Whenever we witness wrongdoings committed in the name of Islam, we hear the cliché: “This is not real Islam!”
However, nobody properly manifests “Real Islam” in the light of its original resource, the Quran.
The laws in some radical, so-called Islamic states are falsely taken for God’s original commands. What is currently called “Sharia Law” in the world now consists of the comments, inferences, or judgments of certain scholars on Quranic verses. Unfortunately, there are fundamental mistakes in the so-called Sharia Law because those inferences were not made following the Hikmat (the Wisdom), which is the method of understanding the Qur’an described by God in the Qur’an. Therefore, the expression “Sharia Law” used worldwide refers mostly to the laws designed by human beings rather than God. Another controversial issue is that, although they have no relation to the Qur’an, some traditions, attitudes, or superstitions of people who live in Muslim countries are also mistaken for the rulings of Islam. Therefore, misinformation and prejudice about Islam prevail in the world.
We hereby put effort into giving a summary of the lifestyle ordained in the Qur’an, which is the most adequate one for all human beings because it was designed according to human nature by their Creator:
WHICH CRITERIA CAN WE USE TO VERIFY THE ACCURACY OF QUR’AN TRANSLATIONS?
You may ask: “There are hundreds of Quran translations and interpretations, some of which contradict others. Which one should we follow?” It is also probable that you should suspect the accuracy of the information we will give throughout this article. So, how can you verify the translation of a certain Quranic verse, and how can you trust the accuracy of the information we give on certain verses? Please read below the system Muslims must use to understand the Quran:
Throughout history, many mistakes and wrong judgments have been made in the name of Islam. This is because scholars have assumed themselves to be authorized to explain the Quran. However, it is God the Almighty only, Who has explained the Quran by providing the details of verses within other verses. So He has made the Qur’an a self-explanatory Book, and He explained the Quran Himself. We are only allowed to obtain His explanations using the method He has taught in the Qur’an:
“Alif, Lam, Ra. This is a Book whose verses have been made decisive, and in the meantime have been explained in detail by the One Who judges correctly and is All-Aware; so that you shall not be the servants of any other than God. (Oh, Muhammad, say to people:) Indeed, I am the one who warns you with this Book and gives glad tidings to you from It.” (Hud 11:1-2)
This method requires bringing together all the verses relevant to a certain matter. When all the elements of the set are there, the rulings in the verses become clear, just like the picture on a complete puzzle.
God calls this method of obtaining His explanations a “science: علم” in the Quran. The following link provides extensive information about this science:
Without this method, every so-called “scholar” can make his own explanations and ascribe his words to God. But if we follow the method God has described in the Quran while we study a subject from the Quran, we can easily see which interpretation or judgment is correct on that matter. The Quran provides us with certain criteria to distinguish the truth from falsehood “so that we shall not be the servants of any other than God”.
WHAT ARE SIGNS OF GOD?
There are two types of signs related to God:
The words of God in divine books are “the signs sent down by God”. We call them “verses”. On the other hand, all beings in the universe are “the signs created by God”, and we call them “creation” or “nature”.
The upright religion is naturally known to every human being who was not corrupted because every human being is also a sign of God. Indeed, the human can understand by interrelating Quranic verses to the signs they see in themselves and the environment, that the Quran is God’s word:
“We will show them Our signs in the environment and within themselves until it becomes manifest to them that this (Qur’an) is the truth.” (Fussilat 41:53)
We, as human beings created by God, are also signs of God and persist in being an untainted sign of God as long as we protect ourselves from corruption by refraining from the acts that God prohibits or does not recommend.
HOW IS HUMANKIND DIFFERENT THAN OTHER CREATURES?
God grants human beings three abilities that other creatures do not have. This happens when God breathes the soul into the human body which has reached a certain developmental stage in the mother’s womb:
“Then God set its equilibrium (as of its organs) and breathed into him from His spirit. Thus, He made for you listening, foresight, and hearts that make decisions. How little you fulfill your duties!” (As-Sajda 32:9)
The verse above is usually mistranslated as “He made for you hearing, eyesight and hearts”, but having hearing, eyesight, and heart (as an organ of the body or as the source of feelings) is not exclusive to human beings. Animals also have them. Yet, there are huge differences between the attributes of animals and human beings because of the abilities God has granted humans by breathing from His spirit. Human does not only hear but also chooses what to listen to, does not only see but also has the ability to foresee what may happen as a result of a certain act, does not only have feelings but also has the ability to make a decision by evaluating the correct information in their minds in correlation with their feelings. People usually think that it is the brain that makes decisions, but it is fairly wrong because we all know that people do not always listen to the judgments of their minds. Although their brain tells them what is right and wrong, they can make just the opposite decisions at their own will. So, thinking is not the only essential ability to make correct decisions.
In Arabic, integration of the mind and heart is called “lubb” ; and people who have this integrity are called “ul’ul albab” in the Quran:
“Those who listen to all that is said, and follow the best of it – it is they who God has approved to be on His guidance. It is they who are the people of integrity!” (az-Zumar 39:18).
The translation of “ul’ul albab” as “people of integrity” is also in compliance with the definition of “integrity” in English. Integrity requires the mind to distinguish what is right and the heart (soul) to make a decision according to the data obtained from the mind. So, the abilities to listen, have foresight, and make a decision using the heart (al-A’raf 7:179, al-Hajj 22:46) are the attributes that differentiate humankind from other creatures.
DOES THE HUMAN HAVE FREE WILL, OR IS IT ALL DESTINY?
The abilities mentioned above are human’s basic tools in this worldly life since human beings need them to make choices and live accordingly using the free will God granted to them:
“We have created humankind out of a white pearl-shaped fertilized egg. Then, We have given them the abilities of listening and foresight because We will be putting them through a tough test. We have shown them the right path. They either follow it or ignore it, thus becoming ignorer (kafir).” (al-Insan 76:2-3)
These abilities are not granted to use arbitrarily. They cause us to be held responsible:
“Do not blindly follow anything that is unknown to you! Since you have the ability to listen, foresight, and heart that makes decisions, you are held responsible for what you follow.” (al-Isra 17:36)
The verses whose meanings were distorted in the Quran translations are usually alleged to refute free will and promote fatalism. It is strange that people could fall into the trap of fatalism in a religion where God decrees “human has only that for which he strives (an-Najm 53:39)”.
Fatalism or predeterminism take their roots in assigning a distorted meaning to the most frequently used and fundamental verb “شاء : shaae” in the Quran. For further details, please read the following article: http://www.islamandquran.org/research/false-roots-of-fatalism-in-islam-destiny-and-nature.html
As we mentioned above, God has shown the right path and informed people of the consequences of their choices in His divine books. People will be rewarded or punished in the afterlife according to their choices in the world. God decrees about the day of judgment:
“Be mindful of such a day when no one will be rewarded or punished instead of anyone else, nor shall standing by someone be accepted, nor shall any compensation be taken from anyone, nor shall anyone be helped.” (al-Baqarah 2:48)
Therefore, the Qur’an frequently reminds people to protect themselves from eternal punishment by being mindful of God. If we choose to abide by the Qur’an and keep it as our reference book, we will surely be on the right path.
IS HUMAN SINFUL AT BIRTH?
In nature, everything is originally untainted and pure. As human beings were also created in accordance with nature, every newborn is pure and innocent. When we consider divine scriptures, we see that none of God’s verses directly address the children. That means children are not accountable to God until they reach a certain age. Their parents or guardians are responsible for teaching them what God ordains and forbids until they reach puberty. Then, when they reach puberty, they become responsible for complying with God’s commands and prohibitions by themselves. So, not only a newborn but also a child who has not yet reached puberty is innocent:
“God has brought you out of your mothers’ wombs; you knew nothing then. He has granted you the ability to listen, foresight and hearts that make decisions, so that you may fulfill your duties.” (an-Nahl 16:78)
Furthermore, the almighty God decrees that nobody bears another person’s burden both in the Quran and in previous Scriptures:
“No burden-bearer can bear another one’s burden. If someone weighed down calls for help to bear his load, none of it will be borne for him, even by his closest relative.” (al-Fatir 35:18)
“That no burden-bearer can bear another one’s burden.” (an-Najm 53:38)
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father shall suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ezekiel 18:20)
“For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6:5)
Obviously, nobody is born sinful or bears the sin of another person. Besides, what is the point of having free will if we are held responsible for a sin we didn’t commit and whose consequences we do not want to bear?
WHAT IS RELIGION?
God has created humankind to live in harmony with nature. Human beings can disrupt this harmony unless they live a principled life. Indeed, these principles have already been determined by God. The physical, chemical, and biological laws that apply in nature -which are laws of nature-, and all the unchanging moral principles regarded as the basis of human conduct -which is natural law – have all been established by Him. We must comply with this body of laws. God calls this body of laws “fitra” in the Qur’an. “Fitra” can also be translated as “natural order”:
“So set your face duly and steadily to that religion, the natural order (fitra) set by God. He has created humankind in compliance with it. There is nothing to substitute for what God creates. That is the upright religion, but most people do not know.” (Ar-Rum 30:30)
This means religion is not merely a belief system, it is the prescription for living a physically and mentally healthy life in harmony with nature.
WHAT IS ISLAM?
The people who refrain from committing wrong deeds by following the rules set by God live in the best possible way throughout their lives. They do not fear anything other than God, and they do not grieve because they have already done their best to achieve good results and then submitted themselves to God Who makes the best return for everything and who brings things to the best end (al-Kahf 18:44). They thus attain self-confidence and inner peace, as well as being in peace with society. God decrees about such people:
“Nay! Whoever submits themselves to God while they are in a kind manner, their reward resides in the presence of their Master. They neither fear nor grieve.” (al-Baqarah 2:112)
In the verse above, the verb “to submit oneself (to God)” is also the root of the word “islam” which means “submission (to God)”. Then, “islam” is the name of “the lifestyle in which people voluntarily and unconditionally submit themselves to the rulings of God”. According to the Quran, all of the prophets, from Adam (PBUH) to Muhammad (PBUH), were people who had submitted themselves to God. In Arabic, “a person who submits himself to God” is literally called “muslim“.
“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He was an upright person who submitted himself to God. “ (Al-e Imran 3:67)
“Do you say that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants were Jews or Christians? Say (to them): “Do you know better, or does God?” Who is more wrong-doing than he who conceals a truth which has been shown to him by God? God is never heedless of what you are doing.” (Al-Baqarah 2:140)
From the information above we can conclude that Islam is the one and only religion that God has ever established. This conclusion is confirmed in the Quran:
“The religion in the sight of God is submission to Him) (Islam).” (Al-e Imran 3:19)
Therefore, since the creation of humankind, all believers who have lived their lives by God’s laws have ever been Muslims.
CAN WE FORCE PEOPLE TO CONVERT TO ISLAM?
Faith is confidence, or trust in a person or thing . The essence of religion is faith in God, and the basis of faith is the approval of the heart. Nobody gains confidence or trust in anything they are forced to because the heart does not approve of it. The heart is the inner world of human beings, where they are fully free. Not even the most authoritative regimes can succeed in making someone believe or trust in something/someone while the heart is unwilling. All that can be done to a person under coercion would be making him/her say or do things that they do not actually want to, thus causing hypocrisy, which is an attitude severely criticized in the Qur’an. The 256th verse of Surah Al-Baqarah emphasizes that there is no room for coercion in religion:
“There can not be any type of coercion in religion. Facts are made distinct from fiction. Whoever rejects the transgressors and trusts in God, certainly has held onto the firmest handle, which never breaks. God is all-listening, all-knowing.” (al-Baqarah 2:256)
This verse manifests the main principle that must be valid in a real Islamic country: No coercion in religion!
Nobody is allowed to force anyone to comply with God’s commands, and neither Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was. In the Quran, God decrees addressing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “We know well what they say. You are not a dictator over them. So, inform them of the Quran whoever fears My promise (that the Day of Judgment and Hereafter are the truth).” (Qaf 50:45)
According to this, nobody is allowed to dictate any type of belief or practice to anyone. The only thing to do is to communicate the Quran verses to people in their own language so that they can understand God’s message and make their own choices.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never forced people to fast, pray, cover their hair, or perform any other type of religious practice. Indeed he said: “Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended” .
So, a real Islamic law has no room for dictating beliefs or practices to people. If anyone tries to dictate any kind of religious practice to a people, what he/she will get will be a community of hypocrites. Having hypocrites in a nation is far more dangerous for believers than having honest nonmuslim groups.
We had mentioned that the upright religion is the combination of natural law and the laws of nature. Everybody is free to choose their own lifestyle as long as it does not affect anybody else’s life or corrupt the natural equilibrium in society and the environment.
WHY IS PUBERTY THE MILESTONE OF RESPONSIBILITY?
“And when your Master took their offspring from the backs of children of Adam and made them testify about themselves: “Am I not your Master?” They said, “Yes, we testify.” Thus you cannot say on the Day of Rising, “We were unaware of this.”
Nor can you say, “It was our fathers who joined others before, and we were their descendants who came after them; will you destroy us for what the vain doers did?”
And thus We elaborate the signs so that they may return.” (Al-A’raf 7:172-174)
The incident mentioned in the verses above occurs when human clearly recognizes and admits the existence and oneness of God. The verse states that it happens when the offspring of the children of Adam is taken from their backs. “Offspring being taken from human’s back” is having the seeds that reproduce humans. This is the stage when he/she is able to have a child, namely puberty. The oath being taken at that stage means that human makes a firm decision at that time. What is this oath about, and how does a human make that decision?
Human makes observations even when a child and begins to notice that all beings have an owner and creator. Then he/she asks many questions to the people around him/her. In the end, he/she comprehends that the owner of all beings is God. During his/her observations, it is as if God is asking: “Am I not your Master?”
And he/she replies firmly: “Yes, you are my Master and I testify to this.” Since observations are carried on until death, similar incidents recur. Therefore, every human comprehends and bears witness that God exists and is one, and He is the creator of all beings, and there are no equals to Him. Even a person who has no knowledge of divine books can reach this conclusion.
Yet, any person who reads the Quran can also comprehend that this Book is from God (see 41:53), and therefore they bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of God who brought this Book.
Notice that this testimony has exactly the same meaning as “Kalima Shahada”:
“I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the servant and Messenger of God.”
So, we acknowledge the meaning of Kalima Shahada frequently, beginning at the age of puberty. This is why puberty is the milestone for being held responsible towards God.
WHAT IS IN THE QUR’AN ABOUT OTHER DIVINE BOOKS?
The Quran attests confirmation to the previous divine Scriptures and preserves the fundamentals of their content:
“He has sent down to you the Book which includes the whole truth and confirms the previous ones. He had also sent down the Torah and the Gospel.” (Al-e Imran 3:3)
The verses below express that some of the rulings in previous Scriptures were maintained in the Quran as is, whereas some of the rulings were updated by provisions that are easier to fulfill. The almighty God decrees:
“If We supersede a verse or cause it to be forgotten, we bring a better one or an equivalent one. Do you not know that God is the establisher of the measure of all things?” (Al-Baqarah 2:106)
“He has ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We sent down to you (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Keep up the religion and be not divided therein! ” (Ash-Shura 42:13)
The following verse also informs that the Qur’an includes the messages that were sent to the previous communities:
“Or have they adopted other deities, placing them between themselves and Him? Say: “Produce your proof! This is the message of those with me and the message of those before me.” But most of them do not know the truth, so they turn away.” (Al-Anbiya 21:24)
For further information on the relation of confirmation between divine books, please see:
To see an example of “supersession of a command”, please read:
ARE THE TORAH AND THE GOSPEL ALTERED?
Most Islamic scholars do not recognize the Torah or the Gospel as divine Books, although the Quran repeats in several verses that the Scriptures granted to Moses and Jesus that are with us still include guidance and light:
“They did not duly appraise God with His true appraisal when they said, “God has not sent down anything to any human being.” Say, “Who sent down the Book that Moses brought as a light and guidance for humankind, which you make into parchments that you display while concealing much (of it)? You and your forefathers were taught that which you knew not (before it).” Say, “God (sent it down),” then leave them to play at their vain discourse”. (al-An’am 6:91)
Torah was the Scripture by which former prophets judged the Jews:
“We have sent down the Torah containing guidance and light. The prophets who had submitted themselves (to God) judged the Jews by it, and (so did) the devoted ones and scholars because they were entrusted the protection of the Book of God and they were witnesses to it (that it is from God).” (al-Ma’idah 5:44)
God granted the Gospel to Jesus and also taught him the Torah (Al-e Imran 3:48) because the Gospel did not abrogate but rather confirmed most of the rulings in the Torah while bringing easier provisions regarding some topics:
“We had Jesus, the son of Mary, follow in their footsteps in order to confirm what had come before him from the Torah and We gave him the Gospel which contains guidance and light, to confirm what he already had in the Torah, and as guidance and advice for those who refrain from doing wrong.” (al-Ma’idah 5:46)
“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
After the revelation of the Quran, It has become the only divine book according to which any judgment must be made:
“And unto you (O, Muhammad) have We revealed this Book (Qur’an) with the truth, confirming and protecting whatever Book was revealed before It. So, judge between them by that which God has revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which has come unto you. For each, We have appointed a divine law and a clear way. Had God created (otherwise), He could have made you one community. But (He did this so) that He may try you by that which He has granted to you. So race with one another in good works. To God, you will all return, and He will then inform you of that on which you disagreed. ” (al-Ma’idah 5:48)
For further details, please read:
IS THE QURAN A HISTORICAL BOOK?
God has sent down the Quran to warn all the people it reaches, as well as the very first people in the era of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
“(Oh, Muhammad!) Say: ‘What thing is the firmest as a testimony?’ Say: ‘God is a Witness for both me and you. This Quran has been sent down to me so that I may warn you with it, and anyone it may reach. Do you bear witness that there are other deities along with God?’ Say: ‘I don’t bear such witness!’ Say: ‘He is God Alone, and I am far from whatever you associate (with Him)’.” (al-An’am 6:19)
Therefore, restricting any permission or prohibition of the Quran to a certain period of history is not acceptable according to the Quran.
WAS THE QURAN SENT TO ARABS ONLY?
The Almighty God decrees:
“This (Qur’an) is a manifestation for humankind and guidance and admonition for those who refrain from doing wrong”. (Al-e Imran 3:138)
As we understand from this verse, the Quran has been sent to all the people on the earth, not to Arabs only.
DOES THE QURAN ADDRESS MEN ONLY?
It is a common misconception that the Quran addresses men in all verses except for a couple of verses addressing women. This claim is usually based on gender-specific pronouns and verb conjugations that are claimed to refer to men only. The Quran is a book sent as an address through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) but not to him only.
Arabic is a gender-specific language, just like French, Latvian, Hindi, etc. The Quran is an Arabic book, and the ideal examples of Arabic language rules are in the Quran. In Arabic, both a community in which men and women are mixed and a community that only consists of men are indicated with the same pronoun (hum – هم). Similarly, verbs are conjugated with a common pattern when the subjects related to that verb are all male or mixed in gender. However, there is a separate Arabic pronoun (hunna- هن) for a group of women that does not include any men.
The commands and prohibitions in the Quran are general to include both genders. Only a few certain commands relevant to women include verbs and pronouns in feminine forms. In the Quran, expressions in the 2nd plural person and the 3rd plural person are prominent. These are all in masculine forms, which include both males and females according to Arabic grammar rules. Feminine patterns are used in verses that address women only or in subjects whose object is women.
All of the Quranic verses address all humankind, except for a few gender-specific commands which can be clearly distinguished by nouns addressing that gender. The Almighty God addresses people using general words, such as, “you, who believe”, “believers”, “humankind”, and “children of Adam”. The claim about disregarding women may only arise from not knowing Arabic grammar rules.
HOW TO ESTABLISH RELATIONS WITH NON-MUSLIMS
The Almighty God decrees being equitable towards non-Muslims, as well as towards Muslims:
“God does not forbid you from being kind and equitable to those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes. Indeed, God likes those who are equitable.” (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)
There are three boundaries set by God about non-Muslims. If they start a battle against Muslims because of religion, then Muslims must also fight against them. Muslims cannot start a fight just because of having seen a group of nonbelievers:
“God only forbids you from making friends of those who start a fight against you because of religion or expel you from your homes or aid in your expulsion. The ones that make friends of them are the wrongdoers.” (Al-Mumtahanah 60:9)
For further details please see:
WHAT IS JIHAD?
There is a special significance of the word “jihad” when it comes to relations with non-Muslims. Misinformation about the description and limits of “jihad”, as well as inaccurate Islamic edicts issued about jihad, is the main cause lying behind Islamophobia in this day and age.
The word ‘jihad: جهاد’ is from the root ‘(j-h-d) جهد’ which means ‘striving’. It is a broad concept that includes several types of acts. Jihad is upholding and conveying the truth, in spite of all difficulties. That is the most important thing to do to spread a religion because the effects of truth on the human mind cannot be compared to any other thing. The word “jihad” does include fighting and battle too, yet does not consist of them. The exact matches of the words “battle/fight” are “qital/muqaatalah” in the Quran. The verse below is a clear piece of evidence that jihad does not necessarily include battle:
“So do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them (jaahidhum) with this (Book) a great striving.” (Al-Furqan/The Criterion 25:52)
This is a bilateral strive. One side strives to suppress the truth you mention, and you strive against them to reveal the truth and convey the message of the Qur’an. This is the essence of jihad.
The aim of conveying Islam is not to kill people but to eliminate the wrong beliefs inside them, and save them from God’s eternal punishment by letting them learn the truth.
Let’s see the following command about ‘jihad’:
“And strive (jaahadu) for God in a manner worthy of that striving. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. (It is) the religion of your father, Abraham.” (Al-Hajj/ The Pilgrimage 22:78)
We have no single clue that Prophet Abraham (PBUH) ever fought or had a battle against anyone. However, he strove against his people to withhold them from the religion and wrong beliefs of their ancestors. We know also from verse 3:67 that the religion of Abraham was Islam, too. Considering the verse above, we can be sure that jihad is not equal to fighting, though it may include fighting when required. The matter “when?” is explained in verses 60:8-9 in the article below:
As additional reading:
SHOULD DISBELIEVERS, INFIDELS, OR APOSTATES BE KILLED?
The verse below is proof that according to the Quran, nobody could be killed for disbelief or apostasy. Otherwise, these people who lived in Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) era would not even dare act as stated:
“A group of the Experts in the Book says: “At the beginning of the day (say that you) believe in what has been sent down to those who believe, and at the end of the day reject it (become kafir). Perhaps they also return (from their belief).” (Al-e Imran 3:72)
Thus, we have to say that apostasy is not a crime that requires capital punishment. Indeed, the only case that may end in capital punishment is when a person kills another human being for no rightful reason:
“And do not kill any soul that God has made inviolable, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his/her guardian the authority, but let him not exceed limits in taking life. Indeed, he has been helped (by God’s law).” (Al-Isra 17:33).
For further details about the punishment of apostasy, please read the following article:
DOES BLASPHEMY JUSTIFY AGGRESSION TOWARDS NON-MUSLIMS?
Blasphemy does not justify aggression or attack against non-Muslims. Indeed, God already informs Muslims of the fact that they will hear blasphemous words from them:
“It is for sure that; you will be put to a hard test in the matters of your possessions and lives, and you will frequently hear discomforting words from those who were granted the Book before you and from those who interpose others between themselves and God. If you persevere by refraining from doing wrong (you will succeed in the test). Yet, this is a matter of strong determination.” (Al-e Imran 3:186)
In the case of blasphemy, all we need to do is observe the commandments in God’s verses in a determined manner. Please read the Q&A below for further details:
HOW SHOULD MARRIAGE BE ACCORDING TO THE QURAN?
Marriage is one of the most important milestones in a person’s life. It is enough to improve and enhance one’s life as well as to cause suffering. Therefore God attaches great importance to marriage, divorce, and the rights and responsibilities of men and women in marriage. Marriage is intended to give peace, love, and happiness:
“Among His signs is (the fact) that He has created spouses for you from among yourselves so that you may find peace and comfort with them. He has planted affectionate love and grace between you; in that are signs for a group of people who reflect.” (ar-Rum 30:21)
Marriage and helping other people to marry are encouraged in the Quran:
“And wed the singles among you and those who are fit (for marriage) among your male and female captives. If they are poor, God fulfills their needs out of His favor. God has ample means. He is all-knowing.” (an-Noor 24:32)”
The most significant issue about marriage is choosing a spouse. As we know, it is usually men who are nominees and women who make the last decision to marry. According to verse 24:33, no girl/woman can be prevented from marrying a person of her choice, as long as that man is also willing and eligible to be married according to the criteria determined in the Qur’an. For the full list of these criteria, please see: http://www.islamandquran.org/fatwas/what-are-the-conditions-of-marriage.html
The topics in the article above must be investigated by the supervisor of the girl who shall marry. This is why the supervision of women is a prerequisite of marriage. For further details about supervision in marriage, please see http://www.islamandquran.org/fatwas/supervision-in-marriage.html
Marriage is a “solemn covenant” that women personally take from men. Therefore it is obvious that the wife is the counterparty of the husband in the act of marriage:
“How can you take it (the Mehr you had given her) back! They have taken a solemn covenant from you (by means of the wedding) and you have been alone with each other.” (an-Nisa 4:21)
Women personally take this covenant and therefore men are personally responsible towards their wives by paying their Mehr.
As additional reading: https://www.islamandquran.org/fatwas/mehr.html
IS POLYGAMY THE NORM IN ISLAM?
The issue of polygamy, which rather must be called “limited polygyny”, has been an argument used against Islam very often. Those who attempt to defame Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always draw attention to his polygamous lifetime which lasted almost 10 years but they never mention his first monogamous marriage with Khadija (RA) which lasted 25 years during the youngest period of his married life, between the ages 25 and 50. His multiple marriages, though, had special reasons for each of his wives. Details are in the article: https://www.islamandquran.org/fatwas/marriages-of-prophet-muhammad.html
Monogamy is the recommended lifestyle in the Quran, but limited polygyny is not prohibited either because it has been and still may be an appropriate solution to some social issues during the course of time. The verse relevant to “limited polygyny” in the Quran is:
“If you fear that you might not be able to act rightfully towards the orphans, then marry from among other women you like, two, three, or four. If you fear that you can not maintain justice, marry only one (free) woman or a captive woman. This way, it is less likely that you do wrong.” (an-Nisa 4:3)
For a detailed explanation please refer to: https://www.islamandquran.org/research/polygamy-in-the-quran-and-in-the-modern-day.html
ARE CHILD MARRIAGES PERMISSIBLE IN ISLAM?
The fundamental condition of marriage according to the Quran is having attained maturity. Maturity is different from puberty in the sense it is described in the Quran:
“Test the orphans extensively until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive maturity (rushd : رُشد) in them, release their properties to them. ” (An-Nisa/ The Women 4:6)
According to the verse, children must be tested from time to time in various ways to see if they have the ability to manage their wealth. This is what we call “standing on one’s own feet” today. It is obvious that a person must be trained well before being put to such a test. By means of this verse, we see that parents or guardians of children must train them in a way to ensure that they can manage their own wealth, thus standing on their own feet. This definition of maturity presented in the Qur’an is also the description of maturity in practice today.
Though the age may vary, there is no doubt that having attained maturity occurs after puberty. According to the verse, the marriageable age is when people attain maturity because it is obvious that marriage brings along many responsibilities that only a mature person can undertake. Being able to manage money is an evaluable criterion regarding maturity. For further evidence about the age of marriage according to the Quran, please see the following link:
When we consider this and the other conditions mentioned in the Quran, we can clearly conclude that child marriages are out of the question.
DO WOMEN HAVE TO OBEY THEIR HUSBANDS IN MARRIAGE?
In Islam, obedience is required to “God and His Messenger” (Nisa 4/13,14,69,80; Ma’idah 92). Messenger is mentioned along with God because a messenger is a person who exactly conveys the sender’s -in this case, God’s- words. That means both men and women have to be obedient to God. The verse below manifests it as it repeats all the virtuous qualities of humans for men and women respectively:
“The men who are submissive to God (Muslim men) and the women who are submissive to God (Muslim women), and the believing men and the believing women, and the obedient men and the obedient women…” (Al-Ahzab 33:35)
If a woman is supposed to obey her husband, then who are men supposed to obey according to this verse? Their wives, maybe? Nay! They both have to obey God, of course.
For further details please read:
CAN A HUSBAND BEAT HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO VERSE 4:34?
Husband and wife must get along with each other according to “ma’ruf”. The command to “get along with their wives” is given to men in the Qur’an:
“And get along with women according to ma’ruf (the known terms).” (An-Nisa 4:19)
“Ma’ruf” means something “known well”. The source of that knowledge is either the Qur’an or the traditions that are not against the rulings in the Qur’an. The word “ma’ruf” is used in the Qur’an to mean all the good things that believers must encourage one another to do (3:104,114; 9:71, 112; 11:116, 22:41). So, men are required to get along with their wives in the best possible way according to this verse. Apparently, beating women cannot be included in “ma’ruf”.
In every family, husband, wife, and even children may oppose one another. Each of them may covet the other’s rights, rebel against each other, cause discord, or even be hostile toward each other. That is natural. God gives the necessary directions to be happy and in peace, even in such cases:
“Oh, you who believe, some of your spouses and children may be hostile towards you, so beware of them! Yet if you pardon and start with a clean slate and forgive them, then surely God is the Most Forgiving, the Most Beneficent.” (at-Taghabun 64:14)
That means familial issues, even to the extent of hostility, are resolved not through violence but through mutual understanding and forgiveness. Verse an-Nisa 4:34 which is claimed to be the command to beat women is, in fact, about women’s single-sided right to divorce their husbands.
Women could easily use this right during the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions. Unfortunately, wrong traditional Islamic rulings deprived women of the right to divorce and furthermore granted men the right to beat their wives by misusing this verse. To learn about the details of the huge mistake that was made about verse 4:34, and to learn about the single-sided divorce right of women, please read the full article:
HOW DOES DIVORCE TAKE PLACE ACCORDING TO THE QURAN?
A marriage that does not bring along love, affection, and comfort is usually bound to end. Since marriage is a solemn agreement between two persons, ending it is as serious as making the agreement. Therefore, the conditions of divorce are clearly defined in the Quran. Both husband and wife have the right to divorce their spouse. Single-sided divorce by women is subject to supervision because women receive Mehr -which is either money or other types of possessions as bridal gifts- from their husbands upon marriage. The amount of Mehr, conditions, and duration of payment are to be determined and written down during the act of marriage, where the supervisor from the bride’s family is present. This assures the protection of women’s rights during the process of divorce as well.
Single-sided divorce by men is a process that needs the existence of witnesses at every stage.
For details of single-sided divorce by men and by women, please read:
TESTIMONY OF WOMEN
The Almighty God attaches great importance to human testimony. He bears people witness even to their own faith (see A’raf 7:172). Therefore, he requires us to have eyewitnesses during important incidents, such as marriage, divorce, criminal court cases, debt agreements, inheritance issues, etc.
While witnessing, it is essential to be fair. Rightfulness must be taken as a basis even if to the detriment of parents, close relatives, and the wealthy. Whoever we face, it is necessary to avoid emotional behavior and to act with justice:
“You who believe, for the sake of God be constant in your devotion and bear witness rightfully. Do not let the hatred of a group of people lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is nearer to refraining from wrongs. Refrain from doing wrong regarding God. God is well aware of all that you do.” (al-Maidah 5:8)”
Minimum requirements to fulfill a testimony are explained in verses al-Ma’idah 5:106-108 in the Quran, and there is no distinction between genders in these verses. Therefore, two reliable witnesses of any gender suffice for marriage, divorce, inheritance, Qisas (which may end in capital punishment), Sariqa (which may require amputation of a hand), or any cases other than debt agreements between people. The only special requirement is about the debt agreements mentioned in verse 282 of al-Baqara, which requires two men, or one man and two women for testimony. This relieves women of undertaking a huge burden with financial results. For details about women’s testimony please read:
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY SECTS? DO WE HAVE TO FOLLOW THEM?
Sects were founded in the course of time after the decease of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They could be considered as different schools to follow while practicing certain rituals of Islam. However, the current situation in the Muslim world clearly reveals that sects mostly serve political purposes which divide the Muslim community. As a result of separating into different sects, Muslims adopt other identities over the identity “Muslim”.
God repeatedly disapproves of dividing the Muslims into opposing parties, sects, or groups (see 3:103, 6:159, 30:32, 42:13) and decrees that He has given the name “Muslims” to all believers:
“(…) He named you Muslims before, and in this (Quran), that the messenger may be a model to you and you be models to others. (…)” (al-Hajj 22:78)
A Muslim should not adopt another name rather than “Muslim”. Muslims should name themselves the way God names them and keep the manner God ordains.
PRINCIPLES IN SOCIAL RELATIONS
The Qur’an, just like other divine books, sets important and universally valid rules about social relations.
- One of the most important ones is that no human being is superior to the other due to their gender, race, lineage, nation, wealth, etc. in God’s sight. The only criterion for superiority among human beings is “taqwa”, which means “refraining from doing wrong”. Taqwa is of the root “وقي : wa-qa-ya” which means “to protect something from anything that may cause harm”. Therefore, a person who protects himself/herself from any type of corruption by refraining from doing wrong has “taqwa”. Such people are superior to other human beings in God’s sight:
“Oh humankind, We have created you from a male and female, and we have set you up as nations and tribes so that you may recognize one another. In God’s sight, the most honored of you are those who farthest refrain from doing wrong. God is all-knowing, all-aware.” (al-Hujurat 49:13)
Thus, Islam, in no way can be used as a justification for racism or discrimination against any group or gender of people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had also emphasized this in his Farewell Sermon:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action.”
- The following principle is a must to follow in order to stop the spreading of evil and maintain good relations among people:
“God does not like bad words to be made public unless someone has been wronged: He is all-listening and all-knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:148)
People are allowed to speak of evil acts of others only when they are wronged and that speech serves to solve the problem. Talking about other bad acts or words would only serve the purpose of spreading evil, and therefore God dislikes this.
- Some of the main principles set forth in direct relationships with people are summarized in the verses below:
“Oh, you who believe and trust in God! No group of men should ridicule the other. The ridiculed ones may, after all, be better than them. And no group of women should ridicule the other. The ridiculed ones may, after all, be better than them. Do not seek out faults of one another; do not use offensive nicknames for one another! How bad it is to call someone ‘deviant’ after he/she believes and trusts in God! Those who do not repent, by regretting and amending their bad behaviors, are wrongdoers.
Oh, you who believe and trust in God! Avoid most of the guesswork because some of the guesswork diverts you from the truth. Do not spy on one another or backbite people. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. Then, be mindful of God! God accepts the turnarounds (from bad deeds). He is bountiful.” (Al-Hujurat 49:11-12)
- Below are important prohibitions of God:
“(O Muhammad!) Say (to people), ‘Come, I will recount to you what your Master has made unlawful to you: Do not associate anything with Him, and keep doing good to your parents, and do not kill your children out of the fear of poverty -We provide for you and them. And do not approach the kinds of vice– that which is apparent of them and that which is hidden. And do not kill any soul which God has made inviolable except by (legal) right. This is what God has instructed you so that you may understand.
Do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best (intending improvement) until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weigh rightfully. We do not impose upon anybody a duty but to the extent of his ability. And when you speak, be just, even if (it concerns) near kin. And fulfill the covenant of God. He has charged you with this, so that you may use your knowledge.
And, this is My straight path, so follow it; and do not follow other ways since this will separate you from My way. He has charged you with this, so that you may refrain from doing wrong. ” (Al-An’am 6:151-153)
- Indeed, we can see that none of God’s commands can be distinguished or prioritized over the others:
“God commands justice, kindness and giving [their due] to near relatives, while He forbids sexual sins, improper conduct, and transgression. He counsels you, so that you may use your knowledge.” (an-Nahl 16:90)
“Your Master has decreed that you shall worship none but Him and do good to parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age (while) with you, say not to them “uff” (do not show impatience or anger) and do not be indifferent to them, but speak to them words that honor them.
And take them under the wings of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up (when I was) small.”
Your Master is most knowing of what is inside you. If you should be righteous, He will indeed forgive those who turn around (to righteousness from mistakes).
And give the relative his right, and the desperate and the traveler, but do not spend wastefully.
Indeed, those who squander wastefully are brothers of the devils, and the devil is ever ungrateful to his Master.
And if you (have to) turn away from them (because you yourself are) seeking the blessings which you expect from your Master, then speak to them words that ease.
Be neither too tight-fisted nor wasteful, or you will sit by reproached and destitute.
Indeed, your Master grants provision abundantly or according to certain measures for whomever He prefers. Indeed He is aware of (the real situation) of His servants and He sees all.
And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is a great crime.
Do not approach fornication. Indeed, it is an outrageous act and an evil way.
Do not kill the soul which God has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his/her guardian the authority, but let him not exceed limits in taking life. Indeed, he has been helped (by God’s law).
Do not approach an orphan’s possessions until he reaches maturity, except in a way to make it better. And keep the promises you made. Indeed, promises bring responsibility.
Give full measure when you measure and weigh with a straight balance. That is good and gives the best result.
Do not blindly follow that which you have no knowledge of. Indeed, you will be held responsible for what you follow because you have the ability to listen, the foresight, and the heart that makes decisions.
And do not walk upon the earth haughtily. Indeed, you will never tear the earth apart, and you will never grow as high as the mountains in height.
All that aforementioned – evil is ever, in the sight of your Master, disliked.
That is from what your Master has revealed to you (O Muhammad) of wisdom. And, (O humankind), do not make up another deity besides God, or you will be thrown into Hell, reproached and rejected.” (Al-Isra 17:23-39)
The principles we mentioned above are only a handful of significant commands and prohibitions. The Quran, as well as other divine Scriptures, includes many more important principles regarding human life because they are Books sent by our Creator.
THE PERTINENCE OF PUNISHMENT TO THE CRIME IN GOD’S LAW
The Almighty God decrees punishments for evil acts:
“Whoever commits an evil shall not be requited except with its equivalent; but whoever acts righteously, whether male or female, while they are believers—such shall enter the Garden, and they will be provided for therein without account.” (Al-Ghafir 40:40)
“The requital of an evil (deed) is an equivalent evil (punishment). Whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is given by God. Indeed, He does not like the wrongdoers.” (Ash-Shura 42:40)
Let us try to understand these verses better:
In our daily lives, when a person accidentally damages some property, he normally replaces the damaged items with new ones -if available- and this incident is called “an accident”. If the damage was done intentionally, then this incident can be called “an evil deed” that requires punishment. The punishment must be different from “replacing the damaged property only” because it is the justification for the damage in an accident, not a punishment to the criminal who damages the property intentionally. If the criminal pays a compensation fee that is equivalent to the value of that property in addition to replacing it with a new one, this would be a punishment equivalent to the misdeed he has committed.
Keeping this analogy in mind, we can understand the fairness of the punishments ordained in God’s law.
Property and life are inviolable according to the Quran:
“You who believe, do not wrongfully consume each other’s wealth except through trade by mutual consent. Do not kill yourselves, for God is gracious to you.” (an-Nisa 4:29).
“And do not kill the soul which God has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his/her protector the authority, but let him not exceed limits in taking life. Indeed, he has been helped (by God’s law).” (Al-Isra 17:33).
Lives and properties are under the protection of laws set by God. Punishments in God’s laws are strictly correlated to crimes. It is prescribed that the criminal has to recompense the victims’ losses whenever compensation applies. The equivalent of the loss is also covered by the criminal as punishment. Yet, God advises reconciliation and forgiveness in all the cases that apply. He also promises a multiplied reward to those who forgive or reconcile.
In God’s law, punishments do not only deter but also cause the criminal to suffer an equivalent loss so that the criminal fully understands the results of his deeds. Safety of life and property is thus guaranteed by the law. Therefore, people feel safe and secure in the society they live. Further details about the most controversial issues, such as Qisas -which may end in capital punishment-, and the punishments for theft and many other crimes are on the following link:
THE IMPORTANCE OF TESTIMONY
The principles about witnesses and testimony in the Quran also serve to set the balance between crime and punishment. A person who is known to lie is not accepted as an eyewitness by jurisdiction from then on. This is a huge risk to take for a person because it means a permanent black mark on one’s reputation. So, people would have to be honest, at least, to protect their reputation.
In God’s law, the rich, the poor, the noble, or the ordinary people are always judged equally and justly. Even the governors/rulers have to submit themselves to the law of God so that they can be judged freely:
“You who believe, be maintainers of rightfulness by bearing witness for the sake of God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives; whether the person is rich or poor. God is closer to them (than your closeness to them). Do not follow your own desire so that you can act justly. If you distort (the truth) or evade (testimony), (know that) God is fully aware of what you do.” (an-Nisa 4:135)
“You who believe, be constantly upright for God, equitably bearing witness to the truth. Do not let the hatred of a group of people lead you into deviating from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closest to refraining from wrongs. Be mindful of God: God is well aware of all that you do.” (al-Maidah 5:8)
HOW DID THE QURAN ABOLISH SLAVERY?
In the era when the Qur’an was revealed, slavery was a common practice all over the world. The victorious side in a war could enslave a large number of war captives. A slave’s child was also considered a slave and remained so until he died or his owner freed him. Another method of enslavement was the abduction of powerless people. This is not justifiable according to the laws or practices of any era.
Muslims had their first battle in Badr. The Almighty God has sent down the verse below before this battle:
“When you meet those who ignore (in battle), smite their necks until you suppress them. Then cordon (the rest of) them off strictly; thereafter set them (the captives) free, either by an act of grace or against ransom. Do this, so that the burden of war is laid down.” (Muhammad 47:4)
The verse clearly decrees to set the captives free either as an act of grace or against ransom. Setting the captives free relieves the enemy and also prevents the justification of a new battle that could be started because of them. God, the Almighty has decreed:
“Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with good, and the person who was your enemy becomes like an intimate friend. (Fussilat 41:34)
According to the verses above, enslavement of captives is definitely forbidden. Muslims have to set them free in one of the two ways ordained. That is how the Quran ended enslavement before the very first battle in the history of Islam. The verse below also reinforced the fact that nobody can be another one’s slave because all people are equivalent in God’s sight:
“Oh humankind, We have created you from a male and female, and we have set you up as nations and tribes so that you may recognize one another. In God’s sight, the most honored of you are those who farthest refrain from doing wrong. God is all-knowing, all-aware.” (al-Hujurat 49:13)
To learn about the rulings on the status of captives and the immoral act of using female captives as sex slaves, please read:
PRINCIPLES ABOUT INHERITANCE
It is common misinformation that Muslims can make a will about the shares of inheritance they are going to leave behind. They must rather spend their wealth fairly during their lifetime because the shares of inheritance are determined in the Qur’an precisely:
“When death comes to one of you, and he/she (the deceased) leaves any properties behind, it is prescribed as a duty for those among you who refrain from doing wrong to divide it among the parents and closest relatives according to known terms (of division). The sin is upon those who change the rates of the division after hearing this. God is all-listening, all-knowing. If the person who distributes (the inheritance) has fears about being biased towards some of the heirs or falling into error, and he/she thus reconciles the heirs, it is not considered an error on behalf of him/her. Surely, God is forgiving and beneficent.” (al-Baqarah 2:180-182)
As we see above, the shares of inheritance are determined by God, and it is a sin to change them.
The shares are decreed by God in verses 11-12 of Surah an-Nisa. However, mistranslating the word “wasiyyah : oral admittance of debt” as “bequest” causes these shares to be modified. To learn more about inheritance according to the Quran and further details about controversial issues, please read:
PRINCIPLES IN BUSINESS LIFE AND ECONOMICS
Economics in a state governed according to God’s law can only be based on ‘zakat’. Interest must be absolutely forbidden in the financial system. Zakat has to be the only tax collected from the folk. It is decreed that only the rich have to pay taxes. Being rich is also well-defined in Islam. Those who have more than a certain amount  of money or commodity, after having met their basic needs and paid off their debts, are considered rich. Then, tax is collected from those who can afford and it is distributed to the needy regularly and justly. So, the basic needs of all people are met.
The almighty God has sent down a separate chapter named “gold (az-zukhruf)” in the Quran, and He has mentioned silver along with gold to be “alluring” for humankind (Al-e Imran, 3:14). That means, God has designed them to be valuable, and thus we call them “precious” metals. Then, money must be made of gold and silver. Doing so naturally prevents the probability of an inflation rate increase and provides a solid basis for the worth of money. In such an economy, devaluation would be out of the question. Thus, no country could be bankrupted by any other’s hands.
In an economy where interest is forbidden, production and trade would be the only choices to make money. So, both production and trade are automatically encouraged. This brings along continuous growth in the market, thus improving the economy.
Those who need to borrow money can borrow it from people without interest by making written solemn agreements. Lending without interest is encouraged in the Quran. It is described as “loaning to God” and its reward is said to be multiplied many times by God:
“Whoever kindly gives out a loan to God, God increases its repayment multiplying by many times. God is the One Who restricts and Who expands. After all, you will be returned to His presence.” (al-Baqarah 2:245)
If the debtor cannot pay back his debt, the debtee may count it as a donation and subtract that amount from his due tax (zakat).
 According to al-Ahkaf 46/15, “the mother carries human and weans him/her in 30 months”. According to al-Baqarah 2/233 weaning takes two full years, which is 24 months. We can understand from here that the time a fetus spends in the mother’s womb as a “human being” is six months. We know that the average pregnancy period is 9 months and 10 days. That means, God breathes from His spirit into the fetus when it is 3 months and 10 days old, thus grants the fetus the special attributes of a human being. Until this stage when the spirit is breathed, the fetus cannot be called a human being.
 40 Hadith Nawawi, 1
 This is called the incident of “A-lastu bi rabbikum”. However, traditionalists attribute this incident to a time when they allege that all souls were created. This claim contradicts the verse which states that the soul is breathed into the body after the fetus is shaped (as-Sajda 32:9).
 This amount is called “nisab”: 85 grams of gold, or 595 grams of silver, or an equal amount of money or commodities”