"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Muhammad in Yathrib; Hijab, Creation, Women's Rights, Hadith

I finished Walking the Bible earlier today (enjoyed it!) and then started back reading No God but God and finished chapter 3.   Really enjoyed the brief history of settling Yathrib (now Medina) and the discussion of women's rights and the reason for hijab in the beginning. Author Reza Aslan is quite good at explaining things and makes a lot of sense to me.  I could better understand the marriage issues that I've often had a hard time understanding especially when he stated that Muhammad's 25 year monogamous relationship with Khadija was actually the most noteworthy thing! I suppose polygyny was just more prevalent in world history than I wanted to believe.  I'm glad we've mostly evolved past that!  ;)  Actually he claimed bedouin men and women had multiple spouses at one time.  Since lineage was passed mostly through mothers in that wandering society, there wasn't the huge concern for who fathered the children. 

While Aslan admitted that Islam did away with a woman's right to marry more than one man (and limited all men except Muhammad to four wives at a time), he argued strongly that Muhammad was very much focused on empowering women and orphans and redistributing wealth so there wasn't such a great divide between the extremely rich and miserably poor.

He did make me curious with his statement "beginning with the unbiblical conviction that men and women were created together and simultaneously from a single cell, the Quran goes to great lengths to emphasize the equality of the sexes in the eyes of God."  (pg. 60) The "unbiblical" part caught my attention because I assumed Muslims accepted the Adam and Eve story of God creating Adam first and later causing a deep sleep to come upon him and forming Eve from one of Adam's ribs.  Now I see that must not be true!

I found talk of Arab Jews in Yathrib interesting especially how they were having conflicts and Muhammad came in as a hakam or, I guess, a mediator of sorts to help them work through the issues.  Later he gained a lot of power and the city was basically the model of perfect Islam which Aslan notes is very moderate for today's moderates and very traditional for today's traditionalists. Basically you take from it what you want so I suppose even the "ideal Islamic state" (or what characterizes it) is subject to interpretation (which, by the way, is why some Muslims I've come across do NOT want to go back to that form of government. What if the leader's interpretation of "ideal Islam" is waaaaay different from yours?)

Aslan reminds us that Muhammad's biographers were living when the Muslim community was "an enormously powerful empire" thus "their accounts more often reflect the political and religious ideologies of ninth-century Damascus, or eleventh-century Baghdad, than of seventh-century Medina."  (pg. 53)

Aslan mentioned the Constitution of Medina "often celebrated as the world's first written constitution" and how it was a bit controversial because of how much authority it assigned Muhammad over the entire population including Jews. (pg. 55)

I found it a bit amusing that the first mosque was picked out by a camel although I didn't find it quite as amusing that graves were excavated in order for the mosque to be built directly on a cemetery!  (pg. 52)  Really?  It's that important to build a mosque in a place a camel chose so you have to disturb graves?  Eh, I guess it's not a big deal when the graves don't belong to your ancestors. 

I also learned that the word ummah is of questionable origin and meaning and was actually replaced later in the Quran by the word "tribe" or qawm in Arabic.  Aslan notes that unlike most tribes, the Muslim "tribe" was open to all who wanted to join.  They only needed to say their oath of allegiance which we today call the shahada (there is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger).  It's what basically makes one a Muslim. (For any who grew up like me, think "sinner's prayer" which makes you a Christian according to some traditions.)

Aslan states that hijab was initially given to Muhammad's wives simply because their house was the mosque and people were in and out of there all the time.  Hijab was perhaps adopted from interactions with high society women in Syria and Iran who kept themselves hidden away because they were not needed as common workers in the fields.  Later hijab (wearing the scarf) became more popular as women sought to follow the fashion of the mothers of the believers (Muhammad's wives)  and still later it was adopted more widely when "a large body of male scriptural and legal scholars began using their religious and political authority to regain the dominance they had lost in society as a result of the Prophet's egalitarian reforms."  (pg 66)

Indeed, Reza Aslan puts much of the blame for unjust practices on male scholars who invented hadith to suppress women and basically call them "weak, silly, and in one sense like a child."  Whether hijab today is empowering or oppressive is, in his opinion, up to the women to say!  He mentions many women are now reading and interpreting the Quran from a feminine point of view and calls Amina Wadud's book Quran and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective by name.  (Are any of you familiar with this book?)

One final thing, yesterday I was reading the Chapter 2 End Notes and Reza Aslan wrote something that I found interesting concerning orphans.  (We had been talking of orphans and slaves in Islam on another blog.)

He said it was interesting to note that “the protection of orphans and widows has always been the primary criterion for just rule….Hammurabi….states that he conquered his enemies in order to give ‘justice to the orphan and the widow.’” (pg. 276)

And I also couldn’t help but remember that the book of James in the New Testament states:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Any thoughts or corrections or anything to add from what I posted from this chapter?  Let me know if you agree, disagree or have another side to the story than what Aslan or I have shared here.


Usman said...

May be it is time for you to take the bus down to Florida to to join that funny little Mr. Christian.

Susanne said...

Can you explain why you said that, please?

Amber said...

Oddly, I've always imagined that Mohammed and Khadija had a...'fairy tale romance', for lack of a better term. I don't know why...I just think that, from what I know of their biographies, they must have really loved each other. *shrug* No one destroy my illusion with any facts to the contrary, please!

There are still one or two societies today where the women marry more than one man at a time. AFAIR, the one I'm thinking of the women will marry brothers, so that the property will stay in the family, and it's not a big deal over whose kids have which father, because it's all the same family line.

Oh, a side note, I saw a commercial today that Lifetime is going to show a movie based on The 19th Wife on Monday, I think.

I can't recall the reference, precisely, but I believe that the Islamic creation story has mankind being created one time - so man and woman were both created at the same time, making them equal, as opposed to one being created second, or out of the other.

That whole, the leader's 'ideal' may be way different from yours is also why I have no desire to live in a 'Christian' nation.

*drums fingers* On the one hand, people build on top of graves (marked or otherwise) all the time. Whether they know it or not. It doesn't really bother me. After all, the people are dead. I don't think they really care all that much. Of course, there're the ones who do, and then you have poltergeist activity (we have a local restaurant that was built on a part of an old 'black' graveyard that had no markers - it has some really interesting phenomenon, as do many of the businesses in the same area), and other fairly nasty things which can crop up. But those are actually fairly rare occasions, considering how often we build where someone is buried or died. So the story of them disturbing tombs doesn't really bug me, but then again, none of them are *my* relatives, so...take it with a grain of salt. *I'd* never knowingly disturb the dead, just because I have no desire to test anyone's patience.

As for the 'orphans and widows' being a criterion for just rule. Well, it's good politics, isn't it? The majority of the population is never going to be the rich and idle, so saying that you conquered someone, or imposed this law, or that, to make the rich and powerful more rich and powerful is not going to endear you to the populace, and you do need them, whatever you might actually think of them. However, saying that you're doing what you do for the sake of the least of the populace, for those who are otherwise a drain on the society, well, that makes you look good, doesn't it?

Qur'an and Woman - I have this, but I've never read it. I picked it up after I heard about Ms. Wadud in the news - I think it was when she was leading a group of men and women in prayer.

Susanne said...

Blogger must be having issues. I had this comment in my e-mailbox, but I don't see it here! Am I going blind? Crazy? Ahhhh!

I'll just post what I got 3 hours ago in my e-mail box from Suroor.


Suroor has left a new comment on your post "Muhammad in Yathrib; Hijab, Creation, Women's Righ...":

There are other Iranian writers and thinkers who openly state that there was actually nothing noteworthy about his 25 years of monogamy. Men in his social position (which wasn’t too high in Mecca even though he was from a rich tribe) didn’t have or couldn’t afford multiple wives. Ibn Ishaq writes that Khadijah’s dowry from the Prophet was 25 camels which were also her actual property. She was his boss, much older, owner of whatever they owned together, cousin of a hanif whom the Prophet respected a lot; she was already married twice to rich men and had a respectable and commanding position in the society and she had children from the first marriage who were Muhammad’s age so she was in a more favourable position in society. coOpponents of Islam may use it to say that the “fairy tale romance” was created to show that he really loved her although he was actually not in a position of offend her by marrying again. This is not true. There are narrations of Aisha who was very jealous of Khadijah and his love for her. More than not being able to offend her by marrying again, it was a sense of loyalty because he was what he was because of her.

That verse Aslan translated on pg 60, I am happy that you pointed out, is a mistranslation. That is one negative thing about the book – the translations are his own and as a non-Arabic speaker’s they are sometimes not really correct. The verse he quotes reads as “O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and *from it created its mate* and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women…” (4:1) – the Arabic words are “wa khalaqa minha zawjaha” minha means “from it” so the mate was created FROM the prototype - Adam. I was also like huh? What did Aslan read that I missed! Verse 7:189 reads the same way. That mistranslation could have been a narrative style – a license he used to put across the point that Islam treats men and women equally.

I have read Wadud’s book. Didn’t really like the book.

Given Aslan’s background he is quite influenced by Christian thought and he certainly uses the mystical elements of Christianity to paint a picture of early Islam in Arabia. Looking after the widows and orphans also has a huge political basis. That practically means increasing the ‘qawm’ and indeed most orphans were looked after by pagan tribes who were very much into looking after them but in return their tribe’s power grew and those orphans were raised as belonging to that tribe and carrying on the particular traditions of their foster forefathers. That did mean they had the right to inheritance but they got in return what they invested through their blood and sweat. I was giving the example of the Prophet himself to someone – he too was never abandoned and was well looked after as an orphan by first his grandfather and then his uncle. Perhaps that is why his other uncles were so disappointed because they had thought he would automatically become their strength and add to the tribe’s welfare but instead he chose to preach a message that stirred a lot of pagan emotions.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Usman said...

May be it is time for you to take the bus down to Florida to to join that funny little Mr. Christian.

Not sure what that was supposed to mean?? Hopefully NOT insulting because if it were meant to be, the person OBVIOUSLY is NOT a reader of your blog and does NOT know you are one of THE most open-minded and kindest person I have ever met. I think your research and blogs on anything pertaining to Islam has always been fair and not demeaning AT ALL...far from it in fact. Which is why I love you so much! You're such a blessing!

As for this blog...I WILL make time to gather my notes so that I can comment. It will take me going back to the book in order to get the names of what I was talking about.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Lots of love

Anonymous said...

And why do I feel the need to post an angry rant?! I think I am very protective over you and feel quite insulted by that comment--even though there is no doubt in my mind you've moved way passed it and probably haven't even let yourself be bothered by it. That is your nature....but mine is different. I don't like when people throw forth their ignorance and intolerance and just plain old nasty-ness to people who they do not know in the least. If they would take 15 minutes out of their time to actually learn from others, see beneath who they really are, they would feel ashamed for allowing themselves to let even a single insulting word slip from their mouths.

Okay...I should go now before I sound like a hypocrite..sorry

OH!! The kids and I will celebrate Eid tomorrow by them missing school, shopping and I will take them out to eat--all my husband's suggestions since he will not be able to be here. I won't be able to make it to the masjid for the prayer(that time) so I will try to enjoy it best I can. InshaAllah it will be a good one. Hope yours is too, even though your not Muslim ;)

Suroor said...

Susie, I have no idea what blogger is up to :) Thanks for preserving my comment. I would have torn my hair out if I had lost it :)

And please believe me when I say that all Muslims are not alike. We are all different and there are Muslims who know how wonderful and open-minded you are. I am sorry; I apologise on behalf of any Muslim who leaves an angry comment on your blog.

Wafa' said...

"No God but God" seems like a good book.

I never knew that the first mosque in Islam was built on a land of disturbed graves !!! it might be ok then because Muslims or Orthdox ones believe that graves should not be markes or be kept for one person for good. That's what they do here, mostly after 6 month of someone's buired in a grave, the grave will be dug again and another dead person will be put in. The remining bones of the previous dead and many previous ones will be pushed to the side. So maybe that's why it's ok for them !! .

" Indeed, Reza Aslan puts much of the blame for unjust practices on male scholars who invented hadith to suppress women " that's happens a lot sadly and up till now people still believes in weak hadiths despite knowing the warning of the prophet of those who put words in his name. and that's why we must always apply the hadith on the Quran and see if they agree which most don't so you will know it.

And i am sorry too for that comment which was so rude, you don't deserve such harsh words coming your way, sorry dear :)

Lat said...

Qoute from Suroor,

"the Arabic words are “wa khalaqa minha zawjaha” minha means “from it” so the mate was created FROM the prototype - Adam."

Yes,that's how most translations say,but it doesn't mean the mate was created from a man's rib! :) I've read about this and jotted it down somewhere.I'll look it up!

Susanne,you're a wonderful and great person.You're dear amd warm friend as well.I hope people will think twice about writing negative comments about you esp if they don't know you.Take care friend!

Anonymous said...

Finally I am back. Sorry I took so long.

So I will start by saying that I got a great piece of advice once from a teacher of mine. She said:

"Sitting there and trying to pick apart each and every aspect of Islam--trying to understand fully with my limited capacity as a human-- will only further my confusion and get me lost in things that are simply not important. My main focus should be how I live my life. How I conduct myself and how much of that is according to the most basic laws in which a God fearing person should live. Worrying about things that are of no concern--whether legitimate concerns or not--tie up my mind and my life preventing me from enjoying it and leaving the door open for the real truth and the real knowledge(and even my answers) to come to me"

It is with that advice that I realized that sometimes, I just have to let go and believe. Some things I will never know. Some things I will find my answers for. Some things I might disagree or agree with and some things, well some things are just not that important.

I find that in Aslan's book he writes more for the secular mind than anything else. Almost--and I stress almost--for the non-Muslim. Sort of like saying "see, this is what we know. This is what History tells us..so in my opinion, this is what Islam is all about--have no fear" I don't think that he is wrong in his thinking, in fact, I gained a lot from his book and even at times found the advice of my teacher to be emphasized. However, some of the subjects such as hijab, women and hadeeths and so on are subjects that are always open for interpretation and there is no need to make excuses or try to lighten the whole cloud of suspicion hanging above them by non-muslims. These are those few things that will not go away and never be fully agreed upon in the same exact manner by everyone. It is these subjects that I have resolved to just believing what I believe to be the truth and the general consensus and going with it. I know my rights as a woman in Islam and I don't feel oppressed or the need to sugar coat them or try to make them more acceptable by those who do not understand. I don't care to tie up my mind and hurt my faith by constantly going over such things to the point where I get tired and give up.

It is hard for me sometimes. I am a person who needs to see it with my own eyes, so to speak, and a lot of faith--no matter what faith you choose to follow--must be followed with a faith in the unknown, the unseen.

As for my overall impression of the book. I thought it was very good. I especially enjoyed the part about Zayd and it really made me think when Aslan referred to the way the Prophet Muhammad(salalahu alayhi wa salam) regarded him as a person. It made me think that he had some type of influence over the Prophet Muhammad (salalahu alyhi wa salam)in terms of his actions--which Aslam also said. I don't necessarily believe he did or said things according to Zayd...but I do believe that Zayd may have--and please, don't take what I say as truth because this is only me and my limited mind speaking--he may have been a mere stepping stone in the path of the Quran being revealed to Muhammad(salalahu alyhi wa salam)Sort of like Allah was prepping him for the future...showing him something. I like that part of the book the most and intend to do some more research on Zayd when I get a chance--but solely for the sake of it, not for anything other than that ..like questioning Islam or all that.

I also enjoyed learning about the thoughts and actions of the early Christian sects in Arabia and also the Jews. It really makes me wish that some--not all because there were bad times with lots of conflict--the world would get back to that way...that acceptance and harmony that was shared by all no matter your chosen faith.

I enjoy your post. They always make me think and I wish I had more time to stop and comment the way I want too.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Lots of love

sarah said...

Just ignore Usman - he clearly has not read the blog. He clearly has no knowledge about Christianity and is an ignorant bigot. If you are like Pastor John then all Muslims are terrorists. It's the same ignorant 'logic'.

I dont believe Eve was created from Adam. The Quran also says that all life came from the water - which science is now finding to be true. There is no creation narrative as such just verse which can be interpreted in different ways. Rather than how we were created a more difficult question is why we were created. If God was perfect in Himself before our creation - why was creation started as all?

As for hijab - I think it is clear that covering the hair is prefered for women (Most Saudi Men also do it daily too) Covering the hair was normal for women of many faiths around the world for centuries. I have seen photos of Russian Jews pre-WW1 and they look just like the abaya wearers of the gulf. Even their faces were covered. But today it is not the normal mode of dress and it has become an issue. Rather than being the norm it now makes you stick out. Personally, I do cover and I regard it as a uniform which tells people that I am Muslim and that I have a certain code of behaviour which i follow. In the UK people have always treated me with respect if they actually interact with me.

Interesting thoughts! Eid Mubarak to you.

sarah said...

Also I forgot to say that I always tell my husband that the Prophet was loyal to his first wife and never made his first wife suffer the difficulty of having a co-wife.

Simply put, if he wants to follow the example of the prophet he can marry as many times as he likes after I'm dead - but never before.

Susanne said...

Thank you all for your comments! I hope to reply to them individually soon. I greatly appreciate each of you taking time to leave your thoughts. I hope you are having a wonderful eid/weekend! :)

Suroor said...

@Lat, No, I too don't believe that Eve was created from Adam's rib like a couple of ahadith suggest. In fact my views about Adam and Eve are very unorthodox anyway.

That is not why I mentioned the translation; I mentioned it because I was correcting Aslan who had offered a wrong translation in his book. I remember when I was reading No God but God I had to actually open the Quran and read it in Arabic (not English) what he was was referring to. Two years ago I translated the Quran for myself so I don't usually go for the translations popularly available, but in this case I agree with them.

I mean he is a scholar, a writer, a commenter; it is ok to make a point but to make a wrong point and then supplement it with the word 'unbiblical' is unfair. Scores of people have read it and never realised he was wrong.

Susanne said...

Amber, that's interesting about the societies that marry brothers to keep the wealth in the same family and to have the shared lineage no matter who fathers the children! Yeah, I kind of get the same impression about Muhammad and Khadija although I've not read their biographies as you have. I either get the impression he loved her so much he didn't marry another as long as she lived. OR she was so powerful (SHE owned the caravan business after all and kind of saved him from a poor life by proposing to him) that she wore the pants in that family and he didn't dare marry another. My ideas of them are mixed between the two, I think. :)

Oh, thanks for letting me know about that Lifetime movie. I wonder how that will play out!

"That whole, the leader's 'ideal' may be way different from yours is also why I have no desire to live in a 'Christian' nation."

Yes, me too! I remembered our past discussions about this even as I typed that part in my post! Jesus never told us to form "Christian nations" and we see from history what happened when "Christians" tried to do this.

" So the story of them disturbing tombs doesn't really bug me, but then again, none of them are *my* relatives, so...take it with a grain of salt. *I'd* never knowingly disturb the dead, just because I have no desire to test anyone's patience."

Well, I understand your point of view and apparently the Madinans didn't care since they let him. I just found it bizarre that a camel chose the mosque site and it happened to require digging up graves. But as you pointed out,I guess it happens all the time since people are all the time building where graves have been. I just thought Muslims believed in some sort of grave life...like instead of going to heaven or hell, they live in their graves until Judgment Day and I would think they would be more careful of disturbing graves. Then again, Islam was in its infancy then so ... Anyway, interesting thoughts about building over graves in your area and the weird activities!

"However, saying that you're doing what you do for the sake of the least of the populace, for those who are otherwise a drain on the society, well, that makes you look good, doesn't it?"

Very true! I think in America we refer to those as "the peoples' politician" because they seem to look out for "the people" as opposed to, I guess, special interests and big businesses.

Thanks for your great comment - enjoyed all you shared!

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks for what you shared concerning Muhammad's and Khadijah's marriage. I enjoyed reading what others have written about it. Glad to know he really seemed to love her!

Whether or not the Adam and Eve story is true, it still took my attention what Aslan wrote as the "unbiblical" view of Islam concerning them. So I'm glad you cleared up what the Quran says about it. It may be a literary device, an allegory, literally true or whatever, but I had the impression Muslims believed similarly about that detail of the creation story so I'm glad you provided some information on this topic - thanks!

Susanne said...

Shell, thanks for your sweet words. I guess Usman didn't like this post because it blamed male scholars for oppression of women in Islam. He never liked when I talked about polygamy in the past so it's fine. I thought my post was pretty favorable of Muhammad and Islam although it wasn't favorable of scholars who keep the women down. But then why should I praise people like that? :) Anyway, I appreciate your kind words. And I hope you and the children enjoyed a wonderful Eid celebration such as you described! I know you got some new books! Yay! :)

Glad you came back to leave another comment! Love that advice from your teacher! It seems very good and true since it's hard to always figure everything out and sometimes when we try so hard to do THINGS, we don't realize our attitudes and actions leave much to be desired. And maybe God is more concerned with how we treat others than how well we are at keeping a bunch of rules. I get this impression also from the Bible which seems to stress having a pure heart rather than doing a lot of religious activities without the right attitude.

I enjoyed your thoughts on Alsan's book. Since you shared yours, I'll share mine so far. I've only read 4 chapters so I may change my mind, but so far I find it a mild apologetic book (a defense of Muhammad and Islam) and, truthfully, it HAS softened my views of certain practices by putting them into more cultural and historical context. It's helped me understand Muhammad better. I wanted this because - if I am honest here - I didn't like him much. It's funny because I prayed not long ago that God would help me not dislike Muhammad so much so that I could see M with His (God's) eyes. I figured if I could do this, I could better understand Muslims, their attraction to Muhammad and that would be good for me. I never knew this book would be a key in doing this. I've not liked everything I've read, but as I've seen them stated in more historical and cultural contexts then I found my hard heart softening and that's always a good thing, I think. :)

"I know my rights as a woman in Islam and I don't feel oppressed or the need to sugar coat them or try to make them more acceptable by those who do not understand. "

That's a wonderful way to look at it. I sometimes feel the same when I hear people talk about how the Bible oppresses women. I don't feel oppressed at all. In fact my husband often jokes that I'm in charge...or something along those lines. :) So to people who say that, I just smile and think "whatever" because it doesn't really bother me since I am not oppressed.

" I am a person who needs to see it with my own eyes, so to speak, and a lot of faith--no matter what faith you choose to follow--must be followed with a faith in the unknown, the unseen. "

Oh, I can so relate! I am a very visual person. I even tell people sometimes when they describe something that I imagined it all in my mind because I do. Then I often laugh at what they are describing. So I understand what you mean about needing to see things and it being difficult to live by faith. I wonder though if this is why Jesus told us all we need is the faith the size of a mustard seed. It starts off small, but it's alive and it grows. So maybe as we have faith in one area, experience God's faithfulness, that mustard seed grows. Then again and again and again it grows as we exercise our faith and see how God is faithful. It's a nice thought, I suppose.

Yes, I also found Zayd and the Hanifis interesting. I'd love to read your research on that if you ever learn more about him and want to share what you learned. :)

I'm so happy you had a few minutes to comment. I really enjoyed all that you shared. You are always welcome though I know school and kids keep you busy! Thanks so much! Much love to you!

Susanne said...

Suroor, I know that! :-P I have a whole section on my blog about my trip to Damascus and have you ever heard me say an unkind thing about all the WONDERFUL Muslims I met there? And have you forgotten Samer? But thanks just the same. :-D I don't let Usman bother me although I was curious what exactly he didn't like about this particular post. But I remember how he is very defensive of polygamy so it's probably that. :)

Susanne said...

Wafa', I appreciate what you shared about graves there. That's really interesting though I had heard this before. I recall Samer telling me about a cousin who died within the last year or so and how they dug up his uncle's grave and he saw the bones! That's so different from how we bury people here today in those boxes (coffins) and mark the graves and all that! It's interesting learning how other people bury their dead.

And thank you for your kind words as well. I enjoyed your comment!

Susanne said...

Lat, the part about the rib comes from Genesis. I guess if Islam is a continuation of the previous books then I assumed it would have a similar creation story. It was just something that took my attention. Really not a big deal just a small detail in the chapter that Suroor helped me with. :)

And I appreciate your thoughtful words as well. Really, I have a small history with Usman from Suroor's blog and I was more surprised that he was still reading occasionally on my blog than anything, I think! I have no desire to join that Florida pastor! :-P

Susanne said...

Sarah, very nice to see you and read your thoughts on this post! So do you have any theories as to why we were created? Does Islam provide answers to that? I've never heard it discussed from an Islamic point of view and since you opened up the topic, I thought I'd ask. :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on hijab. I'm happy you've always been treated with respect in the UK.

"Simply put, if he wants to follow the example of the prophet he can marry as many times as he likes after I'm dead - but never before."

Ha, ha! Loved that! You are a smart woman! :)

Hope your Eid has been lovely!

Thank you ALL for your wonderful comments. I greatly enjoyed them all. I apologize for the delay in replying.

Suroor said...

Susie, I was reading The Origin of Mut’ah (Temporary Marriage) in Early Islam, an unpublished dissertation and came across an interesting debate. According to the researcher, Mutáh in pre-Islamic Arabia referred to a marriage contract favouring women (after Islam it began favouring men). A strong and financially established woman would approach a usually younger man for marriage and would support him while *enjoying* (the literal meaning of mutáh) him (like her possession) - much like Misyar marriage. The marriage contract almost always included the clause that as long as the wife was alive, the husband was not allowed to take up more wives and the wife also promised not to remarry.

The researcher argues that Muhammad's marriage to Khadijah was such a marriage and it is highly possible that he was bound by the contract not to remarry as long as she was alive because soon after her death people began bringing proposals to him. Since not much is highlighted about his life before Islam, it is not usually discussed, but the fact that even the the dower given to her belonged to her is a strong indication that the marriage was the pre-Islamic mutah type.

The researcher argues that whenever their marriage is discussed it is taken for granted that he was monogamous out of love or by choice whereas it is more likely that he was monogamous under contract.

I liked the argument because there is this illusion that he suddenly changed after her death and began marrying several times a year and it really sheds a poor light on the personality of the Prophet. But if he was in a contract which disabled him from taking more wives it shows that he honoured contracts and not only that, he also led a happy life in that contract.

sarah said...

Thanks. As for why we were created - I am not sure. It really is a bit outside my comfort zone to puzzle that one and I haven't done enough research to give a good answer.

Susanne said...

Suroor, that was very very interesting! Hmmm,thanks for sharing that tidbit! It's kind of fun to speculate on historical stuff, huh? :)

Sarah, thanks - no problem. I was just curious if you had thoughts about that topic. :)