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Topics - Khalid Zia

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Women / Critique: Marrying 4 wives in Islam
« on: January 10, 2014, 08:37:33 AM »
This is critique of the follow article by Joseph Islam:

Marrying 4 wives in Islam

A general point:

Dearest Mr. Joseph Islam has not liked me questioning his Arabic credentials, but here is the problem:

1. I have read many of his articles and they show a weakness of understanding the Arabic language. Now, there are not major glaring errors, but a shade here and nuance there can make all the difference.

2. When the author differs from an issue from Traditional Islam relating to the Quranic Arabic and the Arabic language in a wider context, then there is a lack of care. For Arabic language and linguistics he is dependent on Traditional Islam - whose scholars have safe-guarded the language and transmitted it to us. And if you are going to differ from countless brilliant scholars and their understanding - then you should have real good reason.

This issue relates to the verse 4:3

وإن خفتم ألا تقسطوا في اليتامى فانكحوا ما طاب لكم من النساء مثنى وثلاث ورباع فإن خفتم ألا تعدلوا فواحدة أو ما ملكت أيمانكم ذلك أدنى ألا تعولوا

And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]. 

Although the verse relates to Orphans - but herein is clear permission to marry up to 4 women.


The author states:

It is interesting to note that the verse that is usually read to acknowledge polygny up to a maximum of four wives isn't really sanctioning a number nor is it encouraging multiple marriages. Legitimate enquiries do arise, why 'four', why not 'five' 'six' or 'three'? Why not leave it open to the individual to assess their means and ability to make a decision? Why the use of a seemingly arbitrary number of 4? These are quite pertinent questions.

Simple answer. Quran has restricted it to four.


It can clearly be read, that the main focus of the verse is to prohibit any form of injustice occurring by compromising the 'orphans'. Verse 4:127 seems to elaborate further by indicating that this was possibly due to men not giving the orphans prescribed portions due to desire of marriage.

The main 'draw' of verse 4:3 is not necessarily to stipulate a number of wives but rather, to keep men away from compromising the orphans.

Yet, the permission of marrying up to four women is general and not restricted.


We note the Arabic term "mathna wathulatha waruba'a" (Literally: (by/in) twos and threes and fours) which seems to simply denote a multiplicity. The exact same phrase is used in 35.1 when describing the wings of angels and its multiplicity.

The author alleges that there is no upper limit of marriage to 4 women but the indication is of multiplicity and he further cites the verse 35.1.

He further states:

Therefore, if the phrase "mathna wathulatha waruba'a" ((by/in) twos and threes and fours) is examined with the phrase read in 35.1, one concludes that verse 4:3 is not advancing a 'limiting allowance' to marry up to 4 wives. Rather, its purport seems to be focused in to drawing away from any potential injustice to the orphans by asking the believers to marry other believing women in whatever numbers.

The contention is that Quran has not used normal numbers but another form of word roughly translated as twos, threes and fours. But what does it mean to marry in "twos"? In this form it does not make much sense. And this the author took to mean multiplicity rather than set upper limit.

However this form of number also denote:

"two at a time"


"three at a time"


"four at a time"

and the limit is four. If the Quran had wished to imply multiplicity then there are words aplenty to choose from and much more clearer.

If one wishes to act upon EXACTLY what the Quran stated then one has to accept the limit Quran set is 4 at a time.

And why use this form of numbers?

This makes clear that one can have up to 4 wives in a single instance. For example:

If someone has four wives and one passes away then he can marry another wife. Although he has had 4 wives but in a single instance he is allowed to marry up to form.

And this, I think, is a better understanding of why the Quran used this form of numbers. However there is room for the interpretation the author has understood, and there is some support for it within Traditional Islam. However, on balance, for the reasons outlined, I do not think it is the best interpretation.




The question of " The Legislative authority of the Prophet Muhammad" is of fundamental difference between those who believe in "Quran only" as source of Islam law and those who include the corpus of Hadith. This is lengthy discussion, however I am answering the following [from the aforementioned article link]:

For it is the Quran, that makes it absolutely clear that it is the only source that makes matters lawful and unlawful in terms of religious decree. This is a right NOT even granted to the Prophet as can clearly be seen in the following verse:



    “O Prophet! Why do you forbid that which God has made lawful to you? You seek to please your wives!. But God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”

This is not so. Prophet Muhammad independent [limited] legislative authority granted by the Almighty Allah. It is to Allah Almighty that the Ultimate sovereignty belongs to, whereas the authority of the Prophet is simply manifestative.

There is no contention regarding the Ultimate Sovereignty of the Allah Almighty. So, I will only present a single verse:

إن الحكم إلا لله عليه توكلت وعليه فليتوكل المتوكلون

The decision [Hukm] is only for Allah ; upon Him I have relied, and upon Him let those who would rely [indeed] rely.

[Quran 12:68]

As to the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him:

Joseph Islam quoted the following verse:

“O Prophet! Why do you forbid that which God has made lawful to you? You seek to please your wives!. But God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”

However this only intimates that the Prophet cannot repeal what Allah made lawful and the below cannot be justified by this verse:

For it is the Quran, that makes it absolutely clear that it is the only source that makes matters lawful and unlawful in terms of religious decree. This is a right NOT even granted to the Prophet as can clearly be seen in the following verse

Further to this are the verses that actually do grant the Prophet Muhammad such authority:

قل أطيعوا الله والرسول فإن تولوا فإن الله لا يحب الكافرين
Say, "Obey Allah and the Messenger." But if they turn away - then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers. [3:32]

[There are several verses that command us to obey Allah and to obey the Prophet - using the source-root اطاعة]

The Almighty emphasized to Obey Allah AND His Messenger.

* * *

ألم تر إلى الذين نهوا عن النجوى ثم يعودون لما نهوا عنه ويتناجون بالإثم والعدوان ومعصيت الرسول وإذا جاءوك حيوك بما لم يحيك به الله ويقولون في أنفسهم لولا يعذبنا الله بما نقول حسبهم جهنم يصلونها فبئس المصير

Have you not considered those who were forbidden from private conversation, then they return to that which they were forbidden and converse among themselves about sin and aggression and disobedience to the Messenger? And when they come to you, they greet you with that [word] by which Allah does not greet you and say among themselves, "Why does Allah not punish us for what we say?" Sufficient for them is Hell, which they will [enter to] burn, and wretched is the destination. [58:8] Also see [58:9]

In this verse - disobedience of the Messenger is mentioned.

Another verse in the same regard is:

يومئذ يود الذين كفروا وعصوا الرسول لو تسوى بهم الأرض ولا يكتمون الله حديثا

That Day, those who disbelieved and disobeyed the Messenger will wish they could be covered by the earth. And they will not conceal from Allah a [single] statement. [4:42]


The following verse clearly states that the Prophet Muhammad has the authority to forbid:

قاتلوا الذين لا يؤمنون بالله ولا باليوم الآخر ولا يحرمون ما حرم الله ورسوله ولا يدينون دين الحق من الذين أوتوا الكتاب حتى يعطوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled. [9:49]


الذين يتبعون الرسول النبي الأمي الذي يجدونه مكتوبا عندهم في التوراة والإنجيل يأمرهم بالمعروف وينهاهم عن المنكر ويحل لهم الطيبات ويحرم عليهم الخبائث ويضع عنهم إصرهم والأغلال التي كانت عليهم فالذين آمنوا به وعزروه ونصروه واتبعوا النور الذي أنزل معه أولئك هم المفلحون

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful. [7:156-157]

Here the word is not to Obey اطاعة but to Follow اتباع

In face of the above verses Joseph Islam's view that:

For it is the Quran, that makes it absolutely clear that it is the only source that makes matters lawful and unlawful in terms of religious decree. This is a right NOT even granted to the Prophet

Is not correct and is completely without merit. One has to place side-by-side those verses that elucidate the Hukm of the Almighty Allah and those that give authority to the Prophet Muhammad. And then come to a proper understanding.

This is likely to be a long discussion as it is the the base of the fundamental difference between Sunni/Shia Islam and the "Quran only". I will add more later.   

General Discussions / Crtique: What is an Islamic greeting?
« on: January 09, 2014, 09:38:19 AM »


The best Islamic greeting is one that contains the salutations of peace. This is independent of what language this greeting is offered as long as it is imparted with sincerity. 'Aslamo-alaikum' is merely the common Arabic greeting. 'Salamun Alaikum' is the Quranic form which closely emulates the greeting that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his community would have been familiar with.

I found this somewhat puzzling. Why make a difference between the usage of the Arabic 'al-' definite particle?

السلام عليكم is same as سلام عليكم - the only difference is usage of the definite article. So, based on this it seems bizarre to suggest that one form is Quranic and the other merely Arabic!

Prophets and Messengers / Is the Prophet Muhammad Alive?
« on: January 08, 2014, 12:29:20 PM »
In reference to the following post [which I found to be well balanced and surprisingly quite agreeable!], by Joseph Islam:

And in particular:

Indeed the Prophet is not alive today

This is issue of some contention - those of us from Sufism background - hold the view that the Prophet Muhammad has physically passed away - however is Prophet-hood and spirituality continues. Although most of this is based from Hadith, Kashf and etc . . . but not all. For example:

ولا تقولوا لمن يقتل في سبيل الله أموات بل أحياء ولكن لا تشعرون

And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah , "They are dead." Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.
[Quran 2:154]

The above verse does make the point that physical death from this earth is not the only form of being alive and one is not necessarily gone altogether.

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