Book on the Etiquette of Marriage

Book on the Etiquette of Marriage

Being the Second Book of the Section on Customs in the Book

The Revival of the Religious Sciences


Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali

Translated By

Madelain Farah

al-Ghazali’s Introduction


Praise be to God the marvels of Whose creation are not subject to the arrows of accident, for minds do not reflect on the beginnings of such wonders except in awe and bewilderment, and the favor of Whose graces continue to be bestowed upon all creatures, for they [graces] come in succession upon them [creatures] whether or not they [creatures] wish to receive them [graces]. One of His marvelous favors is creating human beings out of water [Qur’an  21:30],’ causing them to be related by lineage and marriage, and subjecting creatures to desire through which He drove them to tillage (ḥirathah)2 and thereby forcibly preserved their descendants. Then He glorified the matter of lineage, ascribed to it great importance, forbade on its account illegitimacy and strongly denounced it through restrictions and reprimands, making the commission thereof an outlandish crime and a serious matter, and encouraging marriage through desire and command.

Glory be to Him who decreed death to His creatures and humbled them thereby through destruction and annihilation, then placed seeds’ in the soil of the wombs and raised there from creatures, forcibly to defeat death, calling attention to the fact that the seas of Providence flood the worlds with benefit as well as harm, prosperity as well as evil, difficulty as well as facility, and concealment as well as revelation. Prayer and peace be upon Muhammad who was sent with warning” and good tidings, and upon his household and his companions-prayer that knows neither bounds nor confinement, and may He grant him much peace.

Accordingly, marriage is an aid in [the fulfillment of] religion, an insult to devils, a strong fortress against the enemy of God, and a cause of increase through which the master of prophets outshines the rest of the prophets. How worthy it is, therefore, that its causes be examined and its sunna and etiquette be learned, its aims and ends be explained, and its chapters and sections be clearly specified.

The major guidelines in the Book on the Etiquette of Marriage may be revealed in three chapters: The first chapter deals with the advantages and disadvantages of marriage; the second chapter deals with the etiquette to be observed in the marriage contract and between the two contracting parties; and the third chapter deals with the etiquette of cohabitation after marriage and until dissolution.




Advantages and
Disadvantages of Marriage

Be it known that the ulema’ have disagreed over the virtue of marriage: Some stressed it to the point of claiming that it is preferable to seclusion for the worship of God. Others have admitted its virtue but subordinated it to seclusion for the worship of God, regardless of how much the soul yearns for marriage to a degree that disturbs one’s state [of mind] and causes him to succumb to temptation. Others have said: It is preferable to abstain from marriage in this our age; but formerly it was a preferable virtue whereby the means of earning a livelihood was not illicit and the character of women was not censurable.’ The truth about it cannot be revealed except by first presenting what has been transmitted in the akhbar3 and the dthar’ regarding encouragement and discouragement of marriage, and by explaining its benefits and shortcomings, thereby elucidating the virtues or disadvantages of marriage as pertains to everyone who has or has not been spared its calamities.

[Qur’anic Verses on Marriage]

Among the Qur’anic verses: God has said, “And marry such of you” [24:32]; this is a command. He also said, “Place not difficulties in the way of their marrying their husbands” [2:232].5 This prevented abstinence and enjoined against it. God has said in describing and praising messengers: “And, indeed, We sent Messengers before thee, and We gave them wives and children” [13:38 (ʿAli)]. Thus he said this in the context of praise and in pointing out excellence. He also praised his saints for requesting it in supplication saying: “And those who say, ‘Our Lord, grant us of our wives and children the delight of our eyes, and make us a model for the righteous.” It is said of the prophets that God has not mentioned in His book any but those who have families. Thus it was said that [St.] John” married but did not cohabit. It is said that he did that to gain virtue and honor, thereby upholding the sunna. Others said that it was to avert the eye. As for Jesus,* he will marry should he come down to earth and will have children.


[Traditions of the Prophet]

As for the akhbar, we have his [the Prophet’s] sayings: “Marriage is of my sunna; whoever refrains from my sunna refrains from me”; and he* also said: “Marriage is of my sunna; whoever likes my fiṭrah (natural disposition),’ let him follow my sunna.”8

He* also said: “Marry and multiply for I will boast about you over other nations on the day of resurrection, even about the least among you.”9

And he* also said, “Whoever refrains from my sunna, he is not of me, and marriage is part of my sunna; whoever loves me, let him follow my sunna.”10

And he* also said, “Whoever refrains from getting married for fear of having a family, is not of us.”“ This is perhaps a reprimand [directed] against abstinence and not a reason for abstinence.

He* also said, “Whoever has the means, let him get married,”12 for it will avert the eyes” and assure more relief and virtuousness; and who does not, “let him fast for fasting to him is [a form of] castration (wija’).”14 This indicates that the reason for the encouragement of marriage is fear that the eye might become corrupted,” as well as relief.” W ija’ is a form of castration of the male [organs] so that his manhood is removed; it [the term] is used metaphorically for sexual impotence during the fast.

And he* also said, “If someone whose religion and trustworthiness you approve should come to you, then get him married;

if you do not, you will cause discord on earth and great corruption.”“ This also explains encouragement [to marry] out of fear of corruption.

He* also said, “Whoever marries or gives in marriage, for the sake of God, deserves the friendship (wilaya)18 of God.”19 And he* also said, “Whoever marries safeguards half of his faith; let him fear God for the second half.”“ This is also an indication that its virtue is in safeguarding against disobedience, and fortifying against corruption. For the corrupting factor in a man’s religion lies for the most part both in his sexual organs (farj)21 and stomach;22 he can satisfy one of them by marriage.

He* also said, “All acts by the son of Adam shall cease except the third: a righteous son making invocation for him,” etc.23 He cannot attain this except through marriage.

As for the athar,ʿUmar24 has said, “Nothing should prevent marriage except incapacity or adultery (fujur).”25 He thus asserted that religion does not prohibit marriage, and he limited its prevention to two disparate factors.


[Traditions of the Companions]

Ibn ʿAbbās*26 said, “The asceticism of an ascetic is not complete until he marries.” It is possible that he considered marriage an act of devotion which renders asceticism perfect; but it seems that he meant to say thereby that the heart would not be safe from being overcome by desire except through marriage, and that asceticism is not perfect without emptying (faragh)27 the heart [of all preoccupations]. For that reason he would gather his young bondsmen (ghilman), ‘Akramah and Kurayb28 and others reaching adulthood, and would say, “If you wish to get married, I will get you married; for when a slave commits adultery, he removes faith from his heart.”

Ibn Masud*” used to say, “Were there but ten days left of my life, I would be inclined to get married so as not to meet God a celibate.”

Two of Mu’adh Ibn Jabal’s*30 wives died from the plague, and he, too, was afflicted with the plague; so he said, “Get me married, for I would not like to meet God a celibate.” And this coming from both of them indicates that they considered marriage a virtue rather than a defense against the excessiveness of desire.

ʿUmar* used to marry frequently and would say, “I only marry for the sake of having offspring.”

One31 of the companions attached himself to the Messenger* of God serving him and staying with him in case he needed to have something done; so the Prophet* said to him, “Won’t you get married?” He answered, “0 Messenger of God, I am a poor man possessing nothing and would be compelled to abandon your service.” The Prophet said nothing, then repeated [the question], and he [the companion] repeated the answer. Then the companion reflected and said, “By God, the Messenger* of God knows better than I what is best for me in my earthly life and in my hereafter and what draws me near to God, and if he should tell me a third time, I will do it.” and he [the Prophet] told him a third time: “Won’t you get married?” The companion said: “0 Messenger of God, get me married.” He [the Prophet] said, “Go to such a family32 and say that the Messenger* of God commands you to give your daughter in marriage to me.” He [the companion] said, “O Messenger* of God I have nothing.” So he [the Prophet] said to his companions, “Gather for your brother the weight of a date-pit in gold,” and they did. Thus they took him to those people and got him married; so he said to [them], “Make a feast”; and they obtained for him from the companions a ewe for the feast.”33 This repetition indicates a virtue in marriage itself. It is possible that he [the Prophet] recognized in him [the companion] a need for marriage.


[Later Transmittals]

It has been related that a certain devotee in olden times excelled his contemporaries in devotion. The goodness of his devotion was brought up to the Prophet of his time. His reply was, “It is so,” although he had forsaken somewhat the tradition [of worship]. It grieved the worshiper to hear that, so he asked the Prophet about it, and the Prophet said, “Have you forsaken marriage?” And he said, “I don’t consider it forbidden, but I am poor and a burden to people.”34 The Prophet said, “I will give you my daughter in marriage,” and he* gave him his daughter in marriage.

Bishr b. al-Harith35 said, “Ahmad b. Hanbal36 was preferred over me on three accounts: for seeking what is lawful for himself and others, while I seek it for myself only; for his ability to get married in contrast to my inability; and for being appointed an imam for the common people.”

It is said that Ahmad* married the second day following the death of the mother of his son, CAbdullah, and said, “I detest spending the night as a celibate.” As for Bishr, when it was said to him, “People have been talking about you because you have refrained from marriage, saying, ‘He has forsaken the sunna,”, he replied, “Tell them that religious duties preoccupy him, leaving no time for the sunna.” He was blamed on another occasion, so he replied, “Nothing keeps me from marrying except the words of the Almighty [Qur’an  2:228 (ʿAlī)]: ‘And they (the women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in equity.’“ That was mentioned to Ahmad, who declared, “And where is the like of Bishr?” His position is likened unto the point

of a spearhead (haad al-sinan).37

In spite of that, it has been related that he was seen in a dream and was asked, “What has God done to you?” He replied, “My stages (manazili) in Paradise have been elevated and I was placed close to the stations (maqamāt)38 of the prophets in rank, but I have not attained the stages of those with families.” And in one account he told me, “I would not have wanted you to encounter” me as a celibate”; so we asked him, “What did Abu Nasr al-Tammar do?” He said, “He was placed seventy steps (darajah) above me.” We asked, “For what reason? We used to see you above him.” He replied, “Because of his patience with his daughters and dependents.”

Sufyan b. ‘Ayyinah said, “Having numerous wives is not [indicative of love] of the world because ʿAlī* was the most ascetic of the companions of the Prophet* and yet he had four wives and seventeen concubines.” Thus marriage is an ancient sunna and one of the traits of the prophets.

A man said to Ibrahim b. Adham,*40 “Blessed art thou, for thou hast dedicated thyself to worship through celibacy.”“ He replied, “Indeed your concern for dependents is preferable to all that which I now enjoy.” He [the man] replied, “And what prevents you from marriage?” He said, “I have no need for a woman. I do not wish to misrepresent myself to a woman.”

It has been said, “A married man is preferred over the celibate in the same way that the mujahid42 is preferred over the non-mujahid; and one bow (rakcah)43 [in worship] of the married man is preferable to seventy bows of one who is celibate.”

[Sufi Views on Marriage/

As for what has been related concerning the disadvantages of marriage, the Prophet* said, “The best of all people outside the two hundred44 is a man light of back who has neither wife nor child.”45 The Prophet* also said, “There will come a time upon people when a man’s destruction shall be at the hands of his wife, his parents, and his children; they shall taunt him for poverty and demand of him beyond his means. He will enter paths wherein he will lose his religion and perish.”“

And there is a khabar, according to which, “One of the two sources of comfortable living is having fewer children, while one of the two sources of poverty is having many of them.”47

Abu Sulayman al-Darani48 was asked about marriage, and he said, “To abstain is better than to endure them [women], and to endure them is better than to suffer hellfire.” He also said, “The single man will find in the pleasures of work and in the emptiness (faragh) of the heart that which the family man cannot find.” He once said, “I have not seen any of our companions who married and was able to retain firmly his first rank (martabah).”49 He also said, “He who seeks the following three is inclined toward the world: he who seeks a living, or who marries a woman, or who transcribes a hadith.”50

Hasan* [al-Basri] has said, “When God wishes the servant well, he does not preoccupy him with a family or with possessions.” Ibn Abu al-Hawwari51 once said, “A group exchanged views over this hadith and came to the conclusion that it did not mean that a man [in this case] could not have both, but that he could have both and they would not preoccupy him.” This is a reference to the saying of Abu Sulayman al-Darani, “Whatever diverts you from God-whether wife, possession, or children -is a curse upon you.”

In general, none has been quoted as discouraging marriage unconditionally. As for encouragement to marriage, it has been related both unconditionally and conditionally. Let us, therefore, remove the veil from this subject by delineating the advantages and disadvantages thereof.




There are five advantages to marriage: procreation, satisfying sexual desire, ordering the household, providing companionship, and disciplining the self in striving to sustain them.

  1. [Procreation]

The first advantage-that is, procreation-is the prime cause, and on its account marriage was instituted. The aim is to sustain lineage so that the world would not want for humankind. As for sexual desire, it was created as an ingrained urge: like an overseer unto the male. In the male it is, as it were, an overseer to produce the sperm; in the female it serves to facilitate cultivations so as to produce children out of coitus.” It is like luring the bird by spreading about the seed which it likes in order to lead it to the net.

The eternal powers of the Almighty were not incapable of creating beings from the beginning without tilling (ḥirāthah) or coupling. But wisdom decreed the ordering of causes and effects together with the lack of need to demonstrate the power of God to complete the wonders of creation and to fulfill what the Divine Will decreed beforehand; thereby the Word was fulfilled as decreed by the pen [Qur’an  96:4].

To bring forth a child” is a four-faceted intimacy which is the original reason for encouraging it even after being safeguarded against excessive desire, so that no one wants to meet God as a celibate. The first: to conform to the love of God by seeking to produce the child in order to perpetuate mankind. The second: to earn the love of the Prophet* of God by increasing those in whom he can be glorified.” The third: to seek the blessing of the righteous child’s invocation after him.55 The fourth: to seek intercession 56 through the death of the young child should he precede his [father’s] death.

As for the first facet: It is the most delicate of all the facets, the most removed from the understanding of the common folk, and the most meritorious as well as the strongest in the eyes of those with keen insight into the wonders of the Almighty’s creation and into the course of His wisdom. It may be illustrated thus: if the master should give seed and cultivating tools to his slave, and prepare for him the soil to cultivate; if the servant is able to cultivate; if he [the master] should appoint someone to supervise him [the servant]; and if he [the servant], nevertheless, is lazy or does not use the ploughing instruments and neglects the seed until it rots, and he rids himself of the supervisor through some trickery, then he [the servant] would deserve contempt and reprimand from his lord.

God Almighty has created the pair; He has created the male organ and the two ovaries, as well as the sperm in the sheath; He has prepared for it [the sperm] in the ovaries, arteries and ducts, and created the womb as a depository for the sperm; He has endowed both the male and the female with desire. These deeds and instruments bear eloquent testimony to the design of their creator and declare their purpose unto those imbued with wisdom. This would be the case [even] if the Creator had not revealed the design through His Prophet* in the statement “Marry and multiply”; how [much more] if He had openly declared the matter and revealed the secret! Everyone who refrains from marriage neglects tilling, wastes away the seed, does not use the prepared instruments which God has created, and is a violator of the aim of nature as well as the wisdom implied in the evidences of creation foreordained upon these organs by divine writ, unexpressed in letters or voices-writ which can be read by every [person] who has divine insight to understand the intricacies of everlasting wisdom. For that reason, divine legislation exceedingly made the killing of children and the burying [of girls] alive57 an abomination, for they [such acts] were forbidden for the fulfillment of existence. To this alluded the one who said, “coitus interruptus (‘azl) is one of the two burials.”“

The one who marries is seeking to complete what God has desired, and the one who abstains, wastes away what God de

tests to have wasted. Because of God’s desire that mankind should survive, He made feeding [the hungry] a decree, encouraged it, and referred to it by the term “loan” when He said, “Who is it that will lend unto Allah a goodly loan?” [Qur’an  2:245].59

Should you say: your statement, that sustenance of the species and of self is desirable, on the assumption that their passing away is detestable to God, which is the difference between life and death, not to mention the will of God Almighty, it being known that all is by the will of God and that God is not in need of creation, then what can the distinction be with Him between their life, or survival (bags chum), and their extinction (fana-’uhum)? Know then that this word is a truth from which an untruth was sought, for what we have mentioned does not invalidate the relation of all things-good and bad, beneficial and detrimental-to the will of God. Love and abomination (karah-iyah) contradict each other but they do not oppose the will [of God]; for many a desired aim is hated and many a detested aim is loved; acts of defiance are detestable and they, in spite of being hated, are desired; acts of obedience are desired and they, along with being desired, are loved and pleasing. As for apostasy and evil, we cannot say that they are pleasing and loved but, nevertheless, they are desired. For the Lord has said, “And He is not pleased with ingratitude in His servants.”“

How then could the extinction of man, or the hatred thereof, with respect to the love for God, be the same as his subsistence? For the Almighty has said, “I have never hesitated over anything as I hesitate in taking the soul of my Muslim servant. He detests death and I detest harming him, but there is no escape for him from death.”“ His saying, “There is no escape from death for him” is a reference to predetermination and to the decree stated in His words, “We have ordained death for all of you” [Qur’an  56:60]; and in His saying, “Who hath created life and death.”“ There is no contradiction between the Almighty’s words, “We have ordained death for all of you,” and His saying “and I detest harming him.”

However, elucidating the truth therein requires defining the meaning of will, love, and hatred; it also requires revealing their essences, because preliminary to understanding them are matters which suit the desire of created beings, their love and their hatred. How preposterous! For between the traits of Almighty God and those of created beings, there is as much distance as between His beloved essence and theirs. The essence of creations is substance and form, while that of God is hallowed beyond theirs; and just as that which is not essence and form cannot be the same as that which is essence and form, likewise His traits are not the same as the traits of creation. These facts lie within the realm of that which could be disclosed. Beyond them lies the mystery of divine decree, the disclosure of which has been prohibited. So let us stop short of mentioning it and let us confine ourselves to that about which we have been told concerning the difference between undertaking and refraining from marriage. For one of the two would cause the loss of lineage, perpetuating its existence from Adam,* generation upon generation, thus ending with him [Adam]. Therefore, he who refrains from marriage cuts off continuous being from himself [back] to Adam* and dies childless with no descendants.

If, however, the inducement to marriage is simply warding off desire, Mu’adh would not have said when he contracted the plague, “Get me married, I will not meet my Lord celibate.” Should you say, “But Mu’adh could not expect to have children at that time, so why was he interested in it [marriage]?” I would reply, “Children result from coitus,63 which is a consequence of desire.” That is a matter which does not fall in the realm of choice; what is dependent upon the servant’s choice is providing the motivation for desire. That is expected in any event. Thus, whoever contracts [marriage], fulfills his obligation and what is incumbent upon him. The rest is beyond his choice. For that reason marriage is desirable also for the impotent; for the urges of desire are veiled and cannot be seen. Even the eunuch who cannot be expected to have an offspring still desires it, in the same manner that a bald man desires to have the blade pass over his head in emulation of others and in keeping with the precedent of the righteous progenitors, and in the same manner that trotting (al-ramal) [while performing the circuit around the Kaaba] and cloaking (al-idtiba ‘) oneself over the left shoulder during the pilgrimage today are desirable.” The purpose at first was to indicate [physical] endurance to the infidels. The emulation65 of those who manifested endurance has become a religious duty for those who succeeded them.

This desire is weak when’ compared to the desire of one who is capable of tilling. Perhaps it is even weaker when compared with the undesirability of impairing the woman [that is, not using her] with regard to the gratification of desire, for this is not free of danger. Such an interpretation explains the great disapproval [by the righteous] of eschewing marriage in spite of languid sexual desire.

The second facet: striving to attain the love of the Messenger* of God and to please him by increasing that which he can boast of, inasmuch as Messenger of God has openly declared it. Concern for procreation is indicated by what has been related concerning ‘Umar*: that he used to marry often and used to say, “I marry for [the sake of producing] children.” It was related in the akhbar that the Prophet* said regarding the deprecation of the barren woman, “A straw mat in the corner of the house is preferable to a barren woman.”66 He also said, “The best of your women are the affectionate childbearers.”67 He also said, “A black childbearer is better than a beauty that cannot give birth.”68 This indicates that seeking children has been considered a greater virtue in marriage than satisfying the demands of sexual desire, seeing that a beautiful woman is more suitable for fortification [against desire], in averting the eye, and curtailing desire.

The third facet: that he should be survived by a righteous child who would invoke blessings upon him, as related in one khabar that all the works of the son of Adam will cease except for three, and he mentioned [among them] a righteous child, and in another that “invocations are offered to the dead on platters of light.” The saying that “the son might not be virtuous,” would not make any difference for he is a believer. Virtue predominates in the offspring of religious parents, particularly if it is resolved to bring him up in and direct him along the path of virtue. By and large, the invocation of the believer for his parents is beneficial be he pious or wicked. He [the believer] is rewarded for his invocations and good deeds, for he has earned them, and he is not rebuked for his ill deeds; for the sin of a sinner is not superimposed upon another. For that reason the Almighty declared, “We cause their progenies to join them, and We deprive them of naught of their (life’s) work” [Qur’an  52:21]; that is, we do not take away from their deeds and we make their children an addition to their good deeds.

The fourth facet: that the child should die before him [the parent] and thus he has an intercessor. It has been related concerning the Prophet* of God that he said, [The child drags his parents into heaven.” 69 In some akhbar, it is related that “the child takes him [the parent] by the garment the same [way] as I now take you by the garment.”“ He* also said, “the progeny is told to enter paradise, but he stands at the gate of paradise in rage and anger saying, ‘I will not enter paradise except in the company of my parents.’ Then it is said, ‘Let his parents enter paradise with him.’ “ 71

In another tradition, it is stated that “the children gather at the place of resurrection when created beings are brought to judgement, and it will be said to the angels, ‘Take these [the children] to paradise,’ but they will stand at the gate of paradise and it will be said to them, ‘Welcome to the progeny of the Muslims. Enter! There is no reckoning for you.’ They will say, ‘Where are our fathers and mothers?’ The keepers will reply, ‘Your fathers and mothers are not like you, for they have committed sins and ill deeds and they are now rendering account and are making amends for them.’ He [the Prophet] said, ‘They shout and scream in unison at the gates of paradise.’ The Lord Almighty who knows more about them says, ‘What is this noise?’ They [the keepers] will reply, ‘Lord, the children of the Muslims say “We shall not enter paradise except in the company of our parents.” Almighty God will say, ‘Go through the crowds, take the parents by their hands, and lead them into paradise.’ “72 The Prophet* said, “Whoever has lost two of his children will be shielded from the fire.”73 He* also said, “Whoever has lost three that did not attain puberty, God will make him enter paradise by virtue of His mercy for the children’s sake.” The Prophet was asked, “0 Messenger of God, what about two?” And he replied, “Even two.”74

It is related that marriage was propounded to one of the righteous men, but he hesitated for a while. The Prophet said, “One day he [the righteous man] awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Get me married, get me married!’ So they got him married. He was asked concerning that matter, to which he replied: ‘God may grant me a child, and then receive him unto Himself; thus he would serve as a prelude for my afterlife.’ Then he said, ‘I saw in a dream that resurrection had come to pass and myself among the created beings there. I was suffering from mortal thirst; the other created beings were also suffering from intense thirst and distress. While we were in that state, behold a group of children75filtered through the crowds covered with veils of light, carrying silver pitchers and golden goblets in their hands and offering drink to one [person] then to another; they filtered through the crowd yet bypassed most of the people. I stretched out my hand to one of them and said, “Give me water to drink, for I am extremely thirsty.” But he [the child] replied, “You do not have a child amongst us; we only offer our fathers water to drink.” So I said, “And who are you?” They replied, “We are the deceased infant children of the Muslims.” “‘76 One of the meanings incorporated in his statement, which is mentioned in the Almighty’s saying, “so go to your tilth as ye will, and prepare beforehand for your souls” [Qur’an  2:223], is children for the hereafter. Thus it has become clear from these four facets that the greatest virtue of marriage lies in its being the means of having children


[Satisfying Sexual Desire]

The second advantage: fortification against the devil, curbing lust, warding off the excesses of desire, averting the eye, and safeguarding relief. To this the Prophet* referred when he declared, “He who marries fortifies half of his religion, so let him fear God for the second half.” To this he also referred when he stated, “You are enjoined to establish homes. He who cannot do it should fast, for fasting is a [form] of castration.” Most of what we have quoted from the athar and the akhbar points to this interpretation; and this purpose is inferior to the former one because desire is a charge to produce children. Marriage is sufficient for bringing this about, a reason for causing it to be, and a safeguard against the evil of it becoming dominant. One who obeys his master in order to please him is not like one who obeys in order to be freed from a heavy obligation. Sexual desire and children are foreordained and between them exists a tie. It is not appropriate to say that the aim is pleasure and the child is a necessary result, just as elimination is a necessary result of eating, not an aim in itself. Rather, the child is the aim by instinct and decree, and sexual desire is merely an inducement thereto. I cannot conceive of any purpose for sexual desire except procreation. The pleasure which accompanies it -pleasure which would be unrivaled were it to last-is a harbinger of the promised pleasures in paradise. For to encourage pleasure which one cannot enjoy is pointless. Thus were an impotent male encouraged to seek enjoyment of coitus, or were a young boy encouraged to seek rule and power, encouragement would be to no avail. One virtue of the world’s pleasures is that people wish to see them [pleasures] continue in paradise; thus they are an inducement to the worship of God.

Behold the wisdom, the mercy, and the divine fulfillment (al-ta’biyah al-ilahiyah):77 how two lives, one external (zahirah) and one internal (batinah), were fused together by one desire.” The exoteric life is the perpetuation of the individual through the preservation of his lineage, which is a form of the perpetuation of existence. The esoteric life is the life in the hereafter, “so if this pleasure, diminished by the speedy passage of time, activates the desire for [attaining] pleasure by becoming everlasting, then it encourages the kind of worship which leads to it [pleasure].” Consequently the servant [of God] benefits by becoming so desirous of it and gains the ability to persist in that which leads him to the blissfulness of paradise.

There is not an atom in the body of man, internal or external in the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth, within which one would not discover a measure of wisdom and wonder that baffles the mind. Nevertheless, it can be revealed only to a pure heart in proportion to its purity and to the extent that it resists the world’s pleasures, its enticements, and its snares. Thus, marriage for the sake of curbing excessive desire is important in religion to all who do not suffer from impotence-these happen to constitute the majority of created beings. For if sexual desire prevails and encounters no resistance from the force of piety, it will lead to the commission of an abomination (fahishah).

To this the Prophet* referred when conveying the word of the Almighty, “If ye do riot so, there will be confusion in the land, and great corruption.”“ If it [sexual desire] is bridled with the bridle of piety, and the purpose [of marriage] is to curtail the limbs [of the body] (jawarih)80from responding to desire, then marriage would avert the eye and preserve relief by guarding the heart as well as the mind against temptation. For that is not a matter of one’s choice, rather the self will continue to entice him and tempt him to have coitus, and the tempting devil will not abandon him most of the time. That could occur during prayer; thus he may envision such details of coitus which, were he to confess them to the lowliest of creatures, they would blush. Yet God knows [the secrets of] his heart because the heart is to God as the tongue is to man. For the chief preoccupation of the novice (murid)81 who wants to pursue the path of the hereafter is his heart.” [Moreover], persistence in fasting does not eliminate the element of temptation as pertains to most people, unless it is coupled with weakness of the body and disturbance of the temperament. For that reason Ibn ‘Abbas* declared, “The asceticism of the ascetics cannot be complete without marriage.”83 This is a universal ordeal from which few can be delivered.

Qatadah84 said, in interpreting the words of the Almighty, “Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear”:86 that is, lust. It is said that ‘Akramah88 and Mujahid87 interpreted the Almighty’s words “for man was created weak” [Qur’an  4:28] by saying, “He cannot refrain from women.” Fayyad b. Najih said that “When the male experiences an erection, he loses two-thirds of his mind”; others say “He loses a third of his religion.” One of the rare interpretations rendered by Ibn ‘Abbas* of the verse “From the evil of the darkness when it is intense” [Qur’an 113:3]88 is to the male erection, which is an overpowering catastrophe should it rage, as no mind or religion can resist it; for, although it can become an impetus for the two lives as was mentioned earlier, it is the devil’s strongest instrument against the sons of Adam. To this he* referred in these words: “Among those who are deficient in intelligence and religion, I have never seen any who are more successful than you [women] in prevailing over those [men] of intelligence.”89 And that is because of the rage of desire. The Prophet said in his invocation, “0 God! I seek refuge in Thee from the evils of my hearing, my seeing, my heart, and the evils of my semen.”“ He also said, “I ask you to purify my heart and safeguard my genitals”;” so how can there be laxity for others wherefrom the Messenger* of God seeks refuge.

A righteous man used to marry frequently; he never had less than two or three [women]. Some Sufis criticized him, to which he replied, “Has any of you presented himself before God or stood (waqafa) before Him92 and experienced sexual desire?” They replied, “This thing occurs frequently.” He retorted, “Were I to accept throughout my life such a state as you have experienced once, I would not have married; but never did a distracting thought occur to me which I did not carry through, thereby relieving and enabling myself to return to my work. And for forty years, no transgression has befallen me.” Some people criticized the status of the Sufis, to which a man of religion replied, “What is it you blame them for?” He [one of the people] replied, “They eat a lot.” To this he retorted, “And you, also, if you hungered as they do, would eat as they do.” He [one of the people] said, “They marry often.” To which he replied, “If you should safeguard your eye and genitals as they do, you, too, would marry as they do.” Junayd used to say, “I am as much in need of coitus as I am of food, so the wife is definitely nourishment and a means for the purification of the heart.”

For that reason the Messenger* of God commanded that everyone who sees a woman and is attracted to her should have intercourse with his wife,93 for that would ward off temptation from his soul.”‘ Jabir* related that the Prophet* of God saw a woman, so he had intercourse with Zaynab [his wife], fulfilled his desire, and departed. The Prophet* declared: “When a woman approaches, she approaches in the image of the devil; so should a man see a woman who appeals to him, let him approach his wife because she has what that woman has.”95

The Prophet* said, “Do not have intercourse with a woman whose husband is absent96 because the devil flows through your veins as does the blood.” So we said, “And your veins?” He replied, “And mine; but God has fortified me against it and therefore I am safe.”“‘ Sufyan b. ‘Ayyinah said, “‘safe’ means delivered from it [temptation]. That is its meaning because the devil does not deliver.”

It was also related that the son of Umar*, one of the ascetics among the companions, also of the ulema among them, used to break the fast by coitus before eating. It is probable that he had intercourse before the evening prayer, after which he would perform absolution and pray, all for the purpose of emptying the heart to enable it to concentrate on the worship of God and to remove from it the implements of the devil. It has been related that he [son of ‘Umar] had coitus with three of his concubines during the month of Ramadan before the last evening prayer.

Ibn ‘Abbas has declared, “The best of this nation is mostly women”;98 and since sexual desire was a predominant force in the temperament of the Arabs, the frequency of marriage among their righteous men was more common.

It was for the purpose of freeing the heart that marriage with the bondmaid was permitted when there was fear of hardship, even though it results in enslaving the son,99 which is a kind of attrition; such marriage is forbidden to anyone who can obtain a free woman. However, the enslaving of a son is preferable to destroying the faith, for enslavement affects temporarily the life of the child, while committing an abomination results in losing the hereafter; in comparison to one of its days the longest life is insignificant.”‘

It has been related that one day some people departed from a gathering with Ibn ‘Abbas, except for one young man who did not leave. Ibn ‘Abbas asked him, “Do you have something to ask?” He said, “Yes, I wish to ask you a question, but I was ashamed [to ask] in front of the people. Now I stand in awe out of respect for you.” “An alim101 takes the place of the father,” said Ibn ‘Abbas, “so what you would have divulged to your father, disclose to me.” He said, “I am a young man with no wife. On occasion I have feared distress for myself, and thus sought relief in masturbation. Is there an act of transgression in it?” So Ibn ‘Abbas turned away from him, then said, “How disgusting! Marrying a bondmaid is better than that, yet it is better than committing fornication.”

This is an indication that a youthful bachelor is torn among three evils: The least of these is marrying a bondmaid, which would lead to enslavement of the offspring; worse than that is masturbation; and the most abominable of the three is fornication. Ibn ‘Abbas did not permit the commission of either because both [the first two] are forewarned against and should be resorted to only to prevent committing a greater evil, in the same manner as one would eat carrion to avoid self-destruction. Preponderance over the lesser of two evils cannot be construed as unrestricted permissiveness or as absolute virtue; cutting off a malignant arm is not a good act even though it is permissible when death is impending. Therefore marriage is meritorious in this respect, but this does not apply to all [people], only to most. Many a person’s desire cools off on account of old age, illness, or the like, and therefore this factor would not apply to him; and what has already been mentioned concerning procreation remains intact. This is general except in the case of the eunuch, which is rare.

It is preferable for a person with temperament so overcome by desire that one woman cannot curb it to have more than one woman, up to four. For God will grant him love and mercy, and will appease his heart by them [women]; if not, replacing them is recommended. Seven nights after the death of Fatimah,* ʿAlī* got married. It is said that al-Hasan, the son of ʿAlī, was a great lover having married more than two hundred women. Perhaps he would marry four at a time, and perhaps he would divorce four at a time replacing them with others. The Prophet* said to al-Hasan, “You resemble me in appearance and in character.”‘ He* also said, “Hasan takes after me and Husayn takes after ʿAlī.”‘ It was said that his indulgence in marriage is one of the characteristics in which he resembled the Messenger* of

God as well as al-Mughirah Ibn Shu’bah who married eighty women.”“ Among the companions were those who had three and four [wives] while those who had two cannot be counted.

No matter how well known the inducement, the cure should be in proportion to the ailment; for the aim is tranquilizing one’s self, and therefore this must be taken into consideration in deciding how many wives one should have.


The third advantage: comfort and relaxation for the soul through companionship; seeing and dallying comfort the heart and strengthen it for the performance of the obligatory rituals. For the self grows weary and has the tendency to shun work because that is contrary to its nature. If compelled to adhere to what disagrees with its nature, it becomes recalcitrant and defiant. If it finds an outlet for itself periodically, it becomes stronger and more energetic. The companionship of women provides relaxation which relieves distress and soothes the heart. It is incumbent upon the pious to acquire such comfort by permissible means. For that reason Almighty God declared, “that he might take rest in her” [Qur’an  7:189] and ʿAlī said, “Relax the heart an hour, for if it is compelled it is blinded.” A khabar states, “A wise man should divide his time three ways: one for meditating, one for self-examination, and one for eating and drinking. In this [latter] time, there is help for the other period.”“‘ The same is stated in another expression: “The wise man is desirous106 only of three things: provisioning himself for a return journey (ma’ad),107 seeking a livelihood (marammah),or [seeking] pleasure in something not forbidden.”“‘ The Prophet* states, “For every desire (iradah)109 there is a shirrah (eagerness), and for each shirrah there is a fitrah (natural disposition). 10 He whose fitrah leads to my sunna is guided.” I” Shirrah is the striving and the enduring which come about in the beginning when exercising the will, while fitrah means stopping for rest. Abu al-Darda’ used to say, “I find relaxation for myself with a little diversion (lahu), thereby gaining strength to walk in uprightness thereafter.”

In some akhbar pertaining to the Prophet,* he said, “I complained to Gabriel* of my inability to have coitus, and he suggested [I eat] harisah.”“‘ If this be true, it can be interpreted only as a preparation for relaxation and cannot be interpreted to imply warding off desire; for it is rather a kindling of desire, and whoever is deprived of sexual desire is denied most of this intimacy.

The Prophet* also said, “Three things of your world have been made desirable to me: perfume (Sib), women, and my delight (qurrat al-’ayni) in prayer.”“‘ This, too, is a benefit that cannot be denied by one who has experienced the weariness of thoughts and remembrances (dhikr)114and different types of work, which lie outside the two previously mentioned benefits. Indeed, it extends even to the eunuch and to the one who has no sexual desire. As a matter of fact, this advantage renders marriage meritorious if it is concluded with such an intent, but rare are those who marry for this end.

As for the aim of having an offspring as well as that of warding off desire and the like, they are prevalent. Besides, many a person finds pleasure in looking at flowing water, greenery, and the like and is not in need of relieving himself by conversing and dallying with women. Thus this [aim] varies with circumstances and individuals; so let it be taken into consideration.


[Ordering the Household]

The fourth advantage: being free from the concerns of household duties, as well as of preoccupation with cooking, sweeping, making beds, cleaning utensils, and means for obtaining support. If a human being had no desire (shahwah) for coitus, it would still be difficult for him to live in his house alone; because if he were saddled with all the work of attending the house, he would waste most of his time and have very little of it left for learning and working.

The virtuous woman who takes care of the house abets religiousness in this manner, and any disturbance of these preoccupations would perturb the heart and impede life. For that reason Abu Sulayman al-Darani’ declared, “The virtuous wife is not of this world, for she liberates you for the hereafter. Her contribu

tion to freeing [the man] is by both taking care of the house and by satisfying sexual desire.” Muhammad b. Ka’b al-Qarazi said in interpreting God’s words, “0 Lord! Give unto us in the world that which is good” [Qur’an  2:201]; he meant a virtuous woman. The Prophet said, “Let each among you have a grateful heart; a tongue which invokes [the name of God]; and a faithful, virtuous wife who assists you toward the hereafter.”“‘ Behold how he has equated her with invocation and thanksgiving.”‘ In a commentary regarding the Almighty’s word, it is stated: “him verily We shall quicken with good life” [Qur’an  16:97]; he meant a virtuous wife.

‘Umar b. al-Khattab* used to say, “Next to faith in God, the best gift which has been given to man is a virtuous woman. There are some women that are priceless and others that are yokes from whom one cannot be redeemed”; by priceless is meant that she [woman] cannot be replaced by any other gift.

The Prophet* also said, “I was preferred over Adam by two gifts: His wife abetted him into transgression, while my wives urge me in obedience; his devil was a blasphemer and my devil [is] a Muslim”‘ who only enjoins to good.”“‘ Thus he [the Prophet] considered her helping him towards obedience as a virtue. This, also, is one of the virtues to which the righteous [men] aim, except that it is pertinent to some individuals who have no legal guardian or manager. It does not call for two wives, [since] plurality may render life miserable and disrupt the affairs of the home.

The aim of such an advantage is the expansion of kinfolk [through the wife] as well as gaining strength by virtue of interfamily relations. This is one of the things that is needed in warding off evil and seeking tranquility. For that reason it was said, “Abased is the one who has no protector; but he who finds someone who repels evil from him, his state is secured and his heart is freed for worship.” For abasement disturbs the heart while strength in numbers wards off abasement.


[Disciplining the Self]

The fifth advantage: disciplining the self”‘ and training it to be mindful, faithful, loyal, and respectful of the rights of the ahl (wives),12O tolerating their manners, enduring harm from them, striving to reform them, guiding them to the path of religion, striving toward making lawful gains for their sake, and undertaking the upbringing of their children. All these are deeds of great merit, for they are an exercise in compliance [with God’s injunction] and trust and loyalty; the wives and the offspring being the protected ones, and the virtue of guardianship is great. Those who avoid these responsibilities do so for fear of being unable to do justice by them, otherwise the Prophet* would not have said, “One day of just guardianship is more preferable than seventy years of worship.” Then he said, “Indeed, every one of you is a shepherd, and every one of you is responsible for his flock.”“‘

The one who is preoccupied with reforming himself and others is not the same as the one who is preoccupied with reforming himself only; nor is the one who endures harm like the one who seeks pleasure and comfort for himself. Bearing the burden of wives and of offspring is equivalent to jihad for the sake of God. For that reason Bishr said, “Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was preferred over me on three counts, one of them being the fact that he sought what was lawful for himself and for others.”“‘ The Prophet* also said, “Whatever a man spends on his wife is a sadaqah,123 and a man will be compensated for the morsel of food he offers his wife.”124

Someone told one of the ulema, “The Lord has granted me a share of every deed!” and he mentioned the hajj (pilgrimage), jihad, and the like. So he replied to him, “Where do you stand as concerns the deeds of the substitutions (ibdal)?”125 He asked: “And what are those?” To which he retorted, “Lawful gain and spending on dependents.”

Ibn al-Mubarak said while with his companions during a battle, “Do you know of anything better than what we are doing?” They said, “We know of none.” He answered, “I do.” They asked, “What is it?” He said, “A virtuous man.” He continued, “A virtuous man rose during the night and beheld his sleeping children uncovered, and so he covered them with his garment. His deed is more virtuous than what we are doing.”

The Prophet* said, “He whose prayer is good, and whose children are many and whose possessions are few, and who does not neglect (yaghtub) the Muslims will be with me in paradise like these two women.”“‘ In another hadith it is said, “The Lord loves the poor, virtuous father of children.”““‘ Another hadith related, “If the sins of the believer become many, God preoccupies him with the burden of children [in order] to make restitution for them [the sins].” 128

One of the forefathers said, “There are offenses that cannot be atoned for except through family burdens.” A tradition relates that the Prophet* said, “There are certain sins that cannot be atoned for except by the burden of seeking a livelihood.” 129 He also said, “Whoever has three daughters whom he supports and to whom he is kind until the Lord renders them independent of him, God will most certainly make paradise his reward -unless he commits a deed for which he cannot be forgiven.”“‘ Ibn ‘Abbas would say whenever he referred to this hadith, “By God, this is one of the strangest (gharib)131 and most misleading articles of the hadith.”

It has been related that a devout person used to provide well for his wife until she died. It was suggested to him that he remarry after her death, but he refrained and said, “Solitude is more soothing to my heart and allows me to concentrate better on my meditations.” He continued: “I saw in a dream, a week following her death, the gates of heaven open, and men descending and marching in succession through the air. Every time one descended, he looked at me and told the one behind him, ‘This is the unfortunate one.’ The other would reply, ‘Yes!’ I refrained from asking them out of awe until the last one, who was a child, passed by me. I asked him: ‘Say, who is the unfortunate one to whom you are referring?’ He replied, ‘You.’ And I asked, ‘Why so?’ He replied, ‘We used to exalt your deeds among those who have striven for the sake of God; but a week ago we were commanded to record your deed with those who have been inimical, and we do not know what you are guilty of.’ “ So he said to his brethren, “Get me married, get me married.” After that, he was not without two or three [wives].

It is related in one of the akhbar of the prophets* that a group entered upon Jonah, the prophet, and he* was hospitable to them. He [Jonah] would enter and leave his house and be mistreated by his wife, yet remain silent. They were astonished, but he said, “Don’t be; for I have beseeched Almighty God saying, ‘Hasten upon me in this life whatever punishment thou hast prepared for me in the hereafter’; so He said, ‘Your punishment is the daughter of so and so whom you should marry.’ So I married her and am enduring from her what you see.”

Such endurance is a form of self-discipline, an appeasement of anger, and an improvement of character. A person who secludes himself or who associates himself with someone of a refined character does not reflect on the evils of his inner self, nor are his hidden faults revealed. It is, therefore, the duty of one who walks the path of the hereafter to tempt himself by being exposed to the like of such agitations, and to become accustomed to enduring them so that his character should be set straight, his soul should be calm, and he should be purified of the base qualities hidden within him.

Enduring the burden of dependents, which is a form of exercise and struggle to provide for them and sustain them, is an act of worship in itself. However, only one of two types of men benefits from it: either a man who seeks striving, exercising, and character training because he is at the beginning of the Path and is therefore not unlikely to consider this a manner of striving by which his soul is exercised; or, a worshipper who does not pursue virtue through the path of the esoteric (sayr bil-batin), mental activity, and the experiences of the heart, but whose [virtuous] deeds are physical,132 such as prayer, performing the pilgrimage, and the like. His working to gain lawfully for his wives and children, maintaining them and bringing them up properly, is better for him than acts of worship which are imposed upon his body and whose benefits do not extend to others.

As for the man whose character is well formed either. through inherent traits or through a previous effort, if he wants to succeed in obtaining an inner life and an intellectual and spiritual activity in the domain of religious and mystical sciences, then he should not marry for that reason because he has no need for exercise.”‘ As for worship in the form of providing for dependents, seeking knowledge is better than that because it [seeking knowledge], too, is a form of work, but its benefits are more numerous and more encompassing than the benefit of providing for dependents. These then are the advantages of marriage, which in religion are decreed to be virtuous.




[Inability to Seek Lawful Gain]

The disadvantages of marriage are three: one-the strongest-is the inability to seek gain lawfully.”“ For that is not available to every person, especially nowadays, because of social instability and because marriage encourages the amplification of attempts to provide [for dependents] through unlawful means. In it [marriage] is, thus, a man’s destruction and the destruction of his family; a bachelor is safeguarded therefrom. As for a married man, he is most often driven into the paths of evil by following the whims of his wife and selling his hereafter for this world.

There is a khabar which states that “the servant (ʿabd) is made to stand before the scales with good deeds that resemble mountains in weight.”‘ He then is questioned concerning the care and support of his family, the source of his wealth and how he spent it, until such reckoning absorbs all his good deeds, thus not one good deed remains to his account; whereupon the angels cry out: ‘Behold, here is the man whose dependents consume his good deeds in the world and is today mortgaged by his

deeds.’ “136

Is is said that those first to cling to man on the day of resurrection will be his wife and children who will cause him to stand in the presence of Almighty God and then say, “0 Lord! Give us our just due from him, for he taught us not what we were ignorant of, feeding us by unlawful means and we did not know it.” He [God] will punish him for their sake. One of the forefathers said, “When God wills evil to a servant, He sets upon him fangs in this world to devour him”; meaning dependents.

The Prophet said, “No one will meet God with a greater offense than one who ignores [the needs of] his dependents.”“‘ This is a general calamity from which few are delivered, excepting one with possessions that are inherited or gained lawfully, which he uses to redeem138himself and his family, provided he is content not to seek more. Such a person will be delivered from this calamity as will be a craftsman who is able to gain lawfully through permissible means, such as gathering firewood, hunting, or engaging in a craft that is not dependent upon rulers, and thereby is able to deal with virtuous people; also, the one who manifests blamelessness and most of whose possessions are lawfully gained [will be delivered by God].

Ibn Salim said when asked about marriage: “It [marriage] is more desirable in this time of ours for someone who is overcome by lust: like the male donkey who sees a female donkey and can neither be dissuaded from her by beating nor can he control himself; should he control himself, it is preferable to leave him alone.”


[Failure to Uphold Wives’ Rights]

The second disadvantage: the failure to uphold their [wives’] rights, to tolerate their manners, or to endure harm from them. This is less prevalent than the previous [disadvantage], inasmuch as it is easier to overcome the latter than the former. Improving one’s manners with women and upholding their rights are easier than seeking lawful gain. There is also danger in this because he [the husband] is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The Prophet* said, “It is sin (ithm) enough for a man to destroy those for whom he provides.” 139

It has been related that one who deserts his family is like a runaway slave in that his prayer and his fasting are not acceptable until he returns to them. Whoever fails to uphold his wives’ rights, even though he might be present, is like a fugitive. The Lord has said, “Ward off from yourselves and your families a [hell]Fire” [Qur’an  66:6]. He commanded us to safeguard them from the Fire as we would safeguard ourselves.

A person might fail to uphold his own right, and were he to get married this obligation would be compounded, and to his self another person be added. Self is an impellent to evil; if self is increased, the incitement to evil usually increases. For that reason, a certain man declined to get married and said, “I am afflicted with my [own] self; how can I add another self to it?” 140 As has been said, “The mouse hole would not be large enough to contain it [the mouse] if a broom was tied to its tail.”

Ibrahim Ibn Adham*141 also declined [to get married] by saying, “I will not attach a woman unto me, nor do I have need for women; that is to say, I am unable to care for them, protect them, and provide for them since I lack the means.” Likewise Bishr declined saying, “I am prevented from marriage by the Almighty’s words, ‘And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men).’ 1114’ He used to say, “Were I to care for a chicken, I would fear becoming a butcher on the bridge.”“‘

Sufyan b. ʿAyyinah* was seen at the gate of the sultan and was told: “This is not your place!” He replied, “Have you seen a man with a family who is more successful?” Sufyan used to say, “I yearn for celibacy, the key, 114 and a place of dwelling which the wind can penetrate and where no commotion or shouting [exists].”

This [the second disadvantage] is, too, a common evil though less prevalent than the first-from which only an intelligent, wise man can be delivered: A man possessing good character and insight into the ways of women, is tolerant of their tongues, is not driven by their desires, is careful to fulfill his obligations towards them, can overlook their mistakes, and is cognizant of their manners. Most people are given to impudence, boorishness, irascibility, frivolity, bad manners, and injustice while seeking full justice. Inevitably, such men through marriage become more corrupt in this respect. Hence celibacy is safer for them.


[Distractions from God]

The third disadvantage-which is less [of an evil] than the first and the second-[lies in the possibility] that the wife and the offspring could distract him from Almighty God, luring him to pursue the world and indulge in providing a comfortable life for his children through gathering wealth and hoarding it for them, and enticing him to seek exaltation and multiplication through them. Whatever distracts [one’s attention] from God-whether wife, wealth, or offspring-brings misfortune upon the possessor. I do not imply by this that it would lead to forbidden deeds, for that [whatever leads to forbidden deeds] has already been listed under the first and second disadvantages, but rather that it would entice him to indulge in the enjoyment of what is permissible, leading into excesses in dallying, flirting, and excessive enjoyment of them [women]. From marriage arise various types of such distractions that engross the heart; thus night and day would pass and the person would not have time to think about the hereafter or prepare for it. For that reason Ibrahim Ibn Adham* said, “No good can come out of one who becomes accustomed to the thighs of women.” Abu Sulayman* said, “Whoever marries attaches himself to the world.” That is to say, he is lured to depend on the world.




This is the sum total of disadvantages and advantages. To judge that a person is absolutely better off [by] being married or single falls short of taking into consideration all these matters. Rather, such advantages and disadvantages can be considered a precept and a criterion against which the novice should measure himself. If the disadvantages [of marriage] are nonexistent in his case and the benefits are all present, that is, if he has lawfully gained possessions, good character, and earnest pursuit of religion, marriage would not distract him from God; if he [the novice] is, nevertheless, a young man in need of appeasing his sexual desire, if he is a bachelor in need of someone to take care of his house, and if he needs fortification through family associations, then marriage is unquestionably better for him even though its [primary] aim is to produce offspring. If the advantages are refuted and the disadvantages are brought together, being celibate is preferable for him; but if the two are equal, which is most likely, it is necessary to weigh on just scales the extent to which the advantages contribute to the promotion of his religion and the extent to which the disadvantages detract from it. If it appears that one group outweighs the other, it should be acted upon. For the most obvious advantages are procreation and appeasing desire, while the most obvious disadvantages are the need for unlawful gain and distraction from

God. Let us assume that these matters are comparable in importance: We would then conclude that if a man is not troubled by sexual desire, if the benefit of his marriage lies in the endeavor to obtain an offspring, and if the evils of his marriage lie in the necessity to gain unlawfully and to be distracted from God then celibacy is preferable. There is no advantage in whatever distracts one from God or in earning unlawful gain.

The matter of offspring cannot compensate for the absence of these two considerations, [because] marriage for the purpose of obtaining an offspring is illusory and this constitutes a consummate deficiency in religion. To preserve his own life and to, guard it from destruction is more important than seeking to produce an offspring; that is a gain, and religion is an investment. For in the corruption of religion lies the loss of the hereafter and the dissipation of the investment. Such a benefit cannot counteract either of those two disadvantages. However, if to the matter of the offspring is added the need to appease desire, which results from one’s yearning for marriage, then one might consider marriage. If the reins of righteousness are not strengthened in his mind, and if he fears committing fornication, then marriage is preferable for him because he is hesitant between committing fornication and attaining unlawful gain; earning unlawful gain is the lesser of the two disadvantages. If he trusts himself not to commit fornication, and is unable at the same time to avert the eye from what is unlawful, then abstaining from marriage is preferable. For, to look [lustfully] is unlawful and to earn gain in an improper way is unlawful. Seeking gain takes place continually and in it lies his [ultimate] ruin and the ruin of his family, while looking takes place occasionally and this pertains to him [and does not involve his relations] and passes away quickly. Looking constitutes adultery by the eyes but, if not rectified by relief, is easier to forgive than eating forbidden fruit, unless it is feared that looking should end in the defiance of relief, thus entailing the threat of affliction.

If this be the case, then we are confronted with the third situation: that is, to have the strength to avert the eyes but not to ward off thoughts distracting the heart; here it is preferable to abstain from marriage because the [evil] deeds of the heart are easier to forgive. Emptying the heart for the sake of worship is desirable; [besides] the act of worship is precluded by unlawful gain, consuming it [gain], and feeding it to others. Thus it is necessary to weigh these disadvantages against the advantages and to judge accordingly. Whoever becomes aware of this will not find it difficult to comprehend what we have transmitted from the righteous forefathers, namely encouragement of marriage in certain situations and in others discouragement therefrom inasmuch as this is dependent upon circumstances.

If you should ask, “Which is better for someone who is safeguarded from the disadvantages [of marriage], seclusion for the worship of God or marriage?” I would reply: Combine the two, because marriage is a contract and does not preclude seclusion for the worship of God; rather, it pertains to the need for lawful gain. If he is able to earn lawful gain, then marriage is also better, because it is feasible for him during the night and the rest [that is, the unoccupied portion] of the day to be in seclusion for worship; persistence in worship without relaxation is not feasible. If it be assumed that earning a livelihood preoccupies his whole time to the extent that he has none left other than that prescribed-sleeping, eating, and performing the necessaries and if he is one of those who do not pursue the hereafter except through the supererogatory prayer, pilgrimage, or similar physical activities, then marriage is better for him. For earning lawful gain, supporting a family, seeking to obtain offspring, and tolerating the manners of women constitute forms of worship whose merits do not fall short of supererogatory acts of worship. If he should worship by means of knowledge, meditation, and the path of esotericism, and should lawful gain complicate that, then abstaining from marriage is preferable.

Should you ask, “Why then did Jesus* abstain from marriage in spite of its virtue? And if it is preferable to free oneself for the worship of God, why then did our Prophet* take on numerous wives?” Know ye, then, that it is preferable to combine the two in the case of one who is able, whose desire is strong, and whose ambition is high, because no preoccupation can distract him from God.

Our Messenger* armed himself with strength and combined the virtue of worship and that of marriage. In spite of his nine women, 14’ he still dedicated himself to God. For him, the satisfaction of the sexual need was not an obstacle. At the same time, those who are preoccupied with worldly needs are not constrained in their affairs by the fulfilling of natural needs; outwardly, they perform that which is necessary, but their hearts are preoccupied with solitude not unmindful of their important duties. The Messenger* of God, because of his elevated status, was not deterred by the dictates of this world from the presence of the heart with God. He used to receive revelation (wahy) while he was in his wife’s bed.”‘ If this is true in the case of someone else, it is not inconceivable that irrigation canals can be altered by what cannot alter the mighty ocean; in other words, one cannot compare others unto him [that is, the Prophet].”‘ As for Jesus,* he armed himself with resolutions and not strength; he took precautions, for perhaps his state was such that preoccupation with a family could have affected it, or made it difficult to seek lawful gain, or made marriage and seclusion for worship irreconcilable. Thus he preferred to devote himself to worship. For they [prophets] are more aware [than others] of the secrets of their states, of the precepts of their times regarding virtuous gain, of the manners of women, of the calamities of marriage upon the marrier, and of the benefits he [that is, the marrier] has therein. No matter how different the circumstances are, in some cases it is preferable to marry and in others to abstain. We should deem the deeds of the prophets as preferable in all cases -and God knows best.




As Concerns Marriage: Conditions

of the Woman and Stipulations

of the Marriage Contract


As for the marriage contract (ʿaqd), it has four conditions that facilitate its establishment and dissolution:

  1. Permission of the guardian; if not, then [that of] the ruler.’
  2. Consent of the woman if she is a nonvirgin adult (thayyib bough) or a virgin adult given away in marriage by someone other than her father or grandfather.
  3. The presence of two witnesses openly known for fairness. If both enjoy a blameless record, then the establishment of the contract is decreed.
  4. A declaration (ijab) and a related acceptance (qabul) encompassing the term “marry,” “give in marriage,” or some similar term, pronounced by two individuals charged with the responsibility, neither of whom is a woman; but [they] could include the husband, the guardian [of the woman], or the representative [of either party].



Concerning the etiquette of marriage: The engagement should be arranged with a guardian, not during the legally prescribed waiting period (ʿiddah) of the woman, but rather after its termination if the woman is observing such a period, and provided that she is not already engaged to another, since an engagement while another is pending is forbidden.’ Proper etiquette requires an engagement [period] prior to marriage, and associating the expression of praise [to God] with the declaration and the acceptance; thus the one giving the woman in marriage says, “Praise be to God and blessings upon the Messenger of God. I give you my daughter, so and so, in marriage”; and the husband replies, “Praise be to God and blessings upon the Messenger of God. I accept her in marriage upon this dowry (ṣadāq).” Let the dowry be fixed and small. It is also desirable to pronounce the words “Praise be to God” before the engagement. Its etiquette includes that the affairs of the husband be revealed to the wife; if she is a virgin, this is more appropriate and more conducive to congeniality between them. For that reason it is desirable that he should look at her before marriage, as it is more likely to lead to enrichment of their relationship.

Its etiquette also calls for the presence of a group of righteous people in addition to the two witnesses who are required to establish the validity [of the contract]. The etiquette also specifies that the intent of marriage should be upholding the sunna, averting the eye, bearing children, and the rest of the aforementioned advantages; thus the purpose of marriage will not be merely for pleasure and enjoyment, which would render such an act a worldly endeavor. This does not preclude such intentions, for many a virtue coincides with passion. ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al- ‘Aziz*3declared: “If virtue coincides with passion, it is like ‘butter with dates’ “ (al-zubadu bil-nirstydn).’ It is not impossible that one should be motivated by his desires and the dictates of religion simultaneously. It is desirable that the marriage be contracted in the mosque and during the month of Shawwal.5 ‘A’ishah*8 said, “The Prophet* married me in Shawwal, and consumated the marriage in Shawwal.”‘



A woman given in marriage is either one who is taken as a lawful wife, or one who is taken for enjoyment and the attainment of certain purposes.

[Legal Disabilities to or Restrictions on Marriage]

The first type: The woman taken as a lawful wife should be free from that which would prohibit her marriage. There are nineteen restrictions.’

  1. That she be married to another.
  2. That she be in a legally prescribed waiting period [which precedes marriage] to another [person], regardless of whether that period is due to [the husband’s] death, to divorce, to suspicion [of adultery], or is being cleared from suspicion aroused by [her] owner [that is, being a concubine-slave of the owner].
  3. That she be an apostate for having uttered an expression of unbelief.
  4. That she be a Magian.9
  5. That she be an idolator or freethinker (zindiq) who follows neither a prophet nor a book. Women in this category include those who follow the doctrine of libertinism-marrying them is not lawful; also [included in this category is] every female subscribing to a false doctrine whose believer is deemed an infidel.
  6. [If] she is a follower of a revealed religion (kitabiyah)10 which she adopted after conversion or after the Prophet’s mission [as Messenger of God], and who furthermore is not a descendant from the Children of Israel, unless both conditions apply, marrying her is not permissible; but if she lacks genealogy only, then [among the jurisprudents] there is no consensus.
  7. That she be a slave and the marrier a free man who is capable of marrying a free woman or who fears committing fornication (ʿanat).”
  8. That she be totally or partially a slave of the marrier.
  9. That she be related to the [man] either by descent from his progenitors (used) or collaterals (fusel), or of the collaterals of his first progenitors, or from the first collateral of every progenitor after a progenitor. By usul, I mean mothers and grandmothers; and by his fusel, [male] children and grandchildren; and by fusel awwal fusul, brothers and their children; and by awwal fall from every asl [singular of usul] after it, the progenitor of maternal and paternal aunts, not their children.
  10. That she be unlawful [for marriage] through nursing;12 and among those prohibited by reason of nursing are the relations prohibited in terms of the used and fusul discussed above.

However, those forbidden are the ones who have been nursed five times, not the ones nursed fewer times.

  1. That she be forbidden because of marriage ties; that is, (a) if the marrier were already married to her daughter or granddaughter,13 or (b) if he previously possessed them [as slaves either] by direct contract or semicontract, or (c) if he had had sexual relations with them in a quasi-contract [common marriage], or (d) had sexual intercourse with her mother or one of her grandmothers in a marital contract or quasi-contract; for the mere contract of marriage with a woman renders her maternal female ascendants unlawful. Her collateral relatives are forbidden only on account of coitus, or if his [the marrier’s] father or son had married her before.
  2. That the woman be the fifth, 14 that is, that the marrier already has four [wives] acquired either by marriage or by virtue of [the fact that at least one of his wives is in] the state of the legally prescribed waiting period pending remarriage (‘iddat alraj’ah) to him. But if her divorce is final and she is in another prescribed waiting period (‘iddat baynunah),15 then marrying the fifth is not unlawful.
  3. That the marries be married to her sister, her maternal aunt, or her paternal aunt; that is, through marriage he would bring both of them together [as wives]. Marriage is not permissible between a related pair if one is male and the other a female, and thus they cannot be brought together [in marriage].
  4. That she be divorced three times by the marrier and thus be unlawful to him unless another husband [muhallil] has sexual intercourse with her in a lawful marriage.”
  5. That the marrier has exchanged curses with her; in this case, after the oath of condemnation, se is or ever unlawful to him.
  6. That she be in a state of ritual consecration of the major (hajj) or lesser (‘umra) pilgrimage, or that the husband be in the same state; marriage then cannot take place until the completion of the period of sanctification.
  7. That she should be a deflowered young woman;18 marrying her is then not permissible until she has reached puberty.
  8. That she be an orphan, in which case marrying her is not permissible until she reaches the age of puberty.
  9. That she be one of the widowed wives of the Messenger* of God or one with whom he has mated, for they are regarded as mothers of the believers; that [restriction] is not applicable in our [al-Ghazali’s] time. These are the prohibitive hindrances.


There are eight qualities which render a conjugal life happy and which must be sought in the woman in order to assure the perpetuity of the marriage: piety, good character, beauty, a small dowry, ability to bear children, virginity, [good] lineage, and she should not be a close relative.


That she should be virtuous and religious is the most fundamental requisite, and to that end [special] care must be taken. For, if her religious principles are too weak to give her the strength to be virtuous and constant,19 she will humiliate her husband, disgrace him among people, trouble his heart with jealousy, and thereby render his life miserable. Should he succumb to passion and jealousy, he would remain in trial and tribulation. Should he, on the other hand, follow the path of permissiveness, he would be apathetic toward his religion and honor and would be guilty of lacking zeal and pride. Also, if she is beautiful but corrupt, she will be the cause of greater tribulation; for then it becomes difficult for the husband to separate from her: Thus he is neither able to renounce her nor to endure her. His position is like that of one who came to the Prophet* and said, “0 Messenger of God, I have a wife who cannot turn back a touching hand.” The Prophet said, “Divorce her”; to which he replied, “I love her.” The Prophet responded, “Then, keep her.”“ The Prophet commanded him to hold onto her, for if he divorces her he would yearn for her and become corrupt like her. Seeing that the man’s heart was in anguish, he [the Prophet] considered it preferable for him to continue his marriage and thus safeguard himself against corruption. If her faith be corrupted in squandering his possessions or in some other respect, he will remain in misery. [However,] if he remains silent and does not denounce [her deeds], he becomes a partaker of her transgression and a violator of the Almighty’s command: “Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire.” If he, on the other hand, denies and disputes [her ways],, he will be miserable throughout his life.

For that reason, the Messenger* of God took pains in encouraging people to adhere to the faith saying, “A woman may be married either for her possessions, her beauty, her reputation, or her religion; for if you do marry other than a religious woman, may your hands be rubbed with dirt [taribat yadak].”21 Another hadith states: “He who marries a woman for her possessions and beauty loses both her beauty and her possessions; [but] he who marries her for the sake of her faith will be blessed by God with her possessions and her beauty.”22 The Prophet* also said, “A woman should not be married [only] for her beauty, because her beauty may destroy her; neither for her wealth, as this may make her tyrannical; [rather] marry the woman for her religious faith.”23 He emphatically recommended religious faith, because such a woman would bolster up the [husband’s] faith. If she is not pious, she will be an element of distraction and of trouble in her husband’s religion.


[Good Character]

Good character is the second quality. It is an important requisite in the search for emptying the heart” and in the pursuit of favorable surroundings for religion. For if she is vicious, ill-tongued, ill-mannered, and ungrateful, more harm than good will come from her. Toleration of a woman’s tongue would try the saints. An Arab said, “Do not marry one of the following six types of women: an ‘annanah [hypochondriac], a mannanah [up-braider], a hannanah [yearner], a hiddaqah [coveter], a barraqah (narcissist], or a shaddaqah [prattler]. The ‘annanah is one who excessively moans, complains, and [always] wraps her head.

Marrying a constantly ill [woman] or one who feigns illness is of no avail. The mannanah is one who is constantly needling her husband by saying, “I did such and such for you.” The hannanah is one who yearns after a previous husband or after her offspring from some other husband. This, too, is among the things to be avoided. The hiddaqah isone who looks at everything, covets it, and forces her husband to buy it. The barraqah can be one of two: (a) one who spends the whole day fixing her face or making it up and beautifying it in order to give it a lustre, or (b) one who becomes angry at mealtime, thus eating only by herself and singling out her share from everything. A Yemeni expression which is appropriately used for a woman, or a child, who is not satisfied with the food given to her [or him], is Baraqat al-mar ‘atu wa baraqa’l-sabiyyu al-ta’ama, that is, to become angry at mealtime. Al-shaddaqah is one who prattles a great deal; in this context the Prophet* said, “Almighty God detests the loudmouthed prattler. “25

It is related that the Azdi traveler,” during his journey, met Elias* [the prophet] who ordered him to get married and discouraged him from celibacy. He then said, “Don’t marry any of the following four types: a mukhlali’ah [divorce-minded], a mubariyah [boaster], an ‘ahirah [harlot], or a nashiz [conceited].” Al-mukhlali’ah is one who asks for the divorce (khul) every hour for no reason;27 al-mubariyah is one who boasts of the superiority of another and is proud of her worldly advantages, and al’ahirah is a loose woman who is known to have lovers and intimate companions. To her the Almighty referred when He said, “nor of loose conduct” [Qur’an  4:25]. Al-nashiz is one who adopts a haughty attitude toward her husband in deed and word: the word nashaz28 designates that which is elevated above the ground.

ʿAlī* used to say, “The worst characteristics of men constitute the best characteristics of women; namely, stinginess, pride, and cowardice. For if the woman is stingy, she will preserve her own and her husband’s possessions; if she is proud, she will refrain from addressing loose and improper words to everyone; and if she is cowardly, she will dread everything and will therefore not go out of her house and will avoid compromising situations for fear of her husband. These accounts indicate the sum total of the good qualities sought in marriage.


The third, beauty of face, is desired because through it fortification is attained. For [a man’s] natural disposition is generally not contented with an ugly woman, [even] when good character and physical beauty are often inseparable. What we have transmitted is encouragement to look for a pious woman and not marry one for her beauty, which does not discourage the cherishing of beauty, but rather discourages marrying a woman for her beauty alone [while she be] corrupt in religion. Beauty, per se, oftentimes makes marriage desirable and detracts from the importance of religion. Indicative of the regard given to beauty is the fact that closeness and love are often realized through it. For that reason the Shari’ah cats enjoined the safeguarding of the means to intimacy, and seeing [the woman] before marriage was deemed desirable.

The Prophet said, “If God should incline the heart of one of you toward a woman, let him look at her, for it will bring them closer together.”“ That is to say, it will cause them to be closer to each other like the closeness of the epidermis to the endodermis, which is the inner skin [as opposed to] the epidermis [which] is the outer skin. He mentions that only to stress the degree of closeness. The Prophet* said, “There is something in the eyes of the Ansar;31 therefore, if one of you wishes to marry one of their women, let him look at them.”32 It was said [in effect] that those women were “blear-eyed.” It was also said, “small-eyed.”

Some God-fearing men would not marry off their daughters until they are seen as a precaution against delusion. AlA’mash33 said, “Every marriage occurring without looking ends in worry and sadness.” It is obvious that looking does not reveal character, religion, or wealth; rather, it distinguishes beauty from ugliness.

It was related that during the time of ‘Umar* a man got married. The man had colored his hair and the dyestuff had faded. The woman’s family complained to ‘Umar saying, “We thought he was a young man.” ‘Umar beat him excessively and

said, “You have deceived the people.” It is related that Bilal and Suhayb came to a bedouin household and asked to marry their daughters. They were asked: “Who are you?” Bilal said, “I am Bilal and this is my brother, Suhayb. We were misguided, but God has directed us; we were enslaved, but God freed us; we were dependent [on others], but God has made us independent; if you should give us wives, then thanks be to God; and if you should turn us away, then praise be to God.” They [the household] answered, “Rather, you will marry, and thanks be to God.” Suhayb said to Bilal,34 “Would that you had mentioned our association and dealings with the Messenger* of God.” He replied, “Be quiet. I spoke the truth and the truth will get you married.”

One may be deceived both in beauty and in character; therefore it is desirable to avoid deception in beauty by looking, and [deception] in character by description and inquiry. It is desirable that this precede marriage. A description of her character and beauty should not be sought from any but one who is keen, who is truthful, who is well versed in the apparent and the hidden [qualities], who is not predisposed toward her lest he should praise her too much, and who does not envy her lest he should not praise her enough. In stating the basis for marriage and in describing the would-be wives, the natural disposition leans toward exaggeration and excessiveness. Few are the ones who are truthful and are inclined to modesty; rather, deception and enticement often predominate. Caution, therefore, is important for one who would guard himself against longing for a woman other than his wife.

As for the man whose purpose in having a wife is mere observation of the sunna, bearing children, or caring for the house, should he renounce beauty, he would draw nearer to asceticism; because seeking beauty, in short, is a wordly interest even though in the case of some individuals [it] may be an aid to religion.

Abu Sulayman al-Darani said, “Indifference (zuhd) [to worldly interests may be] in anything, even in women.” Thus a man [might] marry an old woman because he has preferred to renounce worldly delights. Malik b. Dinar*35 used to say, “Many a man among you would refrain from marrying an orphan, whose feeding and clothing would cost little and who would be easily satisfied, thus gaining merit [before God]. Rather, he would marry the daughter of so and so-meaning prominent people-who would make many demands of him saying, ‘Clothe me with such and such.’“ Ahmad b. Hanbal preferred a one-eyed [woman] over her sister who was beautiful. For he asked: “Who is the better behaved of the two?” He was told: “The one-eyed.” He replied: “Give her to me in marriage.” Such is the constant endeavor of one who does not seek [mere] sensual pleasures. If someone cannot secure his faith without a source of pleasure, then let him seek beauty because enjoyment of what is lawful strengthens faith.

It has been said that if a woman is beautiful, of good character, with black eyes and hair, large eyes, white complexion, loves her husband, and has an eye to no other man, she is in the image of the houris [hawar].36 For Almighty God has ascribed to the women of paradise this description in the verse, “the good and beautiful” [Qur’an  60:70] (by “good” He meant “those enjoying good manners”); in the verse “of modest gaze” [37:48]; and in the verse “lovers (‘urub), friends” [56:37]. (By “lovers,” He means someone who is in love with her husband and desirous of seducing him so as to complete her pleasure. By al-hawar, He meant whiteness; al-hawra’ is a woman with intense whiteness of the sclera, profound blackness of the eyes matching the profound blackness of the hair, and big, wide[-set] eyes.)

The Prophet* said, “The best of your women is one who pleases her husband when he looks at her, who obeys him when he commands her, and guards his memory and his possessions when he is absent.”37 Her husband will be delighted to look at her if she loves him.



The fourth quality is that her dowry should be small. The Messenger* of God declared that “The best women are those whose faces are the most beautiful and whose dowries are the smallest.”38 He enjoined against excessiveness in dowries.” The Messenger* of God married one of his wives for a dowry

of ten dirhams40 and household furnishings that consisted of a hand mill, a jug, a pillow made of skin stuffed with palm fibers,” and a stone (‘iliyy);42 in the case of another, he feasted with two measures43 of barley;” and for another, with two measures of dates and two of mush (sawiq).45

‘Umar* [also] used to enjoin against excessive dowries and used to say, “In getting married and in marrying of his daughters, the Messenger* of God never spent more than 400 dirhams.”“ If paying excessive dowries for women were a virtue, the Messenger* of God would have been the first to do so. One of the companions of the Messenger* of God was married for a date-pit of gold equal to five dirhams .47 Sa’aid b. al-Musayyab married his daughter to Abu Hurayrah* for two dirhams. He then took her personally to him by night, let her in through the door, then departed. Seven days later, he came back and greeted her. Even if he [Sa’id] had married for ten dirhams to be different from the rest of the ulema, there would be nothing wrong with his act.

A khabar states that “a woman’s blessing is in marrying and in bearing children quickly, ‘14’ and “in the reasonableness of her dowry. 114’ He also said, “The most blessed among them are the ones with the smallest dowries.”50

Just as it is undesirable for the woman’s dowry to be excessive, it is undesirable for the man to ask about the possessions of the woman. Marriage should never be motivated by avidity for wealth. Al-Thawri51 said, “Should one marry and ask ‘What does the woman possess?’ know ye that he is a thief; and should a person give them a present, it should not be with the purpose of forcing them to reciprocate with more; likewise, should they give him a present, the expectation of receiving more [than they gave] is immoral. Exchanging gifts is desirable, and results in friendship.” The Prophet* said, “If you exchange gifts, you will love each other.”52 As pertains to seeking more, it is included in the words of the Almighty: “And show not favor, seeking worldly gain” [Qur’an  74:6], that is to say, give [not] in order to receive more; also in the Almighty’s words: “That which ye give in usury in order that it may increase on (other) people’s property” [30:39], for usurious interest is the increase, and that [giving a gift] is an attempt to increase the principal, though it is not usurious. All such attempts are detested and are regarded as heretical in marriage. For they resemble trading and gambling, and their aim corrupts marriage.


The fifth quality is that the woman be able to bear children. Should she be known to be barren, then one should avoid marrying her. The Prophet* said, “Marry the loving child-bearer”;53 if she has no husband and her affairs are not known, the decision should be based on her health and her youth for, given these two qualities, she will most likely be capable of bearing children.



The sixth quality is that she should be a virgin. The Prophet* said to Jabir, who had married an unwed deflowered woman, “Would that she were a virgin so you could daily with her and she with you.”54 Virginity has three advantages:

(a) First, the virgin will love the husband and feel close to him, which will favorably influence their conjugal attachment. The Prophet* said, “Marry the loving (woman)”; for the natural disposition is to be attached to the first mate with whom one has had intimate relations. On the other hand, a woman who has experienced men and life may not be satisfied with some of the qualities that differ from those she is accustomed to, and may, therefore, loathe the husband.

(b) Second, it engenders a greater measure of his love for her, as it is a man’s nature to be somewhat repelled by a woman who has been touched by another husband; that would contradict [a man’s] nature regardless of what might be said [to the contrary]. Certain natures find it more repulsive than others.

(c) Third, the virgin does not yearn after the first husband, because, in general, the surest55 love is that which is engendered with the first loved one.


[Good Lineage]

The seventh quality is that the wife should be of good lineage, that is to say, she should come from a religious and righteous background, because she will bring up her daughters and sons. If she is not well bred, she will not be able to raise her children well. For that reason the Prophet* said, “Beware of the green dung (khadra’ al-diman).”56 It was asked, “What is the green dung?” He said, “The beautiful woman with an evil origin.”57 The Prophet* said, “Exercise care in choosing [wives] for your sperm, for a hereditary quality is wont to return.”“


[Not a Close Relative]

The eighth quality is that she should not be a close relative, as that would lessen desire. The Prophet* said, “Don’t marry close relatives for then the child is born scrawny”;59 that is to say, weak; such is the weakening effect it [marrying close relatives] has on desire. For desire is excited by the deep emotions which result from sight and touch; emotions are strengthened by whatever is unfamiliar and new. On the other hand, what is familiar and seen continuously renders the faculties incapable of fully appreciating it [desire], being affected by it, or becoming aroused through it. These are the qualities desired in women.



It is incumbent upon the guardian also to examine the qualities of the husband and to look after his daughter so as not to give her in marriage to one who is ugly, ill-mannered, weak in faith, negligent in upholding her rights, or unequal to her in descent. The Prophet* has said, “Marriage is enslavement; let one, therefore, be careful in whose hands he places his daughter.”“ Exercising caution on her behalf is important, because she becomes a slave by the marriage and cannot be freed from it, while the husband is able to obtain divorce at all times. Whoever gives his daughter in marriage to a person who is unjust, licentious, heretical, or an inebriate commits a crime against his religion and exposes himself to the wrath of God for having severed his parental tie by having made a bad choice. A man said to al-Hasan,61 “A number of suitors have asked for my daughter’s hand in marriage; to whom should I give her?” He replied, “To the one who fears God; because if he loves her, he will be kind to her; and if he hates her, he will not wrong her.” The Prophet* said, “Whoever gives his daughter in marriage to a licentious man has betrayed her womb.”





Etiquette of Cohabitation,

What Should Take Place

During the Marriage, and the

Obligations of Husband and Wife


Etiquette of Cohabitation


As for the husband, he is obligated to observe moderation and good manners in twelve matters: feasting, cohabitation, dallying, exercising authority, jealousy, support, teaching, apportionment, politeness at times of discord, intimate relations, producing children, and separation through divorce.


The first etiquette is feasting, and that is desirable. Anas* said, “The Prophet* of God saw a trace of paleness in the face of ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Awf* and said ‘What is this?’ To which he replied, ‘I married a woman for a date-pit of gold.’ The Prophet replied, ‘May God bless her for you. Have a feast, even with a sheep.” The Prophet of God feasted for Safiyyah2 with dates and sawiq. “‘ The Prophet* said, “The food of the first day is an obligation; of the second, a sunna; and of the third, a [cause for good] reputation; he who spreads the news is made known by God.’ Only Ziyad b. ‘Abdullah mentions it as being gharib.5

It is desirable to congratulate him [the husband]; thus one who enters [the house of] the husband should say, “May God bless you and yours and bring you together in prosperity.”‘ Abu Hurayrah* recounted that the Prophet* made it a command.

The publicizing of marriage is desirable. The Prophet said, “The separator of the lawful and unlawful [in marriage] is the tambourine and the voice.”‘ He also said, “Make known this marriage, perform it in the mosques, and celebrate it with the beating of tambourines.”‘ It is related that al-Rubayyi’, the daughter of Mu’awwidh, said, “The Prophet* came and entered upon me the morning that my marriage was consummated. He sat on my bed while some of our young girls were beating their tambourines for us and lamenting those of my forefathers who had been killed, until one of them said, ‘and among us there is a prophet who knows what the morrow holds,’ to which he replied, ‘Don’t say this and say only what you were saying before.’ “9


[Conjugal Harmony)

The second etiquette: good conduct with them [wives] and tolerating offense from them out of pity for their mental deficiencies. Almighty God declared, “But consort with them in kindness” [Qur’an  4:19]. He also said in upholding their rights, “And they have taken a strong pledge from you” [4:21]. He [God] also said, “And what your right hands (possess)” [4:36 (ʿAlī)].10 Some say that [the verse] refers to women.

The last commandments that the Prophet* left were three, which he continued to utter until he stammered and his words became incomprehensible. He kept saying: “Pray, pray!” Do not impose upon your slaves that which you could not support. Fear God; fear God as concerns your women for they are like putty in your hands, that is, captives. You have taken them as a trust from God, and intimate relations with them was made lawful through the word of God.”“

The Prophet* also said, “If a man is tolerant of his wife’s bad manners, God will grant him the same recompense that He granted Job for his affliction; whoever tolerates the bad manners of her husband, will be granted by God the same recompense13 that was granted to Asiyah the wife of Pharaoh.”“ Know ye that good conduct with her does not mean not harming her, but rather enduring harm from her and forbearance in the face of her fickleness and anger in emulation of the Prophet*; for his wives used to talk back to him, and on occasion one would leave him for the whole night.”

‘Umar’s wife talked back to him and he said to her, “Do you talk back to me, 0 foolish woman?” And she said, “The wives

of the Prophet talk back to him and he is better than you.’“ To which ‘Umar retorted, “How inappropriate of Hafsah” to talk back to him!” Then he said to Hafsah, “Don’t be deceived [by the conduct] of the daughter [‘A’ishah] of Ibn Abi Quhafah [sic], for she is the dearest of the Prophet’s wives; and he warned her against talking back.”“

It was also related that one wife hit the Prophet* in the chest, so her mother scolded her. The Prophet* said, “Leave her alone; they [wives] do worse than that.”“ He and ‘A’ishah got into an argument to the point that Abu Bakr was called upon to arbitrate, and the Prophet took him as a witness. So the Prophet* said to her, “Are you going to talk, or shall l?” She replied, “You talk, but say only the truth.” Abu Bakr struck her until her mouth bled, and said to her, “0 enemy of yourself, does he utter anything but the truth?” So she took refuge with the Prophet* and sat behind him. The Prophet* then told him, “you were not called for this, nor did we desire this of you.”20 She told him once in anger, “And you are the one who claims to be the Prophet of God!” So the Prophet* smiled and bore that out of forbearance and kindness.” He used to say to her, “I know when you are angry and when you are pleased.” To which she replied, “And how do you know it?” He said, “When you are pleased, you say ‘No, by the God of Muhammad’; and when you are angry you say, ‘No, by the God of Abraham.’ “ She said, “You are right; I leave your name out.”22 It is said that the first love that took place in Islam was the love of the Prophet* for ‘A’ishah* 23 He used to say to her, “I am to you like Abu Zar’ vis-ـ-vis Umm Zar’; however, I won’t divorce you.”24 He used to say to his wives, “Don’t talk ill of ‘A’ishah to me for, by God, I have not received revelation under the cover of any of you but [rather under] hers.”25 Anas* used to say that the Prophet* was the kindest of all people toward women and children.”‘


[Toleration of Wives]

The third: Dalliance, jesting, and playfulness add to the toleration of offense; for these delight the hearts of women. The Prophet* used to joke with them and lower himself to the level of their minds in deeds and manners, to the extent that it was related that he* used to race ‘A’ishah; she won once and he won several times, so he* said, “Now we’re even.”27 In a khabar it is related that he* was one of the merriest with his wives.28 ‘A’ishah [once] said, “I heard the voices of some Ethiopians and others playing on the day of ‘Ashura’. 28 The Prophet* asked me, ‘Do you wish to see them play?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He sent after them and they came. The Messenger* of God stood between the two doors, placed his palm on the door and extended his arm; I leaned with my chin against his arm. They began to play, and I looked on. The Prophet* kept saying, ‘That’s enough (hasbuki)’; and I would say, ‘Be quiet,’ twice or three times. Then he said, ‘‘A’ishah, that’s enough!’ So I said, ‘Yes.’ He pointed to them and they departed.”30

The Prophet* of God said, “the most perfect of believers in faith are those who are the finest in manners and most gentle toward their wives.”“ He said, “The best among you are the most charitable toward their wives, and I am the best among you toward my wives.”“ In spite of his harshness, ‘Umar* said, “It is necessary that a man be like a child in his family;33 but if they seek what he possesses, he should be found a man.”“‘ Luqman* said, “A wise man should be like a child in his family, and when he is in public, he should be found a man.” In a commentary on the related khabar, [it is stated that] “God detests the ja’zari al jawwaz”;35 that is, one who is harsh toward his family and who is arrogant. The same explanation has been offered for the term ‘utul used by Almighty God [Qur’an  68:13]: for it has been said that ‘utul designates one who has a harsh tongue and who is cruel toward his family.

The Prophet* said to Jabir, “Would that she were a virgin, so you could dally with her and she with you.”“


[Asserting Authority]

The Fourth: not so to indulge in dalliance, good manners, and conformity in following her whims that he would corrupt her manners and lose respect altogether in her eyes. Rather, he should observe moderation, never abandon dignity and seriousness no matter how much evil he sees, nor open the door to abetting abomination; rather, whenever he sees an act which violates divine legislation and manliness (muru’ah),37 he should

become resentful and angry. Al-Hasan said, “Verily whoever obeys the whims of his wife will be cast by God into the Fire.” ‘Umar said, “Disagree with your wives, because disagreement with them is a blessing.” It was also said, “Consult them, then disagree with them.”

The Prophet* said, “Miserable is he who is a slave to his wife.”38 He said so because if the husband obeys her whims, he becomes her slave and thereby miserable; for God made him possessor over the woman but if he makes her possessor of himself, he reverses the order of things, overturns the matter, and obeys Satan when he said, “and surely I will command them and they will change Allah’s creation” [Qur’an  4:119]. It is a man’s right to be followed, not to be a follower. God has appointed men as trustees over women, and has called the husband “master”; and the Lord has said, “and they met her lord and master at the door” [Qur’an  12:25]. For if the master is transformed into a slave, then he has exchanged God’s grace for thanklessness.” The woman’s behavior depends on you: If you slacken her reins a little, she will run off for a long distance; should you loosen

the harness a span (fitr),40 she will take a cubit (dhira’);41 but if

you restrain her and treat her firmly where firmness is called for, you will be her master.

Al-Shafi’i* said, “There are three who will insult you if you honor them: the woman, the servant, and the Nabataean.”42 He was referring to pure kindness and not harshness mixed with compliance, or coarseness with gentleness.

Arab women used to teach their daughters [how] to test their husbands. One would say to her daughter, “Test your husband before taking a step and before showing boldness toward him. Remove the edge of his spear; should he remain quiet, hack bones with his sword; and if he should still be quiet, then put the saddle on his back and ride him, for he is your donkey.” At any rate, it is with justice that the heavens and the earth are upheld; whatever exceeds its limits turns into its opposite.

For that reason it is necessary to follow the path of moderation both in disagreement and in agreement, and to follow the truth in it all, so as to be safe from their [women’s] evil; because their scheming is great,43 their evil is widespread; their predominant characteristics are bad manners and weak minds, and this cannot be set straight except through a certain amount of kindness mixed with diplomacy. The Prophet* said, “A virtuous woman amongst women is like an a’sam among a hundred crows”;44 an asam is a [rare] white-footed crow.

In the will of Luqman to his son [it is stated]: “My son, beware of the evil woman, for she will age you before your time; and beware of the evils of women, as they do not encourage good deeds; and be very careful of the better ones among them.” The Prophet* said, “Beware of the three causes of poverty,”45 and among them he listed the “evil woman” for she is the one who ages a man before his time. In other words, “If you come to her, she will curse you; and if you are away from her, she will be unfaithful to you.” The Prophet* said concerning the best of women, “If [only] you were the companions of Joseph”;48 that is, turning Abu Bakr away from prayer indicates that, on your part, you have ignored the truth and turned to pleasure. Almighty God said when they [women] revealed the secret of the Prophet,*47“If you two turn in repentance to Him, your hearts are indeed so inclined” [Qur’an  66:4 (ʿAlī)];48 that is, so disposed. He [God] said that about the best of the Prophet’s* wives.” The Prophet* said, “No people dominated by a woman can succeed.”“ ‘Umar scolded his wife when she talked back to him saying, “You are no more than a toy in a corner of the house; if we have need of you [we take you], otherwise, you sit as you are.”

Thus there is evil and weakness in them [women]; while diplomacy and harshness are a cure for evil, consolation and mercy are the cure for weakness. The skillful doctor is one who can estimate the amount of cure needed for the ailment; so let the man first know her character through experience, then let him deal with her in a manner that will set her straight in accordance with her state.



The fifth: moderation in jealousy; which means that one should not overlook preliminaries whose consequences may be undesirable, and should not go to extremes in misjudging, in acting adversely, or in spying upon concealed matters.

The Prophet* of God enjoined against seeking out the faults of women51-that is, against unexpectedly coming upon women. When the Prophet* returned from a journey, he said before entering [the city of] Medina, “Don’t come upon your wives at night.” Two men disagreed with him and went ahead [of the rest], and each saw in his home what he detested.” In a famous khabar [it is stated]: “A woman is like a rib: if you [attempt to] straighten it, you break it; leave it alone and enjoy it in spite of its crookedness.”“ This refers to rectifying her character.

The Prophet* said, “There is a type of jealousy which God detests, and that is the unjustifiable jealousy of a man over his wife when there is no justification [for suspicion]”54 because that suspicion we have decreed against. Certain [types of] suspicion are sinful. ʿAlī* said, “Do not indulge excessively in showing jealousy over your wife lest she be accused of evil behavior because of you.”

However, jealousy in its proper place is both necessary and commendable. The Prophet* said: “Almighty God experiences jealousy, and the believer experiences jealousy as well; Almighty God’s jealousy stems from the believer’s perpetration of what God has enjoined against.”55The Prophet* said, “Do you marvel at the jealousy of Sa’d?56 By God, I am more jealous than he, and God is more jealous than L”57 Because of Almighty God’s jealousy, He has prohibited abominations, whether manifest or hidden. Forgiveness is dearer to none than to God; for that reason He has sent warners and preachers. And praise is dearer to none than to God; for that reason He has promised Paradise.

The Messenger* of God said, “I saw on the night [Mi’raj] [that] I was taken through Paradise (laylata usriya bi fi al-jannah) a mansion and a maid in its courtyard; I inquired, ‘To whom does this mansion belong?’ and I was told, ‘To ‘Umar.’ I wanted to look at her, but I remembered, 0 ‘Umar, your jealousy.” ‘Umar wept and said, “Would I be jealous because of you, 0 Messenger of God?”58

Al-Hasan used to say, “Do you call upon your wives to jostle uncouth men in the market places? May God curse those who are not jealous.”

The Prophet* said, “God favors certain types of jealousy and detests others; He favors certain types of pride and detests others. As for the jealousy which God loves, it is jealousy which results from just suspicion; and the jealousy that God detests is that which results from unfounded [suspicion]. The pride which God favors is that which a man has in battle and in the face of difficulties; and the pride that God detests is pride in falsehood.”59 The Prophet* said, “I am indeed a jealous man and none is free from jealousy save one whose heart is degenerate.” The only way to avoid jealousy is by having no man enter upon her and by preventing her from going into the marketplaces.”

The Prophet* asked his daughter Fatimah,* “What is best for a woman?” She replied, “That she should see no man, and that no man should see her.” So he hugged her and said they were “descendants one of another” [Qur’an  3:33].81 Thus he was pleased with her answer.

The companions of the Prophet* used to close peepholes and perforations in the wall to prevent women from looking at men. Mu’adh [b. Jabal] saw his wife looking through a peephole, and he struck her; he also saw her giving an apple to his male slave from which she had eaten, and he struck her again.

‘Umar* said, “Strip the women of their [beautiful] clothes and they will stay in their rooms.” He said so because they [women] do not desire to go out in worn clothes. He also said, “Accustom your women to ‘No!’“

The Prophet* permitted women to go to the mosques;62 the appropriate thing now, however, is to prevent them [from doing so], except for the old [ones]. Indeed such [prevention] was deemed proper during the days of the companions; ‘A’ishah* declared, “If the Prophet only knew of the misdeeds that women would bring about after his time, he would have prevented them from going out.”“ When the son of ‘Umar quoted the words of the Prophet,* “Do not prevent the bondwomen of God from going to the mosques of God,” one of his sons replied, “Yes, by God, we will prevent them.” So he struck him and was irate with him, saying, “You hear me say that the Prophet of God said, ‘Do not prevent [them],’ and you say, ‘Yes [we will]?’ ““The

dared to disagree because he knew that times had changed, and the father was angry with him for openly expressing disagreement without giving the reason. The Prophet* also permitted them [women] to go out especially during feasts;65 but they could not go out without the approval of their husbands.

Nowadays, it is permissible for a chaste woman to go out with the permission of her husband; however, remaining [at home] is safer.” She should not go out except for an important purpose; going out for the sake of looking [about] and for unimportant matters detracts from virtue and may lead to corruption., If she goes out, she must avoid looking at men. We are not saying that the man’s face is shameful for her to look at as is the woman’s face for him. Rather, it is for her like the face of the beardless boy which a man should be prevented from seeing when sight may result in evil; when evil is not likely to result, sight should not be prevented. For men throughout the ages have had unveiled faces while women go out veiled; if their faces were shameful for women to look at, men would have been commanded to be veiled or prevented from going out except for a necessary purpose.


[Support of the Woman]


The sixth: moderation in spending. One should not be stingy toward them nor should he be extravagant; rather he should be moderate. The Almighty said, “and eat and drink but exceed not the bounds” [Qur’an  7:31 (ʿAlī)]. He also said, “And let not thy hand be chained to thy neck nor open it with a complete opening” [17:29].87 The Messenger* of God said, “The most favored among you is the one who is most generous toward his wife.”“ The Prophet* also said, “A dinar spent for the sake of God, a dinar spent for ransoming a slave, a dinar offered [as charity] to a poor man, and a dinar spent on your wife -the one that earns you the greatest reward is the one spent on

your wife.”69

It was related that ʿAlī* had four wives and that he used to buy every four days a dirham’s worth of meat for each. Al-Hasan* said, “Some men spent plenty, but when it came to furnishings and clothes they were tight.” Ibn Sirin* said, “It is desirable that a man prepare faludhajah (pastry) every week for his wife; for even though sweet foods are not among the necessary things, to completely omit them is a stingy practice.”

It is desirable that he should order her to offer as charity whatever food remains [after the meal] and whatever would spoil if kept. This is the least thing to do as far as charity is concerned. The wife has the right to do this as circumstances dictate without specific permission from the husband.

He should not keep to himself, to the exclusion of his family, a delectable food. Not feeding them of it would incite malice and render it difficult to have a harmonious relationship. If he decides to withhold it [from them], let him eat in seclusion so that his family does not know about it; nor should he describe to them food which he does not intend to give them.

When he eats, let the whole family sit at his table; for Sufyan* [al-Thawri] said,, “We have been told that God and His angels invoke prayers on the members of the household who eat together.”

The most important thing for the husband to observe in spending is to feed the family from what is gained lawfully and not to pursue evil endeavors for their sake, as that constitutes a crime against them rather than upholding their rights. We have already mentioned the pertinent akhabar when talking about the disadvantages of marriage.

[Instruction Concerning Menstruation]

The seventh: that the married man should know enough about the matter of menstruation to enable him to take necessary precautions; he also should teach his wife the rules of prayer: which prayers should be performed during menstruation and which should not. He has been commanded to safeguard her against the [hell]Fire according to the words of the Almighty, “Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire” [Qur’an  66:6].

It is incumbent upon the husband to teach her the proper beliefs of the followers of the sunna, to remove from her heart

every innovation should she lend an ear to it, and to make her fear God should she be lax in matters of religion.

The husband should also teach her the precepts governing menstruation and irregular menstrual flow, and the taking of precautionary measures.” The information on menstruation is lengthy, but what a woman must be taught concerning menstruation are the prayers she should perform.” If the blood stops shortly before the sunset (maghrib) by [the end of] one prostration, then it is incumbent upon her to perform the noon (zuhr) and the afternoon (‘asr) prayers; if it stops before morning by [the end of] one rak’ah then she should perform the maghrib and ‘isha . 72 This is the least that the women ought to observe.

If the husband is diligent in teaching her, she will not have to go out and ask the ulema about it. If the husband’s knowledge does not encompass such matters, and if he should ask on her behalf, conveying to her the information from the mufti, then there is no need for her to go out. Otherwise, she has the right to go out and ask; in fact, she is obligated to do so, and the husband would be in defiance should he prevent her. No matter how much she learns about her obligations, she should not go out to attend a dhikr73 nor to receive instruction in superfluous knowledge without the consent of her husband.

Whenever a woman neglects one of the obligations imposed upon her by menstruation and irregular menstrual flow, and the husband does not teach her [concerning these matters], he, too, becomes her partner in sin.


[Equality Among Wives]

The eighth: If he has several wives, then he should deal equitably with them and not favor one over the other; should he go on a journey and desire to have one [of his wives] accompany him, he should cast lots (aqra’) among them,74 for such was the practice of the Messenger*. If he cheats a woman of her night, he should make up for it, for making up for it is a duty upon him. For that reason it becomes necessary for him to learn the rules of apportionment which would take a long time to explain here. The Messenger* of God said, “Whosoever has two wives and favors one over the other-that is to say, does not deal equitably between them-he comes to the Day of judgment bent to one


He should be equitable in giving and in cohabiting at night. As concerns love and intimate relations, these do not come under the rubric of choice. Almighty God has declared, “Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so)” [Qur’an  4:129]; that is to say, you cannot deal equally with regard to the desires of the heart and the preferences of the soul from which stems inequality in intimate relations. The Messenger* used to be equitable to his wives in giving and cohabiting at night saying, “0 Lord, this is the limit of my ability within my means, I have no access to that which You possess and I do not have,”“ by which he meant love. He loved ‘A’ishah* most,77 and the rest of his wives knew that. During his [last] illness, he was carried every day and every night in order to spend a night with each one of his wives. He would say, “Where am I supposed to be tomorrow?” So one of his wives saw through his question and said, “He is asking for the day with ‘A’ishah.” So they [his wives] said, “0 Messenger of God, we permit you to stay at ‘A’ishah’s house, because it is difficult for you to be carried every night.” He replied, “Are you agreeable to that?” They replied, “Yes,” so he said, “Take me then to ‘A’ishah’s house.”78

Whenever one wife grants her night to another with the husband’s consent, the second wife gains the right to that night. The Prophet* used to allot time among his wives. He wanted to divorce Sawdah, the daughter of Zam’ah, when she became old, so she granted her night to ‘A’ishah and asked him to keep her in order that she [Sawdah] might remain in the circle of his wives. He left her and did not apportion for her; rather, he apportioned two nights for ‘A’ishah and one night each for the rest of his wives .1179

On account of his* fair justice and virility, whenever he. desired one of his wives whose turn was not due and had intercourse with her, he would then visit during the same day or night the rest of his wives. It has been related that ‘A’ishah* said the Messenger* of God visited all of his wives in one night.80 Anas also related that he* visited all nine wives in one morning.”

[Insubordination of the Wife]

The ninth: as pertains to discord (nushuz)82 and whatever dissension takes place between them that cannot be reconciled. If it should ensue from both sides or from the husband, and the wife wants to dominate the husband, and if it is not possible for him to set her straight, then two arbitrators should be called representing each of the two families [husband’s and wife’s] to look into the matter and to reconcile them. “If they desire amendment [reconciliation], Allah will make them of one mind”[Qur’an  4:35]. ‘Umar sent an arbitrator to a couple, but he returned without succeeding in reconciling them; whereupon he [‘Umar] beat him saying, “Almighty God says, ‘If they desire amendment [reconciliation], Allah will make them of one mind.’ “ So the man returned and with [good] intention[s] and gentleness toward them, he reconciled them.

However, if the discord is the woman’s fault, it is the husband’s right to chastise and induce her forcibly to obey, since men are guardians over women. Likewise, should she be remiss in performing her prayers, it is his right to force her to perform them. However, he should chastise her gradually: That is to say, first he should preach, then warn, then threaten; should he not succeed, he should turn his back to her in bed, sleep in another bed, or avoid her-while still remaining in the house-from one night up to three. Should all of this fail, then he should beat her but not excessively, that is, to the point that he would inflict only pain but without breaking a bone or causing her to bleed. He should not strike her face for that is forbidden.

The Messenger* of God was asked, “What rights can a woman claim from a man?” He replied, “To feed her when he eats, to clothe her when he is clothed, [but] not to be insolent or beat her excessively. He is to avoid her only in cohabitation [that is, desert her bed].”83 He can be angry with her and avoid her over matters of religion up to ten or twenty [days], or up to a month; the Prophet* did so to Zaynab when he sent her a present and she returned it to him. The wife at whose house he was staying said to him, “She has insulted you by returning your presents,84 that is to say, she has humiliated and belittled you.” The Prophet* replied, “You [wives] are too despicable in the sight of God to insult me!” Whereupon he became angry with all of them for a month, then returned to them.


(Etiquette of Intimate Relations]

The tenth: on the etiquette of intimate relations. It is desirable that it should commence in the name of God and with the [following] recitation: Say, “He is God, the One and Only” [Qur’an  112:1]; then he should glorify (takbir) and exalt (tahlil)85 His name saying, “In the name of God, Most High, Most Great; 0 God, cause it to be a good progeny if you cause it to issue forth from my loins.” The Prophet* said, “If one of you say when he comes upon his wife, ‘0 God, avert the devil from me and avert the devil from what You have granted us.’ Then should a child result, the devil shall not hurt him.”86

When you near ejaculation, say to yourself without moving your lips: “Praise be to God Who has created humans out of fluid, and made thereof relatives and in-laws, for thy Lord is omnipotent.“ One of the men of hadith used to raise his voice in praise to the extent that the members of the household could hear his voice. Then he would turn away from the qiblah, and would not face the qiblah during coitus out of deference for the qiblah.88 He should also cover himself and his wife with a garment. The Messenger* of God used to cover his head and lower his voice, saying to the woman, “Remain quiet.”“ A khabar says, “If one of you should have intimate relations with his wife, you should not denude yourselves completely like two onagers,”90 that is, two donkeys.

Let him proceed with gentle words and kisses. The Prophet* said, “Let none of you come upon his wife like an animal, and let there be an emissary between them.” He was asked, “What is this emissary, 0 Messenger of God?” He said, “The kiss and [sweet] words.”“ He* also said, “There are three qualities which are considered deficiencies in a man: one, that he should meet someone whose acquaintance he wishes to make but parts from him before learning his name and lineage; second, that he should be treated kindly and reject the kindness’ done unto him; and third, that he should approach his concubine or wife and have sexual contact with her before exchanging tender

words and caresses, consequently, he sleeps with her and fulfills his needs before she fulfills hers.”“

Intimate relations are undesirable during three nights of the month: the first, the last, and the middle. It is said that the devil is present during copulation on these nights, and it is also said that the devils copulate during these nights. It was related that ʿAlī, Mu’awiyah, and Abu Hurayrah also frowned upon it [during those nights]. Certain ulema recommended intimate relations on Friday and the night before it [Thursday] in fulfillment of one of the two interpretations of the Prophet’s* words, “May God bless the one who purifies and performs the ablution, etc.”“

Once the husband has attained his fulfillment, let him tarry until his wife also attains hers. Her orgasm (inzal)94may be delayed, thus exciting her desire; to withdraw quickly is harmful to the woman. Difference in the nature of [their] reaching a climax causes discord whenever the husband ejaculates first. Congruence in attaining a climax is more gratifying to her because the man is not preoccupied with his own pleasure, but rather with hers; for it is likely that the woman might be shy.

It is desirable that he should have intimate relations with her once every four nights; that is more just, for the [maximum] number of wives is four which justifies this span. It is true that intimate relations should be more or less frequent in accordance to her need to remain chaste, for to satisfy her is his duty. If seeking intimate relations [by the woman] is not established, it causes the same difficulty in the same demand and the fulfillment thereof.

He should not approach her during menstruation, immediately after it, or before major ablution (ghusl), for that is forbidden according to the decree of the Book.” It has been said that it would engender leprosy in the offspring. The husband is entitled to enjoy all parts of her body during menstruation but not to have sodomy; intercourse during menstruation is forbidden (haram) because it is harmful, and sodomy will cause permanent harm; for that reason it [sodomy] is more strongly prohibited than intimate relations during menstruation.” The words of the Almighty state, “so go to your tilth as ye will” [Qur’an 2:223]; that is, “any time you please.” He may achieve emission by her hand and can enjoy what is concealed by the loincloth (izar) short of coitus. The woman should cover herself with a loincloth from her groin to [a point just] above the knee during the state of menstruation. This is one of the rules of etiquette. He may partake of meals with the woman during her period of menstruation; he may also sleep beside her, etc.97 He should not avoid her.

If the husband wishes to have intimate relations with one after having had coitus with another, then he should wash his genitals first. If he has nocturnal emission, then he should not have intercourse before washing his genitals or urinating. Sexual intercourse is frowned upon at the beginning of the night for he should not sleep in an impure state. Should he seek sleep or food, then let him perform first the limited ablution (wudu’), for that is a recommended practice of the sunna. The son of Umar related, “I said to the Prophet,* ‘Should any of us sleep in a state of major ritual impurity (junub)?’98 And he replied, ‘Yes, if he has performed the limited ablution (wudu’).’ “99 However, a dispensation was given in this regard: ‘A’ishah* said, “The Prophet* used to sleep in a state of major ritual impurity having

not touched water.”100

Whenever he returns to his bed, he should wipe the covers or shake them, for he does not know what might have taken place thereon during his absence. He should not shave, trim his fingernails, sharpen the blade [with which he shaves], cause blood to flow, or reveal any part of him while in a state of major ritual impurity; for all parts of his body would be restored to him in the hereafter, and he would thus return to a state of major ritual impurity. It is said that every hair will demand an account for the infraction it committed.


[Coitus Interruptus]

Other etiquettes include refraining from coitus (‘azl) and not ejaculating except in the place of tilling, which is the womb, for there is not a soul whose existence God has decreed but that will exist.”‘ To that effect were the words of the Messenger* of God. As pertains to coitus interruptus, the ulema have split into four groups over whether it is permissible or reprehensible:102 (a) There are those who consider it unconditionally permissible under all circumstances; (b) there are those who forbid it in all circumstances; (c) there are those who say it is permissible with her consent; evidently those proponents consider the harm [caused to the woman], which is forbidden rather than coitus interruptus itself; (d) there are those who say it is permissible with the bondmaid but not with the free woman.

As far as we are concerned, it is permissible. As to a reprehensible act, it applies to cases where unlawfulness is disregarded, where uprightness is ignored or where virtue is abandoned. It [coitus interruptus] is reprehensible according to the third stipulation; in other words, it involves abandonment of a virtue, as it is said: It is reprehensible for someone in the mosque to sit without being preoccupied with dhikr or prayer; and it is reprehensible for someone residing in Mecca not to perform the pilgrimage every year; this reprehensibility applies to the abandonment of what should take precedence and is more convenient, nothing more. This is firmly established in what we have explained concerning the virtue of [having] offspring, and in what has been related concerning the Prophet*: “A man has intimate relations with his wife, and is thus decreed for him the reward of a male offspring who fights for the cause of God and is killed [martyred]. “‘0’ He said so because if such a son is born to him, he would receive the reward of being the cause for his [son’s] existence, even though Almighty God is his creator, his sustainer,104 and the one who strengthens him for jihad. His part in causing [the child] to exist is the act of coitus at the time of ejaculating in the uterus. We have stated that there is no reprehensibility in terms of prohibition and purification, for upholding prohibition is possible only by text105 or by analogy with a text; there is no text without a basis for analogy. Rather, we have here a basis for analogy-namely, abstaining from marriage altogether, abstaining from intimate relations after marriage, or avoiding emission after penetration; all such abstentions are more preferable, but they do not constitute acts of unlawfulness or disagreement. For the progeny is formed by the sperm being deposited in the uterus, which comes from four causes: marriage, then copulation, then patience until emission takes place after intercourse, then waiting until the sperm is implanted in the uterus. Some of these causes are more closely related than others. [Thus] abstaining from the fourth is like abstaining from the third; likewise, the third is similar to the second, and the second is like the first. All that is not the same as abortion or the burying of girls alive (wad).’

These two things, in effect, constitute a crime against an already existing person; and that also has stages: The first stage of existence is that the sperm should lodge in the uterus, merge with the fluid of the woman, and become thus receptive to life; to interfere with this process constitutes a crime. If it develops into an embryo and becomes attached [a fetus], then the crime becomes more serious. If the spirit is breathed into it and the -created being takes form, then the crime [of abortion] becomes more serious still. The crime is most serious after the fetus is born alive [then buried if it is a girl]. We have said that the initial stage of existence is the planting of the sperm in the uterus, not emission from the urethra; for the offspring is not produced by the sperm of the male alone but from the agglutination of the mates, either from both his and her fluid or from his fluid and the blood of menses, and that the blood plays, in relation to it, the same role as milk to its coagulator; the sperm from the man is necessary in coagulating the blood of the menses as the thickening agent (rawbah) is for milk since through it the coagulator gels. However that might be, a woman’s fluid is a fundamental element in coagulation.

The two fluids are likened unto an offer and related acceptance which result in the consummation of a contract. Whoever makes an offer and goes back on it before it is accepted has breached the contract by rendering it null and void. Whenever an offer and related acceptance take place, rescission becomes a nullification, an annulment, and a severance. As no child can issue forth from a sperm in the vertebra, likewise [a child would not be created] after the expulsion [of the sperm] from the urethra unless it mixes with the fluid or the blood of the woman. This is, therefore, a clear analogy.”‘

Should you say: “But coitus interruptus is not reprehensible on account of opposing the existence of a child, it is likely to be reprehensible on account of the motive behind it; for it cannot be motivated except by a corrupt intention which is blemished by concealed polytheism.” I would answer that the motivations for coitus interruptus are five:

The first pertains to concubines who serve to preserve property from the destruction entailed by the right to manumission; the purpose of maintaining property by avoiding manumission and heading off its causes is not prohibited.

The second, preserving the beauty of the woman and her portliness in order to maintain enjoyment, and protect her life against the danger of childbirth (talq); and this, too, is not prohibited.

The third, fear of excessive hardship on account of numerous offspring, and guarding against the excessive pursuit of gain and against the need for resorting to evil means. This, too, is not prohibited, because encountering fewer hardships is an aid to religion [faith]. Without doubt, perfection and virtue ensue from dependence on and faith in God’s guaranty which is expressed in His words, “No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on God” [Qur’an  2:6 (Arberry, vol. 1:239)]. Falling short of the apex of perfection, and abandoning what is preferable is not a criminal act. However, we cannot say that taking consequences into account as well as preserving possessions and hoarding them are prohibited, even though they are contrary to dependence [on God].

The fourth, fear of having female children because of the stigma involved in getting them married, as was the custom of the Arabs in burying their female progeny (fi qatlihim al-’inath). This would be an evil intention if marriage or coitus are to be abandoned on its account; a person would be guilty of the intention but not of abstinence from marriage and coitus; so likewise in coitus interruptus. Corruption engendered by belief in disgrace (ma’arrah) is stronger in the sunna of the Prophet*. Such would be comparable to the circumstance of a woman who avoids marriage out of disdain for having to lie under a man and thus attempts to emulate them. Undesirability [in this case] is not due to abstinence from marriage per se.

The fifth, that the woman might abstain from having children on account of arrogance, excessive cleanliness, fear of labor pains, childbirth, and nursing. Such was the custom of the Kharijite108 women in their excessive use of water to the point that they used to perform the prayers during the days of menses and would not enter the bathroom except naked [because] of their excessive cleanliness. This too is an innovation which contradicts the sunna and manifests a corrupt intent. One among them sought permission to see ‘A’ishah* when she came to Basra, but she [‘A’ishah] did not grant it. Thus it is the intent and not the prevention of having children which is corrupt.

If you should say that the Prophet* said, “Whoever abandons marriage for fear of having dependents is not one of us in the least,”109 I would say that coitus interruptus is like abstinence from marriage. By “he is not one of us” is meant that he does not concur with our sunna and our Path: Our sunna is the pursuit of the more preferable deed. Should you point out the fact that the Prophet* said regarding coitus interruptus, “That constitutes a secret form of burying children alive” and [also] recited, “and when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked,”“‘ which is reported in the Sahih [of Muslim], we would reply [that] in the Sahih are also authentic reports concerning the lawfulness [of coitus interruptus]. His expression “secret form of burying children alive” is like unto his words “secret polytheism,” and that is an act which constitutes undesirability but not unlawfulness.

If you should point out the fact that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Coitus interruptus constitutes the lesser degree of burying children alive, as conception is prevented (al-mamnu’ wujuduhu bihi) by coitus interruptus (al-maw ‘udat al-sughrah),”112then we would reply, “He is equating the prevention of existence to cutting it off and that is a weak form of analogy.” For that reason ʿAlī* denounced this act upon hearing this saying, “A child is not buried alive until after the seventh, or seven phases have been completed,” and he recited the Qur’anic verse pertaining to the stages of creation [23:12-14]: “Verily We created man from a product of wet earth; then placed him as a drop (of seed) in a safe lodging,” up to “and then produced it as another creation”;”‘ that is to say, we breathed a spirit into him. Then he recited the Almighty’s words in [another] verse [81:8]: “And when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked.” If you examine what we have already stated concerning analogy and point of view, you will perceive the difference between the method of ʿAlī* and that of Ibn ‘Abbas* in seeking hidden meanings and pursuing knowledge.

It appears that the Sahihayn [of Bukhari and Muslim] concur in relating what Ibn Jabir had said, “We used to have coitus interruptus in the days of the Prophet* while the Koran was being revealed.”“‘ In another transmittal: “We used to have coitus interruptus; the Prophet* heard about it, but he did not enjoin us against it.”“‘ There is also a report that Jabir had said: “A man came to the Prophet* and said, ‘I have a bondmaid who is our servant and who brings us water [to drink] during the date-picking season. I do have intimate relations with her, but I am undesirous that she should conceive.’ He* replied, ‘Have coitus interruptus if you wish; for she shall receive what has been destined for her.’ The man was absent for some time, then he came back to him [the Prophet] and said, ‘The bondwoman is pregnant.’ He replied, ‘I told you that she will receive what has been destined for her.”““ All this can be found in the Sahihayn [of Bukhari and Muslim].


[Etiquette Concerning Having Children]

The eleventh: There are five points concerning the etiquette of having children.

(a) The first, that one should not be overjoyed with the birth of a male child, nor should he be excessively dejected over the birth of a female child, for he does not know in which of the two his blessings lie. Many a man who has a son wishes he did not have him, or wishes that he were a girl. The girls give more tranquility and [divine] remuneration, which are greater.

The Prophet* said, “If a man brings up his daughter well, nourishes her well, and shares with her the gifts which God has bestowed upon him, she will bring him fortune and will facilitate his passage from Hell to Heaven.”“‘ Ibn ‘Abbas related that the Messenger* of God said, “If a man has two daughters and treats them well as long as they remain with him, they will cause him to enter Paradise.”“‘ Anas said in quoting the Messenger* of God, “If a man has two daughters or two sisters and he treats them well for as long as they remain with him, he and I will be in Paradise like these two [women].”“‘ Anas also related that the Messenger* of God declared, “If a man goes to one of the marketplaces of the Muslims, buys something, carries it back to his home, and gives it to the females and not to the males, God will look upon him [with favor], and whomever God looks upon [with favor] He will not torment.”“‘ Anas also related that the Messenger* of God said, “When a man brings an extraordinary present [turfah] from the market to his family, it is like bringing them a charitable gift (sadaqah) which he places among them. Let him give the females before the males, for whoever brings joy to a female is like crying out of fear of God, and he who cries out of fear of God will be safeguarded by God from the Fire.”“‘ Abu Hurayrah related that the Prophet* said, “Whoever has three daughters or sisters and tolerates their hardships and ordeals, God will bring him into Paradise for having shown mercy toward them.” A man asked, “How about one?” And he said, “Even one.” 122

(b) The second etiquette is that he should chant the prayer (adhan) in the ear of the offspring. 123 Rafi’  related the words of his father: “I saw the Prophet* chanting the adhan in the ear of al-Hasan [his grandson] when Fatimah* gave birth to him.” 124 It was related that the Prophet* said, “When a man has a child and chants the adhan in his right ear and the second call (iqama) in his left ear, he repels epilepsy (umm al-sibyan) from him.”“‘ It is desirable that the first words he is taught to speak when he learns to talk be “there is no God but Allah (la ilaha illa Allah)” so that these words may constitute his first utterance. Circumcision on the seventh day is prescribed in a.

khabar. 121

(c) The third etiquette is that he should be given a good name, for that is the child’s right. The Prophet* said, “Should you give a name, let the word ‘abd (fa ‘abbidu) be part of it. 117

He* said, “The names most endearing to God are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Rahman.” He also said, “Give them my name but not my surname (kunya).128 The ulema said, “That was applicable to his*. lifetime”; for he was surnamed ‘Abd al-Qasim. Now it is acceptable [to call children by the Prophet’s surname]. True, a person should not be called by both the Prophet’s name and his surname; for the Prophet said, “Do not give both my name and my surname together.” 121 It was said that this, too, was applicable to his lifetime. One person took the name Abu ‘Isa, so the Prophet* said, “Isa has no father”;130 thus such a name is not desirable.

The miscarried fetus (al-siqt) must be given a name. ‘Abu al-Rahman b. Yazid b. Mu’awiyah said, “I learned that the miscarried fetus will cry out after its father on the Day of Judgment saying, ‘You have destroyed me and left me without a name.’ ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-’Aziz said, ‘How so, when he might not know whether he is a male or a female?’“ Abd al-Rahman replied, “There are names that might apply to both, like Hamzah, ‘Amarah, Talhah, and ‘Utbah.”

The Prophet* said, “You will be called on the Day of Judgment by your names and the names of your fathers; so let your names be good.”“‘ Whoever has an undesirable name, it is preferable that it should be changed; the Messenger* of God changed the name al-’As to ‘Abdullah.132 Zaynab’s name was Barrah; the Prophet* said, “She purifies her soul,” so he called her Zaynab. 133 There has been an injunction against the use of the names Aflah (be lucky), Yasir (well-being), Nafi’ (useful), and Barakah (blessing)134 for the question is frequently asked, “Is Barakah there?” The answer would be “No.”

(d) The fourth is a sacrifice (‘aqiqah): for the male, two sheep; and for the female, one sheep.”‘ But one can be happy with one [sacrifice] be it for male or female.”‘ ‘A’ishah recounted that the Messenger* of God ordered that in the case of a lad (ghulam), two complementary sheep should be sacrificed and in the case of a girl (jariyah), one sheep.”‘ It has been related that one sheep was sacrificed.”‘ This makes it permissible to sacrifice only one. The Prophet* said, “For every male, there must be a sacrifice; therefore, shed blood on his behalf and thus remove harm from him.”“‘

It is part of the sunna that the weight in gold or silver of the child’s hair [cut on the seventh day] be offered to charity. There is a khabar to that effect, namely, that “the Prophet* ordered Fatimah* on the seventh day of the birth of Husayn to shave his head and to give the weight of his hair in silver to charity.”‘ ‘A’ishah said: “None of the bones of the sacrifice should be broken for the newborn.”

(3) The fifth is to put in his mouth a masticated date or some other sweet. It was related of Asma’,* the daughter of Abu Bakr,* that she said, “I gave birth to ‘Abdullah b. al-Zubayr in a tunic; then I brought him to the Messenger* of God and placed the child on his lap. The Prophet called for a date, chewed it, then spat it into the child’s mouth.”“‘ Thus the first thing that entered his stomach was the saliva of the Messenger* of God. Then he chewed a date and rubbed it on his [the child’s] palate (hannakuhu), invoked God’s blessing upon him, and gave him his blessings. He was the very first child born in Islam,142 so they rejoiced over him, for they had been told that the Jews had bewitched them so that they would not be able to have children.


The twelfth: concerning divorce. Let it be known that it is permissible; but of all permissible things, it is the most detestable to Almighty God. It is permissible only if it involves no harm ensuing from deception; and whenever he divorces her, he brings harm upon her. It is not permissible to bring harm to another unless a crime is committed on her part or out of necessity on his part. Almighty God said, “If they obey you, seek not a way against them” [Qur’an  4:34]; that is to say, do not find an excuse for separation.

If his father should loathe her, then he should divorce her. Ibn ‘Umar* said, “I had a woman I loved, but my father used to loathe her and command me to divorce her, so I consulted the Messenger* of God and he told me, ‘0 son of ‘Umar, divorce your wife.’ 13 This indicates that the father’s rights take priority, but he must be like ‘Umar, a father who does not loathe her for an unjust cause.

Whenever she offends her husband or utters foul language against his family, she is guilty; likewise [she is guilty] whenever she is ill-mannered or corrupt in her religion. Ibn Mas’ud com

mented on the words of Almighty God, “nor let them go forth unless they commit open immorality” [Qur’an  65:1], saying: “Whenever she utters foul language against his family or inflicts harm upon her husband, she has committed a grave act.” This comment was made concerning behavior during the prescribed waiting period; nevertheless, it underscores what we mean.

If offense should come from the husband, then she can be redeemed through the payment of a compensation (khul’) [divestiture].”‘ It is undesirable for the man to take from her more than he has given [as a dowry], for that would constitute injustice against her, unfairness toward her, and a trade [in making profit] on the dowry. Almighty God said, “there is no blame on either of them if she gives something for her freedom” [Qur’an  2:229 (ʿAlī)]; thus returning what she has taken, or less, is appropriate in redeeming herself.

Should she seek divorce for no just reason, she is a sinner. The Prophet* said, “Whichever woman asks her husband to divorce her for no cause will not breathe the aura of Paradise”;”‘ in other words, Paradise becomes forbidden to her. In still another expression, the Prophet* said, “Women who seek divorce for a compensation are hypocrites.”“‘

The husband should observe four matters in divorce: one, that he divorce her during her state of [menstrual] purity (tuhr), provided he has not had coitus with her. Divorce during menstruation or during a state of purity in which they had coitus, even though it does occur, is an unlawful innovation, as it lengthens the periods of her waiting (‘iddah).”‘ If he should do so, he should take her back. The son of ‘Umar divorced his wife during menstruation, so the Prophet* told ‘Umar, “Command him to take her back until she is purified, menstruates, and is purified [again]; after that, he can choose either to divorce or keep her. Such is the period of waiting which God has ordained for divorcing women.”““ He commanded him to wait after taking her back (iddat al-raj’ah) for two states of purity, lest the intent of taking her back should be divorce only.

The second, that he should restrict himself to one divorce utterance and not pronounce all three at once because the one utterance after a legal period of waiting indicates the intent, and he can benefit from retracting it should remorse develop during the period of waiting in which he can renew the marriage if he wishes after this period. If he pronounces all three divorce utterances [at once], he might regret it and be compelled to have a muhallil marry her and then wait awhile. To contract a muhallil is a denounced act for which the husband would be the cause; besides, his heart [under the circumstances] would be at the mercy of someone else’s wife [that is, the wife of the muhallil], and at the mercy of the divorce which he [the muhallil] grants. In addition, this would cause the wife to become disenchanted with him; all these are the fruits of al jams (uttering a threefold divorce). Uttering one divorce is sufficient in indicating the intent without danger. I do not mean to say that uttering a threefold divorce is unlawful; rather, it is undesirable for the aforementioned reasons, and by undesirability I mean disregard for himself.

The third, that he should be kind in offering a pretext to divorce her without stern censure and belittlement. He should soothe her heart by way of gratification with a present and cure the wounds inflicted by separation. Almighty God has said, “yet make provision for them” [Qur’an  2:236 (Arberry, vol. 1:62)]; and this is a duty whenever it is the case that a dowry had not been specified in the original marriage [contract].

Al-Hasan b. ʿAlī was an unbridled divorcer and marrier. One day he sent one of his companions to divorce two women among his wives and said, “Tell them to prepare for the legal period of waiting.” He ordered him to give each one of them 10,000 dirhams. He did; and when he [the companion] returned to him, he [al-Hasan] asked him, “What did they do?” he replied, “One of them lowered her head and thus remained, but the other cried and wailed and I heard her say, ‘These are very small provisions from a parting loved one.’“ Al-Hasan bowed his head and invoked blessings on her saying, “Were I to take back a woman after separating from her, I would take her back.”

One day al-Hasan went to visit ‘Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith b. Hisham,149 who was the faqih (jurist) of Medina and its chief, who had no equal in Medina, and whom ‘A’ishah used as an example when she said, “Had I not already traversed this course

of mine,150 I would have preferred to have sixteen males from the Messenger* of God like ‘Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith b. Hisham.” Al-Hasan went to see ‘Abd al-Rahman in his house. [‘Abd al-Rahman] honored him and told him to sit in his place saying, “Would that you had sent for me; I would have come to you.” Al-Hasan replied, “The need is ours.” He [‘Abd al-Rahman] asked, “What is it?” He told him, “I have come seeking your daughter in marriage.” ‘Abd al-Rahman lowered his head, then raised it and said, “By God, there is no one walking upon this earth who is dearer to me than you; but you know that my daughter is flesh of my flesh: what offends her offends me, and what pleases her, pleases me. You are an unbridled divorcer: I fear that you would divorce her. Should you do that, I fear also that my heart would turn away from loving you, and I would be unhappy should my heart be turned away from you, because you are a part of the Messenger’s flesh. If you promise not to divorce her, I will give her to you in marriage.” Al-Hasan was silent, then he arose and left. One of his household heard him saying while walking, “‘Abd al-Rahman wanted to make his daughter a rope around my neck.”

ʿAlī* used to be impatient with his [al-Hasan’s] numerous divorces and would apologize on his behalf from the pulpit saying in his sermon (khutbah),151 “Hasan is very prone to divorce, so do not give him [your daughters] in marriage.” A man from Hamadan rose and said, “0 prince of the faithful, we will give him our daughters in marriage to his heart’s satisfaction. If he so wishes he can keep them, and if he so desires he can let them go.” That pleased ʿAlī and he said, “Were I a gatekeeper of Paradise, I would tell Hamadan to enter in peace.” This is merely an indication that if a man, out of embarrassment, speaks ill of someone dear to him, whether wife or child, it is not necessary that one should agree with him since such an agreement would be undesirable. Rather, it is a rule of etiquette to disagree to the best of one’s ability, for that is more pleasing to his heart and in accord with his hidden thought.

The aim of all of this is to show that divorce is permissible. God has promised riches in both separation and in marriage saying, “And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maidservants. If they be poor, Allah will enrich them of His bounty” [Qur’an  24:32]; and also saying, “But if they separate, Allah will compensate each out of His abundance” [4:1301.

The fourth, that he should never reveal her secret [private affairs] while divorced or married. Concerning the revealing of women’s secrets, an authentic khabar transmits great threat.’ 52 It is related that a virtuous man wanted to divorce his wife and he was asked, “What grievance have you against her?” And he replied, “A wise man does not reveal the secrets of his wife.” After divorcing her he was asked, “Why did you divorce her?” And he replied “The affairs of someone else’s wife are not my concern.” This indicates the husband’s obligation.


Examination of the Husband’s Rights

The authoritative statement in this context is that marriage constitutes a form of enslavement; thus she is his slave, and she should obey the husband absolutely in everything he demands of her provided such demands do not constitute an act of disobedience. There are many akhbar that magnify the rights of the husband.

The Prophet* said, “If a woman dies while her husband is satisfied with her, she will enter Paradise.”“‘ A man went on a journey and enjoined his wife against descending from the high ground [where they lived] to the low ground where her father lived. He became ill, so the wife sent for the Messenger* of God, asking permission to descend to her father. The Prophet* replied, “Obey your husband.” Her father died, and again she sought his [the Prophet’s] counsel and he said, “Obey your husband.” When her father was buried, the Messenger* of God sent word to her that God has forgiven her father by virtue of her obedience to her husband.”“ The Prophet* said, “If a woman performs her five [daily] prayers, fasts during the month [of Ramadan], preserves her chastity, and obeys her husband, she will enter the Paradise of her Lord.”“‘ He included obedience to the husband in the basic principles of Islam. The Mes

senger* of God described women as: “Child-bearers, mothers, nursers who are compassionate toward their children, and those who pray will enter Paradise, provided that they do not commit wrongs against their husbands.”“‘

The Prophet* said, “I looked into Hell and found most of the occupants to be women,” and we asked him, “Why, 0 Messenger* of God?” He replied, “Because they curse a lot and enrage their mates”;157 by this he meant the husband with whom they consort. In another khabar [the Prophet said], “I looked into Paradise and the minority of its inhabitants were women. So I asked, ‘Where are the women?’ And I was told, ‘They are preoccupied with two red things:158 gold, and saffron,’ “159 meaning jewelry and dyestuff for clothes.

According to ‘A’ishah*: “A young girl came to the Prophet* and said, ‘0 Messenger of God, I am a betrothed girl but I detest marriage. What are the husband’s rights from the woman?’ He replied, ‘Were he covered with pus from the tip of his head to the soles of his feet, and were she to lick him, she would not compensate him enough.’ Whereupon she said, ‘Should I then not get married?’ He said, ‘Do, for it is good.’ “160

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “A woman from Khath’am came to the Messenger* of God and said, ‘I have no husband and I wish to get married: What is the husband’s right?’ and he said, ‘The rights of the husband incumbent upon a wife are that if he should desire her and seek to have her while she is on the back of a camel, she should not deny him his wish. It is his right that she should not give [away] anything from his household except with his permission; should she do this, the burden is hers and the compensation is his. It is also his right that she should not observe a voluntary fast except with his permission; should she do it, she will suffer hunger and thirst and her fasting will not be acceptable [to God]. If she leaves her house without his permission, the angels will curse her until she returns to his house or repents.’““‘ The Prophet* said, “Were I to command someone to prostrate himself before another, I would command the wife to prostrate herself before her husband on account of the magnitude of her obligation to him.”“‘ The Prophet* also said, “A woman is nearest to the face of God when she is in the inner sanctum of her house; performing the prayer in the court-yard of her house is better than praying in the mosque, and praying in her house is better than praying in her courtyard, and praying in her bedchamber (makhda’) is better than praying [elsewhere] in her house.”“‘ The alcove is a quarter within the house; it is a place of shielding. For that reason the Prophet* said, “A woman is deficient; if she goes out, she will please the devil.”“‘ He also said, “A woman has ten deficient qualities; if she marries, the husband covers one of those qualities, and if she dies, the grave covers all ten.”“‘


Thus the husband’s rights toward the wife are many, but most important are two: the first is safeguarding and sheltering; the other is to be spared unnecessary demands and the need for having to provide them if they are unlawful. This was the custom of women with the forefathers. When a man went out of his home, his wife or daughter would say to him, “Beware of unlawful gain; we would endure hunger and harm rather than Fire [hellfire]. One of the predecessors was about to go on a journey of which his neighbors disapproved. They said to his wife, “Why do you let him go when he has not left you any provisions?” She said, “Since the day I knew my husband, he has been a consumer and not a provider; but I do have a Lord who provides. The consumer goes, but the Provider remains.”

Rabi’ah [of Syria], the daughter of Isma’il, asked Ahmad b. Abu al-Hawwari166 to marry her. He declined because he was preoccupied with worship and said to her, “My preoccupations are not inclined toward women, because I am too preoccupied with myself.” She replied, “I am more preoccupied with myself than you are, and I have no [physical] desire. However, I have inherited much wealth from my husband and I wish you would spend it on your spiritual brothers, and that through you I should come to know the righteous ones, thus finding a path to God, may He be glorified and honored.” He replied, “Wait until I seek permission of my master.” So he returned to find Abu Sulayman al-Darani, who used to enjoin against his getting married and [who had] said, “None of our companions ever got married without being changed.” But when he heard her words,

he said, “Marry her, for she is a friend of God. Hers are the words of the righteous.” Al-Hawwari said, “I married her; and there was in our house a container made of plaster which had become worn out through use by those who hastily washed their hands and left after meals, not to mention those who had washed with potash.” He also said, “I married three wives in addition, but she used to give me the best to eat and used to perfume me. She would say to me, ‘Go with energy and strength to your wives.’ “ Thus Rabi’ah of Syria was likened unto Rabi’ah al-’Adawyiah of Basra.”‘

Among the obligations of the woman is that she should not squander his [her husband’s] possessions, but rather take great care of them. The Messenger* of God said, “It is not lawful for her to feed anyone from his house without his permission, except from food that would spoil if kept. Should she feed [others] with his blessing, then she would earn the same kind of reward he earns; but if she should feed [them] without his permission, then he would earn the reward and she would bear the bur

den. -168

It is the obligation of the parents to train her in the etiquette of cohabitation with her husband. It is related of Asma’, the daughter of Kharijah al-Fazzari, that she said to her daughter when the latter got married, “You have left a nest in which you grew up and proceeded to a bed which you know not and a mate with whom you have not associated; be an earth for him, and he will be your sky; be a resting place for him, and he will be your pillar; be his bondmaid, and he will be your slave; do not make excessive demands, for he will then desert you; do not become too distant from him, for he will then forget you; should he draw near, then draw close to him; should he become distant, stay away from him. Shield his nose, his hearing and his eye169 so he will smell nothing from you but that which is sweet, hear nothing but that which is good, and look at nothing but that which is beautiful.”

A man said to his wife [in rhyme]:

Seek forgiveness from me, and you will

cam my constant affection;

Speak not when I am angry;

Do not beat me once as you would beat

the tambourine, for you do not know what the unknown may hold in store;

Do not complain excessively, for it will cause love to depart and turn my heart away from you;

I have seen love in the heart and harm; if the two should meet, love would soon disappear.



Without going into lengthy details, a summary of what constitutes etiquette for the woman is the following: She should remain in the inner sanctum of her house and tend to her spinning; she should not enter and exit excessively; she should speak infrequently with her neighbors and visit them only when the situation requires it; she should safeguard her husband in his absence and in his presence; 170 she should seek his pleasure in all affairs and refrain from betraying him through herself or his possessions; she should not leave his home without his permission: if she goes out with his permission, she should conceal herself in worn-out clothes”‘ and choose the less-frequented places rather than the main avenues and market places, being careful that no stranger hear her voice or recognize her personally; she should not approach friends of her husband while going about her business, but feign ignorance of those who might recognize her or whom she might recognize; her primary concern should be caring for her own affairs, tending to her house, performing her prayers, and fasting; should a friend of her husband knock at the door when he [the husband] is not present, she should not ask questions or engage in conversation, so as to maintain her self-respect and her husband’s; she should be content with the means that God has provided her husband; she should place his rights before hers and before the rights of his relatives; she should always observe the rules of personal hygiene, and be ready at all times for him to enjoy her whenever he wishes; she should be affectionate toward her children, zealous to protect them, refraining from uttering profane words against them and from talking back to her husband.

The Prophet* said, “I and a haggard woman like these two will be in Paradise: a widowed woman who dedicated herself to her daughters until they attained the age of puberty, or [one who

has] died.”““ The Prophet* also said, “God has forbidden all the descendants of Adam to enter Paradise before me; but I look and behold on my right a woman [who] has preceded me to the gate of Paradise; so I ask, ‘Why does she precede me?’ And the answer comes, ‘0 Muhammad, this was a fine, beautiful woman who had orphans. She was patient until they attained their present state, so God was pleased with her for that.’ “19

Other etiquettes governing the woman include the following: that she should not boast to her husband of her beauty, neither should she belittle her husband for his ugliness. It was related that al-Asma’i t”I said, “I went to the desert and, behold, I saw a woman with a most beautiful face married toa man with the ugliest [face]; so I said to her, ‘Woman, are you satisfied to be married to such a man?’ She said, ‘Be quiet! You have uttered ill words; perhaps he has earned high merits with his Lord and thus I became his reward; or perhaps I have offended my Creator and he thus became my punishment. Should I not then accept what God has seen fit for me?’ Thus did she silence me.”

Al-Asma’i also related, “I saw a woman in the desert who was wearing a red garment and carrying a rosary; so I said to her, ‘What a discrepancy between the two!’ She replied [in rhyme]: ‘Part of me belongs to God and I shall not squander it; the other part belongs to folly and idleness.’ I learned that she was a virtuous woman who had a husband for whom she adorns herself.

Another decorum of the woman is to be virtuous, and melancholy in the absence of her husband, and to return to her sprightliness and happiness in his presence. She should never harm her husband in any way. Mu’adh b. Jabal related: “The Messenger* of God said, ‘Whenever a woman hurts her husband in this world, his houri wife says: “Do not harm him, may God reproach you! For he is a stranger in your house who will soon depart from you to join us.”““

Her marital obligations include: that she should not mourn over the death of the husband longer than four months and ten days during which time she should avoid perfume and adornment. Zaynab, the daughter of Abi Salamah, said: “I went to visit Umm Habibah, the wife of the Prophet,* when her father Abu Sufyan b. Harb died. She asked for perfume containing a yellow tinge (khaluq) or something like it. She anointed a female slave with it, then touched both cheeks and said, ‘By God, I have no need for perfume; however, I did hear the Messenger* of God say, “It is not lawful for a woman who believes in God and the Day of Judgment to mourn more than three days over the dead unless he be a husband, in which case she should mourn for four months and ten days.”“‘

The woman should remain in the house of her marriage until the end of the legally prescribed waiting period, and must not move to her family or leave the house except out of necessity.

Another etiquette is that she should perform every service of which she is capable at home. It was related that Asma’,’r’ the daughter of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq,* said: “Zubayr19 married me when he had on earth neither possessions nor slaves nor anything besides his horse and a [water-carrying] camel (nadih). I used to feed his horse, give him his provisions, look after him, grind date-stones for his camel, feed him, bring water, string beads to hang on his neck, and knead dough. I used to transport ground date-stones on my head a distance of more than twothirds of a parasang1T9until Abu Bakr sent me a slave girl, and I was then contented with looking after the horse. It was like being freed.”‘ The Messenger* of God came upon me one day with his companions while I was carrying date-stones on my head,’“‘ and he* said “Akh, akh” to make his she-camel kneel so as to carry me behind him. I was embarrassed to proceed with men and remembered the jealousy of al-Zubayr, for indeed he was the most jealous of men. The Messenger* of God noticed that I was embarrassed; so I came to al-Zubayr and told him what had happened. He said, “By God, it is more painful for me to see you carry ground date-stones on your head than to ride with him.”





As in the text, all references to the Qur’an are from Pickthall’s The Glorious Koran unless otherwise noted.




  1. See al-Bukhari, Sahih, 7:9.
  2. “Tillage,” frequently used by al-Ghazali, is interpreted by Watt to mean “a development of the primitive metaphor which compares sexual intercourse with the sowing of seed, and speaks of children as the fruit of the womb” (Companion to the Qu’rān, 41).
  3. The Halabi edition indicated bil-nutaf. It is difficult to ascertain the meaning with the preposition as an antecedent.
  4. I translated al-indhār from the Azhariyah edition as a “warning,” while the Halabi edition indicates bil-indhdr, “with warning.”


  1. In Arabic: ʿulamaʾ (sing. ʿālim, literally “learned man”). They are the scholars who are learned in Islamic law, beliefs and dogmas (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 650).
  2. It is possible that al-Ghazali is idealizing the past here as no other source has been found to substantiate his remarks. Von Grunebaum reinforces this belief when he states, “The Muslim hates change. The best Islam was in the beginning…. By clinging to the ways of the forebears, by upholding and reliving the tradition of the ancients, by eschewing innovation, the standing of his betters who preceded him would be preserved one instant longer” (Medieval Islam, 240).
  3. Akhbār (sing. khabar, literally “news, report”) is applied to traditions traced back, not to the Prophet, but to other authorities such as his companions, well-known jurists, imams, etc.
  4. Athār (sing. athar, literally “trace”) is applied to traditions relating the deeds and utterances of Muhammad and his companions.
  5. Watt states that this injunction is “usually taken to mean that the relatives should not oppose remarriage to the former husband, but might refer to opposition by the former husband to another husband” (Companion to the Qur’dn, 42).
  6. Hereafter, invocations after saints, prophets, companions and those who have passed away will be deleted; an asterisk will indicate the deletions. The invocation after a saint or a prophet is, “May the prayer and peace of God be upon him”; after companions, “God be satisfied with him”; and others, “May God have mercy upon him.”
  7. See discussion in note 110, this chapter. Actually, “whoever likes my religion which I practice.”
  8. This hadith was related by Abu Yadla in his Musnad with an introduction and conclusion from the hadith of Ibn Abbas on the authority of Hasan (‘ʿIraqī).
  9. This hadith was related by Abu Bakr Ibn Murdawayyah in his commentary from the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar without his including “even if you should fall.” His transmission is weak, and this addition was also mentioned by al-Bayhaqi through his knowledge of al-Shafiti who he claimed had informed him of it (ʿIraqī).
  10. First part conforms with the hadith of Anas: “Whoever refrains from my sunna, -he is not of me”; and the rest was preceded by hadith (ʿIraqī). See also cAbd al-Bagi, Lulu’ wa al-Marjdn, 3:100.
  11. Abu Manṣūr al-Daylami related this hadith in his Musnad al-Firdaws from Abi Saʿid’s hadith in a weak transmission and in the Musnad of al-Darami and in the Mu’jam of al-Baghawi and in the Marāsil as related from the sayings of Abu Najih, “whoever is able to marry and does not marry, he is not of us,” and Abu Najih dissented in his friendship (ʿIraqī).
  12. Ibn Majah related this hadith from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh in a weak (ḍaʿīf) transmission (ʿIraqī).
  13. Reference is to lustfulness.
  14. This hadith is agreed upon by the sayings taken from the hadith of Ibn Masud (ʿIraqī). See also ʿAbd al-Baqī, Lulu’ wa al-Marjān, 3:99; and al-Bukhari, Sahih, 7:3. The term used here, wijd’un, literally means “bruising of the veins of the testicles until they break, so that it is like gelding” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 292).
  15. Arousal of sensuous desire through eyeing the opposite sex.
  16. Implies satisfaction of sexual urges.
  17. al-Tirmidhi made this transmittal known from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (‘ʿIraqī).
  18. In Sufi lexicography, the term is also used to signify sainthood or “friendship of God” (Jabre, Le Lexique de Ghazali, 278).
  19. Ahmad related this hadith in a weak transmission from the hadith of Mu’adh Anas (ʿIraqī).
  20. Ibn al Jawzi related this hadith in the “11al from the hadith, of Anas in a weak transmission (ʿIraqī).
  21. Implies desire for sex. According to Ibn Manztir the term applies to sexual organs of both male and female (Lisdn al-Arab, 3:166). Hans Wehr mentions only “vulva” under farj (Dictionary, 702).
  22. Implies desire for food.
  23. Muslim relates this hadith from Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).
  24. Umar b. al-Khattab, second ʿAlīph, is one of the greatest figures of early Islam and founder of the Arab empire. The West has given him the epithet of “St. Paul of Islam.” He is also referred to as amir al-mu’minin, in a sense renewing the theocratic regime of the time of the Prophet; it ceased with Umar, but the transmission of prophetic powers was revived later by the Shi’a. He was the father-in-law of the Prophet, who married his daughter, Haflah. He died 23/644 (Encyclopaedia of Islam, supplement, new ed., s.v. “athar”).
  25. Fujdr also means to act immorally, sin, live licentiously, lead a dissolute life, indulge in debauchery” (Wehr, Dictionary, 697).
  26. Ibn Abbas ‘Abd al-Muttalib, died 68/687, was a companion and an uncle of the Prophet (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. ‘Abbas’; see also Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 932).
  27. Fardgh, emptying the heart, is a Sufi tenet. It means that by ridding himself of selfish desires, man is able to receive God’s graces and become tranquil (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 2382).
  28. Abu ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd Allah Akramah, a slave of berber origin attached to the governor of al-Balrah, became an authority on the Koran and hadith. He died in 107-8/725-26 (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 75, 82, 1012).

Muhammad b. al’Ala’ b. Kurayb al-Hamdani Abu Kurayb, from alKufah, was an authority on hadith. AI-Tabari, a jurist of his age, acquired knowledge of the hadith from him. He died in 244/858 (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 563, 1033).

  1. Ibn Mas’dd, who died in 32-33/653-54, was a companion of the Prophet and was one of the first converts. He is a traditionist and an authority on the Koran and the sunna. To him is attributed 848 traditions, which are collected in Musnad Ahmad (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. “al-Mas’tidi”).
  2. Mu’adh Ibn Jabal Ibn Aws was appointed by the Prophet as judge of al-Yaman, and helped to collect revelations of the Koran. He died about 18/639 (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 62, 1045).
  3. Bard is translated “one” rather than “some”; the referent is singular (Wehr, Dictionary, 67).
  4. The term used, baniyy, stands for a descendant or a member of a family, clan or tribe.
  5. Ahmad related this hadith from Rabi’ah al-Aslami in a lengthy narration. The transmission is of fair authority (hasan) (ʿIraqī).
  6. Reference is to early ascetics who did not marry, but felt if they did, a wife would distract them from their devotion to the One; consequently, their material needs were the bare essentials. Al-Suhrawardi reiterates this in his commentary in the margins of the Azhariyah edition (ʿAwārif al-Maʿārif, 78).
  7. Bishr b. al-Harith, or Abu Nasr Bishr b. al-afi, was born near Merv ca. 150/767 and died in Baghdad in 227/841. Bishr,* who studied traditions in Baghdad, abandoned formal learning for the “life of a mendicant, destitute, starving and barefoot,” hence the name “al-Haft.” He was admired and respected by Ahmad b. Hanbal and ʿAlīph al-Ma’mun (Farid al-Din ‘Attar, Muslim Saints and Mystics, 80).
  8. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal, known as Ibn Hanbal, died at Baghdad in 241/855. He was an adherent to the Ahl al-Hadith, or the old traditional views. Where possible, he “derives every law from traditional sources. This compels him to be very indulgent to the hadith and sometimes to admit very feeble traditions as the basis of his decision.” He was a founder of one of the the four madhdhib (juridical rites) in Islam, the Hanbali school. He did not establish a fiqh (jurisprudence) system of his own but did answer pupils’ questions pertaining specifically to legal matters. His son, cAbdullah, collected the traditions and lectures in the Musnad (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. “hadith”).
  9. That is, he was in an unenviable position.
  10. Al-Qushayri uses martabah and maqām in the same context. He discusses twenty stations along the mystic’s path, the first of which is repentance (tawbah), (Risdlah, 253-408; see also Hujwiri, Kashf al-Maḥjūb, 294; and Arberry, Sufum, 75-79).
  11. Talqāni (you encounter me) was translated instead of yalqāni (he encounters me), as in the Azhariyah edition, to agree with the subject.
  12. Ibrahim Ibn Adham, or Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Adham, was born in Balkh of pure Arab descent-a prince who renounced his kingdom somewhat after the fashion of the Buddha. His conversion is a classic in Sufi legend. He left his kingdom and family to become an itinerant dervish, living an ascetic life, then gathered a following. He died ca. 165/782 in Syria (Farid al-Din ‘Attar, Muslim Saints and Mystics, 62).
  13. Farid al-Din ‘At tar maintains that Ibn Adham was married (Muslim Saints and Mystics, 68).
  14. Mujahid is one who “fought against unbelievers and the like in the way of God, that is, in the cause of religion” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 473).
  15. Rak’ah literally means “a bending of the torso from an upright position, followed by two prostrations [in Muslim prayer rituals]” (Wehr, Dictionary, 358).
  16. Reference is probably to the Arabicized Muslim whereby the “Arabic civilization becomes Muslim civilization, and it is the spontaneous collaboration of the best minds of all the Empire’s nationalities that accounts for the stupendous rise of this civilization in those two hundred years, from 750 to 950, so breathlessly crowded of human accomplishment” (Von Grunebaum, Medieval Islam, 201).
  17. Abu Yacla relates this hadith from Hadhifah, and al-Khitibi in al’Uzlah from his own hadith and the hadith of Abd Amimah; both weak transmittals (ʿIraqī).
  18. Al-Khitabi related this hadith in al-ʿUzlah from the hadith of Ibn Masʿūd who was guided by al-Bayhaqi in al-Zahti, who was guided by the hadith of Abu Hurayrah; all weak transmittals (ʿIraqī).
  19. Al-Qada’i related this hadith in the Musnad of al-Shihab [followed by other references and transmittals]; both transmittal lines are weak (ʿIraqī).
  20. Abu Sulayman al-Darani, a mystic of the ninth century, died in Syria in 215/830. To him is attributed the first delineations of the doctrine of maqdmdt (stations) of the Sufi path Jami, Nafahdt al-Uns, 39).
  21. See al-Suhrawardi,’Awdrif alMa’drif 76.
  22. A1-Ghazali is apparently voicing his discontent toward the writers of hadith in emulation of Muhammad, who said to those writing hadith, “Do you not know that nothing but the writing of books besides the book of God led astray the peoples that were before you?” (Guillaume, Traditions of Islam, 16).
  23. Abu al-Hasan Ahmad b. al-Hawwari was from Damascus, and was a scholar and a mystic. He died in 230-31/844-45 (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 456, 1002).
  24. In the Halabi edition yussabbib is used to imply that producing children is the primary aim of coitus; in the Azhariyah edition bisabab is used when a child is the accidental result of coitus.
  25. The term used is walad, which connotes a male or female offspring.
  26. That is, increase the ranks of the faithful (Muslims).
  27. That is, after the father has passed away.
  28. Although the verse, Qur’an 2:48 (ʿAlī), rules out intercession in Islam, many Muslims believe in it: “And fear the day when no soul shall serve as a substitute for another soul at all, nor shall intercession be accepted for it; nor shall ransom be taken from it; nor shall they be helped.”
  29. This is a reference to the reports that in the Jahiliyah (pre-Islam) period Arabs buried their daughters alive. W. R. Smith asserts that the reason for this was twofold: fear by the parents that they could not provide for all their offspring and fear that their daughters might be taken captive and thus bring disgrace on their kin (Kinship and Marriage, 291-96; see also Fyzee, Muhammadan Law, 5).
  30. Al-Ghazali expounds further on this subject from a slightly different position in chapter 3. In the hadith, there are transmittals both allowing and disapproving coitus interruptus. See Wensinck, Handbook, 112.
  31. Watt explains “lend” as “contributing to God’s causes” (Companion to the Quran, 43).
  32. His use of such terms as farad’ and bagel’ maybe conscious allusions to Sufi significations since both constitute final states in the Sufi’s search for communion with God; fand’ is the annihilation or passing away of the self, but is not equivalent to the cessation of the individual consciousness as in Nirvana; and bag&’ is the “subsistence or remaining” in God (Jabre, Le Lexique de Ghazali, 265; see also Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjrlb, 243; and Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. ‘fand”‘)
  33. The hadith states that “God says.” It is related by al-Bukhari from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah that Mukhlid al-Qatawani is the only one who quoted it (ʿIraqī).
  34. The complete verse is: “Who hath created life and death that He may try you” (Qur’an 67:2).
  35. The Azhariyah edition adds: wa yahsul al-wigd’-that is, “and coitus results as a consequence of desire.”
  36. Al-ramal (trotting) and al-idtibāʿ (cloaking) are performed in imitation of the Prophet and his companions who did these things so that the people of Mecca might know that there was strength in them (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 1159).
  37. The text is al-iftidd’ (ransom, sacrifice, redeem), but al-igtidd’ of the Azhariyah edition was translated to mean “emulation.”
  38. Abū Umar al-Tawqani indicates this hadith in his book Maʿāshirat alAhlayn, basing it on the transmittal of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, but this cannot be supported or justified (ʿIraqī).
  39. Al-Bayhaqi reveals this hadith from the hadith of Ibn Abi cAdiyah al-Sadafi as genuine (sahih) and based on Said b. Yasar as the ultimate source (ʿIraqī).
  40. Ibn Habban relates it in his Ḍuʿafāʾ (book of weak transmittals) as related by Bahaz b. Hakim, who quoted his father, who quoted his grandfather; weak transmittals (ʿIraqī).
  41. Ibn Majah relates the hadith from ʿAlī and says “miscarried fetus” rather than “child’ ; weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  42. Muslim relates the hadith from Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).
  43. Ibn Habban first related this hadith in the Ḍuʿafāʾ from the transmittals of Bahaz b. Hakim, who related it from his father, who related it from his grandfather: It is not genuine. However, al-Nisa’i related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in a good (jayyid) transmittal. He states that “it was said to them to enter paradise; they would say, ‘Not until our parents enter,’ then it would be said, ‘Enter paradise, you and your parents”‘ (ʿIraqī).
  44. The hadith in its entirety does not have a reliable source (ʿIraqī).
  45. Al-Bazzar and al-Tabarani related the hadith from Zuhayr b. Abi cAlqamah; and by Muslim from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).
  46. Al-Bukhari relates the hadith from Anas without mentioning “even two”; Ahmad related this addition from the hadith of Mu’adh which is agreed upon (muttafaq ʿalayhi) (ʿIraqī).
  47. The word is wildān (sing. walīd), that is, “newborn children, young infants’ ; a child who dies in early infancy, or who is prematurely born, is in paradise (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 2966).
  48. Lane quotes this whole hadith from Nuzhat al-Mutaammil (Arabian Society, 197-98).
  49. In the Azhariyah edition, it is al-taghbiyah which would be translated as “divine concealment.”
  50. The Sufis are referred to as those who are knowledgeable in the esoteric, hidden or inner meanings (Jabre, Le Lexique de Ghazali, 39).
  51. The line before Qur’an 8:73, which lends meaning to the quotation, is: “And those who disbelieve are protectors one of another-If ye do not so….
  52. The term literally means “the members, or limbs, of a man, with which things are gained or earned, or with which one works” (Lane, ArabicEnglish Lexicon, 405).
  53. Al-Ghazali uses murid, which is a Sufi term for a novice or disciple of a murshid or teacher of a Sufi order who is on the Path to attain the knowledge of the One (al-Qushayri, Risālah, 731, 746-50; see also Palacios, La Espiritualidad de Algazel, 4:90).
  54. The concept of the heart and its purification is a main tenet of the Sufis in attaining their goal (al-Qushayri, Risālah, 566).
  55. al-Suhrawardi, ‘Awārif al-Ma ʿārif 84).
  56. Possibly cIragi Qatadah (d. 117/735), one of the companions of the Prophet and a transmitter of hadith (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, 2:23; see also a reference to him as a transmitter in Ibn Kathir’s Tafsir al-Qurʾān, 491).
  57. Watt refers to this verse (Qur’an 2:286) as “charges … to its capacity”; that is, “requires of no one more than he is able to perform” (Companion to the Qur’an, 45).
  58. See note 28, this chapter, for identity of ʿAkramah.
  59. This is possibly Abti al-Hajjaj Mujahid b. Jabr, of Mecca, who lived from 21/642 to 104/722 and was a disciple of Ibn Abbas and an authority for reading and commentary on the Koran (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrut, 1061).
  60. “Darkness: sometimes said to mean an eclipse of the moon,” as interpreted by Watt (Companion to the Quran, 333).
  61. Muslim relates the hadith from Ibn Umar, which is confirmed by the hadith of Abi Said. However, Muslim was unable to affirm its utterance (ʿIraqī).
  62. Al-Bayhaqi related it in the Invocations (al-Du’awdl) from the hadith of Umm Salamah in a transmission which contained weaknesses (ʿIraqī).
  63. Hadith; as set forth in the Invocations (ʿIraqī).
  64. Literally, the text states that he “became stationary between His hands” (Wehr, Dictionary, 1091-92).
  65. Ahmad related it from the hadith of Abi Kabshah al-ʿAmmari-its chain of authority is reliable (jayyid) (dlragi).
  66. This is also related by Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 3:348, 395.
  67. This is the hadith of jabir. It was related by Muslim and al-Tirmidhi -it is of fair authority (ʿIraqī).
  68. Al-mughayyibāl (absentee) was translated because of the context, rather than al-maghabāt (outcome, consequence), in the Azhariyah edition.
  69. Al-Tirmidhi related it from the hadith of Jabir; it is authentic (gharib) (ʿIraqī).
  70. From the hadith of Ibn Abbas. It was stated by the Prophet and related by al-Bukhari (‘ʿIraqī).
  71. A son born of a concubine automatically becomes a slave as was the custom in the pre-Islamic period. On the other hand, a distinction was made also between the sons of a foreign woman and those of a freeborn tribeswoman (W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage, 89).
  72. See 2 Peter 3:8: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
  73. The Arabic term ʿālim (literally, “a learned man”; a scholar knowledgeable in Islamic beliefs) is not used as frequently as the plural form ʿulamāʾ (ulema).
  74. Hadith. It was so stated to Hasan b. ʿAlī. This utterance was said to Jafar b. Abi Talib and agreed upon by the hadith of al-Barra’. However, Hasan also resembled the Prophet … which is agreed upon in the hadith of Jahifah; al-Tirmidhi corrected it. Ibn Habban relates it from the hadith of Anas who said, “No one resembles the Prophet more than Hasan” (ʿIraqī).
  75. Ahmad related it from the hadith of al-Miqdad b. Macadyakrab in a chain of authority which is considered reliable (ʿIraqī).
  76. Mughirah Ibn Shu’bah, a companion and martyr, died ca. 48 or 51/668-671. He holds in tradition a record for marriages and divorces which varies: 300, 700, 1,000. Among the public offices he held was the governorship of Ktifa. His slave, Abu Lu’lu’ah, assassinated ʿAlīph Umar (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. “al-Mughira b. Shu’ba’“).
  77. Ibn Habban related it from the hadith of Abi Dharr in a lengthy tradition from the scriptures of Abraham (‘ʿIraqī).
  78. The Azhariyah rendition of tdmifan (desirous) was used, and not zd’inan (journeying) which appears in the Halabi edition.
  79. This is in reference to the verse, “Take thou provisions from the present world, i.e., make thou provision in it, for the world to come” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 1267).
  80. Same transmittal and narration as in note 105, this chapter.
  81. In a Sufi context, irddah connotes a willful determination to undertake the rigors of the Path, that is, to have the “desire” to seek nothing but what God desires (Arberry, Sufism, 77).
  82. A similar tradition with a different connotation and spelling (fatrah) given by Lane states, “Verily there is an eagerness [shirrah] for this Kur-an: then men have a weariness [fatrah] of it” (Arabic-English Lexicon, 1525; see also jabre, who refers to it as a “natural disposition” that exists in the heart to know God [Le Lexique de Ghazali, 222-23]).
  83. Ahmad and al-Tabarani related it from the hadith of Abdallah b. Umar; and al-Tirmidhi related something similar from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah. The tradition is genuine (sahih) (ʿIraqī).
  84. This is related by Ibn’Adiyy, Ibn Abbas, al-ʿAqili, Ibn Habban, and al-Azadi; all weak transmittals (ʿIraqī). Harisah is a dish of cooked meat and bulgur (al Jahiz, Le Livre des avares de Gahiz, 310).
  85. Al-Nisa’i and al-Hakim related it from the hadith of Anas in a good transmittal. However, al-ʿAaqili weakened it (ʿIraqī).
  86. Literally, dhikr means “mentioning Allah,” enjoined upon Muslims in the Koran; or in a Sufi context, “the glorifying of Allah with certain fixed phrases, repeated in a ritual order, either aloud or in the mind, with peculiar breathings and physical movements” (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. “dhikr”; see also al-Qushayri, Risālah, 464-71).
  87. Al-Tirmidhi related it and improved it; it was also related by Ibn Mijah; there is a break in the chain of authority (ʿIraqī).
  88. The terms he uses here are dhikr (remembrances) and shukr (thanksgiving), both mystic terms (al-Qushayri, Risālah, 383-89; see also note 114).
  89. Possible reference to his wives as a unit. His devil is not as was defined earlier-i.e., when a woman approaches, she approaches in the form of a devil-but is used here in a metaphorical sense. In this instance, she abetted his fulfillment of Muslim obligations, hence equating the two devil Muslims.
  90. Al-Khatib related it in the history [of Baghdad] from the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar. This was also related by Muslim from the hadith of Ibn Masud (ʿIraqī).
  91. There are three suras (Qur’an 22:53, Qur’an 75:2, and Qur’an  89:27-30) that deal with the physical, moral, and spiritual levels of “self.” Al-Ghazali comments on the first two. See also Jabre, Le Lexique de Ghazali, 263-65.
  92. AN connotes “wives” here since all the verbs in the sentence are in the feminine plural and, therefore, do not have the general meaning of “family, relative,” etc.
  93. AI-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi related it from the hadith of Ibn Abbas; it was preceded by the words “sixty years.” It is agreed upon by the hadith of Ibn ʿUmar (ʿIraqī).
  94. Al-Ghazali fails here to give the other two counts.
  95. In Islamic law, ṣadāqah is a legally prescribed alms tax (Wehr, Dictionary, 509).
  96. Agreed upon from the hadith of Ibn Masud and others in which fi [literally, “mouth”] is included (ʿIraqī). The Azhariyah edition gives yarfa1uha ila f i imra atihi, while the translated text excludes fr. Another interpretation could be to “offer it to the mouth” of his wife.
  97. This refers to “The Substitutes, or Lieutenants, that is, certain righteous persons, of whom the world is never destitute; when one dies, God substituting another in his place.” According to some, the assertion refers to seventy men, while according to others, to seven (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 168).
  98. Abu Yadla relates it from the hadith of Abi Said al-Khudari in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī). The “two women” he refers to are not identified.
  99. Ibn Majah relates it from the hadith of dUmran b. Husayn. The transmittal is weak (ʿIraqī).
  100. Ahmad relates it from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh. However, he stated bil-huzn [in sadness, grief] while Layth b. Abi Salim does not agree (ʿIraqī). As was expressed in the beginning of the fifth advantage, through tolerance and exercise of just protection of the family and children, a man can gain “salvation,” or atone for his sins.
  101. Al-Tabarani relates it in al-Awsaṭ and Abu Nudaym [al-Isfahani] in Ḥulyat [al-AwliyāʾJ and al-Khaṭīb in al-Talkhis which resembles the hadith of Abu Hurayrah. The transmittal is weak (ḍaʿīf (ʿIraqī).
  102. Al-Khara’iti relates it in Makārim al-Akhlāq in a weak transmission but differs from the relater, Ibn Abbas. This hadith is also related by Abi Da’ud and al-Tirmidhi who have worthy transmitters, but there is still controversy over its transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  103. See gharib in the Glossary.
  104. The text uses jawāriḥ to imply extraneous or physical acts. See note 80, this chapter.
  105. That is, because he has sufficiently subdued his passions.
  106. This contradicts his statement in the Conclusions (this chapter), wherein he states it as a condition and not as an absolute: “. . . to earn gain in an improper way is unlawful. Seeking gain takes place continually and in it lies his [ultimate] ruin and the ruin of his family.”
  107. The scales are those on which the deeds will be weighed on the day of judgment (see Qur’an 4:59, Qur’an 5:9 [ʿAlī]).
  108. ʿIraqī stated that he could not find a basis for the origin of this hadith.
  109. The author of the Firdaws mentioned it from the hadith of Abi Sa’id. However, the son of Abti ManIyr could not find it in his Musnad (ʿIraqī).
  110. Yafa (redeem) instead of baqa (remain) was translated from the Azhariyah edition.
  111. Abu Da’tid and al-Nisa’i related it by stating “whom he abandons,” rather than “for whom he provides.” Muslim had still a third version (ʿIraqī).
  112. The author of the statement apparently is referring to the emptying of the heart, a station on the path of union with God which is an arduous process. Hence the novice can barely take care of himself much less be occupied with and care for another being. See also note 143, this chapter.
  113. See note 40, this chapter.
  114. Watt translated it (Qur’an 2:228) as: “Women have such honourable rights as obligations.” Literally, he states that women “ ‘have rights similar to their duties according to what is honourable (or reputable) or customary.’ This is sometimes said to mean that both parties should keep the way open for reconciliation” (Companion to the Quran, 41).
  115. That is, he is afraid even to raise a chicken lest he leave it on the road and become a butcher. Al-Suhrawardi restates this and the need for a Sufi to be preoccupied with his own needs (ʿAwārif al-Maʿārif 78).
  116. Meaning a master over his place of abode.
  117. Al-Bukhari related it from the hadith of Anas who also related “they are eleven” (ʿIraqī). One tradition states that the Prophet had nine wives, among whom were ʿĀʾisha, daughter of Abu Bakr; Hafla, daughter of Umar; Umm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sufyan; Umm Salama, daughter of Abu Umayya b. al-Mughira; Sauda, daughter of Zamca b. Qays; Zaynab, daughter of Huyay b. Akhtab” (see al-Bukhari, Ṣaḥīḥ, 7:4, and cAbd al-Bagi, Lulu, 1:74). Another tradition states that he married thirteen women, among whom is Khadija (daughter of Khuwaylid) who was his first wife (Guillaume, Life of Muhammad, 792). Ibn al-Jawzi refers to fourteen wives (Talbis Iblis, 330).
  118. Al-Bukhari related it from the hadith of Anas which also contains the statement that the Prophet received revelations while he was in the bed of tA’ishah and not the others (ʿIraqī).
  119. Ibn Abbas has a similar allegory: “L’eau, c’est la science; et les. ruisseaux, les coeurs” (Massignon, Les Origins du lexique technique, 139-40).




  1. The text has “sultan,” but the term actually implies ultimate authority holder.
  2. This hadith is from Ibn Umar who states: “Does not engage his brother’s fiancee until the engaged man leaves her, or permission is taken for him” (ʿIraqī). See also al-Shafiʿī, Risālah, 307.
  3. He is referred to as Umar II, who ruled from A.D. 717 to 720. He was renowned for his piety and asceticism and was considered the only pious member of the Umayyad ʿAlīphate (Hitti, History of the Arabs, 219-22).
  4. The term al-zubadu bil-nirsiydn is used here to describe an ideal combination; it is misspelled in the Halabi edition, where tirsiydn (shield, disk of the sun) is given.
  5. Name of the tenth month of the Muslim year.
  6. The Prophet contracted the marriage to ʿĀʾishāh when she was seven and lived with her in Medina when she was nine or ten. She was the only virgin that he married. Her father, Abu Bakr, married her to him (Guillaume, Life of Muhammad, 792).
  7. Muslim related it from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh (ʿIraqī).
  8. This list is al-Ghazali’s compilation of divergent views. However, for an elaboration of these views and practices observed by the four juridical rites-Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafici, Maliki-as well as Sunni versus Shici concepts, see Hughes, who expounds upon nine prohibitions (Dictionary of Islam, 31418), and Fyzee (Muhammadan Law, 92-96, 106-8).
  9. Muhammad decreed that Muslims cannot marry a Magian except under certain circumstances. Magians were a religious sect in Persia that was reformed by Zoroaster in the sixth century before Christ (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 310).
  10. The term kilābiyah refers to a female of the Ahl al-Kitab (or those who possess an inspired Book, i.e., Jews, Christians, or Sabeans) (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 280). According to the Shiites, the term can also extend to Samaritans, Sabeans, and Zoroastrians (Fyzee, Muhammadan Law, 94).
  11. The Azhariyah edition states, “does not fear fornication.”
  12. When two unrelated people are nursed by the same woman, they are considered to be blood brothers or sisters (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 314).
  13. The Halabi edition indicates “grandmother.” However, the Azhariyah word was translated here meaning “granddaughter.”
  14. For a further explanation, see al-Shafiʿī, Risālah, 205-6.
  15. ʿIddat bayntinah is final divorce whereby the woman cannot remarry the husband, contrary to ʿiddat al-rafah, whereby she can (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 285-86, 1040).
  16. The concept of ḥall (literally, “untying” or “resolving”) is that after a man divorces his wife, she has to become the wife of another man, the muhallil, before he can remarry her; muhallil literally means one who “unties or resolves” the problem, making her lawful to remarry her husband (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 619-20).
  17. Li’’an is the oath of condemnation; it can also be, in Islamic law, a “sworn allegation of adultery committed by either husband or wife” (Wehr, Dictionary, 870).
  18. Al-Ghazali uses the term thayyiban saghirah for “deflowered young woman.”
  19. Literally, the term farjihd means “to safeguard her sexual organ.” See chapter 1, note 21.
  20. This hadith was related by Abu Da’rid and al-Nisa’i, which was related from the hadith of Ibn Abbas. Al-Nisa’i stated that this hadith was not agreed upon, while Ahmad stated it was of weak authority (munkar). Also al Jawzi mentioned it in Al-Mawducdt (ʿIraqī).
  21. Agreed upon; from the hadith of Abti Hurayrah (ʿIraqī). Taribat yaddh is a form of imprecation meaning, “May thine arm, or thy hands, cleave to the dust, or earth, by reason of poverty” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 300).
  22. Al-Tabarani related this hadith in ad Awsat from the hadith of Anas. Another version of this hadith was related by Ibn Habban in al-Dtfafa’ (a collection of weak transmittals) (ʿIraqī).
  23. Ibn Majah related it from the hadith of Abdallah b. ‘Umar in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  24. See chapter 1, note 27.
  25. Al-Tirmidhi related and refined this transmittal from the hadith of Jabir stating that God said, “I detest and shall keep away on the Day of Resurrection the prattler, the braggart, and the long-winded.” This transmittal was also related and refined by al-Tirmidhi and Abd Da’tid from the hadith of cAbdallah b. Umar (ʿIraqī).
  26. Sāʾiḥ, the term used here, denotes an itinerant dervish as well.
  27. In Islamic law, a compensation (khutah) must be paid by the wife when a divorce is sought by her (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 274). This law is laid down in Qur’an 2:229: “And if ye fear that they may not be able to keep the limits of Allah, in that case it is no sin for either of them if the woman ransom herself.”
  28. Nashaz is the noun derived from the same root as ndshiz. In Islamic law, nushuz means “violation of marital duties on the part of either husband or wife, specifically, recalcitrance of the woman toward her husband, and brutal treatment of the wife by the husband” (Wehr, Dictionary, 966).
  29. Sharica is the Muslim law derived from the Koran, the hadith, and the processes of jurisprudence (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 923).
  30. Ibn Majah related this hadith in a weak transmittal from the hadith of b. Maslamah. It was also related by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisa’i with slight variations.
  31. The Ansar, or Medinans, were followers of Muhammad and early converts who granted him refuge after the Hegira (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 16).
  32. Muslim related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).
  33. Abu Bakr Sulayman a1-Aʿmash, a traditionist, died in Rufa in 148/765. He received traditions from al-Zuhri and Malik b. Anas. He was also a great admirer of ʿAlī (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. “al-Aʿmash”).
  34. The words “to Bilal” were left out of this text, but they do occur in previous editions. Bilal, an Abyssinian Negro who was freed by the Prophet, became the first muezzin in Islam. Muhammad honored and distinguished him as the “first fruits of Abyssinia” (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 42).
  35. Malik b. Dinar al-Simi, who died at the age of ninety in 131/748 at Basra, is mentioned as a reliable traditionist, transmitting from such authorities as Malik b. Anas and Ibn Sirin. He was the son of a Persian slave from Sujistan (or Kabul) who became a disciple of Hasan of Basra (a mystic) (Hujwiri, Kashf al-Maḥjūb, 89; Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 1037).
  36. A houri is a white-skinned, black-eyed woman who is referred to as a virgin of paradise, or a nymph of the Islamic paradise. Al-hawar and the Arabic word for houri (sing. ,hur; pl. hdriyah) are derived from the same root. See Qur’an 55:56-78 for a complete description of the women of paradise.
  37. Al-Nisa’i related this hadith from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in a genuine transmittal. Ahmad and Abu DA’fd related this hadith from Ibn Abbas in a genuine transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  38. Related by Ibn Habban from the hadith of Ibn Abbas. This was also related by ʿĀʾishāh and by Abu Umar al-Tawgani in the book Maʾāshirat al-Ahlayn who enhanced it (ʿIraqī).
  39. It was related by the transmitters of the sunna and extending to ‘Umar; al-Tirmidhi enhanced it (ʿIraqī).
  40. “Dirham” may be used for money or for a silver coin (Ibn alNadim, Fihrist, 910).
  41. Related by Abu Da’ud al-Tayalsi and al-Bazzar from the hadith of Anas; by al-Tabarani in al-Awsat from the hadith of Abi Sac id; and by Ahmad from the hadith of ʿAlī; and by al-Hakim who made its transmittal reliable (ʿIraqī).
  42. dIliyy comes from the term cilliyan and is translated here to mean a “stone, sometimes placed upon two other stones, upon which is put to dry the preparation of curd; also used for other purposes” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 2146). It is difficult to ascertain any other referent here. The word was deleted from the Azhariyah edition..
  43. Mudd, a dry measure. “It is a quarter of a sac; the sd’ being five pints and one third; such was the mudd of the Prophet” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 2697).
  44. Al-Bukhari related this hadith from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh (ʿIraqī).
  45. Related by al-Arbacah from the hadith of Anas and also by Muslim (ʿIraqī). Sawiq is a kind of mush made of wheat or barley. It can also be made with sugar and dates (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 1472).
  46. Related by al-Arbacah from the hadith of Umar. Al-Tirmidhi stated that it was genuine and of fair authority (hasan sahih) (ʿIraqī).
  47. This is from the hadith of Anas stating that cAbd al-Rahman b. cAwf got married for five dirhams. It was related by al-Bayhaqi (ʿIraqī).
  48. Compare what al-Ghazali states here with his statement on page 158 in Counsel for Kings.
  49. Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi related it from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh. Its chain of authority is reliable (ʿIraqī).
  50. This is related by Abu Umar al-Tawqani from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh and by Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi. Its transmission is reliable (ʿIraqī).
  51. Sufyan al-Thawri, or Abu cAbd Allah Sufyan Ibn Said alThawri, was claimed by the Sufis as a saint. He was an ascetic who founded a school of jurisprudence which survived for about two centuries. However, he opposed the authorities and was compelled to go into hiding in Mecca. He was born in Kufa in 97/715 and died at Basra in 161/778 (Farid al-Din Attar, Muslim Saints and Mystics, 129).
  52. This is related by al-Bukhari in the book al-A dab al-Mufrad and by al-Bayhaqi from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in a reliable chain of authority (ʿIraqī).
  53. Abu Da’dd and al-Nisa’i related it from the hadith of Mucqal b. Yasar. Its chain of authority is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  54. This transmittal is agreed upon from the hadith of Jabir (ʿIraqī).
  55. The Azhariyah edition uses the comparative form aakad (surest) while the Halabi edition uses akad (to assure, convince).
  56. This was related in a tradition as follows: “Avoid ye the beautiful woman that is of ‘bad origin’; she is thus likened to the herbage that grows in the diman (dung), that appears to be in a flourishing condition, but is unwholesome as food, and of stinking origin” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 916).
  57. Al-Daraqutni related this hadith in al-Afrād and stated that al-Waqidi repeated it but made it weak (ʿIraqī).
  58. Al-cirqu nazz&un means “the radical, or ancestral, or hereditary, quality is wont to return to its usual possessor; or it may mean, is wont to draw” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 916).
  59. Ibn al-Salah stated that he could find no basis for this hadith (ʿIraqī).
  60. Related by Abu ‘Umar al-Tawgani in Macdsharat al-Ahlayn. This is supported by the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh and Asma’, daughters of Abu Bakr. The transmittal is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  61. Grandson of the Prophet, ʿAlī’s son.



  1. This is from the hadith of Anas-agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  2. Muhammad consummated his marriage with Safiyyah b. Huyayy, who was a captive and was married without a dowry, on his return from Khaibar (Stern, Marriage in Early Islam, 86).
  3. This was related from the hadith of Anas by the four transmitters of hadith (ʿIraqī). See chapter 2, note 45, for description of sawiq.
  4. This hadith is attributed to al-Tirmidhi who related it from the hadith of Ibn Mascad, and who made the transmission weak.
  5. Gharib means “authentic, but resting on the authority of only one companion” (Guillaume, Traditions of Islam, 181).
  6. Hadith of AbU Hurayrah as related by Abu Da’ud and al-Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah perfected and introduced it in the Invocations (ʿIraqī).
  7. It was related and enhanced by al-Tirmidhi, and by Ibn Majah from the hadith of Muhammad b. Hatib (ʿIraqī). The term saws (voice) is used to imply singing.
  8. This was related by al-Tirmidhi from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh; however, al-Bayhaqi enhanced it and made it weak (ʿIraqī).
  9. Hadith of al-Rubayyic, daughter of Mucawwidh, as was related by al-Bukhari with a slight change (ʿIraqī).
  10. ʿAlī interprets it to mean “anything that has no civil rights. It includes captives or slaves, people in your power” (Holy Quran, 191, n.553).
  11. Book 15 of al-Ghazali’s Iḥyāʾ deals with prayer.
  12. Al-Nisa’i brought it forth in al-Kubrā, and Ibn Majah from the hadith of Umm Salamah. The Prophet never ceased to stress “prayers and what your right hand (possesses).” In reference to the care of women, he stressed this in the last pilgrimage which was related by Muslim from the hadith of Jabir al-Tawil (ʿIraqī).
  13. This refers to “a recompense, or reward, from God to a man, for righteous conduct” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 24).
  14. cIragi could not find any basis for this hadith. However, see Qur’an 28:9 in support of this statement.
  15. This is related from the hadith of ‘Umar as stated in the hadith of al-Tawil-agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  16. The earlier hadith did not contain “0 foolish woman,” and “he is better than you” (ʿIraqī).
  17. Haf;ah was the daughter of ʿAlīph ‘Umar and the second wife of the Prophet (Guillaume, Life of Muhammad, 792).
  18. See Qur’an 66:1-3. Abu Bakr was ʿĀʾishāh’s father.
  19. No basis can be found for this transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  20. Al-Tirani transmitted it in al-Awsat as did al-Khatib in al-Tarikh. Both transmittals are weak and come from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh (ʿIraqī).
  21. Abu Yada brought it forth in his Musnad and Abu al-Shaykh in Kitab al-Amthdl from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh, which was also transmitted by Ibn Ishaq (ʿIraqī).
  22. Related from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh-agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  23. This was first related by the two shaykhs from the hadith of Umar and Ibn al cAs; then Ibn al Jawzi shaped it and related it in al-Mawducdt from the hadith of Anas; … however, his love for Khadija is well known and documented in the hadith (ʿIraqī).
  24. From the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh-agreed upon without exception. It was related with the addition by al-Zubayr b. Bakkarand al-Khatib (ʿIraqī).
  25. Al-Bukhari related it from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh (ʿIraqī).
  26. Hadith Anas. However, Muslim related, “I have never seen anyone kinder than the Prophet with women,” but ʿAlī b. ʿAbd al-ʿAziz and al-Baghawi added “and children” (ʿIraqī).
  27. Abu Da’tid and al-Nisa’i related it in al-Kubrd, and Ibn Majah from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh-the transmittal is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  28. Al-Hasan b. Sufyan related it in his Musnad from the hadith of Anas without his saying “with his wives”; it was also related by al-Bazzar and alTabarani in al-Saghir and al-Awsat by stating “with his children,” which was supported by Ibn Lahicah (ʿIraqī).
  29. ‘Ashird’ is the name of the voluntary fast day. It is held the tenth day of Muharram on the anniversary of Husayn’s martyrdom at Karbala (60 A.H.). It is a day of mourning sacred to the Shicites (Wehr, Dictionary, 614).
  30. The hadith is agreed upon with few exceptions; “a holy day” rather than the day of cAshurd’ was mentioned; while al-Nisa’i stated in his Kubrd that ʿĀʾishāh said, “Don’t rush,” rather than, “Be quiet”; and that the Prophet said, “0 she-ass!” The chain of authority is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  31. It is a trustworthy transmittal (thiqah) which is related by the two shaykhs: al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisa’i (ʿIraqī).
  32. Al-Tirmidhi brought it forth and authenticated it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah without saying, “and I am the best among you toward my wives”; and from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh, “people” was replaced by “wives” (clragi). Note, however, that “wife” is one of many meanings of the word ahl (Wehr, Dictionary, 33).
  33. Ahl is translated here to mean “family.”
  34. “Found a man,” that is, act like a man or be firm.
  35. Abu Bakr b. Lal related it in Makārim al-Akhlāq from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in a weak transmittal. It is also stated in the two Sahihs from the hadith of Jariyah b. Wahab al-Khazad and Abu Da’tid (ʿIraqī).
  36. Agreed upon from the hadith of Zahir (ʿIraqī).
  37. Muni ah also means “abstinence from things unlawful, or in chastity of manners, and the having some art or trade” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 2702).
  38. No basis was found for this statement. However, al-Bukhari related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah as, “Miserable is he who is a servant of the dinar and the dirham” (ʿIraqī).
  39. Compare Qur’an 14:34.
  40. A fir is the “space between the end of the thumb and the end of the index finger when extended” (Wehr, Dictionary, 694).
  41. A cubit in Iraq and Syria is 0.68m, in Egypt it is 0.58m (Wehr, Dictionary, 309).
  42. The Nabataeans were a tribal group who lived in Arabia as early as the seventh century B.c. During the Muslim period, the Arabs called those inhabitants of Syria and Iraq who were neither shepherds nor soldiers, “Nabataeans”-a term used in “a contemptuous tone to the Aramaic-speaking peasants” (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. “Nabataeans”).
  43. For further details, see Qur’an 12:28-31.
  44. Al-Tabarani related it from the hadith of Abi Imamah in a weak transmittal; and Ahmad from the hadith of Umar and b. al-’As. However, al-Nisa’i related in his Kubrd that the Prophet stated: “If among all the crows, there is a white-footed crow with a red beak, then no woman shall enter Paradise except one like this crow.” This transmittal is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  45. Abu Mans ur al-Daylami related it in the Musnad al-Firdaws from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in a weak transmittal. However…. a slight transmittal … states the “three poverties, one of which is: ‘If you come to her, she will hurt you, and if you are away from her, she will be unfaithful to you.”‘ This was related by al-Tabarani from the hadith of Fadalah b. cUbayd as of fair authority (ʿIraqī).
  46. From the hadith of ‘A’ishah-agreed upon (ʿIraqī). It is interesting to note here that all the good transmittals concerning women were transmitted by women, especially by ʿĀʾishāh.
  47. See Qur’an 66:3.
  48. The translation given by Watt is, “If you two [Hafsah and ʿĀʾishāh] repent to God”; that is, “If you repent, good and well” (Companion to the Qur’dn, 271).
  49. This is agreed upon from the hadith of ‘Umar, and the two women are ʿĀʾishāh and Hafsah (ʿIraqī).
  50. AI-Bakhari related it from the hadith of Abi Bakrah (ʿIraqī).
  51. This is related by al-Tabarani in al-Awsat from the hadith of Jabir. Muslim states that the Prophet “forbade the man to enter upon his wife at night for he betrays them or seeks their faults.” However, al-Bukhari does not mention the prohibition of entering at night (ʿIraqī).
  52. Ahmad related it from the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar. The transmittal is reliable (ʿIraqī).
  53. Agreed upon from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī). See alBukhari, Sahih, 7:33-34. Ibn Hanbal quotes Abu Hurayrah differently: “Women were created from a rib which was not straightened at creation; if you straighten it …” (Musnad, 2:497).
  54. Abu Da’tid, al-Nisa’i, and Ibn Habban related it from the hadith of Jabir b. ʿAtiq (ʿIraqī).
  55. From the hadith of Abu Hurayrah; al-Bukhari deleted “and the believer is jealous.” This is agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  56. Possibly refers to Sacd, who was in love with Asma’. He was the subject of poetry and perhaps was himself a poet. There is a book entitled Sacd and Asmd’ whose traditions are transmitted among the “Names of the Passionate Lovers during the Pre-Islamic Period, and the Period of Islam” (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 710, 1086).
  57. From the hadith of al-Mughirah b. Shaʿbah-agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  58. From the hadith of Jabir who deleted “The night I was taken through Paradise” and “maid”-agreed upon; he mentioned “maid” in another transmittal from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah-also agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  59. Abu DY’ud, al-Nisa’i, and Ibn Habban related it from the hadith of Jabir b. ʿAtik, but it was also related in four other hadiths (ʿIraqī).
  60. The first part of the statement was related first, while the second part was related by Abu ‘Umar al-Tawgani in the book, Mu’asharat al-Ahlayn, from the narrative of Abdullah b. Muhammad; and it appears that Abdullah b. al-Hanafiyah is the transmitter (ʿIraqī).
  61. Al-Bazzar and al-Daraqutni related it in al-Afrdd from the hadith of ʿAlī. The transmittal is weak (ʿIraqī).
  62. This is agreed upon from the hadith of Ibn Umar, who stated, “The women were permitted to go to the mosques at night” (ʿIraqī).
  63. From the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh-agreed upon. However, al-Bukhari related instead, “he would have prevented them from the mosques” (ʿIraqī).
  64. Hadith of Ibn Umar which is agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  65. From the hadith of Umm cAtayyah-agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  66. Literally, that it is “safe” to “sit” or remain at home.
  67. Watt translates “keep not thy hand chained” as meaning “do not be niggardly” (Companion to the Qur’dn, 135).
  68. From the hadith of ‘A’ishah-brought forth and made genuine (sahhah) by al-Tirmidhi (ʿIraqī).
  69. Muslim related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī). AlTirmidhi states it differently in a genuine hadith: “The dinar which earns you the greatest reward is the one spent on your wife, your riding animal (dhabbaḥ) and your companions in the way of God” (Sunan, 6:193).
  70. Precepts as spelled out in codes based on the Shari’a.
  71. Book 2 of the Iḥyāʾ deals further with menstruation and prayer.
  72. Reference is to the time element, because more than one rah’ah is usually involved; hence she could not fully perform these rak”ahs within the prescribed period. For further details see Book 2 of the Iḥyāʾ:
  73. Presumably this is a reference to a Sufi ritual. See chapter 1, note 114.
  74. From the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh-agreed upon (ʿIraqī). A preferable translation, found in Lane, is that “he ordered, or commanded, them to cast, or draw lots, or to practice sortilege [among themselves]” (Arabic-English Lexicon, 2987).
  75. This was related by the authors of the Sunan and Ibn Habban, from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah [with slight variations] by Abu Da’ud, Ibn Habban, and al-Tirmidhi stating, “He does not deal equitably between them” (ʿIraqī).
  76. Habban and the authors of the Sunan related it from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh (ʿIraqī).
  77. From the hadith of Umar and b. al-cAg-agreed upon-who related that when the Prophet was asked, “Whom do you love the most among your women?” he replied, “ʿĀʾishāh” (ʿIraqī).
  78. This hadith was related by Ibn Sa’d in al-Tabaqdt, and by al-Bukhari from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh, and in the Sahihayn [of Bukhari and Muslim] (ʿIraqī). rAbd al-Bagi stated that the Prophet remained with ʿĀʾishāh until his death (Lu’lu’ 3:185).
  79. Abu D5’6 d related it from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh; also related by al-Tabarani, al-Bukhari, and al-Bayhaqi with slight variations (ʿIraqī).
  80. This was related from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh (ʿIraqī).
  81. This is from the hadith of Anas. Ibn ʿAdī related it in al-Kāmil. This was related by al-Bukhari who also stated that the Prophet had nine wives (ʿIraqī). See chapter 1, note 145.
  82. See chapter 2, note 28.
  83. Abu D5’ud and al-Nisa’i related it in al-Kubrd and Ibn Majah from a narration of Mu’awiyah Ibn Haydah-the transmittal is good and reliable (ʿIraqī).
  84. Ibn al Jawzi related it in al-Wafd’ without any support. This was also mentioned in the Sahihayn [of Bukhari and Muslim] from the hadith of ‘Umar as well as in a story from the hadith of Jabir (ʿIraqī).
  85. Reference is made to the utterance of the formula, Id ildha illa Allah (There is no God but Allah).
  86. From the hadith of Ibn Abbas-agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  87. This latter phrase, “and made thereof relatives and in-laws, for thy Lord is omnipotent,” did not occur in the Azhariyah edition (ʿIraqī). The Koran’s version (25:54) is: “And He it is Who hath created man from water, and hath appointed for him kindred by blood and kindred by marriage; for thy Lord is ever Powerful.”
  88. Qiblah is the direction to which Muslims turn in praying (toward the Kaaba) or a prayer niche which is a recess in a mosque indicating the direction of the Kaaba (Wehr, Dictionary, 740).
  89. Al-Khatib related it from the hadith of Umm Salamah in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  90. Ibn Majah first related it from the hadith of cAtabah b. cAbd in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  91. Abu Man~rir al-Daylami related it in the Musnad al-Firdaws from the hadith of Anas-it is of weak authority (ʿIraqī).
  92. Abu Mangur al-Daylami related it from a much shortened hadith, and this is some of the hadith with which he agrees (ʿIraqī).
  93. This hadith was forwarded in the fifth chapter of the book of prayer (ʿIraqī).
  94. Arabic has one term, inzāl, which is here translated as “orgasm,” “climax,” “ejaculation,” or “emission,” since it would be difficult to use one English term for the referent.
  95. See the complete reference in Qur’an 2:222.
  96. Everything that can happen to man, everything that he can do, falls into five categories in Islam: lard, sunna, mubāh, makruh, and ardm. “Fard is that which is commanded, that which is unavoidable in order to’ find favour in the eyes of God, as giving of alms. Sunna is doing good, meritorious acts in the sight of God. But it is not a sin to omit such acts…. Mubdh are the deeds which are indifferent to both God and man. Their number is not large and they bring neither reward nor punishment. Makruh is the evil, but not the forbidden. One can commit it without fear of God’s punishment. But the pious will omit it. Hardm … is sin, express violations of God’s commands. Whoever commits hardm may be sure of God’s punishment” (Essad, Mohammed, 35556).
  97. See al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, 1:159-62.
  98. Junub, translated here as major ritual impurity, signifies a man “under the obligation of performing a total ablution, by reason of sexual intercourse and discharge of the semen” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 466).
  99. From the hadith of Ibn Umar as the one who posed the question -agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  100. From the hadith of ‘A’ishah, as related by Abu Da’ud, al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah (ʿIraqī).
  101. From the hadith of Abi Sacid-agreed upon (ʿIraqī). See also al=Tirmidhi, Sunan, 4:103.
  102. cIragi found no basis for the following hadith. However, al-Ghazali’s deductions are correct as he summarized existing views on coitus interruptus. See al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, 4:102-5.
  103. No basis was found for this hadith (ʿIraqī).
  104. In the Azhariyah edition, literally muhyihi, or “keeping him alive,” was translated rather than muhibbihi (his attachment, affection) of the Halabi edition.
  105. Reference is made here to an evidence or a proof made manifest by a text of the Koran or of the sunna used as an authority in an argument for proof of an assertion.
  106. Wad refers to a daughter buried alive. “It was customary for a man in the time of paganism, when a daughter was born to him, to bury her alive when her mother brought her forth, from fear of reproach and want: but this is forbidden in the Koran, XVII, XXXIII; and some of them used to bury their children alive in times of famine; the tribe of Kindeh used to bury their daughters alive” (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 2913; see also W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage, 153-55, 291-96).
  107. The views of al-Ghazali on the matter of coitus interruptus appear to be ambivalent, tending toward a contradiction of the view expounded in chapter 1 on the advantages of marriage.
  108. The Khawarij (sing. Kharijite), or seceders, constitute the earliest religiopolitical sect in Islam. Once supporters of ʿAlī, they became his deadly opponents (Hitti, History of the Arabs, 246-47).
  109. This hadith was previously introduced at the beginning of the chapter on marriage (al-nihdh) (ʿIraqī). See chapter 1, note 11.
  110. Muslim related it from the hadith of Jadhdhamah, daughter of Wahab (ʿIraqī).

I 11. There are numerous transmittals regarding the disclosed averting of conception by coitus interruptus: Muslim from the hadith of Abi Said, al-Nisa’i from the hadith of Abi Sarma, the two shaykhs from the hadith of Jabir, and al-Nisa’i from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).

  1. Although this “resembles that of burying a child alive, and is done with the same motive,” the words also refer to coitus interruptus (Lane, ArabicEnglish Lexicon, 2913).
  2. Watt elucidates this point by saying, “a new creature” (Companion to the Qur’an, 158).
  3. See al-Bukhari, Sahih, 7:42-43.
  4. From the hadith of Jabir-which is agreed upon-in the Sahihayn [of Bukhari and Muslim]. However, the clause “but he did not enjoin us against it” is unique to Muslim (ʿIraqī).
  5. Hadith ofJabir. AI-Mulnaf mentioned that it was in the Sahihayn [of Bukhari and Muslim], which is not true; only Muslim related it (ʿIraqī).
  6. Al-Tabarani first related it in al-Kabir and al-Khara’iti in Maharim al-AkhMq from the hadith of Ibn Masud. The transmittal is weak (ʿIraqī).
  7. Hadith of Ibn Abbas. It was related by Ibn Majah and al-Hakim. The transmittal is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  8. Hadith of Anas; al-Khara’iti related it in Makarim Akhlāq in a weak transmittal (‘ʿIraqī).
  9. Hadith of Anas, which was related by al-Khara’iti in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  10. Ibid.
  11. Hadith Abu Hurayrah as related by al-Khara’iti and al-Hakim, but it did not say “or sisters.” The transmittal is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  12. Adhdhana (noun ddhdn) is “to call to prayer.” It is customary in Islam that a newborn baby should first hear the call to prayer, which always begins with allahu ahbar (God is the Greatest).
  13. Hadith Abi Rafi’. Ahmad, Abu Da’ud, and al-Tirmidhi related it and made it genuine. However, the transmittal of Ibn al-Qattan is weak (ʿIraqī).
  14. Related by Abu Ya’la al-Mawsili, Ibn al-Sinn in al-Yawn wa-Layla and al-Bayhaqi in al-Sha’b al-Imdn from the hadith of al-Husayn b. ʿAlī in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  15. Al-Tabarani related it in al-Saghir from the hadith of f abir in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī). Circumcision among the Jews, a practice dating from the time of Abraham, generally takes place on the eighth day (Genesis 14:10-12). In Islam, circumcision is founded upon the customs of the Prophet, as it is not once alluded to in the Koran. Circumcision is “recommended to be performed upon a boy between the ages of seven and twelve, but it is lawful to circumcise a child seven days after his birth” (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 57). Lane stated that circumcision on the seventh day is not approved, and that it is generally performed at the age of five or six (Arabian Society, 192).
  16. Al-Tabarani related this transmittal from the hadith of ‘Abd alMalik b. Abi Zuhayr, who in turn related it from his father, Mu’adh. Its transmittal is genuine; al-Bayhaqi related it from the hadith of ‘A’ishah (ʿIraqī). The word ‘abd refers to one of God’s qualities; the literal meaning is “servant of.”
  17. From the hadith ofJabir which is agreed upon when beginning with the verb lurammd [is named] rather than sammd [name, command] (ʿIraqī).
  18. Ahmad and Ibn Habban related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah; also related by Abu Da’ud and al-Tirmidhi; and by Ibn Habban from the hadith of Jabir: “Whoever gives my first name, should not give my surname; and whoever gives my surname, should not give my first name.” The transmittal is genuine (‘ʿIraqī).
  19. Abu Umar al-Tawgani related it in Muʾasharat al-Ahlayn from the hadith of Ibn Umar in a weak transmittal; and Abu D5’tid related that Umar pointed out a child named Abu ‘Isa; and Mughirah b. Sha’bah disapproved of using the name Abu ‘Isa and stated that the Messenger of God said, “Name after me”-its transmittal is genuine (ʿIraqī).
  20. Abu Da’ud related it from the hadith of Abi al-Darda’. Al-Nawawi said that its transmittal is reliable, and al-Bayhaqi said that its transmittal was incomplete (mursal) (ʿIraqī).
  21. Al-Bayhaqi related it from the hadith of Abdullah b. al-Harith b. Jiz’ al-Zubaydi. The transmittal is genuine (ʿIraqī). (See also ‘Abd al-Bagi, Lu’lu’, 2:60.)
  22. From the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, which is agreed upon (ʿIraqī). 134. Muslim related it from the hadith of Samrah b. Jandab. This was also related from the hadith ofJabir (ʿIraqī).
  23. Ibn Hanbal regards this sacrifice on the seventh day as absolutely obligatory: “If a father sacrifice not for his son, and he [the son] die, that son will not intercede for him on the day of judgment” (Lane, Arabian Society, 191). However, the founders of the other three principal rites regard it in different and less important lights. It is obvious here that al-Ghazali is resorting to the practices at the time of the Prophet. These practices not only include the animal sacrifice on the seventh day, but circumcision and shaving the hair of the child and giving its weight in silver or gold to the poor as well. According to Lane, these religious ceremonies can be performed not only on the seventh day, but on multiples of seven-fourteenth, twenty-first, twenty-eighth, or thirty-fifth-after the birth of the child as well (Ibid. See also al-Bukhari, Ṣaḥīḥ, 7:108-10; and al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, 5:237-40).
  24. This appears in the Azhariyah edition and completes the thought.
  25. Hadith of ʿĀʾishāh, which was brought forth and made genuine (ʿIraqī).
  26. Al-Tirmidhi related it from the hadith of ʿAlī, stating that its transmittal is not uninterrupted, while al-Hakim made it uninterrupted (muttasil). Abu D5’ud related it from the hadith of Ibn Abbas, except that he said “a ram” [rather than a sheep] (ʿIraqī).
  27. Al-Bukhari related it from the hadith of Salman b. ʿAmir al-Dabbi (ʿIraqī). (See al-Bukhari, Sahih, 7:109.)
  28. Al-Hakim [al-Tirmidhi] related and clarified it from the hadith of ʿAlī; al-Tirmidhi’s transmittal is cut off, up to the word Hasan, while its transmittal is not uninterrupted (ʿIraqī). Al-Tirmidhi stated that Hasan’s hair weighed a dirham or so (Sunan, 5:234).
  29. Hadith Asma’, which is agreed upon (ʿIraqī). (See also ʿAbd al-Baqī, Lu’lu; 2:62.)
  30. ʿAbd al-Baqi notes that the hadith ends here, excluding the rest of the phrase. He also explains “Islam” as meaning “Medina” (Lu’lu’, 2:82). (See also al-Bukhari, Sahih, 7:108.)
  31. Hadith Ibn Umar. It was related by the companions of the Sunan. AI-Tirmidhi stated that it was genuine and of fair authority (ʿIraqī).
  32. This occurs in exceptional cases as explained by ʿAlī: “If there is any fear that in safeguarding her economic rights, her very freedom of person may suffer, the husband refusing the dissolution of marriage, and perhaps treating her with cruelty, then … it is permissible to give some material consideration to the husband, but the need and equity of this should be submitted to the judgment of impartial judges, i.e., properly constituted courts. A divorce of this kind is called Out” (Holy Quran 91, n.258; cf. W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage, 122).
  33. This tradition with the additional words, “and Paradise will be forbidden unto her,” was related by Abu Da’ud and al-Tirmidhi, who made it better; and by Ibn Majah and Ibn Habban from the hadith of Thawban (ʿIraqī).
  34. Al-Nisa’i related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, and al-Tabarani related it from the hadith of ʿAqba b. ʿAmir in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  35. There are two concepts here: having had coitus with her automatically nullifies the ʿiddah; and the lengthening of the ʿiddah stems from the necessity to make sure that she has not conceived (see “Divorce” in the Introduction).
  36. From the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar, which is agreed upon (ʿIraqī). (See also cAbd al-Bagi, Lulu, 2:125.)
  37. He died in 43/663 and was one of the people who “helped to transcribe the official canon” of the Koran (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 48, 377).
  38. Past the time of childbearing from the Prophet.
  39. A khutbah may encompass exhortation or admonition, recited by a khaṭib (orator) from the pulpit during the noon service of the congregational mosque on Friday, and generally delivered in rhyming prose (Lane, ArabicEnglish Lexicon, 763).
  40. Muslim related it from the hadith of Abu Said, reiterating the words of the Prophet: “The greatest betrayal in the opinion of God on the Day of Judgment is for the man to reveal [everything] to the woman and vice versa, then reveal her secret” (ʿIraqī).
  41. AI-Tirmidhi first related it, but the transmittal is authentic of fair authority (hasan gharib); Ibn Majah related it from the hadith of Umm Salamah (ʿIraqī).
  42. Al-Tabarani first related it in al-Awsat from the hadith of Anas, excluding “by virtue……….. The transmittal is weak (ʿIraqī).
  43. Ibn Habban related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).
  44. This hadith was first related by Ibn Majah and al-Hakim, who made it genuine from the hadith of Abi Aniamah, excluding “nursers.” This is related by al-Tabarani in al-Saghir (ʿIraqī).
  45. From the hadith of Ibn Abbas, which is agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  46. Ahmad related it from the hadith of Abu Amamah in a weak transmittal, stating “silk” instead of “saffron”; and Muslim from the hadith of’Izzat al-Ashja’iya-its transmittal is also weak (ʿIraqī). Al-ahmardn means flesh-meat and wine, which are said to destroy men; it also refers to gold and saffron, which are said to destroy women, that is, the love of ornaments and perfumes, also called al-asjardn [two yellow things] (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 642).
  47. Hadith ʿĀʾishāh; al-Hakim [al-Tirmidhi] first related it and made genuine its transmittal from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).
  48. Hadith ʿĀʾishāh; al-Hakim [al-Tirmidhi] first related it and made genuine its transmittal from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ʿIraqī).
  49. Hadith Ibn Abbas. Al-Bayhaqi first related it in a shortened version, and related it in toto from the hadith of Ibn Umar, but it is weak (ʿIraqī).
  50. Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Habban related it from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah. Also related by Abu Dawad from the hadith of Qays b. Sacd, by Ibn Majah from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh, and by Ibn Habban from the hadith of Ibn Abi Awfa (ʿIraqī).
  51. Ibn Habban related only the first part of the hadith of Ibn Masud; the latter part was related (abridged) by Abu Dawd from his own hadith without mentioning “inner sanctum of the house.” Al-Bayhaqi related it from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh: “It is better to pray in the house than in the mosque”-its transmittal is of fair authority; and by Ibn Habban from the hadith of Umm Hamid (ʿIraqī).
  52. It is related by al-Tirmidhi as genuine, and by Ibn Habban from the hadith of Ibn Masud (ʿIraqī).
  53. This was related by al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Umar al-JiCabi in the Tārikh al-Tālibin from the hadith of ʿAlī in a weak transmittal; and by al-Tabarani in al-Saghir from the hadith of Ibn Abbas (ʿIraqī).
  54. See chapter 1, note 51.
  55. Rābiʿah al-ʿAdawiyah, orphaned at an early age, was sold into slavery as a child. She later settled in Basra where she was well known as a saint and a preacher and where she was highly esteemed by her pious contemporaries. To her is attributed the theme of divine love in Islamic mysticism. She was a celibate; is often confused with Rabicah of Syria who was married. She is entombed near Jerusalem. Her death date is given variously as 135/752 and 185/801 (cf. Farid al-Din ʿAttar, Muslim Saints and Mystics, 39-51, and M. Smith, Rābiʿa the Mystic, 5-6, 45, 140-43).
  56. Abu Da’wd al-Tayalsi and al-Bayhaqi related it from the hadith of Ibn Umar; it was also related by Abu Da’ud from the hadith of Satd; and by Muslim from the hadith of ʿĀʾishāh; al-Daraqutni made it genuine in his al-ʿIlal All had slight variations in their transmittals (ʿIraqī).
  57. That is, cater to his senses.
  58. The word “presence” is missing in this text but appears in the Azhariyah edition.
  59. So as not to attract attention. She should not satisfy her own vanity, but be humble and meek.
  60. Related by Abu Dawud from the hadith of Abi Malik al-Ashjaci in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  61. Al-Khara’iti related it in Makdrim al-Akhlāq from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in a weak transmittal (ʿIraqī).
  62. This is possibly ʿAbd al-Malik b. Qurayb al-A1maci, who was the famous philologist and grammarian at the court of Harun al Rashid. He studied the language of the Arabs of the desert, which is considered to be a “pure” model for linguistics. He died in Basra in 213/828 (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 963).
  63. Hadith Mu’adh which was related by al-Tirmidhi, who said it was authentic and of fair authority; it was related by Ibn Majah (ʿIraqī).
  64. Hadith Umm Habibah, agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  65. Asma’ was the daughter of Kutayla, Abu Bakr’s first wife. She was the elder half-sister of ʿĀʾishāh and one of the early converts to Islam in Mecca. She was married to al-Zubayr b. al-cAwwam, and their son, ʿAbdullah, was “reputedly the first child born in the Muslim community” at Medina. She died in Mecca in 73/693 (Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. “Asmāʾ).
  66. Zubayr b. al-ʿAwwam, cousin and companion of the Prophet, was killed at the Battle of the Camel in 36/656. He was a member of the council to choose the third ʿAlīph. He was also referred to as al-Hawāri, a term that refers to the earliest missionaries of Islam. There were twelve Hawaris, “who are said to have been appointed naqibs of the Medinans” by Muhammad (or by those present) as “surety for their people just as the apostles were sureties for clsa b. Maryam” (Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist, 292-93, 1133).
  67. A parasang is a Persian measure of length, anciently of about thirty stadia (2.8 to 4.2 miles).
  68. Hadith of Asmāʾ, agreed upon (ʿIraqī).
  69. The Azhariyah edition indicates that she came upon the Prophet.







Glossary of Selected Arabic Terms

This glossary encompasses only terms used herein that have acquired a technical usage. It mirrors existing standardized definitions as well as adjustments introduced in this work. The terms regarding hadith are used as employed by Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam. Other major helpful sources have been Farah, Islam Beliefs and Observances; Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law; Ibn al-Nadim, The Fihrist of al-Nadim; Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon; and Jabre, Essai sur le lexique de Ghazali.


ʿabd Servant of God or slave; used in proper names in combination with Allah

Ahal-Kitab People of the Book; in the Koran (5:68-69) the name is used for Christians, Jews, and Sabeans

akhbār (sing. khabar) News, reports; the term is applied to traditions traced back, not to the Prophet, but to other authorities such as his companions, well-known jurists, and imams alim See ulema

ʿanat Fornication or committing a sin

ʿaqd Marriage contract; formalization of the marriage vows

ʿaqīqah Sacrifice; a sheep or goat slaughtered as a sacrifice on the seventh day after the birth of a child

Aʾqraʿ To cast or draw lots, or practice sortilege among women

ʿAshura’ Name of a voluntary fast day, the tenth day of Muharram

ʿaṣr Period,’ of sunset, time of one of the ritual prayers

āthār (sing. athar) Traces; applied to traditions relating the deeds and utterances of Muhammad and his companions

baqāʾ Subsistence in God; an ultimate Sufi state

bāṭin Internal, hidden or inner meaning; esoteric

ḍaʿīf Not fulfilling the required conditions for transmittal

dhikr Remembrance or recollection of God; an exercise by Sufis to induce ecstasy

fanā Annihilation, or passing away of oneself in God; the mystical union of the soul with God

faqīh Islamic jurist or jurisprudent

farāgh Emptying or purifying the heart; a Sufi tenet

farḍ Canonically imposed duty or obligation of faith

fiqh The corpus of Islamic jurisprudence

fiṭrah Natural disposition of the heart to know God

gharīb Authentic, but resting on the authority of only one companion

ghusl Major or full ablution ceremony involving the entire body;see also wudu’

ḥadīth Traditions of the Prophet; collection of sayings and precedents of the Prophet, handed down by his associates and followers

ḥajj A canonically prescribed pilgrimage to Mecca

harām Canonically forbidden; a sin

ḥasan Of fair authority, with a slight fault; approved form of transmittal

ḥasan gharīb Authentic, of fair authority

ḥasan ṣaḥīḥ Genuine, of fair authority

ḥayḍ Menstruation; important in connection with determining the time of conception and responsibility for fatherhood, as well as significant for ritual purification

ḥikmah Exercise of judicial authority, a rule, a decree; an edict or a prescript

ḥirāthah Tilth; intercourse for the purpose of having offspring

hulūl Ecstasy; union with God through mystical practices

ibddl Substitution (when certain righteous people die, God substitutes others for them)

ʿiddah Legally prescribed waiting period of a woman before remarriage

ʿiddat baynūnah Legally prescribed waiting period for final divorce; woman cannot remarry her husband

ʿiddat al-rayʿah Legally prescribed waiting period pending remarriage with one’s divorced wife

Iḍṭibāʿ Cloaking oneself over the left shoulder during the pilgrimage to Mecca

ijmāʿ Consensus; interpretation of the law according to the

opinions of the leading jurists

ʿilal Defects, causes

imam Used here for leading religious personalities; it also has a number of other significations

iqamah Call to prayer repeated at the beginning of the prayer ritual

irādah Desire; the aspiration to do only God’s will; in a Sufi context, a willful determination to undertake the rigors of the Path

ʿishāʾ Evening meal and time of the fourth ritual prayer

isnād Literally means “leaning upon”; the chain of authority.

which precedes and introduces the text of hadith

izār Seamless white cloth wrapped around loins to knee level by the pilgrim performing the hajj

jamʿ Uttering a threefold divorce

jayyid Good, reliable form of transmittal

jihad Striving on behalf of the faith; Holy War of the Muslims against the infidels

junub Major ritual impurity; signifies a man under obligation of performing a total ablution, by reason of sexual intercourse and discharge of the semen

Kaaba The shrine at Mecca sacred to the Muslims kardhiyah Abomination or reprehensible

kasaba To earn; Qur’anic usage connotes the performance of an act for which one merits reward or punishment on the Day of judgment

khabar See akhbār

khulʿ Divorce requested by the wife, who must pay a compensation (khulʾah)

khutbah An exhortation or admonition recited, generally in rhyming prose, during the noon service of the mosque on Friday by an orator (khaṭīb)

kitābīyah See Ahl al-Kitāb

liʿān Oath of condemnation; in Islamic Law, can also be a sworn allegation of adultery committed by either husband or wife

maʿād Return journey; the ultimate state of existence in theworld to come

madhhab (plur. madhāhib) Juridical rite to which a Sunni Muslim may adhere

maghrib Sunset; time of one of the ritual prayers

mahr A dowry or a nuptial gift given to the bride in a contract of marriage

makruh A reprehensible or an evil act, but not a forbidden one manzil (plur. mandzil) Stages; a Sufi tenet

maqāmāt (sing. maqām) The stations of the faith; a Sufi tenet maʿrifah Knowledge, learning; the knowledge of Allah, the experience of ecstasy, and the gnosis of the mystics

martabah A Sufi rank or station

maʿruf Weak tradition, yet known because it is confirmed by another

mawʾūdah: al-mawʾūdat al-sughrah Coitus interruptus; significance similar to that of burying a girl child alive

Miʿraj Muhammad’s nocturnal journey to the Seventh Heaven

Mubāḥ Permissible; a deed neither recommended nor prohibited

mubham Obscure; a tradition derived from a person about whom nothing is known save his name

mufti The legal authority in Islam who gives expert decisions by which the courts are guided

muḥallil A man who marries a divorced (three pronouncements of formula) woman on condition that he divorce her after consummation of the marriage so she may lawfully remarry her former husband

mukhtaliʿāh Women who incite, urge, or induce their husbands to divorce them for a gift or a compensation (khulʿah) without any injurious conduct from the latter

mukhtalif A tradition which apparently contradicts another, but which can be reconciled to it

munkar A tradition of weak authority contradicted by a weaker one

munqaṭiʿ An isndd from which a name has disappeared

murīd A novice, a disciple of a murshid (teacher of a Sufi order)

mursal A text without isnad, or one with an incomplete isnād

murūʾah Manliness; a pre-Islamic Arab concept which comprises all knightly virtues and the ideal of manhood

musnad Authorities by whom a hadith is passed down

mutʿa The contracting of temporary marriage; legalized by the Shiʿi law

mutttafaq ʿalayhi A tradition that is agreed upon and received by Bukhari and Muslim

muttaṣil A tradition with an uninterrupted isnad

nafaqah In Islamic Law, it signifies adequate support for a wife or expenditure

nafs Self, soul, ego

naqīb A surety for the people, leader

nasikh Abrogating; refers to the chain of authority and is used by Muslim theologians in reference to a verse or sentence of the Koran which cancels or abrogates a previous one qiblah The south, or the direction to be faced in prayer rak’ah Bow, prostration; a bending of the torso from an upright

position, followed by two prostrations with each standing for a full prayer cycle

ramal Trotting while performing the circuit around the Kaaba

Razzāq Provider; one of the ninety-nine attributes of God

ṣadāqah Voluntary, nonstatutory alms rendered for the sake of acquiring merit with God; in Islamic Law, legally prescribed alms tax (sadaq)

ṣaḥḥah Transmittal made genuine

ṣaḥīḥ Genuine; fulfilling all conditions

Sharīʾa The Muslim law derived from the Koran, the hadith, and the processes of jurisprudence

shirk Polytheism; associating other deities or “partners” with Allah

shukr Thankfulness; it is one of the stations of the mystic

siqṭ Miscarried fetus

sunna (plur. sunan) The theory and practice of conventional Muslims, based on the Koran and the hadith

taʿbiyah ilāhīyah Divine fulfillment

tahlīl Exaltation (of God)

takbir To glorify, praise, to exclaim “allahu akhbdr”

ṭalāq Divorce; three “I divorce thee” utterances either at sepa

rate intervals or at one time for finalization

tawbah Repentance; the first station on the Sufi path

thayyib A woman who is deflowered or married; a divorcee or

a widow

thiqah A trustworthy transmittal

ṭuhr The days of a woman’s state of purity from the menstrual discharge

ulema (sing. alim) Scholars who are knowledgeable in Islamic beliefs and dogmas

ʿumrah Lesser pilgrimage to Mecca

ustad (sing. ad) Ascendants, fundamentals; also meaning roots, origins, principles

ʿutul One who has a harsh tongue and who is cruel toward his family

wahy Revelation

walīy Legal guardian; also refers to the believer as “friend of God”

witr A form of prayer, in which an odd number of prostrations is performed, after the night prayer

wuḍūʾ Limited ablution for or preparatory to prayer; see also ghusl

zindīq Freethinker; in the ninth and tenth centuries, the term was applied as a rule to the partisans of Zoroastrians and Manichaeans who were feared as rebels

zuhd Asceticism; a way of life which included renunciation of worldly things, fasting, prayer, studying the Koran, and similar religious observances and practices

ẓuhr Noon; time for the third daily prayer incumbent upon Muslims


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