Islam’s Concept of Family (Part 1/3) - Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan

Islam’s Concept of Family (Part 1/3)


Farooq Khan 

          The fabric of Society stands erect upon the foundation of family. This is why the Quran has attached great importance to the matters relating to family and issued clear instruction in this regard. Some of these instructions are legal in nature i.e. they can be achieved through a court of law. These instructions include Nikah (marriage), Talaq (divorce) and conflict between husband and wife. While others are social in nature i.e. they have to be kept in mind while living in a family. They can not be contested in a court because they are extremely delicate in nature.  

          A family is formed by the sacred and pure love between a husband and a wife. The mankind took its start with the couple of Adam and Eve. According to Islamic teachings a man and a woman enter into the bond of marriage through NIKAH when they make an agreement to live for the whole life together. It is essential that every new marriage is announced publically and in the presence of witnesses so that it is known to everyone that a new couple has been formed. The main objective of this relationship is to bless both husband and wife with the wealth of love and peace through each other. Both of them are apparel of each other. Both have equivalent rights and duties towards each other except at one stage when man as has a husband an edge upon woman for being the head of family. On the other side he is more responsible than woman as he has to bear all the expenses his wife and children.

          Several questions arise in this context, about the rights of women. We shall discuss all of them one by one. The first question demands an answer regarding the purpose of marriage. The answer to this question is that a man and a woman get their sexual relationship legalized through marriage as any such contact outside the bond of marriage is disallowed by Islam.

          The Quran Says:

          “You shall not draw near to adultery, for it is foul and its way is evil.” (Al-Isra 17,32)

          Most of the Quranic instructions related to family have been issued through Al-Nisa. Therefore it opens as under:

          O’Mankind! Have fear of your Lord, who created you from a single soul. From that soul He created its mate and through them He bestrewed the earth with countless men and women. Fear Allah, in whose name you plead with one another, and honour the relations of the uterus. Allah is watching over you.” (Al-Nisar-4:1)

          After this the Quran relates that the agreement of marriage would take place through the mutual consent. The one would freely propose the other for marriage who would give a part of his wealth to the wife as per agreement. Thirdly, both husband and wife would vow to continue living with each other in a stable way. Fourthly, there would be an announcement of this marriage which would legalize their mutual sexual relationship started after marriage.

          “(Forbidden to you also) are married women, except those whom you own as slave. Such is the decree of Allah. All women other than these are lawful to you, provided you seek them with wealth in modest conduct, not in fornication. Give them dowry for the enjoyment you have had of them as a duty; but it shall be no offence for you to make any other agreement among yourselves after you have fulfilled your duty. Allah is knowing, Wise.”(Al-Nisa-4,24)

      “Marry them, so that they should be honorable and chaste.” (Al-Nisa-4,25)

Nikah (the bond of marriage) has been called ‘a firm contact’ in the verse21 of Al-Nisa. The Verse with similar sense have been placed at different places in the Quran.

          Next question deals with the nature of the ideal relationship between a husband and wife according to Islam. In reply to this, it is told by the Quran that ideal husband and wife love each other. They are like each other’s apparel. In fact they complement each other. They save each other from trouble, accord happiness and conceal each other’s fault. The Quran says:

          “They are apparel to you as you are apparel to them.” (Al-Baqara-2, 187)     

          It further says:

          “It was He who created you (man and woman) from a single being. From that being He Created his mate, so that he might find comfort in her. And when he had covered her, she conceived and for a time her burden was light. She carried it with ease, but when it grew heavy, they both cried to Allah, their Lord: ‘Grant us a goodly child and we will be truly thankful.” (Al-A ‘raf 7, 189)

          It says at another place:

          “And of His Signs is that He gave you wives from among yourselves, that you might live in tranquility with them, and put love and kindness in your hearts. Surely there are signs in this for thinking people.” (Al-Rum30,21)

          The Quran makes it clear that normally men and women are equal in rights and duties:

          “Women shall with justice have rights normally similar to those exercised against them.” (Al-Baqara-2,228)

          Next question pertains with special duties of a man according to Islam. Islam replies that a man shall fulfill all genuine requirements of his wife. He will neither tease her nor be unkind to her. He should try to make a compromise even with habits of his wife, undesirable for him, because no one is free from faults. The Quran says:

          “O believers, it is unlawful for you to inherit the women of your deceased kinsmen against their will, or to bar them from re-marriage, in order that you may force them to get a part of what you have given them, unless they be guilty of a proven crime (adultery). Treat them with kindness; for even if you do dislike them, it may well be that you may dislike a thing which Allah has meant for your own good.” (Al-Nisa-4,19)

          The Quran also instructs men to be kind to women and surrender their rights in favour of women. The Quran, after a detailed discussion on the laws of divorce says:

          “It is more pious that he (man) should forego it (his rights). Do not forget to show kindness to each other. Allah observes your actions.” (Al-Baqara-2,237)

          Next question requires the answer about the special duties of a wife according to Islam. Islam determines that a wife shall be loyal and obedient to her husband and will maintain the secrecy of her husband and his home:

          Good women are obedient. They guard the secrets of family as Allah guards the secrets of Human beings (Al-Nisa 4,34)   

Hence a wife has to take care of life, honour, property, children, secrets and temperament of her husband. Normally, she has to remain obedient and faithful to him. She should not adopt an attitude of humiliation and insolence with him. She should be true well wisher and confidant of her husband and should not be rebellious to him.

          Next question is who is the head of the family according to Islam. Islam pleads that the unit of family is alo a tiny state that needs a head. Headship is not merely a right rather a great responsibility. The head has to meet all requirements of the members of his family. He has to take care of everything, protect his house and show resistance to any offence against the house. Man has been gifted with the qualities required for headship like toughness of body, hardwork, sprit of competition in society, and the will to spend on his family. This is why husband has been appointed as head of his family. The Quran uses the Arabic word ‘Qawam’ for him which means the person who guards and meets all requirements. Therefore it is the prerogative of man to be the ‘Qawam’ and his responsibility too.

          It shall also be borne in mind that God, according to the Quran has given superiority to one over the other in different respects. For example if man is more suitable for performing safe-guarding duties, woman has been made befitting for the job of rearing kids. The Quran says:

          “Men (as husbands) are Qawam over women because Allah has made the one superior to the others (at times man and at times woman) and because (in this situation) they spend their wealth to maintain the family”. (Al-Nisa-4,34)

          At another place the Quran says:

          “Wives shall with justice have rights similar to those exercised against them; although husbands have an edge above them (as Qawam).” (Al-Baqara-2:228)

          There are some more notable points in the above two verses that need explanation. Firstly, whether any man is a ‘Qawam” of his mother after his father’s death. The answer is that it is not so. It is clear through the context of both the Quranic verses that convey the sense of husband and wife only. Thus the whole discussion here is related to the relationship between husband and wife. The discussion related to other relations gets room at other places in the Quran.

          Secondly, whether God has granted man an absolute superiority over owmen as the part of verse 34 of Al-Nisa, “Allah has made one superior to the other”, gives the similar sense apparently. In fact man has no absolute superiority over woman as the Quran has made it clear that other than headship, man and woman are equal in all respects. The above mentioned part of the Quranic verse says, ‘Allah has made the one superior to the others (at times men and at times women)’. It means that someone might be superior to others due to some special characteristics and vice versa. If God had an intention to declare men as superior to women absolutely, he would have laid it down in clear terms that ‘God has granted man absolute superiority over woman’. It must be kept in mind that the Quran says every important and fundamental thing very clearly. It says a thing in an abstract way only where it is required for example the Quran has described the matter of superiority very clearly in the verse 32 of the same sura as under:  

          “Do not cobet the favours by which Allah has exalted some of you above others. For men is a portion of what they earn, and for women is a portion of what they earn. Ask Allah for his grace.” (Al-Nisa-4,32)

          Next is the question how far is a husband authorized in enforcing something upon his wife. The answer is that although husband is the head of the family in matters related to the organization of home, but he should always consult his wife and he cannot interfere in the personal life of his wife. In Chapter Shura the Holy Quran has laid down the principle of consultation obligatory in all affairs. Husband does not have veto power because the Holy Quran has given the wife right of holding difference of opinion with the husband through verse 35 of chapter Nisa.    

          Our religion aims at inculcating a temperament among us so that there is perfect harmony, unity and happiness inside the home, all decisions are taken after mutual consultation and understanding and man and woman fulfill each other’ requirements to maximum possible limit and avoid glancing at temptations outside their home. Islam declares a family a tiny state where every matter should be resolved wisely and nicely. Islam advises man to regard his wife’s liking in these matters. The Prophet was so particular about the husband- wife relationship that he talked about it on the significant occasions of his last sermon.

          Man cannot interfere in the personal matters of his wife (Al-Baqara-2 verse 228). For example he has no claim on the property of his wife. He cannot force her to wear a particular dress or eat a particular food. He cannot stop her from meeting her close relatives and offering her prayers in the mosque. Thus a man has no command over his wife in her commonly known personal matters. The Prophet has described it in detail on various occasions.

          Since Islam calls man and woman as apparel of each other, it expects wife to regard the feelings and liking of her husband in such matters. Husband and wife conceal each other’s faults and thus are part and parcel of each other” (Al-Baqara-2: 187)

          Next is the question whether Islam allows men to strike their wives physically. What is the true situation?

          According to the Holy Quran a husband is not authorised to strike his wife or torture her physically under any circumstances. He cannot do so even if she happens to be the source of a big financial loss or her children get spoiled due to her negligence. However, he can strike her only when she becomes unfaithful to him and shows open disobedience towards him by taking interest in other men. In such situation, the Quran advises men first to convince their wives in a nice way. If the situation doesn’t get better, he should start sleeping apart. This might make a woman realize of her fault of insolence and disobedience. If the previous situation still persists, a husband is allowed to strike his wife mildly (Al-Nisa -4, 34) but it should not be uncontrolled and the target should not be the face or any other delicate part of her body. The purpose is to make her realize of the gravity of the situation that the family will be destroyed if she does not mend her ways.

It should also be kept in mind that hard striking is totally prohibited for any person by the Holy Quran in verse 45 of chapter Maida.  

          The Quran says:

          “As far as those (Women) whom you (husbands) fear unfaithfulness, first admonish them, then send them to beds apart and (if the situation is still grave then you can) beat them, then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Allah is High, Supreme.” (Al-Nisa-4, 34)

          This situation gives birth to two more questions. First, why Islam has allowed a husband to beat his wife? In fact Islam desires to safeguard the state of family and wishes that the internal secret should not be slipped out. Islam wants peace every where and advises every Muslim to remain loyal to his state and obey every order given by the state except that which forces him to commit a sin (like drinking wine). In the same way, Islam wants that the small state of family should be a model of love and peace. It should stay intact and in order to save it from dismemberment a husband may take some disciplinary action. God has allowed to do so because it is a lesser evil as compared to the dismemberment of a home.

          Hence, Islam wishes to save this unit so that this important foundation of society stays intact.

          Second question is: to what extent a man can strike his wife in case of unfaithfulness? It has been made clear that a man is not allowed to beat his wife except for this matter. The husband can, even in this matter beat her mildly as a performer and not as torturer. The target should not be the face or any other delicate part of the body. The Prophet’s saying has been recorded in authentic books of Hadith through reliable narratives. For example it is recorded in the MISHKAT:

          “I asked the Prophet about the right of our wives upon us. He told to feed them the same food that we eat and to clothe them as we clothe ourselves. We should not strike them on face in case of unfaithfulness. If we want to take a disciplinary action through separation, we should not live apart rather just sleep apart.”

          The Prophet made it clear in this context that the Prophets never did it and it is not desirable for nice men. The Prophet’s words are, “nice men won’t deal with their wives in this manner.”

          The Quranic support for this instruction of the Prophet is that severe physical punishment or other similar kind of torture is a state crime and there is no exception for any one including husband and wife in this matter. (Al-Miada 5, 45)


          The third question is: does wife has similar and equivocal rights if her husband is unfaithful to her. The answer from this scribe is Yes. Further details are given in a separate article.

          Here a contextual question arises whether there should be legislation on the state level against the violence within a house. The answer is that violence against women is serious issue in some Muslim societies. Men don’t hesitate in beating their wives even on trivial matters and at times hurt them physically. It is therefore necessary that legislation is done at the state level on this matter. This would inculcate awareness in the society that a man may take disciplinary action against his wife only when she becomes unfaithful to him and it should also be a reformatory action. It should be kept and mind that if a wife comes to a court of law with complaint of torture against her husband, the husband will have to prove her unfaithfulness, otherwise  he will be punished for false allegation or his wife will be separated from him, meaning that he will have to face grave consequences. It is also necessary that legislation be done for the judicial inquiry of every accidental death of a woman i.e through the stove burst etc.

          The next question is: has the wife got the right of difference of opinion with her husband. The answer is Yes. If there is a difference of opinion of a serious nature or a conflict to such an extent that husband and wife reach the stage of divorce, it is obligatory upon family fiends, relatives, society and finally the state to activate themselves and appoint a two –member jury (one from each side) to reach a broad based agreement and a peaceful co-existence. Both the members should try to resolve the dispute in the way acceptable to both the parties so that husband and wife lead their future life accordingly. The Quran says:

          “If your fear a breach between a man and his wife, appoint an arbiter from his people and another from hers. If they (husband and wife) wish to be reconciled, Allah will bring them to together again. Allah is knowing, Wise.” (Al-Nisa-4, 35)

The next issue in this context taken directly by the Quran is related to dower.Dower is, in fact the amount paid by a man with a vow of taking life long responsibilities to the woman entering into the bond of marriage with him as an acknowledgement of the submission on her part in terms of body and will. Islam has determined this amount as a token that the woman may utilize it as and where she desires freely and conveniently. The Quran has attached great significance to it and has mentioned it at ten different places. It is essential that the amount of the dower is determined at the time of marriage.

          The Quran directs that this amount should be determined keeping in view the social and financial conditions (Al-Nisa-4, 24-25). However, this amount should be handsome enough to grant her sense of security.

          It can be decided mutually whether the amount of dower would be paid immediately at the time of marriage or a part of it would be paid afterwards on the demand of his wife.

          Later, the wife may surrender a part of the dower if she desires (Al-Baqara-2, 229-237). There is a general confusion in our society that amount of dower is determined by Islam as Rupees Thirty Two and Annas ten only. In fact, the religion doesn’t determine any such amount. This amount was, in fact suggested by the Muslim scholars during the reign of Aurngzeb Alamgir, the famous Mughal emperor of the Indian Sub-Continent, for the convenience of the masses. The amount of that time equals lacs of Rupees today because, during those days one Tola gold could be bought in one Rupee (Tola is unit of weight in Inida-subcontinent equal to ten grams.)

          There is another misunderstanding that the wife will have to return the dower in case she demands divorce. In fact, at times the amount of dower is determined in a unrealistic manner for example the native house of the husband, his all or partial property etc. Later when husband and wife decide separation, the husband delays the divorce for the fear of surrendering a large part of his property. In such a situation, the Quran directs us to resolve the matter through the principle of ‘give and take’ and such unrealistic terms should be made moderate through mutual consultation (Al-Baqara-2, 229). In case of divorce after Nikah but before the bride’s formal departure from her parents the husband will have to pay half of the dower to the woman (Al-Baqara-2 :237)

          Next, the Quran directly instructs that Nikah with some relatives and persons is disallowed. It is so because these are the relations which should be based on pity, love and affection without any pollution of sexsual desires. There should not be any kind of envy or antagonism. This instruction has been issued throughAl-Nisa-4:23.

          According to this instruction a man is disallowed to marry his mother, daughter, sister, maternal and paternal aunts, nieces, foster mothers and daughters-in-law. Besides this a man is not allowed to marry-two sisters or an aunt and her niece (parernal and maternal both) at the same time. A muslim man cannot marry a pagan woman but he may marry a Christian or a Jew woman if she is chaste. The Quran says:

          “(All) good things have this day been made lawful to you. The food of those to whom the Book was give is lawful to you and yours to them. Lawful to you are the free believing women and the free women from among those who were given the Book before you, provided that your give them their doweries and live in honour with them, neither committing fornication nor taking them as mistresses.” (Al-Maida-5, 5)

          Muslim women are not allowed to marry any non-muslim man in any case. The Quran says:

          “They (Muslim women) are not lawful to the infidels; nor are the infidels lawful to them’. (Al-Mumtahana-60,:10)

          At this stage two questions require their answer. First is it not unjust to allow a man to marry from a community with the Book while a woman is deprived of this right? The answer is that Muslims verify and respect the Prophets and Books of those communities and thus no muslim man can hurt the feelings of a non-muslim woman. On the other side, these communities do not acknowledge the Prophet Hood of Muhammad (sws) at all and therefore there is a strong fear that a non-muslim man would not regard the feelings of a Muslim woman.

          The other aspect of the above instruction is that it was issued after the Holy Prophet had directly offered all these communities to accept Islam through his hectic efforts spanned on almost twenty years (thirteen years of Makkah period and almost seven to eight years of the newly established Islamic state of Madina) Hence, it seems that if a woman embraces Islam while her Husband is still non-muslim, she need not sever her relations with him unless he remains adamant even after the persuasion of several years to accept Islam as his religion.

          Above are the instructions about which the Quran has laid down very clear verses. Now we would heed towards certain issues which have assumed great significance in the present era:

          Firstly, since woman of today feels herself very insecure owing to the prevalent social conditions, is it possible to include some terms in the bond of marriage to grant her sense of security? For example it may be decided that the husband would pay a fixed stipend to his wife for her personal commitments or he would not force her to quit her job if she is already having one or she would be given a separate house to live in or he would have to pay a particular amount to his wife in case of divorce or would not marry another woman etc. According to the Quran, Nikah is an open agreement between a man and a woman therefore all such terms can be included in it rather, it is requirements of the present time keeping in view the social conditions. It is an obligation upon the government to include all such conditions in the officially printed Nikah Forms.

          Second: is a woman free to marry the man of her choice and is she authorized to take final decision regarding her marriage or her life partner would be chosen by her ‘Wali’ (a nearest related responsible man)?

          Islam believes in an ideal situation in the context of marriage when there is a perfect harmony between the man and the woman and their respective families on the proposed marriage. However, if such ideal situation does not exit, no man is allowed to arrange the marriage of a woman against her will rather she is free to marry the man of her choice in case of a dispute. The logic here is that the Quran declares marriage a free and sloid contract between two wise persons having an insight into the matter. They have to live together and accept all responsibilities. Hence, they should be acknowledged free and independent in the accomplishment of this strong contract.

          The Quran has declared it clearly that women are free to marry according to their will and no one can cast impediments in their ways. The Holy Book has mentioned this right of a woman especially in a case where it is feared that people would cast obstacles in her way and would consider her marriage as a matter of their prestige. For example it is feared that the relatives of the ex-husband of a widow or a divorced woman would try to stop her from remarrying. The Holy Quran says:

          “If a man has a divorced his wife and she has reached the end of her waiting period (three menstrual cycles) do not prevent her from remarrying if they (man and woman) have come to an honourable agreement. This is enjoined on every one of you who believes in Allah and the Last Day; it is more honourable for you and more chaste. Allah knows, but you do not.” (Al-Baqara-2, 232).

          It further says:

          “And those of you who die and leave wives behind. Such women should keep in waiting for four months and ten days after their husband’s death. When they have reached the end of their waiting period, it shall be no offence for you to let them do whatever they choose for themselves, provided that it is lawful.  Allah is cognizant of what you do”. (Al-Baqara-2, 234)

          The above quoted Quranic verses prove it vividly that the will of a woman is final in the matter of her marriage. If anyone else had the final authority on this matter, it would have been, definitely put own in the Holy Book very clearly. Not only this but the Quran also grants the right of marriage to a woman in particular situation of divorce. It would be discussed latter in this book. The Holy Book says:

          If a man divorces his wife (after the two divorces), he cannot remarry her until she has wedded another man and been divorced by him (the second husband); in which case it shall be no offence for either of them (the first husband and the divorced woman) to return to the other (means remarry each other), if they think that they can keep within the limits set by Allah” (Al-Baqara-2, 230)

          After this clear Quranic statement when we turn our attention towards the treasure of Hadiths, we find narratives of both kinds. These include the narratives according to which the Prophet declared a woman free and independent in the matter of her marriage and there are narratives with contrary sense as well:

          “Abu Huraira narrates the Prophet’s saying that, the marriage of a widow should not be arranged without her consolation and an unmarried girl should also be asked for permission regarding her marriages’. The companions of the Prophet requested him for further clarification of the nature of the permission (For example if an unmarried girl cannot utter the word ‘yes’ due to shyness). The Prophet told that her silence means that she has no objection”. (The Bukhari: kitabul Nikah)

          The above narrative is the exact and clear explanation of the verse 230,232 and 234 of Al-Baqara. It clearly indicates that the permission of a widow and a virgin both is necessary for their marriage and plays the decisive role.

          The second narrative is from the Muslim:

          “The woman, once married is more powerful than her ‘Wali’ in the matter of her marriage and a virgin should also be sought permission (According to another narrative) the virgin’s father should seek her permission and her silence amounts to her permission”. (The Muslim: Kitab-ul-Nikha)

          Hence, if a virgin has none of her own choice contrary to her ‘Wali’ or she is an embodiment of modesty; even then it is necessary to seek her permission which would play the decisive role.

          Third narrative has been taken from the Nisai and Masnad Ahmed:

          “Auyesha narrates that a girl came to the Prophet and told that her father has made her marriage with his nephew so that the boy may be relieved of burden through this marriage. The Prophets granted her the right to retain or terminate the Nikah. The girl said that she accepts the decision of her father as she just wanted the women to realize that their father are not authorized to made their marriage at their own.” (Nisai, Ibn-Majah, Masnad Ahmed: Kitabul Nikah).

          The above Hadith makes it clear that the final authority, in this matter rests with the girl and not her father.

          There is another narrative as under:

          “A woman came to the Prophet and said that her father had made her marry the man she disliked. The Prophet told her father that he had no right to make her marriage. He allowed the girl to marry the man of her choice.” (Nasb-ulRaiah Kitabul Nikah).

          There are many more narratives on this topic.        

Now we tend towards the narratives conveying the sense contrary to the above references of the Quran and Hadith:

          “The Prophet said, “There is no marriage without a Wali.” (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah: Kitabul Nikah).

          If we have a surface reading of this narrative, it seems quite opposite in sense to all Quranic injunctions and most narratives because according to the above quoted every woman rather every man is bound to seek permission of his or her Wali for marriage. Therefore this narrative is absolutely not acceptable in this sense.

          However, this narrative can be taken as an advice with reference to the element of persuasion and an attempt to bring a nice trend in society. It is just as the Prophet said:

          “There is no Islam without the fulfillment of a promise”.

          The above narrative does not that the one violating a promise would be outside the circle of Islam. It, in fact means to say that a promise should not be broken. The above quoted narrative is also an advice of similar nature saying that the real spirit lies in the mutual consent of the families of both husband and wife.

          Another narrative is as under:

          “Ayesha relates that the Prophet said, ‘the Nikah of a woman without the consent of her wali is invalid. In case of a dispute, the ruler of the state is her Wali. If she has no other Wali”. (Abu Daud, Tirmizi: Kitabul Nikah).

          It must be kept in mind that it is a weak narrative even according to Abu Daud and Tirmizi. This Hadith has been also narrated through the reference of Zahri who denied his access to it when contacted later for verification.(Kitabul Fiqah Ala Mazabid-al-Araba Vol-4 89). This narrative, through its surface meanings runs contrary to the clear instruction of the Quran and thus cannot be taken as an argument.

          There is another narrative as follows:

          “Abu Huraira relates a Prophet’s saying, ‘No woman is to make marriage of another woman or any woman is to make her marriage herself”. (Al-Sunan-al-Kubra Libelequi)

          The first part of this narrative is illogical while the second part is contrary to the Quranic instructions. The first part of the narrative is illogical because it would be impossible for a woman to make the marriage of her daughters if she has no close male relative. Now we come to the second part of the narrative. The Quran instructs clearly:

          “Do not prevent those women from marrying their husbands if they have come to an honourable agreement. Your are advised not to do so at all.” (Al-Baqara-2, 232).

          Third Question is whether a father or a grand father can arrange the marriage of their minor daughter or grand daughter. The answer is in negative as Islam does not allow this, because according to the clear instructions of the Holy Quran the age of marriage begins after having attained the age of maturity. While issuing instructions about orphans, the Quran says:

          “Put orphans to the test until they reach a marriageable age. If you find them capable of sound judgment, hand over to them their property, and do not deprie them of it by squandering it before they come of age” (Al-Nisar-4,6)

          However, an important thing in this context is that according to some narratives Ayesha, the Prophet’s wife was just six when she entered into the bond of Nikah and nine when she came to her husband’s home. Is it not enough to prove that the marriage of a minor girl can be made by her parents? In fact Ayesha was almost sixteen to seventeen years old at the time of Nikah and nineteen at the time of her departure from her father’s home. An eminent scholar from Sargodha, Pakistan, Hakim Niaz Ahmed has written a book on this subuect titled ‘Research on the age of Ayesha Siddiqua’ after a lot of keen research work. This book has been published by ‘Shakoor Academy, F-89, Block 2, PECHS Karachi Pakistan. A summary of this valuable research has been made by Khalid Masud through ‘Tadabbur’ July, 1994. Although it is a technical discussion, it is very significant keeping in view the prevalent circumstances. This is why it is being presented on these pages:

          “The honourable author has argued on all those narratives that show Ayesha, the ‘Umm-ul-Momineen’ as under aged. The most important of all these narratives has been recorded in all authentic books of Hadith like the Bukhari, the Muslim, Abu Daud, Niasi and Ibn Majah as under:

          “The Prophet entered into the bond of Nikah with Ayesha when she was six, brought her home as wife when she was nine and died when she was eighteen”

          The only narrator of the above Hadith in all the authentic books of Hadithh is Hasham Bin Urawah who narrated it with reference to his father, Urwah Bin Al-Zubair. After a very scholarly discussion, the author has proved that there was no narrator for this important narrative before the 145th year of Hijra. This is the reason that all books of Hadith compiled before this date do not register this narrative. Hasham Bin Urwah lived for the whole life in Madiha but none of Midinitte preservers of Hadith related it from his reference. Unlike this, Eleven Iraqi preservers of Hadith relate it through his reference and their narratives have been registered in the books of Hadith. Hasham went to Iraq only once in 145 Hijira when he was eighty four. It seems that he related this narrative at that time which was picked by the Iraqis. There was no one alive, at that time to recity the mistake or provide the original imformation. Therefore the statement of Hasham was taken as final and became acceptable for the whole Muslim Ummah when registered in all six most authentic books of Hadith. No one ever tried to investigate the matter. Afterwards, some experts in Hadiths attached it to their favorite references in order to strengthen the text of the narrative. All such narratives seem to be testimony of Hasham’s narrative apparently but prove to be dislinked when tested on the parameter of logic and argument. The author has proved, after having discussed all testimonies found in all the books of Hadith that these are dislinked. Even certain narrators are quite unreliable, liars and concoctors.

          The honourable author has assessed all those narratives that tell Ayesha as under aged. For example the statement of Ayesha that little girls from the neighborhood used to come to her in order to play dolls. According to the research of the author, this narrative is also attributed to Hasham. It is a permanent narrative which tells us the Makkan period of Ayesha when she was factually under aged but it was attached with the narrative regarding the marriage of Ayesha so as to make the statement look real. If it had been the incident during her Madinite period, her playmates would have been part of history instead of being wrapped in unfamiliarity.

          The author believes that the narratives regarding the singing of songs about the Battle of Ba’as by two maid servants and Ayesha’s watching of War feats performed by Ethiopians do not prove childhood or playfulness of the Umm-ul-Momineen. Further the narrators have yoked the heterogeneous references together which have faded the reality away. The author has provided several proofs about the fact that many narrators had distorted the original narratives by adding to them. In this context, he has held a narrator, Abd-ul-Razaq particularly responsible for this. The author holds the same person responsible for adding some sentences to the narrative about the incident of Ifk which prove Ayesha to be under aged, negligent, unwise and the same.

          Despite the element of weakness in the narrative regarding the marriage of Ayesha, the autor, by taking a favorable view, has formed the opinion that the figures of tens and twenties might have been missed with the age reference of Ayesha in the narrative of Hasham. It means the Hasham might have related the age of Ayesha at the time of Nikah as sixteen or twenty six and nineteen or twenty nine at the time of her departure from her father's home but these figures might have, erroneously been left out while writing. This mistake was considered as true record in the later periods.

Courtesy: The family of Dr. Muhammad Farooq Khan
Author : Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan
Uploaded on : Nov 23, 2015
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