Monday, December 15, 2008

Inter-Faith Marriage and Islam

For majority of Muslims, an inter-faith marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man is a crime and something which not only should be looked down upon but also spoken aggressively against.
I am not an Islamic scholar.But the problem of the Islamic world lays in the very fact that the ordinary Muslims left such important issues in the hands of Mullahs and Maulvis.
Therefore now it is not only the responsibility of Muslims but also non-Muslims to try to reform Muslim thinking(not Islam!).
However there have been some Muslims such as ,Irshad Manji ,Imam Khaleel and our other brothers and sisters at
(And I advise that you should also read their articles as they are an eye-opener to the majority of conservative Muslims).
Now let’s come to the topic of Inter-Faith Marriage and why so many Muslims,almost all of them, believe that a Muslim woman can’t marry a non-Muslim man.
The first verse that is provided against it is The Glorious Quran: Chapter 5,verse number 5(5:5).
According to this verse:
‘This day, all innately good things are lawful for you… Lawful to you are the
chaste women from among those who have been given the Book before you…’
The traditionalists insist that since marriage of non-Muslim women to men is mentioned but not the marriage of non-Muslim men to Muslim women it is clear that women can’t do so.
This however may not be the case. As Imam Khaleel points out that Quran wa addressed to a certain society of Arabia which is extremely different than the world that we are living in,therefore it was addressed to men only.
The reason being that at that men were very powerful,but not women.This is also pointed out by the favourite author of many Muslims,Karen Armstrong in her book ‘A History Of God’.
We know that from the life story of Holy Prophet.After all how many women have been mentioned in the Prophet’s time with the power and prestige that Hinda and Khadija® Possessed?
These were two of the few elite women in the Meccan society who enjoyed somewhat better status in society than the ordinary women.
Because the men had power over women at that time,just like today you can see the suppression of Muslim women by their Muslim husbands,it was addressed to them.
If women would have had power over men there is no doubt that Allah would have talked through this verse to women.
Also there are hadith in which it has been mentioned that Allah dislikes those women(doesn’t mean He sends wrath on them,there is a difference), who make tattoos and who get tattoos done on their bodies as well as those who intentionally create an artificial gap between their teeth to look beautiful.
Does this mean that Allah has no problem with men getting tattoos done and the gap being created between their teeth?
I have read a lot of hadith regarding the disliking of Allah when it comes to tattooing but never ever read about men being cursed for doing so.
If you find any such verse or hadith then please do inform me,maybe I am wrong.Afterall I am a human being too.
Now let’s come to chapter 60,verse 10 of the Holy Quran which states:
“O ye who believe! When believing women come unto you as fugitives, examine them. Allah is Best Aware of their faith. Then, if ye know them for true believers, send them not back unto the disbelievers. They are not lawful for them (the disbelievers), nor are they (the disbelievers) lawful for them…”

If we examine the verse the word ‘fugitive’ means a ‘refugee’.(The word Muhajir can also be translated as someone who simply wants to emigrate.However this meaning would,atleast according to me,seem to be absurd.I’ll come back to this later).
Now why did Allah not want these women fugitives, who came to the Holy Prophet for embracing Islam, to go back to their Kafir husbands?
We find the answer in Yusuf Ali’s note to 5:5(note number 700) which states:
‘….Because her Muslim status would be affected :The wife ordinarily takes the nationality and status given by her husband’s law’.
At that time the Kafir were at war with the Muslims,and this we know very well.
The Kafir of that time would of course try to intimidate his wife because of her Muslim belief and because he was at war with the Muslims it makes sense that Muslim party would have to keep the women ,whoever embraced Islam,under their protection and away from such a husband as he would damage her religious beliefs by ridiculing her belief system and making fun of her beloved Prophet Muhammad which, to her,would be transgressing beyond the limits.
As explained that earlier in the period of ‘Jahilliyah’ the men dominated the society(just like they now do in the so called ‘Islamic’ utopias.).And the Kafir were against the religion of Islam and were not ready to even respect Prophet Muhammad,as they saw Islam a danger to not only their traditions but also economy.
Some of the Pagans and other non-Muslims might have.Their is no doubtfor to assume that the ‘whole’ society,each and every person,was against the Prophet is nonsensical.
Because Quran is addressed to the whole of Arab,atleast(whether it was for the whole of mankind or not is a debate,for some modernists think that Quran was for the Arabs as is evident from the fact that it was written in Arabic and was addressing the problems of the Arabian Jahilliyah and not any other land,although Prophet did recognize empires such as China and Persia.) and is not a book of ‘each-and-every-minute-details’(Quran already is so thick.Just imagine if it were to relate to every little detail of the society) it looked at how the majority of Kafir treated their Muslim wives and then provided this verse.
Now the problem is that today,due to Secular values and Secular education,majority of people respect eachother regardless of their faith,race,colour and even sometimes sexuality.
In these circumstances I,personally,can’t see any reason as to why this verse would be valid.This is not to say that Quran is 1400 years old and must be renounced.But that it was for that time and if the reasons stated above,for the verse’s appearance are resolved then this verse’s meaning doesn’t stand any longer.This does not mean that the verse should be discarded all together.
Take an example.
According to Quran four marriages are allowed to a man.And being a Muslim you would be aware that Allah commands a person to be truly fair and just to all his four wives.(4:3).
However Quran also states:
‘Try as you may, you can not treat all your wives impartially’(4:129)
Does this mean Quran is contradicting itself?No.
Allah allowed the four marriages to a Muslim man because in pre-Islamic Arabia a man mistreated orphans,denying them their rights.They took the orphans’ inheritances and made them virtual slaves in their household.
So Allah sanctioned a Muslim man up to Four marriages so that he could at least be just to the poor orphans.But at the same time Allah told them a harsh truth that they,even if they wanted,couldn’t be impartial to their wives.Thus Allah created the most difficult situation for a man to marry four times.
Now come to the modern world.Can any sane Muslim ever think that a man,with all this stressed out and expensive living,where it is difficult to manage a family even from one wife, would be able to be impartial to all his four wives?
I seriously cant think of any man for a woman doesn’t need only money,but a man’s emotions and love too.
Therefore for almost all the Muslims this verse is no longer valid.The point is also that Quran should be read symbolically and in historical context rather than lierally(this is the mistake the Quraish did,for they were not always Pagan but Hanifs and after they followed their logic and took Allah’s attributes literally ,they ended up personifying Him).
In the same case the issue of inter-faith marriage should also be dealt with keeping in view the requirements of both Quran and the modern world.
Now the inter-faith marriage should be allowed between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man if they agree to a ‘pre-nuptial’ agreement that they would:
*Not bring their religion into the everyday life and ridicule it to hurt the feelings of each other.
*Let their children have the education of both the religions(if Islam is divine,why fear it?They’ll naturally accept Islam then) and when they are of mature age the parents let them decide for themselves which path they want to choose.
*Neither spouse would be forcibly converted to the religion of the other one.
*There would be respect for each spouse’s religion and none of the religious offense(there a difference between offensive criticism of religion and the critical one) would be tolerated.
The conditions can be added on, in order to secure the marriage.

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