Matrimonial Relations, Higher Good, Hadith Forgery
Issue 666 » December 30, 2011 - Safar 5, 1433
Al Nisa (The Women) - Chapter 4: Verse 34
"Men are supporters of wives because God has given some of them an advantage over others and because they spend of their wealth. So the ones who are in accord with morality are the ones who are morally obligated, the ones who guard the unseen of what God has kept safe. But those whose resistance you fear, then admonish them and abandon them in their sleeping place, then go away from them; and if they obey you, surely look not for any way against them; truly God is Lofty, Great."
In the light of other verses of the Quran, the collective injunctions of Shariah and the overall Prophetic ideals and traditions,†Sunnah, we find that the real spirit of the matrimonial relations is shaped by the sentiments of “affection” and “compassion” and the obligations of “patronage”, so that†the governing factors in such relations are “affection, compassion and benevolence.”
The Arabic word "qawwamun", with its preposition "'ala" which describes the relation of men to women in the above verse, does not imply any superiority, but simply means "taking full care of". The distinctiveness between men and women is related to the woman's pregnancy, delivery, and nursing, which make it necessary that the man should have the responsibility to provide for her needs and the needs of the children, at least when she is hindered with such a distinctive natural function of reproduction. This hindrance is not permanent, and it cannot be a reason to keep the women at home all her life, and neither does it hinder her intellectual and psychological merits.†She is not supposed to bear children or raise them all her life, and at a certain age children have to go to school.
The issue of “chastisement” strongly arises a problem to the structures of the family and human relations and receives exceptional interests because it is referred to in this Quranic text (by almost all translators) and because its historical and traditional interpretations were purported by most people to denote slap, flap, flog, beat, strike, punch, etc.
This would definitely involve a strong sense of pain and humiliation regardless of the extent of the physical suffering itself which may vary, according to some†fatawa, around few strokes with a†siwak†(tooth cleansing) stick or the like, as rendered by Abdullah b. Abbas in responding to an inquiry regarding the construal of the “mild chastisement.” †On the other hand, we find some†fatawa†regulate “chastisement” so that it must not exceed forty strokes, and “no retribution between man and his wife (in regard to chastisement) except for wounds and murder.”
Considering the context and situation, the purpose of reconciliation, the Islamic doctrine of human sanctity and dignity, the right of self-determination in Islam, the consensual nature of the nuptial association, and the ability of nuptial partners to gracefully dissolve such association without coercion or intimidation, the denotation of†daraba†in this citation cannot imply the infliction of injury, pain or disgrace.†The most candid construal is to imply separation, departure, partition or seclusion.
This type of arrangement, where the spouses leave each other for some time, would help to streamline the bitter relationship because it is a step that goes farther than admonishing and refusing to share bed. Now, the spouses will have ample opportunity to rethink the whole situation, to ponder the eventual consequences, and to realize the inevitable conclusion of rejection, namely, divorce.† At this point, they will have a full chance to re-examine their intent and conduct and to decide whether they want this threshold of separation to be a lasting state!
"Chastising Women: A Means to Resolve Marital Problems?" - AbdulHamid A. Abu Sulayman†
"The Subime Quran" - Laleh Bakhtiar
"Are women created only for family life?" - Fathi Osman
Promoting Higher Good
After three major battles and a few smaller skirmishes with his Meccan adversaries, Muhammad (peace be upon him) established something close to a military parity between his adopted city of Medina and his hostile hometown of Mecca. At this point, he boldly led a sizeable group of Muslim companions to Mecca, where they intended to make the minor pilgrimage (umrah) and worship God at the Abrahamic shrine of the Kaba. Before they reached the city, they were stopped at a place called Hudaybiah by representatives of the Meccans, who wanted to prevent Muhammad and his companions from entering the city. Much to the concern of many of his companions, Muhammad agreed to postpone the pilgrimage for a year as part of a peace treaty he negotiated with a Meccan representative there on the spot. The treaty included a non-aggression pact for ten years, as well as Muhammad's promise to send back any young Meccan who came to him as a convert without the explicit permission of his Meccan father or guardian. On the other side, any Muslim or resident of Medina wanting to seek asylum in Mecca would not be sent back.
For this and other reasons, many of his companions voiced very strong objections to the Prophet's decision, but he went ahead anyway, commanding the Muslims to abide by every bit of it. What they did not know was that Islam would spread considerably while the treaty was in effect and that, once the treaty was violated and dissolved a few years later, it gave justification for the Muslims to march on Mecca to take the city without bloodshed.
This telling episode demonstrated to Muhammad's companions and to all future Muslim leaders that the Prophet, as leader, was not to be accountable to their wishes, no matter how strongly felt or voiced. Instead, he was bound by a higher accountability, which included the higher goods of peace, security, and the eventual winning of Mecca without violence. This admittedly difficult element of Muslim leadership has challenged Muslim leaders of every place and time. In what ways are religious leaders challenged to go against the wishes of their communities in order to promote a higher good? Is being sensitive and responsive to our communities the same as being obedient to their wishes and demands? If so, then who is leading whom? In what ways does our accountability to God cause us to clash with the wishes of those we are supposed to lead? These and other questions naturally arise from the Prophet's decisive turn from military action to negotiation and beyond.
"In the Light of a Blessed Tree" - Timothy J. Gianotti, pp. 109, 110
[continued from previous issue]
History and Context
The Kharijites are on the whole considered to have avoided fabricating hadith, which is due mainly to their belief that the perpetrator of a grave sin is no longer a Muslim. Since they saw the fabrication of hadith in this light, they avoided indulgence in forgery as a matter of principle and a requirement of their doctrine.
The heretic faction known as al-Zanadiqa, owing to their hatred of Islam, fabricated hadith which discredited Islam in the view of its followers. Included among such are: "eggplants are a cure for every illness"; and "beholding a good-looking face is a form of worship".
Racial, tribal and linguistic fanaticism is yet another context in which hadith has been fabricated. Ahadith were thus fabricated on the superiority of Arabs over non-Arabs, which were then reciprocated by forgeries on the superiority of Persians and Romans, Abyssinians and Turks over the Arabs. Note for example the following: "Whenever God was angry, He sent down the revelation in Arabic but when contented, He chose Persian for this purpose." The Arab fanatic too matched this abomination by claiming that "Whenever God was angry, He sent down the revelation in Persian, but when contented He chose to speak in Arabic." These and similar other forgeries relating to the virtues or superiority of certain tribes, cities and periods of time over others have been isolated by the scholars of hadith and placed under the category of forged ahadith.
[to be continued ...]
"A Texbook of Hadith Studies" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 68, 69