By: Silvia Rahmah, M.Ag*
Khaulah bin Tsa’labah, the female Prophet’s companion, pledged a complaint and Allah accommodated her complaint. She was married to a Prophet’s companion named Aus bin Shamit for a quite long period. They have several children in their marriage. When she was growing older, her husband divorced her with the case of dzihar (an insult proffered by the husband upon his wife, which likens the wife to some prohibited female relation of his). Khaulah objected to her husband’s decision to divorced her and she proceeded with her complaint to the Prophet saying that: “Aus married me when I was young and likable. But, when I am getting older and have delivered many children, he divorced me through dzihar.” After the case of dzihar, Aus still forced Khaulah to have intercourse with him, but Khaulah continuously refused to do so and her husband fell apart. After listening to the Khaulah’s story, the Prophet was quiet for a moment and said, “I haven’t had the direction related to your problem. In my opinion, you were prohibited to be touched by your husband.” Khaulah was unsatisfied with the Prophet’s answer and she sent her objection to Allah through her prayer. After a while, Allah sent down the revelation to the Prophet in surah Al-Mujadilah verses 1 to 4 that give the solution to the Khaulah case. The verses explain that dzihar forwarded by the husband is a false accusation to liken the wife to the mother because they are different from each other, and the husband should be punished for doing dzihar. Surah al-Mujadilah means the woman who dares to stand up for herself to find justice.
The above-mentioned story shows the significant effort of the Prophet’s woman companion, Khaulah, to gain her rights for justice. When she received no answer from the Prophet Muhammad, she delivered her grievance before Allah, and Allah sent down the revelation specifically related to her case. In this regard, no one should harm the wife nor denigrate her. Allah punishes the husband for degrading the wife in the case of dzihar and the story of Khaulah shows how Islam respects women’s position and treat a woman as full human being equal to that of man.
The aforementioned story explains that the Qur’an serves as an elucidation (tibyan) to many issues. The Qur’an also functions as guidance (hudan) in the life of human beings to lead the right path and assists to distinguish between good deeds and evil (Manna Khalil al-Qathtan: 1972). The beauty of the Qur’anic language, the depth of its meaning, and the diversity of its themes are continuously being studied through time with different perspectives including the appreciation of women’s roles and positions.
Islam and the Respect to the Elders
Islam respects elders’ community in the same way as the young generation. Islam compliments the elder people phase by paying attention to their physical condition, their reproductive health, and psychological aspects. Islam treats the elders well and positions them as full of humanity. In Islam, aging means a sign and symbol of maturity in knowledge and life experience. Every human being will experience the life stages and development from birth, infancy up to the elderly years and pass away. Thus, the aging process is a very natural stage (sunnatullah) in human life and no one cannot control it.
In human life stages from conception, birth, growth, and development to the elder years have their characteristics. When one reaches puberty into adulthood, their physical development is at its peak with their muscle strength. However, with age, bones tend to shrink in size, and density, weakening them. The loss of physical changes in aging is followed by several psychological changes to be considered and managed (Majduddin Abu Thahir Muhammad: 1984). The decrease in physical changes is one of the visible signs of elder people, though the changes may vary from one to another.
The Qur’an states regarding the life stages of human being from infancy to old age in Surah Ghafir: 67:
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ يُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوا أَشُدَّكُمْ ثُمَّ لِتَكُونُوا شُيُوخًا ۚ وَمِنْكُمْ مَنْ يُتَوَفَّىٰ مِنْ قَبْلُ ۖ وَلِتَبْلُغُوا أَجَلًا مُسَمًّى وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
“It is He Who has created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a leechlike clot, then does He get you out (into the light) as a child: then lets you (grow) and reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old-thought of you there are some who die before-and lets you reach a Term appointed; in order that ye may learn wisdom.”
With age, productivity may decrease due to the loss of physical strength. Coping with aging will help better prepare in managing productivity and happiness. The description of physical condition is mentioned in the Qur’an surah Yasin: 68:
وَمَنْ نُعَمِّرْهُ نُنَكِّسْهُ فِي الْخَلْقِ ۖ أَفَلَا يَعْقِلُونَ
“If We grant long life to any, We cause him to be reversed in nature: will they not then understand?”
The above-mentioned verse explains the old phase in human life by decreasing strength. People should notice this change and prepare that life in the world will be over. However, this does not mean that dying at a young age is impossible, as it is one of God’s prerogative commands. People should get prepared when their time comes whether young or old.