Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I’m a girl of 19. I wonder how I have to be motivated to marry when I hear these hadiths:
1. The women not responding to the husband’s sexual requests leads to angels’ curse
2. Women annoying their husbands leads to hoors’ curse
3. Women who don’t ask permission to go out leads to angels’ curse
4. The husband is the Heaven or Hell
5. Majority of women in hell due to ingratitude.
6. Women prostrating to the their husbands.
7. Women permission on spending her own money and fasting to her husband
8. The husband that has beaten the wife is not questioned.
There are hadiths that upset me about women such as:
Deficiency in intellect.
It seems that things would more more more easier if I decide never to get married. I ackowledge that marrying is a strong Sunnah, but my heart is getting arrows when hearing such hadiths. It seems to me that it is easier to fail as a wife and never in my existence I want to be rejected and thrown in Hell.
I am confused, I am really upset of women being the majority in hell and I heard of an hadith like 99.9% or 90% going to Hell. Allah’s book usually begins with ‘in the name of the most Merciful and Compassionate”. Many things are contradictory, I am having intrusive waswas in my mind and I’m getting depressed but I still remind myself He is al-Wadud. I know for sure Allah is The Just, He will take care of the victims abused by men. But still, these awful thoughts of Allah buzz in my mind.
Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh
I pray you are well.
Thank you very much for your questions. The issues you have raised are very important in our times as a large number of Muslim women feel uneasy about this issue – and consequently, about aspects of the religion. InshaAllah we will try to address the concerns you have.
From the outset we should know that Allah is wise beyond our understanding; and all He has legislated is always for our benefit – even if we do not see it. It is usually difficult to convince a child to see that the big injection he is going to be given may save his life. When we look at the words of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as they were meant to be understood many things we perceive as problematic turn out to be wisdom itself.
We ask Allah to show us the truth as it is, and to let us follow it; and to show us what is wrong as being wrong, and to allow us to shun it. Āmīn.
Before trying to look at any of these issues, we need to start with the context. Not seeing the context can dramatically alter how we perceive a matter. Imagine someone describing a man with a sharp blade in his hand walking up to a child asleep on a bed. The man then raises the blade and stabs the child in the chest causing his young, innocent blood to gush out all over him. If the description stopped there, almost everyone would say the man is a terrible criminal – and rightly so, because that is what the context leads us to believe.
Now imagine that we now know that the child is critically ill, and that if he does not receive an immediate heart transplant, he will certainly die; leaving his parents, family, and friends distraught. The operation is difficult and requires over twenty hours of careful procedures to be successful. The surgeon, aware of the great burden on his shoulders, picks up his instrument and cuts the chest of the child, praying to Allah for success as he feels the warmth of the blood through his gloves.
No one would have a bad opinion of the man after knowing these extra details. Understanding Islam is the same: when crucial details are absent everything can seem wrong.
Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, when discussing what reliance on Allah is, has a brief discussion on the wisdom of Allah. The upshot is that if Allah created everyone in existence with the intellect of the most intelligent of them, and then gave them as much knowledge as they could handle, and poured into them indescribably vast wisdom before multiplying their number – none would be able to point to a defect in what Allah has created, judged or legislated. Such is the is infinite wisdom of Allah (Ghazali, Ihya ʿUlum al-Din).
Everything in the Noble Shariʿa is for our benefit: Allah is too perfect to be benefitted or harmed by anything whatsoever. The wisdom of some matters has been explained to us; we can partially deduce in other matters, yet there are many other matters highly beneficial to us which have not been explained. We simply have to just trust in Allah. It may be that we cannot even fathom what lies in them of wisdom.
An example is the sunna of fasting twice a week. Until a few years ago people simply saw it as a great practice of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Now we know that intermittent fasting has a myriad of health benefits much needed by people who live modern lifestyles. This is not an isolated incident; rather is an intrinsic quality of all the instructions of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
Anything legislated by a wise, loving, merciful, and just Lord, necessarily has all these qualities within it.
An Ounce of Prevention is Better Than a Pound of Cure
Another matter to bear in mind is that the remedies to social ills and the problems people face in general, are found in the teachings of Islam. However, their nature is that of prevention – which is the best approach – but the religion has to be applied fully for their fruits to manifest. For example, if every Muslim made a serious commitment to improve his character and be gentle to others, how many problems would disappear from people’s lives?
You may wonder why problems still exist, then. The simple answer is that Allah has given us all the means to establish a just society, and left it to humanity to do so. Whatever they do, everyone will be judged according to their actions.
Marriage: A Divine Gift
Let us start answering your questions with a brief look at what marriage is. Allah said, ‘And of His tremendous signs is that He created for you perfectly suited spouses in order for you to attain deep intimacy and pleasure from them; and He firmly placed strong concern and great kindness between you. Undoubtedly, in that are many extraordinary signs for people who wholeheartedly reflect (30:21).
Let us look deeper at this verse:
‘And of His tremendous signs’ – Amongst the amazing signs Allah has strewn throughout His creation so we may look beyond the sign to infer His existence, power, kindness, wisdom….amongst many other things…
‘Is that He created for you’ – Not only did He create us out of His kindness, He created for us a means for our race to continue after we are long gone; a means for us to see our intrinsic need of company. From this we can see it is Him alone who needs no other…
‘From your own selves’ – From our own species; we share the same needs; have similar dreams and desires; long for similar things…This is primarily a reference to our mother, Ḥawwāʾ, being created from the rib of our father, Adam.
‘Perfectly suited spouses’ – Here we see the wisdom in her being created from Adam: neither is complete in life without the other. It is as though the husband is lacking something without the wife, and she wants to be with him: both complete each other. There is a mutual dependancy. Each has qualities and traits the other lacks, yet neither is complete without the other. This is a central theme underlying many of the laws relating to marriage. Seeing as the rib was part of a greater whole initially, the onus is placed on the spouse who represents that whole – the husband – to maintain and protect the wife.
This shows their roles and responsibilities are different; the burdens placed on each of them in the Shariʿa are different; therefore it is only fitting that the laws of the Shariʿa reflect this. Being perfectly suited does not mean they have to be identical in every aspect, role and responsibility; rather each is given a role which is best suited to them.
‘In order for you to attain deep intimacy and pleasure from them’ – This is the purpose for which Allah created spouses: for each to feel deeply fulfilled emotionally by means of the other. Meaning that each feels strongly and intimately connected to their spouse, and cut off from others, having no need for anyone else. The spouse is also a means for their desires to be fulfilled. Each is completed though the other.
‘And He firmly placed strong concern and great kindness between you’ – In order for the previous goal to be achieved Allah places Mawadda and Rahma between them. Mawadda is a strong love that is imbued with a deep sense of concern for the other: neither spouse wants the other to experience any sort of harm. This is complemented by a form of love which is a strong attraction mixed with the desire for the other to be given all that is good. This is known as Mahabba in Arabic, but Allah chose not to use this word.
The word chosen was Rahma, which has implications of great kindness which is manifested through actions. In other words, it is not enough to just desire great good for the spouse, but to actively demonstrate that desire through kind actions. This is very clear in the sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). The basis of this is placed in all marriages when people are suited for each other.
‘Undoubtedly, in that are many extraordinary signs for people who wholeheartedly reflect’ – This is an invitation from Allah to reflect on His signs. The word ‘Qawm’, translated above as ‘people’, has a nuance of people who have a strong will, and motivation; who are adept at the act mentioned. This is significant, because it shows us that many a time Allah opens the doors of understanding to people who take the time to actively ponder the verses of the Qurʿan – especially after learning the outward Islamic and linguistic purport of the verses, as with this verse which has been laid out here.
The reflection mentioned in this verse is an active process, and a great act of worship. Repeating a verse and reflecting on it, brings wave after wave of meanings; and its effect on one is deep and profound. Those who do this – when reflecting on such verses – see a great many signs pointing to the wisdom, perfection, generosity, care, and kindness of Allah (al-Biqaʿī, Naẓm al-Durar).
The Prophetic Example
The above is what Allah created spouses and marriage for amongst humans; not for one spouse to be abased before the whims of the other. It is perfectly exemplified in the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). The way he was with his wives, the way he taught others to be to their wives is an embodiment of this.
He said, ‘The most perfect of faith of the believers is the best of them in good character – and the best of you are those are best to their wives’ (Tirmidhi). He was speaking to men who practically fought each other just to get a drop of water falling from his body when he performed wudu: would they not then strive to perfect their character after knowing this? Not only did he make them desirous of acquiring good character, but he gave them an avenue to focus that good character on: their wives.
At ʿArafat, during the Farewell Hajj – which can be seen as the culmination of twenty three years of struggle – he specifically pointed out how men should behave towards women, ‘Accept my strong advice regarding women: be excellent to them’ (Bukhari). He went on to refer to the rib Ḥawwāʾ was made from, saying that it has a particular curved shape, and forcefully trying to straighten such a brittle thing only leads to it being broken. Likewise, a man’s being heavy-handed and harsh with his spouse only leads to harm.
Some men have a tendency to be aggressive, which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) remedied through the above words and similar teachings. These tendencies are created in them with a great wisdom, and it is the test of the man to restrain the unbecoming manifestations of them. Likewise, ladies also have certain tendencies which are particular to them, and they were given specific advice to help them overcome these challenges, in order for them to truly benefit from their time on earth as believers. Life, after all, is an investment opportunity which brings unending, indescribable profits in the afterlife – if the investment is made wisely.
Neither gender saw these instructions as a personal insult or denigration. It was considered to be akin to the advice of an expert doctor who not only prescribed what would cure certain illnesses, but also instructed how to live in a way which would prevent the rise of any other illness. If we are fair, we must admit that the number of narrations where men were reprimanded, criticised, or told to behave a particular way, are greater than the advice directed to women. There is, however, an understanding that both have a different role in the marriage. If this matter is looked at objectively, everything makes perfect sense.
Another Purpose of Marriage
We can see from the sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that chastity is another purpose of marriage. He said, ‘Allah has made it binding upon Himself to help someone who marries to refrain from what Allah has prohibited’ (Ibn Adi, al-Kamil). Marriage provides both spouses with an outlet for the natural urges each spouse feels to procreate. Islam neither denies their existence, nor does it portray them as a taboo.
Here we need to cast our minds to the wisdom of Allah again. Everything He has forbade us from doing has a direct detriment for us: let alone harm on the level of religion and the afterlife – it harms us in this life either personally, within our families, or in society at large. This ultimately affects the individual in the long term. Sexual relationships outside of marriage are the cause of much pain, suffering, and grief.
How many a home has been broken through such actions? How many families have been violently split due to it? How many children have come into the world without a father to be there to raise them, simply because it was just some ‘fun’ for him? What difficulties do these children endure? What do their mothers have to cope with to raise them? How much pain do they feel at the absence of a father, or because they lack sufficient money to buy a decent meal? How does society see such children and mothers? How much love – the basic need all humans have – do they feel? How much harsh treatment do they have to endure in life with no one to defend them?
What do the lives of such children turn out like? Do they turn to crime? Do they repeat the cycle? What effect does this have on the rest of society? After all, wasn’t it just a bit of ‘fun’? The effects of this can be seen in many societies all around the world, and removing these social ills is not easy once they have set in to the lifestyle of a generation.
Islam offers a solution: marriage; and it interdicts sexual activity outside of marriage in order to remove the problem from its root. If properly applied, many of these problems can disappear from a society within a generation or two. However, in order to ensure its efficacy, certain steps have been taken when legislating laws.
The Qurʿan tells us that the human being has been created weak (4:28), and many scholars said this was in relation to resisting one’s sexual urges (Alusi, Ruh al-Maʿani). Physiologically, this is easier for women than it is for men; therefore, the general guidelines to married life reflect this – even though the Sacred Law gives considerations to the rights of both spouses.
As was mentioned earlier, Allah gave us all the means to have a just, and equitable life, though these means is up to us. Moreover, the purpose of revelation is to develop one’s relationship with Allah, and to direct one to the Afterlife. Therefore, a lot of matters which could lead to discord are dealt with on a religious level, and consequences are not necessarily forced onto an individual by the legal system. The deterrent, then, is that failing to act in a particular manner leads to negative effects on one’s relationship with Allah.
As an aside, it is very interesting to note that when the husband is deficient in his role, he has to bear the religious implications, as well as facing the consequences laid out by the legal system. This is not the case for the wife in most scenarios. A judge cannot force to her cook, clean, or engage in marital relations.
Wrapped Up in Goodness
The fourth chapter of the Qurʾan is called ‘the Chapter of Women’ as it deals with many social ills which were prevalent in the Arabian society where the strong would prey on the weak. The status of women was a prime example of this, hence the name of the chapter. It is interesting that its other name is the Chapter of Justice.
In this chapter, Allah instructs men on how to live with their wives: ‘Live with them with clear goodness’ (4:19). The particle ‘bi’ in the verse, translated here as ‘with’, has the linguistic nuance of something enveloping and wrapping up another thing. Therefore the command is for men to live their lives with their spouses ‘wrapped up’ with al-Maʿrūf. Maʾruf is a word derived from ʿa-ra-fa, which means to recognise something. It is used to refer to such goodness that everyone will recognise and agree on its virtue. Therefore the basis of marital life is goodness, and dealings which are clearly benevolent. This applies to both parties, even though men are primarily addressed in the verse because of the tendency in Arabian culture for men to mistreat women.
This should be borne in mind when looking at all the other facets of revelation, as should the hadith ‘No harm [can be done to others], nor can anyone reciprocate with harm’ (Ibn Majah), which is one of the key legal texts in our tradition. Let us now look at the narrations and concepts you found disturbing, and seek clarity from Allah.
A Woman Not Responding to the Husband’s Sexual Requests
The hadith in question is: ‘When a man calls his wife to bed and she does not go, consequently leaving him angry; she passes the night with the angels cursing her until morning’ (Bukhari and Muslim). Many people look at this narration without the lens of the other rulings of the Shariʾa, and hence see it as if the wife is forced to obey the call of the husband’s desires regardless of the situation. This could not be further from the truth.
Yes, the needs of the husband are prioritised here due to the general weakness of his gender, but it is not absolute. Should she be ill, extremely tired or in a state which could lead to ‘harm’ in the short or long term, she is not obliged to respond to his call. In short, the whole situation should be ‘wrapped in in goodness’. The husband is expected to understand this. This is also the reason stipulated in the Qurʾan for the impermissibility of sexual intercourse during her menstrual cycle: pain, discomfort and potential harm (2:222).
Besides the context provided earlier, there is another aspect of this hadith which is lost on many people. Two other narrations offer some vital details: the first has the wording ‘hājiratan firāsha zawjihā’ and the second has the wording ‘taʾbā ʿalayh’ (Bukhari and Muslim). The former wording has a nuance of her deliberately avoiding the marital bed – almost as though she leaves it and moves to another distant place; and the latter wording indicates that she refused without due cause.
In essence, this refers to the situation where she will deny the husband the outlet for his physical urges in order to hurt him or to manipulate a situation to her end. This places strain on the marriage, and could lead to his looking elsewhere to fulfill his needs, thereby defeating the purpose of trying to protect himself through marriage. Oftentimes, people who fall into extra-marital relationships do so because of complications within their marriage, and their emotional and physical needs push them along a regrettable path.
To counter this, the hadiths quoted provide a purely religious deterrent for any woman who may be tempted to use such means. The wisdom of Allah entails that things are kept in a balance. If the husband, who is generally physically stronger and more capable, decides that he does not want to financially support his wife, he is faced with consequences from the legal system, and with the sin of derelicting his duty to her.
Men are duty-bound to provide for their wives, and deficiency in this area is not tolerated because of the clear and apparent harm that can occur to the wife. Women are not obliged to spend a penny of their own money on their own maintenance – within defined parameters – even if they are wealthy. This is the responsibility of the husband, and he bears religious and legal consequences because her livelihood depends on him.
Therefore, it is only fair that there is something in place to return her to what is ‘wrapped up in goodness’ should she decide to venture into something which clearly has a detrimental effect on the marriage. But – seeing as it is not potentially life-threatening or extremely harmful to him personally – the deterrent is purely religious.
Other narrations you mentioned fit into this context too. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘No wife hurts her husband in this life except that his wife from the maidens of Paradise says, “Don’t hurt him – may Allah deal with you! Clearly he is only with you as a guest, and soon he will leave you to come to us’ (Ahmad).
Let us first deal with the elephant in the room. Many ladies question why they will only have one husband in Paradise when men will have multiple wives. The word Ḥūr is a plural of ḥawrāʾ – which is a beautiful women with fair skin. ʿĪn is the plural of ʿaynāʾ which is a woman with large, beautiful eyes. Allah has created these women as a manifestation of His pleasure to reward the believers in the Afterlife.
What we know from many Qurʾanic verses and hadith is that everyone will be completely happy, satisfied, and in absolute pleasure once they have entered Paradise. The means for that is different for everyone. For men, due to their physiology and human customs, multiple wives could be an avenue to the above. Women are different to men, so for them deep intimacy with one spouse is best suited.
At the end of the day, everyone will be completely happy, so the means to this are inconsequential. Just like if two people were offered anything they wanted to make them happy, and one chose a mountain of donuts – because that is what makes him happy – and the other chooses a fast car. The former will not complain about the quality of the donuts compared to the car, and the latter will not complain about the quantity of the car in relation to the number of donuts. And Allah is wise beyond comprehension…
As for the hadith, it is merely a deterrent from the wife deliberately taking steps to harm the husband who has been instructed to be excellent to her. If she was to treat him this way, the women of Paradise are offended for his sake, just as any women would be offended if someone came and tried to hurt her husband. It is a natural reaction. What is taken from the hadith though is that harming him in such a way is reprehensible, and ingratitude for a blessing she has. This is if she is being malicious, and not otherwise. Perhaps knowing that she has competition will stir her to be better in her dealings with him.
Leaving the House
Another related point is the narration you mentioned which suggests that if a woman was to leave her home without the permission of her husband, the angels all curse her. As far as the standards of hadith criticism go, this narration is so weak it cannot be relied upon for rulings (al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib, ed, al-Karmi). According to some scholars it is fabricated narration.
Does a woman need the permission of her husband to go out of the house? It depends on the reason. The scholars of Islam have laid down scenarios where the wife would need permission – which some scholars considered to be the husband’s knowledge of it without his objection (Fatḥ al-Bari, Ibn Rajab) – based on some narrations from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). There are various reasons for this, but most return to her safety. The husband is responsible for the safety of his wife, and for her to leave home with no way of him knowing where she is, or if she is safe, then he has fallen short of his responsibility.
The situations which do allow her to leave home are well documented in the books of Law, such as if she needed to learn her religion and he was unable to teach her, or if she had a genuine need. Being in constant contact with people all day in a very recent phenomenon, therefore, laws reflect the majority of cases. Also, this is not a right which is used as a whip to subdue someone; rather the spirit of Islam calls for everything to be ‘wrapped up in goodness’.
To the modern mind this may seem strange, but relative safety is not something that has always been around. These matters change from time and place. Twenty years ago, for a parent to leave an eight year old in the car while she goes into a supermarket to buy some milk may have been acceptable, but now, in many places, it is not. Therefore, those charged with responsibility over others are also granted the use of certain measures, within reason, to ensure that their function is properly performed. There are other factors too, such as matters which could lead to the detriment of the marriage, so the husband is responsible for ensuring things remain smooth.
But if we go and ask most Muslim women, the chances are that there is no exhaustive list stuck on the fridge, stipulating when she can and cannot leave the house. These are matters which are best dealt with the principle of dealings being ‘wrapped up in goodness’ depending on the situation. Having said this, many righteous women do request permission from their husbands as an act of obedience to Allah, so they do not contradict the literal wording of some of the statements of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
Needing Permission to Fast
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘A women should not fast when her husband is present except with his agreement’ (Muslim). The basis of this is that one is not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse if one is fasting. If a woman is fasting without her husband’s agreement, she is essentially trading an act through which both of them could attain reward from Allah, for an act which is restricted to just her.
Acts of intimacy between a married couple are encouraged in Islam, especially marital relations. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) informed his companions – much to their surprise – that just as one would be sinful for illicit sexual activity, one is rewarded for fulfilling his sexual desires through permissible means (Ahmad). Fasting closes the door to this during the daytime, and her fasting may affect her to the degree that she would have to excuse herself even at night; so the agreement of the husband has been taken into consideration for this ruling. It is, however, is restricted to voluntary fasts.
A similar scenario could be the use of contraception: if the wife wanted to have children, the husband would not be permitted to use contraception, because he is essentially preventing her from her right (Abu al-Ḥaj, Salah, al-Bayan). Therefore, we see that the Shariʿa provides an environment where the rights of both spouses are considered – sometimes explicitly, and at others, implicitly.
The Role of Men
Perhaps it is appropriate to discuss the role of men at this point. Both genders are essentially the same in the sight of Allah in terms of slavehood to Him, and the rewards they receive. Allah said , ‘You stem from each other’ (3:195); in the larger context of the verse, what is understood from these words is that just as both genders are equal in their descent from males and females; they are also equal in the rewards they can receive from Allah. This is a general ruling, and it does vary from individual to individual. For example, a day in the life of Maryam, the mother of the prophet ʿIsa, may accrue more reward than a decade of an average religious male in our time. This is simply because she attained the highest rank of sainthood and closeness to Allah that a non-prophet can reach.
Having clarified the status of both genders before Allah, we can now look at the role Allah has given each of them. Any sort of divergence from the above basis is due to the role of slavehood, which is gender-specific: each has different tasks to express their slavehood to Allah.
Could Allah have reversed the roles, making men the primary care-givers to the children of a family, and obliging women to support their husbands? Yes, but the way the roles have been laid out is based on His infinite wisdom, part of which is manifest in the physical and emotional qualities of each gender. Men are physically stronger in general, and therefore better suited to the rigours of farming, hunting, manual labour, and so forth. Women are more affectionate, gentle and caring; and thus, better suited to the constant care and attention children need.
It may be that in some times, places, and with some people, that this is not the case. However, part of the wisdom we can discern is that legislated legal rulings are best suited to the most recurring scenarios, and not to rare situations. These rare situations are not spelled out; rather, they are accommodated for within the general principles of the law.
Men have been made responsible for their female dependents, whether they are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, or nieces. The Shariʿa places no obligation on them to work to support themselves, nor do they have to spend any of their own money on their essential needs. In theory, a lady could go for decades without spending any of her own money if her male relatives or husbands fulfilled their role.
A legal principle derived from some of the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) states that ‘benefits are always accompanied by the responsibility of accepting risk’ (al-ghunmu bil-ghurm). Meaning that if some enjoys a privilege, it is always accompanied by his duty to accept the consequences of a loss that could incur to the source of the privelidge. For example, a business partner has rights to the profits his trade will bring, but at the same time he must also cover any losses which occur – otherwise, the result is injustice.
This principle also works the other way: if someone has a particular responsibility he is given certain measures to ensure that his role is facilitated. They may seem like privileges, but in reality they aid in the role he has to discharge. This is just like a manager who gets a higher salary than his subordinates simply because he is held accountable for any negative effects on the business.
Men As Guardians and Caretakers
Due to the immense responsibility of financially supporting his female dependents, the husband has been afforded a degree of authority over the wife. This does not mean that he can rule the house with an iron fist or that he has been made the dictator of the household; rather, he has been given the authority to take the steps necessary to ensure the proper discharge of his duties. In essence, he has been given the final say in matters, but this does not entail that the wife or other family members do not have the right to put forward their views.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) consulted with his subordinates in many matters. One of the clearest examples of this is when he took on the suggestion of one of his wives, Umm Salama, at the treaty of Hudaybiya.
He had just agreed to a treaty that outwardly seemed unfair to the Muslims. It meant that they would have to return to Medina without performing an ʿumra. In order to exit the state of ihram, they had to shave their heads; however, the companions were so dejected at that point they did not stir when he told them to do so. He went to his tent and Umm Salama told him to shave his head and the rest would follow suit. He took her advice, and the matter was resolved, This was a religious matter, not just a domestic one – yet he implemented her suggestion.
So the question is why have men been given this right? The simple answer is that Allah has decided it to be so, and, as Muslims, we surrender to His command. Yet, through reflection many wisdoms emerge. The clearest one is the fact that the husband needs a degree of autonomy to fulfill his role. If a man was unable to provide for his dependents in a particular city, he would need the authority to make the decision to move to another location where he would be able to provide for his family. Without it, he could not discharge his duties. Yes, ideally, the wife and children would have their input, but it is he who has to shoulder the responsibility of the decision.
For this, and other reasons – such as being responsible for the protection, education and religious wellbeing of the family – the husband has been given a higher rank in the marriage. This is not to demean the wife – but to ensure that she is free to discharge her responsibilities to Allah, her husband and the family.
Allah said, ‘Men are the guarding-caretakers of women because Allah having given one group a degree above the other, and because of what they spend…’ (4:34). The meaning of this verse is clear now that we have seen some of the wisdom behind its rulings. The rest of the verse shall be discussed later insha Allah.
The Husband is Her Heaven or Hell
As we have seen above, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) spoke to the men amongst the Companions and grave them instructions on how to be kind end excellent to their wives through good character and overlooking faults and improper actions. In the same way, ladies from amongst the Companions were given similar advice individually and collectively. Part of what makes an effective reminder is connecting the matter which needs attention to what the listener values.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) appealed to their desire for religious success in this world and the next, because this was the most important thing to the Companions. Many a time this is lost on us when we read a poorly-worded translation of one of his sayings, or when the context of the hadith is absent. This usually leads us to fill the gaps in our understanding with our cultural baggage, and to impose alien paradigms onto what would otherwise be a very moving and beautiful statement.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) made men feel the weighty responsibility of their role as the husband to such a degree that none of them took it lightly. They saw their marriage as a locus for manifesting all the other teachings of Islam, such as good character, patience, forgiveness, to name a few. Women were also made to feel that this was the means to improving their relationship with Allah and to attaining a high rank in Paradise.
‘Why?’, you ask. Simply because when a person knows the value of something, and what is at stake because of it, they will take their utmost care with it. The importance of good conduct and tolerance can get lost in the day to day grind of life, so connecting it to religious success is what brings it to the forefront of one’s mind. It is based on something higher than one’s ego or feelings: the pleasure of Allah. This way a Muslim’s good character is always there where it is needed the most: when dealing with those closest to one. It is not reserved exclusively for the mosque, the Islamic centre, or dinner parties.
How would someone who borrowed a friend’s brand new, top of the range sports car behave? If he had a religious conscience he would treat it with the best care – not only for fear of damaging it and having to deal with the financial consequences, but because it is a trust and a favour done to one. This is similar to what these hadiths instill in a believer when properly understood.
The companion Ḥuṣayn b. Miḥṣan narrated that one of his aunts went to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) for a need that she had. When it was taken care of he asked her if she was married. After that replied in the affirmative, he asked her how she was with him, and she replied, ‘I do all that I can [to be good to him].’ He replied, ‘Pay special attention to how you are with him, because, clearly, he is your Garden of Fire’ (Ahmad).
Scholars have said that the husband being her Garden or Fire is an expression to mean that the husband is a means to her entering the Garden or Hellfire – so she should give it special attention. Therefore, the hadith draws attention to the tremendous opportunity present in the marriage to easily attain Paradise – but it may be the means of getting punished if one decides to deliberately wrong the one’s spouse.
Another hadith states that ‘Any woman who dies with her husband happy with her will enter Paradise’ (Tirmidhi). What a tremendous opportunity! Imagine a lifetime of sins and faults being overlooked by Allah if her husband is happy with her!
Life becomes easy when the steps to gaining what you want are made simple and easy. All she has to do is invest her energies into this relationship – which is something that will bring her fulfillment and happiness anyway – and she is granted a tremendous reward without the hard work men have to do. Let alone the benefits this brings to the family, community and society at large.
However, we should not be deluded into thinking that women were singled out for this: Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave similar words of encouragement and warning for others. An example of this is orphans: the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said someone who looks after an orphan would be with him in Paradise, yet the Qurʾan presents terrifying warnings for those who ruin this opportunity and wrong orphans who are in their charge. Similar things have been mentioned about parents.
The point is that these relationships and roles have been made a very easy means to entering Paradise, but the ease is juxtaposed with the potential for punishment if one deliberately wrongs the other. Someone who enters a marriage, or takes on an orphan wanting to please Allah will get the benefits promised as long as they are sincerely wanting to do so – even if other things are planned for them. ‘Clearly, everyone gets [the reward] of what they intended’ (Bukhari).
Needing the Husbands Permission to Spend Her Own Money?
Women, just like men, have an independent financial status which means that they are free to spend their money in whichever way they like. No one – not even the husband – can place restrictions on her spending. This is according to the vast majority of jurists (al-Mawsuʿa al-Kuwatiyya). There is a minority position which says that the husband can prevent her from giving more than a third of her wealth in charity. This is based on a narration that states the wife of Kaʿb. Malik wanted to give her jewelry in charity but she was not allowed to give it until it was ascertained that she had her husband’s permission to do so.
The authenticity of this narration has been questioned by some of the greatest experts of the hadith sciences and masters of the field, such as Imam Abu Jaʿfar al-Tahawi who said that the narration was unreliable. Therefore it is not fit to be the basis of a legal ruing (‘Hajr’, al-Mawsuʿa al-Kuwaytiyya). This returns us to the default ruling that she is free to spend her money as she likes. This position is supported by many authentic narrations from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) where he told them to give charity without the constraint of their husband’s permission.
Lost In Translation
Some people think that women are deficient in their intellect, and they base this on their understanding of a narration from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). A simple I.Q. test is sufficient to show the error of their understanding. As for the words of the hadith, we shall presently see how great they are.
One of the causes of this misconception is the incredible depth of the Arabic language, which is not even appreciated by most Arabs today – let alone someone for whom it is a second language. Often, it is time-consuming for a translator to look up the root of a word to accurately translate it, so he will rely on a common translation.
The most common examples of this is when ‘Islam’ is translated as ‘Peace’; the best choice is actually something like ‘Surrender’ [to Allah]. Similarly, ‘Assalamu ‘alaykum’ would best be rendered into English as something like ‘May you be protected’ due to the etymological root of the word ‘salam’ here, coupled with the nuance of the particle ʿ’alā’. Most translators would simply refer to the Hans Wehr dictionary or Lane’s Lexicon and perpetuate the mistranslation ‘Peace be upon you’.
An example of Arabs falling into this are the words ‘najm / nujum’ and ‘kawkab / kawakib’. In the Qurʾanic usage the former is used for something bright which appears in the sky, and the latter is used to refer to any heavenly body. However, the former has become the modern Arabic word for ‘star’ and the latter is the word for a ‘planet’. Translating Qurʾanic verses with these words does not convey the intent of the verses.
So what does the work ‘ʿaql’, commonly translated as intellect, mean? Its original meaning is connected to what would be considered a rope, rein or leash – something which binds another object and prevents it from escaping. So, for human beings this refers to the faculty which allows a person to make rational decisions which deter harm and bring benefit. This is the function of the pre-frontal cortex, which is metaphorically referred to as the ‘nāṣiya’ in the Qurʿan.
Biologically speaking, the brains of men and women are very different. Men tend to have a higher capacity for rational thought processes, yet their ability to tune into and express their emotions is not as strong. This makes sense for someone who is physically better suited to be a protector and provider. Women, on the other hand, are much more in tune with their emotional faculties: they use both sides of the brain to respond to emotional experiences, read emotions better than men, and have more emotional empathy. Qualities perfectly suited to someone who is physically better suited to be a carer.
The tendency to rationalise is present in them, but is secondary to their emotional faculties – the exact opposite of men. Allah has made both genders different; each has qualities which compliment and temper the qualities of the other. There is a lot of well-documented research available on this issue. Therefore, the term ‘intellect’ as in the ability to absorb and process information is not what is intended in the prophetic narrations. I.Q. tests show men and women to be on an equal footing with regards to this ability.
Let us look at the hadith in question: Imam Muslim narrated via ʿAbdullah b. ʿUmar that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Ladies! Give charity and ask forgiveness [for your sins] profusely, because I saw that you were the majority of the inhabitants of Hell. [ʿAbdullah b. ʿUmar then said,] ‘So a very intelligent woman from amongst them said, ‘How come we are the majority of the people of Hell, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘You curse a lot, and are ungrateful to your husbands.’
Let us look at the narration up until this point before proceeding any further. From the other sources of this hadith we know that this happened on one of the Eids in Medina. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) expressed his characteristic care for his followers and said to the ladies present that they should give charity and say the verbal formulas for seeking forgiveness a lot because of what he was shown in a vision of Hell. These words were general advice to the ladies which he imparted in a gentle manner.
The intent was not to say that women are evil, sinful beings who will fill Hell. Neither is the intent that all women – or even most of them – are like this. Rather, he was addressing tendencies which women generally tend to have, just as he addressed, in other narrations, the tendency to aggressive behaviour that men have.
Also, what adds to this is the statement of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani – the famous commentator on Sahih al-Bukhari – ‘The narration of Jabir suggests that the women who were seen were actually those who have blameworthy qualities, and not all women: ‘Most of those who I saw in it of women, were those who, if trusted [with something], divulge it; when they are asked [for something], they are miserly; when they ask, they persistently nag; and if they are given, they are ungrateful’ (Fatḥ al-Bari). Also, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave them the knowledge that could ensure that they would not be amongst them.
This falls under the bracket of what is known as ‘Legislation for Existing Matters (al-Tashrīʿ lil-Wāqiʿ)’ and not under the bracket of ‘Legislation of Permanent Matters (al-Tashrīʿ lil-Thawabit)’. The former is a set of rulings which deals with matters that exist, but can be altered or removed – such as qualities in people which the Shariʿa dislikes. The latter is the legislation of laws which remain permanently such as the impermissibility of murder.
What is also worth noting is that ʿAbdulllah b. ʿUmar – the narrator who was present, and understood the context, and also saw the interaction – commented that the lady who asked the question was very intelligent. He used the word jazla, which means to be intelligent and of sound opinion. Does this not contradict the understanding people take away from the hadith?
The narration continues: ‘[I’m amazed]; I’ve not seen anyone who would be lesser in pure rationality and religious responsibility more capable of dominating an intelligent man than you.’
These words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) are frequently misunderstood due to people not knowing Arabic, nor them being familiar with the context. This event happened on the day of Eid, and we know from the character of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that he had the best conduct and character. Never did he approach people to criticise them directly if they were doing something wrong. Therefore what is said here was in jest; this much is clear from the context, and that they took no offence from it.
He had approached the ladies after the Eid prayer to give them some religious instructions specific to them as they had requested him to do so in the past. This statement is an expression of amazement at the fact that, despite them being different in men in two ways, they are still able to influence and dominate men, who are predominantly rational in their thought processes. What would be expected is that men – being as they are – would be dominant; so this statement is actually praise for the gender as a whole. What a beautiful way to temper what someone could understand as criticism of women from the previous warning!
The two matters in which they are different from men are:
1. Men tend to think more rationally – which does not mean that women are irrational; rather, the thought process is different, and that in women, it is affected by their emotions more. Occasionally people joke about a scenario where a wife complains to the husband about a headache when she actually wants some emotional support, and all the husband does is offer her some paracetamol, which is funny because many people can relate to it. This emotionally focused thought process is ideal for the role Allah has made her for, so it is actually a blessing from Allah.
2. They do not have as many religious obligations to discharge. Allah – out of His pure kindness – has allowed ladies to not pray and fast during their menstrual cycles and during post-natal bleeding. What a huge blessing this is! If one just reflected on the difficulties of pregnancy, childbirth and the first few weeks of the baby’s life, one can appreciate the blessing of having a period of time where the mother does not have to perform wudu and pray multiple times a day, and fast for weeks on end (Mawsuʿa Bayan al-Islam).
Sometimes being characterised with having less of something is blameworthy – such as when a person is remiss in his religious duties; and at others, it is not. One is rewarded for obeying the command of Allah – such as the traveller shortening his obligatory prayers. His prayer is shorter, and he can at times leave the sunna prayers, yet he is rewarded for all this due to it being the implementation of a command.
The hadith concludes with them asking for clarity on these two points above, and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave them practical scenarios as an explanation due to the fact that they would understand the deeper implications from them: ‘She said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, how are we less in pure rationality and religious responsibility?” and he replied, “As for the former, the testimony of two ladies equals that of a man – this is [a consequence of being] lesser in pure rationality; and as the latter, for many a night she does not have to pray nor fast in Ramadan; this is being lesser in religious responsibility”‘ (Muslim).
This issue of the testimony is one that is commonly misunderstood, and although it is a long discussion, what suffices here is to firstly know that this is not a denigration of women. Preserving the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is of paramount importance in Islam. The standards were high for those who narrated hadith, and scrutiny was stringent – even more so than that for a witness in court. Yet, despite all this, women are treated as equal in their role as a narrator of hadith, and no extra conditions were placed on them. This is when it comes to transferring the most precious information.
As for a courtroom scenario, when a person’s testimony can have real-life implications on another, people sometimes feel overwhelmed with emotions. Particularly if it means someone will lose their property, or be fined or another unpleasant situation. Also, most of the time people testify for and against people they know, so this adds to the pressure, espacially if they have to face them outside. So, to aid this, Allah allowed for two women to act as one unit when testifying due to the strong emotional state likely to ensue given their nature. In this emotional state, some details may escape one of the witnesses, so the other is there to remind her, as per the words of the Qurʾan. This is actually a blessing which people fail to recognise.
For other matters which may not have such legal ramifications, and which are usually matters which only women are privy to, the testimony of one lady suffices. An example of this is childbirth; the testimony of one lady is enough to ascertain if a child was stillborn, or if it was alive and then died, as this has legal implications. (Buti, al-Marʾa bayna tughyan al-nizam al-gharbi wa al-tashriʿ al-rabbani)
I could not find any narrations to indicate that 99%, or even 90% of women will be in the fire. It sounds far-fetched. If, however, I am mistaken, then there must be additional factors to understanding that narration just like all the previous narrations we have looked it. The religion of Allah has no flaws or faults; We are characterised by them, not Him.
Prostrating to Husbands?
Aisha, the wife of the Messenger of Allah, narrated that he said, ‘If I was command anyone to prostrate to any besides Allah I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands’ (Ahmad). What a beautiful hadith this is when understood properly.
Firstly, to clarify, women do not have to prostate to their husbands. In fact, is it haram. These words were meant to convey the perspective a lady should have in her mind, and the attitude she should have in her heart when dealing with her husband. It is a look of respect, and an attitude of gratitude for what the husband does for her, because the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘He who does not thank people does not thank Allah’ (Ahmad). One cannot be thanking Allah if there is ingratitude to the people through whom Allah sends His blessings. Especially if there is propensity to be like this within a person.
But this is not all. The Messenger of Allah did not say this to leave women thinking they must honour and respect the husband no matter what. He taught men the very same lesson from a perspective which was suitable for them. He said, ‘Clearly, women are but counterparts of men” (Ahmad), and ‘The best of you are those who are the best to their wives, and I am the best to my wives’ (Ibn Majah), and ‘The most perfect of the believers in faith are those with the best character, and the best to their wives’ (Ahmad), and ‘Fear Allah regarding women: you have taken them with the trust of Allah and made intimacy with them permissible through the word of Allah…’ (Muslim).
There are many narrations like these directed to men, and this topic was especially discussed in the final Hajj, and in some of the very the last words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). The pattern which clearly emerges here is that each gender was given the instructions which would ensure that they did their best to have the best conduct towards the other spouse. This is a form of healthy competition which Islam promotes. The result of it is that neither spouse takes the other for granted – if the basis of their dealings is Allah. This is what they were being directed to.
Usually each spouse has this attitude in the early days of marriage, but it is based on their emotions, which develop as one becomes accustomed to living with the spouse. These hadiths direct the believers to make the desire to please, draw close to, and become beloved to Allah; something which all believers have to varying degrees. Their good conduct with their spouse feeds their faith, which in turn makes them want to be better to their spouses; and the cycle continues (Mawsuʿa Bayan al-Islam).
Not Being Asked Why He Beat His Wife
This is a very misunderstood topic. Let us first look at the hadith you referred to about a man not being asked why he hit his wife. The narration in question is found in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal and other collections. The hadith specialists who discussed this narration, including the late Jordanian scholar Shaykh Shuʿaynb Arnaʾut, agreed that this is a very weak narration due to the identity of one of the narrators being unknown. This, in the science of hadith criticism, is a debilitating flaw in a narration (Musnad Ahmad, ed. Arnaʾut).
In any case, even if the hadith was sound, the interpretation the scholars have offered is that asking would be tantamount to prying. This quality is very much against Islamic conduct, because the cause of the dispute could have been something very private.
However, most people here feel that the issue is the permission to ‘hit’ one’s wife, which is found in the text of the Qurʾan. In order to understand this issue, like all the others we have seen so far, we need to understand a few points.
Firstly, most people who translate the words ‘wa-ḍribūhunna’ from the verse we discussed above, decide to translate it ‘beat them’ or something to that effect. This is problematic because it is not what the verse intends. Words have implications, and the strength of those implications dictates the appropriateness of the word to a context. The words eat, partake of, guzzle, chomp, devour, and munch all have the basic meaning of ingesting food, yet the nuances in each are very different.
Upon hearing this verse or the hadith related to it, many people automatically conjure up images of domestic violence in its worst forms. This is a projection of the problematic elements of modern societies onto the Qurʾan and hadith of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and it does not take into consideration the example the Messenger of Allah set for us.
Firstly, the use of physical force was very much disliked by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) – especially if the man would end up trying to be intimate with her later (Bukhari). The narrations which sanction the use of physical discipline all condition the use as being ‘ghayr mubarrih’ (Bukhari). The jurists and exegetes of Islam have explained this term to mean that the discipline should in no way cause any damage. It is impermissible for there to be any redness and other signs of soreness and bruising on the skin – let alone bleeding, broken bones or worse.
Generally, the bodies of women are softer, and more liable to bruising than those of men; so most forceful contact is likely to leave some sort of mark – which is exactly what the narrations are prohibiting. So how much force can there be in this ‘beating’? Very little. It is a far cry from perception of domestic violence that comes to people’s minds.
Moreover, the use of the word ‘ghayr’ – which can be translated as ‘not’ has a linguistic implication of the meaning being negated with it being exact opposite of what it would mean without it. For example the Prophet Ibrahim (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Our Lord, I have left some of my offspring to dwell in a completely barren valley’ (14:37). The words ‘ghayr dhī zarʿ’ have been translated as ‘completely barren’. The words ‘dhū zarʿ’ would be used to describe a place with lots of lush greenery and vegetation; placing the word ‘ghayr’ before it completely flips the meaning.
Therefore, the sanction of mild physical force, in line with the Qurʿanic verse, is actually a minor display of the husbands disapproval her gross disobedience (fāḥisha mubayyina) which is a condition for the use of this resort. It is impossible to ‘beat’ someone – as people imagine the verse to mean – and not leave any sort of scarring, bruising, soreness or bleeding. Most of the time contact with force, even squeezing someone’s wrist, will leave some physical mark. So, in all fairness, how can people portray this as a domestic violence? Rather, it is little more than a display of the role of caretaker and guardian, and not a means to vent anger andfrustration, or for him to show he is physically stronger than her.
You may question why such a rulings exits, then. The simple answer is that the Qurʾan has been revealed to all people from the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) onwards; and people are very different from one time to another, and one place to another. It is from the perfection and wisdom of Allah that the rulings us Islam are broad and flexible enough to be applied in any situation – an element which many contemporary scholars refer to as ‘The Legislative Miracle’ of the Qurʾan.
The great exegete Ibn ʿAshur mentioned that in some cultures use of such means of discipline was not only acceptable, but expected, and that the women would not see this as excessive or cruel. Bedouin Arabs are an example of this.
Also, it may be that in one culture something is completely abhorrent, yet it is accepted as a way of life in other cultures. Take multiple marriages, for example: here in the west most women have a strong aversion to the thought of their husband marrying someone else at the same time as them; and this is an acceptable feeling for these women to have. Why? Simply because it is not a norm of the culture they grew up in, so feeling uncomfortable is normal. In other cultures, however, this is not the case. I have a friend from Nigeria, where multiple marriages are the norm, and for a man to limit himself to one wife is seen as odd. He once told me that his first wife was looking for a second wife for him – which is unfathomable to a westerner – yet acceptable to them.
Ibn ʿAshur went on to say that he and other scholars felt that due to the nature of this ruing, and the fact that men may not stay within this boundary, judges may deem it impermissible in places where it is likely to open the door up to detriment. The Shariʿa does not allow anyone to wrong another.
The ruling was revealed in the Qurʾan as part of a series of methods the husband can utilise to deal what is classed as gross disobedience. This is a general term for the event of the wife refusing to fulfil what is obligatory upon her with regards to the marriage. The first step is that the husband should admonish her at an early and remind her that Allah has commanded them to be a particular way to each other, and that is for their mutual benefit. If she still does not respond in an appropriate manner he can cease to have intimate relations with her (Mawsu’a Bayan al-Islam).
If the latter approach does not work then the use of some physical force has been sanctioned as if it will benefit, and within the previously defined parameters. If it will not benefit, or if he cannot remain within the limits of the Shariʿa then he cannot take the last step (Ibn ʿAshur, al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir). This is all tempered with the prophetic approach of kindness, gentleness and forgiveness.
In fact, the verse ends with a clear instruction to the husbands to not try to wrong her if she desists; and then Allah ends it with the words ‘Indeed Allah has always been Tremendously High, Truly Great’ (4:34). To someone who understands the implications of this statement these words are frightening. This is a threat, and a threat implied is much stronger than an explicit threat. A child who steals from a shop and, as her runs away, hears the shopkeeper shouting ‘When I catch you I’ll give you a smack on the bottom and tell your dad’ is not likely to feel threatened. But if the shopkeeper said, ‘You watch what I’m going to do to you when I catch you…’ the threat is stronger because the child will conjure up all sorts of scenarios in his mind.
Like this, it is as though Allah is saying to a husband who may cross the limit in this disciplinary procedure ‘Do you think to can abuse her just because you have been placed higher than her, and you think you are greater then her? I have always been higher and greater then all! Beware of what you do…’
Finally, do these rulings all seem one-sided? Imam Malik held that if the husband was doing things comparable in seriousness the wife could go to the Judge and he would discipline the husband on her behalf. Some contemporary scholars feel that this ruling should be applied universally (Mawsuʿa Bayan al-Islam). Cases of domestic violence are crimes and should be dealt with as such, for every crime committed will be dealt with in full on the Day of Judgement. Allah does not like oppression.
I hope that what has become clear through all of this is that Islam, when understood as it is, does not conflict with a sound intellect: one which is not weighed down by cultural baggage, nor one which automatically imposes another paradigm on Islam. Many of the misconceptions people have are from not knowing what the religion is actually saying, and not understanding that anything coming from a wise and kind being must be characterised with wisdom and kindness. The above is only some of what could be said on the topics; the wisdom of Allah manifest wife reflection and over time.
May Allah clear you doubts and confusions, and give you the full fruits of His religion; and may He open up your heart the sunna of marriage and facilitate all matters for you.
And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.
Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.
In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.
His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.
When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.