This chapter deals with the matters pertaining with the personal life of a woman. These include several such issues that are generally misunderstood. Hence, it is essential that all such issues are taken together.
Menses, Discharge of blood after the child-birth and discharge of blood of some disease:
Cleanliness and purity are the natural requirements of an individual and hence their realization is all the time there. Promoting the same human nature, Islam not only directs an individual to remain pure but also tells the whole society to remain pure and clean morally and socially. Our religion emphasizes upon every Muslim to remain clean in all matters including body, soul and the food. The Prophet says,
“Cleanliness is a part of the faith”.
There are some specific instructions for men and women in terms of cleanliness. These instructions are related to menses, discharge of blood after the child-birth and discharge of blood due to some other diseases. “Menses” is the name for the blood that is discharged of a woman every month. This process starts with the attainment of puberty and continue till the age of forty to fifty, even fifty five years in some cases. Normally its duration is six or seven days but it varies in case of every woman.
“Nafas”is the discharge of blood of the child birth or of abortion. This process usually continues from twenty to forty days.
During the above two processes, husband and wife are not allowed to have sexual relationship with each other. However, rest of routine matters and usual contacts would not cease at all.
A woman is exempted from offering her prayers during these days and she may not offer them even after words. She is not allowed to fast during these days but she has to fast for these days after she become pure. If a woman undergoes the menstrual process during the days of Hajj (pilgrimage), she is exempted from the liabilities of prayers, ‘Tawaf’ (taking rounds of Ka’aba) and ‘Saee’ (taking seven rounds between the mounts of Safa and Marwa) but she has to go through ‘Tawaf’ and ‘Saee’ after she gets purified.
A woman is not allowed to touch the Quran during these days. However, she may recite the remembered portion of the Holy book verbally. This is the stance of Imam Malik and we agree to it. If a woman has to study or teach Islamic studies as a part of her syllabus or has to appear in the examination during the menstrual periods, she may do so as Islam’s principled stands is;
‘’Allah does not charge a soul with more then it can bear.’’(Al-Baqara-2,286)
Some women discharge blood of some diseases other than menses or ‘Nafas’ whick is known as ‘Istahaza’. A woman is allowed to offer her prayers and other religious duties during this process. The women must take bath after the periods of menses and ‘Nafas’ are over. Certain women bind their hair in such a manner that they are not easy to unbind. Such women may wash their hair during the bath without unbinding them.
Relaxations in religious duties:
God is particularly kind towards women. Thus they have been granted such relaxations in the performance of their religious duties that they can earn a reward equal to men with a little effort. It has already been pointed out that women are exempted from performing the duties of prayers during the menses and ‘Nafas’ periods. If the month of Ramzan falls during these periods, she is allowed to fast for the affected days as per convenience after she gets purified. The woman giving breast feed to her child is also allowed to fast afterwards. Women are accorded extra-ordinary relaxations during the days of Hajj as well. They can perform pilgrimage in their usual dress. They may not get their hair cut like men instead. They may get some of their hair clipped as a token. It is also not obligatory upon them to throw stones upon devil; men may perform this duty on their part. If their menstrual periods start during Hajj, they may perform ‘Tawaf’ and ‘Saee’ afterwards. They are exempted from performing their prayers collectively. Men are instructed to offer their prayers for all the five times, collectively in the mosque in order to perform this duty in the real sense while women may get the equal reward even if they perform their prayers at home. It is desirable that they perform their Friday prayers in the mosque. However, it is not obligatory upon them. The Prophet has emphasized upon women to offer their Eid prayers collectively in the mosque. They may just sit and join in the congregational prayer if they are impure.
Two issues have been generated in our society out of the matter of women’s prayers. First, there is usually no place at all for women in the mosque now-a-days. It is against the Islamic teachings. The mosque situated on the road side must accommodate women in order to facilitate them. Similarly, all big and main mosques of a city should also provide a place to women for the performance of their religious duty.
Second, women are usually not facilitated even during the Eid prayers though it is essential from Islamic point of view. Therefore, it is the duty of the state, religious leaders and the dignitaries of the society to make necessary arrangements in this context.
Women and Fashion:
Every thing that gives aesthetic pleasure to human being is admissible in Islam provided that it is not polluted with vulgarity, polytheisem, dissipation and betrayal. It includes every kind of dignified and civilized Fashion. The Quran, exclusively mention the dress:
“Children of Adam! We have given you clothing with which to cover your nakedness and garments pleasing to the eye”. (Al-Araf-7, 26)
The Quran has further described as a principle that every kind of finery is admissible, it says:
“Say: ‘who has forbidden you to wear the nice clothes or to eat the good things which Allah has bestowed upon His servants?’ say: ‘these are for the faithful in the life of this world (though shared by others); but they shalls be theirs alone on the Day of Resurrection. “(Al-A’ raf-7, 32)
The Quran, while mentioning about the finery of women says that it is their prerogative and a part of their instinct too. It is therefore, clear that a fashion that makes a woman beautiful, graceful and feminish is admissible.
However, some issues demand an answer in this context. First that some specific things are forbidden through some narratives. The logic behind them must be known. The answer to this is that these are two kinds of such things mentioned in some narratives. One kind includes vulgarity and obscenity which must be forbidden. During the prophetic period, three things were includ in this kind and thus the Prophet explained these three things only. One is making of the tattoo marks which is not liked worldwide due to its absurdity. No sane person likes it. Second thing practiced those days was making one’s teeth pointed by cutting them and making slits through them. It was another obvious act of absurdity. Third was the action done by immoral women, those days. They used to make decorative marks on their eyebrows after getting them plucked. Since it was an obscene act and was done by immoral women, any similarity with them was also forbidden. Therefore, the Prophet forbade its practice. It was termed as “Nams” during those days and a woman practicing it was called “Namsa”.
Apart from the above three things, there is another matter that apparently comes under the category of valid finery but some narratives reveal that the Prophet had forbidden it. It is the matter of attaching to one’s hair other than the original ones even if they are artificial. We know that head’s hair enhance a woman’s beauty, as 99% of women have been blessed by God with this gift. It is a natural desire for those who are deprived of this gift that they look pretty with such hair like other women, in order to counter any inferiority complex. However, some of the narratives from the Bukhari reveal that the Prophet had disallowed to do so artificially. For example a narrative is worded like that:
“The Holy Prophet has cursed the woman who attaches artificial hair to her and the one who gets them attached.”
But when we analyze all such narratives minutely, it is proved that in fact an act of betrayal has been disallowed. It means that when this defect in a woman is concealed while its exposure is required, it would attribute to treachery and is disallowed. This is what the Prophet termed as “Zoor” in Arabic. Similarly, an event has been related in a narrative. After making a comprehensive study of all the narratives of this event, it is known that a girl had entered into the bond of marriage but had not yet left her father’s home. In the meanwhile, all of her head’s hair fell off due to some diseases. When the time of her departure for her husband’s place approached, her mother desired to attach artificial hair to her head. Since all this was being done in order to conceal her defect from her husband who might have refused to accept her otherwise, the Prophet directed that woman to refrain herself from doing so.
As a principle that finery is allowed which makes a woman look feminish, pretty and graceful. However, vulgarity, absurdity and treachery is disallowed. Therefore removing of the hairs from face, applying lipstick, nail polish and the similar methods of beautifying a woman are admissible. Fatah-al-Bari-Kitabul-Libas, offers a narratives that a woman asked from Ayesha if she could remove the hair from her cheeks. Ayesha replied, “Remove the trouble to the possible extent”.
It seems proper here that a supplementary issue is also discussed. The question is whether a woman has to remove her nail polish before making her ablution. There are three different points of view in this context. First that it is obligatory to remove nail polish every time before making ablution because the nail remains dry due to the coated layer of the nail polish present there. Second is that a woman can keep her nail polish intact upto five prayers if she has performed her ablution before the application of the liquid on her nails. Third is that nail polish does not hinder the process of ablution. A woman can apply and remove it according to her sweet will. The logic behind it is that all such religious matters are based on convenience and not inconvenience. During the Prophet’s period all such things were allowed. For example there is a general consensus on the matter that one is allowed to dye one’s beard. Every coloring is, in fact a coating that covers that skin under it whether it is the color of myrtle or anything else. We know that the dyed hair of a beard don’t get soaked, even then it was allowed by the Prophet. In the same way, applying the color of myrtle on hands and feet is also allowed and all acknowledge that it does not damage ablution, though the color myrtle of is also a coating that covers the skin under it. Similarly, there is a consensus on the matter as well that a woman may take a bath by pouring water on her bound hair if its is inconvenient for her to unbind them. Obviously, several hair would remain dry in this way but the Prophet allowed woman to do so in order to save them from any inconvenience. Same is the case of the nail polish. We are satisfied with last and third point of view.
Dowry and Legacy:
The trend of granting dowry has been established to that extent that it seems hard to put an end to it. It is prevalent in various other countries of the world that parents grant financial assistance to their sons and daughters at the time of their marriage so that they may take a sound start in life. Hence, a question arises whether a son or a daughter having such kind of assistance at the time of his or her marriage deserves share out of the parent’s legacy and could that assistance be treated as a share in the legacy. Since this issue was non-existent during the Prophetic period, it demands an innovative and wise resolution through “Ijtehad”.
We believe that such assistance can be considered as a part of the share out of one’s parent’s legacy. The main reason for it is, in fact the Islamic system of justice. A girl getting married after the death of her parents would remain in loss as compared to her sister who had been married during the life of her parents. It is also possible the one daughter is married to a man who demands more dowry while the situation is different in the case of the other.
The second basis of our points of view is that this would save parents from inconvenience and trouble, a proper account of all this could be maintained and all parties would be aware that hey are having assistance out of their own share. Therefore, all this would come under some specific code instead of some undesirable custom.
We believe that state should take steps towards legislation in this respect.
The Promised Girls Hooran In Heaven:
While describing the promised endowment for a Muslim in heaven at several places, the Quran also mentions the girls to be given as a reward. At times, we think what kind of life it would be and what is, in fact meant by this endowment. Would these women be just for the sexual pleasure of men? If so, would it not create feelings of envy among wives of those men? Would it no be unjust?
Although this issue is not related to the subject of this book yet it has an indirect concern with our subject. Hence, it seems proper that we discuss this issue.
We come to know through the Quran that the matters like the life after death, Heaven and Hell are directly related to the vague issues (Mutashabihat). It indicates that we are unaware of the reality about them. These words have been used just to create a concept in the mind of human being closer to his imagination. Keeping this aspect in view, we realize through the study of the Quran and the Hadith that all men and women in heaven would be in the prime time of their youth; they will never grow old. All men and women will be coupled up. The couples in this world will remain as such even in the Heaven. Exceptional circumstances will have exceptional codes and rules. For example, if a woman had married for several times, she would have an option to choose one out of them:
Every person in the Heaven will find his/her companion with the maximum aesthetic appearance and will find best satisfaction out of the counterpart. This way, neither one would be fed up of one’s companion nor there any feelings of jealousy for any other couple. Every meeting of couple would seem to be the meeting of two bachelors. “Hoor” (the promised women in Heaven) is, in fact plural of another Arabic word, “Ahwar” which means an ideally proportionate and beautiful woman. The study of the Quran reveals that this word has been used in double sense. One shade gives the sense that every woman in heaven would be blessed with all the qualities of a “Hoor”. She would be true embodiment of feminine beauty, modesty and attraction. They would be coupled up with the pious men in heaven. The Quran says:
“Together with their wives, the men of Paradise shall recline in shady groves upon soft couches.” (Ya sin-36, 56).
It further says:
“Besides them will be those with modest gaze and large lovely eyes, (as chaste) as carefully protected eggs.” (Al-Saffat-37,:48-49).
The Quran says next:
“And besides them will be companions (wives) of modest gaze and equal age”. (Sad-38, 52).
It further says:
Besides this, the word “Hoor” has been used in a different connotation as well. It conveys that there will be a specific creation in Paradise which will include boys (Ghilman) and girls (Hoor). These creatures will serve the men and women in Paradise and will provide them every admissible source of entertainment as well. The most prominent example lies in Al-Rehman-55, verse 56-58 where the wives of the men in Paradise are mentioned and further its verses 72-74 mention the “Hoors”.
“Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents. Which of your Lord’s blessing would you deny? Neither man nor jinnee will have touched them before. (Al-Rehman-55:72-74).
A narrative by Umm-e-Salma throws light upon this matter while going into detail. She says, “I asked the Prophet whether women of this world were better than the Hoors. The Prophet replied that the women in this world are superior to Hoors as an outer fold of double garment is better than the inner one. On my demand of knowing the basis for that, the Prophet told that the women of this world have offered their prayers, fasted and showed submission to their God.” (Tibrani).
This creature would include boys as well. The Quran says:
“And there shall wait on them young boys of their own as fair hidden pearls. (Al-Tur-52, 24).
The Quran has mentioned the Hoors in the similar style:
“And their shall be houris with large and beautiful eyes, chaste as hidden pearls.” (Al-War’a-56,:22).
Two more things require explanation here. One that two different shades of meanings for one Quranic word is not a matter of amazement. There are several words in the Quran with more than one meaning. For example, the word “Rasul” has been used in the sense for a special category of Prophets and for the angel Gabriel as well who was entrusted with the duty of bringing revelations onto the Prophets. Secondly, the Quran nowhere indicates that Hoors are meant for the sexual purpose. God is an arbiter in the real sense. Therefore, there is not even the slightest possibility that any of his orders proves to be unjust in any respect.
Birth control is an important issue in the modern world. Islam believes in planning in every field of life. Therefore, it is essential that the same wise planning is observed in the matter of extension in the size of the family. The detail is as under:
God has made a code of conduct for the smooth running of this world. Thus all work, accordingly gets accomplished in two ways. The first way is beyond the capacity of man like in the matter of rains, storms, floods, earthquakes, changing seasons and natural calamities etc. The second way has the partial involvement of man’s will and action. In all maters which man considers to be in his capacity, God has directed him to undertake them with knowledge, rational thinking, intellect, wisdom and proper strategy.
The Quran has placed this direction and the related references at more then a hundred places:
For instance the verses below:
“(O Prophet!) say: Lord increase my knowledge:.(TA’HA-20:114).
“Are the wise and the ignorant equal? Truly, none will take heed but men of understanding”. (Al-Zaumar-39:9)
“And he that receives the gift of wisdom is rich indeed. Yet none except people of sense bear this in mind”. (Al-Baqara-2:269).
The meanest beasts in Allah’s sight are those that are (by choice) deaf, dumb, and devoid of reason”. (Al-Anfal-8:22)
“In the creation of heavens and the earth, in the alternation of night and day, in the ships that sail the ocean with what is beneficial to man, in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death, dispersing over it all manner of beasts; in the movement of the winds, and in the clouds that are driven between earth and sky: surely in these there are signs for people who understand”. (Al-Baqara-2:164).
“(O Prophet!) Give good news to My servants, who listen to My words and follow what is best in it (the best interpretation of it). These are they whom Allah has guided”.
“These are they who are endured with understanding”. (Al-Zumar-39:118).
In all such matters where man has free will whatever the decision he makes and whatever the line of action he opts become the decision of God if it is not against the larger interest of the whole mankind. Thus man continues proceeding on the highway of progress. Till date man has made all progress in the fields of knowledge, rational thinking and science
through this way. God has declared His principle in clear terms in the Quran that He never lets any man’s action go waste: “No soul shall bear another’s burden and that each person shall be judged by his own labours”. (Al-Najm 53:38-39).
However if an individual effort proves to be overall against the whole mankind and has a risk of promoting evil so as to curb virtue completely, it is turned down by God:
“Had Allah not repelled some by the might of others, the monasteries and churches, the synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is frequently remembered would have been utterly destroyed”. (Al-Hajj 22:40).
“Had Allah not defeated some by the might of others, the earth would have been utterly corrupted. But Allah is bountiful to His creatures”. (Al-Baqara 2:251)
Childbirth is one of the elective matters where God lets the free will of man exercise. Though a child is born as per order of God yet man is the source for that. It is just as a farmer cultivates his land and grows the crop. The Quran affirms it on so many occasions that the cultivation of land and growing of crop by man is certainly done at the will of God. The farmer is no doubt the source. Thus the same intellect employed by man for the cultivation of his land should be applied while cultivating his generation too. Both these matters have been yoked together in Al-Waqia:
“Behold! the semen you emit: did you create it, or did We?…………….consider the seeds you grow. Is it you that give them growth or We?” (Al-Waqia 56:59-59-63-64).
Therefore under present circumstances we must think about certain things before extending the size of our family. The very first and foremost thing in this regard is the health of the mother both physically and psychologicaly. It is a fact that a woman after giving birth to a child becomes weak both psychologically and physically. Secondly it is important to make sure whether the woman has completed the process of the training and education of her first child. The first five years are very important in this context. If a child does not find enough attention of the mother through this period it might affect his life and personality. The third notable thing is the income of the father. It is important to realize whether he is able to meet the requirements of all the kids he wishes to have.
These requirements include education, medical assistance, proper lodging and an honorable life and he would be answerable to God in this regard. At the fourth stage a father has to think over how many kids he can pay personal attention to, how much time he can spare and to what extent he can educate and train all of them in the most desirable manner. The fifth considerable matter is the economy of the whole country, the situation of the unemployment and the chances of appropriate planning. Every individual has to think for the collective welfare of the whole society. In short, planning is necessary in every field of life including the matters of family and it is very much according to the teachings of Islam.
The above point of view can be objected from different angles. It is better to analyze them.
The first objection is that the family planning is an expression of the lack of faith in the capacity of God as a provider of food. Since he is guarantor of food to man, birth control is unjust. The answer is simple. If family planning is a lack of faith, what is the status of man’s struggle for employment, trade cultivation and scientific development? Should man just sit idle and wait for the things to happen? If we acknowledge that it is necessary to struggle for one’s earning, we must try to understand the sense in God’s capacity as a provider of food. It means that God has treasured his bounties in this soil and has granted intellect to man so that he benefits himself from them in a proper way. God will open the mouth of his treasures when a person will use his intellect. Thus man has to plan for that otherwise he would not get it enough. Hence one must plan the size of one’s family, the time for the birth of a child and the proper care of every child. This is what we call family planning.
Another objection is raised by quoting a Hadith, which says that:
“All the babies distend to born will be born till the world ends”.
Then why should family planning be observed in the light of this Hidath? The answer to this objection is simple. There is no denial to the fact that the children will continue coming to this world but this birth should take place with proper planning. This logic has a background of this Hidath. During the time of the Apostle some of his companions used to adopt certain preventive measures for birth control (i.e coitus interruptus). The Apostle knew it and allowed to continue with that. (Thus it can be concluded that all methods for birth control are valid in Islam). However, the Apostle said that a man must not consider his planning as final. The final decision rests with God. So it means that if women get pregnant, no step should be taken to stop the birth of the child.
It is also objected that the Quran forbids the killing of children and family planning amounts to the same. The fact is contrary to this comprehension of the Quran verse. In fact the pagans of Makkah used to kill their daughters in particularly considering them a burden on their economy and due to some other reasons too. Hence the Quran stopped this practice, as it was criminal. It has nothing to do with family planning at all.
It is also that the family planning is a plot hatched up by the Western and the Jewish lobby so as to stop the increase in the number of Muslims. This objection is due to a misunderstanding. In fact the real plot against Muslims is to keep them disordered, disorganized, uneducated and ignorant of scientific progress. The unplanned population increase provides the best platform for the enactment of the above-mentioned plot. Unlike this an organized nation can maintain her superiority over the world through her better civilization and practicability. So the Muslims Ummah can open the gateway of Islam for the other nations to enter through reaching the zenith of progress. This is the real way to increase the number of Muslims.
It is also argued that “women have been declared as the fields of their husbands and they have been allowed to go into their fields, as they desire through the verse 223 of Al-Baqara in Quran. Obviously through the fields one gets maximum yields but the family planning is against this teaching. Thus Islam is against it”. The facts are otherwise. In the above quoted verse of the Quran man or a husband has been personified as a responsible farmer who, first of all gives fertilizer and water to his field, sows the required seed, look after the fields during the growth period and protects it from every disease and gives proper pauses between the harvest and the new fertilization. Only an irresponsible farmer doesn’t observe these measures. Thus the above-mentioned Quranic verse lays a lot of responsibilities on the shoulders of a husband. He must take proper care of the health of his wife. He must plan for a new child when his wife is able to give birth to a child in all respects. He has to look after her during the pregnancy. He must give proper respite between the birth of two children. He can only be called a wise and a responsible husband if he abides by all what has been stated above.
Since it is an issue to be settled both by husband and wife, there is a possibility of occurring difference of opinion between the two. The question arises whose opinion should be decisive in this regard. The simple answer is that it is the woman who has to take the final decision, as she is responsible for all physical responsibilities in this connection. It is, therefore clear that the person sustaining the burden should have the right of decision.
The Quran says:
“And we enjoined human being (to show kindness) to his parents, for weakness after weakness his mother bears him and he is not weaned before he is two years of age. We said: Give thanks to me and your parent. To Me shall all things return.” (Luqman-31,:14).
All the stages of pregnancy, birth and feeding belong to mother. This is why mother has more rights than father in these matters and the Prophet has declared mother’s rights three times more to father just on this basis.
The Quran further says:
“We have enjoined human being to show kindness to his parents. With much pain his mother bears him, and with much pain she brings him into the world. He is born and weaned in thirty months. (Al-Ahqaf-46, 15).
There is another question in this context; what is the instruction of Islam regarding abortion?
The beginning of pregnancy is, in fact the beginning of human being. This is why abortion is a serious sin.
The Quran says:
“It was He who created you from a single being. From that being He created his mate, so that he might find comfort in her. And when he had covered her, she conceived, and for a time her burden was light. She carried it with an ease, but when it grew heavy, they both cried to Allah, their Lord: ‘Grant us a goodly child and we will be truly thankful.” (Al-A’raf, 189)
It further says:
“God created all things in the best way. He first created man from clay, then bred his offspring from a drop of paltry fluid. He then molded him and breathed into him of His spirit. He gave you eyes and ears, and hearts: Yet (O people) you are seldom thankful.” (Al-Sajda-32,:7,8,9).
According to a narrative soul is inculcated to the embryo in the third month of pregnancy and in the fourth month, baby comes into being actually with the fusion of soul. Therefore, abortion becomes a greater sin after the fusion of soul. However, according to the rule of exception, abortion is allowed in case the mother’s life is in danger.