Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article, "Muhammad and the Issue of Forced Divorce: More Examples of the Prophet of Islam's Inconsistency"


Bassam Zawadi

Sam Shamoun's article can be located here.

Sam Shamoun first puts forth this hadith:

Chapter 31. The Divorce Performed By A Slave

2081. It was narrated that Ibn 'Abbas said: "A man came to the Prophet and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, my master married me to his slave woman, and now he wants to separate me and her.' The Messenger of Allah ascended the pulpit and said: 'O people, what is the matter with one of you who marries his slave to his slave woman, then wants to separate them? Divorce belongs to the one who takes hold of the calf (i.e., her husband).'" (Da'if)

Sheikh Albani in his Erwaa Al Ghaleel, hadith no. 2041 shows that all narrations regarding this hadith contain weaknesses in them.

Despite this, he stated that his personal opinion (without much confidence, I might add) is that the hadith might be elevated to the status of Hasan (good or acceptable).

I personally do not agree with the respected Sheikh's opinion (as others have done). However, it is irrelevant, for even if it was authentic, no problem arises.

So, the hadith is saying that the right to divorce is for the husband only. No one can force two people to separate from one another (except under certain circumstances, as I will mention later) unless the husband does so. (of course, a woman could ask for divorce but not for unjustifiable reasons, see here)

As a side note, it seems clear that these rules are specific to slaves. The master has no right to separate between the two. (See Al Sindi's commentary on Sunan Ibn Majah on hadith no. 2072 here)

Shamoun states:

As a sidenote, pay attention how Muhammad again disparages women by likening to animals, to chattel which men possess.

This clearly shows Shamoun disparages the intelligence that God has given him by not bothering to find out whether the word calf is referring to the animal or to the body part.

If one refers to the Arabic translation of the hadith (see here), the word in Arabic is saaq, which means shin.

So, the translator intended to refer to the calf, the body part, not the animal.

The translator made a mistake; it should have been translated as shin (the front part of the leg from the knee downwards) and not calf (the back part of the leg from the knee downwards).

Then Shamoun argues:

Yet Muhammad goes against his own directives and forces a man to divorce a woman he loves and sets a pattern for others to emulate by compelling husbands to divorce their spouses:

Chapter 36. A Man Whose Father Orders Him To Divorce His Wife.

2088. It was narrated that 'Abdullah bin 'Umar said: "I had a wife whom I loved, but my father hated her. 'Umar mentioned that to the Prophet and he ordered me to divorce her, so I divorced her." (Hasan) .

2089. It was narrated from 'Abdur-Rahman that a man's father or mother - Shu'bah (one of the narrators) was not sure - ordered him to divorce his wife, and he made a vow that he would free one hundred slaves if he did that. He came to Abu Darda' while he was praying the Duha, and he was making his prayer lengthy, and he prayed between Zuhr and 'Asr. Then he asked him, and Abu Darda' said: "Fulfill your vow and honor your parents." Abu Ad-Darda' said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah say: '(Honoring) one's father may lead one to enter through the best of the gates of Paradise; so take care of your parents, (it is so, whether you take care of them) or not.'" (Hasan) (Ibid., 198-199)

In regards to the first hadith, it must be adequately understood:

If parents' order to divorce one's wife is based on the principles of Shari`ah and morality, it must be obeyed, as is evident from this Hadith. If their order is founded on other factors, then one should try to convince them politely so that they agree with one's view on the issue. Here Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) loved his wife for love's sake, but his father `Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) disliked her basing his decision on religious grounds. This is why the Prophet (PBUH) ordered Ibn `Umar to obey his father. (Riyad-us-Saliheen, The book of  Miscellany, Chapter: Kind Treatment towards Parents and establishment of the ties of Blood Relationship, Commentary on Hadith no. 333 Source)

If a man is married to a woman and his parents, for no justifiable reason based on religious grounds, ask him to divorce her, then he is not obliged to obey them. If it is to the contrary, then he must.

The second hadith doesn't show the man is being forced to divorce his wife. Rather it was his choice and the recommended step to take to please his parents.  (Ibid, Commentary on Hadith no. 334)

The general rule is that no one can force two people to separate, however there are exceptions to the general rule. Shamoun's poor understanding of Islamic jurisprudence makes him end up looking at the exceptions and then stating that they oppose the general rule and then claims that there is a contradiction.

Let's say, for example, that after twenty years of being married to his wife, a man finds out that she is his long-lost biological sister! This automatically annuls the marriage and it is not in the control of the husband.

A judge may also annul the marriage if a husband is being negligent in doing so and causing harm to his wife

Thus, we have to differentiate between the general rule and the exceptions to it.

Also, note that the two above-mentioned hadiths show that the husband was still required to divorce his wife. It wasn't that someone went ahead and declared them to be divorced. So this wouldn't contradict the first hadith that Shamoun put forth, which stated that no master had a right to separate his slave from his wife. Rather, it can only be the slave who makes sure the divorce happens.

Again, we reiterate that exceptions exist, and a couple could be forced to divorce under dire circumstances.

And Allah knows best!

Return to Refuting Sam Shamoun

Return to Homepage

click here to view site

HomeWhat's new?ChristianityRefutations Contact Me