Complaisant Speech; Prayer, Charity, Patience, Quran; Hadith Content

Issue 1022 » October 26, 2018 - Safar 17, 1440

Living The Quran

Complaisant Speech
Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) - Chapter 33: Verse 32

"Oh women of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you fear God, be not too complaisant (soft, subdued) in speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved by greed (desire), but speak you with a speech that is just."

To reinforce the idea of the exclusion and silencing of women, some jurists cite this verse. They contend that this verse emphasizes that a woman's voice is a awrah. By its own terms, the verse addresses the Prophet's wives and explicitly states that they are not like other women. The reverse implication is that what might be lawful to other women might not be lawful to the wives of the Prophet. Furthermore, by its own terms, the verse distinguishes between forms of speech — the khudu speech (soft, seductive, kind, enticing, submissive) and normal speech. At most, one can argue that it advises against submissive speech, and commends principled and just speech. If anything, the verse advises the Prophet's wives to not be submissive or meek, but to speak in a firm and principled fashion.

Obviously, there is a historical context to this verse. Historical reports indicate that vagabonds who converted to Islam in order to achieve some degree of financial security were reluctant to pressure the Prophet with demands. Instead, they approached his wives with numerous demands. While the Prophet's wives were kind and gentle, reportedly, the demands exceeded the bounds of reasonableness, and reached a point in which some of the flimsy converts were taking advantage of their kindness. The verse was revealed to instruct the Prophet's wives to speak out of principle, and not simple emotion. Therefore, the verse addresses the Prophet's wives by emphasizing that they have a special social position, unlike other Muslim women. [Al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Al-Tabari, Al-Razi]

In short, there is nothing in this verse that decrees that the voice of women is awrah. Furthermore, it is indeed an unreasonable proposition to suggest that a women's pronouncement of tasbih or the saying of "amin" in prayer is the type of khudu that the Quran is talking about.

Compiled From:
"Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women" - Khaled Abou El Fadl

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Prayer, Charity, Patience and The Quran

Abu-Malik, Al-Harith-Bin-Asim Al-Ashari, may God be pleased with him, said that God's Messenger, may God's peace and blessings be upon him and his father, said, "Salat is a light, almsgiving is a proof, patience is an illumination, and the Quran is a testament for you or against you." Reported by Muslim.

The statement of the Prophet, "Salat is a light," means that salat protects people from committing sin. It leads them away from evil and wrongful deeds and toward righteous and correct ones. Light is a source for enlightenment. Others said that it means that salat will be a source of light, on the day of resurrection, for those who offer salat. And others said that it means that salat will, on the day of resurrection, make the faces of those who offer salat shine. It also makes their faces bright in their lifetime, in contrast to those who do not offer salat. God knows best.

The author of Al-Tahrir said that "almsgiving is a proof" means that people rush to almsgiving the way they rush to a proof. When they are asked on the day of resurrection about how they spent their wealth, they point to their almsgiving and say, "we gave it to charity." Others said that almsgiving is a proof of one's faith. That's because hypocrites do not believe in almsgiving and therefore refuse to give alms. So giving alms is a proof of the strength of one's faith. God knows best.

The patience referred to here is the recommended patience of sharia, which is patience in obeying God, the Sublime, and refraining from what God has prohibited. It's also the patience sought during times of tribulation and difficulty. What's meant here is that patience is praiseworthy. It illuminates the way for people and leads them to the right path. Ibrahim Al-Khawas said that patience is the adherence to Quran and Sunna. Ibn-Ata said that patience is to deal with calamities with discipline. Abu Ali Al-Daqaq said that patience is to not oppose fate. Complaining because of misfortunes, however, doesn't prove the absence of patience. God knows best.

The statement "Quran is a testament for you or against you," means that if you read the Quran and obey its commands, you will benefit from it. Otherwise, it will be used to your disadvantage (and held as evidence against you on the day of resurrection.)

Compiled From:
"Ibn-Daqiq's Commentary on the Nawawi Forty Hadiths"


Hadith Content

The leading Companions, such as Abu Bakr, and Umar and the Prophet's wife Aishah, were well aware that assessment of narrators' characters was not the true criterion on the basis of which to accept or reject hadith accounts. They realized that such decisions had to be based on the Quran, and on the hadith accounts that they knew with certainty to be trustworthy and reliable. This decision-making process required that they examine the actual content of the hadiths (matn), and not just their chains of transmission (isnad). Focusing on hadiths' contents and comparing them to the teachings of the Quran would provide a kind of natural protection against allowing falsehoods to infiltrate the Sunnah.

This is not to say that we should reject the isnad as a means of hadith verification. However, examination of the isnad is meant to be merely a first step in the process of sifting through hadiths, the second step being to measure the conclusions reached through the first step against the yardstick of the Quran. If the contents of a hadith with an acceptable isnad are confirmed by the Quran, it will stand; otherwise, it should be eliminated. What happened, however, was that the first step was allowed to expand until it took up nearly all of hadith collectors' time and energy, and the Sunnah was taken captive by ilm al-rijal, the science of narrator assessment.

By advocating this approach I am not, like some, issuing a call to abandon the hadith collections that have come down to us. Such a step would be unacceptable according to both the teachings of the Quran itself and the demands of academic inquiry. At the same time — bearing in mind the need for our approach to harmonize with both Quranic imperatives and the scientific method — we must not view the hadith collections we have been bequeathed by Islamic tradition in a hierarchical fashion, considering some to be "authentic" and others "more authentic." Rather, it should be remembered that every one of them contains both authentic and inauthentic hadiths.

The scholars who recorded the Sunnah compilations which have come down to us made no claims to have critiqued the contents of the accounts they contained. Nor did the author of any of the Sunnah collections claim to have compared hadiths one by one to the contents of the Quran. Their task had been limited to the collection of hadiths via the science of narrator assessment. Moreover, although some of them referred to what they had collected as "well-authenticated", they were defining the term "well-authenticated" in terms of the criteria they themselves had adhered to in their processes of collection and selection. For if they had been striving for absolute reliability, how could the same report be deemed "well-authenticated" by one scholar, and "weakly authenticated" by another? This could occur because the hadiths contained in these "well authenticated" compilations had not been subjected to both isnad criticism and matn criticism. After all, these very compilations also contain reports that have been classified as "strange" (gharib), that is, as hadith one tier of whose chains of transmission contained only one narrator. If we were to compare reports in this category with the Quran, we would be certain to find disparities and contradictions between them. Indeed, not a single hadith compilation is free of reports belonging to this category.

Compiled From:
"Reviving The Balance: The Authority of the Quran and the Status of the Sunnah " - Taha Jabir Alalwani, pp. 196-198