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Islamic Voice Logo
MONTHLY    *    Vol 12-08 No:140    *   AUGUST 1998/ RABBI UL AKHIR 1419H


MARRIAGE IN ISLAM


BY ADIL SALAHI

(Arab News)

Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh)Last Sermon
Conditions of marriage
The Dower and when to pay it
Fixing of dower.
Marriage without dowry.
Paying dowries to husbands a shameful sin
The dowry system in Indian Subcontinent
Marriage commitment and offering Istikharah
Marriage at an early age
Delaying Marriage
Marriage and parents' consent
Marriage: A girl's dilemma in the absence of parental consent
Marriages that are forbidden
Mit'ah Marriage
Must wife serve husband?
The rights of husband and wife
Woman's responsibilities
When local customs are in conflict with Islamic teachings.
Promises that cannot be fulfilled
To get married to an outsider
Marriage away from home
Second Marriage
Unfaithful wife
Getting married to someone who is far away
Martial Relations in periods
Marrying sister of former wife
Marriage between kin
Marriage of close relatives
Marriage with first cousins: rulings without basis
Unacceptable marriage offer
Validity of Marriage
A marriage that is against Islamic teachings
A marriage that is questionable
Marriage to a non Muslim
Privacy in martial life
A marriage that can never be
Inter faith marriages
Converting ones non Muslim wife
Invalid Marriage
Is this marriage Valid?
Inter faith marriages
Love Marriage
Which woman to marry?
Marriage with a Christian
Marriage with a prospective convert
Where to marry a non-Muslim
Martial relations in the period
Marriage in the waiting period unacceptable
Confusion about the validity of the marriage
Why not allow polyandry?
Dimension of love misunderstood
Polygamy and being fair to man and woman
Marriage and a heavy burden of expenditure
Wrong advice on marriage
Education and Marriage

Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh)Last Sermon

This Sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Dhul Hijjah 10 A.H in the Uranah Valley of mount Arafat

"O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I don't know whether, after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

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. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (Interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived...

Beware of Satan, for your safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

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.

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadhan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to. 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.

Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness oh Allah that I have conveyed your message to your people."    
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Conditions of marriage

Q). Could you please explain the relative importance of the practices of marriage and which of them are essential for the marriage contract and which are only recommended or voluntary?

Sherfudeen, Madinah

A). Marriage itself is a Sunnah, which means that it is recommended, not obligatory to us. Therefore, if a Muslim does not marry throughout his life, he commits no sin, although he has chosen a course for his life different from that recommended by the Prophet. The recommendation is made in the strongest of terms, as the Prophet says: "Marriage is my way, (i.e. Sunnah) and a person who disdains to follow my way does not belong to me." Yet the emphasis put on the recommendation is only to heighten its desirability. It is not to be understood from this hadith that a person who remains unmarried throughout his life removes himself from the fold of Islam or even commits a sin.

Divorce on the other hand is permissible but described as unsavory or distasteful. It is permitted because of the need for it. In any society, a proportion of marriages are unsuccessful, due to a variety of reasons, the most common among which is the incompatibility between the characters of the husband and his wife. Therefore, a way out is provided for them through divorce.

The most essential aspect of the marriage contract is the commitment and acceptance. One party, normally the guardian of the bride, makes the commitment by stating that he marries away the woman on whose behalf he is acting to the prospective husband according to the Islamic way and for a specific dower. The bridegroom declares then his acceptance of that commitment and that he has married the woman according to the terms specified. That constitutes the marriage contract. Both commitment and acceptance must be done in the same session, and should not be separated by other matters.

Witnesses must be present at the time of the contract and a minimum of two is required for the purpose. The important aspect is that marriage must be publicized. The minimum publicity is provided by the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must be present at the time when the commitment and acceptance is made, and they should be sane, adults and must hear the contract being made and understand that it means marriage. Therefore, if a child or a mad or deaf or drunken person witnesses the marriage contract being made, the contract is not valid. The presence of such persons is the same as their absence.

The guardian of the woman to be married should also be present. The Prophet says: "No marriage can be made without the presence of a guardian and two proper witnesses." (Related by Ad Daraqutni). The woman's guardian is normally her father. If her father is present, no one other than him may act for her. If he is dead or absent, then one of her closest relatives should act as her guardian, such as her brother, grandfather or uncle.

The dower is also necessary in the marriage contract. It is compensation paid to the bride and it becomes her own property and she disposes of it in the way she likes. Its amount is fixed by agreement between the two partners. If a marriage contract is made without the dower being specified, the contract is valid, but the woman does not forfeit her right to receive a dower. If her husband refuses to give her what she asks, then she can put the case to a Muslim judge who will rule that she must be given the equivalent of what is given by way of dower to women in her social status.

A dower can be a very little amount. At the time of the Prophet, a woman accepted a pair of shoes as her dower. The Prophet asked her whether it was her decision and whether she accepts. She answered in the affirmative and he endorsed the marriage. Another woman came to the Prophet and declared that she makes a gift of herself to the Prophet. A man asked him to marry her to him. The Prophet asked him whether he had anything to give her by-way of dower. The man said that he had nothing except his dress. The Prophet said that if he were to give her his dress, he would have nothing to wear. The man tried to fund something to give her but could come up with nothing. The Prophet said try to send even a ring of iron, but the man could not find anything. The Prophet asked him whether he memorized anything of the Qur'an, the man said he knew several surahs. The Prophet allowed the marriage to go through on the condition that the man would teach his wife the parts of the Qur'an he knew.

Another story from the time of the Prophet, which has been reported by Anas, says that Abu Talhah made a proposal to many a woman called Umm Sulaim. She said: "You are a man whom no woman would refuse, but you are a non-Muslim while I am a Muslim. It is not permissible for me to many you. If you were to become a Muslim, I will accept that as my dower and I ask you for nothing else." He declared that he has accepted the religion of Islam. That was the dower he gave to his wife. All these hadiths show that it is permissible to give a small amount of money as a dower or even to pay it in the form of rendering a service, such as teaching one's wife some parts of the Our' an.

Having said that the dower, or mehr, may be very little in amount there is no maximum limit to what a man may pay his wife by way of dower. The Prophet, however, has strongly recommended us not to demand excessive dowers. He says "The best of women are those with pretty faces and cheap dowers." There is a strong indication in that hadith that the dower should never be related to looks. A woman is not a commodity, which a man buys at a price, which takes into consideration how pretty she looks. She is life partner to him and she gives him a benefit for which she is entitled to have compensation.

When the marriage contract is made, it is recommended, (i.e. sunnah) for someone, preferably the person who instructs the two parties what to say to make sure of the correctness of the contract, to say a few words, reminding the people who are present of Allah and the need to conduct one's life according to Islam. He may quote some verses of the Qur'an, which are suitable for the occasion and remind people that they should always remain God-fearing.

I have already said that it is important to publicize marriage. The Prophet has also recommended that marriage should be celebrated with some singing. The Prophet is also quoted as saying: "The difference between what is legitimate and what is illegitimate is the sound of the tambourine." This again refers to publicity. When people arrange for some singing and music they add to the publicity of the marriage, which confirms that the relationship between the man and the woman is a legitimate one. On the other hand, when they are secretive about the marriage, there may be something suspicious in that relationship which could take it into the realm of what is forbidden.

Another strongly recommended practice is to invite people to a meal. The prophet said to his companion, Abdurahman ibn Auf, when he got married: "Arrange a dinner party even if you can only afford a lamb." Both Al-Bukhari and Muslim relate the hadith reported by Anas which says: "The prophet has not given a marriage party (i.e. Waleemah) for any of his wives better than that he gave when he married Zainab: he provided one lamb." This means that in other marriages, the prophet could not afford a lamb, but that did not prevent him from giving a party. Therefore, the waleemah is a strongly recommended practice, but it need not be anything grand.
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The Dower and when to pay it.

Q). Is it compulsory to fix and pay the dower at the time of marriage? Does it remain due at any time, if it is not duly paid when the contract is made? Does a wife have a right to demand its payment at any time? Please comment on practices that are not in line with Islamic teachings on this matter.

S. Ridwanuddin, Riyadh

A). The dower is an amount of money or some other useful commodity paid or given by a man to his wife at the time of their marriage. It is agreed between them, or between their families in consultation with her. It must be understood that it is due to her in return for agreeing to marry her husband and becoming lawful for him. It becomes due and payable at the time when the marriage contract is made.

There is no minimum or maximum for the dower. Any amount may be agreed between the two parties, although a reasonable amount is preferable in order to facilitate marriage for young men and women.

Payment of the whole or a part of the dower may be deferred if the woman agrees to it. She may also forgo part or all of it, if she chooses.

However she must be under no pressure to do that at any time. If payment is deferred, the dower remains payable at any time she demands it. It should be considered as a debt that is already due, or a deferred debt. What a husband must understand is that he actually takes what is due to him under the marriage contract once the contract is made. Hence, his commitment, i.e. the dower, is also due at the same time.

Putting any pressure on the wife to forgo part or all of her dower is forbidden. She may do this of her own accord, but not under any pressure. Yet in many situations, a wife is pressured to forfeit her right to have dower. For one thing, it is often agreed by the bridegroom with no intention to pay it. It is treated a formality or some type of bother.

In some parts of the Muslim world, certain traditions have crept in to deprive the wife of her right to have a dower. She is actually told by her family to tell her husband on the wedding night that she forgoes her dower in full. The poor girl often does not know what she is doing when she says those words. She does not know that she is entitled to a dower or that it is hers by God's order. She simply wastes it because she is told to do so.

In other parts of the Muslim world, the wife is required to pay her husband some dowry, which is often in gold or jewelry. That puts her at a disadvantage, because when her family has gone into the trouble of paying all that, the prospect of losing it all will look dreadful. If things go wrong with her marriage and the poor woman starts to think that a divorce is better for her, she will find her family totally unresponsive.

To them the idea of divorce means only material loss. The woman finds herself in between two types of pressures and she may be very miserable.

If a husband dies without having paid his wife's dower, she remains entitled to receive it. It is payable from his estate as a debt. It is well known that debts are the first thing to be paid out of the estate of any deceased person. Again if she is pressured at this stage to forgo it, she is deprived of her right. The importance of a dower may be properly understood when it is remembered that if a marriage contract does not specify any amount of dower, and the two parties do not agree such an amount between them, it remains payable. They may agree its amount after marriage.

If they do not come to an agreement, the woman may put the matter to an Islamic court which will give her an amount equal to the average dower of girls in her social status.
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Fixing of dower.

Q). Is the dower, or mehr, calculated on the basis of one's earning? If so how much should one who receives onethousand three hundred riyals per month pay as dower? Or is it calculated on the basis of the expected earnings in the future?

A). The dower, or mehr, is an amount of money which is paid by the bridegroom to his bride as one of the conditions for the validity of the marriage. It is a right to which every bride is entitled. Its amount is not calculated on the basis of any particular criterion. It is simply agreed upon by the parties concerned. Normally, the amount is fixed through negotiations between the two families or the bridegroom and the guardian of the bride. Her agreement to its amount is essential. It has no minimum or maximum amount. The income of the bridegroom at present or what is expected in the future is immaterial. If the marriage contract is made without fixing the amount of dower, for any reason, the wife does not forfeit her right.

She can still claim it and it can be fixed by mutual agreement between her and her husband. If they fail to agree, she can refer the matter to an Islamic court which will fix the amount of dower on the basis of the average for girls in her social status. Moreover, she need not forgo any part of her dower, or mehr, to her husband on the wedding night or subsequently. This amount of money is hers and she is fully entitled to dispense with it the way she likes.
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Marriage without dowry.

Q). I know that paying dowry is necessary for marriage. If a man cannot afford to pay a dowry, is he expected to remain single for the rest of his life? Is this not contradictory with the teachings of Islam?

R.Aniff, Dammam.

A). While the payment of a dowry is essential for Islamic marriage, the Prophet recommends us not to ask exorbitant dowries for our daughters. He praises in clear terms a woman who marries for a small dowry. He is absolutely clear on this point, showing that those who receive high dowry need not take any pride in that.

Islam encourages all Muslim men and women to get married. This is not contradictory with the imposition of a dowry, because dowry is simply a compensation for the bride in return for her becoming the wife of her husband. By marrying him, it is she who sacrifices more. Hence, the compensation is needed. If she chooses, to accepts a small dowry that should endear her more to her husband.

The prophet makes the criteria for selecting a husband for one’s daughter very clear. He tells us: "If someone with a satisfactory standard of faith and honesty comes to seeking marriage, then give him (your daughter or sister) in marriage.” If you refuse, that will lead to spread of great corruption in the land.

What a person of limited means needs to do in order to be married, then, is to score highly on the more important points of good character, strong faith and genuine honesty. If he does that, he will soon find the family, which appreciates his virtue more than people normally, appreciate his money. They will be glad to give him their daughter in marriage.
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Paying dowries to husbands a shameful sin

Q) I am thoroughly disgusted. I come from a poor family in a predominantly Muslim state in India. My family received a proposal for marriage for me to a well off family. However, I learnt from your Column that giving dowry by the bride to the groom is un-Islamic, When my father pointed this out to them, they immediately cancelled the proposal. I don't care about that; perhaps it is better so. But what about the Islamic nature of such people!

Name withheld, Hyderabad (Living in Jeddah)

A). Marriage is a social contract between a man and a woman. Islam requires the man to give a dowry to his wife The Our'an stipulates that it should be offered "as a gift." that is out of good will and with the conviction that it is her right. As is the case with everyone who owns property, no one else, neither her husband himself nor guardian can make use of it or tell her what she should do with it. Thus, Islam establishes the woman's right to ownership, which is free from control or dominance on the husband's part. This applies as well to anything else she might own, whether she obtained it as a gift, through inheritance or through work or investment.

The dower is not a "bride price," nor does it reflect the value of the woman in any way. It is based upon mutual agreement between the man and his bride, usually through her father or guardian. No amount is specified by law, and it varies according to the man's financial ability as well as recognized custom. Once when a poor man told the Prophet that he had nothing to give as a bridal gift. He was told. "Look for anything, even if only an iron ring.'' On failing to produce even that. It was agreed that the dower would be his teaching her what he knew of the Our'an. Thus, Islam emphasizes the necessity of the dowry without stipulating its material value.

While the husband is encouraged to give generously according to his means. It is totally contrary to the teachings of Islam for parents or guardians to demand such dowries for their daughters as to cause hardship on prospective husbands.

The most blessed of marriages are those without financial burden. In Islam husbands are to be chosen for excellence in religion and moral character, not for social status or wealth. Just as a wife is to be chosen for her moral character and not for her wealth or her beauty.

Islam grants women equal rights to make contracts, launch enterprises, earn and possess wealth and property independently. No matter what the source, any wealth in a woman's possession is hers alone, and her right of ownership cannot be contested. She has full control and authority over her own property and money, the right to keep or spend, to buy, sell or invest: to give or bequeath.

If she has a job or business, the husband and other family members have no right to any of her income unless she offers it willingly or has entered into an agreement. If she is harmed, she gets due compensation equal to what a man in her position would get.

It is with these facts of Islamic personal law in mind that we wish to remind our fellow Muslims, particularly from the Indo-Pak subcontinent that the totally unacceptable practice where the bride has to pay a dowry (or whatever its protagonists wish to call it) is against God's law, invites the wrath of God and those who continue to be involved in such anti Islamic activities while knowing that it is against the Shariah, are committing a grievous sin
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The dowry system in Indian Subcontinent

Q). In India there is a traditional dowry system which is payable by the bride to the bridegroom. Please clarify whether this is totally forbidden or only discouraged in Islam. If forbidden, does it affect the validity of the marriage? Suppose that the bride's father willingly and without any compulsion gives gold, money or property to the bridegroom, can the bridegroom accept that?

In certain areas, the authorities of a mosque charge ten to twenty percent of the dowry as a penalty and use this to meet the expenditure of the mosque. Is this correct?

M. Abdolkareem, Hofuf- Alhassa

A). We have been recently making a distinction between dowry and dower. By dowry we mean the practice which exists in certain Muslim communities under which a bride gives to her bridegroom an amount of money in gold, cash or property. Dower, on the other hand, is the English equivalent of the Arabic "mehr " which means the amount of money paid by the husband to his wife at the time when the marriage contract is made.

The dowry system is unknown to the majority of Islamic countries and communities, which suggests that it could have been borrowed from other cultures. There is nothing extraordinary in this since different cultures have always borrowed practices and traditions from each other. The dowry system, for example, is practiced in the Indian Subcontinent where Hindus form the majority. The cultural study of that society would reveal that Muslims have borrowed this practice from Hindus.

This is not to say that Islam has been influenced by Hinduism in India. It is often the case that when a new religion spreads in a new area or country, Muslims in that area retain some of their old traditions which they have been practicing for centuries. No one suggests that Islam creates a uniform society in all environments and all periods of history. Islam, however, stops certain practices and traditions which are opposed to its principles. But there are many reasons for a tradition to survive a fundamental social change like that of adopting a new religion. One of these is the poor economic situation of the country concerned. There are other reasons and social pressures, which can be identified if a case study is undertaken in the case of dowry. The poverty of a large spectrum of a very large population is perhaps the major reason for the system to continue among Muslims. It is very difficult for a young man to save enough money to establish a new home and to look after a family of his own. Therefore the two families need to collaborate together in establishing a home for a newly married couple.

Whatever the reasons, Islam does not approve of the dowry being a condition for marriage. It is in fact the opposite of the Islamic system, which requires the bridegroom to pay "mehr" or dower to the bride. That dower becomes a wife's property and she has sole discretion over how she spends it. It is open to her to give back to her husband any part of that dower after the marriage has taken place, provided that she does so without any pressure being exercised on her, explicitly or implicitly.

It may be said that this is what is done in the Muslim community in the Indian Subcontinent. A dower is agreed between the two parties, but then it is forgone by the wife at a later stage. The fact is that the dower is treated as an awkward technicality. It is mentioned in the marriage contract but on the wedding night, the bride is taught by her family that she must tell the bridegroom that she has forgone every part of it. In other words, she is not doing it out of her own free will. She has no choice in the matter. The bridegroom expects that she would do that. If she does not do it, there may be trouble within the family, especially if the figure named is high. Perhaps neither the bride nor the bridegroom know why they have to go through this process of naming a figure and forgoing its payment. Islam provides for a dower to be paid as a compensation for the woman in return for the obligation marriage imposes on her to be a good bed fellow to her husband. In other words, she is giving ouof herself something to her husband, in consideration of which she is entitled to receive an amount of money in cash or kind, which she deems to be appropriate. Therefore, a woman's right to a dower is not lost unless she herself relinquishes it. For this reason, if the dower is not specified in the marriage contract, the woman does not lose her claim to it. She may ask her husband to give her something, which she deems to be satisfactory. If they can agree on a figure, then she may apply to an Islamic court, which will specify an amount, which is normally given to a bride in her social status.

It is now clear that the dower payable by the bridegroom is the one, which Islam requires in marriage. The dowry system is merely a tradition in certain societies. We cannot say to a man who wants to see his daughter married and, therefore, gives her suitor a dowry that he has done something forbidden. We simply say to him that this is not the way Islamic marriage is arranged. It does not affect the validity of the marriage. Nor is it forbidden for the bridegroom to accept the gifts given to him by his father-inlaw. But we should try to explain to the community that the dowry system impedes marriage and is not sanctioned by Islam. When people are aware of this the tradition of the dowry may weaken within the Muslim community and it may give way to the proper Islamic tradition.

As for imposing a tax or a penalty on a bridegroom who receives a dowry, which is then spent in meeting the mosque's expenditure, this is an innovative way of resisting a bad tradition. It is not forbidden for the Muslim committee to do so, but the bridegroom who receives the dowry can easily refuse payment. The committee will have no way of enforcing its regulation. The payment of the penalty does not make dowry in any way more acceptable, from the Islamic point of view. It remains a burden on the bride's family, which need not be there. Islam advocates that marriage should be made easy. The dowry system makes it difficult.
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Marriage commitment and offering Istikharah

Q). A few years back I proposed to marry a young lady whom I had known for sometime, and her parents were agreeable to the marriage, but they preferred to wait until I had finished my studies and get a job abroad.

However, I started two business concerns while I was studying, but unfortunately both made heavy losses, and I failed in my final exam. I was in no position to get married and I told her family of the facts. Now I have cleared much of my debts and I am thinking again of marrying her, as we are very much in love. She is prepared to wait for me. The problem is that my parents have spoken about my marriage with a relative of mine whom I do not fancy as my wife. I am in a dilemma and I would be grateful for your advice. Is it appropriate to do the istikharah, offering two rakahs of voluntary prayer and Weighing the two options on two pieces of paper and drawing one of them?

M. Irfan,Riyadh

A). My clear advice to you is to marry that girl as soon as you can. She has been waiting for you for eight years and she has sacrificed much for your sake. You do not pay her back by abandoning her after she must have missed many chances of good marriage in order to be married to you. Besides, you have promised her that you would do so when she put to you the question in very clear terms. Muslims do not go back on their promises. You have to honor that promise.

The fact that your parents are planning your marriage with a relative of your should not be allowed to stand in your way. You have to inform your parents that you do not wish to marry that relative of yours. Do this now, when the question of your actual marriage is not being discussed. If necessary, write to that relative of yours and tell her that you do not see a chance of the two of you getting married, as you are engaged to someone else.

Your parents cannot force you to be married to someone whom you do not wish to marry. You will not be disobedient or undutiful if you approach the situation in a clear manner. You do not need to involve the girl you wish to marry at this stage.

Keep her out of the discussion for the time being so that your parents realize that you are only objecting to marrying your relative because you do not like her to be your wife. If you are inviting your parents to do the pilgrimage this year, then you may wish to take the opportunity of their presence and make it clear to them that you do not wish to marry your relative and that they should forget about this for good. Be kind to them when you tell them that.

I do not sea a reason for doing the istikharah now, as the case should be approached on its merits. Breaking a promise without a compelling reason is not permissible. You do not seek God's help to choose to do what He does not permit. Besides, the isrikhsrah is not done in the manner you have mentioned.

Istikharah means to seek God's help in choosing between alternatives that are unclear, or that involve results that cannot be determined. You pray two voluntary rakahs and then say a supplication seeking God's help in making the right choice. You then let the matter resolve itself.

If you find within you that you are happier with a particular choice, you take that. If you find that things are moving easily in one direction, you let them move and take what comes easily.

You do not draw one of two papers, because that is not istikharah. That is drawing lots, which is permissible but has nothing to do with istikharah.
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Marriage at an early age

Q). I have a nine year-old girl who is married to a person at the age of 20. The marriage contract was made a year ago but the girl is refusing to live with her husband or even to look at him. In addition to that she requires him to divorce her. Could you please advise me what to do? Should I separate them or force my daughter to live with him?

(Name and address withheld)

A). It is certainly possible for a father to get his daughter married to someone who he thinks is suitable for her. Whether he should force her into any marriage is something totally different Let me relate this to you: A woman companion of the Prophet came to him and said: "My father has married me away to one of his relatives without asking my opinion. I do not wish to stay with this man as his wife." The Prophet ordered their separation. When she realized that she was free and that she was no longer married to the man, she said to the Prophet: "I now accept what my father has done and I am marrying this man. I only did this so that women may know that it is not up to men to marry them away against their wishes."

Scholars have discussed at length the marriage of a young girl who has not attained puberty and whether her father may marry her away without her permission. If such a marriage takes place it is valid. However, it is perhaps best if the marriage is not allowed to be consummated until the girl attains puberty, when she is given the choice whether to continue with this marriage or not. Moreover her father may not marry her away to someone who is of a lesser status than hers. If he does and she objects, the marriage is not valid. Generally speaking, however. a girl must be asked to express her opinion in any proposed marriage. If she has been married before, then her verbal consent should be requested. If she has not been married previously, then her consent is also to be requested, but if she keeps quiet, her silence is taken as approval.

To say that the marriage is valid is not to say that people should go ahead and make such marriages. There may be certain circumstances, which make it desirable or advisable that a very young girl should be married away in this manner but this must not be taken as the normal situation. In marriage, the normal thing is that people should marry when they are of marriageable age. That does not include girls of nine or ten years of age, although some girls may attain puberty that early. Marriage involves certain responsibilities and a very young girl could not be expected to shoulder these. There are also other problems, which the may face, as she grows older. If things go wrong with her marriage, she will always blame her father for having messed up her life, well intentioned though he may be. If you take the example of your own daughter, and you force her to go and live with her husband despite her protestations, you will never be sure whether the marriage will work out well or not. If it does, then well and good. But there is an equal chance that problems may arise especially with your daughter behaving like the child she is. While her husband expects from her the attitude of a married woman. How could you expect her to overcome the feeling that she has been thrown into this situation without being allowed the slightest say in the whole matter which is to affect the rest of her life?

As we see it, your choice is either to get her divorced now, before the marriage is consummated or to keep her with you until she has attained puberty and she is in a position to express her opinion about this marriage. If she still objects to it, then you divorce her without any compulsion to go through with it. If, on the other hand, if she approves of this marriage, at that time, then you go ahead with it. Perhaps it is better for you to consult with the young man to whom you have already married her. He should be understanding and accommodating. Between the two of you should work out the best solution which ensures that he is not lumbered with marriage which is forced on a young girl who cannot be expected to give an opinion about such a matter.
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Delaying Marriage

Q). Ever since I came to Saudi Arabia in 1983 to work, my parents have been urging me to get married. I have so far resisted their pressure for two reasons: (1) I have no job security and I am not in a position to support a family on my modest salary. (2) I do not have a house of my own. My elder brother has taken the whole of the family house and I envisage that there will be problems if I were to stay in the same house. I feel that I should have a house of my own, in which I will live with my parents after getting married. I am 28 and serious about getting married as early as possible. The above-mentioned reasons, however, force me to delay marriage. What worries me now is that my parents are nevertheless insisting that I should not delay it any further. I will be grateful for your advice.

R. Ahmed, Jeddah

A). Your parents, attitude is quite understandable. They feel that at 28 you should not delay your marriage much further. They feel that they are growing older and they want to see you settled. However, the reasons that you have mentioned for delaying your marriage must be taken into account. Maybe your parents do not give due importance to the fact that if you try to settle in the family house alongside your brother after your marriage, there could he much friction. They may feel that they could prevail on your brother and his wife to make you and your wife's presence welcome. That may be over simplistic in the circumstances you have mentioned. You seem to have a more realistic grasp of the situation. Therefore, you should make your decision on the basis of your outlook.

Having said that, I must add that I am always in favor of early marriage. It is the recommended Islamic practice. Moreover, it is the normal course of action, which fits with the needs of human nature. You say that you are 28 and to my mind that is on the higher side of the appropriate marriage age. But if circumstances make it necessary to delay marriage, then one should not take a rash decision.

An important factor which you should take into account is whether you will be able to bring your wife to live with you here in Saudi Arabia or you will be leaving her to stay with your family and see her only during vacations. If you are going to bring your wife here and you think you can keep during vacations only. If you are going to bring your wife here and you think you can keep your job for a few years, then I would recommend you to get married without delay. The fact that you are getting a modest salary should not deter you, if you deem that it is sufficient to meet your needs when yet are married. The point is that your marriage may motivate you to get an additional job in your spare time or work harder in your present job so that you get promoted. Do not forget that Allah provides for all his creatures, through their work. When you work for a family, Allah provides you with what He has proportioned to that family

If, on the other hand, you are going to leave your wife in your home country and see her only for a month each year, then in the circumstances, it may be wise to delay your marriage for the time being. Many problems affect marriage when the husband and wife live far apart. In the family situation you have described, such problems are likely if your wife will be staying together with your parents and your brother's family in the same house, while you are working in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, you will not get the benefits of marriage, except for a brief period every year. That is not the proper way to raise a family. I realize that many people have to do this, but if you do not have to do it, then it may be better to wait

In this latter case, you should perhaps set yourself a timetable, which you should explain to your parents. You have to reassure them that you are serious about getting married but you want to establish your marriage on solid basis, by having a house of your own first. Involve them in your project to get a house. If you are planning to build house, perhaps you may find it appropriate to buy a plot of land and start the preliminary work. When they feel that something is happening, they may be reassured. If you are thinking of buying an existing house, perhaps you can start by looking for a suitable house and negotiating payment of the price on the basis of a substantial down payment and installments spread over a period of time. If your parents feel that you are moving in the right direction, they may be satisfied. If you cannot do either of these now, you have only to reassure them that you are building for the future and that you will be getting married at the right time

You may be worried about no compliance with your parents’ wish. In these circumstances, Islam does not make it an absolute duty that one does as his parents tell him, when the general circumstances he finds himself in do not make that wish very wise. Your intention is not to disobey your parents, but to make your right decision after careful study. You will not be disobedient if you delay your marriage in these circumstances but you should comfort your parents and assure them that you are serious about the whole thing.
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Marriage and parents' consent

Q). In March 1995, my marriage was solemnized by my father without my knowledge and against my wishes. The marriage is still only on paper. I want this marriage to be dissolved but my husband refuses. I have at present a suitor who wants to marry me. If I marry my present suitor without my parents' knowledge, would that be legal from the Islamic point of view?

(Name and address withheld)

A). There are two separate points in this question. The father’s action and the second is what this lady intends to do in return. On the first point I would like to say that the father is wrong in solemnizing his daughter’s marriage without her consent. A woman said to the Prophet that her father married her to a relative of his in order to improve his own social standing. He did not ask her views on this marriage before he did it. The Prophet ruled the marriage to be dissolved immediately. The woman said: "Now, messenger of God, I approve of what my father has done. I only wanted that women should know that men have no say in their matrimonial affairs."

What you should do first of all is to put the matter to a court of law, seeking the annulment of your marriage. If you prove that it was a forced marriage, then the court will rule in your favor and the marriage will be annulled, leaving you in a position to start a new marital relationship if you so desire.

Whyou must not do on any account is to "marry" another man or to have any relationship with him before you terminate the relationship with your present husband, even though your marriage is only a paper marriage, as you say. If you ignore this advice you may be guilty of polyandry, which is to be married to more than one man at the same time. You do not want anything like that to happen.

Moreover, you must not marry anyone without the knowledge of your parents. Marriage is meant to start a family, and it is far better for the woman to have her family by her side when she is about to start a new family. Most scholars agree that the woman's guardian should act for her on her marriage contract. If her father is available then he is her guardian. Your father has acted wrongly when he solemnized your marriage without your knowledge. Do not repay his mistake with a mistake of your own. Your proper approach is to try to win him over to your side, and make him see that your happiness is not something to be trifled with. You have the first say in all that, but he should be on your side.
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Marriage: A girl's dilemma in the absence of parental consent

Q). A man from a Gulf country has proposed to me, but my parents refused on grounds of different cultures, as we come from Pakistan. He tried to talk to them, but my father refused to meet him. He only managed to talk to my mother and she refused his proposal. Is it possible that we get married without their consent?

S. Khan,Riyadh

A). Islam makes it clear that a girl's father or guardian must act for her marriage. She may not act for herself, according to most scholars. That is because Islam views marriage as a union, which establishes a family, so it must be organized between families. This enhances a girl's position and protects her rights.

However, in order not to let parents and guardians’ abuse this authority God has given them, the Prophet enjoins them to exercise it to the benefit of girls under their supervision. He says: "If someone whose strength of faith and honesty are satisfactory comes to you with a proposal of marriage, then give him your daughter in marriage. Unless you do, much conflict and corruption is likely to be the result."

The criterion is thus well defined. People must make their judgement of any marriage proposal to their daughters or girls under their care in the light of this criterion. It is not right that class or difference of culture or status should be given paramount consideration. The basic issue is faith and honesty.

There is no way you can get married to this gentleman unless your father acts for you, with your consent in the marriage contract.

If a girl's father is alive and present, no one else can act as her guardian. A marriage without the presence of a guardian is not valid. Hence your only way is to persuade your parents that this marriage is viable and likely to give you the happiness they undoubtedly want for you. You have to determine how you can achieve that, but make sure that your approach is not one of confrontation, because confrontation is likely to produce the wrong result. May be if your suitor makes his approach a family approach, you stand a better chance of persuading your parents to accept. That would mean that members of his family come to see your father, or women from his family come and see your mother first. If she is convinced then she may be able to persuade your father to moderate his stance. Whatever you do, make sure of remaining dutiful to your parents.
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Marriages that are forbidden

Q). Is it permissible to be married to two sisters at the same rime? There is a case of a person who is bound to have two sisters as his wives, and he seems to be very religious. What is the result of his action?

A). It is forbidden for any man to be married to two sisters at the same time. It is well known that Islam allows a man to have up to four wives at the same time, but there are restrictions on marriage, which prohibit certain marriages. Among these prohibitions we find the marriage to two sisters at the same time. This prohibition is stated clearly in Verse 23 of Surah 4. The Prophet has added to this a prohibition on marriage to a woman and her aunt, whether on her father's or mother’s side, or the reverse situation of being married to a woman and then to try to marry her niece. Such marriage is not permissible.

However, if one's wife dies, one may marry her sister or her aunt or niece. It is often the case that such a marriage is found helpful, particularly when the man has young children who need to be looked after. Their aunt or another close relative to their deceased mother may care for them better than any stepmother.

I do not understand your other point about a person who is bound to be married to two sisters at the same time. Why is he bound to do something, which God has prohibited? To whom is he obliged to do such a thing? Anyway, the first of these two sisters whom he married is his wife, while the other is not. His relationship with her is not a marriage, even though there is a marriage contract between them. You say he appears to be religious, but a person who violates God’s law in this way is not religious, no matter what he appears to be like.
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Mit'ah Marriage

Q) Is the marriage known as mit'ah permissible? Could you explain the reasons for the verdict you give.

S. A. Anwar , Al-Khafji

A). No, the mit'ah, which is a temporary marriage, is not permissible. It is indeed forbidden. The Prophet has made this clear on his way back from the expedition of Tabuk. What such an arrangement involves is that a man proposes to marry a woman for a specified period of time, such as a month or a year or whatever. She may agree and they also agree on a dower and bring in witnesses.

So, it fulfills all the conditions of a legal marriage except that the couple agrees in advance to terminate marriage at a particular time in future. Nevertheless, the introduction of such a condition invalidates the whole arrangement.

The whole point of introducing conditions into a marriage contract comes for extensive debate among scholars with a significant number of leading scholars rejecting any added condition. But a condition of time limit changes the very nature of marriage from one, which establishes a family to one, which satisfies a temporary desire. Hence, it is rejected altogether and the marriage is not recognized.
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Must wife serve husband?

Q). Is it a must for a wife to serve her husband by preparing food for him, Washing his clothes, etc. or is it not a Must?

A). The Islamic scholars say that this issue depends on the customs and traditions in the community. If the wife serves her husband just like what her relatives do, then she must serve him. The wives of the Prophet (pbuh) used to serve him, prepare his food, clean his clothes, etc.

Also the Prophet's daughters and the wives of the Prophet's companions did the same to their husbands.

If the wife is not accustomed to serve in the house of her own family but depends on house-maids and domestic servants, like the daughters of the well-off people, then it is not a must for her to serve her husband, but it is recommendable.
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The rights of husband and wife

Q). Different problems arise in different marriages, I should be grateful if you would kindly comment on the rights and duties of a husband and wife when the following problems arise.

  1. If the wife is disobedient in both domestic and religious matters.
  2. If she misuses the money given to her by her husband and gives it to her relations although they may be rich.
  3. If she refuses to move to her husband’s home, where he wishes to live permanently.
  4. If she passes offensive remarks against her husband, claiming that she is only joking.
  5. If she refuses to resign from her employment.
  6. If she refuses to give their child the name her husband wants to give him
  7. Is a husband within his rights to talk to his friends about his wife?

(Name and address withheld)

  1. Islam views marriage as a relationship, which brings two persons together in frieand compassion. Problems and quarrels arise in almost every marriage. Rare indeed is a marriage, which is free of them. It is when such problems and differences arise that compassion, consideration and affection are most needed in order to overcome the difficulty, reconcile the partners and ensure the safety of the marriage and the family, and above all to safeguard the interests of the children. It is important, therefore, to make the rights and limits of each of the two partners absolutely clear in order to reduce the effects of these problems to the minimum. It is also important that authority in the family should be well defined. Islam gives that authority to the husband, on the basis that it is he who earns the money and is required to look after his wife and children. Islam, however, does not neglect the other half of the marriage, namely, the wife. It ensures that the wife is treated with respect and honor and makes it clear that she is entitled to exercise her rights, which are commensurate with her duties. The prophet says:” The best among you is the best in his treatment of his household, and I am the best of you in my treatment of my household” The prophet was not boasting about his treatment of his wives when he said so. Far is it from him to boast about anything he does. The prophet said that only because he is the example Allah expects us to follow. When we know that he has extended to his wives the best treatment a woman can dream of, then by following his example, we are practicing our religion, earning reward from Allah and ensuring our own happiness.

Having said that, I realize that not all marriages can be happy. Some of them are stormy, and some always suffer form the incompatibility of the personalities of both partners. Problems which in the beginning may be small are soon compounded and family life becomes a continuous misery. In order to solve problems of the type mentioned in the reader’s letter, it is important to know what are the rights and the duties of each in every situation. Taking these cases one by one, let us consider the Islamic answer to them.

  1. It is the duty of a wife to obey her husband in all matters which affect the family, provided that his wishes and what he tells her to do does not contravene any Islamic law or regulation. Having said that, I should perhaps add that life in the family should not be treated as life in a military camp, with orders issued morning and evening and differences of opinion treated as disobedience leading to mutiny. If the husband, however, expresses a certain wish or expects something from his wife which he makes clearly understood, then his wife should endeavor to fulfill that as long as it does not badly affect her or their family and it does not constitute a disobedience of Allah. The Prophet says: ”No creature may be obeyed in what constitutes disobedience to Allah.” If the wife is habitually disobedient in ordinary matters, her husband should counsel her that her attitude is bound to leave adverse effects on both of them and their children. The Qur’an speaks of three different stages of dealing with such disobedience. Allah states in the Qur’an: As those women whose rebellion you have reason to fear, admonish them first: then leave them alone in bed: then beat them(lightly): and if they subsequently pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Allah is indeed most high, great. (4:34) It must be clearly understood that the physical punishment mentioned in verse is treated as the last resort and it must not be severe or on the woman’s face. It should be viewed only as a corrective measure, which is not used except in extreme cases. Admonition and staying away from bed must be tried first. As for the disobedience in religious matters, the Qur’an advises us Bid your family to pray, and be patient with them. This divine instruction may be carried over so as to include all religious duties. One has to tell his wife and members of his family to attend to their religious duties and treat them wisely so as to encourage them to fulfill those duties. He should explain to them their duties toward Allah, quoting always from the Qur’anic verse implying clear instruction that he or she should do something, he is far more likely to comply than when the instruction is given in the words of human being.
  2. The prophet makes clear that woman should not spend her husband’s money without his consent, not even for charity. This is because it is normally the husband who earns the money. Hence, he should have the final say in how it is spent. The prophet says: ”No woman may spend something from her husband’s house without his permission.” The prophet was asked: ”Not even food” He said: that is the best of our money.” It is, however, permissible for a woman to give away perishable food if she fears that it will perish if kept, and her family does not need it. She need not wait for her husband to give his permission in that particular case. If a woman nevertheless spends some money, which belongs to her husband for a charitable purpose, he earns the reward for it and she incurs the blame for spending it without having his consent first.
  3. If her husband’s home is adequate for the family and meets all the requirements of a home, then it is her duty to move to it if her husband asks her to do so. If she does not, she is considered rebellious and she forfeits her right to financial support by her husband.
  4. This attitude cannot be condoned at all. It is indeed forbidden. The prophet was asked: “who has the greatest claim over a woman?” He answered: “Her Husband” He was then asked: “who has the greatest claim over a man?” He answered “His mother.” In view of this hadith, passing offensive remarks to the person who has the greatest claim to a woman’s respect and good treatment is the direct opposite of her duty.
  5. The normal situation is that the husband works in order to earn his living and support his family. A woman is not supposed to work because she does not need to do so. A recent ruling by an Egyptian court, however, states that if a man marries a woman when she is employed or having a regular job, and he agrees to her continued working, then he has no right to prevent her from continuing with her work. If he, nevertheless, asks her to quit her job and she disobeys, then her disobedience is not considered rebellion in the technical sense which makes her forfeit her right to be supported. This ruling is based on the assumption that her husband's agreement to her work at the time of their marriage is deemed to be one of the conditions of the marriage. The prophet says: “Believers, abide by whatever conditions they accept.”
  6. Ii is the right of the husband to give his children their names. Here again mutual agreement promotes good and healthy atmosphere in the family. This should never be an issue of contention in any family.
  7. It is not appropriate from the Islamic point of view to speak to other people about one’s wife. It is permissible, however to seek advice from people of wise judgement or to seek good counsel. If it is for that purpose that one speaks about his wife to others, then he must always remember that he should not speak ill of her, so that they form a bad opinion of her. What he says about her should never be tantamount to backbiting her. He should remember that she also has a right over him to protect her and to make others hold her in good esteem. He should never say a word of untruth about her.


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Woman's responsibilities

Q). Could you explain the responsibilities of a Muslim woman when her husband is absent or working abroad.

(Name and address withheld)

A). It seems that the question is concerned mainly with a long absence, not a short trip lasting a few days. Such an absence of the husband creates a very difficult situation for the wife, particularly when cultural traditions dictate certain requirement which may not be very convenient for her, or she may not be able to cope with. Hence it is important to know what are her duties and what are her rights. If she is asked to do more than her duties, it shoube appreciated that she is being kind and what she is doing should be met with gratitude. If some of her rights are unavoidably denied her, then again her being accommodating should be appreciated.

To start with, it is her right that her husband should not prolong his absence more than four months at a time without her free and willing agreement. She is also entitled to have her full expenses provided at regular intervals, so that she is not left wanting for any thing that is necessary for her and her children. She should have a suitable accommodation, according to her husband’s means. If that is in a flat or a house, which belongs to her husband, she should be provided with suitable care so that she can call on someone who is trustworthy in cases of emergency. If she is left with her parents, then that should give her the best sort of care.

Many people consider that such a wife should stay with her husband's family and give help in household duties. This is not necessary, but it may be suitable. There is no requirement that she should stay with her in-laws. If she does, then they must know that she is not required by Islamic law to do all household duties.

She is expected to help in order to maintain good relations, and to be kind to her husband's parents, but she is under no obligation to do so. Hence her kindness should be appreciated as such, not to be treated as a fulfillment of a duty. She should at all times be very respectful of her husband's parents and maintain good relations with his family.

On the other hand, she should protect her husband’s property and reputation in his absence. There is no need to speak about her duties of being faithful and of having no relationship with any man which is unbecoming of a religious and faithful Muslim woman.

That is taken for granted, and it is a duty of every Muslim woman whether she is staying with her husband in the same home or he is away, and even if he does not mind her having such a relationship. She must also look after their children as best as she can. If she does all that, she is deemed to have carried out her responsibilities
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When local customs are in conflict with Islamic teachings.

Q) Being a widower, I am trying to arrange a marriage with a divorcee, after having made sure that she is willing to look after my children.

My brother has sent me her photograph, but I feel that I should meet her personally and ask some questions which I feel to be very important for my children and me. However, her brother insists that he will not breach the local custom, which allows an authorized representative of mine to her but not me personally. Could you please explain what is the religious view?

A). I am afraid local customs may interfere to make things difficult when Islam wants them simple. Marriage is a lifetime relationship. Hence, it is very important to make sure that one is choosing the right partner.

Islam is easy and makes things simple and easy. The Prophet says: "This religion has been made easy, so you should approach it in a gentle and easy way. Anyone who approaches this religion in a hard or violent way will surely be defeated." Indeed ease and simplicity are the mark of this faith in all facets of life.

In marriage, as Indeed in everything else, Islam makes things simple. It is people who try to make them difficult.

You speak of a local custom, which prevents a prospective husband from seeing the woman he wants to marry. Yet it is acceptable that a representative of that man can see her. It is a fact that no one can replace the prospective husband himself in forming an overall opinion of a prospective wife. His relatives may go and see her, and then give a full account of the meeting, but then he will be looking at her with their eyes. This is not sufficient. It is for this reason that the Prophet has advised his companions to look at their prospective wives before they marry them. He told one of his companions: "If you can see of her what will persuade you that she will be a suitable wife for you, then do so." This is an authentic Hadith and the companion to whom the Prophet said these words reports that he stood in hiding in some place where he knew she would be coming. That is because he wanted to see her as she is and judge how she conducts herself with her friends.

He did not want to see her in a situation where she would be aware that a suitor is looking at her. In other words, he wanted to see her without any affectation, makeup or special behavior.

What you want to do is perfectly legitimate and it is acceptable from the Islamic point of view. Indeed, it is much more relevant in your case because of the fact that you have children and you want your future wife to look after them. Hence you need to make sure that she is of the right type.

What you need to do is to explain to the woman's brother that you are serious about your proposal, but you want to make sure that you and his sister are clear about what lies ahead for both of you. Perhaps it is useful to enlist the support of a scholar to your community who may tell her brother that this is perfectly acceptable from the Islamic point of view. May God render your effort a success
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Promises that cannot be fulfilled

Q). When I got married, my wife tried to make me feel that my first obligation is toward her. Whatever she wants should take precedence over what my parents may require. This has created problems particularly because she wanted to live alone, when I cannot afford to look after my parents and my wife if we are to use two separate homes. This has led me to seek work in the Kingdom. As I was about to leave I promised my parents and my wife to call them for pilgrimage. However, I cannot afford doing that for all the three at the same time. Yet when I asked my wife to delay her pilgrimage, she refused. Her father wrote me a letter of insulting for breaking my promise. I replied in the same vein, but I have thought of borrowing money in order to pay for my wife's pilgrimage. Please comment.

(Name and address withheld)

A). First of all I would like to reassure you that from the Islamic point of view, there is nothing wrong with what you have done, except perhaps in writing to your father-in law in the same abusive language he had used with you.

This is certainly wrong on his part, but to reply in kind is also wrong. Hence, you should have stuck to Islamic values and refrained from answering him in kind.

You have been trying to discharge all your responsibilities to the best of your ability. That is all that Islam requires of anybody. If your efforts fall short of fulfilling your best expectations, no blame should be attached to you. What you promised your wife is to invite her to do the pilgrimage. If you cannot do that this year, then you may fulfill that promise next year. You can try to compensate for that by obtaining a visitor's visa for her, and that will be more than adequate, because she will be able to spend longer time with you.

If that can be extended until the pilgrimage season, she would get more than she bargained for. To be abusive when you do that is certainly unacceptable from the Islamic point of view.

My feeling is that your wife has been trying to get the best deal for herself, thinking little of your other obligations. In doing so, she has been selfish. I must hasten to say that I am only saying this on the basis of your story. Therefore, I am not making a judgment in the matter. A judgment can only be made after hearing both sides and cross-examining each of them. What I am saying is only made on the assumption that what you have said is true. When your wife insists that you get her a separate home and you cannot afford that because you have to look after your parents also, she is making an unreasonable demand. She is entitled to be provided with a good standard of living, according to your means. She cannot simply ignore the fact that your parents need your help and that your earnings must pay for all your obligations.

What you should do now is to make your position clear to your wife. You should tell her frankly that you are not going abandon your parents for her sake in the same way, as you do not expect her to abandon her parents. You should tell her also that in the circumstances, she has to tolerate the fact that your income can only maintain a certain standard of living and she is expected to cooperate in maintaining that by reducing her demands to what is reasonable. If she cannot promise that, then you should leave her to stay with her parents for a while. She may soon get tired of that and become more willing to reach a compromise. If you maintain your stand showing her that you really care for her and want her to be with you, but you are only asking her to be practical and reasonable, then you may soon find her relenting, and may be her parents would appreciate your stand. You must not be critical of her parents or use any abusive language either to her or her parents. You should maintain a proper standard of decency. You should not borrow money in order to bring her for pilgrimage. God does not require that from anyone.

You say that you have not had any communication with her or her family for several months. There is no harm in taking the initiative and write her a reassuring letter explaining your position in a reconciliatory way. Alternatively you may try to get some wise person from her family or a mutual friend to speak for you. You should explain to such a person that you cannot walk out on any of your responsibilities.

In an Islamic community people appreciate a person who takes care of his elderly parents. You should not despair, but you should act wisely. May God guide you to the best way, which ensures the happiness of your family.
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To get married to an outsider

Q) I have been attracted to a girl for a very long time and we both agree that we should get married. However, the problem is that although she is a Muslim, she is West Indian whereas my family is in Pakistan. My family will not even consider the possibility of marriage. Should I ignore them and go ahead with the marriage, or pander to their prejudices and look for someone else?

A) It is not an Islamic problem. There is no racial barrier to marriage in Islam. The point is that the person concerned does not need the consent of his parents. If he is well established and able to look after himself and the girl, he can get married. We are no longer living in a static society, and strict family bonds may no longer be relevant in the new situation. However, the questioner sounds a little hesitant and appears not to have the moral courage to break with the wishes of his family.

Love between the couple at the moment may be very strong, but he must also consider that later on his marriage may affect his integration into the Muslim community. After one or two years when the initial attraction has worn off, will he still be able to protect his wife and children in the face of a hostile environment?

Once there is love. This is what is important from the Islamic point of view. But it is also a question with wider implications, which should not be overlooked. All eventualities should be discussed and carefully thought out.
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Marriage away from home

Q). My friend and I are planning to get married. There is trouble between our two countries, which makes it difficult for us to travel to my home country for marriage. Is it possible for us to get married here in the Kingdom without the presence of my father?

S.A. Abdullah, Riyadh

A). You do not have to travel to another place in order to get married if any circumstances make such a travel inconvenient. In this day and age when communications are so easy, it is not difficult to make sure of meeting any formality that a legal arrangement requires. However, the best arrangement for your marriage is the presence of your father when the marriage contract is made. If there is no difficulty to prevent his travel, then you may invite him to come over for a visit or an Umrah when you also arrange for your marriage contract to be made. If that is difficult, then he may appoint someone here in the Kingdom to act as your guardian for the purpose of making your marriage contract. But if there is difficulty in doing that, such as your father being incapable of undertaking normal tasks, or your having no real guardian, and there is no relative here who may act in such a capacity, then someone of good standing in the community may be appointed as your guardian. The guardian, whoever he is, should make sure that the marriage is a suitable one and that there is no impediment to it from any angle, particularly the Islamic legal angle. He then may proceed to do the contract with your consent.
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Second Marriage

Q) Although my father promised not to get married again after our mother's death, he took a new wife within six months. Is this appropriate?

M.M.A. USA

A). You should not take your father's declaration that he would not marry again as a promise. You should appreciate that it was a declaration made at a moment of extreme grief at the loss of his wife and the mother of his children. He must have judged after the initial sadness at his bereavement that it was better for the family that he should get married. Of course that is his right and privilege. No one could deny him that. He is not breaking a promise by doing so. He is taking only an enlightened decision as he determines his own needs and the needs of his family.

It is wrong that he should ask you and your brothers and sisters to call his new wife 'mother.' Maybe this is customary in the place where he comes from, but this is not right from the Islamic point of view.

There are two important reasons why it is wrong. The first is that it is not true. She is not your mother and you should not call her that. The second reason is that it forces on you the thought that another woman could be in the same position to you as your mother. As such, it offends your memory of your late mother without endearing his wife to you at all. Indeed the reverse is true, you will continue to reject the very thought of having a replacement for your mother, as it was.
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Unfaithful wife

Q). If a woman is unfaithful to her husband, can she be punished under Islamic law?

U. Sbeikh, Riyadh

A). Punishment for unfaithfulness depends on the extent of her error. If we are speaking here of adultery, then the offense should first be established in accordance with Islamic law. In this case, such a proof is established only by one of two methods: A voluntary confession by the person concerned. The confession has to be clear, given voluntarily and leaving no room for doubt whether the offense has been committed or not. Moreover, the confession can be withdrawn at any time, even during the affliction of the prescribed punishment. Such withdrawal is accepted without question, and the punishment is stopped immediately. Islam does not encourage offenders to make such a confession. Indeed it encourages that people should keep their offenses a secret between God and themselves, requesting God for forgiveness.

The other method of establishing guilt is the testimony of four men who are known to be honest They must testify under oath that they themselves have seen the offense being committed. They must not rely on hearsay or on seeing something less than the actual intercourse. If four witnesses testify that they have seen that, then the punishment must be enforced. Short of that or a confession no punishment is applicable in Islamic law.
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Getting married to someone who is far away

Q). Is it possible to have a marriage contract made through the telephone?

M. Irfan, jeddah

A). I think there is a practical difficulty in arranging a marriage contract on the telephone. For a marriage contract to be made, the two parties must be present, with the woman's father or guardian and two witnesses. In modern societies, there must also be a registrar from the authority concerned with family matters. How are these people to have a telephone conversation, with all of them listening to both parties at the same time is difficult to imagine.

Besides, all of them must he sthat the party on the other end of the line, i.e. the one they do not see, is the person concerned with the marriage. It is often the case that brothers or sisters may have very similar voices, which sound the same on the telephone.

Suppose that the bride has a sister with a similar voice, how is the registrar and the witnesses to know that the one speaking to them on the phone is the bride, not her sister?

Besides, why go to all this trouble, with the possibility of mistakes in identity being there? There is a much easier method to get married to someone who is far away.

The bridegroom may give power of attorney to someone in the town or village where the bride lives, giving him clear instructions to make the marriage contract on his behalf. He specifies all the details he wishes his attorney to observe.

The attorney agrees the details with the bride and her family, and arrangements are made to have the marriage contract done and registered in accordance with the requirements of the law.
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Martial Relations in periods

Q). Is there any risk in having marital relations with one's wife when she is in her period?

(Name and address withheld)

A). The major risk is that it constitutes disobedience to God who has ordered us not to do that. The instruction is found in Verse 222 of Surah 2 which states: "Stay away from women during their period and do not come unto them until they are cleansed.

When they have cleansed themselves, you may come unto them as God has made it lawful."
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Marrying sister of former wife

Q). A court has nullified my marriage after my wife had applied for khula. I refused to accept the money she sent me after that. Now I have received a letter from my former mother-in-law suggesting that I may propose to her elder daughter, and that the family does not need any dower from me. Will such a marriage be valid, and would the ruling be affected if my previous marriage was consummated or not?

A.M.S.Jeddah

A). The consummation of your marriage does not affect your status toward the family of your former Wife. The dissolution of your marriage is complete. It was done at your wife's request for khula. Your situation is the same as the one who has divorced his wife. When the divorce is complete he may marry his former wife's sister, if the two parties agree to this marriage.

In your case, the family of your former wife have expressed their willingness that you marry their other daughter. As such, there is nothing to stop you from marrying her if that is agreeable to you.

Having said that, I would like to pause a little at the family’s suggestion that you do not have to pay any dower. It may be that the family has appreciated your attitude when you refused to take the refund of your dower. Perhaps the family felt that you have taken the whole question with a broad mind, Hence their suggestion.

However, it is not for the family to make such a suggestion. It is the girl's right to have a dower at the time of her marriage. She may ask what she likes, and if you accept, then that is payable in full as it may be agreed between the two of you. No one may pressure her into forgoing her right to a dower, but if she herself accepts a nominal dower, or if she forgoes part or all of it after it is agreed, you may take it if you so wish. Or it may be that after you returned the dower, which is your right to have back since your marriage was terminated at your wife's appeal for khula, the family felt that it was sufficient as a dower for their other daughter whom they are making proposal to you to marry. If so, then you should tell them that the two couldn’t be set off against each other. You may claim the first dower back and pay your new wife, if you decide to marry her, a fresh dower the amount of which you may agree together.
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Marriage between kin

Q). What does Shariah say regarding the marriage between kin? Is there any Hadith or tradition preventing marriage between kin, such as the uncle's daughter, because we know that medical scientists do not advise such marriage?

(Name withheld), Jeddah

A). The women who are prohibited for marriage are mentioned in the Holy Qur'anic verse: "Prohibited to you (for marriage) are: Your mothers, daughters, sisters, father's sisters, mother's sisters, brother's daughters, sister's daughters foster-mothers (who gave you suck), foster-sisters, your wives' mothers, your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom you have gone in - No prohibition if you have not gone in - (those who have been), wives of your sons proceeding from your loins and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past. Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess." Other women are permissible and one can marry his uncle's daughter.

However, it is reprehensible so as to safeguard the health of the children. It has been narrated that Caliph Omar Bin Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) saw an Arabian tribe called Banu Al-Sayeb whose bodies were very weak and emaciated because they used to marry their kins. Caliph Omar told them to marry strangers.

Muslim jurists also say that if the marriage of one's kin ends up in divorce, this may severe the relations between kin which is forbidden in Islam.
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Marriage of close relatives

Q). You stated in a recent answer that the marriage of first cousins is acceptable in Islam, but you failed to mention that it is not really desirable, while the Prophet has spoken strongly discouraging it. There is plenty of medical evidence that the marriage of close relatives may cause many problems. I hope you will quote a Hadith, which encourages marrying non-relatives.

Gent (Mrs.), Jeddah

A). There is much inaccuracy in what is normally said about the marriage of cousins. I have recently asked a medical specialist of considerable repute about it, and he tells me that there is little medical evidence to justify the popular notion that the children of cousins are weaker physically or susceptible to more illness. Nor had the Prophet spoken strongly against it. Indeed his action in marrying his daughter, Fatimah, to his cousin, Ali, belies such a statement. What the Prophet says in this regard is his advice to marry outside one's own tribe, and to marry his children outside his and his wife's tribes. But this Hadith is meant in a different vein. It provides a way to break the tribal barriers through marriage. When people frequently marry outside their immediate tribes, then the frequent marriages will bring tribes closer and encourage cordial relations within a Muslim society. By the way! the expert I have talked to about this subject has suggested that the disadvantages of marriage to close relatives are counterbalanced by real advantages. He insists that there is plenty to recommend such marriages, provided that inter-family marriages do not continue for several generations.
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Marriage with first cousins: rulings without basis

Q). During my visit to India, I met a scholar who says that marriage with first cousins is not allowed in Islam, and that a special concession was given only to the prophet. He quotes Verse 50 of surah 33, "Al Ahzab", in support of his claim. If this were true, it makes millions of marriages illegal and millions of children illegitimate. Please explain.

M.A.Khan, Buraidha

A). It is strange that this person, whom you describe as a scholar, cites in support of his view a verse which starts with the following words: "Prophet, we have made lawful to you ..." This is to say that the verse is concerned with permission, not prohibition. I would have thought that his view, which tries to restrict certain marriages, should seek in evidence a verse, which outlines prohibition of certain marriages. It is well known that prohibited marriages are outlined in detail in Verses 22, 23 and 24 of Surah 4, entitled "Women", or "An Nisaa ". The first of these verses starts with a clear order: "Do not marry women whom your fathers had married...The second begins with a simiclear prohibition: Forbidden to you in marriage are your mothers, daughters, etc. When the list is complete, the third of these verse states: And lawful to you are all women beyond these, for you to seek out, offering them of your possessions, taking them in honest wedlock, and not in fornication, etc." Moreover, such marriages are lawful according to the practice of the Prophet who married his own daughter, Fatimah, to his cousin, Ali. Had there been any restriction on the marriage of cousins, the Prophet would not have allowed such a marriage to go through. Your "scholar" is, therefore, out on a limb when he makes such a claim.

Now let us look at the verse he quotes in support of his argument. Its meaning may be given in translation as follows: Prophet! We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have paid their dowers, as well as those whom your right hand has come to possess from among the captives of war whom Allah has bestowed upon you. And We have made lawful to you the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and aunts, who have migrated with you (to Madinah); and any believing woman who offers herself freely to the Prophet and whom the Prophet might be willing to wed: this being but a privilege for you, and not for other believers. We have already made known what We have enjoined upon them with regard to their wives and those whom their right hands may possess.

This verse is certainly meant to outline to the Prophet certain privileges. It may not be construed. However, as restricting to other Muslims what Allah has made lawful to the Prophet except in the case where He specifies so. It is significant that the verse tells the Prophet that his wives have been made lawful to him. This is not a superfluous statement, because Allah does not use any superfluous words. This is simply a reminder to the Prophet of the grace Allah has shown him. As for his cousins, the Prophet was allowed only those of his cousins who migrated with him to Madinah. It is reported that he could not marry Umm Hani a cousin of his who had not migrated to Madinah.

The verse certainly includes a special privilege given to the prophet and not given to any other believer. But this privilege is restricted to one case, namely, that of a woman who may offer herself freely to the prophet. He may marry her without the need to give her a dower. It should be said that several women made such an offer to the prophet, but he married none of them. Some of them he recommended to some of his companions, and such marriages went through in the normal way, with the prophet asking the prospective husband to pay a dower to the woman he is marrying and with a marriage contract made in the normal Islamic way.

When we say that this is a privilege to the prophet only, we mean that it is not permissible for a Muslim woman to offer herself freely to any man. Such a restriction is operative in order not to allow any abuse of the marriage system. If a woman makes such an offer to a believer, she does not become his wife unless a marriage contract is made between them in the presence of her father or guardian and at least two witnesses, and a dower is specified to be paid by the man to her.
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Unacceptable marriage offer

Q). I have had a relationship with a non-Muslim girl, but when I proposed marriage to her, her parents refused on account of my religion. She agreed with them. Am I in a position of deception?

(Name and address withheld)

A). I am surprised that you are more worried about a breach of a promise than an illegitimate relationship involving a cardinal sin. You should be more concerned about what you did with this woman in the past and regret it genuinely so that you may stand a chance of being forgiven by God. Now that you have a chance of a final break with her, you should revise your attitude and determine to improve your adherence to Islamic moral values. If you do not, then you may very well expose yourself to God's punishment which is severe indeed.

As far as your relationship with that woman is concerned, you have offered to marry her, but she and her family have refused. That means that you have done the honorable thing and shown your willingness to look after her. However, they have declined the offer, and you should be glad. She is not the sort of mother you want for your children.

She is neither a Muslim nor keen on morality. So you should take this opportunity and mend your ways before seeking to marry a chaste, religious Muslim woman who may be a good mother.
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Validity of Marriage

Q). Some people question the validity of the marriage of a friend of mine to a divorced woman. Her brother filled the official forms of marriage, signing himself as her eldest brother and guardian (because her father is dead) and his signature was entered in the official books as a witness. A non-Muslim friend signed as the second witness. Both the bride and the bridegroom signed acceptance. Is this marriage valid?

N.A.Razvi, Jeddah.

A) Some scholars are of the view that non-Muslims may not be called as witnesses of transactions between Muslims.

They consider that to be a witness exercise some aspects of patronage and it is not permissible that patronage over a Muslim be exercised by a non-Muslim. However, other scholars disagree, stating that being a witness means no exercise of patronage whatsoever. Hence, a non-Muslim may be a witness to any transaction between Muslims. This is probably a more accurate view.

The requirements for a marriage contract to be valid from the Islamic point of view is that it should be made in the presence of the bride's guardian and two witnesses. These two witnesses are the minimum needed for proper publicity. In this case, the guardian is present, because the woman's guardian is her eldest brother, since her father is dead. That he signed his name in the space provided for the first witness is neither here nor there, provided that there were two witnesses. These were indeed present, because one of them signed the form and the other is the officer in the Registrar's Office who received the form. It is not necessary from the Islamic point of view that witnesses should sign any form or contract, or indeed that the contract should be written. All that can be done verbally. The fact that the marriage contract was conducted in front of two people or more is sufficient for it to be valid. If there were none other than the officer in the Registrar's Office, the contract would still have been valid.
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A marriage that is against Islamic teachings

Q). I understand that I am a Christian, I cannot marry my Muslim fiancée unless I become a Muslim, while a Muslim man may marry a Christian woman who is allowed to retain her faith. May I know the reason behind this? There are several reasons, which prevent me from embracing Islam, yet I wish to marry this lady whom I have been supporting when she was studying. What happens if I require my fiancée to convert to Christianity? On the other hand, what is the likely solution if we get a civil marriage? May I further ask whether I can consider the money I have paid for her studies as her dower?

(Name and address withheld)

A). It is true that a Muslim woman may not marry a follower of any religion other than Islam. A Muslim man may marry Christian or a Jewish woman. The reason for the difference in the rules is two-fold.

Islam recognizes that it has a common area with the other two religions, and it requires its followers to respect the beliefs of other religions, Hence, if a Muslim man marries a Christian or a Jewish woman, he may not put her under any pressure to convert to Islam. Indeed he should allow her freedom of worship and respect her religious observances. It is not guaranteed that followers of other religions would do the same if they marry Muslim women. There are other considerations relating to the status of the children and the perceived weakness of women in many cultures and societies.

You are certainly entitled to maintain your faith, but you may not insist on a chaof Islamic rules to fulfill your purpose. The Islamic rules make your marriage to a Muslim woman impossible unless you become a Muslim. This must be a genuine conversion to Islam, not a mere pretension to satisfy certain formalities. If you want to contravene these rules, your marriage is not valid. Of course you can arrange for a civil marriage, and the civil law in your country may sanction such a marriage, but your "wife" would not be lawfully wedded to you from the Islamic point of view. If the woman in question converts to Christianity, she is considered an apostate. The Church may sanction the marriage, but she would remain an apostate. Her family is highly likely to disown her completely in either of these situations.

If you marry her legally, which means that you become a Muslim, you should know that Islamic marriage requires the presence of her father or guardian, two witnesses and the payment of a dower. The contract itself consists of a commitment and acceptance. The dower must be something that brings the woman a certain benefit. Your support of her studies may be offset against the marriage if that support was in the form of a loan. If it was a gift, no Muslim is allowed to claim back a gift he had given. However a dower need not be any large amount. You may agree with your future wife to give her one riyal as a dower. If this is acceptable to her, well and good.
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A marriage that is questionable

Q). My sister-in-law, who is also my maternal cousin is married to a man working abroad. All of a sudden we heard that she got married to my nephew without having been divorced by her husband and without the knowledge of their parents or relatives. Is this marriage valid?

S.R. Ali, Madinah

A).We have to separate two issues involved here: The relationship between the two persons concerned and its effect on their marriage, and the circumstances in which they got married. To start with, your nephew may marry your wife's niece who is also his cousin. As I understand, she is a more distant relative of his than your wife is related to you. Her father is the maternal uncle of his mother. So there is nothing wrong with this marriage if the two partners were free to get married and the marriage is done in accordance with the appropriate Islamic rules. However, you say that the woman is already married to someone else who is working abroad. If so, how can she get married again without a divorce-taking place first? It may be that the woman could have applied to a court of law for dissolution of her marriage to her first husband. If she has done that and got dissolution from court on the basis of her husband being away for a very long time, then we hope that the basis of the dissolution has the backing of some school of thought. I cannot tell you that without more detailed information about the case. If no dissolution had been ordered by a court and no divorce had taken place, then that woman is still married to her first husband who is working abroad. Her relationship with the other man, who is her cousin, is adulterous. She must stop it immediately.
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Marriage to a non Muslim

Q). My friend wants to marry a Hindu girl who says that she would convert to Islam after the marriage. Can he do that?

(Name and address witfiheld)

A). If your friend wants his marriage to be valid, his intended wife must adopt Islam before the marriage contract is done. Otherwise the marriage cannot go through. It is not possible for a Muslim to get married to a woman who follows any religion other than Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Since this woman does not follow any of these religions, her marriage to your friend is not valid. If she adopts Islam first, she is no longer a Hindu. She will then be a Muslim and as such, there will be no hindrance to prevent her marriage to your friend.

As for the second part of your question it is not true that consummation of the marriage must take place on the first night, I am surprised that some people would suggest that this is an Islamic requirement for the validity of the marriage. There is no such requirement.

Having said that, I may add that it is better for the bride and her family that the marriage should be consummated as soon as possible after the wedding. But this is a matter of preference, not a duty.
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Privacy in martial life

Q). A man who has two wives lives in a one-bedroom flat, and as such he and his two wives are forced to share the same bedroom. He has been advised to move to a larger house or make different arrangements so that the three do not use the same bedroom. He feels that this is not necessary because the three of them get on well together and there seems to he no need for separation. Please comment.

(Name and address withheld)

A). It is certainly bad to sleep with the two wives in the same room, because there is a special intimacy between a man and his wife, which they would rather keep to themselves. When such intimacy is exposed to another person, although she may stand in the same position to the man as his other wife, the element of modesty, which is a virtue in the Islamic sense of values, is lost. It is far more preferable that this person should change the arrangement in his home so that his two wives use separate bedrooms. If his home is too small for that, he may convert the sitting room at night to a bedroom for one of them. That is much better for everybody concerned.

Having said that, I wish to add that if there is no possibility whatsoever of the man being able to provide such an arrangement for his two wives, and he can only afford to have only one room, then he must observe a strict code of conduct in his martial relationship with his two wives.

Of course he must always treat his wives fairly, giving each the same standard of living as the other. It is acceptable that he cannot do much about that because feelings are not always within our control, but fairness is required in everything a person can control and determine.
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A marriage that can never be

Q). A friend of mine has been involved with young man who is a Hindu. She has not been able to resist her feelings despite her repeated attempts to do so. I have tried to persuade her to end this relationship, but despite all efforts their relationship is getting stronger. She is a good believer in Islam, and she has told me repeatedly that even if she marries him, she would never change her religion. Please advise.

(Name and address withheld)

A). Has this friend of yours ever asked herself whether the young man in her life really cares for her? How serious is he about their relationship? Does he think of her half as much as she thinks of him? Reading your letter, I feel that the answer to all these questions is in the negative. What is happening in her case is that she is placing herself at his feet and he is looking at her with contempt. Why should he not do so when she is defying her family, society and her faith for his sake?

It may be that your friend has not received an elementary religious education. Nevertheless, she should have known that it is not possible for a Muslim woman to marry any man who is not a Muslim, it is not enough that she says that she would never change her religion even if she gets married to him. Such a marriage can never be. It may be that she can get the marriage legally recognized in a European country or in India, or in a non-Muslim country. But that "legality" does not make the marriage lawful. It is not open for any authority to change God's law. Nor is it possible for any authority to make lawful what God Himself has forbidden. God simply does not accept that a Muslim woman could marry a non-Muslim regardless of the religion he follows. So, if she wants to get married to him she has to look for some other way to make such a marriage lawful.

That other way is for the man to adopt Islam and for the change of religion to be recognized as serious, based on conviction, not merely on the desire to get married to a Muslim woman? When such a change occurs this friend of yours may get married to her man, if her famiapprove of this marriage.

That is because in Islam, it is the girl's father or guardian who acts for her at the time when her marriage contract is made. Whether the man is willing to adopt Islam or not is entirely up to him. However, from what you have told me, I think he is hardly likely to do so. It may be that he looks at his relationship with your friend as a flirting matter. When the going becomes serious and he is called upon to change religion, he is likely to cry off.

Perhaps the best thing your friend could do is to put him to the test. She should explain to him that their relationship could only be solemnized into a proper marriage if he is willing to accept Islam. She should also suggest to him that the two of them should start reading about Islam, trying to understand its basic beliefs, concepts and values. When they have acquired sufficient knowledge of the Islamic faith, he should make up his mind whether he believes in Islam as the final message from God to mankind. If the answer is in the affirmative, then he should declare himself a Muslim by stating that he believes in no deity save God and he believes in Muhammad as God's final messenger to mankind.

Only when this has taken place can the marriage between your friend and her man is valid.
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Inter faith marriages

Q). May I ask whether Christianity and Judaism are the only religions with which inter faith marriage is allowed in Islam. In India there are many religions, and because of the proximity, many young Muslims find it sometimes suitable to marry women who may belong to these faiths. They arrange that the girl convert to Islam for the marriage. It is often the case that the girl does not know anything about Islam, and she only converts nominally to get married. Is this allowed? Is the marriage valid?

H. Masthan, Jeddah

A). It is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Christian or a Jewish woman without the need for the woman to convert to Islam at any time. Although this is permissible, it is not to be encouraged because interfaith marriages are likely to run into problems. A Muslim woman may not marry anyone other than a Muslim. As for other religions, it is not permissible for a Muslim man or woman to marry their followers. This applies to all religions of the Indian subcontinent.

If a follower of such religion wants to marry a Muslim, he or she must become a Muslim first. I understand that this condition is what causes women who get to know Muslim men and want to many them to convert to Islam. They may think that conversion to Islam is easy since it involves only the declaration that one believes m the Oneness of God and that Muhammad is His messenger. They utter this declaration without even thinking about its meaning. Such an action is not a conversion to Islam. It is mere expedient. It does not make the woman did not concern a Muslim nor does it make her a lawfully married wife to a Muslim. She needs to understand Islam and its principles. If she is convinced that it is the religion of the truth, and she declares her belief in it she is a Muslim. In this case, she may be married to a Muslim. If she merely utters the declaration without conviction, she is technically a Muslim, and we must accept her word. But that does not make her a Muslim in God's sight. Her husband should know her real attitude and determine his position accordingly.
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Converting ones non Muslim wife

Q). Muslims are allowed to marry Christian or Jewish women. Is the woman so married to be converted to Islam before or after her marriage? If this permission is granted on the basis of Christianity and Judaism being religions preached by messengers from Allah, is the permission still valid, despite the fact that Christians now believe in the Trinity?

A). I should admit that I find the question about converting a woman because of her marriage rather strange. It is contradictory to Islamic values and principles. Islam states very clearly that "no compulsion is admissible in matters of faith." How then, can anyone contemplate that a woman must be converted to Islam in order for her marriage to be legal. Such a requirement is not acceptable. Islam either permits a marriage or forbids it. If it approves of a Muslim marrying a Christian woman, then it stands to reason that it allows that woman to retain her faith. Indeed, the husband should not pressure his wife in any way to accept Islam. What he should do is to make Islam known to her and to tell her that Islam is the final message from Allah to man, therefore, people are called upon to accept it. She must retain her freedom whether to do so or to maintain her faith. If she decides to remain Christian or Jewish, the marriage can continue, with the husband being required to allow his wife to practice her religion. The children are, by necessity, Muslims, since the Islamic rule is that children follow the higher of their parents' religions. Since Islam is the highest of all religions, then they are Muslims.

The point about the doctrine of the Trinity as practiced by Christians and the permission to marry a Christian woman is frequently raised. Some people suggest that since Christians have come to believe in the Trinity, they are no longer believers in the Oneness of Allah. Therefore, they cannot be classified as "people of the Book", or, as perhaps more accurately translated, "people of earlier revelations." l am afraid that this is not quite correct. The doctrine of Trinity was introduced into Christianity long before the advent of Islam.

At the time when the Qur'an was revealed, Christians had the same beliefs as they have today. The doctrine of the Trinity was already introduced and practiced. To us, it represents a distortion of Christianity and its fundamental principles. However, the doctrine is mentioned in the Our'an and Allah describes those who say that He is one of a Trinity are "unbelievers.'' Nevertheless, He calls them as "Ahl-Kitab", or "People of earlier revelations.'' Since the permission to marry Christian women has come subsequently to the introduction of the doctrine of Trinity in Christianity, then that permission remains in force. Once again, no coercion or pressure should be exercised to make a Christian wife adopt Islam. If she adopts it, she must do so by her own free will.

We have already established that it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Christian woman or a Jewess. The question remains whether it is advisable. It may happen that a certain thing is permitted so as to serve as a last resort, or as a sound solution to a particular problem. It does not follow that it is to be treated as recommended or desirable. In this particular case, inter-faith marriages are permitted within certain limits to help solve problems, which may be encountered by individual Muslims. An inter-faith marriage cannot be treated on the same footing as a marriage between a Muslim man and a Muslim woman. Let us take the following example from the time of the first generation of Muslims, i.e. the companions of the Prophet. Huthaifah ibn Al Yaman was one of the commanders Umar ibn Al Khatab sent to Persia. Subsequently, Umar learned that Huthaifah had married a Jewish woman. He wrote to him asking him to divorce her. Huthaifah wrote back saying that he would not comply with Umar's request unless Umar stated first whether his marriage was permissible or not. Umar wrote to him that it was permissible. However, he supported his request to Huthaifah to divorce his Jewish wife by two arguments: that if Muslims married non-Muslims, who would marry Muslim women? In this connection, we should remember that a Muslim woman could only marry a Muslim. The other reason expressed by Umar was that foreign women had an element of attraction, which may lure Muslims away. Huthaifah found both arguments sound and he divorced his wife. Both arguments are still sound today. Indeed more so. The companions of the Prophet were better believers than we are and yet Umar expressed his misgivings about interfaith marriages, by as a distinguished figure of them as Huthaifah, an Ansari who could be trusted witthe command of a large Muslim army.

One more point needs to be added in this connection. If a Muslim who is living in a non-Muslim country marries a local Christian woman, then he places himself under very great pressure. His wife will be living among her people and within her own cultural background. She finds no reason to modify her social behavior in order to be more accommodating to Islamic principles.

In fact, all the compromises that will inevitably be necessary will have to be made by her husband, who is an outsider coming into her society. The case is different if she is to travel to his home country. It is she who finds herself in a position of having to make compromises in order to adjust to her new environment. All this is of great importance

The best way is not to have an inter-faith marriage, unless one has no choice. To marry a Muslim woman is by far better than marrying any Christian or Jewish woman.
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Invalid Marriage

Q). A Muslim man or woman gets married to a follower of a pagan religion, with the condition that each of the two partners shall follow his or her own religion. Do such people remain Muslim? Is it permissible for the Muslim community to maintain cultural and matrimonial relationships with their offspring? Is either of them allowed to enter the Haram in Makkah or the prophet's Mosque in Madinah?

A.H.Alnoori, Makkah.

A). We are speaking here of a marriage between a Muslim and a person who believes in a religion which speaks of the existence of more than one God. The reader has spoken of idol worshipers but I phrased the question so that it is more general in its import. A marriage between a Muslim and a follower of any such religion is invalid. There is a clear instruction in the Qur'an which tells Muslim men not to marry pagan women and tells Muslim women not to marry pagan men. Marriage with a slave is described in Verse 221 of Surah 2 as better than such a marriage, provided that the slave man or woman is a believer in God.

It is then established clearly that such a marriage is not valid. A relationship between a man or a woman who claims to be a Muslim and a partner, who worships idols or follows a pagan religion, believing in more than one God, is adulterous. It cannot be legitimized unless the pagan partner declares that he or she believes in Islam, and then the marriage between the two is made in accordance with Islamic rules.

Although this is a major offense and a cardinal sin, the perpetrator of such a marriage is not considered to be a nonbeliever. He or she remains a Muslim if they declare themselves to be so. How can they do that and explain their marital situation is beyond my comprehension, but the technical verdict is that they remain Muslims.

The Muslim community should indeed maintain a good relationship with the offspring of such a marriage in order to get those children to realize where they belong. The general rule is that the offspring of an inter-faith marriage, or relationship in this case are deemed to follow the higher religion of their parents. Islam is the highest of all religions in such a ranking order, followed by Christianity and Judaism. Moreover, the Muslim community has an interest in such offspring. They should try to teach them about Islam to enable them to choose their position when they become adults.

No one can stop such people from visiting the two mosques in Makkah and Madinah as long as they declare themselves Muslims. It may be that such a Visit will trigger in their minds a review of their Situation and may lead to the mending of their ways. The Muslim community should continue to tell them how serious their offense is and try to get them to bring their action in line with Islam.
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Is this marriage Valid?

Q). My friend's father has two wives. His first wife's brother got married to the daughter of his second wife. This couple got a daughter who got married to the son of the first wife of my friend’s father.

The village committee, which wields power in our district, maintains that this last marriage is not valid from the Islamic point of view and the couple have been chased away from their village. They also say that the children of this marriage should be murdered. Other people suggest that this marriage is valid. Could you please comment?

A.Bukhari, Al-khobar.

A). You have omitted to mention one piece of information, which makes all the difference with regard to the validity of the last marriage. In the two marriages which branched out of the family of your friend's father, one party to the first marriage is the daughter of his second wife and in the second marriage the son of his first wife. To make the answer simple, I say that if either of these two had a father other than your friend's father, then the second marriage, i.e. the one in dispute, is valid. Since both are children of your friend's father's two wives (the woman is the daughter of his second wife and the man the son of his first wife), then if your friend's father is also their own father they are brother and sister. The marriage of a man to his sister's daughter is forbidden in Islam. But I suspect that at least one of them, if not both, had a father other than your friend's father. That appears to be the case from the way you have phrased your question. If this is the case, then the last marriage is perfectly valid. I will explain why.

What we are talking about here is a marriage between the son of the first wife and the granddaughter of the second wife. If the man, or the bridegroom, is born to his mother by an earlier marriage, then he is not related at all to his wife despite his mother's marriage to your friend's father. She is certainly his cousin, since her father is his maternal uncle. Marriage between cousins is allowed in Islam.

Similarly, if the second wife's daughter had a father other than your friend's father, then her daughter, who is involved in the disputed marriage, is not related to her husband through the marriages of your friend's father. As has already been said, she is her husband's cousin and marriage between cousins is allowed in Islam.

As you see, it all depends on the relationship between your friend's father and the son of his first wife or the daughter of his second wife who are party to these two marriages. If either of them is not your friend's father's own child, then the last marriage is perfectly valid.

I am both amazed and horrified at the suggestion that the children born through this last marriage should be murdered, because, according to some people the marriage is invalid. Let me say clearly that this suggestion is not only monstrous, but is, from the Islamic point of view, criminal. How on earth could anyone suggest that a child born to any woman should be murdered? What Islam teaches us is that no one bears any responsibility for the sins of another. A child born into an illegal marriage is not responsible for the action of his parents. Not even a child born to an adulteress by the man who has committed adultery with her is not held responsible for his parents' action. Moreover, if a Muslim woman marries a non-Muslim, her marriage is absolutely illegal. If she gives birth to any children, then her children are not responsible for her action. Nobody should touch them in any way. Therefore, if anyone in your village banns the children of this last marriage on the assumption that the marriage itself is illegal, then that person should be punished for his crime. If he kills any of these children and he appears before an Islamic court and the charge of murder is proven against him, he will be sentenced to death.
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Inter faith marriages

Q). May I ask whether Christianity and Judaism are the only religions with which inter faith marriage is allowed in Islam. In India there are many religions, and because of proximity many young Muslims find it sometimes suitable to marry women who may belong to these faiths. They arrange that the girl convert to Islam for the marriage. It is often the case that the girl does not know anything about Islam, and she only converts nominato get married. Is this allowed? Is the marriage valid?

H. Masthan, Jeddah

A). It is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Christian or a Jewish woman without the need for the woman to convert to Islam at any time. Although this is permissible, it is not to be encouraged because interfaith marriages are likely to run into problems. A Muslim woman may not marry anyone other than a Muslim. As for other religions, it is not permissible for a Muslim man or woman to marry their followers. This applies to all religions of the Indian subcontinent.

If a follower of such religion wants to marry a Muslim, he or she must become a Muslim first. I understand that this condition is what causes women who get to know Muslim men and want to many them to convert to Islam. They may think that conversion to Islam is easy since it involves only the declaration that one believes m the Oneness of God and that Muhammad is His messenger. They utter this declaration without even thinking about its meaning. Such an action is not a conversion to Islam. It is mere expedient. It does not make the woman did not concern a Muslim nor does it make her a lawfully married wife to a Muslim. She needs to understand Islam and its principles. If she is convinced that it is the religion of the truth, and she declares her belief in it she is a Muslim. In this case, she may be married to a Muslim. If she merely utters the declaration without conviction, she is technically a Muslim, and we must accept her word. But that does not make her a Muslim in God's sight. Her husband should know her real attitude and determine his position accordingly.
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Love Marriage

Q). How does Islam view love marriage? What is the proper procedure, from the Islamic point of view, for selecting one’s life partner? If one marries a girl against the wishes of his parents, does he incur a sin for disobeying them? What are the rights of parents in this connection?

S.Shahabuddin, Riyadh.

A). May I put the first question back to you and ask what is love marriage? It is a martial relationship recognized by society and official authorities? Or is it the sentimental relationship, which kindles a burning sensation of attraction to the beloved one and a desire to be united together? Is it both or neither of them? Is it both or neither of them? Sometimes, the societies to denote what are otherwise known as “cohabitation” or “living with someone from the opposite sex.”

According to Islam, there is nothing called as love marriage. There is a passion called love and a contractual relationship, which is marriage. That relationship comes into existence when a man and a woman who agree to be married in the presence of the woman’s guardian and a minimum of two witness. When these conditions are met, they bring about a relationship, which is legitimate, useful and presumed to be permanent. No other relationship between a man and a woman who is not related to him is admissible from the Islamic point of view.

That relationship does not preclude that a passion may exist between the two partners. Nor does the existence of that passion affect the martial relationship in any way. That passion is judged on its own results. If it tends to anything that Islam has forbidden, then it is forbidden. It is limited to a mere feeling, which does not lead to any forbidden practical results, and then it is not sinful. Having practical results, then it is not sinful. Having said that, I must add that Islam does not encourage that such passion should exist before marriage or should be considered the basis of marriage. Islam encourages, on the other hand, the sort of love which comes after marriage as both man and wife face together what life may have in store for them. That love is much more stable, deep and genuine. Moreover, it gives each of the two partners the chance to encourage the other to follow Allah’s commands and abide by His laws.

If love marriage is synonymous with cohabitation or living together, which means that a man and a woman share the same home and bedroom without going through the formal requirements of marriage, then their relationship is strictly forbidden because it is synonymous with fornication and adultery.

The Prophet gives us clear guidance on what to look for when we select our life partners. He says: ”women may be sought in marriage for one of four considerations: her wealth, beauty, social status or her strong faith. Choose the one with faith so that you may prosper.” This is then the proper procedure. It is to make sure that the woman one selects to be the future mother of his children should be one of faith who will encourage him in obeying Allah’s commandments and keeping on the right path which earns him Allah’s pleasure and who will impart to; her children the meaning of fearing Allah and being always conscious of Hs presence. If you look at the four elements mentioned by the Prophet, you will find that they combine all motives, which a man may have to get married. He may give priority, when selecting his marriage partner, to wealth or beauty. Alternatively, he may seek a high position or distinguished social status. If his aim is one of these, he will look for either a pretty or a rich woman or he may seek to marry into a wealthy family or one of good name. Which ever the factor he gives greater weight to, we should not overlook the fact that they all relate to this world and its priorities and considerations.

The prophet counsels us that none of these elements should be given priority. It is the woman with strong faith, which should be preferred as a marriage partner. Such a wife helps her husband attain the greatest prize of all: Paradise. When we consider that, there is simply nothing to be compared with it.

The role of parents in selecting a life for their son is one of advice, not dictation. Allah has not given them the right to force their son to marry any particular woman. They may have reasons of their own for seeking to unite their son in marriage with a particular woman. They may have reasons of their own for seeking to unite their son to marry any particular woman. They may have reasons of their own for seeking to unite their son in marriage with a particular woman, but they must remember that it is he who will live with that woman, and it is his happiness that is at stake. Hence, the choice must be his. They should not try to impose their will on him.

Disobedience can only happen when the person who is being disobeyed enjoys the right to be obeyed by their children, their relationship with their young children, when they have come of age, cannot continue on the basis of orders and strict obedience. They continue to enjoy throughout the right to be honored and respected by their adult children, but they cannot always dictate to them in every aspect of their lives.

If a son wants to marry a girl whom he knows to be religious and of strong faith, and his parents oppose this marriage for reasons of their own, then he incurs no sin in going ahead with that marriage. He is acting on the Prophet’s advice while they are opposing him for reasons of their own. Their reasons cannot be as good as his, if he is choosing a woman of strong faith. Disobedience in this regard does not constitute undutifulness to parents.
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Which woman to marry?

Q). My wife died two years ago. I wish to marry a non-Muslim woman who has promised to adopt Islam if the marriage goes through. After our marriage, can she keep her relationship with her parents and relatives? On the other hand, my parents want me to marry a certain widow who is a relation of mine. I am rather confused and I would be grateful for your advice.

(Name and address withheld)

A). I am afraid I cannot give you any advice in this matter. That is entirely your decision. What I can tell you is that if the non-Muslim woman you wish to many will only be a Muslim because she wants to get married to you, then you have to think twice before-marrying her. To start with, if she is a Christian or a Jew, then she need not adopt Islam for the marriage to be valid. But if she follows a religion, then she should adopt Islam before you can marry her. In this case, you have to be absolutely certain that she adopts Islam, knowing that it is the faith to follow. You must on your guard against a situation where her conversion to Islam is viewed by her simply as a device to facilitate marriage. She has got to understand what believing in the Oneness of God and the message of the Prophet Muhammad means.

If she becomes a Muslim, she can certainly maintain a good relationship with her parents and relatives. A woman companion of the Prophet asked him whether she should be kindly to her mother who had visited her, although her mother remained totally unwilling to adopt Islam. The Prophet told her to be kind to her mother. On the other hand a Muslim woman who has a good character and has good knowledge of Islam and its principles is a very suitable woman to marry. The Prophet has recommended us to choose for our marriage partner, a woman who Fears God and practices her faith.

Your choice must be based on the character of each one of the two women, not the type of relationship you have with the widow or the physical appearance of the non-Muslim woman. Marriage is a very serious affair and the partner should be properly selected.
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Marriage with a Christian

Q). A man wants to marry a Christian woman and the parents of both are reconciled to the idea but the mosque in their country are refusing to register the marriage. The people there say that verses 6 of surah 5 refers to the Christians of the Prophet’s time, who were Unitarian. Please comment

(Name and address withheld)

A). The argument given by the imam in the mosques is quite wrong. The Christians at the tires of the Prophet were not Unitarian. In fact the Christian beliefs at the Prophet's time were the same as they are today. The Qur’an denounces their claims of Trinity and their elevation of Jesus and his mother, Mary, to a divine status. It also states clearly that the Christians claimed that Jesus was Son of God, and refuted their argument. Yet there remains a sufficient common area between us and the Christians and the Jews to allow the marriage of Muslim men with the followers of either of these two faiths. This means that the marriage of this person to a Christian woman is allowed in Islam, although it may not be recommended on other grounds.
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Marriage with a prospective convert

Q). A Christian from my home country, the Philippines, has repeatedly asked me to marry her, she says that she will become a Muslim if our marriage is successful. Is it, proper for me to marry her on this condition?

A). Normally a marriage between a Muslim man and a Christian or a Jewish woman is acceptable and valid. The woman does not need to change her religion and become a Muslim for the marriage to go through. Indeed she may retain her faith for the rest of her life. Her husband is not required to put any pressure on her to embrace Islam. The basic principle, "No compulsion is admissible in matters of faith", applies.

The above ruling is qualified by another Islamic principle, which asserts that it is infinitely better for a Muslim to marry a Muslim. This is better for both the couple and their children. Therefore, you may marry this lady if you are convinced that she will be a good wife for you. Her promise to become a Muslim if the marriage is successful should not be taken literally. What you should do, if you decide to marry her, is to explain Islamic teachings and values to her at leisure using suitable chances whenever they present themselves. You should let her come to the decision of whether to become a Muslim or not at her own time, without any pressure from you.

There is, however, another aspect to the question of inter-faith marriages. That is the social and family aspect. It is needless to say that the social conditions in which one lives has a great influence on one's habits and practices. It does not take any great stretch of imagination to realize that the habits, practices and attitudes of a Muslim married to a Christian and living in a Muslim society will be differed from those of the same couple if they were to live in a predominantly Christian society. For an interfaith marriage to succeed both husband and wife need to make many more compromises than required if they belonged to the same faith.

If they live in a Christian country, these extra compromises will always have to be made by the Muslim husband. All this and its bearing on the upbringing of children must be taken into account before deciding to go ahead with an interfaith marriage.
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Where to marry a non-Muslim

Q). Being aware that a Muslim man can marry a girl of any other belief, we are at odds with our prospective wives over what arrangements to make for the marriage ceremony. They are insisting on ending the ceremony at a church, or, failing that, they insist that a signing ceremony at the city municipality should be prepared. We are demanding that we should have a proper Islamic marriage, i.e., Nikah. The problem is that they will certainly refuse to say the declaration that they believe in the oneness of Allah and in the message of Prophet Muhammad. Is there any way to have this marriage performed without displeasing Allah?

Ahmed G.A. Raya and S.N.Nauray.

Q). In one of your answers, you indicated that it is allowed for a Muslim to marry a Christian or a Jewish woman. You are undoubtedly aware of the Qur’anic verse, which states that no Muslim, man or woman, may marry a polytheist. Now that Christians claim that Jesus was the son of God and the Jews, or some of them at least, make similar claims about Ezra, do they not become polytheists whom we are not allowed to marry?

A.Ahmed, Dhahran & M.A.sirajuddeen,Najran.

A). The first letter makes the error of giving a Muslim man permission to marry a woman of any other faith. This is not true. The only interfaith marriages allowed in Islam are those in which a Muslim man marries a Christian or a Jewish woman. He is not allowed to marry a woman of any other faith or belief. A Muslim woman, on the other hand, must marry a Muslim. Even Christians and Jews are not allowed for her to marry.

The question raised in the second letter is whether we can still consider Christians and Jews to be recipients of divine revelations when they have deviated from these revelations so far that they ascribe divinity to Jesus Christ or other beings. In answering this point, we have to remind ourselves that what Allah has made lawful, no one can make unlawful. Similarly, what He has forbidden, no one can make lawful. It is only when a divine commandment or rule is made conditional on something in particular that the ruling may be changed on the basis of the condition being met or not. When Allah has allowed us to marry Christian and Jewish women He did not make that conditional on their having any particular concept other that believing in Christianity or Judaism. In other words, it is sufficient that a woman professes to believe in Christianity or Judaism in order for a Muslim man to be able to marry her.

Moreover, at the time the Qur’an was revealed, Christians and Jews interpreted their religions in the same way as they interpret them today. In other words, their religions did not go through any real change in their basic concepts. We find Qur’anic references to Christians claiming that Jesus was son of Allah and Jews claiming that Ezra was son of Allah. Moreover, the Qur’an refers to Christians ascribing divinity to Mary, mother of Jesus. But in spite of all that, Islam had made it lawful for Muslims to marry Christian and Jewish women. That permission remains valid, because there has been no subsequent legislation to cancel it.

I can understand the worry the two second readers express in their separate letters about this permission. To a Muslim mind, the idea of a divine nature being attributed to anyone other than Allah is nothing less than plain polytheism. But we have to take Islam as it has been conveyed to us by our Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him. He has convit to us correct, complete, and with everything taken into consideration. It is Allah who has given us this legislation and He knows what He has legislated for us. What we can say however, on this point is that being aware of all the distortion that has crept into the ideological concepts of both Christianity and Judaism, Allah considers that both of these two divine religions still retain a measure of the belief in the Oneness of Allah which is enough to justify the permission of inter marriage with them on a limited scale. We accept this legislation as it is and do not try to argue against it with the aim of canceling it. For no man is allowed to cancel legislation made by Allah.

Having said that, I must repeat what I have frequently said in the past that although marriage with a Christian or a Jewish woman is allowed to a Muslim man, we should not consider it except in cases where no practical alternative offers itself. We have to think of Muslim women who will be left unmarried when many of us marry women of other faiths. We have also to remember that Islamic legislation is suitable for Islamic society. This has considerable bearing on the case in question. When a Muslim man marries a Christian or a Jewish woman and takes her to live in an Islamic society, she is bound to be influenced by the society around her. Her own influence on her husband and his approach to his faith will be limited.

The situation is entirely different when a Muslim man lives in a non-Islamic society and marries a woman who does not believe in Islam. There, the pressure of society will be great on him. He may find himself having to give in on points of great importance in his faith. Examples abound nowadays when Muslims have immigrated to all European and American countries, where they are in a minority. Without giving due thought to the permission given by Allah for Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women, and without trying to understand the reasons for this permission and the likely effects of inter faith marriages on them, they rush into marrying women in the countries they have settled in. Soon they discover that they have made a grave mistake. Living in her own society, close to her own relatives, the woman in question does not feel any need to modify her habits and practices. She feels that it is up to her husband to try to adapt to the norms of her society. In doing so, he finds that he has to sacrifice some values, which are basic to his faith. Once he starts, the road ahead is very slippery. He will soon discover that he has moved far away from the basics of his Islamic faith.

There are certain misunderstandings about Islamic marriage in the first letter. The term “Nikah” means “marriage.” To read or say nikah is to go through the marriage contract verbally. It is not a condition that the declaration of believing in the oneness of Allah and the message of the prophet, i.e. the kalimah which signifies acceptance of Islam be said by either man or wife in that ceremony. All that it consists of is a proposition of marriage and an acceptance of that proposition in the presence of the woman’s father or guardian and witness. An Islamic marriage contract may be performed anywhere, although we are recommended by the Prophet to have it in a mosque. This is only a recommendation, not an obligation.

The question is raised whether it can be performed in a church. The answer is a clear and firm “no”. It is in fact forbidden for a Muslim to have his marriage performed in a temple, where worship of any sort other than Islamic worship is offered or practiced. When the marriage of a Muslim man is made in a church, he allows himself to run the risk of becoming an apostate, since he may find himself in a position of having to take part in non-Islamic worship.

There is no harm in having the marriage contract made in the city municipality. In fact, if the girl’s father or guardian is present and Muslim witnesses are also present, then the marriage performed in the city municipality is sufficient for Islamic purposes. In other words there is no need to have a further Islamic marriage contract.
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Martial relations in the period

Q). Many of us, expatriates, go home for vacation after an absence of one year or more. On arrival or just before departure one may find his wife in her period. What is permissible for him and what is not?

M.A. Salama,Riyedh

A). A companion of the Prophet, still a young man, asked one of the Prophet's wives this very question. Her reply was "All except intercourse." This is confirmed by a report by Aisha that when she was in her period the Prophet might ask her to tie up her underwear before he would do some of the preliminaries of sex, always stopping short of intercourse.

This is an example of the middle attitude of Islam. It does not go to the extreme of banishing a woman from her husband's bed when she is in the period, like some other religions do, nor does it allow intercourse because of the uncleanness that attends the mensrual period.

To be more specific, when a woman is in her period, she may have sex play with her husband. They may be undressed with the exception of the area round her private parts. In the situation you have explained, when one is with his wife after or before a long absence, one should guard against exceeding this limit.
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Marriage in the waiting period unacceptable

Q). I have got married to a lady after the court ordered the dissolution of her former marriage. She had been married to a man who left her soon after the marriage to live and work in the Kingdom. For six years she did not receive any communication from him, and he did not send her any money to look after herself. An Islamic court in our country granted her application for the dissolution of her marriage. Three days after the court decision, we got married. Is our marriage proper and valid?

A.U.A, Makkah

A). I would have thought that such a question should have been put before the marriage rather than after it had taken place. Marriage and divorce are very serious matters because they mean the difference between a legitimate and an illegitimate relationship. Hence it is very important to know the rules that affect the validity of each one of them in order to ensure that our family relationships are of the type that God permits. If we do not know the rules, then we are likely to make mistakes, which would land us in trouble as they may make a relationship, which we so dearly wish to have unattainable, or they may make a break of a relationship final and impossible to mend. It is extremely important to realize that the rules God has laid down for marriage and divorce are simple and straightforward. It is we who introduce difficulties into them by choosing to ignore God's rules and doing things our own way without observing what God wants us to observe. I have repeatedly emphasized to my readers the importance of knowing the Islamic law relating to marriage and divorce before embarking on either step. I cannot make the emphasis too strong, because, judging by the type of letter I receive people continue to ignore these roles, mostly through ignorance at their own peril

The writer of this letter says that he has married his wife only three days after the court had ordered the dissolution of her marriage to her first husband. Has he never heard of the need to observe a waiting period during which the divorced woman may not marry a man other than her divorcing husband?

In other words, she may be reunited in marriage with the man who has divorced her, but cannot be married to any other man until her waiting period is over This obviously applies if the divorce has taken place for the first or second time, but not if it is an irrevocable divorce which is the third one. The difference is made because an important purpose of the waiting period is to make sure of the parenthood of any child the woman may have conceived from her first marriage, or may conceive early in her second marriage.

I am afraid I do not have any comforting news for this couple, because they made a 'marriag' at a time when no such a step could be right. When a marriage comes to an end, either through divorce or the death of the husband, the wife has to observe a waiting period during which she may not get married.

This waiting period is of different duration according to the circumstances of the woman, but in the case of this particular lady, it should last until she has had three menstruation periods after the court decision dissolving her marriage it is only when the waiting period is over that the lady may get married again.

Nothing can waive this restriction because it is ordered by God Himself. When the couple violated this rule by getting married after only three days, they have precipitated something that could not be lawful until its appointed time. Hence there is a penalty which has to be imposed on them. I will explain.

There is only one of two alternatives. The couple might have been totally unaware of the need to observe the waiting period. It is very difficult to imagine that a Muslim couple living in a Muslim country are unaware of the requirement of a waiting period after divorce. Yet it may be that they might have overlooked the requirement because of the dissolution of the first marriage by a court order. Anyhow, if they were totally unaware or ignorant of the requirement, then they must be separated straight away and the woman has to observe her waiting period indeed what she has to observe now is two waiting periods one for her marriage which has been dissolved by the court and another for the second 'marriage' which is not valid.

Each waiting period lasts until she has had three menstruation periods. The first one counts for the first marriage and the second for the invalid marriage, unless she happens to be pregnant at the time of her separation from the second man. In this case, she observes the second waiting period first in this case; it lasts until she delivers her baby. Then she must observe the other waiting period for the first marriage. It must be clear that the two waiting periods cannot nun concurrently. In other words they cannot be counted at the same time. Each must run its course separately. When she has completed her two waiting periods, they may get married. To do that they must have a fresh marriage contract, because the first one is invalid and of no value whatsoever. The other situation is that the couple was aware of the need to observe a waiting period but they nevertheless went ahead and arranged for their marriage despite knowing this requirement. Their action in this case is very grave indeed. Their marriage is not valid at all. They would be considered adulterers and they deserve the punishment of adultery because their action is taken deliberately in defiance of God's law. Moreover, they must separate immediately.

When they have separated, they may not be married to each other for the rest of their lives That is because they have precipitated what they would have had in good time, but the precipitation constitutes a deliberate violation of Islamic law. The woman will still need to observe her two waiting periods, in the manner outlined above, before she could marry a different man. For their sake, I hope that this does not apply to them. However, it is only they who can tell whether it applies to them or not, because they are the ones who can tell whether they were truly unaware of the need to observe a waiting period or not
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Confusion about the validity of the marriage

Q). After one and a half Years of being married, a woman obtained a ruling from an Islamic court nullifying her marriage. The basis of the ruling was the ill treatment she received from her husband who used to beat her up and demand money from her. Her former husband was sent several notices with at least one of these notices published in the Local paper but he failed to appear in court. The court then granted her the nullification.

The woman is now married to another man but recently that husband was told by a scholar that such a khula is not valid Without the consent of the first husband which means that the woman is still married to the first husband and her second marriage is null and void. That caused the couple no end of distress. Particularly since they have had a child recently. Please comment.

(Name and address withheld)

A). Sometimes I get very angry when I receive a question like this. My anger is not directed at the parties concerned in the problem, but at the outsider who voices an opinion which has a far reaching effect on the lives of several people without paying due regard to the circumstances of the case or studying the problem in depth.

The reader speaks of a scholar telling him that such a khula is not valid without the consent of the first husband. What he did was to look at the question from the specific point of view of khula and then he voiced his opinion on the basis of his school of thought. This means that there are two limiting factors in how he has dealt with the problem which involves the legitimacy or otherwise of a marital relationship. That is very bad indeed. I do not know the man or the country where he comes from but I can guess his school of thought and I feel that he might have not studied anything outside it. That is not the way a good scholar should look at a problem like this with all its practical limitations.

This is not a case of khula in the first place. Khula is a nullification of the marriage at the request of a wife which may not have a reason other than the wife feeling that life with her husband does not give her the fulfillment a woman expects from a happy married life. In khula the woman pays back her dower to her husband and her waiting period lasts only for one menstruation period according to the weightier opinion to ensure that she is not pregnant. When the khula takes place, it does not count as a divorce.

Here the case is one of divorce by the judge on the basis of ill treatment. In such cases the judge has to make sure that there is undoubtedly ill treatment which means life with the man is intolerable. The judge determines what sort of proof to demand in order to satisfy him that the claims of the wife are true. Here we are told that the man beats up his wife. If he acknowledges that, then that is the best proof, but this could also be proven by other means, such as witnesses who may be neighbors or relatives? We are also told that the man used to demand money from his wife. He sent her to her parents frequently to get him that money. This is again another form of ill treatment, which could easily make life intolerable.

The judge in this case has done what is required when he sent repeated notices to the husband to attend the hearing, and when he published an announcement in the local newspaper. If the husband does not attend the court after all this and the judge is satisfied that the ill treatment is a fact, then the judge is within his jurisdiction to order the nullification of the marriage. That nullification is considered as a divorce by the judge, which is a single divorce. This is another difference between this sort of nullification and khula.

The second husband of this lady may rest assured about the validity of his marriage. He need not worry or ask any one’s opinion since the nullification is ordered by a court of Islamic law. What is the purpose of asking anyone when no one would give the case the sort of in-depth study and consideration as the court would do?
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Why not allow polyandry?

Q) Why is a man in Islam allowed to marry up to four wives but woman only one husband? Is this not sexiest bias against women. Surely they must also enjoy the same right.

(Name withheld), Jeddah

A) Biologically a man can perform his duty as a husband even if he has more than one wife, which, if a woman has more than, one husband, will not be able to perform her duty as a wife.

The lady, during her menstrual period, undergoes certain behavioral and psychological changes and therefore the majority of marital quarrels occur during the menstrual period. According to reports of criminal record of women in the US, ladies commit crime during this period. For a wife, if she has more than one husband, to mentally adjust, will be more difficult. Medical science also tells us that if a lady has more than one husband she had chances of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases as well as venereal diseases as she can transmit it back to the husband. Which is not the case of a husband who has more than one wife.

The identification of both the parents is possible if children born from a union between one man and more than one wife. The father can be identified as well the mother can be identified. However, m the case of polyandry (the union of one wife with more than one husband) it is possible to only identify the mother; not the father. Islam accords utmost importance to the identification of the parents. And psychologists tell us if child cannot identify his parents he undergoes mental trauma.
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Dimension of love misunderstood

Q). Some western friends argued that polygamous marriages can never be just as it is impossible to love two women at the same time. Their understanding of the concept of love seems to differ from ours. I tried to explain but I am not sure I myself understand the true dimension properly. I was not able to reply, as I do not know what the correct answer to this point is. What should my reply be?

A). Many of us seem to think that love is an abstract feeling and thus cannot be controlled or divided. Love, however may be an abstract feeling, which can either be controlled, divided, increased or decreased. This is, in fact, a divine gift from Allah, as seen in the following verse: "And among His signs is that He created for you mates among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts."

In the practical sense, flexibility of one's love depends on the situation. In practical life, a person simultaneously loves Allah, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his parents, children, husband/wives, friends, teachers and so on. This proves that love can be divided and shared! Thus it's up to the person to control, increase or decrease his /her love towards others.

However, a husband can control his affection and love among his wives and share it among them if he wishes. The Prophet himself had shared his love and affection with all of his wives, as they required. The flexibility of one's 'love is further highlighted in the following Hadith: Narrated by Anas who said: The Prophet (pbuh) said: "One will not be a (perfect) Muslim unless he loves me more than himself, and his father, and his children, and the human kind as a whole."

In the light of the above tradition, the idea of love has been classified by the mohaddithin into various categories.

According to Maulana A.E.M. Yusuf, a religious scholar of Bangladesh, 'love can be divided as follows:

Muhabbat Ikhtiary: Optional love such as love for wife/husband, common people, friend, teacher, students, etc. Such love can be controlled shared, increased, or decreased.

Muhabbat Idtirary: Natural love such as love for parents, children, own brothers, and sisters, etc. Such love comes naturally and no matter how extremely a person is upset or angry with them, his love will not decrease.

Imam Abu Solaiman Al-Khattabee said: "The word al-Hubb' does not refer to natural one but refers to optional one."

Ibn Battal, Qadi Al-lyadh and the others said: "Love is divided into three categories: Mohabbat Ajlal-wa A'zam, such as to love father; Mohabbat Shafqatun Mashakilatun wa-lstihsanun, such as to love all human kind."

Allama Badruddin Ainee classified love into three categories, he said: "The classification of love is three: Mohabbatul Ajlal-wa A'zam such as to love one's father, Mohabbat Rahmah-wa Ashraq, such as to love your son; and Mhabbat Mushakilatun-wa Istihsanun such as the love of people for each other.

Hence it is extremely important to draw our attention to a question: Why has Allah permitted the practice of polygamy in the Qur'an if love can not be divided.

The real fact is that Allah, Who created human beings knows that man has the capacity to divide and share his love with his wives and that is why polygamous marriage had been permitted.
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Polygamy and being fair to man and woman

Q). I refer to an answer you have given earlier in which you corrected the translation of a verse from the Qur'an as referring to "spouses", not merely "wives." Another topic you tackled on the same date was 'polygamy and the consent of the first wife." Should we not read "spouse" in this context also? Or is it that Allah's message has been interpreted through a man's point of view, which read "man" in place of "spouse", to make it easy for men to encroach upon the rights and privileges of women, or rather "first wives.” Would any man consent to his wife taking a second, third or fourth husband? May I point out that all educated Muslim men to whom I talked have interpreted the concept of fairness among one's wives as being limited to the material aspects of life. They agree that no man can be equally in love with two women simultaneously. How is he expected to be fair?

My own conclusion is that Allah, being so just, would not consider "fair to women" what is not "fair to men." I leave to you the choice to answer this letter or not, since I have not converted to Islam yet.

Marianne D. Szoke, OBE, Dhahran

A). Thank you for leaving me this choice of answering your letter or not but I have not considered that choice on the basis of your religion. It is on the merit and nature of the question raised that I determine the space I give to each letter.

Let me first put your mind at rest: The Qur'anic verse which permits polygamy and allows a man up to four wives does not speak of spouses" or "wives'' but refers to women. It says: "Marry from among women who are allowed to you two, three or four.'' This is not to be construed as an order but a permission. Moreover the terms "spouses" 'wives'' and ''women" are used in the Qur'an as appropriate. Mistakes of interpretation may be made in a variety of ways such as reading wives for spouses and making the reverse interpretation applying to both men and women by alims in successive generations have twisted what IS intended for women only. When I corrected my reader, he was simply restricting a statement, which should have been understood as having a wider application. We cannot take that as a rule and claim that Muslims in all generations have misunderstood Allah's message or interpreted it in a restricted way simply because this is a man's world. Such a suggestion has two highly objectionable implications: the first is that Allah has not put his message clearly and precisely, and the second is that Muslims

have restricted Allah's teachings. Neither implication is acceptable. The Our'an is a divine book which uses the most clear, lucid and precise of styles. Allah certainly allows a measure of flexibility in His teachings and laws, so that they may be implemented in different societies as suits them best. That applies only to issues where flexibility is required. There are other matters which are applicable universally in the same degree, method and form.

This second implication is equally impossible. It accuses all Muslims particularly scholars, of having deliberately narrowed the significance of Allah's commandments. That takes them out of the boundaries of Islam altogether. No one can support such a claim with any sound evidence. Indeed, the reverse is true. The Muslim nation takes pride in its wealth of scholarship, which is unsurpassed by any other culture. The aim of this scholarship is to understand the divine message correctly and to implement it conscientiously.

You also raise the point of fair treatment. The first point you raise is that of fairness between man and woman, in which you imply that if it is fair for a man to have four wives, a woman should have also been allowed to marry up to four husbands. May I suggest that this is a very narrow view of fairness. What is wrong with it is that it puts both man and woman on absolutely equal footing paying no regard tthe fact that they have different roles in life and they have been equipped with the appropriate talents and abilities which enable them to fulfill their roles in the most suitable manner. To deny them that difference is to be unfair to either or both of them. Absolute fairness requires that duties and responsibilities should be commensurate with roles and abilities. If it is unfair to pay different wages to men and women who are doing the same job, it is also unfair to ask men and women to do the same job if, by their very nature they are not equally equipped for the job they are being asked to do. Thus, when Islam makes it a duty of a man to support his wife and immediate female relatives, and does not require women to work in order to earn their living. Islam is not being unfair to man. It is only a matter of defining roles, duties and responsibilities according to abilities. Allah's legislation is, in its entirety, fair to both man and woman. We must not forget that both of them are Allah's creation who is the Most Just.

The fact that polygamy has been permitted by Allah when polyandry is not is not due to any favoritism toward man but to the fact that polygamy has certain benefits for society while polyandry has none. It is not because no man would consent to his wife having a second, third or fourth husband that polyandry is forbidden. There are in Islam so many issues and legislation, which people would not have consented to if they were asked in the first place. Yet, they have been included in Islamic legislation. The reason is that they are beneficial to individual and community alike. Had polyandry been beneficial, Allah would have certainly allowed it because He has allowed us everything that is good for us

As for being fair to one's wife, I am afraid that the answer that you have been given by Muslims to whom you have talked is correct. It is fair treatment that is required of men who have more than one wife. What they must do is to provide their wives with the same standard of living and the same care and kindness, which people normally, show to their wives. As for equal love, this is not required as a duty. This should not be surprising to you or to anyone. There are two reasons for this: Ability and accountability. As for ability, human beings do not love others by choice. There are many reasons, factors and reactions involved in the sentiment of love which are not all under the control of man. Moreover, a man may be married for twenty years to one woman and he does not love her, although he may treat her with all the kindness expected of a husband after going through life together with his wife for such a long time. There may be many reasons for the lack of love between them, and some of these may he due to him while others may be due to her yet they may live happily together, with each one of them fulfilling the duties expected of a married couple. Nobody will find much wrong with their marriage because love, in the Western sense, is not an essential requirement for a happy married life. If this is true, when one is married to one wife, it is even more so when he has two or three wives. He cannot love them equally even if he tries. This is referred to in the Qur'an when Allah says: "You will not be able to maintain fairness between wives, keen as you may be to do so. Therefore, do not be totally inclined toward the one leaving the other, as it were, in suspense. This is a statement recognizing that it is not possible for human beings to love two or three or four women equally. Moreover the Prophet himself expressed his inability to love his wives equally when he prayed "My lord I have done my best in what I can do. Do not blame me for that over which I have no power." Yet the Prophet was exemplary in his fair treatment of his wives.

The second point is accountability. When Allah assigns a certain duty to us, we are accountable for it. It is not difficult to gauge fairness of treatment. How can we guide fairness in feeling? That is difficult even for the person himself. If you have several children, you may have one of them as your favorite. Yet, you treat them equally and try not to show your favoritism. However, most people will tell you that they love their children equally. When you press them hard, you may discover certain favoritism toward one of their children. Are they accountable for that'' if they treat their children equally then certainly they are not accountable for loving one a little more than the others.
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Marriage and a heavy burden of expenditure

Q). How important is it that a person who wishes to get married should have a permanent job and enough savings to give en expensive wedding? How about a person, who has enough to pay a dower and lead a decent standard of living, but cannot afford a luxury wedding? What is needed to change the social view that only wealthy bridegroom is worth considering? May I also ask if a person feels that he needs to get married but finds himself unable to arrange that should he resort to fasting? If so, for how long?

M A Rahman,Riyadh

A) Islam encourages marriage and recommends early marriage for both young men and women. It lays down criteria for choosing the right spouse. In the case of a wife, the prophet says:" a woman is sought in marriage for one of four things; Her wealth, beauty, family and faith. Make sure to choose the one with strong faith." In this hadith, the prophet makes it clear that most of the considerations to which people attach great importance when choosing a wife, such as wealth, beauty and family, are of little value.

The important consideration is that she should have strong faith, because that is the one, which shapes her character, and make her a good wife.

Similarly, when a father receives a proposal of marriage for his daughter, he should consider the character of the suitor, not his wealth or family connections. The prophet says: "Should a man whom you find satisfactory with regard to his honesty and strength of faith propose to you for marriage, then give him (your daughter) in marriage. Unless you do that, there is bound to be strife and much corruption in society." Again the prophet does not attach any importance to the wealth or position of the man who comes with a marriage proposal. He only speaks of the man's honesty and strength of faith: The Prophet also warns that if we choose different criteria, our society will soon suffer from corruption.

Having said that, I should also explain that these criteria which the prophet outlines are the ones to be given priority. Other considerations also have their importance, although they must never pre cede the ones the Prophet has outlined.

For example, if a family has to choose between two proposals from two persons who both meet the proper standard of honesty and strength of faith, then other factors such as the age of the suitor and his type of job or trade may be given their due importance. Hence, scholars have stressed compatibility as an important basis for accepting or rejecting a marriage proposal.

It is certainly against the teachings of Islam to make marriage difficult for young people by making excessive demands of dower, housing and furniture. These should always be of reasonable standard so that we do not discourage young people from marriage and cause a general delay in the marriage age in society.

This is unfortunately the case in some Muslim countries, where you find most people unable to get married before they reach their late 20s or early 30s.

In some cases, people reach 40 years of age before they have a realistic chance of getting married. That is a situation, which leads to much corruption.

Fasting is recommended to young men who feel the urge to get married but is unable to marry for any reason. He is the one to decide how often to fast.

There is no specific recommendation on this point. It is when a person feels that he is liable to slip into sin that he should resort to fasting. That weakens his desire and strengthens his resolve to resist any temptation he may be facing.
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Wrong advice on marriage

Q). I wish to marry agirl from my hometown, but my parents want me to marry a different one. Their objection is based only on seeing her photo and the advice of their Pir who claims that the girl's nature does not fit with mine. I am at a loss what to do because my parents are strictly following the Pir's advice. They insist that if I do not do as the Pir says, then I am not a true Muslim. Please advise.

S. Khan, Jeddah

A). This is largely a social problem, but certain aspects have a religious overtone because of the authority claimed by the people involved. It is important then, to determine what authority each of them has. The first is that claimed by the Pir, whom is normally a spiritual guide looked upon with great respect by his followers. I have often spoken about such people and the authority they exercise. Without going into a great deal of discussion, I would like to make it clear that according to Islam, there is no such position for anyone. We are not required to have such a guide or to listen to his advice. If we do, then we have to evaluate that advice and make sure that it is within Islamic law.

The point is that most, if not all, of those Pirs' enjoy their positions by a hereditary process. In other words, they inherit the position from their father and ancestors. As a result they lead a very comfortable life and enjoy a position of great respect. It is often the case that they have little knowledge of Islam. Indeed they recommend practices which are unIslamic such as paying respect at the graves of saints' and asking them to Intercede with God on behalf of the living. This is a very serious Violation of Islamic teachings and it runs against the Prophet's guidance.

Besides, they are often unqualified to give advice on ordinary affairs. Take your own case with the Pir advising against a marriage on the basis of seeing a photo of the woman and claiming a conflict of nature between the two of you. How can he say all this and on what basis? This is a wide claim, which needs to be substantiated before one starts to think about listening to it.

I have often advised my readers to abandon pirs and not to visit them. If they want to follow Islam, then they the have to learn it from scholars and books, not from those who make a lucrative business of adopting a religious guise and claiming a religious position which is not theirs and which Islam does not approve.

On the other hand, your parents claim of absolute authority over your marriage is not valid.

They may give you advice. But the decision is finally yours. You should try to make them happy, but if they take an unreasonable attitude, you try to come to terms with them in a proper way. If you keep arguing with them, it is likely that attitudes will harden and you will get no where. It is important for your future happiness that you gain your parent's acceptance of the woman you want to marry now, before marriage. That is easier than putting them face to face with the reality of having married her against their will.

What you have to do is to agree first with the woman concerned to adopt a long-term strategy to win their consent. Then you may give your parents the impression that you are postponing the whole idea of marriage for the time being. Tell them that you do not wish to go against their will, and since they have not agreed to your choice, you will leave the matter for a while until you find someone who will win their approval. At the same time you may be able to recruit the help of someone in your family who has influence on your parents, perhaps your grandfather or eldest uncle. You should choose someone whom you know to be broadminded. Let him argue your case with them, preferably in your absence. Gradually you may be able to win them over to agree to this marriage. In this way you avoid long-lasting friction in the family. However it is important to know that if their disagreement is unreasonable and they will not budge, and the woman is a virtuous one whom you believe will make you a good wife, then you may marry her even if they do not agree. That they say you will not be a true Muslim in this case is simply wrong.
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Education and Marriage

Q). I am a student of medicine, having three years to complete my studies. I have recently accepted a proposal of marriage from a man whom I find very suitable as a husband. He wants our marriage to take place without delay, while my father prefers that I should complete my university degree first. I am torn between my desire to finish my studies and my thoughts that if I allow this proposal of marriage to fall through, I may not wish to marry anyone else in future, because I feel that I will not be able to do my duties toward my husband wholeheartedly. In this respect, I would like to ask what Islam says about long engagement and about girl's education. Further, is it permissible for a girl to pursue her studies abroad, if she is not accompanied by any member of her family? She may have all the protection she needs if she stays in a student’s hostel.

I have been reading about my problem and two hadiths which I have come across seem to me as if to contradict to each other. In the first one, the Prophet is reported to have said that when a girl or a boy reach the age of puberty, they should be bound in wedlock. In the other, he encourages pursuit of studies, even if it takes one to China. If one wishes to pursue his or her studies to the university level, they are bound to finish long after reaching the age of puberty. How can thee two hediths be reconciled? I would like further to ask about istikharah. I have read that if one sees in one's dream green and white colors, then the result is positive, while red and black colors indicate a negative result. Please comment.

(Name and Address withheld)

A). It seems to me that your problem can easily be solved if everyone involved shows a willingness to cooperate and accommodate the desires of the others. There is no reason to stop you completing your studies after getting married to this gentleman, if he is truly a suitable husband. You will not be either the first or last student to be married during her course of study. You put the two choices as if they were mutually exclusive when they are not. There may be some reasons which have caused you to do so, but which you have not explained in your letter. If it is practically possible for you to get married and complete your studies, then all you have to do is to ask your prospective husband to assure your father that you complete your degree.

Having said that, I have a suspicion that this is not the real question. What bothers you is your future attitude to any man you may marry, other than the one who has already proposed to you when your thoughts continue to be attached to this particular person. You may feel that you cannot be sincere in your thoughts to your future husband. This is a romantic view of things, which we sometimes try to magnify. If we look at things realistically, then we recognize that life does not conform to our thoughts. At times, we value a certain attachment as something so precious that we cannot survive without it. We may develop a certain friendship to the extent that we become inseparable from our privileged friends. Events may take place to separate us, such as a friend moving with his family to another city or going abroad to pursue his or her studies. When the separation approaches, we view it as an inevitable calamity. A few weeks or months later, we may stop to look at ourselves and we are surprised that we have coped with the separation without difficulty. Your case is the same, if you want to view it realistically. If, however, you want to look at it in a romantic light and you persist with doing so, then you will continue nursing your sense of loss and perpetuating the pain you may feel at the time of the separation. This is something which is largely your own to deal with. What I have to say is that if this proposal does not lead to marriage, it should not be viewed by you as the end of the world. You should try to overcome the problem and begin to look forward to a happy future. If you are mto someone else later, then you have to do your best to give him what he is entitled to have of your attention, care and love. If he is the right sort of person, you will soon find out that you are more intimately attached to him than you could ever have thought possible. That is the nature of life. Romantic ideas have very little effect in practice. There is

nothing in Islam to forbid a long engagement. From the practical point of view, a long engagement is not the ideal thing to do. It may have the advantage of stopping new proposals, but it ushers an unnatural situation. The two fiances think of each other while they continue to live apart. This goes on for several years, it may have a negative effect on marriage, since we always try to paint in our minds an idealistic picture of the other party. When this picture has been for long in our minds, then marriage takes place, we find that the reality differs from what we have imagined. A difficult process of readjustment is then required. That could involve problems.

From another point of view, if the engagement is short of making the actual contract of marriage, then the two fiances are not supposed to meet alone, either at home or in public. In other words, a Muslim may not take his fiancee out for a meal, unless they are accompanied by one of her parents or brothers. Some people may object to this saying that a man and a woman who have declared their intentions to get married can be trusted to keep themselves within the proper limits if they go out. The answer is simple. To start with, problems may take place and the engagement may be broken. The reputation of the girl should not be blemished by her relationship with her first fiancée. Secondly, Islam lays down these restrictions for the benefit of its followers. The simple fact is that it is wrong to bring together a young man and a young woman, leaving them alone in a cozy, intimate atmosphere and then ask them to struggle with their feelings and passion in order to keep themselves within the Islamic limits. There is no denial that there is mutual attraction between them, and leaving them alone means exposing them to the danger of being overpowered by that mutual attraction.

Islam encourages every parent to provide their children with a good standard of education. That applies equally to boys and girls. It is unfortunate that educational systems nowadays require both sexes to take the same subject. Islam would have made girls' education rather different from that of boys so that it is tailored to help the girls, who are future mothers, to cope with their problems of life. For example, a course of nursing is highly beneficial to every mother. That does not mean that every girl should become a qualified nurse. It means that she should be able to look after her family in a proper way.

When it comes to taking a scholarship abroad, this is subject to the Islamic restriction on women traveling alone. As you realize, Islam does not allow a woman to travel alone even to perform the most important religious duty of pilgrimage She must be accompanied by her husband or a relative whom she cannot marry. It is definitely less permissible for a girl to stay alone in a foreign country for several years. To say that she is well protected in a students' hostel is unrealistic.

As for the hadiths to which you have referred, the first one does not seem to be authentic. There is no requirement on parents to bind their children in wedlock when they have attained puberty. Early marriage is certainly preferred by Islam, but marriage is left to the individual to determine its time according to his or her circumstances. Nowadays, only a few men marry before they are twenty. Many do not marry until they are twenty-five or even older. Early marriages are preferred by Islam because it provides a chance to satisfy natural needs in a legitimate way.

It is true that the modern system of education does not allow most people to marry before they have completed their education and started work. In effect this takes them to about twenty-five years of age. Marriage places new responsibilities on both partners and they have to choose the time for taping up these responsibilities according to their circumstances.

What you have mentioned about seeing certain colors in one's dream after praying for Allah's guidance in a certain problem, i.e. the prayer of istikharah is not correct. None of these colors have any significance. What happens after a prayer of istikharah is that one finds oneself more inclined to a certain choice. The fact that he has prayed Allah to help him choose correctly should make him overcome his worry and take the choice which becomes easier or more attractive to him, feeling that Allah will certainly respond to his prayer and give him the choice which is better for him, sparing him the problems of the worse choice.
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