By Maulana Khalid Dhorat
Fatimah* has been happily married for 12 years now. She has three beautiful children and her home is full of harmony, peace and love. Yes, she has the occasional petty argument with her husband, but by and large, there is a great degree of love, respect and understanding between the two. However, all this changed about eleven months ago. How did this suddenly happen? Listen in the words of her concerned husband himself:
“My wife one day returned from a function and mentioned that she was going to reform herself. In order to do so, she took bay’at (ceremonial oath of allegiance) to a certain Sheikh who resides in a nearby town. I was initially happy that at least our household will become a little more Islamic, but much to my dismay, our entire lives have become crumpled and disorganized. We no more have time with each other, we fight and bicker over almost everything now and I feel very degraded and low.
My wife’s timetable has suddenly changed. She attends many programmes now and neglects her duties at home. Most of the time, the children and I have to eat cold food or fast food. We can’t do a thing together at home anymore, and even simple family decisions like what to do over the weekend, must be first approved by her Sheikh. When the Sheikh comes to town, she literally goes berserk. She dresses up like a Barbie doll and prepares amazing food that she doesn’t even prepare for us. She goes in front of her Shaikh in the same room with other women and pours out all her grievances. At times, the Sheikh has private discussions with his disciples and the women hang on to his every word like a spider hangs on to a web. Afterward, they all say how willing they all are in order to sacrifice themselves for the sake of ‘deen’. I’m really confused because is deen all about a Sheikh and his fancies?”
Many husbands today find themselves in the position where the Sheikh has taken over their authority, and they are left totally helpless. The situation can also never be positively approached as no-one dare challenge or question the Sheikh, lest a bolt of lightning strike him dead! The traditional in-laws problem which becomes fiery and heated at times, is nothing compared to this.
Although it is perfectly permissible for a woman to seek guidance from an authentic and pious Sheikh, it should never take the form of the above. The purpose of bay’ah is spiritual reformation and implementing the shariah, and in the above scenario, many rules of shariah is being broken and more harm is being done than good.
Firstly, it must be understood that the place for a woman is her home. Allah says,
وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
[الأحزاب: 33] “And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance. And establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.”
There is thus no need to be whizzing off to dozens of weekly programmes and neglecting one’s domestic duties. The rights of a husband is greater than the rights of a Sheikh. The occasional weekly or bi-monthly programme would be acceptable, provided that all the primary household duties have been fulfilled, and the permission of the husband has been obtained. In many of these outings, free interaction with the opposite gender takes place. Our pure Shariah orders that a male and female should lower their gazes in front of each other, and here the Sheikh stares directly into the face of his females disciples and vice versa. They think that by directly staring at each other, divine light will be communicated, but this is only angering Allah and darkness, instead of light, is being transmitted.
If there is a need to communicate some urgent message or ask a question, this can be done via e-mail, with a CC to your husband. Remember that any activity of deen which violates some of the principles of Islam, is nothing but nafs and desires. It’s a huge waste of time and effort. No one can achieve any spirituality through that. Our pure Shariah advises us to follow the laws of Shariah, and not feelings and emotions. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Sheikh to advise his female mureeds to adhere to the above mentioned laws of Shariah. If he fails to do so, he is guilty of violating the laws of Shariah himself and cannot expect gaining closeness to Allah Taala with this attitude.
It is not permissible for a Sheikh, no matter how great he is, to be in seclusion with women. Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said,
قَالَ ” لاَ يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ إِلاَّ مَعَ ذِي مَحْرَمٍ… “
صحيح البخاري (4/ 59)
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “No man should stay with a woman in seclusion except in the presence of a Mahram…”
قَالَ: لَا يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ إِلَّا كَانَ ثَالِثَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ
سنن الترمذي ت شاكر (3/ 466)
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, Behold! A man is not alone with a woman but the third of them is Shaytan.
An Aalim, Mufti and Shaikh are all equal in dealing with the opposite gender. The laws of hijab will have to be observed. No person besides Rasulullah صلي الله عليه وسلم is immune from the deceit of his nafs and tricks and traps of Shaytan. Women may communicate with the Sheikh in writing and should be addressed from behind a curtain. No one is exempt from this, and if a particular Shekkh is not following these protocols, then he may be admonished in this regard.
The second problematic aspect of the above scenario is undermining the role of the husband. No other man, irrespective of his status. can ever be equal to a woman other than her husband. Consider the following Hadith:
لَوْ كُنْتُ آمِرًا أَحَدًا أَنْ يَسْجُدَ لأَحَدٍ لأَمَرْتُ الْمَرْأَةَ أَنْ تَسْجُدَ لِزَوْجِهَا
(سنن الترمذي ت شاكر)
“If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone, then I would order the wife to prostrate to her husband.”
In fact, if a husband is not happy with his wife’s behavior with her Sheikh, he can stop her from attending his gatherings. At times however, the Sheikh himself may not be aware of his female disciples falling head over heels for him, so the husband can gently inform the Shaikh as to what is happening. If the Sheikh does not advise the wives accordingly and their behavior does not change (i.e. the advise is ignored), then any husband has a justifiable right to instruct his wife to terminate her relationship with the Sheikh. As mentioned before, a relationship which violates the laws of Shariah is nothing but fitna (corruption) which will lead to many more problems and upheavals in one’s life.
MAY ALLAH GRANT US ALL THE TRUE UNDERSTANING OF DEEN – AMEEN