Woman's Position in Human History and Islam
By: Hojjat al-Islam Shaykh Husain Ansariyan
Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said:
Most benefits come from women.[Vasa'il-al-Shia, v.14, p.11]
Mental Deviation of Corrupt Men Regarding
Haughty tribes and nations which lived without following God's teachings preached by the Prophets and mentioned in the scriptures all suffered from mental deviation regarding humankind and all world affairs. They made wrong judgments about Creation and nearly all creatures. They stated incorrect things based on their wrong impressions and unjust judgments; thus they lived a life full of oppression both to themselves and others. The pages of life history were hideously portrayed by them.
Among these judgments were the wrong ones concerning women they were against morality and humanity and facts. After studying books on this issue written in the West and the East, I came to the conclusion that the nations which lived without fear of God and revelations, thought incorrectly and were drowning in carnal desires, making ten oppressive judgments which were illogical and inhumane.
1.) A woman is completely weak and helpless, thus she must obey her husband in all affairs without any questions. She does not have the right to interfere in daily affairs, even in the home matters.
2.) Woman is a creature with a satanic soul. Thus she is not human or if any attention is to be paid to her, she must be treated as something between human and animal. Therefore, she is worthless, deserves no respect and lacks a personality.
3.) She cannot own any positions but can only own a few things, if the man wishes so.
4.) She receives no inheritance but she is to be inherited after the death of her father or husband.
5.) She does not have the right to worship or enter the spiritual domain. Her worshipping is worthless because she is weak in mind and is whimsical.
6.) She does not deserve legal attachment to her father and son, and the only link between them is blood.
7.) Once married, her children are not the grandchildren of her father. Alienation of her children and her father is certain since the family relations continue through the male children.
8.) On death, she is quite different from the man, since the man is immortal upon death. Woman, however, terminates once dead.
9.) She is an object to be used by the man just as his material property. He can loan her, rent her, donate her, sell her, dismiss her or even murder her.
10.) She is a tool to satisfy man's lust. There is no legal limit in the way men exploit women. Europe and America which are far from God's revelations, have gone so far that woman is considered to be a commodity to be used to attract more customers for the cinemas, television, video, satellite and various journals. Among these the pornographic ones have the most income.
Islam's Response to the Corrupt Men's Mental Deviations Regarding Women
Islam is a divine religion and a way of life. The Islamic culture is in harmony with all human values and humanity. Islamic laws are decreed by God who has created man and knows all about man's nature. God has decreed laws based on man's nature and has guided him to facts he must realize.
Islam's responses to the above ten absurd statements regarding women which have been made during the past ages are as follows:
1.) Woman's creation and her existence is exactly similar to man's; and she is exactly the same as God has willed. She is truly human as stated in the following verses of the Glorious Quran:
We have indeed created man in the best of moulds,[Holy Quran: Tin 95:4]
(Such is) the artistry of God, Who disposes of all things in perfect order: for He is well acquainted with all that ye do. [Holy Quran: Naml 27:88]
He Who has made everything which He has created. [Holy Quran: Sajda 32:7]
2.) She has a purely divine and human soul which God has breathed into her. She has especial privileges due to this soul and she is the source of perfection. Her soul is no different from that of man. Her identity is the same as man's identity and her essence is similar to man's.
O mankind ! reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; [Holy Quran: Nisaa 4:1]
And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them. [Holy Quran: Rum 30:21]
Imam Baqir (Pbuh) has been quoted as saying that God created Eve from the remaining clay from which He created Adam [Tafsir-i-Ayashy].
The above-mentioned verses indicate that the creation of man and woman is in no way different. She has nothing less than man. Her soul is the soul that God breathed into her. She is a perfect creature who can use God's guidance and her talents, soul, mind and nature to reach the highest spiritual position. She may also ignore all facts and degrade to the lowest point.
3.) She has the right to ownership, and whatever she righteously earns is hers. Her rights to ownership are exactly similar to those of man's.
That man can have nothing but what he strives for. [Holy Quran: Najm 53:39]
Truly an individual owns what he earns by his/her own hard work and diligent efforts. This is a God-given right for both man and woman in this world and in the Hereafter.
It is not lawful for you, (Men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives). [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:229]
Imam Sadiq has been quoted as saying: "Three acts are considered to be robbery: being too jealous to pay the alms tax; not paying the wife's nuptial gift and borrowing money with the intention of not paying it back. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.349.]
Those of you who die and leave widows should bequeath for their widows a year's maintenance and residence. [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:240]
Apart from the nuptial gift and the expenses in a man's will due to the widow after his death, God in His decree to men after divorcing their wives states:
For divorced women maintenance (should be provided) on a reasonable (scale). This is a duty on the righteous. [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:241]
4.) A woman has the right to inherit from her father, her mother, her husband and her offspring. It is prescribed, when death approaches any of you, if he leave any goods, that he make a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable usage. [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:180]
From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large, - a determinate share. [Holy Quran: Nisaa 4:7]
This noble verse is opposed to the erroneous habits and customs which deprive women and children of the most certain right of inheritance. This oppressive custom was practiced by the Arabs. The magnificent verse canceled the Arab's treasonous custom.
5) A woman's worship of God is precisely the same as man's in God's sight. It is praiseworthy and dear. Men do not have especial rights to Heaven and divine rewards. It is stated in the Glorious Quran:
Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new life, a life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions. [Holy Quran: Nahl 16:97]
It is clearly understood from this noble verse that the only criteria approved by God is the faith and good deeds of man being the product of his faith. There are no other conditions such as sex, age, race, tribe or social status for attaining a pure life and the reward of the Hereafter. The Prophet (Pbuh) said:
Four ladies are the noblest in Paradise: Khadijah, the daughter of Khovayled, Fatimah the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), Mary the daughter of Omran, and Asia the daughter of Muzahim.
It is certain that should a woman be a servant of God, and a worshipper, she will have God's reward and a pure life near God; and if she tends to corruption and becomes agnostic like some corrupt men, then her abode will be Eternal Torture. As the Glorious Quran states in the following verse, the wives of Noah and Lot are to be tortured forever and abide in Hell.
God sets forth, for an example to the unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot: They were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants, but they were false to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before God on their account, but were told: Enter ye the fire along with (others) that enter! [Holy Quran: Tahrim 66:10]
The Chapter Mary and the Chapter Dahr and the verses about the believing wife of Pharaoh in the Holy Quran, all show that women possess a noble position in regards to worship, and can benefit from a great reward in the Hereafter. This all strongly defeats those who have repeatedly claimed during the past ages that woman's worship has no value in any religion and for God.
6) Women are the offspring of their own parents and the mothers of their own children and no one can deprive them of this right, as this is oppressive. The Holy Quran considers girls to be similar to boys in being their parents' offspring. Once women marry and have children, they are considered as the mothers of their children.
The Quran expresses God's anger about the Arabs' crime of burying their daughters alive and considered it to be an oppressive act:
Kill not your children on a plea of want. [Holy Quran: An'am 6:151]
The Quran has clearly stated that daughters are your offspring and in the verse related to inheritance it states:
God (thus) directs you as regards your children's (inheritance): to the male a portion equal to that of two females. [Holy Quran: Nisaa 4:11]
It has clearly referred to daughters as offspring and has provided an undeniable answer to the idle talkers of history. Women are the mothers of their own children and it is stated in the Glorious Quran:
The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years. [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:233]
The Holy Quran has stated about the story of Moses:
So we sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses. [Holy Quran: Qasas 28:7]
The Prophet (Pbuh) stated the following about his daughter Hazrat Fatimah Zahra (Pbuh):
Fatimah is a chip off the old block. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.43, p.23]
And in another tradition he said:
Our children, whether they be boys or girls, are in our bloodline. [Safinat ul-Bihar, v.8, p.580.]
7.) Without any doubt a woman's children are the grandchildren of her father. The noteworthy attention paid by Muhammad, the Prophet (Pbuh) to Hassan and Husayn, being his two dearest grandchildren, is a clear rejection of the statement of the ignorant idle talkers of history stating that a daughter's children are not the grandchildren of her father. According to the Islamic jurisprudence, the one whose mother is a Sayyedeh8. is certainly related to His Holiness.9 And the noble Shiite scholar Sayyid Murteza has decreed that one can pay the one-fifth levy to people who are related to the Prophet (Pbuh) on their mother's side.
8.) A woman does not terminate after death, but rather she has an eternal life just like men. If she is a good servant of God, she will abide in Heaven forever and if she does not worship God, she will abide in Hell forever. Over one thousand Quranic verses related to the Hereafter clearly prove this matter.
9.) Woman is not a commodity, but rather as the verses of God's Book have clearly expressed she is an intelligent, strong-willed creature who is exactly the same as man in terms of nature and creation. She benefits from all human and divine privileges and characteristics.
10.) Woman is not an object to be consumed and satisfy man's lust, but rather she is man's partner who establishes half of their life together. She is the critical element in the continuance of the human race. If a man marries a woman with pure intentions, it is considered to be a type of worship. And if he treats her properly, he can earn the reward of the Hereafter as it is stated in the Glorious Quran:
Your wives are as a tilth unto you; So approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear God, and know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter) and give (these) good tidings to those who believe.[Holy Quran: Baqara 2:3]
Using the expression "tilth" in the above-mentioned verse, God wants to show the necessity of the existence of women in human society and show that they are not means to satisfy lust, but rather are the pure means to maintain the human race. This is a serious warning to those who consider women to be sensual means. By "doing some good act for your souls beforehand" it is meant to send some supplies ahead for the Hereafter by making love to your wives.
This points to the fact that the ultimate objective of sexual intercourse is not self-fulfillment, and the believers should use this act to bear and raise good children. They should consider this holy act to be a spiritual supply for the Hereafter. So the Quran admonishes us to choose our spouse in such a way that will result in raising well-behaved children which will be a great social and human reserve.
Since the subject up for discussion in the beginning of the verse is sexual intercourse, being man's most attractive instinct, God has admonished man with the phrase "and fear God" so that he pays attention to God's decrees in regards to sexual intercourse. And at the end of the verse God warns us that on the Day of Judgment we will rush to meet God and see the results of our own actions. By using the phrase - "and give these good tidings to the believers" - God gives encouragement to the believers who submit to these decrees, thereby benefiting in their worldly and spiritual lives.[Tafsir i-Nimuneh, v.1, p.97]
The glory and value of this center of love is expressed in an extremely important tradition from Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) saying:
When Eve was created, Adam said to God - " Who is this gorgeous creature whose proximity and gazing at her saves me from loneliness and makes me get used to her. He was answered, " She is my slave girl. Would you like her to stay with you, to be your companion and your friend? And would you like her to satisfy your rightful desires? " Adam answered in the positive. He was told, "then thank me for the companion I gave you as long as you live." [Vasa'il-al-Shia, v.14, p.2]
Therefore a righteous woman and a loyal wife is one of God's blessings which requires praise and gratitude throughout life. Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said:
Most benefits come from women. [Vasa'il-al-Shia, v.14, p.11]
This is a wonderful tradition which considers women as the source of most benefits. Upon marrying a woman, a man fulfills the conditions of half of his religion. Respecting her rights is considered to be worshipping God. Being kind to her is considered to be obeying God. Having well-behaved children from her is considered to be as a supply for the Hereafter. Serving her is a means of satisfying God. According to Muhammad the Prophet, a woman who is a mother has Heaven under her feet. These are all part of the benefits that Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said come from women.
I admonish young men who intend to get married, those who have married and believing men to pay attention to these divine facts and to seriously avoid denying a woman her rights. They should realize the highly valuable jewel10 they have married. I also admonish young women who intend to get married, those who have married, and all the distinguished women to realize their worth considering these facts. They should praise and thank God the Benevolent for their being women. They should be good and righteous spouses for their husbands based on the guidance from the Holy Quran, the statements of the Prophet (Pbuh) and the Noble Imams. They ought to use their pure sensations and feelings in being women, wives and mothers, and should obey divine decrees in all of life affairs so as to have a healthy home and family, pure and well-behaved children and a happy and secure life. Thus, they can attain God's pleasure and fill their lives with pleasure, happiness, beauty and sweetness by means of their actions, principles of morality and behavior.
Another Look at History Regarding Women’s Life and Status
The men of the Age of Ignorance were terribly brutal to women. They lived in ignorance of God's logic, illumination and revelation and condemned women to be a means for man's life of capricious desires. They viewed women as being the main factor for supplying all of their lustful pleasures. These men thought reading and writing to be dangerous for women and would not let them leave the house to carry out daily affairs or visit relatives. Men restricted the woman's place for living to the four walls of her home, and considered her to be a creature lacking any will as opposed to men who could do anything they wanted.
In the Christian neighborhood where the people were completely deviated from God's religion, it was said:
The mouth of a woman should be muffled just as that of a dog.
Those Christians doubted whether the woman had the spirit of a human or of an animal.
In Africa woman was considered to be goods and wealth and the Africans did not consider her any better in worth than a cow or sheep. Whoever had more numbers of women was known to be the wealthiest. It was a normal affair to buy and sell women and use them in ploughing the land.
In Chaldea and Babylon women were sold just as all other goods were. Every year a bazaar was set up so as to sell the young girls who had reached the age of marriage.
In India, girls were married off at the age of five and no rights were due to them. They considered a woman's life subject to the man's. Woman was thought to be an uninvited guest for the man. When her husband died, she was incinerated with him. No creature was thought to be inferior to a widow.
Nowadays as it is written in the newspapers, many Indians kill their daughters in childhood since they are afraid they cannot buy their trousseaux.
In China and Tibet women had no other right except to do housework at home. So as to keep a woman from walking normally, her feet were bound in a metal frame after birth. Upon reaching fifteen years of age the frame was removed.
In Greece the center of knowledge and philosophy, it was thought to be a crime for a woman to bear a female baby. The second time she bore a girl she was prosecuted in court and condemned to pay a fine and the third time she was sentenced to death.
As the Glorious Quran states, burying girls alive in Arabia was a normal case:
When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) in contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on! [Holy Quran: Nahl 16:58-59]
The above descriptions are only some of the crimes which ignorant and stupid men allowed to commit in regards to women. Details of these matters have been registered in books on the subject of women's lives and you may refer to these sources.
Also you have read about the opinion of the Divine Religion Islam about women in the ten points mentioned above. Let's take a look at how the Quran and religious traditions treat the subject of woman in the following categories:
MOTHER (Umm): the source of everything - mother [Holy Quran: Qasas 28:7]
TILTH (Harath): the means by which the human race survives [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:23]
Garments (Lebas): the garment for life [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:187]
Pacifier (Taskeen): the cause for peace of mind [Holy Quran: Rum 30:21]
Sweet Basil (Rayhaneh): an elegant sweet-smelling flower [Traditions quoted in Vasa'il-al-Shia, chapter on offspring]
Blessing (Ne'mat): God's favor [Ibid]
Men and youth, whether they be married or intend to get married, must pay more attention to the spiritual status and benefits of the existence of this beautiful and beneficial creation of God. They must know that chaste women have borne the Prophets, the Imams, the Saints, the sages, the mystics, the judges, the writers, the great jurisprudents and the good-doers among God's servants. Women are the source of all goodness and blessings in people's lives.
Dear fathers and mothers must be very careful to polish the characters of their daughters and devotedly train their children divinely and humanly as much as possible. Husbands must respect all the rights of their spouses with dignity and manners. Thus, women become ready to raise the next generation properly after being raised properly by their parents and their rights being observed by their husbands. Thus, human society will be spiritually fed in the best way.
Is it not true that a young Christian woman who was captured in war finally arrived at Imam Hady's house? Did she not give birth to the 12th Imam (who shall spread universal justice), after receiving divine training by the 10th Imam and Hazrat Hakimeh Khatoon?
Women are the source of all perfection and potential truths which will be realized upon receiving the light of guidance, revelations and having a good instructor. And they will become the source of everlasting feats and eternal resources.
Belittling a woman, attacking her personality, enforcing limits upon her beyond the wise religious decrees and torturing her are all disapproved of by the religion: these deeds are considered to be some sort of disgusting and terrible oppression. The same is true for not allowing her to visit her parents and relations, facing with her with a sour face, bringing home the husband’s daily tiredness and work problems and not fulfilling her instincts, especially her sexual ones.
If you want to base your lives upon love and kindness, respect the woman's personality, tell her you love her, ask her about herself, assist her in house duties, avoid bothering her and forgive some of her actions which result from her tiresome housework and her physical limitations. This way you can experience the sweetness of life and you have really worshipped God the Benevolent in the best way.
Woman is the source of all goodness and the field for cultivating humanity. She is your garment in life, the source of peace of mind, the delicate flower in the rose garden of Creation. You have beside you one of God's blessings. The Noble Prophet of Islam (Pbuh) compared the love for women to the love for sweet smells and prayer:
What I love in the world is woman and sweet smells. And the apple of my eye is prayer. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.103, p.218]
If one observes the rights of woman, respects her personality and brings forth praiseworthy offspring, then his file of good deeds does not come to an end - even after his death. He will benefit from the good deeds of his well-behaved children after his death.
The Prophet (Pbuh) stated:
When an individual dies, his/her actions come to an end unless three things take place:
1) He/she has committed some beneficial actions which will last forever.
2) He/she has taught others some knowledge which they would benefit from.
3) He/she has raised exemplary children who pray for him/her.
Therefore, mothers and fathers must realize the worth of their daughters. Men must appreciate their pure and praiseworthy spouses. Taking care of female children and wives is a source of benefit in this world and in the Hereafter for men.
Man’s and Woman’s Independence in Islam
Don't be anyone's slave since God created you to be free." [Bihar
al-Anwar, v.77, p.214]
Human Freedom and Independence
Mankind's creation is based upon his freedom in life, independence in carrying out daily affairs and in control over choices. No one has the right to make another his slave imprisoning that individual to serve his own needs. To deprive others of freedom and free will is a mortal sin, capital treason and a great crime.
Liberty and the control over one's affairs are ingrained in man's essence, whose nature was created with this truth in mind. Freedom and independence are the greatest blessings God has bestowed upon mankind. These are is the most excellent sources of growth, perfection and attaining higher worldly and spiritual positions. The field of freedom is the best area. The condition of having control over one's affairs and being free is the most wonderful condition for an individual.
One very important case of Islam's struggle against oppression concerns that of man's liberty. Islam fights like a tiger against those whose philosophy is based on colonization and exploitation and want to enslave men who have been created to be independent. Islam emphatically decrees that an all-out holy war (Jihad) must be made against oppression and the oppressors who have attacked freedom.
All of the damages imposed upon mankind's life throughout history are the direct result of depriving people of liberty and attacking their freedom. Listening to and putting up with bullying, accepting to be oppressed, and selling one's freedom are the greatest sins and will be the cause of being deprived of God’s Mercy. Also one's worldly and spiritual interests will be endangered.
It is absolutely necessary to protect one's freedom, the ability to make choices and one's free will; all of which God the Almighty has bestowed upon man so that he may develop, reach a state of perfection and his talents would blossom.
Whenever these benefits are endangered, you must defend them even if it costs your very life.
A Strange Story about Freedom
In history it has been recorded that the Caliph Yazeed or one of his agents was on his way to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, when he entered the town of Medina, he sent for a Koreyshite citizen and when the man came, Yazeed (or his agent) asked him: "Confess that you are my slave! If I wish I will sell you as a slave and if not I will keep you as a slave."
The Koreyshite responded: "I swear to God that you are not any nobler than I am regarding family roots. Your father was not any better than my father in the Age of Ignorance and in the era of Islam. You are not at all superior to me regarding faith and religion. You are not any better than I am. Given that I possess all these characteristics, how do you expect me to confess to be your slave?"
The oppressor told him: "If you do not confess to this, I will order your execution."
The man responded: "Killing me is not any worse than killing Imam Husayn."
At this point, the order of execution was issued and he became a martyr for the sake of freedom and free will. [Ruzih i-Kafy, p.313]
The Commander of the Faithful 11stated:
O people! People were not born slaves. Verily all people are free."[Mizan al-Hikmat, v.2, p.351]
And he also stated:
Do not be anyone's slave since God created you to be free." [Bihar al-Anwar, v.77, p.214]
Then we must note that what is meant by freedom is freedom from slavery and worship of other men, freedom from lust, erroneous instincts and moral corruption. Man is born pure and innocent as a superior creature free from slavery with nobility and honor. In short, man is free from all vices and has free will. He is then guided by God, his own wisdom and nature, the Prophets, the Imams, the Holy Quran and the sages to use this freedom and free will in order to make the best choices and become prosperous in this world and in the Hereafter.
If an individual pays no attention to the above-mentioned explanations and turns his back on God's guidance, undoubtedly one will lose the pearl of freedom, free will and control when dealing with the tyrants and the Satans of the time. One will get involved in greediness, haughtiness, jealousy, instincts and lust. That person will be a slave to the world and other people. He/she will be a slave to lust and instincts, a prisoner of greediness and will not benefit from nobility, prosperity and the blessings of this world and of the Hereafter.
There are some who commit any crime and pollute themselves with any sort of lust and sin: They obey anybody and call this roguery "freedom." They are ignorant slaves, vile servants, contemptible bondsmen and poor creatures.
The Commander of the Faithful (Pbuh) stated:
Those who give up their unlawful desires are really free men.
He also said:
The world is simply a highway and the people on it are of two groups: The first have sold themselves to lust, materialism and dirty tricks. They are in danger of perishing. The second group have freed themselves from all those disgusting acts: They are free of any sort of evil in this world and punishment in the Hereafter."
Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) stated:
There are five characteristics which if a man does not have one, there would remain not much in him to benefit from:
1) Faithfulness; 2) Thinking about the future; 3) Modesty; 4) Being good-tempered; 5) Freedom, which is what causes all these characteristics to come together in an individual. [Mawa'ez Al-Adadieh, p.268.]
Imam Ali (Pbuh) said:
Do not let greediness enslave you since God has created you to be free. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.2, pp.351-2]
He also stated:
One of the divine favors granted to the free individual is to legally earn his living. [Ibid]
An Important Matter
A person must pay strict attention to the truth and meaning of freedom, the worth of free will and control, and the fact that when man remains in the shade of God's guidance he will benefit from independence, free will and control. Then he shall attain lofty positions, efficient ranks, and truths which he thought he could never understand.
Let's try to preserve our independence throughout our whole lifetime, even in the face of all events and catastrophes. Doing so will make us happy and satisfy our Lord.
You know that the atom is made up of neutrons, protons and one or several electrons. By God's will the electrons are attracted to their own central axis orbiting at the specified speed and in the specified order. As long as this speed and rotation continue based on that especial order and the forces of attraction and repulsion, the atom is beneficial wherever it may be and whatever it may do.
However, when the forces of attraction and repulsion are removed, the electrons lose their special order and separate from the central nucleus, the result will be nothing but destruction.
We can compare man to the atom. His nature, his search for God and his monotheistic belief are like the atom's nucleus. And the continuation of his existence is dependent upon all his body parts and his internal states being attracted to God and his actions being based on God's decrees.
His actions should never be void of submission to God. Separation from God and leaving the domain of attraction of His Love and Knowledge or in other words leaving God's orbit, will result in corruption in man's physical parts and his inner being.
The Holy Quran states:
As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will there be anyone to help them. [Holy Quran: Al-i-Imran 3:56]
One of the factors in controlling man from indulging in some types of corruption is the very important program of marriage. When man has the required worthiness - meaning that he benefits from faith, morality and action to the extent of his capabilities - and also finds a good match in life, his appearance and internal states are controlled. His independence will be preserved and he will be safe from being enslaved by unlawful lust, corrupt programs and unsuitable friends.
There are so many men - who having faith, good dispositions and nobleness - helped their spouses to attain divine status, positions and humane nobleness. Also there are so many women, who being aware and insightful, have helped their husbands to attain lofty human status and magnificent, heavenly positions.
A Dignified and Worthy Spouse
In the year 60 A.H. (681 A.D.), Zuhayr Ibn Qayn Bijali went on the pilgrimage to Mecca with a few of his attendants and performed the necessary ceremonies there. He was the head of this small caravan which had set out from his house to the House of God (Ka'aba) in Mecca and would then return home. Zuhayr thought he would return home, but this was not to be his fate. Zuhayr was traveling from the House of God to God, but he himself was not aware of the fact. Zuhayr's small caravan did not wish to stay at the same way-station as the caravan of Imam Husayn (Pbuh). He did not want to join up with Husayn (Pbuh).
If Husayn's caravan stopped at that way-station, then Zuhayr's would pass by it and stop at the next way-station. And if Husayn did not stop at that way-station, then Zuhayr would stop and rest there. Zuhayr would do his best not to come face to face with Husayn (Pbuh). Why was this so?
Zuhayr's social status necessitated that he would do so since he was not one of the companions of Ali (Pbuh) and his household.12 He had nothing to do with Ali's household. Zuhayr was one of Uthman's supporters, a strong backer of Yazeed's government and an ally to the existing governmental system. On one hand, he knew Imam Husayn (Pbuh) and held especial respect for Ali's household. He did not want to be partner in the assassination of Ali's son - Husayn (Pbuh). He wanted to remain impartial in the matter: he wanted to preserve his friendship with the Ummayyad clan [Uthman's clan] while at the same time not fight with Husayn (Pbuh). Therefore he could not come face to face with Husayn (Pbuh), since such an occurrence would be reported to Yazeed. If Husayn (Pbuh) requested Zuhayr to help him, what would Zuhayr do? If he helped Husayn (Pbuh), he must cut off relations with his allies and fellowmen. And if he did not help Husayn (Pbuh), disobeying Husayn (Pbuh) was not allowed.
Husayn is the son of Ali (Pbuh) and Fatimah (Pbuh): He is eminent and the only remembrance of the Prophet of Islam. How could Zuhayr not obey Husayn's order? What would he have to say to God? How could he handle the fire of Hell? Remaining impartial was the best way out, so Zuhayr's caravan should stop at a way-stop in which there was the least possibility of Zuhayr meeting Husayn (Pbuh). Zuhayr wanted to do one thing, but fate determined something else.
The way-stations in the dry, hot wilderness of Arabia are very far apart, so the caravans must stop at the closest way-station whether they want to or not. Zuhayr's caravan had to stop at the same one as Husayn's caravan did: The place which converted the followers of the Caliph Uthman into the followers of Ali (Pbuh), and the followers of Yazeed became the followers of Husayn (Pbuh). The tents of Zuhayr and his companions were set up in one place and the harem curtains of Husayn's caravan were hung up beside those tents. Husayn (Pbuh) knew that Zuhayr was brave, generous, well-known, an eloquent speaker and an able person. What a waste it was that he had all these worthy qualities, but was far away from true human beings and was subject to animals like the Umayyad clan! What a waste for an enlightened man not to benefit from freedom! This worthy pearl did not deserve to be amongst ruins and not be an outstanding human being.
At this way-station, Zuhayr also took the necessary precautions not to confront Husayn (Pbuh). Husayn (Pbuh) had revolted against Yazeed's government and Zuhayr was one of the government's supporters. The government expected its supporters to be enemies with its enemies and to subdue any rebels. Coming into contact with those mutinous fellows was considered to be the greatest offense.
Zuhayr was sitting in his tent busy eating a meal with his relatives when suddenly the tall figure of Imam Husayn's representative appeared, greeted Zuhayr and said: "Zuhayr Abu 'Abdullah! Husayn (Pbuh) born of Ali (Pbuh) requests you to come to him!"
Zuhayr had come face-to-face with exactly what he was afraid of. Being terribly frightened, he could not utter a single word and could not think of what was suitable to do. He had not thought that such a situation would come up and was perplexed about what to do. Should he ignore Husayn's message and disobey his command, or should he turn his back on Yazeed and go over to Husayn's side. Both actions would not be considered to be impartial which was his goal. Now the situation does not allow him to be impartial.
A heavy silence fell upon those present. Eating and talking were forgotten. Husayn's messenger stood looking at the scene. He was confused and asked himself why they were so quiet. Why didn't Zuhayr come with him and why didn't he say he wouldn't come? Husayn (Pbuh) had not put any pressure on Zuhayr and Zuhayr was free to answer as he liked.
A few minutes passed in silence and Zuhayr couldn't make a decision. Should he say yes or no? The light of guidance was needed to free Zuhayr from his dark state of doubt and wondering and help him make up his mind. That was the most important moment in Zuhayr's life: the moment to choose between life and death. He was aware of the government’s power. Zuhayr was familiar with Husayn's companions and knew that Husayn (Pbuh) and everyone with him would be killed. He knew that Husayn's family would be captured. He knew why Husayn (Pbuh) had sent for him and that Husayn's path led towards Heaven and Yazeed's to Hell: the former ends in prosperity and the latter in destruction.
Suddenly a lady's voice broke the silence and enabled him to make a decision. She was Zuhayr's wife, Delham who said: "O' Zuhayr! The son of the Prophet (Pbuh) is calling you and you do not go? Glory be to God! Go and see what he has to say. Listen to him and return." How wonderful is a good wife.
Zuhayr got up to go to Husayn (Pbuh). A short time later he returned smiling with no signs of sorrow on his visage. No one knew what Husayn (Pbuh) had told him in that short period of time.
When Zuhayr returned to his own tent, he said: "Take down my tent and set it up next to Husayn's (Pbuh)." A river joined the sea. Zuhayr who followed Yazeed became a follower of Husayn (Pbuh). He was released from oppression and reached the domain of justice. The follower of the Caliph Uthman went and the follower of Ali (Pbuh) came back. See how prosperity envelopes man. Zuhayr faced his companions and said: "Whoever is my follower shall join me or else, farewell!"
Zuhayr's cousin, Salman Bajly joined Zuhayr and became a follower of Imam Husayn (Pbuh). And after saying the noon prayer with Imam Husayn (Pbuh), he was martyred on the Day of Martyrdom. Zuhayr rejected this world and whatever was in it, so he joined Husayn (Pbuh) and died with him. Just now Zuhayr is with Husayn (Pbuh) in the other world. Zuhayr said good-bye to his dear wife and stated: "You must go back to your family so that you will not be harmed because of me."
He returned her property to her and sent her back to her clan with her cousin. Delham cried and said good-bye to her worthy husband stating:
God be your helper and want the best for you! In this last moment of ours, I have a request for you. On the Day of Judgment when you are admitted to the presence of Husayn's grandfather - the Prophet (Pbuh), remember me and don't forget me! [Pishvaye Shahidan, p.328]
O' yes, freedom, thinking freely, choosing Husayn (Pbuh), and Zuhayr's free will had all been looted from him by the Ummayad clan, but his wife caused all these things to be returned to him. In the shade of freedom, Zuhayr was freed from the bonds of the ungodly and was embraced by ever-lasting prosperity. Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that marriage guarantees freedom and free-will, and returns freedom to man.
Protect the spirit of Allah in you by getting married. Safeguard your position as God's representative on Earth (Caliph) from the looting of lust and corruption. Increase your faith and your own good deeds by marrying, thereby receive half of your religion. Protect the other half of your religion with piety and abstaining from the divinely forbidden acts. Men share in the blossoming of women's talents and women help men to rise in status.
Woman is a wise, deserving and able creature, so much so that the great sages have decreed she causes truth to appear in man's being. And man is honorable, of noble birth and a dignified creature, so much so that it has been said on his behalf that he causes woman to reach lofty ranks.
Ali (Pbuh) stated that the first woman from amongst the women of this world who steps into Heaven is Khadijah13. This implies woman has a divine spirit and she is in the position of being God's representative on Earth. And she possesses an excellent essence and human, moral and religious resources.
O' yes, a woman free of temptations, free of being a prisoner of the ungodly, free of lust and tendencies towards forbidden acts; together with a free man are two precious pearls and two lofty truths in this magnificent expanse of Creation.
Imam Husayn (Pbuh) has attributed Hurr ibn Yazeed's free personality to the noble mother of that martyr. And the Commander of the Faithful Ali (Pbuh) thought the greatness of Malik Ashtar to be the very reflection of his mother's chastity and godliness.
At home, the man must be the example of all good acts for woman and vice versa. And both should be excellent models and a good example for their children.
One's Independence in Marriage
Mothers and fathers must pay attention to the fact that the right to choose a spouse - with important conditions that dear Islam has stated - belongs to the offspring themselves. Parents do not have the right to force their son to marry a girl whom he does not approve of. Also parents do not have the right to force their daughters to marry the ones she does not want to. The offspring have the God-given right of freedom to choose their spouse. A very important tradition has commented upon the right to choose in marriage: Ibn Aby Ya'fur said that he had the following request direction from Imam Sadiq (Pbuh):
I had chosen a certain woman to marry but my mother and father have chosen another. What should I do?" The Imam said: "Marry the one whom you like to and forget about the other one whom your father and mother have approved of." [Bihar al-Anwar, v.103, p.235]
In the practical treatises of great Shiite authorities regarding marriage we read:
If a suitable spouse is found for a young girl and is religiously according to custom a good match for her, and her father and grandfather are too strict and do not approve, then their permission is not required. [Risaleh-i-Tuwzih Al-Ma'sael, Ayatullah Fazel Lankarany , p.418, Matter 2236]
Therefore, if a young man has found his best match and a young girl has also found her best match, the approval or lack of approval of the father and mother does not work as a condition. The young couple may marry with the permission of Islam and the approval of God.
Mothers and fathers should not force their own wishes and selfish desires of their clan upon young men and women who want to marry. It is forbidden in Islam to force others to do things. To undergo force is also prohibited by Islam.
Men and women are free to choose legitimate work and the wages they earn belong to them: Their ownership of the income is legitimate. The wife does not have any rights to man's property except with his permission and vice versa. We must note that men and women's independence must be respected in all aspects of life.