By : Faqihuddin Abdul Kodir

The Prophet’s hadith is a necessary reference for all muslims. But our horizon as individual and also a member of a family or community often drive our projection to a certain hadith. Everyone of us in an individual with a specific gender, cultural  background, in a specific social position, and are always interconnected with other individual or parties. Here, gender relation, women and men is the most primordial relationship. This kind of situation become a moment  of situation where we see and interpret something, including the hadith texts. 

In the issues on sexual relation between husband and wife, for example. We are often heard the hadith texts on the curse of a wife who does not serve her husband, rather than text which require a husband to satisfy his wife.The curse texts, in practice only become the opening text for a long interpretation : husband right to force and wife’s duty to serve. The interpretation which in reality is never mentioned in the hadith text, but only was bridged with the clause “thus”, “so that” or “therefore”, by  the readers who usually men. This kind of situation happened from an equal horizon in perceiving women. So that, our way of reading become unequal, imbalance,  to object and disgrade women. 

If we life in a just and equal social horizon, because we believe in the God’s justice and the equality between women and men before His eyes, so we will be able to have different stories. The different way of reading which will be occur, most likely to humanize and glorify women. Because this way of reading came from a reciprocal dimension of respecting the humanity, based on tauheed (the Oneness of God) to Allah The Almighty. We understand and serve other people,  by using the way of understanding  and serving our selves. This is what I call with the reciprocal reading of the Quranic and Hadith texts. 

Although the cursing hadith text , if our individual horizon will be not cornering other people, it can be seated in a reciprocal perspective. Because a meaning is a fluorescent spectrum of the horizon of somebody who live in a certain psychological and social momentum. It does not stand alone, un-independent and un-isolated. Probably, it can be like a spiral, it is connected and string up with other meanings which had been flourished from another texts which exist in someone’s daily life. Including  another texts are the Quranic verses or hadith texts beside the cursing, or Islamic principles which had been discussed by the  Ulama of Fiqh (Jurists). 

The Fiqh Horizon 

One of the pride of the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) treasury which was born and created culture during the whole centuries, is the richness of views and interpretations in almost all problems. Both the Quranic verses and hadith texts are always in every Fiqh/ Jurisprudence decision, which had been different of place, times, individual, social, economic, cultural and civilization conditions. The discussion of the Fiqh Ulama (Islamic Jurists) on the rejection of the wife to her husband call for a sexual intercourse, is one of the pride treasure.

Dr.Wahbah az-Zuhaili, author of al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu, a monumental Fiqh Encyclopedia nowadays, explained that a rejection of a wife to her husband call for sexual intercourse can be divided in the two kinds : with a specific reason or no reason at all.  Only rejection with no reason at all which will be sin and cursed. Of course, several Islamic jurists have the different opinions on the reason which can be basic arguments of wife rejection. At least, according to az-Zuhaili, if the sexual activity will cause a disadvantage (dharar) for the wife, or if the wife is still doing her religious obligation, such as mandatory fast or qadha’ (replacement of fasting in another time),  hajj (pilgrimage) and umrah. But the interesting thing is that the hadith on cursing did not stand alone. 

The hadith text on cursing, as narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari means the following, “If a husband call for his wife to go to bed (for a sexual intercourse), but his wife reject him so that the husband become angry along the night, so she (the wife) will be cursed by the angel until the coming of morning.” In the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) discussion,  both using the inductive approach (refer to the principles) or deductive approach (refer to another texts), this hadith texts are not placed separatedly so that it can’t be concluded the meaning directly, isolated, and independently. 

In the Fiqh discussion which had been presented by Az-Zuhaili as mentioned above, necessitated the interconnection of the meaning of the hadith texts on cursing with another meanings,  both from another texts or from the general principles of the Fiqh (al-qawa’id al-fiqhiyyah). Anti-disadvantage principle (al-dhararu yuzal) for example, or anti-violence principle is one of the principles which will always be present by the Fiqh in many discussions on the basic meaning of the texts. The such principles indeed also had been taken from the Prophet’s hadith, which is narrated by Imam Malik and Ibn Majah. Namely , that “there should not be disadvantages, both for the individual him/herself and also to other people” (la dharara wa la dhirar). 

With the spirit of inter-textuality connection meaning among the texts, Ibnu Qayyim in his book Zad al-Ma’ad required a husband to do foreplay (mula’abah) in order to arouse his husband sexual desire. It is inappropriate and does not imitate the Prophet Muhammad at all, if a husband do the sexual intercourse or force his wife the sexual intercourse directly. The hadith text on cursing, in the opinion of Ibn al-Qayyim, a hadith ulama from 14th century BC, altogether not become the isolated  basic meaning or independent interpretation to give permission for a husband to force on the bedroom affairs. In this context, a husband has obligation as same as his right to the wife. So that the wife to the husband. 

There are so many verses and hadith texts which can be compared here,  to string up the meaning of a text, such as the cursing text as mentioned above, which probably are literally understood and used to degrade one certain sex. In the gender relation between husband and wife, for example, there are some verse which affirmed the love and compassionate relation (Ar Rum 21),  the verse to treat well each other (An Nisa’ ; 19), the verse which describe husband as wife’s garment and the vice versa a wife is a garment to her husband.  (Al Baqarah ; 187). If this interconnection of meaning can be related to other texts and a more basic principles, then the flourishing meaning  will  provide more alternatives to ensure the basic mission of Islam as rahmatan lil ‘alamien (blessing for the universe) in every moments of reading, interpretation, and application of the certain texts of Quranic verses and hadith on the sexuality issues, for example. The reciprocal way of reading the texts, probably can become an offer for us to linkage the inspiration sources and interpretation of the texts will not create a perspective which degrade women. 

The Reciprocal Way of Reading 

The reciprocal way of reading, is a perspective in viewing the relational texts, both Quran and Hadith that based on the universal principles so that the meaning occur will not be addressed to one certain party, but can be implemented reciprocally to the both parties of the relation. For example, on the hadith text which require a husband to treat his wife well. So reciprocally, a wife is also required to treat her husband well, without necessary to mention the text literally. First, because the principle of ‘treating well other people’ is a general command in various Quran and Hadith texts and it is addressed to everybody, regardless of their sex. Second, because ‘treating well other people’ is a general principle in the family relation. Third, because ‘treating well other people’ can only be sustainable and meaningful, if it is followed by the well treatment from the wife. 

The hadith text which require a wife to thank to her husband because of his husband well treatment. Not necessary of existence of another hadith, this text is enough to require for her wife to the well treatment which he received from her. Principally, thankful is a good deed which become a general requirement to everybody in another texts. As well as ‘thankful’  in the family relation is a meaningful and eternal thing if it done reciprocally. Husband to his wife, and also a wife to her husband. This is the kind of reciprocal reading to hadith texts on the husband well treatment to his wife and also the text of thankful of the wife to her husband. 

The reciprocal reading can be implemented in the sexuality issues, such as the hadith on ‘cursing’ as mentioned above. First, the reciprocal can lead us to the deep meaning of the literal text which linguistically still can be analyzed from the dictions and structure of the sentences. The linguistic analysis can be happened and flourished because of reciprocal perspective prism. The Bukhari’s hadith text which used the word da’a (to call for),  for the sentence  “idza da’a ar-rajulu imra’atahu” (if a husband call for his wife).  The word da’a in Arabic language means ‘to ask for ‘ or ‘to call for’.  But the such word is used if somebody who asked has a respect feeling for the person he asked for. For example, a child to his/her parents, or a students to his/her teacher. 

In the daily life, for example we use the term do’a (prayer) as a request from a slave to his Lord. Do’a has the same roots from the word  da’a. There is a preoccupied and greatness meaning in our request through do’a (prayer). Or at least, an equal relation but respectful, for example among the neighbors or companions. To invite somebody to a wedding ceremony, which is called da’wah walimah al-‘ursy. The notification works and religious teaching is also called dakwah, from the same roots because it necessitate a noble and respectful way of thinking, from those who invite to the people who were invited. The word da’a means a call for or an invitation to somebody to do something. The respectful, nobly, and at least equal invitation. Perhaps in Indonesian language it is similar with the word memohon (to request), mengundang (to invite), or at least mengajak (to call for). 

The little bit different idiom is the word ‘amara’ in Arabic language, which also means to ask for, but in Bahasa Indonesia is often translated as ‘memerintahkan’ (to command). ‘Amara’ is request by somebody to other people, but in a lower relation. For example from a leader (government) to the citizen/people to do something. In Bahasa Indonesia, it is almost similar with memerintahkan, menyuruh (to command) or at least to ask for. It means the word ‘amara is vice versa with the word da’a, for a same substantial meaning  ‘asking for somebody else to do something’.

So, if the action which is taken by the husband is a request and respectful and qual invitation to his wife to have sexual intercourse, and then the wife still perform rejection, so the hadith text use the word ‘abat for the such hadith text redaction. The word ‘abat is the rudest word of rejection in Arabic language, which in Quran was used for the satan (devil) who reject harshly the command  of Allah, when requested to do prostration to Prophet Adam (al-Baqarah: 34), or Fir’aun (Pharaoh) who harshly rejected Prophet Moses’s invitation. Therefore, the word ‘abat is more appropriate to be interpreted as rebel. So it can be meant by rejecting harshly a respectful invitation for her husband. Probably because of the such linguistic analysis, then the ulama Fiqh (Islamic Jurist) perceived the reasonable rejection from a wife is not categorized as ‘abat (rebellion). 

The reciprocal reading of the simple linguistic analysis, produced assumption that the invitation of a sexual intercourse from a husband to his wife, should be done in a respectful and noble manner, full with love and compassion, and by the ways that enable his wife to commit with the such invitation. If the situation happen, and the wife rebel harshly, therefore the husband deserve to angry with her, so that the ‘curse’ from the angels will come. But, had the husband behaved this, and then his wife reject him harshly? 

Second, the hadith text can be meant reciprocally. Namely the sexual needs is a natural and human needs, which can be happened to both men and women. If somebody had entered the marital relationship, so it will become a right and responsibility between husband and wife reciprocally. If a husband invites, as mentioned in the hadith text, so that a wife should not reject him, because this manner can make him angry and the angels cursed the such action. On the other side, without necessary of existence of the text, if a wife invites her husband,  so the husband should fulfill it.  If not, the wife can be angry, and there will be a curse on the such rejection. 

The wife’s sexual desire can be different from his husband and vice versa. But if we stand in the reciprocal perspective, therefore there will be effort to solve the problem among the spouse nobly and respectfully. If the sexual desire issues for example, by increasing the lowest desire and decreasing the highest one. In principal, every party  has the right and responsibility reciprocally, so when he/she invite the spouse will do it with respectful  and when serve it will also do it nobly. Without degrading, cornering,  further more doing it with the enforcement and violence manner. 

So that the hadith text on women defamation, should be read reciprocally and relationally, in order not to address and objectify women, or perceive them as the trouble maker. In several Quran and Hadith text, the word fitnah is a relational and reciprocal word for example in the Quran QS Al An’am : 53 which said that everybody is a fitnah (defamation) to each other. The word fitnah itself can be meant seducing, teasing, fooling, examining and plunging. If a woman become a fitnah for the man, it is only an example, because it can happened on the vice versa for women, probably a man become a fitnah for her, if it read reciprocally and relationally. 

The potentiality of fitnah (defamation) as described in several verses and hadith texts, are happened in various matters, not only women. Property, children, family, position, and even in our selves there are some potentiality of fitnah which able to plunge our own life. If we think that a woman should be covered, sent to home, and prohibited to do various activities because of the potentiality of fitnah, so that we must prohibit men to do the same thing because he has the potentiality of fitnah to women. Therefore, we also prohibit the existence of property, children, family, positions, and any other things. But sometimes we don’t think the such things, therefore it become unfair and unjust if only women who are cornered as Fitnah

Fitnah  in the sense of meaning as seduction and sexual desire too, is a reciprocal and relational thing. The fitnah potentiality is an un-ended thing,  because only women who are covered and sent to home. We often witness the sexual violence which precisely done by  the civilization which are closed and putting women inside the houses. Because this fitnah related to men,  so that it will never end until the end of the day. Therefore, what we need is a nobly and respectful way of thinking reciprocally. Of course, we also need a social system which enable the potentiality of fitnah by both men and women, will not lead us to the badness reality. But it also must be done reciprocally, and not just address to a certain sex or gender. And of course by taking into consideration to basic human rights of every individuals. 

With a reciprocal way of thinking, we will be able to re-understand sexuality issues more proportionally without cornering women. We don’t perceive them as the roots of the problems or trouble makers, only based on the stereotype assumption that women is the source of fitnah (defamation)  of sexual danger,  because sexual danger can be sourced from many things, including men. Further, we can perceive women  as the source of worship and obedience, if we agree with Prophet Muhammad PBUH who said that husband and wife sexual activities had been regarded as a part of worship. (Sahih Muslim, kitab: 13, Article: 17, nomor: 2376).  So that, in the reciprocal reading, men also be able to become the source of sexual worship. Wallahu a’lam. Allah knows best! {}


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