Wisdom behind considering Kafaa’t in Nikah
The world was divided into various casts, tribes and nations before the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). People used to feel superiority and despise each other on the basis of cast, colour, tribe, nation and even language. Take the example of Arabs who were so proud of their language that they considered all non-Arabs as Aj’ami—dumb. The Prophet (SAWS) condemned all forms of pride and taught humanity the divine lesson of universal brotherhood and human equality.
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) most righteous of you.” (Al-Hujuraat 49: 13)
“The believers are but a single brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers.” (Al-Hujuraat 49: 10) The Prophet of Islam (SAWS) has made it public in his farewell sermon that‘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 and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood’. He (SAWS) also said: “Verily Allah has removed from you the stupidity of the Jahiliyya and their boasting of their ancestors. Whether you are god-fearing believers or wretched sinners, you are the sons of Adam, and Adam was created from dust.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Babuttafakhur Bil Ansaab) All the above-quoted divine messages tell us that people may bear different idea, character, colour, race and may belong to different nations and tribes, but they are all equal in their humanity. The only difference between them is the religion, and piety is the only yardstick of superiority before Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. Cast and tribe is not the bedrock of superiority or inferiority. Rather it is the means of recognizing one another by their cast and tribe, as the purpose behind dividing people into nations and tribes has been revealed in the above-cited verse of Suratul Hujraat. But what an irony! We take cast and family lineage as a matter of pride. This evil has rooted in our society in such a way that it has a huge impact on all social and religious faculties of Muslim community. We look down on people who are from supposed low cast and feel humiliation if they happen to attain our parties. We don’t even like to see them in our religious places. We feel as if the sky has fallen down if a man of lower status leads us in social or religious affairs, and hang our heads in shame if our sister or daughter gets married to a brother from lower status. Interestingly, if a sister falls in love with a brother who is lower status than her and gets married to him, she also begins to feel superiority over her husband when her blind love dies, and finally the couple suffer the sever consequences and the purpose of marriage breaks into pieces. It is all the outcome of the natural weakness of mankind. Islam—the natural religion takes notice of these natural weakness of mankind and pays great emphasizes on considering Kafaat in the matter of Nikah. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported as having said, “When you find a suitable partner for a widow (non-married woman), then conduct the marriage without any delay.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, 1/206) The word used in the Ahadith for suitable partner is Kufu and the plural is Akfaa which literally means equality, and in the terms of Fiqh it implies to the equality of a bridegroom with a potential bride in all the religious and social aspects that form the basis of superiority and inferiority in the society. These aspects are as follows: 1. Family lineage (Nasab)2. Islam 3. Freedom 4. Piety 5. Wealth6. Profession
Kafaa’t in family lineage
Ulama are of the opinion that family lineage will be applied only to Arabs. All non-Arabs are Kufu (compatible) to each other. Since, the family lineage of non-Arab is not saved. Among Arabs, a non-Quraishi male is not a match (Kufu) for a Quraishi woman, nor can any person of non-Arab descent be a match for a woman of Arab descent. However, if non-Arabs feel dishonour of family to marry a woman other than their own casts, the family lineage will also be considered in compatibility with other aspects. Since, Kafaat (special compatibility) is considered to get rid of humiliation. And respect and shame are based on Urf (practice of society). (Raddul-Muhtaar Ala Ad-Durril-Mukhtaar 2:344)
Kafaa’t in Islam
A man who embraces Islam and his father is a Kafir will not be considered equal to a Muslimah whose father is also a Muslim. And a Muslim whose father is a Muslim but grandfather is a Kafir is not regarded on a par with a Muslimah whose father and grandfather both are Muslims. Thus, equality in Islam is only considered till the grandfather not beyond him.
Kafaa’t in freedom
Kafaa’t in freedom is as same as that of Kafaa’t in Islam. It is also considered till the grandfather.
Kafaa’t in piety
One who does not follow the injunctions of Islamic Shariah and is habitual of bad habit will not be considered equal to a righteous, chaste and practicing Muslimah.
Kafaa’t in wealth
A man who is absolute dosser is not deemed to be equal to a rich Muslimah. But if he is capable to pay Mahr and provide her with maintenance, he is regarded to be equal to her.
Kafaat in Profession
Kafaa’t in profession will not be considered amongst Arabs. Because it is not regarded as a means of superiority or respectability in that society. Rather they consider all professions as equal status. But if they regard it as status in their society as non-Arabs do, compatibility in profession will be considered among them too. Thus, a Muslim of lesser profession will not be match for a Muslimah of greater profession. Ulama have taken the above-mentioned aspects into consideration in the matter of Kafaa’t in order to lay the foundation of a prosperous and successful marital life. Since marriage is the foundation of society and family life which cannot be developed in the absence of social, cultural, racial and religious compatibility between the marriage partners. Therefore, the Prophet (SAWS) advised the shar’ee guardian of a woman to search a perfect partner for her from all spheres of life. Thus, consideration of Kafaat is the due right of both woman and her guardians. Generally parents and guardians have to share the humiliation and criticism which their daughter or sister faces in society when she gets married to a non-kufu. The guardians shock greatly when disagreement appears in the marital life. Islam does not permit either of them to violate the right of other. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported as to have said: “If someone whose strength of faith and honesty are satisfactory comes to you with a proposal of marriage, then give him your daughter in marriage. Unless you do, much conflict and corruption is likely to be the result.” (Mishkaat Kitabun-Nikaah) Consideration of Kafaa’t does not mean that Islam approves the concept of superiority or inferiority. But it proves Islam to be a natural religion as it takes the natural weakness of mankind and the practice of society into consideration. There may be changes in the attitude and behaviour of a person, but his basic nature remains constant. However religious and righteous he may be, he can hardly overcome his natural weakness. Perhaps, this is the root cause of the practice of our society in regard to marriage. The Prophet (SAWS) illustrated the natural weakness of man and the practice of society in regard to marriage in the following words: “A woman is married for four things; for her property, for her accomplishments, for her beauty and for her religion. Select one having religious temperament. May your hands cleave to the dust!” (Mishkaat, Kitabun-Nikaah 267) Above all, there is no general prohibition to marry a non-Kufu Muslimah with her consent and the consent of her guardian. Natural weakness and practice of society should not be barrier to searching a life partner. Religious equality should be the first and prime consideration. This is what the Prophet (SAWS) and his companions (RA) have taught by their practices. The Prophet (SAWS) himself gave his cousin sister Zainab Binte Jahesh in the Nikah of his freed slave Zaid Bin Harisa, and Fatimah Binte Qais Quraishi in the Nikah of Usama, the son of Zaid Bin Harisa and Zuba’h Binte Zuhair Ibne Abdul Muttalib in the Nikah of Miqdad Ibne Aswad. He (SAWS) also said that he had arranged the marriage of Miqdad and Zaid so that good character would be considered the yardstick of nobility. (Baihaqi 7:134)