Issue 157 » February 15, 2002 -



Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table)
Chapter 5: Verse 87

"Believers! Do not hold as unlawful the good things (tayyibaat) which Allah has made lawful to you, and do not exceed the bounds of right. Verily Allah does not love those who transgress the bounds."

@ Commentary @

Two Lessons

The first is that a person should not attribute to himself or herself the authority to proclaim things either lawful or unlawful according to his or her own desires or according to 'demands of the time'. If humans begin to declare certain things either lawful and unlawful on their own authority, using their logic, desires, or the pressures of the society, they would not be following the law of God, and there would be much chaos in the society.

The second directive is more specific: that they should not adopt the course of world-renunciation and abstention from worldy pleasures as the Christian monks, Hindu mendicants, Buddhist bhikshus, and illuminist mystics did. As Imam al-Shafi'ee points out, "A few verses before this one, Allah spoke in favorable terms of the Christian asceticism, and its good effect on their masses. However, this verse warns the Muslims to beware of excessive renunciation."

Reasons for Revelation: Asceticism and Abstention of some Companions

According to Abu Qubalah (may Allah be pleased with him), this verse was revealed on the following occasion: Some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) decided to relinquish the world, forsake their wives, and become like monks. The Prophet then reminded them, "People before you perished because of their asceticism. They made excessive demands on themselves until Allah brought hardships on them: you can still see a few of them remaining in monasteries and temples. Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him, perform the Hajj and the 'Umrah, be righteous, and all affairs will be set right for you." [Ibn Jarir, Abdur-Razzaq, and Ibn al-Mundhir]

Other reports suggest that it was Uthman bin Maz'un's conduct toward his wife that invoked the revelation of this verse. It is said that his wife visited the Prophet's wife, 'Aisha (radhi Allahu 'anha) in a shabby state. On enquiry she complained that 'Uthman would not even touch her. When 'Aisha mentioned that to the Prophet, he said, "I am the one who fears Allah the most among you, yet I fast and I break my fast, I pray and I sleep, and I marry women. He who turns away from my Sunnah (traditions) has nothing to do with me." [Zamarkhashi, Ibn Jaris, Al-Bukhari, and Muslim]

Prophet's (pbuh) Advice to the Youth

It is interesting to note Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) advice to the youth, "Young men, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from lustfully looking at women and preserves your chastity." [Al-Bukhari] We may be able appreciate the practicality of this advice given the society we are living in, where people either totally abstain from sexual relations and eventually harm themselves physically, psychologically, and socially, or on the other extreme, people are free to change partners whenever they feel they have "enough of him or her."

In fact, from this statement of the Prophet (sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) some scholars have inferred that marriage is obligatory for every Muslim, and in the case of a male, who is able to support a wife and that the avoidance of it is not permissible. It is not befitting that Muslim should refrain from marriage out of fear of poverty, unemployment, lack of enough 'academic degrees', ignorant cultural practices, etc. A person should make every possible attempt to find employment, seeking Allah's help, for Allah has promised to help those who marry in order to protect their chastity and purity in 24:33 of the Quran.

[compiled from "Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma'ani", Vol III by Sayyid Iqbal Zaheer
and "The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam" by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi]

Series continued from Issue #156

Although no two families have exactly the same situation, there are some general guidelines for dealing with Muslim teenagers that might be useful.

3- We must be very careful about our children's friends
During the teenage years, children often care more about what their friends say than what their parents or elders say. According to a hadith, "Man is upon the path of his intimate friend; so let each look to whom he takes as a friend." If our children have good, sincere, and righteous friends, the chances are good that our children will be like them. If, on the other hand, our children hang around with children who take drugs and get into trouble, our children will likely take drugs and get into trouble.

Therefore, it is essential from an early age that we try to get our children involved with good children. One way to encourage this is by regularly taking them to the mosque or by sending them to an Islamic school where they will have the opportunity to meet Muslim children. If they become friends with non-Muslims, however, we should not worry too much as long as they do not seem to be a negative influence. Perhaps our child will influence them toward Islam. We should be worried though if our children start hanging around with bad-mannered and disrespectful children.

4- If we haven't done so already, now is a good time to start letting our children become a part of the family decision making process
If teenagers feel that they have the right to make some of their own decisions and even to help make some of the family's decisions, they will not feel that they have to rebel against an 'oppressive' family that is always dictating to them every 'decision' of their own life.

[compiled from "8 Tips for Dealing With Your Child's Teenage Years"
@ www.SoundVision.com]


Shari'ah is the Islamic Law: the final, perfected and universally-applicable form of the divinely revealed code of life and conduct for all humanity. This series seeks to inform and educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about the place of Shari'ah within Islam, its fundamental principles, objectives, and methodology for implementation in the day-to-day civic life of society. It will also aim to remove some of the misconceptions built around the various rulings in Shari'ah that distract from its main purpose - safeguarding human life, family, dignity, wealth, and intellect hence creating an environment that nurtures the soul!

Series continued from Issue #156

The Family in Shari'ah

The family is the most fundamental unit in the total scheme of social order in Islam. It enjoys the highest status and the most prestige. It is the fount of the human race, its culture, society and civilization. Procreation is made possible because of sexualisation and it is institutionalised in the family. Similarly the family achives the development of the individual and his transition into society.

The family is a divinely inspired institution in the sense that it came into existence with the creation of man. "O people! Remain conscious of your duty to your Lord, who created you of a single soul; and, of like nature, created its mate; and from the pair of them created and spread many men and women" [al-Nisaa' 4:1]. A man and woman, only because they are different and yet complementary, are capable of forming the unity of family, which is essential for the fulfillment of the individual and the realization of the common good. The family is thus the cradle of the individual and the cornerstone of society.

The family is Islam cultivates and strengthens faith in One God. It preserves and communicates values and culture. It provides a stable environment for the development and fulfillment of the individual and enriches the lives of all its members, providing each the caring and sharing which he or she needs.

However, like any other social institution, the family can survive only if the roles within it are clearly differentiated and strictly followed.

As only women are capable of bearing children, even if no other differences between men and women are accepted, Islam assigns to the female the primary responsibility for home and family; while man is assigned the primary responsibility for life outside the home. Every institution needs a head and the role of head of the family and responsibility for its economic support also devolve on the male. Despite this primary division, men have the duty to share household burdens and women are not debarred from roles outside the home. And within the home, the woman shares the power and responsibilities of the head of the family, and may even become one if circumstances so require.

Natural Sequels

It therefore follows that any act which vitiates against the individual or which tends to weaken or disrupt the social order, especially the family, is no less a serious crime than, say, high treason against the state. The Shari'ah has accordingly made every possible arrangement to ensure, within the constraints of human limitations and imperfections, that the individual is not hampered in seeking in his or her fulfillment and carrying out the purpose of his or her creation; that the two pillars of the family, man and woman, continue to participate in and strengthen the family in accordance with the roles assigned to them; and that the social fabric is not damaged by any single person's vandalism.

... to be continued next week ...

[compiled from "Shari'ah: The Way of Justice" by Ustadh Khurram Murad (rahimahullah)]