A Reply To Various Religious Questions Posed Regarding Issues Facing Certain Muslim Societies Of North America
By Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi
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This paper represents a brief reply to questions regarding various problems faced by Muslim societies in North America; particularly in reference to the subject of adolescence, marriage, and related issues.
As some of the questions were repetitive, they have been synthesized into a few comprehensive topics which will be discussed shortly. The issues have been arranged in a “question and answer” format as follows hereafter. I hope that our American Brethren, parents and children, may gain benefit from what is contained herein, and I pray that Allah guides them to the path wherein they may realize the true success of this life and the Hereafter.
The questions and their reply:
- According to Islam, at what age does a boy and girl become a man and woman respectively?
Answer: According to the Islamic Shari’ah (the Divinely-revealed Law), a child (male or female) is considered an adult upon reaching maturity, termed buloogh in Arabic/Islamic terminology. Buloogh means literally, ‘to have arrived’; i.e. to have arrived at the age or period of life wherein one is considered to have reached the stage of manhood or womanhood, whereby the individual is fully responsible for his or her acts and deeds, and upon whom certain duties (like ritual prayer, fasting, etc.) become mandatory (waajib). Now buloogh or maturity is determined in the human male or female through various signs or occurrences as designated in the texts of the Shari’ah, and these will be discussed shortly.
Naturally, the age of maturity (or the point in one’s life) at which one reaches adulthood varies from person to person, sex to sex, climatic region to climatic region; from race to race, and from social environment to social environment. For example, it has been observed that children of hot climates generally reach maturity much earlier than their counterparts from the very cold climates. Thus, it is not unusual for girls of arid and desert regions to achieve puberty between the ages of seven and nine, whereas in the cold or frozen areas of the globe, girls may not reach puberty until eighteen or nineteen years of age. No doubt one’s social/cultural environment, economic conditions, and one’s particular upbringing are factors which may affect the child’s reaching puberty early or late in life also. In short, maturity is achieved in different persons at different ages.
Thus, to arbitrarily “set” any specific age as the age when one reaches maturity is an incorrect and untenable position in my view, even though this has been done by many of the famous Muslim jurists. Thus it is related that certain jurisprudents (Fuqahaa), such as Imam Ash-Shafi’ee, Al-Awzaa’ee, Abu Yoosuf, Muhammad and Imam Ahmad –among others–claimed that a child reaches maturity at the age of fifteen (according to the lunar calendar). The view of the Maaliki school (not Imam Maalik himself) is that the age of maturity is seventeen or eighteen years old.
As for Abu Haneefah, there are two narrations related regarding his view in reference to the male, either seventeen or eighteen years of age. As for the female, she would reach maturity at the age of seventeen. These various ‘ages’ suggested here by the mentioned jurists are not the only, nor are they the ‘real’ or ‘actual’ (al-haqeeqy) determiners of maturity. Let us leave this issue of the age factor at this point, as we will return to it later on.
The scholars of the Islamic Shari’ah generally agree on four verifiable signs/occurrences (other than reaching a specific age), two of which are shared by male and female, and two of which are particular to the female only. The first of the two verifiable signs of having reached maturity common to both sexes is the ability to have a sexual climax and descension of sperm (inzaal) in the male and female person. Such a sign may be evident through a ‘wet dream’ (ihtilaam) whereby the person finds the evidence of having reached sexual climax in the presence of wet (or dried) sperm on his underclothing. Such a thing occurs in the female as well. It may be discovered or known in other ways also, such as masturbation or fornication (legal or otherwise–Allah forbid). The proof for this has been established from the Quraanic verse:
﴿وَإِذَا بَلَغَ الاٌّطْفَالُ مِنكُمُ الْحُلُمَ فَلْيَسْتَأْذِنُواْ كَمَا اسْتَأْذَنَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ﴾
In this and preceding Quraanic verses of this Soorah, Allah, the Exalted and Mighty gives guidance to the Believers regarding the required etiquette and rules of privacy; thus permission to enter into an adult’s private chambers must be sought by children (who have reached the age of puberty); at all times. The verse may be translated:
And when the children about you have reached the age of puberty (al-hulum) let them seek permission (to enter into one’s privacy), just as those before them have done. [An-Nur 24:59]
This is further proved by the authentic tradition related by the Compilers of Hadeeth, and one such narration follows:
قَالَ أَوَمَا تَذْكُرُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ رُفِعَ الْقَلَمُ عَنْ ثَلاَثَةٍ عَنِ الْمَجْنُونِ الْمَغْلُوبِ عَلَى عَقْلِهِ حَتَّى يُفِيقَ وَعَنِ النَّائِمِ حَتَّى يَسْتَيْقِظَ وَعَنِ الصَّبِيِّ حَتَّى يَحْتَلِمَ
We translate the hadeeth thus:
“Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: The pen (with which one’s deeds are recording) is raised and held from recording the deeds of three (types of) persons: the insane–until he regains his (full) senses; the sleeping person–until he awakes; and the immature child–until he/she reaches puberty (yahtalim).”
There is no difference amongst scholars of the Islamic Shari’ah that the ability to reach sexual climax in the male and female young person is a definite proof of their having become adults.
The second of the two verifiable signs of reaching maturity common to both sexes is the presence of thick stiff (khashin) pubic hair around the male and female private parts. The hair must be hard and stiff, not the mere ‘fuzz’ (zagab); a light soft downy hair which is found on young children and does not constitute that type of pubic hair which indicates having reached maturity. The proof of this sign is to be found in a number of authentic traditions where it is indicated that the presence of such stiff (khashin) pubic hair was used by Muslim authorities to determine whether certain persons were mature adults or immature children. The first text is as follows:
عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ لَمَّا نَزَلَتْ بَنُو قُرَيْظَةَ عَلَى حُكْمِ سَعْدٍ ـ هُوَ ابْنُ مُعَاذٍ ـ بَعَثَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، وَكَانَ قَرِيبًا مِنْهُ، فَجَاءَ عَلَى حِمَارٍ، فَلَمَّا دَنَا قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” قُومُوا إِلَى سَيِّدِكُمْ ”. فَجَاءَ فَجَلَسَ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ لَهُ ” إِنَّ هَؤُلاَءِ نَزَلُوا عَلَى حُكْمِكَ ”. قَالَ فَإِنِّي أَحْكُمُ أَنْ تُقْتَلَ الْمُقَاتِلَةُ، وَأَنْ تُسْبَى الذُّرِّيَّةُ. قَالَ ” لَقَدْ حَكَمْتَ فِيهِمْ بِحُكْمِ الْمَلِكِ
Regarding this tradition, it is related that the tribe of Jews known as Bani Quraydhah broke their covenant with the Prophet ﷺ by traitorously and deceptively siding with the enemy against the Believers. Because of this treachery of these Jews, the Prophet marched to their lands to do battle with them. The Prophet and his companions of warriors surrounded the tribe and the Prophet asked S‘ad bin Mu‘adh to give a ruling as to what should be done with this tribe of traitorous Jews. S‘ad replied that their men should be executed and their women and children enslaved, while their wealth was to be distributed amongst the Muslims.
Which brings us back to our above-quoted tradition in which one of the youths of that tribe of Bani Quraydhah (whose name was `Ateeyyah Al-Quradhi) later reports that on that day when the men of Bani Quraydhah were to be executed, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ ordered that their youths were to be checked to see if they were to be executed. ‘Ateeyah then comments that he was one of those youths who had no pubic hair and that he was brought before the Prophet ﷺ, who freed him from execution. Naturally, those under the age of maturity were absolved of blame from the treachery of the men of the tribe.
From this hadeeth the majority of the Islamic scholars say that the growth of pubic hair is also a clear sign of the young person having arriving at maturity. As for the two signs of maturity which are particular to the female only, they are as follows:
The first of these is the onset of menstruation, which constitutes a discharging of blood, secretions and tissue debris from the uterus. There is no difference between the scholars regarding this point. Amongst its proofs from the sunnah is the following authentic hadeeth related by Abu Dawood, Al-Haakim, and others:
لاَ يَقْبَلُ اللَّهُ صَلاَةَ حَائِضٍ إِلاَّ بِخِمَارٍ
`Aaishah related that Allah’s Messenger said: Allah does not accept the salaah (ritual prayer) of the female who has reached her menses, unless she wears a head veil.
The second of the two signs of maturity which are particular to the female is her becoming pregnant, because offspring is created from the male and female fluid (i.e. sperm), as has been mentioned in various authentic hadeeths narrated by Imam Muslim and others. In short then, maturity (buloogh) is determined by four signs; two are shared by male and female; viz.,
(1) Achieving climax with a flow of semen, and
(2) The presence of stiff pubic hair;
And another two are particular to the female:
(3) The onset of menses, and
(4) The presence of pregnancy. These are definite, unequivocal signs.
As for the fifth sign (alluded to in the early part of this essay) which was to assign a certain age as the age of reaching maturity, such is not a clear or definite nor a ‘real’ determiner of maturity. Rather it is arbitrary and is applied by its proponents in the absence of the other real or actual (haqeeqy) four signs mentioned above. Thus, in some Islamic states the Qaadi (Islamic judge) might rule in the case of a young boy or girl who lacks the definite aforementioned signs of maturity but who has reached the age of fifteen, for example, that such a young person is ‘mature’ for certain legal purposes.
The proof of those scholars who maintain that the age of fifteen is one of the determiners of buloogh (maturity) is based on certain traditions which relate that Ibn `Umar at the age of fourteen was brought before the Prophet for permission to go for jihaad (Islamic holy war) in the Battle of Uhud, but he wasn’t allowed, whereas he was allowed to participate in the Battle of the Trench when Ibn `Umar was fifteen years old. In one narration, whose text follows:
عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ عُرِضْتُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمَ أُحُدٍ وَأَنَا ابْنُ أَرْبَعَ عَشْرَةَ سَنَةً فَلَمْ يُجِزْنِي وَعُرِضْتُ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ الْخَنْدَقِ وَأَنَا ابْنُ خَمْسَ عَشْرَةَ سَنَةً فَأَجَازَنِي
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar says: “I was brought before the Prophet ﷺ (as a prospective warrior for battle) on the Day of Uhud at which time I was fourteen years old, and he rejected me, as he considered me as not having reached the age of maturity (“wa lam yaraani balagtu”). Then I was brought before him again during the Year of the Trench when I was fifteen and he allowed me (to join in the battle),”
Now Ibn ‘Umar’s saying that the Prophet ﷺ rejected him the first time (when he was fourteen) was due to the Prophet’s ﷺ not considering him to have reached maturity (buloogh); this was taken by some scholars to be a proof that once one arrives at the age of fifteen he/she is mature. However, this conclusion on their part is untenable for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that the Prophet ﷺ did not himself inform us that the reason for allowing Ibn ‘Umar at the age of fifteen and rejecting him at fourteen was because a child becomes mature at fifteen. Rather, there are a number of other possibilities which are more acceptable as interpretations of these traditions as follows:
Firstly, it is most probable that in the particular case of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar he personally happened to reach puberty at the age of fifteen, and was in fact mature at the time when he was brought before the Prophet ﷺ(during the Battle of the Trench). This made Ibn ‘Umar think that the reason for his rejection the first time (at the Battle of Uhud) was due to him not being mature (baaligh). However, a careful analysis and synthesis of the various traditions relating to this incident clearly indicates that the reasons for the Prophet’s ﷺ rejection of Ibn ‘Umar the first time was that the Battle of Uhud was to take place outside of Madeenah under harsh conditions of war against the enemy, so he only allowed seasoned warriors who were skilled fighters and marksmen. As for the second time Ibn ‘Umar sought permission, this was during the Battle of the Trench, within Madeenah itself, for a great ditch was dug around the whole city, thus there was relative safety in using youths for firing rocks or spears or other missiles upon the enemy.
It also may be said that in the light of the extreme danger of the Battle of the Trench (with the presence of so many enemy forces united against the Muslims) the Prophet ﷺ saw fit to use all the help he could muster in both the digging of the trench as well as in the actual defence of the city.
Furthermore, no doubt the Prophet ﷺ saw a greater physical development and fighting prowess in Ibn ‘Umar the second time he sought to join the battle. This latter point is supported by similar incidents of other youths seeking to join in jihaad, for it is related in Ibn Hishaam’s biography of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that two youths (Samurah bin Jundub and Raafi’ bin Khadeej) were both fifteen years old at the time of the Battle of Uhud, and yet the Prophet ﷺ rejected them. Then it was related to the Prophet ﷺ that Raafi’ was a good marksman, whereupon he gave his consent. It was further mentioned that Samurah was stronger than Raafi’ and could outwrestle him, whereupon the Prophet ﷺ also permitted him in joining the battle.
If the age of fifteen alone was a determiner of maturity as claimed by the proponents of that view, then the Prophet ﷺ would not have rejected those two youths the first time they sought permission. Furthermore, we see that permission was given to them both, on the basis of their strength and fighting skills and prowess, not merely because they were fifteen as has been mistakenly claimed.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the advocates of the view that one’s age (i.e., fifteen years) is a determiner of maturity (buloogh) sometimes quote a prophetic tradition to support their position whose text follows:
It may be translated thus:
“Anas reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: When the child reaches fifteen years of age, what is for or against him (by way of deeds) is recorded, and legal punishments will be carried out respecting him.”
Now had this tradition been authentic, it would indeed have been a proof in their favor. However, it is weak (da’eef) and therefore, of no consequence in establishing rulings of the Shariah, as the condition for such rulings is that they be based on authentic texts. In short, mere ‘age’ in itself is not a determiner of buloogh in itself; rather, the four clear signs previously mentioned are the real determiners of maturity. This leads us to our second question whose text follows:
- At what age is a boy or girl allowed to be married according to Islamic Law; must they be mature (baaligh) to be married?
Answer: Naturally, the most ideal time for a boy and girl to be married is upon their reaching puberty (buloogh), as defined above; regardless of their respective ages. With the onset of puberty young people are basically sexually active and can potentially produce children, therefore they are to be encouraged to be married in order to legally channel their sexual impulses and needs. If they don’t–Allah forbid–they may turn to illegal and harmful means of satisfying their sexual needs. For this reason the Prophet ﷺ encouraged youth to marry young–as soon as they were capable of doing so, as is related in the following narration from Al-Bukhaari:
يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ الْبَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ، فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ، وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ، فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ
The Prophet ﷺ addressed a multitude of youths saying: O youths, whosoever of you is capable (sexually, or otherwise) of marriage then let him do so. And whoever is not capable, then let him fast (regularly), for that lowers his sexual passions.
Thus, for example, if a certain boy reaches manhood at say, thirteen, he could theoretically marry a girl who reached her womanhood at say, nine years of age. However, in reality, there is no ‘lower limit’, legally, according to Islamic Law, when a boy or girl may be married, even if he/she has not reached maturity.
In other words, it is possible legally, and it could be advantageous in certain individual circumstances, to have a boy and girl of equal or differing age, both married to each other while both or one of them (usually the girl) has not yet achieved maturity. This may be done for certain social and/or psychological purposes which are beneficial to the parties involved and which contribute to the spiritual and social health and welfare of the Muslim community.
This is supported by the example of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ himself for it is authentically reported that he married ‘Aaishah (may Allah be pleased with her) when she was six, then consummated the marriage when she was nine, after her reaching puberty.
If an immature girl is legally married to a mature male (young or older), he has the right to fondle her and play with her if she is physically large and appears capable of handling it, the male may also have sexual intercourse with the immature female. It is beneficial in some circumstances, in certain Muslim communities to marry certain children to each other one of who or both of whom are not yet mature, if sexual activity is known or feared from them. Abnormal sexual activity such as lesbianism, homosexuality, bestiality etc. is well nigh prevented by early marriages as is illegal sexual play or intercourse with other Muslim or non-Muslim peers.
In short, there is no restriction in Islam on the age level at which young people may be married, even if either of the two sexes (male or female) or both of them are not mature (baaligh). Obviously however, the normal, ideal age for them to be married is for them to at least have reached their puberty (buloogh), since it is at this age when sexual union is most likely, and when they are able to procreate, and fully enjoy the benefits of a healthy, conjugal relationship.
This leads to our final question in respect of this subject:
- This question pertains to certain problems affecting Muslim Youth in some North American communities regarding the issue of marriage. It is incumbent–at this point–to lay down some background information to the issues involved and to clarify the circumstances which prompted these questions to be asked by concerned persons.
The situation described by the questioner is that many of the youths (male and female) in particular communities who are mature (approximately between the ages of 12-18) have been displaying certain behavioural problems. It is claimed that these young people attend school regularly; they fast and pray–in short, they practice Islam to the best of their ability. However, there are certain social problems as follows:
For example, a Muslim youth likes a Muslim young lady and vice versa. The youth seeks permission to see the young lady and the father of the young lady refuses. The result is that the youth calls the young lady’s house without the father’s permission. It is feared that the two youths may not be able to stay from each other. As for marriage, some of the parents react negatively saying such things as ‘they’re too young to be married’ or ‘the Brother (i.e., the youth just mentioned) isn’t able to maintain the young lady economically.’ Etc.
There is a great concern on the part of North American parents and other responsible Muslims that such situations could lead to very negative results (As has happened already in fact, in other communities of North America and Canada which have similar societies).
With this background in mind the questioner asks the following questions in order to know just what rights and obligations exist for each of the parties concerned; namely, the parents of the Muslim youths and the youths themselves.
(A) Do they need their parents’ permission to be married?
(B) If the young couple are still in school, can’t they be married and stay with either of the parents, in their home, until the youth is able to finish school or find a job?
Answer: Firstly it should be made clear that people in a Muslim society are not allowed to ‘see each other’ privately, without the presence of the lady’s walee, or any deputized person in his stead who is a mahram of the said lady. There is no such thing as ‘pre-marital dating’ in Islam –a period during which the young couple can ‘get to know each other’ before they tie the marriage knot!!
In Islamic practice, if a young person (male or female) likes another then he or she should seek the proper method for informing the respective authorities his/her intentions. Thus a young man should seek the permission of the girl’s father or walee to be married to the girl. If she wants to be married to a particular Muslim youth, she should inform her parents (more specifically, her father, as he holds the right to grant permission) and an arrangement for a meeting of the parties concerned should be made.
No such private meetings between unmarried couples are allowed, such as walking in the park, shopping, going to an event, etc. No doubt to let such a couple see each other is prohibited, as it can only lead to a sexual expression of their affection for each other, i.e., fornication. It is the duty of parents and other responsible Muslims to arrange for legal marriage in such circumstances and not to let such a situation be left until it result in evil consequences. Now to proceed to the other questions, the first of which is:
Do they need their parent’s permission to be married?
The answer to this question is that if they are both immature, they both must have the express consent of their respective walee, i.e., the legal guardian. The walee or legal guardian is usually the father (if he is alive), otherwise the oldest brother of the child, and so on, according to a certain order. This is the legal father’s sole right, unless he deputizes someone else in his stead (i.e. his wakeel or deputy).
If the two youths are mature then the female must have the permission of her legal guardian (walee), regardless of her age; even if she is older, for the Prophet ﷺ has said in the authentic tradition that there is no legal marriage without the consent of the lady’s walee and two upright (male) witnesses.
As for the mature male, he does not require the consent of his father (or other walee); however, in keeping with proper Islamic manners and in order to be a respectful upright son, it is appropriate that he consult with his parents on the matter, and that he seek their advice and blessing in the affair. If his father should disagree to his marriage and refuses his consent without presenting Islamically–valid reasons, the mature male may marry the lady of his choice, as that is his right.
This is the ruling in terms of the Islamic Shari’ah; however, parents living in the West (due to such factors as ignorance, stubbornness, etc.), often resort to the legal system in those countries, and it may be that by law (in a certain country) the child (male or female) must have the written consent of one or both of the parents before they can be married, especially if they are below a certain age level (e.g. sixteen years of age).
Therefore, such problems should be straightened out between the parties concerned, and all members should be sincere in attempting to do that which is pleasing to Allah and most healthy for the religious, social and psychological well being of the Muslim individual and community.
The second question is: Whether or not one of the parents can’t take the young newly-married couple into their home temporarily; until the lad finishes school, gets a job, etc.?
Of course, this is one possible solution to the problem of youths’ need to be married, in case they do not have the financial ability to carry on as a separate family unit. It is a temporary solution to the problem of the lad not being able to maintain the wife because he wishes to finish school, or due to lack of sufficient full-time work, etc.
In many Eastern and/or Islamic countries, such a situation is fairly common and not at all frowned upon. Even in Europe it is quite prevalent. In these societies family ties are much stronger than in North America. Even in Saudi Arabia there are cases where a young lad of sixteen (or younger) is completing his high schooling while his wife is also a young lady completing her schooling in a girls’ school. They both live together with the boy’s parents and family.
Needless to say, the free and loose environment of western societies tends to stimulate and drive young people to some form of ‘love relationship’, and–as a result–illegal fornication. No doubt the sexual urge and the need to be married occurs early in many Muslim youths. It is the duty of Muslim parents to help facilitate legal Islamic marriage between their young mature children, who have reached puberty, in order to prevent illegal fornication between those children who have a strong sexual urge and desire for marriage. With some of these children this urge is so strong they had better be married Islamically (legally), otherwise they are going to fornicate (illegally, of course).
At this point, some words of advice and good counsel are in order, for as the Prophet ﷺ has said:
i.e., Verily deen (religion) is none other than the giving of good counsel.
With that in mind I say:
Parents should keep in mind that the Islamic order of things and its way of life is not to be confused with Western values, ideals and concepts, which are usually materialistic, selfish, and most often immoral; they are the result of human thought, by way of trial and error. Certainly, they are not determined by that perfect divine wisdom which is contained in the system of the revealed Shari’ah.
Allah the Creator, has fashioned man in all of his intricate details, and He, the Exalted knows exactly what is most beneficial for mankind and what is harmful. For that reason, Allah in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has seen fit to give man guidance and direction through a legal code which clearly delineates for him a complete way of life. The result of adherence to that divine legal code and heavenly guidance is peace and contentment in this earthly existence, and everlasting bliss in the Hereafter. Whosoever goes against that divine code and refuses guidance suffers in this life and in the next, Allah forbid!
In the light of the above, it is advised that Muslim parents carefully assess their children’s real needs–physical, moral, and social–in consultation with them. Parents are bound to familiarize themselves with their children’s problems, and to help solve these difficulties in a manner which is in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah, and which is in the Muslim child’s best interests–spiritually or otherwise.
Muslim parents should not look at the values, customs, mores and other arbitrary standards of the disbelieving society, and then blindly imitate that, thinking it to be ‘the right way.’
The spiritual and psychological well-being of our children are a sacred trust; we are responsible for every aspect of their well-being. So too, we must help them fulfill their physical, spiritual and social needs. Thus the solution to these problems lies with Muslim parents, in consultation with their children. If parents do not give their utmost consideration and effort in order to help solve their children’s difficulties, they will be to blame for the sins committed by their offspring, and for the dreadful consequences. May Allah guide Muslims to see the light, and to submit to the guidance of Islam in order to achieve success in this life and in the Hereafter.
- It is common amongst certain sisters from some of the Arab countries such as Syria and Lebanon that they wear a long coat down to the knee (along with their headscarf) but from the knee down they merely wear stockings so one can clearly see the shape and size of their legs. Is such a thing acceptable to the Islamic Shari’ah?
Answer: The wearing of such stockings below the knee down, including the foot is not acceptable to the conditions of the Islamic Shari’ah for correct hijaab, or Muslim women’s dress. I have dealt with this subject in detail in my book, “The Islamic Ruling Regarding Women’s Dress according to the Qur-aan and Sunnah.” A copy should be given to those sisters who are unfortunately labouring under this obvious misconception of theirs that such apparel suffices; for without a doubt it does not, and such a woman who wears it is a sinner and disobedient to Allah and His Prophet ﷺ.
In my booklet, p. 27, I draw your attention to the title: THE THIRD CONDITION, which is one of seven vital conditions of the hijaab in order to be acceptable and complete according to the divine Shari’ah, i.e., Al-Qur-aan and the authentic Sunnah. That condition is that a woman’s clothing must not be tight fitting such that it shows the shape and size of the limbs. This is proven by the following hadeeth and its translation as reproduced from the book below:
“Usaama bin Zaid said: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, gave me a gift of thick Coptian cloth which he had previously received as a gift from Dahiah Al-Kalby, so I gave it to my wife to use for her clothing. The Prophet (later) asked me: “What’s with you that you don’t wear the Coptian cloth?” I replied: I gave it to my wife to wear. The Prophet then said: “Order her to wear a gown under the Coptian cloth, for verily I fear that it might reveal the size and shape of her body parts.”
Clearly the Prophet ﷺ ordered Usaamah to tell his wife to wear a gown under the Coptian cloth because–and I quote– “for verily I fear that it might reveal the size and shape of her body parts or members (hajm idhaamiha).” This is precisely what the wearing of stockings does–it reveals the shape, size and form of the woman’s legs, which is without doubt an invitation to men and an attraction, whereas the purpose of hijab or women’s Islamic dress) is to reduce the attraction and to hide the woman’s body from onlookers.
There is no doubt about this condition amongst the scholars of Islam for they are in complete agreement regarding this portion of the body, i.e., between the knee and the foot. As for the foot, it too must be covered as is clearly proved on page 20, footnote 19 of the same said booklet. If the wearing of tight-fitting stockings were allowed, then the woman should be allowed to go out in public wearing a skin tight exercise suit with leotards and a headscarf, because if such a thing is allowed below the knee, it is allowed above the knee, and anywhere else on the woman’s body.
Now would any of these women go out on the street in leotards and a small jacket and scarf?!! Fear Allah and use your good senses my brethren; strict adherence to the divinely–revealed Shari’ah is our only escape from the evils of our selves and from our weaknesses and evil deeds. As for the excuse of some of these people that Imam Ash-Shaafi’ee or Imam Abu Haneefah or “so-and-so” said this or that, I reply in the following way:
None of the Imams have allowed the wearing of stockings between the knee and the foot, open to view. Whosoever claims such a thing regarding the Imams is asked to bring the proof of what they say, as the Qur-aan says:
قُلْ هَاتُواْ بُرْهَـنَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـدِقِينَ
“Present your proof (of what you claim) if, indeed, you are truthful.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:111]
Let us have the name of the book and page number wherein such a statement is authentically related up to one of the Imams. Whosoever does not bring such a proof carries the rumors and hearsay of the common folk, and would be guilty of slander, Allah forbid!
Even for the sake of argument, we were to say that one of the Imams did say such a thing, then even so we must realize that they were mere human beings, they were prone to error in matters of deen as all human beings are–except for the true chosen Messengers of Allah who are protected by Allah from making any error in conveying the Revelation and Law. As for the four famous Imams and other scholars, they sometimes erred and they sometimes were right. We are not bound to blindly imitate them. We are ordered by numerous texts of the Quraan and Sunnah to follow the Quraan and authentic Sunnah in order to be rightly guided, as is conveyed in the following authentic hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:
وعنه أيضا [ يعني ابن عباس ] :
…إني قد تركت فيكم ما إن اعتصمتم به فلن تضلوا أبدا كتاب الله وسنة نبيه الحديث
رواه الحاكم وقال : صحيح الإسناد احتج البخاري بعكرمة واحتج مسلم بأبي أويس وله أصل في الصحيح
( صحيح الترغيب و الترهيب للالباني)
“I have left with you (Muslims) two things, you would never go astray so long as you would adhere to them: Allah’s Book and my Sunnah.”
Nowhere in the Quraan or Sunnah are we ordered to follow or blindly imitate of the Imams or Scholars. “Taqleed”, or blind imitation of one of the Imams and adherence to his school (madhhab) was prohibited by those very Imams themselves, for they knew that they were prone to error and that their knowledge of hadeeths and hadeeth criticism, etc., was limited in their early era.
In fact all of them have ordered us to follow the Quraan and Sunnah and to reject their positions if they contradict the two sources of the Divine Shari’ah. I will quote just one statement from each of the four Imams in order to make this point absolutely clear to the reader:
Imam Maalik (Allah’s mercy be upon him) has said: “I am a human; I may err and I may be right (in arriving at a legal ruling after exercising personal opinion). So scrutinize my views; and whatever you find therein to be in accordance with Allah’s Book and the Sunnah, accept it. And whatever you find of my opinions to be in contradiction to the Book and the Sunnah, abandon it.”
Imam Ash-Shaafi’ee (May Allah be pleased with him), said: “No one is exempt from the fact that a Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ may escape his memory or otherwise elude him. so whatever I have expressed of my views (or legal opinions), there may exist a sunnah from the Messenger of Allah which contradicts what I have said. Thus the dependable “saying” (position) is that which has been stated by Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. And the Prophet’s statement (as expressed in the Sunnah) is truly my own view.”
In another statement by Ash-Shaafi’ee he said: “There is unanimous agreement amongst the Muslims that whoever becomes aware of a Prophetic sunnah, it is not permissible for him to abandon it for the saying of someone else.” If you find in my works that which is contrary to the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger, then abide by the Sunnah, and abandon whatever I have said.”
Imam Abu Haneefah (may Allah be pleased with him), said: “It is not lawful for anyone to adopt our position (or opinion, on jurisprudential issues): unless he knows the source from which we derived that opinion.” Finally, Abu Haneefah ordered his disciples in the following way regarding the issue of his statements contradicting the Divine Shari’ah: “If I have expressed a view which contradicts Allah’s Book and the traditions of the Messenger, then abandon my view.”
As for Imam Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him), he is authentically reported by the great Hanbali scholar Ibnul-Qayyim as saying: “Do not imitate me, and don’t imitate Maalik either, nor Ash-Shaafi’ee, nor Al-Awzaa’ee, nor Ath-Thowri; but rather, refer to the sources from which they have derived their views, and take from those sources yourself.”
He also said: “The opinion of Al-Awzaa’ee and of Maalik and Abu Haneefah–all of it is equal in my eyes. However, the proof is in the narrations (from the Prophet, ﷺ) and his Companions.
About the Author
Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi was born in Italy on July 4, 1950. At the age of four he emigrated with his family to the Lakes District of northern British Columbia where he spent his childhood and early teens. His family then moved in 1965 to Vancouver B.C. where he completed his secondary education.
In 1968 he embarked on the B.A. program at the University of British Columbia, and he graduated in 1972 from the Faculty of Arts with a major in English Literature. After a year’s social work, he entered the Professional Development Program of the Education Faculty at Simon Fraser University. Having concentrated in the field of Special Education, he graduated with honors in the summer of 1974.
During his final semester at S.F.U. he embraced Islam. After living in the Muslim community of Vancouver for a year, he realized the need to further his Islamic education. With this objective in mind, he traveled to Makkah during Ramadaan of 1976 in order to perform Hajj and to apply for admission to a program of Arabic and Islamic studies. He entered the Arabic Language Institute at Umm Al-Qura University and completed the language program in two and a half years.
He then applied and was accepted to the College of Shari’ah and Islamic Studies where he undertook a concentration in the field of Quraanic and Hadeeth Sciences. He graduated with honors in 1983.
In May 1989, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Quraanic Sciences from Umm Al-Qura University. A few weeks later, he passed away at the age of 39, leaving behind five beautiful children. During his short life, he wrote a number of treatises on various Islamic topics, and was actively engaged in writing, translating and daw’ah work
 Defined as the condition or the period of becoming first capable of reproducing sexually.
 Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad Ibnul-Hasan were the two closest disciples of Imam Abu Haneefah.
 The lunar calendar consisting of 12 months, each being 29-30 days in length.
 Even by one’s own children.
 By “Those before them” is meant other children who reached puberty before them and who are now their seniors. All of them are bound to it.
 Authentically related by Al-Bukhaari and the authors of the Sunan.
 Sahih al-Bukhari 3043 Book 56, Hadith 249 (English) reference: Vol. 4, Book 52, Hadith 280
 Male or female.
 That is, once she has menses she is a full adult responsible for all her adult duties such as salaah, fasting, etc., except that prayer would not be accepted from her unless she wears a proper head veil such that only her face may be exposed, as her covering must cover her head and also her body, except her hands up to the wrist bone.
 In other states it might be seventeen, eighteen, and so on depending on the opinion of a particular school of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) followed in that particular state. According to Ibn Hazm, the maximum age for maturity is nineteen.
 Authentically related by Al-Bukhaari and others.
 That is, the Battle of Uhud, and the Battle of the Trench (Al-Khandaq) respectively.
 i.e., the Battle of the Trench (Al-Khandaq).
 Sunan Ibn Majah, English reference: Vol. 3, Book 20, Hadith 2543; Arabic reference: Book 20, Hadith 2640
 Related by Al-Bayhaqy with a weak chain of narration.
 That is, whoever is sexually capable, and able to maintain a wife by supplying the very basic needs of food, clothing and a shelter over her head, should do so.
 Fasting on a regular basis helps to control physical passions or desires for certain mundane things as sex, food, etc. However, it must be done on a regular unbroken pattern such as every second day (if possible) or every third or fourth day. It is not as effective if it is done irregularly and not often like once or twice a week.
 That is, he had sexual intercourse with her at nine, when she menstruated, thereby reaching full maturity.
 It is said that such fondling of the breasts and privates tends to help bring on the girl’s maturity at a faster rate than normal. Thus, in marriage such fondling promotes intimacy, stimulates her sexual organs and speeds her growth to puberty.
 Like her brother, uncle, and so on according to the rulings established by the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Editor’s note: The Prophet ﷺ said, أَلاَ لاَ يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ إِلاَّ كَانَ ثَالِثَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ “Behold! A man is not alone with a woman but the third of them is Ash-Shaitan.” (Sahih At-Tirmidhi)
 Sahih Muslim.
 Sahih Al-Hakim
 This statement of Maalik’s was authentically related by the great Maaliki scholar Ibn ‘Abdul-Baar in his Al-Jaami’, vol. 2, p. 32.
 Authentically reported by Al-Haakim as mentioned in Ibn ‘Asaakin’s Taareekh Dimeshq, Manuscript
 Related by Ibnul Qayyim in Al-I’laam, vol.2, p. 361 & Al-Fullaanee in Al-Eeqaadh, p. 68.
 Related by Al-Khayeeb in Al-Ihtijaaj Bish-Shaafi’ee (MS. No.8/2) and An-Nawawi in Al-Majmoo’ vol. 6, P. 63.
 Related by Ibn ‘Abideen in the Haashiyah, vol. 6, p. 309, etc.
 Related by Al-Fullaanee in Al- Eeqaadh, p. 50.
 In his celebrated work, Al-I’laam, vol.2, p. 302.