Summary of 7.38 “Marital Relations III (Related Issues)”
We continued the discussion of marital relationships.’ It was the third program dealing with the subject of the wife’s rights.’ We talked about the obligation of the husband to gratify the instinctive need of his wife in terms of matrimonial relationships and what Islamic Law in terms of enforcement so that she is not deprived of her natural rights.’ Then we talked about related subjects such as birth control.’ We indicated that in special individual cases where there is a good reason for it there is no evidence that it is unlawful.’ We also discussed abortion and that the basic rule is that it is unlawful except in cases where saving the life of the mother or in the case of the deformity of the fetus (as some jurists not all add).’ We said this unlawfulness becomes greater if the fetus is 4 months or beyond.’ We answered a few questions regarding test tube babies (used to aid in fertilization).’ We indicated that there may be cases where there is blockage in the fallopian tube and so they take the sperm from the father and the egg from the mother, they fertilize it in a test tube then they implant it in the mother’s uterus and the tendency among jurists is that this is permissible.’ This is regarded as an aid or treatment of infertility.’ The other cases were artificial insemination involving a sperm from another man other than the husband, and we said that the tendency among jurists is that his is unlawful because it is like adultery by proxy and leads to confusion of the true lineage of the child.’ The final question dealt with surrogate mothers.’ In this case the egg comes from the real mother and the sperm from the real father and they are fertilized and is implanted in a hired woman who acts as a surrogate.’ We indicated the reasons why this is considered to be inconsistent with Islamic Law even though some jurists say that this may be considered in some extreme circumstances.

7.39′ Marital Relations IV (Husband’s Rights)

Host:’ Can you expand on the issue of when surrogacy is permissible?

Jamal Badawi:

I will quote the jurist who addressed this issue as it is a contemporary issue which we have not heard from other jurists as to whether they agree with it or not.’ Sheik’ Yusuf Al Qaradawi in his book Contemporary Verdicts after he mentioned the various reservations that we discussed last time about spoiling the nature of motherhood and leading to confusion he ended by saying that it is rejected from the point of view of Islamic Law and should be forbidden.’ However, on page 498 of the same book he said that ‘If the scientists or people working in that field, pertaining to ethics and the natural creation of God, if this happens to be a wide spread means then in order to reduce its evil there must be some control.” This gives us that it is highly rejected but should it happen according to the basic rules in Islamic jurisprudence one should try his best to reduce the evil.’ He said that ‘The surrogate mother must be a married woman to start with.” Because otherwise it might rase a question of the chastity of the surrogate mother.’ If she is unmarried and gets pregnant then some questions might be raised about her reputation.’ Second, not only should the surrogate be married she should also have the permission of her husband to act as a surrogate mother.’ This will effect his rights as a husband.’ A third is that she can not have this implantation unless roughly 3 months had elapsed between the last time her husband has intimate relations with her or else it would not be certain who the fetus belongs to.’ Fourthly, in Islamic Law the father of the fetus is totally responsible for the maintenance for the child and for the mother.’ This means the full responsibility would fall on the real father of the fetus no on the husband of the surrogate mother.’ Fifthly all the rules that apply to suckling and prohibition in marriage as a result would apply, because the surrogate would be in the position of a mother to the child.’ The child would not be able to marry her or her children.’ He concludes that the best thing is not to get into that and that these measures are just mentioned as controls if it is an evil that is present.’ Again it is inconsistent with the spirit of Islamic Law.

Host:’ The time may not be distant where the parents can choose the sex of their child, what is the Islamic viewpoint on this?

Jamal Badawi:

To start with, to the best of my knowledge this has not succeeded yet in humans but there is literature on the various experiments made on animals.’ This is a matter that relates to genetics and genetic engineering.’ The sex of the fetus is determined largely by the sperm and it is a matter of figuring out what genes (various x y combinations) are present.’ The theory behind it is that if the nature of the genes can be determined early it may be possible to obtain the sperm from the father and chose the one with the male gene and fertilize the egg and then implant it in the womb of the mother.’ As such scientists hope to be able to chose the sex of the child.’ Some questions that people may raise about this from a Muslim point of view: that the Quran indicates that Allah creates whatever he pleases and he gives to some males, females, both or he makes them barren.’ However, a process like this does not constitute creation because no one is creating anything.’ The Quran says that the human will not be able to create a fly even if they put all their efforts into it, because creation means making something from nothing.’ In the case in artificial fertilization we are talking about something that God has already been created.’ So this may not necessarily contradict it.’ The Quran indicates that one can not will anything except by the leave or permission from God.

A second point is trying to find out the sex of the baby in the womb of the mother.’ Some say that this is erroneous because of the verse that says that God knows what every females bears in her womb.’ Again this may be stretching the meaning of the verse.’ Knowing whether the fetus in the womb of the mother is male or female does not mean that we have all the knowledge.’ The verse may actually be referring to the knowledge of God not only regarding the sex of the fetus but the character of the baby, what his life will be like, when he or she is going to die, what their destiny that person will face.’ This may not be regarded as interference or encroachment on the domain of God.’ The same jurist Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradawi mentions this also and he says it is not regarded as such however it is more preferable not to do this and leave it to the will of God rather than trying to do so (as if one is shopping for a particular child).’ There are very serious consequences, if this becomes readily available and lots of abuses could be in store.

Host:’ Can you give us some ideas about the rights of the husband in Islam?

Jamal Badawi:

One of the most concise sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that reflects the husband’s rights which is also the wife’s obligation is narrated in Al Nassa’i and Ibn Maja ‘The best of women is the wife if you look at her she pleases you, if you ask her to do something she obeys you and if you are away or absent she safe guards her chastity and your possessions or property.’

The first point: when he looks at her she pleases him is simply an echo of a beautiful verse in the Quran which describes believers.’ It says in (25:74) ‘Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.” In other words as we have seen in previous programs dealing with the rights of the wife we indicated that it is an obligation on the Muslim husband according to Islamic Law not to hurt his wife and to respect her and to treat her with love and consideration.’ She is also required to respect her husband, not to hurt him and to treat him with love and consideration.’ We have seen that a Muslim husband is asked to do his best to look after the wellbeing and the comfort of his wife.’ It is only fair to expect that the wife also would do her best to look after his wellbeing and comfort.

In addition to this concept it does not rule out that she should be cheerful and as such achieves soothing, comfort and tranquility in the marriage.’ This means that the husband doesn’t come home to find a grouchy, grim, frowning wife who bombards him with all kinds of problems before he even greets her, rests or has something to eat.’ It does not preclude that the Muslim wife is encouraged to beautify herself for her husband.’ She should look her best for her husband.’ It is not encouraged that she doesn’t have her hair combed, wears an apron and smells like onions.’ In other words she has the obligation to satisfy him and look her best.’ Now we are not saying that she should always look like a beauty queen nor are we saying that she should violate various Islamic etiquette pertaining to the limit of adornment and with whom and if it is done outside (we covered this in our series on Moral Teachings of Islam).’ Sometimes in our civilization things are put upside down.’ In many cases the wife looks her best when she goes out in the company of others (which is against Islam) and in the home she looks her worst.’ In the Islamic perspective she should look good both ways but adornment and beautification is something that should be reserved for the home and not for the eyes of onlookers.’ In fact it is not only an obligation on the wife (because Islam does not simply regard the wife as an object of pleasure) but as Ibn Abass one of the companions said ‘I try to look handsome and my best for my wife as she does for me.” Then he sighted a verse in the Quran in (2:228) ‘And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable.” So these expectations should be mutual.’ These all relate to the first portion of the saying: ‘If he looks at her she pleases him.’

Host:’ Can you give explanation of the basis of the woman obeying her husband?

Jamal Badawi:

This is an interesting and significant area to explore.’ Many times when one mentions the word obedience, everyone has his own concept of what obedience entails.’ For some, obedience is total subordination, subjection and for others obedience means unquestioned acceptance of authority and for some it is lack of stubbornness, cooperative attitude.’ I think it is very important that we understand what is really meant.

A key verse’ that deals with this subject from the Quran is in (4:34) ‘Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard.” Obedience here refers to God and their husbands and they guard their chastity and the property of their husband.’ In fact the portion immediately before that in the same verse says ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.” The word qawamoon which appears in this verse is quite significant and sometimes there are difficulty in translation.’ Qawam means someone who stand up for something which can also have a number of meanings.’ This could mean that the husband is responsible for the maintenance of the family, they are protectors of the wife, they are in charge, they look after the protection and security both in the physical sense as well as psychological security.’ This also means that he is responsible for the leadership of the family.’ This means that according to this verse which is regarded by Muslims as a divine command and directive the husband has the ultimate responsibility to be the head of the family unit.’ Here we are talking about obedience and leadership from the Islamic sense.

Host:’ Some English translations suggest that men are superior to women?

Jamal Badawi:

Some people translate it this way.’ This is an erroneous translation.’ First, it should be made clear that there is not a single Quranic text which categorically says that men are superior to women and not even in the Prophetic tradition.’ If we translate the English translation back to Arabic it would be totally different than the verse in the Quran.’ If it is true that the Quranic verse means that men are supperior to women and it is translated to Arabic it would read alrijal afdal min alnisa’ and there is no such verse.’ Second, the verse did not say that God made men excel over women.’ Again if you retranslate that to Arabic it would read bima fadala Allahu alrijala a’la alnisa’ and there is no such verse in the Quran.’ Both of these translations are obviously erroneous because once they are retranslated into Arabic it gives you something totally different than what is found in the verse.’ Not only this there is something that is very interesting in the grammatical structure of the verse.’ It says men are maintainers and responsible for their wives and then it says because God made some of them excel over the others.’ The question here is who are ‘them,’ who are the ‘the others’ and they excel in what sense?

There are two interpretations of this.’ One interpretation which I do not necessarily agree with, is that the pronoun used in that verse ‘them’ is a masculine pronoun.’ One can use the masculine pronoun to refer to both men and women, it is not necessarily always used for males.’ According to a rule in Arabic grammar called altaghreed it can still be used to refer to both.’ This doesn’t mean that men are preferred to women.’ This could however mean that God made some of them, whether they are men or women, excel in some aspects over others which could be men or women.’ This explanation is valid grammatically speaking and the verse may be giving a hint at this.

The second opinion which I feel to be the reasonable one is that the context of this verse deals with marital relationships.’ In fact the immediate portion after this part says because men spend of their sustenance.’ So it is saying that the overall excellence refers to the leadership of the family and the person shouldering the burden of the financial and emotional’ needs.’ Even then this has no connotation with overall superiority.