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Email From Egypt

January 17, 2008
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I recieved this email yesterday from a girl in Egypt with the subject “a muslim who read your blog” and according to my sitemeter – yes, I have had a visitor from Egypt that spent some time on my blog both yesterday and today.  So with her permission – I am posting the letter to my blog for feedback from those of you that read my blog and, Inshallah, I will not just be feeding her to the wolves (hehe couldn’t help myself – the song “You’re So Vain” is popping into my head as I type). 

Dear  Samaha,

I am writing in the mere hope that someone out there will be able to understand me.

I compared your entries to some of those on my blog and see what I need. I need to be able to look at religion from a different perspective. This will not happen as long as I live in this country – Egypt.

Many people think that Muslims in the ME should have no issues with religion since there are educational institutions that can educate people and guide them. Hundreds of students graduate every year from Al Azhar University after having studied all major branches of Islam. Yet, the situation here is a three-ring circus. Not to blame this mess on educational institutions merely, I have to tell you that I don’t know how many other factors are out there.

All my life I had known that religious matters are taken for granted and that our deen is unquestionable. I kept having my issues with various matters and pushed them away. Once I got in contact with non-Arabs I thought to myself that I was not dealing with this matter properly and that the best thing to do was to read about whatever came to my mind, try to understand, and ,therefore, have a more solid faith.

I started reading about hijab. After ten months here are some questions on my mind:

– How is ijma’ (consensus) defined? And who defines it?

–  Can I decide to take a single scholar’s opinion even if it’s against consensus? In that case, I can decide to take off hijab, get married to a Christian, and God only knows what else.

–  Can scholars base a ruling to kill someone on a hadith? Who said that if someone decides to leave Islam they should be killed? What effect can they have on deen if they decide to leave? Nothing. Can’t the rest of their lives be a chance for them to learn and maybe come back to Islam?

–  In Islam if a man or a woman commits fornication and they both sincerely repent to God, insha’allah He forgives them. They don’t have to tell their future spouse about their past. I can see this possible for the man. In the ME it’s impossible for the woman. What solution does religion offer this woman when she wants to start a life and protect herself against sins?

– “Take it all or leave it all” , ” You can’ t pick and choose from Quran” , “Don’t question things. This is a test from God to know if you believe or not.” These are some of the things I heard from Sheikhs when I said I don’t want my husband to get a second wife or discipline me as advised in Quran.

– Who do I trust?

I kept researching all these matters, asked many scholars both in and outside Egypt. Although I’m known to be a strong person, once I decided to face the fact that there were no answers, I cried for a week in a late response to the shock.

Why am I telling you all this? Because when I talked to my family about the possibility that veil may not be mandatory, they thought I was at a ‘dangerous stage’ and that I should ‘stop reading!!’ I am telling you all this because I am starting to lose the beauty of religion and I don’t know why. I am not even sure what kind of lifestyle will suit me. I don’t know what to do, where to go, who to ask.

I have a successful social and professional life(alhamdulellah) and have many plans that don’t allow me to spend hours everyday checking if a hadith is authentic or not and why a scholar used it when it is weak.   My life turned into hell since my religion, my solid comfort resort, turned out to be full of unanswered questions.

I keep trying to find people like yourself in an attempt to find answers one day. I hope I could find them soon. I haven’t slept in months.

Thank you for reading this …

56 Comments leave one →
  1. mydin permalink
    January 18, 2008 1:46 am

    Allow me to share my comment here…
    I am Indonesian Muslim….
    Many written books, comment in internet and also people arround me feel the same things… some friends also thinks like her. I had experience for a while for that condition but then realize it’s only about our capability of thinking and we are to depend on the thinking rather than to believe on Allah totally. Even I’m not the expert of Hadist or else and I know many things look like complicated but somehow it’s better we choose one the best Hadist we can do rather than have to thing out of Islam. Others religions or else much more complicated and much more no answer for anything, why should we think of those even only a moment… never for ever…

  2. dawood permalink
    January 18, 2008 10:51 pm

    I started reading about hijab. After ten months here are some questions on my mind:

    I hope that my reply does not confuse you, as it may be a bit complicated. I hope that it helps you to learn more about how the ijma’ works, and also gives you some ideas on this issue.

    – How is ijma’ (consensus) defined? And who defines it?

    There are different definitions of ijma’ and, different types as defined by the ulama’ throughout history. The main one in theory is al-ijma’ al-sarih (الإجماع الصريح), which is explicit and positive. This is when every mujtahid of an age gives their opinion on an issue and it is decided. But this is very, very rare, and mostly is from the ijma’ of the Sahaba (radi allahu ‘anhum). The most common one used, and the one most people talk about when they say that “there is ijma’ on this issue” is actually al-ijma’ al-sukuti (الإجماع السكوتي), which is known as implied consensus, and is looking backwards. This is when we look back through the scholars work, and can say “there is no known disagreement (ikhtilaf – الإختلاف) on this issue.”

    The problem of the exact definition and exactly what makes it valid has continued to cause problems since the very earliest times. Different scholars disagreed on exactly what makes it so. Imam al-Shafi’i, for example, believed ijma’ to be when every mujtahid of the time agreed on the issue – if there was even one mujtahid who disagreed, then there can be no ijma’. The problem too, is that the mujtahid can also change their mind later, based on their research… this is why most people only talk about al-ijma’ al-sukuti (implied consensus) in reality. The problem with that, is that apart from very universal issues and areas of general principles, there has never been, and most likely will never be any clear agreement between all of the mujtahid’s anywhere – not even in one country let alone the whole Muslim world! Other scholars restrict ijma’ to the ijma’ of Sahaba only. Others say that it should not only be the ulama’ deciding on issues like it was in olden times, that it should include the ulu al-amr (people in authority) from all areas, such as doctors, lawyers and so on – depending on the issue that is being decided upon of course. Others )including the late shaykh al-azhar Mahmud al-Shaltut) say that since the ijma’ is about providing guidance and benefit for the people, that it should be based on the interest and welfare of the community (maslaha – مصلحة) and the objectives of the law (maqasid al-shari’a – مقاصد الشريعة), and furthermore, that it is just a theory and tool used in argument and debate, it can never be completely proved in reality.

    In reality, most people mean the consensus of the majority, or of a selected group of scholars – not every scholar qualified in the whole world. So in some sense, it has a regional and relative value, not a universal one unless it is on something major. This also means that it can change based on the time, the place, and the circumstances. It is not fixed.

    – Can I decide to take a single scholar’s opinion even if it’s against consensus? In that case, I can decide to take off hijab, get married to a Christian, and God only knows what else.

    The idea is that the scholars can define the majority/well-known positions (jumhur/mashhur – جمهور/مشهور), but that there may always be exceptions to the rule. Some more terms used which I hope you can understand are that there is a difference between a concession (rukhsa – رخسة) and strict rule (‘azima – عزيمة). That is why some scholars in Europe, after 9-11 (including Tariq Ramadan), have said that although they believe the hijab is required for women in Islam, that firstly, it cannot be forced and that if it causes them danger from others, then they can wear something else (such as a hat, hood or other things) in order to be careful and safer. The first idea expressed by the ulama’, that the hijab is required was the ‘azima in this case (according to them), but the idea of covering with something else was the rukhsa. Also, al-ijma’ al-sukuti is defined as only being probable (ظنّي) and not definite (قطعي), so it is not overpowering that one must always follow it. You can disagree on it a little.

    I hope this makes sense to you! Also remember that each Muslim country has their own way of making hijab – look at the women from Nigeria, West Africa, Turkey, China, Indonesia and so on compared to even the Middle East and you will see many different ways of making hijab. Some show the hair a little; others show the arms to the elbow, some show the feet while others don’t… it is all a little bit different. Egypt also has its own way of making hijab too!

    I am sure you know the well known hadith (found in Bukhari as well as even الأربعين النووية), that the halal is well known, and the haram is well known. All Muslims know these major issues, but the discussion on the role of hijab is a very recent thing. We have to remember that for most of history, all desert cultures and nations with warm climates have worn such things to protect from the sun and other issues. It is just culture. Also another hadith found in the same collection, says that ultimately each person should follow the fatwa of their heart, even if so many other people say something else. The reason is because we are judged on our actions, and every action is based on the intention. As the first hadith in Bukhari and الأربعين النووية explains: “إنّما الأعمال بالنّيّات”

    – Can scholars base a ruling to kill someone on a hadith? Who said that if someone decides to leave Islam they should be killed? What effect can they have on deen if they decide to leave? Nothing. Can’t the rest of their lives be a chance for them to learn and maybe come back to Islam?

    This issue is really something that most people talk about, but that they don’t actually read the works of the ulama’ alive today at all. No major scholar of shari’a has stated that someone who leaves Islam should be killed nowadays – only the crazy ones say this still! In fact, even shaykh ‘Ali Guma, the mufti of Egypt has made it so clear that someone who leaves Islam should not be killed. Many important scholars of shari’a have also made this very clear over the last one hundred years or more – some even since the earliest times. It was different when religion was joined with the government, but now it is not like that at all.

    One scholar that I have asked about this issue made this point to me: to take a life is a very heavy thing in the eyes of Allah, and this means that the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunna to do so should also be heavy. We can see in the Qur’an that to take one life in an unjust way is like killing all of mankind. We also find out that when looking at the evidence used for this, that ahadith are ahad (الأحاد), not mutawatir (متواتر), and there are some issues in interpretation of the words. There have been since the earliest times. This is one issue where scholars are now looking back in to the past, to see what other scholars said on it. Many have said that there is a difference between leaving Islam, and causing harm to the Muslims (their society or country). One is simple leaving, the other is actively trying to cause harm to other people – and this is what is punishable by death. So it is the action of the second, and not the belief in the heart for the first which is the issue. Remember “إنّما الأعمال بالنّيّات” – it is the same in this case. =) It is like today in many countries, treason is still a crime punished by death – it is also an action performed to cause harm to others, and is different from simply not liking a country or nation. One is an action, the other is in the heart.

    All of these issues: leaving Islam, wearing hijab (and what exactly hijab is!) are all being discussed by the Muslims right now, and the scholars today have many different ideas on it. The main thing is to not be worried, and take the best position (the one your heart feels comfortable with), if you ask me. I am not a shaykh or scholar of course, but this is my advice.

    – In Islam if a man or a woman commits fornication and they both sincerely repent to God, insha’allah He forgives them. They don’t have to tell their future spouse about their past. I can see this possible for the man. In the ME it’s impossible for the woman. What solution does religion offer this woman when she wants to start a life and protect herself against sins?

    This is a problem of the society – not of the religion. You are absolutely correct, that if someone commits adultery and repents, then insha’a allah their tawba will be accepted by Allah. You are also correct, that they do not have to tell their future spouses about their past, although some times to be honest is the best way.

    The only reason it is impossible for a woman, is because many people still have the crazy idea that when two people have sexual intercourse for the first time, that the woman must bleed. And usually, if they have had sex before, then it does not happen. The problem is that this does not happen to every woman – even on the first time – so the issue is about the married couple trusting each other. Religion is meant to protect this, but unfortunately no one follows this well today and instead still looks for the towel.

    The other issue is that if the society gossips and slanders, then it can make life very difficult for the woman – in fact, she may never be able to get married again. Actually Qur’an clearly explains that this is unacceptable. Check the beginning section of surat al-nur and see what it says: if you accuse a woman of committing fornication and do not bring the proof (the witnesses), then actually you are punished by Allah, and also the society for قذف – for accusing someone without the evidence. In traditional Islamic law, such a person would be punished for this because slander and lying is a sin too!

    – ”Take it all or leave it all” , ” You can’ t pick and choose from Quran” , “Don’t question things. This is a test from God to know if you believe or not.” These are some of the things I heard from Sheikhs when I said I don’t want my husband to get a second wife or discipline me as advised in Quran.

    This is also a sign of the real problem – when shuyukh are not doing their jobs properly then we know Muslims are in a bad situation! Actually, in history, most women could add in to the contract of the marriage (عقد النّكاح), that the husband either could not get a second wife, or not get one without their permission. Actually – in one of my classes I saw a contract from around 1100 in al-Andalus (the Muslim Spain), and it said many interesting things: if the man took a second wife without her permission, then the first wife could automatically get divorce; if he asked her permission and she said no but he still took the second wife, then she could divorce him… if he could not provide the finances to have a good life with his wife, then the wife could get divorce… there were many great things. And this contract was in a section on the conditions (كتاب الشروط), giving examples of marriage contracts which were common at that time.

    The problem is that many people today don’t know their own rights given by Islam, so can’t fight for them. Did you have a contract of marriage? If you did, what was in it? If the shaykh and the wali were doing their job well, then it should have such things to protect the woman just in case the man is silly and harmful to her.

    Are you also talking about violence to you or something else? If so, then this is a serious issue and you need help! =(

    – Who do I trust?

    Trust yourself, and trust Allah. Trust the people who are close to you (like family or friends), but don’t trust them when they can put you in a situation which means you are harmed or unhappy – this is not Islamic! The religion is meant to protect at least five necessary things. These are the maqasid al-shari’a (مقاصد الشريعة): life (نفس), religion itself (دين), your mind (عقل), family (نسل) and wealth/property (مال). Some important scholars also add dignity/honour (عرض) to this, making it clear that the shari’a should in all cases protect the dignity, honour and sanctity of every person – Muslim and non-Muslim, male and female.

    I hope that this helped in some way, and if I didn’t make sense anywhere, then please reply and I can explain in a better way.

    مع السلامة أختي والله معك
    داوود

  3. January 19, 2008 5:03 pm

    I think Dawood has made an excellent detailed comment and I must say a very positive and objective one too. It is not telling anyone what to do but showing how ultimately its the heart of a person that should guide towards good.

    The society we live in today is a problem which you (the email writer) have initially identified yourself. It is extremely spooky because whatever you have mentioned in your email has happened to me – the questions, the nasiha from others, the fear of loved ones that I’m perhaps reading too much – everything. Just last month I was discussing concubinage in Islam with my sister who performs 3 umrahs in a month and reads Quran every single day and she abruptly said, “I have no idea what you are talking about. I know nothing about slavery or concubinage in Islam” and that was it. She doesn’t want to discuss what will send her mind wandering. You know what I mean? And I am the kind of person who has to have answers even if the path is painful and then accept whatever I accept with a clean heart.

    I wore hijab for seven years because I was born and raised in the West and all my muslim friends wore hijab and I thought I’d be a tart if I didn’t. I never liked it and never felt good about wearing it. Then I started reading on it a lot and came to a conclusion – hijab is not a personal choice at all. It is a religious choice. When a woman decides (through her own personal study and not the understanding of ‘others’) that it is required by God then there is no question of personal choice left for her. She must cover her head (or even her face if she thinks niqaab is compulsory) just like she must pray five times a day. I personally think that hijab is a social requirement in Islam directly linked not to piety but to social arrangement of a given society. For example, I must wear hijab in Saudi Arabia or Iran or even in some parts of Pakistan. I ought to wear hijab if I want to go to the fish market in downtown Egypt. Modesty takes on a completely new meaning in some countries where you have to be covered from head to toe to be spared from ogling eyes and even then it is not guaranteed that you will not be annoyed by frustrated men. However, hijab can conversely become awkward and dangerous for me in countries that are at war with this ‘Muslim woman’s clothing item.’ Insisting on wearing a hijab in France for instance would only make me look controversial. Unfortunately for women clothes are not a personal choice in any society. The clothes we wear are always dependant on the type of society and the kind of men that make up that society. I seriously can’t let centuries old ijma to guide the way I live because each one of us lives a unique life that can never be comparable.

    Dawood has beautifully explained the next two points. Personally I am against killing apostates. My best friend left Islam 3 yrs ago and feared I would sever my ties with her. I never became her friend because she was Muslim so why would I break off if she didn’t remain in Islam? Last month I found out she has returned to Islam. So the point is yes, “can’t the rest of their lives be a chance for them to learn and maybe come back to Islam?”

    I have had so many people tell me that I must enter Islam completely; that I can’t pick and choose. We all have individual lives, personalities and minds. We aren’t robots, you know. I’m much against polygamy and that’s the way I am.

    Finally, who do you trust? Trust yourself. Don’t let anyone take your religion away from you. Its beauty is for you to understand and embrace.

    Good luck! Hope you find what you are looking for.

  4. Nesrine permalink
    January 19, 2008 11:03 pm

    Samaha… Thank you so much for posting my letter. I do appreciate your support. This space on your blog feels like a new window that can bring some fresh air into my life.
    Dawood..
    I am grateful for your taking the time to patiently read and reply to my e-mail.
    I hope that my questions don’t bore you 
    1- Ijama’ (consensus)
    I understood all possible definitions of ijma’ and let’s say I choose to take it as al-ijma’ al-sukuti (implied consensus).
    – “It means there is no disagreement among old scholars.”
    Which scholars? The four main schools (madhahib)? If all four agree on an issue, e.g. that hijab is mandatory, does it mean it is mandatory and not following this is a sin? All those scholars are culturally related to old Arabia, and therefore their opinions suit that time and place. What about modern world? Do old scholars know better because they were closer to prophet Mohamed’s age? Or because ijtihad was open during their age? Why can’t modern scholars be trusted like those old ones?
    – “‘majority’ has a regional and relative value, not a universal one unless it is on something major.”
    Can you give me an example of something major?
    – “Also, al-ijma’ al-sukuti is defined as only being probable (ظنّي) and not definite (قطعي), so it is not overpowering that one must always follow it. You can disagree on it a little.”
    If a single scholar, e.g. Dr Khaled Abou El-Fadl, says hijab is not obligatory and interprets the same verses of hijab differently, he is disagreeing a lot. Why can’t his opinion be taken? Are his opinions considered ijtihad? If I discussed his opinions with Azhar graduates here, they’d most probably say he’s out of religion because he’s out of the majority who say hijab is obligatory, dogs are impure and a Muslim woman can’t get married to a kitabi (a Christian or Jewish man). What happens if I decide to take any of these opinions?
    2- “The hadith “that the halal is well known, and the haram is well known””
    Why is there such a big confusion if it is that simple?
    3- “The main thing is to not be worried, and take the best position (the one your heart feels comfortable with), if you ask me.”
    I don’t know what my heart feels comfortable with, Dawood. How do I know I am right? My heart is comfortable with taking my hijab off. Does that mean it will be the right thing to do? What does it take to reach a state of full comfort?
    4- “Are you also talking about violence to you or something else? If so, then this is a serious issue and you need help!”
    I think I confused you with my English here. I am not married but was giving a hypothetical situation based on stories I hear and things I see around. I heard it myself on a Q/A show where a Saudi sheikh said that (if the husband wishes to get a second wife he has to inform his first and not ‘take her permission’ for how can she disagree to something is Allah’s book?) IF she really doesn’t like this will she be asked to take the whole religion, including this, or leave it all?
    5- “Trust yourself, and trust Allah.”
    I definitely trust Allah. I don’t know how to start trusting myself. What does it take to reach that stage?
    6- “Trust the people who are close to you (like family or friends)”
    Unfortunately, I can’t trust those because they are not willing to discuss religion. Like I used to, all they know is what they’ve heard. They don’t question and they are happy this way. I can’t shake the only source of relief in their life.
    جزيت خيرًا.
    نسرين

  5. dawood permalink
    January 21, 2008 5:10 am

    Nesrine: Just letting you know that I will get back to you and your questions as soon as I can! I have to do some research on the questions you mentioned, and need to find the time to properly reply. The main thing is to keep thinking, keep searching and keep seeking guidance.🙂

  6. Nesrine permalink
    January 21, 2008 6:50 am

    Achelois: Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with me and everyone here. I totally relate to what you said about how hijab is related to society. I’ve been wearing it for ten years. Yet, I wouldn’t have cared much about how people would view me without hijab if I were 100% sure it was not onligatory.

    I have been researching hijab for long. According to how scholars interpreted the same verses ”differently” :
    a) ‘majority’ say it’s taken for granted hair was covered then and it’s obligatory to cover all except hand and face. The evidence used here (the famous “Asmaa bint Abi Bakr” hadith) is a mursal hadith, i.e. the narrator didn’t meet Asmaa bint Abi Bakr.
    b) it’s obligatory to cover the whole body… head to toe because jilbab means an overall piece of clothes.
    c) adopting the approach of reading Quranic verses in context, covering the head was a habit back then even before Islam. The clear direct order is for women to cover their bossoms, i.e. to observe modesty.

    Now if I put aside all the social pressure related to this issue and try to think for myself, how can I decide which opinion is correct? Follow my heart? But if it is mandatory and my heart tells me it is not, ….?? I know it’ll be smart to wear hijab for many reasons, most of which you already mentioned… But I’d like the religious one to be my only reason.

    It’s not only about the issue of hijab. It’s about an approach I’m trying to find. A way to make me able to decide for myself, be comfortable about my decision, and never regret it later. I thought reading will be the way out, but it turned out that every scholar would state their opinion and seal it with “Allah knows best.” For now, I feel stupid for wearing it without understanding, and can’t take it off for the same reason. I want to trust myself and you advized me to. And that’s why I am sharing this with you all.

    Dawood.. I do appreciate your effort… take all the time you need🙂

  7. January 21, 2008 10:54 am

    Nesrine, you may find this interesting – http://achelois.wordpress.com/2007/05/27/let-the-face-veil-be-for-jewish-women/

  8. Barbs Whack Rez permalink
    January 21, 2008 1:52 pm

    Nesrine: Having similar problems here.

    “God knows best” is sometimes my stabilizer. Despite studying so much, scholars still say that the final arbiter will be god. So I don’t think its haram if you act according to what you think is best for yourself now, at the same time realizing whatever you thought of can easily be superseded, time and again, by getting more “well-rounded” facts/ijtihad. Theres only temporary certainty, but it’ll still be constant, however slow, weaning towards god.

    So, what we have left are only beliefs that we should religiously be this way or that way, but only god knows what was real and true, and what was god’s own intentions, and so its evil to be rigid and cruel in believing in beliefs. So I feel also its ok to follow your heart within the large and diversified peripheral of fiqh.

  9. Nesrine permalink
    January 21, 2008 2:38 pm

    Barbs: All my life I’ve known that I should be trusting Sheikhs because they know better. All my life I never questioned hadiths or contradictions here and their in Islam. I thought it was all flawless and suddently I start reading and find that some things I had known were based on weak hadiths, or that ijtihad doors have been closed and are not supposed to be re-opened, or that I should take it all as it is because that’s a test from Allah to see how strong my faith is, or that there is a hadith when Muslim at wore had sex with slave women and consulted Prophet Muhammed pbuh (were those girlfriends or what?). And many other questions…
    I am really glad to have decided to share my thoughts with you ..
    Again following my heart is something very tricky, guys.
    If I follow my heart I will see nothing wrong and nothing in Quran against me getting married to a Christian. This is against consensus (of people who know better) So? Hopefully soon I’ll be able to follow my heart as you are saying.
    If I follow my heart I will take off my veil tomorrow morning and dress modestly the way I do. My heart tells me that the problem is related to men who can’t control themselves.
    YET, the same heart tells me .. be careful… If it were obligatory, as consensus says, how can you be ungrateful to God and take it off? ETC…

  10. dawood permalink
    January 21, 2008 8:58 pm

    Nesrine: كيف الحال؟ إنشاء الله أنت بخير…

    I have read your comments after my post and there are many issues, so I will try to address generally what I can see, instead of point by point. If you want to discuss the more technical things a bit more, than just let me know. The issue seems to be this: do you just accept and follow what everyone else is doing – or do you follow your heart, which may want something different to everyone else? That is a very tough question, especially on the issue of hijab, but also more generally for your own state. If you ask me, you have to strive to do action with the best intention, because in Islam, that is what mankind is judged on. In the end, everyone must do what they feel comfortable with in their heart, because that is what the Judgement Day is all about. From your post it is clear that you are having conflicting feelings and ideas on the issue, and that is why you are not settled. Even if you decide to follow your heart on an issue – how can you be sure that this is a good decision and not just nafs, or shahwa? It is a very difficult position to be in, and is something that everyone should be careful about, which is what you are doing so that is great.

    At the same time, I think that the key issue is about respecting yourself and keeping your dignity. Khaled Abou El Fadl, on his own website, made it clear that he thinks that Muslim men marrying from Ahl al-Kitab should be makruh or makruh tahrimi (close to forbidden) in the present time, even though every other scholar says it is permissible and even the Qur’an does! Why? Because he sees as one key issue the respect for a person’s choice to practice their religion, to learn about it and make their own informed decision, especially when children are involved. Furthermore, the Islamic tradition allows and legally provides the right for a non-Muslim woman to practice her religion freely, but there is not necessarily anything in the other religious traditions or cultures which would provide the same for the Muslim woman married to a non-Muslim man. Look at his fatwa clearly; he extends this concept of makruh to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, so it is not exactly him saying it is “permissible”. Rather, he is saying that to unequivocally state it is haram without a clear and decisive textual basis (dalilat al-qat’i al-thubut) is perhaps too strong (haram is what the nusus texts make clear, generally, and there is no direct nass on this issue), although he shares and agrees with the other scholars concern. This is why the Hanafi madhhab uses makruh tahrimi (makruh close to haram) when there is no decisive and clear evidence – when the evidence is zanni not qat’I in nature.

    Now as for his discussion on the issue of hijab, it is very complex and not as simple as you make out. One of the key texts he discusses this in is Speaking in God’s Name – which is excellent and a book everyone should read. The discussion over hijab includes many issues, but one key area is the relationship between hijab and ‘awrah (what must be covered). In this book, he shows that early Islamic history had a diversity of opinion regarding the ‘awrah of Muslim women – specifically – that there was a difference between a Muslim woman who happened to be a slave, and a Muslim woman who was not. For example, in daily life, the ‘awrah of a slave woman was essentially equal to that of a man today – i.e. from navel (belly button) to knee. For other women, however, there was disagreement about their ‘awrah – some said that they had to cover everything including the face, others allowed them to show the feet, face and up to the elbows and so on. Many of the opinions he discusses still exist today in the four madhahib. Next, he turns to the issue of prayer and what needs to be covered for prayer, and again shows how there was a difference between what needs to be covered for women who were slaves, and those who were not. So this is the basis for his argument regarding the issue of a head covering – that it is in some way related to a class-structure issue. Think about it, a Muslim woman is a Muslim woman in the eyes of God, so why the different amounts of body needing to be covered? And even in prayer? He also discusses the issue of the cultural application of the scarf – that it was simply what was done in the desert culture of the times, so naturally when the verse came down to cover the bosom, the women used this.

    All of this is nuanced and complex, and does not simply amount to having a permission to take the scarf off or believe it is not necessary, although he does lean towards that opinion. Ultimately, as any good religious scholar should do, he implies that the decision is left up to each individual – Muslims are rewarded and punished in a sense based on their own actions, free from coercion – and this is one of them. He also repeatedly says “And God knows best”, as all scholars have done throughout the ages – both regarding the marriage issue and the hijab issue. It is like Dr. Tariq Ramadan explains – he believes hijab to be an obligation, but that it cannot be forced and will be done when the person’s iman is strong enough to wear it.

    I have a friend here who has similar issues about hijab. She has been wearing it for a number of years now but has phases of wanting to take it off and be like everyone else, and other times she feels proud to wear it and be seen as a Muslim. For me, the issue is self-respect, dignity, and demanding it from others – nothing more and nothing less than this. Respect yourself, respect the choice you have of deciding who gets to see you/your body and who doesn’t, or how much they can see. If you feel that you can achieve that by wearing hijab etc. then great! If you feel you can achieve that by not wearing hijab – then this is great too. The main thing is to be comfortable with yourself and how others see you and treat you in society.

    No one can make that decision for you; it is something you have to make for yourself. I am also very definitely not a scholar, just a simple talib, so don’t have access to much for research or to say anything much except share ideas.

    صلّ على سيدنا محمد وعلى آل محمد
    داوود

  11. dawood permalink
    January 21, 2008 11:12 pm

    Oh and just to add – the issue of notifying the wife instead of seeking permission for a second wife… this is something that I have heard from Saudi influenced scholars as well, but not something I have heard from anyone else.

    The fact is that the person getting married should be able to put exactly in their contract for nikkah that they don’t want their husband to have a second wife – this is acceptable from all of the works I have seen and people I have asked. If the husband agrees to this position and agrees with the contract, then the marriage takes place. If he doesn’t and thinks it is somehow going against his “religious right” to have more than one wife, then the answer is simple – he doesn’t need to get married to the woman who wants this in the contract in the first place!

    I find it very strange that some people can say as the Saudi scholars did above, when every Muslim knows how much importance is placed on shurut (conditions) and stipulations in every type of contract (marriage, business, financial etc.)_

  12. January 22, 2008 3:53 am

    Nesrine,

    I don’t think Islam is so rigidly black and white. I mean yes, we know there are certain things that *have to* be done like the five pillars (and hence they are called *pillars*) but there are various other injunctions that are not so clear cut especially after 1400 years of different interpretations – all of which are subjective.

    The greatest gift to humankind is ‘free will.’ That is something angels don’t have and thus angels can’t err and can’t repent and there is no system of forgiveness. Do you think that Allah would have given us free will only so we choose what really strikes our heart and then He could punish us?

    Look at the patterns of erring-repentance-forgiveness in Islam. There are certain crimes for which there is no forgiveness in this world since they are harmful at the societal level and hence there is the system of crime and punishment. The points that you have mentioned which bother you do not come under those categories. For example, if polygamy hurts a woman she CAN deny it. We know that both the Prophet’s daughter and his granddaughter refused polygamy. Even the ayah 4:34 is open to so many interpretations some of which openly say that *ا ضر بو هن * means to “leave alone.” When the Prophet momentarily suspected Aisha of adultery he did not beat her up to civilize her – he left her alone. If you decide that the hijab is not obligatory there is no set punishment prescribed in the Quran for women who take it off simply because it is not even clear what comes under ‘awrah.’

    In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is there is nothing in Islam that says you can’t exercise your free will if your heart strongly agrees on something. Now this doesn’t mean that I’m asking you to take off that hijab because if one part of your heart is worrying that it may be wrong then your heart doesn’t really agree with taking it off. I took it off because I am convinced it is not required. Yes, I want to please the Lord and I love Him and that is exactly why I don’t want to lose my interest and respect for Islam. I don’t want to be chained by what doesn’t appeal to me and then slowly turn blind towards the beauty of my religion. I know it can happen to any human. I almost lost my faith and I’m refusing to let go off the Rope.

    1400 years. Trillions of people. Hundreds of generations. Thousand different cultures. You can’t expect everyone to look like they are coming out of a robot factory with the same ideals, same expectations, same beliefs and same interpretations of Islam. Evolution is necessary and ‘decent’ free will is the key.

  13. January 22, 2008 9:39 pm

    Nesrine,
    I don’t have much time to comment but just wanted to say many of us question in a similiar fashion. I am currently going thrugh the same thing with hijab.
    take care inshaAllah.

  14. Nesrine permalink
    January 23, 2008 1:12 pm

    I really can’t tell you enough how warm I feel on this website.

    Let go to a different question:
    The current situation is :
    – I believe there is no God but Allah and that Mohamed is His messenger.
    – I find it hard to believe in some verses in Quraan even after understanding them.
    – Some ‘authentic’ hadiths sound crazy to me (See ‘Sahih Muslim: 008. 3371)
    – Consensus thing is still not clear: What happens if I don’t follow the majority of Muslim scholars? This will affect who I will get married to and therefore the rest of my life and my children.
    – All this has resulted in a weaker faith (although I couldn’t stop praying)

    I am starting to think religion is all about rules and regulation put by a group of scholars and that we just have to follow this.

    What can I do in order not to lose my deen?

  15. dawood permalink
    January 23, 2008 8:09 pm

    – Verses in the Qur’an need to be seen as part of their history. A deeper understanding of the sira will help with it. Also remember that not every verse has a value for ahkam, some are general, but others are specific relating to the law, theology or other things. Spend time with the juz al-`amma especially, it contains the foundation for everything. Look at Surat al-Duha (93), it is important.

    – Just because a hadith is sahih does not mean it has any legal value when it comes to shari’a… that is different altogether. The muhaddithun and fuqaha’ differ on this. The law is based on sunna – the normal practice of the Prophet, and not the strange things which may have happened only once in his life or so. This is why hadith have the grades of sahih, hasan, da’if and so on, but fuqaha’ use terms like mutawatir and ahad to show the strength of the hadith for law. The context is also important, as is knowing the different versions of the same hadith which may show a different story. This area is for the specialist and not for everyday people who have not studied – simply because it is very confusing and time consuming to do research in. This is why Imam Nawawi made his collection of 40 hadith – they are the key ones that contain general principles and ideas that are important.

    – Ijma` is not really something you need to worry over, unless you totally want to go against the normal way of your society and culture. I have seen plenty of Egyptians and not all wear hijab anyway. Some do, but I guess it may depend on the family or where you are from. Bear in mind, that if you were to marry a non-Muslim man (for example – or the man marry a non-Muslim woman), then of course it will impact on your iman in some way, even if it was only small. The reason being that your life partner cannot share the same events, ritual obligations, love of the Qur’an and Prophet etc. as you do. And do you want to life a whole life like this? Everyone can decide for themselves, but Dr. Abou El Fadl’s reasoning on the issue was very clear in his fatwa, especially when the issue of children comes up.

    – Don’t stop praying! Praying is صلة – making a connection!🙂

  16. mydin permalink
    January 24, 2008 1:26 am

    I am trying to listen all of your conversation… interest blog to read even I don’t know exactly all of the reference of your talking about. I am sure you have a good knowledge of Islam and hope can get something more here.

  17. January 24, 2008 4:06 am

    Nesrine,

    If there are certain verses that you don’t believe in even after a lot of study – just ignore them for the moment. Maybe you can study them later with fresh eyes and a clearer mind. You find it hard to believe in some verses because they were written 1400 years ago. There are verses that are wrapped in time no matter how much we say Quran is for all times. For example, verses on sex with slave women sound ‘unbelievable’ but they are constrained by time and I sincerely pray that that time doesn’t repeat itself where women have to be sold as slaves because men will have the permission to have sex with them. However, because slavery has now been abolished in many countries and because today’s women are not used to the idea of slavery and free sex with slaves they will not be submissive and it will now be called rape. Am I making sense?

    Again, the hadith. May I ask if the hadith in Sahih Muslim: 008. 3371 sounds crazy to you or is it the idea of concubinage that is crazy? To me the hadith is completely relevant and has a message BUT the idea of sex outside marriage with a woman who may not like having sex with the man is what is crazy. What I mean is if you accept that there is nothing wrong with sex with slaves then the hadith has a moral message to give – don’t try to avoid conception because ultimately a child that is conceived would bring freedom for the slave mother upon death of the master. Personally, I have nothing against the hadith but concubinage … I don’t agree with that. Other hadith may have similar reasons for sounding crazy.

    As far as consensus is concerned, I am hardly ever game so I can’t really say much on that. Scholars won’t have to answer for me. If they make me leave Islam, I will have to be answerable so I do what appeals to me and what makes sense to me in my life as I lead it.

    I don’t think you’ll lose your deen. If you were to lose it you wouldn’t be struggling to keep your grip on the Rope🙂 You are writing here because you know Islam is right but ‘men’ who interpret it for you may not be right. The problem is we believe that we can’t ever think against the maxim – Islam is perfect. Godly parts of Islam may be perfect but where human interpretations and execution of the religion is concerned it is not perfect and it is perfectly alright to accept that.

  18. January 24, 2008 7:22 pm

    Nesrine – No need to thank me. I’m glad you are able to have this discussion here and that you feel so comfortable here.

    Dawood – thanks for getting so detailed with your reply. I have one thing I wanted to state – in Dr. El Fadl’s fatwa on inter-faith marriages – he specifically states that it is makruh in both cases when the Muslim is outside of Muslim countries however, he does state at the bottom paragraph that he’s not certain that there is enough evidence that women can not marry outside of Islam (implied? in Muslim countries) although he does not go as far as to say that he believes that they can.

    Achelois: I have to second this: I don’t think you’ll lose your deen. If you were to lose it you wouldn’t be struggling to keep your grip on the Rope You are writing here because you know Islam is right but ‘men’ who interpret it for you may not be right. The problem is we believe that we can’t ever think against the maxim – Islam is perfect. Godly parts of Islam may be perfect but where human interpretations and execution of the religion is concerned it is not perfect and it is perfectly alright to accept that.

    Not only that but questioning is not necessarilly wavering deen, it’s a part of strengthening it.

    Mydin – welcome to my blog. Dawood and Achelois take all of the credit for the information and advice on this post – I hope that you take the time to visit their sites, both are filled with a wealth of information and comments to learn from.

  19. dawood permalink
    January 24, 2008 10:37 pm

    Samaha: That was my point – something ‘implied’ or read in to the text is not the same as an endorsement. From my understanding of his fatwa, after reading countless in both English and Arabic, the general trend and structure of the language used seems to be saying that he feels the textual evidence is insufficient to proclaim it outright haram (forbidden) because only God and the Prophet can do so. Therefore, he feels it should be classed as makruh, but explains that he feels very strongly against it and gives examples why.

    Ultimately, he is a scholar in the West dealing with issues that come up in the West; there is no such thing as a general fatwa – all are case-by-case and context specific. This is why the cultural norms and paradigm are taken in to account in all situations. I don’t think he would ever say that his fatwa can be applied across the board – and would most likely be aghast at it being used for such.

  20. January 25, 2008 12:37 am

    I wasn’t saying that his fatwa could be applied across the board, nor was I suggesting that it should be .. I was merely pointing out that the fatwa was intended for Muslims outside of Muslim countries AND that he did show some variation from what is typical consensus in terms of women marrying outside of Islam since he was looking at the historical views of scholars outside the US. So even though his fatwa wouldn’t be applicable to someone in a Muslim country could the fatwa still be taken into consideration by other scholars in Muslim countries as they form their own fatwas? In other words is he setting a presedence with it?

  21. dawood permalink
    January 25, 2008 4:36 am

    Well, the precedence thing is tricky… basically any type of ijtihad is included in the books as it were providing certain conditions are met – usually in terms of qualification and peer-group recognition. They are then transmitted, discussed and debated and either built upon or shown to be in error after the fact.

    There are debates regarding Abou El Fadl on both of these accounts: many question exactly what he studied and with whom (i.e. if he has reached the qualification to be able to perform ijtihad), and basically not many people outside of the West recognise him as any type of mujtahid scholar – this could simply be because he is not well-known in Muslim majority countries, or for other reasons, I am not sure.

  22. Sam permalink
    January 25, 2008 9:52 pm

    Dawood, as usual, despite his self adjudged “premier educational background”, requires the use of a dictionary:
    ~a·dul·ter·y /əˈdʌltəri/ –noun, plural -ter·ies.
    voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.

    ~for·ni·ca·tion /ˌfɔrnɪˈkeɪʃən/ –noun
    voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other.

    Moving on, I guess this conversation also requires a minor comment on the nikah “contract”. It is surprising how people openly talk of such contracts when it comes to matters that require mutual trust and understanding and not legal restraints. I wonder where “love” went?

    Polygamy is simply brazen adultery. Polygamy’s Islamic sanction is an anachronistic vestige of the actions of Muhammad et al., circa nomadic medieval Arabia.

    ~Nesrine:
    If I were you, legalities and religion apart, I personally would think a hundred times before marrying a person who I couldn’t even trust enough to refrain from marrying more women later.

    Regarding the Hadith, while a lot of them might actually be a result of a long process of chinese whispers, their redundant general drift is a strong indicator that medieval Arabia was not what most Muslims would like to believe. And that Muhammad was not the ideal role model that they believe he was. I think they need to realize he was just a man, not a superhuman demi-god.

    Trusting any specific set of scholars and/or people has its upside and downside. It does save you time and effort but it also places you in the grip of their opinion.

    Do you want to compromise your own rational judgment and listen someone whose opinions might well be wrong?

    If so, go ahead and listen to the scholars. If not, choose your path for yourself. The facts are before you and I am sure you already have the answers in your head!

    People usually seek external justification for issues when they are afraid of accepting the logical conclusion their mind has come to.

    Best of luck!

  23. January 26, 2008 5:34 am

    Sam – I guess you didn’t/won’t ever ask for a pre-nup when you got/get married? Let’s be a little realistic here.

  24. Nesrine permalink
    January 26, 2008 7:12 pm

    Dawood
    Thank you for always being patient and helpful🙂

    You say that verses of Quran need to be seen as part of their history, which makes perfect sense to me. yet, I am a bit confused as to why people tend to do this only when they want to. I mean they don’t do this with issues such as hijab.

    I know that the hadith I mentioned does not have any legal value. I am asking how could muslim men have illegal sex with female captives just because they ‘missed their wives.’!!! Does that make any sense? Not to me at least.

    As to Dr Aboul Fadl’s fatwa regarding iner-faith marriage it is against ijma’ in my country. Yet, my question is, if my current situation makes me decide to take his fatwa and go against consensus?

    Achelois
    As I just said to Dawood now.. the hadith sounds crazy because it condradicts Islamic and humanistic beliefs. Having sex with women illegally? What if they got pregnant? Isn’t this act illegal??!!!

    Yeah.. you’re right I am really trying to keep my grip on the rope🙂

    Sam:
    Interesting: Trusting any specific set of scholars and/or people has its upside and downside. It does save you time and effort but it also places you in the grip of their opinion.
    How do you suggest I decide on religious matters if I am not sure? Don’t say follow your heart :(!

  25. January 27, 2008 3:34 am

    Nesrine,

    It’s more than just about following your heart. It’s about using your god given reason.

    Like Dawood said – hadith’s aren’t for those that aren’t learned in hadith. It’s about understanding the history .. what was going on at the time, how strong the hadith is and that’s why the Quran is supposed to be absolute, ie. a hadith can not take precedence over what is stated in the Quran.

    Just because a scholar makes a ruling on a matter – we are still required to use our reasoning in deciding whether we will accept the ruling. Muslims as a whole practice this reasoning all of the time .. if we didn’t we’d all be living life as it was during the time of the prophet and while some try to do exactly that – the majority of us do not. Why don’t we? – again, because we reason – because we’re required to do so by Allah, we’re urged to seek knowledge and even after the prophets death his companions used reasoning and the rest of the ummah did as well, for centuries and centuries.

    While I may go against what those that insist “this is hijab” – I’ve taken every aspect into consideration from politics to patriarchy to the cultural norms of the time and I’ve made my intention for not wearing a scarf as a submission to the will of Allah, instead of the will of man. This is what I have gotten out of my reasoning – is it correct? – the mercifull will have to be my judge.

    Anyway, I, personally do not bother myself with the hadiths that are not relative to my time. In other words – am I living in a time or world where concubinage and slavery are an issue? No, I’m not. Do those hadiths have any relavence to my life or the lives of others – no, they do not (except perhaps in very rare cases .. where the majority of us proclaim that these actions are wrong).

    If I have issues with something that I believe is occuring in my time .. then I take the issues up. In those cases I feel that we have to ask for changes, we have to be active in achieving these changes. If we don’t do this, they’ll never take place. I’m not asking for hijab to be redifined – I’m asking that my choice to not wear hijab be considered a valid choice and not just a “personal choice”. I have issues with stoning women for adultery and fornication because the Quran states to leave the repenting alone. I have issues with polygamy – because no woman should have to live that life if she doesn’t want to. I have issues with forced divorces and the list goes on. I have the right to question .. I have the right to say this is wrong .. I have the right to live my religion reasonably within a changing world and in my opinion I can do all of this through Islam. That doesn’t mean that things are going to change tommorow. I think the bigger problem is that we’ve just stopped questioning.

  26. January 27, 2008 3:51 am

    I would have to agree with Samaha 100%.

    Concubinage bothered me A LOT. It still does. I thought a lot about it; wrote a lot on it; discussed it a lot. It also upset me because I grew up thinking that sex was halal only between two people who loved each other and were married to one another. Then BAM! I found out about sex with slaves which was against their personal choice and could have been against their will. Many men had children from slaves. Umar Ibn Khattab did, Ali Ibn Talib did – even the Prophet did.

    BUT, like Samaha points out, you or I have no clue what was really happening 1400 years ago. Society was a lot different. I try not to think about it therefore. However, when I hear that there are men who still have sex with their slaves and even rape their maids today then that is when I must stand up and take notice.

  27. Sam permalink
    January 27, 2008 4:15 am

    Samaha:
    A pre-nup basically says that you don’t trust your partner even with your money, leave alone your person. It also formalizes your belief that your “love” is dependent upon, and needs enforcement by, the law of the land.

    It is pure hypocrisy to marry someone (presumably) stating that you love and trust them and simultaneously ask for a pre-nupital agreement.

    Of course, if there is no love and trust then a pre-nup is entirely understandable….

    Incidentally, Samaha, could you please do me a favour and look up how many times the word “love” appears in the Quran.🙂.

  28. Sam permalink
    January 27, 2008 4:46 am

    Nesrine:
    I would be in the same boat as the “scholars” were I to “suggest” a course of action to you.🙂.

    Personally, I would recommend not to take any single person’s (including my own) words at face value. Form your own opinions.

    Coming to your questions:
    – How is ijma’ (consensus) defined? And who defines it?
    “con·sen·sus (kn-snss) n.
    1. An opinion or position reached by a group as a whole”

    It is silly to think that Muslims or Islamic scholars are – or since Muhammad’s death – ever were, “a group”. “Consensus” is a fallacy.

    Why do you wish to choose to blanket your own opinions with the opinions of those who claim to have “consensus”?

    Why do you need to look to the scholars? Why don’t you simply drop the hijab and get married to a Christian if you feel that is right for you?

    – Can scholars base a ruling to kill someone on a hadith? … Can’t the rest of their lives be a chance for them to learn and maybe come back to Islam?

    Apostates are highly detrimental to Islam. Most Muslims realize this and go out of their way to drown out the voices of the apostates and/or help them “revert”. I think the Hadith have less to do with this than the power hungry mullahs and the mad fanatics who know that Islam needs active coercion of Muslims to prevent apostacy if it is to survive. If they didn’t have the Hadith and Quran to back them up they’ve invent something else.

    In the middle east this has taken an extreme form with death being the silencer for the poor apostates.

    – In Islam if a man or a woman commits fornication and they both sincerely repent to God, insha’allah He forgives them…. What solution does religion offer this woman when she wants to start a life and protect herself against sins?

    What is wrong with two willing people having sex?

    Why did Muhammad object to it?

    – ”Take it all or leave it all” , ” You can’ t pick and choose from Quran” , “Don’t question things. This is a test from God to know if you believe or not.” These are some of the things I heard from Sheikhs when I said I don’t want my husband to get a second wife or discipline me as advised in Quran.

    This is true. Religion is as strong as its weakest link. It is all or nothing. So if you disbelieve a single verse in the quran (eg. 4.34 which allows men to beat their wives) you disbelieve in the entire quran.

    – Who do I trust?

    Yourself.

    Cheers!

  29. dawood permalink
    January 28, 2008 9:25 pm

    Nesrine: Firstly, I would not listen much to the arguments of Sam. Someone who has to look at dictionary.com to define terms in English when Islam has its own definitions and technical terminology cannot really have much to say when it comes to din. You know Arabic – you know what ijma’ relates to, and the definitions given above, so don’t worry about that – you are smart about this stuff! The issue of you choosing to go against what you believe to be the consensus of your country is a separate issue than understanding the theory and how it works. If you feel like talking about it some more, then feel free to get my email etc. from samaha.🙂

    Why too listen to his own exegesis and interpretation of ahadith and Qur’anic ayat when he knows absolutely nothing at all about the religion, except how bad it is. This is a man who believes there is something inherently evil and wicked in Islam that is a danger to the modern world, and that people (especially children) should be ‘liberated’ from it when young. He considers parents teaching their religion to their children to be a type of child abuse. He talks about the “religious tradition” being bad – yet above to you rejects that there can be any type of consensus on issues at all – which is a complete contradiction.

    Again he asks “What is wrong with two willing people having sex?” The answer is simple: nothing. The religious tradition says absolutely nothing regarding a punishment for it when done in private, except with God. Adultery and fornication are considered punishable only if certain specific conditions are met out in society and regarding the level of proof necessary (simply, the punishments are impossible to enforce). The legal tradition aims to protect family ties, keep the bonds of the community in a good way, as do plenty of other legal traditions today, which is why extra-marital affairs are condemned. Why is adultery still frowned upon in Western society even today? Anyone who has been the hapless victim of a partner being adulterous knows quite clearly that even if you “forgive and forget”, family ties are strained, there is a trust issue and in some cases it can ruin the whole relationship – even worse if children are involved. And anyway Sam, if there is no issue about “two willing people having sex”, then what about four women willingly choosing to be married to one man? What is the issue there if they all agree and consent to it? Yet you have issues regarding polygyny which are clear. It is all the same with ‘secular’ and ‘enlightened’ middle-class white folks. Just the new face of imperialist thought, nothing more.

    The one thing I would say, Nesrine, is that always to remember that regardless of how great the Prophet and the sahaba are according to the religion, they still existed in a different time, with different minds, background and thoughts as we have today. This historical experience is a corner-stone of the religion – why was Qur’an revealed over 23yrs and bit by bit instead of all at once? Why were the verses of Qur’an responding to specific situations in the historical time of Muhammad and the earliest Muslims?

    If you look at wider history across the Middle East and Eastern Europe – concubinage, slavery, and all types of very strange things involving young boys with men and so on were commonplace all across the ‘civilised world’ at that time. Especially when talking about al-Rum and the Hellenic/Hellenistic influence from Greek and Roman thought. How can we judge someone who lived in such times with our “enlightened” modern thought that according to some rejects these completely, has problems with homosexuality and so on? Our ‘modern’ societies had to go through all of these struggles and developments to get to where we are today in the first place, so it is an accumulation of experience and development of thought.

    If you ask me, what we need to see is how events took place, how the society was in history and how when Muhammad came, the society was developed and changed gradually over time. We cannot also look at the hadith in isolation from others – was this early on or at the end of the Prophet’s life? How had the society developed since then? We also cannot look at them in isolation from the known history of the various societies at that time.

    Remember that in history (and even today all around the world!) when at war, rape, pillaging and indiscriminate killing are all tools of power used to inflict damage on the other side. Warfare is nasty business, and bad things always happen during war. In the past, taking women, non-fighting men and so on as slaves after winning a battle was commonplace – either that or everyone was killed. So we have to look at all of this in a context. I find no problem saying that we believe it is a wrong thing to do today – but in the wider context of the historical period, then it was the norm, if not slightly better than the norm. The issue of slavery too has to be seen in context – the Prophet undertook to develop the Muslims morally over time. thing of the prohibition of khamr – it did not happen in one huge step. Imagine if Muhammad had said “alcohol is completely forbidden, and all slaves should be made free!” – who among the Quraysh and other Arab tribes would have listened to his message about tawhid and Al-Rahman? They would have laughed at him. So alcohol was progressively disliked and then finally became forbidden. As too with slavery – the practice was made very difficult – the slaves were meant to be treated with respect and there were many instances when they were to be made free. Think – the kaffara (expiation) for many sins was to free a slave. Also they could “buy” their own freedom. How the history after this actually happened may not be to that ideal, but this is the human factor in all of this.

    Of course, I am sure that now Sam is back here, he will respond to this and argue some more, but all he does is blow hot air and refuse to answer the simple questions I have repeatedly asked him in other discussions.

    Ultimately, it is great that you are thinking, reading and reflecting. Just keep in mind خير الظن – look at Surat al-Duha for a great example of this. Sorry if this is too long and confused you even more – I am trying to respond to two posts in this.😛

    الله معك وصلّ على سيدنا محمد وعلى آل محمد

  30. January 30, 2008 12:10 am

    Sam – considering the divorce rate in the country – the later age at which we are marrying and taking into account that people have most likely allready gone through love relationships to understand that love and pain can go hand in hand pre-nups aren’t exactly a sign of “I don’t trust you” they are a sign of people knowing that even in the most loving relationships things can go wrong and providing security for oneself does not mean “i don’t trust you” it may mean “i’ve been hurt, i’m realistic, i’m practical”. That about sums up Muslim marriage contracts – realistic and practical.

    As for love – in Yusuf Ali’s translation – 93 times in 83 verses. Pickthal – 88 times in 81 verses. Shakir – 86 times in 77 verses.

  31. dawood permalink
    January 30, 2008 6:35 am

    Does it have to be a literal translation?

    Let’s look at one of the most well-known names of God from the Qur’an – actually two – Al-Rahman and al-Rahim. Recited in every single cycle of Muslim prayer, and multiple times throughout the day by pious Muslims before even the most seemingly mundane actions take place, such as eating, drinking, beginning a speech – even taking a single step.

    الرحمن
    الرحيم

    In the Arabic language they come from the root “rahim” (رحم), which means a mother’s womb. The connotation in using these names as the most-common description for God besides simply Allah is that the feeling of love, tenderness and mercy one experiences from a mother in regards to what is in her womb is essentially an attribute of God according to Muslim thought, except many times magnified beyond immediate comprehension by mankind.

  32. Sam permalink
    February 2, 2008 10:06 am

    Dawood, Dawood. You really are funny.

    You really could have addressed your post to me you know. What’s the worst that could happen. You’d get your arguments whacked like last time.

    Regarding dictionaries. I don’t think you need to know Arabic to be able to read Nesrine’s statement (“In Islam if a man or a woman commits fornication…”) asking about “fornication”. (Oh.. And I do know about zina). But then I guess you didn’t care so much as to read through it and the proselytizer within you jumped the gun. The point wasn’t that they were treated similarly in Medieval Arabia. The point is that we see one to be perfectly fine and one to involve a betrayal of trust today.

    Now I could choose to respond to your bigoted and malformed statements about me. But I realize that the use of “assertions” that attack the person of one that you are debating, is the mark of a defeated man. Tsk tsk…

    Anyway, just to clarify things to you (more importantly than anyone else). Islam is not a conscious entity. As such it can’t be “evil”. It is false. That is enough.

    I wouldn’t want children to be “liberated” from religious brainwashing. That statement sounds like you’ve been listening to ole Bush for longer than is good for you.

    What I do assert is that children have a right to a childhood spent without their parents shoving irrational falsities down their throat.

    “He talks about the “religious tradition” being bad – yet above to you rejects that there can be any type of consensus on issues at all – which is a complete contradiction”

    Blind belief in religious “dogma” is bad. Religious dogma can’t be “bad” by itself.

    And yes, since Muslims are a disparate set, no consensus is possible by definition.

    I don’t see the contradiction in that. But then maybe it is because I don’t have that premier education..😦 Damnit!

    Regarding my “interpretation”, I strongly suggest to anyone who reads this to form their own. I guess you didn’t quite see I had mentioned this earlier as well. Well, it is hard to get some things into the mind of one that is fixated upon a hardbound set of thoughts.

    ““What is wrong with two willing people having sex?” The answer is simple: nothing. The religious tradition says absolutely nothing regarding a punishment for it when done in private, except with God. ”

    Did I just notice a lie? Or maybe I misinterpreted the context of this verse.

    024.002
    YUSUFALI: The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

    “then what about four women willingly choosing to be married to one man? What is the issue there if they all agree and consent to it?”

    There isn’t any issue if all of them are willing.

    “why was Qur’an revealed over 23yrs and bit by bit instead of all at once?”

    You mean. Why did it take Muhammad 23 years and numerous incidents to dictate the quran bit by bit, reciting each verse as and when he needed it?

    “Why were the verses of Qur’an responding to specific situations in the historical time of Muhammad and the earliest Muslims?”

    You mean. Why did Muhammad compose a new verse as soon as a situation arose that required some (ahem) “divine” intervention?

    “Our ‘modern’ societies had to go through all of these struggles and developments to get to where we are today in the first place, so it is an accumulation of experience and development of thought.”

    Well spoken! And that is why we need to bury the past in the sands of time gone by. And MOVE ON!

    “Imagine if Muhammad had said “alcohol is completely forbidden, and all slaves should be made free!” – who among the Quraysh and other Arab tribes would have listened to his message about tawhid and Al-Rahman? They would have laughed at him.”

    Exactly! You realize Muhammad’s motives yourself. I wonder why you fail to put 2 and 2 together.

    Maybe you will some day! Maybe you won’t!😉 Either way, have a good one!

  33. dawood permalink
    February 3, 2008 9:15 am

    Troll on buddy – the fact you come on to a post where a sincere young Muslim woman is asking ostensibly academic and religious question about issues in their life – and turn it in a a debate about Islam/religion itself or a personal grudge-match against me just shows people more about yourself than anything else you could post.

  34. Sam permalink
    February 3, 2008 9:19 pm

    Whatever makes you happy my friend. Actually your post would have been more appropriate would it have been pasted right below your own last to last one. In addition to suggesting (yet again) that you don’t have answers, you highlight, yet again, your hypocrisy.

    Have a nice day…

  35. Laura permalink
    February 4, 2008 2:33 pm

    I am a married American woman. When I married my husband there was no talk, even in jest, of a pre-nuptual agreement. There was no thought that this marriage was not something that was going to be a ‘forever’ partnership. When we made this commitment to love each other ’til death do us part’ we meant it. To think of a pre-nuptual would be to not be thinking ’til death’. I couldn’t marry someone unless I was sure that I had every intention of making it work ’til death’. If something was to go drastically and irreparably wrong, after putting serious effort to repair it, there is a court to make sure that I get what is due me. Other than that. I have my education (key to have before marriage) and I’ll get on with my life and make do as best I can. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry that my husband might have a ‘right’ to marry more wives. That right there is all I need to know about Islam to know that it from man rather than from God. If it were for the benefit of women it would have been an ‘obligation’ rather than a ‘right’. There are ways for a community to take care of widows besides making them a man’s sex slave.

  36. February 4, 2008 7:23 pm

    Laura:

    “There are ways for a community to take care of widows besides making them a man’s sex slave.”

    Are you telling me that marriage makes a woman a “sex slave”? Otherwise, I’m really not quite sure how you percieve polygamy to equate to sexual slavery. You have plenty of polygamous relationships in which you have perfectly coherent, consenting adults that have chosen to be in this situation. How does this equate to sexual slavery any more than two adults who have chosen a monogomous marriage? Can I understand this choice? No, I can’t because I haven’t been raised in a culture where polygamy is practiced. However, where this is practiced – at least there is also protection offered for all of the wives and their children.

    Now, Nesrine’s question is a valid one for Nesrine because of where she lives (I’m not positive and Nesrine would have to confirm whether polygamy is legal or not in Egypt – and ) so solutions are being provided for her. You have to remember in many, many cultures you are not just marrying your spouse but you are marrying their whole family and in these types of marriages – it is very normal for the family to become involved in the marriage process. The pre-nuptial is not always necessarily something that one spouse or the other is insisting on but rather it is a contract in which the whole family is involved, looking into their child’s best interests. Since polygamy may be legal in these countries a provision of “no polygamy”, if it comes from the soon to be wife, would be a gesture of love, no?

    I’d also like for you to take a look at this:

    “Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography Of The Prophet

    In seventh-century Arabia, when a man could have as many wives as he chose, to prescribe only four was a limitation, not a license to new oppression. Further, the Quran immediately follows the verses giving Muslims the right to take four wives with a qualification which has been taken very seriously. Unless a man is confident that he can be scrupulously fair to all his wives, he must remain monogamous. Muslim law has built on this: a man must spend absolutely the same amount of time with each of his wives; besides treating each wife equally financially and legally, a man must not have the slightest preference for one but must esteem and love them all equally. It has been widely agreed in the Islamic world that mere human beings cannot fulfill this Quranic requirement: it is impossible to show such impartiality and as a result Muhammad’s qualification, which he need not have made, means no Muslim should really have more than one wife. In countries where polygamy has been forbidden, the authorities have justified this innovation not on secular but on religious grounds. — p. 191”

    Now, let’s discuss the world that you and I live in – while you and I may both have married our spouses without a prenup because “we loved them” because to do otherwise would not have been thinking “till death do us part” – what are the divorce rates in our country showing us? How many people do you think actually go into a relationship without love and “till death do us part”?

    Of course we have our safety net – called the law which gives us some rights – but would you go into it just like that knowing that you didn’t have those rights? You may have your education to fall back on even if you ended up getting a divorce and the judgement wouldn’t be fair – but how many women don’t have that? How many women have put off working in thier field to be stay at home moms because they loved their children that much and felt it was in their best interest? The woman who opted out of the “success” world for their family while the husband went on to excell in his field – take over all of their accounts and then file for divorce – leaving her without the funds to appropriate a decent lawyer. What about them? What about the woman that drops out of her second year of college, takes on three jobs as a sacrifice so that her husband can go finish law school – she can do it later when he gets a job – what about when he leaves her in his last year and she gets a shoddy judgement that leaves her having to work two jobs at the age of 30 to get a degree and still has no children that she so wants (but has to put it off from a lesson hard learned). Or do you think that only women with a degree deserve security? Think these things don’t happen? They’ve all happened to women I know.

    Patriarchy sucks, I’ll give you that, and it will use whatever tools it can to maintain itself until women take the responsiblity to overcome it. Western government was full of patriarchal laws and even still exist within some today. Let’s not kid ourselves into believing that this is an Islam problem – as I’ve pointed out in an earlier quote – you can find within Islam the abolishment of these practices as well.

  37. February 4, 2008 7:37 pm

    Sam – you quote a verse but you leave out the following verses:

    024.003 Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry and but a woman similarly guilty, or an Unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman: to the Believers such a thing is forbidden. (Dawood’s point stands because of this verse)

    and the following – which is key to establishing the guilt:

    024.004 And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;-

  38. dawood permalink
    February 4, 2008 9:25 pm

    Nesrine: Sorry for your questions remaining unanswered and being changed in to a discussion about something else entirely. Feel free to get my email from Samaha if you would like to discuss further in more detail – I don’t bite! Anyway, I hope you feel better…🙂

    Sam: Again – your intellectual jousting skills must feel incredibly high right now after the many times you have “crushed” my arguments and shown my “hypocrisy”. Yet you seem to be entirely unable to do the few simple things I have repeatedly asked of you:

    a) admit Islam is an ideology just like any other.
    b) an ideology and its imperative is defined by those who adhere to it.
    c) As I challenged you before – show me where any of these “core beliefs” from the Islamic tradition/Muslims as a whole shows Islam to be the anti-”democratic” and anti-”human” ideology that you continually assert. You cherry-pick verses and references exactly like the extremists you so hate – yet automatically tarnish anyone who looks at the religious tradition with the same muddied water. I think the above comment by Samaha clearly shows how tunnel-vision is bad in this regard.

  39. Laura permalink
    February 5, 2008 4:50 am

    ‘Are you telling me that marriage makes a woman a “sex slave”?’

    No, I’m saying that a woman who would choose to ‘share’ another woman’s man just for the financial support is prostituting herself. And I am saying that a man who would think that he is being benevolent by taking on a widow or an old maid as a second wife is doing nothing but buying himself a prostitute.

    ‘How many people do you think actually go into a relationship without love and “till death do us part”?’

    -I’m sure that there are plenty but I didn’t and wouldn’t and it is they who will suffer for it. They should know the person well and be serious about any commitments that they make. The majority of Muslim women don’t know their future husbands that well (if at all) and they rely on other people’s judgement of them.

    ‘That about sums up Muslim marriage contracts – realistic and practical.’
    – Muslim marriage IS contract. Nothing else. The woman doesn’t legally even have to be there. Muslim marriages aren’t typically about people who fell in love and wanted to make a life together. It is about people who decide that it’s time that they get themselves a spouse before they are tempted to fornicate and they put the word out for people to find them one. When you look to marriage in that cold, practical, loveless way then I guess polygamy is more acceptable.

    You know, I’d take a ill-advised American wedding and my chances in American divorce court over an Islamic one, polygamous or not, any day.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/677714.stm

    From Egypt: ‘…Previously, a woman could only get a divorce if she proved she had been beaten or that her husband was a drug addict, sterile or refused to support the family.

    Even then it could take more than a decade, while men could, and still can, divorce by simply saying so.

    Under the new law, Wafa will have to forego alimony rights and return the dowry paid at the time of marriage – a major drawback for many women… ‘

  40. Sam permalink
    February 5, 2008 8:41 am

    Samaha:

    “Sam – you quote a verse but you leave out the following verses:”

    The essential import of the original is to ordain that people who have sex before marriage should be flogged and ostracized. The following verses are merely qualifiers to the first.

    This #$%* treatment of two individuals who did nothing wrong is simply a relic of medieval Arabia. (And Heck! That treatment is #$%* even for adulterers). It is no one’s business to pry into the sexual lives of two unmarried yet willing partners.

    “024.003 Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry and but a woman similarly guilty, or an Unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman: to the Believers such a thing is forbidden.

    (Dawood’s point stands because of this verse)
    Dawood’s “point” Err.. Lie/Ignorance/Semantic fumbling was: “The religious tradition says absolutely nothing regarding a punishment for it when done in private, except with God. “

    According to his statement, I would say Dawood either strongly believes that quranic verses are not a part of “religious tradition”, or is really ignorant or is simply a liar. (Though I think it is simply because the poor chap just doesn’t want to see the #$%* of the Quran and is in denial.)

    The Quran clearly states the punishment for pre-marital sex. His point does not “stand” because of the verse.

    Also, if someone chooses to accept someone who was a fornicator or an adulterer in the past it is their life and decision. Why did your ole prophet (or as you would believe, God) have to dictate otherwise?

    “and the following – which is key to establishing the guilt:”

    Err.. There is no “guilt” in fornication. If adultery had been treated separately this definitely would have made more sense.

    “024.004 And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors.”

    Again, this verse doesn’t stand for anything merely because it clubs adultery with pre-marital sex.

    Now suppose some devout chap does chance, with four witnesses in tow, upon two unmarried people having sex in what they presumed to be a private area (aka bedroom, public washroom with faulty door latch, abandoned coal mine etc).

    Is it then right to flog the two?

    Nope… Muhammad got it wrong and I’m sure even Dawood would agree with me on this one.

    Actually I think he already did with his “The religious tradition says absolutely nothing regarding a punishment for it when done in private, except with God.” statement.

    I must admit I wouldn’t like to be in the poor chap’s shoes. It must be really hard for one so convinced of his own viewpoint to see the conflict between one’s conscience and one’s “faith”.

  41. Sam permalink
    February 5, 2008 10:04 am

    Dawood Dawood… Your attempts to escape from the questions posed to you are quite amusing (as usual, I might add)..

    Anyway… (YET AGAIN…)

    a) admit Islam is an ideology just like any other.
    Err.. That was quite the command.🙂.Islam is an ideology!
    That doesn’t obviate the fact that asserting Islam to be the “truth” is a falsity

    Here’s one from me: “a) Admit it is wrong to beat and scourge your wife even if she is disobedient, loves a good bacon and egger sandwich in the morning, pours Kahlua into her coffee, thinks that the Hadith tell the story of Porky the pig, sneakily reads Playgirl magazine in the washroom, doesn’t have sex with you despite the fact that you had a shower only two years ago (and still smell better than a camel), and to top it all even throws a massive tantrum and throws things around when you go ahead and do it with “those whom your right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to you” “.

    b) an ideology and its imperative is defined by those who adhere to it.
    Nope. Not necessary. Yet again picking from the website that seems to have become your nemesis:
    i·de·ol·o·gy
    …2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

    An ideology itself does not in any way need consensual definition.

    Here’s another from me:
    “b) Admit its wrong to flog poor ole Abdullah the unmarried and Abdullhi the unmarried despite the fact that Jaffar the slave trader, peeking Abdul, peeking Abdul the II’nd, peeking Abdul the III’rd and peeking Abdul the IV’th all had a good sneak peek of them enjoying some of the good ole in-out in their bedroom.”

    c) As I challenged you before – show me where any of these “core beliefs” from the Islamic tradition/Muslims as a whole shows Islam to be the anti-”democratic” and anti-”human” ideology that you continually assert.

    Err… You’ve been dreaming methinks. I didn’t say anti-“democratic”. I said incompatible with “Liberal Secular democracy”.

    And I don’t know what anti-“human” means. I wonder where you got that from… I did say incompatible with our current definition of human rights as enshrined in the Geneva convention.

    Legalized wife beating, fornicator and adulterer flogging, legalized slavery (and it doesn’t matter if it is merely “discouraged”) etc etc. -> Incompatible with liberal democracy and the geneva convention. I’m sure your enlightened Islam researching and infidel argument vanquishing self would know where in the Quran to find all of the above.

    And finally from me. “c) I challenge you to actually go and read the Geneva convention and look up the definition of a liberal democracy”

    d) Bonus points for asserting “The Earth is ‘spread out like a carpet’ and is not an oblate spheroid.” while you’re wearing green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade adorned with bracelets of silver and are sipping on your daily dose of Zanjabil of Salsabil…

    Yay!!!

  42. Sam permalink
    February 5, 2008 10:05 am

    Sorry for the missed after a)

  43. Sam permalink
    February 5, 2008 10:05 am

    Err… The missed italic end-tag.

  44. February 5, 2008 6:47 pm

    Laura – how do you know these women are taking on another woman’s man solely for financial support? How do you know that Muslim women who have entered into an arranged marriage do not love their husbands? Have you ever met a woman whose marriage was arranged? Just because these practices are foreign to us because we have neither witnessed them nor experienced them does not mean that we can automatically assume that these are loveless convenience marriages.

    I, for one, could never stomach the thought of an arranged marriage for myself – but it wasn’t something that was part of my culture – American or Bosnian – and I had many misconceptions about what it must be like for women in these types of marriages. It was one day that I was amongst several Muslim women and the subject of “how did your marriage go” that I realized that I was the only woman amongst the crowd that was in what was labeled “a love marriage” and apparently it was my type of marriage that was frowned upon and just as misunderstood. These were modern, successful, mostly born in the US, Muslim women. If you observed them as couples – you’d see the love, adornment, respect that they have for each other – these were couples who apparently love each other very much.

    Yes, there are many, many, cases that we hear about that are just dreadful but that doesn’t mean that we can place a blanket judgement on a practice nor that those cases are representative of what it must be like. Yes, I think that there are major issues in regards to both polygamy and arranged marriages and I think that both are on their way out.

    You might like to read these two posts: https://samaha.wordpress.com/2007/02/05/justifiable-objectification/ – there you will find links to Haleem’s blog whose blog spoke of his search for a wife, Muslim style (another eye opener for me in the whole grand scheme of arranged marriages – read the comments as well). This post from tantalize in Kuwait talks a bit about choosing a spouse and the high divorce rate in Kuwait (one of the reasons I think that arranged marriages are on their way out): http://inkaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/wisely-choosing-a-kuwaiti-spouse/

    The thing that I really don’t get though, is that you have a problem with women sharing a man and yet you still have a problem with:

    “Muslim marriages aren’t typically about people who fell in love and wanted to make a life together. It is about people who decide that it’s time that they get themselves a spouse before they are tempted to fornicate”

    Are you telling me that you have a problem with abstinence or that there is something wrong with abstinence? Is there really something wrong with saving one’s self for their spouse? Quite honestly – that you have issues with both of those things are a bit of a value trip.

    I don’t know where you live but I know that I live in a society where we can neither take care of our widows nor can we take care of our single mothers. Just what countries do we see women actually willingly prostituting themselves to multitudes of men as they strip off their clothes for a quick buck folded into their g-string (and just what kinds of women are doing this, lots of single mums – and just how did they get to be single mums?)? Yet, somehow the woman who is willing to become a second wife to a single man is the one who is prostituting herself. As you just pointed out – it’s not as though she could just get a quicky divorce and take the man for all he’s worth. No – none of this makes polygamy okay but it does show that there is no society out there that is taking the steps to take care of vulnerable women and that every society has its way of legalizing an exploitation of them.

    “You know, I’d take a ill-advised American wedding and my chances in American divorce court over an Islamic one, polygamous or not, any day. ”

    I had an Islamic wedding. It was a forty minute long contract ceremony that listed my rights, his rights, and the entitlement to divorce when those rights are violated. These were standard rights afforded me by Islam .. through the Quran .. and there were no additions. I wouldn’t be having the problems that Egyptian women have. Just because something is law in a country and it is said that those laws are Islamic – it does not mean that they are truelly Islamic – as I stated before patriarchy sucks and it will as long as it is allowed to do so continue to try and manipulate. In the grand scheme of things it isn’t that long since we as women have gained equality (and it’s still lacking) in the western world – why do you expect every culture to follow immediately in our footsteps? Obviously through your article, while the circumstances are still less than ideal, Egypt is on it’s way with reforms – change doesn’t happen overnight.

    But Laura – what I’d really like to know right now is if you don’t foresee pre-nups as becomming a normal practice here in the west – considering the divorce statistics, considering the experiences we’ve had in past relationship and the later age of getting married?

  45. February 5, 2008 7:42 pm

    Sam:

    “The essential import of the original is to ordain that people who have sex before marriage should be flogged and ostracized. The following verses are merely qualifiers to the first.”

    The thing is you can’t decide what the essential import is until you have understood them as a whole. It’s the same as taking a chapter of a book and saying that the whole chapter was about “a” which was only mentioned in the third paragraph.

    There is worldly punishment when two are found guilty – again you then have to take into consideration what constitutes finding them guilty – which in following verses it clearly states that four witnesses are required.

    I find that in the case of a public bathroom it’s public lewdity – in which case you’ll find laws the world over and in which you will find punishments for such cases – and I believe that in such cases in some areas in the US they will even publish your name in the local paper for being arrested for such (regardless of being found guity or not). In the case of a private residence, it’s highly, highly unlikely that two responsible adults would get caught in the act – which does have very very specific conditions – ie. seeing two people naked and touching does not constitute guilt of fornication or adultery – witnessing actual penetration and being able to identify the two people are a condition. All four witnesses must have seen both the penetration and the faces and there is consensus on this matter. Laws exist even within the US in which you could be found guilty of public lewdity even within the confines of what you may think to be a private situation. Try leaving your curtains open in your hotel room or your private bedroom in which an opportunity is present for someone to witness the act – you may have commited an illegal act – it is still your responsibility to assure that what you are doing is indeed completely private.

    ““024.004 And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors.”

    Again, this verse doesn’t stand for anything merely because it clubs adultery with pre-marital sex.

    That is the verse that requires four witnesses and it is the punishment for those that come up with false charges. In other words – if you have witnessed adultery or fornication – if you have no other witnesses – you better keep your mouth shut or you will be the one getting flogged. It is there to protect the honor of a woman. Your examples except in the case of a private bedroom are even in the US considered public lewdity. Do I consider public lewdity laws to be necessary? Yes – because I don’t want to nor do I want my children to stumble upon it. If you’re going to have sex in an abandoned coal mine – it’s most likely because you’re an exhibitionist – even though there’s minimal risk – there’s a risk and why should anyone have to be party to that game that didn’t want to be?

  46. Sam permalink
    February 5, 2008 10:41 pm

    Samaha:

    Your entire argument rests on it being hard to eavesdrop on people having sex in private grounds. And that it is unlikely for four witnesses to be assembled who also eavesdropped on this. This is an entirely fallacious argument.

    It is nonsensical to say that just because it is unlikely two unmarried people will be discovered having sex in a private place, that it will not happen at all. Who will prevent the miscarriage of justice in those cases?

    1. What if people (the fundamentalists) actively look for such incidents?
    2. The witnesses don’t need to be physically present. What if a sharia based government has installed spy cams all over the place? (I guess Muhammad missed this one eh!)
    3. What if the two rent a motel room with a faulty door latch and our group of zealous five troops right in by mistake?
    4. What if two unmarried people invite five (staunchly fundamentalist) friends over for the weekend and the friends hear what is going on and discover the two having sex in their own bedroom?
    etc etc… There are millions of possibilities.

    More importantly, unless you assume that the “defendant” fornicators are also liars, your entire thesis breaks down.

    Suppose one of the partners personally admits to having pre-marital sex. Is it ok to flog him/her?

    What happens if one is a truthful masochist (or feels guilty due to the 21 years of brainwashing he was subjected to) and wants to be flogged but the other doesn’t want to be flogged and is willing to lie?

    Unless you personally state that you support flogging fornicators, your support for this verse stands on entirely fallacious grounds.

    And incidentally let me pick up a small quote from your reply to Laura…

    “How do you know that Muslim women who have entered into an arranged marriage do not love their husbands?”
    Enough don’t. I have met Muslims who voluntarily entered into an arranged married (for some reason) and admit to there being no love ever in their marriage. Yes there is “respect and companionship” but that is pointless in the absence of love methinks…

    And that leaves alone the plentiful news reports about forced marriages.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4740871.stm
    BBC says the figure is about 300 in the UK alone and I would eat my hat if this isn’t underinflated by a factor of atleast 100.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/1xtra/tx/forced_marriages.shtml
    Here is a documentary:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/1xtra/realmedia/documentaries/forcedmarriage.ram

    “what I’d really like to know right now is if you don’t foresee pre-nups as becomming a normal practice here in the west – considering the divorce statistics, considering the experiences we’ve had in past relationship and the later age of getting married?

    Heh? Did you take a look at the divorce statistics?
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8P1MG601&show_article=1
    Divorce rates have been steadily declining since 1981 and are at their lowest levels since 1970.

    This is because more people opt to live in and “fornicate” which is fine. The ones that do take the plunge are more likely to be the ones that love, trust and care about each other which is why more of them stay together.

    Contrary to what you think, divorce rates fall if there is no society pressure to get married and if marriage is not a social contract.

    I think this was Laura’s point. A lot of Muslims are forced into marriage by various reasons including their own sexual drive, their families, culture, peer-pressure etc etc… There’s more to the rising divorce rate in Kuwait than you would think…😉

  47. Laura permalink
    February 5, 2008 11:50 pm

    “how do you know these women are taking on another woman’s man solely for financial support?”

    -because that is the reason that polygamy is allowed so that there would not be women left without a man to support them. Are you suggesting that it was allowed strictly for the men’s pleasure?

    I am quite sure that there are women who entered into arranged marriages and then later fell in love with their husbands. If they did not know them before the marriage they could not have loved them at the time of the marriage. That was what I was saying. I do know a few couples that are in marriages that were arranged and I do not find them ideal in any way. I don’t see the same love that my husband and I share and I know that they have fantsized about falling in love and being courted. I know of at least one where the husband has had affairs and others I find the women very jealous and insecure.

    I can’t say that I have a problem with abstinence, that is a person’s choice, but I don’t think that sex is a good reason to hurry into a marriage. I don’t find anything wrong with people who choose not to save themselves for their spouses though. Again, it’s their personal choice and hopefully, whatever they choose will work out to be right for them.

    I live in a society where widows and single mothers have the ability to ensure their independence and, as a matter of fact, I know widows, divorcees and single women that are all very capable of taking care of themselves and do quite well. That is the ideal. Those who are stripping for dollars in their G-strings are doing it because that is how they ‘chose’ to make their living. They are not at all forced into doing that. The women who choose to marry a man who already has a wife just so that they can have the security of a husband are taking the easy way out. Why don’t they get an education and a job and support themselves like the single women I know? No woman wants to share her lover. Well, maybe a rare one will for her own personal reasons, but in general people in a love relationship do not want to share that love with another.

    To answer your question, no, I do not see pre-nups becoming the norm. They are for wealthy people with businesses or other assets that they want to protect in the case of divorce. What kind of pre-nup would a normal couple just starting out make? How much money did you get in your prenup? Where is it? Do your parents have it stored away for you or is it a part of your family assets? Is it enough for you to buy a house and live off of in case you divorce? Would you still get it if you decided that you just can’t live with your husband anymore? Will your father take you back into his home? Is that what you would want after living in your own home? Or would you rather have all the assets that you and your husband have aquired over the years be divided up equally between you?

  48. dawood permalink
    February 6, 2008 4:29 am

    Dear me Sam… seems like I have hit a bit of a raw nerve there. What do we have – classic Orientalist material regarding hygeine standards of Muslims, another mention of camels, slavery as well as classic profiling regarding names. This is why I find it very hard to believe that you have actual met or been around Muslims at all. Nothing but prejudicial and racist garbage – now perhaps Nesrine and others can understand why I advised her against listening to your whining.

    Why do you continue to perform your own exegesis when your problem is Islam itself – as in – Islam as practiced and understood by Muslims?

    All I am doing is simply reporting how the legal and exegetical tradition in Islam works as it is my area of study and focus as a historian. The fact that you get angry at me simply shows how little you understand about the religious and legal tradition you feel able to and obliged to criticize at all costs.

    And as much as you play with my wording of your points re: democracy, child education and so on my points still stand – you see Islam as an uber-enemy of all you seem to hold dear yet cannot answer my simple questions that I repeatedly ask you to clarify. Specifically, regarding what – as you yourself mentioned – in the core of Islam exists to make it so. This is a big claim and is thus far unsubstantiated.

    Slavery is no longer a norm for Muslims – this is something you really need to get over. We don’t have an epidemic of non-Muslim slaves in Muslim countries these days. Stop fantasizing about the Other and deal with the reality – not all Muslims are called Abdullah, have camels, and most certainly wash more than a few times a year. Some even five times a day. Even on this blog – hosted by a Bosnian Muslim – most likely as blonde and blue-eyed as they come. More suited to Miami or Bondi beach than connected to the madrassa wearing a full-face covering.

    Your racist rhetoric and crass characterizations of Muslims simply shows your own agenda ever more clearly for others reading, and also shows your lack of knowledge regarding the religious and legal tradition and simply history.

  49. Sam permalink
    February 6, 2008 7:57 am

    Hahaha… Oh man! You are really funny Dawood. I can imagine you going purple over the silly joke. Don’t hyperventilate man. It ain’t worth that.

    Let me see approximately how our discussions go:

    Dawood: Tell me what is common to all Muslims?
    Sam: The immutable component of Islam that all Muslims share is the divinity of the Quran and the five pillars.

    Dawood: You haven’t answered my question. What is the core of Islam?
    Sam: The immutable component of Islam that all Muslims share is the divinity of the Quran and the five pillars. Incidentally do you oppose wife beating?

    Dawood: You are a racist. You have never met Muslims. And you still haven’t told me what is the basis of Islam. I’ll never answer your question unless you tell me that.
    Sam: The immutable component of Islam that all Muslims share is the divinity of the Quran and the five pillars. Allright. Lets see, do you support flogging fornicators?

    Dawood: You are crass and hate Islam and generalize the actions of some Muslims. And you are denying the fact that there is no common thread between all Muslims.
    Sam: The immutable component of Islam that all Muslims share is the divinity of the Quran and the five pillars. Dawood, sincerely, either there is something wrong with you or you are just hell bent on evading any question posed to you.

    As for racism. You are the one who introduces the racist tinge to the issue here. I never mentioned race anywhere and it was you whose racist bent of mind is so focused on correlating Islamic names and camels with what is presumably a small ethnic part of the much larger Muslim community.

    Muslim doesn’t mean Arab or middle-eastern, get over it. There are more Muslims in south Asia than in all of the middle east. And there ain’t too many camels there.

    Are you suggesting there is no white person who bears the name Abdullah, Jaffer or Abdul? For if you are, you’re sadly mistaken.

    Are you suggesting no white Christian owns a camel? For if you are, you’re sadly mistaken.

    Whether slavery is practiced or not is not the point here. It is the fact that according to the Quran any Muslim can’t raise an objection to slave driving during war.

    The moot point was the problem of the Quran sanctioning wife beating, slavery, thief hand chopping, fornicator flogging etc.. You ran away from it by weaving a tale of racism where there was none. It doesn’t really matter since I know you have no answers….

    Islam is incompatible with liberal secular democracy and the geneva convention.

    You really have to cook up a lot of bullshit just for some green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade adorned with bracelets of silver, and your very own supply of Zanjabil of Salsabil…

    I sincerely hope it is as good for you as they say it is!

    And heck… Maybe the Earth does look like a ‘spread out carpet’ from up there… Let me know, I’m still inclined to think it is an oblate spheroid.

  50. dawood permalink
    February 7, 2008 1:38 am

    Sam, mate, if the core of Islam that you find so evil and against “liberal secular democracy” and human rights “as enshrined in the Geneva convention” is that Muslims believe in the revelatory nature of the Qur’an, believe in God, prayer, charity, fasting and making a pilgrimage once in a lifetime if able – then you are even more out there than I imagined. I can’t for the life of me understand why you come to an obviously Muslim (and Islam related) blog and begin posting all of this on a thread when a sincere believing Muslim woman was asking technical questions relating to her religious heritage.

    As I asked in the original question (months ago) which you again skip and have the gall to accuse me of evading questioning – which aspects of this inviolable “core” you talk about makes Islam and its adherents (i.e. every day believing Muslims) so antithetical to you and all you hold dear? It was me who brought up the five pillars and aspects of creed central to Islamic belief and not you in the first place!😀

    I am a historian by training who deals with Islamic legal history. The way you enshrine the text of the Qur’an as “divine” is not how Muslim scholars have seen it and used it throughout history. Check any exegesis or study on the Muslim exegetical tradition. Yes, they believe every word and every letter was revealed to Muhammad, but that does not make the Islamic imperative static and unchanging in the least. What makes you feel that you have anything but the most tenacious grasp regarding the religion and religio-legal tradition that you somehow feel compelled to comment on and argue against? If so, why don’t you rely on accepted scholarship and specialists in these areas to inform your thought? Academia has plenty of work on these areas for you to peruse in journals, as theses or as books.

    My own personal opinions on this issue and that which you asked above are entirely unimportant as you are denigrating an entire religious tradition and its adherents. But just to indulge you: Yes, I disagree with wife-beating and with verbal and domestic abuse of any kind – either from the husband to wife or vice-versa. And no, I don’t support flogging fornicators either. Will you answer my questions now or continue running away?

    Your pointless twisting of my words in order to ‘rebut’ something I have said and provoke further argument does nothing but attempt to cover the fact that you cannot answer the question(s) I have asked you repeatedly.

    I am quite happy to discuss Islamic jurisprudence and law relating to the areas of fornication, adultery, slavery, polygamy and so on – but you quite obviously are not or else you would not be posturing like this. Instead you would rather quote random Qur’anic verses copied and pasted from online whilst ignoring the technical traditions of law and exegesis which have informed Muslims of the intents and aims of their religious law since its inception – including work in English on this by both Muslim and non-Muslim academics. Like I said, your complete ignorance of Islamic history – and especially the last 150-200 years from the colonial period onwards is clearly obvious.

    This posturing and arguing ignores the real issue of shari`a and modern law in the Middle East (and beyond – every Muslim majority country). As the extremists keep saying – there is no country on earth which “applies shari`a” – definitely not in the way they or you understand. So why are you quoting Qur’anic verses in the first place? No one uses them today to derive actual law. The modern Middle East has secular civil codes and has done for many years; the legislative judges are secular and mostly come from a lineage of study in British common law and French civil law. Most Middle Eastern countries have had Civil Codes since the 1940’s and parliaments since at least then! Yes they may look at the Islamic heritage but this is because religion still has pervasive and moral influence among the common people. Why do you think the autonomy of religious scholars waned in the early 20th century to be replaced by government-paid positions?

    There has been no systematic attempt to codify and apply the shari`a on any real level – it is just a pipe-dream of angry men who are dissatisfied by their governments and seek a utopia. The only systematic process of this was in 1876 during the Ottoman era, and a handful of Islamic and comparative law scholars in the 40’s and 50’s; their corpus of work is nothing like you imagine “shari`a” to be at all, specifically because they were not “Islamist” in orientation, but there has not been anything major done since then apart from utopiac notions.

    For all your posturing about the rights of women, human rights and the like – quoting random religious texts and discussing like you know all there is to know about the religious tradition is not actually doing anything about it. Certainly not helping those women who do need help throughout the world. It is a mere (quasi-)intellectual exercise.

  51. Sam permalink
    February 8, 2008 8:38 am

    So let me summarize the main points you present:

    1. You state that the Quran is mutable.

    2. You state that it is not only logical, but (for all practical purposes) a requisite for Muslims and non-Muslims to comply with the reasoning and opinions of the ‘scholars’ and ‘specialists’.

    3. You deny individuals the right to interpret religion for themselves.

    4. You disagree with parts of the Quran but feel that criticism of the very same parts constitutes, “denigrating an entire religious tradition and its adherents”.

    5. You are silent about the question of what happens when the ‘scholars’ and the ‘specialists’ extol fanaticism.

    6. You state that “No one uses Quranic verses to derive actual law” – quite oblivious of:
    “Quran: The most sacred book and the primary source of legislation.”
    http://www.al-islam.com/eng/ (Saudi Arabia’s official Islamic Ministry)

    Of course there are many more…. And you expect to be taken seriously… Come on…

    7. Curiously; you seem to remain silent about your personal beliefs as much as is possible. While I doubt you would be fain to admit it, I think you do this to preclude a more direct undermining of your assertions. Were you a Muslim, you would have to bear the burden of defending Islam not just in principle, but in person as well. Simply put you probably feel that your beliefs undermine your rationality and/or your ability to project an air of reason.

    8. Also, you suggest I think Islam is “evil”.
    ~While you might be wont to use the word ‘evil’, the word doesn’t exist in my lexicon. I shall stick with ‘false’ – that alone is enough.

    More importantly, I did concede quite a few times that Islam has its uses even up to this day. It provides a mental crutch to more than a few people who might not be able to maintain their sanity in the event of its falsity being exposed. I wouldn’t want to rob them of their ignorance.

    Finally:

    My main point of contention with Islam is the fact that the dogmatic culture that has evolved under its aegis is quite prone to spawning decentralized collectivist xenophobia, fundamentalism and (to a lesser degree) violence. Now I do believe that this culture will probably evolve with time and grow out of the phase it is currently in. But I also feel that presenting the fallacy of a dogmatic belief in Islam to Muslims helps push things in that direction by forcing Muslims and non-Muslims alike to question the basis of the Islamic ideology.

    As for being incompatible with liberal democracy and the geneva convention, we have direct Quranic sanction for wife beating, instutionalized infidel hatred, thief hand-chopping, fornicator flogging, etc etc etc… How many more times will I have to write about this before it filters down into your brain?🙂

    All I wish to do here is to help ensure that people who are capable of thinking freely are presented with an alternative viewpoint – one that exposes the falsity of propounding theocratic beliefs as the ‘truth’.

    Cheers!

    PS: Nesrine’s probably having a good laugh at this little “discussion” and hopefully even might learn a lesson or two, specifically that of thinking for oneself. That is qualitatively far more than what she would have got out of reading a long winded theological monologue that was laced with bullshit. Don’t take it so hard…..

  52. Laura permalink
    February 16, 2008 2:09 pm

    Samaha,
    I noticed that you have not answered my questions. Were they not valid?

  53. February 19, 2008 6:47 pm

    Laura – quite honestly – I’m not here defending polygamy or arranged marriages. I as well have issues with both subjects .. the difference is that I’m not willing to take my life and that which is “normal” to me and decide that is what should be “normal” to everyone else .. nor do I take my upbringing and my experiences and allow that to shut a door on understanding that which is different. So, what I’m doing here is more of an excercise in arguing rather than actually doing something productive .. by product I mean something that I can learn from rather than playing devil’s advocate half heartedly to subjects that I have issues with.

    But if you insist on me pointing out some inconsistencies:

    “Those who are stripping for dollars in their G-strings are doing it because that is how they ‘chose’ to make their living. They are not at all forced into doing that. The women who choose to marry a man who already has a wife just so that they can have the security of a husband are taking the easy way out. Why don’t they get an education and a job and support themselves like the single women I know? ”

    So a woman who chooses to strip for a dollar is making a choice but the woman who chooses to become a second, third or fourth wife for security is taking the easy way out. They’re both taking the easy way out – through choice. You either believe in choice or you don’t. It’s that simple.

    “What kind of pre-nup would a normal couple just starting out make?”

    Since marriages are now occuring at later and later ages – many singles own thier own homes, have stock portfolios, 401k’s, not so piddly savings accounts. This is what I’ve seen as normal with my family and friends – so why should they risk any of that?

    “How much money did you get in your prenup?”

    None. I refused a dowry.

    “Where is it?”

    N/A

    “Do your parents have it stored away for you or is it a part of your family assets?”

    N/A

    “Is it enough for you to buy a house and live off of in case you divorce?”

    N/A

    “Would you still get it if you decided that you just can’t live with your husband anymore?”

    Even if I had accepted a dowry (which could have been a promisory note on my husband’s side) it isn’t applicable as I would have to obide by US laws and we allready know that even pre-nups aren’t set in stone.

    Will your father take you back into his home?

    Yes he would (if he was still with us). (are you making an assumption that Muslim fathers wouldn’t take their own daughters back in – that’s quite an assumption)

    “Is that what you would want after living in your own home?”

    Quite honestly, I have always been close with my parents, I’m quite social and would probably enjoy the company and even before marriage I had independence even while under their roof. (different cultures have stronger family ties than we do in the US – the dynamic of the nuclear family is rapidly deteriorating here in the US – why do we assume that it would be a preference for people of other cultures to live alone) Either way, I wouldn’t be required to move back in with them.

    “Or would you rather have all the assets that you and your husband have aquired over the years be divided up equally between you?”

    But that’s the point – that’s how the system works HERE – in different societies the system works differently and you are all aghast that people would use the system to secure themselves in the event of the unforeseen.

  54. Laura permalink
    February 22, 2008 4:25 pm

    ‘They’re both taking the easy way out – through choice. You either believe in choice or you don’t. It’s that simple.’

    Huh? You are saying that supporting yourself (stripping or any other job) is the same as being supported in the demeaning place of the 2nd to 4th wife?

    ‘Quite honestly, I have always been close with my parents, I’m quite social and would probably enjoy the company and even before marriage I had independence even while under their roof’

    That’s you personally, not everyone feels the same way as you. Even in that utopian world that you speak of with the stronger family ties there are women just dying to have choices and autonomy but they can’t. I was not assuming that a muslim father would not take his daughter in. I know that that is what Islam calls for. The woman is always taken care of by a man. First her father or brothers then her husband and if she not longer has a husband it will be back to her father or brothers or even her son. Maybe that wasn’t the way that you were brought up but that IS what is the Islamic way. I prefer autonomy and choices.

    ‘in different societies the system works differently and you are all aghast that people would use the system to secure themselves in the event of the unforeseen.’

    I’m not sure I know what you mean here. The only system I am aghast about is the one that does not leave the mature woman with independence in the case of divorce or the death of her husband.

    You had been asking whether pre-nups would become the norm since people are marrying at later ages with more assets. I don’t think so if we are talking about first marriages. I think when you marry someone everything that is yours becomes theirs and everything that is theirs becomes yours. If someone has a problem with that then they shouldn’t be marrying the person.

    ‘we allready know that even pre-nups aren’t set in stone’

    Which makes me wonder why you would think that they might become the norn.

  55. February 22, 2008 6:02 pm

    Laura,

    What I’m saying is that in both cases – the woman who chooses to strip and the woman who chooses to become a second, third, fourth wife are both in a situation where they are taking the easy way out within the framework that their society provides them – in some cases – in other cases it also shows in regards to both of those actions ways in which both societies are able to take advantage of women (as, yes, in both cases a woman may find it to be her only economically suitable choice because neither society has provided a way to take care of the single/divorced/widowed wife/mother).

    Yes, those may be my personal feelings on the matter but the point is that not everyone feels the need to live in isolation – not even a woman who has had independence, is allowed it, is encouraged it and furthermore, autonomy does not necessarily equate to independence. Living with one’s parents does not necessarily mean that independence is relinquished.

    Additionally, you make too many assumptions in regards to what is Islam. The whole point of the contract marriage is to allow a woman to be able to live (comfortably) in the case of her husband’s death or divorce so that she may live independently if she so chooses to do so – the whole point of the contract is to protect the woman (considering the historical taking advantage of women in the time). The whole point of women’s inheritence in the Quran is about providing for women – giving them equality and independence. The whole reason that we have Islamic Jurisprudence is because as times change, necessities change, society changes, norms change .. and this is why we have jurists and scholars that study the hadiths and the Quran (you may want to read the last few paragraphs of my Zina post to see how views are changing in regards to that). Also, you are on a thread in regards to a girl from Egypt and I can assure you that she has independence right now .. that she is going to be able to provide for herself and she will not have to depend on any man – her husband, her father, her brother to take care of her in any case and this is normal in Muslim countries.

    Now, I agree with you that there are women out there that are taken advantage of and that men in certain societies are finding ways to take advantage of them by claiming that this is “Islamic”. However, in those same societies you have women that are still independent and their families support them in this regard. You have in every Muslim country NGOs that are working hard to put an end to these practices and they can do so within an Islamic framework in other words they are using Islam to come to the same conclusions that you and I do. We can not continue to keep labeling certain cultural, patriarchal practices as Islamic when women and men in these societies do not believe these practices to be Islamic. We can not keep looking at the Saudi Arabian and Iranian laws and deem them “Islam” while the rest of the Muslim world (which makes up a greater precentage of Muslims) does not apply them. Even moreso, the Saudi and Iranian citizens themselves are actively trying to bring change. So, yes, there needs to be change and it’s our responsibility to demand these changes (more mine than yours) but to blame a religion for cultural, patriarchal practices and dictatorial, oppressive regime’s laws is non-productive to the cause especially when that religion provides the necessary framework to bring about fair and just changes.

    “The only system I am aghast about is the one that does not leave the mature woman with independence in the case of divorce or the death of her husband. ”

    But .. that’s the point .. the marriage contract is supposed to be able to do that – it’s just different from what you are accustomed to.

    “I think when you marry someone everything that is yours becomes theirs and everything that is theirs becomes yours. If someone has a problem with that then they shouldn’t be marrying the person.”

    And I think that since people are marrying at later ages, have had other experiences with being in love and everything that can go wrong .. that that type of thinking is long gone. Moreso, we’d have to look at why they are even getting married – is it to start a family, is it because they are getting older and just want to settle down. I think that these days that the reasons for getting married may just have moved beyond love (not saying that they aren’t getting married to people out of love .. just saying that maybe the drive to start a family was a greater motivation, the fear of ending up alone, tired of the chase). Yes, pre-nups may not be set in stone but I think most couples will still think of it as a safety net.

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