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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Getting the facts right …

I have to start this post by saying that I am in no way willing to accept the 'rules' suggested by the CII for marrying again without the wife's permission or to allow underage marriage.


Take a look at cutting off limbs in stealing. Do we cut off the hands of a poor man who stole to eat his only meal … and also of the businessman who took away millions from his firm illegally?

No. We don't. Even in this Islamic Republic.

We have courts. The Judge listens. He announces his Judgement. He may say that the poor man is wrong, warn him for further crimes, but add that he doesn't have to be put in jail. On the rich man he will also pass his Judgement. A long sentence, fines, and maybe more.

To force us to obey 'all the rules of the 7th Century' today would be wrong. Rules change as times and spaces become different, as the world becomes different.

Do we still burn witches today? No.

I can come up with many more examples that have changed because we have jails now, and insane asylums, and medical practices. We understand that a murderer may have killed in self-defence. 


So why am I writing all this?

This morning I found Iqbal Ismail's Facebook account having quoted Laal (or Taimur, to be precise). Here's what Taimur had to partly say:

Taimur's Reactionary Proposal is OK, I guess, but let's just get our facts correct. The Qur'anic Verse that he refers to is badly translated. There is nothing that prevents one from marrying a widow, an orphan, or a regular virgin here. Nothing!

The Prophet married THIRTEEN wives. Apart from not marrying until Bibi Khadijah's death, he married Bibi Soodah who was a widow. But then, as his THIRD wife, he married Ayeshah. She was neither a widow, nor an orphan. As his TWELFTH wife he 'married' Bibi Maria about whom we do not know if she was a virgin. She may have been an orphan or a widow. Victors picked up slaves from every area when they won wars. Others bought them. She was gifted to the Prophet by al-Muqawqis of Abyssinia. Some historical records show that she was a concubine and the Prophet never married her: Read Ibné Saad's "Life of the Prophet"

Some of the Prophet's marriages certainly happened after the Qur'anic Verse quoted in Item#3 above. He did not divorce any and had many wives at at time. There is a Qur'anic Verse (XXXIII:52) that shows that the Prophet was not allowed to add more wives than the ones he had … something that others could do, as you will see in this post.

If you think that I may have faltered in my perception here, let me get to the fact that the Qur'an had certainly been completed just before the Prophet's death. Which means that anyone after that time should not have married more than one wife (except, of course, widows and orphans … if the verse meant that).

Let's look at Hazrat Ali, who remained married to Bibi Fatimah until her death. After that he married eight more wives. Some of them were NOT widows or orphans. He was the father of 15 sons and 18 daughters (of which 12 daughters came from two slave girls… Humia and Umm Shuaib).

Hazrat Ali's son, Hazrat Hasan, who died while he was in mid-forties, was known as Mitlaaq (=Great Divorcer). He was married, according to Philip K. Hitti's "History of the Arabs", to around 100 wives whom he divorced. Some people say that all this took place in his later 9 years.

To make FOUR WIVES as the prevailing rule … it is an Islamic rule from the Hadees rather than a Qur'anic Injunction … we have people saying that Hazrat Ali had only four wives at a time, as did Hazrat Hasan.

Surely when you marry it is for all times to come, unless you or she have problems when there can be a divorce. It does not mean that you marry one and divorce her and marry another and divorce her and go on and on like that.


Let's go to the Qur'anic Verse (IV:3) which has been misinterpreted. While there is a part in the verse that says 'one' would be better, the phrase that causes the major problem is "Mathana va Thülaatha va Rübaa" (=Twos and Threes and Fours). This phrase certainly does not mean 'unto four' as it is now interpreted. It meant 'many' in those days. This is much the same way as when you say to a child, for example, 'I have told you hundreds of times not to lie'. 'Hundreds' does not mean 'several hundred' … it means 'many'.

If you think that the Qur'an is the best way to decide things if the same verse is found elsewhere, let's go to (XXXV.1) where it says that Angels have wings that are "Mathana va Thülaatha va Rübaa" (=Twos and Threes and Fours). Surely it means 'many' here. Muslims do not have an article of faith that says an Angel can only have 2, or 3, or 4 wings. Several legends tell us about Angels with numerous wings.

Incidentally, here's another part that will convince you further. Read (XXXIV:46) which says "... that you stand up for Allah in twos and singly". This does NOT mean that Muslims can offer prayers in twos or ones … but not in a Jama'at.

Good luck!

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Blogger Iqbal Ismail said...

Thank you, Zaheer. You have as usual educated me.

13 March, 2014 14:58

Blogger Farah Sadiq said...

well written and well researched article.

13 March, 2014 16:23

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Hazrat Hasan's 100s of marriages, that's certainly a myth fabricated by his enemies in the Abbasid dynasty. Please see this short historical analysis: "Imam Hasan, 'The Myth of his Divorces'"

21 May, 2014 10:11

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Dear 'Anonymous'

I have read the piece you mentioned much earlier. But I have also read several other pieces which call Hazrat Hasan as 'someone who divorces many'.

While Abbasids may have put the figure of a 100, many others (including Hitti) were not his enemies and state that he married and divorced several times and was known for his divorces.

My intention was to acknowledge that Hazrat Hasan, and many others, had several wives. Certainly more than four at a time. Using the Qur'an and saying FOUR is the LIMIT, is just not right.

As for the enemies of Imams (including the Abbasids), why did they single Hazrat Hasan out and add this story? They certainly did not object to Hazrat Husain 'marrying' a woman who came as 'Maal-e-Ghaneemat'. Maal=Property, in this context. Do YOU think Women are Property?

Also, no one objects to Hazrat Ali's wives (certainly more than 4 at a time) which took place well after the Qur'an was complete, the prophet was dead, and Hazrat Ali's wife had also died. Most articles continue to say that he always had 4 at any given time. Strange, because no one seems to tell us whom he divorced so that he could marry the others.

BTW, I am only quoting from history books for whatever they are worth. I haven't added anything of my own onto these quotes.

21 May, 2014 15:37

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Zak,

That article explains very well Caliph Mansur's motivation for spreading the myth of divorces. It was part of a campaign to delegitimize Imam Hasan's great-grandson Muhammad, who was Mansur's key opponent. Mansur had sworn allegiance to Muhammad but later reneged on it and thus had to resort to character assassination to discredit Imam Hasan and his descendants. Imam Jafar as-Sadiq was also Mansur's contemporary like Muhammad, but Mansur did not make him a target for this kind of propaganda because he chose not to oppose the Abbasids.

If history is written by the victors, then the Ummayads and Abbasids, having prevailed over the Banu Hashim, wrote a big chunk of it and their version was inevitably copied and referenced by later historians.

As for Imam Hussain marrying a women who was considered Maal-e-Ghanimat, I think you are referring to Imam Hussain's marriage to Shahrbanu, the Persian lady (some say princess), who was brought to Medina as a captive during the caliphate of Hazrat Ali. This type of arrangement was customary in those days (not that I agree with it, but that was a different era with different norms). There are traditions about other companions of the Prophet taking captive women as their 'wives'. Some source even claim that Sharbanu was accompanied by her sister who was given in 'marriage' to Hazart Muhammad, son of Hazrat Abu Bakr. The Abbasids would have known better than to discredit Imam Hussain for something that other companions were known to practice as well.

But back to my original point about the myth of divorces. It is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof, especially considering its origin.

In any case, that is my opinion, and you or others don't have to agree with it.


23 May, 2014 09:54

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Dear Anonymous

I agree with you that history is almost always written by Victors … and the stuff in it is often false, heavily edited, but -on some occasions - true or part true!

Will & Ariel Durant - apart from stating that "Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice", wrote this in The Lessons of History: 'To begin with, do we really know what the past was, what actually happened, or is history "a fable" not quite "agreed upon"? Our knowledge of any past event is always incomplete, probably inaccurate, beclouded by ambivalent evidence and biased historians, and perhaps distorted by our own patriotic or religious partisanship."

(You don't have to go too far. Just take a look at our country's falsified history.)

Here is Kulayni writing about his wives in Kafi 5/56:

From Abu Abdullah (alaihi salam) which said — Ali (alaihi salam) said, and he was on the minbar: do not give in marriage, your daughters to Hasan for he divorces very soon.’ a man from the hamdân clan said: ‘by Allâh, we shall give our daughters to him in marriage. those he likes, let him keep; and those he dislikes, divorce.

And Kulayni narrated in the same place — From Abu Abdullah (alaihi salam): Hasan ibn Ali (alaihi salam) divorced 50 women.

(In case some of you don't know, Al-Kafi is one of the most sacred books in the Shia faith)

While you may be right, even given the things that the Durants speak of, there's got to be a fire where there is smoke. I may not be sure of the number of wives of Hazrat Hasan, but there were several. Many more than one would normally have.


BTW, for Hazrat Husain's wife, here is one story:
• Differing reports in history state that Shahrbānū was brought to Madinah as a slave either during the caliphate of `Umar,`Uthmān, or `Ali. Based on comparisons and the study of hadith, Shī`a's believe that it was during the caliphate of `Ali, with the appointment of Hurayth ibn Jābir to govern the eastern provinces, that the daughters of Yazdigird III were sent to Madinah.

And here's another one:
• Earlier sources such as Ibn Sad and Ebn Qotayba describe Hazrat Husain's wife as a slave, originally from Sindh, and make no reference to her being a princess. (The first scholar to explicitly describe her as being of the Persian royal family was the 9th Century Arab philologist, Mobarrad.)

24 May, 2014 15:05

Blogger Zakintosh said...

I agree with you. Neither the Shia nor the Sunni ahaadees are really genuine. Most of the stuff is very fabricated — some extremely so — and some are against the Qur'anic teachings. However, many ülemas are adamant about 'their faith' in these things.

As for Kulayni's book, Khomeini implicitly says that al-Kafi (the sufficient) is not kafi (enough) to make you a faithful Muslim or be counted among the righteous, unless you use the wisdom contained within it and act on it.

I have found several ahaadees in all the books, to be against all religious principles, Shia and Sunni. Many meet no human or 'devotional' standards.

Regardless of the now accepted beliefs that God wanted Hazrats Ali, Fatima, Hasan & Husain and the subsequent Imams to be the Ahl-ul-Bait, it seems unlikely that God would want just these family members to be Ahl-ul-Bait. What about the other wives of the Prophet? What about his children and the other grandsons. What about the sisters of the Imams?

Also, considering that the verse follows several verses about the Prophet's wives, those who believe should take this to mean the Prophet's entire family.

Yes, I did write that some people say 'in [Hazrat Hasan's] later 9 years'. I did not say I believe in it. But if you thought so, I am sorry.

Slot? Just one? Hmmm … you believe Muslims are allowed four wives? Read my post again, please.

About the Umayyads not raising Hasan's Divorce as an issue, maybe I can quote your line: "This type of arrangement was customary in those days …".

Its nice to know that you are seriously reading Islamic History, anyway. I read a lot of it and many Hadeeses, including Kulayni, at the time when I was proof-reading Ziauddin Kirmani's book (The Last Messenger with a Lasting Message) and trying to make sure that dates and references were correct.

I strongly suggest that you download Al-Kafi and glance through it, and also Bukhari's Ahaadees (


25 May, 2014 16:16

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Zak,

You rightly point that Allama Kulayni's al-Kafi is one of the most sacred books in Shiism. Your readers should also know that despite the high esteem in which they hold al-Kafi, shia scholars do not consider it a Sahih compilation. The general opinion is that it contains both strong, reliable narrations and thousands (60% per one estimate) of weak, unreliable narrations. Kulayni himself never made any claims as to the infallibility of his compilation. Some compilers were interested only in preserving the ahadis for future generations to whom they left the difficult task of categorization.

I find the two ahadis from Kulayni to be highly questionable. Their content goes against everything we know about the personalities of Hazrat Ali and Imam Hasan, against other ahadis that speak of their virtues, and, above all, against the Quran, which has this to say about the Ahl-ul-Bayt:

"And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the [Prophet's] Family, and to make you pure and spotless." (Surah Al-Ahzab - 33:33)

History shows that there was a concerted effort during the Umayyad and Abbasid eras to defame Imam Ali and Imam Hasan. Imam Hasan in particular was the target of slanderous propaganda twice in Islamic history: once during the reign of Muaviya and then many decades later under Mansur the Abbasid.

This blog post was dedicated to getting the facts right but then you stated "Some people say that all this [i.e., 100 marriages] took place in his later 9 years". How is this even possible if according to the waiting periods for divorce prescribed by Shia Law he could have married at most 3 times in one year? There was only one slot available for all these numerous marriages, as he never divorced the three wives he had at the start of last nine years of his life.

One more historical point - the Ummayds who debated Imam Hasan never raised this myth of divorce in their arguments with him. Isn't that strange that they would not take advantage of this huge weakness of character when they were going all out in their ad hominem attacks against him? Or may be they knew there was no truth to it.

There is definitely a lot of smoke around this issue, but it appears that's all it is -- smoke and nothing more.


25 May, 2014 16:20

Blogger Zakintosh said...

The last piece was before my answer. How it went further down, I don't know. But please read it before my response.

25 May, 2014 16:21

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Ayat-e-Mubahila (Sura Al-e-Imran - 3:61) gives us some guidance as to who in the Family of the Prophet Allah intended to make "pure and spotless":

The ayat states:
"But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars."

It is well-known that in accordance with this verse, the Holy Prophet took with him to the mubahilla with the Christians Hazrats Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Hussain.

For example, we find in Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5915:

This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Shu'ba with the same chain of transmitters.

Amir b. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas reported on the authority of his father that Muawiya b. Abi Sufyin appointed Sa'd as the Governor and said: What prevents you from abusing Abu Turab (Hadrat 'Ali), whereupon he said: It is because of three things which I remember Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said about him that I would not abuse him ....

(The third occasion is this) when the (following) verse was revealed: "Let us summon our children and your children." Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) called 'Ali, Fitima, Hasan and Husain and said: O Allah, they are my family [Ahl-ul-Bayt]".

There are many other arguments based on the Quran and Hadith that add weight to this interpretation that Ali, Fatima, Hasan, Hussain, rather than other members of the family, were the subject of that verse of the Quran.

Regarding number of wives, in Shia Law I believe four is the maximum number allowed at any one time for everyone (including Imams), with the exception of the Prophet.

When I wrote "it was the norm" it was in reference to the practice of 'marrying' captive women, rather than about taking 200 wives.

I like to refer to the books of Ahadis (Bukhari, Muslim, Kulayni, etc) when time permits. I find them all fascinating reading.


26 May, 2014 02:49

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Dear Anonymous

Deen - which is what Islam is according to the Qur'an - is different from Religions which are really man made interpretations of the Deen.

This is why Roman Catholics, Protestanrs, Sunnism, Shiaism, Barelvism, Wahhabism. even Ahmadi beliefs (according to them), are just Religions.

You can quote a million books and I can quote many others and still be on opposite sides at every step. Which one is correct? No one knows.

I disagree with a lot you have said in your comments — but life has to be lived under what one thinks is correct. Good luck.

18 September, 2014 14:15


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