What is the philosophy behind temporary marriage?


It is a general and universal rule that if man’s natural impulses are not satiated in the correct manner, he will resort to incorrect and devious means in order to satiate himself. In reality, the natural desires cannot be eliminated; and upon the supposition that they could be eliminated, such an act would not at all be rational for then it would be tantamount to opposing the laws of Creation.

Thus, the correct option would be to satiate them in a rational manner and utilize them constructively.

It cannot be denied that sexual desire is one of the strongest natural impulses existing within man to the extent that some of the psychoanalysts are of the opinion that it is the only primitive and primary impulse within man while all the other impulses are secondary in nature.

Now, in numerous circumstances and environments, a great number of individuals belonging to a particular age-group are unable to enter into a permanent marriage, or married individuals, who have embarked upon protracted journeys or other commitments, are faced with the dilemma of their sexual desires remaining unfulfilled. This issue has become especially acute in our times wherein the matrimonial age, due to the protracted period of education and other intricate social issues, has gone up and rarely can a youth enter into wedlock at a lower age during which he faces a period of heightened sexual tendencies.[divider]

What should be done in such circumstances?

Should the people be encouraged to suppress this impulse (like the monks and the nuns)?

Or should they be left free to indulge in profligacy, and the ignominious and scandalous scenarios that presently exist be permitted?

Or that we should adopt a third alternative – one, which neither brings about the problems of a permanent marriage nor leads to sexual licentiousness?

In summary, permanent marriage, in itself, has never been able to cater to the sexual needs of all the sections of the society – neither in the past nor today. We stand at a crossing – either to permit ‘prostitution’ (just as the material world of today has endorsed it and has officially recognized it) or accept the idea of temporary marriage. Those who oppose both prostitution as well as temporary marriage have not presented a solution for this problem.

The blueprint of temporary marriage neither possesses the strict conditions that are associated with permanent marriage so as to be inharmonious with educational engagements or lack of financial affluence, nor does it lead to the harmful ways of sexual wantonness and prostitution.[divider]

Criticisms levelled against temporary marriage

However, there are certain objections and criticisms that need to be discussed, albeit concisely:

1. At times it is asked, what is the difference between ‘temporary marriage’ and ‘prostitution’? Both of them can be considered to be prostitution in exchange for a certain sum of money. This kind of marriage is, in fact, a veil over prostitution and sexual pollution! The only difference between the two lies in the recitation of two simple sentences (recitation of the marriage formula.)

Answer: Those who make this criticism apparently do not have any awareness about the concept of temporary marriage. This is because temporary marriage, like permanent marriage, is governed by rules and ordinances. A woman entering into a temporary marriage must make herself available solely for this husband for the entire duration of the marriage, and must necessarily observe the ‘Iddah after the termination of the term. In other words, she has to refrain from entering into any kind of matrimony with any other male for a period of forty five days at least, so that it becomes clear in case she bears the child of the first person.

The observance of this ‘Iddah is obligatory upon her even if she had resorted to the use of contraceptives to prevent conception. If she happens to conceive, this child like the children that result from a permanent marriage, would have to be looked after and supported by the man, and all the rules that are associated with children would come to be associated with this child too. However, prostitution does not have any of these rulings associated with it. Can these two issues ever be compared with each other?

Of course, temporary marriage does differ from permanent marriage with respect to the issues of inheritance (between the temporary spouses),23 maintenance, and some other rulings; however these differences do not place it on par with prostitution. In any event, temporary marriage is a form of marriage which possesses its own ordinances and stipulations.

2. Temporary marriage becomes a reason for some lustful individuals to misuse this ruling and use it as a pretext to indulge in every kind of prostitution and profligacy; consequently respectable individuals never enter into it while women of good repute tend to avoid it.

Answer: Is there any law in the world that has not been abused? Should a rule, which is a social requirement and is in accordance with the human innate, be suppressed because of it being misused, or should those, who misuse it, be taken to task?

Supposing some individuals misuse the pilgrimage to the House of Allah and engage themselves in peddling drugs in the course of their trip; should the people be prevented from participating in this great Islamic congregation or should those, who misuse the occasion, be brought to justice?

If we observe that nowadays respectable individuals experience an aversion with respect to this Islamic statute, the fault lies not in the statute but in those who act upon it, or to put it more correctly, in those who misuse it. If, in our present day society, temporary marriage were to be portrayed in its correct form and the Islamic government were to implement it under the governance of specific rules and stipulations, not only would its misuse be prevented but even respected individuals (during social exigencies) would not experience an aversion towards it.

3. They say: Temporary marriage results in guardian-less individuals, such as illegitimate children, being handed out to the society.

Answer: In view of what we have mentioned previously, the answer to this objection is quite plain since according to (man-made) law, illegitimate children are neither affiliated to the father nor to the mother whereas children resulting from temporary marriage do not possess the slightest difference from those that result from permanent marriage – neither with respect to inheritance nor with respect to social rights and privileges – apparently this objection stems from their lack of attention towards this reality.[divider]

Russell and temporary marriage

In conclusion it appears expedient to present what Bertrand Russell, the well-known English scholar, has stated in his book Marriage and Morals under the topic Trial Marriage. After mentioning the scheme of Ben B. Lindsey, one of the judges for juvenile delinquency, in connection with ‘companionate marriage’, he states as follows:

“His view is that young people should be able to enter upon a new kind of marriage distinguished from ordinary marriage by 3 characteristics. First, that there should be for the time being no intention of having children and that accordingly the best available birth-control information should be given to the young couple. Second, that so long as there are no children and the wife is not pregnant divorce should be possible by mutual consent. And third, that in the event of divorce, the wife should not be entitled to alimony.”

After mentioning Lindsay’s idea, which was presented above, Russell goes on to state as follows: He holds, and I think rightly, that if such an institution were established by law, a very great many young people, for example, students at universities, would enter upon comparatively permanent partnerships, involving a common life, and free from the Dionysiac characteristics of their present sex relations.

As you notice, the above plan with respect to temporary marriage is in many ways similar to the Islamic concept of temporary marriage except that the conditions and stipulations which Islam has laid out for it are more lucid and perfect in various respects. In the Islamic temporary marriage there is no prohibition in preventing conception, separation is simple and alimony too is not obligatory.

Why are men permitted to have more than one spouse ?


The Noble Qur`an has permitted polygamy (but, with strict conditions and within prescribed limits) and here we have to face up to a barrage of objections and assaults of the opponents, who, armed with a cursory study and influenced by imprudent sentiments, have set out to oppose this Islamic ruling.

The Westerners, in particular, tend to criticize us by saying that Islam has permitted the males to create a harem and take for themselves an unlimited number of spouses. As a matter of fact, Islam has neither permitted the construction of harems – as they take it to mean – nor has it permitted unconditional and unqualified polygamy.

Explanation: Studying the conditions that prevailed in different regions before the onset of Islam, we infer that unreserved polygamy was a routine affair in those days even to the extent that on some occasions, when the polytheists would convert into Muslims they would have in their possession around ten spouses. Thus, multiplicity of wives is not an invention of Islam; on the contrary, Islam has confined it within the framework of the necessities of human life and qualified it by means of strict conditions.

Islamic laws are determined on the basis of the actual needs of humans and not on the basis of external propaganda and ill-considered sentiments. The issue of polygamy too has been given consideration from this angle. This is because none can deny the fact that men, in the various goings-on of life, are more exposed to peril than the women, and they are the ones, who predominantly bear the brunt of actual casualties in battles and other catastrophes.

It cannot also be denied that the sexual life-span of men is more than that of women since women, at a certain age lose their sexual strength whereas men do not.

In addition, during menstruation and certain phases of pregnancy the women are obliged to observe a restriction of sexual activity whereas the men have no such restrictions.

Apart from all the above there are women who, due to various reasons, lose their husbands and are usually not sought by the men as a first-wife, and in the absence of polygamy, they would always have to remain without a spouse; we read in numerous newspapers that this group of widowed women, due to the restrictions placed upon the issue of polygamy, complain of the tangles of life and regard this curb as a kind of sentimental oppression which they are subjected to.

Taking these realities into consideration, in such instances wherein the balance between men and women is disrupted due to certain factors, we are left with no option except to select one of the following three alternatives:

1. Men should, at all times, content themselves with just one spouse, while the extra women should remain without a spouse for the rest of their lives, suppressing and killing all their innate needs and internal desires.

2. Men should have only one official and legal spouse, but are permitted to establish illicit physical relationships with women, who are without spouses, and keep them as mistresses and paramours.

3. Those, who possess the means, should be permitted to govern more than one spouse. Individuals, who would not be inconvenienced physically, economically and ethically, and who possess the ability to maintain equity and even handedness amongst all their spouses and children, should be permitted to take more than one spouse for themselves.
Undoubtedly, there exists no other alternative than these three.

If we were to choose the first alternative, we would have to wage a battle against human innate instincts and spiritual requirements, and disregard these sentiments and feelings of the women – a battle which we would never win. On the assumption that this scheme is actually put into practice, the inhumane aspect associated with it is something which is clear for everyone to see.

In other words, when necessary, this issue should not always be scrutinized from the viewpoint of the first wife but should also be analyzed from the standpoint of the second wife. Those who consider polygamy to be the cause of the sufferings of the first wife, view this issue from only one perspective. It ought to be studied from three perspectives – from the standpoint of the male, the first spouse and the second spouse, and the issue should be judged after taking into regard the interests and well-being of all three of them.

As for the second alternative, if we were to select it, we would have to legalize and formalize prostitution. In addition, the women, who are kept as mistresses and used for sexual gratification, would neither have any security nor a future for themselves, and their status would be ruined, and these are things that no rational person should ever accept.

Thus, the only alternative that remains is the third one, which not only responds positively to the innate desires and the inherent needs of the women, but it also keeps women away from the evil consequences of prostitution. It prevents disruption of the lives of this group of women and thus serves to protect society from a multitude of sins.

It must be noted that although polygamy is a social necessity in certain instances and is one of the incontestable rulings of Islam, fulfilling the conditions necessary for it in the present times differs vastly from that of the past. In the simple and Spartan life of the past, it was easy for everyone to maintain equity amongst the spouses but in the present times, those who wish to make use of this ruling must ensure that comprehensive equity is observed. Basically, polygamy should not be pursued for the sake of carnal and physical desires.

Interestingly, the very opponents of polygamy (such as the Westerners), during the course of history, have encountered events that have clearly manifested their need for it. For example, after World War II, the need for polygamy was intensely felt in the war-torn countries, especially Germany, which even compelled some of their intellectuals to reconsider their views with respect to the prohibition of polygamy. In addition, they conducted a study of the Islamic program of multiplicity of wives from al-Azhar University.

However, severe objections on the part of the Church forced them to shelve their plans; the consequence of which was wild and outrageous profligacy that eventually engulfed the length and breadth of the war-torn countries.

Apart from the above, the inclination of some of the men to possess more than one spouse is something that cannot be denied, although if it were to arise as a result of carnal desires, it is not to be taken into regard. A wife’s inability to conceive and the husband’s intense desire to have a child provide a rational support to such an inclination.

There may be instances where the inability of the wife to satisfy the intense sexual desires of the husband leaves him with no alternative except to turn towards a second marriage – at times even compelling him to resort to illegitimate means to achieve his objective in the absence of legitimate ones.

Hence, in cases such as these, his inclination cannot be regarded as being illogical or irrational. It is for this reason that even in countries that prohibit polygamy, in reality, relationships with several women are widely prevalent whereby one male tends to have illicit relationships with several women at the same time.

The well-known French historian Gustav Lebon considers the issue of Islamic polygamy, which is bound and limited by conditions, to be one of the distinguishing features of this religion. Comparing it with the free and illicit relationship of a male with several females in Europe, he states: In the West too, despite the fact that the weather and natural environment do not warrant such a custom (polygamy), monogamy is something that we come across only in books of law!

For, I do not suppose that the presence of traces of this custom, in our actual socialization, can be denied! Honestly, I am at a loss and fail to comprehend what the legal, but confined, polygamy of the East lacks in comparison to the phoney polygamy of the West? In fact, I declare that the former is better and more seemly than the latter, in every respect.

Of course it is not to be denied that some of the so-called Muslims, without taking into regard the Islamic ideology behind this rule, have sought to misuse it, maintaining ignominious harems for themselves and violating the rights of their wives. This flaw is not in the law but rather in the individuals themselves, and their deeds should not be regarded as the laws of Islam. Is there any law, which, despite its excellence, is not put to misuse by profiteering individuals for their personal benefit?

Question: At this juncture some may question that if women find themselves in the abovementioned circumstances; would they be permitted to take two husbands for themselves too?

The answer to the above question is not very difficult:

Firstly: (Contrary to what is popular among the general public) the sexual desire in men is several times more than that in women; books relating to sexual issues state frigidity to be the disorder which is prevalent in the majority of women whereas, in the case of men, it is just the opposite. Even with respect to animals it has been observed that sexual advancements are usually initiated by the males of the species.

Secondly: Polygamy, in the case of men, does not entail any social or legal complications whereas, if the women were to possess two husbands, it would lead to numerous problems – the simplest of them being the issue of genealogy of the child, for it would not be known to which of the husbands it belongs, and such a child would certainly not be cared for and supported by any of the husbands. Some of the scholars are of the opinion that a child, whose father’s identity is unknown, tends to be less loved and cared for by the mother. Thus, such children find themselves deprived and denied with respect to love and affection, and unclear about their legal rights.

It may perhaps be unnecessary to mention that resorting to contraceptives such as pills or the like can never yield certainty or confidence that a child will not be conceived, for there have been innumerable instances where women, who have used them or made mistakes while using them, have conceived children. Thus, no woman can, by trusting and relying upon such measures, take multiple spouses for herself.
Due to these factors polygamy, in the case of women, cannot be rational, whereas in the case of men, after observing its conditions, it is not only logical, but practical too.

How does Islam permit the physical punishment of women?

Society belt picture

In verse 34 of Suratul Nisa, we read:

وَ اللاَّتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَ اهْجُرُوهُنَّ
فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَ اضْرِبُوهُنَّ
“And (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and (if ineffective) leave them alone in the sleeping-places and (if even this proves futile with no way of compelling them into fulfilling their responsibilities, except the use of force, then) beat them.”

The question that arises here is: How can Islam permit the physical punishment of a woman?

The answer to this objection, in light of this meaning of the verse, the traditions which discuss it, the explanations which have been presented in the books of jurisprudence and also the explanations which the psychologists offer today, is not very difficult, for:

Firstly: The verse sanctions physical discipline for those disobedient and irresponsible individuals for whom no other means have proved effective. Incidentally this is not an issue that is new and confined to Islam, rather, in all the laws of the world, when all peaceful and non-violent means to compel a person into fulfilling his obligations prove unproductive, there exist provisions to eventually resort to force. This resort to force is not restricted to mere beatings, but at times even extends to severe punishments and on occasions going all the way up to the death penalty!

Secondly: The ‘physical punishment’ in this case – as has been mentioned in books of jurisprudence – should be mild and moderate so as not to cause breakage of bones, injuries or (for that matter, even) bruises.

Thirdly: Modern psychoanalysts are of the belief that a segment of the female populace possesses masochistic tendencies and when this state intensifies within them, the only way to calm them down is by means of mild physical punishment. Therefore, it is possible that the physical punishment has been prescribed taking (the state of) such individuals into consideration, for in their case, this mild physical penalty would be lenitive in nature and serve as a kind of psychological remedy for them.

Without any doubt, if any one of these steps (mentioned in the verse) proves effective and the woman embarks upon performing her duties, the man has no right to inconvenience her and it is for this reason that the latter portion of the verse states:

فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلاَ تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلاً
“Then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them.”

If it is asked: Such rebelliousness, violation and recalcitrance are also likely to be displayed by the men; would the males then be subjected to such punishments too? The answer to this is in the affirmative. In the event of their shirking their responsibilities, men too, like the women, face retribution and even physical punishment; the only difference being that, since this is something beyond the ability of women, it is the duty of the Islamic judge to utilize various means – even ta’zir (physical punishment) – to make such violators become aware and heedful of their responsibilities.

The incident of the man, who had victimized his spouse and who, under no circumstances, had been willing to submit before the truth whereupon ‘Ali (a.s) with harshness and threat of the sword, forced him into submission, is well-known.

إِنَّ اللٌّهَ كَانَ عَلـِيًّا كَبِيراً
“Surely Allah is High, Great.”

Finally the verse again cautions the men from abusing their positions as guardians of their respective households, and exhorts them to reflect upon Allah’s Power, which is above all powers, for surely Allah is High, Great.

What is the philosophy behind the dower for women?


In the Age of Ignorance, since the people did not attach any significance to the women, they would essentially place the dower of the women, which was their incontrovertible right, in the hands of their guardians and it was looked upon as the rightful property of the guardians. At times, they would even stipulate the dower of a woman to be the marriage of another woman; for example, a brother would give his sister in marriage to a person, who, in reciprocation, would marry his sister to him and this itself would be the dower of the two women.

Islam abrogated all these unjust customs and, allocating the dower as a categorical right of the women, has repeatedly counselled the men, in the verses of the Qur`an, to strictly and completely respect this right of the women.

In Islam, no fixed amount has been ascertained for the dower and it is reliant upon the understanding reached between the two spouses. However, in numerous traditions it has been greatly emphasized to refrain from stipulating a weighty dower, but this is a ruling which is recommended, not obligatory.

At this point the question which arises is that both man and woman benefit equally from the matrimonial alliance – an alliance that is based on mutual benefits. This being the case, what is the need for man to pay a sum, large or small, as dower to the woman? Also, does this issue not deal a blow to the personality of the woman and impart an appearance of trade and transaction to marriage?

It is in the light of the above points that some individuals vehemently oppose the issue of dower, especially West-stricken ones, who derive their inspiration from the fact that dower is a custom, unconventional in the West. Whereas (the reality is that) not only does the excision of the dower not elevate the personality of a woman, rather, it serves to jeopardize her position.


Admittedly, both man and woman derive equal benefits out of a matrimonial alliance. Nevertheless there is no denying the fact that in the event of a divorce, the woman has to sustain a greater loss, since:

Firstly: Man, due to his special physical ability, generally possesses a greater control and yields greater influence in the society. However much people may seek to deny this outright reality in the course of their discussions, the state of human social life which we observe with our own eyes – even in the European societies, wherein women enjoy the so-called total freedom – reveals that high earning jobs are principally held by men.

In addition, men possess greater options when embarking upon another spouse-selection, but this is not so in the case of widows – especially after witnessing some aging and being deprived of their assets of youth and beauty – since the options that lie before them, in selecting a new spouse, are greatly diminished.

Considering these aspects, it becomes evident that the conveniences and resources which a woman loses after marriage is much more than what a man loses and so, in actuality, the dower is something which serves to indemnify a woman’s losses and a means for securing her future. Apart from this, the dower is also looked upon as a deterrent for man to seek separation and divorce.

Admittedly, the dower, according to the laws of Islam, becomes obligatory upon the husband as soon as the matrimonial alliance is entered into, and the wife is entitled to claim it from him immediately, but since it generally remains as an obligation upon the man, not only is it regarded as savings for her future but also a backing, which safeguards her rights and prevents the disintegration of her marriage alliance (of course exceptions do exist, but what we have stated holds true for the majority of the cases).

If there are people who have wrongly interpreted the dower as being a kind of ‘price-tag’ for the women, this meaning has no connection with Islam, for Islam has never looked upon the dower as a ‘cost’ or a ‘price’ of a commodity. The most excellent proof for this is the formula of marriage in which the ‘man’ and the ‘woman’ are officially looked upon as two fundamental parties of the marriage alliance whereas the dower is regarded as a surplus issue and is placed on the side-lines.

It is for this reason that if, in the formula of marriage, the dower is not mentioned, the formula does not become void whereas if, in a transaction, the amount is not stipulated, it would definitely become null and void (of course, it should be noted that if the dower has not been stated in the formula of marriage, the husband, after the consummation of marriage, is obliged to pay the wife mahr al-mithl (suitable dower), i.e. the dower, which is usually paid to women of similar and equal stature.)

From the above we conclude that the dower is a kind of ‘compensation of loss’ and ‘backing to safeguard the rights of a woman’ and not a ‘rate’ or a ‘price-tag’; probably, the use of the word nihlah – meaning largesse – in verse 4 of Suratul Nisa is an allusion to this very fact.

Why is Blood Money for Women half that for Men?


Some individuals might possibly object that in the verses of qisas (retaliation) it has been ordered that a man should not be subjected to retaliation for the murder of a woman; but is a man superior to a woman? Why should a criminal, having killed a woman and shed unwarranted blood of a gender constituting more than half the global population, not be subjected to retaliation for his crime?

In answer to this it must be stated that the verse does not intend that a man should not face retaliation for killing a woman, rather – as has been explicitly explained in the Islamic jurisprudence – the guardians of the murdered woman can seek retaliation from the male murderer, but upon the condition that they pay half the blood money (to the heirs of the murder).

In other words, when it is said that a man cannot be subjected to retaliation for the murder of a woman, what is intended is ‘unconditional retaliation’. However, if half of the blood money is paid, then it is permissible to have him killed in retaliation (for the crime committed by him).

There is no need to explain that the payment of the abovementioned sum for seeking retaliation is not because the woman is any less human than man or inferior to him. This is a perception which is totally misplaced and illogical, and perhaps the expression ‘blood money’ is the basis for this misleading notion. The payment of half the “blood money” is only to compensate the loss, which is suffered by his family, after the retaliation has been extracted.

Predominantly, it is the men who are the instrumental members of households monetarily and who, by means of their activities, shoulder the expenses of their families. Thus, the difference between the death of a man and that of a woman, in financial terms, is something which is not concealed from anyone, and which, if not taken into account, would cause unjustified damage to be inflicted upon the survivors of the dead man and his innocent children.

Hence, Islam, by stipulating the payment of half the blood money in the case of retaliation against a man, has taken into consideration the rights of all the individuals and has prevented this economic vacuum and irreparable blow to fall upon a family. Islam never permits that the rights of other individuals – like the children of the person facing retaliation – to be trampled under the pretext of the term ‘equality’.

Of course, it is possible that some women may be higher earners for their families than men, but as we do know, rules and regulations are not determined by (a few) individuals but rather, the entire category of men is compared with the entire category of women (take note).

why does a woman inherit less than a man in Islam?


Although it appears that the inheritance of men is twice that of women, a closer look reveals that from one viewpoint, the inheritance of women is twice that of men! This is due to Islam’s support for the rights of women.


Islam has placed certain responsibilities upon men, as a result of which, virtually one half of their earnings is spent upon women whereas no such responsibilities have been placed upon women.

The male has to bear the expenses for all of his wife’s needs such as housing, clothing, food and other necessities; apart from this, the expenses of his minor children are also to be provided by him, whereas the wife is exempt from every kind of payment, even if it is for her own self. Thus, a woman can stockpile her entire share of inheritance, whereas a man is bound to spend his share upon himself, his wife and children. Consequently, half of his earnings are effectively spent upon his wife and the other half is for him, whereas the entire share of the wife remains unused and intact.

For a better understanding, consider the following example: Suppose that the entire wealth existing globally is 30 billion tumans,13 which will be gradually distributed as inheritance amongst men and women (sons and daughters). When we compute the earnings of all men and women of the world by way of inheritance, we find that of this amount, the share of the men is 20 billion tumans while that of the women is 10 billion.

However, as is customary, the women will marry, after which the responsibility of providing for their expenses will fall upon the shoulders of men and so, the women can conveniently put their 10 billion tumans aside while, at the same time, be a partner to the men in their share of 20 billion, since this amount would be utilized by the men to provide for the expenses of their wives and their children.

Thus, in reality, half of the share of the men – totalling 10 billion tumans – would be spent on the women. This, in addition to the 10 billion tumans, which the women had placed aside, would collectively amount to 20 billion tumans – two-thirds of the (supposed) global wealth – whereas the men, effectively, do not use up more than 10 billion tumans for themselves.

In conclusion, the actual share of women, with respect to ‘consumption and use’, is twice the actual share of men, and this distinction is influenced by the fact that, generally, their ability and strength for generating earnings is less than that of men. This is a kind of just and logical support, which Islam has offered to the women, allotting a greater actual share for them although, ostensibly, their share appears to be one half (that of the males).

Incidentally, upon referring the Islamic sources we come to infer that the above query had plagued the minds of the people from the very onset of Islam.

Time and again they would question the Imams in this regard and their answers predominantly pointed to one meaning, which is: Allah has placed upon the males the onus of bearing the wife’s expenses and paying them the dower, and so, He has allotted them a greater share (from the inheritance).

In the book Ma’aniul Akhbar it has been reported that Imam ‘Ali b. Musa al-Ridha (a.s) in reply to this query, said: “The share of the females, in the inheritance, is half that of the males because when a female enters into marriage she receives something, while the male is obliged to give something. In addition, it is the responsibility of the males to shoulder the expenses of the females whereas the females are neither responsible for their own expenses nor that of the males.”

What is the Philosophy of Hijab?


Undoubtedly, in this age of ours – which some have named as the ‘age of nudity and sexual freedom’ and in which, West-stricken individuals regard wantonness of women as being part of this freedom – the mention of Hijab is very disconcerting for this group of people and at times is even looked upon as a myth associated with the ancient times!

However, the innumerable evils and the ever-increasing problems arising out of this unconditioned freedom have gradually resulted in the concept of Hijab being viewed with a greater interest.

Of course, in the Islamic and religious environments – especially in Iran after the revolution – a great number of issues have been clarified and satisfactory answers to most of these questions have been provided. Nevertheless, the significance of the topic demands this issue to be discussed more comprehensively.

The issue under discussion is: Should women (with due apologies) be placed at the disposal of all men for the purpose of being exploited by them by way of sight, hearing and touch (excepting sexual intercourse), or should these benefits be the sole prerogative of their respective husbands?

The point of debate is about whether women should continue to remain entangled in a never-ending competition in flaunting their bodies and stirring up the physical and carnal desires of men, or whether these issues should be uprooted from the social environment and restricted to the familial and matrimonial milieu. Islam advocates the latter plan and Hijab can be looked upon as a part of this agenda, whereas the Westerners support the former plan!

Islam avers that all such physical pleasures – sexual intercourse as well as those derived by means of sight, hearing and touch – are specific to the husbands, and anything beyond this is a sin which leads to pollution and impurity within the society.

The philosophy behind Hijab is indeed evident since:

1. Nudity of women, which is quite naturally accompanied by adornment and coquettishness puts men, especially the youths, in a state of perpetual stimulation – a stimulation which affects their nerves, generates within them pathological nervous excitement and at times even brings about psychological disorders. There is a limit to the burden of excitement which the human nerves can endure. Don’t all the psychologists caution that perpetual excitement leads to disorders and diseases?

This is especially in view of the fact that the sexual impulse is the strongest and the most profound of all impulses within man and, all through the ages, has been the cause of destructive events and horrendous offences, to the extent that people have gone on to say: You shall not come across any important event (in history), except that a woman has played a part in it!

Is the continuous provocation of this impulse by means of nudity, and intensifying it, not tantamount to playing with fire? Is this act wise and prudent?

Islam desires that Muslim men and women should possess a soul that is calm, nerves that are composed, and eyes and ears that are pure, and this is one of the philosophies of Hijab.

2. Substantiated and conclusive statistics reveal that with the rise in nudity, the world has correspondingly witnessed a continuous rise in divorces and matrimonial separations. This is because “whatever the eyes see, the heart covets”; and whatever the heart (which here means the errant and wild desires) covets, it seeks to obtain it at any cost. Therefore, every new day the heart gets attracted to one and bids farewell to another.

In an environment where Hijab is prevalent (together with adherence to the other Islamic conditions), the husband and wife belong to each other and their sentiments, love and feelings are exclusively for one another.

But in the ‘free market of nudity’ wherein women have been practically transformed into a commodity of mutual use – (at least in issues other than sexual intercourse) – the sanctity of a matrimonial alliance becomes meaningless, and families, similar to a spider’s web, swiftly break apart and the children are left without guardians.

3. The increase in indecency and obscenity, and the escalation in the number of illegitimate children are the most painful consequences of non-observance of Hijab – a fact which, in our opinion, does not require any figures and statistics; and the reasons for this, especially in the Western society, are so very apparent so as to eliminate the need for any mention.

We do not say that non-observance of Hijab is the sole and fundamental cause of obscenities and illegitimate children, nor do we say that colonialism and destructive political issues have not had any contribution to it; rather, what we wish to state is that the issue of nudity and non-observance of Hijab is as one of the instrumental and effective factors for those evils.

In view of the fact that ‘indecency’, and worse than this, ‘illegitimate children’ were and are amongst the sources of various crimes in human societies, the dangerous dimension of this issue becomes all the more clear.

We perceive the gravity of the matter when we hear that, according to statistics,11 in the United Kingdom five hundred thousand illegitimate children are born every year and then when we hear that a group of British intellectuals has issued a warning to those in the echelons of power with respect to this ongoing trend. The warning is not motivated out of ethical or religious concerns but rather out of concern for the dangers these illegitimate children pose to the safety of the society, to the extent that their involvement is observed in numerous criminal dossiers.

We (also) come to realize that even those who possess scant respect for religion or ethical issues consider the issue of the spread of indecency to be catastrophic. Thus, everything that serves to increase the sphere of physical immorality in human societies is a threat for their security, and the consequences – in whatever manner we may compute them – shall always be to their detriment.

Studies by educated scholars reveal that reduction of work, backwardness and lack of responsibility are most noticeably perceived in schools, which are co-educational in nature and in centres where males and females work together in an ambience of licentiousness and complete freedom.

4. The issue of ‘obscenity of women’ and ‘humiliation of their personalities’ also holds great importance and requires no statistics to prove it. When a society desires a woman with a bare body, it is quite obvious that day by day, it would demand increased beautification and augmented ostentation from her. In a society wherein a woman, due to her physical attraction, is utilized for promotion and publicity of products, as a decoration for the reception rooms, or as a tool for attracting tourists, her personality is reduced to that of a doll or a trivial and insignificant item, and her lofty human values are totally thrust into oblivion; ultimately, her only distinction and glory lies in her youth, beauty and self-exhibition.

Thus, she is transformed into a device for satisfying the carnal desires of a handful of individuals, who are polluted, deceptive and possess satanic attributes!

In such a society, how is it possible for a woman to manifest herself in the light of her knowledge, awareness, sagacity and moral traits, and to occupy a lofty rank and status?

It is indeed painful that in the Western and West-stricken countries, and in our country (too) before the Islamic Revolution, the maximum prominence, fame, repute, money, income and standing had been for the polluted and promiscuous women, who had come to acquire renown as ‘artists and performers’. Wherever they went, the management of this polluted environment would scramble after them to welcome their presence!

Praise be to Allah that the entire apparatus was annihilated and the female sex emerged from her previous triteness or her erstwhile standing as a cultural doll and an insignificant item, and salvaged her personality. She took for herself the veil without being secluded and isolated, presenting herself in every expedient and constructive arena of the society – even the battlefield – with the same veil and Hijab.

Criticisms Levelled by the Opponents of Hijab

At this point we come to the objections which are levelled by those opposing the veil and which need to be discussed, albeit concisely:

1. The most important thing which all of them support in unanimity and which they propound as the fundamental objection with respect to the issue of Hijab is that women constitute one half of the society but the Hijab pushes this multitude into seclusion thereby causing them to lag behind culturally and intellectually. Especially during the period of economic thriving, when there is a greater need for active human participation, this large female force would remain totally unutilized in the path of economic progress, not to speak of their lack of presence in social and cultural centres. Thus, they are transformed into a mere consumer that is a burden for the society.

But those who have resorted to this logic have either been totally oblivious of certain points, or have probably feigned lack of knowledge about them:

Firstly: Who says that the Islamic Hijab isolates a woman and distances her from the social arena? If, in the past, it had been necessary for us to exhaust ourselves in order to present proofs and arguments in defence of this issue, now, after the Islamic Revolution, there does not exist the slightest need for them, for with our own eyes we observe groups of women, in the Islamic Hijab, presenting themselves in all places – in offices, workstations, political rallies and demonstrations, on the radio and television, in cultural and educational institutes, in hospitals and medical centres, especially for nursing those injured in war, and even in the battlefield against the enemies.
In short, the present state (of the Islamic society) is a fitting riposte to all these objections; if previously we spoke of the ‘possibility’ of such a state, today we find ourselves facing the ‘occurrence’ of it and philosophers have stated that the best proof for the ‘possibility (of occurrence)’ of a thing is the (actual) ‘occurrence’ of that thing, and this is something, which is too evident and manifest to require any explanation.

Secondly: Is managing the house, training and educating the youthful children and transforming them into individuals not a task? After all, through their strength and ability, the youths are able to set the gigantic wheels of the society into motion.

People who do not view this great mission of women positively are ill-informed of the role played by family and training in constructing a healthy, prosperous and dynamic society. They imagine that the (correct) manner is that our men and women, like those of the West should, at the first sign of daybreak, leave their houses for their places of work, either leaving their children in nurseries or locking them up in a room thereby making them taste the bitterness of imprisonment at a time when they are blooming buds.

They are totally oblivious of the fact that this approach not only shatters their personalities but also moulds them into soulless children, who are found to be lacking in human sentiments and affections, and who will eventually jeopardize the future of society.

Secondly: Another of their objections is that the Hijab is a cumbersome dress, which is not well suited for social activities, especially in the modern automobile age. What should a veiled woman look after – herself, her chador, her children or her work?

But these critics do not realise the fact that the Hijab does not always mean a chador, but rather it refers to a woman’s covering. If the Hijab is possible by means of the chador, so much the better, but if not, then a covering is quite sufficient.

The womenfolk of our country, who engage in farming and live in villages – especially those who work in the rice-fields and perform the most important and difficult work of cultivating and harvesting the crop, have answered this objection, practically. They have shown that in numerous places a village-woman, while observing the Islamic Hijab, can work more than a man and better too – without the Hijab hampering or obstructing her work in the slightest.

Thirdly: Another objection which they level is that since Hijab establishes separation between men and women, it amplifies the greedy nature of man and instead of extinguishing it, only serves to inflame his covetousness, since:

أِلإِِنْسَانُ حَرِيصٌ عَلىَ ماَ مُنِعَ.

“People covet that which is forbidden for them.”

A comparison of our present society in which the Hijab is prevalent in all places – without exception – with the one that prevailed during the period of the satanic regime, which used to force the women to take off their Hijab will provide the answer to this objection, or more correctly, this sophism and fallacy.

Those days, every alley and neighbourhood was a centre of wickedness and depravity, and an ambience of incredible immorality prevailed within the households. Divorces were rampant, the number of illegitimate children was staggering and there were a thousand other curses.

We do not claim that all of these have been eradicated, but they have undoubtedly been greatly reduced and our society, in this regard, has regained its well-being. And if, Allah Willing, the state of affairs continues its course and all the other tangles come to order, our society, with respect to pureness of the households, and preservation of the merit and worth of women, shall come to achieve a desired and ideal state.

What is the Philosophy behind the Prohibition of Battles in the Holy Months?


In verse 36 of Suratul Taubah, we read:

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِنْدَ اللٌّهِ إِثْـنَا عَشَرَ شَهْراً فِي كِتَابِ اللٌّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَ الأََرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ‏

“Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred.”

The question that is propounded here is: Why are Muslims prohibited to wage battles in the four months (Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, MuHarram and Rajab)?

Prohibition of battles in these four months is one of the ways to bring to conclusion long-drawn and protracted battles, and a means of invitation towards peace and reconciliation. With the laying down of arms, the dying down of the sound of clashing of swords and whistling of arrows, and the presence of an opportunity for thought and reflection, there is a strong possibility that the battles may come to an end.

There is a vast difference between a persistent and continued confrontation and a renewed start following a lull – the latter being much more difficult and severe. We cannot forget how difficult it had been during the Vietnam War, to bring about a ceasefire for a period of 24 hours for the start of the Christian New Year – or in other similar instances.

On the other hand, Islam has announced for its followers a ceasefire of four months in every year, and this itself is an indication of its peace-loving nature. But as we previously mentioned, if the enemy desires to misuse this Islamic ruling and trample the sanctity of these holy months, the Muslims have been granted permission to retaliate in a likewise manner.

What is Jizyah and What is its Philosophy?


Jizyah is derived from جَزاَء and refers to the money taken from the non-Muslims, who are under the protection of the Islamic government. It has been named so because it is paid by the non-Muslims to the Islamic government as recompense for the protection granted to them with respect to their lives and properties (as stated by Raghib, in his book al-Mufradat).

It is a kind of an Islamic poll tax that is associated with individuals – not land or wealth; in other words, it is a yearly computation.

Some people are of the opinion that its root is of non-Arabic origin and has been derived from the ancient Persian word کزيت, which means tax taken to strengthen the army. However, numerous others believe that this word is totally Arabic of origin and, as we have previously mentioned, taken from جزاء, in view of the fact that the tax was a compensation for the security provided by the Islamic government to the religious minorities.

Jizyah also existed prior to Islam and it is the view of some people that the first person to levy it was Anushirwan, the Sassanide king. But even if we do not consider this to be the case, he was certainly one who did levy this tax upon his people. He would take varying amounts of 4, 6, 8, or 12 dirhams as a yearly tax from all individuals who were between the ages of 20 and 50, except the functionaries of the government.

The main philosophy behind this tax has been explained as follows: Defending the existence, independence and security of a nation is the responsibility of all the individuals of that nation. Now, if one group comes forward to practically shoulder this responsibility (in the form of soldiers), whilst another group, due to its involvement in work and trade, is unable to stand alongside the soldiers, then, it is the responsibility of this second group to pay for the expenses of the soldiers and security forces in the form of a per capita tax, in the year.

We have evidence which attest this philosophy to be true in the case of Jizyah – be it before the arrival of Islam or after.

The age-group of those who had to pay Jizyah during the rule of Anushirwan – as has been previously stated by us (between 20 and 50 years) – is an articulate testimony in this regard, since people in this age-group possess the strength and ability to carry weapons, and to help out in maintaining the independence and security of a nation. But being engaged in work and trade, they used to pay the Jizyah instead.

Another testimony in this regard is the fact that in Islam, it is not necessary for the Muslims to pay Jizyah. This is because Jihad is obligatory upon everyone and when the occasion demands, everyone must step out into the battle-field to stand up against the enemy. Since the religious minorities are exempted from Jihad, they must pay Jizyah in order that, in this way, they (too) have a part in safeguarding the security of the Islamic nation in which they lead a life of peace and tranquillity.

In addition to this, the exemption of ladies, children, the old and the blind of the religious minorities from paying Jizyah is yet another proof in this regard.

From what has been mentioned, it becomes plain that Jizyah is just a kind of monetary assistance paid by the People of the Book vis-à-vis responsibility, which the Muslims have shouldered with respect to safeguarding their lives and possessions.

Thus those people who have regarded Jizyah as a kind of ‘subjugation of rights’, have not taken into consideration the spirit and the idea that lie behind it. They are oblivious of the fact that when the Ahlul Kitab (People of the Book) enter into the category of Ahlul Dhimmah (protected people), the Islamic leadership is obliged to grant them protection from every kind of aggression and harassment.

Bearing in mind that against the payment of Jizyah, in addition to availing protection and security benefits, they do not possess any other obligation such as participation in battles or involvement in other defensive and security affairs, it is obvious that their responsibility towards the Islamic government is much lighter than that of the Muslims.

It follows that by paying a meagre annual amount, they avail themselves of all the benefits of the Islamic government as do the Muslims while, at the same time, they are not exposed to any danger.

This philosophy can be corroborated by examining the covenants established during the period of the Islamic government between the Muslims and the People of the Book in connection with Jizyah, in which it has been expressly stated that the People of the Book were obliged to pay the Jizyah and in return, the Muslims were obliged to guarantee their safety, to the extent that even if some enemy happened to attack them, the Islamic government would be duty-bound to defend them!

These covenants are numerous in number and, as an example, we present below the covenant, which was entered into between Khalid b. Walid and the Christians living around the Euphrates. The text of the covenant is as follows: “This is a letter from Khalid b. Walid to Saluba15 and his companions. I hereby enter into a covenant of Jizyah and defence with you, and in exchange for it you shall avail of the benefit of our support. As long as we continue to support and defend you, we shall possess the right to take Jizyah from you and if not, then we shall have no right to take it. This covenant has been written in the month of Safar, twelve years after the migration (Hijri).”16

Interestingly, we observe that whenever there was a failure or neglect in supporting or defending them, the Muslims would either return the Jizyah to them or not collect it from them at all!

It is also necessary to note that the measure of Jizyah is not fixed and defined – rather, it depends upon the ability of those paying it. However, Islamic history reveals that a small amount would usually be specified, and at times this would not exceed one dinar a year. Occasionally the covenant even contained the condition that those paying the Jizyah were obliged to pay it in the measure of their means and ability.

The above discussion serves to clear the various objections and caustic criticisms levelled at this islamic ruling, and establish that this is a ruling that is both just and logical.17

How does Islam attest slavery?

Some people criticize Islam as to why this divine religion, with all its distinguished human values, did not abrogate slavery in its entirety and announce the freedom of all slaves by means of one decisive and general decree.

It is true that Islam has made numerous recommendations with respect to slaves, but what is of prime importance is their unconditional liberty and freedom. Why should a human be owned by another human and lose his freedom – the greatest divine gift?

In one short sentence it can be said that Islam has chalked out an accurate schedule for the freedom of slaves such that eventually not only would all of them gradually become free, but at the same time, this would take place without causing any adverse reaction within the society. In one short sentence it can be said that Islam has chalked out an accurate schedule for the freedom of slaves such that eventually not only would all of them gradually become free, but at the same time, this would take place without causing any adverse reaction within the society.

Islam’s Strategy for Liberating Slaves

Something that is not usually taken into account is that if an erroneous system penetrates into a society, it takes time to uproot it, and any uncalculated step would only yield an opposite result. This is similar to a person, who is afflicted with a dangerous disease which has reached a very advanced stage of its existence, or an addict, who has been addicted to drugs for decades; in such cases, it is imperative to employ phased and scheduled programs.

Speaking more plainly, if Islam, by means of one general order, had ordered the people to free all the slaves in one stroke, it was possible that most of the slaves might have possibly perished since, at times, they constituted nearly half of the population of the society. Coupled with this was the fact that, they had no source of income, no independent work, no dwelling and no means to lead their lives.

If all the slaves were to have become free on one day and at one particular hour, a huge unemployed group would have suddenly manifested itself within the society such that not only would it have placed itself in difficulty and endangered its own existence, but would have also thrown the entire discipline and order of the society into disarray. This is because when they experienced the pressures of deprivation, they would have had to resort to violence and aggression, and this would have led to dissension, skirmishes and bloodshed.

Therefore, it was vital that they became free and got absorbed into the society, gradually, so that neither did their own lives fall into peril nor did they threaten the peace and security of the society – and it was this calculated strategy that Islam pursued.

There are several parts to this strategy and the most important points from each of them shall be listed here, although briefly, since a detailed explanation demands that a separate and independent book is written for the purpose.

The First Part: Eliminating the Sources of Slavery

Throughout the ages, there have been numerous factors and causes of slavery. Debtors who were unable to pay off their debts, and prisoners of war, landed up as slaves. Power and strength provided a license for procuring slaves. Powerful nations would send their forces armed with various weapons to the backward nations of the African continent and other such regions, subjugate their inhabitants into captivity, transferring them in groups, by means of ships, to the markets of Asian and European countries.

Islam put its foot down upon these means and approved only one instance for slavery – prisoners of war. In addition, even this was not obligatory; it granted permission that, in accordance with the general welfare and expediencies they could be set free, either unconditionally or after payment of ransom.

In those days there were no prisons in which the prisoners of war could be held till their affairs were sorted out and hence, there lay no alternative except to retain them, by distributing them amongst the families as slaves.

It is self-evident that when these circumstances change, there exists no reason for the leader of the Muslims to adhere to the ruling of slavery in connection with the prisoners of war; rather, he is at liberty to set them free by way of favour or ransom. In this regard, Islam has authorized the leader of the Muslims to take into consideration the general welfare and all-round interests and then choose the course of action necessary. In this manner, the causes leading to further slavery were almost completely eliminated.

The Second Part: Opening the Door Towards freedom

Islam has chalked out an elaborate program for the freedom of slaves, and had the Muslims acted upon it, it would not have been very long before all the slaves had become free and absorbed within the Islamic society.

The main points of this program

1. One of the eight instances in which zakat can be expended in Islam is purchasing slaves and setting them free.3 In this manner, a perpetual and continuous budget from the Public Treasury has been allocated for this purpose and which shall continue till the complete freedom of all slaves is achieved.

2. In pursuance of the objective, provisions exist in Islam which permit the slaves to enter into an agreement with their masters and purchase their freedom by paying them from the wages which they earn (in Islamic jurisprudence, an entire chapter titled Mukatabah, has been devoted to this issue).4

3. Freeing slaves is regarded as one of the most important acts of worship in Islam and the Infallibles (a.s) always led the way in this issue, to the extent that in connection with Imam ‘Ali (a.s) it has been recorded that:

أَعتَقَ أَلفاً مِنْ كَدِّ يَدِهِ.

“He freed a thousand slaves by means of his wages (which he used to earn).”5

4. The Infallibles G used to free slaves at the slightest of excuses so that it serves as an example for the others, to the extent that when one of the slaves of Imam Baqir (a.s) performed a good deed, the Imam (a.s) said:

فَاذْهَبْ فَأَنْتَ حُرٌّ فَإِنِّي أَكْرَهُ أَنْ أَسْتَخْدِمَ رَجُلاً مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ.

“Go, you are now free for I do not approve of a person from the inmates of Paradise to be my slave (and serve me).”6

It has been narrated in connection with Imam Sajjad (a.s) that once, his servant was in the process of pouring water over his (a.s) head when the vessel slipped from his hand and injured the Imam (a.s). The Imam (a.s) looked up at the servant whereupon, the servant recited:

وَ الْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ

“…and those who restrain (their) anger.”7

Hearing this, the Imam (a.s) said: I have restrained my anger. The servant recited further:

وَ الْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ

“…and pardon other people.”

The Imam (a.s) said: May Allah forgive you. The servant continued:

وَ اللٌّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِـنِينَ

“…and Allah loves the doers of good (to others)”

whereupon the Imam (a.s) said: ‘Go. For the sake of Allah, you are (now) free.’8

5. In some of the traditions it has been stated that the slaves, after a period of seven years, would become free automatically, as we read in a tradition that Imam as-sadiq (a.s) said: One, who is a believer, becomes free after seven years – irrespective of whether his master approves of it or not. It is not permissible to extract services from a slave, who is a believer, after seven years.9

In this very chapter there is a tradition from the Noble Prophet (s.a.w) wherein he (s.a.w) says:

مَا زَالَ جَبْرَئِيلُ يُوصِينِي بِالْمَمْلُوكِ حَتَّى ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّهُ سَيَضْرِبُ لَهُ أَجَلاً يُعْتَقُ فِيهِ.

“Jibra`il used to make recommendations to me, with respect to the slaves, so often that I was given to suppose that he would shortly stipulate a time-period after which they would (automatically) become free.”10

6. If a person, who owns a slave in partnership, liberates him in the ratio of his share in the partnership, he is obliged to purchase the remaining part of the slave and liberate him fully.11
Moreover, if a person who owns a slave fully, frees a portion of the ownership, this freedom permeates into the other portions too and the slave becomes completely free, automatically!12

7. Whenever one becomes the owner of one’s father, mother, grand-fathers, sons, paternal and maternal uncles and aunts, brothers, sisters or nephews, they immediately (and automatically) become free.

8. If a master fathers a child by way of his slave-girl, it is not permissible for him to sell her and she must be later set free by utilizing the son’s share of the inheritance.
This issue became a cause for the freedom of a great number of slave-girls, since many of the slave-girls were like wives for their masters and had children from them.

9. In Islam, expiation of many of the sins has been stipulated by freeing slaves (expiation for unintentional murder, intentional abandonment of fasts, and for (breaking an) oath are some examples of this).

10. Some exceptionally harsh punishments have been singled out (by Islam) whereby if a master were to subject his slave to any of these, the slave would automatically become free.1314