The System of Modesty & Chastity in Islam

The System of Modesty & Chastity in Islam

Burden of Marriage on the Father

The attainment of young age by sons and daughters increases the responsibility of parents, particularly the fathers, to arrange marriage for them. Besides being shy and modest, the young man and woman do not have the material-means to defray expenses of marriage. As such, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam gave suitable distinction:

“When a man is blessed with a child, let him give his child a good name. He should bring him up on sound moral grounds and, when attains young age, the father must get him married. If the father fails to marry his son and he gets involved in any sin, the father will be held responsible for it.” (Mishkat)

 

Another Hadeeth is particularly about the daughter: “It is recorded in the Torah that, if a man’s daughter reaches the age of twelve years and he does not get her married, any moral lapse or sin committed by the girl will be the liability of her father.” (Mishkat).

 

Seeing the woman before marriage

Islam has permitted that a prospective bachelor may catch sight of his fiancee before the marriage is consummated. This is conducive to the protection of modesty. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whenever anyone among you (Muslims) proposes marriage with a woman, he should, if possible, catch sight of her.”

Seeing the person is full of many advantages. It will if the woman is liked, confirm the intention of marriage. It will obviate all chances of criticism of defects, if any, after the marriage. To obtain relevant details about the proposed match is necessary.

The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) advised Hazrat Moghira bin Shu’ba Radiallahu anhu to catch a sight of the lady he had intended to marry because that would be helpful in connecting mutual relations. According to Imam Tirmzi Rahmatullah alaih, sighting of a fiancee would be conducive to mutual love and regard during the married life.

According to Hazrat Abu Horairah Radiallahu anhu, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) commanded a man to see his proposed bride (who was an Ansaria) and uttered the following words: “Go and see the woman because in the eyes of the Ansar women there is some thing you may not like.” According to Imam Nawawi Rahmatullah alaih, catching a glimpse of the fiancee is advisable. This view is showed by Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmed.

As a matter of fact, the seeing should preferably be done without notice and without knowledge of the concerned woman, if possible. If personal sighting is not possible, it may be done by a reliable woman who may report pros and cons of the woman.

Two of the organs, face, and hands may be seen with advantage. These two organs are beyond the Islamic ‘satar’ (fit to be hidden), the face will reveal the beauty and graces and the hands and arms will reveal the standard of physical health and bodily structure.

As against this useful contrivance made permissible in Islam, the western and the non-Muslim usage of court­ship is highly objectionable and fraught with moral dangers. This situation is highly objectionable from Islamic viewpoint and it defeats the very purpose of marriage in Islam, which seeks, to protect the modesty and chastity of a female. Before the consummation of marriage a male and a female are strangers to each other and are not allowed even to sit closely together and enter into conversation and discussion. The sighting of a would – be bride has been allowed only as a precaution to obviate chances of criticism by the man about any defects which may become known after the marriage.

Allama Rashid Raza, an Egyptian scholar wrote: “For the last 30 or 40 years I have carried out research on the marital relations between men and women. I have read carefully a lot of literature on this subject and have writtenmany pages in my commentary “Al-Minar.” But I firmly disbelieve when thinkers both in east and west opine that satisfactory marital life and the pleasure attendant on it depend on the pre-marriage acquaintance of a male and a female and on the mutual love developed in the course of their courtship.”

The courtship formula has proved to be ineffective and harmful because initial love is gradually diminished after marriage and, as the Arabian proverb goes: marriage puts an end to the love, which a man and a woman may have before marriage. Sentiments subside when hard realities of life are faced by both man and woman.

The correct attitude which requires to be adopted was taught by Hazrat Umar Radiallahu anhu when an outspoken woman told him (as head of the State): ،I have no natural love for him.” She was wisely advised: “When a woman does not have natural love for her husband, she should not tell him, because sentimental and heart to heart love is rare. Let married couples live in accordance with the teachings of Islam and have mutual regard and respect within the Divine injunctions. Let them discharge the obligations develoving on each and have regard for the mutual rights as fixed by Islam: He added: “Man and wife would be well-advised to express more love for each other than they actually feel. That way their amicable relations will improve with the passage of time and their family life would become happy and satisfactory.”

Prophetic counsel in the selection of a Bride:

In the selection of a bride, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam gave the most valuable counsel to the prospective young man for the selection of an ideal wife. He said: “A woman is sought in marriage for four qualities: her prosperity and opulence؛ her pedigree and family status؛ her beauty and graces; and finally her character, morality and faith or religious bias.” All the four conditions are worthy of consideration and there are pros and cons for each quality. A rich woman and a woman with high family background may turn out to be insolent, disobedient and rude. A beautiful woman may be self-conscious and boasting and ignoring the right of her husband. However, a woman with high character, morals, faith and knowledge will always keep in view the teachings of Islam and, under thick and thin, will prove to be loyal to the husband and run his house in a proficient manner. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam gave the following advice for the benefit of young bachelors: “Do not marry woman for the wealth (alone) because their wealth is likely to make them arrogant.”

Similarly, pedigree and family status are not the qualities to influence a correct decision. Again, beauty and graces of a woman may become the cause of troubles and trials for the man. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam advised: ،،Do not wed a woman only on grounds of beauty because most often their beauty may land the family in ruin.”

Good character, good morals and religious knowledge and bias are the best qualities for which a woman may be selected for wedlock. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam advised: “You should marry women on the basis of their good religion.” A religious woman is always conscious of the rights of her husband as taught by Islam. She runs the household to the satisfaction of her husband. She is devoid of arrogance and takes pains to bring up her children on Islamic lines. She is not quarrel some, and maintains good and amicable relations with the relatives of her husband. She is liked by her neighbors for her good conduct and adds to the dignity of her husband’s house. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam said: “A man who is fortunate to have (i) a grateful heart in his bosom; (ii) a tongue in his mouth which is committed to the continuous memory of Allah; (ii) a physical body which is patient and forbearing under troubles and triais and (iv) a virtuous wife who avoids evil in every form and jealously guards the property of her husband. Such a man has been granted the best of everything in this world and the Hereafter.” Scholars of Islam have recommended that a woman of good character, morals and modesty may be accepted as a bride. Too tall, too short, ugly, very aged and given to lewdness may not be accepted in marriage.

Points of preference in selection of a Bride:

From detailed study of Traditions of the Holy Prophet and the scholars of Jurisprudence, it has become known that, good morals, good character, righteousness, religious bias are the qualities which must be preferred to other matters in selecting a bride. However, handsomeness and age are factors, which should not be lost sight of. Good character combined with beauty and graces is certainly to be preferred. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam recommended to the young bachelors among his followers to go in for virgins for their wedlock. He said: ،؛you should marry virgin ladies because they are sweet in speech, fertile to bear many children and are satisfied with whatever is available of worldly comforts.”

Valuable sayings of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam regarding Chastity

In the books of Traditions, many events have been mentioned when the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam reprimanded young persons to avoid any approach to fornication and learn to appreciate their, valuable honour and chastity. Once he Sallallahu alaihi wasallam said: “0 young men of Quraish! Guard and protect your organs. Do not commit adultery. Listen! Whoso guards his organs, he shall have his abode in Paradise.”
Haracluss, the Emperor of Rome asked Abu Sufyan Radiallahu anhu (when he visited him):”What are the teachings of the man you are so ruthlessly opposing? Abu Sufyan Radiallahu anhu said: “He enjoins prayers, charity, chastity and love and regard for close relations.”

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam said that a man who isinvited by a most beautiful, dignified woman of high status to have sexual relation with him but he refuses to commit the sin for fear of Allah, he shall be among those who enjoys the shade of the Throne of God on the Day of Judgment when there will be no other shade against scorching heat. A chaste person has been given guarantee of entry into Paradise by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam who said; “that a person who assures me of guarding his tongue and his sexual organs, he is assured of entry into Paradise.” That chastity can attract the mercy and help of Allah is proved by a story mentioned by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam who said: “Three men were on a journey. On the way they took asylum against inclement weather in a cave. A very heavy stone fell down and closed the opening of the cave, and imprisoning the three fellow travellers. The three travellers agreed to beseach Allah for help by inviting His attention with reference to some extra¬ordinary good deed performed by each in his life. One of them narrated that he had, for fear of Allah and for no other reason, desisted his evil desire to co-habit with his cousin girl who was extremely beautiful and attractive. His prayer was heard and the stone slipped away from the mouth of the cave and gave them an exit for escape.

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam said: “whoever wishes to meet his Lord Creator in a state of purity (from sins), let him marry a gentlewoman of good character” He also said: “To co-habit with one’s  lawful wife for maintenance of chastity was an act of charity.” The companions asked with wonder: “Does satisfaction of one’s desire call for a reward as charity?” The Holy Prophet replied: “Had he sought satisfaction through illegal means, would that not be a punishable sin? An act which saved a man from sin was certainly a deed of virtue and was worthy of reward.”

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam said, ‘There will be three persons, with whom Allah, the Exalted, will not (even) speak nor will He purify them nor look on their faces with kindness. One of them will be an old man who committed adultery in old age; the second one will be a king who (despite his authority) told lies; and the third one will be a beggar who (despite his low social status) was boastful.”

Importance of marriage and its stability:

Whereas Islam has made it a father’s responsibility to arrange, timely marriage of his son or daughter, the son or the daughter are also required to understand its importance and not to oppose any such proposal made by the father. It is the father’s responsibility to make a suitable selection of a match for his son or daughter. Among other things he should have his eyes on the moral and religious sectors of prospective candidates. A boy or a girl with good religious background is expected to prove loyal and such a marriage may be stable and without troubles. Allah has forbidden marriage of Muslim males with polytheistic females:

“Do not marry the polytheist until they have embraced Islam and become faithful.”

The Muslim scholars have explained in detail the importance of this embargo as laid down by Allah in the Holy Qur’an.Shaikh ul Hind. Maulana Mahmood ul Hassan Rahmatullah alaih writes: “Marriage is such an institution that a man and a woman get most close and near to each other. Their mutual love, their actions and speech, everything has an effect on the other party. If the wife or the husband is a non-Muslim polytheist, the effects of evil belief are bound to fall on the Muslim wife or husband who upholds monotheism. A prolonged association with a person of evil faith may’ change the heart of the other party and may land him in the Fire of Hell. As such, such marriage must be eschewed.” Shah Wali ullah Rahmatullah alaih of Delhi has also expressed similar views.

Apart from moral and religious draw-backs of marriage with non-Muslims, even from worldly point of view, the chances: of such a marriage being successful are rare. When thinking is not alike, faith and belief is not alike, married life cannot give love and loyalty to the parties and there can be chances of frequent bitterness and temperamental differences. There are fears of modesty of the two sides, being affected. As such, no Muslim should think of marrying a non-Muslim.

Prophetic counsel in the selection of a Bride:

In the selection of a bride, the Holy Prophet gave most valuable counsel to the prospective young man for the selection of an ideal wife. He said: “A woman is sought in marriage for four qualities: her prosperity and opulence; her pedigree and family status; her beauty and graces; and finally her character, morality and faith or religious bias.” All the four conditions are worthy of consideration and there are pros and cons for each quality. A rich woman and a woman with high family background may turn out to be insolent, disobedient and rude. A beautiful woman may be self-conscious and boasting and ignoring the right of her husband. But a woman with high character, morals, faith and knowledge will always keep in view the teachings of Islam and, under thick and thin, will prove to be loyal to the husband and run his house in a proficient manner. The Holy Prophet gave the following advice for the benefit of young bachelors: “Do not marry woman for the wealth (alone) because their wealth is likely to make them arrogant.”

Similarly pedigree and family status are not the qualities to influence a correct decision. Again beauty and graces of a woman may become the cause of troubles and trials for the man. The Holy Prophet advised: “Do not wed a woman only on grounds of beauty because most often their beauty may land the family in ruin.”

Good character, good morals and religious knowledge and bias are the best qualities for which a woman may be selected for wed-lock. The Holy Prophet advised: “You should marry women on the basis of their good religion.” A religious lady is always conscious of the rights of her husband as taught by Islam.

She runs the house-hold to the satisfaction of her husband. She is devoid of arrogance and takes pains to bring up her children on Islamic lines. She is not quarrel some, and maintains good and amicable relations with the relatives of her husband. She is liked by her neighbors for her good conduct and adds to the dignity of her husband’s house. The Holy Prophet said: “A man who is fortunate to have (i) a grateful heart in his bosom; (ii) a tongue in his mouth which is committed to the continuous memory of God; (ii) a physical body which is patient and forbearing under troubles and trials and (iv) a virtuous wife who avoids evil in every form and jealously guards the property of her husband. Such a man has been granted the best of everything in this world and the Hereafter.”

Scholars of Islam have recommended that a woman of good character, morals and modesty may be accepted as a bride. Too tall, too short, ugly, very aged and given to lewdness may not be accepted in marriage.

 

Points of preference in selection of a Bride

From detailed study of Traditions of the Holy Prophet and the scholars of Jurisprudence, it has come to light that, good morals, good character, righteousness, religious bias are the qualities which must be preferred to other matters in selecting a bride. However handsomeness and age are factors which should not be lost sight of. Good character combined with beauty and graces is certainly to be preferred. The Holy Prophet recommended to the young bachelors among his followers to go in for virgins for their wed-lock. He said: “you should marry virgin ladies because they are sweet in speech, futile to bear many children and are satisfied with whatever is available of worldly comforts.”

Nature of Divine chastisement for the unchaste persons

On the great Night of Ascension (Laylatul Mi’raaj) the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam was made to see with his eyes the specimens of Divine punishment meted out to different categories of sinners for their respective sins.

He saw an oven full of blazing fire from which loud sounds of cries and shrieks, weeping and sobbing were being heard. Being surprised at this extra-ordinary phenomenon, he peeped into the fiery oven and was stunned to find it full of naked men and women whose lower bodies were filled with flames. The rising flames had created a kind of fiery tempest which caused the naked men and women to raise loud shrieks and cries.

 

In another Hadeeth the bodies of these people were raised all the way to the top of the oven, which was cone shaped, until they reached the exit and the flames subsided which caused them to drop to the bottom again.

He Sallallahu alaihi wasallam asked the controller: “Who are these people?”

He was informed: “They are all unchaste men and women who were in the habit of committing fornication and adultery in their worldly life.”

Valuable sayings of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam regarding Chastity

In the books of traditions, many events have been mentioned when the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam reprimanded young persons to avoid any approach to fornication and learn to appreciate their valuable honour and chastity. Once he (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “0 young men of Quraish! Guard and protect your organs. Do not commit adultery. Listen! Whoso guards his organs, he shall have his abode in Paradise.”

Haracluss, the Emperor of Rome asked Abu Sufyan (when he visited him):”What are the teachings of the man you are so ruthlessly opposing? Abu Sufyan said: “He enjoins prayers, charity, chastity and love and regard for close relations.”

The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said that a man who is invited by a beautiful, dignified woman of high status to have sexual relation with him but he refuses to commit the sin for fear of Allah, he shall be among those who enjoy the shade of the Throne of Allah on the Day of Judgment when there will be no other shade against scorching heat.

A chaste person has been given guarantee of entry into Paradise by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) who said: “that a person who assures me of guarding his tongue and his sexual organs, he is assured of entry into Paradise.”

That chastity can attract the mercy and help of Allah is proved by a story mentioned by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) who said: “Three men were on a journey. On the way they took asylum against inclement weather in a cave. A very heavy stone fell down and closed the opening of the cave, and imprisoning the three fellow travellers. The three travellers agreed to beseech Allah for help by inviting His attention with reference to some extraordinary good deed performed by each in his life. One of them narrated that he had, for fear of Allah and for no other reason, desisted his evil desire to co-habit with his cousin girl who was extremely beautiful and attractive. His prayer was heard and the stone slipped away from the mouth of the cave and gave them an exit for escape.

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam said: “whoever wishes to meet his Lord Creator in a state of purity (from sins), let him marry a gentle woman of good character.” He also said: “To co-habit with one’s lawful wife for maintenance of chastity is an act of charity.” The companions asked with wonder: “Does satisfaction of one’s desire call for a reward as charity?” The Holy Prophet replied: “Had he sought satisfaction through illegal means, would that not be a punishable sin? An act which saved a man from sin is certainly a deed of virtue and is worthy of reward.”

The Holy Prophet said: “There will be three persons with whom Allah, the Exalted, will not (even) speak nor will He purify them nor look on their faces with kindness. One of them will be an old man who committed adultery in old age; the second one will be a king who (despite his authority) told lies; and the third one will be a beggar who (despite his low social status) was boastful.”

Merits of a Good woman include life of Prosperity:

What a lofty tribute has been paid to the female sex by the Great Prophet of Islam Sallallahu alaihi wasallam when he said:

“Among the things of this world my mind has been inclined to have love for women and perfumes; (but) my coolness of eyes lies in praying to Allah.” Allah, the Exalted, has, as though by way of incentive, given promise of prosperity on getting married. He has said:

”’If they (the persons courting marriage) are destitutes, Allah will grant them prosperity through His bounties and blessings. Allah is very generous and full of knowledge.” (S-24: V: 32)

Human weakness has always been to looks to the means of livelihood which are not always satisfactory. For tear of poverty and inability to defray expenses of married life, most people give up the idea of marriage and try to live a life of celibacy. But Allah, the Exalted, teaches man to place his reliance on His bounty and his generous sustenance. He says:

“Allah grants sustenance from sources which are beyond the imagination of man.” (S-65: V: 3)

“He grants sustenance for you and to those who depend on you.” (S-6: V: 151)

Fear of livelihood should not stand in the way of marriage of a young man. This is a blessing of Islam that its carries the mind of man above the world of cause and effect and teaches him to recognize Allah as the real, powerful sustainer. Absence of prosperity must not stand in the way of marriage; similarly the marriage should not be looked upon as a means to poverty. At times a man and woman, on unification in marriage earn such blessings of Allah that they begin to wonder at their fortunes.

Fear of Poverty baseless:

Most people suffer from a complex that marriage which involves monetary responsibilities may be postponed till a certain level of prosperity has been attained. The Holy Quran has shaken off such imaginary fears and induced men to see the problem from the high level of faith and reliance on the sustenance of Allah.

Says the Holy Qur’an:

“If you fear poverty (after marriage), soon, very soon Allah will grant you emancipation from all worlds needs through His bounty, if He likes.” (5-9: V: 28)

Protection of Modesty and Chastity and the Institution of Marriage in Islam:

All well-wishers of the human race and all national thinkers have appreciated that wide-spread adultery and rape are a scourge for humanity. The physical, social and moral corruption arising from this fatal addiction has forced thinkers and national leaders in the world to evolve some sort of legal code to put a stop to the recurring human troubles and social problems.

Islam has given to humanity a system of moral laws which are based on human psychology and which meticulously avoid the two extremes. Neither Celibacy nor free intercourse are permissible in Islam. It has adopted golden means and the Islamic teachings encourage the institution of marriage to such an extent that two, three or four wives have been made permissible. Sexual urge is the weakest point of any human being, male or female. Its satisfaction must be sought by lawful means which involve heavy responsibilities. The Holy Quran says:

“And get those married who are without a spouse among your slaves and maid servants.” (5-24: V:32)

Marriage of all such persons who are able-bodied and have supporting capacity, has been made almost compulsory. The responsibility devolves on the heads of families and on the nation as a whole.

Marriage has been described in Islamic jurisprudence as an obligation amounting almost to a duty. A large number of Traditions of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam emphasise timely marriage of boys and girls and servants and maid servants so that the social order remains free from corruption of free intercourse and the evils concomitant upon it. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam advised the young men: “0 group of young men! Whoso among you has full sexual power, let him (at once) court a marriage, because marriage alone can guard your sight and your private organs.”