Every now and then media reports
fatwas issued by muftis in India, Saudi Arabia and other
countries. One mufti in Saudi Arabia even suggested that if a
Muslim woman has to keep a man for household work and interact
with him though he is not mehram (from prohibited degree for
marriage), she should suckle him from her breast to make him
mehram. This fatwa was based on a hadith narrated by hazrat A’isha.
Darul Uloom Deoband, though does commendable work for peace and
communal harmony, issues fatwas when it comes to women which
reduce women as mere secondary to men or something subservient to
them. Recently someone from Dubai jocularly typed on his computer
talaq thrice he was told your wife has now been divorced and he
cannot marry her until she marries someone else who divorces her
and then only she can revert to her former husband who jocularly
typed the dreaded word.
In Iran a middle aged woman called Sakineh was punished to death
by stoning as she was alleged to have committed adultery though
Qur’an no where mentions such a punishment and prescribes only 100
lashes for zina and in Arabic there is only one word be it rape,
fornication or adultery. More recently, Darul Uloom Deoband issued
a fatwa saying that her husband said word talaq thrice on mobile
and even is she did not hear it triple divorce has taken place and
she must marry someone else as a necessary condition.
These fatwas are issued just because
some jurist or the other had so opined hundreds of years ago
keeping in view the conditions then prevailing in society. On most
of these issues there is no ijma’ (consensus) and many of them are
even based on controversial hadith. The opinion given by jurists
hundreds of years ago were based not only on Qur’an o hadith but
also on social structure and social ethos then prevailing.
Most of the Ulama or jurists, when
asked for fatwa consult only those medieval sources and never
bother to apply there own reasoning power. Taqlid (mechanical
following) is considered as safest by all these jurists. However,
even in those days many jurists had strongly condemned taqlid. Ibn
Taymiyyah and Ibn Hazm both were great jurists and both have
condemned thoughtless imitation.
Ibn Hazm was from Spain and used to
give great importance to freedom of thought and independence of
thinking in his juristic thinking. In this he was influenced by
his teacher Abul Khayar. He was also of the opinion that one can
be called ‘Alim as long as one engages in seeking knowledge. But
one who thinks he knows enough is, in fact, jahil (ignorant). And
seeking knowledge is seeking truth which is possible only through
intellectual process. Our Ulama and jurists, as we know, have long
since stopped thinking.
Qur’an is very fundamental source
for Islamic jurisprudence but Ibn Hazm, very rightly puts Qur’anic
verses in three categories: 1) those verses which need no other
source to understand; 2) those verses which can be understood in
the light of other verses of the Qur’an and 3) those verses which
can be understood in the light of authentic hadith and authentic
is one which has been narrated by most reliable and many
narrators. Even if this method is followed Islamic jurisprudence,
especially in respect of family laws, can be revolutionized.
Most of the jurists unfortunately
rely, in matters of family laws, more on weak hadith than on
Qur’an. Ibn Hazm, who apparently followed Zahiri School (but not
by way of taqlid) strongly criticizes who do not think by
themselves and simply resort to taqlid. And Ibn Hazm said all this
in 14th century Spain. Our jurist live in 21st century and yet
resort to mechanical following of their respective schools.
In fact another Spanish jurist Al-Shatibi
was also very creative in his thinking about shari’ah laws. He
said that one must first understand the maqasid and masalih i.e.
basic objectives and welfare of people for whom shari’ah laws are
being framed. Our muftis and jurists do not at all keep these
objectives and welfare of people in mind and simply consult
standard books of their respective schools (of jurisprudence) and
It is because of these fatwas that
Islam is negatively projected in media and them we complain
against media for its Islam bashing. A truly religious person
should look at his/her own fault first before blaming others. As
someone said we try to remove dust from mirror instead of from our
own face. The mirror is going to show dust on our face in any case
as long as it is on our face.
Today it is highly necessary to dust
off our own face and restore dignity of Islamic shari’ah by
re-thinking several issues pertaining to personal laws restoring
dignity and rights of women as given by Qur’an and taken away due
to personal opinions of jurists in their own circumstances.
Imitation should be thrown out of window and all eminent jurists
from entire Islamic world should come together and compile corpus
of laws giving equal rights to women in matters of marriage,
divorce, inheritance, etc.
There is no doubt if we keep maqasid
al-shari’ah (objectives) and masalih al-shari’ah (welfare of
people) and resort to independent thinking and freedom of thought
the Islamic laws would become not only highly just but a model to
be followed by all. Ibn Hazm, for example, was of the opinion that
if man is economically weak and woman who wishes to be divorced
well off, it is for divorced wife to maintain her former husband,
something which modern law stipulates. We must go directly to
Qur’an and accept only very authentic hadith and Muslim women will
be more equal than in other laws.