Monday, May 6, 2013 07:31 Nur Achmad, MA.
There are so many teachings on mankind’s honor and all is important. Therefore many verses and traditions (hadith) regulate what should be, ought to be, lawful, and unlawful in terms of human relation (muamalah). Due to this honor, even if human beings pass away, their primacy must be maintained, should not be denounced, and so on. The prophet also advises, “La tasubbul-amwat” (do not denounce those who have died). But even though the humans are being honored, they should not be proud or arrogant that could tamper this honor. For instance the pride of devils that brought them into the most condemned creature of God.
With those privileges and honors, humans are potentially able to build culture and civilization from prehistoric times until the present era. Humans’ rapid civilization progress could be seen in the model of human in the development of production method, distribution and consumption in fulfilling their needs. Their civilization became more and more advanced. But all those achievements can not be separated from the role of reason that God has given to humans, not to other creatures.
So for the purpose of maintaining human honor which was lent by God, a number of rules, rights and obligations were regulated in the religion. Those were then processed by modern civilization in the form of norms, laws, regulations (written / unwritten), and became the right and obligation of human being as an individual and as a member of social life.
Preserving Human’s Honor belongs to Religious Mission.
Imam al-Ghazali in his book, Mustashfa min al-‘ilmi al-Usul wrote about the 5 basic principles of religious mission (known as five objectives of Shar’iah), those are preserving religion / faith, life, intellect, lineage, and property. Therefore, all actions or efforts to maintain those five principles are called as goodness / benefit (maslahat). While all actions that damage / disturb those five things are considered as badness / disadvantage (mafsadat). Likewise all efforts to reject mafsadat are a good deed that must be strived. This theory is then developed by later scholars such as Ibn Khaldun in his book Muqaddimah when he pertained the factors of rise and fall down of the kingdom / nation, Imam al-Syatibi in his book al-Muwafaqat, and then contemporary scholars such as Abdul Wahhab Khallaf in his book Usul fiqh, and so on.
In accordance with the mission that is preserving humanity in the above five basic principles, religion regulates the pattern of human relation in all fields encompassing social, economy, politic, culture, including the pattern of relationship between men and women whether in the time of childhood, adolescence, or adult and also in the time of premarital until getting marriage / fostering home. Those regulations in protecting and preserving human honors have been set out by god since the beginning. Therefore human relation must be based on the values of truth, goodness, honesty, compassion, respect, mutual help, cooperation, tolerance, and so on. On the other hand, oppressive relationship, harming, harassing, humiliating, and excluding each other are unjustified. These guidelines are the basis for building morality and interaction among human beings.
The basic character of human as a social being is that every human tends to socialize or interact with others and in the language of the Quran it is called as ta’aruf. Ta’aruf is derived from the word ‘arafa which means recognize, know, and understand. In the form of derivative, ta’aruf means recognize, know, and understand each other in the plural reality or in the diversity of mankind. Allah says:
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is All-Knowing and All-Preaching”. (Surat Al-Hujurat: 13)
Because of human interaction, ta’aruf, and acquaintanceship are part of human character. So Islam considers that it is very important that ta’aruf must be conducted based on noble morality / lofty ethics. This is in accordance with the prophetic mission as the complement of noble morality. The noble morality in Islam teaches the importance of keeping main inner attitude such as gratitude, patience, compassion, generosity, courage, modesty, altruistic, tolerant, and so on. Such attitudes will encourage human—as individual and social being—into respectful and protective human interaction.
Ta’aruf, in the context of the aforementioned verse is generally accepted that humans have tendency to interact, communicate, and so on including then to marry that occasionally causes cultural and custom mixture. In the context of marriage, ta’aruf is a precursor for khitbah or engagement. Therefore, it becomes so important in order that fiancé and fiancée (including both of their big family) know each other, especially their family background, moral aspect and culture respectively. There should not be an ignorance that will lead to the bad condition in the future because it is not conducted before. For instance, in fact the husband or wife is apparently a drug addict or has dishonest character and it is known after marriage. Thus it should not happen if the couples have known each other from the beginning. This is probably what the Prophet meant when he commanded one of his companions who was getting married to “see”, ie, to understand and to know, who would be his wife. On the contrary, the woman also has a right to see or to know further about her future husband. The Prophet said:
“Narrated Abi Hurairah r.a. : I was on the side of the Prophet. Then there was a man who came to him and informed him that he would marry to a woman from the Anshar. Then the Prophet asked, “Have you already seen it?” He said: “Not yet”. Then the Prophet said: “Go and see it, because there was something in the eyes of the Anshar!” (HR. Muslims, No. 3550).
In the introductory chapter of this hadith, Imam Muslim explained that the recommended parts of body to see are face and both hands. The purpose is to encourage the couples to get married confidently. Surely this suggestion should not be misused for the purposes that are contrary to the religious teachings. Although ta’aruf process is human and not contrary to human nature, ta’aruf should not cause anything that may harm, threaten, or even humiliate one of the parties, especially woman.
Another thing that must be concerned to obey the Islamic guidelines in the period of ta’aruf is not allowing ourselves to be alone with our mate, as we know that male and female are still not mahram during ta’aruf period. And this effort of self-controlling is needed to avoid relationship that could lead one of the parties becomes victim of violence, particularly sexual violence during acquaintanceship period. It is stated in the hadith of Rasulullah saw.
“Let not a man among you to have seclusion with a woman, because the third is Satan”. (HR. Tirmidzi and Ahmad)
But in reality, there are many cases that destruct and humiliate human’s dignity and the majority victims are women which are not other a “sibling” of men. The Prophet said:
“From A’ishah r.a. narrated that Rasulullah said: “Female is not other male’s sibling.” (HR. Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Tirmidhi). [al-Suyuti, Jami ‘al-Sagir in al-Munawi, Faid al-Qadir, c. 2, p. 713].
Therefore, for men, appreciating and glorifying women are necessity that can not be negotiated. Likewise, for women, appreciating and glorifying men are also necessity. Considering both of them are equally servants of God and came from one soul (nafsin wahidah) and the same womb, i.e. Mother Eve.
Regarding of preserving the noble morality, this paper focuses on the emphasis of the Islamic view on humiliated action and violence against women, particularly during acquaintanceship period. Thus, in principle, any kind of humiliation and violence are not justified in Islam. Similarly, Islam strictly prohibits the pattern of human relationships that lead to humiliation, dignity subordination, and violence in various forms, including physical, psychological, sexual, and also the violence that causes the loss of social, economic, and cultural right.
One of the very fundamental statements from the prophet which was delivered during the Hajj of Wada in Arafah related to the importance of maintaining the existence and the survival of mankind is:
“Indeed, your blood, your wealth and your honor were protected, as your day was protected today, in this land, and in this month.” (HR. Bukhari, no. 1739).
The aforesaid hadith confirmed the importance of preserving right for life, honor, and property in the context of human relation in order that none of the parties is injured.
In the context of protecting human from humiliation and violence action, particularly violence against women, if there is any dispute or disagreement between two parties, it should be resolved by discussion and good communication. Avoiding any kind of violence whether psychological or physical to overcome the problem is necessity. Violence will only make another problem even greater.
Furthermore, in the context of state, the laws run by government officer must accommodate people’s aspiration and protect those who become the victims of violence. Indonesia have already had legal instrument to protect victims, namely the Law on the Eradication of Domestic Violence (PKDRT). But unfortunately it has not had sufficient legal instrument to judge any violence in public space, which may also includes violence in courtship. However, it should be realized that anyone who becomes a victim of injustice / violence or he is looking at the violence action must be brave to stop it as it is contrary to religion, law, and social norms. If necessary, we can use legal manner to ask for help or assistance to those who care about human issues.
Keeping Virtues between the Both Parties
In the effort to maintain the benefit (maslahat) of two parties, the prophet also reminded us that man and woman should preserve the dignity and honor each other. It is implied in the following hadith:
“From Buraidah r.a. narrated: Rasulullah saw said to Ali (bin Abi Talib): “O Ali, do not follow the first sight (to the opposite sex) with the next sight, Indeed, the first view is permissible and the next view is sinful.” (HR. Abu Dawud, no. 2151).
In reading this hadith, it needs to catch the main message that is how the both parties keep their honor each other. The first sight is human and the second is the sight that indulges in lust. In another word, both man and woman always need to maintain the virtues taught by religion that have become noble and fair culture of the society.
Some virtues that must be concerned, among others, are: First, both parties should have a good intention that the process of acquaintanceship is the effort toward engagement and intended to establish household, conditionally if there is suitability, not to be understood as a trial which often leads to the women harassment. If there is a good intention, the relationship may go further till marriage as a legitimate effort towards sakinah family (peace and reassuring each other), mawaddah (love and loving each other), and rahmah (pity and compassionating each other).
Second, the both have to convince themselves that human (male and female / fiancé and fiancée) are servants of God who have the freedom of will, mind, and goal. Therefore, give opportunity to our fiancé / fiancée as an individual and social being to have a role freely without any pressure as a real form of a good deed which is rewarded.
Third, the both need to keep honesty, trust, self-respect, and relationship to god and families with full responsibility in the world and hereafter. It is symbolized in the prayer with takbir and salam, that is spreading greetings to our environment, the same creatures of God.
Fourth, the both need to understand that how well our fiancé / fiancée is and how perfect he / she is, he / she still has weaknesses. But it is the chance to complement those weaknesses each other, to remind each other, and to motivate each other. The weaknesses he / she has should not be insulted, harassed, or exposed to the public if there is a conflict in the future. On the contrary, it becomes an opportunity for both parties (fiancé / fiancée) to seek for charity, to remind and to make a better condition.
Selecting the Righteous Mate
The prophet Muhammad gave us the guidance about the criteria to be considered by man and woman when selecting his / her mate. Of the four main criteria, the righteous in religious practices is the most important factor to consider. The prophet said:
“From Abi Hurairah r.a. narrated that the prophet said: “Women are married for four reasons; wealth, lineage, beauty, and faith / religious obedience. Prioritizing the righteous woman is necessity, if not, your both hands will be miserable“. (HR. Muttafaq Alaih and Imam Five).
This Hadith also needs to understand in reciprocal. It means that fiancée / woman has the same right in selecting her mate. What is meant by religious value is stressing on the obedience of doing the command of Allah and His Messenger. If the fiancé / fiancée obey to Allah and His Messenger, he / she will be a good and responsible mate.
It is frequently heard that women are the pillar of the state so that they must be the righteous. Likewise, there is an advice that woman must be righteous wife. In addition, the fiancé is recommended to pray in order that he will be given the righteous wife. Basically, this is good and right understanding. But it also must be imposed to men. It means that men also must be righteous men, a husband must be a righteous husband, and the fiancée has to pray in order to get the righteous husband. In the Surah al-Nisa’ 34, it emphasizes the necessity for women to be shalihat (righteous), qanitat (obedient), and hafizat (self-maintenance). Nevertheless, it can not be concluded that it is only women who have to be righteous (shalihat). In a number of the other verses, men are also commanded to be righteous (shalih). Piety is parent’s expectation whether for their son or daughter, as reflected in the prayer of the Prophet Zakariya when he asked to give a descendant: Robbi hab li minash-shalihin (My Lord, grant me (offspring) from the righteous one).
In the other verses such as Surah al-Ahzab: 35, it is stated that all human beings (male and female) were commanded by Allah to be righteous, i.e. being a Muslim, believer, qanitin / qanitat (the obedient men and women) to Allah, shadiqin / shadiqat (the truthful men and women), shabirin / shabirat (the patient men and women), khasyi’in / khasyi’at (the humble men and women), mutashaddiqin / mutashaddiqat (the charitable men and women), shaimin / shaimat (the fasting men and women), hafizin / hafizat lil furuj (the man who guard their private parts and the women who do so), and zakirin / zakirat (always remember Allah). Those noble values are duly owned by men and women. Those are the ones who will be given a reward in the form of forgiveness and a great reward. Therefore, it sounds weird if man (husband or fiancé) insist woman (wife and fiancée) in order to be a righteous woman (mar’atun shalihah), but he forgets not to insist himself to be a righteous man (rajulun shalih).
In the aforesaid Surah al-Nisa’: 34, it implies that there is a potency of serious violation (nushuz) by a woman (wife) against the rule of Allah and Rasulullah saw, and so does in another verse. The men potentially could do the same violation (nushuz) against the rule of Allah and Rasulullah saw. So both of them have potency to be righteous, otherwise they have potency to violate (nushuz). Both of them are potential, not just women. Hence, the aforementioned verses not only become references for women, but also for men for a peace household relationship (sakinah).
Those are some important messages that can be derived from the hadith of our prophet for those who are undergoing acquaintanceship relation (ta’aruf) and have further planning or for those who are establishing household. Hopefully they can achieve happiness in this world and in the hereafter. By understanding and practicing it, accompanied by cautiousness and wisdom, we hope that they could undergo the period of acquaintanceship and marriage very well, right, and glorify each other. Wallahu a’lam (Allah knows best).