Path towards Enlightenment (994)
Salaam and welcome to another episode of our weekly series titled “Path towards Enlightenment” which is an endeavour to make you and us familiar with an easy and fluent explanation of God’s Final Scripture to all mankind, the holy Qur’an that was revealed to the Last and Greatest of all Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
In our last episode of this series, we completed explanation of ““Surah Hadeed” and from this Friday onwards we embark on explanation of the next Surah, that is, “Surah al-Mujadilah” or “The Pleader”, which is number 58 in the serial order of compilation of the holy Qur’an.
It has 22 Ayahs and was revealed in Medina. It mentions the complaint of a woman whose husband had put her away for no good reason by resorting to the pagan Arab formula, known as “zihaar”, which consists of the words: “You are to me as the back of my mother.” This was a pagan custom to imply a kind of divorce that freed the husband from any responsibility for conjugal duties as well as providing support for children without allowing the wife the freedom to leave the husband’s home, or to contract a second marriage. The woman, who along with her husband had become a Muslim, pleaded to the Prophet against this unjust behaviour and said that she also lacked the means to support her little children.
Her prayer to Allah and her plea was accepted, and this brutal and unjust custom of the pagan Arabs was abolished through revelation of this Surah, which goes on to state that those who oppose God and the Prophet, or fall to the temptations of the Satan, or lie in their oaths and make intrigues against the Prophet, will be defeated and suffer humiliation both in this world and in the Hereafter, while Hezbollah or the Party of Allah, which means those who have firm faith in God, will triumph.
The penalty prescribed for the husband who repents his act, is to set a slave free, or fast for three months, and if not to feed sixty destitute persons. Then only he can claim his conjugal rights. Such penalties were instrumental in the abolition of slavery in a rational and evolutionary way without creating chaos and disorder in the society, in addition to providing welfare for the needy.
As for the merits of reciting this Surah, a narration from the Prophet reads: “Whoever recites Surah Hadeed and Surah Mujadilah and reflects and acts upon them, will be regarded as a member of Hezbollah or the Party of God.”
Now listen to Ayahs 1 and 2 of this Surah:
“In the Name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful – Allah has certainly heard the speech of her who pleads with you about her husband and complains to Allah. Allah hears the conversation between the two of you. “Indeed Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
“As for those of you who repudiate their wives by ẓihaar, they are not their mothers; their mothers are only those who bore them, and indeed they utter an outrageous utterance and a lie. And indeed Allah is All-Excusing, All-Forgiving.”
These Ayahs negate the unjust and irrational pagan Arab practice of zihaar which we have already explained, and denounce those who in spite becoming Muslim still cling to such customs which are indeed lies and outrageous utterances, and for the forgiveness of which the husbands are required to pay certain penalties.
It is worth noting that Ayah Number One refers three times to the power of hearing of the Unseen but Omnipresent Creator, Who listens to whatever we say and is even aware of the thoughts that flash across our minds. Therefore, we should avoid lies and evil utterances, and instead supplicate to God to answer our prayers.
The next Ayah clearly says that those who tell their wives ‘you are like my mother to me’ utter falsehood, since the mother is the who gave birth to them, which means being a mother or a child depends neither on words nor sophistry, but it is an indisputable biological reality. In other words, if a husband were to say even a hundred times to his wife that she is a mother to him, it is nothing but falsehood, for which he should repent and seek forgiveness from Almighty God.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- The Prophet of Islam was always accessible to all people who could, without any restrictions, approach him for their needs or seek clarification of issues which were not clear to them.
- The oppressive and irrational customs of pre-Islamic Arabia against women were either cancelled or corrected by Islam.
- The Almighty Creator is well aware of all family issues as well as social relations and has accordingly decreed just and fair laws.
- Husband and wife should not indulge in evil behaviour towards each other, since abusive words have negative impact on family life, including the tender psychology of children.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 3 and 4 of the same Surah:
“And those who repudiate their wives by ẓihaar and then retract what they have said shall set free a slave before they may touch each other. This you are advised (to carry out), and Allah is well aware of what you do.
“He who cannot afford (to free a slave) shall fast for two successive months before they (husband and wife) may touch each other; if he cannot [do so], he shall feed sixty destitute persons, (this is) in order that you may have faith in Allah and His Prophet. These are Allah’s bounds, and there is a painful punishment for the faithless.”
Here, it is stressed that merely by uttering zihaar a husband cannot divorce his wife, and the one who utters such a phrase should retract his words and pay the penalties stipulated in these Ayahs for irresponsible behaviour, before resuming the conjugal relationship. These penalties are to strengthen one’s faith in God and the Prophet, and refusal to observe these Divine injunctions is an indication of disbelief for which there is painful punishment in afterlife. In other words, compensation for sins through expiation strengthens the pillars of faith and makes a Muslim practically committed to observance of Divine Laws.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- Islam negates irrational customs and superstitions that are indeed a form of oppression in society, and prescribes penalties for those who indulge in such abominable behaviour.
- It is not lawful to utter absurd and abusive words.
- Islam has used every opportunity to set slaves free so that this tyrannical habit of holding fellow humans in bondage is eradicated.
- Expiation and fines are stipulated in various forms to remove social injustice and to help the poor and the needy.
In conclusion of this week’s episode of “Path toward Enlightenment” here are Ayahs 5 and 6 of Surah Mujadilah:
“Indeed those who oppose Allah and His Prophet will be subdued just as were subdued those before them. And We have certainly sent down manifest signs, and there is a humiliating punishment for the faithless.
“The day when Allah will raise them all together, He will inform them about what they have done. Allah has kept account of it, while they forgot it, and Allah is Witness to all things.”
These Ayahs mean to say that refusal to observe Divine laws is tantamount to opposing God and the Prophet, and such persons will meet the fate of the disobedient generations of the past. God Almighty has sent down manifest signs for the guidance of mankind and for the faithless the punishment is terrible – that is, chastisement in the transient life of the mortal world, and for those who do not repent and reform themselves, the torment in afterlife is more severe.
On the Day of Resurrection when all people will be raised to life for the final judgement, God will inform the defaulters of what they used to do even if they have forgotten their words, deeds, and actions, which are all minutely recorded in the Divine register. The Almighty Creator is the Witness of everything.
These Ayahs teach us that:
- Any opposition and obstruction to Divine commandments will result in misery for man both in this world and the Hereafter.
- Those belying the Prophets are actually belying God and are thus doomed.
- On the Day of Judgement, the disbelievers and sinners will be given the record of their misdeeds to see themselves before being punished.