Standard-bearers, Lineage, Arranged Marriages
Issue 614 » December 31, 2010 - Muharram 25, 1432
Fatir (The Creator) - Chapter 35: Verse 32
"Then we bequeathed the Book to those of Our servants that We chose. Now, some of them wrong themselves and some follow the medium course; and some, by Allah's leave, vie with each other in acts of goodness. That is the great bounty."
The Book of God, the Quran, was presented before all mankind and those who stepped forward and accepted it (the Muslims) were chosen to become its standard-bearers after the Prophet, peace be upon him.
These Muslims, however, are not all alike; rather, they belong to the following three categories:
1. "Those who wrong themselves". These Muslims sincerely believe in the Quran as God's Book and in Muhammad as God's Messenger. However, in their practical lives they fail to follow the Book of God and the way of His Prophet to the extent they should. Despite being believers they still commit sin. While such people might be iniquitous, they are not rebels. Their belief might be a bit feeble, yet they are neither hypocrites nor wilful unbelievers. In recognition of this, the Quran brands them as God's chosen servants to whom His Book has been bequeathed. Among the believers of all the three categories, they are the first to be mentioned for they constitute the majority of Muslims.
2. Then comes those "who follow the medium course". That is, they are the ones who fulfil, though partially, the requirements ensuing from the bequest of God's book on them. They represent a mixture of obedience and disobedience. Such people, however, do not give an altogether free rein to their desires; rather, they try to control them. Nevertheless, at times they let their desires loose a bit which leads to sinful behaviour. Such people are less in number than the people of the first category but outnumber those of the third category mentioned below.
3. Then comes those "who view with one another in acts of goodness". Among the believers, they occupy the forefront. They stand out as the true trustees of the Book of God. They outstrip others as they are exceedingly active in following the Book of God and the way of the Prophet, in communicating God's Message to His servants, in offering sacrifices for the cause of faith, and in doing acts of goodness. They are not the ones who would deliberately commit a sin; but if they happen to fall into sin, they repent as soon as they realise this. In number, these are less than the two groups mentioned above. Although they are mentioned after those groups, they are in fact well ahead of them in acquitting themselves of the trusteeship of the Quran.
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol. 9, pp. 228-230
"Whoever is slowed by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage." [Muslim]
All of mankind comes from the same source, Adam and Hawa. All people share this common lineage. And they have all been created for the same purpose and they are all expected to heed the guidance that has come from Allah.
In reality, there is nothing naturally or inborn that separates one human being from another. The only thing that is going to distinguish them is their consciousness of God (taqwa) that is in their hearts and which is manifested in their deeds. If a person himself did not work for Paradise, then he is not going to be blessed with Paradise due to what others have done, no matter how close their blood relationship may be. If the deeds are not there, one's lineage is not going to help the person whatsoever. This is true for the noblest lineage of mankind.
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 1339, 1340
It may surprise many to learn that arranged marriages are not an Islamic requirement. There is no teaching in the Quran or in the hadiths that calls for this practice. It is, rather, a cultural phenomenon that exists in many Muslim countries even as it exists in much of the non-Muslim world from Zimbabwe to China. In fact, it is really the institution of dating that is the new practice which much of the world is struggling to accept. Islam merely regulates the conduct of people who want to form a marriage, whether arranged or by themselves. The three main points to know about Islam and arranged marriages are as follows:
1. Islam does not require it.
2. A woman cannot be forced into a marriage she doesn't want to have.
3. The arranged pair can have an extended engagement and can break it off if either party wishes to do so.
Are women sometimes forced into marriages? Yes, but this abuse goes against the teachings of Islam and is not limited to Muslim populations. If people fail to follow their religion, it is not the fault of the religion. The Bible forbids people to get drunk, yet alcoholism is one of the most serious national challenges facing Christian countries everywhere. So before people blame Islam for something that appears oppressive, they must learn what the religion teaches about it and then condemn the hypocrites who fail to follow their professed beliefs (or the ignorant who follow cultural patterns not knowing they are contrary to their religion's teachings.)
The Companions of the Prophet demonstrated many different ways of finding a mate. Some married for love and sealed their commitment without intermediaries, others were matched by friends, and still others agreed to arranged marriages brokered by relatives.
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam, 2nd Edition" - Yahiya Emerick, pp. 276, 277