Islam and the Ruled Class  Part 2

Who is Right?

Islam and the Ruled Class

Part 2

Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari

The third group: women

Recognising that women are, generally speaking, physically weaker than men, Islam provides women with support and protection. The Quran and hadith strictly prohibit men from oppressing, abusing, and harming women, instead obliging them to treat women with kindness, compassion, and respect. In addition, Islam grants women more exemptions and dispensations than men. For instance, women are not obliged to attend Friday or congregational prayers, presence for which is compulsory for men. Women are not required to perform Hajj if they do not have a male guardian, while men do not need a guardian. Women are excused from prayer for a specific period during menstruation and after childbirth, while men are never excused from prayer. Similarly, men must earn and fulfil their wives' expenses, while there is no such obligation on women.

The fourth group: wives

Across regions and cultures, husbands are expected to provide the family with leadership. In Islam too, the wife is required to respect this role of the husband within the bounds of Islamic law. Since the husband spends an extended part of his life with his wife, there is a greater possibility of infringing her rights, hurting her, and behaving unethically with her. In light of this, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم constantly emphasized the duties of the husband towards his wife, which include giving her financial security, not physically hurting her, respecting her, never humiliating and insulting her, treating her better than others, and spending one’s entire life in showing good conduct towards her. For instance, he said, “The best from amongst you are those who are the best to their wives and daughters.”[1] In another narration he said, “The best among you are those who are better to their family members.”[2]  He also said, “Remember the counsel in relation to treating women with good conduct.”[3] Regarding taking care of one’s wife, showing her affection and kindness, he said, “Surely, whatever you spend for the sake of Allah Almighty's pleasure, you will receive its reward, to the extent that you will be rewarded for placing a morsel of food in your wife's mouth.”[4]

The fifth group: widows

A widow may be financially stable and supported by her children. However, if a widow lacks support, her helplessness, deprivation, and distress are undeniable. The merciful religion of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم supports such women and encourages helping widows and assisting them in their worldly matters in an extremely effective and heart-warming manner. Observe the profound words of encouragement pertaining to becoming a figure of support for a widow. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “He who strives for a widow and a poor person is like one who fights in the cause of Allah, or like one who fasts in the day and offers prays at night.”[5]  The blessed Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did not only instruct to strive for widows, but it was a practice in his blessed life to accompany widows and support the needy, going with them to fulfil their needs and bring happiness to them. Therefore, Sayyidunā Abdullah bin Abū Awfā رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ said that the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did not feel any shame in accompanying widows and the destitute to accomplish their requirements, and while going with them, he fulfilled their needs.[6]

The sixth group: orphans

An orphan is a child who is deprived of their father's care due to his demise and is in great need of compassion. The effects of orphanhood leave deep imprints on the mind. Losing one’s father is traumatic and can have lifelong impacts on the child. Therefore, according to its principles of justice and teachings of benevolence, Islam instructs us with the lesson of sympathy, gentleness, love, kindness, and affection towards such a subordinate, weak, and deserving child. Those who think of exploiting the property of orphans, considering them helpless, are warned of a dreadful punishment in the noble Quran:

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ یَاۡکُلُوۡنَ اَمۡوَالَ الۡیَتٰمٰی ظُلۡمًا اِنَّمَا یَاۡکُلُوۡنَ فِیۡ بُطُوۡنِہمۡ نَارًا ؕ       وَ سَیَصۡلَوۡنَ  سَعِیۡرًا (۱۰)

“Indeed those who consume the wealth of orphans in oppression; they only fill their stomachs with fire, and soon they will go into a blazing fire.”[7]

Taking care of an orphan child and providing for their needs is highly encouraged. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, "I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this," while indicating with his index and middle fingers, separating them slightly.[8]  Lauding the woman who cares for orphans, he said, “˹Although˺ I will be the first one to whom the door of Paradise would open, a woman will rush towards me. I will ask her, ‘What is the matter? Who are you?’ She will reply, ‘I am a woman who dedicated herself to raising her orphaned children.’”[9]

The seventh group: oppressed people

In various forms such as physical, mental, economic, social, and others, the oppression and exploitation carried out by tyrants and people of authority affects a large group of people, who are in dire need of justice. Islam, the religion of mercy, emphasizes the importance of bravely advocating the rights of the oppressed and standing with them, regardless of their background. One should not support the oppressor in any way, even if he is the leader. The tyrant should be firmly prevented from oppressing others, even if it costs a person his life. Even if the oppressor is strong, they should be punished for their oppression. Even if they hold a high position, they should be punished for their crime. In one report, the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم instructed seven things, one of them is to help the oppressed.[10] Similarly, in a divine hadith, it is mentioned, “O Dāwūd! Whoever helps an oppressed person or supports them against oppression, Allah will keep their feet steadfast on the Day when feet will waver.”[11]  The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also said, “Whoever accompanies an oppressor, knowing that they are an oppressor, exits Islam.” [12] (i.e., departs from complete Islam.)

[1] Shuab al-Īmān: 8,720

[2] Jāmi al-Tirmidhī: 3,921

[3] aī al-Bukhārī: 5,186

[4] aī al-Bukhārī: 56

[5] aī al-Bukhārī: 5,353

[6] Mishkāt al-Maābī: 5,833

[7] The Clear Criterion, translation of the Quran, 4:10

[8] aī al-Bukhārī: 6,005

[9] Majma al-Zawāˈid, vol.8, p. 296, hadith: 13,519

[10] aī al-Bukhārī: 2,445

[11] Shuab al-Īmān: 7,668

[12] Al-Mujam al-Kabīr: 619




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