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Allowable Expediences and Non-Expediences

As a conclusion to our previous discussion, there are two points to be mentioned. One is that the science of the principles of religious jurisprudence has two expressions which are of use to us here. Something do not have the advisability to make them obligatory nor do they have the maliciousness to be rules as forbidden. As they do not contain the criteria to oblige or forbid, they are allowable and because of this they are called allowable non-expediences (mubah la-iqtida'i). Perhaps most of the allowables are of this type.

But there are others. The reason for their beins allowable is because of certain wisdom which releases them. That is, if Divine Law did not allow them, a necessary malice would have appeared. These kinds of allowables are known as allowable expediences. It is possible that with these allowables an advisability or a maliciousness exists in activating or shunning these deeds but is order to obey a higher advisability which permitting then brings about, the Divine Law rules it as allowable and overlooks the other criteria.

Those allowables, which have been allowed because of not wanting to have fault or blame (haraj), are like this. Religious jurisprudents consdier the fact that if they want to forbid some deeds, the life of people will become very difficult so they do not forbid them.

Perhaps the best example is divorce. The Holy Prophet said, "Among all of the permissibles, divorce is the most detested." Someone may ask, "If it is detested then why is it permissible? Divorce should be forbidden." But no. At the same time that it is a detested act and the issuing of a divorce causes the heavens to shake, it is not forbidden. When Abu Ayyub Ansari wanted to divorce his wife, the Holy Prophet said, "Divorcing Umme Ayyub is a sin". But, if Abu Ayyub has divorced his wife, the Holy Prophet would not have said it was invalid. That is something which is not forbidden at the same time it contains as many aspects as a forbidden thing contains and perhaps more. Because of this, it is detested but not forbidden.

The reason is that Islam does not want marrige to be compulsory. That is, to oblige a man, who must be the support and protector of a woman, to keep his wife at all costs. Efforts are made towards a divorce not occuring but that a man should keep his wife because he is so inclined and not grow cold towards his wife. But the situation goes beyond this and a man wants to divorce his wife? It is hated deed so that one is only obliged to do it. This is one example of allowable expedience.
These exceptions exist in the area of the hijab, as well. In relation to the extent of the hijab, like the fact that it is not obligatory for a woman to cover her face, it is not forbidden for a man to look at a woman's face as long as it is not a look of lust. The difference between leaving the face uncovered or coveredis one of the allowable expediences. That is, the very criterion which exist in relation to hair, exists in relation to the face. The criteria which exists in relation to the rest of the body, exists in relation to the face. There are many parts of the body which, even if they are not more stimulating, they are not less so than the face, but at the same time, this exception has appeared. The criteria is the same but if a woman is told to cover her hair, it is not difficult for her to do unless it is a woman whose rebellious nature and ego insists that her hair must remain uncovered.

It is a duty which does not cause difficulty. It does not in anyway interfere with her life. But if a woman is told that she must cover her face as well, this prevents her from doing many things. It prevents her freedom of action.

For instance, many of the work available in society depends upon this very religious edict as to whether or not it is obligatory that a woman cover her face. Is it permissible for women to drive a car or not? The question has to be apporached from the point of view of duties that a woman has whether or not it is permissible. Can she maintain her duties and drive, or not? If it is obligatory for women to cover their face and hands, is it not possible for them to drive a car? That is since driving would cause the non-performance of a duty, she must not do so.

But another says, "No. It is not obligatory for women to cover her face." This then means that she can drive and driving does not mean that other parts of her body be visible or that she wear make-up or that her hair be un-covered. Just as long as the roundness of her face is visible, she can drive.

For instance, is it permissible for a woman to be a teacher and teach male students? After we said that hearing the voice of a non-mahram is not a problem, if we say that it is not permissible to look at the face of a non-mahram woman and that it is obligatory for women to cover her face, we have to say it is not permissible. But, if we say it is not obligatory for a woman to cover her face and that it is permissible for a man to look at the face of a non-mahram woman as long as it is not a lustful look, then she may be a teacher of male students. That is, the limits are this very face and hands. The truth is that the real question is whether or not women have to be limited to the home or not. This is not a small issue.

If we deduce that the view of Islam is that the face and hands of a woman must be covered along with the rest of her body, which is obligatory to be covered if we say that a woman must be covered from head to toe, this means that the activities of a woman must be limited to her home because it is not possible for her to be active outside of her home. But if we say, no it is not obligatory for women to cover their face and hands, we have not limited her activities with this. For instance, women who believe that they are obliged to cover themselves completely cannot ever leave their homes to go shopping for vegetables. She has to send a male servant or her husband to do this. Thus there is a great difference in whether or not it is obligatory for a woman to cover her face and hands. The area of her activities could become extremely limited.

We have deduced from the verses of the Holy Quran and the traditions that nothing was missing nor had it been inferred. The only thing we found a lack of was religious edicts and this was not in relation to it being compulsory to cover the face and hand. Most edicts agree that it is not.

The area in which there is a lack of religious edicts sensed is in the area of whether or not it is permissible for a man to look at the face of a un-related women as long as his look is not of lust. The majority says it is not permissible but there are people like the great Alim Shaikh Ansari who say it is permissible and in the verse itself and in the traditions, it is very clearly permissible. Thus if we are asked, "What is the difference between the face and the hair? Does not the criterion which exists for the hair exist for the face? For the eyes and eyebrows? These criteria even carry more weight here." The answers are that it is an allowable expedience, not an allowable non-expedience, that a criterion which exists for one does not exist for another.

Also, in the exception which exists in relation to individuals, there are two exceptions which we will discuss later. Covering from one's father, one's children, the sons of one's husband, brothers, father-in-law, etc. is not obligatory. Here two criteria exist. First the look of a father and even an uncle differs from that of a non-mahram. It is natural that a father does not look at his daughter with lust or with the fear of deviation nor a son at his mother. Among brothers and uncles the same is true. But there are some relationships which cannot be said to be this way. For instance, the son of a husband. Can the son of a husband naturally have the same feeling that a father has for his daughter? Even if his daughter is among the most beautiful women of the world? If a man takes a young wife who is of the same age as his son, will it be this way? Clearly not. Perhaps it can be said that a father-in-law is the same way. Here again the reason why it is not necessary to cover before these relationship is because of difficulty. A man who marries and his son lives in the same house, where the son is a part and parcel of the home. If they are to live within one place and the wife has to cover it will cause great difficulties. This is one point.

From here we can draw a conclusion which is just as we said in relation to divorce. Divorce is permissible but it is detested. It is not forbidden but it is detested. So that if a man were to ask, "If I want to divorce my wife but will I have earned God's satisfaction, should I divorce her or not?" It is best not to divorce her. In this same area, looking at a non-mahram woman when it does not stem from lust or arouse a fear of deviating, is permissible. But, if someone were to ask, "Is it better to look or not to look?" It is, of course, better not to look. The Divine law allowed it so people would not be put to undue difficulties but the criteria still exist. Is it better for a woman to cover her face or not? Is it better to cover her face but because covering her face causes her great difficulties, it has been allowed to be uncovered. The same is true of looking at the face of a non-mahram woman which, at the same time through permissible, not doing is better.

Adopted from the book : "On the Islamic Hijab" by : "Murtaza Mutahhari"

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