The Secret Beyond Matter

Maryam: An Exemplary Muslim Woman


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The Importance of Women

Some people are unaware of the importance and value Islam places upon women. Women who do not know this reality, as well as all people with insufficient knowledge of the Qur'an, try to protect their rights by working within their worldview, which follows the logic of unbelief. Social conditions around the world make this reality very obvious. For example, many women continue to be exposed to ill-treatment, violence, and unemployment, and need to be taken care of after their husbands have either divorced or abandoned them, or have died.

These problems will not be solved until people turn to the only source that can provide true and lasting solutions: the Qur'an. No strategy based upon an unbelieving society's logic and values will succeed, as Allah reveals:

If the truth were to follow their whims and desires, the heavens and Earth and everyone in them would have been brought to ruin. No indeed! We have given them that by which they are remembered [i.e. their honor, eminence and dignity], but they have turned away from it. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 71)

When people base their lives on the rights and wrongs of their own making, the results will always be disastrous. Everything and everybody is thus destined to continue on its path of degeneration.

Not so! All who submit themselves completely to Allah and are good-doers will find their reward with their Lord.
They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow.
(Surat al-Baqara, 112)

Given the persistence of the values based on unbelief, and despite being aware of their troubled lifestyle, unbelievers cannot find a lasting solution to their problems. Thus, they find themselves continuing to turn away from the only path that will lead them to prosperity, even though they are very well aware of it.

The only solution is the Qur'an, which provides the easiest, as well as the most content and beautiful path, by which to live. The only path that can lead toward righteousness is His path, for only it leads to goodness and prosperity. Allah reveals that the Qur'an brings people honor and dignity, and that all who abide by its values and follow this righteous path will find success in everything they undertake.

All true and lasting solutions to women's problems are found in the Qur'an. Islam, which was revealed to guide humanity to salvation, genuinely values women. Many verses protect women and their rights, for the Qur'an eliminated the prevalent misguided stereotypes of women and gave them a respectable position in society. Our Lord teaches that superiority in His Presence is based not on gender, but rather on one's fear and respect of Allah, faith, good character, devotion, and dedication to Him.

Allah has revealed the steps that women need to take to ensure their protection and respect within society, and for them to find the love and dignity that they deserve. All of these measures benefit women and seek to prevent damage to their interests or any form of oppression and unnecessary stress.

In the next section, we will discuss how the Qur'an ensures that women are treated according to their true value and honor. As Allah has revealed, Islam values all people and brings honor, dignity, and respectability to them in both worlds.

The Only Measure of True Superiority

Unbelievers, whose values differ from those revealed in the Qur'an, lead their lives according to their society's values, which are the product of their own reasoning and therefore unreliable. In one verse, Allah asks the following question:

Do they, then, seek the judgment of the Time of Ignorance? Who could be better at giving judgment than Allah for people with certainty? (Surat al-Ma'ida: 50)

One of the values based on unbelief is the criteria for superiority. The unbelievers' criteria for distinction and superiority are derived from such worldly values as property, status, career, fame, or physical attraction. If they cannot meet these criteria, they admire those who can and feel relatively worthless in comparison.

As a result, the details of everyday situations become important when classifying people. For example, some people consider it vital that they live in a posh suburb, have the newest and most desirable car, have parents with very successful careers, and have a desirable profession. Or, they want expensive and designer-label clothing, well-placed relatives, a diploma from the best university, and so on. When choosing their friends, associates, or even their potential spouse, they follow these same criteria.

In many countries, people place great importance upon skin color, the language they speak, or their nationality. In fact, the same criteria for superiority apply to all unbelieving societies, with only some minor differences based upon culture, history, and other factors.

At the root of women's proper role lie the very same wrong criteria. By applying their society's misguided tradition and self-made criteria, they continue to treat women as second-class citizens.

Allah, on the other hand, reveals that the best and truest criteria is His. It is revealed in the Qur'an that He has only one criterion: a person's fear and respect of Him:

O humanity! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah's Sight is the one who guards against evil [one with the most taqwa]. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat: 13)

O Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts, as well as fine apparel, but the garment of heedfulness—that is best! That is one of Allah's Signs, so that, hopefully, you will pay heed. (Surat al-A'raf: 26)

In yet another verse, Allah reveals that this fear and respect is the most beneficial quality that they can attain: "Whatever good you do, Allah knows it. Take provision; but the best provision is the fear [and respect] of Allah. So have fear [and respect] of Me, O people of intelligence!" (Surat al-Baqara: 197) Therefore, people should not strive for wealth and property, or fame and status, but rather for the fear and respect of Allah, for only this quality will make them superior and valued in both worlds.

Allah also advises people not to seek wealth, which has become a measure of superiority among people, but to ask for His good will:

Do not covet what Allah has given to some of you in preference to others—men have a portion of what they acquire and women have a portion of what they acquire; but ask Allah for His bounty. Allah has knowledge of all things. (Surat an-Nisa': 32)

Thus, those who measure superiority in terms of gender, physical strength, or any other value built upon unbelief are making a great mistake. As He says in the Qur'an: "The men and women who give charity and make a good loan to Allah will have it increased for them, and they will have a generous reward" (Surat al-Hadid: 18). In this verse Allah reminds people, men as well as women, that only by living according to the morality that He revealed in the Qur'an can they find the true and superior reward.

Men and Women are Equal

No doubt, every society knows all of the traditional arguments about women's ideal role and place. Their social status and importance in the family, whether or not they should work, and other social issues have been discussed seemingly forever. For Muslims, these issues were settled in the Qur'an: Men and women are equal. The facts that men and women have different physical builds and that women are generally weaker than men are irrelevant and cannot be used to reduce women's value.

What truly matters in Islamic morality is not whether someone is male or female, but whether or not he or she is a believer who fears and respects Allah. Each believer is expected to strive to live by the Qur'an's morality, for the results of this struggle are what Allah values and will measure in the Hereafter. Allah reveals the qualities that all Muslims, male or female, should have:

The men and women of the believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, keep up prayer and give the alms [zakat], and obey Allah and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat at-Tawba: 71)

They are the people guided by their Lord.
They are the ones who attain success.
(Surat al-Baqara, 5)

As Allah reveals, all Muslims, regardless of their gender, have the same responsibilities: to worship Allah, live according to the Qur'an's morality, command good and prevent evil, and abide by the Qur'an's rules and advice. Allah promises everyone who fears and respects the limits that He has established for humanity that He will give them the ability to distinguish right from wrong:

O you who believe! If you have fear of [and respect] Allah, He will give you discrimination, erase your bad actions, and forgive you. Allah's favor is indeed immense. (Surat al-Anfal: 29)

One's gender has no bearing on this, for Allah has given everyone an intellect capable of leading him or her to the right path, reaching the right decisions, and giving the right responses in return for belief and devotion. Therefore, intellect has nothing to do with gender; rather, it has everything to do with one's devotion, fear, and respect of Allah.

Any man or woman who acts on the impulses of the intellect derived from belief can achieve success in many areas. This depends on their will, motivation, and persistence. Believers never rest on their laurels, for it is part of Islamic morality to always strive to be more intelligent, talented, responsible, and virtuous, as well as to seek to always improve upon their character. Allah reveals that believers pray to Him for a character that will make them role models for those around them:

Those who say: "Our Lord, give us joy in our wives and children, and make us a good example for those who guard against evil." (Surat al-Furqan: 74)

A Muslim woman who does her best in everything she undertakes and who works to develop an exemplary character and morality, will excel in her society. She will carry out her responsibilities competently, reach the right decisions, find the best solutions, and take the most appropriate actions.

As explained earlier, Islam states that men and women are totally equal. For both of them, it all depends on their ability to exceed what is expected of them by realizing the full potential of their character and personality, and by fulfilling their responsibilities. For this reason, believing women do not struggle for equality with men, but exert themselves in the race to do good, defined in the Qur'an as the effort to win Allah's good pleasure. For this end, they race to become the person most loved by Allah so that they may win His good pleasure and be the nearest to Him. Allah reveals that these efforts determine the Muslim's superiority over others in this life as well as in the Hereafter:

Such people are truly racing toward good things, and they are the first to reach them. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 61)

Then We made Our chosen servants inherit the Book. But some of them wrong themselves, some are ambivalent, and some outdo each other in good by Allah's permission. That is the great favor. (Surah Fatir: 32)

The equality between men and women is also seen in the fact that Allah gives them equal rights in this world:

We made everything on Earth adornment for it so that We could test them to see whose actions are the best. (Surat al-Kahf: 7)

Every soul will taste death. We test you with both good and evil as a trial. And you will be returned to Us. (Surat al-Anbiya': 35)

In the above verses, Allah reveals that He tests men and women so that they can show who is better. In another verse, He says that He will test men and women with various trials until the day they die, and that those who show patience will be rewarded with His mercy:

We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger, as well as loss of wealth, life, and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara: 155)

Allah gave each man and woman a fixed number of years, holds them both responsible for their choices, gave them a sense of right and wrong, and made their base instincts and satan their enemies. And whoever shows strength of character and works for good in the face of these realities here on Earth will receive the best rewards from Allah in both worlds:

I will not let the deeds of any doer among you go to waste, male or female—you are both the same in that respect. Those who have left their homes and were driven from their homes, and [who] suffered harm in My Way and fought and were killed, I will erase their bad actions and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, as a reward from Allah. The best of all rewards is with Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran: 195)

He also reminds men and women that no one will be treated unjustly as regards the rewards they are to receive on Earth as well as in the Hereafter: "Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and will recompense them according to the best of what they did" (Surat an-Nahl: 97).

Say: "Each one (of us) is waiting: wait ye, therefore, and soon shall ye know who it is that is on the straight and even way, and who it is that has received Guidance."
(Surah Ta Ha, 135)

In the Qur'an Men and Women Are Addressed in the Same Manner

Looking at the Qur'an in general, we see that men and women are addressed in the same manner. This is yet another indication that Allah is concerned only with a person's true and heart-felt belief and not his or her age or gender. In this respect, the Qur'an addresses men and women together and reminds them that they have the same responsibilities. There are many such verses, among them: "Anyone, male or female, who does right actions and believes, will enter the Garden. They will not be wronged by so much as the tiniest speck" (Surat an-Nisa: 124).

Another verse in which Allah addresses men and women together is given below:

Whoever does an evil act will only be repaid with its equivalent. But whoever acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, such a person will enter the Garden, wherein they will be provided for without any reckoning. (Surah Ghafir: 40)

When revealing things about unbelievers, Allah also addresses them in the same manner. He reveals that unbelievers and hypocrites of both genders will be treated alike. For example:

The men and women of the hypocrites are as bad as one another. They command what is wrong and forbid what is right, and they keep their fists tightly closed. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them. The hypocrites are deviators. (Surat at-Tawba: 67)

Allah has promised the men and women of the hypocrites and unbelievers the Fire of Hell, remaining in it timelessly, forever. It will suffice them. Allah has cursed them. They will have an everlasting punishment. (Surat at-Tawba: 68)

This was so that Allah might punish hypocritical men and women as well as the associating men and women—those who think bad thoughts about Allah, and turn toward the men and women of the believers. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Ahzab: 73)

And so that He might punish hypocritical men and women as well as associating men and women—those who think bad thoughts about Allah. They will suffer an evil turn of fate. Allah is angry with them, has cursed them, and prepared Hell for them. What an evil destination! (Surat al-Fath: 6)

As these verses make clear, men and women are equal in their trial on Earth as well as in the reward they receive in the Hereafter.

The Value of Mothers

Islamic morality guarantees all people's social and personal lives and shows them how to live the easiest, most content, and happiest life. This morality prescribes justice, understanding, compassion, and helpfulness toward all people, regardless of gender, age, and economic status. Irrespective of whom they are dealing with, Muslims are required to always abide by this morality as best they can. Muslims adopt these superior moral characteristics because Allah tells them to do so. As a result, a person's social status, gender, age, and other such characteristics are irrelevant to them.

Allah states the importance of treating women, especially mothers, well. Parents do their best to give their children a good education, a decent character, and teach them to treat all other people properly. Given that they make many sacrifices, financial or otherwise, for many years, the children are obligated to return their efforts and selfless support with respect and service. Allah reveals this responsibility:

We have instructed man to honor his parents. (Surat al-'Ankabut: 8)

We have instructed man to be good to his parents. (Surat al-Ahqaf: 15)

Say: "Come, and I will recite to you what your Lord has made forbidden to you: that you do not associate anything with Him, that you be good to your parents, that you do not kill your children because of poverty—We will provide for you and them, that you do not approach indecency—outward or inward, and that you do not kill any person Allah has made inviolate—except with the right to do so. That is what He instructs you to do so that, hopefully, you will use your intellect." (Surat al-An'am: 151)

It is also revealed in the Qur'an that one must treat parents well and avoid arrogance and pride:

Worship Allah, and do not associate anything with Him. Be good to your parents and relatives, orphans and the very poor, neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who are not related to you, companions and travelers, and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful. (Surat an-Nisa': 36)

Believers are those whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned, whose faith is increased when His Signs are recited to them, and who put their trust in their Lord.
(Surat al-Anfal, 2)

Clearly, Allah advises people to always be understanding, compassionate, and respectful toward their parents. He also reminds us of the difficulties that mothers suffer while giving birth and raising their children. For example:

We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility, and the period of his weaning was two years: "Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination." (Surah Luqman: 14)

We have instructed man to be good to his parents. His mother bore him with difficulty and, with difficulty, gave birth to him; and his bearing and weaning take thirty months. Then when he achieves his full strength and reaches forty, he says: "My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You. Make my descendants righteous. I have repented to You, and I am truly one of the Muslims." (Surat al-Ahqaf: 15)

Every mother suffers for many months and displays great devotion in order to give birth. As Allah reveals, this is an agonizing process for her. After this period, she adopts a selfless devotion and begins to feed and nurture her child. Allah reminds people of this reality and points out that mothers are very special beings. In addition, He advises people not to forget their parents' selfless devotion to them and to treat them equally well when they reach old age and become dependent:

Your Lord has decreed that you should worship none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say "Ugh!" to them out of irritation, and do not be harsh with them; rather, speak to them with gentleness and generosity. Take them under your wing, out of mercy, with due humility and say: "O Lord, show mercy to them as they did in looking after me when I was small." (Surat al-Isra': 23-24)

As we all know, old age means the loss of physical strength, dynamism, health, and energy. Such people become dependent on other people's care, protection, and help. Their mental faculties decrease, and they come face to face with memory loss and other problems. Muslims, as required by Allah, treat their elderly parents with compassion, understanding, and care.

In the verses cited above, Allah reveals how Muslims should treat their elderly parents. As we see, He forbids Muslims to show even the slightest disrespect toward their parents and commands them to say nice things and treat them gently so that they will have no reason to become upset. As a result, Muslims are very understanding, considerate, and careful with their elderly parents. They do their best to make their parents comfortable and continue to love and respect them. Considering the difficulties and complaints associated with old age, Muslims try to provide for their parents' needs before being asked to do so. Whatever the circumstances, they are always polite and giving.

Muslims not only provide for their parents' spiritual and psychological needs, but also do everything to meet their material and financial needs. Allah reveals that parents have rights to their children's financial assistance:

They will ask you what they should give away. Say: "Any wealth you give away should go to your parents and relatives, orphans and the very poor, and travelers." Whatever good you do, Allah knows it. (Surat al-Baqara: 215)

The Prophet Joseph's (pbuh) exemplary treatment of his parents is a perfect example for all people. Following his appointment by the King as treasurer of Egypt, he hosted his parents in the most respectable manner and then expressed his gratitude and devotion to them by seating them on the throne. Allah reveals the Prophet Joseph's (pbuh) behavior:

Then when they entered into Joseph's presence, he drew his parents close to him and said: "Enter Egypt safe and sound, if Allah wills." He raised his parents up onto the throne. The others fell prostrate in front of him. He said: "My father, truly this is now the interpretation of the dream I had. My Lord has made it all come true, and He was kind to me by letting me out of prison and brought you from the desert when satan had caused dissent between me and my brothers. My Lord is kind to anyone He wills. He is indeed All-Knowing and All-Wise." (Surah Yusuf: 99-100)

It is revealed in the Qur'an that believers pray for their parents and for Allah's forgiveness and mercy for them. From some of the verses, we gather that the Prophets made similar prayers. Allah reveals that the Prophet Noah (pbuh) prayed for his parents: "O My Lord, forgive me and my parents and all who enter my house as believers, and all the men and women of the believers. But do not increase the wrongdoers except in ruin" (Surah Nuh: 28).

As for those who hold fast to the Book and perform prayer,
We will not let the wage of the righteous be wasted.
(Surat al-A'raf, 170)

We understand from the Qur'an that Islamic morality places a great value on parents. Allah makes clear that such character traits are important for all Muslims when they are young as well as when they are old.

However, in certain cases believers are required to disobey their parents. For example:

But if they try to make you associate something with Me about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. Keep company with them correctly and courteously in this world, but follow the way of him who turns to Me. Then you will return to Me, and I will inform you about the things you did. (Surah Luqman: 15)

Through this verse, Allah advises Muslims to disobey their parents only if the latter choose to rebel against Allah and encourage their children to do the same. But still, as required by Islam's morality, one must not be disrespectful toward them and must honor their wishes and treat them well.

Women in Married Life

Relationships based on worldly values can degenerate into baseness, as often happens in marriage. When people's love and respect is based on these values, they can lose these feelings quickly when circumstances change. This is almost inevitable when love, respect, and loyalty depend on one's beauty, wealth, health, job, or status, for when these temporary and superficial characteristics disappear, so will the other person's love. Someone who follows such criteria will find no reason to continue to love and honor his or her spouse when the basis for those values is lost.

Belief, fear and respect of Allah, and decency of character are what make love, respect, and loyalty endure. Someone who loves his or her spouse for their belief and character will, in married life, be respectful, loyal, and decent. Losing one's youth, health, or beauty will not affect the love and consideration among spouses for each other, and neither will losing one's wealth or social status. They will not cause trouble or discontent to the other person because of their firm belief and fear and respect of Allah, whatever the circumstances. Believers will always be gentle and compassionate, as well as fair and understanding, for they will consider this to be a responsibility entrusted to them by Allah.

So close is the marital relationship that in the Qur'an Allah says of the spouses: "They are clothing for you, and you for them" (Surat al-Baqara: 187). In this verse, Allah reminds people that each spouse has equal responsibilities. The word "clothing" stands for the responsibility of guarding and protecting one another and also suggests that men and women have complementary qualities.

The importance of love and compassion in marriage is stated in another verse: "Among His Signs is that He created spouses for you of your own kind, so that you might find tranquillity in them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you. There are certainly Signs in that for people who reflect" (Surat ar-Rum: 21). Believers consider their spouses to be gifts that Allah has given into their care, and therefore value one another greatly. They show affection and compassion when their spouse makes a mistake or falls short in some way, and know that behaving according to the Qur'an will help them overcome all difficulties and solve their problems. As a result, marriage helps both spouses find contentment and peace.

Görüldüğü gibi, Kuran ahlakı esas alındığında, her iki tarafın da Allah'tan korkan, vicdanlı kişiler olması sebebiyle güzel bir birliktelik yaşanır. Böyle bir birliktelikte sadakat, vefa, saygı, sevgi, samimiyet, dürüstlük, hoşgörü, tevazu gibi önemli ahlak özelliklerinin yaşanması sonucunda evlilikte süreklilik ve istikrar olur. Bu özelliklerden yoksun olan insanların evlilikleri genellikle kısa süreli olmaktadır.

With the phrase "you have been intimate with one another" (Surat an-Nisa': 21), Allah proclaims the closeness and intimacy of married life. The secret of this closeness, intimacy, and valuing of each other is their intention to create an everlasting togetherness that will extend into the Hereafter. True loyalty and love requires this attitude. Since their love is neither selfish nor temporary, but intended to be everlasting, they are completely loyal, close, honest, and intimate with one another.

As we have seen, the Qur'an's morality forms the basis for a marital relationship based on togetherness, one in which both parties fear and respect Allah and follow His morality. In such a relationship, each person's loyalty, faithfulness, love, sincerity, compassion, and modesty complement and support the other person. Such a marriage is stable and long-lasting. The marriages of people without these qualities, on the other hand, are short-lived.

For these reasons, Islam considers marriage to be a comfort for women, for in it she experiences love, respect, loyalty, and faithfulness in the best possible way. She is always respected, valued, and honored. The absence of any pride, superiority complex, and lies enables her to find peace and contentment.

Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) became a great example for all Muslims in this respect. Allah refers to this reality in the following verse: "You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much" (Surat al-Ahzab: 21). He frequently stated the importance and value of Muslim women, as in this hadith: "The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman."16

In another hadith, he said: "The most perfect believer in faith is the one who is the best of them in good conduct. The best of you is the one among you who treats his wife the best."17

His impeccable behavior is a role model for all Muslims. In one hadith, he points out the importance of treating married women in the nicest way:

"The best of you is the one who is the best to his wives, and I am the best of you toward my wives.".18

He reminded everyone in a hadith of the importance of valuing women: "Act kindly toward women."19

Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who is a role model for all believers, always treated his wives gently, nicely, and with compassion. Aisha said: "I have never seen a man who was more compassionate to his family members than Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)."20

Allah has promised the male and female believers Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever, and fine dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. And Allah's good pleasure is even greater. That is the great victory.
(Surat at-Tawba, 72)

Being Protective of Women

By proclaiming "We send down in the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers," (Surat al-Isra': 82) Allah states that Islamic morality will always direct people toward the good and that the Qur'an's verses are a mercy for them. These verses, revealed to create contentment and justice among people, guarantee the rights of women in both their social and family lives. And, the verse "We bring you the truth and the best of explanations" (Surat al-Furqan: 33) makes clear the fact that the Qur'an contains all of the knowledge needed to find the value, love, and respect that they deserve in every aspect of their lives.

This is a great mercy, comfort, and gift from Allah for women as well. When people behave according to the Qur'an's morals, all disputes over the role and place of women in society, as well as the controversy surrounding them in unbelieving societies, will certainly come to an end.

We will now explore some of the verses that guard women's social rights and reveal their importance and value in Islam's moral system.

Divorcing Women with Their Consent

The believers' fear and respect of Allah, as well as their belief, cause them to obey their conscience and the Qur'an's values at every moment. But for unbelievers, their base instincts and satan are their guiding influences. Thus, they seek to satisfy their self-interest and their ego instead of acting fairly and nicely. This scenario is often seen when relationships end, such as a marriage based upon financial self-interest.

For these people, divorce means the end of all bonds based on mutual interest, for when these interests no longer exist, there is no longer any reason for them to value or respect the other party. As a result, they see no reason to do anything good for that person, and so move to protect their own interests regardless of the other person's situation.

... He knows what the heart contains.
(Surat ash-Shura, 24)

Believers display a totally different type of behavior in such circumstances, for their only goal in life is to win Allah's good pleasure. Fully aware that following the whims of their self-interest or ego displeases Him, they adhere to the Qur'an's morality and their conscience. Therefore, even in the case of divorce, they treat each other well and with justice.

Allah commands men to divorce their wives in the best possible way: "When you divorce women and they are near the end of their waiting period, then either retain them with correctness and courtesy or release them with correctness and courtesy" (Surat al-Baqara: 231). Pursuing only Allah's good pleasure, they treat their ex-wives with compassion, politeness, respect, and thoughtfulness, thereby continuing their former loving and respectful manner toward each other. Allah reveals the male believers' correct behavior in such circumstances:

O you who believe! When you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, there is no waiting period for you to calculate for them, so give them a gift and let them go with kindness. (Surat al-Ahzab: 49)

Guaranteeing Divorced Women's Financial Security

Allah reveals that a sincere Muslim man must guarantee his ex-wife's financial security in order to safeguard her continued financial well-being:

Divorced women should receive maintenance given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all who guard against evil. (Surat al-Baqara: 241)

When determining this amount, a Muslim man must act conscientiously and consider his ex-wife's social standing and needs. Allay says in the Qur'an that:

... Provide for them—He who is wealthy according to his means, and he who is less well off according to his means—a provision to be given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all good-doers. (Surat al-Baqara: 236)

He who has plenty should spend out of his plenty (to those women he divorces), but he whose provision is restricted should spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not demand from anyone more than He has given it. Allah will appoint, after difficulty, ease. (Surat at-Talaq: 7)

In other words, Allah holds everyone, without exception, responsible according to their financial means and requires them to pay a suitable maintenance. Some unbelievers consider it a waste of money to pay alimony to their ex-wives, because they neither believe in the Hereafter nor seek Allah's good pleasure. Since they only wish to safeguard their self-interest, they consider pointless to act selflessly toward someone from whom they are estranged and thus can expect no benefit. For this reason, they seek to avoid this responsibility, at least partially or completely. On the other hand, male believers, as mentioned above, continue to treat their ex-wives well and do what they can to meet their financial needs.

Believers understand that it is not necessarily what they do, but rather what their true intention is, that will win them His good pleasure. This truth is explained in the following words: "Their flesh and blood does not reach Allah, but your heedfulness does reach Him" (Surat al-Hajj: 37). For this reason, a believing man willingly fulfills his responsibilities toward his ex-wife in this respect. However, if she does not wish to receive her due and if she wishes to forego this right, her former husband cannot be held responsible: "Give women their dowry as an outright gift. But if they are happy to give you some of it, make use of it with pleasure and goodwill" (Surat an-Nisa': 4).

Ex-Wives Retain Their Property

The Qur'an also protects a woman's interests by stating that she retains what her former husband gave her while they were married:

"If you desire to exchange one wife for another and have given your original wife a large amount, do not take any of it. Would you take it by means of slander and outright crime? How could you take it when you have been intimate with one another, and they have made a binding contract with you?" .(Surat an-Nisa': 20-21)

Allah reminds people that believing men must respect the terms of their marriage agreement. One of these terms is that regardless of the amount of property or money that a woman receives from her husband during their marriage, he has no right to take it back after he divorces her. Believing men know this truth, and so do their best to obey this command.

It is not lawful for you to keep anything you have given them, unless a couple fears that they will not remain within Allah's limits [that He established for humanity]. If you fear that they will not remain within these limits, there is nothing wrong in the wife ransoming herself with some of what she received. These are Allah's limits [that He established for humanity], so do not overstep them. Those who overstep these limits are wrongdoers. (Surat al-Baqara: 229)

As seen, Islamic morality has a very high opinion of women and seeks to prevent them from suffering any difficulties or hardships. Thus, believing men safeguard the rights of women and are most considerate toward them.

Housing Divorced Women

When it comes to housing an ex-wife, Allah proclaims: "Let them live where you live, according to your means. Do not put pressure on them, so as to harass them. If they are pregnant, maintain them until they give birth. If they are suckling for you, give them their wages and consult together with correctness and courtesy. But if you make things difficult for one another, another woman should do the suckling for you" (Surat at-Talaq: 6). Believing men are required to meet their ex-wives' every need, both material and otherwise, so that they will not fall upon hard times. First, the ex-wife must be housed until a suitable home can be arranged for her. If she is pregnant, her former husband must cover all of the costs associated with her health and care until she gives birth. What truly matters here is that believing men act in a thoughtful and understanding manner, whatever the circumstances may be, and ensure that the ex-wife's financial and other needs be met so that she will not experience any hardship. All of these matters must be resolved as prescribed in the Qur'an.

Do Not Inherit Women by Force

The verse below draws our attention toward the correct treatment of women:

They will consult you concerning women. Say: "Allah advises about them; and also what is recited to you in the Book about orphan girls to whom you do not give the inheritance they are owed, while at the same time desiring to marry them; and also about young children who are denied their rights: that you should act justly with respect to orphans." Whatever good you do, Allah knows it. (Surat an-Nisa': 127)

Safeguarding the Rights of Orphaned Girls

The verse below draws our attention toward the correct treatment of women:

They will consult you concerning women. Say: "Allah advises about them; and also what is recited to you in the Book about orphan girls to whom you do not give the inheritance they are owed, while at the same time desiring to marry them; and also about young children who are denied their rights: that you should act justly with respect to orphans." Whatever good you do, Allah knows it. (Surat an-Nisa': 127)

Some unbelievers seek to dispossess those weak and vulnerable people who have no guardian to look after their best interests. One group of such people consists of female orphans who, because of their wealth, are often sought out by greedy men. Allah warns believers about these evil-minded people, reveals their character traits, and commands them to be righteous.

Believers know that Allah is All-Seeing and will call them to account for their actions in the Hereafter. They are aware of the loss awaiting those who cheat and defraud people here or are unjust or merciless to them. Given this reality, they shun all such evil, knowing that a little avarice in this life could lead to eternal suffering in the Hereafter. Therefore, they safeguard the orphan's interests and do what they can to keep all evil-minded people away from them. Likewise, they strictly honor the rights of any orphan they seek to marry and have no secret plan to acquire her wealth for themselves.



16 Sahih Muslim, Book 8, No. 34654

17. Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings) (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2001), 2:32.

18. Ibid.

19. Sahih Muslim, Book 8, No. 3468; al-Bukhari hadiths.

20. Sahih Muslim, "Kitab al-Fada'il," 63.

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