Philosophy Behind Some of the Prohibited Acts of Islam
It is very rare to find someone who is not acquainted with the various harms of gambling, and in order to further explain this fact, we present here, briefly, some of its evil consequences:
All psychologists are of the opinion that mental agitation and excitement is the principal cause for many diseases. For example, reduction in (body) vitamins, ulcers of the stomach, insanity, mild and severe nervous and psychological disorders and the like, often arise as a result of excitement - and the premier cause that brings about such excitement is gambling. An American scholar has stated: In this country alone, more than two thousand individuals die every year due to excitement and agitation arising as a result of gambling, and on average, the heart of a poker-player beats in excess of a hundred beats a minute. At times, gambling also triggers cardiac and cerebral apoplexy and is undoubtedly a factor which brings about early ageing.
Apart from what scholars have stated, a person who engages in gambling, finds that not only is his soul subjected to tension but also the tracts of his body come to possess an unusual and atypical state - his heartbeat increases, sugar level in the blood rises, there occurs a disruption in the secretion of the internal glands, the colour of his face pales and he suffers from a lack of appetite. Upon conclusion of the gambling bout and subsequent to a tensed battle of nerves he goes to bed, predominantly resorting to alcohol and drugs in order to soothe his nerves and calm his body. Therefore, the harm arising as a result of these ought to be added to that which arises directly as a consequence of gambling.
Another scholar has said: A gambler is a diseased person, who is in need of constant psychological attention. An effort should be made to make him comprehend that there exists a psychological vacuum, which propels him towards this reprehensible act, so that he embarks upon treating himself.
One of the world's largest organisations dealing in statistics has established that thirty percent of all crimes are directly related to gambling, and it is also one of the factors which bring about seventy percent of offences.
During the course of a year, huge amounts of money are lost as a result of gambling, aside from the numerous man-hours that go down the drain as a result of it - even losing the enthusiasm to work during the rest of the time. For example, it has been stated in one report that in the city of Monte Carlo - one of the well-known gambling centres of the world - a person, in a gambling spree spread over a period of 19 hours, lost a sum of 4 million Iranian tumans. When the casino shut its doors he proceeded straight towards the woods where he shot himself in the head. The reporter adds that the woods of Monte Carlo have repeatedly witnessed incidents of suicides on the part of such devoted gamblers.
Many gamblers, owing to the fact that they occasionally turn up winners and possibly pocket thousands of other people's money within a short time, are not inclined to enter into economic and manufacturing work as a result of which, the wheels of economy and production tend to become crippled in the corresponding ratio. If we inspect meticulously, we would realise that all the gamblers and their families are a burden upon the society, not only because they do not contribute the slightest benefit to it but, on the contrary, they exploit it for their own benefit and at times resort to theft to make good the losses incurred by them during gambling.
In short, the evils of gambling are in such great measure that many of the non-Islamic nations have prohibited it by law, although they may extensively indulge in it in practice; for example, England prohibited it in 1853, the Soviet Union did so in 1855, the United States implemented the prohibition in 1854 while Germany followed suit in 1873.
At the end of this discussion it is interesting to note that according to statistics compiled by some researchers, 90 percent of all pick-pocketing instances, 10 percent of moral offences, 40 percent of assaults, 15 percent of sexual abuses, 30 percent of divorces and 5 percent of suicides are brought about by gambling.
If we were to present a definition for gambling, we would have to state: Gambling means sacrificing wealth and honour, for acquiring the riches of others by means of deception and craftiness, or, at times, for recreation - but not attaining either of the two objectives.1
There exists no difficulty and difference of opinion as far as the issue of prohibition of music is concerned, however, the difficulty lies in differentiating and discerning what constitutes music.
Undoubtedly, this is not the case for it has been reported in the traditions that the Qur`an and the adhan should be recited in a pleasant and melodious voice; in addition, the conduct of the Muslims too indicates likewise.
Is every such sound, which possesses tarji (coming and going of sound in the larynx, or technically speaking, rolling of the sound in it), music? This too is not established.
The conclusion that can be drawn from the statements of the (Shi'ite) jurists and the Sunni scholars is that joyful tunes that are bacchanalian, frivolous and futile in nature are regarded as music.
Expressing it more clearly, tunes that are commensurate with immoral gatherings, and with corrupt and sinning individuals, are classified as music.
In other words a tune, which stirs up the carnal passions within man and he, in that state, considers consumption of intoxicants and indulgence in sexual depravity alongside that tune to be totally fitting and opportune, is called music!
It is significant to note that at times, in a composition, the tune is music and essentially futile, as are the wordings - like when inappropriate poems are recited in the company of a ravishing tune; at other times only the tune is music, like when Qur`anic verses, supplications or poems of a lofty standard are recited in a tune that is suitable to gatherings of the corrupt ones. Both forms are prohibited (take note).
It is also necessary to mention that at times, 'music' is looked upon as possessing two meanings - the general meaning and the specific one. The specific meaning is the meaning that we have presented above - tunes, which stir up passions within man and are connected to sinful gatherings. But the general meaning alludes to every pleasant and melodious sound, and it is for this reason that those, who view music in the general meaning, have divided it into two categories, lawful and unlawful music - lawful music being the melodious sounds, which do not incite immorality and are not associated with such gatherings, whereas unlawful music being the tunes, possessing the characteristics mentioned above.
Thus, as far as the prohibition of music is concerned, there exists no difference of opinion; the disagreement lies in the manner in which it is interpreted.
However, music, like every other concept, also possesses forms which are doubtful such that at times, a person fails to comprehend if a particular tune is associated with immoral gatherings or not. In such cases, on the basis of the Law of Bara'at, it is regarded as being lawful (of course, after possessing a sufficient awareness of the conventional meaning of this, there appears no reason to regard those heroic tunes and music, which are associated with battle, sports or the like, as unlawful).
Nevertheless, there are other aspects too that are related to this issue, such as exceptions to music, which have been claimed by some but rejected by others, and which need to be discussed in books of jurisprudence.
The final point which we feel ought to be mentioned here is that the discussion presented above was with respect to singing - however the issue of use of musical instruments and the prohibition associated with it is entirely different, and beyond the scope of our present discussion.
A careful study of the meaning of music together with the conditions mentioned by us clearly elucidates the philosophy that lies behind its prohibition. A short study reveals the following evils associated with it:
Experience, which is the best witness, has revealed that many individuals, influenced by music, have abandoned piety and turned towards lust and immorality. Musical gatherings are usually centres of various wrongdoings and it is music that serves to fuel these evils. According to some reports appearing in foreign newspapers, in a gathering of a group of girls and boys, a special music was played which induced so much excitement in them that they rushed towards each other and began indulging in such obscene acts that one is ashamed to even make a mention of them.
The commentary Ruhul Ma'ani, narrates that one of the elders of Bani Umayyah said to them: “Stay away from music for it reduces modesty, increases lust, shatters (one's) personality, is a successor and substitute for intoxicants and leads to the same deeds, which arise out of intoxication.”2
This goes to show that even they had perceived its evil. If the Islamic traditions have repeatedly stated that music fosters the 'hypocritical soul' within man, it is an allusion to this reality, for such an individual possesses a soul that has become polluted as a result of depravity and being distanced from piety. If the traditions also state that the angels do not enter into houses in which music is played, it is because of this pollution and uncleanness, for the angels are entities that are pure and seek purity.
In some of the Islamic traditions, music has been interpreted to mean lahw (amusement, idle sport) - an allusion to the fact that music intoxicates a person in lust and passion to an extent that it makes him heedless of Allah.
In a tradition from Imam 'Ali (a.s) we read:
كُلُّ ماَ اَلْهىَ عَن ذِكرِ اللٌّهِ فَهُوَ مِنَ الْمَيْسَرُ.
“Every thing that causes man to become unmindful of Allah, (and drowns him in lust) is a gamble.”3
In reality, music is one of the important factors that cause narcosis of the nerves. In other words, at times narcotics enter the body through the mouth, just like alcohol; or by means of the faculty of smell, such as heroin; or as a result of injection, like morphine; or, at times, by means of the ears, such as music.
It is for this reason that, at times, certain forms of music lead people into such high spirits that they come to possess a state similar to intoxication; of course, there are also times when this state is not reached, but nevertheless it does induce a state of mild stupor. It explains why many of the evils of narcotics are also witnessed in music.
A close scrutiny of the biographies of celebrated musicians would reveal that, in the course of their lives, they slowly began to suffer from mental and psychological problems - some of them became patients of psychological disorders; some others, losing their aptitude and mental acumen, entered into the realms of lunacy and insanity; a group turned paralytic and helpless; and some others, while in the course of their musical performance, suffered sudden cardiac arrest due to an increase in blood-pressure.4
Some of the books written in connection with the detrimental effects of music upon the human nerves, while mentioning the biographies of some of the distinguished and celebrated musicians and singers, state that in the course of their presentations, they suffered a sudden stroke and died instantly in that very gathering.5
In short, the extent of the harmful effects of music upon the human nerves - leading to the frontiers of insanity, pressurising the heart and the blood, and other undesirable stimulations - are in such a measure that there is no need for any protracted discussion.
The statistics of deaths and fatalities reveal a great increase in sudden deaths in our era, as compared to the past; several causes for this phenomenon have been mentioned, one of them being the increase in song and music, globally.
The world colonialists have always dreaded awareness on the part of the general masses - especially the youths - and hence, a part of their extensive programme for the continuation of colonialism focuses on submerging societies into unawareness and ignorance, and increasing unhealthy forms of amusement and entertainment.
Today, it is not just the commercial aspect which motivates the narcotics trade but rather, it is an important political tool in the politics of the colonialists. Establishment of prostitution centres, gambling clubs and other unhealthy forms of amusements are some of the other tools - one of the most important amongst these being the expansion of the song and musical domain; a tool, which they insist on utilizing for anaesthetizing people's thoughts and ideas. One can see why music occupies a major portion of the airtime on global radio services and is one of the principal items associated with the programmes of mass media.6
1. Fornication leads to the occurrence of turbulence within the familial mechanism and severance of the bond between fathers and children - a bond, whose existence not only occasions social recognition but is also responsible for the support for the child and for laying the foundations of love, which causes this support to continue all throughout the individual's lifetime.
In short, in a society containing a great number of illegitimate and fatherless children, the social ties, which are governed by familial connections, become highly unstable.
To comprehend the significance of this issue, it is sufficient to ponder for a moment that if fornication were to be declared lawful in the entire human society and the matrimonial system were to be uprooted from it, the nondescript children who would come into the world in such circumstances would not be supported by anyone - neither at the time of their birth nor as they are growing up.
Apart from this, they would be left deprived of the element of love, which plays a decisive role in curbing crime and violence. Consequently, human society would be transformed into a society, totally beastly and replete with violence in every sphere and dimension.
2. This reprehensible act brings about various kinds of individual and social conflicts; stories about the state of affairs prevailing within localities of disrepute and centres of corruption are illustrative of the reality that horrendous crimes are committed alongside sexual digressions.
3. Experience has revealed and science has proved that this act is responsible for the dissemination of various diseases, and despite all arrangements made for the purpose of combating its effects; statistics reveal the extent to which people have lost and still lose the soundness of their health by means of it.
4. This act can result in the abortion of the foetus, the killing of children and the termination of lineage. This is because, such women are never willing to foster their children; basically, the existence of children is a great impediment for them, hampering them from continuing their evil acts, and hence they constantly strive to get rid of them.
The practical failure of the absolutely absurd hypothesis - that these children can be gathered in institutions under the supervision of the government - has become plainly evident for it has been established that it is extremely difficult to foster fatherless and motherless children in this fashion. Besides, the result is often totally undesirable - nondescript, hardhearted and criminal children, lacking in everything!
5. It should not be forgotten that the objective of marriage is not just to satiate the sexual desire; rather, partnership in leading one's life, spiritual intimacy, mental tranquillity, nurturing the children and collaboration in every aspect of life, are some of the effects of marriage - none of which are attainable without confining a man and a woman to each other and prohibiting other women.
In a tradition, Imam 'Ali (a.s) says:7 “I have heard the Noble Prophet (s.a.w) say: “Fornication possesses six evil effects, three of which are (seen) in the world while three are (seen) in the Hereafter.
As for those that are (seen) in this world: It robs away the purity and the illumination from man, severs his livelihood and hastens his end.
And those (seen) in the Hereafter are: The wrath of Allah, the severity of the Reckoning and the entry - or permanence of stay - in the fire of Hell.”8
Notwithstanding the fact that in the West, where sexual uncleanness is extraordinarily excessive and such indecencies are not regarded as reprehensible, the spread of such indecencies can never serve to diminish the hideousness associated with them, and their moral, psychological and social evils continue to exist as before (it has been heard that in some of the countries like England this issue has been legalized on the basis of a law that has been, with great impudence, ratified by parliament).
At times, some materialists who are tainted with such uncleanness, in an effort to justify their acts, state: We have not come across any medical prohibition in connection with it!
But they seem to have forgotten that fundamentally, every kind of sexual deviation tends to affect all the mental and physical structures of human existence, disrupting its balance and equilibrium.
Explanation: Man, by nature, possesses a sexual inclination towards the opposite sex - this inclination being one of the most fundamental of human impulses and one, which guarantees the continuation of his lineage. Any act that serves to divert this inclination from its natural course generates a disease and brings about a psychological deviation within man.
Neither a male, who possesses inclination towards the same sex nor one, who indulges in such an act is a complete male. Books dealing with sexually related issues mention homosexuality as one of the most dominant of deviations.
Continuation of this act gradually kills one's sexual inclination towards the opposite sex and the person indulging in such acts tends to develop feminine sentiments, eventually coming to suffer from an excessive sexual debility, technically referred to as frigidity, such that after a period he loses the ability to perform natural sex (sexual intercourse with the opposite sex).
In view of the fact that sexual sentiments of a man and a woman influence their physical organisation as well as the moral and mental conditions specific to them, the harmful influence upon a person's body and soul as a result of losing their natural emotions is all too evident. It is even possible that individuals, suffering from such a deviation, come to acquire a measure of sexual debility to the extent that they lose the ability to procreate.
These individuals are usually psychologically unsound and, experiencing a sense of strangeness with respect to their own selves and also with respect to the society in which they live, gradually lose their willpower (a precondition for every kind of success) causing a kind of indifference to creep into their souls.
If they do not resolve to mend their ways soon, refuse to seek the help of a medical practitioner or a psychologist despite the need for it and this act transforms itself into a habit for them, it would be extremely difficult for them to abandon it. Nevertheless, it is never too late to give up this obnoxious habit - what is required is resolution and application.
In any event, this mental vagrancy gradually leads them towards drugs, intoxicants and other moral deviations and this is another great calamity.
Interestingly, the Islamic traditions have alluded to these evils by means of short but pithy expressions. A person once questioned Imam as-sadiq (a.s) “Why has Allah prohibited sodomy?” The Imam (a.s) replied: “Had sex with boys been lawful, the men would have become independent of women (and disinclined towards them) causing man's lineage to become terminated and natural heterosexual intercourse to come to an end, and this would have brought about great moral and social evils.”9
Significantly one of the punishments, stipulated by Islam for individuals who practice these acts, is that it is forbidden for the 'doer' to marry the sister, mother or daughter of the person, subjected to sodomy. That is, if the act were to occur before marriage, these women would become forbidden for him, eternally.10
There are many reasons for this prohibition including the following.
A distinguished Western scholar claims that for every 51 deaths amongst youths aged between 21 and 23 years who are addicted to alcoholic beverages, there are not even 10 deaths amongst those youths not addicted to alcohol.
Another reputed scholar has proved that a significant number of 20 year-old youths, who are expected to live up to the age of 50 years, do not live beyond 35 years as a result of consumption of alcohol.
According to experiments conducted by 'life insurance' companies, it has been established that the life-span of those addicted to alcohol is 25 - 30 percent less than that of those not addicted to it.
Another statistic reveals that the average age of those addicted to alcohol is between 35 years and 50 years, whereas the average age of non-addicts, when hygienic and sanitary issues are observed, is above 60 years.
If a person happens to be intoxicated at the time of conception, 35 percent of the acute alcoholic effects are passed on to the child and if both - the husband and the wife - were to be intoxicated, 100 percent of the acute effects are transferred to the child. In order that the effects of alcohol on children are better comprehended, we seek to present some statistics here:
Of the children having been born prematurely, 45% of them had fathers and mothers, both of whom were alcoholics, 31% had mothers who were alcoholics and 17% had fathers who were alcoholic.
6% of infants, who died shortly after birth, had alcoholic fathers while 45% of them had alcoholic mothers.
75% of children possessing stunted growth had parents who were addicted to alcohol while 45% of them had mothers who were addicted to it.
Amongst the children who suffered from a lack of sufficient intellectual and mental abilities, 75% of them had alcoholic mothers while 75% of them had alcoholic fathers.
Attachment towards the family and the love for the wife and children diminishes so much in an alcoholic person that it has been repeatedly observed that fathers have killed their children with their own hands.
Statistics compiled by The Legal Medical Institute of the city of Neon in 1961 of social crimes reveals that alcoholics were involved in 50% of all of homicide cases, 77.8% of violence and physical abuses, 88.5% of thefts, and 88.8% of sexual offences. These figures reveal that an overwhelming majority of crimes and offences are perpetrated under the influence of alcohol.
A celebrated psychiatrist says: Unfortunately, the governments only take into consideration the monetary and tax benefits derived from alcohol but fail to consider the enormous funds spent to rectify its evils.
If the governments were to take into account the increased psychological sicknesses in the society, the losses of a decadent society, the waste of precious time, the driving accidents resulting from intoxication, the corruption of generations, the laziness, idleness and nonchalance, the cultural backwardness, the troubles faced by the police, the reformatories for the guardianship of alcoholic children and the hospitals for them, the judicial setup to look into crimes committed by the alcoholics and the prisons to house the offenders, and other losses that stem from the consumption of alcohol, collectively, they would realize that the income derived from the taxes imposed on alcoholic drinks is nothing compared to the above-mentioned losses.
Besides, the deplorable consequences of alcohol consumption cannot be gauged in terms of just money, for death of near ones, breaking up of families, lost ambitions and loss of intellect can never be compared to money.
In summary, the harms of alcohol are so numerous that according to one scholar, if the governments guarantee to close down fifty percent of the public houses, it can be guaranteed that we would not be in need of fifty percent of the hospitals and asylums. (Even) if the alcoholic drinks trade were to be profitable for man - upon the assumption that the forgetting of his sorrows and a few moments of insensibility could be viewed as a benefit for him - nevertheless, its harms are so much more immense, extensive and protracted that the two just cannot be compared.11
At this juncture, we present some other points in the form of statistics in connection with the enormous consequences of this harmful act:
i. According to statistics published in England in connection with delirium tremens, when this condition was compared to other forms of insanity, it was found that as opposed to 2249 cases of delirium tremens, there were only 53 cases of insanity which were caused by other factors!12
ii. Figures procured from American asylums indicate that alcoholic patients constitute 85% of those suffering from psychological disorders.13
iii. An English scholar by the name of Bentham writes: “In northern countries, alcoholic beverages make a person fatuous and imbecile, while in the southern countries, it makes them insane. He then adds: The religion of Islam has prohibited all kinds of alcoholic drinks and this is one of the distinctive features of Islam.”14
iv. If statistics were to be compiled of those, who, in intoxication have committed suicides, perpetrated crimes, destroyed houses and dashed the aspirations of families, the figures would be truly staggering.15
v. In France, 440 people die as a result of alcohol, everyday!16
vi. According to another piece of data, deaths in the United States resulting from psychological disorders in a period of one year are twice that of the casualties suffered by it during World War II, and according to researchers, alcohol and cigarettes play a pivotal role vis-à-vis psychological disorders in that country!17
vii. According to statistics published by an individual by the name of Huger on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the magazine Sciences, 60 percent of intentional murders, 75 percent of violent and physical abuses, 30 percent of immoral acts (including incest with the immediate relatives!) and 20 percent of thefts are related to alcohol and alcoholic drinks. According to another set of figures compiled by this same scholar, 40 percent of juvenile offenders have an alcoholic record.18
viii. From the economic point of view, in England itself, the losses incurred every year as a result of absenteeism on the part of employees due to alcoholism has been estimated to be around 50 million dollars, which, by itself, is sufficient for the building of thousands of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools.19
ix. As per statistics published in connection with the losses arising as a result of alcoholic beverages in France, alcohol burdens the French budget by 137 billion francs per year (not including the personal losses incurred by the individuals), details of which are as follows:
60 billion francs spent towards courts and prisons.
40 billion francs expended for social benefits and charities.
10 billion francs utilized for covering the expenses of the hospitals for alcoholics.
70 billion francs for maintaining social security!
Thus, it becomes plainly clear that the number of psychologically diseased individuals, hospitals, homicides, violent disputes, thefts, offences and accidents are directly proportional to the number of public houses that exist.2021
A pig, even for the Europeans who principally consume pork, is a symbol of dastardliness, and is an animal that is filthy and squalid. This animal, in sexual issues, is extraordinarily nonchalant and reckless, and apart from the effects of its meat upon the temperament - an issue that has been scientifically established - its effects, especially with respect to recklessness in sexual affairs, are clearly observed.
The prohibition of the consumption of pork had been proclaimed in the Shari'ah of Prophet Musa (a.s) too, while in the Gospels the sinners have been likened to the pig, which, in the course of anecdotes, has been declared to be the personification of the Satan.
It is a matter of great astonishment that some people still insist on eating its meat despite witnessing with their own eyes that on the one hand its nourishment is usually filth - at times consuming its own excrement - while on the other hand it is also plain for everyone to see that the meat of this dirty animal contains two forms of a dangerous parasite by the name of trichina and one form of the parasite taenia.
A single trichina is capable of spawning 15,000 times within a period of one month and causes within man various diseases such as anaemia, vertigo, diarrhoeal fever, rheumatic pains, nervous stress, internal itching, accumulation of fat, exhaustion and extreme lassitude, breathing problems, difficulty in chewing and swallowing food etc.
One kilogram of pork is likely to contain 400 million trichinae and perhaps this was the reason that, some years back, consumption of pork was prohibited in some parts of Russia.
Truly, the religion whose rulings acquire newer manifestations with the passage of time is the religion of Allah - the religion of Islam.
Some people assert that by present day means it is possible to eliminate all these parasites and make pork devoid of them, but even upon the supposition that use of sanitary equipments or cooking of meat at high temperatures completely eliminates all the parasites, nevertheless the harms associated with pork cannot be denied for according to the incontrovertible law referred to earlier, the meat of every animal bears the traits of that animal and, by means of the glands and the hormones secreted by them, influences the conduct of those, who consume it. Thus, consuming pork may transfer the attributes of sexual depravity and indifference towards the affairs of the womenfolk of the family - the most blatant traits of the male members of this species - into the person who consumes it.
And perhaps, one of the reasons for the excessive sexual profligacy dominant in the West could be consumption of the meat of this sordid animal.22
Copulating with women in this state, in addition to being revolting, also entails great harm and this is a fact that has also been corroborated by present-day medical studies. Some of the harms are: Possible occurrence of infertility in the man and the woman, creation of an environment conducive to the development of microbes of sexual diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhoea, inflammation of the female genitals, entry of the menstrual matter - replete with microbes from within the body - into the male reproductive organ and several other detriments, which are mentioned in books of medicine. It is for this reason that doctors prohibit sexual intercourse with such women.
The bleeding during menstruation is related to the congestion of the uterine vessels and the flaking of its mucus; the ovaries too are in tune with these vessels in this act of congestion.
Almost contemporaneous to menstruation the female ovule passes through the fallopian tube and enters the uterus so that, in the eventuality of the arrival of the male sperm, the two, in collaboration with each other, can form the embryo.
Initially, the abovementioned blood discharge is colourless and irregular but soon becomes red and regular till, near its conclusion, it once again becomes light in colour and slips into irregularity.23
Basically, the blood that is discharged every month during menstruation is the blood that gathers in the internal uterine vessels for the presumptive nourishment of the embryo. We do know that every month a woman's uterus produces one ovule and simultaneous to this the internal vessels, gearing themselves up for the purpose of nourishing the embryo, become replete with blood.
If the ovule, having entered into the womb after having passed through the fallopian tube, encounters the male spermatozoid, an embryo is formed and the blood present in the vessels is utilized for its nourishment. But if not, the blood, as a result of flaking of the womb's mucus and the rupturing of the walls of the vessels, gets discharged from the womb in the form of menses.
Thus, it becomes plainly apparent as to why copulation in such a state is detrimental and prohibited. The womb, during this discharge, does not possess any kind of natural preparedness to accept the spermatozoid and thus comes to suffer harm.24
In verse 23 of Suratul Nisa, we read:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَ بَنَاتُكُمْ وَ أَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَ عَمَّاتُكُمْ وَ خَالاَتُكُمْ وَ بَنَاتُ الأََخِ وَ بَنَاتُ الأُُخْتِ وَ أُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللاَّتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَ أَخَوَاتُكُمْ مِنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَ أُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَ رَبَائِـبُكُمُ اللاَّتِي فِي حُجُورِكُمْ مِنْ نِسَائِكُمُ اللاَّتِي دَخَلْـتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلاَ جُناحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَ حَلاَئِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلاَبِكُمْ وَ أَنْ تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الأُُخْـتَيْنِ إِلاَّ مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ إِنَّ اللٌّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَحِيماً
“Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brothers' daughters and sisters' daughters and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster-sisters and mothers of your wives and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in, but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them), and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already passed; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
The question that arises here is: What is the philosophy behind the prohibition of marriage with one's maharim?
In this verse allusion has been made towards the maharim - meaning the ladies with whom marriage is forbidden - and on the basis of it, we can conclude that there are three ways by which this relationship can come into existence:
1. By birth - This is referred to as 'genealogical relationship'.
2. By matrimony - This is referred to as 'causal relationship'
3. By suckling - This is referred to as 'foster relationship'
Foremost, alluding to the maharim by birth, who constitute seven groups, the verse says:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَ بَنَاتُكُمْ وَ أَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَ عَمَّاتُكُمْ وَ خَالاَتُكُمْ وَ بَنَاتُ الأََخِ وَ بَنَاتُ الأُُخْتِ
“Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brothers' daughters and sisters' daughters.”
It should be noted that the term 'mother' does not intend only the lady, who directly gives birth to a person but also includes the paternal and maternal grand-mothers and great grand-mothers. Similarly, 'daughter' does not mean the direct daughter only, but also includes the grand-daughters and the great grand-daughters, and similarly so with the other five groups.
Even though unsaid, it is clear that all the people (except for a very few), experience a sense of revulsion and reprehension towards such a marriage, and even the Magi, who in their ancient books have permitted these marriages, today reject them.
Although there are some people who strive to present the issue as one having its origins in an ancient habit and custom, it should be borne in mind that a habit or a custom can never be eternal and universal, for we know that if a law is found to exist universally amongst all the individuals of the human species and all throughout the ages, it generally reveals that the law is in conformity and agreement with the innate nature of man.
Apart from this, today the reality has been established that marriage between consanguineous individuals entails numerous dangers such as manifestation and aggravation (not generation) of latent and hereditary diseases. There are some people who, apart from the maharim, do not even approve of marriages between relatively distant relations, such as first cousins, and are of the opinion that such alliances tend to accentuate the dangers of hereditary diseases.25 Nevertheless, if this issue does not create problems with respect to distant relatives (and usually it does not), it is surely bound to create problems with respect to the immediate relatives, amongst whom the ties of consanguinity are more intense.
Besides, generally there does not exist a sexual attraction and appeal amongst the maharim, since they mostly grow up together and thus appear common and ordinary to each other - rare and exceptional cases cannot form the criterion for general and universal laws - and we know that the existence of sexual attraction is a condition for the consolidation of a matrimonial alliance. Thus, if marriage were to take place between the maharim this alliance would be weak and unstable.
Then the Qur`an mentions the maharim that come into existence by way of suckling, and says:
وَ أُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللاَّتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَ أَخَوَاتُكُمْ مِنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ
“…And your mothers that have suckled you and your foster-sisters.”
Although the Qur`an, in this portion of the verse, has only mentioned two groups from this category - the mothers and the sisters -according to numerous traditions, those who become maharim as a result of suckling are not confined to these two groups only. The well-known tradition of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w) states:
يَحرَمُ مِنَ الرِّضاَعِ ماَ يحَرَمُ مِنَ النَّسَبِ.
“All those, who become prohibited by means of genealogy, also become prohibited by means of suckling.”
Of course, there are numerous details and particulars associated with the measure of milk-feed and the manner and conditions of feeding (the child) which bring about this relationship, and these have been mentioned in books of jurisprudence.
The philosophy behind prohibiting marriage with such maharim is that the bones and flesh of the child develop as a result of the milk of the person and subsequently, the child comes to develop a resemblance with the (actual) children of the person. For example, if a woman suckles a child in a measure that its body develops and grows as a result of her milk, a kind of resemblance comes into existence between this child and the other (real) children of the woman. In reality, each of them come to be regarded as a part of the woman and are like brothers who are related by birth.
In the final phase the Qur`an, alluding to the third kind of maharim, classifies them into three categories:
a) …and mothers of your wives. As soon as the formula of marriage is recited and a woman gets married to a man, her mother, grand mother etc, all become eternally prohibited for the man.
b) …and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in. Just a mere recitation of the marriage formula does not make the woman's daughters, obtained from a previous husband, prohibited for the husband - rather, the condition is that in addition to the recitation of the formula, the marriage should also be consummated. The presence of this condition in this case endorses the fact that the ruling in the case of the wife's mother, mentioned in the previous sentence, is not bound by this condition, and technically speaking, it strengthens the general nature of that ruling.
Although, apparently, the condition:
“…in your guardianship” gives the impression that if the woman's daughter, borne from a previous husband, is not brought up by the husband, she is not forbidden for him, however, from the context of the traditions and the incontrovertibility of the ruling, it can be concluded that this condition is not, technically speaking, a precautionary condition but rather a pointer towards the reason for this prohibition.
This is because such daughters, whose mothers embark upon a new marriage, are usually young in age and are mostly brought up under the care of the new husbands as if they were their own daughters. The verse states: These are, in reality, similar to your own daughters. Does a person ever marry his own daughter? The selection of the word رَباَئِب which is the plural form of رَبِيبَة -meaning 'the one brought up' - is also for this very reason.
Pursuant to this part, the verse, for emphasizing the issue, adds: if you have not engaged in sexual intercourse (with the woman) her daughters are not forbidden for you:
فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلاَ جُناحَ عَلَيْكُمْ
c) …and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins. In reality, the expression مِن اَصلاَبِکُم (of your own loins) has been employed so as to annul an incorrect custom of the Era of Ignorance. In those days it had been a common practice to select individuals and adopt them as one's own sons; the people would adopt an individual, who was someone else's son, as their own son and all the rulings that were associated with a real son would come to be associated with this adopted son. Accordingly they never married the wives of their adopted sons. In Islam, adoption and all the rulings (of the Age of Ignorance) associated with it have been regarded as totally baseless.
d) …and that you should have two sisters together i.e., marrying two sisters, at one time, is not permissible. Thus, there is no harm in marrying two or more sisters if the marriages were to take place at different times and after being separated from the previous sister.
Since it had been a common practice to take two sisters as wives at the same time and there were individuals, who had entered into such marriages, the Qur`an, after the abovementioned sentence, says:
إِلاَّ مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ
…except what has already passed…; i.e. those, who have entered into such marriages before the revelation of this law shall not face chastisement, however they would now have to select and keep one of the two and leave the other.
The secret behind the prohibition of such marriages by Islam could be that two sisters, due to their genealogy and natural attachment, possess intense fondness for each other, however when they become rivals they are not able to preserve and maintain the former affection for each other and consequently, a kind of emotional conflict manifests within them, which is detrimental for them. This is because the impulse of 'affection' and that of 'rivalry' are in a state of perpetual conflict within them.26
- 1. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 2, pg. 76
- 2. Tafsir Ruhul Ma`ani, vol. 21, pg. 60
- 3. Wasa`il ash-Shia, vol. 12, pg. 235
- 4. Tathir-e-Musiqi Bar Rawan Wa Aa'sab, pg. 26
- 5. Ibid., pg. 92 onwards
- 6. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 17, pg. 22
- 7. Majma' al-Bayan, vol. 6, pg. 414
- 8. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 12, pg. 103
- 9. Wasa`il ash-Shia, vol. 14, pg. 252
- 10. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 9, pg. 194
- 11. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 2, pg. 74
- 12. Symposium on Alcohol, pg. 65
- 13. Ibid.
- 14. Tafsir Tantawi, vol. 1, pg. 165
- 15. Dairatul Ma'arif-e-Farid Wa Judai, vol. 3, pg. 790
- 16. Balaha-e-Ijtima'i-e-Qarn-e-Ma, pg. 205
- 17. Majmua'-e-Intisharat-e-Nasl-e-Jawan
- 18. Symposium On Alcohol, pg. 66
- 19. Majmua'-e-Intisharat-e-Nasl-e-Jawan, 2nd year, pg. 330
- 20. Nashriya-e-Markaz-e-Mutala'-e-Peshraftha-e-Iran (about alcohol and gambling)
- 21. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 5, pg. 74
- 22. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 1, pg. 586
- 23. I'jaz-e-Qur'an, pg. 55, 56
- 24. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 2, pg. 92
- 25. Nonetheless, in Islam, marriages between first cousins have not been prohibited since such marriages are not akin to marriages with the maharim and the likelihood of occurrence of eventualities in them is lesser. We ourselves have been witness to numerous instances of such marriages and the children that have resulted from them have been physically healthy and intellectually gifted.
- 26. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 3, pg. 326