Friday, 14 February 2014

Marriage and Divorce in Shia Islam

Topic: 32
There are two types of marriages in Shia Islam. One is simple normal marriage called ‘Nikah’, while the other is temporary marriage known as ‘Mutah’ or ‘Sigha’, more information on Mutah. Both Nikah and Mutah to be initiated require two instruments, first is ‘Aqd’ and second is ‘Mahr’.
In Shia Islam ‘Aqd’ is exchange of marital vows, an agreement between a man and a woman or their representatives; it is marriage proposal by the first party and its acceptance by the second party. Shia Islam requires proper specific Arabic formula to initiate the marriage.
‘Mahr’, the second of the two requirements for marriage in Shia Islam is obligatory gift/dower to the bride by the groom. Mahr is usually money, land, ornament, ring, jewel, house etc. Mahr is fixed prior to the recitation of marriage formula or exchange of marital vows.
Translation of proper specific Arabic marriage formula or vows are; first the proposal as ‘I have made myself your wife on the agreed dower’ which follows the acceptance as ‘I accept the marriage’. If marriage if initiated through representatives then first the proposal goes ‘I have given to your client ABC in marriage my client XYZ on the agreed dower’ the acceptance goes ‘I accepted this matrimonial alliance for my client ABC on agreed dower’. Formula for temporary marriage include ‘for agreed term’ in addition to ‘on agreed dower’.
Shia Islam does not require witnesses for any of the two marriages; this is in contrast to Sunni marriage which requires witnesses. Shia Islam requires permission of either biological father or biological paternal grandfather’s consent for virgin woman to be married, there are however conditional details for it.
With regards to divorce, there is no divorce in temporary marriage ‘Mutah’. Once the agreed term is over the marriage itself is annulled. However, husband can end the ‘Mutah’ in between by saying, ‘I forgo the remaining term’.
Divorce in Shia Islam again requires proper specific formula in Arabic to be pronounced by husband or his representative.  If husband himself divorces his wife he says, ‘my wife XYZ is divorced’, if through representative the latter says, ‘XYZ, the wife of my client is divorced’. This is in contrast with Sunni rule where just uttering word ‘Talaq’ divorce in Arabic is sufficient.
In Shia Islam, divorce to happen requires three declarations of the above divorce formula, each with minimum interval of one menstrual cycle of woman. Only one declaration can be made in one menstrual cycle. This is in contrast with Sunni rules; where all three divorces could be pronounced in one go.
Shia Islam also requires two just witnesses at each of three sessions of divorce pronunciation. Sunni rule does not require any witness for divorce to happen. Husband according to Shia Islam cannot give divorce to his wife in that menstrual month in which he has had a sexual intercourse with her. This is also not a requirement in Sunni where a husband can pronounce divorce even just after sexual intercourse.
In Shia Islam, the first and second sessions of divorce pronunciation is revocable, in which divorce process is just activated but divorce has not happened. If couple have sexual intercourse the process of divorce becomes void. Husband and wife can rejoin as couple and divorce pronunciation becomes void. The third, also the last divorce pronunciation is final and irrevocable, after which divorce happens. In Shia Islam, divorce cannot be given to a pregnant wife. Divorce in pregnancy is thus void.
In Shia Islam, if marriage is consummated, then after divorce the divorced woman cannot immediately remarry, she must wait for three menstrual cycles, once, that is over she is free to remarry another man.
In case of Mutah, if marriage was consummated, when the term gets over, the couple can immediately remarry each other as there is no provision for divorce in Mutah. But if the woman desires to remarry another man she should wait for two menstrual cycles.
In Shia Islam, both marriage and divorce requires sound mind, intention and free will. Thus, any compulsion, jest or intoxication either in marriage or divorce makes their process void. In Sunni rule forced, joked or intoxicated divorce is valid, but in Shia Islam it is void.
If either of the marriage is unconsummated then there is no waiting period for woman to remarry another man. ‘Halaala’ is a Quranic injunction which prohibits Shia divorced couple (A and B) to remarry each other after irrevocable divorce. However, if later the woman (B) is also divorced by her second husband (C) after consummation of their marriage, it is legal for her (B) to once again re-marry her previous husband (A).
Oh Allah! Peace and Salutation be upon Mohammed and House-hold of Mohammed.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Uthman and his Caliphate

Main Topic: Karbala, brief overview

Uthman son of Affan was an Ommayyad. He adopted Islam on advice of Abu Bakr, he still had good terms with Ommayyads his clan who were against Hashmites the clan Prophet Mohammed.

Uthman migrated to Ethiopia, returned back to Makka and finally migrated to Madina with other Muslims. Khadija’s nieces were adopted as daughters by Prophet Mohammed, and Ruqaiyya one of them was married to Uthman. Uthman did not participate in battle of Badr as he wanted to be with ill Ruqaiyya, who later passed away. Uthman although did not participate in Badr, readily came forward to share the bounty. He later married Kulthum, Ruqaiyya’s sister to still be in relation with Prophet Mohammed.

At Uhad battle, Uthman did not took part in main battle for obvious reason. However, he was asked by Prophet Mohammed to guard the backdoor of battle field from possible attack and was given command of archery unit. He was asked never to leave the post no matter whether Muslims win or lose the battle, yet when he saw Muslims winning the battle, left the post with others to collect the bounty. His leaving the post prompted Makkan pagans to attack from backdoor, which was a blow upon Muslims; he later showed remorse on his actions.

Before the truce of Hudaibiyah, Makkan pagans asked Prophet Mohammed to send his envoy to Makka. But they also stipulated the eligibility of envoy that the envoy should never have killed any Makkan pagan, Uthman was the only person to meet the eligibility, thus he was sent as an envoy.

When Prophet Mohammed passed away of martyrdom, and meeting at Saqifa was going on, Uthman was also there and became the second person to pledge his allegiance to Abu Bakr. He formed the part of Umar Khattab and Abu Bakr’s junta. Remember, Prophet Mohammed was never allowed to write his will on pretext that he was ill and Holy Qur’an was enough for them as guidance. Now, when Abu Bakr fell seriously ill, he was asked to write a will although he was frequently losing consciousness; it was Uthman who wrote the will for Abu Bakr.

Umar Khattab was appointed the next caliph in Abu Bakr’s will and Uthman was first to pay his allegiance to Umar. During Umar’s rule Uthman enjoyed a great amount of goodwill from Umar. A lot of Ommayyads who adopted Islam after loss of Makka began to be appointed as governors and jurists in various provinces on advices of Uthman. Hashmites, the clan of Prophet Mohammed was completely isolated; Ommayyads once the staunchest enemies of Islam now became representatives of Islam.

When Umar was murdered, before death he appointed a council of six men to choose the next caliph from among them. Ali son of Abu Talib was given top priority. Abdur Rehman another member of council convinced others to put this condition to Ali that if he wanted to become next caliph, he should abide by policies set by Abu Bakr and Umar during their era and should also work on advices of council members. Ali son of Abu Talib declared, “I will only follow Holy Qur’an, policies of Prophet Mohammed and my own judgement”. And thus Ali declined to follow policies of Abu Bakr and Umar or work on advices of council members. Uthman, the second choice of council, was also presented the same conditions which he readily accepted, thus he was made the next caliph.

Prophet Mohammed has exterminated for life time these culprits: Marwan son of Hakam and his father, from Madina. After Prophet Mohammed, Uthman had tried his best to cancel the extermination orders of Prophet Mohammed by two caliphs but they did not dare to cancel the order as it would have created anti-caliph feelings among people. Marwan was son in law of Uthman, the very next day Uthman became caliph he cancelled the orders of Prophet Mohammed and both Marwan and his father re-entered Madina.

Uthman began nepotism; all major and important positions were given to his brothers and cousins. Ommayyads who were once the staunchest enemies of Islam and were at open war with Prophet Mohammed became trustees of Islam. Islam never preached colonialism; Uthman, in name of Islam began colonialism and sent military expeditions in name of holy wars. It was at this time that Islam began to be seen as ‘spread by sword’. Holy preaching of Islam got replaced with lavish lifestyle.

Mauwiya, son of Abu Sufyan and father of Yazid, was appointed as governor of Syria during reign of Umar Khattab on advice of Uthman as both Uthman and Mauwiya were close relatives. It was Uthman who during his reign granted Mauwiya complete autonomy; he was no more answerable to central caliphate for any of his actions and could practice complete autonomy. This was birth of Ommayyad dysnasty, Ommayyads once again had come to power, during Uthman’s reign Hashmites, the clan of Prophet Mohammed was completely isolated.

Uthman started innovations (Biddat) in Islamic codex, he started an additional Azaan, call for prayers on Friday, angering many Muslims who saw this action as part of whims and fancies. Uqba, the step brother of Uthman was appointed as governor of Kufa, Iraq by Uthman. Uqba was caught drunk while leading the morning prayers in which he added two extra sets as he was drunk. These events were seen by Muslims as attack on their religious sentiments.

All these actions of Uthman created anti-caliph sentiments. These sentiments began to take severest form when Ommayyad governors and their clan members began to get undue and huge personal loans from central treasury. Clarity in finances was lost and central treasury became private riches of Ommayyads. Agitations began and numerous companions of Prophet Mohammed became critics.

The lead among critics was Abu Darr Ghiffari, he was a loyal companion of Prophet Mohammed. Abu Darr Ghiffari was among earliest convert to Islam and was very dear to Prophet Mohammed. He began challenging nepotism of Uthman, finally Uthman became fed up and exterminated Abu Darr Ghiffari to Syria. Abu Darr Ghiffari as critic in Syria became headache for Mauwiya who sent him back to Madina. Uthman once again ordered Abu Darr Ghiffari to be exterminated this time to deserts of Rabada where no humans lived. Abu Darr Ghiffari, his wife and daughter died of starvation.

Riots became the order of the day, and anti-Uthman sentiments grew in all provinces of caliphate. A lot of men formed radical organisations and parties, to launch revolt and overthrow Ommayyads from power. People began sending their envoys to different cities to gather support. The atmosphere of Madina also became critical. Few men consulted Aisha widow of Prophet Mohammed, also the daughter of Abu Bakr, she too favoured Uthman be replaced with someone else. She however went for pilgrimage to Makka.

Uthman had sensed his misfortune, and tried to get a remedy. He tried to gather support from Ali who isolated himself from all these events. Many companions also isolated themselves from these. Relatives of Uthman, Marwan, Uqba and others came for Uthman’s rescue. People who formed radical outfits and parties began entering Madina and encamped themselves. Initially, seize was not severe but in mean time these men imposed a curfew. Uthman became house arrested.

As tensions mounted food and water was blocked upon Uthman’s mansion. Days went by but the situation only became tensed. However, Ali took food and water provision to his house, as it was un-Islamic to block food and water. These people were adamant for solution and finally took advantage of moment and entered Uthman’s mansion from back wall. They attacked Uthman and finally killed him. It became impossible for Uthman’s body be buried in graveyard of Jannatul Baqi as curfew was imposed, thus his near relatives buried him in nearby Jewish graveyard ‘Hashke Kaukab’ secretly in night.

News of Uthman’s murder began spreading and anarchy started. Ommayyads who were on political posts started to take best advantage of the event and consolidate their powers, they raised the cry for revenge. Aisha the widow of Prophet Mohammed while returning from Makka heard the news. She became part for pro-Uthman people; however, before this she was against Uthman.

Sensing anarchy most of people insisted Ali to become the next caliph. This time Ali son of Abu Talib put his conditions before numerous people gathered outside his house. Ali in his conditions said, “I will only follow Holy Qur’an, policies of Prophet Mohammed and my own judgement, I will not follow policies of previous caliphs”. People agreed and started paying oath of allegiance to Ali son of Abu Talib as fourth Caliph. Ali had considered himself undisputed first deputy of Prophet Mohammed as declared by Prophet Mohammed himself, finally, assumed the caliphate.

Pro-Uthman faction sensing their future loss started to accuse Ali for murder of Uthman. Ali son of Abu Talib openly declared, “Had I supported Uthman’s murderers I would have became a part of them, and had I supported Uthman I would have became partner in his activities, I thus kept myself aloof from Uthman as well as his killers”.

Aisha the widow of Prophet Mohammed raised the banner of revenge from Ali, this she did by falling prey to propaganda of pro-Uthman men and those who themselves wanted to assume caliphate. Talha, son of Obaidullah, Zubair, son of Awwam and Aisha, widow of Prophet Mohammed formed an alliance along with Ommayyads to avenge blood of Uthman from Ali. Ali reminded Aisha that she had no Islamic right to seek revenge as she was not from clan of Uthman.

Ali started to suspend the Ommayyad governors because they misused the power. Ali as fourth caliph also suspended Mauwiya, the Syrian governor of Uthman. Mauwiya along with other Ommayyads denied to recognise Ali as the caliph and declared war on Ali, son of Abu Talib the fourth caliph. Aisha, Talha and Zubair joined Mauwiya and called for battle. Ali son of Abu Talib in this environment shifted the capital to Kufa, Iraq to consolidate the caliphate.

Oh Allah! Peace and Salutation be upon Mohammed and House-hold of Mohammed.

Return to main topic: Karbala, brief overview