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Acts of Worship New Muslims

How to Offer the Funeral Prayer

funeral-prayer

The imam stands beside the body facing the qiblah at Mecca with the followers behind him in lines.

The prayer to God for the deceased Muslim is a common collective duty (Fard Kifayah). This means that some Muslims should offer this prayer, and when it is offered by some of the Muslims present at the time it is sufficient, and the other Muslims become exempt from responsibility.

– When a Muslim dies, the whole body – beginning with the exposed parts washed in ablution (wudu’ ) – must be washed a few times with soap or some other detergent or disinfectant, and cleaned of all visible impurities. A man washes a man and a woman washes a woman. A woman may wash her husband, and a man or woman may wash young children. During the washing, the washer’s hands should be covered by gloves or cloth, and the private parts of the dead body should be washed without being seen.

When the body is thoroughly clean, it is wrapped in one or more white cotton sheets covering all the parts of the body

– The dead body is then placed on a bier or in a coffin and carried to the place of prayer, a mosque or any other clean premises. The body is put in a position with the face toward the qiblah (direction of Makkah).

– All participants in the prayer must perform an ablution unless they are keeping an earlier one. The imam stands beside the body facing the qiblah at Mecca with the followers behind him in lines.

– The imam raises his hands to the ears declaring the intention in a low voice to pray to God for that particular deceased one, and saying Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest). The worshippers follow the imam’s lead and after him place their right hands over the left ones under the navel as in others prayers

– Then the imam recites in a low voice the “Du’ a Thana’” and Al-Fatihah (the 1st chapter of the Qur’an) only.

– Then he says Allahu Akbar without raising his hands and recites the second part of the Tashahhud:

Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa sallayta ‘ala Ibraheema wa ‘ala aali Ibraheem. Innaka hameedun majeed. Allaahumma baarik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa baarakta ‘ala Ibraheem wa ‘ala aali Ibraheem. Innaka hameedun majeed.” (O Allah, exalt Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You exalted Ibrahim (Abraham) and the family of Ibrahim. Verily You are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You blessed Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.)

– Then he makes the third takbir saying Allahu Akbar without raising the hands and offers a supplication (du`aa’ ) in any suitable words he knows, preferably these

O God! Grant forgiveness to our living and to our dead, and to those who are present and to those who are absent. And to our young and to our old folk, and to our males and to our females. O God! whomsoever You grant to live, from among us, help him to live in Islam, and whomsoever of us You cause to die, help him to die in faith. O God! Do not deprive us of the reward for patience on his loss, and do not make us subject to trial after him.”

– Then the fourth takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) without raising the hands is made followed by the concluding peace greetings right and left as in other prayers. It should be remembered that the worshippers behind in lines follow the lead of the Imam step by step and recite privately the same utterances in low voice.

– After completing the Prayer, the body is carried to the graveyard, there the body is lowered in the grave for burial with the face resting in the direction of Mecca. When lowering the body down these words are said:

“In the name of God and with God, and according to the Sunnah (Traditions) of the Messenger of God upon whom be the blessings and peace of God.”

– Besides these, any other fit prayers may be offered. If the deceased is a child under the age of puberty, the prayer is the same except that after the third Takbeer and instead of that long supplication the worshippers recite these words:

“O God! Make him (or her) our fore-runner, and make him for us a reward and a treasure, and make him for us a pleader, and accept his pleading.”

The whole funeral prayer is offered in the standing position.

Whenever a funeral procession passes by, be it of a Muslim or otherwise, every Muslim should stand out of respect for the dead.

The grave should be built and marked in a simple way. The dead body should be covered with white cotton sheets of standard material. Any extravagance in building the grave or dressing up the body in fine suits or the like is non-Islamic. It is false vanity and a waste of assets that can be used in many useful ways.

The custom of some Muslims of offering a big and costly banquet upon burial of the deceased is also non-Islamic and an irresponsible waste of money and effort that can be of infinite benefit If used otherwise.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s well-known book “Islam in Focus”.

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

A Beginners Guide to Prayer in Islam

By Editorial Staff

We, as Muslims, have to purify ourselves before offering prayer. Therefore, a Muslim is required to follow certain purification procedure known as wudu’ (ablution). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah does not accept prayer of anyone of you if he does hadath (passes wind) till he performs the ablution (anew). (Al-Bukhari)

Point the index finger straight in the direction of the qiblah and move it through the recitation of the Tashahhud.

But before ablution, you have to perform Istinja’ whenever one passes impurity from any of passages (front & back). One can use either stone (tissue in modern times) or water. To perform it with water is preferred.  The best is to combine both water and tissue, first by wiping with the tissue and then washing.

How to Perform Istinja’

First it is preferred to use toilet paper three times. If Istinja’ is being done on a hot day, then the person should start from the front to the back and then from the back to the front and the third time from the front to the back. If Istinja’ is being done on a cold day, then he should begin from the back to the front.

The female would always wipe first from the front (part closest to the vagina) wiping towards the back, and with the second stone (tissue) wiping from the back to the front and so on.

Then, one should wash both his/her hands in case of any impurity that could be on the skin.

After that, one should pour water over the anus area and rub the area using the inner part of one’s fingers. One should continue until all the impurity and smell is removed. (Nur Al-Idhah, pp. 27-30)

This completes the first step of purification that precedes the prayer. Now, you are ready to perform ablution

Wudu’ or ablution means using clean and cleansing water on certain parts of the body.

How to Perform Ablution

1- Make intention (niyyah) to perform ablution for prayer.

2- Say, “Bismillah” (In the name of Allah).

3- Wash both hands up to the wrist three times and make sure that water has reached between fingers.

4- Take a handful of water; rinse your mouth three times and spit it out every time.

5- Inhale water into your nostrils and then exhale it, three times.

6- Wash your face three times from one ear to the other, and from the forehead to the chin.

7- Wash both your arms up to the elbows, starting with the right and then the left three times.

8- Wipe over head with your wet palms from the top of the forehead to the back of the head.

9- Wash the front and back of your ears by using your index and thumb fingers.

10- Finally, wash both feet to the ankles starting from the right, making sure that water has reached between the toes and all other parts of the feet.

Note: You do not have to repeat ablution unless it is nullified.

Note: Hadath refers to what emanates from the body of wind, urine, stool, seminal fluids, menstrual blood or post-natal bleeding.

 How to Offer Prayer in Islam

There are five obligatory prayers that are offered at certain times during the day and the night. They are called Fajr (Dawn) prayer, Zhuhr (Noon) Prayer, `Asr (Afternoon) Prayer, Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer, and `Ishaa’ (Night) Prayer. These five daily prayers become obligatory once a person converts to Islam.

After performing ablution, make sure that you are covering your `Awrah (what is between navel and knees for male, and the whole body including the head except the face and hands for female). You have to make sure that your clothes and the place of prayer are free from impurities.

Now You Are Ready to Pray;

  • Make the intention in your heart for the prayer you want to pray.
  • Stand up right and face the Qibla (direction of the Ka`bah).
  • Raise your hands to your shoulder or ears level and say in a moderate voice “Allahu Akbar” which means Allah is the greatest.
  • Place your right hand over the left on your chest. Look downward at the place of prostration.
  • Recite the opening supplication in the first rak`ah only, “Subhanaka allahumma wa bi hamdika wa tabara kasmuka wa ta’ala jadduka wa la ilaha ghairuka.” It means, “O Allah, how perfect You are and praise be to You. Blessed is Your name, and exalted is Your majesty. There is none worthy of worship except You.”

Then recite, “A`udhu billahi mina Ash-shaitan Ar-rajim.”

Then, recite, “Bismillah Ar-rahman Ar-rahim.”

  • Recite Surat Al-Fatihah (the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an).

“Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil-`alamin, ar-rahma nir-rahiem, maliki yawmiddin, iyyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nastain, ihdinas-siraatal mustaqim, siraatallazina anamta alaihim, ghairil maghdoobi alahim wa ladalin.”

  • Bend down and place your palms on your knees (ruku`) while your head and back are straight. Look downward at the place of prostration. Then recite silently, “Subhana Rabbiyal `Azhim” (How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme) three times.
  • Stand up from bowing (ruku`) and say, “Sami` Allahu liman hamidah” (Allah hears the one who praises Him). Then say, “Rabana Walak Al-hamd (Our Lord, Praise be to You), just one time.
  • Prostrate and place your forehead, nose, palms, knees, and toes on the floor (sujud) while saying, “Allahu Akbar”. Then say, “Subhana Rabbiyal Al-`Ala” (How Perfect is my Lord, the Highest) three times.
  • Rise from prostration while saying, “Allahu Akbar”. Sit on your left foot and place your right foot upright, and place your palms flat on your knees. Then say, “Rabb ighfir li” (O my Lord! Forgive me.)
  • After that, make another prostration in the same manner

Now, you complete one rak`ah (unit of prayer). Stand up while saying “Allahu Akbar” and perform another rak`ah. Do it in the same manner as you did the first one, but without reciting the opening supplication.

  • After the second prostration of the second rak`ah, sit on your left foot and place your right foot upright. Place your palms on your thighs with all fingers together in a fist except the index finger. Point the index finger straight in the direction of the qiblah and move it through the recitation of the Tashahhud:

“At-Tahiyatu lillahi Was-Salawatu Wat-Tayyibatu. As-Salamu `alaika ayiuh-annabiyu wa-rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Assalamu `alaina wa`ala ibadil-Lahi As –Salihin. Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah wa-ash-hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh.”  

It means:

“All respect, worship and all glory is due to Allah alone. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you. Peace be on us and on those who are the righteous servants of Allah. I testify that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger”.

  • In the three-rak`ah prayer (as in Maghrib) or the four-rak`ah prayer (Zhuhr, `Asr and `Ishaa’), after performing the second rak`ah and the first tashahhud, stand up while raising your hands and say, “Allahu Akbar” and perform another rak`ah. In case you are performing a four-rak`ah prayer, you perform two rak`ahs after the first
  • In case of Fajr (Dawn) Prayer, after offering two rak`ahs and reciting tashahhud, you recite “Allahumma salli `ala Muhammad wa-`ala aali Muhammad kama sallaita `ala Ibrahim wa-`ala aali Ibrahim innaka Hamidun Majeed, wabaarik `ala Muhammad wa `ala aali Muhamad kama barakta `ala Ibrahim wa `ala aali Ibrahim innaka Hamidun Majeed.”

It means:

“O Allah! Praise Muhammad, and on the family of Muhammad, as You Praised Ibrahim, and the family of Ibrahim; You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory. And send blessings on Muhammad, and on the family of Muhammad, as you sent blessings on Ibrahim, and the family of Ibrahim; You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory.”

  • After that, you turn your face the right side saying, “As-salamu `alikum wa Rahmatullh” (peace and mercy of Allah be upon you) and then to the left repeating the same words.
  • In case of the three-rak`ah prayer (as Maghrib), you recite the full tashahhud and make tasleem after the third rak`ah.
  • In case of the four-rak`ah prayer (Zhuhr, `Asr and `Ishaa’) you recite the full tashahhud and make tasleem after the fourth rak`ah.

Times and Number of Rak`ahs of Each Prayer

Name Rak`ahs Time
Fajr (Dawn) Prayer Two From dawn to sunrise.
Zhuhr (Noon) Prayer Four From noon until mid-afternoon.
`Asr (Afternoon) Prayer Four When the shadow of a vertical stick equals its length to sunset.
Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer Three From sunset to the disappearance of red twilight (glow) in the sky.
`Ishaa’ (Night) Prayer Four From the disappearance of red twilight (glow) in the sky to dawn.

 

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

What Did the Prophet say about Congregational Prayer?

By Editorial Staff

The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged Muslims to attend the congregational prayer at the mosque, warning against staying away from it, and that it is fard kifayah (collective obligation).

Congregational Prayer

“The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.”

Superiority of Congregational Prayer

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The congregational prayer  is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The prayer of a man with another man is better than his praying alone, and the prayer of a man with two other men is better than his praying alone or with only one other man, and the more people there are, the more beloved it is to Allah.” (An-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud)

Also, it was narrated that Ma`dan ibn Abu Talhah Al-Ya`muri said:

Abud-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying:

“If three men in a village or in the desert, make no arrangement for Salah (prayer) in congregation, Satan must have certainly overcome them. So observe prayer in congregation, for the wolf eats up a solitary sheep that stays far from the flock.” (Abu Dawud)

Anas bin Malik narrated that:

Allah’s Messenger said: “Whoever performs prayer for Allah for forty days in congregation, catching the first takbir, two absolutions are written for him: absolution from the Fire, and absolution from the Fire, and absolution from hypocrisy.” (At-Tirmidhi)

`Isha’ & Fajr

Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:

“Whoever attends `Isha’ (prayer) in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) stood half of the night. And whoever prays `Isha’ and Fajr in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) spent the entire night standing (in prayer).” (At-Tirmidhi)

`Uthman ibn `Affan reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: “One who performs `Isha’ (Night) prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed prayer for half of the night. And one who performs the Fajr prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed prayer the whole night.” (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet said, “Allah will prepare for him who goes to the mosque (every) morning and in the afternoon (for the congregational prayer) an honorable place in Paradise with good hospitality for (what he has done) every morning and afternoon goings. (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in congregational prayers) and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots they would draw lots. And if they knew the reward of the Zhuhr prayer (in the early moments of its stated time), they would race for it (go early). And if they knew the reward of `Isha’ and Fajr (morning) prayers in congregation, they would come to offer them even if they had to crawl.” (Al-Bukhari)

Congregational Prayer

“For when one of you is walking for Salah, he is, in fact, engaged in Salah.”

More Virtuous

It was narrated that Ibn `Umar said:

“The Messenger of Allah said: “The prayer of a man in congregation is twenty-seven levels more virtuous than a man’s prayer on his own.” (Ibn Majah)

It was narrated that `Uthman ibn `Affan said:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: “Whoever does wudu’ (ablution) properly, then walks to (attend) the prescribed prayer, and prays with the people or with the congregation or in the Masjid, Allah will forgive him his sins.” (An-Nasa’i)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying, “When the Iqamah is pronounced, do not come to it running, you should walk calmly with tranquility to join the congregation. Then join in what you catch for and complete what you miss.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah will prepare for him who goes to the mosque (every) morning and in the afternoon (for the congregational prayer) an honorable place in Paradise with good hospitality for (what he has done) every morning and afternoon goings. (Al-Bukhari)

Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

“The person who will receive the highest reward for Salah (prayer) is the one who comes to perform it in the mosque from the farthest distance. And he who waits for Salah to perform it with the Imam (in congregation) will have a greater reward than the one who observes it alone and then goes to sleep.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Messenger of Allah peace be upon him) said, “For when one of you is walking for Salah, he is, in fact, engaged in Salah.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s Messenger as saying:

“The servant is constantly in prayer so long as he is in a place of worship waiting for the prayer (to be observed in congregation), and the angels invoke (blessings upon him in these words): O Allah! pardon him. O Allah! show mercy to him, (and they continue to do so) till he returns (from the mosque having completed the prayer) or his ablution breaks. I said: How is the ablution broken? He said: By breaking of the wind noiselessly or with noise. (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“The prayer offered in congregation is twenty five times more superior (in reward) to the prayer offered alone in one’s house or in a business center, because if one performs ablution and does it perfectly, and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for each step which he takes towards the mosque, Allah upgrades him a degree in reward and (forgives) crosses out one sin till he enters the mosque. When he enters the mosque he is considered in prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and the angels keep on asking for Allah’s forgiveness for him and they keep on saying: ‘O Allah! Be Merciful to him, O Allah! Forgive him, as long as he keeps on sitting at his praying place and does not pass wind.” (Al-Bukhari)

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New Muslims Zakah

The Blessings behind Zakah

The Blessings behind Zakah

Paying your zakah means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you.

Deep down, you may think of zakah (obligatory alms) as a tiresome once-a-year event that simply involves a quick online payment of 2.5% of your cash and a bunch of gold weighed on scales in your kitchen! But there is a lot more to it. Fully understanding and practicing this beautiful Pillar of Islam can lead to a more productive and successful existence at both an individual and community level. How?

Paying your zakah correctly triggers some marvelous productivity boosters that you probably have never thought of! Here’s what actually happens to you and your life when you pay your zakat:

1- Purifying the Soul

Nothing prevents us more from reaching the heights of productivity than our sins. Day and night, we disobey Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) in all sorts of ways, knowingly and unknowingly, blotting our hearts and blocking the light of Allah from entering them. One critical way of clearing out the junk from our hearts is to pay zakah.

Linguistically, zakah carries meanings of cleansing and purification, originating from the same root as the word tazkiyah. In fact, when Allah commanded the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to collect zakah, He specifically mentioned its purifying power:

Take from their wealth a charity to cleanse and purify them through it and pray for them. Indeed your prayer gives them tranquility. And indeed Allah is All Hearing, All Knowing. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

2- Blessing the Wealth

Apart from purification, zakah also carries meanings of growth and enhancement. Paying your zakah means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you. Our Prophet emphasized this by warning against delaying the payment of zakah or not paying it at all:

“Zakah is never intermingled with any amount of wealth without destroying and rotting it.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is said that zakah represents the ‘filth’ within our wealth, i.e. an amount that we may have incurred through some form of sin or dishonesty, however small or great. For our money to remain blessed, it is vital to get rid of the ‘filth’ as soon as possible. This is akin to the dross that is filtered from a blast furnace, leaving a pure, pristine metal behind.

3- Opportunities for the Poor and Needy

One doubtless benefit of zakah is to help the poor and needy become more productive. By freeing them of the immediate stress of meeting their very basic needs, distributing zakat effectively allows those in need to pursue opportunities to help them turn their lives around.

4- Incurring the Mercy of Allah

In a powerful verse in the Qur’an, Allah says:

…I afflict with My punishment whomsoever I choose, but My mercy encompasses everything. So I will prescribe it (i.e. My mercy) for those who are God conscious, pay Zakah and believe in Our signs. (Al-Anfal 7:156)

This verse is one of just two in Qur’an where zakah is not mentioned in conjunction with the obligatory prayer. Notice how Allah mentions the fulfillment of zakah in such an amazing position: between the qualities of taqwa (God-consciousness) and iman (belief) in His signs. At the same time, He (Exalted be He) makes paying zakah a direct cause for incurring His mercy, without which being productive would be utterly impossible.

5- Endless Rewards

Just after one of the most famous verses in the Qur’an, the Verse of Light, Allah mentions a special group of people:

Men who are not diverted by business or trade from the remembrance of Allah, establishing the prayer and paying zakat, fearing the day (of judgment) in which hearts and sights are turned upside down. (An-Nur 24:37)

Here Allah extols the virtues of those who are busy, productive and successful in a worldly sense, but at the same time do not allow themselves to forget the most important aspects of their faith: remembering their Lord, establishing the prayer and paying zakah.

Allah then promises them an amazing outcome:

Allah will recompense them according to the best of what they have done and He will grant them increase out of His bounty. Allah provides for whomsoever He wills without measure. (An-Nur 24:38)

May Allah (Exalted be He) make us among those mentioned in the above verse! May He enable Muslims everywhere to understand and fulfill their obligation of zakah, thereby incurring His mercy and pleasure. Ameen.

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Source: productivemuslim.com.

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Family New Muslims

Rights of the Muslim Woman: The Daughter and the Wife

By Dr. Jamal Badawi 

Woman as a Daughter

1- The Qur’an ended the cruel pre-Islamic practice of female infanticide(wa’d):

Rights of the Muslim Woman- The Daughter and the Wife

Parents are duty-bound to support and show kindness and justice to their daughters.

When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned for what crime she was killed…. (At-Takwir 81:8-9)

The Qur’an went further to rebuke the unwelcoming attitude of some parents upon hearing the news of the birth of a baby girl, instead of a baby boy:

When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame he hides himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance and) contempt or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on! (An-Nahl 16:58-59)

3- Parents are duty-bound to support and show kindness and justice to their daughters. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

Whosoever has a daughter and does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her, Allah will enter him into paradise. (Ahmad)

Whosoever supports two daughters until they mature, he and I will come on the day of judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together). (Ahmad)

4- A crucial aspect in the upbringing of daughters that greatly influences their future is education. Education is not only a right but a responsibility for all males and females.

Prophet Muhammad said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim”. (Al-Bayhaqi and Ibn-Majah)

(The word “Muslim” here is inclusive of both males and females.)

As a Wife

1- Marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love and compassion, and not the mere satisfying of human sexual desire.

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts); verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (Ar-Rum 30:21)

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Ash-Shura 42:11)

Marriage and Divorce

2- The female has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals.

Her consent is a prerequisite to the validity of the martial contract, according to the Prophets’ teaching. It follows that if an “arranged marriage” means the marrying of a female without her consent, then such a marriage may be annulled if the female so wishes:

Ibn `Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of Allah, and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice… (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it. (Ahmad)

Another version of the report states that the girl said: “Actually, I accept this marriage, but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right to force a husband on them.” (Ibn-Majah)

3- The husband is responsible for the maintenance, protection, and overall leadership (qiwamah) of the family, within the framework of consultation and kindness. The mutuality and complementarity of husband and wife does not mean “subservience” by either party to the other. Prophet Muhammad helped with household chores although the responsibilities he bore and the issues he faced in his community were immense.

The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear.  No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child. A heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If you decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you offered on equitable terms. But fear Allah and know that Allah sees well what you do. (Al-Baqarah 2:233)

Prophet Muhammad instructed Muslims regarding women,

“I commend you to be kind to women.” (Al-Bukhari) He said also, “The best of you is the best to his family (wife).” (An-Nawawi in his book Riyad As-Saliheen)

The Qur’an urges husbands to be kind and considerate to their wives, even if a wife falls out of favor with her husband or disinclination for her arises within him. It also outlawed the pre-Islamic Arabian practice whereby the stepson of the deceased father was allowed to take possession of his father’s widow(s) (inherit them) as if they were part of the estate of the deceased:

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the marital gift you have given them, except when they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary, live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a thing through which Allah brings about a great deal of good. (An-Nisaa’ 4:19)

4- Should marital disputes arise, the Qur’an encourages couples to resolve them privately in a spirit of fairness and probity. Under no circumstances does the Qur’an encourage, allow, or condone family violence or physical abuse.

In extreme cases, and whenever greater harm, such as divorce, is a likely option, it allows for a husband to administer a gentle pat to his wife that causes no physical harm to the body nor leaves any sort of mark. It may serve, in some cases, to bring to the wife’s attention to the seriousness of her continued unreasonable behavior  (refraction), and may be resorted to only after exhausting other steps discussed in endnote.

If that mild measure is not likely to prevent a marriage from collapsing, as a last measure, it should not be resorted to. Indeed, the Qur’an outlines an enlightened step and a wise approach for the husband and wife to resolve persistent conflict in their martial life: In the event that disputes cannot be resolved equitably between husband and wife, the Qur’an prescribes mediation between the parties through family intervention on behalf of both spouses.

5- Divorce is a last resort, permissible but not encouraged, for the Qur’an esteems the preservation of faith and the individual’s right – male and female alike – to felicity. Forms of marriage dissolution include an enactment based upon mutual agreement, the husband’s initiative, the wife’s initiative (if part of her martial contract), the court’s decision on a wife’s initiative (for a legitimate reason) and the wife’s initiative without a “cause” provided that she returns her marital gift to her husband (khul` or divestiture).

6- Priority for the custody of young children (up to the age of about seven) is given to the mother. A child later may choose the mother or father as his or her custodian.

Custody questions are to be settled in a manner that balances the interests of both parents and the well-being of the child.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s “Gender Equity in Islam: Basic Principles”.

 

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