Women in Islam: Overview

Marriage is also known as “Nikah” in the Arabic Language and is overly encouraged in the Islamic faith by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and Allah Almighty. To prevent indecent acts such as pre-martial intercourse that could possibly result in unwanted consequences like illegitimate birth, the idea of marriage is considered a duty upon all Muslims. From an Islamic perspective, it is a sin to force any individual into a marriage contract as the Quran states “there is no compulsion within Islam.”

Though there are cultural practices in other areas of the world that demonstrate the injustice of forcing their women into marriage, the Holy Quran detests the act greatly. When marriage arrangements are taking place, it is vital for both male and female to accept one another as a suitor before consenting to the marriage contract. It is advised for both to speak about their life to one another and discuss any conditions that may cause a problem in the future. However, to build this understanding, it is important for a chaperone to be present in their little meetings.

Such regulations are put forth as both are not ‘Mahram’ to each other which simply means ‘unmarriageable kin’ and the Holy Prophet once stated: “Whenever a non-mahram man and woman meet in seclusion, Shaytaan definitely is the third one joining them. ” [Tirmidhi] The statement identifies the Shaytaan which is the Devil, as a temptation between the two if there is no chaperone present. As the temptations are natural, it is forbidden for a male and female to be alone.

Again culturally, it is often found that some individuals follow the idea of inequality within their marriage by overpowering their wives with a patriarchal mind-set considering them to be socially inferior. ‘Silent Scream’ is a documentary based on Afghan women who are considered weak by their tyrant oppressors who are also known as the Taliban tribe. Against all the values in Islam, the programme revealed the public abuse of women by their husbands or even non-mahrams for committing the act of fornication; Zina.

However, one must provide four testimonies who have witnessed the sexual act take place before judging or punishing a female of committing adultery. In countries such as Afghanistan, the suspicion of the husband is enough to carry out capital punishment in a brutal manner publicly. Contrarily, this is not the practice of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and nor is it accepted by Allah Almighty. Marriage promotes equality in Islam, “They are you garments and you are their garments” as stated in the Quran.

A quotation that acknowledges the intimacy and love between a husband and wife also recognises the responsibility of protecting and caring for one another unconditionally. Verily, the principles of marriage in Islam reinforce the idea of equality and justice. To support the Quranic statement, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said:” Whoever Allah Almighty blesses with a righteous wife/husband, then He has assisted them in half of their deen. So therefore, let those fear Allaah in the other half.”

We must understand that ‘Deen’ the Arabic diction means ‘the way of life’ or also can be understood as ‘upright faith. ’ The emphasis on the role of the spouse within marriage unfolds its necessity. The quote has focus especially on the importance of marriage in relation to the connection with Allah Almighty. It suggests that spouses can encourage one another to establish their obligatory duties within Islam. A common topic that causes a lot of controversy in the twenty-first century is Polygamy which is marriage to more than one woman.

Though it is accepted in Islam, there many regulations that must be followed before taking this step. The Quran does make it permissible for males to ‘marry one, or two or three or four,’ however, the permission is followed by a commandment which is often ignored, and ‘if you fear injustice (between the wives) then you must only marry one. ’ Nevertheless the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) demonstrated Polygamy, yet as the exclusive perfect Muslim, he was successful in maintaining equality amongst his wives.

Therefore, it would be considered sinful if the husband was unable to maintain equality amongst his wives. He also advised his believers to avoid carrying out expensive weddings in his statement, “The best wedding is that in which the least wealth is spent,” and instead to have the simplest wedding in an Islamic perspective. To the extent that Marriage is most loved by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and Allah Almighty, the same way the idea of Divorce is abhorred and detested by both. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) once stated that “Talaq (Divorce) is the most disliked by Allah.”

However, due to certain circumstances where the marriage is not working, Allah Almighty has given his worshippers permission to dissolve their marriage with a mutual consent through a process called Talaq. It consists of three procedures which can minimally take up to 9 months. There is a 3 month gap after each hearing as there may be a possibility of reconciliation or the female may conceive in that period of time. After the third hearing of Talaq, the marriage is dissolved and the females are entitled to re-marry another individual if they wish.

Like marriage, many cultural orientated members of the faith interpret the Quran out of context and consider the idea of 3 Talaqs at one time as a result to end the marriage. Relatively, a documentary called ‘Moroccan Divorce in France’ was based on the 1981 French agreement to apply the Moroccan Law for the French citizens who have a Moroccan background. As the Law is based on Shari’a Law, it is based entirely on interpretations of the Quran which isn’t immaculately right. The Law makes it permissible for the husband to divorce his wife by saying Talaq 3 times on one procedure.

The documentary focused on a woman who was left stranded by her husband when he randomly divorced her the Moroccan way. The Moroccan procedure defies the Quranic statements in Surah Al Baqara which deal with the rulings of divorce. Such as the statement “And when you divorce women and they have fulfilled their term, either retain them according to acceptable terms or release them according to acceptable terms, and do not keep them, intending harm, to transgress [against them]. ” The ‘term’ is the reference to the waiting periods.

After the Talaq is processed the female is entitled to the Mahr (Bridal Dowry) that she may have inherited at the time of Nikah and she has the right to demonstrate her right on this Mahr. Besides the regulations for males, females also have the permission to seek divorce. This is called a ‘Khula’ which requires a mutual agreement after the female requests a divorce. Research has found that women in Iran have great difficulty when wanting to do a Khula, as shown in documentary ‘Divorce Irani Style’ where many women are conversing with the judge about why they wish to dissolve the marriage.

A young girl who was tied in wedlock at the age of 15 had to deal with a hefty process at the age of 16 as she insisted for a Khula with an over aged man. Zibha had great difficulty when she demanded her Mahr, which her husband refused to give. Through Shari’a Law, scholars decided that if a female wills to process a Khula she is not entitled to her Mahr, unless the male willingly hands it to her. Shari’a Law proposes that if females are seeking Khula due to some defect in the male such as, insanity, impotence or domestic violence, she must provide evidence.

The same way in an Islamic perspective the male must provide some evidence for why he requests a divorce. The Quran commands spouses “to dwell together in love” within the marriage and encourages the couple to build understanding and unity. Deliberately, to emphasize the negativity of divorce in Islam, Allah Almighty has set forth many chances for the spouses to divert from it and provided many periods for them to overthink and reconcile, if possible.

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