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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Marital Oppression Under the Guise of Islam

The integration of contemporary society has brought in its wake an increase in inter-racial and inter-religious marriages. It is now quite common to find mixed marriages across the racial barrier involving men and women from different religions. The Islamic and Shar’ee implications that stem from this phenomenon are far-reaching and extremely important. We propose to discuss all this and more on mixed marriages later on in a separate publication, insha Allah. Right now, though, this article is intended to focus on one of the consequences arising out of a mixed union, and that is the gross contravention of the wife’s rights by husbands who pose as up-keepers of Shariah.

This scenario eventuates when a Muslim man marries a female who reverted to Islam. The newly converted Muslim has yet to acquire the elementary and very basic teachings of Islam, let alone understand the technicalities of an Islamic marriage and its consequences. Exploiting this ignorance of the new Muslim, some husbands commit clear-cut violation of her rights while all the while creating the impression that they are acting within the ambit of Shariah. They break all the rules in the book, and make it appear to the reverted Muslim wife that their actions are sanctioned by Islam. Who, one wonders, do they think they are fooling? It is the height of villainy to pass off one’s zhulm or oppression as a teaching of Islam. What message does this send out to new Muslims, or to non Muslims? A Muslims is supposed to be one who invites people to Islam through his actions. This is the hallmark of a real daa’ee. Instead, the actions of these hypocritical husbands only serve to create further confusion about our Deen, and make people more disillusioned. The noble institution of nikah has been reduced to a mockery by husbands out to simply satisfy their base desires.

Some of them will convert young Christian girls to Islam in order to marry them, and then, after having used and abused these naïve females, they abandon them, sometimes without even issuing talaaq. So the poor woman is then totally out on a limb: she has no husband, nor is she able to remarry. Eventually some of these females go back to their former religions and abandon the Deen of Islam. The husband who instigated this whole sorry mess must share the blame for this irtidaad or apostasy. Is this how Muslim men view the sacred union of nikah? What a shame that nikah has become a vehicle for men to satiate their lowly desires, by using innocent and gullible non-Muslim females who come into the Deen and into marriage with high hopes and aspirations. In some cases, reverted females were lured into marriage by incentives of money and good living, only to discover that the man does not even provide basic necessities. These new-Muslims have to actually go out and work to support themselves, thus bringing in its wake another type of corruption. Since they are new to Islam, these women are not grounded in the Islamic concepts of morality and modesty. Just as they had met their Muslim husbands on the streets and in workplaces, what prevents them from striking up another illicit relation in these places? This is the ideal recipe for marital disaster. Cases of this nature have occurred in the past, with devastating results.

When this happens, the husband then punishes her by withholding expenses, abusing her verbally or physically, or both, or by sheer blackmail because of her dubious past. The verbal abuse and insult goes to an extent where even the poor woman’s affiliation to Deen is questioned. She is made out to be the worst of creatures, and such is the incessant swearing and ridicule that the poor creature eventually starts believing that she is as bad or even worse than the husband says. Such mental abuse ranks among the worst forms of zhulm in Islam. If people like this die before taubah, they will have to pay dearly for such wholesale zhulm. Allah Ta’ala may forgive sins that remain between Him and man but will not grant forgiveness for sins involving the rights of His servants unless pardon is sought from the victims.

Foreign nationals are among the biggest culprits of such marital felony. Some of them marry and then disappear overseas leaving the revert wife totally deserted and lost. There is no contact for months, until suddenly one day the husband appears from nowhere. And that too, if the woman is lucky. Some of these callous and cruel husbands will not re-appear ever again, leaving the poor wife in limbo. She then has to solicit the help of ‘Ulema to annul the marriage so that she may marry again. In some cases these absconding husbands were contacted telephonically and asked about their intentions. They then arrogantly tell the wife: “do what you must do”, or. “you can go and get your fasakh”. These impertinent husbands have failed to fully grasp the sanctity of Islamic nikah, hence they pass such stupid and ill-conceived remarks. Again, what example are they setting to new Muslims? Convenience marriages are also casualties in this sordid affair.

Alhamdu-lillah, some of these female reverts become so staunch in Islam that they proudly claim, in spite of their husband’s recalcitrance, that they shall never leave Islam, and that the oppression of the husband will never cause them to sway from Deen. However, there are those who are not as firmly committed to Islam, and these poor women eventually drift back to kufr. The sin of them becoming murtadd lies squarely on the shoulders of the husband who had left them in a lurch.

The Holy Quran declares: “And treat wives with kindness and justice” (Surah Nisaa).