The Social Aspect

The Social Aspect
First: As a Daughter
1. The Qur'an effectively ended the cruel pre-Islamic practice of female infanticide
When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned for what crime she was killed.
(Qur'an 81-8-9)
2. The Qur'an went further to rebuke the unwelcoming attitudes among some parents
upon hearing the news of the birth of a baby girl, instead of a baby boy:
When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child) his face darkens
and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people
because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance and) contempt or
bury her in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on! (Qur'an 16:58-59)
3. Parents are duty bound to support and show kindness and justice to their daughters.
Prophet Muhammad said:
"Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does
not favor his son over her, Allah will enter him into Paradise." [Ahmad]
"Whosoever supports two daughters til they mature, he and I will come in the day of
judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together)." [Ahmad]
4. Education is not only a right but also a responsibility of all males and females.
Prophet Muhammad said:
"Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim ("Muslim" is used here in the
generic meaning which includes both males and females).
Second: As a Wife
1. Marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love, and compassion, not just the
satisfaction of man's needs:
And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you
may well in tranquillity with them and He has put live and mercy between your
(hearts); verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (Qur'an 30:21)
(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among
yourselves and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing
whatever like unto Him and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Qur'an
2. The female has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. Her consent is
prerequisite to the validity of the marital contract according to the Prophet's teaching.
It follows that if by "arranged marriage" is meant marrying the girl without her
consent, then such a marriage is nullifiable is she so wished.
"Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad, and she
reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of
God gave her the choice ... (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it)."
(Ahmad, Hadeeth no. 2469). In another version, the girl said: "Actually I accept this
marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right to force a husband
on them." [Ibn Majah]
3. The husband is responsible for the maintenance, protection, and overall headship of
the family (qiwamah) within the framework of consultation and kindness. The mutual
dependency and complementary of the roles of males and females does not mean
"subservience" by either party to the other. Prophet Muhammad helped in household
chores in spite of his busy schedule.
The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years if the father desires
to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable
terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall
be treated unfairly on account of her child nor father on account of his child. An heir
shall be chargeable in the same way if they both decide on weaning by mutual consent
and after due consultation there is no blame on them. If you decide on a foster-mother
for your offspring there is no blame on you provided you pay (the mother) what you
offered on equitable terms. But fear Allah and know that Allah sees well what you do.
(Qur'an 2:233)
The Qur'an urges husbands to be kind and considerate to heir wives even if they do not
like them.
O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should
you treat them with harshness that you may take away part of the marital gift you have
given them except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live
with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them it may be
that you dislike a thing and Allah brings about though it a great deal of good. (Qur'an
Prophet Muhammad taught:
" I command you to be kind to women ..."
"The best of you is the best to his family (wife) ..."
Marital disputes are to be handled privately between the parties whenever possible,
in steps (without excesses or cruelty). If disputes are not resolved then family mediation
can be resorted to.
Divorce is seen as the last resort, which is permissible but not encouraged. Under no
circumstances does the Qur'an encourage, allow or condone family violence or physical
abuse and cruelty. The maximum allowed in extreme cases is a gentle tap that does not
even leave a mark on the body while saving the marriage from collapsing.
5. Forms of marriage dissolution include mutual agreement, the husband's initiative, the
wife's initiative (if part of her marital contract, court decision on the wife's initiative
(for a cause), and the wife's initiative without a "cause" provided that she returns the
marital gift to her husband (khul' [divestiture]).
6. Priority for custody of young children (up to the age of about seven) is given to the
mother. A child later chooses between his mother and father (for custody purposes).
Custody questions are to be settled in a manner that balances the interests of both
parents and well-being of the child
Question of Polygyny
1. One of the common myths is to associate polygyny with Islam as if it were
introduced by Islam or is the norm according to its teachings. While no text in the
Qur'an or Sunnah states that either monogamy or polygyny is the norm, demographic
data indicates that monogamy is the norm and polygyny is the exception. In almost all
countries and on the global level the numbers of men and women are almost even, with
women's numbers slightly more than men.
As such, it is a practical impossibility to regard polygyny as the norm since it assumes
a demographic structure of at least two thirds females, and one third males (or 80
percent females and 20 percent males if four wives per male is the norm!). No Islamic
"norm" is based on an impossible assumption.
2. Like many peoples and religions, however, Islam did not out-law polygyny but
regulated it and restricted it. It is neither required nor encouraged, but simply
permitted and not outlawed. Edward Westermarck gives numerous examples of the
sanctioning of polygyny among Jews, Christians, and others.
3. The only passage in the Qur'an (4:3) which explicitly mentioned polygyny and
restricted its practice in terms of the number of wives permitted and the requirement of
justice between them was revealed after the Battle of Uhud in which dozens of Muslims
were martyred leaving behind widows and orphans. This seems to indicate that the
intent of its continued permissibility is to deal with individual and collective
contingencies that may arise from time to time (i.e., imbalances between the number of
males and females created by wars). This provides a moral, practical, and humane
solution to the problems of widows and orphans who are likely to be more vulnerable
in the absence of a husband/father figure to look after their needs: financial,
companions, proper rearing, and other needs.
If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans marry women of
your choice two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly
(with them) then only one ... (Qur'an 4:3)
4. All parties involved have options: to reject marriage proposals as in the case of a
proposed second wife or to seek divorce or khul' (divestiture) as in the case of a present
wife who cannot accept to live with a polygynous husband.
While the Qur'an allowed polygyny, it did not allow polyandry (multiple husbands of
the same woman). Anthropologically speaking, polyandry is quite rare. Its practice
raises thorny problems related to the lineal identity of children, and incompatibility of
polyandry with feminine nature.
Third: As a Mother
1. Kindness to parents (especially mothers) is next to worship of Allah:
Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents.
Whether one or both of them attain old age in you life say not to them a word of
contempt nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. (Qur'an 17:23)
And We have enjoined on the human (to be good) to his/her parents: in travail upon
travail did his/her mother bear him/her and in years twain was his/her waning: (hear
the command) "Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final)
destiny." (Qur'an 31:14)
2. Mothers are accorded a special place of honor in Hadeeth too:
A man came to the Prophet Muhammad asking: O Messenger of Allah, who among the
people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet said, your mother.
The man said then who is next: the Prophet said, Your mother. The man further asked,
Then who is next? Only then did the Prophet say, Your father. (al Bukhari)
Fourth: As a Sister in Faith (Generally)
1. According to the Prophet Muhammad's saying:
"Women are but sisters (or the other half) of men (shaqa'iq).
2. Prophet Muhammad taught kindness, care, and respect of women in general:
"I commend you to be kind to women"
Fifth: Issue of Modesty and Social Interaction
1. There exists, among Muslims a big gap between the ideal of the real. Cultural
practices on both extremes do exist. Some Muslims emulate non-Islamic cultures and
adopt the modes of dress, unrestricted mixing and behavior resulting in corrupting
influences of Muslims and endangering the family's integrity and strength. On the other
hand, in some Muslim cultural undue and excessive restrictions is not seclusion are

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