and faith in Him. Duty and faith are for individual’s own benefit, here and in the Hereafter.
Reward of Good Deeds of Non Believers: Islam looks after the interest of non believers with justice, the good deeds of non-believer will not be wasted. Narrated Anas ibn Malik: Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said about reward for a non-believer, that he would be made to taste the reward (of virtue in this world). (Sahih Muslim Hadith:1305). The children of minorities (non-Muslims), are similar to the children of Muslims with respect to their entry into Paradise.(Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Fiqh 4.89a).
Social Courtesies : There are other social courtesies which Muslims are urged to extend to non Muslims: like the respect is to be extended to the non Muslim deceased;(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:2.399). Condolences are desirable, even if the deceased was a non-Muslim. It is permissible for a Muslim to visit a sick non-Muslim person.(Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Fiqh 4.5). The strong emphasis placed on the need to behave with equity towards minorities has been heeded by Muslims throughout the ages. Minorities in the MuslimState have always enjoyed a fair and kind treatment by the Muslim majority. On the personal level, there is nothing to stop any Muslim from forging a friendship with non-Muslims who harbor no ill intentions against Islam or its followers.
Tolerance and Moderation: Tolerance and moderation is the hallmark of Islam. Tolerance and moderation is the hallmark of Islam, Allah says :“We have made you (Muslims) a community of the middle way (keeping balance in extremes) so that you may testify against mankind and that your own Messenger may testify against you.”(Qur’an;2:143).. Human life of Muslims and non Muslims alike, has a very high place in Islam, Allah says: “whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land (through judiciary), it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed the mankind and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). Killing is only permitted in state of war or through judiciary if some one commits some crime warranting such punishment. The English educationist and historian, Thomas Arnold observed: ‘During the Muslim rule, on the whole, the level of tolerance exhibited towards non Muslims was missing in Europe till modern times’. Marmaduke Pickthall noted: "It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance".
HUMAN LIFE :
Human life has very high value according to Qur'an ; “He who saved one life should be regarded as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). Islam is the final message for the mankind for all times. It has the ability to meet the challenges posed by scientific developments.
Blood Transfusion and Organ Transplant:
With the advancements in medical sciences, new ethical issues like organ transplant and blood transfusion to save human lives came up. The Islamic scholars have resolved them through Ijtehad. Hence the blood transfusion and organ transplant are considered as permissible in Islam to save the human lives. To use an organ from a living person for transplantation into another is permissible if this does not endanger hi own life and the recipient or his family or the state or any other authority does not put the donor under any pressure to give away his organ. If some one donates his organ, he must do so out of his own free choice. It is not difficult to imagine a variety of situations where people are pressurized into donating their kidneys, or indeed forced to do so. In some countries, where political prisoners are subject to various methods of torture it is very easy for the authorities to rob them of various parts of their bodies. Pressure or the use of force in this respect is absolutely forbidden. The blood and organ donation also earn rich reward from Allah because, He attaches great values the human life. Some times blood transfusion is the only way to save the life of a person badly injured in an accident, or needing blood for an operation. Some people with blood diseases need blood transfusion on regular basis. The medical science has not advanced to the level as yet, where in the blood cannot be manufactured outside the human body. The only way to get blood is through donation and transfusion. Hence people are encouraged to donate blood. It is permitted for a Muslim to donate blood to a non-Muslim or vice versa on humanitarian grounds. It is also allowed to transplant organs between people of different faiths or to utilize the organs of animals (excluding pigs) for transplantation into human bodies if that is likely to prolong the life of the recipient.
If the kidney or an organ is donated after the death of the donor, the transplant is also permissible. Islam teaches us to respect the body of any dead person. Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “To break the bone of a dead person is the same as breaking the bone of a living person.” (Sunan of Abu Dawood, Hadith.1417). This means that Islam views any disfigurement of the corpse as a punishable crime. This idea of respecting the dead body is well instilled in the minds of the Muslims so much so, that examples of any disfigurement of dead enemy soldiers is not found in the history of Islam, as often happens in wars. However this principle is overridden by a well-defined interest of the community. Leading scholars mention that if a person swallows something valuable which does not belong to him, say a diamond ring, and he dies afterward, it is permissible to open up his tummy in order to retrieve that diamond ring and give it back to its owner. Moreover, if a group of unbelievers fighting the Muslim state take a Muslim hostage or make use of him as a shield to protect themselves, it is permissible to kill that Muslim person if killing him is the only way to overcome those unbelievers. Working on these principles, contemporary scholars agree that organ transplant operations are permissible. The interest that such operations serve is quite obvious. Such operations do not involve any disrespect to the dead. Indeed they are done with the greatest respect to the donor. The family of the deceased is considered the owner of his body. Their permission is necessary for using any part of the body of the dead person for transplantation, unless he has indicated during his life that he is willing for his body to be used for transplantation. In order to establish the cause of death and the possibility of any crime having been committed, postmortem is permissible. It is also acceptable that a postmortem is carried on a dead person if in the opinion of the qualified doctors such a postmortem may help in curing similar cases of illness.
FINE ARTS :
It is generally perceived that Islam is against Fine Art, which is concerned primarily with the creation of beauty and generally taken to include painting, printmaking, sculpture, and architecture, with literature, music, and dance sometimes being added. In its strict sense, fine art is to be distinguished from such decorative arts and crafts as wall painting, pottery, weaving, metalworking, and furniture making, all of which have utility as an end; the architect being differentiated from the builder in this respect. Islam is the religion of moderation in harmony with the nature, it does not impose unnecessary restrictions on the adornments which God has created for the enjoyment and development of human faculties. Asceticism often means the negation of art and beauty, it has no necessary sanctity attached to it. God has laid down the broad guidelines of lawful and prohibitions in Qur’an: “Say: Who hath forbidden the (zenah) adornment of God which He has brought forth for His devotees, and the good things of His providing? Say: "All these things are for the enjoyment of the believers in the life of this world though shared by others; but these shall be exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection. Thus do We make Our revelations clear for those who understand. Say: The things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to God for which he hath given no authority; and saying things about God of which you have no knowledge.”(Qur’an;7:32-33). The beautiful and good things of life are really meant for, and should be the privilege of those with faith in God. If they do not always have them in this life, and if there is sometimes the semblance of others having them who do not deserve them, it should be kept in view that this is a test from God. In the life to come they will be purely for the faithful. The forbidden things are described in four categories: (1) What is shameful or unbecoming; the sort of things which have also legal and social sanctions, not of a local but of a universal kind; they may be called offences against society: (2) Sins against self and trespasses or excesses of every sort; these are against truth and reason; here would come in indiscipline, failure in doing intangible duties not clearly defined by law; selfishness or self-aggrandizement, which may be condoned by custom and not punished by law, etc.- (3) Erecting fetishes or false gods; this is treason against the true God; and (4) Corrupting religion by debasing superstitions, saying things about God which are not true.
With in the parameters laid down by Qur’an; in broad-spectrum the Muslims have created such an immense variety of literatures, performing arts, visual arts, and music that it virtually defies any comprehensive definition. In the narrowest sense, the arts of the Muslims might be said to include only those arising directly from the practice of Islam; more commonly, however, the term is extended to include all of the arts produced by Muslim peoples, whether connected with their religion or not. It is difficult to establish a common denominator for all of the artistic expressions of the Muslims. Such a common denominator would have to be meaningful for miniature painting and historiography, for a musical mode and the form of a poem. The relationship between the art of the Muslims and its religious basis is anything but direct. Islam is not against fine arts with in the limits laid down by God and His last Messenger (peace be upon him).
Recreation, Amusements, Music and Singing: According to Fiqh us Sunnah Volume 2, Number; 153, “Recreation, amusements, and singing, if they stay within the moral bounds, are permissible on the days of Eid. ”Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (peace be upon him) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly saying, "Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (peace be upon him)?" Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) turned his face towards him and said, "Leave them." When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I signaled to those girls to go out and they left. It was the day of 'Id, and the Black people were playing with shields and spears; so either I requested the Prophet (peace be upon him) or he asked me whether I would like to see the display. I replied in the affirmative. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) made me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, "Carry on! O Bani Arfida," till I got tired. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked me, "Are you satisfied (Is that sufficient for you)?" I replied in the affirmative and he told me to leave. (Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith number; 2:70). This Hadith is cited by scholars as evidence for the permissibility of singing, and some scholars cite it also in argument that musical instruments are allowed in Islam, except where the music is used for a purpose contrary to Islamic values and principles. There is certainly no clear-cut, definitive statement by the Prophet (peace be upon him), that musical instruments are forbidden. Hence, the issue is controversial, with many scholars arguing for and against prohibition. However it may be considered that that the music, which encourages un-Islamic practices, is forbidden for that reason. Music that is relaxing and has a healthy effect on the listener is permissible. Music, differentiated as it may be in the countries between Morocco and India, follows: variations of highest subtlety on a comparatively simple given subject or theme.
Bilbe mentions about use of music by David while praising God: “Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.” (1Chronicles;23:5); “And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of music of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endures for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.”( 2Chronicles;7:6); “So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.”(2Samuel;6:15).
Pictures and Sculptures: Making of statue existed in the time of David and Solomon, as indicated in Qur’an: “They worked for him (Solomon) as he desired: making arches, statue...”(Qur’an;34:13); but because the pagans used the pictures and idols for worship hence the Muslim scholars are in agreement about prohibition of statues, and paintings of living creatures. However the Prophet (peace be upon him) once used a piece of cloth with pictures on it for prayers. After he finished, he expressed his dislike to that piece of cloth and said that it distracted him from his prayers. From this it may be deduced that it is discouraged to use such material for a prayer mat. Its use, however, does not affect the validity of prayer. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned that pictures are strongly discouraged, he made the exception "unless they be printed on material." This means material which is used for making clothes. So it may not be appropriate to say that photography, as it is used today, is forbidden. Indeed, it has numerous beneficial uses. If it is used for a bad purpose, as in the case of pornography, it becomes forbidden.
Calligraphy : The centre of the Islamic artistic tradition lies in calligraphy, a distinguishing feature of this culture, in which the word as the medium of divine revelation (Qur’an) plays such an important role. After the 13th century a highly refined art of miniature developed, primarily in the non-Arab countries; it dwells, however, only rarely upon religious subjects. And a perfect harmony is reached in some of the miniature manuscripts of Iran, Muslim India, or Ottoman Turkey, which, in their lucid colours and fine details of execution, recall both the perfection of the calligraphy that surrounds them on delicate paper and the subtlety of the stories or poems that they accompany or illustrate
Arabesque & Architecture: The typical expression of Muslim art is the arabesque, both in its geometric and in its vegetabilic form; one leaf, one flower growing out of the other, without beginning and end and capable of almost innumerable variations, only gradually detected by the eye -which never lose their charm. The arabesques, were developed according to a strict ritual to a mathematical pattern and were refined until they reached a perfection of geometrical complicated figures, as in the dome of the Karatay Medrese in Konya (1251); it corresponds both to the most intricate lacelike Kufic inscriptions around this dome and to the poetical style of Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi, who wrote in that very place and during those years. According to a US study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in its Journal on 21 February 2007; ‘Designs on arabesque tiles in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages revealed their maker’s understanding of mathematical concepts not grasped in the West until 500 years later. Many Medieval Islamic buildings walls have ornate geometric star and polygon or ‘girih’, patterns, which are often overlaid with a swirling network of lines - This girih tile method was more efficient and precise than the previous approach, allowing for an important breakthrough in Islamic mathematics and design.’ An aversion to empty spaces distinguishes that art; neither the tile-covered walls of a mosque nor the rich imagery of a poem allows an unembellished area; and the decoration of a carpet can be extended almost without limit. The architecture of mosques with big halls, of Iran and adjacent countries; central buildings with the wonderfully shaped domes of the Ottoman Empire, and Muslim Spain are unique in elegance. If any decoration was needed, it was the words of God, beautifully written or carved in the walls or around the domes. At first connected with the mosques and later independent of them are schools, mausoleums, rooms for the students, and cells for the religious masters. The Mughals in India have left most beautiful buildings like Taj Mahal, mosques and gardens like Shalimar.
Poetry : The aimless poetrywith pagan inclinations is not approved in Islam, however there is no restrictions on good poetry: “Shall I tell you, O people, on whom the devils descend? - They descend on every slandering sinner. Those who listen to hearsay - and most of them are liars and those poets who are followed by those who go astray. Do you not see, how aimlessly they wander in every valley, preaching what they do not practice themselves? However, an exception is made for those (poets) who believe, do good deeds, engage much in the remembrance of Allah and defend themselves when wronged, showing no vindictiveness. The unjust oppressors will soon find out what vicissitudes their affairs will take.”(Qur’an;26:221-227). Narrated Ubai bin Kab: Allah's Apostle said, "Some poetry contains wisdom." (Sahih Bukhari Hadith. Number;8.166). The ambiguity of Persian poetry, which oscillates between the worldly, the divine, and often the political level, is typical of Islamic writings. A similar characteristic even conditions innumerable historical works in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, which, especially in classical times, contain much valuable information. The immortal mystical poems of Rumi comprise thousands of variations on the central theme of love. Although such a perfect congruency of poetry and fine arts is not frequently found, the precept about Persian art that "its wings are too heavy with beauty" can also be applied to Persian poetry. Thus, the tile work of a Persian mosque, which combines different levels of arabesque work with different styles of writing, is reminiscent of the way Persian poetry combines at least two levels of reality. The 20th century great Muslim poet, philosopher Muhammad Iqbal beautifully conveyed the divine message through his poetry, reviving the spirit among Muslims of India, resulting in creation of Pakistan.
Influence on Europe :Europe has known art objects of Islamic origin since the early Middle Ages, when they were brought home by the crusaders or manufactured by the Arabs in Sicily and Spain. Much admired and even imitated, they formed part of the material culture in those times, so much so that even the coronation robes of the German emperor were decorated with an Arabic inscription. At the same time, Islamic motives wandered into the belles letters of Europe, and Islamic scientific books formed a basis for the development of Western science. Islamic culture as such, however, was rather an object of hatred than of admiration; a more objective appreciation of both the works of art and of literature did not start until the mid-17th century, when travelers told of the magnificent buildings in Iran and Mughal India, and the first works from Persian literature were translated, influencing German classical literature. Indian miniatures inspired Rembrandt, Persian carpets were among the most coveted gifts for princes and princesses. A bias against the cultures of the East persisted, however, until after the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment; the indefatigable work of the British scholars at ‘FortWilliam’ at Calcutta brought new literary treasures to Europe, where they were studied carefully by specialists in the emerging field of Islamic studies. Poets such as Goethe in Germany in the early 19th century paved the way for a deeper understanding of Islamic poetry. Islamic literatures, however, continue to be known to the larger Western public almost exclusively by The Thousand and One Nights, or The Arabian Nights' Entertainment (translated first in the early 18th century), Omar Khayyam's roba'iyat, and the lyrics of Hafez. Although the beauty of the Alhambra, for example, had already inspired European scholars and artists in the early 19th century, a thorough study of Islamic art as an independent field began only in the 20th century.
When the message of Islam was preached, two menace the slavery and usury were integral part of the societies internationally. Slavery it is sanctioned in Bible (Leviticus 25:44-46) while usury is prohibited. Islam does not approve of slavery, hence through variety of ways the reduction and eventual eradication of slavery was undertaken. Riba (‘usury or interest) is prohibited in Islam, to avoid exploitation and develop economy. Muslims are allowed to eat everything which is good for the health and permissible. Similar prohibitions are also mentioned in Bible: Humanitarian obligations (Haqooq-ul-Ibad) are highly relevant in Muslim communities. It is totally baseless malicious propaganda to state that the minorities are no well treated in Islam. The Charter of Medina, in fact was the first ever written constitution in the history of mankind which gave the non-Muslims right of choosing a legal system they wished their affairs be governed by, be it Islamic or Jewish law or pre-Islamic Arab tribal traditions. The Christians and Jews have special place in Islam, they are called People of the Book in Qur’an. The history of Islam proves this, when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in dominant Islamic societies in Spain, Baghdad and Ottomans empire. There are other social courtesies which Muslims are urged to extend to non Muslims. Human life has very high value according to Qur'an. Islam, being the religion of moderation is in total harmony with the human nature, it allows the fine arts, the adornments, which God has created for the enjoyment and development of human faculties with in the bounds of decency and faith.
WOMEN IN ISLAM;
EMANCIPATED NOT SUBJUGATED
Friday, February 15, 2008
" O Mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand (your rights) from one another, and of these ties of kinship. Verily, God is ever watchful over you!(Qur’an;4:1); “I will not let the good deed of any among you, whether a male or a female, be wasted:” (Qur’an;3:195).
Generally it is believed that in Islam the women are mistreated, their status is lower than men and they do not enjoy equal rights. Such negative perceptions has been created by the enemies of Islam, after having failed in the ideological front, however the cultural treatment meted to the women in some of the Muslim societies has provided the basis for such perception. Before the advent of Islam the status of women in earlier civilizations was very low to the extent that they were denied basic human dignity. A cursory look at that would highlight the respectable position granted to women by Islam. The women were degraded and were denied all rights under the Babylonian law. If a man murdered a woman, instead of him being punished, his wife was put to death. In the Greek Civilization, women were deprived of all rights and were looked down upon. In Greek mythology, an ‘imaginary woman’ called ‘Pandora’ is the root cause of misfortune of human beings. The Greeks considered women to be subhuman to the extent that they were considered impure, and they were bought and sold in marketplaces. A woman could not refuse a husband chosen by her guardian and she could not disobey her husband in anyway. Later, they acquired a somewhat batter status, but they remained inferior to men. Though chastity of women was precious, and women were held in high esteem, the Greeks were later overwhelmed by ego and sexual perversions. Prostitution became a regular practice amongst all classes of Greek society. When Roman Civilization was at the zenith of its ‘glory’, a man even had the right to take the life of his wife. Prostitution and nudity were common amongst the Romans. Under the Roman Empire, women did not have the right to own anything. If a woman had any property of her own, it was automatically transferred to the ownership of the head of the family. Later, in the reign of Justinian (483-565 C.E), women were given the right to retain what they earned through their own work, but money from other sources (gift etc) remained with the head of family.
Christian Europe was influenced by notions that prevailed in the days of paganism about the status of women. Eve is considered responsible for the fall of Adam from grace indicated by word “Evil”. As recently as 1805, the English law allowed the man to sell his wife. In the year 586 C.E that is when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still a young man, the French elegies organized a convention in which they discussed whether women were human or not. They concluded that a woman was a human being created only to serve men. Even after the French Revolution, in the late 18th century, the French law continued to consider that an unmarried woman was totally unqualified to enter into any contract without the consent of her guardian. The French law of the time stipulated that those who did not have legal status were "young boys, idiots and women.” The Egyptian considered women evil and as a sign of a devil. Before the advent of Islam, the Arabs looked down upon women and very often when a female child was born, she was buried alive. Islam uplifted the status of women and granted them their just rights 1400 years ago. If certain rights of woman are being ignored, restricted, or denied in present-day Islamic societies, it is the responsibility of the society which is not enforcing them, Islam cannot be blamed for it. The status of women in Islam is evident form the privileges granted to her.
ISLAM ELEVATED WOMEN TO DIGNITY & HONOR :
“Say to the people of Israel, If a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying; she shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.”(Leviticus’12:2-5).
Equality: Men and women are absolutely equal with regard to their human status. The Qur’an, and the Prophet (peace be upon him), stress the equality of the two sexes in clear terms. The Qur’anic address always applies to men and women equally, at times the women and men are also addressed together: “Surely the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the believing men and the believing women, the devout men and the devout women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and the charitable women, the fasting men and the fasting women, the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much - for all those, Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward”( Qur’an;33:35). Yet there are occasions where women are addressed in the Qur’an on their own, with matters that apply to them only. On the contrary, Islam stresses equality of treatment of sons and daughters. Allah says in the Qur'an: "Mankind, remain conscious of your Lord, who has created you all out of a single soul, and out of it created its mate."(Qur’an;4:1). Although man and woman have been created equal, but they are not identical. Both have been fashioned differently from each other, so their roles and responsibilities are also different. The Prophet (peace be upon him), says: "Women are the sisters of men." (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and others). Needless to say that brothers and sisters are equally treated. The Judeo-Christian traditions put all the blame for man's fall from heaven on women, conception of the creation of Adam and Eve is narrated in detail in Genesis, chapters 2 &3 . God is quoted to address the women; “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”(Genesis; 3:16). Islam repudiates that and makes Adam and Eve equally responsible for their actions. On the incident of their disobedience in heaven, Allah says in the Qur'an: “Satan caused them both to stumble, and thus brought them out of what they had been in."(Qur’an;2:36). Indeed, in some verses, the sin is attributed to Adam alone: "Adam disobeyed his Lord and thus he was astray…"(Qur’an;20:121). Furthermore, Islam rejects outright the principle of the original sin. It considers everyone responsible for his or her actions. Thus, no woman is responsible in anyway for what Eve had done in heaven, in the same way as no man is responsible for what Adam did there. According to Bible, the period of uncleanliness of women upon birth of girl child is double than the male child: “Say to the people of Israel, If a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying; she shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.”(Leviticus’12:2-5). Islam treats the children and their mother with equity whether the child is male or female.
Islam denounces the practice of those who feel sad or adopt a gloomy posture when a girl is born to them. This used to be the case in Arabia prior to the advent of Islam, and it is still so in many communities. According to Islam, the birth of a girl should be celebrated in the same way as the birth of a son. Prior to Islam, several Arabian tribes used to bury newborn girls alive. Islam not only forbade that practice but also denounced it in clearest of terms, threatening those who kill their children with utter ruin in this life and in the life to come. Islam issued strict orders to all Muslims to take good care of their women and look after them properly, whether they are their daughters, wives or mothers. In connection with looking after young girls, the Prophet (peace be upon him), says: "He who looks after two young girls until they attain puberty will on the Day of Judgment be with me like these two (and he pointed with his two fingers). His companions say that they understood that this also applies to a man with one daughter. " The Qur'anic verse and the Hadith which says: "The best blessing in this world is a good wife who pleases you when you look at her and protects you when you are away." (Related by Muslim and Ibn Majah). The verses which emphasize the importance of being dutiful to one's parents often highlights the role of mothers in order to stress the fact that a Muslim is always required to take particularly good care of his mother. A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him: "Who deserves my caring attention most?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, answered: "Your mother". The man asked: "Who comes next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) answered again: "Your mother". He gave the same answer the third time, but when the man asked him the same question again, the Prophet (peace be upon him), said: "Your father". (Related by Al-Bukhari). Woman is equal to man in the pursuit of education and knowledge. The Prophet declared: “Search for knowledge is a sacred duty imposed on every Muslim man and woman.
Equality in Faith, Worship and Rewards :A woman is liable to reward or punishment like men according her faith, worship and deeds. The same standard of justice applies to both men and women. Allah says in the Qur'an: "Whoever does well, whether male or female, having already accepted the faith, shall be made by Us to enjoy a goodly living. We will also administer to them their reward according to their best deeds."(Qur’an;16:97). "Their Lord answers their prayer: I shall not loose sight of what any of you does whether man or woman; each of you is an issue of the other." (Qur’an;3:195). During the time of Prophet (peace be upon him), the women used to offer prayer (salah) in the mosque, in the last row. However it is not obligatory for the women to offer prayers (salah) in mosque, they are allowed to offer prayer at home for convenience. Women can even lead the prayer for the women in congregations: “It is related from 'Aish’a that she would make the adhan and iqamah (prayer call) and lead the women in prayer, standing in the middle of the row.”(Related by al-Baihaqi- Fiqu-Us-Sunnah, Volume 1, Number 104 a). All the obligatory worships like Salah, Fasting, Zakah, and Hajj are also obligatory for Women like men, however during period of impurity (menstruation), they are exempted form offering prayers (salah) where as men are not exempted form prayers (salah) under any circumstances. The women are exempted to participate in combat (Jihad with sword or armed struggle). Narrated by Aish’a (The mother of the faithful believers); “The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by his wives about the Jihad and he replied, "The best Jihad (for you) is (the performance of) Hajj.”(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.128). However it is evident form a Hadith that in the initial days the women has been providing logistic support. Narrated Ar Rabibint Muauwidh :We used to take part in holy battles with the Prophet by providing the people with water and serving them and bringing the killed and the wounded back to Medina. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.134).
Modesty : The status of women in Islam is often the target of attacks in the Western media. The veil (Hijaab) worn by Muslim women is considered by many as an example of the ‘subjugation’ of women in Islamic law. Hijaab (veil) is a type of cloth worn by women over the head, shoulders, and bosoms (excluding the face, however some cover the face as well). The Muslim women are dressed up modestly which not only enhances their status to a respectable position but also help in controlling indecencies, forbidden by Allah: “ Say: "My Lord has forbidden only indecencies whether , such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin...”(Qur’an;7:33). It may be kept in view that modest dress for women has always been a part of biblical traditions, but now Christians are themselves defying Bible: “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”(Deuteronomy;22:5); “also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire.”(1Timothy;2:9). Veil, as a covering for the head was usually worn by Jewish women (Genesis;38:14). It was worn, as a token of modesty (Genesis;24:65), as a token of subjection (Corinthians;11:3,6-7,10) and for concealment (Genesis;38:14). The removing of veil was considered rude and insolent (Song of Solomon;5:7) and threatened as a punishment to ungodly women (Isaiah;3:23). It is also mentioned: “but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head -- it is the same as if her head were shaven”.(1 Corinthians;11:5).
Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) in his book, ‘The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature’ writes; 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." Rabbinic law forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a bareheaded married woman since uncovering the woman's hair is considered "nudity". Dr. Brayer also mentions that "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 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 as a sanctified possession of her husband. The veil signified a woman's self-respect and social status. The fact that the veil was the sign of nobility was the reason that the prostitutes were not permitted to cover their hair in the old Jewish society. Jewish women in Europe continued to wear veils, till their lives became more intermingled with the surrounding secular culture. The external pressures of the European life in the nineteenth century forced many of them to go out bare-headed. Some Jewish women found it more convenient to replace their traditional veil with a wig as another form of hair covering. Today, most pious Jewish women do not cover their hair except in the synagogue. Some of them, such as the Hasidic sects, still use the wig.
In the Christian tradition, it is well known that Catholic Nuns have been covering their heads for hundreds of years, but that is not all. St. Paul in the New Testament made some very interesting statements about the veil: St. Paul's rationale for veiling women is that the veil represents a sign of the authority of the man, who is the image and glory of God, over the woman who was created from and for man. 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 Canon 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 the present day. The reason for the veil, as offered by their Church leaders is that, "The head covering is a symbol of woman's subjugation to the man and to God”, the same logic is introduced by St. Paul in the New Testament. Jesus said: “But I say to you, that every one looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. (Mathew;5:28). This implies that while, the men should lower their gaze, the women should not display their beauty.
It is obvious that Islam did not invent the head cover. However, Islam did endorse it as a symbol of modesty and respect not of subjugation. The Qur’an instructs: "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..." (Qur’an;24:30,31); “There is no blame on such elderly women who have no interest in getting married, if they lay aside their cloaks without displaying their adornment, but it is better for them if they do not discard. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”(Qur’an;24:60). The Qur’an is quite clear that the outer garments (Jalabib) is an essential part of a recipe designed for the purposes of modesty. Allah says in Qur’an: "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" (Qur’an;33:59). Different methods were evolved with the expansion of Islam and intermixture with other cultures. The custom of veiling women as known at present (which originally arose as a sign of aristocracy but later served the purpose of segregating women from men; the pardah), was acquired in Iraq then under influence of Iranian culture. Much has been said about the synthesis of Hinduism and Islam in the period of Muslim dominance, but, as far as the Hindus were concerned, this was generally a matter of superficial observances. Thus, veiling (purdah), the strict seclusion of women, became commonplace among the Hindu upper classes of northern India.
The modesty is prescribed to protect women from molestation or simply, modesty is protection. According to Bible: “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed (engaged), and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.(Deuteronomy;22:28-29), “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall give the marriage present for her, and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equivalent to the marriage present for virgins.”(Exodus;22:16-17). The marriage of the victim of rape with the rapist is a punishment to her, she may not like to spend the rest of her life with such a criminal, payment of money equivalent to the marriage present will hardly deter such criminals. There is swear punishment for adultery and rape in Islam. The marriage is by choice and with mutual consent of the woman and man. The modestly and dignity of women is well guarded, leveling a false allegation (Qadhf) against chaste women is a hadd crime, having strict punishment mentioned in 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"(Qur’an;24:4). Islam has laid down harsh punishments for such crimes, which strictly guards the modesty of women.
Piety: The status accorded to woman by Islam is unique and has no parallel in any other society. In Islam, the rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man, but they are not necessarily the same. The variation in their functions does not imply that one is inferior to the other. In Islam, both men and women can rise in spiritual eminence. "Whoever works evil will not be requited but by the like thereof, and whoever works a righteous deed -whether man or woman- and is a believer- such will enter the Garden of bliss"(Qur’an;40:40); "Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him/her we will give a new life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions"(Qur’an;16:97): “Allah has set an example to the unbelievers in the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were married to two of Our righteous servants, but they betrayed them. In no way could their husbands protect them from Allah. Both of them were told: "Enter the fire, along with those who enter." And Allah sets forth, As an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: behold she said: "O My Lord! build for me, In nearness to thee, a mansion In the garden, and save me from Pharaoh and His doings, and save me from those that do wrong"; And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded Her chastity; and we breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of Her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).(Qur’an;66:10-12).
Revelation : The greatest honour bestowed upon man by Allah is Divine Revelation. Along with men, women have also received the gift of Divine Revelation, it is mentioned in Qur’an: “Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee, chosen thee above the women of all nations’.” (Qur’an;3: 42); “So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses...”(Qur’an;28: 7).
Inheritance: Qur’an and the Bible have divergent vies on female inheritance of the property of a deceased relative. The Biblical attitude has been succinctly described by Rabbi Epstein: "The continuous and unbroken tradition since the Biblical days gives the female members of the household, wife and daughters, no right of succession to the family estate. In the more primitive scheme of succession, the female members of the family were considered part of the estate and as remote from the legal personality of an heir as the slave. Whereas by Mosaic enactment, the daughters were admitted to succession once no male issue remained, the wife was not recognized as heir even in such conditions." Why were the female members of the family considered part of the family estate? Rabbi Epstein has the answer: "They are owned --before marriage, by the father; after marriage, by the husband." The Biblical rules of inheritance are outlined in Book of Numbers;27:1-11. A wife is given no share in her husband's estate, while he is her first heir, even before her sons. A daughter can inherit only if no male heirs exist. A mother is not an heir at all while the father is. Widows and daughters, in case male children remained, were at the mercy of the male heirs for provision. That is why widows and orphan girls were among the most destitute members of the Jewish society. Christianity has followed suit for long time. Both the ecclesiastical and civil laws of Christendom barred daughters from sharing with their brothers in the father's patrimony. Besides, wives were deprived of any inheritance rights. These iniquitous laws survived till late in the last century.
Among the pagan Arabs before Islam, inheritance rights were confined exclusively to the male relatives. The Islam abolished all these unjust customs and gave all the female relatives inheritance shares: Man and woman have been given the right to inherit from the parents and the near relatives by Qur’an: “Men shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave, and women shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave...” (Qur’an;4:7). A woman’s right to inherit is as much protected by law as that of a man. However, it must be remembered that whereas the right to inherit of both man and woman is equal, their shares in the inheritance may differ. In certain cases, the share of woman in inheritance is equal to the man, according to Qur’an: “For parents a sixth share of the inheritance to each if the deceased left children”(Qur’an;4:11), however in certain cases the woman gets half of what a man in her position would get. The cause of this variation is the financial responsibilities and liabilities with which man has been burdened, not woman. As compared to Muslim man, Muslim woman is financially secure and provided for as a wife, mother, daughter or sister by her husband, son, father and brother respectively. "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard.... "(Qur’an;4:34). If a woman has no male relations, then it is the responsibility of the state to maintain her. Whereas, a man, except in one or two cases, is supposed to not only look after his family and other needy relations, but also to make financial contributions to good causes in society. Thus, a larger share in the inheritance does not depict the supremacy of man over woman, but it is rather a concession granted to him in lieu of his financial and other responsibilities. Regrettably it is observed that in most of Muslims communities, while men happily get the more share than the women in inheritance but mostly they do not meet this obligation, which they owe to the entitled women. Such men would be answerable to Allah for this sin.
Among many nations, including Arabs in the Days of Ignorance, the widow was considered a part of her husband's property to be inherited by his male heirs, a step-son or brother took possession of a dead man's widow or widows along with his goods and chattels. This shameful custom was forbidden by Islam, Allah says:” And marry not women whom your fathers married except what is past: it was shameful and odious an abominable custom indeed.”(Qur’an;4:22). The widows and divorcees have the freedom to marry whomever they choose. There is no stigma attached with divorce or widowhood in Islam (Qur’an;2:231,232, 234, 240). The western tradition of adoption of her husband's family name by a woman when she marries him is a token of her subjugation to him. If divorce takes place, she returns to her own family. It is very strange that in some Western countries, even after divorce, a woman may continue to be known by her husband's family name. Historically speaking, a woman in the Western society was in a position of total subordination to her husband. In Islam, she retains her own family name because she is allowed to retain her identity.
Freedom in Choice of Spouse: Islam grants freedom of choice to woman in selection of her spouse. When a woman told the Prophet (peace be upon him), that her father forced her into a marriage with a cousin of his, hoping to achieve a better social position for himself, the Prophet (peace be upon him) made it clear that this was wrong and nullified the marriage. The woman then declared that she approved what her father had done, but she wanted to make clear to all Muslims that men have no power over women. If a father marries his daughter to someone without her consent, a Muslim judge must nullify that marriage if she puts the case to him. In some rural tribal communities the custom of marriage of women with Qur’an for the purpose of keeping the property with in the family is not only sacrilegious but shameful, reminding the days of ignorance (jahliyah).
Dower :The dower is the right granted to the women by God: “At the time of marriage, give the women their dower as a free gift; but if they, by their own free will, give up to you a portion of it then you may enjoy it with pleasure.”(Qur’an;4:4). Taking back the dower under normal circumstances is forbidden, the amount of dower is not fixed, it my vary according to the financial position of the groom, sky is the limit: “If you wish to marry another wife in place of the one you already have, do not take back anything of what you have given her even if it be a heap of gold. Would you take it back through slander and open sin (accusing her unjustly)?”(Qur’an;4:20); “O believers! It is not lawful for you consider women as a part of your inheritance and retain them against their will in order that you may force them to give up a part of the dowry you have given them, unless they are guilty of proven fornication. Treat them with kindness even if you dislike them; it is quite possible that you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good. If you wish to marry another wife in place of the one you already have, do not take back anything of what you have given her even if it be a heap of gold. Would you take it back through slander and open sin (accusing her unjustly)?”(Qur’an;4:19-20). Regrettably in some places specially in the Indo-Pak subcontinent under the influence of local culture, the parents of a women have to make arrangements for the dower (Jahaiz) which is totally against the spirit of Islam. Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: AbulAjfa' as-Sulami said: Umar (Allah be pleased with him) delivered a speech to us and said: Do not go to extremes in giving women their dower, for if it represented honour in this world and piety in Allah's sight, the one of you most entitled to do so would have been the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) did not marry any of his wives or gave any of his daughters in marriage for more than twelve uqiyahs. (Sunnah Abu Dawood:859).
Common Practice : If a man marries more than one woman at a time it is called polygyny, which has been practiced since ages. The most glaring and reprehensible error committed by Western writers is to suppose that Islam either adopted or legalized polygyny. In none of the other religious scriptures, whether it be the Bible, the Vedas, the Ramayan, the Mahabharat or the Geeta, there is any restriction on the number of wives, a man may possess. According to these scriptures one can marry as many women as one wishes. It was only later, that the Hindu priests and the Christian Church restricted the number of wives to one. The Bible did not condemn polygyny. To the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic writings frequently attest to the legality of polygyny . Prophet & King Solomon (peace be upon him) is said to have 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings;11:3) Also, Prophet & King David (peace be upon him) is said to have had many wives and concubines (2 Samuel;5:13). The Old Testament does have some injunctions on how to distribute the property of a man among his sons from different wives (Deutronomy;22:7). The only restriction on polygyny is a ban on taking a wife's sister as a rival wife (Leviticus;18:18), though Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him) married two sisters Leah and Rachel. The Talmud advises a maximum of four wives. European Jews continued to practice polygamy until the sixteenth century. Oriental Jews regularly practiced polygamy until they arrived in Israel where it is forbidden under civil law. However, under religious law which overrides civil law in such cases, it is permissible. Father Eugene Hillman in his insightful book, ‘Polygamy reconsidered’ writes, "Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy." Moreover, Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) has not spoken against polygamy though it was practiced by the Jews of his society. Father Hillman stresses the fact that the Church in Rome banned polygamy in order to conform to the Greco-Roman culture (which prescribed only one legal wife while tolerating concubinage and prostitution). He cited St. Augustine; "Now indeed in our time, and in keeping with Roman custom, it is no longer allowed to take another wife." African churches and African Christians often remind their European brothers that the Church's ban on polygyny is a cultural tradition and not an authentic Christian injunction.
Legal Permission and Moral Prohibition: The Qur’an is the only religious book, that contains the phrase ‘marry only one’, (the legal permission) with instructions of ‘justice’, which is difficult, hence a moral prohibition. The permission (not order) granted to Muslim men to marry up to four women is generally misunderstood. The Qur’anic verses on the subject are self explanatory ; “Hence, render unto the orphans their possessions, and do not substitute bad things [of your own] for the good things [that belong to them], and do not consume their possessions together with your own: this, verily, is a great crime. And if you have reason to fear that you might not act equitably towards orphans, then marry from among [other] women such as are lawful to you- [even] two, or three, or four: but if you have reason to fear that you might not be able to treat them with equal fairness, then [only] one - or [from among] those whom you rightfully possess. This will make it more likely that you will not deviate from the right course.”(Qur’an;4:2-3); “And it will not be within your power to treat your wives with equal fairness, however much you may desire it; and so, do not allow yourselves to incline towards one to the exclusion of the other, leaving her in a state, as it were, of having and not having a husband. But if you put things to rights and are conscious of Him - behold, God is indeed much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace”.(Qur’an;4:129). Various scholars have interpreted these verses in different ways, Abdullah Yousaf Ali explains; ‘The conditional clause about orphans need to be noticed, introducing the rules about marriage. The immediate occasion of the promulgation of this verse was after battle of Uhud, when the Muslim community was left with many orphans and widows and some captives of war. Their treatment was to be governed by principles of the greatest humanity and equity. The occasion is past, but the principles remain. Marry the orphans if one are quite sure that in that way the interests of orphans and their property will be protected, with perfect justice. If this is not possible then other arrangements may be made for the orphans.’ The clause of treating wives with ‘equity and justice’(Qur’an;4:129)puts a ‘moral restriction’ on polygyny. The Sunnah of Prophet and Companions indicate the existence of more than wives, but may be that they could be fair at least in the matters of equitable provisions, however one can not control the heart, which may be more inclined to one wife over the others. By keeping more than one wife, one is putting himself on and additional trial, any slip may result in to divine anger and retribution. Some Muslim countries have banned polygyny basing on the analogy of ‘impossibility of equity and justice beyond human control’. The concept of temporary marriage (Mutt’a) though permissible among Shi’a school is not permissible among four Sunni schools of jurisprudence.
Polygyny Permissible–Not Obligatory: It should not be appropriate to assume that the Qur’an is exhorting the believers to practice polygyny, or that polygyny is considered as an ideal. In other words, the Qur’an has "tolerated" or "allowed" polygyny, and no more. There are places and times in which there are compelling reasons for polygyny. In most human societies, females outnumber males. Islam as a universal religion suitable for all places and all times couldn't ignore these compelling reasons. It has to be added also that polygyny in Islam is a matter of mutual consent. No one can force a woman to marry a married man. The abuse of polygyny and repudiation of wife by the husband, even when her conduct is faultless, has recently led to the enactment of reformed family laws in most Muslim countries. The Qur'an repeatedly emphasizes the kind treatment of women.
Violence Against Women: Domestic violence is very old menace, Arabs were no exception, their maltreatment to women is a well known historic fact. They used to beat their women on small matters as it is still vogue in all the underdeveloped as well as the most developed societies of the world, where special laws have been made to discourage it. In the year 1995 in USA alone the lawmakers showed a heightened awareness of and sensitivity to domestic violence, with several states increasing penalties for abusers. New York enacted the omnibus Family Protection and Domestic ViolenceAct, and Maryland passed three new domestic-violence laws. Colorado passed five domestic-violence bills, including one that mandated arrest for the violation of a restraining order and jail time for a second offense. Virginia passed a number of laws with stiffer penalties for domestic violence, while Michigan had 14 new laws that would help in prevention and prosecution. This menace was handled in Islam objectively, by formulating the guidelines where by men can not resort to use of force against their wives as per their wish every now and then on minor matters. Allah says in Qur’an: “Men are overseers over women because Allah has given the one more strength than other, and because men are required to spend their wealth for the maintenance of women. Honorable women are, therefore, devoutly obedient and guard in the husband's absence what Allah require them to guard their husband's property and their own honor. As to those women from whom you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, first admonish them, then refuse to share your bed with them, and (and last) if necessary beat them (lightly); Then if they obey you, take no further actions against them and do not make excuses to punish them. Allah is Supremely Great and is aware of your actions.”(Qur’an;4:34). It is evident from many authentic Traditions that the Prophet himself intensely detested the idea of beating one’s wife and said on more than one occasion, “Could any of you beat his wife as he would beat a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?”(Sahih Bukhari;8.68 and Muslim). According to an other Tradition, he forbade the beating of any woman with the words, “Never beat God’s handmaidens”(Abu Dawood, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad inn Hambal, Ibn Hibban and Hakim, on the authority Ilyas ibn ‘Abd Allah; ibn Hibban, on the authority of ‘Abd Allah ibn Abbas; and Bayhaqi, on the authority of Umm Kulthum). When the above Qur’anic verse, authorizing the beating of a refractory wife was revealed, the Prophet is reported to have said: “I wanted one thing but God has willed another thing – and what God has willed must be best” (Manar V, 74). With all this, he stipulated in his sermon the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, shortly before his death that, beating should be resorted to only if the wife “has become guilty, in an obvious manner, of immoral conduct”, and that it should be done “in such a way as not to cause pain (ghayar mubarrih)”; authentic Traditions to this effect are found in Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood, Nasa’I and Ibn Majah. On the basis of these Traditions, all the authorities stress that this “beating”, if resorted to at all, should be more or less symbolic – “with a toothbrush (muswak), or some such thing” (Tibri, quoting the views of scholars of the earliest times), or even “with a folded handkerchief” (Razi); and some of the greatest Muslim scholars (e.g., Ash-Safi’i) are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided: and they justify this opinion by the Prophet’s personal feelings with regard to this problem. [Commentary by M.Asad]. In case all the efforts fail the family council is recommended in the next verse: “If you fear a breach of marriage between a man and his wife, appoint one arbiter from his family and another from hers; if they wish to reconcile, Allah will create a way of reconciliation between them. Allah is the Knowledgeable, Aware.”(Qur’an;4:35).
Allah says: “You have indeed, in the life of Messenger of Allah, the 'Best Model' for him whose hope is in Allah and the Day of the Hereafter, and who engages himself much in the remembrance of Allah.”(Qur’an;33:21), “Obey Allah and obey His messenger;” (Qur’an;64:12). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is not reported to have used force against his wives. In fact he has been very kind to them. Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: Habibah daughter of Sahl was the wife of Thabit ibn Qays Shimmas. He beat her and broke some of her part. So she came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) after morning, and complained to him against her husband. The Prophet (peace be upon him) called on Thabit ibn Qays and said (to him): Take a part of her property and separate yourself from her. He asked: Is that right, Apostle of Allah? He said: Yes. He said: I have given her two gardens of mine as a dower, and they are already in her possession. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Take them and separate yourself from her. (Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number. 915). Narrated Laqit ibn Sabirah: Messenger of Allah, I have a wife who has something (wrong) in her tongue, i.e. she is insolent. He said: Then divorce her. I said: Messenger of Allah, she had company with me and I have children from her. He said: Then ask her (to obey you). If there is something good in her, she will do so (obey); and do not beat your wife as you beat your slave-girl. (Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number. 72). Narrated Mu'awiyah ibn Haydah: I said: Apostle of Allah, how should we approach our wives and how should we leave them? He replied: Approach your tilth when or how you will, give her (your wife) food when you take food, clothe when you clothe yourself, do not revile her face, and do not beat her. (Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number. 878). It may be reasonable to conclude that it is permissible (not compulsory, undesirable) for the husband to use force lightly under extreme circumstance involving disloyalty and ill-conduct by his wife but only after fulfilling certain conditions i.e. first admonishing, then declining to share bed with her. It is obvious that these are not abrupt or emotional acts but, rational and gradual actions which should result in corrective positive response from the wife. If she obeys, then it is forbidden to take any further actions against her or to make excuses to punish, since the matter stands resolved. However if she does not improve her conduct, then the other option is divorce, but prior to it a light coercive action (just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided) may save the marriage. It is obvious that any pious and sane woman will not create such conditions, she may desist during first two steps. The killing of women on suspicion of ill-conduct termed as ‘Honor Killing’ (karokari) prevalent in many societies is totally against teachings of Islam.
Reconciliation: If the matter persists resulting to the breach of marriage, use of council by arbitrator form family of woman and man is to be arranged for reconciliation: “If a women fears cruelty or desertion from her husband, there is no blame if both of them agree to reconcile by means of a compromise, after all compromise is better. Human souls are prone to narrow- mindedness, but if you show generosity and fear Allah in your dealings, surely Allah is well aware of your actions.”(Qur’an;4:128). The lawful but most undesirable act is divorce (Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number. 893). The doors of reconciliation remain open for some time. Allah says: “Divorced women must keep themselves waiting for three menstrual periods, it is not lawful for them to hide what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. In such cases their husbands have a right to take them back in that period if they desire reconciliation. Women have rights similar to those exercised against them in an equitable manner, although men have a status (degree of responsibility) above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.”(Qur’an;2:228).
Maintenance Allowance for Divorced Women: Islam safeguards the interest of a divorcee women, by making it obligatory for the provision of maintenance allowance, Allah says: “Reasonable provisions (maintenance allowance) must also be made for divorced women (till she remarries). That is an obligation upon those who fear Allah.”( Qur’an;2:241). “Let those women, during their waiting period ('Iddat), live where you yourselves live according to your means. You shall not harass them so as to make life intolerable for them. If they are pregnant, maintain them until their delivery: and if, after that, they suckle your offspring, compensate them and settle the matter of compensation with mutual consultation and in all fairness. But if you cannot bear with each other then let another woman suckle the baby for you. Let the rich man give according to his means, and the poor man give according to what Allah has given him. Allah does not charge a man with more than He has given him; soon Allah may bring ease after hardship.”( Qur’an;65:6-7).
Women Granted The Right to Divorce (Khula): Islam granted the right of divorce to women 1400 years ago, once no woman could dream of this freedom. In the procedure for divorce by man, it was ensured that sufficient checks and balances are in built to avoid impulsive decision which may have to be regretted later. Allah says in Qur’an: “Pronouncement of revocable divorce is only allowed twice: then she should be allowed to stay with honor or let go with kindness after the third pronouncement. It is not lawful for husbands to take anything back which they have given them except when both parties fear that they may not be able to follow the limits set by Allah; then if you fear that they both will not be able to keep the limits of Allah, there is no blame if, by mutual agreement the wife compensates the husband to obtain divorce. These are the limits set by Allah; do not transgress them, and those who transgress the limits of Allah are the wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;2:229). Where divorce for mutual incompatibility is allowed, there is danger that the parties might act hastily, then repent, and again wish to separate. To prevent such capricious action repeatedly, a limit is prescribed, two divorces (with a reconciliation between) are allowed. After that the parties must definitely make up their minds, either to dissolve their union permanently, or to live honourable lives together in mutual love and forbearance - to "hold together on equitable terms," neither party worrying the other nor grumbling or evading the duties and responsibilities of marriage. However If a separation is inevitable, the parties should not throw mud at each other, but recognize what is right and honourable on a consideration of all the circumstances. In any case a man is not allowed to ask back for any gifts or property he may have given to the wife. This is for the protection of the economically weaker sex. Lest that protective provision itself work against the woman's freedom, an exception is made. All the prohibitions and limits prescribed are in the interest of good and honourable lives for both sides, and in the interests of a clean and honourable social life, without public or private scandals. If there is any fear that in safeguarding her economic rights, her very freedom of person may suffer, the husband refusing the dissolution of marriage, and perhaps treating her with cruelty, then, in such exceptional cases, it is permissible for the woman to seek divorce (Khula) but she has to return the dower she received form the husband at the time of marriage as she is breaking the contract. A divorce of this kind is called Khula. Divorce is most undesirable act, narrated by Muharib :The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah did not make anything lawful more abominable to Him than divorce. (Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number. 893). The women is free to marry any one else after divorce on completion of waiting period: “When you have divorced women and they have reached the end of their waiting period do not prevent them from marrying other men if they have come to an honorable agreement. This is enjoined on everyone amongst you who believes in Allah and the Last Day. This is more virtuous and chaste for you; Allah knows what you do not know.”(Qur’an;2:232)
Motherhood : Muslim scholars have divergent views on the issue of choice of birth control. However according to modern scholars, birth control, is permissible, from the Islamic point of view, as a legitimate step, to give the mother a better, standard of health and good care of children, provided it is safe and involve nothing harmful to the woman or to the fetus. Different methods may be employed to prevent conception. The authority to forbid anything belongs only to Allah. No one can declare anything forbidden without clear evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah. Contemporary scholars do not find any evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah against birth control. During the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), some of his companions tried to reduce the chances of conception and pregnancy, because they did not want more children. The Prophet (peace be upon him), was aware of that. Some referred to him while some relied on the fact that no edict was given concerning the question of preventing pregnancy. The general rule is that "everything is permissible unless pronounced otherwise." There are statements by some of the companions of Prophet (peace be upon him), such as: "We resorted to contraception at the time when the Qur'an was being revealed", and "We resorted to contraception and the Prophet (peace be upon him), was aware of that but he did not stop us, however the Prophet (peace be upon him), said clearly that no method of contraception would stop the creation of a child, should Allah will that the child be born. As such, no method of contraception can stop Allah's will being fulfilled." If the companions of Prophet (peace be upon him) had been doing something unacceptable to Islam, Allah would have either revealed a prohibition in the Qur'an or the Prophet (peace be upon him), would have given an order in a Hadith. On the basis of these reports, contemporary scholars have given a verdict that new methods of birth control are permissible, provided that they are absolutely safe. However, this permissibility applies in individual cases. Sterilization of either the man or the woman is not considered permissible except when it is made absolutely necessary for medical reasons.
There is certainly a very strong order to all Muslims and indeed all people, not to kill their children for any reason, particularly poverty. This is followed by a clear statement that Allah will provide for all. Yet this has nothing to do with family planning because the latter is not concerned with children already in existence. Family planning seeks to prevent conception. In other words, it tries to avoid pregnancy. When a woman does not get pregnant, the verse that forbids the killing of children is not applicable to her. However it may be appropriate to state that abortion is included in this prohibition. Abortion is forbidden, however some scholars of old times mentioned that it is permissible on medical grounds within the first 120 days of conception. They base their opinion on Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith,9.546, wherein the Prophet (peace be upon him), speaks of three stages of forty days each before spirit is blown into the embryo. It is on this basis that some scholars consider that abortion on medical grounds is permissible at this stage. But as medical knowledge advanced, modern scholars are increasingly leaning to the view that abortion is forbidden from the very first day of conception.
Some people refer that; Allah provides sustenance for everyone of His creation, so the family planning is not permissible. It is mentioned in Qur’an; “There is no moving creature on Earth whose sustenance is not provided by Allah. He knows its living and its resting place, and all that is recorded in a glorious Book.”(Qur’an;11:6). It is evident that nothing happens in Creation except by the Word of Allah and with the knowledge of Allah. Not a leaf stirs but by His Will. Its maintenance in every sense is dependent on His Will. But human beings have to work in order to get what Allah has provided for them. Allah has set in operation certain laws like, the law of ‘cause and effect’. If one does not work, he cannot earn his living. The breadwinner has to work as a part of his efforts to sustain his family. When the Prophet (peace be upon him), was told of a man spending more of his time in voluntary worship, he asked who fed him. Upon learning that the man's brother provided him with food and drink, the Prophet (peace be upon him), commented that his brother was a better Muslim than he was. When people work, they rely on Allah to make their efforts successful. This is the proper type of reliance. The family planning is by choice, available for the good health of mother and children.
Expenses of Fostering of Child – Father’s Responsibility: The interest of women is well protected in up bringing of child by Qur’an: “The mothers shall breast-feed their offspring for two whole years if the father wishes the breast-feeding to be completed. The reasonable cost of their maintenance and clothing will be the responsibility of the child's father. No one should be charged with more than they can afford. Neither a mother should be made to suffer on account of her child nor a father on account of his child. The father's heirs are under the same obligation. But if with mutual agreement they both decide to wean the child there is no blame on them. If you decide to have a foster-mother for your offspring there is no blame on you provided you pay what you have promised to pay in an honorable manner. Fear Allah and beware that Allah observes your actions.” (Qur’an;2:233). This verse comes in the midst of the regulations on divorce, it applies primarily to the cases of divorce, where some definite rule is necessary, as the father and mother would not, on account of the divorce, probably be on good terms, and the interests of the children must be safeguarded. As, however, the wording is perfectly general, it has been held that the principle applies equally to the father and mother in wedlock: each must fulfill his or her part in the fostering of the child. On the other hand, it is provided that the child shall not be used as an excuse for driving a hard bargain on either side. By mutual consent they can agree to some source that is reasonable and equitable, both as regards the period before weaning (the maximum being two years) and the engagement of a wet-nurse, or (by analogy) for artificial feeding. But the mother's privileges must not be curtailed simply because by mutual consent she does not nurse the baby. In a matter of this kind the ultimate appeal must be to godliness, for all legal remedies are imperfect and may be misused.
Right Over Children : Women has been granted right for the custody of children in case of divorce. She forfeits her right only if she marries someone other than the child's father. The Prophet (peace be upon him), told a woman who asked him about her right to her child's custody: “You have this right as long as you do not marry again.” One school of thought rules that custody is over at the age of 7 for a boy and 9 for a girl, but a judge may extend custody beyond that if he determined that such an extension is in the child's interest. When custody is over, the child is given a choice to join either his father or mother, unless they agree to some arrangement among themselves. When a woman complained to the Prophet (peace be upon him), that her husband wanted to take their child away, the Prophet ( peace be upon him), said to the child: "This is your father and this is your mother: You may take the hand of either of them." The child took his mother's hand. This was the Prophet's ruling which was followed by the early Muslim rulers and judges like Omar, Ali and Shareeh, may Allah be pleased with them. It is also endorsed by the Shaf'ie and Hanbali schools of thought. Entrepreneurship : Men and women have gifts from Allah-some greater than others. They seem unequal, but it is assured that Allah has allotted them by a scheme by which people receive what they earn. If this does not appear clear in sight, it is to be remembered that human have no full knowledge but Allah has. Probably things are equalized in the aggregate or in the long run, or equated to needs and merits on a scale which people cannot appraise. The Qur’an says: “And in no wise covet those things in which Allah hath bestowed his gifts more freely on some of you than on others: to men is allotted what they earn and to women what they earn: but ask Allah of His bounty: for Allah hath full knowledge of all things.”(Qur’an;4:32). A woman in the Islamic system is not required to work for her living. Her husband or her guardian is responsible to look after her. If she has none to support her, the state is required to undertake that task. At the same time, a woman is fully entitled to work either as a free agent or an employee. A woman has equal rights to be entrepreneur, contract, earn, possess property and assets independently. From the Islamic point of view, there is no decent job, which is restricted to or made the absolute reserve of men. Provided that the Islamic standard of propriety and morality is maintained, a woman may have any respectable job. Women conducted trade and business even during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, his first wife Khadija was a successful and famous business woman of Makka. A Muslim woman’s life, property, and honour are as sacred as those of a man. If she commits an offence, her penalty is no less or more than a man’s in a similar case. If she is wronged or harmed, she gets due compensation, equal to what a man in her position would get. Contrary to prevalent belief, in Islam there is no concept of forced marriages of women. Parents have no right to force their daughters to marry against their will. Just as a woman has the right to choose her spouse, she also has the right to seek divorce (khula) from him.
Evidence : Women were not allowed to bear witness in early Jewish society. The Rabbis consider that the women can not bear witness due to the nine curses inflicted upon all women as Eve was blamed for the fall of Adam from heaven. Women in today's Israel are not allowed to give evidence in Rabbinical courts. The Rabbis justify why women cannot bear witness by citing Genesis;18:9-16, where it is stated that Sara, the wife of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had lied: “The LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son. But Sarah denied, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. He said, "No, but you did laugh.”(Genesis;18:13-15). The Rabbis use this incident as evidence that women are unqualified to bear witness. It should be noted here that this story narrated in Genesis 18:9-16 has been mentioned more than once in the Qur’an at 11:69-74 & 51:24-30 without hint of any lies by Sara :“His wife (Sarah), who was standing there, laughed when We gave her good news of Allah's giving her a son Isaac and after him a grandson Jacob. She said: "O wonder! (An expression to indicate surprise) Shall I bear a child now when I have become an old woman and my husband has become well advanced in age? This is indeed a strange thing!" They (angels, messengers of God) said: "Do you wonder at Allah's decree? May Allah's mercy and His blessings be upon you, O’ residents of the household; for He is indeed worthy of all praise, full of all glory.”(Qur’an;11:71-73).
In the Christian West, both ecclesiastical and civil law debarred women from giving testimony until late last century. If a man accuses his wife of unchastity, her testimony will not be considered at all according to the Bible. The accused wife has to be subjected to a trial by ordeal. In this trial, the wife faces a complex and humiliating ritual which was supposed to prove her guilt or innocence (Numbers;5:11-31). If she is found guilty after this ordeal, she will be humiliated and punished: “And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has acted unfaithfully against her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her body shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become an execration among her people. (Numbers;5:27). If she is found not guilty, her husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing; “The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.”(Numbers;5:31). Besides, (according to Bible, Deuteronomy;22:13-21), if a man takes a woman as a wife and then accuses her of not being a virgin, her own testimony will not count. Her parents had to bring evidence of her virginity before the elders of the town. If the parents could not prove the innocence of their daughter, she would be stoned to death on her father's doorsteps. If the parents were able to prove her innocence, the husband would only be fined one hundred shekels of silver and he could not divorce his wife as long as he lived. In Islam the testimony of a woman is accepted as equal to that of a man. In fact the woman's testimony can even invalidate the man's. If a man accuses his wife of unchastity, he is required to solemnly swear five times as evidence of the wife's guilt. If the wife denies and swears similarly five times, she isn't considered guilty and in either case the marriage is dissolved, details are given in Qur’an(Qur’an;24:6-11) and exegesis. However in case of financial transactions two male witnesses or one male and two females are required so that if one of them errs the other can remind her; “Let two witnesses from among you bear witness to all such documents (financial transactions), if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women of your choice should bear witness, so that if one of the women forgets anything the other may remind her.. (Qur’an;2:282). It does imply that, as a rule, women are less familiar with business and financial procedures than men and, therefore, more liable to commit mistakes in this respect, because in Islamic society the women is not required to work, the man is responsible to support the family, however there is no restriction on a women if she desires to work by her free will.
Illustrious Role of Women in Muslim Society:
The main responsibility of women is to look after the household and children but it does not imply that the women have to confine herself to her house only. They have the right to participate in public life in dignified manner. Narrated byJabir ibn Abdullah: My maternal aunt was divorced, and she intended to pluck her dates. A person scolded her for having come out (during the period of Iddah, the waiting period after death of husband or divorce). She came to Allah's Prophet (peace be upon him) and he said: Certainly you can pluck (dates) from your palm trees, for perhaps you may give charity, or do an act of kindness.(Sahih Muslim Hadith. 3535).The women got exalted positions in the Muslim society. The Mother of Believers, Khadijah al-Kubra the first wife of Prophet (peace be upon him) was not only the first one to embrace Islam but also supported Prophet (peace be upon him) during the critical phases of his life. Fatimah az-Zahra the loveable daughter of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the wife of Ali, was an excellent daughter who brought up her sons Hassan and Hussein in befitting manner. She was a role model of a domestic Muslim lady, who lived extremely simple life despite her exalted position. Woman is equal to man in the pursuit of education and knowledge. The Prophet declared: “Search for knowledge is a sacred duty imposed on every Muslim man and woman.” The life of Aish’a (Mother of Believers,) is proof that a woman can be far more learned than men and that she can be the teacher of scholars and experts. Khadijah al-Kubra (the Great) and Fatimah az-Zahra (the Resplendent), Aish’a as-Siddiqah (the one who affirms the Truth) are regarded as highly respected woman in Islam. Her life also substantiates that a woman can exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. Her life is also an evidence of the fact that the same woman can be totally feminine and be a source of pleasure, joy and comfort to her husband. The example of Aish’a in promoting education and in particular the education of Muslim women in the laws and teachings of Islam is one which needs to be followed. She is source of numerous Hadith and has been teaching eminent scholars. Because of the strength of her personality, she was a leader in every field in knowledge, in society and in politics. The useful advise rendered by Umm al-Mumineen Ume Salma (Mother of Believers) to the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the occasion of Hudabia, and its acceptance by the Prophet (peace be upon him) helped to avoid an odd situation. Umm al-Mumineen Hafsa, the daughter of Umar, was entrusted with the honor of custody of original manuscript of Qur’an till 3rd Caliph Usman got the standard copies prepared for distribution.
History shows that women played active role in all walks of life. Women not only participated in trade, but even took part in defensive efforts. They were never shut behind iron bars or considered worthless creatures. Laila Al-Ghifaria would nurse the wounded in battles. Suffiah Bint Abdul Muttalib even fought and killed the enemies. The Second Caliph of Islam, Umar, appointed a woman, Shaffa Bint Abdullah, to supervise the market. He would often consult her and held her in high esteem. Sukayna (also “Sakina), the great granddaughter of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and daughter of Imam Hussein was the most brilliant most accomplished and virtuous women of her time. She grew up to be an outspoken critic of the Umayyads. She became a political activist, speaking against all kinds of tyranny and personal, social and political iniquities and injustice. She was a fiercely independent woman. She married more than once, and each time she stipulated assurance of her personal autonomy, and the condition of monogamy on the prospective husband’s part, in the marriage contract. She went about her business freely, attended and addressed meetings, received men of letters, thinkers, and other notables at her home, and debated issues with them. She was an exceedingly well-educated woman who would take no nonsense from anyone howsoever high and mighty he or she might be.
Um Adhah al-Adawiyyah (died 83 AH), was a reputable scholar and narrator of Hadith based on reports of Ali ibn Abu Talib and Aish’a. Amrah bint Abd al-Rahman (d. 98 AH) was one of the more prominent students of Aish’a and a known legal scholar in Medina whose opinions overrode those of other jurists of the time. Hafsa bint Sirin al-Ansariyyah (d. approx. 100 AH) was also a legal scholar. Amah al-Wahid (d. 377 AH), was noted jurist of the Shafi’a school and a mufti in Baghdad. Karimah bint Ahmad al-Marwaziyyah (d. 463 AH) was a teacher of Hadith (Sahih Bukhari); Zainab bint Abd al-Rahman (d. 615 AH) was linguist and teacher of languages in Khorasan. Zainab bint Makki (d. 688 AH) was a prominent scholar in Damascus, teacher of Ibn Taimiya, the famous jurist of the Hanbali school; Zaynab bint Umar bin Kindi (d. 699 AH) was the teacher of the famous Hadith scholar, al-Mizzi; Fatima bint Abbas (d. 714 AH), legal scholar of the Hanbali school, mufti in Damascus and later in Cairo. Nafisin bint al Hassan taught Hadith; Imam Shafi’ sat in her teaching circle at the height of his fame in Egypt. Two Muslim women — Umm Isa bint Ibrahim and Amat al-Wahid — served as muftis in Baghdad. Aish’a al-Banniyyah, a legal scholar in Damascus, wrote several books on Islamic law. Umm al-Banin (d. 848 AH/ 1427 CE) served as a mufti in Morocco. Al Aliyya was a famous teacher whose taught men in classes before the noon prayer (Zuhr) and women after the afternoon prayer (Asr). A Muslim woman of the name of Rusa wrote a textbook on medicine, and another, Ujliyyah bint al-Ijli (d. 944 CE) made instruments to be used by astronomers. During the Mamluk period in Cairo (11th century) women established five universities and 12 schools which were also managed by them.
Rabi’a al-Adawiyya al-Basri (717 C.E), is honored as one of the earliest and greatest Sufis in Islam. Orphaned as a child, she was captured and sold into slavery. But later her master let her go. She retreated into the desert and gave herself to a life of worship and contemplation. She did not marry, and to a man who wanted her hand she said: “I have become naught to self and exist only through Him. I belong wholly to Him. You must ask my hand of Him, not of me.” She preached unselfish love of God, meaning that one must love Him for His own sake and not out of fear or hope of rewards. She had many disciples, both men and women.
Zubaida (Amatal Aziz bint Jafar), the favorite wife of Harun al-Rashid, the legendary Abassid caliph. She came to be an exceedingly wealthy woman, a billionaire so to speak, independently of her husband. Granddaughter of Al-Mansur, she grew up to be a lady of dazzling beauty, articulate and charming of speech, and great courage. Discerning and sharp, her wisdom and insightfulness inspired immediate admiration and respect. In her middle years she moved out of the royal “harem” and began living in a huge palace of her own. She owned properties all over the empire which dozens of agents in her employs managed them for her. A cultivated woman, pious and well acquainted with the scriptures, Zubaida was also a poetess and a patron of the arts and sciences. She allocated funds to invite hundreds of men of letters, scientists, and thinkers from all over the empire to locate and work in Baghdad. She spent much of her funds for public purposes, built roads and bridges, including a 900-mile stretch from Kufa to Makkah, and set up, hostels, eating places, and repair shops along the way, all of which facilitated travel and encouraged enterprise. She built canals for both irrigation and water supply to the people. To increase the water supply in Makka for the benefit of pilgrimages, she spent many millions of Dinars on getting a canal built, that went through long tunnel through mountains. She took a keen interest in the empire’s politics and administration. The caliph himself sought her counsel concerning the affairs of state on many occasions and found her advice to be eminently sound and sensible. After Harun’s death, his successor, Al Mamun, also sought her advice from time to time. She died in 841 C.E (32 years after Harun’s death).
Arwa bint Ahmad bin Mohammad al-Sulayhi (born 1048 C.E) was the ruling queen of Yemen for 70 years (1067-1138 C.E), briefly, and that only technically, as a co-ruler with her two husbands one after the other, but as the sole ruler for most of that time. She is still remembered with a great deal of affection in Yemen as a marvelous queen. Her name was mentioned in the Friday sermons right after that of the Fatimid caliph in Cairo. She built mosques and schools throughout her realm, improved roads, took interest in agriculture and encouraged her country’s economic growth. Arwa is said to have been an extremely beautiful woman, learned, and cultured. She had a great memory for poems, stories, and accounts of historical events. She had good knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah. She was brave, highly intelligent, devout, with a mind of her own. She was a Shi’a of the Isma’ili persuasion, sent preachers to India, who founded an Isma’ili community in Gujarat which still thrives. She was also a competent military strategist. At one point (1119 C.E) the Fatimid caliph sent a general, Najib ad-Dowla, to take over Yemen. Supported by the emirs and her people, she fought back and forced him to go back to Egypt. She died in 1138 C.E at the age of 90. A university in Sana’a is named after her, and her mausoleum in Jibla continues to be a place of pilgrimage for Yemenis and others. The other eminent ladies who played important role in the affairs of state and philanthropy include, Buran the wife of Caliph Mamun. Among the Mughals Noor Jehan, Zaib un Nisa left their mark in Indian history. Razia Sultan was an other eminent women ruler in India. In modern period, Megawati Sukarnoputri (Indonesia), late Benazeer Bhutto (Pakistan), Sheikh Hasina Wajid & Khilida Zia (Bangladesh) have lead their governments as political leaders.
Women In The Western Culture : The women in the western culture have always been oppressed. The women had to launch the movements, to get the rights. There are diverse social movement, largely based in the U.S., seeking equal rights and opportunities for women in their economic activities, personal lives, and politics. Though one cant not agree with the all the aspects of the Nazi philosophy, but the one good aspect was that, it advocated the role of women to domestic duties and motherhood. Adolf Hitler set up Organization in 1933, named as Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth); for educating and training male youths aged 13–18 in Nazi principles. A parallel organization, the ‘League of German Girls’, trained girls for domestic duties and motherhood. Though women were not totally segregated but this philosophy did not have any negative effect on the economy, rather positively contributed in the social sector. The famous saying. “give me good mothers, I shall give you strong nation ” stands validated again. Household is a full time job, taking care of children is great responsibility, if neglected the children will become a threat to society. While first-wave feminism of the 19th and early 20th centuries focused on women's legal rights, such as the right to vote, the second-wave feminism of the “women's movement” peaked in the 1960s and '70s and touched on every area of women's experience—including family, sexuality, and work. A variety of U.S. women's groups, including the National Organization for Women, sought to overturn laws that enforced discrimination in matters such as contract and property rights and employment and pay. The movement also sought to broaden women's self-awareness and challenge traditional stereotypes of women as passive, dependent, or irrational. An effort in the 1970s to pass the Equal Rights Amendment failed, but its aims had been largely achieved by other means by the end of the 20th century. Islam had granted the rights to women 1400 years ago. The so called freedom of women resulting to their degradation as show piece for entertainment and commercialization can not be called freedom in the moral sense. The induction of women in the armed forces in the combat units by USA and some Western countries on the pretext of equality has not been a good experience, as many women were reported of sexual harassment and abuse.
Islam has offered dignity, justice, and protection to women which, for long, have remained out of their reach. Although man and woman have been created equal, but they are not identical. Both have been fashioned differently from each other, so their roles and responsibilities are also different. The variation in their functions does not imply that one is inferior to the other. In Islam, both men and women can rise in spiritual eminence and knowledge. The Muslim women are dressed up modestly which not only enhances their status to a respectable position but also help in controlling indecencies, forbidden in Islam. Islam granted the right of divorce to women 1400 years ago, once no woman could dream of this freedom. Women were not allowed to bear witness in early Jewish society. In the Christian West, both ecclesiastical and civil law debarred women from giving testimony until late last century. In Islam the testimony of a woman is accepted as equal to that of a man except in financial cases. In fact the woman's testimony can even invalidate the man's in certain cases. Among the pagan Arabs before Islam, inheritance rights were confined exclusively to the male relatives. Islam abolished all these unjust customs and gave all the female relatives inheritance shares. As compared to Muslim man, Muslim woman is financially secure and provided for as a wife, mother, daughter or sister by her husband, son, father and brother respectively. Before the advent of Islam the status of women in earlier civilizations was very low to the extent that they were denied basic human dignity. Regrettably in some Muslim societies, the rights granted to the women by Islam are denied due to the local culture and traditions, for which Islam can not be blamed. The rights granted to women by Islam are unrivalled in the history of religion, evident form the fact that among the new coverts to Islam in the West are women because the in Islam the women are not subjugated but emancipated.
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Humanity, Religion, Culture, Ethics, Science, Spirituality & Peace