Qur'anic Roots of the Shari'a, 5
WHAT A WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
BEFORE SHE MARRIES A MUSLIM
The position of women,
marriage and divorce
according to the Qur'an
All Rights reserved
031 - Version 19.6.2003
English Title: What a Woman should know about Islamic Marriage ...
German Title: Was eine Frau όber die islamische Ehe wissen sollte ...
Weirton, WV 26062 USA
In Europe, more and more liberal Christians accept Islam. Many of them are young women who converted to Islam before or after marrying a Muslim.
Not all Muslims think and believe the same. Among them there are honorable husbands who live better than their law orders them to. But as soon as they return to their home country they are subject to the customs of their clan which are influenced and formed by the commandments of the Qur'an.
It is necessary for any non-Muslim to know the marriage regulations of the Qur'an, before he or she gets married to a Muslim partner.
The jurists of the four Islamic schools of law have selected 72 legally relevant verses from the Qur'an which determine the position of the woman and the rules of marriage. Added to these are 38 other verses that serve as the basis for divorce.
Those 110 verses in the Qur'an represent the backbone of the law of marriage in Islam. About a fifth of all legally relevant verses in the Qur'an deal with the relationship between husband and wife. This shows that the problems of marriage remain an urgent topic in Islamic jurisdiction in all centuries.
The Position of Husband and Wife in Islam
The Qur'an points out that Allah created mankind out of one single soul (person) (Sura al-Nisa' 4:1). The name of Adam is not mentioned in this verse, but it appears 25 times in the Qur'an. Allah is said to have created a female partner for him out of himself. Her name is not mentioned in the Qur'an at all, which indicates her evaluation in relation to her husband. Man is the origin according to the Qur'an, woman is something that came after.
All the women mentioned in the Qur'an, except Maryam, 'Isa's mother, are not called by their own names, but only as the wives of their husbands. In the Qur'an, their names are unimportant. Their identity embedded in their husbands. In Saudi Arabia girls and women are not registered at their birth and death. They only receive a passport to travel when they accompany their husbands abroad.
Muslims emphasize that Allah first created Adam and not Eve (hawwa). She is said to have been created from him, and not he from her. The man's predominance is derived from the story of the Creation. Through those two people Allah is said to have created all men and women.
In the same Sura we read: Men stand above women, because Allah preferred one to the other and because they (the men) spent from their money for them (at their marriage and for their support). The good ones (of the women) are modest and have preserved the hidden values which Allah preserve (Sura al-Nisa' 4:34).
This verse confirms the predominance of man in Islam as a divine predestination. No modern women's movement in Islamic countries can change this determination. Commentators of the Qur'an explain:
A man is stronger than a woman according to his muscular strength.
A lion with his majestic mane is more splendid than a lioness.
A man is faster than a woman, as all sports competitions prove.
Men are more intelligent than women, since the testimony of two Muslim women equals that of one Muslim man in legal cases (Sura al-Baqara 2:282).
Men are richer, since they pay the bridal dowry, and in Paradise there live far more men than women because men fear Allah more and fight for him with weapons!
The Qur'an explicitly states that men possess more rights and reputation than women in the Islamic society do because they rank one step higher (Sura al-Baqara 2:228c). In the same verse men are called gods and owners of their wives (bu'ulātahunna), a fact which influences all sides of their lives.
Wives are seen as the clothing of their husbands, just as the husbands are understood as the clothing of their wives (Sura al-Baqara 2:187). They are to cover each other's problems and weaknesses.
A wife is also called a ploughed field into which the husband shall sow his seed. This fact is repeated in the Qur'an in the following words: Menstruation is a misery. Therefore keep away from your wives during their menstruation and do not go to them before they are clean (again). After they have cleansed themselves go to them as Allah has commanded you to do. Truly, Allah loves those who return (to their wives) and he loves those who have cleansed themselves. The wives are for you a ploughed field. Go to your field whenever you like and send good gifts before you and fear Allah! (Sura al-Baqara 2:222-223).
These verses speak for themselves. A wife is not asked whether she is able to serve her husband or not. She has to submit to his demands. Islam means surrender as well as submission by free will or by force!
The rights of a woman in society are limited by the Qur'an: In legal cases take two witnesses from your men. In case there are no two men present, then take a man and two women, whom you can accept as witnesses. Two women shall be called instead of one man, so that one of them shall remind the other one of the correct circumstances (Sura al-Baqara 2:282).
When an inheritance is distributed the discrimination of the woman is repeated: She will get only half of what a man inherits, a sister half of what the brother receives, and a girl half of what a boy inherits (Sura al-Nisa' 4:11-13, 176).
When revenge will be carried out, it must be done in the following way: A man for a man, a slave for a slave, and a woman for a woman (Sura al-Baqara 2:178). In that verse a woman is mentioned only after a male slave!
Summarizing those verses, one can comprehend that in Islam a woman is worth only half a man. All good talks about the emancipation of the Islamic woman will be crushed again and again by the definite statements of the Qur'an. Those verses can be twisted by liberal commentators, or explained in an opposite way, or are reinterpreted by verses from the Qur'an that favor women, but the fact remains that these verses mentioned above determine the position of the woman in Islam in an unambiguous way. Muhammad confirmed and deepened those principles by his oral traditions and by his way of living.
A Man and his Blood Relatives in Relation to his Wives
In the Qur'an there are several verses which make clear the relationship between a man and his parents which come close to the commandments in the Bible (Suras Luqman 31:14; al-Ahqaf 46:15 among others). A Muslim must be good and generous towards his parents, must thank Allah for the mercy given to him and his parents, and do what is right in order to receive Allah's and his parents' satisfaction. If he has not done so far, he shall repent and become a true Muslim.
A man shall fear and honor his blood relatives directly after Allah because they rank right after him (Sura al-Nisa' 4:1). The closest relatives, his parents, brothers, sisters, the brothers of his father and the sons of his siblings are closer to him than even believing Muslims! Blood relationship is more binding than the duty to the Islamic people (Umma) (Sura al-Ahzab 33:6)!
The Qur'an does not determine anything regarding the relationship between the wives of a Muslim and his blood relations. The wives of a Muslim rank after his blood relations and after his religious community. A Muslim hardly has an obligation to the families of his wives. His own clan guarantees his protection, assistance and security (Sura al-Ahzab 33:6).
A wife, however, rises in the respect of the clan when she gives birth to many sons. Then she will be respected, receives consideration and thanks. Her position as a woman remains low, only her position as a mother of sons will give her power in the house.
Adam and his Wife In the Bible
According to the second story of the Creation in the Bible, the Lord let Adam fall into a deep sleep, took a rib from him and formed his wife out of it. Adam called her woman because she was taken from him, the man, and corresponded to him.
The Jewish rabbis taught: "The Lord did not take the rib from the head of the man, so that she should not reign over him. He did not take it from the legs of the man either, so that she should not walk all over him. But he took it from his side, so that she should be around him, clothe him, complete and assist him. She shall be an equal partner to him and shall overcome the problems of their life together with her husband. Both belong together as a unit. Therefore Adam first called her woman!"
In opposition to the custom in Semitic clans, husband and wife shall not be integrated in the husband's clan, but shall leave the husband's clan for good and build their own family (Genesis 2:22-23).
The Rights of the Husband in an Islamic Marriage
The Qur'an specifies the rights and duties of the husbands as well as those of the wives in the marriage of a Muslim.
Polygamy is one of the basic rights of all Islamic men (except in Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco). When Muhammad had to bury 70 fallen Muslims after the Battle of Uhud, he faced the problem who should look after the numerous widows and orphans. Therefore he let Allah reveal to him:
If you are afraid of not being just towards the orphans (and the widows), then marry of the women, whatever you think is good: one and two and three and four! But if you are afraid of not being just towards all of them in an equal way, then marry only one, or what your right hands possess (as regards female slaves). That is the nearest way, so that you will not act unjustly. (Sura al-Nisa' 4:3)
This revelation which changed the culture of a fifth of the world population did not remain a temporary solution after a lost battle, but changed the defeat of the Muslims into their greatest victory. Islam is growing faster than any other religion by their surplus of births. However, this key verse from the Qur'an contains several problems:
First, the text does not literally say "one or two or three or four", but one and two and three and four! But the threefold "and" is interpreted as "or" by the commentators, because otherwise each Muslim could marry up to ten women! But for such a number all women would not be sufficient in Islamic countries.
The Qur'an speaks of "just" behavior of the husbands towards their wives which means rooms to live in, clothing, household money, gifts, and intercourse. These privileges are watched Argus-eyed by each of the husband's wives in the other ones, so that no one should be preferred. That also concerns clothing, schooling and the outfit of each wife's children. Conflict is programmed by jealousy among the women in every harem. Therefore Muhammad said: If you are afraid of not being able to look after them equally, then only "one"! Liberal Muslims interpret this subordinate sentence as a proof that Muhammad always wanted only monogamy!!
The solution for a young or not so wealthy Muslim could be his right to marry slaves. Whether he legally marries one or more free women his slaves are always under his disposition, especially if they are attractive teenagers (Sura al-Nisa' 4:3.6 among others). There are only few limits set to the desire of a Muslim in his right to concubines. In addition to that, slaves are not called "people" in the Qur'an but objects or things only.
A Muslim has the right to marry any Jewish or Christian woman besides his Muslim wives (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:5).
He can marry the wives of his adoptive sons, just as Muhammad himself demonstrated it with Zainab b. Jahsh, the wife of his adopted son Zaid (Sura al-Ahzab 33:37). That verse claims that Allah himself married her to him because it was predestined. This is considered as a special grace of Allah!
Strangely, the Qur'an talks several times about the exchange of wives (Suras al-Nisa' 4:20-21; al-Ahzab 33:52; al-Tahrim 66:5). Here, commentators explain that Muslims can legally divorce their wives and then exchange them by marrying the divorced wives of the other man. From Saudi Arabia, however, rumors speak about the exchanging of foreign concubines as a common custom.
A temporal marriage (mut'a) is strictly refused by the Sunnites, although the Qur'an mentions it (Sura al-Nisa' 4:24). The Shiites execute this right; a man and a woman can get married for a certain time, even if it is only for one hour. Children from such a temporal marriage always belong to the man who can take them with him when he returns years later.
When you think about polygamy in Islam and the additional rights of Muslim men you can think that this is permanent adultery sanctioned by religion. The Bible testifies to monogamy where one man and one woman shall be one unit in soul, spirit and body until death parts them (Genesis 2:18.24; Matthew 19:5-6; Mark 10:2-12; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11; Ephesians 5:21-33 among others). Such a unit in spirit, soul and body is unknown in Islam, because a husband has to love all his wives equally. Here is a basic difference between Islam and Christianity, which cannot be fathomed logically alone (Ephesians 5:32).
The right of a Muslim to beat his disobedient wife is the last proof of superiority of man in Islam: If you fear their obstinacy, preach them. (If they do not obey) avoid them in the marital bed. (If they go on in their stubbornness), beat them! As soon as they are obedient again, do not act against them any more. Allah is sublime and great! (Sura al-Nisa' 4:34).
This order in four steps given by Allah is interpreted by several commentators in a way that beating is only allowed when a wife is suspected to intend adultery. But in the Qur'an the word nudjus or nadjasa (bodily and moral impurity) is not found here, but the word nuschuz (enmity and rebellion)! In Islam, a husband can rule over his wife. She has to obey him and her mother-in-law. Her will can be bent or broken by force.
If a husband and his wife are willing to reconcile with each other, the man has better rights to start or accept the reconciliation (Sura al-Baqara 2:228).
The exaggerated dominance of the husband in the Islamic marriage appears also in his right to sexual intercourse whenever he wants or is able to it (Sura al-Baqara 2:223). The Qur'an does not speak about the wish and will of the wife (except her protection during the menstruation).
In Ramadan, the month of fasting, the Muslim has the right for sex with his wives, as long as the sun does not shine (Sura al-Baqara 2:187).
The Marital Duties of a Muslim
Allah does not allow a man to prefer one of his wives. At the same time, however, Muhammad confesses that it will be impossible to love all wives with the same intensity. Therefore he suggests to give a special reward to the neglected one, so that she should keep quiet (Suras al-Nisa' 4:129; al-Tahrim 66:1 among others)! Obviously this verse contradicts the basic understanding of Islamic polygamy (Sura al-Nisa' 4:3), but offers a compromise between what should be and what is in reality.
Everyone who has sealed his marriage compact with an oath and afterwards does not keep his promise faithfully by not providing enough household money, clothing or school fees for the children or neglecting one of his wives in an improper way, should repent and atone for it. In an extreme case this repentance consists in feeding or clothing ten poor people, or freeing a Muslim slave, or fasting for three successive days if he does not own the money for the first obligation (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:89).
The basic order given to men by Allah, however, is the following: Go to your wives as often as you can, visit them and sleep with them (Sura al-Baqara 2:222-223; see also al-Saff 61:2). Muslims who regularly visit their wives and their slave concubines would be considered successful if they beget many sons. They are not to be blamed in doing so (Sura al-Mu'minun 23:1-6).
Every man who had intercourse with one of his wives must clean himself before praying, otherwise his prayer would remain worthless. If there is no flowing or suitable water, he can wipe with his hands over sand or soil and then over his face to show his intention to purify himself (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:6).
What is Forbidden to a Muslim in his Marriage?
Whoever analyzes the various verses of the Qur'an about this topic will find 18 different categories of women that a Muslim is not allowed to marry (Sura al-Nisa' 4:22-24):
The wives of his own father, even when he had divorced them.
His own mother and his own sisters.
His own daughters, and his own nieces (the daughters of his brothers and sisters).
All his aunts from his father's and his mother's sides. Also the nurse that breast-fed him and the girls that were breast-fed together with him.
All mothers-in-law (the mothers of his wives).
The daughters of his father from other wives than his own mother (stepsisters).
The daughters of his mother from previous husbands (stepsisters).
The wives of his own sons.
The wives of his sons-in-law (except the wives of his adoptive sons)!
No two sisters (except when it has already happened).
All wives of other Muslims before they were divorced.
No woman who is an animist or polytheist, as long as she has not become a Muslim (Suras al-Baqara 2:221; al-Mumtahina 60:10).
No adulteress who has been punished (Sura al-Nur 24:3).
Muslim men are not allowed to have affairs with women and should not have concubines (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:5).
Any love affair in mosques or at sacred places is forbidden (Sura al-Baqara 2:187).
Any sexual contact with a wife or slave during her menstruation is forbidden (Sura al-Baqara 2:222).
Unmarried young men should live chastely until they possess enough money to marry a woman. If they cannot wait they shall marry one of their slaves whom they want (Suras al-Nisa' 4:25; al-Nur 24:33)
Any form of adultery is strictly forbidden to a Muslim (Sura al-Isra' 17:32). He is punished by 100 lashes, if four eyewitnesses can describe the deed unanimously in detail (Suras al-Nisa' 4:15-16; al-Nur 24:2-4; al-An'am 6:151). Since such testimonies rarely correspond, men are really free to commit sexual offense in obscurity, as you can repeatedly hear from the oil-producing countries.
The above-mentioned commandments and bans for men are given by Allah to make it as easy as possible for the man (Suras al-Nisa' 4:25; al-Ma'ida 5:6 among others)!
In the Gospel we read Jesus' words: If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).
Marriage according to the Gospel does not emphasize to live for the own desires, but one partner rather serves the other out of love and sympathy. The wife shall subordinate herself to her husband, but the husband shall sacrifice himself for his wife (Ephesians 5:21-33). The aim and the spirit of the Gospel is opposed to the spirit of the Qur'an especially in the understanding of marriage.
The Rights of a Woman in a Muslim Marriage
In theory, a wife shall not live at the mercy of her husband without protection, for the Qur'an demands general human rights for her. She shall be treated by her husband like she treats him (Sura al-Baqara 2:228)!
During menstruation she is not obliged to sleep with her husband, even if that means that he misses something that way (Sura al-Baqara 2:222).
In some Islamic countries wives, who have given birth to several sons, are entitled to demand from their husbands that he shall be satisfied with her alone or that he can marry only one more wife, if it becomes clear that she cannot meet all his needs (Sura al-Nisa' 4:3).
In some cases Muslim husbands demand for their first wife to search a second wife for them, so that peace in the harem would be guaranteed. Sometimes the first wife has to welcome the second wife with a solo dance at the wedding!
If a Muslim gets very rough towards his first wife after his second marriage, and things do not improve after an effort of reconciliation between the elders of the man's clan and of the woman's clan, the first wife is entitled to demand a divorce. But how can she prove her needs and her suffering? (Sura al-Nisa' 4:128).
In case of a divorce by the husband an abandoned wife has several rights:
- If she is pregnant he must provide for her all needs until the child is born.
- If her pregnancy is not yet clear she can stay in her husband's house for three to four further months. He is not allowed to treat his divorced wife meanly during that time.
- If she is nursing a newborn baby he must pay her some money until the child is weaned (Sura al-Talaq 65:6).
Those regulations must be documented in writing in the presence of two witnesses, if possible one of either clan (Sura al-Talaq 65:2). In any case, all the brides money (mahr) has to be paid in the hands of the divorced woman as her life insurance (al-Baqara 2:236+237).
The Duties of a Muslim Wife
The qualities of a good wife in Islam were prescribed by Muhammad to his own wives as an ideal picture in several Suras.
All wives shall be believing Muslims, humble, devoted to Allah and Muhammad, repentant, obedient, god-fearing worshippers, modest and prepared to travel, to accompany their husbands on their business trips or even in the outreach against enemies. Muhammad did not care much whether they were still virgins or already married! To him, it was decisive that they spend little money and live modestly (Suras al-Ahzab 33:28, 31, 33; al-Tahrim 66:5 among others).
There is nothing mentioned in the Qur'an about the education of a woman, if she should be able to read and write, or about educating children or about her responsibility in society and the religious community. Wives shall be at the disposition of their husbands. That is the main purpose of their life, as the law of the Qur'an indicates.
Some verses written for men are also valid for women. That way a little color comes into the life of a woman in Islam. These verses, however, were not chosen by the Qur'an jurists for their legislation. They restricted themselves to the concrete and touchable matters to derive from them the commandments, duties and bans.
Above all, girls and unmarried women have to protect their vagina, so that they do not enter marriage impurely (Suras al-Mu'minun 23:5; al-Ma'arij 70:29; al-Nur 24:30; see also al-Tahrim 66:12). This quality in Mary, the mother of 'Isa , was one of the reasons according to the Qur'an that Allah blew his spirit into her and that 'Isa could be born by her (Suras Al 'Imran 3:47; Maryam 19:20; al-Tahrim 66:12).
Bans for Muslim Women
They are forbidden to marry any idolater, an unbeliever and an enemy of Islam (Suras al-Baqara 2:221; al-Mumtahina 60:10 among others). But as soon as the unbeliever accepts Islam he can marry a Muslim woman. This ban turned out to be an effective missionary tool of Islam. For their wish to marry Muslim girls, many non-Muslims convert to Islam.
This ban for Muslim women includes all Jewish and Christian men. The Jews are called the worst enemies of Islam (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:82) and are wrongly judged to adore Ezra as a god (Sura al-Tawba 9:30). Christians are rejected and cursed as polytheists, because they believe in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Sura al-Tawba 9:30). For those reasons, in most Islamic countries it is strictly forbidden for Muslim girls to marry a Christian or a Jew.
However, in Sudan, the former President Turabi proclaimed that all Christians were Muslims (Suras Al 'Imran 3:52; al-Ma'ida 5:111), in order to draw the Christians in the first or second generation into Islam by affiliating them to Islamic clans. (The Saudi-Arabian Fatwa council excommunicated Turabi for that reason and called him an unbeliever.) Money from Islamic organizations lent to young married couples accelerate conversions to Islam.
A Muslim woman is also forbidden to marry a punished adulterer, because these are allowed only to marry punished adulteresses (al-Nur 24:3).
The Qur'an does not forbid a Muslim man to marry a girl who is still a minor or even sexually immature, even when she is not yet fully mature and menstruation has not yet set in (Suras al-Nisa' 4:127; al-Talaq 65:4)! That inhuman law was legalized by Muhammad's marriage with Aisha, the eight-year-old daughter of Abu Bakr. Since then, Muslims from the Gulf states often travel to India or Pakistan to search for child brides there and to take them home as concubines, cheap house maids or as wives. In the favor of some Islamic states it must be mentioned that they raised the minimum age for a girl to marry to 16 or 14 years, or at least to the beginning of her menstruation.
The Muslim lady doctor Nasrin from Bangladesh demanded a change of the Qur'anic texts because of the injuries of the lower abdomen young married girls had suffered and which she had to treat. But she was persecuted and threatened with death by Muslim demonstrators and had to accept asylum in Sweden.
Any proved extra-marital intercourse or adultery of a married woman is forbidden and judged with the punishment of 100 whiplashes, if four eye-witnesses can testify to the event in a corresponding way (Suras al-Nisa' 4:15; al-Nur 24:2-4; al-An'am 6:151; al-Isra' 17:32).
Marriage and Money in Islam
Financial agreements before marriage play a decisive role in a marriage contract. If somebody gets married without such a contract signed by representatives from both clans, he or she is not considered legally married in Islam(!) and can therefore not demand anything in his or her marriage or at a divorce. No rights will support him or her in an illegal marriage!
Paying the brides money does not mean buying a bride, but it is understood as the life insurance of the wife and her children at her husband's death or at her divorce. The determination of the amount of the bride's money can lead to different sums corresponding with the education or abilities of the bride, and it must be negotiated for and agreed upon in an unambiguous way! The first half of the money is paid to the legal representative of the bride at signing the wedding contract or at the wedding ceremony itself, the second half must be paid in full to the woman at the divorce. The brides money (mahr) remains in the possession of the woman under all circumstances (Suras al-Baqara 2:229; al-Nisa' 4:24-25; al-Ma'ida 5:5; al-Ahzab 33:50; al-Mumtahina 60:10; al-Talaq 65:5 among others).
In case the divorced woman renounces a part of her bride's money, her gift is called a gift for Allah and is credited to her heavenly bank account as a good deed. The same counts for widows who renounce the full payment of the sum still due to them (Suras al-Baqara 2:229,237,280; al-Nisa' 4:4 among others).
The Qur'an speaks of "wages" that should be paid to the women for sexual contacts. Most commentators call those obligatory payments brides money (mahr). Others speak of extra gifts at each contact between husband and wife (Suras al-Baqara 2:223; al-Nisa' 4:24-25; al-Ma'ida 5:5; al-Ahzab 33:5; al-Mumtahina 60:10 among others).
The amount of the pre-arranged household money as well as the extra money to be spent for the family household should be fixed in writing before the wedding. A wife is called an ideal wife only when she is contented with little (Sura al-Ahzab 33:31). Expensive jewelry in this world is said to be reprehensible (Sura al-Ahzab 33:28,33). A woman shall not wear her jewelry in public (Sura al-Nur 24:31) but shall adorn herself only for her husband.
She who lives modestly may expect her recompense in eternity (Suras al-Ahzab 33:29,31; Sura al-Talaq 65:5). Allah is said to make divorced women rich particularly when they renounce part of their remaining money (Sura al-Nisa' 4:130 and the following verses).
The duty of the husband to look after his divorced wife lasts for two years if she is nursing a child until it is weaned. If the salary for a wet-nurse is cheaper, the father can take his child away from his divorced wife and hand it over to a rented wet-nurse (Suras al-Baqara 2:223; Luqman 31:14; al-Ahqaf 46:15; al-Talaq 65:6).
Settling the financial questions for a marriage, for the family life and for a possible divorce make up a considerable part of the Islamic marriage laws! Non-Islamic girls should under no circumstances marry their partners without a detailed marriage contract that has been signed by witnesses, because they would be left without rights in critical situations. A wedding in front of the legal representative of the European or American home state is always preferable to a wedding in front of the Muslim sheik in a mosque! As long as a European woman marries under the laws of her secular home country, she is entitled to her rights according to the laws of her own country, but only as long as she lives in that country! Those questions should not remain unobserved for "love" or be neglected for the partner's appeasing words. They are the legal basis for the woman and the children from that marriage!
Muhammad and his Wives
None of Muhammad's 13 wives is mentioned by name in the Qur'an. But his severe problems with some of his wives resulted in new laws of the Qur'an!
All wives of Muhammad are called the mothers of the "believers" (Sura al-Ahzab 33:6). That way Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, became her father's mother and Hafza, the daughter of Umar b. al-Khattab, became the woman who gave birth to her progenitor.
The special qualities of Muhammad's wives can be read in the "Mirror of his wives" (Sura al-Ahzab 33:28-33), which were already mentioned.
They should take Allah and his messenger as the aim of their lives and should not run after earthly pleasures. But if they strive for secular aims Muhammad would adorn them and send them away.
If one of the prophet's wives commits (an abominable) adultery the normal punishment of 100 whiplashes will be doubled. Those who remain humbly devoted to Allah and his messenger, however, will receive a double reward here and in eternity. His wives are said to be different from all other women, but even if they are humbly devoted to him, they shall not become humble towards other men, so that those are not tempted to seduce them. Therefore they shall speak clearly to them. Muhammad commanded his wives: Remain in your houses, do not show yourselves like the heathens, pray, pay the taxes for religion and obey Allah and his messenger. Allah wants to take away the impurity from you, the people of the house, and wants to purify you completely! (Sura al-Ahzab 33:33).
Strangely, Allah sanctioned the extraordinary marriage of Muhammad with the wife of his adoptive son Zaid, so that other Muslims can also marry the wives of their adoptive sons!! Allah himself married him to Zainab b. Jahsh after an eternal predestination. Muhammad annulled his fatherhood of his adoptive son, in order to be able to marry Zainab, reasoning that he was more than his father Allah's messenger and the seal of the prophets (Suras al-Ahzab 33:37-52; al-Ahzab 33:40 in particular). Muhammad invented his highest title of honor, "seal of the prophets" especially to justify his adultery, a title which, in this context, appears as a dishonorable blotch on the prophet.
Muhammad also sent away several wives before he touched them, and for this he invented the law that an untouched woman who has been sent away must not need to wait to remarry after such a divorce (Sura al-Ahzab 33:49).
Allah is said to have given to Muhammad as his final messenger the unique privilege of being allowed to marry all his former divorced wives, all his slave girls, all his "nieces", and any woman that wished to give herself to him in case he liked her (Sura al-Ahzab 33:50-51). How different Jesus was! He remained unmarried, holy and never fell into temptation. The sexual behavior of Muhammad reveals his spirit. He thought of the great impurity of his wives (Sura al-Ahzab 33:33) and projected his own unclean thoughts into them.
In the following verse, however, Allah forbade Muhammad to marry more women or to exchange them, even if their beauty would lure him. But that commandment did not comprise his slaves who were always under his disposition as his property (Sura al-Ahzab 33:52).
Among the lawyers of the Qur'an a quarrel started on the problem whether verse 52 or verse 50 of Sura 33 was revealed finally. According to the Qur'an, verse 52 is the later revelation from Allah, by which Muhammad was judged because of his dissipated conduct. To avoid that, other Qur'an jurists claim that the last revelation is really the first one and that verse 50 abolishes and annuls verse 52! In order to legalize his sexual behavior Muhammad himself rejected revealed verses from the Qur'an!
Although Muhammad defended his right in all his slave women several times in the Qur'an (Suras al-Ahzab 33:50-52; al-Tahrim 66:1; see also al-Nisa' 4:3, 24, 25, 36; al-Nahl 16:71; al-Mu'minun 23:6; al-Nur 24:3, 32, 33, 58; al-Rum 30:28; al-Ahzab 33:55; al-Ma'arij 70:30 among others), a rebellion sprang up in his harem because of his sudden intercourse with Maryam, an Egyptian slave, in the room of his wife Hafsa while she was absent. Aisha and Hafsa, the two teenage women, bombarded him to swear that he would never do it again. But Muhammad repented his hasty oath and broke it in the name of Allah, so that all other Muslims could also break their hasty oaths (66:1-2)!!
In a harsh dispute with his two young wives and their relatives Muhammad defended his right to his slave woman and threatened his outraged wives to divorce them all at the same time because Allah could give him better wives. He warned them and their fathers, the future caliphs, of the fire in hell, if they would not submit to him.
Finally, he pointed at the humble Mary, 'Isa's unmarried mother, the best of all women in this world and in the next, as a brilliant example (Sura al-Tahrim 66:4-8,12) only to calm down the rebellion in his harem!
If the founder of the religion of Islam committed such trespasses and legalized them with his revelations, how much more will his followers walk in his footsteps. We are not entitled to condemn Muhammad since David and Solomon behaved more unjust than Muhammad. But David repented and taught in Psalm 51 all adulterers to repent, too. Muhammad, however, never repented but defended his wrongdoing and justified himself with his revelations. According to the Gospel, polygamy means continued adultery. This sin has become normal in a godless world today, even outside Islam. But Muhammad sanctioned this sin by his religious law! He allowed his followers to trespass with a good conscience.
What does the Qur'an Decide Regarding Divorce?
In Islam, divorce is considered to be predestinated! The man, according to the Qur'an, has got the one-sided right to divorce his wives any time he wishes. However, this revealed right at present is restricted by several Islamic states under the influence of the human rights and because of social needs.
But the Qur'an teaches: If there is a lasting conflict, two mediators from both clans should first try to reconcile the quarrelers. If both sides wish a reconciliation, it can be found (Suras al-Nisa' 4:35; al-Talaq 65:2).
Continuing demands for new clothes and jewelry are a reason for a divorce (Sura 33:28-29), but it can be overcome.
Hastened oaths obstruct reconciliation. They can still be taken back! (Sura al-Baqara 2:224-225).
Genuine reasons for a divorce are: rough treatment with hurtful beating and plaguing, growing antipathy and hatred, greed and breaking away from Islam (Suras al-Baqara 2:221; al-Nisa' 4:127-130; al-Mumtahina 60:10).
When a man has reached his goal with his wife and has got enough of her he can send her away (Sura al-Ahzab 33:37).
If he has not yet touched her he has the right to send her away without hesitation (Suras al-Baqara 2:236-237; al-Saffat 37:49).
Should the man use the awful phrase, "You are to me like my mother's back" at his divorce, he must, if he repeats that phrase, free a believing slave, fast for two months, or feed 60 poor people (Suras al-Ahzab 33:4; 58:1-4).
When a man divorces his wife for good, the divorce is final (Suras al-Baqara 2:227; al-Talaq 65:2)!
Finally, each divorce is predestined in Islam (Sura al-Talaq 65:3)!!
Those few reasons mentioned in the Qur'an were defined in detail by the lawyers of the Shari'a and extended to a system structured in a complex way. Jesus Christ, however, forbids any divorce (Matthew 5:27-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:4-12 among others). In the Gospel a divorce is a great injustice and hits both partners and, above all, their children.
Final Divorce or Remarriage?
Divorced women must be cared for some time (Suras al-Baqara 2:241; al-Nisa' 4:130). Rich Muslims should pay them an honorable compensation, poor people cannot give more than Allah has given them (Suras al-Baqara 2:236; al-Talaq 65:7).
If a baby has to be weaned after the divorce, the man must look after the woman for two entire years (Suras al-Baqara 2:232; al-Talaq 65:6).
If a reconciliation of the two separated partners is imaginable they have to wait for at least four months to think about it, before they carry out either a final divorce or a remarriage (Suras al-Baqara 2:226; al-Talaq 65:1,2,4). During that time no one should speak about a proposed remarriage nor should a new marriage contract be prepared. The latter must be legally negotiated afterwards in front of two witnesses (Sura al-Baqara 2:228).
A divorced woman has to let pass three periods before she can marry another man (Sura al-Baqara 2:228).
The man is not allowed to harass his divorced wife during the time of waiting. She has got the right to live where she wants (Sura al-Talaq 65:6).
The man must support her when her pregnancy is discovered after the divorce until the child is born (Sura al-Talaq 65:4-6).
A special regulation in the laws of divorce is the possibility of preliminary dismissal and remarriage. But such coming and going cannot go on forever. A Muslim can divorce his wife and marry her again. He can dismiss her a second time and marry her again! But if he divorces her a third time the divorce is final! He can remarry his previous wife only after she has married another man in the meantime and that this one has divorced her, too. After that, her first husband is allowed to marry her again (Sura al-Baqara 2:229-230)!
By practicing Islamic divorce in such a way, a woman is degraded to the state of a trading object. It is not taken into account that she, too, possesses a soul, hope and expectation. She is like a toy of love and rage on the one hand and of suspicion and jealousy on the other hand.
The suffering of women in Islam is often greater than we imagine. The education and support of their children (except the small babies) is not mentioned in the Qur'an in connection with divorce. The wife has done her duty and given birth to sons the woman can go!
Not all Muslims think and act like that. Many are better than their law! In contrast to the legislation in the Qur'an, some Islamic countries have introduced their own liberal Islamic legislation. However, the Qur'an always influences and determines the culture and the legislation in the Islamic world. The confrontation of the human rights and the Shari'a is going on at full force. The fundamentalists fight with fanaticism, money and weapons to realize all the Qur'anic commandments and use Muhammad's way of living for their interpretation. Every Muslim should live as Muhammad lived! Only then an Islamic peace would reign.
The Love of Christ Jesus Changes Individuals
With His divine love (agape), Jesus blessed and sanctified the love between husband and wife (eros). No human being lives pure compared to the holiness of the Son of God (John 8:1-11). His expiatory sacrifice alone established our reconciliation with God atoning for all our sins. His spirit gives us a new mind and the power of self-denial to sacrifice and to serve.
A wife wishes to lean to her husband and to be protected by him (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 2:12 among others). Some of them understand the world through their husbands. They need love, understanding, time, sympathy, for they alone are called to shelter new life in themselves and to give birth to it with pains. Therefore Adam called his wife "Eve," the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20). Her name is mentioned four times in the Bible (Genesis 3:20; 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13).
Through Jesus Christ alone the woman was fully emancipated spiritually by receiving His free grace (Luke 7:38-50). In Jesus the woman received her dignity which is denied to her by the other religions.
Paul, who demands the submission of the wife to the husband according to the principles of creation, confirmed at the same time her full equality in salvation: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
In the same sense Paul reveals the great mystery of love: Like Christ sacrificed Himself for His congregation, the husband shall sacrifice himself for his wife. The foremost aims of the spirit of Christ Jesus are not reigning or subordination, not possessing or obedience, but He rather guides us to love, serve, help, understand, forgive, support, being patient, to bless and to remain faithful. Those are the fruits of His love. He said: Love one another, as I have loved you! (John 13:34-35). Jesus Christ is the model for the man as well as for the woman. He is our redeemer, savior, comfort, the one who renders holy, and our perfector (1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 12:1-2).
Q U I Z
If you have studied this booklet carefully, you can easily answer the following questions. Whoever answers 90 percent of all questions in the different booklets of this series correctly, can obtain a certificate from our center on
As an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ. It will be appreciated if you include the Qur'anic references in your answers.
1. Why should Christian women and men study the 110 verses of the Qur'an about marriage and divorce?
2. Why don't you find in the Qur'an the name of any woman, except one: Mary the mother of Jesus?
3. How does Sura al-Nisa' 4:34 describe the dominance of men over women?
4. What does the command of Allah mean that men have to go to their wives who are like a plowed field prepared for seeding for them? (Sura al-Baqara 2,222-223)
5. Why should two female eyewitnesses testifying in a Shari'a court replace one male eyewitness? (Sura al-Baqara 2,282)
6. What does it mean that in the law of retribution free men are mentioned first, then enslaved men and only then free women? (Sura al-Baqara 2:178)
7. Why has a Muslim to care for his blood relatives more than for his wives and their relatives?
8. How do Muslims explain the story about Adam that God took a rib out and created a woman from it?
9. Why did Muhammad after the battle of Uhud encourage his fighters to marry up to four women simultaneously, if they treat each of them equally?
10. What influence does polygamy today have on the rate at which Muslim populations grow?
11. Why do Muslims claim that Muhammad aimed at marriage to a single woman only?
12. What does it mean that a Muslim can marry his slave girls whenever he wants?
13. How can Shiites legalize temporal marriage, even for one hour only?
14. What is the Christian answer to Islamic polygamy?
15. When does a Muslim have the right to beat his wife until she submits to his will? (Sura al-Nisa' 4:34)
16. What does the confession of Muhammad mean for his principle of polygamy that no-one can deal with each of his wives equally?
17. What should a marriage contract contain so that the rights of the wife are secured?
18. Why is prayer considered to be worthless if a man does not purify himself after frequenting his wife?
19. Which eighteen categories of women are forbidden for every Muslim? (Sura al-Nisa' 4:22-24)
20. What does it mean that a Muslim should never commit adultery?
21. Theoretically speaking, which rights could a woman have on the basis of Sura al-Baqara 2:228?
22. In what times is a woman not obliged to sleep with her husband?
23. Why in some Muslim countries can women demand that their husband will not marry a second wife or under certain conditions only one second wife? (Sura al-Nisa' 4:3)
24. Why do some Muslim husbands demand from their first wife to search for a second wife for him and to welcome her to his marriage to her?
25. What way out is there if there is discord in marriage?
26. How does the Qur'an describe the virtues of a good wife? (Suras al-Ahzab 33:28-33 and al-Tahrim 66:5)
27. Why is it forbidden for a Muslim girl to marry a Christian or Jewish man and what is the result out of this commandment?
28. How could Muhammad dare to sanction marriage with minor girls? (Sura al-Talaq 65:4)
29. What does it mean that every form of adultery will lead to 100 stripes for men and women, if four eye-witnesses can describe the very act in concordance with each other?
30. What does the bride's money mean in the contract which has to be concluded before marriage is consumed?
31. Why is a marriage illegal without a marriage contract signed by two witnesses?
32. Which essential points should be fixed in this contract?
33. How many women did Muhammad marry?
34. How could Muhammad call his wives the mothers of the believers if Aisha was the daughter of the Caliph Abu Bakr and Hafsa the daughter of the Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab?
35. What are the special rules for the women of Muhammad? (Sura al-Ahzab 33:28-33)
36. How do the jurists in the Qur'an solve the contradiction of the two commandments that on one hand all women can donate themselves to Muhammad if he accepts them and that on the other hand he should not marry any more women nor change them even if he likes them?
37. What was the reason for the revolt in the Harem of Muhammad? (Sura al-Tahrim 66)
38. How did Muhammad present Mary as the best of all women?
39. What are the legal reasons for divorce in Islam?
40. Why is divorce in Islam considered to be predestined? (Sura al-Talaq 65:3)
41. How did Jesus forbid divorce?
42. What does it mean that a Muslim can divorce his wife three times and that afterwards he may not marry her again, but must wait until another man marries her and divorces her three times?
43. How must a Muslim care for his divorced wife?
44. What steps towards remarriage must be observed?
45. How did Jesus elevate women and made her spiritually equal to men?
46. How does the love of Christ change egoistic attitudes in a Christian marriage?
Every participant in this quiz is allowed to use any book at his disposition and to ask any trustworthy person known to him when answering these questions. We wait for your written answers including your full address on the papers or in your e-mail. We pray for you to Jesus, the living Lord, that He will call, send, guide, strengthen, protect and be with you every day of your life!
Yours in His service,
Servants of the Lord
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