Q. I have come to learn that Moplah Muslims of North Malabar live in matrilineage units and among them the matrilineage is an exogamous unit. This is almost exactly as practiced by the Khasis (including Jaintias) and Garos of Meghalaya. The growing “Khasi Muslim” community here is also resorting (according to traditional law) to the traditional family system of matriliny and perhaps exogamy, whereby marriage within the same clan (maternal) is prohibited. How far are these practices in conformity with Shariah (Qur’an and Hadith) and science?
M. Ali Haider ; Shillong
Both type of genes producing good qualities as well as bad multiply and occur frequently in the progeny. Marriage within close blood is against the advice of today’s medical science if there is known genetic disorder in the family. There are some distinct advantages marriage within the clan. The character and background of the proposed spouse is better known and predictable besides better chances of mutual adjustment due to similar cultural traditions. Its disadvantages are also known today. The chance of occurrence of genes producing bad effects can be further minimized by marrying in a totally different caste instead of mere avoidance of the sub-caste. Should we then say that the matchmaking be considered only where DNA tests show different lineages? That would be very impractical. Besides, there is a chance of inheriting bad genes of other clans or castes by marrying distant. It should be a matter of individual choice by weighing social and medical pros and cons of both, taking into consideration the known history of both the families. If we look far ahead, all human beings are related to each other by blood. A barrier had to be defined by religion between the permissible and prohibitory limits of relations for the purpose of marriage. The closest relation beyond which the marriage is forbidden has been specified by the Creator Himself who has created and hence knows the qualities and deficiencies as well as what is good and bad for all. It must however be understood that those limits are the minimum limits and have been fixed for all races and all times. Sticking to the borderline of prohibition against a medical advice is neither the intention of Qur’anic injunction nor personal wisdom. The wisdom lies in keeping to a safe margin from the line of prohibition especially when the medical guidelines demand so in certain times. The law, the Qur’an has laid down states:
“Henceforth you shall not marry the women who were married to your fathers. That was an evil practice, indecent and abominable. Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your parental and maternal aunts, the daughters of your brothers and sisters, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, the mothers of your wives, your step daughters who are in your charge, born of the wives with whom you have lain; but it is no offence for you (to marry them) if you have not consummated your marriage with their mothers.
(Forbidden to you also) are the wives of your own begotten sons and to take in marriage two sisters at one and the same time unless this had happened in the past. Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”. (4:22,23)
It may be pointed out here that traditionally the Companions did not usually marry their first cousins. There are less than one percent known cases of marriages as close as in first cousins. It is also stated that the Prophet (Pbuh), generally, advised against marrying very close. Imam Ghazali has quoted a Hadith of the Prophet (Pbuh) saying: “Do not marry in close relatives as the offspring may be inflicted with deficiency” (Note: I could not find this Hadith anywhere in any book of Hadith I possess.)
There is no harm in sticking to its family traditions as far as the members of a group understand that Islam did not forbid them marrying within the maternal or paternal clan. There is no person who does not follow the local or family traditions at least to some extent. The Prophet expressed appreciation for the Pajama of Majoos (Zoroastrians - Iranians) but never wore it himself although it was more Satar-concealing than a Lungee.
Q. It is said that by reading the holy Qur’an by running the forefinger of the right hand on each line of the Qur’an and reciting Bismillah, whatever (lawful) is asked for, is granted by Allah. I want to know more about it.
(F.R. ; Bangalore)
There is no basis to this belief in Shariah or known science. In Prophet’s time and up to well after the reign of Hazrat Usman, who issued six standard canonic copies of Qur’an to different regions, the Companions usually did not possess written manuscripts of the Book. They recited from their memory and hence there was no question of running a forefinger along the text. However there are personal experiences of the pious people that defy known logic. I cannot comment on the one you have mentioned, as I have never heard of it.
Some people may argue that whatever the Prophet (Pbuh) did not do, is not correct. It is their exaggeration. The rule is that whatever the Prophet (Pbuh) did not forbid, is permitted.
However, though the Qur’anic verses may be of help in genuine needs, the real purpose of Qur’an should not be forgotten. It is a guidance for the mankind to pass the test of life successfully for the next and eternal life. It will be a transaction of heavy deficit if such an invaluable gain is forgotten and only minor worldly gains are sought after. What you might gain from running a forefinger over the verses is like a drop of water in an ocean compared to what you will surely gain by trying to understand the meaning of those verses.