What has happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel?

(1) Why is Israel afraid of a few boats?

Hundreds of activists are on their way to the blockaded Gaza strip via a “flotilla” of boats carrying humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, which are badly lacking in the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Israel has promised to intercept the good-willed boats and arrest and deport the activists. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has exerted great effort in the past few days to convince onlookers to this confrontation on the high seas that the activists carrying humanitarian goods are terrorist sympathizers, and that everything is just fine and dandy in the Gaza Strip. The ministry has portrayed Israel (the country enforcing the blockade of Gaza’s ports) as a benevolent victim, who despite the threat from Gaza’s Hamas government is still caring for the civilian population.

There comes a point when an oppressive regime’s propaganda crosses a threshold from mere lies to utter lunacy so extreme, in fact, that objective onlookers find it almost comical. This point came yesterday when the Government Press Office disseminated a link to a Gaza restaurant which appears to be luxurious. So what Israel is essentially saying is: “There you have it.  There is a website for a restaurant with cloth napkins in Gaza. How can there be any problems?”

The reality is, of course, that the situation in Gaza is very dire. A slew of reports from human rights organizations attest to the hardships faced by most Palestinians in Gaza. In the densely populated strip where 80 percent of the population is refugees, a similar percentage relies on international aid organizations for daily sustenance. That number was only ten percent a decade ago. That’s how bad things have become. Malnutrition in children has reached ten percent and critical medicines are not available, according to the World Health Organization.

But no one is starving to death in Gaza–at least not suddenly. A tunnel industry has evolved and become the main supplier for most goods. That’s all part of the plan. Israel seeks to squeeze the strip to the point of near catastrophe, bad enough to make people suffer, but just short of having to take responsibility for it. It’s a form of torture kind of like water-boarding under the Bush administration: the objective is to bring the subject to the edge and break his will, but not kill him (lest they be charged with murder). But just because Gaza’s civilian population has managed to keep its collective head above water doesn’t mean things should be this way.

Like life in most prisons, if you “know a guy,” anything is available for a price. Generators, for example, are in high demand because of the shortages of electricity. The shortages are due to the destruction of Gaza’s only power plant in 2006 by Israeli jets. Since then, Israel has never permitted the full reconstruction of the power plant, forcing perpetual dependence of Gaza on Israel and Egypt, who take an eye-dropper approach to supplying Gaza with electricity. But even though generators smuggled through Gaza’s tunnels provide some light, there is also a dark and often unheard downside that comes with them: explosions and fires. Several reports in the past few years of civilians being killed or maimed from overworked and exploding generators have become common. These are just some of the siege-related causalities we do not hear about.

The 10,000 tons of supplies aboard the Gaza aid ships are a drop in the bucket for what Gaza really needs. Israel’s spokesmen have pointed out that they have permitted the entry of supplies in the past and argued that the aid boats are unnecessary. The reality is that aid which Israel does permit into Gaza is purchased by Palestinians, vetted and often rejected or held up for months. Israel has calculated the precise minimum necessary caloric intake for Palestinians in Gaza, and has often rejected things like pasta, lentils and coffee. So it’s easy to understand why international humanitarian organizations and the activists aboard the aid boats are not about to trust the welfare of Gaza’s civilians to Israel’s benevolence.

The aid boats will have a far greater impact, however, than the 10,000 tons of aid they are bringing to Gaza. The aid boats compel us to have this discussion, a discussion that Israel desperately wants to avoid at a time when its international reputation has never been lower.

Hundreds of unarmed civilians carrying humanitarian aid are approaching a blockaded piece of land where 1.5 million civilians suffer from a life of uncertainty and despair, and Israel is going to stop them. While much of the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been on the settlements, the failed peace process and the long-awaited restart of talks about talks, Gaza has been forgotten. To their credit, the few hundred non-violent activists-turned-sailors have found a way to maximize their power as individuals to force one of the world’s most powerful regimes into a corner. Whether the boats make it to Gaza or not, this is a tremendous victory for civil society in international affairs.

Headlines and stories covering this confrontation at sea will shift the focus back to Gaza, even if only for a few hours. For Israel, Gaza is the tortured and famished step-child it locks in the basement when visitors arrive, and the activists on these boats seek to expose what Israel is doing in the strip: imposing a draconian siege to collectively punish civilians for political aims.

(2) Civilians Under Attack by IOF

 

The coalition of Free Gaza Movement (FG), European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organisation , Ship to Gaza Greece, Ship to Gaza Sweden, and the International Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza appeal to the international community to demand that Israel stop their brutal attack on civilians delivering vitally needed aid to the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza and permit the ships to continue on their way.

(Cyprus, June 1, 2010, 6:30 am) Under darkness of night, Israeli commandoes dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck. They fired directly into the crowd of civilians asleep. According to the live video from the ship, two have been killed, and 31 injured. Al Jazeera has just confirmed the numbers.

Streaming video shows the Israeli soldiers shooting at civilians, and our last SPOT beacon said, “HELP, we are being contacted by the Israelis.”

We know nothing about the other five boats. Israel says they are taking over the boats.

The coalition of Free Gaza Movement (FG), European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organisation , Ship to Gaza Greece, Ship to Gaza Sweden, and the International Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza appeal to the international community to demand that Israel stop their brutal attack on civilians delivering vitally needed aid to the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza and permit the ships to continue on their way.

The attack has happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel, in direct violation of international law.

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The Islamic Law of Jihad

 

Editorial,
The Misunderstood Doctrine of Jihād

Shehzad Saleem 

Jihad, The Islamic Law of Jihād     Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (Tr. by: Shehzad Saleem)

Conditions of Revolt: Shehzad Saleem

No Jihād without the State

Queries  
Waging War against the Disbelievers

Shehzad Saleem  

Treatment of Prisoners of War

       

The Sole Ground for Jihād

       

Belligerence of Muslim Minorities

       

Serving in the Army of a Non-Muslim Country

       

Suicide Bombers

       

Weapons of Mass Destruction

       

Is Jihād only for Self-Defence?

       

When does Jihād Become Obligatory?

       

Is Qitāl a lesser Jihād?

       

Jihād in the Bible

       

Spreading Islam by the Sword

       

Is the Qur’ān a Manual of Jihād?

       

Divine Right to Rule

       

 

The Misunderstood Doctrine of Jihād

Jihad: Shehzad Saleem

Unfortunately, Jihād has become one of the most misunderstood doctrines of Islam. To many Muslims, Jihād is the answer to all their sufferings, but to non-Muslims it is perhaps become the primary reason to dread Muslims. In a world that is populated by almost 1.5 billion Muslims, this issue assumes phenomenal importance. In the opinion of this writer, in addition to other factors, world peace is threatened by a handful of Muslims because of some erroneous concepts about Jihād. In an effort to remove these misconceptions and to clarify the stance of Islam regarding Jihād, this issue of the journal has been dedicated to what we think is the true concept of Jihād in Islam.

Following are some important points that are discussed in the articles which appear in this issue:

First and foremost, only an Islamic state has the authority to wage Jihād. No independent group or organization has the right to launch an armed struggle in any way.

Secondly, after the departure of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta), the only legitimate reason for an Islamic State to wage Jihād is to curb oppression and persecution in another country – whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

Thirdly, Jihād is or was never carried out for territorial aggrandizement or for forcibly converting people to Islam. People who erroneously justify either or both of these two bases draw their arguments from the Jihād carried out by the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). It needs to be appreciated that the Jihād carried out by the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) after him was governed by a specific law meant only for the Prophets of Allah and their immediate addressees, and has nothing to do with later Muslims. A study of the Qur’an reveals that the purpose of their Jihād was neither territorial aggrandizement nor forcible conversion of people to Islam: contrary to both, it was Divine punishment meted out to people who had arrogantly denied the truth in spite of being convinced about it.1

Fourthly, Muslims can rise against their rulers only in certain circumstances. In case, they intend to resort to armed warfare to dislodge them, then the following conditions must necessarily be fulfilled:

a. Muslim rulers are guilty of openly and knowingly denying Islam or any of its directives.

b. The government should be a despotic one, which neither came into existence through the opinion of the people nor is it possible to change it through their opinion.

c. The person who leads this uprising should have a clear majority of the nation behind him and they are willing to accept him as their future ruler in favour of the existing one.

d. The rebels are able to establish their authority in an independent piece of land.

It is hoped that this issue of the journal is able to provide some food for thought for our readers.

1. According to the Qur’an, one of the reasons for which people will be punished in the Hereafter would be denying the truth that had come to them in this world even though they were convinced about its veracity. Such people are also punished in this world by the Almighty directly and sometimes through His Rusul (Messengers) and their companions. Since it is humanly impossible for a Rasūl to determine whether his addressees were deliberately denying the truth or not, it was only on the basis of information provided by the Almighty that this punishment was carried out. He chose to impart this information to his Rusul through Wahī (Divine Revelation). However, after the departure of the last Rasūl Muhammad (sws), people who have deliberately denied the truth cannot be pinpointed since the institution of Wahi has been terminated. Therefore, after his time and that of his immediate Companions (rta), no one has the right to punish people on such grounds. (For more details see: Islam and Non-Muslims: A New Perspective, Renaissance: March 2002, Daru’l Ishraq, Lahore. For the internet version see www.monthly-renaissance.com)


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The Islamic Law of Jihād

Jihad, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (Tr. by:Shehzad Saleem)

Peace and freedom are two essential requirements of a society. Just as various penal measures help in protecting a society from the evils and excesses committed by an individual, resorting to armed offensives sometimes becomes essential to curb the evils perpetrated by countries and nations. As long as diplomatic relations and negotiations can be used to resolve matters, no one would endorse the use of force for settling affairs. However, if a nation threatens to disrupt the peace and freedom of the world and its arrogance and haughtiness exceed all bounds, a stage may come when the use of force and power may become essential to keep it in check. In such cases, it is the inalienable right of humankind to forcibly stop its subversive activities until peace and freedom of the world are restored. The Qur’ān asserts that if the use of force would not have been allowed in such cases, the disruption and disorder caused by insurgent nations could have reached the extent that the places of worship – where the Almighty is kept in constant remembrance – would have become deserted and forsaken, not to mention the disruption of the society itself:

وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا (٤٠:٢٢)

And had it not been that Allah checks one set of people with another, the monasteries and churches, the synagogues and the mosques, in which His praise is abundantly celebrated would have been utterly destroyed. (22:40)

In religious parlance, this use of force is called Jihād1, and in the Qur’ān it can be classified in two distinct categories:

Firstly, against injustice and oppression.

Secondly, against the rejecters of truth after it has become evident to them.

The first type of Jihād is an eternal directive of the Sharī’ah. As stated, it is launched to curb oppression and injustice. The second type, however, is specific to people whom the Almighty selects for delivering the truth as an obligation. They are called witnesses to the truth; the implication being that they bear witness to the truth before other people in such a complete and ultimate manner that no one is left with an excuse to deny the truth. Bearing witness to the truth in such a manner is called ‘شهادة’ (shahādah). In the history of mankind, for the very last time this status was conferred on the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta):

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا (٢ :١٤٣)

And similarly, O Companions of the Prophet! We have made you an intermediate group2 so that you be witnesses [to this religion] before the nations, and the Rasūl be such a witness before you. (2:143)

Once the process of ‘شهادة’ (shahādah) is complete, the truth is unveiled to a people in its ultimate form, and if they now deny it in spite of being convinced about it, they are punished in this very world. At times, this punishment is through earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities and disasters, while, at others, it emanates from the swords of the believers. As a result, those who have denied the truth are totally vanquished in their land and the truth reigns supreme in it. In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta), the divine scourge took this very form. Consequently, just as they were asked to wage war against oppression and injustice, they were also asked to wage war to punish the rejecters of the truth once it had become totally manifest to them. This was actually a divine plan that was executed through human beings. They themselves were not authorized to even think of such an undertaking. It is to this very fact which the following words of the Qur’ān allude:

قَاتِلُوهُمْ يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ (٩ :١٤)

Fight them and God will punish them with your hands. (9:14)

In the following pages, this writer will attempt to explain the directives of the Sharī’ah regarding both these categories of Jihād.3

I. The Permission for Jihād

أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ (٢٢ :٣٩-٤٠)

Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been oppressed – Allah indeed has power to grant them victory – those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: ‘Our Lord is Allah’. (22:39-40)

This is the first verse of the Qur’ān in which the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) who had migrated from Makkah (the Muhājirūn) were given permission to fight back if they were attacked. The Qur’ān says that these Companions (rta) were driven out of their homes because they believed that Allah was their Lord and as such were totally innocent. A little deliberation shows that this one sentence depicts the whole charge-sheet against the Quraysh. The reason for this is that no one is willing to leave his home unless he is oppressed for living there and thereby utterly compelled to migrate. The words ‘بانهم ظلموا’ (bi annahum zulimū: because they have been oppressed) refer to this very aspect and it is because of this ruthless and unfounded oppression that the Qur’ān allowed Muslims to resort to power against aggression.

The words ‘الذين اخرجوا من ديارهم’ (alladhīna ukhrijū min diyārihim: those who have been driven out of their homes) clearly show that Muslims were not allowed to wage war before migration. The reason for this is that without political authority armed offensives become tantamount to spreading disorder and anarchy in the society. Therefore, no group or gang of people is authorized to wage war unless it wields political authority in an independent piece of land. In Makkah, Muslims were never able to attain this position but once they migrated to Madīnah and, as a result of the treaty of Madīnah, were invested with political authority, they were given permission to wage war. There is no doubt that the Almighty had the full authority to help the Muslims in Makkah when they were subjected to grave oppression and torture, but, in spite of this, engaging in warfare was prohibited. So much so that after many years of persecution and oppression, they were forced to leave their homes. At that time, had they waged war against the enemy and even been outnumbered by 1:10, they would have been victorious according to the principle of Divine Help stated in the Qur’ān (8:65-6). But the question arises: Why were they not allowed to wage war before migration? From whatever aspect this question is analyzed, the answer to it most surely is what is pointed out above: they had no political authority. The whole history of the Prophets of Allah bears witness to the fact that they never took up arms unless they had political authority. It is known about the Prophet Moses (sws) that he never launched an armed offensive until he was able to bring forth the Israelites from Egypt and organize them in an independent piece of land. The Prophet Jesus (sws) was never able to acquire political authority, so he never undertook any armed struggle. This was in spite of the fact that he himself claimed that he had not come to repeal the directives of the Torah but to fulfill them,4 and it is known that the directive of Jihād is very clearly written in the Torah5. The preaching missions of the Prophets Sālih (sws), Hūd (sws), Shu’ayb (sws), Lot (sws), Abraham (sws) and Noah (sws) also endorse this premise. For this very reason, the Makkan Sūrahs of the Qur’ān are devoid of any such directive. Had the Prophet Muhammad (sws) not been able to acquire political authority, no verse of Jihād would have been revealed in the Qur’ān as is the case with the Injīl (the New Testament).

Consequently, there is absolutely certainty that, in their individual capacity, Muslims are not the addressees of the verses of Jihād. Like the verses which mention punishments for criminals, the real addressees of these Jihād verses are the Muslim rulers. No one other than them has any authority to wage Jihād. The word ‘اذن’ (udhina: permission is granted) in the above quoted verse of Sūrah Hajj also points to the fact that the very first question in an armed offensive is that of permission. The Almighty permitted the Muslims of those times to fight back the Quryash only when Muslims had political authority in spite of the tremendous oppression let lose upon them. Consequently, in these times also, this is an essential pre-requisite of war6. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

وَإِنَّمَا الْإِمَامُ جُنَّةٌ يُقَاتَلُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وَيُتَّقَى بِهِ (بخارى: رقم ٢٩٥٧)

A Muslim ruler is the shield [of his people]. An armed struggle can only be carried out under him and people should seek his shelter [in war]. (Bukhārī: No. 2957)

The jurists also hold this view:

النوع الثالث  من الفروض الكفائية ما يشترط  فيه الحاكم مثل : الجهاد   وإقامة الحدود. فان هذه من حق الحاكم وحده و ليس لاى فرد ان يقيم الحد على غيره.

Among Kafāyah obligations, the third category is that for which the existence of a ruler is necessary e.g., Jihād and execution of punishments. Therefore, only a ruler has this prerogative. Because, indeed, no one else has the right to punish another person.7

II. The Directive of Jihād

وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ  وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُمْ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنْ الْقَتْلِ وَلَا تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِنْدَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّى يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ فَإِنْ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ كَذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ  فَإِنْ انتَهَوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ  وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلَّهِ فَإِنْ انتَهَوْا فَلَا عُدْوَانَ إِلَّا عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ  الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ فَمَنْ اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ (٢: ١٩٠-١٩٤)

And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight against you and do not transgress bounds [in this fighting]. God does not love the transgressors. Kill them wherever you find them and drive them out [of the place] from which they drove you out and [remember] persecution is worse than carnage. But do not initiate war with them near the Holy Ka’bah unless they attack you there. But if they attack you, put them to the sword [without any hesitation]. Thus shall such disbelievers be rewarded. However, if they desist [from this disbelief], Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Keep fighting against them, until persecution does not remain and [in the land of Arabia] Allah’s religions reigns supreme. But if they mend their ways, then [you should know that] an offensive is only allowed against the evil-doers. A sacred month for a sacred month; [similarly] other sacred things too are subject to retaliation. So if any one transgresses against you, you should also pay back in equal coins. Have fear of Allah and [keep in mind that] Allah is with those who remain within the bounds [stipulated by religion]. (2:190-4)

Once the permission to wage Jihād was revealed in the verses of Sūrah Hajj stated earlier, a detailed directive regarding Jihād was basically revealed in the above quoted verses of Sūrah Baqarah. All other ones which mention Jihād actually elucidate and emphasize what is stated here as well as elaborate upon the right course in certain issues8 which arose once the Muslims set about following this directive.

The context of the verses cited above is that when Muslims were told that it was their obligation to offer Hajj and since they were the true heirs of Abraham’s religion it was only their right to journey to the House of God to worship Him, the correct line of action was also spelled out to them in case they encountered resistance from the Quraysh regarding the fulfillment of this obligation. They were told that they should fight them to crush their resistance. This is what the context says; however, the directive does not end here and the Qur’ān goes on to extend it by adding certain other details to it. It clarifies the nature of responsibility the Muslims have been entrusted with viz a viz Jihād, the real force from which they should derive their motivation in waging Jihād, the moral and ethical limits of this undertaking and finally the real objective of Jihād. Through these details, the two categories of Jihād referred to earlier in this article are clearly set forth.

These details will now be explained:

i. Nature of the Obligation

The first thing that is evident from these verses is that Muslims should not merely fight the Quraysh if they resist them in offering Hajj, but the Qur’ān goes on to say that they should continue to fight the Quraysh until the persecution perpetrated by them is uprooted and Islam prevails in the whole of Arabia. This, obviously, was a very big responsibility and could not have been imposed on an Islamic state without giving due consideration to its moral as well as military might. Consequently, the Qur’ān explained that this aspect had been taken into account, and as a result the extent of responsibility would vary in different phases of the Prophet’s struggle.

In the initial phase, when the Muslim ranks basically consisted of the pioneers among the Muhājirūn and the Ansār and their faith and moral character were of an exemplary degree, they were required to fulfill this responsibility even if the enemy was ten times their might. The Qur’ān says:

يَاأَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ حَرِّضْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى الْقِتَالِ إِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ عِشْرُونَ صَابِرُونَ يَغْلِبُوا مِائَتَيْنِ وَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا أَلْفًا مِنْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ )٨: ٦٥)

Prophet! Rouse the believers to wage war. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will subdue two hundred: if a hundred, they will subdue a thousand of the disbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.

While explaining the word ‘بصيرت’ (basīrat: understanding), Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, writes:

It is this ‘بصيرت’ (basīrat) which is man’s real quality. When a believer who is equipped with it sets foot in the battle field he finds within his solitary soul the power of a whole army. He experiences Divine help around him and death becomes dearer to him than life. The reason is that his ‘بصيرت’ (basīrat) illuminates before him the exalted destination in Paradise reserved for martyrs. It is this very ‘بصيرت’ (basīrat) which produces in him the perseverance and strength that make him equal in might to ten people who are devoid of it.9

This was the first phase. After it, many people entered the folds of Islam. Though the number of Muslims increased significantly as a result, yet the converts did not have the same ‘بصيرت’ (basīrat: understanding) as their forerunners before them. Consequently, the Almighty reduced the burden of this responsibility also:

الْآنَ خَفَّفَ اللَّهُ عَنكُمْ وَعَلِمَ أَنَّ فِيكُمْ ضَعْفًا فَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ صَابِرَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا مِائَتَيْنِ وَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أَلْفٌ  يَغْلِبُوا أَلْفَيْنِ  بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ )٨: ٦٦)

[From] now, God has lightened your [task] for He knows that there is now weakness amongst you: But [ever so], if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will subdue two hundred, and if a thousand, they will subdue two thousand, with the leave of God: for God is with those who patiently persevere. (8:66)

A similar policy was adopted by the Almighty regarding the extent of requirement that arose in wars that the Muslims had to fight. In the battles of Badr, Uhud and Tabūk, the responsibility was much more and each Muslim was required to present his services as a combatant. Those who tried to shirk this responsibility were severely reprimanded by the Almighty. They were told that if they hold their life, wealth and kin dearer than Jihād, then they should wait for the Almighty’s decision against them Who would punish them in the same manner as He has decided to punish those who have deliberately rejected Muhammad (sws)10. However, in military campaigns in which it was not necessary that each Muslim offer his services, the Almighty informed the Muslims that now presenting one’s self for Jihād though carried great reward – which by no means is ordinary –, it was not compulsory for each Muslim to participate in them:

لَا يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُوْلِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَى وَفَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا دَرَجَاتٍ مِنْهُ وَمَغْفِرَةً وَرَحْمَةً وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا(٤: ٩٥-٩٦)

Not equal are those of the believers who sit [at home] without any [genuine] excuse and those who strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has given preference by a degree to those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit [at home]. [In reality], for each, Allah has made a good promise and [in reality] Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight above those who sit [at home] by a huge reward. Degrees of [higher] grades from Him and forgiveness and mercy. And Allah is Ever Forgiving, Most Merciful. (4:95-96)

At another place, the Qur’ān has unequivocally stated that showing cowardice and running away from the battlefield once a person has stepped into it is not befitting for a believer. So great is this sin, that the Almighty has promised the fateful doom of Hell fire on such an act of cowardliness:

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا زَحْفًا فَلَا تُوَلُّوهُمْ الْأَدْبَارَ وَمَنْ يُوَلِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ دُبُرَهُ إِلَّا مُتَحَرِّفًا لِقِتَالٍ أَوْ مُتَحَيِّزًا إِلَى فِئَةٍ فَقَدْ بَاءَ بِغَضَبٍ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَمَأْوَاهُ جَهَنَّمُ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ (٨: ١٥-١٦)

O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve in a battlefield, never turn your backs to them. And [you should know that] whoever turns his back to them on such a day – unless it be a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a part of his army, – he indeed has drawn upon himself wrath from Allah. And his abode is Hell, and worst indeed is that destination! (8:15-6)

While explaining these verses, Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, writes:

Now the Muslims are being given directives regarding imminent wars. They are told that when they encounter the enemy army in formal warfare, they must never turn their backs. This directive has been given in the light of the background delineated earlier in which the Almighty had promised divine help. It is an anathema for people who have the support of Allah and His angels to run away from the battlefield.

‘و من يولهم يومئذ دبره’: in such a situation, those who desert the battlefield would invite the wrath of God and Hell shall be their abode. This shows that the crime is no less than the crime of apostasy and disbelief. Obviously, the severity of this crime hinges on the fact that, at times, a person who runs away from the battle field poses a great threat for the whole army and sometimes for the whole Muslim collectivity.

‘الا متحرفا لقتال او متحيزا الى فئة’: ie only those measures are an exception which a soldier adopts as military tactics or, as in some cases, the need arises that he must vacate his front and join some other one. In other words, what is forbidden is to show one’s back in order to flee from the battlefield. Showing one’s back as a war strategy is an exception [and is not forbidden].11

Three things are very obvious from the stipulations that all these verses mention:

Firstly, even if the sole ground to wage Jihād in these times – oppression and injustice in a country – exists in a particular case, Jihād never becomes obligatory unless the military might of the Muslims is up to a certain level. In the times of the Prophet (sws), when large scale conversions took place in the later phase, the Almighty reduced the Muslim to enemy ratio to 1:2. It cannot be imagined that in later periods it can be more than this. Consequently, Muslims should not only consolidate their moral character, but it is also imperative for them to build their military might if they want to wage Jihād when the need arises. The Qur’ān gave a similar directive to Muslims of the Prophet’s times in the following words:

وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَمِنْ رِبَاطِ  الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ  بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَهُمْ اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِنْ شَيْءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُونَ (٨ :٦٠)

Muster against them all the men and cavalry at your disposal so that you can strike terror into the enemies of Allah and of the believers and others beside them who may be unknown to you, though Allah knows them. And remember whatever you spend for the cause of Allah shall be repaid to you. You shall not be wronged. (8:60)

Secondly, abstaining from participating in Jihād becomes a sin only when a Muslim sits at home in spite of the fact that an Islamic State has given a call to each and every Muslim to participate in Jihād. In religious terminology, such an appeal is called ‘نفير عام’ (nafīr ‘ām). In such instances, the sin is as grave as hypocrisy. In the absence of this situation, participating in Jihād, no doubt, is a very desirable deed if the need arises; however, it is not obligatory and a person who does not undertake it cannot be called a sinner.

Thirdly, deserting the battlefield of Jihād is totally forbidden. No believer should show such feebleness. It is tantamount to showing distrust in Allah, giving priority to this world over the next and trying to make life and death dependent upon one’s own strategy – all of which cannot exist with true faith.

ii. The Driving Force

The second thing which is evident from the above quoted verses (2:190-4) is that the ‘قـتال’ (qitāl: armed warfare) mentioned therein must neither be undertaken to gratify one’s whims nor to obtain wealth and riches. It must also not be undertaken to conquer territories and rule them or to acquire fame or to appease the emotions of communal support, partisanship and animosity. On the contrary, it should be undertaken only and only for the cause of Allah as is evident from the words ‘فى سبيل الله’ (fī sabīlillāh: in the way of Allah) after the word ‘قاتلوا’ (qātilū: fight). Consequently, in the very beginning, the Qur’ān has clarified that such a sacred undertaking has no relation with personal and selfish motives. This is the war of the Almighty which His servants undertake at His behest and according to the guidelines provided by Him for His cause. They themselves act as mere agents and implementers of the will of God. They have no objective of their own before them in this undertaking; rather they have to fulfill the objectives of the Almighty. Consequently, they cannot deviate in the least from this capacity:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ الطَّاغُوتِ فَقَاتِلُوا أَوْلِيَاءَ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّ كَيْدَ الشَّيْطَانِ كَانَ ضَعِيفًا (٤: ٧٦)

Those who believe, fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Satan. So fight you against the friends of Satan. Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Satan. (4:76)

The Prophet (sws), at various instances, also explained very forcefully this purport of the Qur’ān:

Abū Mūsā Ash’arī (rta) narrates that once a person came to the Prophet (sws) and said that some people fight for the spoils of war, some for fame and some to show off their valour; he then asked the Prophet (sws): ‘Which one of them fights in the way of Allah’. The Prophet (sws) replied: ‘Only that person fights in the way of Allah who sets foot in the battlefield to raise high the name of Allah’.12

Abū Imāmah Bāhilī (rta) narrates that a person came to the Prophet (sws) and asked: ‘What is your opinion about a person who fights for monetary benefits and fame’. The Prophet (sws) replied: ‘He will gain nothing’. The person repeated his question three times and each time the Prophet (sws) gave the same answer and then said: ‘The Almighty never accepts a deed until it is pure and done merely to please Him’.13

Abū Hurayrah (rta) narrates that once the Prophet (sws) said: ‘The fate of three types of people shall be decided first on the Day of Judgement: A person who was martyred while fighting. The Almighty will remind him of His favours. Once the person remembers them, the Almighty will ask: “What did you do for me?” He will reply: “I fought for you until I embraced martyrdom”. The Almighty will say: “You have told a lie; you fought so that people would acknowledge your bravery and this has [already] taken place”. The Almighty would then order for his punishment and he would be dragged by his face and thrown into Hell’.14

‘Ubādah Ibn Sāmit (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): ‘A person who fought in the way of Allah with the intention that he would gain a rope [from the war booty] to tie a camel in the battle will only get that rope and nothing else’.15

Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal (rta) narrates that once the Prophet (sws) said: ‘Wars are of two types: a person who fought merely to please Allah, obeyed his ruler in the war, spent the best of his wealth, was affectionate with his fellow fighters and abstained from spreading disorder and evil, then all the time he spent in the war whether he was awake or was asleep – all would earn reward for him. And a person who fought for fame and to earn the praises of the world and disobeyed his ruler during the war and thereby created disorder, he would not be spared’.16

It is this special status of the ‘قتال’ (qitāl: armed warfare) that makes it an act of great reward for the believers. The Almighty says:

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ  قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ فَرِحِينَ  بِمَا آتَاهُمْ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ  وَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَلْحَقُوا بِهِمْ مِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ أَلَّا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ  يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَفَضْلٍ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (٣ :١٦    ٩-١٧١)

Consider not those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive with their Lord, and they will be provided for. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty and rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind [not yet martyred] that on them too no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in a grace and a bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers. (3:169-171)

Abū Hurayrah (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): ‘A person who wages Jihād in the way of Allah – and Allah knows full well who wages Jihād in His way – is like a person who fasts during the daytime and stands in prayer during the night, and for such a person [who fights in His way], Allah has taken upon Himself to take him to Paradise in case He ordains death for him, [and if this is not the case], He will reward him and send him back home safely with the spoils of war’.17

He also narrates that once a person came to the Prophet (sws) and asked: ‘Tell me of a deed whose reward is equivalent to that of Jihād.’ The Prophet (sws) replied: ‘There is no such deed.’ The Prophet (sws) then asked that person: ‘Is it possible for you that once the Mujāhidīn (warriors) depart for Jihād, you go to the mosque and keep standing in prayer without pausing and also keep fasting [simultaneously] without breaking the fast?’ The person replied: ‘How can anyone do this?’18

At another instance, Abū Hurayrah (rta) narrates from the Prophet: ‘There are hundred levels in Paradise which the Almighty has prepared for those who wage Jihād in His way. Each of these levels is separated from one another with a distance equivalent to that between the earth and the sky’.19

Abū Hurayrah (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): ‘I swear by the Almighty that a person who is wounded in the way of Allah – and Allah knows full well who is actually wounded in His way – he would be raised on the Day of Judgement such that his colour be the colour of blood with the fragrance of musk around him’.20

Ibn Jabr narrates from the Prophet (sws): ‘A person whose feet become dust ridden because of [striving] in the way of Allah will never be touched by the flames of Hell’.21

Sahal Ibn Sa’ad says that the Prophet (sws) once said: ‘To reside in a border area for a day to protect [people] against  an enemy [invasion] is better than this world and everything it has’.22

iii. Ethical Limits

The third thing that becomes evident from these verses is that war cannot be waged in the way of Allah by disregarding ethical limits. Moral values have to be given priority on every thing in all circumstances, and even in circumstances of war the Almighty has not given any person the permission to breach ethical principles. The verses assert that Muslims can fight the enemy and can displace them from the city from which they themselves were displaced from and that they should be killed wherever found. They are allowed to take this step because of the reign of oppression and injustice let lose by the enemy and because the truth has been made manifest to them and they have deliberately denied it. However, two things must still remain in their consideration:

Firstly, Muslims should not initiate proceedings to violate any thing which is sacred. Consequently, war is permitted near the Baytullāh and in sacred months only if the enemy takes the initiative. Muslims can in no case commence such proceedings.

Secondly, any excess committed by the enemy can be answered by the Muslims by inflicting equal damage only. They have no right to go beyond this. They can wage war but in no case are they allowed to exceed the limits and commit any excesses – for the Almighty is greatly displeased by such an attitude. He only helps those who never cross the limits set by Him in any circumstances.

In the verse under discussion, both these stipulations are discussed by the Qur’ān in its sublime style:

الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ فَمَنْ اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ (٢: ١٩٤)

A sacred month for a sacred month; [similarly] other sacred things too are subject to retaliation. So if any one transgresses against you, you should also pay back in equal coins. Have fear of Allah and [keep in mind that] Allah is with those who remain within the bounds [stipulated by religion]. (2:194)

While explaining this verse, Imam Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, writes:

This verse implies that fighting in the forbidden months or fighting within the boundaries of Haram is a big sin. However, if the disbelievers disregard their sanctity, Muslims on account of Qisās also have the right to strip them off the protection that these sacred entities afford them. The life of every person carries great sanctity in the eyes of the Sharī’ah. However, when a person violates this sanctity and kills someone, then he himself will be deprived of the right of sanctity for his own life to avenge his own deed. Similarly, the sanctity of the forbidden months and of the Haram itself shall be upheld in all circumstances on the condition that the disbelievers also uphold it and do not oppress and tyrannize people in them. However, if they unsheathe their swords in the forbidden months and in the sacred land of Makkah, then on account of Qisās they themselves deserve to be divested of the protection these months and this land hold for them. The verse goes on to say that just as that taking of Qisās for the forbidden months is necessary, the Qisās of other sacred entities must also be taken. In other words, if the disbelievers deprive Muslims of the right of protection that certain sacred things hold for them, Muslims too have the right as a result of Qisās to pay them back in equal coins or measure. Consequently, whatever measures the disbelievers adopt in violation of the sanctity of the Haram and the forbidden months, Muslim too can retaliate – but they must fear God and retaliate on equal footings: neither should they initiate such violations nor exceed the limits while retaliating against any aggression in this regard. Only those people become worthy of Divine Help who are fearful of the Almighty in all circumstances.23

The most important directive that has been spelled out in the sphere of ethical limits is the fulfillment of promises. Breaking a promise is a great sin in the eyes of the Almighty. He has made it amply clear to the Muslims that in both forms of ‘قتال’ (qitāl: armed warfare) – ie against injustice and oppression and against the rejecters of truth after the truth has become evident to them – Muslims must not break any treaty made with a nation. Sūrah Tawbah is the sūrah which announces punishment on people who deliberately rejected the truth. In this sūrah, the Prophet (sws) has been directed to declare null and void all pacts and treaties and embark upon a final assault against the disbelievers; however, it is explicitly stated in the sūrah (9:4) that all treaties that have been concluded with a time frame must continue till the time period is over. Similarly, in Sūrah Anfāl, Muslims are emphatically told that even if a nation, with which Muslims are under obligation of a contract, is guilty of oppressing the Muslims in matters of their religion, the Islamic state does not have the right to help these Muslims if this amounts to a breach of contract made with that nation:

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يُهَاجَرُوا مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ وَلَايَتِهِمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ حَتَّى يُهَاجِرُوا وَإِنْ اسْتَنصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمْ النَّصْرُ إِلَّا عَلَى قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ مِيثَاقٌ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (٨ :٧٢)

And to those who accepted faith but did not migrate [to Madinah], you owe no duty of protection to them until they migrate; but if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them except against a people with whom you have a treaty of mutual alliance; and Allah is the All-Seer of what you do. (8:72)

At a number of occasions the Prophet (sws) has stressed how dreadful a sin breaking one’s promise is:

Abū Sa’īd (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): ‘On the Day of Judgement, to proclaim the traitorship of a traitor and the betrayal of a person who betrayed his words, a flag shall be hoisted which would be as high as [the extent of his] traitorship’, and [the Prophet (sws) also said]: ‘Remember that no traitor and betrayer of promises is greater than the one who is the leader and ruler of people’.24

Abdullāh Ibn Umar (rta) narrates that the Prophet (sws) [once] said: ‘A person who kills a Mu’āhid will not be able to smell [the fragrance] of Paradise, even though its fragrance can be smelt from a place as far off as forty years from it in distance’.25

However, if Muslims fear any foul play and breach of contract from the opposite side, they, in the words of the Qur’ān, can also terminate the treaty and throw the promise on their faces on equal footings:

وَإِمَّا تَخَافَنَّ مِنْ قَوْمٍ خِيَانَةً فَانْبِذْ إِلَيْهِمْ عَلَى سَوَاءٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْخَائِنِينَ (٨: ٥٨)

And if you fear any treachery from a people throw back [their covenant] to them  on equal terms. Certainly Allah likes not the treacherous. (8:58)

While commenting on this verse, Imam Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, writes:

The words ‘على سواء’ (‘alā sawā) mean that Muslims are authorized to pay back their enemy in equal coins. This means that the retaliation from their side must not exceed the harm inflicted upon them. Some people have deduced from these words that the nullification of a treaty should necessarily be openly declared before the other party. I do not find this deduction to be very sound as these words do not support it; however, this much can be inferred that mere speculation should not impel a party to revoke it. This should only be done after some manifest proof of its violation from the other side. The use of the intensive verb ‘تخافن’ (takhāfanna) in the verse lays credence to this claim. Moreover, the condition of ‘على سواء’ (‘alā sawā) also highlights this aspect.26

The Prophet (sws) is reported to have explained this aspect in the following words:

مَنْ كَانَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ قَوْمٍ عَهْدٌ فَلَا يَحُلَّنَّ عَهْدًا وَلَا يَشُدَّنَّهُ حَتَّى يَمْضِيَ أَمَدُهُ أَوْ يَنْبِذَ إِلَيْهِمْ عَلَى سَوَاءٍ (ترمذى: رقم ١٥٨٠)

If a nation concludes a treaty with some other, then it should not change it in any sense until the time period of the treaty expires or if it fears some treachery from it. In these cases, it should throw the treaty before it by an open declaration on equal footings. (Tirmadhī: No. 1580)

Other directives which are mentioned in the Qur’ān and the Hadīth in this regard are the following:

1. A display of pomp and pride should be avoided when an army sets out for a battle. In Sūrah Anfāl, where the Qur’ān has asked the Muslims to spend more time in the remembrance of God when a war is at hand, it has also asked them to abstain from show and pomposity – something which is the way of people who are inebriated with the pride of their number and the resources and the ammunition they have. Such vanity and conceit are not befitting for believers. Whether in the battlefield or outside it, the humility of servitude to the Almighty should always be their hallmark. The reason for this is that their war is not mere war – it is serving and worshipping the Almighty and at all instances this fundamental aspect should be taken into account by them:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ خَرَجُوا  مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بَطَرًا وَرِئَاءَ النَّاسِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطٌ )٨: ٤٧)

And be not like those who came out of their homes boastfully and to display their grandeur and who stop [people] from the way of Allah even though Allah fully encompasses what they do. (8:47)

2. People who want to remain neutral in war should not be left alone and not be troubled in any way. In Sūrah Nisā, the behavior of certain Muslims is referred to who because of their timidity and frailty were neither willing to fight the Muslims by joining hands with their own nation nor were ready to join the Muslims and fight their own nation. The Almighty bade the Muslims to abstain from any action against them:

أَوْ جَاءُوكُمْ  حَصِرَتْ صُدُورُهُمْ أَنْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ أَوْ يُقَاتِلُوا قَوْمَهُمْ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَسَلَّطَهُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ فَلَقَاتَلُوكُمْ فَإِنْ اعْتَزَلُوكُمْ فَلَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ وَأَلْقَوْا إِلَيْكُمْ السَّلَمَ فَمَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ سَبِيلًا (٤:٩٠)

Or those who approach you such that they neither have the courage to fight you nor their own people [and are such that] had Allah willed, indeed He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allah does not give you permission to take any action against them. (4:90)

3. People who neither take part in a battle nor are able to take part in it – as per the dictates of custom as well as sense and reason – should not be killed. ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Umar (rta) reports from the Prophet (sws) that once in a battle when it became known that a woman had been killed, the Prophet (sws) emphatically forbade the killing of the women and children.27

4. People among the enemy should not be killed by setting them ablaze. Abū Hurayrah (rta) narrates that once when the Prophet (sws) bade the Muslims to set out for a battle he named two persons and directed the Muslims to burn them if they encountered them. However, when the Muslim army was about to set out, he said: ‘I had asked you to set two people ablaze; the truth of the matter is that it is only Allah Who can punish someone in this manner; so if you find these two, just kill them’.28

5. Plundering and looting should be abstained from. ‘Abdullāh Ibn Yazīd (rta) narrates that the Prophet (sws) stopped the Muslims from snatching anything from the common people while the Muslim army is marching into the enemy territory.29 A person from the Ansār narrates that once while traveling for a Jihād, because of great compulsion, some people of the Muslim army snatched some goats to quench their hunger. When the Prophet (sws) came to know about this, he overturned all the utensils and remarked: ‘plundered [food] is not better than dead meat’.30

6. Dead bodies should not be mutilated. Barīdah narrates that among the directives the Prophet (sws) would give while sending a Muslim army would be an emphatic assertion to abstain from mutilating dead bodies and from disfiguring them.31

7. Setting up obstructions and robing travellers is forbidden. Muā’adh Ibn Anas narrates that once when he and others in the company of the Prophet (sws) embarked upon a campaign of Jihād it was observed that people had been obstructing the place where the army was to disembark and were busy robbing the passersby. When this complaint reached the Prophet (sws), he publicly announced at once that any person who obstructs the place of disembarkment and loots the passersby is in fact not doing Jihād.32

iv. The Ultimate Goal

The fourth thing discussed in the verses (2:190-4) is the ultimate goal of Jihād. It says that Jihād should continue until two objectives are totally achieved:

Firstly, ‘فتنه’ (fitnah) is uprooted.

Secondly, in the Arabian peninsula only Islam reigns supreme.

For the first objective, the words used by the Qur’ān are ‘حتى لا تكون فتنه’ (hattā lā takūna fitnah: until fitnah does not remain). Sūrah Anfāl (8:39) also mentions this objective in similar words. ‘فتنه’ (fitnah) is something which the Qur’ān regards as ‘اشد من القتل’ (ashaddu min’al-qatl: a greater crime than murder). It means ‘persecution’ (to force a person to give up his religion). It is used in this meaning at a number of places in the Qur’ān. No doubt, it is a crime greater than murder. The Almighty has created this world to test man by giving him the right to freely choose his religion and ideology. Consequently, any person who forces someone to give up his religion is in fact rebelling against the scheme of the Almighty. So when an Islamic state was established in Madīnah, Muslims were directed to take up arms against people who were responsible for persecuting Muslims and to continue this aggression until persecution was uprooted from Arabia. The following verses forcefully depict this directive:

وَمَا لَكُمْ لَا تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنْ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْ هَذِهِ  الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُهَا وَاجْعَل لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ وَلِيًّا وَاجْعَل لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ نَصِيرًا  الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي  سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ الطَّاغُوتِ فَقَاتِلُوا أَوْلِيَاءَ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّ كَيْدَ الشَّيْطَانِ كَانَ ضَعِيفًا (٤: ٧٥-٦)

And what has come over you that you fight not in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors, and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help. [You should know that] those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Satan. So fight you against the friends of Satan. Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Satan. (4:75-6)

The directive of waging war against ‘فتنه’ (fitnah: persecution) is mentioned in certain other verses of the Qur’ān as well. No doubt, the age old tradition of forcing people to renounce their religion has almost been eliminated today; however, as long as human beings remain human beings, they can always revert to it. Consequently, this is an eternal directive of the Qur’ān. If persecution surfaces at any place on this earth of God, it is imperative upon a Muslim state to root it out if it has the strength and power to do so and help the oppressed by waging war against it. This is an everlasting directive of the Qur’ān for the Muslims and no law of this world can repeal it.

A question arises here: Do other forms of injustice and oppression besides persecution also not entail a similar action? The answer to this question in the opinion of this writer is that all forms of oppression against the life and wealth as well as freedom of opinion and expression of Muslims – should be considered under it in various degrees. Consequently, if a group of Muslims commits unwarranted aggression against some of their brothers and does not desist from it even after all attempts of reconciliation, such a group according to the Qur’ān should be fought with:

وَإِنْ طَائِفَتَانِ مِنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا فَإِنْ بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَى فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ  إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (٤٩ :٩-١٠(

And if two parties or groups among the believers start fighting, then make peace between them both. But if one of them outrages against the other, then fight you against the one which outrages till it complies with the command of Allah. Then if it complies, make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily! Allah loves those who are the equitable. The believers are brothers to one another. So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah that you may receive mercy. (49:9-10)

The directives mentioned in this verse can be summarized thus:

1. If two groups among the Muslims are engaged in a fight with one another, other Muslims should not remain indifferent to this state of affairs and should not think that this matter does not concern them. Similarly, it is improper to support a group merely on the basis of familial or tribal bias. They must support the group who in their opinion is on the right and in no way let such biases form the basis of their support. They must try to fully comprehend the situation and then try to reconcile the two groups.

2. If one of the groups is not willing to reconcile or after reconciliation again resorts to oppression and injustice, then it is the duty of the Muslims that if they have the power they should fight this group under the authority of some state. This aggression launched should continue until that group surrenders to the decision the arbitrators have put forth before the two groups. The Qur’ān has used the word ‘امر الله’ (amrullāh: the decision of God) for the decision of the arbitrator. This means that if a person evades this decree, he is in fact evading the decree of God.

3. If the two groups show their willingness to reconcile, the Almighty has stressed that neither should any unwarranted lenience be shown to them nor should they be shown injustice in any way. Justice should be the basis of the reconciliation and whatever loss a party has incurred, it should be compensated for it.

This directive obviously pertains to the existence of a Muslim state under which such a war can be waged. If Muslims do not have a state, then in such a situation, the Prophet Muhammad (sws) while answering a question raised by Hudhayfah (rta) directed the Muslims to dissociate themselves from such anarchy and disorder:

قُلْتُ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ  جَمَاعَةٌ وَلَا  إِمَامٌ قَالَ فَاعْتَزِلْ  تِلْكَ الْفِرَقَ كُلَّهَا وَلَوْ أَنْ تَعَضَّ بِأَصْلِ شَجَرَةٍ حَتَّى يُدْرِكَكَ الْمَوْتُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَى ذَلِكَ.(بخاري: ٧٠٨٤)

I asked: If there is no state or ruler of the Muslims? He replied: In this situation, dissociate yourself from all groups, even if you have to chew the roots of a tree at the time of your death. (Bukhārī: No. 7084)

For the second objective, the words used in Sūrah Baqarah and Sūrah Anfāl are يكون الدين لله” (yakūna’l-dīn li’llāh: Allah’s religion reigns supreme) and’يكون الدين كله لله’ (yakūna’l-dīn kulluhu li’llāh: all of Allah’s religions reigns supreme) respectively. Prior to them the word ‘قاتلوهم’ (qātilūhum: fight them) directs the Muslims to wage war. The antecedent of the pronoun ‘هم’ (hum: them) in this word is the Idolaters of Arabia. Consequently, this much is certain that here these expressions mean that in the land of Arabia the religion of Islam reigns supreme. This purpose could only have been achieved in two ways: either the followers of all other religions be put to death or they be subdued and subjugated completely. Consequently, after many phases interspersed with periods of both war and peace, when the disbelievers were totally humiliated, both these ways were adopted. Muslims were directed to kill the Idolaters of Arabia if they did not accept faith and to let the Jews and Christians live on their own religions if they accepted to pay Jizyah and to live a life of total subjugation to the Islamic state established in Arabia. However, the active adversaries among them were put to death or exiled whenever it became possible.

It has been written at the very beginning of this article that the various measures adopted by the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) including warfare were all divinely ordained. These measures do not belong to the common Sharī’ah law of Islam. They rather belong to a specific law which can be termed as the law of ‘اتمام الحجة’ (itmāmu’l-hujjah). This law can be summarized as: when the truth is unveiled to a people in its ultimate form such that no one has any excuse to deny it, then the rejecters of this truth are punished in this very world. The Qur’ān says that the decision for this punishment is made by the Almighty after various phases of the preaching mission. In this way, the court of justice that will be set up one day before the Almighty is set up in this very world and the reward of punishment which will take place on the Day of Judgement is rehearsed in this very world. The history of this worldly Judgement as mentioned in the Qur’ān shows that the nature of the punishment meted out is generally of two forms:

In the first case, a Rasūl has very few companions and also does not have a place to migrate. In the second one, he migrates with a considerable number of companions and before he even does so, the Almighty arranges for them a territory where they can migrate and live there as its sovereigns and with freedom. In both these cases, the established practice of the Almighty regarding His Rusul manifests itself – the practice which the Qur’ān describes in the following words:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (٥٨ :٢٠-١)

Indeed those who are opposing Allah and His Messenger are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: ‘I and My Messengers shall always prevail’. Indeed Allah is Mighty and Powerful. (58:20-1)

In the first case, this humiliation takes the form of  Divine punishment which descends upon the adversaries of a Rasūl in the form of raging storms, cyclones and other calamities, which completely destroy them. It is evident from the Qur’ān that the nations of Noah (sws), Lot (sws), Sālih (sws) and Su’ayb (sws) along with some other nations of Rusul met with this dreadful fate. The only exception to this were the People of the Book (the Israelites) who were not destroyed because, being the People of the Book, they were basically adherents to monotheism. Their humiliation took the form of constant subjugation to the followers of Jesus (sws) till the Day of Judgement.

In the second case, a Rasūl and his companions subdue their nation by force, and execute them if they do not accept faith. In this case, his addressees are given some further respite. In this period, the Rasūl does ‘اتمام الحجة’ (Itmāmu’l-Hujjah33) on the inhabitants of the land to which he had migrated. He morally cleanses and trains his followers and prepares them for a final onslaught with evil. He also consolidates his political power in the land so that he is able to root out the disbelievers and establish the supremacy of the believers through this political power.

It was this situation which had arisen in the case of the Rasūl Muhammad (sws). After ‘اتمام الحجة’ (Itmāmu’l-Hujjah), it was the Jews who were subdued first. They had been granted amnesty because of various pacts. Those among them who violated these pacts were given the punishment of denying a Rasūl (Messenger) of God. The Prophet (sws) exiled the tribe of Banū Qaynuqa’ to Khaybr and that of Banū Nadīr to Syria34. The power they wielded at Khaybr was crushed by an attack at their strongholds.35 Prior to this, Abū Rāfi’ and Ka’ab Ibn Ashraf were put to death in their houses.36 The tribe of Banū Qurayzah was guilty of treachery and disloyalty in the battle of the Ahzāb.37 When the clouds of war dispersed and the chances of an external attack no longer remained, the Prophet (sws) laid siege around them. When no hope remained, they asked the Prophet (sws) to appoint Sa’ad Ibn Mu’ādh (rta) as an arbitrator to decide their fate. Their request was accepted. Since, at that time, no specific punishment had been revealed in the Qur’ān about the fate of the Jews, Sa’ad announced his verdict in accordance with the Torah. As per the Torah, the punishment for treason was that all men should be put to death; the women and children should be made slaves and the wealth of the whole nation should be distributed among the conquerors.38 In accordance with this verdict pronounced, all men were executed.39 No other incident of note took place regarding the Jews until in Sūrah Tawbah the final judgement was declared against them:

قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنْ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ (٩: ٢٩)

Fight those who believe not in Allah or the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission and are subdued. (9:29)

This directive related to both the Jews and the Christians. The punishment mentioned in these verses was in fact a show of great lenience to them because of the fact that they were originally adherents to monotheism. In reality, they had become worthy of death and destruction after deliberately denying Muhammad (sws). However, they did not benefit from this lenience because after the death of the Prophet (sws) they once again resorted to fraud and treachery.40 Consequently, the Jews of Khaybar and the Christians of Najrān were exiled once and for all from the Arabian peninsula by the Caliph ‘Umar (rta). This exile in fact thus fulfilled the following declaration of the Qur’ān about them:

وَلَوْلَا أَنْ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْجَلَاءَ لَعَذَّبَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابُ النَّارِ(٣:٥٩)

And had it not been that Allah had decreed exile for them, He would certainly have punished them in this world; and in the Hereafter theirs shall be the torment of the Fire. (59:3)

When the Idolaters of Arabia had been similarly subdued, it was proclaimed in the Sūrah Tawbah that in future no pact would be made with them. They would be given a final respite of four months and then they would be humiliated in retribution of their deeds and would in no way be able to escape from this punishment (the Qur’ān 9:1-2). Consequently, Makkah was conquered and just as some of the active adversaries among them had been executed when they were caught as prisoners in the battle of Badr and Uhud, similarly at this occasion also such adversaries were put to death. Prior to this, the directive had been revealed about them that it should be proclaimed at the time of the Hajj-i-Akbar (9th Hijra) that once the forbidden months would be over, Muslims should slay the Idolaters wherever they find them except if they accept faith, establish the prayer and pay Zakāh. However, those among them who were bound in time bar pacts with Muslims were an exception to this directive. Muslims were asked to honour these contracts till their stipulated time period if their adversaries abided by them. The implication was clear: once the time period expired, these adversaries would also meet the fate that had been ordained for all the Idolaters of Arabia. They were to be killed in case they did not accept faith. This declaration was made in the Qur’ān in the following words:

وَأَذَانٌ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ إِلَى النَّاسِ يَوْمَ الْحَجِّ الْأَكْبَرِ أَنَّ اللَّهَ بَرِيءٌ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ وَرَسُولُهُ فَإِنْ تُبْتُمْ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَإِنْ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ فَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللَّهِ وَبَشِّرْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ   إِلَّا الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنقُصُوكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يُظَاهِرُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَحَدًا فَأَتِمُّوا إِلَيْهِمْ عَهْدَهُمْ إِلَى مُدَّتِهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ   فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوْا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٩:٣-٥)

And a declaration should be made from Allah and His Messenger to these people on the day of the great Hajj that Allah is free from [all] obligations to these Idolaters and so is His Messenger. So if you [O Idolaters!] repent, it is better for you, but if you turn away, then know that you cannot escape from the grasp of Allah. And give tidings [O Muhammad (sws)] of a painful torment to these disbelievers. Except those of these Idolaters with whom you have a treaty, and who have not shown treachery in it nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty to the end of their term. Indeed, Allah loves those who abide by the limits. Then when the sacred months [ after the Hajj] have passed, kill these Idolaters wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush. But if they repent and establish the prayer, and give Zakāh, then leave them alone. Indeed, Allah is Ever Forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:3-5)

With these measures, the basic objective of war stated by the words: ‘يكون الدين كله لله’ (yakūna’l-dīn kulluhu li’llāh: all of Allah’s reigns supreme) was achieved in the ultimate sense. However, it is explained above that as per the law of ‘اتمام الحجة’ (itmāmu’l-hujjah), all these measures were an obvious outcome of the fact that the Prophet (sws) was able to establish ‘شهادة’ (shahādah: bearing witness to the truth) on the Idolaters and the People of the Book of Arabia. The Qur’ān tells us that just as this ‘شهادة’ (shahādah) was established by the Prophet (sws) on these afore-mentioned religious groups it was similarly established by his Companions (rta) on certain nations outside the Arabian peninsula in the background of Muhammad’s ‘شهادة’ (shahādah) and because of the fact that they were invested with the status of ‘خير امة’ (the best people).41 The Qur’ān has specified that the Almighty chose the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) for this ‘شهادة’ (shahādah), just as He chooses Messengers from mankind to fulfill this objective:

هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمْ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ (٢٢:٧٨)

He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the religion of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this [Qur’ān]: [He chose you so that] the Messenger may be a witness [of this religion] to you, and you be witnesses of this religion to non-Muslims [of your times]. (22:78)

After the truce of Hudaybiyyah, the Prophet (sws) himself singled out these nations by writing letters to them. In all, they were written to the heads of eight countries.42 Consequently, after consolidating their rule in the Arabian peninsula, the Companions (rta) launched attacks against these countries giving them two options if they wanted to remain alive: to accept faith or to accept a life of subjugation by paying Jizyah. None of these nations were adherents to polytheism in the real sense, otherwise they would have been treated in the same way as the Idolaters of Arabia.

It is evident from these details that all these armed campaigns and offensives were not merely ‘قتال’ (qitāl: war), they were in reality a punishment of the Almighty. This punishment which is meted out to those who deliberately deny the truth is an established practice of Allah. As a divine scheme, it descended first upon the Idolaters and the People of the Book of Arabia and then to certain other nations outside it. Only the Companions (rta) were authorized to carry them out because they were called ‘شهداء الله فى الارض’ (shuhadā allāh fi’l-ard: witnesses of Allah on the earth) by the Almighty Himself and His Prophet (sws), and it was, as a result, through their collectivity that the truth became manifest for other nations of the world. Consequently, this is absolutely certain that fighting those who have deliberately rejected the truth and forcing the vanquished to lead a life of subjugation by imposing Jizyah on them is no longer allowed. No one after the Prophet (sws) and his worthy Companions (rta) has the authority to wage war on these grounds or to subjugate the conquered by imposing Jizyah on them. After them, the sole ground of war for Muslims is injustice and oppression. They cannot wage war on any other ground.

III. Divine Help

يَاأَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ حَرِّضْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى الْقِتَالِ إِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ عِشْرُونَ صَابِرُونَ يَغْلِبُوا  مِائَتَيْنِ  وَإِنْ يَكُنْ  مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا أَلْفًا مِنْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ الْآنَ خَفَّفَ اللَّهُ عَنكُمْ وَعَلِمَ أَنَّ فِيكُمْ ضَعْفًا فَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ صَابِرَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا مِائَتَيْنِ وَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أَلْفٌ يَغْلِبُوا أَلْفَيْنِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ )٨: ٦٥-٦)

O Prophet! Rouse the believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will subdue two hundred: if a hundred, they will subdue a thousand of the disbelievers: for these are a people without understanding. Now, God has lightened your [task] for He knows that there is now weakness among you: But [ever so], if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will subdue two hundred, and if a thousand, they will subdue two thousand, with the leave of God: for God is with those who patiently persevere. (8:65-6)

Just as these verses of Sūrah Anfāl indicate the extent of the obligation of Jihād, they also highlight the principle on which Divine Help descends on believers in an armed struggle. They unequivocally state that Divine Help in this matter is governed by a specific law and is not subject to the whims and desires of people. The Almighty has fixed a principle according to which He helps people who set out for Jihād and always abides by this principle. A reflection on these verses shows that Divine Help in a war is based on the following three statutes:

Firstly, the basic thing that entitles people to Divine Help is perseverance and resolution. No group of Muslims becomes entitled to it unless it has this quality in it. A battalion of Muslims devoid of this quality should not expect Divine Help when it faces the enemy. The words ‘صابرون’ (Sābirūn) and ‘صابرة’ (Sābirah) of the above quoted verses allude to this reality. Moreover, the words ‘و الله مع الصابرين’ (wallāhu ma’a al-sābirīn: God is with those who persevere) at the end of the verse also bear reference to this fact.

Secondly, an army must be equipped with proper military strength if it is to wage war. No doubt, whatever happens, happens because of God’s will and one must fully repose one’s trust in Him, but this is also a reality that the Almighty has created this world on certain laws. The scheme behind these laws dictates that whatever measures are adopted for doing good and virtuous deeds, they must have the backing of necessary resources. What are these means and resources? A ratio between Muslim and enemy forces has been put forth in these verses by the Almighty. If this has not been achieved, then efforts should be made by the Muslims to achieve it. If they wage Jihād by ignoring this ratio by succumbing to emotions, they themselves would be responsible for such a rash step. Such a step would, of course, not be entitled to any Divine Help.

Thirdly, it is the force of faith that compensates for any lack of material force. The words ‘علم ان فيكم ضعفا’ (‘alima anna fīkum da’fā: He knows that there is now weakness among you) and  ‘بانهم قوم لا يفقهون’ (bi annahum qawmun lā yafqahūn: for these are a people without understanding) bear reference to this inference. The word ‘ضعف’ (da’f) in Arabic is not only used for material and physical weakness but also for weakness in faith and belief. Similarly, the meaning of the words ‘لا يفقهون’ (lā yafqahūn) used in contrast to the strength of faith implies a weakness in faith and belief. The verse, consequently, says that since the disbelievers are devoid of true faith and belief while, on the other hand, the believers possess them, so if the believers are outnumbered by 1:10 even then they would be the victors.

It is evident from the context of the sūrah that the ratio stated is of the period of the battle of Badr. After this battle, many people entered the folds of Islam – people who were not as strong in faith and resolve as those who had been the ‘سابقون الاولون’ (sābiqūna’l-awwalūn: the pioneer converts). Though Muslims greatly increased in numbers as a result of these conversions, yet the level and extent of faith decreased overall since the converts were nevertheless not as strong in their faith as the ‘سابقون الاولون’ (sābiqūna’l-awwalūn: the pioneer converts). Consequently, the Almighty Himself informed the Muslims that now this ratio had decreased to 1:2 from the original 1:10.

Finally, it needs to be appreciated that the ratios stated in these verses are about the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) – who were a group of noble souls who waged Jihād along side the Prophet (sws) and as a result of a direct command of the Almighty. In later times, it can be estimated whether this ratio has increased or decreased keeping in view the extent of faith Muslims have.

IV. Captives of War

فَإِذا  لَقِيتُمْ الَّذِينَ  كَفَرُوا فَضَرْبَ الرِّقَابِ حَتَّى إِذَا أَثْخَنتُمُوهُمْ فَشُدُّوا الْوَثَاقَ فَإِمَّا مَنًّا بَعْدُ وَإِمَّا فِدَاءً حَتَّى تَضَعَ الْحَرْبُ أَوْزَارَهَا (٤:٤٧)

So, when you meet [in the battlefield] those who disbelieve, strike off their heads. Then when you have shed their blood fully, bind them [as captives]. Thereafter, free them as a favour or free them with ransom till war lays down its weapons. (47:4)

It is evident from the words of this verse that until its revelation wars with the disbelievers had not begun, though circumstances had reached the extent that they could begin anytime. Muslims are told that if they encounter the disbelievers of Arabia, who had rejected the truth in spite of being convinced about it, in the battle field they must slay them. They deserve no lenience after such a blatant denial of the truth which had been unveiled to them by the Prophet (sws) in its ultimate form. Muslims must rout their power when they meet them in the battlefield and capture those who survive. They should know that the help of the Almighty is with them and the enemy would not be able to harm them. It is now up to them to either set free the captives as a favour to them or set them free after accepting some ransom. This is the attitude they should adopt until warfare with the disbelievers ends in Arabia.43

Although this directive is stated in the sūrah with reference to the Mushrikūn, nothing in it restricts its application to them only. Therefore, it will apply to other combatants – whether of those times or of later – as well.

The words that have been used to state this directive read as: ‘فاما منا بعد واما فداء’ (fa immā mannan ba’du wa immā fidā’an: thereafter free them as a favour or free with them with ransom). Those who have a flare for the language know that if the word ‘فداء’ (fidā’an) here means to set free a captive after accepting ransom, then since the word ‘منا’ (mannan) is placed in contrast to it, ‘منا’ (mannan) should convey the opposite meaning: that is to set them free without accepting any ransom as a favour. The word ‘منا’ (mannan) here is a verbal noun of a suppressed verb and since it does not occur in contrast to ‘قتل’ (qatl: murder) and in contrast to ‘فداء’ (fidā’an), it can only and only mean the setting free of captives without accepting any ransom money. It is evident from this verse that Muslims had to set them free at all costs whether with ransom or without, and as per the Qur’ān could even benefit from them in their capacity of slaves as long as they remained in captivity. However, they could neither kill them nor keep them as slaves come what may.

Three types of captives, however, were an exception to this rule:

1. Brutal adversaries, as per the dictates of the law of ‘اتمام الحجة’ (itmāmu’l-hujjah)44, were required to be slain wherever found. Examples of people who were killed as a result were ‘Uqbah Ibn Abī Mu’īt, Nadr Ibn Hārith45 and Abū ‘Azzah46 – the captives of the battles of Badr and Uhud. Similarly, at the conquest of Makkah, certain others were also slain as an exception to the general amnesty granted because of their open enmity.47

2. The captives of the Banū Qurayzah who met a fate decided by an arbitrator appointed by themselves: their men were slain and their women and children were sold as slaves.48

3. Captives who were slaves prior to their capture and, at certain instances, were distributed among people as slaves.49

It is obvious that these three cases were exceptions and the directive stated in the above quoted verse never related to them. Consequently, if all the incidents of the Prophet’s times regarding prisoners of war are studied, it can be safely concluded that barring these three exceptions everything done was in conformity with the above quoted directive of Sūrah Muhammad.

Following are the details:

1. As long as the prisoners remained in captivity of the state authorities, they were treated in a befitting manner. It is known that the prisoners of Badr were distributed among the Companions (rta) and the Prophet (sws) himself directed the Companions (rta) in the words: ‘استوصوا بالاسارى خيرا’ (istawsū bi ‘l-usārā khayran: treat these prisoners well).50 One of the prisoners Abū’ Azīz says that he was kept in a house of the Ansār tribe. He goes on to say that his hosts fed him with chapātī while they themselves just ate dates.51 When Thumāmah Ibn Uthāl, a chief of Yamāmah, was taken into custody, he, at the behest of the Prophet (sws), was fed with good food and milk as long as he remained in captivity.52

2. Most prisoners of the battle of Badr were set free after accepting ransom from them. Those among them who could pay in cash were exacted a ransom that ranged from one thousand to four thousand dinārs per prisoner, while those among them who were not in a position to pay this amount were set free if they taught ten children each from among the Ansār to read and write. Abū Sufyan’s son, ‘Amr, was set free in exchange for Sa’ad Ibn Nu’mān whom he had imprisoned.53

Among the captives of the battle of Banī Mustaliq, Juwayriyyah was freed after her father, Hārith Ibn Abī Darār paid the ransom money.54 Once Abū Bakr (rta) was sent on a military campaign. Among the captives there was a beautiful lady. The Prophet (sws) sent her to Makkah and was able to win the freedom of many prisoners in lieu of her.55 Similarly, a prisoner of the Banī ‘Aqīl was sent to Tā’if and in lieu of him, two prisoners in the custody of the Banū Thaqīf were released.56

3. Some captives were set free without any ransom. Among the captives of Badr, Abu’l- ‘Ās, Matlab Ibn Hantab, Sayfī Ibn Abī Rafā’ah and Abū ‘Azzah and among those of the battle against the Banū Qurayzah, Zubayr Ibn Bātās were set free like this.57 At the time of the truce of Hudaybiyyah, about 80 people from Makkah suddenly attacked the Muslims at night from the direction of Tan’īm. All of them were caught and the Prophet (sws) set them free without any ransom money as well.58 Thumāmah Ibn Uthāl, referred to earlier, was also set free on similar grounds.59

4. On some occasions, the prisoners were distributed among people so that they could directly deal with them or their relatives on the principle of ‘فاما منا بعد واما فداء’ (fa immā mannan ba’du wa immā fidā’an: thereafter free them as a favour or free them with ransom), the prisoners of the battle against the Banī Mustaliq, were distributed thus. However, once the Prophet (sws) married Jawayriyyah after she had been set free, all the Muslims set free the prisoners in their custody without any ransom saying that these prisoners had now become the relatives of the Prophet (sws). Prisoners from about one hundred families were released in this way.60 The prisoners of the military campaign (sariyyah) against the Hawāzin tribe were also similarly set free by the Prophet (sws) without taking any ransom from the people. Similar was the case of the prisoners of the Hunayn tribe.61

When the tribe of Hawāzin came to buy the freedom of their prisoners, it came to their knowledge that all their prisoners had been distributed. At their request, the Prophet (sws) gathered all Muslims among whom these prisoners had been distributed. When all had assembled, the Prophet (sws) expressed his opinion that everyone should release the prisoners they had in custody. He further said that whoever wanted to set them free without any ransom, should do so and others who wanted ransom would be granted the ransom by the state treasury. As a result of this request, 6000 prisoners were set free, and those among the Muslims who demanded ransom were paid by the state treasury.62

5. Widows and other helpless women among these prisoners who had been similarly distributed were generally set free by the respective owners and married to them through their free consent. On these very grounds, the marital knot was tied between Safiyyah (rta) and the Prophet (sws).63

V. Spoils of War

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنْ الْأَنْفَالِ قُلْ الْأَنْفَالُ لِلَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنْ كُنتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ(١:٨)

They ask you about the spoils of war. Say: The spoils belong to Allah and the Prophet. Therefore, if you are true believers, fear Allah and reform your personal relationships, and obey Allah and His Prophet. (8:1)

A look at the context of this verse and at the issues discussed in the sūrah of which it is a part shows that after the very first battle which the Muslims fought against the Idolaters of Makkah, the issue of the distribution of the spoils of war came to surface. There existed a difference of opinion about it among the Muslims. The Qur’ān admonished the Muslims on this attitude and gave its verdict in this matter. Muslims were told that they had no claim in the spoils because of the peculiar nature of these wars. They were informed that all these spoils belonged to Allah and His Prophet (sws) and as such they had discretionary powers as far as their disbursement was concerned. This writer has already delineated the reason for this: these wars were fought under a specific law of the Almighty, according to which He, through His Messengers, punishes people who deliberately deny the truth. These Messengers and their companions in this matter are no more than agents of the implementation of this Divine scheme. It is with the special help of the Almighty through His angels that these battles were actually won. It was for this very reason that Muslims did not have any share in the booty obtained from these wars. However, in spite of this, they are told later in the sūrah that only one-fifth of it will be used by the Almighty and His Prophet (sws) for the collective. The rest of it will be distributed among the soldiers:

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ (٤١:٨)

And you should know that a fifth of the spoils you get hold of are for Allah and the Prophet and the near relatives and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. (8:41)

It is evident from this distribution that since the believers had also assisted in acquiring them by using their personal weapons, camels and horses as well as food, camps and various other items needed during these wars, it was necessary to give them their due from these spoils. Consequently, in military campaigns, where the services of  Muslim soldiers and combatants were not used, they were told that all the booty obtained would be used for the collective purposes of the state and religion and for the poor and needy: none of it would be given to the soldiers:

مَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ (٧:٥٩)

Whatever the Almighty has bestowed on His Prophet from the people of the cities, it is reserved for Allah and His Prophet and the relatives of the Prophet64 and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarers. (59:7)

The above quoted verse as well as the verses of Sūrah Anfāl quoted earlier explain the heads of the collective needs for which the war booty was reserved.

First and foremost, the share of the Almighty is stated. God Almighty is above all needs and does not need anything. His share is actually reserved for the requirements of His religion. Consequently, under this head, wealth will be expended to fulfill such needs as helping the cause of Islam at the state level as an obligation. This includes measures that protect and promote it.

The second share stated is that of the Prophet (sws). Besides fulfilling his duties as a Messenger, he was also the head of the Islamic state and as such spent every moment of his life in fulfilling them. To earn a livelihood while discharging these duties was not possible for him. In these circumstances, it was necessary that he be granted a share in the spoils of war. Of course, the nature of this share was such that it was not given to him in his personal capacity so that it may be distributed among his heirs after him. Consequently, after his death, this share was expended by the state on his behalf and in his prophetic capacity to fulfill the collective needs of the Muslims.

The third share stated is that of the near relatives. Obviously, by these are meant those relatives who were dependent on the Prophet (sws) for their livelihood and about the fulfillment of whose needs the Prophet (sws) considered himself to be morally responsible. He was a father to all Muslims. Consequently, this responsibility too, in accordance with the dictates of both the Sharī’ah and social conventions, was transferred to the state after the Prophet (sws) and his kin remained the recipients of this share as long as they lived.

The fourth share is that of the poor, the orphans and the wayfarers. While stating this share, the particle ‘ل’ (lām) is not repeated in this verse. This particle is appended to all the three shares stated before. This fourth category of shares is actually mentioned under the third stated share of the near relatives. The reason is to honour the recipients of this category as if they are also the near relatives of the Prophet (sws). This head needs no explanation. A society which is not sensitive to the requirements of these sections, and a society in which the orphans are subjected to misery and there is no one to take care of the wayfarers cannot in any way be given the noble name of an Islamic society.

It is evident from this discussion regarding the spoils of war that they are essentially reserved for the collective requirements of the Muslims. The combatants of the Muslim army have not been granted any fixed share in the spoils of war by the Almighty. In this regard, a state holds discretionary powers which it can exercise keeping in view the circumstances.

(Translated from Ghamidi’s Mīzān by Shehzad Saleem)

_______________________
1. The literal meaning of Jihād is to strive for a cause with full force. In the Qur’ān, it is used in this general sense as well as to denote an armed offensive in the way of Allah. Here this second meaning is implied.

2. This means that the Companions (rta) stood between the Muhammad (sws) and the rest of the world of their times who were able to observe the whole process of shahādah.

3.The verses on which these directives are primarily based are stated in bold.

4. Matthew, 5:17-18

5. Deuteronomy, 20:1-20

6. In recent times, some people have refuted the requisite of state authority by citing the armed offensives launched by Abū Basīr against the Quraysh after the truce of Hudaybiyyah. This can only be termed as ignorance to the Qur’ān and established history. According to the Qur’ān (8:72), the Prophet (sws) and the Muslims of the state of Madīnah were not responsible for the actions and deeds of people who had not migrated to Madīnah. Morever,  we even find the following harsh remarks of the Prophet (sws) about Abū Basīr when he returned to Madinah after killing one of  his two custodians:

وَيْلُ أُمِّهِ مِسْعَرَ حَرْبٍ لَوْ كَانَ لَهُ اَحَدٌ (بخارى: رقم ٢٧٣٤)

His mother be cursed, if he is able to find some supporters he is bound to ignite the flames of war. (Bukhārī: No. 2734)

7. Sayyid Sābiq, Fiqhu’l-Sunnah, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Fikr, 1980), p. 30

8. One such example can be seen 2:244

9. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 506-7

10. 9:24

11. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 450-1

12.
Bukhārī: No. 2810

13.
Nasā’ī: No. 3140

14.
Nasā’ī: No. 3137

15.
Nasā’ī: No. 3139

16.
Nasā’ī: No. 3188

17.
Bukhārī: No. 2787

18.
Bukhārī: No. 2785

19.
Bukhārī: No. 2790

20.
Bukhārī: No. 2803

21.
Bukhārī: No. 2811

22.
Bukhārī: No. 2892

23. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 479-80

24.
Muslim: No. 1738

25.
Bukhārī: No. 3166

26. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 499

27.
Bukhārī: No. 3015

28.
Bukhārī: No. 3016

29.
Bukhārī: No. 2474

30.
Bukhārī: No. 2705

31.
Bukhārī: No. 2613

32.
Bukhārī: No. 2629

33.The unveiling of truth by a Rasūl to his addresses to the extent that they have no excuse but stubbornness and enmity to deny it.

34. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 40-2 / Ibid. vol. 3, pp. 151-160

35. Ibid., pp. 40-2 / Ibid., pp. 151-160

36. Ibid., pp. 43-8 / Ibn Sa’ad, al-Tabaqātu’l-Kubrā, vol. 2, (Beirut: Dār Sādir, 1960), p. 28

37. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 180-2

38. Deuteronomy, 20:10-14

39. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 188-9

40.
Bukhārī: No. 2730, Abū Yūsuf, Kitābu’l-Khirāj, Fasl fi’l-Fay wa al-Khirāj, (1302 AH), p. 42 / Bilādhurī, Futūhu’l-Buldān, (Qumm: Manshūrāt al-Arummiyyah, 1404 AH), p. 73 / Ibn Athīr, Al-Kāmil fi’l-Tārīkh, 1st ed., vol. 2, (Beirut: Dar Beirut, 1965), p. 112

41. 3:110

42. The names of these heads of state are: 1. Negus of Abyssinia, 2. Maqawqas of Egypt, 3. Khusro Parvez of Persia, 4. Qaysar of Rome, 5. Mundhar Ibn Sāwī of Bahrain, 6. Hūdhah Ibn ‘Alī of Yamāmah, 7. Hārith Ibn Abī Shamr of Damascus, 8. Jayfar of Amman.

43. This has been stated because once warfare ends with them, the only option for them would be to either accept faith or face death.

44. Unveiling truth to the extent that no one is left with any excuse to deny it.

45. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 2, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), p. 215

46. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 83

47. Ibid., vol. 4, p. 41

48. Ibid., vol.3, pp. 188-9

49. Ibid., vol. 4, p. 105

50. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 217

51. Ibid.

52. Ibid., vol. 4,  p. 215

53. Ibn Sa’ad, Al-Tabaqātu’l-Kubrā, vol. 2, (Beirut: Dār Sādir, 1960), p. 21 / Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 2, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 221

54. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 232

55.
Ibn Mājah: No. 2846

56.
Musnad Ahmad: No. 19326

57. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 2, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 228 / Ibid., vol. 3, p. 190

58.
Abū Dā’ūd: No. 2688

59. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 4, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 215-6

60. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 231

61. Ibn Kathīr, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 1st ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ma’rifah, 1971), p. 453

62. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 4, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Khayr, 1995), pp. 104-6

63.
Bukhārī: No. 4200

64. Since the Prophet (sws) had stopped his relatives from taking a share from the sadaqāt, a portion of this collective wealth was also reserved for them.


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Conditions of Revolt

Jihad: Shehzad Saleem

Muslims are required by their religion to submit to the authority of the country they live in. They must comply with their rulers and not create chaos in anyway. The Qur’ān directs them to follow those in authority after following Allah and the Prophet (sws) in the following words:

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ (٥٩:٤)

Obey God and the Prophet and those of you who are in authority. (4:59)

As a natural corollary to this directive, they must cling to state authority in all circumstances. ‘الجماعة’ (al-Jamā’ah) and ‘السلطان’ (al-Sultān) are the two terms which the Prophet (sws) has used for the state. He has instructed Muslims never to detach themselves from state authority. And if anyone does so, it is as if he has left Islam and a Muslim who dies in this state is as if he died the death of Jāhiliyyah (the days of the age of ignorance that prevailed in Arabia at the advent of Islam). He is reported to have said:

مَنْ رَأَى مِنْ أَمِيرِهِ شَيْئًا يَكْرَهُهُ فَلْيَصْبِرْ عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ فَارَقَ الْجَمَاعَةَ شِبْرًا فَمَاتَ إِلَّا مَاتَ مِيتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً (بخاري: رقم ٧٠٥٤)

He who sees something despicable in his ruler should bear it, for he who even slightly disassociates himself from the state system and dies in this condition shall die the death of ignorance. (Bukhārī: No. 7054)

Another text of this Hadīth reads:

مَنْ كَرِهَ مِنْ أَمِيرِهِ شَيْئًا فَلْيَصْبِرْ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ خَرَجَ مِنْ السُّلْطَانِ شِبْرًا مَاتَ مِيتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً. (بخاري: رقم ٧٠٥٣)

He who sees something despicable in his ruler should bear it for he who even slightly disassociates himself from the obedience of the sovereign crown and dies in this condition shall die the death of ignorance. (Bukhārī: No. 7053)

Consequently, Muslims should be law abiding citizens of their country. They must be custodians of the law and follow it in letter and spirit. They must never breach the laws enacted by their elected representatives. Islam requires them to obey the law even if they find that obeying the law would increase their hardships and even if they are deprived of their rights. Such is the importance of obeying the law of the land in Islam that the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

عَلَيْكَ السَّمْعَ وَالطَّاعَةَ فِي عُسْرِكَ وَيُسْرِكَ وَمَنْشَطِكَ وَمَكْرَهِكَ وَأَثَرَةٍ عَلَيْكَ (مسلم: رقم ١٨٣٦)

It is your duty to listen and obey your rulers whether you are in difficulty or at ease, whether willingly or unwillingly and even when you do not receive what is your right. (Muslim: No. 1836)

However, a stage may come when Muslims have been given the permission to rise against their government in the form of a public rebellion. This rebellion can take two forms:

1. The rebels refuse to submit to the authority of the state and in doing so remain peaceful and patiently bear any aggression of the government that they may encounter as a result.

2. The rebels resort to militancy and armed warfare.

Islam imposes certain conditions on both these options. Before these conditions are explained, it needs to be appreciated that rebelling against Muslim rulers even when all the conditions are fulfilled never becomes obligatory upon Muslims. They can still choose to live under their rule.

We now turn to the these conditions:

Case 1: If the first course outlined above is adopted then the following three conditions are required to be fulfilled.

Firstly, the rulers of the Muslims are guilty of openly and deliberately denying Islam or any of its directives.’ Ubādah Ibn Sāmit reports:

دَعَانَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَبَايَعْنَاهُ فَكَانَ فِيمَا أَخَذَ عَلَيْنَا أَنْ بَايَعَنَا  عَلَى  السَّمْعِ وَالطَّاعَةِ فِي  مَنْشَطِنَا وَمَكْرَهِنَا وَعُسْرِنَا وَيُسْرِنَا وَأَثَرَةٍ عَلَيْنَا وَأَنْ لَا نُنَازِعَ الْأَمْرَ أَهْلَهُ قَالَ إِلَّا أَنْ تَرَوْا كُفْرًا بَوَاحًا عِنْدَكُمْ مِنْ اللَّهِ فِيهِ بُرْهَانٌ (مسلم: رقم ١٧٠٩)

The Prophet called us to pledge allegiance to him which we did. We had been asked to pledge to the following: We shall listen and obey whether willingly or unwillingly whether we are in difficulty or at ease, and even when we do not receive what is your right and that we shall not contest the authority of our rulers. The Prophet of God said: You can only rise against them if you witness outright Kufr in any matter from them, in which you have a clear evidence from God. (Muslim: No. 1709)

The underlined portion of the Hadīth, which states this condition of rebellion, is actually based on 4:59 quoted earlier. Muslims are asked to obey their ‘Muslim’ rulers. This is indicated by the word ‘منكم’ (minkum: among you) which qualifies the word ‘اولو الامر’ (ūlu’l-amr: those in authority) in the verse. The implication being that they are required to obey the rulers as long as they remain Muslims. However, if these Muslim rulers do something which violates their status as Muslims, then these rulers are no longer required to be obeyed. In other words, only rulers who deny the requisites of being a Muslim in spite of being convinced about them are the ones who are actually implied here. Anything less than this does not suffice for the Muslims to rise against them.

Secondly, Muslims are not democratically able to change their rulers. The basis of this condition is found in the Qur’ānic directive of ‘امرهم شورى بينهم’1 (amruhum shūrā baynahum: Their system is based on their consultation). According to this directive, the rulers of Muslims should be democratically elected to office. Consequently, if Muslims are able to change their leadership by democratic means, resorting to rebellion and revolt is actually a violation of this principle. It amounts to revolt against the masses and not the rulers. This, according to the Sharī’ah, is spreading disorder in the land and is punishable by death in the most exemplary manner. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

مَنْ أَتَاكُمْ وَأَمْرُكُمْ جَمِيعٌ عَلَى رَجُلٍ وَاحِدٍ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يَشُقَّ عَصَاكُمْ أَوْ يُفَرِّقَ جَمَاعَتَكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُ. (مسلم: رقم ١٨٥٢)

You are organized under the rule of a person and someone tries to break your collectivity apart or disrupt your government, execute him. (Muslim: No. 1852)

Thirdly, those who are undertaking this uprising are in majority and united under the leadership of one person. The basis of this condition also exists in the verse referred to above (42:38). In fact, it as a natural corollary of the principle stated in the verse: only the person who has the mandate of the majority is their legitimate ruler. If the person who is leading the uprising has the clear backing of the majority behind him, it means that the previous one has lost his mandate to rule. The majority is now willing to accept a new person in his place.

Case 2: If the second course is adopted, then besides the above mentioned three conditions, a fourth one must also be fulfilled: those take up arms in revolt must establish their government in an independent piece of land. There is a consensus among all authorities of Islam that only an Islamic State has the authority to wage a militant struggle. No group, party or organization has the authority to lift arms.2

It is evident from this discussion that if Muslims intend to rise and rebel against their government they must fulfill certain conditions. If they do not do so, they have no right whatsoever to publicly refuse submission to their rulers. Moreover, even in the worst of circumstances, rebellion never becomes obligatory.

______________

1. 42:38

2. For details see the article ‘No Jihād without the State’ that appears in this issue

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No Jihād without the State

Jihad: Shehzad Saleem

Both the Qur’ān and the established practice of the Prophets of Allah explicitly say that Jihād can only be waged by a state. No group of people have been given the authority to take up arms, because individual groups if given this license will create great disorder and destruction by fighting among themselves once they overcome the enemy. A study of the Qur’ān reveals that the Makkan Sūrahs do not contain any directive of Jihād for the simple reason that in Makkah the Muslims did not have their own state. One must remember that Islam does not advocate ‘the law of the jungle’. It is a religion in which both human life and the way it is taken hold great sanctity. Islam does not give us any right to take life unless certain conditions are fulfilled. So, it was not until an Islamic state was established in Madīnah that the Qur’ān gave the Muslims permission to take up arms against the onslaught mounted by the Quraysh:

أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ (٢٢ :٣٩-٤٠)

To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to fight] because they have been oppressed and verily Allah is Most Powerful to help them. [They] are those who have been expelled from their homes without any basis, only because they said: ‘Our Lord is Allah’. (22:39-40)

Consequently, the Prophet (sws) never retaliated in Makkah to the inhuman treatment which was given to him as well as to some of his Companions (rta). He preferred to suffer and be persecuted than to counter attack his enemies, since Muslims at that stage had not fulfilled this all important pre-requisite of Jihād: establishment of a state.

Similarly, the earlier Prophets were not allowed by the Almighty to wage war unless they had established their political authority in an independent piece of land. For instance, the Prophet Moses (sws), as is evident from the Qur’ān, was directed to wage war only after he had fulfilled this condition. Since the Prophet Jesus (sws) and his Companions (rta) were not able to gain political authority in a piece of land, they never launched an armed struggle.

Consequently, there is a consensus among all authorities of Islam that only an Islamic State has the authority to wage Jihād. No group, party or organization has the authority to lift arms. People who undertake such activities disobey the religion they follow. Without state authority Jihād is no more than a terrorist activity.

Referring to the pre-requisite of state authority, the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

وَإِنَّمَا الْإِمَامُ جُنَّةٌ يُقَاتَلُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وَيُتَّقَى بِهِ (بخارى: رقم ٢٩٥٧)

A Muslim ruler is the shield [of his people]. A war can only be waged under him and people should seek his shelter [in war]. (Bukhārī: No. 2957)

This condition is so explicit and categorical that all the scholars of this Ummah unanimously uphold it. Sayyid Sābiq, while referring to this consensus, writes:

من الفروض الكفائية ما يشترط فيه الحاكم مثل: الجهاد وإقامة الحدود.

Among Kafāyah obligations, there is a category for which the existence of a ruler is necessary e.g., Jihād and administration of punishments.1

‘Uthmānī, a Hanafite jurist writes:

ولا يخفى أن الأمير الذي يجب الجهاد معه كما صرح به حديث مكحول إنما هو من كان مسلما ثبتت له الإمارة بالتقليد إما باستخلاف الخليفة إياه كما نقل أبو بكر رضي الله عنه ‘ وإما ببيعة من العلماء أو جماعة من أهل الرأي والتدبير …قلت: فلو بايع العلماء أو جماعة  من المسلمين رجلا  لا يقدر على  سد الثغور  وحماية البيضة وجر العساكر و تنفيذ الأحكام بشوكته و بأسه ولا على إنصاف المظلوم من الظالم بقدرته وسطوته لا يكون ذلك أميرا ولا إماما  ‘ وإنما هو بمنـزلة الحكم ومبايعة الناس له منـزلة التحكيم ولا يجدي  تسميته إماما أو أميرا في القراطيس وأفواه الناس فإن مدار الإمارة والإمامة على القوة والقدرة دون التسمية والشهرة فقط ‘ فلا يجب على عامة المسلمين مبايعته ولا إطاعة أحكامه ‘ ولا الجهاد معه

It is obvious from the Hadīth narrated by Makhūl2 that Jihād becomes obligatory with the ruler who is a Muslim and whose political authority has been established either through nomination by the previous ruler similar to how Abū Bakr transferred the reins [of his Khilāfah to ‘Umar] or through pledging of allegiance by the ulema or a group of the elite …in my opinion, if the oath of allegiance is pledged by ulema or by a group of the elite to a person who is not able to guard the frontiers and defend honour [of the people] organize armies or implement his directives by political force neither is he able to provide justice to the oppressed by exercising force and power, then such a person cannot be called ‘Amīr’ (leader) or ‘Imām’ (ruler). He, at best, is an arbitrator and the oath of allegiance is at best of the nature of arbitration and it is not at all proper to call him ‘Amīr’ (leader) or a ‘Imām’ (ruler) in any [official] documents nor should the people address him by these designations. The reason for this is that the basis of leadership and rulership is power and authority and it does not hinge only upon the fact that he gets famous by this name. It is not imperative for the citizens to pledge allegiance to him or obey his directives and no Jihād can be waged alongside him.3

Ibn Qudāmah, a Hanbalite jurist, writes:

وأمر الجهاد موكول إلى الإمام واجتهاده ويلزم الرعية طاعته فيما يراه من ذلك

The matter of Jihād rests with the ruler [of a state] and his Ijtihād. The opinion he forms in this regard must be obeyed by the citizens of his country.4

Māwardī, a Shafi’īte authority, while enumerating the obligations of a Muslim ruler says:

والسادس : جهاد من عاند الإسلام

His sixth obligation is to conduct Jihād against those who show hostility against Islam…5

In the words of Imām Farāhī:

In one’s own country, without migrating to an independent piece of land, Jihād is not allowed. The tale of Abraham (sws) and other verses pertaining to migration testify to this. The Prophet’s life (sws) also supports this view. The reason for this is that if Jihād is not waged by a person who holds political authority, it amounts to anarchy and disorder.6

While commenting on the underlying reasons which form the basis of state authority for Jihād, Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, writes:

The first reason [for this condition] is that God Almighty does not like the dissolution and disintegration of even an evil system until a strong probability exists that those who are out to disintegrate the system will provide people with an alternative and a righteous system. Anarchy and disorder are unnatural conditions. In fact, they are so contrary to human nature that even an unjust system is preferable to them….this confidence [that a group will be able to harmonize a disintegrated system and integrate it into a united whole] can be reposed in such a group only as has actually formed a political government and  has such control and discipline within the confines of its authority that the group can be termed as al-Jamā’ah [the State]. Until a group attains this position, it may strive [by religiously allowable means] to become al-Jamā’ah – and that endeavour would be its Jihād for that time – but it does not have the right to wage an ‘armed’ Jihād.

The second reason is that the import of power which a group engaged in war acquires over the life and property of human beings is so great that the sanction to wield this power cannot  be given to a group the control of whose leader over his followers is based merely on his spiritual and religious influence on them  [rather than being based on legal authority]. When the control of a leader is based merely on his spiritual and religious influence, there is not sufficient guarantee that the leader will be able to stop his followers from fasād fi’l-ard [creating disorder in the society]. Therefore, a  religious leader does not have the right to allow his followers to take out their swords [that is to wage an armed struggle] merely on the basis of his spiritual influence over them, for once the sword is unsheathed there is great danger that it will not care for right and wrong and that those who drew it will end up doing all [the wrong which] they had sought to end. Such radical groups as desire revolution and the object of whom is nothing more than disruption of the existing system and deposition of the ruling party to seize power for themselves play such games – and they can, for in their eyes disruption of a system is no calamity, nor is cruelty of any kind an evil. Everything is right to them [as long as it serves their purpose]. However, the leaders of a just and righteous party must see whether they are in a position to provide people with a system better than the one they seek to change and whether they will be able to stop their followers from doing such wrong as they themselves had sought to root out. If they are not in that position, then they do not have the right to play games with the life and property of people on the basis of their confidence in mere chances and to create greater disorder than the one they had sought to end.7

1. Sayyid Sābiq, Fiqhu’l-Sunnah, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Daru’l-Fikr, 1980), p. 30

2. The complete text of the Hadīth is:

عَنْ مَكْحُولٍ  عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ  قَالَ قَالَ  رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْجِهَادُ وَاجِبٌ عَلَيْكُمْ مَعَ كُلِّ أَمِيرٍ بَرًّا كَانَ أَوْ فَاجِرًا وَالصَّلَاةُ وَاجِبَةٌ عَلَيْكُمْ خَلْفَ كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ بَرًّا كَانَ أَوْ فَاجِرًا وَإِنْ عَمِلَ الْكَبَائِرَ وَالصَّلَاةُ وَاجِبَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ بَرًّا كَانَ أَوْ فَاجِرًا وَإِنْ عَمِلَ الْكَبَائِرَ (ابو داؤد: رقم ٢٥٣٣)

Makhūl narrates from Abū Hurayrah who narrates from the Prophet: Jihād is obligatory upon you with a Muslim ruler whether he is pious or impious, and the prayer is obligatory upon you behind every Muslim whether he is pious or impious even if he is guilty of the major sins and the prayer is obligatory upon every Muslim whether he is pious or impious even if he is guilty of the major sins. (Abū Dā’ūd: No. 2533)

3. Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmānī, Ii’lā al-Sunan, 3rd ed., vol. 12, (Karachi: Idarātu’l-Qur’ān wa ‘Ulūmi’l-Islāmiyyah, 1415 AH), pp. 15-16

4. Ibn Qudāmah, al-Mughnī, vol. 8, (Riyād: Maktabah al-Riyād al-Hadīthah,1981), p. 352

5. Abu’l-Hasan ‘Alī Māwardī, al-Ahkām al-Sultāniyyah, 1st ed., (Beirut: Dāru’l-Kitāb al-‘Arabī, 1990), p. 52

6. Farāhī, Majmū’ah Tafāsīr-i-Farāhī‘, 1st ed., (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), p. 56

7.
Da’wat-i-Dīn awr us kā Tarīqah-i-kār (Urdu; ch. 14, pp. 241-2)


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Waging War against the Disbelievers

Jihad, Question asked by .
Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

There is a Qur’ānic verse (9:29)1 that states that we should fight the Ahl al-Kitāb (the People of the Book) until they pay the Jizyah tax. Then we also have verses like 9:52 which state that the Idolaters should be put to death. The following Hadīth also contains a similar directive:

I have been directed to fight against these people until they testify to the oneness of God and to the prophethood of Muhammad, establish the prayer and pay Zakāh. (Muslim: No. 22)

So are we required to kill Idolaters and spare the People of the Book if they pay Jizyah?

Answer:

Neither of these inferences is correct. Since these verses and the Hadīth you have quoted have a specific context and background, I’ll try to explain this context, which, hopefully, will bring out the true purport of these verses:

It is evident from the Qur’ān3 that the basic truths for which man shall be held accountable on the Day of Judgement are:

1. Belief in the One and Only God.

2. Belief that a person shall be held accountable on the Day of Judgement.

3. Belief that this accountability shall be based on the deeds a person does in this world.

The Almighty selects and sends certain personalities called Messengers (Rusul) to elucidate and explain these basic truths to their respective people. With His special help and assistance, they remove misconceptions which may surround these concepts and vehemently say that if people do not accept these truths they shall be doomed in this world and in the Hereafter too. People who deliberately deny these truths are punished in various degrees in this world so that this whole episode can become an argument for the reward and punishment that is going to take place on similar grounds in the Hereafter. In the language of the Qur’ān, this process of delineating the truth in its ultimate extent so that no one is left with an excuse to deny it is called shahādah ‘alā al-nās (bearing witness to the truth before other people) and those who establish it are called shuhadā (witnesses to the truth).

According to the Qur’ān, Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) were conferred this status by the Almighty:

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا (١٤٣:٢)

And similarly, O Companions of the Prophet! We have made you an intermediate group so that you be witnesses [of this religion] before [other] nations, and the Rasūl be such a witness before you. (2:143)4

So Muhammad (sws), like the previous Messengers, explained these truths in their ultimate form through the special help of the Almighty. When it became evident that his addressees were deliberately denying him, they were punished in varying degrees to prove to mankind for the last time that a similar court of justice shall be set up on the Day of Judgement, and that the reward and punishment given by the Almighty through His Prophets (sws) to their addressees in this world would be given in the Hereafter to all the people who deny such basic truths. The Idolaters of Arabia were given the options of accepting faith or death and the People of the Book were given the options of accepting faith or remaining subservient by paying Jizyah, a tax imposed on them. This difference seems to stem from the fact that the Idolaters subscribed to polytheism even after being convinced about its baselessness, while the People of the Book were basically monotheistic though were involved in certain polytheistic practices. We know from the Qur’ān that polytheism is something which the Almighty will never forgive simply because those who associate partners with Him have no divine sanction for this:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا(48:4)

God never forgives those guilty of polytheism though he may forgive other sins to who He pleases. Those whom commit polytheism devise a heinous sin. (4:48)

It also needs to be appreciated that it is the Almighty who actually punished people who knowingly denied the truth as revealed by His Messengers. His Messengers and their Companions in this exercise were no more than agents of His retribution. The Qur’ān asserts:

قَاتِلُوهُمْ  يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ  بِأَيْدِيكُمْ (١٤:٩)

Fight them [O Believers!] and God will punish them with your hands and humiliate them. (9:14)

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ (١٧:٨)

It is not you [O believers] who slew them; it was [ in fact] Allah [who slew] them. (8:17)

After Muhammad (sws), his immediate Companions (rta) in the background of the shahādah established by him extended this shahādah through their collectivity to various other nations of the world. They subsequently waged war against these nations to punish them for their deliberate denial.

As far as the Hadīth5 you have referred to is concerned, it must be understood in the light of 9:5. If understood thus, it relates to the Idolaters of Arabia who were to be put to death if they refused to accept Islam. Consequently, another text of this Hadīth specifically mentions them by name:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَتَّى يَشْهَدُوا أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ فَإِذَا شَهِدُوا أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَلَّوْا صَلَاتَنَا وَاسْتَقْبَلُوا قِبْلَتَنَا وَأَكَلُوا ذَبَائِحَنَا فَقَدْ حَرُمَتْ عَلَيْنَا دِمَاؤُهُمْ وَأَمْوَالُهُمْ إِلَّا بِحَقِّهَا (نسائ رقم: ٣٩٦٦)

Anas Ibn Mālik reports from the Prophet: ‘I have been directed to fight against these Idolaters until they testify to the oneness of God and to the fact that Muhammad is his servant and messenger. If they testify to the oneness of God and to the fact that Muhammad is his servant and prophet, establish our prayer and face our Qiblah [while praying], and eat our slaughtered animals, their life and wealth we shall hold sacred except if they commit some violation. (Nasā’ī: No. 3966)

It is evident from this analysis that verses like 9:5 and 9:29 and Āhadīth of similar meaning specifically relate to the age of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). After their departure, no Muslim preacher can deliver the truth in its ultimate form and neither has he any means to know if his addressees are deliberately denying him. In other words, after them, no one can establish the shahādah.

Muslims of today must realize  this difference and not insist on doing something which is the prerogative of only the Prophets of Allah and their companions. Therefore, today Muslims cannot wage war on the non-Muslims of the world to forcibly make them accept faith. They must keep on presenting Islam to them in a polite and humble manner.

1.

قَاتِلُوا  الَّذِينَ  لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا  بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ  دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنْ  الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ(٢٩:٩)

Fight those who believe not in Allah or the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah after being subdued and live in submission. (9:29)

2.

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ (٥:٩)

When the forbidden months are over, slay the Idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, surround them and everywhere lie in ambush for them. (9:5)

3.

إِنَّ  الَّذِينَ  آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ  هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ(٦٢:٢)

Those who profess faith [in the Qur’ān], and those who are Jews and Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in God and the Last Day, and do righteous deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:62)

4. This verse cannot be extended beyond the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) to include the rest of the Ummah because, as is evident from this verse, the Companions (rta) were conferred the status of shuhadā (witnesses to the truth) on account of the fact that the Prophet (sws) had established his shahādah (bearing witness to the truth in its ultimate form) upon them only. Moreover, as is evident from its two parallel verses (3:110, 22:78), the Almighty had specifically selected the Companions (rta) for this all important responsibility.

5. It is interesting to note that the following Hadith is also related to the Idolaters of Arabia, who were to be executed if they reverted back to Idolatry since for them the law was either to accept faith or face destruction:

مَنْ بَدَّلَ دِينَهُ فَاقْتُلُوهُ (بخارى: ٦٩٢٢)

Execute the people who change their faith. (Bukhārī: No. 6922)

It is this Hadīth which is regarded to be the basis for death punishment to those who are guilty of apostasy. If understood thus, it comes to light that this Hadīth does not actually mention any punishment for apostates at all. By the words ‘the people’, the Idolaters of Arabia are solely implied.

Treatment of Prisoners of War

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

What is the Islamic law regarding the prisoners which are caught in war? There are instances when Generals and senior army officers may be caught. There may be those among them who are guilty of genocide and other war crimes. Can they be put to death if they are captured in war?

Answer:

According to the Qur’ān, prisoners of war of an enemy with which peace has been concluded must be treated generously and set free at all costs – whether after accepting ransom or whether as a favour by just setting them free:

فَإِذا لَقِيتُمْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَضَرْبَ الرِّقَابِ حَتَّى إِذَا أَثْخَنتُمُوهُمْ فَشُدُّوا الْوَثَاقَ فَإِمَّا مَنًّا بَعْدُ وَإِمَّا فِدَاءً حَتَّى تَضَعَ الْحَرْبُ أَوْزَارَهَا (٤:٤٧)

So, when you meet those who disbelieve [in the battlefield], strike off their heads. Then when you have shed their blood fully, bind them [as captives]. Thereafter, free them as a favour or free them with ransom till war lays down its weapons. (47:4)

Although these verses were revealed for the Ismaelites of the Prophet’s times, yet they present an eternal directive regarding prisoners of war.

Those among the prisoners who are guilty of war crimes must be given a fair trial and given any punishment on the basis of a court verdict. Without any such sanction, a state has no authority even to punish them let alone execute them.

The Sole Ground for Jihād

Jihad
Question asked by .
Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

What is the basis of launching Jihād against other countries? Are we required to fight them merely because they are non-Muslims or is there another reason for it?

Answer:

As explained in a previous query1, fighting non-Muslims into subjugation was the prerogative of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) only. It was actually a form of divine punishment meted out to people who had deliberately denied the truth. After their departure, according to the Qur’ān, the only legitimate reason for an Islamic state to undertake Jihād is to curb oppression and persecution in some other state whether Muslim or Non-Muslim. The Qur’ān says:

وَمَا لَكُمْ لَا تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنْ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ  الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْ هَذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُهَا وَاجْعَل لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ وَلِيًّا وَاجْعَل لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ نَصِيرًا(٧٥:٤)

And why is it that you not fight in the cause of God and for the cause of those who, being weak, are ill-treated and oppressed – men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from unto You one who will protect and raise for us from unto You one who will help!’ (4:75)

In other words, to fight for the defence of the weak and the oppressed is something which the Qur’ān upholds as the only valid reason for an Islamic state to wage war. Whether a particular people are oppressed and subjected to persecution and injustice is something which the elected representatives of the Muslims must themselves decide keeping in view the data they have.

Also, countries that have signed the UN charter are bound in a no war pact with all the member nations. So if ever a situation comes when they have to wage Jihād, they must first openly annul this pact, and of course be ready to face its consequences as well.

1. ‘Waging War against the Disbelievers’

Belligerence of Muslim Minorities

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

I am living in the US for the last two decades. I want to know the rights and duties Islam imposes on me. What should I do if I am asked by the government to do something that is against Islam? Also am I not required by Islam to strive and wage Jihād if required to establish an Islamic state wherever I live? I have been told that this is my religious obligation.

Answer:

Muslims like you who have settled in non-Muslim countries are bound in a contract of citizenship. They must always honour this contract while living in such areas. They should respect the laws and live peacefully. They are bound by Islam to abide by the terms and conditions of any contract they make and they must never violate them in the slightest way. Such violations according to Islam are totally forbidden and, in fact, amount to a grave transgression. The Qur’ān says:

وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا(٣٤:١٧)

And keep [your] covenants; because indeed [on the Day of Judgement] you will be held accountable for them. (17:34)

Consequently, you must never break the laws of the country you live in and if a situation comes when, owing to some law, you are not able to follow a directive of your religion which seems imperative to you, then you should first of all bring the matter in the notice of the authorities. If it is not resolved, then instead of violating the law or creating nuisance you should migrate from the US.

As far as the question of striving to establish an Islamic state is concerned, let me tell you that you as a Muslim are not required by your religion to fulfill any such obligation. Some religious scholars do present the example of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and say that since he had established an Islamic state in Arabia, Muslims, wherever they are, should follow his example. I am afraid that neither did the Prophet (sws) ever undertake the task of establishing an Islamic state nor was he ever directed by the Almighty to do so. The truth of the matter is that it is the Almighty Who according to His established practice regarding His Messengers took matters in His own hand in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and bestowed him and his Companions (sws) the supremacy of Arabia.

Scholars who are of the opinion that Muhammad (sws) strove to establish an Islamic state in Arabia typically present the following verse in support of their view:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ(٩:٦١)

It is He Who has sent his Messenger [–Muhammad–] with Guidance and the Religion of Truth that he may proclaim it over all religions, even though the Idolaters may detest [this]. (61:9)

On the basis of the phrase ‘all religions’, it is understood that the followers of Islam must struggle for its dominance in their respective countries and territories.

An analysis of the context of this verse shows that it belongs to the class of directives that relate to the established practice of the Almighty regarding His Messengers (Rusul) according to which a Messenger (Rasūl) always triumphs over his nation:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ  كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ(٥٨: ٢٠-١)

Indeed those who are opposing Allah and His Messenger are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: ‘I and My Messengers shall always prevail’. Indeed, Allah is Mighty and Powerful. (58:20-1)

Muhammad (sws) was also informed that he would triumph over his nation. He and his Companions (rta) were told that they would have to fight the Idolaters of Arabia until the supremacy of Islam was achieved therein and that these Idolaters should be informed that if they did not desist from their evil ways they too would meet a fate no different from those of the other nations who denied their Messengers:

قُلْ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ يَنتَهُوا يُغْفَرْ لَهُمْ مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ وَإِنْ يَعُودُوا فَقَدْ مَضَتْ سُنَّةُ الْأَوَّلِينَ  وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّهِ (٨: ٣٨-٤٠)

Say to the Disbelievers that if they now desist [from disbelief] their past would be forgiven; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already [a warning for them]. And fight against them until there is no more persecution and there prevails the religion of God. (8:38-40)

Consequently, it is to be noted that the word ‘al-Mushrikūn’ (the Idolaters) is used in 61:9 quoted above. The Qur’ān uses this word specifically for the Idolaters of Arabia of the Prophet’s times. As a result, ‘all the religions’ in the conjugate clause can only mean all the religions of Arabia at that time. So, the verse has no bearing on Muslims after the times of the Prophet (sws).

Therefore, striving to achieve the political supremacy of Islam is no religious obligation of a Muslim, let alone waging Jihād to achieve this supremacy. The verses from which this obligation has been construed specifically relate to the Prophet Muhammad (sws).

Serving in the Army of a Non-Muslim Country 

Jihad
Question asked by .
Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

I am serving in the British Armed Forces. Recently, I have become a practicing Muslim. My concern is about the legality of my job from the Islamic point of view. Also, as a worst case scenario, I would like to know the duties Islam imposes on me in case Britain some day decides to attack a Muslim country. Would I be required to resign at that time? Conversely, if a Muslim country attacks Britain, what should I do?

Answer:

Answer: In principle, you can serve in the army of any country whether Muslim or non-Muslim if you are freely able to practice your religion. Such a job is perfectly legal from the Islamic point of view.

In the extreme situation you have mentioned, the following points should help you in taking a decision:

1. If you are bound in a contract with your employer to perform certain duties in case of war, you must honour them to the best of your ability.

2. According to the Qur’ān, there is only one valid reason for a Muslim to wage Jihād today under the command of some state: The objective of the whole campaign should be to curb oppression and injustice perpetrated by the enemy country. Injustice and oppression deserve to be uprooted whether they are perpetrated by Muslims or by non-Muslims. So if this is the case, you can participate in the war in whatever capacity you have been appointed.

3. If you think that Britain has some other objective in mind while attacking a country, then of course you are required by your religion not to take part in such a war – even if this implies that you have to suffer losses like penalties or even being dismissed from your job.

4. If a Muslim country attacks Britain, the parameter you have to analyze is identical. If it is undertaking this exercise because Britain is guilty of oppression and injustice, then you should not fight for Britain. If this is not the case and the warring Muslim country has some other objective to fulfill you can participate fully in defending the frontiers of Britain.

Suicide Bombers 

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

To what extent is suicide bombing allowed by Islam? Is not suicide, whatever the reason maybe, prohibited in Islam? Is killing people in market places including women, children and old people through suicide permitted in Islam? If yes, then to what extent. We have recently seen such events in Kashmir and now very much in Palestine.

Answer:

Answer: Suicide bombing cannot be objected to provided the following conditions are fulfilled.

1. It is carried out by a state against an enemy against which war has been openly declared.

2. It does not target civilians of the enemy country.

Consequently, individuals and groups who carry out this activity against innocent civilians, as seems to be the case in Kashmir and Palestine, are doing something which is totally prohibited. No individual or group has been given the right to take human life. Only a state has this authority. And a state too has this authority over the combatants of an enemy against which war has been openly declared. Clandestine suicidal attacks against a country with which a pact has been made amounts to a breach of law which is a severe crime in the eyes of Islam. Similarly, civilians and innocent citizens must be protected at all costs if a state has to undertake such an activity. Muslims who kill innocent civilians must know that they are violating the directives of Islam and committing a crime against humanity. The Qur’ān calls the killing of an individual in this manner as tantamount to killing the whole mankind:

مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنْهُمْ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فِي الْأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ (٣٢:٥)

He who killed a human being without the latter being guilty of killing another or being guilty of spreading disorder in the land should be looked upon as if he had killed all mankind. (5:32)

As far as the legitimacy of committing suicide bombings if the above mentioned conditions are fulfilled is concerned, let us first see why suicide is prohibited in Islam and whether such bombings can be termed as suicide.

It must be appreciated that the basic reason for which suicide is prohibited in Islam is that it amounts to rejecting the scheme of the Almighty according to which He has created man to test him through good and evil circumstances1. One should also remember that the Almighty has specifically mentioned in the Qur’ān that He never burdens a person with a responsibility he cannot bear2. So, however tough be the circumstances, a person should boldly face them knowing that they have been ordained for Him by the Almighty, and that he has also been equipped with the required resilience by the Almighty to face them.

If the above bases are true, then suicide bombings cannot bear the label of prohibition since a person is not committing suicide out of depression and desperation by rejecting the scheme of the Almighty. He is actually sacrificing his life to root out oppression and injustice on this earth – the only reason for which today a Muslim can wage Jihād – which surely is a noble cause. 

 
 

1.

وَنَبْلُوكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ(٣٥:٢١)

And We will test you with good and evil circumstances. To Us you shall be recalled. (21:35)

2.

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا (٢٨٦:٢)

Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear. (2:286)

 Weapons of Mass Destruction

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

What does Islam says about nuclear and atomic warfare? I am asking this question because some Muslim countries have such weapons. Also can we keep such weapons as deterrents?

Answer:

According to the war ethics that Islam upholds a Muslim state should wage war against the combatants among the enemy only. They have no right to target innocent civilians during a war. Consequently, weapons which cause mass destruction must never be used because they result in the death of civilians.

Keeping such weapons as deterrents should also be avoided because as part of wartime ethics, it should be a declared policy of Muslim states that come what may, they would never use weapons which kill civilians.

Is Jihād only for Self-Defence?

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

There are some scholars who believe that all wars fought by the Prophet of Islam were defensive. Muhammad (sws) never carried out unprovoked attacks. Please comment.

Answer:

I am afraid that this is not true. There are indeed scholars who hold this view Sir Thomas Arnold is one prominent authority who holds this view. He writes:

There are no passages to be found in the Qur’ān that in any way enjoin forcible conversion, and many that on the contrary limit propagandist efforts to preaching and persuasion. It has further been maintained that no passage in the Qur’ān authorizes unprovoked attacks on unbelievers, and that, in accordance with such teaching, all the wars of Muhammad were defensive.1

In my opinion, this view point has emerged because of a misunderstanding of certain verses of the Qur’ān. Following is a typical verse2 that is quoted in support of this stance:3

وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا (١٩٠:٢)

Fight in the way of Allah with those who fight against you and do not transgress bounds. (2:190)

The verse apparently says that Muslims should only fight their enemy when the enemy initiates the attack. However, if the context of the verse is kept in consideration, this seems to be an erroneous interpretation. The verse is not talking about war in general. It is talking about war in the vicinity of the Baytullāh and that too in the forbidden months. The succeeding verses read:

وَلَا تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِنْدَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّى يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ فَإِنْ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ (١٩٢:٢)

But do not initiate war with them near the Baytullāh unless they attack you there. But if they attack you, put them to the sword [without any hesitation]. (2:192)

الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ فَمَنْ اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ(١٩٤:٢)

A sacred month for a sacred month; [similarly] other sacred things too are subject to retaliation. So if any one transgresses against you, you should also pay back in equal coins. Have fear of Allah and [keep in mind that] Allah is with those who remain within the bounds [stipulated by religion]. (2:194)

So, in other words, verses like 2:190 have a specific context and do not relate to Jihād waged in general.

Moreover, the propounders of the view that Jihād is only for self-defence must reflect on other verses of the Qur’ān which explicitly ask the Muslims to wage offensive war. Perhaps the most explicit of these verses are 4:75 and 9:29.

1 Thomas Arnold, The Preaching of Islam, 4th ed., (Lahore: Ashraf Publications, 1979), p. 451.

2 Maulvi Chiragh Ali, Jihad, 1st ed., (Karachi: Karimsons), p. 17.

3 For a complete list of verses that are used by the advocates of this stance, see Maulvi Chiragh Ali, Jihad, 1st ed., (Karachi: Karimsons), p. 225-7.

When does Jihād Become Obligatory?

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

What are the circumstances that make Jihād obligatory? What is the punishment for not taking part in Jihād when it has become obligatory?

Answer:

Answer: The first part of your question can have two aspects:

i. When does Jihād become obligatory on a state?

ii. When does Jihād become obligatory on an individual?

As far as the first aspect is concerned, the answer is that Jihād becomes compulsory on a state if in the opinion of its rulers it has the military and moral might to curb the oppression and injustice1 of the country against which Jihād is to be waged. This inference is based on the guidance provided by the Qur’ān to the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). They were told that if they possessed a certain level of military strength (ie number of combatants), it was imperative upon them to wage Jihād. This principle is spelled out in the following verses:

يَاأَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ حَرِّضْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى الْقِتَالِ إِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ عِشْرُونَ صَابِرُونَ يَغْلِبُوا مِائَتَيْنِ وَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا أَلْفًا مِنْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ  الْآنَ خَفَّفَ اللَّهُ عَنكُمْ وَعَلِمَ أَنَّ فِيكُمْ ضَعْفًا فَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ صَابِرَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا مِائَتَيْنِ وَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أَلْفٌ يَغْلِبُوا أَلْفَيْنِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ(٨: ٦٥-٦٦)

Prophet! Rouse the believers to wage war. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will subdue two hundred: if a hundred, they will subdue a thousand of the Disbelievers: for these are a people without understanding. [From] now, God has lightened your [task] for He knows that there is now weakness amongst you: But [ever so], if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will subdue two hundred, and if a thousand, they will subdue two thousand, with the leave of God: for God is with those who patiently persevere. (8:65-6)

It is evident from these verses that the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) were required to fight if they were outnumbered by 1:10 and later by 1:2 because it was their inner strength – the strength of faith which would compensate for their numbers. However, since these ratios specifically pertained to the Companions (rta) whose level of faith one can only imagine, in later times the rulers must exercise their judgement in working out a ratio for themselves. What can be said with certainty is that Muslim to enemy ratio should be at least 1:2.

Of course, a natural pre-condition to waging Jihād is that all diplomatic level negotiations have failed.

As far as an individual is concerned, Jihād becomes compulsory upon him if both the following conditions are fulfilled:

i. The rulers give a call to each an every citizen of their country to participate in Jihād.2

ii. The individual himself is convinced that his rulers are waging war on the only legitimate basis on which war can now be waged: to uproot injustice and oppression perpetrated by a country. If a person is convinced that his country has some other objective in mind, he can of course refuse their call.

Now I come to the second part of your query:

A study of the Qur’ān shows that there is no worldly punishment for either a state or an individual if they do not undertake Jihād when it becomes obligatory upon them. The reason for this is that the Qur’ān does not mention any such punishment. It seems that it is the Almighty Himself Who directly punishes such negligence in this world or in the Hereafter.

1. According to the Qur’ān (4:75), this is only the legitimate reason for an Islamic state to wage Jihād today.

2. According to the Qur’ān (9:38-9), in the Prophet’s times, such a call was given by the Islamic state to the each and every Muslim before the battle of Tabūk.

Is Qitāl a lesser Jihād?

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

There is a persistent notion among many Muslims that fighting in the battlefield is something very inferior to fighting against one’s desires. While the former is termed as Jihād i Asghar (the lesser Jihād), the latter is called the Jihād i Akbar (the greater Jihād). Does this mean that we should be more anxious to take part in Jihād i Akbar?

Answer:

Answer: First let me tell you that the terms Jihād i Akbar and Jihād i Asghar are supposedly attributed to the Prophet (sws). However, this attribution does not have a sound basis. The chain of narrators of this narrative is very weak. Authorities of Hadīth like Ibn Hajr, Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Bānī have convincingly challenged the authenticity of this narrative1. So one can safely conclude that there is no such thing as a greater Jihād or a lesser one.

It needs to be appreciated that the word Jihād is used in the Qur’ān to connote striving in the way of Allah. One particular form of such a struggle is that in which one might have to fight for Allah’s cause. This is also termed as ‘Qitāl’. In other words, striving in the way of Allah in whatever form one is able to in accordance with the needs that arise is what is required from a believer. Whether striving in His way in a particular form is more superior than some other one has not been indicated in any authentic source.

1. Ibn Hajr’s Takhrīju’l Kashshāf as annotation on Zamakhashrī’s Kashshāf, 1st ed., vol. 3, (Dāru’l-Turāth al-‘Arabī, 1997), pp. 174-5 / Ibn Taymiyyah, Fatāwā, 2nd ed., vol. 11, (Riyād: 1399 AH), p. 197 / Al-Bānī, Silsilah al-Ahadīth al-Da’īfah wa al-Mawdūfah, 1st ed., vol. 5, (Riyād: Maktabah al-Ma’ārif, 1992), pp. 478-80.

Jihād in the Bible

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

What is the Biblical view on Jihād. Did the Prophet Moses (sws) and the Prophet Jesus (sws) wage Jihād in their times?

Answer:

Answer: As far as the Bible is concerned, while the Old Testament contains explicit directives on Jihād, the New Testament is devoid of them. The reason is that while the Prophet Moses (sws) was bestowed with political authority by the Almighty, the Prophet Jesus (sws) was not.

However, since the Bible we have today has been tampered with and is not available in its pure and un-interpolated form, it is necessary to interpret the directives of Jihād given in the Old Testament in the light of the Qur’ān. If interpreted thus one finds a marked resemblance in these directives given by these two great scriptures.

We know from the Qur’ān that the Almighty punished certain nations in history because they were guilty of deliberately denying the truth1. One form of this punishment assumed the shape of waging Jihād against them by their respective Messenger. This form of punishment was meted out by the Almighty in case of the Prophet Moses (sws). He waged Jihād to punish people who were guilty of deliberately denying the truth. A study of the Old Testament shows that the Jihād he waged was of two forms. One form of Jihād was that nations who subscribed to polytheism were to be put to death in all cases, while another form was that some nations were spared in case they agreed to remain subservient.

The following verses depict the first form of Jihād:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations – the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you – and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. (Deuteronomy 7:1-5)

The following verses depict the second form of Jihād:

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labour and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, and children, the livestock and everything else in the city you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. (Deuteronomy, 20:10-15)

Quite similarly, we determine from the Qur’ān, on the basis of the Jihād waged by the Prophet (sws), that while the polytheists were put to death, the monotheists among them (ie the People of the Book) were allowed to live if they submitted to Islamic rule. If the second form of Jihād waged by Moses (rta) as stated in (Deuteronomy, 7:1-5) is interpreted in the light of the Qur’ān, one can conclude that it must have been against those nations which basically subscribed to monotheism.

Consequently, the two books are very similar in this regard.

The comparison continues:

It is evident from the Qur’ān (2:143) that just as the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) were conferred the status of Shuhadā ‘alā al-Nās (witnesses to the truth before other peoples), the Israelites after Moses (sws), in their collective capacity were conferred this status. In the Old Testament, the areas of Canaan, on which the Israelites were to wage war after the Prophet Moses (sws) were divinely demarcated:

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Command the Israelites and say to them: When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance will have these boundaries: Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zinalong the border of Edom. On the east, your southern boundary will start form the end of the Salt Sea, cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Sea. Your western boundary will be the coast of the Great Sea. This will be your boundary on the west. For your northern boundary, run a line from the Great Sea to Mount Hor and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north. For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Kinnereth. Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Salt Sea. This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.’ (Numbers, 34:1-12)

After Muhammad (sws), his immediate Companions (rta) continued his mission and punished certain other nations who were guilty of knowingly denying the truth. The area that came under this punishment was demarcated by the Prophet (sws) when he wrote letters to the heads of state of certain territories in this area.

1. While referring to this established practice of the Almighty, the Qur’ān says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ  كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ(٥٨: ٢٠-١)

Indeed those who are opposing Allah and His Messenger are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: I and My Messengers shall always prevail. Indeed Allah is Mighty and Powerful. (58:20-1)

The Old Testament refers to this practice the following words:

If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy, 8:19-20)

The New Testament mentions this practice in the following words:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered: ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish’. (Luke, 13:1-4)

Spreading Islam by the Sword 

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

In the early period of Islam, we find that the Islamic rule was extended by the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) to a large part of the world. They conquered Persia, Rome, Egypt and many other countries of their times. My question is that why did they impose Islam on these countries? Why were they not given the option of accepting Islam if they wanted to?

Answer:

Indeed, it is generally held that the rise of Islam in the early period was due to a wave of ‘Arab Imperialism’ that shook the super powers of those times and forced them into submission. In an astounding series of conquests, country after country fell to the sword of Islam. It was not long before the Muslim empire stretched from the shores of the Mediterranean in the west to as far as Indonesia in the east.1

The fact that all these conquests took place is established history and hence cannot be denied in any way. However, the thesis that it was ‘Arab Imperialism’ that accounted for these conquests is something which cannot be condoned. While looking at the spread of Islam in the early period, one must resort to the basis which the Qur’ān itself offers for these conquests:

It has already been explained in a previous query2 that those who are divinely invested with the status of shuhadā ‘ala al-nās (witnesses to the truth before people) are ‘used’ and ’employed’ by the Almighty to punish people who deny the truth in spite of being convinced about it. According to the Qur’ān, Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) were invested with this status.

Consequently, the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) in their collective capacity were only enforcing the implication of their status as witnesses of the religion of the truth. Their conquests were not basically aimed at spreading Islam as such. Their basic objective was to subjugate and punish people who had deliberately denied the truth. Muhammad (sws) himself initiated their task by writing letters to eight heads of state and thereby demarcated the areas where the Companions (sws) could go. It was only these areas upon which the process of shahādah would get completed before the Companions (rta) would reach them.

However, after the departure of the Companions (rta) from this world, no one has the authority to subjugate people in the name of Islam. This is so because no one after them has been conferred the status of Shuhadā (witness to the truth). Moreover, the conquests that took place after their departure by their followers must be viewed separately. Whether they were justified or not must be viewed in the light of the Qur’ān.

Summing up, it can be said that it is erroneous to conclude that Islam was spread by the sword. The whole exercise of the Companions (rta) must be viewed as a specific practice of the Almighty according to which He punished people who deny the truth even though they are fully convinced about it.

1. For a detailed account of these conquests see: Bilādhurī, Futūhu’l-Buldān, Qum, Manshūrāt al-Arummiyyah, 1404 AH.

2.‘Waging War against the Disbelievers’.

Is the Qur’ān a Manual of Jihād?

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

As a non-Muslim who is very interested in studying Islam, I have gone through the Qur’ān many times. During these readings, I have developed a particular notion about it and every time I finish it, this notion gets stronger and stronger. I find that it is a book which primarily motivates a believer to fight for Islam and kill and humiliate those who do not accept it. Seldom do I find a section of the Qur’ān devoid of war. Those which are seem to threaten the non-believers of a dire doom if they do not give up their religion and embrace Islam. So my question is: Is the Qur’ān a manual of Jihād for the believers?

Answer:

Answer: You have made an interesting observation and I think that the answer to your question lies in having an awareness of the whole theme of the Qur’ān.

Before a reference is made to this theme, some other things need to be appreciated:

In my humble opinion. the religious history of mankind can be divided in two distinct periods. In the first period, which occupies the major portion of this history, the Almighty directly interacted with the inhabitants of this earth by selecting certain personalities as His representatives. To them, He revealed His guidance for the benefit of mankind. They were deputed by Him to fully explain and elucidate the basic truths1. Although these truths are inherently known by a heedful person through the testimony of his conscience and intuition, the Merciful Allah supplemented this arrangement by appointing His representatives from among mankind to remind them of these truths. Over a period, which extends to several thousand years, numerous personalities were chosen for this purpose. In religious parlance, they are called Anbiyā (Prophets). The last of these personalities was Muhammad (sws). With his demise in 632 AD, the institution of Nabuwwat (Prophethood) was terminated and this first period of history was brought to an end.

Today we are living in the second period of history, which is to extend until the end of this world. In this period, divine interaction through appointed representatives no longer takes place.

The first period of history has a certain feature which is wholly and solely specific to it. The Qur’ān, a Book which belongs to this first period, mentions this feature. As per this feature, the judgement which is going to take place in the Hereafter is visually substantiated in this period during the lifetime of certain Anbiyā (Prophets) who are designated as Rusul (Messengers) of Allah.. Those who deliberately deny the basic truths are punished in this world and promised a severer torment in the Hereafter and those who accept and profess faith are rewarded in this world and promised even greater reward in the Hereafter.

It was through Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) that the last time that this worldly judgement took place. The Qur’ān is nothing but a record of this last judgement. The various phases of Muhammad’s preaching mission are discussed in detail in this book – which in fact is the real theme of the Qur’ān. These phases culminate in the worldly retribution of Muhammad’s addressees.

If this background is kept in mind, the conclusion one may reach is that the Qur’ān is not a manual of Jihād; rather it is a manual of Muhammad’s preaching mission which culminates in divine retribution of his addressees in this world.

1. 18. 2:62 spells out these basic truths.

Divine Right to Rule 

Jihad
Question asked by: Answered by Shehzad Saleem

Question:

As a student of international relations, I feel that all over the Muslim world, there is a strong feeling that Muslims have a divine right to dominate and rule this world. All those who deprive them of this right are their enemies. Why is this?

Answer:

You are very right in your observation. In my opinion there is one root cause of this Muslim behavior. Muslims believe that Islam is the final truth and therefore they have a divine right to rule in this world.

In my humble opinion, the first part of this premise is true; but the second is not: Islam may be the final truth, yet nowhere in the Qur’ān do we find that only the final truth has the absolute right to rule.

What perhaps is the cause of this misconception is that the struggle of the Prophet (sws) of Islam and his Companions (rta) is viewed in a certain perspective. It is contended that they in their times established the political supremacy of Islam because it was the ultimate truth; therefore each and every Muslim must follow suit.

This as is explained in an earlier query is not the case1. The whole struggle of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) is related to an established practice of the Almighty regarding people who are divinely conferred the status of shuhadā ‘ala al-nās (witnesses to the truth before people).

1. ‘Waging War against the Disbelievers’.

Islam and Non-Muslims: A New Perspective

Editorial

Whither International Relations? Shehzad Saleem

Reflections, Islam and Non-Muslims: A New Perspective: Shehzad Saleem

Appendixes

Appendix A: The Preaching Mission of Noah (sws): Shehzad Saleem

Appendix B: Fate of some Nations who denied their Messengers

Appendix C: Treatment of Non-Muslim Minorities        

 Whither International Relations? Reflections, Shehzad Saleem

Almost six months have passed since that fateful morning of September 11 when several thousand innocent civilians of the United States were mercilessly massacred by a team of suicide pilots. The ghastly incident landed like a bolt from the blue and left the world shell-shocked. This time it was not the ‘Japs’. A band of ‘aggrieved’ Muslims had gone on rampage. Besmeared with the blood of peaceful citizens, these pilots or the masterminds behind them could never have imagined the extent of the carnage they were ultimately able to pull off.

The affects produced by this incident are far reaching and have influenced almost every domain of life. One such domain is the sphere of international relations. Of particular mention in this regard, is the question of Islam’s relationship with other religions and polities of the world. This question assumes great significance when it is taken into account that the perpetrators of this terrorist activity have put forth religious arguments for the mass murder they committed.

In my opinion, when we look at the arguments presented by these diehards and at the general Muslim stance regarding Islam and its relationship with other religions of the world, we find that there is something desperately wrong with the Muslim approach.

As a student of Islam, I have tried to ascertain in my humble capacity what exactly is ‘that wrong’. In the following pages, my findings appear in the form of a research article that spans the whole of this journal. I would request the serious reader to critically and carefully go through this work and send me his/her observations. I would specifically ask activists engaged in interfaith-dialogue to spare some time for this article.

Islam and Non-Muslims: A New Perspective, Reflections: Shehzad Saleem

Readers are advised to first carefully go through the components of the article that appear in the contents section of the journal so that they can have a clear comprehension of its overall arrangement.

I. Introduction

The question of Islam’s relationship with other religions of the world carries a significance that needs no elaboration. Shortened frontiers, enhanced communication and increased interaction in this present era have only magnified the importance of this issue. Indeed, the past fourteen centuries of co-inhabitation with other religions has greatly influenced world history and the shaping of global geographic boundaries.

The general opinion of Muslim scholars on this matter is based on the premise that Islam is the final truth and therefore only Islam has the right to rule in this world; non-Muslims better be aware of this or else they will have to face animosity and hostility from Muslims. Peaceful co-existence is something which generally finds mention in the Muslim view where they are in power and people of other religions live in subservience to Muslims. Jeffrey Lang, professor of Mathematics at the Kansas University, who converted to Islam in the early eighties, vividly records this typical Muslim mindset in the following words:  

‘I’m sure you know that it’s incumbent on Muslims living in the United States to work and struggle and, if necessary, to fight to establish an Islamic state here’, said the dean of the Middle Eastern University, aware that tradition and scholarship were on his side.

‘My idea of what makes a state Islamic might be very different from yours’, I answered. ‘Do you, for example, feel that your country is an Islamic state?’

‘Of course it’s not perfect’, he offered. ‘But we’re free to practice our faith and most of the Sharī’ah is enforced’.

‘But what if we’re already free to practice our rituals here and to influence the laws and government through democracy?’

‘But democracy recognizes the will of the majority, while an Islamic state gives final authority to God as revealed in the Qur’ān and teachings of the Prophet!’

‘Might not the two converge in a society where the majority are committed to the viewpoint that God is the supreme authority and Muhammad is His Prophet? If the majority is not so committed, then what purpose is served by declaring an Islamic state or a state religion?’

‘What you’re advocating is secularism!’1

A little deliberation shows that Muslim scholars base their view on what transpired in Arabia fourteen hundred years ago when Muhammad (sws) the last of the Messengers of Allah led a long struggle against the exponents of Kufr (denial of the truth). Many verses of the Qur’ān and certain Āhadīth which record and depict this struggle apparently ask the believers to be hostile to non-Muslims. There are directives like severing ties with non-Muslims and cursing them in prayer. Some Qur’ānic verses and Āhadīth even ask the believers to put to death non-Muslims. As Rev. Stephene puts it:

In the Qur’ān, the Mussulman is absolutely and positively commanded to make war upon all those who decline to acknowledge the Prophet until they submit, or, in the case of Jews and Christians, purchase exemption from the conformity by the payment of tribute. The mission of the Mussulman, as declared in the Qur’ān, is distinctly aggressive. We might say that Mahomet bequeathed to his disciples a roving commission to propagate his faith by the employment of force where persuasion failed. ‘O Prophet, fight for the religion of God’ – ‘Stir up the faithful to war,’ such are commands which Mahomet believed to be given to him by God. ‘Fight against them who believe not in God, nor the last day’, ‘attack the idolatrous in all the months’, such are his own exhortations to his disciples.2

So the conclusion is simple. Muslims must follow what is written in their Holy book and what is ascribed to their Prophet (sws).

II. The Premise

In this regard, the basic premise3 which needs to be understood is that most directives of Islam that depict hostility and antagonism towards non-Muslims are directed towards a specific category of non-Muslims, which may exist today but cannot be humanly pinpointed. In reality, this category of non-Muslims were punished by the Almighty in the era of Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) for reasons that shall be discussed later. The hostility and antagonism which the Qur’ān depicts against these non-Muslims are actually the various manifestations of the punishment meted out to them. In religious parlance, such non-Muslims are called the Kuffār (singular: Kāfir) or Disbelievers.

In other words, directives which apparently depict hostility and antagonism against non-Muslims are not related to the non-Muslims of times other than the times of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) since the Kuffār among them  cannot be ascertained.

III. Arguments and Rationale

I will now attempt to substantiate the above mentioned premise. First, an attempt will be made to identify the Disbelievers (Kuffār). Next the basis and source of their punishment will be delineated. This will be followed by details of the preaching mission of the Rusul4 (plural of Rasūl: Messengers) of God who became the agents of this punishment so that the readers can view the whole act of retribution in its overall perspective. Finally, the major directives which relate to the Kuffār (Disbelievers) and which have been erroneously extended to all non-Muslims shall be elaborated upon.

a. Identifying the Disbelievers (Kuffār)

In the Qur’ān, the word Kāfir is used as a term to denote a person who denies a Messenger of the Almighty even though he is convinced of the truth of his message5.

It is humanly impossible for a person to determine whether an individual or a group of individuals is deliberately denying a Messenger since no one can know what is in a person’s heart; neither can any one be correctly aware of the excuses and hindrances a person may have in this regard. It is only the Almighty who on the basis of His all embracing knowledge can inform us of such a denial, for it is He alone who knows what is in the hearts. In times when He used to send His Messengers, He chose to impart this information to them through Wahī (revelation). However, after the termination of the institution of Wahī, people who have deliberately denied a Messenger cannot be pinpointed. In other words, after the departure of Muhammad (sws), the last Messenger, no Muslim is in a position to ascertain who among his addressees is guilty of deliberately denying the message of Muhammad (sws). Therefore, now, only on the Day of Judgement will it be known whether a particular person is a Kāfir or not.

As a consequence, the Christians and Jews and followers of other religions who live after the age of the Prophet (sws) cannot be called Kāfirs; the right name for them is non-Muslims.

b. Punishing the Disbelievers (Kuffār)

According to the Qur’ān, denying a Messenger of God in spite of being convinced about his veracity is something which deserves severe punishment both in this world and in the Hereafter since this is tantamount to deliberately denying the Almighty Himself. The worldly punishment of the Disbelievers (Kuffār) was carried out by the Almighty in two ways: Either He directly destroyed them Himself through disasters and calamities or by His Messengers and their Companions (rta) — who in this exercise were no more than agents of His retribution. In the second case, the Messengers and their Companions (rta) just replaced the weapons of destruction as the role of earthquakes, storms, cyclones and lightning was assumed by them.

Referring to the first form of punishment, the Qur’ān says:

فَكُلًّا أَخَذْنَا بِذَنْبِهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِ حَاصِبًا وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَخَذَتْهُ الصَّيْحَةُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ خَسَفْنَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَغْرَقْنَا (٢٩ : ٤٠)

Each one of them We seized for their crime: of them, against some We sent a violent tornado with showers of stones; some were caught by a mighty blast; some We sunk in the earth; and some We drowned in the waters. (29:40)

Referring to the second form of divine punishment, the Qur’ān asserts:

قَاتِلُوهُمْ يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ وَيُخْزِهِمْ وَيَنْصُرْكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ (٩ :١٤)

Fight them [ O Believers!] and God will punish them with your hands and humiliate them and help you to victory over them. (9:14)

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ (٨ :١٧)

It is not you [O believers] who slew them; it was [ in fact] God [who slew] them. (8:17)

While explaining this verse, the celebrated Muslim authority, Shāh Walī Ullāh, writes:

فَصَارُوْا فِيْ ذَلِكَ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الْمَلَئِكَةِ تَسْعىَ فِيْ إِتْمَامِ مَا أَمَرَ اللهُ تَعَالى غَيْرَ أَنْ الْمَلئِكَةَ تَسَعى مِنْ غَيْرِ أَنْ يُّعَقَّدَ فِيْهِمْ قَاعِدَةٌ كُلِّيَّةٌ وَالْمُسْلِمُوْنَ يُقَاتِلُوْنَ لِأَجَلِ قَاعِدَةِ كُلِّيَّةٍ عَلَّمَهُمْ اللهُ تَعَالى وَكَانَ عَمَلُهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَعْظَمُ الْاَعْمَالِ وَصَارَ الْقَتْلُ لَا يُسْنَدُ إنَّمَا يُسْنَدُ أِلَى الْأَمِيْرِ كَمَا يُسْنَدُ قَتْلُ الْعَاصِىْ إِلىَ الْأْمِيْرِ دُوْنِ السَّيَّافِ. وَهُوَ قَوْلُه تَعَالَى ‘فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوْهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللهَ قَتَلَهُمْ

The Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) in the fulfillment of this mission became like angels who also strive for the implementation of God’s directives. The difference between angelic and human undertakings is that the former strive without being guided by any universal principle, while human beings fight for the sake of a definite overall objective given to them by the Almighty. Thus Jihād becomes the greatest of all their deeds. That is why the act of killing is not attributed to them. It is attributed to the Divine Being who issued the directive to kill. This is like ascribing the act of killing of a traitor to the ruler rather than the slayer, as the Qur’ān says: ‘You slew them not, but God slew them’.6

In other words, what needs to be understood is that it was the Almighty who took matters in His own hands and punished the Kuffār in this world in the time of His Messengers. It is precisely for this reason that in this particular sphere, the Prophet Muhammad (sws) is not a role model for Muslims. What mankind needs to learn from this whole exercise is to be mindful of a reality that it tends to forget: reward and punishment in the Hereafter on the basis of a person’s deeds. This reward and punishment which is to take place in the Hereafter is substantiated visually by the Almighty through the agency of His Messengers so that mankind may always remain heedful to this reality. The court of justice which will be set up for every person on the Day of Judgement was set up for the nations of Messengers in this world so that the latter could become a visual testimony to the former. The Qur’ān at numerous instances has used this argument to substantiate the reward and punishment in the Hereafter. In Sūrah Hāqqah, for example, it says:

الْحَاقَّةُ مَا الْحَاقَّةُ  وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْحَاقَّةُ كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُودُ وَعَادٌ بِالْقَارِعَةِ  فَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَأُهْلِكُوا بِالطَّاغِيَةِ   وَأَمَّا عَادٌ فَأُهْلِكُوا بِرِيحٍ صَرْصَرٍ عَاتِيَةٍ  سَخَّرَهَا عَلَيْهِمْ سَبْعَ لَيَالٍ وَثَمَانِيَةَ أَيَّامٍ حُسُومًا فَتَرَى الْقَوْمَ فِيهَا صَرْعَى كَأَنَّهُمْ أَعْجَازُ نَخْلٍ خَاوِيَةٍ  فَهَلْ تَرَى لَهُمْ مِنْ بَاقِيَةٍ  وَجَاءَ فِرْعَوْنُ وَمَنْ قَبْلَهُ وَالْمُؤْتَفِكَاتُ بِالْخَاطِئَةِ   فَعَصَوْا رَسُولَ رَبِّهِمْ فَأَخَذَهُمْ أَخْذَةً رَابِيَةً   إِنَّا لَمَّا طَغَى الْمَاءُ حَمَلْنَاكُمْ فِي الْجَارِيَةِ   لِنَجْعَلَهَا لَكُمْ تَذْكِرَةً وَتَعِيَهَا أُذُنٌ وَاعِيَةٌ  (٦٩ :١-١٢)

The Inevitable! What is the Inevitable? What do you know what the Inevitable is? It is the Pounding One which the ‘Ād and the Thamūd denied. As for the Thamūd, they were destroyed by a calamity that exceeded all bounds and the ‘Ād by a storm, fierce and violent. He let loose this [storm] on them for seven nights and eight days to ravage them. You would have seen them lying overthrown as though they were hollow trunks of palm-trees. So do you now see any of them? And the same crime was committed by Pharaoh and those before him and by the overturned settlements also such that they disobeyed the Messenger of their Lord [sws]. So He gripped them with an intensifying grip. [Similarly, as a consequence of denying Noah (sws)] when [the storm blew over and] the flood rose high it was We who carried you upon the ark to make this [account of your ancestors] a reminder for you and that retaining ears may retain it . (69:1-12)

The justification of the retribution carried out by the Messengers on the Kuffār is that through divine help, the basic truths7 become manifest in their personalities to the extent that no one is left with any excuse to deny it. In the words of the Qur’ān, this is called Shahādah ‘ala al-nās (bearing witness to the truth before other peoples). The Almighty has referred to this aspect in the following words:

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًا (٧٣ :١٥)

To you [O People of the Quraysh!] We have sent forth a Rasūl as witness to the truth upon you just as we sent a Rasūl to the Pharaoh. (73:15)

In other words, what authorizes a Messenger to punish the Kuffār is that it can be ascertained in this very world that they are guilty of denying the basic truths in spite of being convinced about them. Good and evil are elucidated with ultimate clarity and people who accept evil do so not because of any confusion but because of their own stubbornness.

So it can be concluded that since a Messenger reveals the basic truths in their ultimate form and those who deny it do so because of their stubbornness and even confess their sins, a Messenger has the perfect justification to punish his people after they have denied him.

c. The Preaching Mission of the Messengers

As mentioned earlier, a detailed analysis of the preaching mission of the Messengers shall now be made so that the punishment meted out by the Almighty through them to the Disbelievers can be viewed by the reader in the overall perspective. This will be done in two sections. The first covers the general features of this mission and the second one covers the manifestation of these features in the era of Muhammad (sws).

1. General Features

i. The Objective of the Messengers

In the words of the Qur’ān, the basic objective of the Messengers of Allah is to decide the fate of their respective peoples in this world in such a manner that if these people deny their Messengers, they are subdued in this very world:

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِرُسُلِهِمْ لَنُخْرِجَنَّكُمْ مِنْ أَرْضِنَا أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِي مِلَّتِنَا فَأَوْحَى إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ لَنُهْلِكَنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ وَلَنُسْكِنَنَّكُمْ الْأَرْضَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامِي وَخَافَ وَعِيدِ (١٤ :٩-١٤)

And the disbelievers said to their Messengers: We will drive you out of our land, or you return to our religion’. But their Lord inspired [this message] to them [–the Messengers –]: ‘Verily We will cause the wrong-doers to perish! And verily We will cause you to abide in the land, and succeed them. This is for those who feared the time when they shall stand before My tribunal and those who feared My warnings’. (14:9-14)

It has been ordained that the Almighty and His Messengers will always prevail:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (٥٨ :٢٠-١)

Indeed those who are opposing Allah and His Messenger are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: I and My Messengers shall always prevail. Indeed Allah is Mighty and Powerful. (58:20-1)

The Old Testament refers to this law in the following words:

If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy, 8:19-20)

The New Testament mentions this law in the following words:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered: ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish’. (Luke, 13:1-4)

ii. Phases of the Mission

A Rasūl’s mission after passing through various phases culminates in achieving the above mentioned objective of deciding the fate of his nation in this very world. This mission can be categorized in the following phases:8

a. The Propagation Phase

b. The Acquittal Phase

c. The Judgement Phase

In the following paragraphs, we will take a look at some of the important features of these phases.

a. The Propagation Phase

With this phase begins the mission of the Messengers. During this phase, with the special help and assistance of the Almighty, the Messengers remove misconceptions which may surround the basic truths and vehemently say that if people do not accept these truths they shall be doomed in this world and in the Hereafter. In this phase, the Messengers of Allah never use force or retaliate against any oppression or persecution encountered. They spend all their time and energy in earnestly urging people to mend their ways.

b. The Acquittal Phase

At the end of the Propagation Phase – which is signaled by he Almighty since only He knows when enough time has been given to people to reflect and accept such truths – a Messenger disassociates himself from his people by announcing his acquittal and migrating from them so that the Almighty can pronounce His judgement both upon the followers of the Messenger and his adversaries. It is now that his adversaries are called Kāfirs, implying that they have rejected the basic truths in spite of being convinced about them.

Two important things must be noted about the migration of a Messenger which takes place in this acquittal phase.

Firstly, it signals the end of his nation. It means that all that could have been done to call them to accept faith has been done. Before migration, as long as a Messenger remains among his people, they are protected from any punishment and given respite due to his presence. So, when the pagan Arabs demanded from Muhammad (sws) to bring the punishment he had been threatening them with, they were told:

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ (٨ :٣٣)

But God was not going to send them a punishment whilst you are amongst them. (8:33)

Secondly, a Messenger is not authorized to make the decision of migration for himself since only the Almighty knows when a particular people has been given enough time to accept the basic truths. A Messenger must keep to his task of warning his people, in spite of bitter opposition, until he is informed by the Almighty that the time for warning them is over. The Prophet Jonah (sws) was reprimanded by the Almighty when he on his own decided to migrate from his people: 

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَى فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنْ الظَّالِمِينَ (٢١ :٨٧)

And remember Dhu’l-Nūn, when he departed in wrath thinking that We will not hold him responsible! So he cried through the depths of darkness: ‘There is no god but You. Glory to You. I was indeed wrong!’ (21:87)

The Prophet Muhammad (sws) was told to exercise patience and not be like Jonah (sws) until the decree of Allah arrived:

فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تَكُنْ كَصَاحِبِ الْحُوتِ إِذْ نَادَى وَهُوَ مَكْظُومٌ (٦٨ :٤٨)

So wait with patience for the Command of your Lord, and be not like the Companion of the Fish, — when he cried out in agony. (68:48)

On the other hand, when Abraham (sws) argued with the Almighty that the nation of his nephew, the Prophet Lot (sws), be given more respite, he was told that none among the righteous were left in it. While the Qur’ān (11:74) makes a passing reference to this, the Bible gives the following details:

Then Abraham approached Him and said: ‘Will You sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare that place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ The Lord said: ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake’. Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?’ ‘If I find forty-five there’, He said: ‘I will not destroy it’. Once again he spoke to him: ‘What if only forty are found there?’ He said: ‘For the sake of forty, I will not do it’. Then he said: ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?’ He answered: ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there’. Abraham said: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?’ He said: ‘For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it’. Then he said: ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?’ He answered: ‘For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it’. (Genesis, 18:23-32)

c. The Judgement Phase

This phase is the culmination of a Messenger’s preaching mission. He decides the fate of his nation in this phase. It is in reality the Almighty who undertakes this task as pointed out before.

It is evident from the Qur’ān that in the Judgement phase, the punishment of the Disbelievers9 normally takes two forms depending upon the situation that arises.

If a Messenger has very few companions and he has no place to migrate from his people and attain political power, then the Messenger and his companions are sifted out from their nation by the Almighty and made to migrate to a safe place. Their nation is then destroyed through various natural calamities like earthquakes, typhoons and cyclones. The Qur’ān says:

فَكُلًّا أَخَذْنَا بِذَنْبِهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِ حَاصِبًا وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَخَذَتْهُ الصَّيْحَةُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ خَسَفْنَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَغْرَقْنَا (٢٩ :٤٠)

Each one of them We seized for their crime: of them, against some We sent a violent tornado with showers of stones; some were caught by a mighty blast; some We sunk in the earth; and some We drowned in the waters. (29:40)

The ‘Ad, nation of Hūd (sws), the Thamūd nation of Sālih (sws) as well as the nations of Noah (sws), Lot (sws) and Shu’ayb (sws) were destroyed through such natural disasters when they denied their respective Messengers as is mentioned in the various sūrahs of the Qur’ān.10 In the case of Moses (sws), the Israelites never denied him. The Pharaoh and his followers however did. Therefore, they were destroyed.

The Prophet Jonah’s people accepted faith and were saved from punishment:

فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ آمَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا إِلَّا قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّا آمَنُوا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ الْخِزْيِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَى حِينٍ (١٠: ٩٨)

Why was there not a single township which professed faith so that its faith should have profited it, — except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the penalty of ignominy in the life of the present, and permitted them to enjoy their life for a while. (10:98)

In the second case, a Messenger is able to win a fair amount of companions and is also able to migrate to a place where he is able to acquire the reins of political power through divine help. In this case, a Messenger and his companions subdue their nation by force, and execute them if they do not accept faith. The nation of a Messenger is then given further respite during which the Messenger starts to purge and cleanse the people who accept faith and organizes them for a final onslaught upon the forces of evil. He also strengthens his hold and authority in the land. Once his companions are ready for an armed conflict, these addressees are given a final ultimatum and then attacked. The forces of a Messenger are destined to triumph and humiliate his enemies. The punishment, which in the previous case descended from the heavens, in this case emanates from the sword of the believers. It was this situation which arose in the case of Muhammad (sws). His opponents were destroyed by the swords of the Muslim believers until at the conquest of Makkah, the remaining accepted faith. (Details follow in the next section).

Referring to this form of divine punishment, the Qur’ān asserts:

قَاتِلُوهُمْ يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ وَيُخْزِهِمْ وَيَنْصُرْكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ (٩ :١٤)

Fight them and God will punish them with your hands and humiliate them and help you to victory over them. (9:14)

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ (٨ :١٧)

It is not you [O believers] who slew them; it was [ in fact] God who slew them. (8:17)

In other words, as pointed out earlier, it is the Almighty Himself who punishes the addressees of Messengers if they deny their respective Messengers; the Messengers and their companions are no more than a means to carry out this Divine plan.

The punishment and humiliation of nations towards whom Messengers were sent generally took place in two ways: Nations who subscribed to monotheism were spared if they accepted the supremacy of their respective Messenger, while nations who subscribed to polytheism were destroyed. The latter fate is in accordance with the fact that polytheism is something that the Almighty never forgives:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا (٤ :٤٨)

God never forgives those guilty of polytheism though He may forgive other sins to whom He pleases. Those who commit polytheism devise a heinous sin. (4:48)

إِنَّهُ مَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَاهُ النَّارُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ (٥ :٧٢)

God has absolutely forbidden Paradise to the person who is guilty of polytheism. Fire will be his abode. For the wrong-doers, there will be no help. (5:72)

For similar reasons, in the Judaic law, perpetrators of polytheism were to be punished with death in this world:

If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshipped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)

Consequently, the Israelites were told that they should put to death all the polytheist nations and not to spare them in any way:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations – the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you – and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. (Deuteronomy 7:1-5)

The Old Testament also mentions that there were certain nations that were to be spared if they were prepared to live a life of subjugation. In the light of the Qur’ān, it can be adduced that such nations were those who did not subscribe to polytheism. They were not put to death and were given the option to live if they accepted the supremacy of the Mosaic law:

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labour and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, and children, the livestock and everything else in the city you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. (Deuteronomy, 20:10-15)

Consequently, the People of the Book (the Israelites) were not wiped out as a nation because, being the People of the Book, they were basically adherents to monotheism. Their humiliation took the form of constant subjugation to the followers of Jesus (sws) till the day of Judgement as referred to by the following verse:

إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَاعِيسَى إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ (٣: ٥٥)

Remember when God said: ‘O Jesus! I will give death to you and raise you to Myself and cleanse you from those who have denied; I will make those who follow you superior to those who reject faith till the Day of Resurrection. (3:55)

Here one might ask: Why were the People of the Book in particular the Christians regarded to be monotheists when they ascribed to trinity — which apparently is a polytheistic doctrine? The answer to this question is that Christians are basically followers of monotheism. The Bible is very explicit about it:

The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one’. (Mark, 12:29)

Christians never admit to polytheism, though they are involved in certain polytheistic practices. A person becomes a polytheist when he openly admits that he is a polytheist. A person who claims to be a monotheist in spite of being involved in polytheistic practices, cannot be regarded as a polytheist. The reason is that a person might be doing something wrong without realizing that what he is doing; all Christians whether of today or from the period of Jesus (sws) never admit to polytheism; trinity to them is in accordance with monotheism. Of course Muslims do not agree with them but unless they claim polytheism, it can only be said that in spite of claiming to be monotheists they are involved in polytheism. Their case is the case of a Muslim who goes to the grave of a saint to ask him to grant a wish; we will not call such a Muslim a polytheist; we shall tell him that what he is doing is something which is against monotheism to which he himself strongly claims adherence. Similarly, we will not call Christians polytheists but we will keep telling them that what they are doing is not in accordance with monotheism.

It is precisely for this reason that the Qur’ān never called the People of the Book as polytheists though they subscribed to certain blatant forms of polytheism. The Qur’ān only called the Ismaelites as polytheists because they admittedly subscribed and testified to the creed of polytheism. They strongly advocated that polytheism was the very religion the Almighty had revealed and claimed that they were strong adherents to this religion. Because of this very reason, they were called the Mushrikūn (the adherents to the creed of shirk) by the Qur’ān.

2. The Era of Muhammad (sws)

We shall now examine the details of the punishment that the Almighty administered to the Kuffār in the era of Muhammad (sws) in the overall perspective of the various phases of his preaching mission.

i. The Propagation Phase

In the fortieth year of his life, Muhammad (sws) was summoned by the Almighty to serve Him. Makkah at the time was the social and cultural centre of Arabia. It was its central city. So, in accordance with the Almighty’s established practice of sending a Messenger to the central city of a land, Muhammad (sws) was called upon to begin his endeavour in this city:

وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِتُنْذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَى وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنْذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ (٤٢ :٧)

Thus have We sent by inspiration to you an Arabic Qur’ān that you may warn the Mother of Cities and all around her; – and warn [them] of the Day of Assembly of which there is no doubt [when] some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire. (42:7)

In Makkah, where Muhammad (sws) spent about thirteen years of his preaching endeavour, his addressees were basically the Idolaters – the descendants of the Prophet’s great ancestor: the Prophet Ismā’īl (sws). However, the People of the Book (the Jews and the Christians) were also addressed at various instances. Besides these two distinct pockets of opponents, there were the Munāfiqūn (the Hypocrites) of whom only a few were in Makkah and who emerged as a sizeable faction in Madīnah as the Islamic message started to gain momentum.

Muhammad (sws) bore witness to the basic truths before all these three groups and refuted their evil beliefs. As pointed out earlier, in the terminology of the Qur’ān, this is called Shahādah. He revived various Abrahamic practices and rituals, cleansing them of various interpolations added by the polytheists, and delineating the basic truths of monotheism and accountability in the Hereafter on the basis of the Sharī’ah brought by him.

The real debate with the Idolaters concerned their polytheistic beliefs and religious innovations (Bid’āt). They were repeatedly asked to give up their religion of Idolatry since it had no grounds. It was only the Almighty who could have told them that He had associated with Him certain other deities. Without the sanction of the Almighty, they had no means to know about such details for themselves. Consequently, when they claimed that polytheism was revealed to them by the Almighty Himself, the Qur’ān called this a vicious lie:

إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى الْأَنْفُسُ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَهُمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ الْهُدَى (٥٣ :٢٣)

These are nothing but names which you have devised – you and your fathers – for which Allah has sent down no authority [whatsoever]. They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire! – even though there has already come to them guidance from their Lord! (53:23)

سَنُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ بِمَا أَشْرَكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَمَأْوَاهُمْ النَّارُ وَبِئْسَ مَثْوَى الظَّالِمِينَ (٣ :١٥١)

Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of those who have denied [the basic truths] because they joined companions with Allah for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire; and evil is the home of the wrongdoers! (3:151)

It is precisely for this reason that their denial of monotheism amounted to a deliberate rejection of the message of Muhammad (sws), as a result of which they would have to face the punishment of Hell in the Hereafter:

بَلَى قَدْ جَاءَتْكَ آيَاتِي فَكَذَّبْتَ بِهَا وَاسْتَكْبَرْتَ وَكُنْتَ مِنْ الْكَافِرِينَ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَى الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ وُجُوهُهُمْ مُسْوَدَّةٌ أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْوًى لِلْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ (٣٩ :٥٩-٦٠)

Nay there came to you My signs and you rejected them and showed haughtiness and as a result became from among the disbelievers. On the Day of Judgement you will see that faces of those who told lies against God will turn black. Is not in Hell an abode for the haughty. (39:59-60)

Similarly, the People of the Book were asked to desist from their attitude of hostility and antagonism and to honour the covenant they had made of professing belief in the final Messenger – someone whose name was mentioned in their very books:

وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدْتُمْ وَلَا تَنقُضُوا الْأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمْ اللَّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّتِي نَقَضَتْ غَزْلَهَا مِنْ بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ أَنكَاثًا تَتَّخِذُونَ أَيْمَانَكُمْ دَخَلًا بَيْنَكُمْ أَنْ تَكُونَ أُمَّةٌ هِيَ أَرْبَى مِنْ أُمَّةٍ إِنَّمَا يَبْلُوكُمْ اللَّهُ بِهِ وَلَيُبَيِّنَنَّ لَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ (١٦ : ٩١-٢)

Fulfill the Covenant of Allah when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them: indeed you have made Allah your witness; for Allah knows all that you do. And be not like a woman who breaks into untwisted strands the yarn she has spun after it has become strong. Nor take your oaths to practice deception between yourselves, lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this; and on the Day of Judgement He will certainly make clear to you [the truth of] that wherein you disagree. (16:91-2)

قَالَ عَذَابِي أُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ أَشَاءُ وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَسَأَكْتُبُهَا لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِآيَاتِنَا يُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنْ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمْ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (٧: ١٥٦-٧)

He [– the Almighty –] said: ‘With My Punishment I visit whom I will; but My Mercy extends to all things. That [mercy] I shall ordain for those who do right, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our Signs – Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own [Scriptures] in the Torah and in the Injīl – for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good [and pure] and prohibits them from what is bad [and impure]; he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that were upon them. So those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the Light which is sent down with him – it is they who shall prosper. (7:156-7)

Like the Idolaters also, their real crime, according to the Qur’ān, was deliberate denial:

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ مَا عَرَفُوا كَفَرُوا بِهِ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ  عَلَى الْكَافِرِين( ٢ :٨٩)

When there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it. So let the curse of Allah be on the disbelievers. (2:89)

وَدَّ كَثِيرٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يَرُدُّونَكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِكُمْ كُفَّارًا حَسَدًا مِنْ عِنْدِ أَنفُسِهِمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ الْحَقُّ (٢ :١٠٩)

Many of the people of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become manifest to them. (2:109)

الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمْ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (٢: ١٤٦)

Those to whom We have given the Book recognize him [–Muhammad—] as they recognize their sons. But verily, a party of them conceal the truth while they know it. (2:146)e

كَيْفَ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ قَوْمًا كَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِيمَانِهِمْ وَشَهِدُوا أَنَّ الرَّسُولَ حَقٌّ وَجَاءَهُمْ الْبَيِّنَاتُ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ (٣ :٨٦)

How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger [Muhammad (sws)] is a truth and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are wrong-doers. (3:86)

Initially, Muhammad (sws) could muster very little support from his tribe in favour of his message. Most people of Makkah rejected his call and only a few youth of the city accepted it. The hostility shown by the chiefs of Makkah was so severe that most people reckoned that it would only be a matter of days before this newly founded faith would reach a disastrous end. Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) were put through severe physical torture and mental affliction. Such was the extent of the persecution suffered by the Prophet (sws) that for many years he had to confine his endeavour to his near relatives. However, after many years of persistent struggle, when it became evident that the people of Makkah were denying the Prophet (sws) due to sheer obstinacy, the Almighty asked him to dissociate himself from these people.

ii. The Acquittal Phase

After thirteen long years of calling people to the truth, the Almighty told Muhammad (sws) that the basic truths had been unveiled to the Idolaters of Makkah. They had knowingly denied these and therefore were now prone to punishment. In the meantime, the city of Madīnah had come under the influence of the Divine message and its chiefs readily accepted Islam. Muhammad (sws) was directed to migrate to Madīnah and leave his people. Sūrah Kāfirūn records this declaration of acquittal in the following words:

قُلْ يَاأَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَا عَبَدتُّمْ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ (١٠٩ :١-٦)

Declare you [O Prophet!]: O Kuffār! I shall worship not that which you worship. Nor will you ever worship [alone] that which I worship. Nor ever before this was I prepared to worship that which you worshipped. Nor were you ever prepared to worship that which I have been worshipping. [So, now] to you your religion and to me mine. (109:1-6)

This is perhaps the only instance in the Qur’ān in which the disbelievers have been directly addressed in such words11. These words are not meant to condemn or chide them; they actually convey their true behaviour. After thirteen long years of propagation and exhortation, the leaders of the Quraysh had refused the calls of sense and reason. Their denial was based on nothing but stubbornness in spite of the fact that the truth had been revealed to them in its purest form. Consequently, Muhammad (sws) at this stage addressed them by a name which aptly described their deeds, and on divine bidding, departed from them. The last verse of the sūrah, it must be appreciated, is not an expression of tolerance; it expresses renunciation on the part of the Prophet (sws) and a warning to the Kuffār that they must now get ready to face the consequences of their obdurate denial.

As far as the People of the Book were concerned, the migration did not end the propagation phase for them since many of them were based in Madīnah. They were given more time to contemplate the consequences of denial until at a certain point in time in Madīnah, their time for accepting faith expired too. In other words, the Shahādah (bearing witness to the truth) reached its completion for them in the early Madīnan period after which Judgement was pronounced upon them together with the Hypocrites and the Idolaters of Arabia.

iii. The Judgement Phase

Following are the details of the Judgement when it finally took place:

a. The Reward

After Muhammad (sws) migrated to Madīnah, the people of Arabia on whom the truth had already been unveiled were given a further chance to contemplate upon the consequences of their denial. Here in Madīnah, the believers were prepared to launch a final assault on the Kuffār. They were told that their opponents would never be able to triumph over them:

وَلَوْ قَاتَلَكُمْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوَلَّوْا الْأَدْبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُونَ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَلَنْ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّةِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا (٤٨ :٢٢-٣)

If the Kuffār should fight you, they would certainly turn their backs; then would they find neither protector nor helper. Such has been the practice approved of God already in the past: no change will you find in the practice approved of God. (48:22-3)

They are given glad tidings of success in the following words:

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمْ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَنْ كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْفَاسِقُونَ (٥٥:٢٤)

God has promised to those among you who professed belief and did righteous deeds that He will of surety grant you political authority in this land as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change [their state] after the fear in which they [lived] to one of security and peace: ‘They will worship Me [alone] and not associate anyone with Me’. If any do reject faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked. (24:55)

The sincere among them who were guilty of some blemishes were forgiven after some punishment:

وَعَلَى الثَّلَاثَةِ الَّذِينَ خُلِّفُوا حَتَّى إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ الْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّوا أَنْ لَا مَلْجَأَ مِنْ اللَّهِ إِلَّا إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (٩ :١١٨)

[He turned in mercy also] to the three whose matter was deferred to such a degree that the earth seemed constrained to them for all its spaciousness, and their souls seemed straitened to them – and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah but to Him. Then, He turned to them that they might repent: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (9:118)

The weak among them were told that if they repented and mended their ways and remained steadfast, then hopefully the Almighty would also forgive them:

وَآخَرُونَ اعْتَرَفُوا بِذُنُوبِهِمْ خَلَطُوا عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَآخَرَ سَيِّئًا عَسَى اللَّهُ أَنْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٩ :١٠٢)

And others who have acknowledged their wrong-doings: they have mixed an act that was good with another that was evil. Perhaps, God will turn unto them [in mercy]: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:102)

b. The Punishment

In the Judgement phase, the humiliation of the Disbelievers took place in two phases. Initially, all active adversaries were put to death whether they belonged to the Idolaters of Arabia or the People of the Book. Some of the Jews killed were only done so after they had broken the pacts which had guaranteed them security and protection. The following verse mentions this first phase:

وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلَّهِ (١٩٢:٢)

Keep fighting against them until persecution does not remain and [in the land of Arabia] Allah’s religion reigns supreme. (2:192)

Though this verse addresses only the Idolaters, its last words ‘and [in the land of Arabia] Allah’s religion reigns supreme’, shows that followers of all other religions were also to be subdued until the religion of Islam reigned supreme in the Arabian peninsula.

In the next phase, when the believers had been prepared for a final onslaught against the Kuffār, who had been given ample time to contemplate on the consequences of their denial, the stage was set to pronounce the final judgement against the addressees of Muhammad (sws). Sūrah Tawbah describes in detail the events which took place in the final phase regarding the three major opponents: the Idolaters, the People of the Book and the Hypocrites. The sūrah is divided into three sections. In the first, the Idolaters of Arabia; in the second, the People of the Book, and, in the third, the Hypocrites are dealt with.

1. For the Idolaters

Initially, the Idolaters were given an ultimatum of four months after which their humiliation would start:

بَرَاءَةٌ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ إِلَى الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ فَسِيحُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللَّهِ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مُخْزِي الْكَافِرِينَ (٩ :١-٢)

This is a declaration of acquittal from Allah and His Messenger from these Idolaters with whom you had made contracts. So move about in the land  for four months but you should know that you are not beyond the grasp of Allah and Allah shall indeed humiliate those who reject Him. (9:1-2)

Tribes who had honoured their contracts were provided immunity during the period of the contract. However, once the contract period ended, they would also be treated similarly:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنقُصُوكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يُظَاهِرُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَحَدًا فَأَتِمُّوا إِلَيْهِمْ عَهْدَهُمْ إِلَى مُدَّتِهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ (٩: ٤)

But this action shall not be taken against those Idolaters with whom you have entered into alliance and who did not breach the contract nor aided anyone against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loves the pious. (9:4)

Later, this announcement was repeated for those people among these Idolaters who had not accepted faith until the day of Hajj-i-Akbar (9th Hijra). They were given a final extension by a proclamation made in the field of ‘Arafāt on that day. According to the proclamation, this final extension would end with the last day of the month of Muharram. Before this period, they had to accept faith and demonstrate this acceptance by offering prayers and paying Zakāh; otherwise they would face execution at the end of that period. The Qur’ān says:

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٩ :٥)

When the forbidden months are over, slay the Idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, surround them and everywhere lie in ambush for them. But if they repent from their wrong beliefs and establish the prayer and pay Zakāh, then spare their lives. God is Oft-Forgiving and Ever Merciful. (9:5)

However, if a person asked for asylum to understand the teachings of Islam, he was to be given this asylum and no action was to be taken against him until this period was over.

وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (٩ :٦)

If anyone among the Idolaters asks you for asylum, grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of Allah and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge. (9:6)

2. For the People of the Book

After the Idolaters, the fate of the People of the Book is stated in Sūrah Tawbah. Since it had become evident that their denial too was based on sheer obstinacy, Muslims were asked to fight them into subjugation unless they accepted the superiority of the Muslims by paying Jizyah:

قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنْ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ (٩: ٢٩)

Fight those who believe not in Allah or the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission and are subdued. (9:29)

A final charge sheet of their crimes was presented to them in the following words:

وَقَالَتْ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَتْ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُمْ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ قَاتَلَهُمْ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَهًا وَاحِدًا لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ  (٩ :٣٠-١)

The Jews [of Arabia] call ‘Uzayr the son of God, and the Christians call Christ the son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; [In this] they but imitate what the Disbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth. They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and [they take as their Lord] Christ, the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: [far is He] from having the partners they associate [with Him]. (9:30-1)

It has been shown in the previous sections that the difference in punishment between the Idolaters and the People of the Book seems to be based on the fact that while the former ascribed to polytheism, the latter were basically monotheists.

3. For the Hypocrites

In the third section of Sūrah Tawbah, the Hypocrites are taken to task and told that if they do not desist from this behaviour, they would meet their fate also:

يَحْلِفُونَ بِاللَّهِ مَا قَالُوا وَلَقَدْ قَالُوا كَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ وَكَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِسْلَامِهِمْ وَهَمُّوا بِمَا لَمْ يَنَالُوا وَمَا نَقَمُوا إِلَّا أَنْ أَغْنَاهُمْ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ فَإِنْ يَتُوبُوا يَكُ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ وَإِنْ يَتَوَلَّوْا يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ (٩ :٧٤)

They swear by Allah that they said nothing [evil], but indeed they uttered blasphemy, and they did it after accepting Islam; and they meditated a plot which they were unable to carry out: this revenge of theirs was only because of the blessings with which Allah and His Messenger had enriched the Muslims. If they repent, it will be best for them; but if they turn back [to their evil ways], Allah will punish them with a grievous penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: they shall have none on earth to protect or help them. (9:74)

وَمِمَّنْ حَوْلَكُمْ مِنْ الْأَعْرَابِ مُنَافِقُونَ وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَدُوا عَلَى النِّفَاقِ لَا تَعْلَمُهُمْ نَحْنُ نَعْلَمُهُمْ سَنُعَذِّبُهُمْ مَرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى عَذَابٍ عَظِيمٍ (٩ :١٠١)

There are Hypocrites among the desert Arabs round you as well as among the Madīnah folk: they are obstinate in hypocrisy: you do not know them: We know them: twice shall We punish them: and in addition shall they be sent to a grievous penalty. (9:101)

I now conclude this section by presenting Ghamidi’s thesis12 regarding the continuation of Muhammad’s (sws) mission by his immediate Companions (rta) and why this mission was divinely terminated with the departure of these immediate Companions (rta). Muhammad (sws) directly bore witness to the truth before his Companions (rta) as a group. Moral concepts were personified in these Companions (rta) in the ultimate degree. They were a group of noble souls who graced this world and became embodiments of moral ideals in their collective capacity. They became the representatives of the

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Appendix A: The Preaching Mission of Noah (sws)

Appendixes, Shehzad Saleem

The various stages of the Prophet Noah’s preaching mission are very compactly set forth in a brief sūrah of the Qur’ān: Sūrah Nūh. A short analysis of it follows:

a. The Propagation Phase

Noah (sws) began his preaching by warning his nation about the basic truths. The underlined words in clear simple terms state the three-point agenda which formed the crux of Noah’s message. These three points are, in fact, the basis of propagation and preaching of all the Prophets of Allah. Noah (sws) explicitly told his nation that they would be given a certain amount of time to mend their ways. If they do not do so, they would be destroyed:

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَى قَوْمِهِ أَنْ أَنذِرْ قَوْمَكَ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ قَالَ يَاقَوْمِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ أَنْ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَطِيْعُوْنِ يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ مِنْ ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرْكُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى إِنَّ أَجَلَ اللَّهِ إِذَا جَاءَ لَا يُؤَخَّرُ لَوْ كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (٧١ :١-٤)

[O Prophet! just as We have sent forth you], We had sent forth Noah as a Rasūl to his people [with the directive]: ‘Warn your people before there comes to them a grievous penalty’. He said: ‘O my People! I am to you a warner, clear and open. [I call upon you] to serve Allah and remain within the limits set by him and obey me. [I inform you that as a result of this] the Almighty shall forgive your [previous] sins, and shall give you respite till an appointed time. Verily, the time appointed by Allah, when it comes, cannot be put off. Would that you understood this!’ (71:1-4)

The Prophets of Allah invest all their time and effort in trying to warn their people of the punishment which they would encounter if they do not mend their ways. In this regard, the Prophet Noah (sws) had the distinction of warning his people for an extremely long period: almost a millennium. His earnest calls should have melted their hearts and stirred their souls had they responded properly. However, the more he called them, the more they ran away from him. The following verses portray the reaction of the leaders of Noah’s people and spells out the basic reason for their denial: pride and arrogance:

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُ قَوْمِي لَيْلًا وَنَهَارًا فَلَمْ يَزِدْهُمْ دُعَائِي إِلَّا فِرَارًا وَإِنِّي كُلَّمَا دَعَوْتُهُمْ لِتَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ جَعَلُوا أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَاسْتَغْشَوْا ثِيَابَهُمْ وَأَصَرُّوا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا اسْتِكْبَارًا  (٧١ :٥-٧)

[He kept on calling them to this message but they did not pay any heed until at last] he said: ‘O Lord! day and night I have called my people but my calls have only added to their aversion. And whenever I called upon them [to show repentance] so that You [O Lord!] may forgive them, they thrust their fingers in their ears and drew their cloaks over them and persisted in their denial and bore themselves with insolent pride’. (71:5-7)

The sūrah goes on to show that after sometime Noah (sws), seeing the denial of his people, augmented his crusade and launched an extensive effort to beseech his nation: for a true preacher does not get frustrated at the obstinacy of his people; in fact the more they evade his calls the more he increases his pitch and the more hostility they show to him the more gracious he becomes:

ثُمَّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُهُمْ جِهَارًا ثُمَّ إِنِّي أَعْلَنتُ لَهُمْ وَأَسْرَرْتُ لَهُمْ إِسْرَارًا فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا يُرْسِلْ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِدْرَارًا وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ أَنْهَارًا (٧١ :٨-١٢)

Then I openly called them and then appealed to them in public and beseeched them in private: ‘Seek forgiveness from your Lord’ I said. ‘Indeed, He is ever Forgiving. [As a consequence] He shall send down on you abundant rain from the heavens and shall strengthen you with wealth and sons and shall make for you gardens and shall bring forth for you springs of water’. (71:8-12)

Once the truth had been unveiled to his addressees, they were scolded and reprimanded that their fate is at hand. It can be seen from the following verses that the earnest pleadings of Noah (sws) have given way to stern words of rebuke. A nation is often misled by its wealth and riches in the time of respite allotted to it by the Almighty according to His laws. They consider this period of reprieve as eternal and often cite it as a testimony of their own rectitude. The people of Noah (sws) too had become deeply engrossed in their misdeeds. The sūrah prods them that they must not misunderstand the purpose of the freedom given to them by Allah’s majesty and grace; they must be mindful of the precious time they are losing and if they continue to be indifferent, the Almighty shall decide their fate once and for all. The verses state the reason why must these people, who consider the Day of Judgement as something unlikely, remain mindful of His grace and majesty mentioned in the previous verse: if the Almighty has shown such a profound display of His Power and Grandeur in creating man, He can easily create him a second time:

مَا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا أَلَمْ تَرَوْا كَيْفَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا وَاللَّهُ أَنْبَتَكُمْ مِنْ الْأَرْضِ نَبَاتًا ثُمَّ يُعِيدُكُمْ فِيهَا وَيُخْرِجُكُمْ إِخْرَاجًا وَاللَّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُمْ الْأَرْضَ بِسَاطًا لِتَسْلُكُوا مِنْهَا سُبُلًا فِجَاجًا (٧١ :١٣-٢٠)

What has come upon you that you do not fear the Majesty of your Lord, for He has made you in gradual stages in various moulds. [We said]: ‘See you not how God has made seven heavens one above the other? And made the moon a light therein and the sun a lamp? And Allah has grown you from the earth in such an elaborate way and to the earth He will return you and then He will suddenly bring you forth from it without any effort. And Allah has spread out the earth for you as a spreading that you may walk in its spacious passes [that lie between the mountains]. (71:13-20)

b. The Acquittal Phase

As soon as Noah’s propagation mission reached its culmination, he announced his acquittal from his people. He dissociated himself from them so that they could be punished:

قَالَ نُوحٌ رَبِّ إِنَّهُمْ عَصَوْنِي وَاتَّبَعُوا مَنْ لَمْ يَزِدْهُ مَالُهُ وَوَلَدُهُ إِلَّا خَسَارًا وَمَكَرُوا مَكْرًا كُبَّارًا وَقَالُوا لَا تَذَرُنَّ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَلَا تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّا وَلَا سُوَاعًا وَلَا يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْرًا وَقَدْ أَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَلَا تَزِدْ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا ضَلَالًا (٧١ :١٥-٢٤)

Noah said: ‘O Lord! they have disobeyed me and followed those [leaders of theirs] whose wealth and children only added to their ruin and they contrived great schemes and said: “Abandon not these Gods of yours whatsoever and abandon not [this] Wadd nor Suwā’; and neither Yagūth nor Ya’ūq nor Nasr.” And [in this manner] they misled many. And [now, O Lord!] only increase these wrong-doers in further error’. (71:15-24)

c. The Judgement Phase

In the final phase, his nation’s fate was decided and they were wiped out:

مِمَّا خَطِيئَاتِهِمْ أُغْرِقُوا فَأُدْخِلُوا نَارًا فَلَمْ يَجِدُوا لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ أَنْصَارًا (٧١ :٢٥)

And because of their misdeeds they were drowned and then were cast into a great Fire. Then they found none to help them against Allah.  (71:25)

The verses also refer to the punishment of the Hereafter encountered by them wherein they will be cast in Hell. The punishment of the next world has been stated in the past tense to show its certainty.


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Appendix B: Fate of some Nations who denied their Messengers

Appendixes, Shehzad Saleem

Sūrah Qamar depicts in the following words the fate of some nations who deliberately rejected their Messengers:

كَذَّبَتْ قَبْلَهُمْ قَوْمُ نُوحٍ فَكَذَّبُوا عَبْدَنَا وَقَالُوا مَجْنُونٌ وَازْدُجِرَ فَدَعَا رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَغْلُوبٌ فَانْتَصِرْ فَفَتَحْنَا أَبْوَابَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَاءٍ مُنْهَمِرٍ وَفَجَّرْنَا الْأَرْضَ عُيُونًا فَالْتَقَى الْمَاءُ عَلَى أَمْرٍ قَدْ قُدِرَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُ عَلَى ذَاتِ أَلْوَاحٍ وَدُسُرٍ تَجْرِي بِأَعْيُنِنَا جَزَاءً لِمَنْ كَانَ كُفِرَ وَلَقَدْ تَرَكْنَاهَا آيَةً فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ عَذَابِي وَنُذُرِ وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ (٥٤ :٩-١٧)

[Similarly], before them the folks of Noah [rejected their Prophet] by declaring Our servant to be a liar and said that he was a mad man, and he was badly scolded [by them]. At last he cried unto his Lord saying: I am vanquished, Take revenge from them. So We opened the gates of heaven with water pouring forth, and caused the earth to burst with gushing springs. The waters met at the point decreed and We carried him [—Our servant Noah] on a vessel made of planks and nails, which sailed under Our protection: a recompense for him who had been snubbed. And We made this tale a sign [for those who would learn a lesson from it]. So is there anyone who would take heed [from this]! [You heard this tale!]. Tell Me how [dreadful] was My punishment, how [stern] was My warning? [Will you also receive admonition like this?]. And, [indeed], We have made the Qur’ān very appropriate for admonition. Is there any who shall take heed?!! (54:9-17)

كَذَّبَتْ عَادٌ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ عَذَابِي وَنُذُرِ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحًا صَرْصَرًا فِي يَوْمِ نَحْسٍ مُسْتَمِرٍّ تَنزِعُ النَّاسَ كَأَنَّهُمْ أَعْجَازُ نَخْلٍ مُنْقَعِرٍ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ عَذَابِي وَنُذُرِ وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ (٥٤ :١٨-٢٢)

[Similarly], the people of Ād rejected the warnings. Then observe how dreadful was My punishment and how My promised doom [got hold of them]! On a day of unremitting woe, We had let loose on them a howling wind which plucked out the people [of A^d from their places] as if they were uprooted trunks of palm-trees. So tell Me how [dreadful] was My punishment and how [stern] was My warning. [Will you also receive admonition like this?]. And We have made the Qur’ān very appropriate for admonition. Is there anyone who shall take heed?!! (54:18-22)

كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُودُ بِالنُّذُرِ فَقَالُوا أَبَشَرًا مِنَّا وَاحِدًا نَتَّبِعُهُ إِنَّا إِذًا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ وَسُعُرٍ أَؤُلْقِيَ الذِّكْرُ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ بَيْنِنَا بَلْ هُوَ كَذَّابٌ أَشِرٌ سَيَعْلَمُونَ غَدًا مَنْ الْكَذَّابُ الْأَشِرُ إِنَّا مُرْسِلُو النَّاقَةِ فِتْنَةً لَهُمْ فَارْتَقِبْهُمْ وَاصْطَبِرْ وَنَبِّئْهُمْ أَنَّ الْمَاءَ قِسْمَةٌ بَيْنَهُمْ كُلُّ شِرْبٍ مُحْتَضَرٌ فَنَادَوْا صَاحِبَهُمْ فَتَعَاطَى فَعَقَرَ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ عَذَابِي وَنُذُرِ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ صَيْحَةً وَاحِدَةً فَكَانُوا كَهَشِيمِ الْمُحْتَظِرِ وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ (٥٤ :٢٢-٣٢)

The Thamūd also rejected this warning by saying: Are we to follow a person who stands alone amongst us? If we do so, we shall, [in fact], be straying [from the right path] and [would eventually] find ourselves [in the raging fire of] Hell. Did he alone among us receive this Reminder? Nay, he is indeed a liar, a boaster. [We said:] tomorrow they shall know who is the liar and [who is] the boaster. We will be sending a she-camel as a test for them. So wait and see and have patience, and inform them that the water is to be shared between [her and] them. [Now] everyone shall come on his turn. At this, they cried out to their leader; so he came forward and hamstrung her. So observe how My punishment descended upon them and how My promised doom got hold of them. We sent upon them a single shout and they became [crushed powder] like the trampled hedge of a sheep-fold builder. [Will you now also receive admonition like this?]. And We have made the Qur’ān very appropriate for admonition. Is there anyone who shall take heed?!! (54:23-32)

كَذَّبَتْ قَوْمُ لُوطٍ بِالنُّذُرِ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ حَاصِبًا إِلَّا آلَ لُوطٍ نَجَّيْنَاهُمْ بِسَحَرٍ نِعْمَةً مِنْ عِنْدِنَاكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي مَنْ شَكَرَ وَلَقَدْ أَنذَرَهُمْ بَطْشَتَنَا فَتَمَارَوْا بِالنُّذُرِ وَلَقَدْ رَاوَدُوهُ عَنْ ضَيْفِهِ فَطَمَسْنَا أَعْيُنَهُمْ فَذُوقُوا عَذَابِي وَنُذُرِ وَلَقَدْ صَبَّحَهُمْ بُكْرَةً عَذَابٌ مُسْتَقِرٌّ فَذُوقُوا عَذَابِي وَنُذُرِ وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ (٥٤ :٣٣-٤١)

[Similarly,] the people of Lot rejected this warning. [As recompense for this crime], We unleashed on them a stone-charged whirlwind; only the followers of Lot survived, whom, as a special favour, We evacuated [from that place] before the advent of dawn. Thus do We reward every person who is thankful. And, indeed, Lot had warned them of Our punishment, but they only foolishly argued [with him about Our] warnings. And they tempted him to hand over his guests to them [for a wanton purpose]; so We blinded their eyes [and said] taste you My wrath and [the terrible consequences of] My warning. And, indeed, at daybreak, an abiding punishment seized them. [So now] taste My wrath and [the terrible consequences of] My warning. [Will these people also receive admonition after tasting My punishment]! And We have made the Qur’ān very appropriate for admonition. Is there anyone who shall take heed?!! (54:33-41)

وَلَقَدْ جَاءَ آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ النُّذُرُ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا كُلِّهَا فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ أَخْذَ عَزِيزٍ مُقْتَدِرٍ (٥٤ :٤٢-٣)

And, indeed, to the Pharaoh’s people also came the warnings. But [in a similar manner], they also rejected all Our signs; so We grasped them with the grasp of One Mighty, Powerful. (54:42-3)


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Appendix C: Treatment of Non-Muslim Minorities

Appendixes, Shehzad Saleem

It has been shown that non-Muslim minorities living in an Islamic state must be classified as Mu’āhids (citizens by contract). As far as the attitude of an Islamic state to its non-Muslim minorities is concerned, it needs to be appreciated that all dealings with them should be according to the terms of the treaty concluded with them. Muslims have been bound  by Islam to abide by these terms in all circumstances and to never violate them in the slightest way. Such violations according to Islam are totally forbidden and, in fact, amount to a grave transgression. The Qur’ān says:

وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا (١٧ :٣٤)

Keep [your] covenants; because indeed [on the Day of Judgement] you will be held accountable for them. (17:34)

The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

أَلَا مَنْ ظَلَمَ مُعَاهِدًا أَوْ انْتَقَصَهُ أَوْ كَلَّفَهُ فَوْقَ طَاقَتِهِ أَوْ أَخَذَ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا بِغَيْرِ طِيبِ نَفْسٍ فَأَنَا حَجِيجُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ (ابو داؤد: رقم ٣٠٥٢)

Beware! I myself shall invoke the justice of the Almighty on the Day of Judgement against the person who oppresses and persecutes a Mu’āhid, or reduces his rights, or burdens him [with responsibilities] he cannot bear, or takes something from him against his will. (Abu Dā’ūd: No. 3052)

In this regard, the Qur’ān has explicitly stated the principle that Muslims while dealing with their enemies must not exceed the limits of justice, not to speak of Mu’āhids who have accepted to live peacefully in an Islamic State:

وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ (٥ :٨)

And let not the enmity of a people turn you away from justice. Deal justly; this is nearer to piety. (5:8)

As far as their rights are concerned, they should be given all the rights that are sanctioned by the norms of justice and fairness for people in a civilized society. For example:

Their life, wealth and honour should be protected by the state such that no one whosoever is able to lay hands on them.

The needy and poor among them should be provided the basic necessities of life.

Their personal matters and religious rituals should be exempted from the law of the state and no interference should be made in their faith and religion.

Their places of worship should be given full protection.

They should be allowed to present their religion to others in a polite manner.

They should be allowed to be elected to public offices except to those which may require Muslims to preserve the religious identity of the state.

In this regard, however, there exists an exception regarding the Arabian peninsula. Pre-Islamic Arabia was conquered and given in the possession of Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) by the Almighty in accordance with His established scheme regarding His Messengers that has been discussed earlier in detail in the main text of this article. It is the Almighty who actually took control of matters and saw to it that the Kuffār be punished through the hands of the believers. The Messengers and their Companions (rta) act as no more than the implementers of His will. So in accordance with this law, specifically meant for the Messengers, Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) were told that they would have to fight the Idolaters of Arabia until the supremacy of Islam was achieved:

وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّهِ (٨ :٣٩)

And fight them on until there is no more persecution and there prevails the religion of God everywhere [in this land of Arabia]. (8:39)

This Qur’anic directive has been referred to by the Prophet in the following words:

لَا يَجْتَمِعُ دِينَانِ فِي جَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِ (مؤطا: رقم ١٦٥١)

No religion other than Islam should reign in Arabia. (Mu’attā: No. 1651)

With the implementation of this divine scheme, Arabia was required to become a symbol of monotheism. Here every trace of polytheism was to be uprooted. Therefore, all idols were destroyed. Consequently, in Arabia no non-Muslim was and is allowed to build places of worship to practice polytheism.

The directive is not related to other countries and territories in which non-Muslims can live as permanent citizens and build places of worship. So, we find the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) giving full religious freedom to their subjects in conquered areas outside Arabia.

All non-Muslims who come to Arabia would be treated as its guests and temporary residents and would not be given its full citizenship for reasons mentioned above.

An issue that is linked with non-Muslim occupation in Holy lands is their visiting the Baytullāh.

On the basis of the following verse, some scholars1 opine that non-Muslims cannot enter Muslim places of worship, in particular the Baytullāh:

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلاَ يَقْرَبُواْ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ (٩ :٢٨)

Believers, verily these Idolaters are unclean [of faith]. So let them not after this year of theirs approach the Sacred Mosque. (9:28)

It is evident from this verse that the real reason of this prohibition is polytheism which has been called impure and unclean. Consequently, this prohibition stands analogously extended to people who have adopted polytheism as their religion, for example some sects of Hinduism. It cannot be extended to the adherents of such monotheistic religions as Judaism and Christianity. As has been explained earlier, though the followers of Christianity are involved in polytheistic practices, yet they never condone to polytheism as the real religion. Obviously, there is a world of difference between getting involved in polytheistic practices while considering them to be non- polytheistic and becoming followers of polytheism itself.

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1. According to Zamakhasharī, this is the view of Mālik and Shāfi’ī. For details see Zamakhasharī, Kashshāf, vol. 2 (Beirut: Dāru’l-Kitāb al-‘Arabī), p. 261


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Islam and Women: Misconceptions and Misperceptions

Editorial: Islam and Women: Shehzad Saleem

Social Issues, Islam and Women: Misconceptions and Misperceptions: Shehzad Saleem

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Islam and Women, Social Issues: Shehzad Saleem

The stance of Islam regarding certain issues relating to women has remained a hot subject of debate, especially in the last few centuries. ‘The fatal point in Islam is its degradation of women’ is what Edward William Lane, the famous nineteenth century lexicographer, once wrote. Although Islam does not support the basic tenets of the feminist movement, it must be conceded that this movement has served to create awareness in the educated Muslim women regarding some of the viewpoints that are presented to them by the clergy under the label of Islam.

A careful study of these issues would show that many controversies regarding the stance of Islam on women have arisen because of misunderstanding the view of Islam in this regard. In recent times, the works of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a meritorious religious scholar and president of Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences, have attempted to clarify the stance of the Islamic Shari’ah on various issues. His research has also been instrumental in clearing up misconceptions regarding women. The ideas presented in this issue of the journal draw almost entirely on his research and most of them are derived from his article ‘Qanun-i-Mu’asharat’ (The Social Shari’ah of Islam).

No research is final. Being a human endeavour, it can never be without blemishes. However, every new research needs to be given a serious thought. We would therefore request our readers to critically evaluate the ideas presented and weigh the arguments that are proffered in the light of reason and revelation.

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Islam and Women: Misconceptions and Misperceptions, Social Issues

There exist a number of misconceptions regarding the stance of Islam on women. In this essay, an attempt, based on the views of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, has been made to dispel some common misconceptions about Islam and women and to answer some nagging questions in this regard.

Before these misconceptions and misperceptions are discussed, it seems essential that some space be devoted to an age old question regarding women: What exactly is their role in the society? Many religious scholars argue that women should be confined to their homes and they should stick to serving the needs of their husbands and rearing the next generation. Modernists argue that women are seen to be simply wasting themselves in a typical eastern society. They have nothing to do except indulging in gossip and meaningless household problems. The majority have virtually killed their mental abilities and intellectual prowess. When we talk of boys, we discuss their careers; but when we talk of girls, we discuss their marriage.

In this regard, it needs to be appreciated that the role of women in the society can be understood if the following aspects are kept in consideration:

1. The Shari’ah revealed by the Almighty is very brief and succinct. The thesis is that human intellect can itself discover the way out in most affairs. It is only at the crossroads where it is bound to falter that Islam interferes to guide it. In the sphere of gender and social interaction too – the sphere which one comes across so often – only certain guiding points have been given. In this regard, as far as the Shari’ah is concerned, broadly speaking, Islam has given principle guidelines in matters such as the formation and dissolution of a family; its organization under a head; the dress code and behavioral conduct in social contact.

2. While stating this Shari’ah, there is a directive which the Qur’an gives in this regard in its lofty style, the brevity of which touches sublimity. It says:

وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (٢ :٢٢٨)

And just as according to [society’s] norms these women have obligations [towards their husbands], they also have rights, although men [as husbands] have a status above women. (2:228)

This divine directive – a mere few words – covers a world of wisdom and sagacity. Evidently, it ends once and for all the debate regarding the role of women. What is implied is very clear: it is the sound conventions and traditions of a society which govern the responsibilities and rights of women. In other words, it is the collective conscience of a society that determines them. Also, since the conventions and customs of different societies can be different, these rights and responsibilities can be different in different societies. Who should raise children and look after them, who should cook the food, who should clean the house are all matters in which we must look towards traditions and customs of a society. If they do not contradict the Shari’ah and are also not against the universal norms of sense and reason, they should be adhered to.

3. Consequently, women have before them a whole arena of activities. They can do everything which is not against the healthy conventions of their society. They should educate themselves as far as they can and contribute positively in the society through their intellect, talent and ability. Earning for themselves is certainly not prohibited. They can pursue careers just as men can. However, as pointed out, they should always give due respect to the precepts of the Shari’ah.

We now turn to the general misconceptions and some nagging questions that have arisen regarding Islam and women.

1. The Testimony of Women1

Since the Qur’an has in no way bound the Muslims to adopt a particular method in proving a crime, it is absolutely certain that a crime stands proven in Islamic law just as it is in accordance with the universally acceptable methods of legal ethics endorsed by sense and reason. Consequently, if circumstantial evidence, medical check-ups, post mortem reports, finger prints, testimony of witnesses, confession of criminals, oaths and various other methods are employed to ascertain a crime, then this would be perfectly acceptable by Islamic law.

It is to this fact that the following words of the Prophet (sws) allude to:

الْبَيِّنَةُ عَلَى الْمُدَّعِي وَالْيَمِينُ عَلَى الْمُدَّعَى عَلَيْهِ (ترمذى: رقم ١٢٦١)

To substantiate a crime is the claimant’s responsibility, and the person who refutes it will have to swear an oath. (Tirmadhi: No. 1261)

In the words of Ibn Qayyim:2

البينة في كلام الله و رسوله و كلام الصحابة اسم لكل ما يبين الحق فهي اعم من البينة في اصطلاح الفقهاء حيث خصوها بالشاهدين أو الشاهد واليمين

The word ‘Bayyinah’ in the language of the Qur’an, of the Prophet (sws) and of his Companions (rta) is the name of everything by which the truth becomes evident. Hence contrary to its connotations in the terminology of the jurists, it has a wider meaning because they only use it for two witnesses or an oath and a witness.

However, there are two exceptions to this:

Firstly, if a person accuses a chaste and righteous man or woman having a sound reputation of fornication. In this case, the Qur’an stresses that the accuser shall have to produce four eye-witnesses. Anything less than this will not prove his accusation. Circumstantial evidence or medical examination in this case are absolutely of no importance. If a person is of lewd character, such things have a very important role, but if he has a morally sound reputation, Islam wants that even if he has faltered, his crime should be concealed and he should not be disgraced in the society. Consequently, in this case, it wants four eye-witnesses to testify and if the accuser fails to produce them, it regards him as guilty of Qadhf. The Qur’an says:

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً  وَلَا  تَقْبَلُوا  لَهُمْ  شَهَادَةً  أَبَدًا  وَأُوْلَئِكَ  هُمْ  الْفَاسِقُونَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٢٤ :٤-٥)

And upon those who accuse honourable women [of fornication] and bring not four witnesses as evidence [for their accusation], inflict eighty stripes, and never accept their testimony in future. They indeed are transgressors. But those who repent and mend their ways, Allah is Most-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful. (24:4-5)

Secondly, to purge an Islamic state from prostitutes who, in spite of being Muslims, do not give up their life of sin, the only thing required, according to the Qur’an, is that four witnesses should be called forth who are in a position to testify that a particular woman is a prostitute. In this case, it is not necessary at all that they be eye-witnesses. If they testify with full responsibility that she is known as a prostitute in the society and the court is satisfied with their testimony, then they can be given any of the punishments fixed by the Qur’an for habitual criminals. The Qur’an says:

وَاللَّاتِي يَأْتِينَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مِنْ نِسَائِكُمْ فَاسْتَشْهِدُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةً مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ شَهِدُوا فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ فِي الْبُيُوتِ حَتَّى يَتَوَفَّاهُنَّ الْمَوْتُ أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا (١٥:٤)

And upon those of your women3 who commit fornication, call in four people from among yourselves4 to testify over them; if they testify [to their ill-ways], confine them to their homes till death overtakes them or God formulates another way for them. (4:15)

Barring these two exceptions, the Shari’ah does not in any way bind the court to follow any prescribed procedure to ascertain a crime. Consequently, in cases of Hudud punishments or in those of evidence in any other crime, in the view of this writer, it has been left to the discretion of the judge whether he accepts someone as witness or not. In this regard, there is to be no discrimination between men and women. If a woman testifies in a clear and definite manner, her testimony cannot be turned down simply on the basis that there is not another woman and a man to testify alongside her. Likewise, if a man records an ambiguous and vague statement, it cannot be accepted merely on the grounds that he is a man. If a court is satisfied by the statements of witnesses and by any circumstantial evidence, it has all the authority to pronounce a case as proven and if it is not satisfied, it has all the authority to reject it even if ten men have testified.

Except in cases where the Qur’an has used the words  ‘منكم’ (minkum: from among you) as in 4:15 above, similar is the case with the testimony of non-Muslims: It is left to the discretion of a judge.

Here it should remain clear that our jurists hold a different view in this matter. Ibn Rushd has summed up the opinions of the jurists on this issue in his celebrated treatise Bidayatu’l-Mujtahid in the following words:

واتفقوا على انه تثبت الأموال بشاهد عدل ذكر و امرأتين لقوله تعالى : فرجل  وامرأتان  ممن  ترضون  من الشهداء واختلفوا في قبولهما في الحدود فالذي  عليه  الجمهور  انه لاتقبل شهادة النساء في الحدود لامع رجل ولا مفردات وقال أهل الظاهر : تقبل إذا كان معهن رجل وكان النساء اكثر  من  واحدة  في  كل شىء على ظاهر الآية وقال ابوحنيفه : تقبل في الأموال وفيما عدا الحدود من أحكام الأبدان مثل الطلاق والرجعة والنكاح والعتق ولا تقبل عند مالك في حكم من أحكام البدن واختلف أصحاب مالك في قبولهن في حقوق الأبدان المتعلقة بالمال مثل الوكالات والوصية التي لا تتعلق الا بالمال فقط فقال مالك وابن القاسم وابن وهب : يقبل فيه شاهد وامرأتان وقال أشهب وابن الماجشون : لا يقبل فيه الا رجلان واما شهادة النساء مفردات اعنى النساء دون الرجال فهي مقبولة  عند  الجمهور  في  حقوق  الأبدان التي لا يطلع عليها الرجال غالبًا مثل الولادة والاستهلال وعيوب النساء

There is a general consensus among the jurists that in financial transactions a case stands proven by the testimony of a just man and two women on the basis of the verse: ‘If two men cannot be found then one man and two women from among those whom you deem appropriate as witnesses’. However; in cases of Hudud, there is a difference of opinion among our jurists. The majority say that in these affairs the testimony of women is in no way acceptable whether they testify alongside a male witness or do so alone. The Zahiris on the contrary maintain that if they are more than one and are accompanied by a male witness, then owing to the apparent meaning of the verse their testimony will be acceptable in all affairs. Imam Abu Hanifah is of the opinion that except in cases of Hudud and in financial transactions their testimony is acceptable in bodily affairs like divorce, marriage, slave-emancipation and raju’ [restitution of marriage]. Imam Malik is of the view that their testimony is not acceptable in bodily affairs. There is however a difference of opinion among the companions of Imam Malik regarding bodily affairs which relate to wealth like advocacy and will-testaments which do not specifically relate to wealth. Consequently, Ash-hab and Ibn Majishun accept two male witnesses only in these affairs, while to Malik Ibn Qasim and Ibn Wahab two female and a male witness are acceptable. As far as the matter of women as sole witnesses is concerned, the majority accept it only in bodily affairs, about which men can have no information in ordinary circumstances like the physical handicaps of women and the crying of a baby at birth.5

The jurists have based their view upon the following verse of the Qur’an:

وَاسْتَشْهِدُوا شَهِيدَيْنِ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُونَا رَجُلَيْنِ فَرَجُلٌ وَامْرَأَتَانِ مِمَّنْ تَرْضَوْنَ مِنْ الشُّهَدَاءِ أَنْ تَضِلَّ إِحْدَاهُمَا فَتُذَكِّرَ إِحْدَاهُمَا الْأُخْرَى (٢٨٢:٢)

And call in two male witnesses from among your men [over the document of loan]. And if two men cannot be found then one man and two women from among those whom you deem appropriate as witnesses so that if either of them gets confused the other reminds her. (2:282)

This view of our jurists concerning the testimony of a woman is not correct owing to the following two reasons:

Firstly, the verse has nothing to do with the bearing of witness to an incident. It explicitly relates to testifying over a document. It is very evident that in the second case witnesses are selected by an external agency, while in the first case the presence of a witness at the site of an incidence is an accidental affair. If we have written a document or signed an agreement, then the selection of witnesses rests upon our discretion, while in the case of adultery, theft, robbery and other similar crimes whoever is present at the site must be regarded as a witness. The difference between the two cases is so pronounced that no law about one can be deduced on the basis of the other.

Secondly, the context and style of the verse is such that it cannot relate to law or the judicial forums of a state. It is not that after addressing a court of law that it has been said that if such a law suit is presented before them by a claimant, then they should call in witnesses in this prescribed manner. On the contrary, this verse directly addresses people who borrow and lend money over a fixed period. It urges them that if they are involved in such dealings, then an agreement between the two parties must be written down, and to avoid disputes and financial losses only witnesses who are honest, reliable and morally sound should be appointed. At the same time their personal involvement and occupations should be suited to fulfill this responsibility in a befitting manner. The verse should not be taken to mean that a law-suit will only stand proven in court if at least two men or one man and two women bear witness to it. It is reiterated that the verse is merely a guidance for the general masses in their social affairs and counsels them to abide by it so that any dispute can be avoided. It is for their own benefit and welfare that this procedure should be undertaken.

Consequently, about all such directives the Qur’an says:

ذَلِكُمْ أَقْسَطُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَأَقْوَمُ لِلشَّهَادَةِ وَأَدْنَى أَلَّا تَرْتَابُوا (٢٨٢:٢)

This is more just in the sight of God; it ensures accuracy in testifying and is the most appropriate way for you to safeguard against all doubts. (2:282)

Ibn Qayyim comments on this verse in the following manner:

فهذا في التحمل والوثيقة التي يحفظ بها صاحب المال حقه لأفي طريق الحكم وما يحكم به الحاكم فان هذا شيء وهذا شئ

It relates to the heavy responsibility of testifying by which an owner of wealth protects his rights. It has no concern with the decision of a court. The two are absolutely different from each other.6

2. Women are less Sensible than Men

The following Hadith is generally presented to support the view that women are less sensible than men:

عن أبي سعيد الخدري قال خرج رسول الله في أضحى أو فطر إلى المصلى فمر على النساء فقال  …ما رأيت من ناقصات عقل ودين أذهب للب الرجل الحازم من إحداكن قلن وما نقصان ديننا وعقلنا يا رسول الله قال أليس شهادة المرأة مثل نصف شهادة الرجل قلن بلى قال فذلك من نقصان عقلها أليس إذا حاضت لم تصل ولم تصم قلن بلى قال فذلك من نقصان دينها (بخارى رقم: ٢٩٨)

Abu Sa’id Khudri narrates that the Prophet (sws) while once talking to a group of women on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr or Eid ul Adha said: ‘… and I have seen no one more than you rob even a resolute man of his senses in spite of being Naqisati ‘Aql wa Din’. They said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger, what is this Naqs in religious and worldly affairs?’ He said: ‘Is not the evidence of a woman equal to half of a man’s’. They said: ‘Yes’. He said: ‘This is their Naqs in worldly affairs’. He said: ‘Is it not a fact that when they enter the period of menses they neither pray nor fast’. They said: ‘Yes’. Whereupon he said: ‘This is the Naqs in religious affairs’. (Bukhari, No: 298)

This misconception has arisen because of a wrong translation of the Arabic phrase Naqisati ‘Aql wa Din. The word ‘Naqs’ has generally been translated as ‘defective’ keeping in view the Urdu meaning of the word. However, in Arabic, the verb ‘نَقَصَ’ (Naqasa) means ‘to reduce’ and the word ‘عقل’ (‘Aql) here means ‘worldly affairs’ since it is used in conjugation with the word ‘دين’ (religion). Keeping in view, both these aspects, the correct translation of the above phrase, if the context is also taken into consideration, is that women have been given a relief and reduction in their worldly and religious affairs.

The relief in worldly responsibilities, as is mentioned in this Hadith, is that women have not been dragged in certain activities and spheres. For example, the Qur’an urges men to testify on legal documents so that women are relieved of appearing in courts and wasting their precious time on affairs which others can handle. Only if men are not available should a society involve women in such affairs.

The relief women have been given in religious affairs is that they are not required to pray or fast during their monthly periods as is mentioned in this Hadith.

So what must be kept in mind is the fact that the meaning of a word does not always remain the same in two different languages. For example, the word ‘غَلِيْظ’ in Arabic means ‘firm’ while in Urdu it means ‘dirty’. Thus the Qur’an (4:21) has referred to marriage as ‘مِيثَاقاً غَلِيْظَا’ (a firm agreement).

Moreover, people who think that women are less sensible than men on the basis of this Hadith do not realize that the Hadith is not merely saying that women are Naqisati ‘Aql, it is also saying they are Naqisati Din. If Naqisati ‘Aql means that there is some defect in their ‘Aql (intellect), then by the same token, Naqisati Din should mean that there is also some shortcoming in the religion they follow! This of course is absurd and as referred to above is the result of keeping the Urdu meaning of the word in consideration.

3. The Diyat of Women

Diyat means a fine a murderer has to pay the family of the murdered person in case he or she is granted pardon. It is believed that if a lady is murdered the fine that would be given to her relatives would be half the amount of what would have been given in case a man had been murdered.

Consider now the verse of the Qur’an which mentions this issue:

فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَأَدَاءٌ إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ (١٧٨:٢)

Then for whom there has been some pardon from his brother, [the remission] should be followed according to the Ma’ruf and Diyat should be paid with goodness. (2:178)

It is evident from this verse that the Diyat should be paid according to the Ma’ruf of a society. Ma’ruf means the customs and conventions of a society.

In the times of the Prophet (sws), the Ma’ruf of the Arab society was that the Diyat of a woman was half that of a man. So while following the directive of the Qur’an regarding Diyat the Prophet (sws) enforced the Ma’ruf of his society.

The Ma’ruf of different societies may be different and therefore the Ma’ruf of each society should be followed. In other words, Islam has not obligated us to discriminate in this matter between a man or a woman, a slave or a free man and a Muslim or a non-Muslim. It wants us to follow the Ma’ruf of our society. Scholars have erroneously enforced the Ma’ruf of the Arab society of the times of the Prophet (sws). Since then, the wheel of fortune has revolved through fourteen more centuries and the tide of time has sped past innumerable crests and falls. Social conditions and cultural traditions have undergone a drastic change.

As per this Qur’anic directive, every society is to obey its custom, and since in our own society no law about Diyat exists, those at the helm of affairs of our state can re-legislate in this regard. Ibn ‘Abidin, a celebrated Hanifite scholar, writes:

اعلم أن لمسائل الفقهية أما إن تكون ثابتة بصريح النص وهى الفصل الأول واما إن تكون ثابتة بضرب اجتهاد ورأي وكثير منها ما يبنيه المجتهد على  ماكان  في  عرف  زمانه  بحيث  لوكان في زمان العرف الحادث لقال بخلاف ما قاله أولا ولهذا قالوا في شروط الاجتهاد انه لابد  فيه  من  معرفة  عادات  الناس  فكثير  من  الأحكام تختلف باختلاف الزمان لتغير عرف  أهله  أو  لحدوث  ضرورة  أو فساد أهل الزمان بحيث لوبقى الحكم على ماكان عليه أولا للزم منه المشقة والضرر بالناس ولخالف قواعد الشريعة المبنية على التخفيف والتيسير ودفع الضرر والفساد

It should be noted that juristic issues either stand proven by a categorical injunction which is the first type, or stand proven by Ijtihad and opinion [which is the second type]. Most issues of the second category are based by the Mujtahids upon the customs and traditions of a particular period in such a way that if they would have been present in this age which has a certain custom and tradition, they would have given a different opinion. Hence, about the conditions of Ijtihad, they also state the condition that it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the habits and common practices of the people because with the change in times a lot of the directives change. This may be due to a number of reasons. For example, a change in the general custom, requirement of a situation or a fear of disorder in the general condition of the people that if a directive is continued in its original state it might create difficulties for them or inflict a loss upon them; this would be against the principles of the Shari’ah which are based upon facility, comfort, and prevention of damage and disorder.7

4. Women must travel with a Mahram

Most scholars are of the opinion that women cannot travel alone. They must be accompanied by a Mahram (a relative with whom marriage is prohibited). Therefore, in journeys such as Hajj they do not allow women to travel alone. The following Ahadith are the basis of their view:

It is narrated by Abu Hurayrah:

لا يحل لامرأة تؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر تسافر مسيرة يوم وليلة إلا مع ذي محرم عليها) مسلم رقم: ١٣٣٩(

‘It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel a distance for one day and one night without a Mahram with her’. (Muslim, No: 1339)

Abu Sa’id narrates that the Prophet (sws) said:

نهى أن تسافر المرأة مسيرة يومين إلا ومعها زوجها أو ذو محرم (مسلم رقم: ٨٢٧)

‘A woman is not to travel a distance for two days except with her husband or Mahram with her’. (Muslim, No: 827)

It needs to be appreciated that there are a number of Ahadith in which directives have been given by the Prophet (sws) for the well-being of the Muslims. However, if the circumstances in which such directives have been given change, then as is the case with all conditional directives such directives may no longer apply in the changed circumstances.

The directives given to Muslim women about travelling belong to the above mentioned category. To ensure a safe journey for a woman and to protect her moral character from any scandalous allegation in the strife ridden society of Arabia, the Prophet (sws) bade them travel with a Mahram relation.

Thus, all tours and journeys etc in which the above two bases still exist, the condition of a woman travelling with a Mahram must be followed. However, with the changed circumstances of modern times, travelling has become a lot different from what it used to be in previous days. There are some travels in which safety both physical as well as moral is ensured. So, in such cases, the Mahram condition no longer applies. As far as the decision as to which journeys have become safe is concerned, the traveller must decide for herself.

5. Women can’t become Heads of State

A vast majority of Muslim scholars believe that women cannot become heads of state. Many of them base their view on the following Hadith:

عن أبي بكرة قال لقد نفعني الله بكلمة سمعتها من رسول الله أيام الجمل بعد ما كدت أن ألحق بأصحاب الجمل فأقاتل معهم قال لما بلغ رسول الله أن أهل فارس قد ملكوا عليهم بنت كسرى قال لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم امرأة (بخارى رقم: ٤١٦٣)

Abu Bakrah reports: Allah has given me the benefit of a word – which I heard from the Messenger of Allah – during the days of [the battle of] Al-Jamal, when I was about to join the people of Al-Jamal and fight alongside them: When the Messenger of Allah heard that the people of Persia had appointed the daughter of Chosroes (Qisra), he said: ‘People who appoint a woman as their leader will never succeed’. (Bukhari, No: 4163)

This Hadith suffers from the following flaws:

1. It is evident from the very text of the narrative that it was never known until the battle of Jamal took place in 36 AH. It was brought forward only after A’ishah (rta) faced ‘Ali (rta) in battle. Before that it was never heard of – which of course is quite strange.

2. One of the narrators is ‘Awf Ibn Abi Jamilah about whom scholars of Rijal know that he used to give preference to ‘Ali (rta) over ‘Uthman (rta) and it is also known that since A’ishah (rta) sided with ‘Uthman (rta), a group of the followers of ‘Ali (rta) targeted her to besmear her character. Moreover, the Hadith can never be applied to the case of A’ishah (rta) since she never claimed to be the ruler of the Muslims.

3. It is a Gharib Hadith. In Hadith parlance, a narrative which has just one narrator in any section of its chain is called ‘Gharib’. It makes the narrative quite weak. It is only Abu Bakrah who is reporting this narrative at the top of this chain. The nature of the narrative is such that other companions too should have reported it from the Prophet (sws) but we find none.

4. If the content of the Hadith is analyzed, one can easily conclude that the Prophet (sws) could never have uttered these words. After all, success in this world was attained by many nations who had women rulers until the time of the Prophet (sws) and even after him.

5. Last but not the least, this Hadith is against the Qur’an. It is the purport of the Qur’an (42:38) that anyone who enjoys the confidence of the majority is eligible to become the ruler of the Muslims:

وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَى بَيْنَهُمْ (٣٨:٤٢)

And their system is based on their consultation. (42:38)

Nowhere does the Qur’an exclude women from this general principle.

6. Men are Superior to Women

It is argued by some people that men are superior to women. They present the following verses in support of their view:

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِم ا (٣٤:٤)

Men are the guardians of women, because God has given the one more preference over the other, and because they support them. (4:34)

وَ لِلِّرجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَه (٢٢٨:٢)

And the husbands hold a degree of superiority over them. (2:228)

As per the Qur’an (see, for example, 3:195 and 4:1), men and women as human beings are equal and deserve equal respect. However, they have been entrusted with different responsibilities in a family set-up which make them superior to one another in various respects. According to the Qur’an (4:34), as far as a husband is concerned one sphere of his superiority is his status as the head of the family alluded to in 2:228 with the words ‘husbands are one degree superior to their wives’. There are certain spheres in which women by nature – physical, physiological as well as psychological – are superior to men and much more suitable to do certain tasks. Thus 4:34 speaks of the relative superiority of a husband to his wife – that too in responsibility and status – in just one sphere and cannot be generalized to men and women.

Two reasons have been given in 4:34 for granting the husband this status: Firstly, because they are physically and temperamentally more suited to this task and secondly, because they have been entrusted with the responsibility of earning for the family. It also needs to be appreciated in this regard that Islam does not forbid women to earn a living. It has only relieved them of the responsibility of earning, which lies upon their husbands. It also needs to be understood that the verse does not say that the one among the husband or wife who supports the family should become the head; husbands, whether their wives earn or not, are liable for this responsibility. A woman may earn if she likes or if some need arises, but since she has not been entrusted with this duty she has not been given the governing position in the family.

Here it would be appropriate to analyze another concept which has also contributed to the notion that men are superior to women. As per a Hadith, a woman is created from the rib of man referring to the fact that Eve was created from Adam’s rib and thus was a secondary being. The text of the Hadith is:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله استوصوا بالنساء فإن المرأة خلقت من ضلع وإن أعوج شيء في الضلع أعلاه فإن ذهبت تقيمه كسرته وإن تركته لم يزل أعوج فاستوصوا بالنساء (بخارى رقم: ٣١٣٥)

Abu Hurayrah reports that Allah’s Prophet said: Treat women nicely, for a woman is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion; so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely. (Bukhari, No: 3135)

It needs to be appreciated that according to the Qur’an, Eve was not created from Adam’s rib. The first verse of Surah Nisa explicitly states that the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created directly by the Almighty:

يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَتَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا (١:٤)

O mankind! Fear your Lord, Who created you from a single person, created, of like species his mate, and from these two scattered countless men and women [in this world], and fear Allah through whom you seek mutual help and fear breaking blood relationships. Indeed God is watching over you. (4:1)

Some people translate this verse as ‘It is he Who has created you from a single person (Adam) and then He created from him his wife (Eve)’. They explain this verse by saying that Eve was created from the rib of Adam. This misleading translation has probably arisen because of a literal translation of the Arabic words ‘وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا’ viz. ‘and created from him [–the initial soul–] his wife’. Actually the word ‘مِنْهَا’ (from the soul) does not imply that ‘Eve was made from Adam’; it rather implies that Eve was made from the same species as Adam. A similar verse points to this interpretation:

وَاللّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا (٧٢:١٦)

It is God who has made from your species your mates. (16:72)

A literal translation of the words ‘جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا’ of the above quoted verse (which are similar to ‘وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا’) would mean ‘it is God Who has created your mates from you’ implying that every wife is made from her husband as Eve was. This of course is incorrect; the word anfus (plural of nafs) in this verse means ‘genre’, ‘species’ and not ‘physical being’.

As far as the actual Hadith quoted above is concerned, it needs to be appreciated that in Arabic the words ‘created from’ do not necessarily refer to the substance of creation; they can also refer to the nature of something. For example the Qur’an says: ‘Man has been created from hastiness’ (21:37). This does not of course mean that man’s substance is hastiness; it only refers to his nature.

Secondly, if all the textual variants of the Hadith are collected and analyzed, it becomes evident that the Prophet (sws) has compared the nature of a woman with a rib. The comparison subtly alludes to the fact that a woman’s nature is very delicate and tender as well as a bit adamant. The Prophet (sws) has advised men to treat them tactfully keeping in view this nature. Instead of forcing them to accept a particular point of view, men should try to convince and persuade them.

7. Female Circumcision

It is believed by some people that like the male children, female children must also be circumcised. They base their opinion on the following Hadith:

  حدثني يحيى عن مالك عن بن شهاب عن سعيد بن المسيب أن عمر بن الخطاب وعثمان بن عفان وعائشة زوج النبي كانوا يقولون إذا مس الختان الختان فقد وجب الغسل (مؤطّا رقم: ١٠٢ )

‘Umar and ‘Uthman and A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet, used to say: ‘When the circumcised part touches the circumcised part, the ceremonial bath becomes obligatory’. (Mua’tta, No: 102)

This misconception has arisen because of a literal translation of the above Hadith.

If linguistic principles are given due consideration, the Arabic word Khitan used in the Hadith and translated as ‘the circumcised part’, actually implies the male and female reproductive organs.

In the Arabic language, there is a style called Mujanasah which means using similar words such that the second used word does not do the job of conveying its original meaning but rather being of the same genre and category as the previous one. We have examples of such usage in the Qur’an also. For example a verse says:

وَجَزَاء سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا (٤٠:٤٢)

The recompense of evil is similar evil. (42:40)

Here, the word evil used second is merely for Mujanasah ie. it does not do convey its original meaning; it is only of the same genre. Of course, the reward of evil is not a similar evil for the reward is a just act which the perpetrator of evil deserves; this act of justice cannot be called evil in the literal sense.

8. Mahr: the Price of owning a Wife

Mahr is a sum of money which a husband is required to pay to his wife at the time of marriage or make a commitment that it shall be paid later. It is erroneously believed by some that Mahr (dowry) is the price of owning a wife.

In reality, the payment of Mahr has a deep symbolic significance: Islam has entrusted the husband with the responsibility of supporting his wife and children. It is he who must earn to fulfill the requirements of the family. The Mahr money is only a token of this responsibility. In other words, when a man pays this sum, he makes a symbolic expression of the fact that he has taken the financial responsibility of the woman he intends taking as his wife. Consequently, it is in the spirit of this commitment that he pay the agreed sum before he takes home the bride.

It would not be out of place to mention that the amount of the Mahr money, as the Qur’an asserts, should be fixed keeping in view the social customs and traditions of a society :

وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ (٢٥:٤)

… and pay them their dowers according to the custom. (4:25)

Also, as mentioned above, it is in the fitness of things that the amount be paid to the wife as soon as possible since it symbolizes one of the primary responsibilities of the husband.

9. Women Outnumbering Men in Hell

The following Hadith is often presented to support the view that women will outnumber men in Hell:

عن أبي سعيد الخدري قال خرج رسول الله في أضحى أو فطر إلى المصلى فمر على النساء فقال يا معشر النساء تصدقن فإني أريتكن أكثر أهل النار فقلن وبم يا رسول الله قال تكثرن اللعن وتكفرن العشير (بخارى رقم: ٢٩٨)

Abu Sa’id Khudri reported: Allah’s Messenger (sws) went out to the place of worship on the day of ‘Idu’l Adha or Fitr and he passed by the women and said to them: ‘O Women, give charity for I have been shown the majority amongst you as the inmates of Hell’. They said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, wherefore?’ He said: ‘It is because you curse one another very much and show ungratefulness to your husbands’. (Bukhari, No: 298)

This inference is incorrect and has arisen by not properly appreciating a particular style of communication used in certain Ahadith which depict dreams of the Prophet (sws). Such dreams are a source of revelation for the Prophets of Allah and in them they are shown certain images by the Almighty for the purpose of educating Muslim men and women. As a principle, all such dreams are not to be interpreted literally; they contain realities which are depicted in symbolic form.

Symbolic representation is a very subtle and powerful way of expression: Facts seem veiled yet for him who pauses to ponder they are the most evident. They move a person in the manner poetry does. They ignite in a person the spark to look behind the apparent. They urge him to reflect and to meditate and then to discover and to infer. They educate him without rousing his prejudices. The Prophets of Allah (sws) have effectively employed this technique of communication. The words and discourses of the Prophets Joseph (sws) and Jesus (sws) for example are full of powerful parables and subtle symbolism. The dream of the Prophet Joseph (sws) and the way he interpreted it is mentioned in the Qur’an also. If he saw in his dream that the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing before him in prostration, he knew that these heavenly bodies symbolized certain personalities.

The Ahadith which depict more women in Hell should also be interpreted keeping in view this basic principle. These Ahadith do not delineate the population of women in Hell since this would be a literal interpretation; on the contrary, they just caution them that there are certain deeds which they do a lot and which, therefore, would be more instrumental in taking them to Hell; so they should avoid them. In other words, the symbolism is causative in nature. In the above quoted Hadith, the cause has been symbolized to warn women of something which they often do.

10. Sex with Female War Captives

Among many other misconceptions about Islam is the notion that it gives sanction to slavery and permits its followers to enslave prisoners of war, particularly women and establish extra-marital relations with them. The fact is that Islam has not the slightest link with slavery and concubinage. On the contrary, it completely forbids these practices. It is quite outrageous to associate such barbarities with a religion revealed to upgrade humanity.

The point which needs to be appreciated and which, perhaps, is the real cause of the misconception is that Islam had adopted a gradual process to abolish the institution of slavery because of the social conditions prevalent in Arabia at that time. It must be kept in mind that slavery was an integral part of the pre-Islamic Arab society. There were scores of slave men and women in almost every house. This was largely due to two reasons: First, during those times, the standard practice of dispensing with prisoners of war was to distribute them among the army which captured them. Second, there were extensive slave markets in Arabia in that period where free as well as men and women of all ages were sold like commodities.

In these circumstances, in which slavery had become an essential constituent of the Arab society, Islam adopted a gradual way to eliminate it. An immediate order of prohibition would have created immense social and economic problems. It would have become impossible for the society to cater for the needs of a large army of slaves, who were, otherwise, dependent on various families. Also, the national treasury was in no position to provide them all on a permanent basis. A large number among them were old and incapable of supporting themselves. The only alternative left for them, if they were instantly freed, would have been to turn to beggary and become an economic burden on the society. The question of slave girls and women was even more critical, keeping in view their own low moral standards. Freeing them, all of a sudden, would have only resulted in a tremendous increase in brothels.

Perhaps, the reason behind this gradual eradication can be understood better if one considers the position which interest occupies in the economy of Pakistan today. No one can refute Pakistan’s national economic structure is interest oriented. How the parasite of interest has crippled the national economy is apparent to every keen eye. However, there is no denying the fact that without it our present economic system cannot sustain itself. Every reasonable person will acknowledge that today if a government wishes to rid the economy of this menace then, in spite of its utter prohibition in Islam, it will have to adopt a gradual methodology. During this interim period interest-based deals will have to be tolerated and temporary laws will have to be enacted to handle them, just as the Qur’an had given certain provisional directives about slaves during the interim period of their gradual eradication. An alternative economic framework will have to be steadily incorporated in place of the existing one. A sudden abolition, without another parallel base, will only hasten the total collapse of the economic system, which, of course, will be disastrous for the country.

To avert a similar disaster and to ward off a similar catastrophe, Islam had adopted a progressive and a gradual scheme, fourteen hundred years ago, to do away with the inhuman institution of slavery.  

Various directives were given at various stages because of which it gradually became possible for this evil to be eradicated from the society.  These are summarized below:8

1. In the very beginning of its revelation, the Qur’an regarded emancipation of slaves as a great virtue, and urged people in a very effective way to do so. The tremendous appeal found in the words it adopted ‘فَكُّ رَقَبَة’ (release the necks) can be well imagined by a person who has flare for the language. It is evident from the context of such expressions – wherever they are found in the Qur’an – that it has regarded this virtue to be the first as well as the greatest step in pleasing God.9

In a similar manner, the Prophet (sws) also urged Muslims to liberate humanity from the yoke of slavery in the following words: ‘Whoever liberated a Muslim slave, the Almighty in return for every limb of that slave would shield every limb of that person from Hell’10.

2. People were urged that until they free their slaves they should treat them with kindness. The way their masters had total and unchecked control on them in the age of ignorance was put to end. They were told that slaves are human beings too, and no one should in any way violate the rights they possess as human beings.

Abu Hurayrah (rta) narrated from the Prophet (sws): ‘Slaves have a right to food and clothing and he shall not be asked to carry out an errand that is beyond him’11.

Abu Dharr Ghaffari (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): ‘They are your brothers. The Almighty has made them subservient to you. So whatever you eat, feed them with it, whatever you wear, clothe them with it and never ask them to do something which is beyond them and if there is such a task then help them out with it’12.

Ibn ‘Umar (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): ‘Whoever slapped a slave or beat him up should atone this sin by liberating him’13.

Abu Mas’ud (rta) says: ‘Once when I was beating my slave I heard a voice from behind me: “O Abu Mas’ud you should know that the Almighty has more power over you”. When I turned back, I found that it was the Prophet. I immediately remarked: “O Messenger of God, I release him for the sake of God”. The Prophet said: “Had you not done this you would have been given the punishment of the Fire”.’14

Ibn ‘Umar (rta) narrates that once a person came to the Prophet (sws) and asked: ‘How many times should we forgive our servant’. [At this], the Prophet kept quiet. He asked again and the Prophet again kept quiet. Upon being asked the third time, he answered: ‘Seventy times in a day’.15

3. In cases of un-intentional murder, Zihar, and other similar offences, liberating a slave was regarded as their atonement and sadqah16.

4. It was directed to marry off slave-men and slave-women who were capable of marriage so that they could become equivalent in status – both morally and socially – to other members of the society.17

5. If a person were to marry a slave-woman of someone, great care was exercised since this could result in a clash between ownership and conjugal rights. However, such people were told that if they did not have the means to marry free-women, they could marry, with the permission of their masters, slave-women who were Muslims and were also kept chaste. In such marriages, they must pay their dowers so that this could bring them gradually equal in status to free-women. The Qur’an says:

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ مِنْكُمْ طَوْلًا أَنْ يَنكِحَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ فَمِنْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ مِنْ فَتَيَاتِكُمْ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَانِكُمْ بَعْضُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْضٍ فَانكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أهْلِهِنَّ وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَاتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحَاتٍ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ  …ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ الْعَنَتَ مِنْكُمْ وَأَنْ تَصْبِرُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٢٥:٤)

If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, he may wed believing girls from among those whom you own: and Allah has full knowledge about your Faith. You are one from another: wed them with the permission of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to the norms; [the only condition is that] they should be kept chaste, neither being lustful, nor taking paramours … This permission is for those among you who fear sin; but it is better for you that you practice self-restraint. And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (4:25)

6. In the heads of Zakah, a specific head ‘الرِّقَاب  فِى’ (for [freeing] necks) was instituted so that the campaign of slave emancipation could receive impetus from the public treasury.18

7. Fornication was regarded as an offence as a result of which prostitution centers that were operated by people on the basis of their slave-women were shut down automatically, and if someone tried to go on secretly running this business, he was given exemplary punishment.19

8. People were told that they were all slaves of Allah and so instead of using the words ‘عَبْد’ (slave-man) and ‘اَمَة’ (slave-woman), the words used should be ‘فَتَى’ (boy/man) and ‘فَتَاة’ (girl/woman) so that the psyche about them should change and a change is brought about in age old concepts.20

9. A big source of the institution of slavery at the advent of the last Prophet (sws) was the prisoners of war. The Qur’an rooted this out by legislating that prisoners of war should be freed at all costs – either by accepting ransom or as a favour by not taking any ransom money. No other option was available to the Muslims.21

10. Finally the following directive was given:

وَالَّذِينَ يَبْتَغُونَ الْكِتَابَ مِمَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ فَكَاتِبُوهُمْ إِنْ عَلِمْتُمْ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا وَآتُوهُمْ مِنْ مَالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي آتَاكُمْ (٢٤ :٣٣)

And if any of your slaves ask for Mukatabat, give it to them if you know any good in them and [for this] give them out of the wealth which Allah has given to you. (24:33)

The above quoted verse of Surah Nur mentions the directive of ‘Mukatabat’. It is a term which means that a slave make a contract with his master according to which he would be required to pay a certain sum of money in a specific time period or would carry out a specific service for his master; once he successfully fulfills either of these two options, he would stand liberated. In the above quoted verse, the Almighty has directed the Muslims to necessarily accept this contract made by a slave if he wants to make it and has the required ability to become financially independent. It is further stated that a Muslim government should spend money from the public treasury, which here is called the treasury of God, in helping such slaves. It is evident from the words of the verse that just as this right of ‘Mukatabat’ was granted to slave-men, it was also granted to slave-women. This, in other words, was in fact a declaration that slaves could now be masters of their destiny and could obtain liberation whenever they wanted.

11. Prohibition of Plucking Facial Hair

On the basis of the following Hadith, it is believed that women are not allowed to pluck their facial hair:

  حدثنا محمد بن يوسف حدثنا سفيان عن منصور عن إبراهيم عن علقمة عن عبد الله قال لعن الله الواشمات والموتشمات والمتنمصات والمتفلجات للحسن المغيرات خلق الله فبلغ ذلك امرأة من بني أسد يقال لها أم يعقوب فجاءت فقالت إنه بلغني أنك لعنت كيت وكيت فقال ومالي لا ألعن من لعن رسول الله ومن هو في كتاب الله فقالت لقد قرأت ما بين اللوحين فما وجدت فيه ما تقول قال لئن كنت قرأتيه لقد وجدتيه أما قرأت ] وما آتاكم الرسول فخذوه وما نهاكم عنه فانتهوا [ قالت بلى قال فإنه قد نهى عنه قالت فإني أرى أهلك يفعلونه قال فاذهبي فانظري فذهبت فنظرت فلم تر من حاجتها شيئا فقال لو كانت كذلك ما جامعتنا

‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud has reported: ‘Allah curses those ladies who practice tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed, and those ladies who remove the hair from their eyebrows and faces and those who make artificial spaces between their teeth in order to look more beautiful whereby they change Allah’s creation’. His saying reached a lady from Bani Asad called Ummi Ya’qub who came [to ‘Abdullah] and said: ‘I have come to know that you have cursed such-and-such (ladies)?’ He replied: ‘Why should I not curse those whom Allah’s Apostle has cursed and who are [cursed] in Allah’s Book!’ Ummi Ya’qub said: ‘I have read the whole Qur’an, but I did not find in it what you say’. He said: ‘Verily, if you have read it [i.e. the Qur’an], you have found it. Didn’t you read: And whatsoever the Apostle gives you take it and whatsoever he forbids you, you abstain (from it), (59:7)’. She replied: ‘Yes, I did’. He said: ‘Verily, Allah’s Apostle forbade such things’. She said: ‘But I see your wife doing these things?’ He said: ‘Go and watch her’. She went and watched her but could not see anything in support of her statement. On that he said: ‘If my wife was as you thought, I would not keep her in my company’. (Bukhari, No: 4604)

One must always keep in consideration two fundamental principles while studying and interpreting Ahadith:

Firstly, to determine, as far as possible, the context and the background, all Ahadith on a particular subject should be collected and then analyzed as to ascertain the overall picture which emerges.

Secondly, they must be related to the Qur’an and Sunnah. This means that they must have a base in these two primary sources of Islam. They cannot and must not be taken independently.

Applying these principles to the above quoted Hadith shows that there were a number of practices (only some of which have been mentioned in this Hadith) which the Arab ladies used to undertake which entirely changed their natural physical appearance and some of which actually gave a false impression of their outward looks.

Almost all the major books of Hadith mention the various texts in which these practices have been narrated. The initial part of the Hadith mentioned above ‘… whereby change Allah’s creation’ itself suggests the relationship of this Hadith with the Qur’an: Verse 31 of Surah Rum, reads thus:

فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ (٣٠:٣٠)

Follow the nature upon which Allah has created mankind. It is not proper to change this nature. (30:30)

It is in accordance with this principle mentioned in the Qur’an that the Prophet (sws) forbade a number of such practices. In other words, the nature – physical as well as spiritual – of a human being must be preserved in the shape Allah has created. Consequently, anything which may become a means of changing or modifying this nature is undesirable. However, a fine distinction exists between beautification to quench one’s aesthetic sense and alteration, the former being a permissible thing.

These Ahadith also mention a practice called ‘Tannamus’, which means removing the hair which extends on to the forehead in a particular style. This again was forbidden by the Prophet (sws). The Hadith you have mentioned contains this word; however it has been erroneously translated as ‘to remove hair from the face’.

In the light of this analysis, it is evident that removing hair from the face is something which the Prophet (sws) never forbade.

12. Going out without the Husband’s Permission

There is a Hadith which says that a lady must seek permission from her husband for going out:

 عن بن عمر عن النبي أن امرأة أتته فقالت ما حق الزوج على امرأته فقال … لا تخرج من بيته إلا بإذنه (سنن البيهقي الكبرى رقم: ١٤٤٩٠)

Ibn ‘Umar reports from the Prophet that once a lady came to the Prophet and asked him about the rights of a husband on his wife. He replied: … she should not leave his house without his permission. (Sunan Bayhaqi, No: 14490)

It needs to be appreciated that a family by analogy is similar to a state. All citizens of a state are expected to abide by the rules and regulations of the country they live in. They are expected to adopt an attitude of adjustment and harmony with the country. This, of course, does not mean that they cannot differ with its policies. They have the inalienable democratic right to differ and present their differences in a befitting manner. This submission is actually an essential requirement for discipline and order without which anarchy may result. Similarly, in the case of a family set up, it is essential that the person who is its head be shown obedience. In other words, submission to authority is not specific to the gender of the authority. Whoever is the authority, must be submitted to. Gender does not dictate submissiveness – it is authority which does. It is common knowledge that in different sphere of activities people have different abilities and justice entails that a person be made responsible according to his or her abilities and given authority on that basis. We have been informed by divine revelation that it is the husband who is more suitable to be the head of the family. Owing to this relative superiority, women are directed to submit to men not because men are superior human beings, but because in this particular case it is the men who have been vested with authority in accordance with 4:34. If women had been more suitable for the task of heading a family, men would have been similarly directed to adopt this attitude of adjustment.

Thus Islam requires that the wife adopt an attitude of adjustment and harmony with the husband and the husband is required to be affectionate and accommodating as far as possible to the needs of his wife. He must not impose any undue restrictions on her for this will ignite the wrath of God upon him.

With regard to a wife seeking her husband’s permission before leaving the house, the proper perspective must be understood. In general circumstances of mutual trust, there is no need for a wife to ask permission from her husband to go out. However, in certain circumstances in which the husband genuinely considers that going out might disrupt the family in any way, he has the authority to exercise his right of stopping her and in these circumstances, she should always ask permission to leave the house. In this regard, the husband must remember that if he imposes himself without any sound and justifiable reason, he would be crossing the bounds and invoking the displeasure of the Almighty. His wrong behavior may even lead the wife to abandon him for which he would be solely responsible.

13. ‘Iddat Restrictions

It is generally held that divorced or widowed women must spend their ‘Iddat while being permanently stationed in their houses and wearing white clothes. Moreover, the ‘Iddat period is generally not spent at the husband’s house.

In this regard, the following points must be clearly understood:

Firstly, the basic reason for observing this period is to ascertain whether a lady is pregnant or not. It is to protect the lineage of the husband that she undergoes this wait. The words ‘فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ’ (no period of ‘Iddat have they for you which you can ask them to complete) of Surah Ahzab clearly point to the fact that if pregnancy is a possibility then observing the ‘Iddat is an obligation imposed on the wife from the husband. Consequently, if a lady is past her child bearing age or if it can be determined through scientific means that a lady is not pregnant she will not be required to observe the ‘Iddat. On these very grounds, the Qur’an has exempted newly married women who have not gone near their husbands from ‘Iddat:

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَكَحْتُمْ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا (٤٩:٣٣)

O you who believe! when you marry believing women, and then divorce them before you have touched them, no period of ‘Iddat have they for you which you can ask them to complete. (33:49)

Secondly, during ‘Iddat neither should a wife leave her house nor is the husband authorized to turn her out from her house. Living together might hopefully be beneficial for both and they might reconcile and thus save a family from breaking. The only exception to this is that if a wife is guilty of fornication in which case neither is it proper to demand from the husband to keep the wife in the house nor can the benefit be attained for which this directive had been given.

Thirdly, as far as the restrictions of ‘Iddat are concerned, all of them are based on protecting the lineage of the child that a widow or a divorced lady might be carrying. She can go out for any purpose which includes activities as austere as the Hajj and as light as an amusement park if she has made sure that this basic objective is not sacrificed.

Fourthly, for a widow, the ‘Iddat has its own sanctity and she should observe this period with solemnity and austerity. So natural is this observance that widows are not required to be told to dress and behave in accordance with the norms of the circumstances that face them.

14. Marriage with Minor Girls

There are some scholars who make the fourth verse of Surah 65 of Surah Talaq as basis of their opinion that Islam has allowed marriage and its consummation with minor girls. This is an erroneous conclusion. Marriage with minor girls is an issue which has not been discussed by the Qur’an at all.

However, the referred verse has nothing to do with this issue. If the linguistic principles of the Arabic language are taken into consideration, the correct translation of the last part of this verse is:

وَاللَّائِي يَئِسْنَ مِنَ الْمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَاللَّائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ (٤:٦٥)

And those of your women who have ceased menstruating and those women whose menstrual courses have not begun in spite of the fact that they have reached the age in which women normally have menses, their waiting period is three months as well. (65:4)

This translation stems from the fact that the Arabic particle used for negation in this verse is Lamm (لَمْ) and not Ma (مَا). The verse is generally translated by disregarding this subtle difference as:

وَاللَّائِي يَئِسْنَ مِنَ الْمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَاللَّائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ (٤:٦٥)

And those of your women who have ceased menstruating and those women whose menstrual courses have not begun, their waiting period is three months as well. (65:4)

Consequently, it is generally construed that in this verse the ‘Iddat (waiting period) of those divorced women (girls more so) is stated who have yet to reach the age of puberty. So the proponents of this view infer that Islam allows marriage with minor girls.

15. Refusing Sex to the Husband

On the basis of the following Hadith, it is generally understood that if a wife refuses sex to her husband she will be cursed by the angels:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي قال إذا دعا الرجل امرأته إلى فراشه فأبت فبات غضبان عليها لعنتها الملائكة حتى تصبح (بخارى , رقم: ٣٠٦٥)

When a husband calls his wife to bed, and she refuses and [as a result] the husband spends the night in anger, then angels curse the wife all night till dawn. (Bukhari, No: 3065)

In order to understand this Hadith, the following points need to be understood:

Firstly, a husband and wife safeguard the chastity of one another by providing one another a legitimate means of satisfying the sexual urge. This protection of chastity is essential for the preservation of the family unit – the very institution on which the stability of a society hinges. Hence anything which puts chastity in jeopardy is disliked by the Almighty.

Secondly, a man is an addressee of the directive mentioned in this Hadith on an equal basis. This is evident from the directive of Ila mentioned in the Qur’an (2:226-7) in which the Arabs of the pre-Islamic period would swear to sever sexual relationship with their wives because of anger. Although the husbands were prescribed a period of four months to decide the fate of their wives by either resuming these relations or divorcing her, it is evident from the directive that in normal circumstances a husband is not allowed to sever sexual relations from his wife without a valid reason. So much so, if a person swears such an oath, he must break it. Such relations are the right of a wife and if a husband does not fulfill them, then he can be regarded a criminal both in the eyes of the law and before the Almighty in the Hereafter.

Thirdly, the basis of refusal by the husband or wife must also be taken in consideration. If either of them is tired, sick or simply not in the proper mood and in the appropriate frame of mind then it does not entail any wrath of the Almighty. It is only when a spouse starts to deliberately evade such natural needs of the other that the attitude becomes questionable.

16. The Right to Beat Wives

The right given by the Qur’an to the husbands to physically punish their wives in certain circumstances is a thorny issue in the modern mind. The issue needs to be understood in its true perspective. The Qur’an says:

وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا (٣٤:٤)

And as for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them [first] and [next] refuse to share their beds and [even then if they do not listen] punish them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted and Mighty. (4:34)

The following implications of this verse need to be understood in their proper perspective:

a. Firstly, this measure can only be resorted to when a wife starts to challenge the authority of the husband and threatens to disrupt the family set-up. It is in fact a last resort to protect the institution of family from breaking up. It must not be resorted to in anything less in severity than a rebellious attitude from the wife. This rebellious attitude is termed as ‘نُشُوز’ (Nushuz) by the Qur’an. It has not used the word ‘disobedience’. Any difference of opinion or altercation is not to be resolved by this procedure. Disagreements and disputes must be settled mutually. It is only when the wife stands up against the authority of her husband that this procedure be employed.

b. Before resorting to physical chastisement, the two previous stages mentioned by the Qur’an (4:34) must elapse. The husband should first of all admonish his wife and convince her to give up her defiant behavior. He should exercise all the patience he can muster to urge and beseech her to change her stance. If after repeated pleas and continuous admonition over a considerable span of time, the wife continues to persist in her rebellious attitude, he has the authority to go on to the second stage by avoiding marital contact with her. This detachment, it is clear, is a form of reproof, and a very strong appeal to the wife to correct herself. Again, this attitude should continue for a substantial period of time so that the point is driven home. It is highly unlikely that most wives would persist in their arrogance after these two initial stages. In all probability, patience, forbearance, and restraint would have conquered their hearts. However, even after this stage, if a wife refuses to accept the authority of her husband, the husband has the right to finally resort to gentle physical affliction.

c. If the husband is left with no alternative but to physically punish his wife, he must be very careful in this regard and must not wound or injure her. He should remember that this physical chastisement is similar to the one a mother gives to a rebellious son or the one a teacher gives to an unruly student. He must be aware that in case he misuses this authority in any way, he would be held responsible before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement. In this world also, his wife has the right to report his behavior to the authorities who can punish him for any misconduct in this regard.

17. The Daughter’s Share in Inheritance

Why is the share of a daughter one half that of a son? Does this mean that sons occupy more importance than daughters? This issue too needs to be understood in its proper perspective.

It is a universally acknowledged fact that the extent of help and co-operation which a person receives from his parents, children and other similar relations has little chances of being paralleled by any other association. Undoubtedly, the world has always considered the kith and kin of a deceased as the rightful beneficiaries of the wealth he has left behind. But certain issues in this regard have always remained unresolved; for example, who among the kindred is nearest with respect to the benefit he holds for the deceased? And how should the inherited shares be ascertained on this basis? In this matter, the extent to which the human mind has faltered and stumbled can be seen from the frequent history these blunders have continued to make. It is not that human endeavour in this regard has fallen prey to any lack of application; rather it is due to certain inherent limitations of the human mind which have made the task itself beyond its reach. Love, hatred, prejudice and other emotions have made it impossible for human intellect to come to grips with this challenge. Consequently, the Almighty Himself has guided mankind in this affair to relieve an Islamic society from the disorders which have originated on this account:

آبَآؤُكُمْ وَأَبناؤُكُمْ لاَ تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعاً فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيما حَكِيمًا (١١:٤)

You know not who among your children and parents are nearest to you in benefit. This is the law of God. Indeed, God is Wise and all-Knowing. (4:11)

It is clear from the above quoted verse that the law of inheritance as stated in the Qur’an is based on the underlying cause of ‘the benefit of kinship’, as indicated by the words ‘تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعاً لاَ'(you know not who among your children and parents are nearest to you in benefit). Consequently, the directive in reality does not pertain to the relatives but is related to the underlying cause present in this relationship, which actually entitles them to become the heirs.

Thus the basic reason why the share of a son is more than that of a daughter is the fact that in the life of parents the son is usually more beneficial to them than the daughter. This is so simple a fact that it can be easily understood in societies where the institution of family is still very strong and has deep roots. In a family system, parents become dependent on the children as they grow old. The ease and comfort they feel in living with a son is much more than what they feel while living with a daughter. The simple reason is that a son is independent in taking decisions while a daughter, once she gets married, is actually more dependent on her own husband and is not so independent. The modern western mind feels averse to this distribution because the family system is dwindling in their society.

One thing which may be worth mentioning here is that there may be cases even in societies having a strong family system where a daughter may prove more beneficial to her parent(s) than the son; similarly, there may be cases in which a daughter may require more monetary help because of her circumstances. This can of course be true for a son as well. In such cases, as per the following verse there is a provision that a daughter or a son be given more wealth through a will made in their favour:

كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمْ الْمَوْتُ إِنْ تَرَكَ خَيْرًا  الْوَصِيَّةُ  لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ  وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ  (٢ :١٨٠)

When death approaches any one of you and you are leaving behind some wealth, it is incumbent upon you to make a will in favour of your parents and relatives according to the conventions [of society]. This is an obligation imposed upon the God-fearing. (2:180)

As per another provision in Islamic law, a parent in his lifetime can gift as much wealth as is deemed necessary to a child.

In short, the 2:1 ratio pertains to normal circumstances; in exceptional ones there exist remedies in the Islamic law – some of which have been explained above.

Lastly, this difference of share is among the children only since the difference in benefit exists. On the other hand, as far as receiving the inheritance of a child is concerned, in most cases stipulated by Islamic law, both the mother and the father receive an equal share (ie one sixth) because for a child the benefit from a mother and a father is equal.

18. Polygamy

Some people are of the opinion that Islam has allowed a Muslim to keep up to four wives at one time since keeping four wives is a man’s essential physical and psychological need. This inference is not correct. In normal circumstances, a family comes into being through wedlock between one man and one woman. A subtle reference to this is made by the Qur’an (4:1) where it alludes to the fact that when the Almighty created Adam, he made Eve for him as his only wife. Naturally, had a man physically needed more than one wife, the Almighty would have created more wives for Adam instead of just one.

In this regard it should be understood that the issue of polygamy has been mentioned in the Qur’an as a means to make use of this pre-Islamic practice to solve a certain social problem that had arisen in those times: Many men were martyred in various battles leaving behind orphaned children. The Qur’an appealed to men of that society to come forward to help these orphaned children by marrying their mothers, since these mothers if supported would be in the best position for their upbringing. In other words, the view of the Qur’an is that people were taking to polygamy for various reasons and they would do a great service if they marry to solve the plight of these orphans. The Qur’an says:  

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتَامَى فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَى وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلَّا تَعُولُوا  وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً فَإِنْ طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَنْ شَيْءٍ مِنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَرِيئًا (٤: ٣-٤)

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry [their mothers] that are lawful to you, two two, three three, four four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly [with them], then only one, or those which your right hands possess. That will be more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice. And give these women their dowers also the way dowers are given; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and consume it gladly. (4:3-4)

It needs to be appreciated that it was basically social, psychological, political and cultural needs from which arose the need for polygamy. Such needs existed in various societies to different extents. To cater for these very needs the Almighty never forbade this practice in the Shari’ah He gave in various periods of time. Here, in these verses, Muslims are directed to make use of this practice to solve a social problem that had arisen in the time of the Prophet (sws).

The next thing that a person should know is that as per the Qur’an if a person cannot maintain justice between his wives in this regard he should not marry more than one even for a purpose as noble as supporting the orphans. One can be more attached to one wife than the others. This is but natural and to demand justice in this matter is injustice itself. What is required from the husband as verse 4:3 points out is that as far as the rights of the wives are concerned, he must always deal fairly and equally among them. The Qur’an has further clarified this issue in the following words:

وَلَنْ تَسْتَطِيعُوا أَنْ تَعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ النِّسَاءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ فَلَا تَمِيلُوا كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ فَتَذَرُوهَا كَالْمُعَلَّقَةِ وَإِنْ تُصْلِحُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا  وَإِنْ يَتَفَرَّقَا يُغْنِ اللَّهُ كُلًّا مِنْ سَعَتِهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ وَاسِعًا حَكِيمًا (٤: ١٢٩-١٣٠)

And even if it is your ardent desire, you will never be able to be totally just between women; [so it is enough] if you do not completely incline yourself to a woman altogether, so as to leave the other aside. And if you come to a friendly understanding, and fear Allah; Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. But if they disagree and [eventually] must part, Allah will provide abundance for each from His bounty. He is Bountiful and Wise. (4:129-130)

There is another issue here that needs clarification since women often ask the reason for forbidding them to marry more than one husband. In this regard it needs to be understood that if a family is to come into being not only should there be only one head but also one person should not be placed under the command of multiple heads otherwise, great anarchy would result. So, just as a state cannot have more than one ruler, a family cannot have more than one head. Since, in the family set- up envisaged by Islam, husbands are to head the family, if a wife has multiple husbands, she would be placed under the authority of many husbands at the same time.

19. Marriage with the People of the Book

It is generally understood that Islam unconditionally allows Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women. However, the placement and context of the Qur’anic verse which permits such marriages show that it is desirable that certain conditions be met if such a marriage is to take place. Needless to say, the Qur’an has been revealed as a coherent Book. It is not a disjointed collection of verses as is generally believed. There is profound structural and thematic coherence in it. Each verse has a definite context and until and unless this context is carefully kept in consideration, the true implications of a verse can usually not be ascertained. Disregarding the context of a verse often leads to serious misinterpretations which distort the stance of the Qur’an. It is therefore of paramount importance that each verse be interpreted in the light of its context.

Consider now the context of the related verse. The following verse immediately precedes it:

الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلاَمَ دِينًا (٥: ٣)

This day the disbelievers have abandoned all hope of vanquishing your religion. Have no fear of them: fear Me. This day I have completed your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (5:3)

Consider next, the verse under consideration:

الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلُّ لَّهُمْ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذِي أَخْدَانٍ (٥: ٦)

This day all things good and pure are made lawful to you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful to you, and yours to them. Lawful to you are the chaste among the believing women and the chaste women among the People of the Book, provided that you give them their dowries and desire chastity neither committing fornication nor taking them as mistresses. (5:6)

It is clear from the above mentioned verses that these directives pertain to the period when the supremacy of Islam had been established in Arabia – when the disbelievers had lost all hope of overcoming the Islamic forces and the Muslims had become an unconquerable force. It was in these circumstances that the Muslims were permitted to marry Jewish and Christian women. Moreover, it is evident from the verse that only virtuous and upright women among the People of the Book were allowed to be taken in marriage. It is evident that in such conditions and circumstances, there was virtually no possibility of the Muslims being influenced by their religions directives and cultural traditions. Instead, there was a far greater possibility that such marriages would positively influence the women of the People of the Book by inducing them to accept Islam.

By analogy, therefore, such marriages today seem desirable only in societies where the cultural traditions and legal injunctions of Islam hold sway.

20. The Issue of Wali (Guardian) in Marriage

Is it imperative to seek the consent of the parents or guardians in a marriage? This question has assumed great importance in this era since some marriages are taking place against the wishes of the parents and guardians.

In this regard the stance of Islam is that the consent of the parents/guardians is not a legal requirement of marriage. The legal requirements are only two: the man and woman who intend to get married must be chaste and a man must pay dower (Mahr) to his wife. However, the consent of the parents/guardians is a cultural and social requirement of marriage. Narratives like ‘لَا نِكَاحَ اِلَّا بِوَلِى’ (No marriage should take place without the [permission of] the guardian)22 and other similar ones actually allude to this aspect. They are a corollary of the social directives of Islam pertaining to the institution of family and is based on great wisdom. Since the preservation and protection of the family set-up is of paramount importance to Islam, it is but natural that marriage takes place through the consent of the parents who are the foremost guardians. It is obvious that a marriage solemnized through the consent of the parents shields and shelters the newly formed family.

However, there can always be an exception to this general principle. If a man and a woman feel that the rejection on the part of the parents has no sound reasoning behind it or that the parents, owing to some reason, are not appreciating the grounds of this union, they have all the right to take this matter to the courts of justice. It is now up to the court to analyze and evaluate the whole affair. If it is satisfied with the stance of the man and woman, it can give a green signal to them. In this case, as is apparent from a Hadith, the state shall be considered the guardian of the couple. On the other hand, if the court is of the view that the stand of the parents is valid, it can stop the concerned parties from engaging in wedlock. However, no one has the authority to invalidate a marriage that has not been solemnized through the consent of the parents or the guardian.

21. Three Divorce declarations

Most people are ignorant of the proper way of divorcing wives. It is generally thought that a wife stands separated from her husband if the divorce is declared thrice. This notion is against the Qur’an which says that a lady must be divorced by just one declaration to the effect.

Moreover, there are many other misconceptions regarding divorce giving rise to the following questions:
i. Do women have a right to divorce?

ii. Should the wife pay money for seeking divorce?

iii. What is the correct way of divorce?

iv. How should wrongly given divorces be tackled?

v. In whose custody should the children be given?

i. The Right to Divorce

When a man and a woman marry each other, it is their utmost wish to remain in this relation of wedlock forever. They are desirous of the fact that the change in times not change their commitment to each other and only death separate them in this world. But then, sometimes there does arise a situation when part they must. Differences become so pronounced that it becomes necessary to sever this relationship. If such circumstances do arise that a husband and wife must separate permanently, Islam lays down a specific procedure for this separation. In Islamic terminology this dissolution of marriage is called divorce. It says that both a man and a woman have an equal right to it. The only difference is that a man divorces a woman while a woman demands a divorce from her husband. The Qur’an explicitly states that it is the husband who has the right to divorce:

ِبيَدِه عُقْدَةُ الِّنكَاح (٢: ٢٣٧)

In his hands, is the tie of marriage. (2:237)

Women, however, can seek divorce if they want to. If the husband refuses, she has all the right to take the matter to the court. The matter will then be decided by the ruling of the court.

This prerogative, sense and reason demand, should go to the head of the family. Since, according to the Qur’an, it is the husband who is the head of a family, therefore, he has been given this right. In other words, this right is not ‘gender specific’ it is ‘authority specific’: whoever is entrusted with the authority of being the head should possess this right. Had women been more suitable to head a family, they would have been given this right.

ii. Should the Wife pay money for seeking Divorce?

A common misconception when a woman seeks divorce from her husband is that she must give some wealth to her husband on this occasion of separation. This has no basis in the Qur’an; on the contrary, the Qur’an says that it is not at all permissible for the husband to demand anything from his wife on this occasion. However, there are two exceptions to this:

Firstly, if a husband has gifted a lot of wealth and property to her wife and is afraid that in divorcing her he would lose all his riches, the Qur’an says that she can forgo some or all of her share and return it to her husband to end the whole affair. It is clear that this is only an exception and not a general principle as is generally held and practiced. It is allowed when only wealth is the husband’s reason for not divorcing his wife. The Qur’an says:

وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلَّا أَنْ يَخَافَا أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا وَمَنْ يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الظَّالِمُونَ (٢ :٢٢٩)

And [if you decide to depart from them, then on this occasion] it is unlawful for you to take back from them anything you have given them unless both husband and wife fear that they may not be able to keep within the bounds set by Allah. Then if you also feel that they will not be able to remain within the bounds set by Allah, there shall be no offence for either of them [regarding the gifts given by the husband] if the wife seeks divorce [by returning them to him] in ransom. These are the bounds set by Allah; do not transgress them. [And you should know that] those who transgress the bounds of Allah are wrongdoers (2:229)

Secondly, if the wife is guilty of open sexual misconduct. Since such a behavior destroys the very foundation of marriage, a husband has been allowed to take back any gifts or wealth given to her. The Qur’an says:

وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ….  وَإِنْ أَرَدْتُمْ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُبِينًا  وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَى بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنْكُمْ مِيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا (٤: ١٩-٢١)

And do not treat them with harshness that you may take away what you have given them – except where they have been guilty of open lewdness… And if you decide to take a wife in place of another, even if you had given the latter a whole treasure of wealth take not the least bit of it back: Would you take it by slander and usurping [her] rights? And how could you take it when you have lain with each other and [at the time of marriage] they have taken from you a solemn covenant? (4:19-21)

ii. The Procedure of Divorce

If a husband has decided to divorce his wife, he should first wait until she has completed her menstrual cycle and then desisting from any further carnal relationship, he should utter the divorce sentence just once. The wife, after she has been divorced in this way, must stay in her husband’s house for a period of three menstrual cycles. This period is called ‘Iddat. If a woman does not have menstrual cycles owing to age, disease or any other reason, and still there is a chance of pregnancy, then she must wait for three months. For a pregnant woman this period is up to the birth of the child, while for a newly married couple who have had no contact, divorce does not entail any period of ‘Iddat for the wife. According to the Qur’an, there is one basic reason for this waiting period: to ascertain whether a wife is pregnant or not so that the lineage of the child does not remain a matter of doubt. Another thing which is achieved through it is that it affords the husband and other family members a chance to rectify the situation, for matters in which emotions and feelings run high, sometimes only time is needed for recovery.

During this ‘Iddat period:

(a) The husband cannot turn his wife out from the house except if she is guilty of adultery, nor should she leave the house herself.

(b) The wife, if she is pregnant, must not hide her pregnancy.

(c) The husband should continue to provide for her.

(d) A husband, if he changes his mind, can revoke his decision. The only thing required, according to the Qur’an, is that he should call in two persons to testify to his decision23.

If after this period of ‘Iddat, a man is still firm in his stance, his wife shall be considered as separated permanently. She is now a free woman and if she wishes to marry some other person, she has all the right to do so and must not be inhibited in any way. If circumstances change, she can even remarry her former husband. Furthermore, the Qur’an stresses that on this occasion of parting it is not at all lawful for a husband to take back any property or asset gifted to her24. This, it must be kept in consideration, does not pertain to Mahr (dower) only, but to every type of gift given to the wife. Not only should a husband not take back these gifts, he should, in fact, give her something on this occasion of separation. Even if her Mahr has not been fixed, it is better for him to give her something. If the Mahr has been fixed but the divorce occurs before the husband and wife have had contact, he must return half the money, unless the wife even forgoes this. In this case also, though it is better that he should give her the whole money.

However, in case the husband revokes his decision during the ‘Iddat period, there is no need for re-marriage. The two shall be considered as husband and wife once again. If after annulment of this divorce, due to some reason, the untoward situation arises a second time that the husband intends to divorce his wife, the Qur’an says that the husband can exercise his right of divorce for the second time as well. He should pronounce just one divorce sentence to repudiate his wife. Again, the post-divorce period shall be observed in the manner just described. Once again, if the husband wishes, he has the chance to revise his decision during this period, in which case the divorce shall be considered null and void and the two shall once again become husband and wife. If, unfortunately, for the third time, the situation arises that divorce becomes inevitable, the Qur’an says that a husband can exercise his right for the third time as well and pronounce the divorce sentence. After the expiry of ‘Iddat during which a husband will have to support and provide shelter to his wife (though the two are not required to live  together), the wife shall be permanently separated from him. After divorcing his wife for the third time, he cannot re-marry her now, unless and until, the wife marries some other person and owing to some reason gets divorced from him – not under a planned strategy, but on account of naturally arisen circumstances. This last measure, actually, is meant to prevent this affair from becoming mere child play.

In the words of the Qur’an:

الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ فَإمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ (٢ :٢٢٩)

This divorce [in which the husband can revoke his decision in the ‘Iddat period] is permitted twice only, and then a woman must be retained with kindness or allowed to go with kindness. (2:229)

It is evident from these details that the Qur’an only prescribes one divorce sentence and stresses that a husband has the right to divorce her wife three times in one marriage contract. It does not at all approve the utterance of three divorce sentences in one go. Consequently, it is clear from these details that the two prevailing procedures of divorce ie (1) pronouncing three consecutive divorces in one instance, and (2) pronouncing each of the three sentences in three months are not at all prescribed by the Qur’an. When the Prophet (sws) came to know that a certain person had divorced his wife by pronouncing three divorce sentences one after the other, he stood up in anger and said:

أيلعب بكتاب الله وأنا بين أظهركم (نِسائ رقم: ٣٤٠١)

In my presence, such playful attitude has been adopted with the Book of Allah. (Nisai, No: 3401)

iii. Tackling wrongly given Divorces

Mentioned above is the Shari’ah as far as the concept of divorce is concerned. However, as does happen with prescribed laws and procedures, situations arise in which a person is guilty of breaching the law and deviating from the right course. Human nature is prone to extreme emotional conditions in which it deviates from the path set forth by the Almighty. These deviations, it is extremely evident, are not part of the Shari’ah; they fall into breach of law category and it is up to the legislature of a country to enact laws about such departures. At times, such cases are even left to the discretion of the judge and at other times the judge himself is bound by the legislation done in this regard by the parliament.

In case of divorce, keeping in view various precedents, this deviation is generally of two types:

i) A husband divorces his wife during her menstrual period, or divorces her after he has had contact with her in her period of purity.

ii) A husband divorces his wife by pronouncing the divorce sentence thrice.

As far as the first deviation is concerned, an Islamic government can ask the husband to revoke his decision and carry it out in the proper manner at the proper time. The Prophet (sws) in his own times dealt with the case of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (rta) in a similar manner. When he was told that ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (rta) had divorced his wife during her menstrual cycle, he was really annoyed and remarked:

مره فليراجعها ثم ليمسكها حتى تطهر ثم تحيض ثم تطهر ثم إن شاء أمسك بعد وإن شاء طلق قبل أن يمس فتلك العدة التي أمر الله أن تطلق لها النساء  (بخارى رقم: ٥٢٥١ )

Ask him to take her back and keep her in wedlock until she is through with her menstrual cycle and then once again passes through this cycle and then is through with it. After this, he can either detain her [in wedlock] or divorce her before having sexual intercourse with her. Because it is this beginning of the ‘Iddat keeping regard of which the Almighty has directed [believers] to divorce their wives. (Bukhari, No: 5251)

In case of the second deviation, a deliberation on the injunctions of divorce, particularly on their linguistic aspects, reveals that there are three possible solutions:

(a) The husband can be called to court and asked to testify to the nature of these pronouncements: if he testifies that he had pronounced the three sentences in anger to only strongly assert his decision or that he had thought that pronouncing three sentences was the correct procedure of divorce, the court, if satisfied by his statement, can re-unite the husband and wife. In this case, it shall be clearly spelt out to the husband that he now has exercised one of his three chances to repudiate his wife. If on the other hand, a person testifies that he had consciously uttered the three sentences knowing that he was exercising his three rights in one time, the wife, of course, shall be divorced from him. The case of Rukana Ibn ‘Abdi Yazid (rta) was decided in a similar manner by the Prophet (sws).

(b) A second possible solution in this regard is that a state, while observing that people have adopted a carefree attitude in following this procedure, legislates that three divorce sentences shall be considered as three whether pronounced in anger or in a normal emotional state. A precedent of this solution can be found in the times of the Caliph ‘Umar (rta). He himself, in the capacity of a ruler in consultation with the members of the shura, upon seeing that people had adopted a very careless attitude in this regard, as a punishment, promulgated three divorce sentences as final.

(c) A third possible solution in this regard is that the state while observing the fact that people are mostly ignorant of the correct procedure and in their ignorance think that the correct way of divorce is to pronounce the sentence three times, legislates that the three pronouncements shall be considered as one.

Any of these three ways can be adopted keeping in view the welfare of the Muslims. However, in adopting the second or third solutions, it is necessary that a legislation has been done in their favour, but as far as adopting the first solution is concerned, no prior legislation is needed and the matter can be left to the discretion of the judge.

iv. The Custody of Minors

In post-divorce scenarios, the matter of the custody of minor children has not been touched upon in the Shari’ah. In other words, it has been left to the welfare of the children. In case of a dispute, a judge should make this ruling after analyzing the situation of a case in the light of this principle

Perhaps the reason for which nothing has been fixed in the Shari’ah in this regard is the varying circumstances which may be found in different cases.

22. The Issue of Halalah

The concept of Halalah is one of the ugliest and shameful of issues of Islamic jurisprudence. According to the Shari’ah, if a man divorces his wife for a third time in his life, the two cannot re-marry unless the wife marries a second person and then that person due to some reason divorces her. In order to fulfill this legal requirement, subterfuges have been devised and marriages are planned with the understanding that a person will divorce the wife in order to make her legal to marry the first husband. In this regard, the jurists also impose the condition that before he divorces his wife he must have sexual intercourse with her. In religious parlance, this subterfuge in which a lady is made legally allowed for her first husband by marrying another person and then being divorced from her after having sexual intercourse with him is called Halalah.

Needless to say, that all subterfuges amount to playing with the Islamic law and its spirit. Moreover, the condition of sexual intercourse imposed has arisen because of not understanding a very subtle comment of the Prophet (sws) in a Hadith. If its text reported by Bukhari is analyzed it is evident that a certain lady had married a person only to become legally permissible to marry her first husband. She demanded divorce from her second husband on the false grounds that her husband was sexually impotent. When the Prophet (sws) became certain of her scheme, he reprimanded her in very subtle words. He told her that she could only become permissible for the first husband after ‘tasting’ her second husband. This of course was not a condition as has been generally construed: the implied meaning being that if according to her, her second husband does not have the ability to copulate with her then she can only be divorced from him after he copulates with her – which of course he will never since, according to her, he is not capable of it. Thus if anything can be deduced from this Hadith, it is prohibition of Halalah and not vice versa. Hence it is absolutely prohibited and is tantamount to making fun of the law.

The text of the Hadith is as follows:

عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ أَنَّ رِفَاعَةَ طَلَّقَ امْرَأَتَهُ فَتَزَوَّجَهَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ الزَّبِيرِ الْقُرَظِيُّ قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ وَعَلَيْهَا خِمَارٌ أَخْضَرُ فَشَكَتْ إِلَيْهَا وَأَرَتْهَا خُضْرَةً بِجِلْدِهَا فَلَمَّا جَاءَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَالنِّسَاءُ يَنْصُرُ بَعْضُهُنَّ بَعْضًا قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ مَا رَأَيْتُ مِثْلَ مَا يَلْقَى الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ لَجِلْدُهَا أَشَدُّ خُضْرَةً مِنْ ثَوْبِهَا قَالَ وَسَمِعَ أَنَّهَا قَدْ أَتَتْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَجَاءَ وَمَعَهُ ابْنَانِ لَهُ مِنْ غَيْرِهَا قَالَتْ وَاللَّهِ مَا لِي إِلَيْهِ مِنْ ذَنْبٍ إِلَّا أَنَّ مَا مَعَهُ لَيْسَ بِأَغْنَى عَنِّي مِنْ هَذِهِ وَأَخَذَتْ هُدْبَةً مِنْ ثَوْبِهَا فَقَالَ كَذَبَتْ وَاللَّهِ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي لَأَنْفُضُهَا نَفْضَ الْأَدِيمِ وَلَكِنَّهَا نَاشِزٌ تُرِيدُ رِفَاعَةَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَإِنْ كَانَ ذَلِكِ لَمْ تَحِلِّي لَهُ أَوْ لَمْ تَصْلُحِي لَهُ حَتَّى يَذُوقَ مِنْ عُسَيْلَتِكِ قَالَ وَأَبْصَرَ مَعَهُ ابْنَيْنِ لَهُ فَقَالَ بَنُوكَ هَؤُلَاءِ قَالَ نَعَمْ قَالَ هَذَا الَّذِي تَزْعُمِينَ مَا تَزْعُمِينَ فَوَاللَّهِ لَهُمْ أَشْبَهُ بِهِ مِنْ الْغُرَابِ بِالْغُرَابِ(بخاري رقم: ٥٣٧٧)

‘Ikramah narrates that Rafa’ah divorced his wife. Thereafter she married ‘Abdu’l-Rahman Ibn Zubayr Qurzi. ‘A’ishah says that she came to her wearing a green cloak and complained of her husband and showed ‘A’ishah her bruises – women do help one another – so when the Prophet (sws) came by, ‘A’ishah said: ‘I have only seen Muslim women being treated in such a way. Her skin is greener than her cloak’. ‘Ikramah says that when her husband came to know that she had complained to the Prophet (sws), he also came over to the Prophet (sws) along with his two sons from his other wife. Upon seeing her husband, she got hold of the end of her cloak letting it hang from her hand and remarked: My only complaint is that whatever he has is no more than this [soft cloth]. At this, ‘Abdu’l-Rahman said: ‘O Prophet (sws) of Allah she has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her; the truth of the matter is that she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rafa’ah’. When the Prophet (sws) heard this, he said: ‘If this is the case then you shall not be permissible for Rafa’ah unless ‘Abdu’l-Rahman tastes you’. Then, upon seeing the sons of ‘Abdu’l-Rahman, the Prophet (sws) remarked: ‘Are these your sons?’ When he replied in the affirmative, the Prophet said: ‘Do you tell such lies [O ‘Abdu’l-Rahman’s wife]. By God, these [young boys] resemble ‘Abdu’l-Rahman more than a crow resembles another crow. (Bukhari, No: 5377)

23. The Etiquette of Sexual Intimacy

The issue of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife has given rise to many confusions. It needs to be appreciated that in this regard, the Shari’ah has explicitly prohibited two things:

1. Intercourse during menses.

2. Anal intercourse.

These restrictions are mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’an:

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْمَحِيضِ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُواْ النِّسَاء فِي الْمَحِيضِ وَلاَ تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىَ يَطْهُرْنَ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللّهُ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ (٢: ٢٢٢)

And they ask you about menstruation. Tell them: It is a kind of impurity. So keep away from women during their menstrual periods and do not approach them until they are in a state of purity. Then when they are clean after having bathed, go to them from where God has enjoined you. Indeed, God loves those who constantly repent and keep themselves clean. (2:222)

This means that, barring these two restrictions, everything else has been left to the taste and inclination of the husband and wife. The freedom they have in this regard is very aptly expressed in the following verse:

نِسَآؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَّكُمْ فَأْتُواْ حَرْثَكُمْ أَنَّى شِئْتُمْ وَقَدِّمُواْ لأَنفُسِكُمْ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّكُم مُّلاَقُوهُ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (٢: ٢٢٣)

These women of yours are your cultivated land; go, then, into your lands in any manner you please [and through this] plan for the future [of both this and the next world] and remain fearful to God. Bear in mind that you shall meet Him [one day]. And [O Prophet!] Give good tidings [of success and salvation] to the believers [on that Day]. (2:223)

The portion of the verse: ‘So come to your cultivated land in whatever manner you want to’ refers to the liberty and freedom with which a person is allowed to come close to his wife. It is similar to how a farmer approaches his land. While explaining the expression ‘أَنَّى شِئْتُمْ فَأْتُوا حَرْثَكُمْ’ (go then, into your lands in any manner you please), Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

[This] alludes simultaneously to two things: On the one hand, it refers to the liberty, freedom and free manner with which a farmer approaches his land, and on the other hand refers to the responsibility, caution and care which he must exercise in approaching his land. The word ‘حَرْثٌ’ refers to the latter and the word ‘أَنَّى شِئْتُمْ’ to the former. It is both this liberty and caution which ascertain the correct behavior of a husband with his wife in this regard.

Everyone knows that the real bliss of married life is the freedom a person has in intimate affairs barring a few broad restrictions. The feeling of this freedom has a great amount of euphoria around it. When a person is with his wife in intimate moments, Divine will seems to be that he be overcome with emotions but at the same time it is pointed out to him that he has come into a field and an orchard; it is no wasteland or a forest. He may come to it in whatever manner and in whatever way whenever he pleases, but he must not forget that he has landed in his orchard. The Qur’an has no objection on the discretion, choice and majesty with which he approaches his field if he knows full well where he is going and in no way is oblivious of this reality.25

One aspect of the husband and wife relationship is that while fulfilling many other needs, it is also a means of satisfying the sexual urge. If this urge is satisfied between them, it secures their modesty and curbs sexual anarchy. However, if this urge is not quenched between the two, it might lead to grave deviations. It is because this relationship shields a husband and wife from any deviations that they are called each other’s robes:

هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَ أَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ (٢ :١٨٧)

They [your wives] are [like] a robe for you and you [like] a robe for them. (2:187)

One can construe in the light of what has been said above that Islam has neither imposed any restriction on the position or posture for sexual intimacy nor explicitly stopped the couple from orally stimulating the sexual organs. However, a person must always bear in mind that Islam is a religion that stands for purification and cleanliness – both physical and spiritual. A person’s own nature, if it is not perverted, guides him to be selective and refined in exercising this discretion. He may have the liberty to do anything in this regard, but he should always remember that the spirit and essence of this liberty dictate that he should not become an animal. Consequently, cunnilingus and fellatio may not be prohibited by the Shari’ah but they seem to be against the norms of a refined taste ingrained in human nature that has not been perverted.

It also needs to be appreciated that during menses, only sexual intercourse is forbidden as is evident from 2:222 quoted above. Other forms of sexual intimacy are allowed. Anas Ibn Malik reports in the Sahih of Imam Muslim:

أن اليهود كانوا إذا حاضت المرأة فيهم لم يؤاكلوها ولم يجامعوهن في البيوت فسأل أصحاب النبي النبي فأنزل الله تعالى [ ويسألونك عن المحيض قل هو أذى فاعتزلوا النساء في المحيض إلى آخر الآية ] فقال رسول الله اصنعوا كل شيء إلا النكاح (مسلم رقم: ٣٠٢)

Amongst the Jews, when a woman menstruated, they did not dine with her nor did they live with her in their houses. So the companions of the Prophet asked him and Allah revealed … (See 2:222 above). The Prophet then said: ‘You can do everything except having intercourse with her’. (Muslim, No: 302)


24. Misinterpretation of some verses of Surah Ahzab

There are certain directives about women which have been erroneously derived from some verses of Surah Ahzab. These can be enumerated as follows:

i. Women must cover their faces and wear large cloaks (jilbabs) when they go out of their houses.

ii. Women must not speak in a polite tone with strangers.

iii. Women should primarily be confined to their homes.

iv. Women should be kept secluded except from their immediate relatives.

It needs to be appreciated that all the above directives have a specific background and cannot be taken as general directives regarding women. It is imperative that this background be understood: When the Islamic message gained acclaim in Madinah, the hypocrites started to tease Muslim women and scandalize the lives of the Prophet’s wives. They would try as much as they could to disparage the Prophet’s personal life and those of his wives. It was in this period when the incident of Ifk took place. A’ishah (rta), the illustrious wife of the Prophet (sws), was dragged into a scandal by these mischief makers. While referring to this general attitude of the hypocrites, the Qur’an says:

وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُبِينًا يَاأَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا لَئِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهِ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْمُرْجِفُونَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ لَنُغْرِيَنَّكَ بِهِمْ ثُمَّ لَا يُجَاوِرُونَكَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مَلْعُونِينَ أَيْنَمَا ثُقِفُوا أُخِذُوا وَقُتِّلُوا تَقْتِيلًا (٣٣: ٥٨-٦١)

And those who harass believing men and believing women unjustifiably shall bear the guilt of slander and a grievous sin. O Prophet! Enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers to draw over them a shawl [they may have when they go out]. That is more proper, so that they may be distinguished [from slave-women] and not be harassed. God is ever forgiving and merciful. If [after these measures also] these hypocrites and those who have the ailment [of jealousy] in their hearts and the scandal mongers of Madinah do not desist, We will rouse you against them, and their days in that city will be numbered. Cursed be they; wherever found, they would be seized and put to exemplary death. (33:58-61)

The above verses also shed light on one of their subversive activities: They would tease and torment believing women and when they would be called to account, they would say that they did not know that these were believing women. While explaining the background of this verse Ibn Kathir, the celebrated commentator of the Qur’an, records the opinion of Suddi in the following words:

The mischief-mongers among the people of Madinah would come out on the streets at dusk and get after the women of the Ansar. The houses of the people of Madinah [in those days] were very small in size and at nightfall the women would go out on these streets [making their way to the fields] to relieve themselves. These evil people would tease these women. If they saw a woman who would be wearing a cloak they would say she is a free woman [and not a slave] and would abstain [from any evil activity] and if they saw a woman who would not be wearing a cloak [in the way prescribed by the Qur’an] they would pounce on her by saying that she is a slave woman. (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azim, vol. 3, [Beirut: Daru’l-Ahya wa al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1969], p. 518)

He then records the opinion of Mujahid in the following words:

These women would wear cloaks [in the way prescribed by the Qur’an] so that it be known that they are free women and the mischief-mongers would not then harm or tease them. (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azim, vol. 3, [Beirut: Daru’l-Ahya wa al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1969], p. 519)

Evidently, in order to curb this prank of theirs, the Almighty directed believing women to make themselves distinct in appearance from other women so that these people could have no excuse to tease them. This distinction in appearance was to be made by drawing a part of their cloaks in front of them so that it protruded over their bodies.

Moreover, people who have derived the veil from these directives have translated the relevant part as: ‘O Prophet! tell your wives and daughters and the wives of the believers to draw a part of their cloaks over them’. ‘To draw cloaks over their faces’ is an erroneous translation. The directive means that Muslim women should draw a part of their cloaks on them so that these cloaks should dangle in front. Nowhere does the verse says that the face should be covered. In fact, the verse is devoid of the word ‘face’. If the face was required to be covered, words to this effect should have been present: ‘يُغَطِّيْنَ وُجُوْهَهُنَّ’ (yughatina wujuhahunna: they should cover their faces).

It is thus evident from this discussion that the directive given in the verse regarding cloaks and seemingly covering the face has no bearing in any way to directives in general. They only prescribe a way to deal with a particular situation that had arisen in the times of the Prophet (sws).

After dealing with the first question, the following questions which remain are answered through excerpts taken from Javed Ahmad Ghamidi’s ‘Qanun-i-Mu’asharat’ (The Social Shari’ah of Islam):

i. Women must not speak in a polite tone with strangers.

ii. Women should primarily be confined to their homes.

iii. Women should be kept secluded except from their immediate relatives.

A deliberation on the contents of Surah Ahzab reveals the fact that when the hypocrites and miscreants mentioned above embarked upon a campaign to scandalize the private lives of the wives of the Prophet (sws) to make the common man averse to them and to damage the moral repute of both Islam and the Muslims, the Almighty took certain measures to curb this evil: First, He gave the noble wives the choice to leave the Prophet (sws) and live the life of common Muslim women enjoying its luxuries and comforts or to once again decide with full awareness to live forever as the wives of the Prophet (sws) in order to obtain the comforts and luxuries of the Hereafter. They were then informed that if they decided to stay with the Prophet (sws), then they must realize that their status as his wives entailed great responsibility. They are not like common women; they are like the mothers of the believers. Therefore, if they remain faithful to Allah and His Prophet (sws) and do righteous deeds with full sincerity, they will earn a two-fold reward. Likewise, they will be worthy of a two-fold punishment in relation to other women if they commit a sin. Their inner purification is beyond doubt; however, the Almighty also wants to morally cleanse them in the eyes of the people so that no one is given a chance to even cast slight aspersions on their characters. This is a requisite of their status and they must adopt certain things in their daily lives to achieve this purity.

Firstly, if they are fearful of the Almighty they should not be kind and affectionate in speech to every person who enters their house. Though in normal circumstances, one must be gentle and kind when he speaks to others, but, in the circumstances they are facing, such an attitude would only embolden the miscreants and the hypocrites around them to take undue advantage of them. Such an attitude of kindness would create in them the expectation of success in their mission – the mission of whispering evil in people’s hearts. So if ever they have to talk to such people they must speak in clear and simple tones so that those among their addressees who intend evil realize that they cannot achieve their objective. The Qur’an says:

 يَانِسَاءَ النَّبِيِّ لَسْتُنَّ كَأَحَدٍ مِنْ النِّسَاءِ إِنْ اتَّقَيْتُنَّ فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَعْرُوفًا (٣٢:٣٣)

Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. So, if you fear God, do not be too complaisant in your speech, lest the lecherous-hearted should lust after you. Talk with such people in plain and simple words. (33:32)

Second, they should remain in their homes in order to protect their rank and status. All their attitudes and mannerisms should be in accordance with the status that the Almighty has conferred upon them. So if they have to go out to meet some compelling need, they must not go out displaying their ornaments and finery – something which was the way of women of the age of ignorance. Both their status and responsibility entail that they remain in their houses and diligently pray and spend in the way of Allah as much as they can and with full sincerity spend their time in obedience to the Almighty and His Prophet (sws). However, if due to some unavoidable reason they must leave their place, then they should do so in the most befitting of manners exemplifying the culture and tradition of the Muslims and not let any hypocrite to even cast an aspersion on them:

وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمْ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا (٣٣:٣٣)

And abide still in your homes and do not display your finery as women used to do in the days of ignorance. Attend to your prayers, pay Zakah and obey God and His Messenger. O women of this house, the Almighty wants to cleanse you from the filth [these hypocrites want to besmear you with] and to fully purify you. (33:33)

Thirdly, they should try to communicate the verses of the Qur’an as well as the beliefs and moral teachings of Islam to people who come and visit them and refrain from other general gossip. It is for this very objective that the Almighty has chosen them. Their purpose of life now is the dissemination of the message of Islam and not indulgence in the luxuries of life:

وَاذْكُرْنَ مَا يُتْلَى فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ لَطِيفًا خَبِيرًا (٣٤:٣٣)

And Communicate [to your visitors] what is taught to you of the verses of God and the wisdom revealed by Him. The Almighty is very discerning and all-knowing. (33:34)

It seems that even after all these measures, the miscreants did not mend their ways. Consequently, the Almighty gave some more directives to Muslims which were to be strictly followed.

Muslims were told that no one should enter the house of the Prophet (sws) unless he was called. If people are invited to have food at the house of the Prophet (sws), they shall come right at the time of food. They shall then disperse immediately afterwards and not keep talking to one another.

The wives of the Prophet (sws) shall be secluded from the Muslims and except for near relatives and women of their acquaintance no one shall come in front of them. Anyone who wants something from their private places must ask for it from behind a veil.

The wives of the Prophet (sws) shall be the mothers of the believers. Those Hypocrites who have the desire to marry them should know that even after the death of the Prophet (sws) they cannot marry them. They are eternally prohibited for marriage after him. Consequently, every believer should honor and respect them the way he honors and respects his own mother. The Prophet (sws) is greatly distressed by the wrong attitudes of these miscreants. They must know that bothering the Prophet (sws) is not something trivial. A person may fashion out an excuse for his misdemeanor in this world but he would not be successful in justifying it before the Lord of the worlds who is aware of what is in the hearts:

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتَ النَّبِيِّ إِلَّا أَنْ يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمْ إِلَى طَعَامٍ غَيْرَ نَاظِرِينَ إِنَاهُ وَلَكِنْ إِذَا دُعِيتُمْ فَادْخُلُوا فَإِذَا طَعِمْتُمْ فَانْتَشِرُوا وَلَا مُسْتَأْنِسِينَ لِحَدِيثٍ إِنَّ ذَلِكُمْ كَانَ يُؤْذِي النَّبِيَّ فَيَسْتَحْيِ مِنْكُمْ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَسْتَحْيِ مِنْ الْحَقِّ وَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَاعًا فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ ذَلِكُمْ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ وَمَا كَانَ لَكُمْ أَنْ تُؤْذُوا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَنْ تَنْكِحُوا أَزْوَاجَهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ أَبَدًا إِنَّ ذَلِكُمْ كَانَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمًا إِنْ تُبْدُوا شَيْئًا أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِنَّ فِي آبَائِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَائِهِنَّ وَلَا إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاءِ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاءِ أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ وَلَا نِسَائِهِنَّ وَلَا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ وَاتَّقِينَ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدًا (٣٣: ٥٣-٥٥)

Believers! do not enter the houses of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless you are given leave. But if you are invited, enter and when you have eaten, disperse. Do not engage in familiar talk, for this would distress the Prophet and he would feel shy to bid you go; but of the truth God does not feel shy. If you ask his wives for anything, speak to them from behind a curtain. This is more pure for your hearts and their hearts. You must not speak ill of God’s Messenger, nor shall you ever wed his wives after him; this would surely be a grave offence in the sight of God. Whether you reveal or conceal them, God has knowledge of all things. It shall be no offence for the Prophet’s wives to come before their fathers, their sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women of acquaintance, or their slave-girls. [O] women [of the household of the Prophet!], have fear of God; surely God observes all things. (33:53-5)

25. Misconceptions regarding Marriages of the Prophet (sws)

The marital life of the Prophet (sws) has generally been misinterpreted by the critics of Islam. In this regard, unfortunately, the real stance of the Qur’an has often been misconceived even by some Muslim scholars. The following questions have been raised in this regard:

i. Why was the Prophet (sws) allowed to marry more than four wives?

ii. Why did the Prophet (sws) marry the wife of his adopted son?

iii. Why did not the Prophet (sws) marry his slave girl: Maria the Coptic?

In the following paragraphs, the Qur’anic viewpoint on these questions shall be explained.

The two initial marriages of the Prophet (sws), it is obvious, were solemnized in a normal perspective and on customary footings. He first of all married a widow, Khadijah (rta), when he was about twenty five years old, while she was almost forty years old. For the next twenty five years, the couple remained happily married and the Prophet (sws) during this period was seen in the role of an ideal husband, something which he maintained throughout his marital life. At the death of Khadijah (rta), the Prophet (sws) was left with small children. Consequently, he married a widow, Sawdah (rta), then fifty three years old. The need for this marriage like the previous one, it is obvious, arose from perfectly natural needs.

In the year 622, the Prophet (sws) migrated to Madinah as its undisputed ruler. His marriage with ‘A’ishah (rta) the daughter of his dear Companion, Abu Bakr (rta) was consummated two years later26. The marriage had been legally solemnized a couple of years before migration. It seems that this marriage was, in fact, a divine selection, for the services rendered by ‘A’ishah  (rta) for the cause of Islam stand unparalleled. She was, perhaps, the greatest authority on Islam after the Prophet (sws). All the illustrious Companions of the Prophet (sws) consulted her for religious guidance. The Prophet’s marriage with ‘A’ishah  (rta) and later with Hafsah (rta) daughter of ‘Umar (rta), also proved instrumental in the strengthening of ties with his two close Companions.

Now, within the first few years after migration, many Muslim women were widowed particularly, because their husbands had been killed in the battles of Badr and Uhad. A large number of them including their children were left helpless. The opening verses of Surah Nisa came to their rescue and suggested a way out to deal with their apathy. The custom of polygamy which was prevalent in Arabia was utilized to solve this problem. The Qur’an urged the Muslims to marry them if they could be just to all their wives and at the same time this number should not exceed four. Since the Prophet (sws) was to set an example in this regard, he took lead and married two widows Zaynab binti Khuzaymah (rta) and Hafsah binti ‘Umar (rta). At this stage, he had four wives ‘A’ishah (rta), Sawdah (rta), Hafsah (rta) and Zaynab binti Khuzaymah (rta). A few months later, Zaynab binti Khuzaymah (rta) died and the Prophet (sws) married Ummi Salamah (rta) whose husband had been martyred in the battle of Uhad. Her deceased husband Abu Salamah (rta) had rendered meritorious services for the cause of Islam.

The Prophet (sws), while discharging his duties as the final Nabi, next married Zaynab binti Jahash (rta) in the fifth year after migration. The reason for this marriage must be understood in the light of some important details: Islam inherited the inhuman institution of slavery. There were scores of slave men and women in every house. Instantly freeing them, it is clear, would have resulted in a lot of social and economic problems. Islam, therefore, adopted a gradual methodology to do away with slavery. It undertook various measures in this regard. However, freeing these slaves was not the only problem which was to be tackled. An even more important problem was to blend and graft them within the normal social structure of the society once they had been set free. Keeping in view the great sense of superiority the Arabs had over slaves, this was an extremely uphill task. Consequently, the Prophet (sws) in order to make them acceptable as normal members of a society took a very radical step. He persuaded his cousin sister Zaynab binti Jahash (rta) to marry Zayd Ibn Harthah (rta), a slave boy he had set free and brought up as a son. The marriage took place, but, unfortunately, it could not continue due to certain reasons and Zayd (rta) had to divorce his wife. After this unfortunate dissolution of marriage, the only thing which could console Zaynab (rta) was if the Prophet (sws) married her. Furthermore, it was necessary to reform a social custom concerning some erroneous concepts about an adopted son. According to this custom, the Arabs regarded the adopted sons and foster sons equally in all respects. This, of course, is against human nature and as such had to be abrogated. However, as a social custom, it was so deeply rooted in the Arab society that it could only be the Prophet’s personality which could abolish it. Consequently, on the Almighty’s bidding27, the Prophet (sws) married her to sympathize with her and to reform this custom.

Also, with this marriage, the normal law of keeping four wives was extended by the Almighty for the Prophet (sws) so that he could effectively discharge his responsibilities as a Nabi and a Rasul.

The Qur’an says:

يَاأَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَاجَكَ اللَّاتِي آتَيْتَ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمِّكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمَّاتِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالَاتِكَ اللَّاتِي هَاجَرْنَ مَعَكَ وَامْرَأَةً مُؤْمِنَةً إِنْ وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلنَّبِيِّ إِنْ أَرَادَ النَّبِيُّ أَنْ يَسْتَنكِحَهَا خَالِصَةً لَكَ مِنْ دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ قَدْ عَلِمْنَا مَا فَرَضْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِي أَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ لِكَيْلَا يَكُونَ عَلَيْكَ حَرَجٌ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا تُرْجِي مَنْ تَشَاءُ مِنْهُنَّ وَتُؤْوِي إِلَيْكَ مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَمَنْ ابْتَغَيْتَ مِمَّنْ عَزَلْتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكَ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ تَقَرَّ أَعْيُنُهُنَّ وَلَا يَحْزَنَّ وَيَرْضَوْنَ بِمَا آتَيْتَهُنَّ كُلُّهُنَّ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَلِيمًا  لَا يَحِلُّ لَكَ النِّسَاءُ مِنْ بَعْدُ وَلَا أَنْ تَبَدَّلَ بِهِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ حُسْنُهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ رَقِيبًا (٣٣ :٥٠-٥٢)

O Prophet! We have made lawful to you the wives whom you have paid their dowers and free women whom [you have gained in a military campaign] and the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and aunts who migrated [from Makkah] with you and any believing woman who gifts her soul to the Prophet on the condition that the Prophet wishes to marry her. This directive is specifically for you alone and not for the believers. We very well know what We have imposed on them as obligations regarding their wives and slave girls – [a special directive for you] so that that there be no difficulty for you [in discharging your duties] and [and in case of any blemish], Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. You have the authority to keep any of them away from you and keep any of them near you and it is lawful for you to bring any of them near you whom you have kept away. There is no blame on you in this regard. This

is more proper so that they be contented and not be sorrowful – that they may feel satisfied with whatever you give them. And Allah knows what is in your hearts and Allah is All-Knowing and Most Forbearing. All other women besides these are not lawful for you nor can you change them for other wives, even though their beauty attracts you. Slave-girls28 however [are still] allowed to you. And [in reality] Allah does watch over all things. (33:50-2)

While analyzing the statutes on which this group of directives is based, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi writes29:

Firstly, after contracting marriage with Zaynab (rta), the Prophet (sws) could marry further for the following objectives:

i. To honor free women who were caught as captives in some military campaign.

ii. To show kindheartedness to women who wanted to marry him just for the sake of associating themselves to him, and for this they were ready to gift themselves to him.

iii. To console and sympathize with his maternal or paternal cousin sisters who had migrated with him from Makkah and left their houses and relatives merely to support and back him.

Secondly, since these marriages of the Prophet (sws) were to be contracted only to fulfill certain religious obligations, he was not required to deal equally between the wives.

Thirdly, except for the women specified, he was prohibited to marry any other lady; he could also not divorce any of his wives nor bring a new one in her place however much he liked her.

Consequently, the Prophet (sws) married Jawayriyyah (rta) for the first objective outlined above, Maymunah (rta) for the second and Ummi Habibah (rta) for the third.

It is also pointed out in these verses that the wives of the Prophet (sws) are the mothers of the believers; consequently, marriage is eternally prohibited with them. No Muslim should even think of marrying them after the Prophet’s death:

النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ (٦:٣٣)

The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers. (33:6)

وَلَا أَنْ تَنْكِحُوا أَزْوَاجَهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ أَبَدًا إِنَّ ذَلِكُمْ كَانَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمًا (٣٣: ٥٣)

Nor is it right for you that you should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is abominable in Allah’s sight. (33:53)

It is evident from this discussion that these marriage directives were given to Muhammad (sws) as a religious obligation in his capacity as Prophet and Messenger of God. He followed these directives and there was no element of personal desire in these marriages. Consequently, the need arose to make these directives an exception to the general ones given to the Muslims in this regard.

________________

1. This part has been translated and adapted from Ghamidi’s ‘Burhan’.

2. Ibn Qayyim, I’lamu’l-Muwwaqi’in, 1st ed., vol. 1, (Beirut: Daru’l-Jayl, 1973), p. 90

3. ie. Muslim women who habitually commit fornication.

4. ie.  from among the Muslims.

5. Ibn Rushd, Bidayatu’l-Mujtahid, 1st ed., vol. 4, (Beirut: Daru’l-Ma’rifah, 1997), p. 311

6. Ibn Qayyim, I’lamu’l-Muwwaqi’in, 1st ed., vol 1, (Beirut: Daru’l-Jayl, 1973), p. 91

7. Ibn ‘Abidin, Rasa’il Ibn ‘Abidin, 1st ed., (Damascus: al-Maktbah al-Hashimiyyah, 1325 AH), p. 125

8. Translated and adapted from Ghamidi’s ‘Qanun-i-Mu’asharat‘ (The Social Shari’ah of Islam).

9. The Qur’an 90:30

10.
Muslim, No: 1509

11.
Muslim, No: 1662

12.
Muslim, No: 1661

13.
Muslim, No: 1657

14.
Muslim, No: 1659

15.
Abu Da’ud, No: 5164

16. The Qur’an: 4:92, 58:85, 5:89

17. The Qur’an: 24:32-3

18. The Qur’an, 9:60

19. See: Islamic Punishments, Monthly Renaissance, Sep2002, Daru’l-Ishraq, Lahore

20.
Muslim, No: 2249

21. The Qur’an, 47:4; for further details see: The Islamic Law of Jihad, Monthly Renaissance, June2002, Daru’l-Ishraq, Lahore

22.
Abu Da’ud, No:2085

23. This testimony, as is evident from the Qur’an, is not a legal requirement. It is only a sound piece of advice for the welfare of the spouses.

24. The only exceptions to this rule are when the wife is guilty of committing adultery, in which case a husband can take back all the wealth and property gifted to her.

25. Ibid., p. 527

26. Recent researches have established beyond doubt that ‘A’ishah (rta) at the time of the consummation was in her twenties. The Ahadith which report her age to be eight or nine years at the time of marriage are absolutely baseless. For further details see Hakim Niaz Ahmad’s ‘Tahqiq ‘Umr i ‘A’ishah (rta) Siddiqah’ (An Inquiry into the age of ‘A’ishah (rta)) published by the Mashkoor Academy in Karachi)

27. In the words of the Qur’an: ‘And when Zayd divorced his wife, We gave her to you in marriage in order that there may be no difficulty to the believers to wed the wives of their adopted sons if they divorced them’. (33:37)

28. The case of Maria the Coptic, a maiden gifted by Maqawqus, the king of Egypt, to the Prophet (sws) must be understood in the proper perspective: The Prophet (sws) could not marry her, since, according to the Qur’an (33:49-52), the Prophet (sws) could only free and marry slave girls who were made prisoners in war. He was not allowed to marry gifted slave women that had been set free. Returning a royal gift, of course, would be against courtesy; secondly, an example needed to be set as to how Muslims should treat their slave girls – who in those times were treated very badly.

29. Ghamidi, Javed Ahmad, The Social Shari’ah of Islam, 1st ed., (Lahore: Shirkat Printing Press, 2004), pp 43-4.


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