Summary of 7.26 “Engagement Continued”

We continued the discussion of the rules of engagement in Islam.’ We indicated that Islam allowed people who were planning to get married to see each other and to talk to one another without being in total privacy or adopting the western style of dating and courting.’ We explained that there are reasons behind these precautions particularly because Islam prohibits any premarital sex or any situation that may likely to that.’ Also it has these precautions to protect the reputation of both parties in case the marriage does not go through.’ We also discussed what happens when an engagement is broken and when gifts are given the basic rule is that they are returned (we discussed it in detail).’ We also discussed the possible compensation of a woman who might be financially hurt because of breaking the engagement under certain circumstances.

We also discussed the compatibility in marriage and what it means, and that it is not about class or aristocracy but rather something that may ascertain the success of marriage.’ In addition to this we discussed briefly some of the other rules of engagement: one should not engage a woman who is already engaged in order to prevent disputes: one should not engage a woman who is in the waiting period of a revocable divorce or after the death of her husband.’ Obviously one can not engage a woman who is prohibited for marriage to the person.’ We mentioned three categories of people who are prohibited: some are prohibited because of lineage, marital relationship and suckling.

7.27′ Marriage Laws in Islam I (Forbidden Categories)

Host:’ Could you explain the reasons for the last three prohibitions that you mentioned?

Jamal Badawi:

There are fifteen basic prohibited categories which can be found in three verses of the Quran (4:22-24).

‘And marry not women whom your fathers married,- except what is past: It was shameful and odious,- an abominable custom indeed.

Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father’s sisters, Mother’s sisters; brother’s daughters, sister’s daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives’ mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in,- no prohibition if ye have not gone in;- (Those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful;-

Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.’

As I mentioned last time the prohibition applies to both males and females.’ When we say a man may not marry his sister it also means that the woman may not marry her brother.One category is not to marry a woman who is a divorcee or a widow of one’s father (a step mother).’ This prohibition came in response to some of the practices proceeding Islam, that when the man dies his wife is inherited by her stepson.’ Of course Islam prohibited this practice and indicated that a woman is not a subject of inheritance as she herself should be entitled to inherit something of her husband’s estate.’ In addition a woman widowed or divorced is regarded is regarded in the position of that of a mother.

Other categories include a mother, daughter and sister.’ This is not unique to Islam, this is the case in almost all cultures of revealed religion.’ The kind of love that one has for his mother is mixed with respect and adoration, fatherly love and sisterly love are noble and human emotions that should not be mixed with any love that is connoted in any way with sexual desire.

There are other categories that are prohibited in Islam which include the aunt from the mother’s or father’s side.’ Again because the aunts are in a position equivalent to that of a mother or father.’ Nieces are also prohibited in Islam because one’s niece is in the same status as one’s daughter.’ These eight categories that I mentioned are called maharim which means: people who are prohibited from marriage to the person under any and all circumstances.

In addition, there are other reasons why maharim can’t marry one another.’ Apart from the instinctive nature of not having sexual feelings for them (we are talking about normal creation of God) these people are relatives and Islam encourages people (when they get married) to expand their circle of relationships beyond close relatives.’ This give s a better more cohesive society.’ Also, marrying very close relatives may hurt offsprings.’ This is why we find many Muslim jurists, including Al Ghazali, feel that this is one reason marriage to cousins, even though it is permitted in Islam, is not encouraged.

In addition to these categories the verses deal with those who are prohibited because of suckling relationships.’ This is a practice which is not too common in these days (except during emergencies when the mother is sick).’ Some women used to practice this by sending their baby to another healthy woman to suckle the baby.’ The woman who suckles the baby is regarded as a mother to the child (provided that the child has suckled enough from her).’ The acceptable opinion is that the baby suckled at least five times from the other woman, because she becomes to him/her like a mother.’ Any other girl who suckled from the suckling mother would also be prohibited to the boy because she is regarded as a sister.’ Relatives that are linked to one through suckling are also prohibited.’ For example the aunt of the suckling mother would be prohibited.’ This is not a very common practice these days.

In addition, a person may not get married to the widow or divorcee of his son, because she is his daughter in law who is in the same status of his daughter.’ Likewise Islam prohibits a person to marry two sisters at the same time.’ Again because of the close relationship between two sisters and in the case of marriage it becomes a big problem having both married at the same time to the same person.’ If one of them is divorced or dies one may marry her sister.’ Finally, a woman who is already married would obviously not be eligible to marry another person.

Host:’ Are there any other restrictions that are applicable?

Jamal Badawi:

There are restrictions that relate to chastity and others that refer to differences in religion.’ In the Quran in (24:3) it says that a person who committed adultery or fornication can’t marry a person who has not.’ In other words those people can only marry among themselves.’ This is also confirmed in other verses from the Quran such as (5:6), (4,25) and (24:26) which all clearly indicate that a person should not marry an unchaste woman or man’ There are good reasons behind this.’ First, it is an expression and manifestation of the moral values in Islam which prohibit adultery, fornication premarital or extramarital sex.’ By providing this restriction Islam abstains from rewarding this kind of elicit relationship and chastity is rewarded.’ This makes sin unattractive because of the consequences which result from it.

A second reason is that the purpose of marriage in Islam is to have tranquility and fellowship.’ How can love and tranquility grow between one who is chaste and God fearing and someone who is not and who is careless about God’s commands with respect to basic moral injunctions?’ This does not provide the family with stability.’ In addition to that is the fear of venereal diseases which are usually communicated through elicit relationships but not through normal relationships.’ As we know today these diseases can be passed on the children and effect their future.

Host:’ What happens in a case of an adulterer or adulteress who has made repentance?

Jamal Badawi:

Yes there are, but if it is repentance from an Islamic perspective.’ First if someone is doing something wrong they should immediately stop it.’ Second, he or she should feel sorry for what they had done, which is an expression of humility and acceptance of God’s values and moral injunctions.’ Third, the determination never to fall again in the same sin.’ If this kind of repentance takes place then yes they get a second chance.’ Some Muslim jurists refer to the verse I sighted earlier (24:3) which prohibited the marriage of a none adulterer (none adulteress) with an adulterer (adulteress) differ as to whether ‘wahurima thalika alla al mu’minin’ (prohibited to believers) is mentioned as an absolute irrevocable prohibition, or something that is detestable and condemned.’ According to Ibn Rushed they differ whether the mention of hurim (this is prohibited or unlawful) is in refrance to marriage with the adulterers or the act of adultery.’ In any case Muslim jurists argue that even greater sins like associating others with God, if the person repents, can be forgiven.’ Of course by implication they say that if a person’ committed adultery or fornication and really had strong and sincere repentance then it should be accepted.’ They refer to the Quran (25:68-71) which talks about repentance. ‘In cases like that, even if all these cases are present many jurists require that a person should wait (between one and three months) to make sure the woman is not pregnant from her previous elicit relationship.’ Some say that if she is pregnant that she should wait until she delivers her baby before marrying.’ Others say that one could contract a marriage but not consummate it until she delivers her baby.’ These are various angels of the problem, but yes sincere repentance may qualify.

Host:’ In a marital relationship where there is an accusation of adultery does it invalidate the marital relationship?

Jamal Badawi:

This is known in Islamic jurisprudence as mula’ana.’ We mentioned this in program 13 of this series with the procedure that Islam takes in case a husband accuses his wife of adultery.’ Even though it is indicated in that program that there is no punishment if the wife swears that he is lying or that she did not commit any such elicit act.’ But despite that maintaining marriage does not make any sense.

How could a man live with a wife that he accused of committing adultery.’ In Islamic Shari’a there is no given punishment for either of them but they should be separated, because in this case there is no possibility of harmony in their future relationship as she becomes irrevocably prohibited.

Host:’ What are the restrictions related to the question of religion?

Jamal Badawi:

In Islamic Law a Mulsim male or famale is not supposed to get married to a person who associates others with God, which is called a mushrik in Arabic.’ There are evidences in the Quran to that effect in (2:221) ‘Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe.” Then it goes on ‘Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe’ which describes the opposite case.’ It is confirmed in (60:10) that a believer is not supposed to hold onto an unbelieving woman.’ The same thing applies by implication to an atheists, apostate or a hardcore communist which is an atheistic way of thinking.’ Also, they can not marry a person who believes in any prophet after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).’ This is rejection of his message as the last and seal of all Prophets.

Host:’ What about the situation of marriage between a Muslim and People of the Book?

Jamal Badawi:

This is permissible because the Quran makes a distinction between people who are none Muslims.’ There are those who are atheists, idolators and the People of the Book which interpreted mainly to refer to Jews and Christians.’ In fact there is direct evidence of this in the Quran in (5:5) ‘Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time.’

This is regarded by many Mulsim jurists as a good gesture between Muslims towards Christians and Jews (in particular) as a way to remove barriers and as an expression of tolerance.’ This does not mean that this is the ideal situation.’ This is only meant to give them special status and position because they are closest to Islam in terms of belief in God, the hereafter, Prophets, basic moral teachings and the fact that their prophets originally received Holy Books from God just as Prophet Muhammad received the Quran.’ There are some jurists who say that People of the Book may not be restricted to Jews and Christians but may include other groups who meet the same criteria.’ This criteria includes belief in the oneness of God, prophethood, their prophets received a Holy Book which include Serbians.

Host:’ How do we respond when people say that Christians associate others with God and therefor a marriage with them is not lawful?

Jamal Badawi:

To start with there are people who have opinions to that effect including the famous Muslim Abd Allah Ibn Omar who was a contemporary of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).’ The same opinion is held in the Ja’fari School of Fiqh or Imami School.’ The appropriate position is that it is still permissible.’ There are a number of reasons for this. First, the verse in Quran in (5:5) says clearly ‘Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book.” To say that Christians associate others with God in His divine attributes by believing in the sonship of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) or believing that Jesus was god incarnate is not regarded as correct as in Islam.’ However, these kinds of beliefs existed at the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and still the Quran made a special distinction of Jews, Christians and People of the Book.’ They are considered to be different from atheists, polytheists or idolators.’ If we look at the Quran (22:17) and (98:01) we find that even though the Quran considered anyone who rejects the Prophethood of the last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as an unbeliever we still find that among the unbelievers there are two distinct categories as the people of the book were in a seperate category.’ Even those who refer to the saying of Abd Allah Ibn Omar say that it could be understood as discouragement of marrying a Jew or Christian but not that it is unlawful.’ In fact they may have some good reason, at least in that one should take precaution before engaging in this type of interfaith marriage.

Host:’ What are those precautions?

Jamal Badawi:

There is a good summery of those precautions in a recent book called ‘Contemporary Verdicts’ by Yusuf Al Qaradawi on of the most competent jurists in our time.’ I will just give a summery of his book.’ First, a woman should be truly from the People of the Book: a believing Jew or Christian.’ In other words one can not say that it is ok to marry an American or Canadian woman because they are from Christian countries, because we know that in Muslim countries or Christian countries there may be people who have Christian names but who are not really believers.’ Second, she should be a chaste woman.’ This condition is quite clear in (5:5) which we sighted earlier.’ It says walmuhsanat which means the chaste women of the People of the Book.’ This is an important condition which means that she should be a virgin (if she was not married before) and as such the person has to make sure that the culture that she was raised in considers virginity and chastity a very important moral and social value.’ And they have to make sure that it is a culture that does not condone premarital sex or free dating and courting.’ One needs to make sure that these conditions are applicable when one has these kinds of plans.

The third condition is that she should not be a woman from a people who are engaged in hostility and aggression against Muslims.’ We find that this is mentioned in (66:8-9) and (58:22).’ If there are groups of people who are engaged in warfare or aggression against Muslims it is not permissible to marry their women.’ There should be no negative consequence which effects the Muslim society as an effect of this marriage.’ This is based on a rule which is also a saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), la darrarah wala derar, one should not harm himself or harm others.’ In some cases if a Muslim gets married to a non-Muslim, even if they are a Jew or Christian, they may cause harm makes this marriage unlawful.’ First it is not lawful, if it hurts other Muslim women, because a Muslim’ woman is only entitled to marry a Muslim man and she can not marry a Jew or Christian.’ If Muslim males only marry non-Muslim women there may not be enough husbands for Muslim women (who are only allowed to marry Mulsim men).’ This would be harm by depriving Muslim women from marriage or even pushing them into a situation where they may commit sin, or marry a non-Muslim which is unlawful in Islam.’ There is a big harm that can be inflicted on Muslim women in some situations.

Also, it assumes that when an interfaith marriage is permitted that the Muslim man, as the head of the family, is taking charge and leading his family and leading his children to the right path.’ If this is not the situation and if there is a possibility that the influence on the part of the non-Muslim mother would be greater then one is likely to loose the future of his children.’ This might restrict this type of marriage.’ It is also assumed that this marriage takes place where there is a predominant Islamic culture where the influence of the mother, which is not Islamic, could be balanced by the overall Islamic atmosphere in society.’ When Islam allowed it by way of tolerance but not at the expense of harming the individual, society or the future of his children.’ This is why some jurists say that under the present circumstances Muslim minorities in places like America, Europe or Canada should not resort to this even though it is not definitely unlawful.