SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Whoever marries and visits his relatives for the sake of God, God shall attend to him by placing a crown like that of the angels on his head. [Vasa'il, v.20, p.51, Al-i-Bayt Press]
The Sincerity of One's Intentions
These wise and important words have been reported on the authority of the Prophet (Pbuh): Whoever marries to please Allah and establish a family, God will adorn his head with the crown of angels. Marriage produces numerous benefits: the loving-kindness of a wife and a husband; relief from loneliness; increase in one's daily sustenance; the happiness of two families; maintaining half of one's religion; attaining God's satisfaction; sexual pleasure; having children in one's life and finding support in life, etc. In addition to all these benefits, if one marries for the sake of God and with the best of intentions, then due to his good intentions he has engaged in a great act of worship. Marriage will make him equal in worth to angels and a crown like that of the angels will adorn his head. Why not act in such a way that God's acceptance illuminates it and places a highmost value on it?
From the very beginning, let's base the foundation of marriage and the establishment of a new life upon sincerity. Our men and women must give their total attention to this matter so that both the worldly and spiritual aspects of their lives will enjoy the attention, mercy and acceptance of Allah. Imam Ali(Pbuh) has been narrated as having said that none of our acts is of a higher value than the ones accepted by God. This has been narrated in the book Mava’ez al-’Addadiyi.
The Peak of Sincere Intention
Considering this matter, pay especial attention to this very amazing story told by the Prophet Moses(Pbuh) (Musa ibn Umran).
One day Moses (Pbuh) watered the Prophet Jethro's flocks of sheep and then in return Jethro (Pbuh) invited him to come home with him. Moses entered that great Prophet's house where the table was already spread for dinner. Jethro requested the young man to sit down for dinner. Moses replied that he could not partake of the food, so Jethro asked Moses if he was hungry. Moses replied he was hungry, but was afraid that the dinner before him was in recompense for his previous good deed. He said we are of a family who will not even exchange a bit of our good deeds for the Hereafter, even an earth full of pure gold. Jethro said: "O, young man! I swear to God that this was not what I had in mind when inviting you to dinner. I didn't intend to recompense your divine deed with food from my table. It is my father's and my custom to entertain guests and serve them food. After this discussion, Moses sat down at the table to eat. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.13, p.21]
Really, it is very astonishing that Moses had left Egypt some time ago and been wandering around in the wilderness, but during that time was not able to find any suitable food. He had eaten the sweet plants of the desert and upon entering Jethro's house he saw a prepared and pleasant table of food. Even though he was terribly hungry, he would not partake of the food because he thought that this deed only for God's sake (watering the sheep) might possibly be lessened in the sight of Allah. However, when Jethro insured Moses that he also intended to please God and had sincere intentions in entertaining his guest, then Moses sat down to eat. Jethro's sincerity was the reason why Moses became Jethro's shepherd for the next eight years. And Moses' sincerity was the reason why the Prophet Jethro (Pbuh) became Moses's father-in-law.
A Surprising Example of Sincerity
For many years I had been a friend of one of the sincere men of the cloth in love with the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and his Household. His morality and behavior had taught me some good lessons. He told me that when he had left Tehran for Qum so as to become educated in theology, Ayatullah Al'Uzma Hajj Sheik Abdulkarim was the head of the Qum Seminary. After some time, I was introduced to the Ayatullah as having an especial zeal for and way of reciting the tragedies of the Household of the Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh). I was requested to recite those tragedies for him at specified times. Gradually, I became renown for this type of recital and I was honored to be in the line of the professional reciters of the elegies for Imam Husayn (Pbuh).
One Thursday night I was taken to the home of one of the great clergymen who lived in the poorer parts of town and was asked to make a speech where I spoke for a few minutes about death referring to some lines from the book Nahj ul-Balaghah (The Peak of Eloquence).
The house owner sobbed too much and even continued doing so until the end of the meeting. I was invited to go again next Thursday night and was instructed to speak about a lighter and more down to earth subject. Whenever the distinguished house owner remembered the sermon subject from the week before, he sobbed his heart out.
Then I was told a surprising story about that man's sincerity. He was single, but our insistence upon his marrying was to no avail. After a while he accepted to get married, so a young, unmarried woman was suggested to him to be his suitable match. According to the principles of Islamic law he saw her one time, but he rejected the marriage. Later on I heard that the man had married a dark-complexioned, ugly widow having three offspring. I was really surprised to hear the news, so I asked him why he had done so. He replied that he had seen the first lady who was a virgin and accepted to marry her, but as much as he tried to do so out of sincere intentions and for the sake of Allah he found it to be impossible. So he decided to forsake the marriage. Then he said he saw the second woman whose husband had died and therefore had no one to bring in the daily bread. She was left with three orphans so no one was ready to marry her. He noted that he had found the field of sincerity of intentions and married for the sake of Allah. He also mentioned that the real benefits of this good deal would be bestowed upon him on the Day of Judgment. The Commander of the Faithful Ali (Pbuh) stated: Blessed is the one whose actions, knowledge, kindness, revenge, taking and not taking things, speaking and not speaking all stem from his sincerity for Allah. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.3, pp.56-58]
He also said: Sincerity is the most honorable ending. [Ibid]
Hazrat Ali (Pbuh) said: Freedom is found in sincerity. [Ibid]
And he said: Sincerity is the support for the worship of Allah. [Ibid]
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Blessed are the sincere ones. They are the lights on the path of guidance and are free from any wickedness. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.3, pp.59-62]
Imam Hassan Askari (Pbuh) said the following about the very impressive value of the sincere ones: If I reduced the whole world into a bite of food and fed it to the one who worships God out of sincerity, then I would still think I had not done right by him. [Ibid]
The Prophet (Pbuh) stated: Do all your actions out of sincerity for God. God will not accept those actions except the ones done out of sincerity for Him. [Ibid]
Imam Ali (Pbuh) said: The one whose goal is other than God has been ruined. [Ibid]
The Prophet (Pbuh) stated: Sincerity means to avoid all divinely forbidden things and actions. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.3, p.63]
The flower of sincerity in each action would blossom from the garden of the spirit and its scent would fill all spheres of life, if passion, lust, the instincts, keeping up with the Joneses, attachment to material affairs over and above the lawful limits and forgetfulness in one's affairs did not rule over us. O' how pleasant is the life of a man and his wife who have based their marriage on sincerity and during the course of life continue to be sincere even in the face of limitations. Say:
Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for God, the Cherisher of the Worlds: [Holy Quran: An'am 6:162]
Hypocrisy and showing off in the performance of the obligatory acts would void them and hypocrisy and showing off in the lawful acts would reduce their value.
Piety and Justice
A woman and her husband must observe the divine matters and Islamic decrees when interacting with each other. Enacting these truths in life is impossible unless one puts piety and justice to work in his life. Piety means avoiding evil deeds, bad-temperedness and unacceptable behavior. Justice means to avoid going to extremes in one's daily affairs. Oppression of a woman by a man and vice versa to whatever degree it may be is shameful, even though some may not think it is important. A woman does not have great physical strength and at times is not in good spirits. In his encounters with his wife a man must consider the various aspects of her creation, just as God has taken into consideration a woman's abilities and powers and exempted her from carrying out some duties. Woman's weaknesses must be compensated for by the graceful encounters of the man with her. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Whoever gets married for the sake of God and observe the relations of the womb, then God will crown him with the angels' crown.
The Manifestations of Virtue in the Family
She is not in a position for man to fight with her and turn the house into a field for combat and struggle. Consider the following two excellent traditions in this regard: The Commander of the Faithful Ali (Pbuh) has mentioned various detailed and important issues including the nature of woman's creation in his letter to Imam Hassan Mujtaba (Pbuh): Truly, a woman is like a bunch of scented flowers, not a source of physical power. [Vasa'il al-Shiia, v.20, p.168]
Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said: Most residents of Heaven are from amongst the oppressed. God was aware of their weakness, so that is why He was merciful to them. Then it is incumbent upon men to obey Allah and treat women with kindness, patience, love and affection. In encounters with them, men must consider their physical and spiritual states to be a similar to bunch of scented flowers. Men should avoid going to extremes in oppressing women in any way since God who is the Creator of women has ordered men to fear Him in their dealings with women. And man must entertain God's maid in his house with all possible material and spiritual benefits. This delicate interpretation about women which shows God's especial mercy and consideration for woman has come in a very important tradition regarding the marriage of Adam and Eve in Vasa'il al-Shiia [v.20, p.13, Al-Bayt Publications].
However, a woman must remember that a man has to suffer many hardships to run the affairs of the house. He has to worry about providing for proper housing, clothing and food for the comfort of his wife and children; things which cannot be provided for except by suffering many hardships, working, traveling and encountering various people. Thus, when the man comes home the woman should kindly receive him, take care of him with pleasant conduct and give in to his natural desires. She should welcome her life partner and fill the atmosphere of the house with the good scent of her proper behavior and smile at him thanking him for his hard work. She should attract his love. Then justice, piety, good conduct, a proper attitude, smiling, showing satisfaction, maintaining the peace, and proper entertaining are all considered to be good acts. These must be mutually embarked upon by both sexes so that their joint life is filled with these blessings. The proper treatment of a husband by his wife and that of a husband for his household constitutes a very important section of Shiite traditions being amazingly large in number.
The contents of these divine traditions are also amazing. The oppression of anyone of any other, even in the slightest amount, is not justified and the oppressor must know a terrible punishment awaits him. A man does not own his wife so that he can implement any plan he desires. And a woman in respect to her husband is not free to do as she wishes. Allah, the Prophet of Islam (Pbuh) and the Infallible Imams have designated duties for every woman and her husband. The couple may only interact with each other within that framework of duties. It is oppressive to act outside the divine limits and human, moral responsibilities and such actions have reactions in this world and the Hereafter.
A very important tradition on the authority of the Prophet (Pbuh) concerns a wife oppressing her husband and vice-versa which are satanic acts not associated with nobility. It is really important to pay close attention to it. "Neither the prayers nor any of the good deeds of a woman who bothers her husband will be accepted by God, unless she changes her ways, becomes an assistant to him and pleases him. That annoying woman should know that in case she continues to bother him, she shall be the first person to enter Hell even though she spends her entire life fasting, saying night prayers and frees slaves in the way of God. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Such punishment exists for a man if he bothers his wife or oppresses her [Vasa'il, v.20, p.160, Al-i-Bayt Press]. Such men or women should know that God has announced his hatred of oppressors in the Holy Quran and has expelled them from his circle of love. But God loveth not those who do wrong.[Al-i-Imran 3:57]
Men and women should note that oppression is not just physical, but mean looks, paying no attention and not giving in to one’s spouse, bad behavior, being vulgar, swearing and belittling are all cases of oppression, too. The woman who oppresses her husband and the man who oppresses his wife are not true Muslims. They have left the circle of guidance and are wading in the marsh of deviation.
Nay, but the transgressors are in manifest error.[Holy Quran: Luqman 31:11]
The Prophet (Pbuh) stated: There are seven mountain passes between Heaven and a servant of Allah: The easiest one is death. Annas asked the Prophet (Pbuh) which was the most difficult for the servant. He replied: Standing in front of Allah (on the Day of Judgment) while the oppressed ones are clinging to the oppressor's collar. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.5, p.596]
The Commander of the Faithful Ali (Pbuh) said: The evil provisions for the Hereafter consist of oppressing God's servants. Oppression unsteadies one's steps, deprives one of blessings and wipes out whole nations. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.5, pp.595-6]
I swear to Allah that if seven countries were given to me so that I would commit a sin by taking the husk of a barley seed from an ant's mouth, I would not do so. The Prophet (Pbuh) has prohibited men from eating whatever is being transported by the mouth and feet of an ant. [Ibid]
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Avoid oppression: Verily it is the darkness on the Day of Judgment. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.5, p.599-600]
A man said to the Prophet (Pbuh) that he would like to among the guided ones on the Day of Judgment. Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said: Any type of oppression is infidelity and he who beats his innocent servant is an unbeliever. [Ibid]
A Virtuous Countenance
Believing men and women have especial characteristics which are manifested in their lives, cause enjoyment in life and the appearance of a new, pure generation. These characteristics cause them to be prosperous in the Hereafter.
The believers, men and women, are the protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey God and His Apostle. On them will God pour His mercy: for God is Exalted in power, Wise.[Holy Quran: Tauba 9:71]
From many verses about believers, I think this one alone is enough to learn about their physical and spiritual attributes. Once such men and women establish a joint life, their mutual life will be filled with light, sincerity, goodness, blessings, truth and honesty. In this type of life, the man is an ideal man and the woman is an ideal woman, too. Also their life is a good life, and they are prosperous in this world and the Hereafter. The late Majlesi said: There were people whose wife and children would tell them to avoid earning illegal property when they left the house to go to work. We can tolerate hunger and difficulty but cannot tolerate the punishment of the Resurrection Day.
Truly, what virtue is greater than patience and tolerating hardships so as to protect one's self against the punishment on the Last Day. I, myself, saw a great man who sometimes would prohibit his family from buying the things they wanted in a convincing tone. He would promise to fulfill their needs at a later date when business was good. His wife and children would submit to his request and did not bother him. Family life abounded with peace and quiet, divinity and enlightenment. Khadijah the Great (the Prophet's wife) was a woman who patiently bore the hardships during her noble husband's times of difficulty. She shared in his sufferings and sorrows, and lived with the Prophet (Pbuh) in such a way that after her death he would ask God to be merciful to her whenever he remembered her and tears would flow from his eyes. At the beginning of their marriage, she devoted her great and rare wealth of those days to the Prophet's movement. The Prophet (Pbuh) gradually spent that wealth to relieve the problem of the needy and to aid God's movement: finally nothing remained of the wealth. Near the end of her life she lived with her husband in a humble house without too many furnishings. She lived in hardship and the only thing she said to her husband in those difficult days was during the last moments of her life. With tears in her eyes she asked him if God was satisfied with her. The angel entrusted with revelations descended from Heaven and asked the Prophet (Pbuh) to give his best regards to Khadijah and announce God's satisfaction with her. Khadijah became really happy and said to the Prophet (Pbuh) that life and death were now very sweet for her. Fatimah Zahra was only four years old at the time. When she felt the absence of her mother at home, she asked her kind father where her mother was, and the Prophet (Pbuh) answered that she was with the angels. Verily, a believing woman whose faith is manifested in her actions and behavior is an angel-like creature and a source of satisfaction for God and a spring of virtues and perfection.
An Instructive Story
My maternal grandmother and grandfather lived with each other for almost seventy years in peace and quiet, honesty and with faith and morality. Till the end of their lives, they never forgot the following: to lovingly perform the obligatory and recommended Islamic duties; to perform the night prayers; to recite the Quran; to make pilgrimages to the Saints; to hold religious meetings; to entertain guests; to solve others' problems; to visit relatives and to attend the congregational prayers.
My paternal grandfather and grandmother lived with each other in the same way (maybe even more devotedly) for more than fifty years. As is inevitable for everyone, my grandmother passed away near the midday call to prayers early in Muharram, the month of mourning for the Master of the Oppressed Imam Husayn while my grandfather was in perfect health. The children and the relatives were about to write announcements for her mourning ceremonies after burying her. But my grandfather told them not to do so since he was going to pass away the next night after the Isha (night) prayer. He asked them to wait until then and hold just one mourning ceremony. Everybody got worried but he pacified them.
No one could believe him, but the next night after finishing his prayer he spoke to God saying: O' God, you have promised to attend to the call of the needy and now that I am traveling to the Hereafter, please help me since I am in need. Then he recited some holy words and passed away next to his prayer mat. They buried both of my grandparents in the same grave. I saw him in a dream one night and asked him where they were. He said that he and his wife stayed where they were buried for three days, and then they were taken to the Master of the Martyrs Husayn (Pbuh). Then he said they now have a pleasant life in the divine atmosphere of Purgatory.
An Amazing Event
I became really fond of religious life, the mosques and religious ceremonies during my childhood and adolescence after witnessing my father's religious states of mind and his encounters with men of letters, mosques and religious ceremonies. During the era of the ungodly rule (the Shah's regime), a percentage of the people, especially the youth, were corrupt. Going to religious centers and my interaction with clergymen was very beneficial for me and the development of my spirit. Based on the background that I received from the family, the mosque and the religious clergy, I was attracted towards the religious centers in Qum at the age of sixteen in the year 1963 AD. There, I naturally had more encounters with religious knowledge and the men of the cloth. I had the opportunity to visit with many outstanding successful men during my studies of Islamic sciences.
I do not remember whom I heard this amazing story from, but the story is very interesting and educational showing the mental and spiritual states of a woman when her existence is combined with faith, good deeds and morality. That noble man told me: The Gohar Shad Mosque next to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (Pbuh) is one of the most widely frequented mosques on the earth where thousands of prayers and pilgrimages are performed each day. And tens of classes for teaching Islamic sciences and training religious clergy are held there. The founder of this mosque was an educated, wise, chaste and noble woman. Before building the mosque, she ordered the architect and those in charge to place water and hay along the path of the animals who were to carry the building materials to the mosque. This was so that none of the animals would have to carry any load while hungry or thirsty, since it is not accepted by God and one's conscience. And their owners did not have the right to beat the animals.
The work schedule had to be clearly defined, the workers had to be treated with compassion and kindness and their wages had to be paid according to their efforts. When they needed to be admonished, it had to be done so in a gentle tone and no one's feelings were to be hurt. The surrounding houses had to be purchased according to their current market prices, since a place of worship was to be built and a center for pilgrimage as well as a school for the discussion of divine sciences. The lady admonished everyone not to oppress any man or animal in the least amount, since that would lessen the value of the work done.
The Commander of the Faithful Ali (Pbuh) said in Nahj ul-Balaghah: Truly, you are all responsible for pieces of land and the animals.
Lady Gohar Shad used to visit the mosque to check the progress of the work and issue the necessary orders. Gohar Shad was the wife of Shahrukh Mirza and the daughter-in-law of Taymor Gurkany. By chance, during one of these visits one of the workers saw her face and fell in love with her, but he did not dare express his feelings since the condition seemed dangerous. This affection was a ridiculous affair, but that naive worker did not understand these things and fell ill. From the daily mosque work report Lady Gohar Shad became informed of his illness: he lived with his mother in a half-ruined house. She went to visit him. In a weak state, the poor man was pale and waning out of his love for her. After she asked about his health and insisted on finding out the reason for his illness, his mother, who was even more naive then the son, divulged the secret.
Lady Gohar Shad complained to the mother about the young worker without getting angry or using her high social status. Then she told his mother that she was ready to marry him after having separated from her husband, but he must first give her nuptial gift being forty days and nights of worshipping God and prayer in the prayer niche of the semi-built mosque. She was aware of the result of such an effort, but the young fellow accepted her proposal and out of his love and excitement he prayed there for a few days. However, his state of mind changed with God's favor and Imam Reza's attention. After the forty days had passed, Gohar Shad sent a messenger to him to inquire about his health. He told the messenger that if he only knew the pleasure of abstaining from pleasure, he would never call carnal desires pleasure. I heard a passer-by say that wine will get pure when it stays in glasses for forty days. (A poem)
By profitting from belief in God, paying attention to the Hereafter, having good attitudes and proper behavior, we can make our home a place for the manifestation of humane, divine and spiritual virtues. This is not too difficult, and if God helps one he can easily walk on this path, although it may be most difficult for others.
 Ola'Azam or the decision-maker
SHAFAQNA-- Before engaging in this issue (the meaning of dominance), a few points need to be mentioned to enlighten what the true status of the woman is in Islam.
1- Making up half of the world’s population, an active member of the human society and remaining one of the two pillars of the foundation of the family, the woman has experienced many different judgments and has been looked at variously throughout history. A quick look at history tells us that the woman has somewhat suffered from deprivation in most societies and that the continuation of this suffering has extended till today. Burying daughters alive during the Jahiliyyah times and the murder of women at the hands of men in the someri society or selling them in order to pay off debts are all examples of this suffering. Listing all of the transgression that has been done to women throughout history till today, both by those who believed that men are the absolute masters in the home, and by radical movements that insisted on the total freedom of women, is something that can't be done in this concise response. What we are aiming for here is to briefly describe the true status of the woman in Islam and how she repossessed her true worth as a result of it.
2- After the emergence of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, and with the help of the teachings of Islam and the traditions of the prophet (pbuh) and the Ahlul-Bayt, the woman was able to regain her true status and worth.
The founder of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Imam Khomeini says: “Islam wants both the man and woman to grow and develop. Islam has freed the woman, from the things that were in the time of theJahiliyyah, God knows that Islam has done more good and service to the woman than it has the man. Islam has placed the woman next to the man, making them equal. Of course, there are some rulings in Islam that suit men and belong to them, just like there are rulings that belong only to women and suit them, and this doesn’t mean that Islam has discriminated against women.
3- Equality in creation: The Holy Quran considers men and women two groups of humans which have been created from one spirit. According to the Quran, humanity and being human is something that both men and women equally share. The Quran says: “خلقکم من نفس واحدة ثم جعل منها زوجها”(He created you from a single soul, then made from it its mate) and “هوالذی خلقکم من نفس واحدة و جعل منها زوجها” (created you from a single soul, and created its mate from it).
4- Also, men and women both equally share what separates them from other creatures, which is the intellect and mind and the power of thought: “قل هو الذی أنشاکم و جعل لکم السمع و الابصار و الأفئده”(It is He who created you, and made for you hearing, eyesight, and hearts).
Commentators of the Quran and Islamic scholars have interpreted the word “hearts” in the abovementioned verse to mean “thought” and “pondering” which separates man from other creatures.
5- Equal rights in a married life: The same amount of glory, respect and dominance that the Quran considers for men it considers for women as well, although there might be a difference in instances, such as the fact that the expenditures and sustenance of the family is a responsibility of the man of the house, while the woman is to follow him in where to stay and live. This is because the Quran says: “و لهن مثل الذی علیهن”, meaning that women have as many rights as men do. Commentators believe this verse is implying the equality of men and women’s rights.
Concerning spiritual degrees, the truth of the matter is that in the Quran, anything that is out of the control of man and isn't in his hands isn't called “Darajah” or degree. Only ranks that are reached out of making the right choice and willingly have this title, and the Quran says: “لکل درجات مما عملوا”, which means that both men and women have degrees as a result of their actions; and in other words, the only thing that brings true superiority is our actions, not gender.
6- Literally, “Qivam” means to take care of and protect and that is what is meant by the verse that says: “الرجال قوامون علی النساء” (Men are overseers and maintainers of Women). When it is said that a man had “qivam” regarding a woman, it means that he looked into her affairs and took care of and protected her.
Most commentators of the Quran also have this viewpoint regarding the meaning of qivam and have interpreted it in the verse as overseeing and taking care of.
7- Therefore, keeping in mind the status and rank of the woman in Islam, and also the true meaning ofqivam (قوام) which was mentioned earlier, the verse “الرجال قوامون علی النساء” is speaking of the leadership and guardianship of the man in the family and isn't saying that men can do anything they like to their wives even if it means oppressing and acting unjustly and unfairly with them.
Just like how a big society calls for the leadership of someone, the family, which is a smaller society and a building block of the greater one, necessitates that someone be leader and the rest follow. And since men bear certain traits that women don’t, such as the fact that their intellectual dimension is dominant over their feelings, helping them make the right decisions in critical situations, and that they are physically stronger the responsibility of leading the family and protecting, taking care of and sustaining it rests on their shoulders.
Of course there are always women out there who possess all of the things listed above sometimes even more than some men do, but rules and regulations never take into consideration minor exceptions and are always general, and without a doubt, in general, men are more qualified to take this responsibility.
The prophet of Islam (pbuh) was asked about the superiority of men to women, he answered: “[The superiority of men to women is] is like that of water to the earth; it is by virtue of water that the earth lives, and it is by virtue of men that women live.”, then he recited this verse: “الرجال قوامون علی النساء”. Concerning this subject, Imam Sadiq (as) says: “Being the leader and guardian of the family is of a man’s salvation”.
According to these two traditions, if the responsibility of taking care of and leading the family rests on the right shoulders, it brings liveliness, health and joy into life.
8- There are two viewpoints on the issue of the guardianship of men regarding women:
a) Some believe that the responsibilities that each of the man and woman have is because of their gender; in other words, men have been given some abilities by Allah (swt) and women have also been granted some exclusive abilities; each of them needs to accept responsibilities that are in correspondence with those abilities, hence the men being the guardians of the family.
Allah (swt) has created all people with different abilities and talents and if it wasn’t to be so and all were to be totally equal in everything, the order of creation would perish, giving its place to hardship and disorder, because there are so many different jobs in this world, each of those jobs calling for a certain talent and ability, hence the difference in abilities. The difference between men and women is for the same reason. Of course, this difference clearly isn't in any way in favor of or against the status and rank of people in Allah’s (swt) eyes. So these differences aren't what makes the difference in Allah’s (swt) eyes, and what makes the difference definitely aren't these differences! Therefore, from this perspective, what verse 34 of surah Nisa is speaking of, is a responsibility that rests on the shoulders of men regarding their families, not an advantage that makes them higher than women.
b) Another view is that men in whole are prior to women, and this has nothing to do with husbands and wives, it has to do with men and women in general. What this view says is that in important matters that society depends on in order to remain, such as governing and judging, men have to do the job; this is because of the intellectual power they possess which is stronger and more than that of women. Of course, this doesn’t mean that women are to be deprived of their freedom and personal and social rights.
9- To sum it all up: When it is said that men are superior to women, what is meant is that they have to manage the affairs of their wives and families. It means they bear a very important responsibility which is the guardianship and sustenance of their families. This responsibility is because of some abilities they have, and in no way means that because of such responsibilities and abilities, they are higher than women in the eyes of Allah (swt), because Islam puts no difference between men and women when it comes to spiritual and otherworldly development and perfection, because such can only be accomplished through thought and good actions and the only thing that matters when it comes to this is taqwa, not gender.
Therefore, from the Quran’s point of view, dominance, oppression and transgression have no place and the perception that this verse is allowing such a thing for men stems from not understanding the true meaning of the verse and what it is trying to say as a result of not explaining it thoroughly in Quranic researches.
For further information, see:
1- The duties of women regarding men, Question 850 (website: 925)
2- The equality of men and women, Question 531 (website: 579)
3- The restriction of women, Question 416 (website: 435)
 Pajouheshhaye Qurani, nos. 25-26, Spring and Summer of 1380, quoted from Ahmad Hamrani, Al-Mar’atu fil-Ta’rikhi wal-Shariah, pg. 20.
 Sahifeye Nour, vol. 3, pg. 82.
 Ibid, vol. 4, pg. 60.
 Abdul-Rahman Ibn Khaldun, Introduction of Ibn Khaldun, vol. 2, pg. 860.
 In his tafsir of Al-Mizan, Allamah Tabatabai says: “What true social justice calls for and the thing that defines equality, is for every person in society to have his/her rights, and that every person be allowed to move ahead as much as his/her capacity allows, not more. Therefore, equality between people and social classes are only for reaching this goal; so that every person who has a right is allowed to exercise it, without any rights interfering with other ones, or any rights being taken away as a result of enmity or any other reason and without them being disregarded and revoked, and this is what the verse: “و لهن مثل الذى علیهن بالمعروف و للرجال علیهن درجة” is saying (keeping in mind the way we explained it). That is because although the verse is accepting the fact that there are physical differences between men and women, it is explicitly saying that they are equal in rights. (Translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 2, pg. 415); for information on the viewpoints of Sunni scholars on this subject, see: Ibn Kathir, Tafsiril-Quranil-Adhim, vol. 3, pg. 506; Rashid Ridha, Tafsiril-Minar, vol. 2, pp. 268-297.
 Pajouheshhaye Qurani, nos. 25-26, year 1380, pg. 153.
 Ibn Mandhur, Lisanul-Arab, vol. 11, under the root word “قوم”.
 Saeed Al-Khuwari, Aqrabul-Mawarid, root word of “قوم”
 Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 3, pp. 411-416.
 Fayz Kashani, Tafsir Safi, vol. 1, pg. 251.
 Wasa’elul-Shia, vol. 15, pg. 251.
 Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 3, pp. 370-371.
 Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Zan dar A’ineye Jalal va Jamal, pp. 364-369.
 Seyyid Mohammad Husain Tabatabai, Al-Mizan, vol. 4, under verse 34 of surah Nisa, pp. 343-347.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Everybody knows "Lucy." For nearly four decades, this famous partial skeleton of Australopithecus afarensis, dated to 3.2 million years ago, has been an ambassador for our prehistoric past, and her species has stood as the most likely immediate ancestor of our own genus—Homo.
But in a spate of new studies, paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, of the University of the Witwatersrand, and a team of collaborators have put forward a controversial claim that another hominin—Australopithecus sediba—might be even closer to the origin of our lineage, possibly bumping Lucy from the critical evolutionary junction she has occupied for so long.
Berger and colleagues named Australopithecus sediba in 2010. The 1.98-million-year-old hominin, known from partial skeletons of an adult female and a juvenile male, along with an isolated tibia, was discovered two years earlier at the South African cave site of Malapa.
Since that initial announcement, Berger and coauthors have been further analyzing the anatomy and geological context of the fossils, with their studies culminating in a series of six papers published Thursday in Science.
Together, the papers on the teeth, jaw, limbs, and spine of Australopithecus sediba highlight the fact that this early human possessed a strange mixture of traits seen in both early australopithecines and Homo. These findings make the fossils a significant point of contention among those devoted to understanding where and when our genus evolved.
What Teeth and Bones Say
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Australopithecus sediba's closest relative appears to be Australopithecus africanus, a species that also lived in South Africa from around three million to two million years ago.
In a paper examining 22 discrete traits on sediba's teeth, Joel Irish of Liverpool John Moores University and colleagues found that the species more closely resembles A. africanus than other early hominins. But the teeth also show some features shared with early members of our own genus, such as Homo habilis.
Analysis of jawbone by Darryl de Ruiter of Texas A&M University and colleagues also argues for a distinct species status for sediba,countering earlier claims that the fossils may represent simply a late form of africanus. According to Berger, the dental features makeAustralopithecus sediba "the best candidate" for the ancestor of the Homo lineage, although he notes that this connection is contingent on finding more complete fossils of other hominins.
Other aspects of the skeleton retain a more archaic anatomy. The upper arms of Australopithecus sediba, anthropologist Steven Churchillof Duke University and collaborators report, had the anatomy and proportions of a limb still suited to climbing through the trees.
Australopithecus sediba was probably a climber "of some sort," Berger says, but he notes that "climbing trees is not the only option available to a hominin living on karstic terrain," or landscape pocked by limestone gullies and caves. (Exactly how the hominin got around and what the environment was like 2 million years ago is part of the next phase of research, Berger says.)
Additionally, University of Zurich anthropologist Peter Schmid and co-authors report that the chest of Australopithecus sediba retained the funnel-like, flared shape of other early australopithecines. Compared with the living skeletal extremes of chimpanzees and our species, the upper body of Australopithecus sediba was still much like that of the nonhuman apes.
Curiously, less-well-preserved parts of the lower rib cage have a much more human-like appearance. Scott Williams of New York University and colleagues report that the spine of Australopithecus sediba was also human-like, with a relatively long and flexible lower back that shares more in common with the spines of Homo erectus than with those of other australopithecines, including the curvature of the spine that is a hallmark of upright walking.
But while sediba was clearly a biped, it did not walk at all like we do. According to Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University and his co-authors, the heel bone of the female skeleton of Australopithecus sediba suggests she would have turned her foot inward as she stepped, with the outside edge of the foot contacting the ground along with the heel.
"Contacting the ground on the outside edge of a twisted-in foot causes the foot to rapidly and excessively rotate so that the inside of the foot is driven into the ground," Berger says, which begins a "chain reaction" of rotation of the shin, femur, and torso to keep balance.
No other known hominin walked like this, hinting that the way humans walk isn't the outcome of an ever-improving evolutionary trajectory, but one result out of several possible alternatives that evolved among our ancient relatives.
Sediba's odd mode of walking, Berger says, "might be a compromise locomotion of a hominin that had features of the foot that are adaptive for both upright walking and tree climbing."
An Enduring Controversy
Because of all these varied skeletal clues, Australopithecus sediba is said to possess a "mosaic" of traits that mix the archaic and the derived. But are the ways that Australopithecus sediba resembles early Homo species true indicators of a close evolutionary relationship—or are they traits that evolved independently in both lineages?
Few scientists believe this question has even begun to be settled. Berger himself has more confidence.
"My stance is that [Australopithecus] sediba exhibits so many derived, Homo-like traits across the whole of the body that it must be considered as, at the very least, a possible ancestor of the genus Homo," he says.
This hypothesis faces difficulties, Berger says, because of a "nostalgia" for previous hypotheses and because sediba's remarkably informative skeletons are being compared "with a fragmentary and disassociated record of a small number of bits and pieces, many of which have simply been cobbled together into the basket we call early Homo."
Berger also discounts the record of possible earlier Homo fossils—such as a 2.33-million-year-old jaw found in Ethiopia—as "shockingly bad" and therefore argues that such fragmentary finds do not rule out Australopithecus sediba as a Homo ancestor.
Most other researchers, however, concur that the Ethiopian jaw is indeed Homo and that the trail of our own genus significantly precedes the Malapa finds.
Berger doubts that the new papers will convince those who disagree with him, but affirms that "across the body, head to toe, sediba has a remarkable number of shared derived characters with definitive members of the genus Homo, including H. erectus, Neanderthals, and humans," thus underscoring a possible evolutionary connection.
Paleoanthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison points out that the dental details are the best evidence for a possible connection between the Malapa hominins and early Homo. "The new papers really spell out the shared features in the mandibles and teeth in a way that supports their position with A. africanus as a sister taxon to Homo."
A Complex Picture
Still, Hawks cautions, "I think the story could be more complicated." Relatively little is known of early Homo species, Hawks points out, and "knowing what we do about the mixture of later humans—including Neanderthals—it's possible that early Homo and later australopithecine relationships included widespread mixture also."
Regardless of what Australopithecus sediba turns out to be, however, the fossils offer an important caution about interpreting more fragmentary human remains found elsewhere.
"That mosaic of anatomy is the most important insight from this site. It says that when you find a fragment that looks like Homo, you can't expect the rest of the skeleton will look like Homo," Hawks says. "No single fragment can look more like Homo than these skeletons do overall, yet these skeletons have many features that don't look like Homo. And that's what we expect from an evolving lineage."
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History paleoanthropologist Rick Potts is uncertain of how Australopithecus sediba might be relevant to the origin of Homo, especially since the earliest Homo fossils are hundreds of thousands of years older, but notes that the combination of features in Australopithecus sediba "is astonishing."
That's what makes the placement of the hominins so difficult. "From what we know so far," Potts says, "I think Australopithecus sediba is best seen as a compelling example of the highly experimental nature of evolution in the several hundred thousand years around the time of the origin of Homo."
Ultimately, he says, determining the place of Australopithecus sediba will hinge upon "debates about whether it is the overall morphological pattern that is key to assessing where something like Australopithecus sediba sits in human evolution or [whether] it is the discovery of isolated traits in each area of the skeleton."
The hominin "is so curious in its totality," Potts says, "it might lead to some rethinking of how we classify fossil humans and place them in our evolutionary tree."-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – By: Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari
While the warp of society is the individual person and the woof is social order, the unit of the design is the family. Families in which mutual understanding, sincerity and tenderness reign, form details of a harmonious pattern. But a family in confusion and disarray distorts and mars the pattern.
The instinct for survival is innate in human beings. Producing children is the expression of one urge of this instinct, for a child seems like an extension of one's own personality, and a guarantee of the continuance of the same life-force. The primary origin of the urge to found families is sought by many thinkers in this instinct for survival.
The need to feed and support a family incites a man to industrial productivity.
Other thinkers hold that the primary urge towards family-founding was merely the sex instinct; others favour the gregarious instinct; others regard wedlock as a mere commercial transaction between families entered into for the profit of both.
In fact, communal living in society requires families as its units of construction. To degrade the pure love between husband and wife merely to sex, profit or protection, is to deny human nature at its highest.
Some say that, since in the inchoate days of human living the woman as a weaker being could not exist except under a man's protection, family life is merely a feminine institution imposed on man. This is manifest nonsense: for it ignores a man's need of woman, which may be different from woman's need of man, but is just as deeply and inextricably a part of his nature. True, man has to be the breadwinner in most cases. But he needs his mate as a partner in happiness, in joy and in sound living. In marriage is the end of loneliness. Each sex needs the other. This is why "male and female made He them."
God implanted the sex instinct. God created sex differences. He created the survival instinct, the security instinct and the society instinct of gregariousness. All these were part of His providence in preparing mankind to be His joyful family Sociologists give each instinct its due weight in the scheme. They say that the exact role of each instinct varies with the changes in social structure. In primitive society the need to find food and housing is of primary importance. In the ancient agricultural community the need for children became paramount since many hands make light work. Today the sex urge has come very much to the fore, since humanity has devised means to achieve adequate food, satisfactory housing and machines to do the work. But over and above the instincts, the urge to love and the need to be loved are amongst the highest attributes of human nature.
Islam answers the call of nature affirmatively, with its insistence on the family as the best safeguard of public virtue, and its asseveration that it is the only right and legitimate way. It is written in the Sura XVI:Nahl- "The Bee" verse 72: "God has made mates for you of your own nature and made for you of them children and grandchildren and posterity, and provided for you sustenance of the best. Are they then going to believe in vain things and not be grateful for God's favours?"
Islam sets out to protect young people from being led astray by the strength of the God-implanted sexual urge in the years before their character and conscience have matured and their will is governed by discretion. That is why it lays on parents the responsibility of I admonishing youth, and of imparting rules of. life and guidelines of prudence which will lead to godliness and the natural use of the power of procreation. It also holds parents responsible for arranging early I marriages for those who are mature enough to wed. Young people not yet I economically capable of supporting a family may find the thrust of the sex urge so strong that, without the guiding hand of their parents on the 1 reins, the horses of nature may run away with them and carry them into danger or into the trap of illicit sex. Parents must steer the life-force into I its God-given legitimate channels where peace of mind and calm of conscience accompany the happiness of a shared life.
The Prophet is reported to have preached thus from the pulpit of the mosque: "O Muslim community! Your daughters are like ripe fruit on a tree. Fruit must be picked at its optimum moment; otherwise the sun or other agencies will rot or spoil it. You must likewise give your daughters in marriage at the moment when they are ripe, and neither later nor sooner. If you leave them hanging about too long, their inevitable , corruption will be your fault. They are human, and their human needs must be met."
Ali bin Asbat wrote a reply to a letter which he had received from the 5th Imam, thus: "I find no young men who are suitable and fitted to be husbands for my daughters. What then is my duty?" In answer the Imam wrote: "Do not wait until you find young men who are exactly to your liking in all respects. For our Holy Prophet said: 'If you do not find young people to wed your daughters who correspond with your personal desires, have regard only to their character, especially their morals and their religion, and let the qualifications you require in husbands for your daughters be faith and morals alone, since with these a young man makes a satisfactory husband; and if you choose someone without these qualifications you are personally responsible for misleading and perverting your young people."
Thus Islam not only does not put obstacles in the way of matrimony, but turns this force of nature to the advantage of society and of the individual for his physical wellbeing, mental health, calm of spirit and contentment of heart. Islam regards marriage as a sacred union of hearts, a source of serenity and security for both partners. To fulfil this function it needs the qualities of purity, loving-kindness, humanity, gentleness, goodness and faith in the depths of the heart. As it is written in Sura XXX: "Rome" verse 21: " Amongst God's signs for you is this, that He created mates for you from among yourselves for you to dwell with in tranquillity. It is He who put love and compassion between you. Verily in these are signs for those who reflect."
Islam lays down clear rules to govern the relationships within the family. Sura IV Nisa'a -"The Women" calls marriage "the firm bond" and is concerned throughout the first 42 verses with the practical details of the contract of marriage and its fulfillment.
The sense of belonging together is nourished. Fairness governs the share each partner gives and takes in the compact. Each gives according to their ability and each takes according to their need. As Sura 11: Baqara -"The Heifer" affirms in verse 228: "Wife and husband, women and men, have reciprocal and commensurable rights according to what is equitable."
Islam pays the closest and most meticulous attention to the capacities of each sex with regard to their occupation, profession and work. The man has the duty of being the breadwinner and providing for material needs and the production of things. The woman is the housekeeper with the duty of providing for the family's needs and for the production of new people, for nursing the new generation and caring for the upbringing of posterity. Islam recognises the natural consequences of the way a woman is made, and will not allow her to be demeaned or degraded in any way; but preserves her from the wickedness of those who would lead her astray into corruption, and confers upon her a dignity, both at home and out of doors, which is worthy of her calling. It is of course possible that in an emergency a woman may be called to undertake tasks outside her home. But Islam seeks to avoid the kind of contacts between the sexes in the course of their employment which could turn fellowship into familiarity and comradeship into concupiscence. Therefore women must not dress in a provocative or enticing fashion nor titillate men's sexual lusts so that the madness which leads to promiscuity of intercourse is aroused.
Like any other institution, the family and its home needs a responsible head. Without a firm hand at the helm a family can drift in confusion. Either the wife or the husband must therefore take the lead, and nature shows that in general it is more fitting for the man to steer, even if in exceptional cases the woman must take command.
The man, in accepting the responsibility of the household, its livelihood, its wellbeing, its children and their care, merits the authority of a head, because his greater strength, perseverance and endurance make him more fitted than the woman to carry the heavy burden of safeguarding the family from collapse and confusion. Further, woman is a creature of emotion, and quicker to be swayed by feelings. Woman is more ruled by her heart and man more by his head. So Islam gives the prime responsibility to the person of reason, precisely as Article 213 of the most recent constitution of France does. At the same time, Islam lays down that teamwork, partnership, consultation and joint planning are to be the rule. The man is on no account to be left free to pursue his self-willed desires regardless. He must definitely never tyrannise over his wife or abuse or bully her. It is written in Sura IVNisa'a -"The Women'. verse 19: "Believers! You may not take over a brother's widow without her consent. You may not treat your wives harshly. You may not goad wife into suing you for a khula'(divorce) by which she has to a part of the dower which you gave her - save only if she be guilty of forfeit lewd conduct. Nay! live with your wives in kindness and equity. Should you dislike them for something, that very thing may be a point through which God will bring much blessing."
The husband, in shouldering the burden of external affairs for the support of the family has full control of everything relevant to his task. But inside the walls Of the home the wife is in full control, and hers is the duty of arranging the details of daily living, the disposition of the household effects and the upbringing of the children. The Prophet said: "The man is the breadwinner responsible for the family, while the wife has the responsibility for the house and for her husband and for the children.-' (Majmoo'é wa ram p.6/ Collections and Remains.)
Modern disrespect for the bond of marriage is due to the negligence of this high conception of wedlock. Instead it has been degraded by a mass of petty dreams and twisted imaginations. Men's thinking about marriage was in ruins before their families began to fall apart. Too many have entered on the married state without a thought for the importance of harmony of mind and spirit between man and wife. Fortune hunters, Casanovas, women-chasers prizing a pretty face above all else, have pushed the spiritual values out of sight and trodden their own best interests underfoot.
The prevalence of such badly founded families forebodes a tragic future. The deep incompatibility of thought between man and wife sets them as far apart as the poles. The gap between them gapes wider daily. Contentment and peace of heart flee from them. They get on each other's nerves. The harmony which ethical values, unselfishness and human affection bring, as both sides do all they can to strengthen the spiritual life of each other, departs. A family must be founded firmly on due consideration of the environmental conditions, the proper setting for the wife, and the compatibility of the partners' ways of thinking and of their moral standards. Marriage must be thought of as holy and basic. Only from this correct viewpoint can the inevitable difficulties of living together be satisfactorily settled.
Islam has paid due attention to all the deleterious consequences of wrongly based marriage, its divisions and unhappiness. It therefore founds the family not on fortune or passion or outward beauty or any material things, but on faith and virtue, and chastity and purity and spiritual qualities and affections, and piety both in the man and ID the woman. The Prophet is reported to have said: "Whosoever takes a wife merely because of her beauty will never find what he sought in her. Whose takes a wife solely for her fortune, the Lord will abandon him. Seek therefore a wife whose beauty is that of faith and whose fortune is purity of living." (Vassa'el, Vol. 3, p.6.)
In the book "Man la yahdhur" (p.209), "There is no institution more beloved than marriage" is stated as Islam's policy for matrimony. Persons who seek to avoid founding a family on unreasonable or false grounds are sternly rebuked, and condemned for every form of pretext to which they resort for perverting the God-given force of sex from its proper use. In the book "Safeene al-Bahar" (Vol. 1, p.561), we read: "Wedlock and matrimony belong to my religion. Whosoever protests against this way of life excludes himself from my religion and is not one of mine." Similarly Islam is against the wedding of people who lack the qualities of personality and the excellences of spirit which are required: and against wedding into families which do not profit from religious upbringing in moral standards. As is written in the "Vassa'el" - chapter 7 of the .'Book of Wedlock" "the Prophet in a sermon said: Avoid beautiful plants and flowers which grow by the side of filthy and polluted waters.' The Prophet was asked: 'O Prophet of Allah! what is a plant by a stagnant pool?' He replied: A beautiful woman brought up in a perverse family that has not known the restraints of instruction'."
It is natural that consorts who are not brought up on absolute moral standards and religious laws can never be sure of true family happiness and blessedness. The fruit of such marriages can only be delinquent children, rough, violent, without serenity or security of spirit. Therefore Islam, to ensure the happiness of both parties, lays particular stress on matters of morals and of mentality. It is to guard against the production of a generation that is corrupt and perverted that Islam seeks to avoid matrimony with members of families that are polluted and degraded.
If young people, at the moment when they have to choose their life's partner, would do so in accordance with Islamic rules and regulations instead of only looking at externals, and weigh the realities which are vital to happiness, setting aside false thinking inspired by polluted passions that so swiftly pass, there is no doubt that the unhappiness and family disasters brought on family life by the devotees of sexual freedom and permissiveness would all very rapidly disappear into thin air. Yet some of today's youth have been taught that a trial-marriage, to see if a couple suit each other in intercourse, is the right way and the ideal preparation for happy life-partnership. How can they think that a brief experience of a fleeting pleasure of two bodies can plumb the depths of the spiritual qualities, mental abilities, moral gifts and personality-traits of another soul? To expect to found an eternal relationship on a few moments of pleasure is a nonsensical piece of illogic. That should be enough to condemn it out of hand, quite apart from all the moral and spiritual damage which such temporary liaisons cannot fail to cause. The inner qualities of a personality only appear in a long period of a shared life. It is the ever-changing scene and stage of their living together which reveals the truth of two partners' inward nature to each other. Patience, forbearance, equanimity, steadiness, contentment, selflessness, self-sacrifice are discovered when life's pressures crowd in on the soul. How can brief moments of rest and fun and trips a deux penetrate to the deep ethical characteristics? Can a visit to the cinema or some other place of entertainment reveal their true selves to a couple? Indeed, in trial-marriages both partners try to conceal their bad sides and put on a good mask to fool each other.
Can a young man in the heat of passion make a decision which is the most fateful of his life? Can a trial-marriage ensure that there is no difference in spirit and no weak point in their relationship? And how can a young person ruled by the conditions of his years when the inclination to satisfy sexual instincts is so strong. weigh the essential conditions for a sound marriage dispassionately and detachedly? How can he be sure that quarrels and differences will not arise in the future?
It is for this reason that Islam recommends that, before the final signing of a marriage contract, the young people should meet each other and talk; but also, and far more important, they should get an assessment of their proposed partner's character and tastes and traits and capacities from independent observers who are able to judge from long acquaintance.
Or, since the family happiness depends in the first place on the equality of the relations between man and wife in their shared life, the firmer the spiritual and ethical bonds the surer the happiness of the household and the greater its ability to stand the shocks of life in selfless self-sacrifice and union. This is why the Prophet said. ."'Best of my people is the man who shows his family not harshness but perfect kindness and goodness." (Moral Excellence. p.247 "Makarem-ul-Akhlaq".) And again ("Man la yahdhur" p.625): "Best amongst you is he who treats his family well: and I am kindest of all to my own family." Similarly the wife should treat her husband with kindness, and this is called her ."SacredJehad" (Tafseer-ad-Dorr al-manthoor ."Gems of Wisdom").
One of the sad obstacles to early marriages today is the difficulty which finance poses for young people. Provision of the marriage portion, expensive ceremonies, the high cost of houses, and a dozen other extravagant charges are too much for the average youth. Islam insists , that the state should take steps to enable these difficulties to be overcome in the interests of the institution of matrimony. The book "Gems of I Wisdom" reports the Prophet of Islam as saying: "It is an auspicious and beneficent act that the bride's family should make their demands for dowry and terms of the marriage contract mild and lenient."
Excessive demands may reveal not only that the bride's family but possibly also the bride herself is grasping and hard. The chapter on marriage portions in the book '"Vassa'el" tells the following story. One day the Apostle of God was seated with the assembly of his companions when a young woman rushed in and after the customary courteous salutations said: "O Apostle of God I want a young husband." The Prophet turned to all those present and asked: "Has anyone an inclination to take this woman to wife?" One man said he was willing. I The Prophet asked what dowry he would give. He replied: "I have nothing I can give." So the Prophet said. "No!" The woman returned on a later occasion and requested to be married. No one replied. Finally the same young man who had no fortune or property at his disposition made a sign, and the Prophet addressed him thus: "Do you know the Qur'an?" He said: "Sure!" The gracious Apostle then decreed: "I will marry you to this woman at the price of the dowry which will consist in your teaching her a portion of the Qur'an every day."
Islam therefore refuses to recognise that financial difficulties may put obstacles in the way of young people's matrimony. It allows indigent and needy persons to found families by law. Islam regards fear of poverty and of involvement as false excuses for avoiding the divine law of life in wedlock, and says that Providence knows a family's needs and will not let them fall into deprivation.
It is written in Sura XXIV: Nur-"Light", verse 32: "Provide the means by which worthy and fitting persons who have no spouse may marry. If they are poor and indigent God out of His gracious care will supply their needs."
Of course hard work and industry is the way in which a man should supply his needs. When a man undertakes the responsibilities of matrimony, in order to make both ends meet he must increase his activities and his hard work. This is one of the functions of marriage in raising the standard of living for the whole of society.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Celebrating family values, Canadian Muslims in the east-central province of Ontario took part in walkathons on Monday, February 18, to show support for women’s rights and raise funds for local hospitals.
"While emphasizing the importance of family life in general, each year has a unique theme focusing on a particular aspect of our family life," Abdul Qayyum Mufti, Chair of the Walkathons, told OnIslam.net.
"This year's program theme is 'Honoring women: custodians of our future generations’."
Hundreds of walkathon participants braved bitterly cold conditions and snow covered streets.
As they marched, they held bilingual placards bearing slogans like "friendship," "caring" and "J'aime ma mère" ("I love my mother").
This year’s walkathon raised $70,000 for the hospital which was presented to officials at a ceremony in the Mississauga City Hall following the walk.
The event, called the Family Day Walkathon, raised $70,000 for Credit Valley hospital, which was handed over at a packed ceremony in City Hall directly after the walk.
The event, now in its third year, has grown rapidly since it was first held in Erin Mills Town Center in 2011.
That event attracted around 500 participants and raised $50,000 for Credit Valley hospital.
Family Day is a public holiday in the three Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario and is observed on the third Monday of February.
The Mississauga Muslim community, a city in the suburbs of Toronto, has been at the forefront of the Family Day Walkathon.
It has raised a total of $110,000 towards the Lifetime of Care building expansion program at Credit Valley Hospital.
Participants have renewed calls for respecting women’s rights.
"Honoring women, that's the only answer to the world's problems today," Mayor Hazel McCallion said, calling for women to take the reins of government.
"If we can organize the women in the developing world and all over the world to be in leadership roles, things would be different, no question about it.
"Women care, they care for the family, they care for the individuals and so the answer to the world's problems is honoring and promoting women to leadership roles in all governments across the world.”
The march has drawn participants from all different faiths to reiterate respect for women’s rights.
“We all work for improving the conditions of all living together,” said Abdul Qayyum.
“It’s so wonderful to see faith communities - Christians, Jewish, Bahais, Sikhs, Buddhist - coming together in this event.”
Abdul Qayyum said raising funds for hospitals isn't the only purpose of the event.
“It also encourages volunteerism, helps teach the value of the health care system, promotes the idea of neighbors assisting each other and builds bridges between diverse local communities.”
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the country.
A recent report from the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said that Muslims are expected to make up 6.6% of Canada’s total population in 2030.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Terrified by a racist attack on their house, a Muslim parent have left their home to help keep their children safe.
“My family were terrified from the very first incident,” Murad Alam, 39, told The Daily Mail on Thursday, January 31.
“My wife had never experienced racism, neither had my kids.”
An offensive graffiti was painted outside the Muslim family’s house in Bingham in north-western Britain last month.
The attack came after a cross wrapped in ham was left on the doorstop of the family’s house.
“The first incident was when the big, wooden cross, wrapped in ham, fell into the house after a knock at the door,” Alam recalled.
“It really annoys me that they should use a cross and try and turn this into a religious argument.”
The Muslim father said that they had names such as 'Paki' and 'tramp' shouted at them in the street.
“My wife and children also had names called at them in the street.”
Seeking security for his kids, the father decided to move to his wife and two young children to West Bridgford, a suburb of Nottingham.
Seeing his kids teased several times on the street, Alam took the decision after he found that his young son plotting escape routes from the house and neighborhood on his computer.
“The kids have been abused a number of times; the eldest had smoke blown in his face by an elderly local gentleman,” he said.
“In fact I had to explain to my children what racism even was, because they're so young they didn't understand the concept that someone could dislike you because of your skin color or religion.”
The attack on the Muslim family is the latest in racist assaults on Muslims in Britain.
“This is one of a number of cases that we have seen where the anti-Muslim prejudice has had a shocking impact on the wider family,” said Fiyaz Mughal, director of Tell Mama, a national service that records and analyses anti-Muslim attacks.
“We provided practical support to the family where we could.
“They are though, moving away and fear that the perpetrators and the air of anti-Muslim prejudice in the area was just too much, which is very, very sad.”
Hostility against British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, has been on the rise since the 7/7 attacks in 2005.
Police data shows that 1,200 anti-Muslim attacks were reported in Britain in 2010.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
Last October, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has vowed to put an end to religious hate crimes against Muslims.
He also announced an extra £214,000 funding for Tell Mama to help halt attacks against Muslims.
The national organization will help to inform a cross-government working group set up to tackle the problem and follows work in the Jewish community, by the Community Security Trust, to record anti-Semitic attacks and shape action to prevent them.
Along with monitoring anti-Muslim incidents, which is also done by Islamophobia Watch, Engage and the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Faith Matters would also offer a personal service to victims.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: ON Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Saudis have staged fresh protest against the ruling Al Saud family as anti-regime protests gather steam in the kingdom, Press TV reports.
The Wednesday rally was held in the al-Qassim region north of Riyadh. The demonstrators chanted anti-regime slogans and called for the release of political prisoners.
On the same day, people demonstrated in the holy city of Mecca and the central city of Buraidah.
On December 31, tens of thousands of Saudi nationals staged a protest in the oil-rich Eastern Province to condemn the recent killing of a teenage demonstrator.
The demonstration was held following the funeral of Ahmad al-Matar, who was killed when regime forces opened fire on a group of protesters in the province’s Qatif region on December 27.
“The Saudi society is in a bad need for that (democracy) and the ruling authority in Saudi Arabia is the least susceptible to changes like this,” Daoud Khairallah, a professor of law at Georgetown University, told Press TV on Wednesday.
Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in Qatif and the town of Awamiyah in the Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, as well as an end to widespread discrimination.
The demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011 when security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.
Amnesty International has called on Saudi authorities to stop using excessive force against the protesters.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Israeli soldiers of the Nachshon Brigade attacked hunger-striking detainee, Samer Al-Eesawy, and his family when he tried to salute them as he was being taken into court. Al-Eesawy has been on hunger strike for 142 days demanding an end to his illegal detention, and is facing a sharply deteriorating health condition.
Head of the Legal Unit at the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Jawad Boulos, stated that Al-Eesawy was brought to court after the prosecution claimed that he “violated a legal order” and “tried to manipulate witnesses”, adding that he was cuffed and his legs were shackled.
As he was being dragged to the court room, Al-Eesawy tried to greet his family when Israeli soldiers jumped all over him and attacked him in addition to attacking his family members.
Boulos added that Al-Eesawy is in a very difficult health condition, adding that “attacking a detainee who has been on ongoing hunger strike for 142 days, is a direct violation of all laws, and “an act of revenge against the detainee and all striking detainees”.
He added that he also asked the judge to move the detainee to hospital to conduct urgently needed checkups , especially since Al-Eesawy developed a very sharp chest pain, in addition to the fact that he is suffering from cuts on his neck.
The judge held a 30-minute court session before deciding to hold another session on December 27, 2012; he only instructed the soldiers that “Al-essay needs to be seen by a doctor”, and acknowledged that that his health condition is “difficult”.
Boulos said that the soldiers also beat Al-Eesawy when he tried to talk to reporters, and threw him onto the ground before dragging him from his arms and feet.
Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Qaddoura Fares, stated that Israel’s courts are places where the detainees, their dignity and families, are attacked and humiliated instead of being places where legal proceedings are held.
Fares called on the international community and human rights groups to intervene and put an end to the ongoing violations and assaults carried out by Israel against the detainees, especially hunger striking detainees, including Al-Eesawy and Ayman Ash-Sharawna. - www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – An offensive graffiti has been painted outside the home of a British Muslim family in Bingham in north-western Britain, weeks after a cross wrapped in ham was left on their doorstep.
"My kids are scared and crying,” the 39-year-old Muslim father told the BBC News Online.
"They are in fear of their lives.”
The offensive graffiti attacking Islam and Allah was painted on the family path on Saturday morning.
The attack is not the first on the family who has just moved to Bingham last October after the mother separated from her husband.
The husband said he now had to move in with his family to protect them.
The 31-year-old mother and her two sons, eight and 10, say they have suffered five or six racist incidents since they moved to Bingham.
The most recent attack occurred three weeks ago when the family found a cross wrapped in ham left on their doorstep.
"Two days after the first incident I saw the eldest on the laptop looking at a map, looking for escape routes in case anything goes wrong,” the father said.
"I'm not even a strict Muslim at all, so for this to happen to my family is a joke."
The Muslim father believes that the attack clearly targets his wife.
“Clearly they are targeting my wife,” he said.
"I've got to assume it's because of the way she dresses in traditional Asian clothes, with a traditional headdress."
Nottinghamshire Police said they asked the council to remove the graffiti as soon as possible.
Hostility against British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, has been on the rise since 2005’s 7/7 attacks.
Police data shows that 1,200 anti-Muslim attacks were reported in Britain in 2010.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
A 13-year-old boy from Bingham was arrested in connection with the ham-covered cross and bailed.
The incident is not the first as the boy was also arrested in connection with two other incidents involving the same family.
"He is suspected of shouting racial abuse at a 32-year-old woman on 3 December and throwing a stone at their window on 4 December," a police statement said.
Police said he was also arrested in connection with incidents affecting two restaurants in Bingham.
On August 11, racist graffiti was scrawled on a Singaporean restaurant in Market Place, and on October 31 bricks were thrown at a Balti restaurant in Market Place.
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesperson warned against a sharp increase in the hate and racial attacks.
"Hate crime is completely unacceptable in any degree or form and Nottinghamshire Police takes any incidents of this nature incredibly seriously,” he said.
"Increased patrols have been mounted to provide reassurance and officers have been conducting house-to-house enquiries and working very closely with the victims to ensure they are safe."
Last October, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has vowed to put an end to religious hate crimes against Muslims.
He also announced an extra £214,000 funding for an initiative called Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) run by interfaith group Faith Matters.
The national organization will help to inform a cross-government working group set up to tackle the problem and follows work in the Jewish community, by the Community Security Trust, to record anti-Semitic attacks and shape action to prevent them.
Along with monitoring anti-Muslim incidents, which is also done by Islamophobia Watch, Engage and the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Faith Matters would also offer a personal service to victims.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)– To Westerners and Palestinians, Gaza "is hell", says Ali Batha. "It's a scary place … It's the last place in the world [people want to go]."
There's Gaza's 30 per cent unemployment rate, and the Israeli blockade that restricts imports and exports. Clean drinking water is increasingly scarce. Fuel and electricity shortages cause daily blackouts.
And, according to the United Nations, the Gaza Strip "will not be liveable by 2020" unless the blockade, isolation, and Israeli-Palestinian conflict all come to an end.
Despite the bleak outlook, and despite the fact that Batha, 31, is in the prime of his life, he is planning to leave the West Bank to move to Gaza. It's the only place where he and his wife, Rehab, can live together.
Because of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement, it's been three-and-a-half years since the two have seen each other.
Batha and Rehab are just one of thousands of Palestinian families who have been torn apart by Israel's "separation policy".
"The dominant aspects of it are to disallow travel between Gaza and the West Bank, to prevent Palestinians from Gaza from moving to the West Bank, and to induce or coerce Palestinians from the West Bank to move to Gaza," says Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha, an Israeli NGO that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement.
When asked about the separation policy and its aims, a spokesman from the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories - who requested anonymity - answers that because "terrorist groups in Gaza" seek "to relocate the existing terrorist infrastructure to [the West Bank], Israel has adopted a policy which reduces movements between Gaza and [the West Bank]".
Batha and Rehab met in 2000 at Birzeit University in the West Bank, where Batha studied economics and Rehab earned a degree in business administration. "It was in a discussion about mythology," Batha recalls. "She started to talk and I was like, 'Oh my god, there is a beautiful girl and she is talking about serious things in an [intelligent] way.'"
The two quickly became friends. After one month, Batha confessed his love to her, adding, "I don't need an answer from you, just take your time."
He then embarked on a campaign to win Rehab's heart. "I did a lot of crazy things," Batha smiles. He scaled the side of her dormitory to reach her balcony. He also covered the sidewalk to her building with drawings and poetry.
Rehab fell for him and they moved in together.
When Rehab graduated in 2004, the couple struggled to decide whether Rehab should travel to the Gaza Strip to visit her parents.
Although Rehab was born in Lebanon, her family moved to Gaza in the early 1990s, as Israel was beginning to restrict Palestinian freedom of movement. In 2000, Israel blocked Gazans from travelling to the West Bank to study. Rehab was one of the last to receive permission to do so.
Because Rehab worried that she wouldn't be able to return to the West Bank to complete her studies, she did not visit Gaza while she was earning her degree.
After much discussion, Batha and Rehab agreed that she would spend a month in Gaza with her family. But, just as the couple feared, Israeli authorities refused the travel permit she needed to return to the West Bank.
The couple reunited and married in Dubai in 2007. When they tried to go back to the West Bank a year-and-a-half later, Israeli soldiers refused entry to Rehab because she had a Gaza ID. So the two went to Egypt, where Rehab's family now lives, and tried to solve the problem from there.
They conferred with high-ranking officials from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) who, according to Batha, suggested they obtain a referral to a West Bank healthcare facility. Israeli authorities allow a small number of Palestinians to travel from Gaza for medical purposes.
While Palestinians are free to move to Gaza, Israel prevents family reunification in the West Bank, Bashi explains, "unless you are an orphan under the age of 16 with no relatives to care for you in Gaza, an elderly person in need of constant care with no relatives to care for you in Gaza, or a chronically ill person with no relatives to care for you in Gaza".
Bashi calls the policy "extraordinarily restrictive", pointing out that it excludes "any healthy adult".
In addition to recommending that Rehab get a medical referral, PA officials said she might have a stronger case if she were in Gaza. So in 2009 she went alone. As a woman who does not wear a hijab, Rehab found the move to conservative Gaza difficult. But she remained there, without family, for three years before returning to Egypt.
On numerous occasions, the couple submitted the necessary paperwork to the PA, which passes on requests to the Israelis.
"[Our] file has been with the [Palestinian] Ministry [of Civil Affairs] for a long time," Ali says, adding he has made countless attempts to follow up on the application.
"The Israelis say, 'We didn't receive anything from you' … [The PA] says 'bring your papers, bring your papers'. I don't know where [the PA] put the papers. Maybe in the garbage."
While Batha is angry with the PA for not doing more to help, he blames the Israeli government for the painful separation from his wife, which he likens to "a prison".
Israel also maintains the Palestinian population registry, which gives it the final say regarding official address changes.
Mother who disappeared
In Nisreen Asaid's case, this means that Israel decides whether or not the 30-year-old mother of two will be able to live with her children.
Asaid was arrested at an Israeli checkpoint inside the West Bank in 2007 as she tried to travel from Ramallah to Qalqilya. Soldiers told Asaid that her address was registered in Gaza, where she had lived until she was 14.
She was interrogated and then transferred against her will to the Gaza Strip. Asaid was not allowed to say goodbye to her daughter, who was 10 at the time, or her toddler. She has not seen her children, who remain in the West Bank, for more than five years.
Thanks to a 2011 gesture brokered by the Quartet, Asaid has managed to update her address to the West Bank. But she has been unable to get permission from Israel to travel back from Gaza.
Her son doesn't understand why his mother disappeared from his life and why she can't come back to Ramallah. When they talk on the phone, Asaid says, he sometimes tells her, "We will bring a car to the Erez checkpoint and we will raise the fence and you can go underneath."
Another family has a similar problem. A mother who is stranded in Gaza, raising five children on her own, got her address changed to her husband's home in the West Bank city of Jenin.
Now Israeli officials say she must pick up the new ID in the West Bank. They refuse, however, to issue her the necessary travel permit.
Bashi says Israeli attempts to control Palestinian movement within Gaza and the West Bank violate international human rights law.
"Because Gaza and the West Bank are part of a single territorial unit, Israel is obligated to respect the right of Palestinians to travel freely within the territory and to choose their place of residence within the territory," she explains.
"Any restriction on that right can only be implemented for security reasons, or out of security concerns about the passage [through] Israel."
But a spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories disputes this, saying the Israeli Supreme Court has found "no fault" with the policy.
"There is no legal obligation to allow free movement between Gaza and [the West Bank] ... Regarding this specific issue, Gaza and [the West Bank] cannot be declared as a single territorial unit."
Bashi points out that Israel does not have security claims against any of the families interviewed. "And there is certainly no security reason to prevent these families from being together," she says.
As the peace process stagnates and the blockade grinds on, Asaid waits and hopes to see her children. And Batha contemplates his next move: "I can go to Gaza, I can go to hell - whatever - just to feel that I can be with her."