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THE STATUS OF WOMAN IN ISLAM
By Jamal A. Badawi
Family, society and ultimately the whole of mankind is treated by Islam on an ethical basis. Differentiation in sex is neither a credit nor a drawback for the sexes. Therefore, when we talk about status of woman in Islam it should not lead us to think that Islam has no specific guidelines, limitations, responsibilities and obligations for men. What makes one valuable and respectable in the eyes of Allah, the Creator of mankind and the universe, is neither one’s prosperity, position, intelligence, physical strength nor beauty, but only one’s Allah-consciousness and awareness (taqwa). However, since in the Western culture and in cultures influenced by it, there exists a disparity between men and women there is more need for stating Islam’s position on important issues in a clear way. Read more
Gender Equity in Islam
Jamal A. Badawi, Ph.D.I. Introduction & Methodology
When dealing with the Islamic perspective of any topic, there should be a clear distinction between the normative teachings of Islam and the diverse cultural practices among Muslims, which may or may not be consistent with them. The focus of this paper is the normative teachings of Islam as the criteria to judge Muslim practices and evaluate their compliance with Islam. In identifying what is “Islamic” it is necessary to make a distinction between the primary sources of Islam (the Qur’an and the Sunnah) and legal opinions of scholars on specific issues, which may vary and be influenced by their times, circumstances, and cultures. Such opinions and verdicts do not enjoy the infallibility accorded to the primary and revelatory sources. Furthermore, interpretation of the primary sources should consider, among other things:
In this ground-breaking series of lectures, Shaykh Abdallah Adhami discuses issues of gender, marriage, sexuality, and the interaction of male and female in a way that is both contemporary and deeply grounded in traditional Islam and classical scholarship. The topics presented in this series are as varied as gendered language in the Qur’an, the limits of male-female interaction, the process of getting married and the role of spirituality in married life. This series is essential listening for all Muslim families and students of Islamic knowledge.
For Small Groups
Naming: Everyone in the group takes turns in naming one item in decided category.
Nuh(a. s)’s Ark: One person privately thinks of general category ( eg- words that have an “a” in them, words that are five letter long, things that are green ). Each person says a word which he/she hopes is within that category. If it is, “Nuh” will let him into the ark; if it is not, the person must wait until his/ her next turn to guess again. The people who are not in the ark after 2 (or 3) rounds will “drown”.
Haram Letter: The quizmaster declares one ( or two ) letters of the alphabet to be haram. He/she will ask each person in the group a different question. They must answer it in 10 seconds without using the haram letter (s). If they do, they get a sin (just kidding–they are out).
Story Building: The first person in the group says a word. Other people in turn add on a word to follow the last one so that a sentence is built. As the sequence continues, a whole story will be composed! A more challenging version is when everyone must contribute two phrases at a time, but your first phrase must rhyme with the previous phrase. (eg- “We set our tent in a field, because we were about to camp, but the grass was very damp. Then came the wind and rain..”)
Hafiz’s Game: One person in the group start off a list of something ( eg- items bought at a store, or a movement ). Then the next person in in line repeats the last words ( or does the last movements), and adds a new one to the list. Each person must repeat the previous list and add one. If you make a mistake you are out.
For Very Large Groups
Interviewing: Find an interesting person in your audience and ask him/her accomplishments
Impromptu Speech: Get some volunteers from the audience ( or, your co-organizers). Ask them to put their names in one hat and various board speech topics in another hat. Randomly pick one name, and his/her topic. Ask them to speak to the audience for two minutes.
Mock Debates: Follow the method above, but assign chosen speakers to one debating (of 2-4 people each ) to go against another. Change the speech topic into. Debate opposing positions ( 5-10 minutes.)
Role playing: Ask for two volunteers. One of them will act out the part of non-Muslim who is questioning the other person ( playing a Muslim ) about a misunderstood topic in Islam. Let the role players privately choose the topic before they start ( eg. women in Islam, terrorism, human rights).
Who am I? Choose the identity of a famous person. Individual audience members put up their hands and ask Y/N questions about your “person”. If the answer is YES, the audience member may take a guess. If they are correct, they will replace you: if no one is correctly guessed after 20 questions, go again.
Who are you? Choose a volunteer to leave the room. The audience will decide what famous group of people they will be. When the volunteer returns, He/She asks questions about the audience’s identity, to which the audience can only answer YES or NO. The volunteer can directly guess the group’s identity a maximum of five times only. The number of questions asked or the time taken up will be noted and compared. Next turn, choose another group identity.
Say it again: Choose three volunteers to leave the room; do not tell them anything except that they will be competing with each other. Tell the audience the objective is for us to ask questions that will make the volunteers say acertain word many times. The more times he/she says the word in five minutes, the more points he/she loses. Decide on the word(s) ( eg-“book” “computer”) before the first volunteer comes back in the room. After questioning him for five minutes, his turn is over. Try not to change words before the next volunteer is called in. Tell them at the end
Make Believe: Choose two volunteers to leave the room; tell them only the audience will make up a story that they will have to guess. Also, a referee will be chosen to make sure no repeat Q’s are asked, and to tell them to ” ask a better question ” if they are stuck in a cycle tell the audience that whenever the volunteers ask a question ending with a consonant, they will all say “YES”. If the question ends with a vowel, say “NO”; if it ends with “Y” say “MAYBE”. Let them ask questions for about 10-20 minutes, you will find that they will make up their own story! Tell them about this secret only at the very end.
For Competing Groups
Assign people into equal-sized, gender-separate groups of moderate size (12 max). Let the group choose a leader, and a name. You may play games in either “face-off” style (where only one person at a time from each group competes, or a “shura” style ( where the group agrees on an answer together ).
Islamic Quiz Competition:
Win, lose, or Draw:
Challenges Shura Style:
Face off style:
**Sample of list phrases:
By Na’ima B. Robert
A true Muslim marriage is about husband and wife helping each other attain paradise says Na’ima B. Robert
My husband is ill. He lies in bed, in the dark. I try to keep the children quiet. I try to keep them from disturbing him. I try to get them to sleep without too much fuss.
When all is peace, I tiptoe into the room. I feel his forehead for signs of a fever. I ask him if he needs anything. He needs to drink fluids, Vitamin C. I know this. And I also know that he won’t ask.
So I go to the kitchen, put the kettle on. I mix him a drink – lemon to fight the cold germs, honey to soothe his sore throat, fresh mint leaves to lift the taste a little. I say ‘Bismillah’ before I pour the hot water, make a little prayer for his well being, before taking it to him. He smiles through his discomfort. I have brought him ease.
But I wave away his thanks. It is nothing.
I am his wife. That’s what I’m here to do.
Some may sneer at these small acts of kindness. Some may shake their heads pityingly at this description of servitude. But they don’t understand my life or my motivations. They do not know, do not understand that I married my husband for the sake of Allah.
Our goal, from the outset of a marriage arranged by mutual friends, was to help each other to attain Paradise. Nothing more, nothing less.
We went about our marriage the traditional Islamic way. We didn’t date, we didn’t cohabit, we didn’t spend any time alone. We met a few times, in the company of my guardian, asked each other innumerable questions, discussed every issue that was important to us. My husband flew halfway across the world to obtain my parents’ consent and we were married, with a marriage contract and a mahr (dowry paid to the bride) but no pomp or ceremony, in a room in Baker Street.
To be sure, an Islamic marriage is quite different from that of other faiths or of no faith at all. There are roles and responsibilities to be taken care of, rules and guidelines to be followed. These rules are in place to promote a smoother partnership and a union that is pleasing to God. Many of these rules and guidelines may seem old-fashioned, restrictive even, particularly in an age of ever-evolving morals and mores. But as guidelines set down for us in the Qur’an, the Book of Allah, we trust in their wisdom and we live by their strictures.
These teachings help us set our priorities straight. They help us to tame our ego. They show us to how to give selflessly, expecting our reward from God alone. They teach us to be patient and gentle with each other. They teach us how to be loyal and faithful in word, thought and deed. They teach us to be grateful for the small mercies, for the little kindnesses, for the barely noticeable gestures that embroider our lives together. These are lessons we are learning every day. I know that one day, maybe tomorrow, maybe fifty years from now, I will return to my Lord and then, only my good deeds will count for anything. Only my selfless deeds, performed for the sake of God, will accompany me.
Of course, some may say that I am painting an overly rosy picture. They will quote stories they’ve heard, articles they have read, prejudices they have formed. All these could be true. Or they could not be. I can only speak my truth. I can only tell my story.
My husband’s fever has broken. I smile and praise Allah.
It is nothing. That is what we are here to do.
* This article was first published on www.timesonline.co.uk
Na’ima B. Robert is author of From my Sisters’ Lips , a look at the lives of Muslim women. She is founder and editor of SISTERS , the magazine for fabulous Muslim women. Her latest children’s book, Ramadan Moon, is published by Frances Lincoln
Marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah, an act that is pleasing to Allah SWT. It is in accordance with His commandments that husbands and wives love each other and help one another to rear their children as true servants of Allah SWT.
Most spouses start out with hopes and rosy dreams; truly committed to making their marriage work. However, as the reality of living with a less than perfect spouse lurks in, and as the pressures of life builds, many individuals do not find as much satisfaction in their relationships. All marriages change over time. However, with hard work and dedication, people can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Researches indicate that the most successful marriages share some key characteristics. These are some of the characteristics that researchers have found to be common in successful marriages. Let’s look at each of these factors.
CHARACTERISTICS OF HAPPY AND SATISFYING MARRIAGES
Successful spouses have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting air time and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners.
The key is balance between the two extremes. There are many ways to foster positivity in a marriage. Being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions that help make marriages successful.
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy. Empathy means understanding a person’s perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. Many researchers have shown that empathy is important for relationship satisfaction.
People are more likely to feel good about their marriage and spouse if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they perceive that their spouses truly understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts.
Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships. However, when spouses are committed to investing in their marriage and are willing to sacrifice some of their own preferences for the good of the relationship, they usually have high-quality marriages.
One of the most basic needs in a relationship is acceptance. Everyone wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships.
Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance. However, research has shown that change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage.
5. MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Perhaps the most important component of successful marriages are love and respect for each other. This may seem very obvious — why would two people get married to someone whom they did not love and respect? The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage often suffers as a result.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet SAW. InshaaAllah, married couples will not only gain blessing and harmony from their marriages but also benefits and rewards in the Hereafter. Ameen.
Reprinted from Mukmin.com
More Muslim marriages in North America are breaking up in their first year than ever before, according to Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association of the United States and Canada (ISSA).
The first five to seven years are the most challenging of any marriage. They are a time a couple spends getting to know each other better and adjusting to each other’s habits and personalities.
Below are some of the main problems couples face in the early years and some possible solutions.
1. Lack of proper information before marriage
A number of problems are caused simply by the fact that the couple and their families have not discussed crucial issues beforehand. Some of these include:
- whether or not the wife will work outside the home
- will the couple wait to have children
- which city and country the couple will live in after marriage
- will they live with his parents or have their own apartment
These and other relevant issues need to be discussed and decided in the beginning stages of the marriage process.
2. Who’s in charge?
One of the biggest problems is the tug-of-war between couples over who is in control in the relationship. This has led to a stalemate in disagreements, as well as bitter feelings.
Many couples today are refusing to compromise within moderation when differences arise.
While from an Islamic perspective, the husband is given the leadership role in the marriage relationship, this does not mean he runs the couple’s family life like a dictatorship.
It must be remembered that Islamically, a leader is one who serves, manages, provides and nourishes. A leader must also have humbleness and humility.
A husband exercises the right kind of leadership by being listening to and consulting (doing Shura) with his wife.
Also, a husband is bound to follow the rules of the Quran and Sunnah. So differences in opinion should be referred back to these sources, instead of becoming a source of tension and problems.
3. The divorce option
Once upon a time, “divorce” was the seven-letter word most Muslim couples avoided using. Today, amongst many Muslim couples in North America, it is one of the first recourses turned to when conflicts occur in marriage.
It should be remembered that out of all of the things Allah has made Halal, divorce is the one He hates the most. Couples need to look at several other alternatives before turning to this drastic measure.
They should seek the help of older, wiser and trustworthy elders who will try to help them resolve their differences. Generally, they need to make a sincere, concerted effort to try to work things out before divorce is seriously considered.
4. Sexual problems
It is unrealistic to expect the issue of sex and sex-related problems to mysteriously disappear once a couple gets married.
In the sex-saturated culture of North America, couples tend to place very high expectations of each other in this area. They also expect instant results.
In reality, it takes time, commitment, disappointment and investment to establish a sexual relationship in marriage which is in tune with the needs of each partner.
It’s important for Muslim couples to walk into marriage with proper information about sex and sexual etiquette from an Islamic perspective. They need to know what is Halal (permissible) and what is Haram (forbidden). They should also keep in mind that spouses must never discuss their sexual relationship with others, unless it is to get help for a specific problem with the right person or authority figure.
On a similar note, it’s important for both the husband and wife to remember that they need to make themselves physically attractive to each other. Too many couples take marriage to mean an excuse to now let themselves go. The couple or one of the partners may gain too much weight, or may not care about hygiene and their looks in general. The reverse should be true: spouses should take the time out for these things and give them even more attention after marriage. Our beloved Prophet has recommended husband and wife both to do that, May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
The first few years of marriage are not just a period of adjustment for the married couple. It’s one of getting used to in-laws and vice-versa.
Husbands, wives and in-laws need to practice the Islamic rules of social relations with each other. These include: avoiding sarcasm, backbiting, calling each other by offensive nicknames, and making a special effort to respect each other as family members.
As well, comparisons need to be avoided, since every individual and every couple is different. So wives should not be compared to mothers and sisters. Husbands should not be compared to fathers and brothers. In-laws should not be compared to parents, etc.
In addition, there should be regular, healthy contact between spouses and in-laws. This can mean visiting each other at least once or twice a month, or calling if distance makes it difficult to get together.
Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They live happily ever after.
This is the plot of many a Hollywood and Bollywood movie, where everyone is “perfect”. Real life is very different.
Couples may enter marriage with high-flying romantic ideas and expecting their partner to be the ideal human. But all humans have good and bad points. Husbands and wives have to learn to accept each other, warts and all.
6. Making a schedule and establishing rituals
Making a schedule may seem like an end to spontaneity but it’s not.
This allows you to establish your own lifestyle and rituals as a couple. It’s especially important if both the husband and wife are going to school and/or working. In this scenario, a schedule helps in setting time aside for each other during a fast-paced week of work and studies.
Some rituals couples can establish may include:
- praying at least one prayer together
- attending a study circle together once a week
- deciding on a weekly menu
- having a pancake breakfast every Saturday morning
- setting aside one day on which no work or studying will be done
- setting a day when both the husband and wife will clean up the house
- setting a time to discuss finances and a budget
- making a phone contacting during the day
- deciding on a particular day and time once a month at least to visit each other’s parents
By discussing and setting up these rituals, couples learn how to talk to and feel responsible for each other. They also learn to become a team instead of two people living in the same with separate lives.
7. Marriage as a restriction
Muslim men who have grown up in North America may find marriage restricting. After all, before, they could hang out with their buddies and get home by 11:00 p.m. and no one would say a word. After marriage though, they have to be home by 7:00 p.m if not earlier.
While marriage comes with responsibilities and a tighter schedule, the benefits are also there. It takes time and patience to realize that in the end the benefits (i.e. a life partner, kids, etc.) are greater than the restrictions.
8. Friends and Islamic activities
Friends are a joy and a good friend is someone you want to be close to for the rest of your life.
But friends are often the source of many marriage conflicts. Too much time spent with friends, either hanging out or on the phone, means time lost with a husband/wife.
Also, friends, especially if they are of the same age group, may give the wrong advice on marriage, due to their own inexperience in the area.
Some possible solutions to the friends dilemma could be:
- working out a “friends time” at least once a week where the husband and the wife meet and/or talk with friends privately
- developing friendships with other married couples so spouses can befriend spouses
Islamic activities fall in a similar category. Young Muslim activists may think they can keep attending those three-hour Muslim Students’ Association meetings as they did before marriage. Not so.
Too much focus on outside Islamic activities takes away from spouse time. Give Islamic activities their due but within a balance of everyone’s rights, including those of your spouse.
9. Not keeping secrets
A number of young married couples are notorious for not keeping secrets, especially related to sexual matters, and exposing their spouse’s faults. This is not only unacceptable. It’s unIslamic.
Couples should seek to hide each other’s faults. They should seek advice on marriage problems from a “marriage mentor”, someone who is older, wiser, trustworthy and has the best interests of both parties at heart.
How much should be spent on furniture, the house, food, etc. These are staple issues of any household and can lead to a tug-of-war between husband and wife.
To keep spending in check, husbands and wives need to draft a budget then stick to it. The household will run more efficiently and that’s one less source of conflict in the marriage.
A special note to husbands: in the beginning of marriage, husbands tend to shower their wives with gifts. They do this as an expression of love and because they want to provide for their wives. However, as time passes and they keep giving, they go into debt or experience financial difficulty. As well, wives get used to a certain level of comfort which husbands can no longer afford.
Providing for a wife (and later on, a family) is not just reserved to material things. It includes spending time with her, and treating her with equity and kindness. In fact, most wives would prefer this kind of provision over expensive gifts.
11. Give each other space
A number of couples think being married means always being together and serving each other hand and foot.
Wives may initially take over all household chores, not letting the husband help or even do his own things (i.e. ironing his own clothes). They later regret this as household responsibilities increase and their husbands become dependent on them for the smallest things.
Husbands may think getting married means being with their wives all the time. This later may lead them to becoming irritable and cranky.
The key is to focus on being caring, fond of and accepting each other and giving each other sufficient space. Doing this provides a necessary balance in a relationship which is so close physically and emotionally.
Source: Soundvision, http://www.soundvision.com/Info/marriage/survivalguide.asp
The relationship between the spouses is the most amazing of all human relations: the amount of love and affection, intimacy and closeness, mercy and compassion, peace and tranquillity that fills the hearts of the spouses is simply inexplicable. The only rational explanation for these most amazing of all human feelings is that: it is an act of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, “And Allah has made for you Mates (and Companions of your own nature …” (Surah Al Nahl 16:72)
Only our Almighty Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala in His Infinite Power, Boundless Mercy, and Great Wisdom can create and ingrain these amazing and blessed feelings in the hearts of the spouses. In fact Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is reminding those who search for His signs in the universe that these feelings in the hearts of the spouses are among the signs that should guide humans to His existence as He says in the Qur’an, “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Surah Al Rum 30:21)
But Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala knows that the human heart is not a static entity, it is sometimes weak and at times dynamic. Feelings can and do change with time. Love may wither and fade away. The marital bond might weaken if not properly cared for. Happiness in marriage cannot be taken for granted; continuous happiness requires constant giving from both sides. For the tree of marital love to remain alive and keep growing, the soil has to be sustained, maintained, watered and nurtured.
Remember that our Prophet Muhammad Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam had found the time to go out to the desert and race with his wife Aisha. She outran him but later after she had gained some weight, he outran her. Remember that the Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam took his wife to watch the young Ethiopians playing and dancing their folk dances. The show of emotions is necessary to keep the marital bond away from rusting and disintegrating. Remember that you will be rewarded by Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala for any emotions you show to your wife as the Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam said “One would be rewarded for anything that he does seeking the pleasure of Allah even the food that he puts in the mouth of his wife”
Never underestimate the importance of seemingly little things as putting food in your wife’s mouth, opening the car door for her, etc. Remember that the Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam used to extend his knee to his wife to assist her up to ride the camel.
Try to always find some time for both of you to pray together. Strengthening the bond between you and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the best guarantee that your own marital bond would always remain strong. Having peace with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala will always result in having more peace at home.
Remember that the Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam gave glad tidings for those couples who wake up at night to pray together. The Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam even urged the spouse who rises up first to wake the other spouse up, even by splashing cold water on his/her face.
Always try your best to be good to your wife by words and by deeds. Talk to her, smile to her, seek her advice, ask for her opinion, spend quality time with her and always remember that the Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam said, “The best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Finally, it is common that spouses vow to love and honor their spouses until death do them part. I do believe that this vow is good or even great, but not enough! It is not enough that you love your wife. You have to love what she loves as well. Her family, her loved ones must also become your loved ones. Don’t be like my colleague who was unhappy about his wife’s parents coming to visit for few weeks. He candidly said to her “I don’t like your parents.” Naturally she angrily looked at him straight in the eye and said, “I don’t like yours either.” Also, it is not enough that you love her until death do you part. Love should never end and we do believe there is life after death where those who did righteousness in this world will be joined by their spouses (Surah Al Zukhruf 43:70) and offsprings.
The best example in this regard is the Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam whose love for Khadija, his wife of 25 years, extended to include all those she loved; this love of his continued even after her death. It was many years after her death and he never forgot her and whenever a goat was slaughtered in his house he would send portions of it to Khadija’s family and friends and whenever he felt that the visitor at the door might be Khadija’s sister Hala, he would pray saying, “O Allah let it be Hala.”
Mandatory Premarital Medical Examinations
Sheikh `Abd al-Rashîd Qâsim
With advancements in genetic engineering opening up new possibilities – and with the spread of diseases like AIDS – there is considerable pressure to require prospective spouses to undergo pre-marital medical exams. Some countries in the Arab world, like Syria , Tunisia , Morocco , the UAE, and Saudi Arabia , have encouraged their citizens to go for such pre-medical exams. Some have made doing so a legal requirement for marriage.
There are genetic diseases that are widespread in some societies. A person carrying the gene for this sickness is not necessarily going to be sick. However, he can pass on this sickness to his children if he marries a woman who is a carrier of the same gene. According to Mendel’s laws of heredity, statistically one-fourth of their children will be expected to be stricken by the disease.
When there are a large number of carriers for a particular genetic disease in a given population, the possibility of the disease being contracted becomes high. This is especially the case where people have a tendency to marry within their own families, preferring their cousins to others.
Benefits of premarital medical examinations:
The benefits of the couple having a pre-marital medical examination are as follows:
1. The prospective marriage partners will know beforehand about the possible genetic diseases that their children might inherit. This knowledge broadens their choices. They may choose not to have children or not to get married in the first place.
2. It becomes possible to give prospective marriage partners valuable medical advice on the basis of their past medical histories, the results of the clinical examination, and the differences in their blood types.
3. Thalassemia is a disease that is prevalent in the Mediterranean region. Preventative measures can be taken against the occurrence of this disease so that parents who are carriers can achieve a healthy newborn.
4. Premarital medical examinations protect people from contracting from their prospective partners contagious diseases that they might have.
5. The marriage contract is a serious commitment that is supposed to be permanent and stable. If it surfaces after marriage that one of the spouses has a disease, this could lead to a termination of the marriage if the other party refuses to stay with the person on account of the illness.
6. Premarital medical examinations allow each party to the marriage to be certain whether his or her prospective partner is fertile and able to produce children. It also allows each of them to know their prospective partner’s ability to have intimate relations.
7. Premarital medical examinations help to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and reduce the number of children born with debilitating genetic diseases that are costly to both the family and to society at large.
The possible negative consequences of premarital medical examinations are as follows:
1. People sometimes believe that these exams will protect their families from genetic diseases. This is simply not true. One reason for this is that the exams typically only test for two or three genetic diseases that are prevalent among the local population.
2. People are sometimes led to believe that marriages within the family are the direct reason for the presence of hereditable diseases in our society. This assumption is completely false.
3. The results of the test might inadvertently become public. This could have painful consequences for the person so exposed, especially for a woman. Regardless of what her medical condition was, she could easily find herself without any further marriage proposals it is becomes known that her marriage was cancelled after the results of her medical examination came out.
4. The results of the test can ruin some people’s lives and cause them to worry and despair when they come to know that they or their children could possibly contract a disease for which there is no medical cure.
5. The costs of the tests may be prohibitive for some people. In a situation where the government makes a premarital medical examination a precondition for marriage, this could lead to numerous problems. Considering how easy it is to secure medical certificates from some public and private hospitals, trafficking in false documents could easily become a black market industry.
The Islamic ruling on mandatory premarital medical examinations:
Is it permissible for a government to require prospective marriage partners to undergo a medical examination as a precondition of marriage or is it something that must remain merely optional?
Contemporary scholars and researchers disagree on this matter and their various opinions may be summarized as follows:
The first opinion is that it is within the government’s jurisdiction to pass a law obligating prospective marriage partners to undergo a medical examination before they will be permitted to get married. Permission to marry will not be given unless the parties can produce medical certificates proving they had taken these tests. This is the opinion of Muhammad al-Zuhaylî, Nâsir al-Maymân, Hamadâtî Mâ’ al-`Aynayn Shabîhunâ, `Abd Allah Ibrâhîm Mûsâ, Muhammad Shabîr, `Ârif `Alî `Ârif, and Usâmah al-Ashqar.
The other opinion is that it is Islamically unlawful to compel prospective spouses to undergo premarital medical examinations. The government is merely allowed to encourage people to do so and educate them about its benefits. This is the opinion of `Abd al-`Azîz b. Bâz, `Abd al-Karîm Zaydân, Muhammad Ra’fat `Uthmân, and Muhammad `Abd al-Sattâr al-Sharîf.
The argument of those who support mandatory examinations is as follows:
1. Allah says: “Obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those in authority among you.” [ Sûrah al-Nisâ’ : 59] The argument here is that anything that is in itself permissible can be made mandatory by the Muslim ruler if it determined to be in the public interests.
2. Allah says: “Do not throw yourselves into destruction by your own hands.” [ Sûrah al-Baqarah : 195] Some diseases are sexually transmitted and since a medical examination can prevent the spread of such diseases to a prospective spouse, it becomes necessary.
3. Allah says: “Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.” [ Sûrah Âl `Imrân : 38] Safeguarding the lineage is one of the six primary objectives of Islamic Law. Taking steps to ensure that future generations are free from genetic defects is fully consonant with this objective.
4. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not expose the healthy to the sick.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî ] This hadîth contains a command to avoid those who are beset with contagious or hereditable diseases. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Flee from a leper as you would flee from a lion.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî ]
5. Compulsory medical examinations are not a violation of individual freedom. They provide a benefit first to the individual and then to society at large. Though this policy might occasionally cause injury to an individual, the juristic principles outlined by Islamic Law instruct us to seek out the lesser of two evils and to allow for individual injury to occur in order to prevent harm from befalling the general public.
6. Such a policy is in conformity with the Islamic legal axiom that if it is possible to prevent something harmful from taking place, then this is preferable to waiting for it to happen and then having to remove it.
7. It is also in conformity with the legal principle that the means take the same ruling as the objectives they are employed to reach. Since the objective in this case is people’s physical and mental wellbeing, the means enacted to attain it should be considered lawful. Premarital medical examinations promote the wellbeing of future offspring as well as the welfare of the family and society. They spare society social problems and economic burdens. These are all goals that we are commanded by Islamic Law to try and realize.
As for those who consider mandatory premarital medical examinations to be unlawful, their argument is as follows:
1. The pillars and conditions for marriage are clearly delineated by the sacred texts. Adding other preconditions to the marriage is an alteration of Allah’s law. Therefore, all such conditions will be invalid. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Every condition that is not found in Allah’s book is invalid.”
2. Marriage does not necessitate children. A person might marry just to enjoy the other’s companionship. There is no reason for such a person – for instance an elderly person – to undergo genetic testing.
3. Premarital medical testing usually tests for one or two diseases. Even if ten diseases were tested for, this would not be enough, since there are more than 8000 known hereditable diseases and more are being discovered every day. If we required prospective spouses to be tested for all of these diseases, marriage would become extremely difficult and moral decline would result.
4. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If a man comes to you whose religion and character pleases you, then let him marry.” [ Sunan al-Tirmidhî ] The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not speak about his health. It is to be assumed barring any visible evidence to the contrary that a person is healthy. The Prophet (peace be upon him) therefore sufficed with mentioning a person’s religion and character.
5. The ruler’s prerogative to decree certain permissible matters as mandatory is allowed only in cases where there is a clear benefit to public welfare. This follows the general axiom of Islamic Law that the conduct of the ruler towards the subjects is always to be in accordance with the general welfare. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Obedience is only in what is virtuous.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim ]
Requiring prospective spouses to undergo medical testing has serious negative consequences – that have already been mentioned – that outweigh the possible benefits.
6. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has related to us that Allah says: “I am as my servant’s good opinion of Me.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim ] A person seeking marriage should have a good outlook with respect to Allah, place his reliance on Him, and go forth with his marriage. Medical tests, moreover, occasionally give false results.
1. The woman’s guardian should have the right to demand that potential suitors should undergo a medical test if he has reason to suspect that he person has a contagious or a hereditable disease. This is needed especially in our times when diseases such as AIDS, syphilis, and gonorrhea are so widespread. AIDS has spread at an alarming rate among young people, if unofficial statistics are to be believed. The responsibility that a woman’s guardian has towards ensuring her wellbeing makes it incumbent upon him to require form any suitors whom he expects might carry a disease to undergo a medical examination. The suitor then has the choice to comply with the guardian’s wishes or to seek the hand of another woman.
The Islamic Law Committee of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments issued the following ruling on the matter:
It is preferable – even obligatory in some instances – to require from those wishing to marry to undergo medical testing if there is a certainty or a possibility that a child born of the union will suffer from some defect. This is in accordance with the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Religion is sincere advice.” [ Majmû` al-Fatâwâ al-Shar`iyyah (2/307)]
2. If a certain disease is prevalent in a specific region, and the prospective spouses come from that region and are likely to be carriers of the disease, then there is nothing wrong with asking them to undergo medical testing before getting married to each other.
This is not, however, a general ruling. For example, in Saudi Arabia , sickle-cell anemia is very common in the Jâzân region but not elsewhere. Therefore, testing for this disease could only be mandated in that region.
3. People wishing to get married should be encouraged to go for medical testing. The people should be educated about the matter by way of the mass media and through the agency of the mosques.
4. Ministries of health and other official medical bodies should open centers for genetic testing and education wherein doctors can advise people on genetic issues and provide needed prenatal services to mothers regarding their and their unborn children’s health.
5. No one desiring marriage should be compelled by law to undergo a medical test. Experience has shown us that often when a couple’s medical tests result in them not getting married to one another, the woman is stigmatized and cannot find another suitor for marriage. She might as a consequence spend the rest of her life as a single woman. This increases the percentage of unwed women in society and contributes to a breakdown in morality, as has been seen in some of the countries that have legislated mandatory testing.
Hadiths: The Marriage Process in Islam
by Shaad Ahmed
Selecting a Spouse:
Pre-Marriage Counseling Questionnaire
We suggest both bride and groom to answer ALL of the following questions on separate papers. Submit the answers to a marriage advisor and have a counseling session with the advisor, first separately and then together. Local Imam or an experienced elder in the community can serve as advisor.
Please be sure your answers are truthful, precise and specific:
1. List three purposes of marriage:
2. Do you feel comfortable in getting married with your potential future spouse? Do you think he or she is compatible with you?
3. What kinds of personality do you expect in your future spouse?
4. What kind of behavior would you not tolerate from your spouse?
5. What kind of manners do you admire?
6. What are the responsibilities or obligations of husband and wife?
7. What kind of approach would you take to resolve any major or minor conflict in your marriage?
8. What do you think makes marriage successful?
9. Would you like your wife to continue her education?
10. Would you like your wife to work? If not, explain why?
11. If your answer is yes to the above question, then
a) Are you going to ask her to contribute to household expenses?
b) Will you have single or joint bank accounts?
12. Are your parents happy with this marriage?
13. Are you going to stay with your spouse in your or her/his parent’s house?
14. Are you taking any medication? If yes, what is the medication and for what?
15. What is MAHR? Who gives it? And to whom is it given?
16. Would you like to make any conditions in this marriage? If yes, what are those conditions? Be very specific and precise.
17. What decisions have been made regarding to financial and custodial provisions of a child or children who were born to either of you, prior to this marriage? (Where will they live, who will pay for their necessities, who will make the decision for them?)
Father’s reading the newspaper, mother’s on the telephone, brother’s on the computer, sister’s reading a book, and little Ahmad is playing with his toys. What do these people have in common?
Nothing. How can they be brought together?
Young and old, we all love games. What better way to share each other’s company, learn about Islam and have fun at the same time than to play a game? Below are three games to play with the whole family.
- ‘Steps to Paradise’ Board Game. This board game, made in England, has questions for different age or knowledge levels. Answer the questions on Islam as you move around the board. And if you have collected enough Sawab (reward) then you might be able to enter Paradise.
- Question and Answer Cards. Pre-made cards with questions and answers on Islam are readily available. Split the family into two teams and compete with each other to see who has the most right answers. The ‘losing’ team can do something together for the ‘winning’ team, for example, cook dinner. (This may mean that dad and some of the children may be cooking dinner for mum!) If pre-made cards are not available, then get into your teams and design the questions for the other team to answer.
- Treasure Hunting. Mum or Dad designs a treasure hunt for the rest of the family. The number of clues, in the form of questions, depends on how many letters the secret place that contains the prize has. For example, if a cake awaits them in the REFRIGERATOR then 13 questions are needed. The first question needs to have an answer starting with R. For example, “What is the name of Surah 13?” The answer is “Ra’d”. Each first letter of the answers form the final word. Draw a map and place each question on a card at each location. Once the code is cracked all can share the prize.
An important note to keep in mind is that when teams are called for, make sure it’s randomly selected. Also, for each game, team members will be different each time. If team members remain the same all the time, rivalry will be set up and not all members will have the chance to work with the others.
“Saying it out loud – the easy way to teach children the daily Duas (supplications)” – Jameela Ho of Yagoona
Take these simple steps to improve your marriage. Small and powerful ways we can show our mates we love them.
Admit it. You’ve done it before and you’ll do it again. You may even be doing it right now as you’re reading this article. The “it” I’m talking about? Ignoring your husband! You remember him—that guy who schleps off to work every day, checks the fluids in your car, and has a key to your house?
I confess, as a busy woman, I too am guilty of this offense. Just last night my husband asked me to do him a small favor, and I sarcastically told him I’d “get right on it,” as if I had nothing else on my schedule. So without a conscious effort, I made sure he knew just where he fell on my list of priorities. You guessed it—right at the bottom. After paying some bills, checking my email, and wiping down the kitchen counters, I was exhausted and ready to end my day. I eventually got around to helping my husband the next morning, and that’s what’s important, right?
Well, not quite. I know I could have handled the situation better by giving my husband the help he needed when he needed it—or at least avoided the sarcastic tone and bad attitude when I told him it would have to wait. How many other moms have found themselves in similar situations?
Busy women, I have a challenge for us all! A proposal that we resume paying some attention to those men who were once, however briefly, the focal point of our existence.
Based on article from babyzone / Jacey Renolds
Selecting a Marriage Partner
by Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini
Marriage is recommended for partners who share a common way of life. The matrimonial partners should be able to fulfill their purpose of creation as defined by Allah. They should be able to effectively carry out their responsibility as care-takers (khalifah) of earth. They should share the common goal of building a well integrated Muslim community and be able to work harmoniously towards it.
Criteria for Selecting a Marriage Partner
Normally the criteria for selecting matrimonial mates are many: wealth, beauty, rank, character, congeniality, compatibility, religion, etc. The Quran enjoins Muslims to select partners who are good and pure (tayyib)
“Women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity “(Quran 24:26)
Prophet Muhammad (S) recommended Muslims to select those partners who are best in religion (din) and character.
“A woman may married for four reasons: for her property, for her rank, for her beauty, and for her religion (and character). So marry the one who is best in the religion and character and prosper”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Prophet Muhammad (S) assured the bounty of Allah to those who wish to get married and live a pure and clean life.
“Three groups of people Allah obliged Himself to help them: Mujahid in the cause of Allah, a worker to pay his debt, and the one who wants to marry to live a chaste life”. (Tirmidhi)
Freedom to Choose a Marriage Partner
Islam has given freedom of choice to those who wish to get married. The mutual choice of the would-be-spouses is given the highest consideration:
“do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree between themselves in a lawful manner” (Quran 2:232)
The process of mate selection should be a function of a healthy balance between the freedom of choice of the would-be-spouses and consideration of the influence and consent of the parents/guardians.
The freedom of choice of those who wish to get married should not preclude the influence and consent of the parents/guardians nor should the parents/guardians ignore the wishes and consent of the would be spouses.
Falling in love is not a pre-condition for marriage in Islam. However, for the purpose of selecting an appropriate mat, the would-be-spouses are allowed to see and/or talk to each other.
Prophet Muhammad (S) recommended:
“When one of you seeks a woman in marriage, and then if he is able to have a look at whom he wishes to marry, let him do so”. (Abu Dawood)
The would-be-spouse are allowed to see each other for matrimonial purposes under the direct supervision of their mahram relatives. This provision is expected to be conceived and executed with piety and modesty.
Prophet Muhammad (S) instructed:
“No man has the right to be in the privacy with a woman who is not lawful for him. Satan is their third party unless there is a mahram”. (Ahmad)
The would-be-spouses residing in non-Muslim societies are recommended to enter into a pre-nuptial commitment to safeguard Islamic values and Muslim personal law.