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Enough about wives! What makes the ideal Muslim husband?

Muslim men at Friday prayer

Men at Jumah prayer

By B. Aisha Lemu
Reprinted from MissionIslam.com

Much ink has been spilled, and much breath, in defining the role of Muslim women; the rights of Muslim women; the duties of Muslim women, what constitutes an ideal Muslim wife. Maybe because there has so much misunderstanding of the role of women, we seem to give it special emphasis in lectures and books.

However since men and women are interdependent, it is not wise to concentrate on one and remain silent about the other.

The last time I was invited to speak about “The ideal Muslim Wife”, I made a promise that my next assignment would be to prepare a lecture on ” The ideal Muslim Husband”. Many men seem to feel that women, and their wives in particular, should be ideal Muslims, while they themselves and their fellow men behave as they like without reference to the Qur’an and Sunnah, and unchallenged by the Shari’ah.

This paper is therefore intended to redress the balance; to turn the spotlight on to the men, so that they might be aware of the Islamic standard for an ideal husband, as they try to reach that standard as much as they wish their wives to reach the standard of an ideal Muslim wife.

The obvious place to look for these standards of behaviour is in the Qur’an and Hadith.

Let us therefore start at the beginning. How does the ideal husband behave before marriage? After all, a man does not totally change his character with effect from his wedding day. The bride is joining her life with that of another person whose personality and habits have been in some degree already formed. What then should be the behavior towards women by a young man before marriage?

Islam does not accept the view common in the western secular society that before marriage a young man is expected to “sow his wild oats” – whether by frequenting prostitutes or by sleeping around, or having any form of “trial marriage”. For all such activities the Qur’an has prescribed a legal punishment of 100 lashes. [Qur’an 24:2]

The Qur’an moreover says;

“And as for those who are unable to marry, let them live in continence until Allah grants them sufficiently out of his bounty….”
[Qur’an 24:33]

To assist young men in this situation the Prophet (saws) in a Hadith recorded in Bukhari further advised;

“Young men, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from looking at women and preserves your chastity; but those who cannot should fast, for it is a means of cooling passion.”

For those who have the means to get married, how should they go about it? We have mentioned that the modern western practice of having girlfriends and trial marriages is emphatically unlawful for Muslims. Instead it is expected that the family and friends will play a big role in finding out in detail about the character and circumstances of the proposed partner before allowing the feelings of the boy and girl to be aroused has several advantages. Its effect is to cut out a lot of the embarrassment, temptation and heartache which are common in the western system of courtship and intimate relations before marriage.

The boy is expected to share with his parents certain priorities in the type of girl he hopes to marry, and this is mentioned in a Hadith related by Abu Hurairah in which the Prophet (saws) advised:

“A women may be sought for her wealth, her birth, her beauty or he religious character. But do look for the religious women. And if you do it for any other consideration, your hands be rubbed in dirt!” [Bukhari and Muslim]

In other words the key to success in marriage is seen as the moral quality of the partner. The ideal Muslim bridegroom therefore goes into marriage with the responsible attitude of a person establishing a family on the best possible foundation of love and mutual compassion, and not of infatuation over beauty, ambition for wealth or social position. The Qur’an has described the marriage relationship in these terms;

“Among His signs is the fact that he has created spouses from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquillity with them; and he has put love and mercy between you. In that are signs for people who reflect.”
[Qur’an 30:21]

and again:

“They (wives) are garments for you, while you are garments for them.”
[Qur’an 2:187]

Having sought his bride in an honourable way, and married her in the manner prescribed by the Prophet- that is with public celebration but the minimum of fuss and ostentation- what are the Muslim husband’s duties?

His first duty is maintenance and protection, and overall responsibility for the welfare of his wife, which is prescribed in the Qur’an:

“Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which Allah has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions….”
[Qur’an 4:34]

This includes feeding, clothing and shelter for the wife and for any children of the marriage. This is a legally enforceable duty, which remains even after divorce until the expiry of the Iddah or even longer in the view of some of the scholars. Financial responsibility for the family therefore rests squarely on the husband, and the wife has no duty to contribute to family expenses unless she has the means and the wish to do so.

The legal obligations of a husband do not stop with provision of the basic requirements relating to maintenance and protection. He is also expected to give her company and marital relations, and to avoid doing anything that would harm her.

These obligations are enforced by the Shari’ah. If a man fails to maintain his wife or fails to visit her for more than a certain period of time, the wife has grounds to be granted a divorce by a Shari’ah Court. Similarly, if she can prove to the court that the husband is doing harm (Idrar), be it by drinking alcohol, or beating her without lawful cause, or abusing her or her parents and so on, she is entitled to be granted a divorce. In none of these cases can the husband claim back any part of the dowry or presents he has given to the wife. I would like to make a note here that every situation has to be evaluated on its merits and circumstances by a Shar’iah Court. These points mentioned above are general precepts in the Shar’iah.

The Husband is however urged in the Qur’an to avoid divorce and try to preserve marriage even if it is not ideal. This is to be done in the first instance by exercising patience with his wife’s faults. The Qur’an say’s;

“Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.”
[Qur’an 4:19]

The Prophet (saws) also emphasised the undesirability of divorce in a Hadith found in Abu Dau’d’s collection:

“The most hateful of all lawful things, in the sight of Allah, is divorce.”

The ideal husband should therefore, if need arises, make full use of Qur’anic provisions for reconciliation and arbitration [Qur’an 4:34] before proceeding with divorce

If a man does divorce his wife, he should follow the steps approved in the Qur’an and Sunnah regarding a revocable divorce. This allows for cooling off and reconciliation before it becomes final on the final pronouncement. The divorce is not to be pronounced while the wife is in menstruation, but when she has finished menstruation and not yet resumed marital relations with the husband. (Qur’an 65:1) In other words divorce is not to be pronounced in anger or at random, but at a specific time when the husband is in control of his reason, and the wife herself is not in the state of emotional upset that sometimes occurs whilst she is pregnant or may accompany menstruation.

The husband is to continue good treatment of his wife even if divorce decided upon. He is to keep and feed her as before in his own house until the expiry of her iddah (waiting period) without harassment, [Qur’an 65:1, 65:6] and to make provision for her according to his means.

He is not to take back any of the gifts he may have given her before or during the marriage:

“The parties should either hold together on equitable terms or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you (men) to take back any of your gifts from your wives.”
[Qur’an 2:229]

On the contrary, the husband is to give her a gift or some form of maintenance to sustain her after divorce [Qur’an 2:241]. Moreover, he is not to interfere if after divorce she wishes to marry someone else:

“……and when you divorce women and they have reached the end of their waiting term, hinder them not from marrying other men if they have agreed with each other in a fair manner.”
[Qur’an 2:232]

The husband should also know that according to the Shari’ah he is not always the one to have custody of his children after divorce, contrary to the common practice in some countries. It is the wife who is given priority in custody of children in many cases, in accordance with a Hadith related by Amru b. Shu’aib in Ibn Majah, which tells how a woman came to the Prophet (saws) and said:

“Truly my belly served as a container for my son here, and my breast served as a skin bag for him (to drink out of), and my bosom served as a refuge for him; and now his father has divorced me, and he (also) desires to take away from me.” The Prophet (saws) said: “You have a better right to have him as long as you do not marry again.” [Ibn Majah]

We would also like to point out again however, that the decision as to the custody of the children has to be evaluated by a Shar’iah Court, which will consider the particular circumstances surrounding the family and the children’s best welfare.

In the Maliki School of Islamic Jurisprudence, this rule is systematised to give priority in custody of children to the mother and to 5 other relatives before the custody could be claimed by the father. This custody lasts until puberty for a son and until marriage for a daughter, while the financial responsibility for their maintenance remains with their father.

The knowledge of the necessity of separation from his children must certainly act as a reality check when a husband is indiscriminately deciding to divorce.

It should also be realised the husband is required to be faithful in marriage as the wife must. The punishment for adultery of a married person, male or female, under the Shari’ah is death. The fact that the punishment may not be applied in this world, does not make the sin any less in the sight of Allah. A sin that is not expiated in this world is after all going to follow a person to the grave.

Therefore the husband should not fail to follow Allah’s command in the Qur’an:

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: verily this will be most conductive to their purity (and) verily Allah is aware of all that they do.”
[Qur’an 24:30]

Those married men who cruise around in their cars looking for school girls to pick up are surely disgracing themselves, and forfeiting all right to require chastity of their wives.

If for some reason, the husband cannot manage with his first wife but does not want to divorce her, he is not prohibited from contracting another marriage, provided it is done in a legal and honorable way.

The permission to marry more then one wife at a time is however conditional:

“…….if you fear you cannot do justice between them, then marry only one.” [Qur’an 4:3]

This condition is often taken very lightly in some countries, where polygamy has long been a social custom. No words in the Qur’an, however, are without meaning, this verse should not be taken lightly. A weak husband will not be respected and will not act fairly between his wives, whereby, his marrying more then one is likely to lead to injustice, constant disharmony and the break up of his family. This is not in his interests or theirs or in the interests of the Muslim Ummah.

If having married more then one, however, a husband finds his heart inclining to one at the expense of the other, he is warned that this inclination should not reach the stage of neglect of the needs of the other wife:

“And you will not be able to treat your wives with equal justice however much you desire it. But do not incline towards one to the exclusion of the other, leaving her as it were in suspense.”
[Qur’an 4:29]

This warning against injustice is strongly reinforced by the Hadith in which Abu Hurairah (raa) reported the Prophet (saws) as saying:

“Whoever has two wives and does not treat them equally, shall come on the day of resurrection with half his body hanging down.” [Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah]

We have so far examined the legal framework of marriage and divorce as outlined mainly in the Qur’an. This now needs to be filled in with illustration and elaboration drawn from the Sunnah, since the Qur’an tells us :

“You have in the apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the last day.”
[Qur’an 33:21]

How did the Prophet (saws) then, behave as a husband? Obviously he observed the legal framework, but how did he behave in his day-to-day relationships with his wives?

A lot of information is to be gathered about this from the Hadith, both directly and indirectly, and also from the Sirah (the biography of the Prophet (saws)).

His guiding principle on the treatment of wives is stated in some well known Ahadith;

“From among the believers are those who have the kindest disposition and are the kindest to their families- such are those who show the most perfect faith. “The best among them are those who are kindest to their wives.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Indonesian Muslim couple

Indonesian Muslim couple

How did the Prophet (saws) himself exemplify this kindness?

Firstly he was not a difficult or remote or tyrannical husband of the type who regards all household chores as “women’s work”. In a Hadith in Bukhari:

Aisha (raa) was asked by Al-Aswad b. Yazid what the Prophet used to do in the house. She replied: “He used to work for his family, that is serve his family, and when prayer time came, he went out for prayer.” [Bukhari]

Other Hadith tell us that he used to mend his own clothes.

Secondly he didn’t make a fuss about food. It is recorded in a Hadith from Abu Hurairah (raa) in the collection of Muslim:

“Allah’s Messenger never found fault with food. If he liked something, he ate it, and if he disliked it, he just abstained from it.” [Muslim]

Implying that he never complained about the food or it’s cooking.

Aisha (raa) reported that whenever she was sick, the Prophet (saws) would come to her to show his sympathy. Nor, was he ashamed to let it be known that his love for his wife was greater then his love for any other human being. It is recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim that someone asked the Prophet: “Who among all the people is most beloved by you?” And he said “Aisha”.

This love and understanding for Aisha did not eclipse his high regard for his first wife Khadijah, who had been his only wife for about 25 years until her death. Aisha (raa) reported that he always treasured the memory of Khadijah who had supported and encouraged him through the difficult years in Mecca, and that he use to regularly give gifts to Khadijah’s closest friends as an expression of his undiminished esteem and love for her.

The Prophet (saws) never held himself apart from his wives as if they were by their nature as women inferior. On the Contrary, he included “playing games with one’s wife” as one of the legitimate entertainments. According to the following Hadith:

“…….There is no amusement which is praiseworthy except three, namely training a horse, sporting with one’s wife and shooting arrows with a bow.” [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah and Baihaqi]

In illustration of this practice, Aisha (raa) records that on more then one occasion she and the Prophet (saws) ran races and sometimes she won and sometimes he won. Most men nowadays consider it far beneath their dignity to play any sort of game with their wives, and their marriages are the duller and poorer for it.

I think this is one of the problems we encounter in the way we learn about the life of the Prophet (saws). Most of the history books dwell on the political and military aspects of the Prophet’s (saws) life, and his personality, which was obviously very attractive, eludes our knowledge. We tend to, for this reason picture him as always serious, while the Hadith informs us that although he rarely laughed aloud, “Nobody used to smile as much as he did.” This is fully in accordance with the Hadith: “Smiling at your brother (Muslim) is a charity.”

The Prophet’s (saws) attitude towards female children and female education is a beautiful elaboration of what is found in the Qur’an. The Qur’an not only forbade the jahiliyyah practice of female infanticide, but even condemned the practice of showing disappointment or anger over the birth of a female child. [Qur’an 16:58-59]

A Hadith related by Ibn Abbas in fact encourages the reverse:

“Whoever has a female child and does not bury her alive, nor hide her in contempt, nor prefers his male child over her, Allah will allow him to enter Paradise.” [Abu Da’ud]

The Prophet (saws) showed the greatest love and affection for his female children, particularly for Fatima. Aisha (raa) related that “Whenever the Prophet (saws) saw Fatima (raa), he would welcome her, and rising from his seat would kiss her, and then taking her by the hand would seat her in his own seat.” [Bukhari]

He decreed that every Muslim – male and female- must as a duty seek knowledge and prescribed education for all children in the following words:

“No present or gift of a parent, out of all the gifts and presents to a child, is superior to a good broad (general) education.” [Tirmidhi and Baihaqi]

He laid special emphasis on the education of daughters:

“Whoever brings up two sisters or two daughters, and gives them a broad education, and treats them well, and gives them in marriage, for him is Paradise.” [Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi]

This concern for the education of girls was reflected in his teaching of Aisha (raa), who was still a young girl when he married her, and was only 18 when he died. She had a natural ability for learning and a strong sense of reasoning, and he taught her as much as she was ready to learn. He was so impressed and pleased with her learning that he even told people:

“You can learn half your religion from this rosy-cheeked girl.”

He therefore encouraged people to consult her in religious matters, and after his death she became one of the major sources of Hadith.

From all this we can see that some people’s resistance to allowing their daughters to have access to knowledge is not only misguided but quite contrary to all the Prophet (saws) preached and practiced. An ideal-Muslim husband is therefore expected to be deeply committed to and involved in the education of all his children – the daughters as much as the son’s.

The Prophet (saws) respect for a wife’s intelligence and understanding was also reflected in his readiness to consult his wives and respond to their good advice. An instance of this practice is recorded on the occasion of the signing of the treaty of Hudaibihiyah. Many of the Muslims were reluctant to accept treaty. They did not want to go home without performing pilgrimage and they considered some parts of the Treaty disadvantageous to the Muslims. They were therefore reluctant to obey his instructions to slaughter their sacrificial camels and shave their heads, which would symbolise that the Pilgrimage was over and the matter closed. The Prophet (saws) withdrew to his tent in perplexity, and told his wife Umm Salamah what had happened. She advised him: “Go out and speak to no man until you have performed your sacrifice.” The Prophet (saws) followed her advice, and slaughtered the camel calling: “Bismillah, Allahu akbar” in a loud voice, whereupon the Muslims forgot their reluctance and raced to make their own sacrifices.

The presence of Umm Salamah on this journey exemplifies another aspect of the Prophet’s (saws) dealings with his wives. One or more of them almost invariably accompanied him on his journeys and campaigns. To ensure fairness they would draw lots as to which wife or wives would accompany him.

His wives were thus not kept locked up so that they could not experience what was going on in the outside world. They wore modest clothes (hijab) and went out and saw everything that was going on, and they participated when necessary, for example in nursing the wounded on the battlefields.

The following Hadith is narrated by Aisha (raa):

“Umar once criticised the Prophet’s wife Saudah for going out, saying he had recognised her in the street. So she appealed to the Prophet (saws) for support and he supported her saying: “Women have the right to go out for their needs.” [Bukhari]

Similarly the Prophet (saws) allowed his wives and other women to go out to the Mosques for their prayers. He also advised other men:

“Do not prevent the female servants of Allah (i.e. from the Mosques).” [Muslim]

The ideal Muslim husband therefore does not impose restrictions on his wife greater then those imposed by Allah (swt), or by the Prophet (saws) on his own family.

All the foregoing indicate that the women who is married to an ideal Muslim husband is protected but not suppressed, and is therefore likely to be happy and contented.

However, the Muslim husband is not expected to please his wife at all cost, if what pleases her may be wrong or against her interests or the interests of the family.

The Qur’an say’s:

“O you who have attained to faith! Ward off from yourselves and your families
that fire (of the hereafter) whose fuel is Human beings and stones.”
[Qur’an 66:6]

In this respect a husband has a duty to ensure that his wife is fully educated as a Muslim. If this has been neglected in her parents’ home, he must take necessary steps to remedy it. Either by teaching her himself or by arranging for her Islamic education by other means. The husband is expected to give leadership in the family. We have seen that this form of leadership is not dictatorship or tyranny. The wise husband will, as indicated, consult his wife on important matters concerning the family, and if he sees her advice is good, accept it. However, Islam has given the man authority as the head of the family, and he is expected to abide by the Qur’an and Sunnah and endeavour to ensure that his family do not violate Islamic norms of behavior. The kind of treatment required should not therefore include condoning her misbehavior.

The Qur’an has prescribed a specific graded series of three steps, which the husband should take if the wife shows that she is rebelling against Islamic norms of conduct.

His first step should be to speak to her seriously about the implication and likely consequences of what she is doing. If she fails to respond to this sincere admonition, his next step is to suspend marital relations with her for a period of time.

The Prophet (saws) himself very much disliked the beating of wives, and never beat any of his own. In Abu Da’ud’s collection of Hadith he is reported by Laqit B. Sabrah to have said:

“Admonish your wife, and if there be any good in her she will receive it; and beat not your wife like a slave.”

In another Hadith from Ayas b. Abdullah he specifically said:-

“Do not beat Allah’s female servants (i.e women).” [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah]

In Tirmidhi’s collection is another Hadith related by Amru b. al Ahwas:

“And enjoin on one another goodness towards women; verily they are married to you: you have no power over them at all unless they come in for a flagrantly filthy action; but if they are devoted to you, then seek no way against them. And verily, you have rights over your women, and they have rights over you.” [Tirmidhi]

The Muslim husband therefore has no right to beat his wife indiscriminately or habitually for petty offences, and if he does, the wife has a right to seek divorce by a Shari’ah court. Similarly, as we can see, Islam has not authorised men to beat up their wives.

The phenomenon of wife beating is not peculiar to Muslims – it is found in all parts of the world among certain types of men. However, some Muslims unjustly claim that they have religious sanction when they beat their wives, while in most cases they are beating them only because they themselves are brutal by nature, or just in a bad temper.

Bad temper is to be controlled, not vented on the weaker sex. The Prophet (saws) referred to this in another Hadith when he said:

“He is not strong who throws people down, but he is strong among us who controls himself when he is angry.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Aisha observed this self-control in the Prophet (saws) behavior:

The Prophet (saws) never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact he did not strike anything with his hand except in the cause of Allah, or when the prohibitions of Allah were violated, and he retaliated on behalf of Allah.

The ideal Muslim husband therefore strives to emulate the Prophet’s (saws) practice by avoiding beating completely and discouraging it from others. It is not at all becoming for a Muslim to be a wife-beater in defiance of the Prophet’s (saws) explicit dislike of the practice.

This brings us to another interesting aspect of the Prophet’s (saws) relationship with his wives.

He apparently allowed his wives to do what is called “answering back” to men who think that women, like children, should be seen and not heard. There are several recorded instances of the Prophet’s (saws) companions remonstrating with him or with his wives about this practice. Nevertheless he chose to allow his wives to speak their minds.

An incident related in Ibn Ishaq’s sirat Rasul Allah (An early biography of the Prophet) makes an interesting reading:


One day Umar rebuked his wife for something and she sharply answered him back: and when he expostulated with her she replied that the wives of the Prophet (saws) were in the habit of answering him back so why should she not do the same? “And there is one of them,” she added, meaning their daughter (Hafsah), “Who speaks her mind unabashed from morning until night.”

Greatly troubled by this, Umar went to Hafsah, who did not deny that what her mother said was true. “You have neither the grace of Aisha nor the beauty of Zainab,” he said, hoping to shake her self confidence; and when these words seemed to have no effect, he added: “Are you so sure that if you anger the Prophet (saws), Allah will not destroy you in his anger?” Then he went to his cousin Umm Salamah (another wife of the Prophet) and said: “Is it true that you speak your minds to Allah’s messenger (saws) and answer him with no respect?”

“By all that is wonderful,”said Umm Salamah, “What call have you to come between Allah’s messenger (saws) and his wives? Yes, by God, we speak our minds, and if he allows us to do so that is his affair, and if he forbids us he will find us more obedient to him then we are to you.” Umar then realised he had gone too far and withdrew.


Lebanese Muslim couple

A Muslim couple enjoying the sunset

In this anecdote we can clearly hear the voices of women who respect their husband not because they are afraid of him or out of hypocrisy, but out of genuine admiration and love. The fact that he allowed them to speak their minds shows that the Prophet (saws) never regarded women as slaves or second-class citizens but as human beings to whom Allah (swt) has given reason and the ability to distinguish right from wrong as he has given them to men.

Aisha went further in a Hadith to say that when the Prophet (saws) told her something she would question him closely about it so that she could understand its justification before she was satisfied. The Prophet (saws) did not tell her she had no right to cross question him because he was a Prophet and a man, while she was only a young woman. It appears on the contrary that he appreciated her critical faculty and clear thinking.

*Retold in Muhammad- his Life based on the Earliest Source by Lings (Islamic Texts Society/George Allen & Unwin 1983)

From this we can see that the Prophet (saws) had such calm inner certainty and natural leadership qualities that he did not need to assert himself over his wives, or be on the defensive against them. Those men who behave like tyrants in the home, who assert their rule in an arbitrary or violent manner, are usually the weak ones who actually suffer from hidden inferiority complexes and are afraid of being shown up as mentally or morally inferior to their wives. To forestall this they physically frighten their wives, who are then afraid to open their mouths in their husband’s presence, let alone to disagree with him.

Another incident illustrates how the Prophet (saws) asserted his leadership of his family without harsh words or violence. This is revealed in the way he treated his wives when they became too demanding of the comforts of this world. Aisha (raa) related that before the capture of the oasis of Khaybar she had not known what it was to eat her fill of dates. The Prophet’s wives, fully aware of the general poverty of the Muslims in Medina, asked only for their basic needs. After the capture of Khaybar with it’s rich agricultural produce, the Muslims were better off, and the Prophet (saws) was able to give his wives some presents, and they were not slow in learning to ask for more comforts. This led to problems because in fairness, what was given to one should be given to all, and this could not always be exactly fulfilled. There developed considerable resentment among some of his wives, which disrupted the peace of the household. When his advice to them was not heeded he followed the next Qur’anic step and withdrew himself from them all and stayed in a roofed verandah that was the only room he had apart from his wives’ apartments.

Rumor soon spread that the Prophet (saws) had divorced his wives, and the wives, in suspense, regretted bitterly their demands on him. He then let it be known through Umar that he had not divorced them but that he did not wish to see any of them until a full lunar month had elapsed.

At the end of the month he asked his wives one by one to make their own choice in accordance with the newly revealed verses of the Qur’an:

“O Prophet, say to your wives: If you desire but the life of this world and it’s charms, then come and I will bestow it’s goods upon you, I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire Allah and his messenger and the abode of the hereafter, then verily Allah has laid in store for you a mighty reward, for such of you as do good.”
[Qur’an 33:28-29]

Aisha replied without hesitation: “Verily, I desire Allah and his Messenger and the abode of the hereafter” and there was not one of his wives who did not choose the same. These events are related in a number of Hadith books, including Bukhari and Muslim.

Here we see a husband who in spite of his love and sympathy for his wives, would not be carried away to commit injustice between them, not put himself into difficulties or wrong -doing in order to satisfy their desires beyond what was necessary. He was not ready for the role of the “hen-pecked husband.” His firmness in the matter quickly made his wives see it in its proper perspective, and peace was restored to the household without recourse to divorce or even harsh word.

It is incidents like these that make it quite clear why the Prophet (saws) is held up a beautiful example to the Muslims in every aspect of his life.

There are of course numerous other facets of his personality and behavior, which contributed to making him an ideal husband.

He was of course clean and pure both in his thoughts and person, and very generous in accordance with his own saying:

“Verily Allah is pure and loves the pure, is clean and loves the clean, is beneficent and loves the beneficent, is generous and loves the generous.” [Tirmidhi]

Another very important characteristic was his love of children. Love of her own children is almost automatic to a mother and with that love goes a care and concern for their children in any matter with the same degree of love, and consider the children to be “women’s affair”. In our own society today this is a common phenomenon where it is the mother who often plays the major role in ensuring that the children are clothed and cared for, that their school fees are paid, that they learn good behavior and so on. While it is good that the mother shows this love and concern, it is not approved for father to abandon his own moral and financial responsibilities and ignore the proper education and upbringing of his own children.

We have mentioned the Prophet’s (saws) own role in the upbringing of his own daughters (it was only the daughters that survived to maturity) and on his emphasis on education for both sexes. There are also numerous Hadith indicating his love for children and his practice of showing his love for them.

For example in a Hadith from Abu Hurairah (raa) it is related as follows:

“The Prophet of Allah kissed his grandson Hassan the son of Ali in the presence of Agra’ B. Habis, whereupon Agra’ said: “Verily, I have children and yet I have not kissed any of them.” The Prophet looked towards him and said: ‘What can I do for you if Allah has taken away mercy from your heart. He that shows no mercy shall have no mercy shown to him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Muslim family is therefore ideally a very united family. Mutual understanding between husband and wife lies at the root of it. The Islamic upbringing of children is one of its most important functions. For it to succeed as the basic unit of the Muslim Ummah, both husband and wife need to know their duties and to practice self-control in trying to abide by the Islamic code of conduct within the family.

I wish to draw this paper to a close by approaching the subject briefly from a different angle. We have so far looked at the duties of the Muslim husband as spelled out in the Qur’an and seen how these points were expanded and added to in the Sunnah. We have also taken recorded incidents in the life of the Prophet (saws) as an illustration of an ideal Muslim husband in action.

Lastly, I approached the question “What is an ideal Muslim husband” by asking Muslim women to tell me what they thought.

To this end a questionnaire was passed to a random group of Muslim women, who informed me what they considered the most desirable qualities for an ideal Muslim husband to be.

To this end, a random group of 35 Muslim women living locally, mainly married ones were selected.

The five most important qualities scored 2 points each and the five next most important qualities scored 1 point each. The result is shown below:

Women’s Order of Priority in the Desirable Qualities of an Ideal Muslim Husband


  • 1st. A Pious Muslim 49
  • 2nd. Truthfulness and honesty 47
  • 3rd A good leader 40
  • 4th Justice and fairness 38
  • 5th Love of children 37
  • 6th Kindness and consideration 31
  • 7th Readiness to consult his wife 30
  • 8th Good manners 29
  • 9th Chastity and good morals 26
  • 10th Trustworthiness and reliability 25
  • 11th Avoids quarreling and beating 22
  • 12th Clean habits 20
  • 13th Strength of mind and will 19
  • 14th Gentleness 17
  • 15th Generosity 14
  • 16th A loving nature 16
  • 17th Ability to be contented with one wife 15
  • 18th Sense of humour 13
  • 19th Reasonableness 11
  • 20th Firmness 9
  • 21st Intelligence 8
  • 22nd Seriousness 7
  • 23rd Good looks 6
  • 24th Physical strength 4
  • 25th Wealth 1

This list of qualities is not of course comprehensive, and there are a few important omissions. However, it raises many interesting points for our brothers to consider in their endeavor to qualify as a potential or actual ideal Muslim husband.

Those who feared that by adhering to Islamic piety and moral standards they would frighten women away will see that they are actually at the top of the league.

This information also confirms the natural order of things referred to and upheld in the Qur’an, in that women do apparently want their men folk to lead and not be led. Leadership has to be deserved and qualified by all the other qualities mentioned in the upper part of the list, such as piety, truthfulness, fairness, kindness, consultation, good manners, good morals and so on.

It is interesting to go over in one’s mind the qualities of the Prophet (saws) mentioned in the earlier part of this paper and match them with this list to see how far the Prophet’s (saws) behavior to his wives demonstrates perfectly those qualities to which women give priority.

Therefore any man who wants to make a success of his marriage cannot go wrong if he takes as his model and example the practice of the blessed Prophet (saws).

For our brothers I pray for Allah to give them the faith and moral strength to attain those great qualities and thereby make a success of their marriages.

For our sisters I pray for Allah’s guidance to make each of us worthy of being the ideal wife of an ideal Muslim husband.

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Being a Real Man in Islam

Malcolm X, aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, standing in prayer

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (formerly Malcolm X) standing in prayer. In many ways Malcolm was the epitome of a "real man" in Islam. He put everything on the line for what he believed in.

Being a Real Man in Islam:

Drugs, Criminality and The Problem of Masculinity

By Yahya Birt
Published in Q-News, June 2000, revised June 2001

English convert to Islam, Yahya Birt, contrasts the crisis of criminality in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Britain with the Islamic ideal and suggests a way forward.

We praise Allah and we seek His aid, we seek forgiveness from Him and we affirm faith in Him, and upon Him we are utterly reliant. We shower blessings upon the noble Prophet, the Head of the Prophets and Messengers, and upon his family and his companions and those that followed them in righteousness until the Day of Rising. There is no power or might except Allah, the Exalted and Mighty. I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Devil. In the name of Allah, the All Merciful and Compassionate.

The Crisis of Criminality in the Muslim Community

The latest Home office statistics make grim reading for the Muslim community: Muslim prisoners have doubled in the last decade to reach a total of between 4000-4500—amounting to 9% of the total prison population—which is treble our proportion of the total population. One in eleven prisoners is Muslim. This surge in Muslim crime is not being discussed openly within the community, most probably out of a sense of shame. But in reality, we should be feel ashamed precisely because we are not discussing these problems openly and confronting them. Shame should impel not prohibit a constructive response.

So what sort of crime is being committed and who is doing it? Sadly, but not surprisingly, over 65% of these prisoners are young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty. This huge figure does not include youngsters under the age of 18 who are in custodial care. We should not forget to add that 10% are women. The sorts of crime committed not only include petty theft but also violent and obscene muggings. [1] Maqsood Ahmed, the Muslim Advisor to the Prison Service appointed by the government in 1999, says that currently (as of June 2000) 1005 out of the 4003 Muslim inmates have committed crimes related to drug pushing or drug use. So one in four of British Muslim prisoners have been convicted for drug-related offences. [2]

Muslims and the Global Drug Trade

We need to face facts: Muslim involvement in hard drugs is not confined to Muslims in the West. Of the traditional ‘natural’ drugs, Muslims are heavily involved with the planting, harvesting, refinement, smuggling, and distribution to Europe of heroin and cannabis. While cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance in Europe, heroin, the most deadly drug, is little used in comparison; but it is most associated with social marginalisation and addiction.


Today, Morocco is the world’s largest cannabis exporter, with a crop of 2000 metric tonnes, having had a tenfold increase in production from 1983-1993. While the Moroccan government has made agreements with the European Union (EU) to grow substitute crops and domestic seizures of hash have risen, total production has increased at the same time. There is deep government involvement, going right up to the Royal family; an assertion that can be given some credence because the Ministry of Agriculture produces highly accurate and confidential statistics about the total acreage of hash under cultivation every year. One estimate puts the value of hash exports at two thirds of Morocco’s total exports, or 10% of the country’s income. Most hash enters Europe through Spain, where it distributed by Moroccan and Dutch criminal elements among others.


Of the world’s two major heroin suppliers, Afghanistan overtook Burma as world leader in the late 1990s. In 1999, it supplied 77% of the world’s heroin, a figure which has been publicly acknowledged by the Taliban. [3] We can also note the increased production and refinement of poppy seed in Tajikistan, Kirgyzstan and Kazakhstan. [4] Hitherto, the drug, in a semi-refined state, has been shipped from Afghanistan through Pakistan to the West.

Brown heroin powder.

Heroin powder. Muslims are heavily involved with the planting, harvesting, refinement, smuggling, and distribution to Europe of heroin and cannabis.

It was CIA intervention—in support of the Mujahedin who were fighting Soviet oppression in the early 1980s—which was crucial in turning Afghanistan and Pakistan from local suppliers into international ones by providing the necessary political protection and logistical networks. The CIA in co-operation with Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence supplied arms to the Mujahedin in return for payment in raw opium. It was only after Soviet withdrawal that the US gave serious monies to combat poppy seed production. Pakistan had started the 1980s as a major producer of poppy seed, but government anti-drugs measures have virtually wiped out production (2 metric tonnes) by 1999. [5]

When the Taliban first captured Kandahar in 1994, they announced a total ban on drugs, but this stance was quickly dropped when they realised that narcotics provided an invaluable source of income and, furthermore, that an outright ban would greatly alienate farmers dependent on the crop. So as Taliban control spread, production rose by a massive 25% up to 1997. ‘Abd al-Rasheed, the head of the Taliban’s anti-drugs control force in Kandahar said in May 1997 that while there was a strict ban on hashish, “opium is permissible because it is consumed by kafirs (unbelievers) in the West and not by Muslims or Afghans.” [6]

In the process of institutionalising and guaranteeing income from the drug trade, the Taliban started to levy zakat on poppy cultivation and charge tolls on the transportation of the poppy residue under armed Taliban guard out of the country. [7] An increasing number of drug laboratories were set up in Afghanistan. Even if not much drug profit stays in Afghanistan and Pakistan—only about 9% of the total Western street value—this still added up to about $1.35 billion US dollars in 1999.

Poppy seed, either as a raw crop or in its initially refined form as morphine, has until recently been the major source of income in a war-shattered economy both for farmers and the government. Yet despite this economic dependency, it must still be said: the remark of the Taliban official quoted above was hypocritical and cynical. There is not one standard of upright conduct for Muslims and another for non-Muslims: our religion requires us to behave impeccably with both. And far from Muslims being unaffected by Afghani heroin, Pakistan now has the highest heroin addiction rate in the world. In 1979, Pakistan had no addicts, in 1986, it had 650,000 addicts, three million in 1992, while in 1999, government figures estimate a staggering figure of five million.

Nor is the problem confined to Pakistan. Despite one of the toughest anti-drugs policies in the world, where the death-penalty is given for the possession of a few ounces of heroin, Iran officially had 1.2 million addicts in 1998 (off the record, officials admit to the figure being more like 3 million). By 1998, only 42 % of total heroin production was exported out of South Asia; 58% of opiates were being consumed within the region itself. So heroin addiction is not only a Western problem, but also a deeply Muslim one.

Between 1997-1999, Kabul offered to end poppy seed production—to both the US and the UN—in return for international recognition, which suggests that the Taliban leadership was not serious in the past about ending production but used the whole issue of drug control as a diplomatic lever. [8] Thankfully, the Afghan government seems to have recently changed its public position. In 1999, Amir Mullah Omar Modhammed announced that poppy seed production should be cut by one third. On 28 July 2000, Mullah Omar ordered a complete ban of poppy seed cultivation, and appealed for the assistance of the international community in funding crop replacement schemes. [9] The official figures for 2000 showed a reduction of 28% on 1999, but this was mostly attributable to the terrible drought the country suffered during that period. [10] It has now been confirmed by outside agencies that the Taliban have wiped out the 2001 harvest, as a UNDCP team reported in February that the major growing areas were virtually free of poppies, which was corroborated by the US Drug Enforcement Agency in May. Despite the DEA’s prognosis that the ban will hit farmers hard, the US has pushed for continued UN sanctions because of its campaign to bring Osama bin Laden to trial. [10a]

After being put into its morphine base, either in Pakistan or Central Asia (and previously in Afghanistan), the drug is transported to Turkish laboratories, where it is further refined into heroin. About 80% of Europe’s supply is refined into heroin proper in Turkey, although the Turks are facing increased competition from the Russian Mafia in second-stage refinement and smuggling into Europe (via Eastern Europe and the Baltic). As with Morocco, the Turkish civil and military secret services are heavily involved with the drug trade. This complicity was highlighted by a car-crash in November 1996 involving four people: an extreme right-wing criminal on the run, a high-ranking policeman, a beauty queen, and the only survivor, a parliamentarian of ex-Prime Minister Ciller’s party. About 75% of Europe’s heroin is transported from Turkey in small quantities overland via the Balkan route, which is impossible to police effectively because of the high volume of traffic. [11] Once in Europe, a lot of the heroin is then distributed by significant numbers of European Turks among others, and it is then sold on to the dealers, who sell smaller quantities to users on the street.

Islamic Ruling on Drugs (non-alcoholic Intoxicants)

Ibn ‘Umar (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Every intoxicant (muskir) is wine (khamr) and every intoxicant is forbidden. He who drinks wine in this world and dies while he is addicted to it, not having repented, will not be given a drink in the Hereafter.” [12] This hadith is one of the primary texts that prove the prohibition of anything that intoxicates like wine. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh), considered to be among the foremost legal authorities of the entire late Shafi‘i legal school, has classified the consumption of hashish (hashisha) and opium (afyun) as an enormity or a major sin. [13] Imam al-Dhahabi (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) defined an enormity as “any sin entailing either a threat of punishment in the hereafter explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith, a prescribed legal penalty or being accursed by Allah and His Messenger (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).” [14]

Among those classical authorities who wrote of the prohibition of hashish were Imam Zarakhshi, Ibn Taymiyya, al-Qirafi, Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi and Imam Nawawi (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayhim). In short, the four legal schools agree that all intoxicants are unlawful, and they include plants that intoxicate under this category of prohibited substances. [15]

There is a misconception among Muslim users that although drugs are unlawful, smoking hashish is not so serious. Or they say that at least we don’t drink! They seem to divide drugs into hard and soft drugs: a division that is quite baseless according to Divine law. All drugs are Class A according to our religion.

British Muslims and the Drug Trade

The drug trade in Britain is breaking and shattering young Muslim lives. But to our great shame, we are not only talking about the many Muslim victims of drug use, but the fact that British Muslims are also heavily involved in street level drugs pushing. From the late 1980s onwards, according to Maqsood Ahmed, it appears that Asians replaced Afro-Caribbeans as the main drug pushers on the streets. [16]

However, Maqsood Ahmed says that it is only the small-time Asian street pushers, not the major suppliers, who are being caught and incarcerated. A retired lawyer, Gavin McFarlane, who once worked in the office of the Solicitor for Customs and Excise, confirms the view that the ‘Mr Bigs’ of drug crime are usually never caught. [17]

I am not suggesting that drugs are the only issue relating to crime, but because of the nature of addiction, drugs can do more to destroy the moral will and the social fabric of the Muslim community than any other type of crime. It appears that drug use among Muslim youth matches national levels: we have no more ‘moral immunity’ from drugs than anyone else.

Tower Hamlets in East London

Tower Hamlets in East London

It is instructive to look at the example of NAFAS, a Muslim-run outreach, educational and rehabilitation programme, based in Tower Hamlets in East London, which aims to target drug use among Bangladeshi youth. One NAFAS activist, Abdur Rahman, has worked among Muslims in the area of drugs, crime and mental health issues for the last ten years. I interviewed him in order to get a real sense of what is happening on the street. [18]

In his experience, among the Muslim community it is mainly Pakistani and Bangladeshi youth that become involved with drugs, but it affects all the various ethnic Muslim groups. Commonly, the parents of these young men neglected their religious training, and instead left matters in the hands of the madrasas. Their experience in the madrasa has been of rote learning without any understanding, an experience that has left them bored and alienated not only from the madrasa but also from religion itself. Frustrated imams throw the more disruptive kids out of the madrasas onto the streets. Clubbing together in gangs of around 20-30, these young men are listless and bored. The result has very often been the emergence of gang violence and turf wars.

By far the most commonly used drugs are hashish and then alcohol. Heroin is used much less. Most that smoke ‘weed’ (as hashish is known in street slang) will not touch heroin, which is seen as a dirty drug. But the picture is complex, because 90% of those who do use heroin say that their first drug was hashish. Those Muslim youth that do use heroin do not use needles because they see it as a dirty practice. Habitually, those who take heroin also use crack cocaine. According to local police figures for the Borough of Tower Hamlets, 50% of drug offenders referred to drugs agencies are young Bangladeshi men. Of these, 90% are under twenty-five and more than 60% have never received any help to get off drugs. It was in part this last statistic that brought about the founding of NAFAS.

There are no figures for young women, but the word on the street is that hashish use is increasing among them as well. Normally such women smoke hashish in the home. Abdur Rahman says that taboos are breaking down. It is becoming more common to see hashish being smoked and alcohol being drunk in the street.

What are the attitudes of these young men to religion? There are some that mock religion openly. “Islam is drab and boring,” they say, “it is only about things you are not allowed to do. There is no fun and laughter. We are young and now is the time for enjoyment.”

Others, who have a stronger sense of being Muslim, say they want to practice but argue that the bad environment discourages them. Abdur Rahman says it is easier to reach those who have some religious feeling in them, and that these boys can point to examples where someone they know has come off drugs and has started practising Islam.

There is a real internal problem facing this community and it will not go away if we are merely content to highlight problems within the British criminal justice system, schooling and welfare. However necessary, this critique of the system is only part of the answer. To make myself absolutely clear, I am stressing the fact that the crucial element in any response is moral and religious guidance, which, of course, only the community can provide. This is not just a problem of young Muslim men who have lost their way, but a failure of the whole community to bring them up with Islamic values. We have neglected their spiritual training (tarbiya) and failed to teach them how to live in this world in accordance with the pleasure of Allah (akhlaqiyyat) in a way that makes sense to them. We have even ignored their secular education; so that on the streets of despair turning to drugs seems the best way to make a quick buck or to escape from the pressures of racism, Islamophobia and unemployment.

What we all need in front of us, young and old, is a clear picture of what being a real man in Islam means as opposed to being a fake one. Guidance comes with our comprehension of what religion expects us to do for ourselves, and for others, for the pleasure of Allah Most High. The rest of this essay is devoted to outlining the nature of negative and positive masculinity.

Negative masculinity

Negative masculinity can take the form of crime, or trying to be "hard".

Negative Masculinity

Misguided strength: Negative masculinity occurs when a youth misuses his natural qualities of enthusiasm, strength and bravery to satisfy his own desires. He becomes selfish, ignores the rights of others and ends up disobedient to his Lord. He thinks it is cool to follow the lifestyles of the street, and at the rough end this means getting involved in crime. What is even worse, as one young brother said to me recently, is that as corrupt lifestyles become widespread among Muslim youth, it is becomes harder for younger teenagers to see the straight path. There has been a real break down in moral values: besides drugs and crime, drinking and pre-marital sex are no longer taboo among the wildest elements. The negative role models closest to hand now come from within our own community.

Arrogance: Negative masculinity is about showing off, about trying to be ‘hard’, and about using physical strength to humiliate others. The fake man thinks strength should be used to dominate others so that he gets ‘nuff respect’ from his peers and enemies out of a sense of fear. But this is not how true respect is earned: it is really about acting like a loud-mouthed and proud fool. The youthful bully fights to remain leader of his ‘posse’ and, likewise, strives to dominate other street gangs: both perversions are achieved by instilling fear.

Yet Islam teaches us that the strong should defend the weak not oppress them.

Image and vanity: Negative masculinity is about the obsession to have the right ‘look’: the designer clothes, the most up-to-date mobile phone, the latest trainers, and the flashiest car. But how we appear to others is absolutely immaterial: Allah, who is perfectly Just and All Aware, will judge us by our hearts not our appearance on the Day of Reckoning. Pretending to be someone we are not is only a sign of spiritual emptiness. All this street gear costs a great deal of money: cash that is wasted when it could be used to help the weak and unfortunate. The Muslim community is the poorest in the country, and it can ill afford to waste money on such vain extravagance. Such materialistic excess is showing off for the sake of worldly honour, when the world, in the eyes of our beloved Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was worth less than the rotting flesh of a dead goat. [19]

But a real man doesn’t need to show off. He knows himself and remains humble and thankful to Allah Most Generous for whatever qualities He has given him.

Frivolousness: Negative masculinity is about wasting time and playing around like a child when the corrupted youth already has the strength and intelligence of an adult. He looks out for himself first, neither respecting the wishes of his parents nor serving them, and ignoring the needs of others around him. Many of the criminalised gangs rob and prey on the weakest members of their own community. Instead of being the pride of the community, these lost young men have become its badge of shame.

Material gratification: Negative masculinity is about being a slave to desire. The signs of this slavery are the impulse for instant gratification and the immediate feeling of frustration and anger when desire is not quickly satiated. Servitude to caprice entraps the slave in a cage of restless discontent. Why? Because if we want the latest fashion, one thing can be sure, it will go out of date. Negative masculinity is about being a slave to the capitalist system. The real winners are the moneymen who sell an illusion: the falsehood that people should judge themselves, and judge others, by appearance.

But the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught us to be simple, not to pile up worldly things, but to do good deeds and help others. The only style that truly counts, that rises far above the fickle dictates of fashion, is the way of the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

In short, the problem of negative masculinity is a spiritual one. Abu Talib al-Makki [20] (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh), in his classic work, “Qut al-qulub” (The Sustenance of Hearts), explains the nature of the soul that commands a person to do evil.

“All the [blameworthy] character traits and attributes of the soul derive from two roots: inconstancy (taysh) and covetousness (sharah). Its inconstancy derives from its ignorance, and its covetousness from its eager desire (hirs). In its inconstancy the soul is like a ball on a smooth slope, because of its nature and its situation, it never stops moving. In its eager desire the soul is like a moth that throws itself on the flame of a lamp. It is not satisfied with a small amount of light without throwing itself on the source of the light that holds its destruction. Because of its inconstancy the soul is hurried and lacks self-restraint (sabr). Self-restraint is an attribute of our thinking selves, while inconstancy is the quality…of the [blameworthy] soul. Nothing can overcome inconstancy except self-restraint, for intellect uproots vain and destructive desire. Because of its covetousness, the soul is greedy and eagerly desirous. […] When someone knows the roots of the [blameworthy] soul and its innate dispositions, he will know that he has no power over it without the seeking the help of its Creator and Originator. The servant will not realise his humanity until he governs the animal motivations within himself through knowledge and justice.” [21]

Who is a real man?

Imam al-Qushayri [22] (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) summaries what the nature of positive masculinity is. In Arabic this is called muru’a or manliness. Conceptually, manliness is closely related to futuwwa or chivalry. Imam al-Qushayri says in his famous Risala,

“The root of chivalry is that the servant strive constantly for the sake of others. Chivalry is that you do not see yourself as superior to others. The one who has chivalry is the one who has no enemies. Chivalry is that you be an enemy of your own soul for the sake of your Lord. Chivalry is that you act justly without demanding justice for yourself. Chivalry is [having]… beautiful character.” [23]

The Noble Islamic Youth

In Arabic, fata literally means a handsome and brave youth. In the Quran, in Chapter of the Prophets (60:21), the term fata is used to describe Abraham (‘alayhi s-salam), who had, with characteristic fearlessness, destroyed the idols of his people, and who was about to be thrown into the fire by them. In his commentary on this verse, Imam al-Qushayri (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) says that the noble youth is one who breaks the idol and moreover that the idol of each man is his blameworthy soul that commands to evil (nafs al-amara bi al-su’). [24] Truly Allah Most High only bestows the title fata to those whom He loves. Youth, in this sense, is not a mere social category but a rank of piety.

Following the use of the word in the Holy Book, fata came to mean the ideal, noble and perfect man whose generosity did not end until he had nothing left for himself. A man who would give all that he had, including his life, for the sake of his friends. Futuwwa has a distinct sense for it means the way of fata or noble manliness, and the remainder of the essay concentrates on outlining these noble precepts.

The way to attain these qualities, to become a true man, is to kill the blameworthy soul, which can also be called our selfish impulses, or ego. The first thing is to learn is not to love the blameworthy soul, but instead to love others more than oneself and to love our Exalted Creator most of all. It is only after struggling to kill the ego that the trials of spiritual struggle, like those of our father Abraham (‘alayhi s-salam) in the fire, become ‘refreshment and peace’ (bardan wa salam). (21:69)

The Chivalry of the Companions

We find many examples of noble manliness among the Companions: the loyalty of Abu Bakr, the justice of ‘Umar, the reserve and modesty of ‘Uthman, and the bravery of ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhum). Yet for all their greatness, those men still only partially reflected that supreme example of true manliness, the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). It was their life’s work to emulate him, like it is ours today. As the first young man to embrace Islam, it was ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu), the last of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, the cousin and son-in-law of our noble Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Lion of Allah, who came to represent the supreme example of youthful manly perfection. Known for his selflessness, courage, generosity, loyalty, wisdom and honour, he was the invincible warrior of his day. His nobility on the battlefield shines forth like a bright lamp of guidance for us today.

Arab warrior

It was not Ali's strength that made him great (raa), but his chivalry and purity of intention.

In one battle, ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) had overpowered an enemy warrior and had his dagger at the man’s throat when the man spat in his face. Immediately Imam ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) got up, sheathed his dagger, and told the man, “Taking your life is unlawful to me. Go away.” The man was amazed, “O ‘Ali,” he asked, “I was helpless, you were about to kill me, I insulted you and you released me. Why?” “When you spat in my face,” our master ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) answered, “it aroused the anger of my ego. Had I killed you then it would not have been for the sake of Allah, but for the sake of my ego. I would have been a murderer. You are free to go.” In the end the enemy refused Ali’s offer of mercy and attacked him again, even injuring him, and Ali (raa) killed him in self defense. That does not lesson the deep chivalry and pure intention for the sake of Allah that Ali (raa) displayed in battle.

In another of his battles against the unfaithful, our master ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) encountered a handsome young warrior who moved to attack him. His heart was full of pity and compassion for the misguided youth. He cried out, “O young man, do you not know who I am? I am ‘Ali the invincible. No one can escape from my sword. Go, and save yourself!” The young man continued toward him, sword in hand. “Why do you wish to attack me? Why do you wish to die?” ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) asked. The man answered, “I love a girl who vowed she would be mine if I killed you.” “But what if you die?” ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) asked again. “What is better than dying for the one I love?” he countered. “At worst, would I not be relieved of the agonies of love?” Hearing this response, ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) dropped his sword, took off his helmet, and stretched out his neck like a sacrificial lamb. Confronted by such nobility, the love in the young man’s heart was transformed into love for the great ‘Ali (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) and for the One Most Exalted Whom ‘Ali loved.

The Code of Chivalry

In later centuries, a code was drawn up embodying the principles of futuwwa—brotherhood, loyalty, love and honour—that produced a class of spiritual Muslim warriors who protected the boundaries of the Islamic empire. The first caliph to create an order of noble Muslim knights was al-Nasir al-Din (reigned 576-622/1180-1225). They wore a distinctive uniform and were formally linked to the Sufi orders. In Asia Minor for instance, these Muslim knights lived in borderland lodges under the supervision and guidance of a spiritual guide (shaykh al-tasawwuf). It is reported they were hospitable to travellers and ruthless towards any unjust ruler who oppressed the people. The essence of this noble code is timelessly pertinent to us today: it calls us to subdue our egos and fight against injustice.

The code of noble manliness elaborated by the great Imam Sulami (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) in his Kitab al-Futuwwa is offered in a truncated form here. Readers are strongly advised to consult the original work for themselves. [25] Futuwwa is that a young man adheres to the following code:

· THAT HE BRINGS JOY TO THE LIVES OF FRIENDS AND MEETS THEIR NEEDS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “When one brings joy with his words into the life of a believer or satisfies his worldly needs, whether small or large, it becomes an obligation upon Allah to offer him a servant on the Day of Judgement.”

· THAT HE RESPONDS TO CRUELTY WITH KINDNESS, AND DOES NOT PUNISH AN ERROR. When a Companion (radiya’Llahu ‘anhu) asked if he should refuse to help a friend who had refused to help him before, the Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said no.

· THAT HE DOES NOT FIND FAULT WITH HIS FRIENDS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “if you start seeking faults in Muslims, you will cause dissent among them or you will at least start dissension.” Dhu al-Nun al-Misri [26] (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) said, “Whoever looks at the faults of others is blind to his own faults. Whoever looks for his own faults cannot see the faults of others.”

· THAT HE IS RELAXED AND OPENHEARTED WITH HIS BROTHERS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The believer is the one with whom one can be close. The one who is not close and to whom one cannot be close is of no use. The good among men are those from whom others profit.”

· THAT HE IS GENEROUS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Paradise is the home of the generous.”

· THAT HE KEEPS UP OLD FRIENDSHIPS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah approves the keeping of old friendships.”

· THAT HE LOOKS AFTER HIS FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS. Ibn Zubayr [27] (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) said, “Someone who eats while his next-door neighbour is hungry is not a believer.”

· THAT HE IS LENIENT WITH HIS FRIENDS EXCEPT IN MATTERS OF RELIGION. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The first sign of intelligence is to believe in Allah. The next is to be lenient with people in affairs other than the abandoning of Truth.”

· THAT HE INVITES GUESTS, OFFERS FOOD AND IS HOSPITABLE. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “How awful is a society that does not accept guests.”

· THAT HE RESPECTS HIS FRIENDS AND SHOWS HIS RESPECT FOR THEM. A man entered the mosque and the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stood up for him out of respect. He protested and the Prophet replied that to be paid respect is the right of the believer.

· THAT HE IS TRUTHFUL. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Say that you believe in Allah, then always be truthful.”

· THAT HE IS SATISFIED WITH LITTLE FOR HIMSELF AND WISHES MUCH FOR OTHERS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The best of my people will enter Paradise not because of their achievements, but because of the Mercy of Allah and their quality of being satisfied with little for themselves and their extreme generosity toward others.”

· THAT SUCH YOUNG BROTHERS LOVE EACH OTHER AND SPEND TIME WITH ONE ANOTHER. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that Allah Most High said, “The ones who love each other for My sake deserve My love; the ones who give what comes to them in abundance deserve My love. The ones who frequent and visit each other for My sake deserve My love.”

· THAT HE KEEPS HIS WORD AND WHAT IS ENTRUSTED TO HIM. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “If you have these four things, it does not matter even if you lose everything else in this world: protect what is entrusted to you, tell the truth, have a noble character, and earn your income lawfully.”

· THAT HE UNDERSTANDS THAT WHAT HE TRULY KEEPS IS WHAT HE GIVES AWAY. ‘A’isha [28] (radiya’Llahu ‘anha) recounted that someone had presented the gift of a lamb to the Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He distributed the meat. ‘A’isha (radiya’Llahu ‘anha) said, “Only the neck is left for us.” The Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied, “No, all of it is left for us except the neck.”

· THAT HE SHARES IN THE JOY OF HIS BROTHERS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “If a person who is fasting joins his brothers and they ask him to break his fast, he should break it.” This refers to a non-obligatory fast, not the fasts of Ramadan.

· THAT HE IS JOYFUL AND KIND WITH HIS BROTHERS. One of the many signs of the kindness and love the Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had for his people was that he joked with them so they would not stay away from him out of awe. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said “Allah hates those who make disagreeable and sad faces at their friends.”

· THAT HE THINKS LITTLE OF HIMSELF OR HIS GOOD DEEDS. The Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was once asked, “What thing most attracts the anger of Allah?” He replied, “When one considers himself and his actions highly, and worse still, expects a return for his good deeds.”

· THAT HE TREATS PEOPLE AS HE WOULD WISH TO BE TREATED. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “As you wish people to come to you, go to them.”

· THAT HE CONCERNS HIMSELF WITH HIS OWN AFFAIRS. The Messenger of Allah (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “One of the signs of a good Muslim is that he leaves alone everything that does not concern him.”

· THAT HE SEEKS THE COMPANY OF THE GOOD AND AVOIDS THE COMPANY OF THE BAD. Yahya ibn Mu‘adh al-Razi [29] (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) said, “On the day when the trumpet is sounded, you will see how evil friends will run from each other and how good friends will turn toward each other. Allah Most High says, ‘On that day, except for the true believers, friends will be enemies.’”

Sun rays through tall trees

A real man brings joy to the lives of family and friends

Allah Most High says, “Surely they were noble youths (fityan) who believed in their Lord, and We advanced them in guidance.” (18:13) Imam al-Sulami (rahmatu’Llahi ‘alayh) comments, “they were given abundant guidance and climbed to His proximity because they believed in their Lord only for their Lord’s sake, and said, ‘Our Lord is the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Never shall we call upon other than Him.’” (18:14) The Imam continues, “Allah dressed them in His own clothes, and He took them in His high protection and turned them in the direction of His beauties and said, ‘And We turned them about to the right and to the left’.” (18:18). The Imam concludes, “Those who enter the path of futuwwa are under Allah’s direction and protection.” [30]

Khwaja ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari [31] (rahmatu Llahi ‘alayh) outlines the three degrees of perfection in futuwwa in his classic work, Manazil al-sa’irin (The Stations of the Wayfarers). “Allah Most High says, ‘They are chivalrous youths who have faith in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.’ (18:13) The subtle point in chivalry is that you witness nothing extra for yourself and you see yourself as not having any rights.

The first degree is to abandon quarrelling, to overlook slips, and to forget wrongs.

The second degree is that you seek nearness to the one that goes far from you, honour the one who wrongs you, and find excuses for the one who offends you. You do this by being generous, by not holding yourself back, by letting go, not by enduring patiently.

The third degree is that in travelling the path you do not depend upon any proofs, you do not stain your response [to Allah] with [any thought of] recompense, and you do not stop at any designation in your witnessing.” [32] May Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, bless us, and make us true men, men of nobility and generosity.

The Way Forward

There are no easy solutions, and it is important to remember that Islam condemns those who feel it is enough to recriminate, but not to call towards the truth or to work to change a bad situation. The point is that we all have to pull together, and face up our individual and collective responsibility. It is not just a question of the youth seeing if they measure up to the ideals of positive masculinity, but for all of us to strive to embody the example of the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). It is a duty upon all parents and community leaders to deal wisely with our young men when they fall from the Straight Path, and not to cut them off out of self-righteous disdain or, even worse, indifference.

Imam Ghazali [33] (rahmatu Llahi ‘alayh) reminds us that it was the way of Companions like Abu Darda’ [34] (radiya Llahu ‘anhu) to forgive the mistakes and flaws of his brother. How much more does this apply to our sons? All should feel that your son is my son. The bond of religious brotherhood is like the bond of family. If someone has made a mistake in his religion by committing an act of disobedience, one must be gentle in counselling him towards repentance and starting again. If someone persists in disobedience, Abu Darda’ (radiya Llahu ‘anhu) advised us not to cut him or her off. “For sometimes”, he said, “your brother will be crooked and sometimes straight.” The great saint Ibrahim al-Nakha’i [35] (rahmatu Llahi ‘alayh) said, “Beware of the mistake of the learned. Do not cut him off, but await his return [that is, to the straight path].”

Imam al-Ghazali (rahmatu Llahi ‘alayh) argues that this advice holds even the major sins: we need not cut someone off. It was revealed to the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) concerning his kinsfolk that “if they disobey you, say, ‘I am quit of what you do’.” (26.216) Abu Darda (radiya Llahu ‘anhu) referred to this verse when he was asked, “Do you not hate your brother when he has done such and such?” to which he replied, “I only hate what he has done, otherwise he is my brother.” [36] It is not proper to break with the disobedient, but to try and remind them of their duty to Allah Most High and to His creatures.

So any pragmatic measures should be undertaken in this spirit of understanding and patience, because at the heart of any solution is building trust between alienated youths and the community. It is easy enough to make these seven suggestions, but it will take a lot of sincere effort make them a reality by the permission of the All Merciful.

1. Crack down on drug production: To lobby the Moroccan and Turkish governments directly and indirectly to crack down on drug production and refinement in their respective countries. The fact that the European Union has systematically ignored the complicit involvement of both the Moroccan and Turkish governments in the export of drugs to Europe because of their NATO membership should be made an issue. With regard to Afghanistan, the European Union has recently admitted that it has no political influence there at all, which—in and of itself—is not likely to be a matter of great concern for Muslims. [37] Yet it does mean that European Muslims have to pressurise the EU to work to drop UN sanctions against Afghanistan, and to push for economic assistance to the country, so that viable and sustainable alternatives can be found for farmers in the wake of the enforced ban of 2001.

2. Admit the problem: To discuss openly the problems of criminality and drug dealing and use within the community with a view to understanding the nature of the problem, and coming up with ways to solve it. For instance, research is already being carried out by the community welfare organisation, Khidmat, in Luton, which is undertaking research to understand the nature and scale of drug use in the Asian community. [38]

3. Imams who can relate to the youth: To appoint English-speaking imams as a matter of priority, and to conduct as many programmes as possible in English and which deal directly with issues facing young Muslims today. Imams should be properly paid, and they should also be expected to take up pastoral youth work outside of the mosque. It is a crime that many of young scholars who have graduated from seminaries based in Britain have not been able to find employment as imams. Their knowledge and training is being wasted. Most ‘imported’ imams are frankly not able to understand or reach out to young Muslims.

4. Relevant Islamic education: To create vibrant and relevant madrasas in our mosques with a full and relevant curriculum up to at least the age of 16 by forging a strong partnership between the ‘ulama’, the mosque committee and the community. There are already many examples of good practice in this area, especially in the Midlands and the North.

5. Sports facilities for the youth: To build Muslim-run youth and sports facilities as a badly needed alternative to the street. Where appropriate, such facilities should be incorporated into the mosque-complex. It is important that second generation parents, those who are now in their mid-thirties, get involved with making the mosques more accessible to the youth. If the mosque committees refuse to be co-operative, then it is necessary to work outside of them as the situation has already reached crisis proportions.

6. Drug rehab for Muslims: To set up drug rehabilitation schemes run by Muslim workers in the major urban areas along the lines of NAFAS in Tower Hamlets in East London and others.

7. Lobby for our communities: In general terms, to lobby local and central government to put extra funds into helping our community that has the highest unemployment (over 40% for our youth), the poorest educational record, the highest poverty and the highest crime rates. It would be preferable if funds, which are readily available, are channelled through Muslim voluntary organisations. As a community as a whole, we have to be prepared to drop theological and legal differences inherited from the Sub-Continent to work together for the common good.

I end with supplicating our Creator, the All-Merciful that He save our misguided youth from further calamity and turn their hearts and ours towards repentance, that He give us forbearance and wisdom in tackling this problem, and that He may, in His infinite compassion, unite our hearts so that we may work together to solve these many problems. Glory be to our Lord, the Lord of Honour, Exalted above what they ascribe, and peace be upon those who were sent. And all praise is due to the Lord of the worlds. Amin.


[1] Faisal Bodi, ‘Muslim Advisor only one piece in a bigger jigsaw’, Q-News, 311, September 1999, pp. 14-15.

[2] Maqsood Ahmed, interview, 20/06/00.

[3] UN Economic and Social Research Council, World Situation with regard to illicit drug trafficking, p. 6. The Taliban’s Roaving Ambassador, Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashmi, accepted this figure during a lecture given at the University of South Carolina in 2001. This information was taken from a transcript of his talk.

[4] Strategic Studies 1997/8, p. 250; Strategic Studies 1998/9, p. 276.

[5] The authoritative study of CIA involvement in the heroin drugs trade in both Burma and Afghanistan is Alfred McCoy’s, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991), cited in Boekhout van Solinge, p. 103. It appears that the CIA even worked against United States officials from the Drugs Enforcement Agency during the 1980s, who wanted to stop the creation of a new international drug player.

[6] Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, p. 118.

[7] Ahmed Rashid, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, p. 28.

[8] An agreement struck in October 1997 between the United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP) and the Taliban offering potentially $25 million US dollars for a ten-year crop-replacement scheme was allowed to lapse after UN agencies were asked to withdraw in 1998. For further details, see Rashid, Taliban, pp. 123-124.

[9] See Omar Modhammed, ‘Message of the Amir-ul-Mumineen on the occasion of the International Anti-Narcotics Day’, The Islamic Emirate (Kandahar), July 2000, no. 1, p. 1, and ‘Taleban calls for total poppy ban in Afghanistan’, The News International (Jang), 30/7/00, p. 9.

[10] UNDCP Press Release, ‘Afghan Opium Cultivation in 2000 Substantially Unchanged’, UNIS/NAR/696, 15 September 2000. A recent UNDCP-sponsored crop-replacement scheme in Kandahar province has reduced production by 50% in three districts.

[10a] Kathy Ganon, ‘Taliban virtually wipes out Afghanistan’s opium crop’, The Nando Times, 15 February, [www.nandotimes.com]; Barbara Crossette, ‘Taliban’s Ban on Growing Opium Poppies Is Called a Success’, New York Times [Internet edition], 20 May 2001. Given US support of these crippling sanctions, Colin Powell’s release of $43 millions (as of May 2001) in emergency funds for the drought in Afghanistan looks like a token gesture.

[11] Every year, 1.5 million lorries, 250,000 coaches and four million cars use the Balkans route between Asia and Europe. It takes hours, even a whole day, to search an articulated lorry effectively for drugs. The impossibility of stopping the smuggling of heroin into Europe might be noted by the fact that while the amount of heroin seized has gone up, street prices have gone down.

[12] This hadith is reported in all the Sahih Sitta (the Sound Six), Ahmad, Malik and Darimi.

[13] Al-Misri, Reliance, p. 976. Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 974/1567) was the foremost Shafi‘i Imam of his age, who authored major works in jurisprudence, Hadith, tenets of faith, education, Hadith commentary and formal legal opinion. He is recognised by Hanafi scholars, like Imam Ibn ‘Abidin, as a source of authoritative legal texts valid in their own school. (R) I have relied on The Reliance and on T. J. Winter’s biographical appendices in his translations of al-Ghazali. Each note will end with a short reference to these works: (R) or (W) respectively. Other references will name the author’s name in brackets.

[14] Al-Misri, Reliance, p. 652. Imam al-Dhahabi (d. 748/1348) was a great Hadith master (Hafiz) and historian of Islam. He authored over 100 works, some of which were of great length, for instance, Siyar a‘lam al-nubala’ (The Lives of Noble Figures), ran to 23 volumes. (R)

[15] For further detail on classical scholarly authorities see Anon. [Student of Darul-Uloom Bury], Islam and Drugs (Bury, UK: Subulas Salam, n.d.).

[16] Although Abdur Rahman disputes as stereotypical the assertion that young Asians became the main street-dealers in recent times, see below for brief profile of this experienced drug worker.

[17] Gavin McFarlane, ‘Regulating European drug problems’, pp. 1075-1076. He also notes that the drug trade is organised like a mainstream business with three main categories. First, there is the planner or organiser who is like the entrepreneur who puts up the capital. Second, there is the trusted assistant or middle manager that runs the operation. Third, there is the operative at the bottom end that knows little about the whole organisation: these are the dealers who carry the goods, bear the most risk of being caught, and who earn only a fraction of the profit. Also known as ‘camels’, it is they who are most likely to be caught by the police. There is even a level above the capital investor: that of the political overlord, who is either autonomous from the state, or acting on behalf of a complicit state.

[18] Abdur Rahman, interview, 22/6/00

[19] Jabir related to us that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) once passed by a dead and ear-cropped young goat whose carcass was lying in the road, He enquired from those who were with him at the time, “Will any of you like to buy this dead kid for a dirham?” “We will not buy it at any price,” they replied. The Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) then said, “I swear in the name of Allah that in His sight this world is as hateful and worthless as the dead kid is in your sight.” Related by Muslim, and cited in Nomani, Meaning and Message of the Traditions, I: pp. 234-235.

[20] Abu Talib al-Makki (d. after 520/1126) was the author of the Qut al-qulub, the first comprehensive manual of how to tread the Sufi path, which was the direct inspiration for Imam Ghazali’s classic work, the Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din. He was a preacher, ascetic and scholar of the Sacred Law. (R)

[21] Cited in Murata, The Tao of Islam, pp. 271-272.

[22] Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072) was the author of one of the most widely read and respected works on the teachings of tasawwuf and the biography of the saints, the Risalat al-Qushayriyya. He also wrote a commentary on the Qur’an as well as some works pertaining to theology (kalam). (R, also Murata)

[23] Cited in Murata, The Tao of Islam, p. 267.

[24] Imam al-Qushayri, Principles of Sufism, p. 215.

[25] All chains of narration for the Prophetic reports in the Kitab al-Futuwwa go from Imam al-Sulami (d. 412/1021) back to the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) himself, and are recorded in the index at the back of the English translation. Imam al-Sulami was a Shafi‘i scholar and one of the foremost historians and shaykhs of the Sufis. He authored several important works on Sufism, including a commentary on the Qur’an, and the Tabaqat al-Sufiyya, one of the most famous works on the lives of the Sufis. (R, also Murata)

[26] Dhu al-Nun al-Misri (d. 245/859) was one of the greatest of the early Sufis. He was Nubian in origin and had a great gift for expressive aphorisms, a large number of which have fortunately been preserved. He was the first in Egypt to speak about the states and spiritual stations of the way. (R)

[27] ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam (d. 73/692) was the son of a famous Companion of the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who led a major revolt against the Umayyad caliph Yazid I following the death of the Prophet’s grandson, al-Husayn. He was widely recognised as caliph before his revolt was crushed. (W)

[28] ‘A’isha (d. 58/678) was the third wife of the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Mother of the Faithful. She was the most knowledgeable of Muslim women in Sacred Law, religion, and Islamic behaviour, having married the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in the second year after the Migration, becoming the dearest of his wives in Medina. She related 2, 210 hadiths from the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and was asked for formal legal opinions by the Companions. (R)

[29] Yahya ibn Mu‘adh al-Razi (d. 258/871-2) was a great Sufi of Central Asia. As one of the first to teach Sufism in the mosques, he left a number of books and sayings. He was renowned for his steadfastness in worship and his great scrupulousness in matters of religion. (W)

[30] The Way of Sufi Chivalry, p.36.

[31] Khwaja ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari (d. 481/1088) was a great Persian Sufi and scholar. His most famous work is his Munajat (Intimate Entreaties), written in rhymed Persian prose. His description of the spiritual stations, Manazil al-sa’irin (The Stations of the Wayfarers), in Arabic, was one of the most influential ever written on this subject. (Murata)

[32] Cited in Murata, The Tao of Islam, pp. 267-268, with minor modifications to the translation.

[33] Regarded by the consensus of the scholars as the reviver (mujaddid) of the fifth century of the hijra, Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali’s (d. 505/1111) most famous work was the Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din (The Revivification of the Religious Sciences), which brought out the inner meaning of Islam practices and ethical ideals.

[34] Abu Darda’ (d. 32/652), one of the Medinan Helpers and a Companion of the Prophet (salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), was noted for his piety, his wisdom in giving legal judgements, his horsemanship, and his bravery on the battlefield. Before embracing Islam, he gave up commerce to occupy himself with worship. He is particularly esteemed by the Sufis. (W, R)

[35] Ibrahim al-Nakha’i ibn Yazid (d. 96/ 714-5) was one of the great scholarly Successors of Kufa, who was taught by Hasan al-Basri and Anas ibn Malik, and who in turn taught Imam Abu Hanifa.

[36] The various quotes on the subject of brotherly duties are from al-Ghazali, On the Duties of Brotherhood, pp. 60-65, which is one of the forty books that comprise the content of the Ihya’ (see footnote 33).

[37] ‘Drugs problems caused by Afghanistan and Pakistan’, Official Journal of the European Communities, 41 (1998), C178-C209 (98/C 196/112): 81-82.

[38] Faisal Bodi, ‘Crime: an everyday reality in Luton’, Q-News, 311, September 1999, p. 12.


Maqsood Ahmed (Muslim Advisor to the Prison Service), 20/06/00.

Abdur Rahman (NAFAS, Tower Hamlets), 22/06/00.


Anon. [Student of Darul-Uloom Bury], Islam and Drugs (Bury: Subulas Salam, n.d.).

Bodi, Faisal, ‘Crime: an everyday reality in Luton’, Q-News, 311, September 1999, p. 12.

Bodi, Faisal, ‘Muslim Advisor only one piece in a bigger jigsaw’, Q-News, 311, September 1999, pp. 14-15.

Boekhout van Solinge, Tim, ‘Drug Use and Drug Trafficking in Europe’, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 89(1), (1998): 100-105.

Crossette, Barbara, ‘Taliban’s Ban on Growing Opium Poppies Is Called a Success’, New York Times [Internet edition], 20 May 2001.

‘Drug Trafficking Routes in Central Asia’, Strategic Survey 1998/99, p. 276.

‘Drugs problems caused by Afghanistan and Pakistan’, Official Journal of the European Communities, 41 (1998), C178-C209 (98/C 196/112): 81-82.

Ganon, Kathy, ‘Taliban virtually wipes out Afghanistan’s opium crop’, The Nando Times, 15 February 2001, [www.nandotimes.com].

Ghazali, Abu Hamid al-, On Disciplining the Soul & On Breaking the Two Desires, trans. and annotated with an introduction by T. J. Winter (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1995).

Ghazali, Abu Hamid al-, On the Duties of Brotherhood, trans. by Muhtar Holland (New York: Overlook, 1976).

Ghazali, Abu Hamid al-, The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife, trans. and annotated with an introduction by T. J. Winter (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1989).

McFarlane, Gavin, ‘Regulating European drug problems’, New Law Journal, 149(6897), 16 July 1999: 1075-1076.

Misri, Ahmad ibn Naqib al-, The Reliance of the Traveller, rev. edn, trans., ed. and annotated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller (Evanston: Amana, 1994).

Modhammed, Omar, ‘Message of the Amir-ul-Mumineen on the occasion of the International Anti-Narcotics Day’, The Islamic Emirate (Kandahar), July 2000, no. 1, p. 1.

Murata, Sachiko, The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought (Albany: State University of New York, 1992).

Nomani, Mohammed Manzoor, Meaning and Message of the Traditions, trans. by Mohammed Asif Kidwai and Shah Ebadur Rahman Nishat, 5 vols (Lucknow: Islamic Research and Publications, 1975-1989), I (1975).

Qushayri, Abu ’l-Qasim al-, Principles of Sufism, trans. by B. R. Von Schlegell (Berkeley, Ca.: Mizan, 1990).

Rashid, Ahmed, ‘Dangerous Liaisons: Drugs are driving politics in Afghanistan and Pakistan’, Far Eastern Economic Review, 161(16), April 16 (1998): 28.

Rashid, Ahmed, Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia (London: I. B. Tauris, 2000), Ch. 9.

‘Source Countries and trafficking routes: Central Asia and South East Asia’, Strategic Survey 1997/98, p. 250.

Sulami, Ibn al-Husayn al-, The Way of Sufi Chivalry, trans. by Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1991).

‘Taleban calls for total poppy ban in Afghanistan’, The News International (Jang), 30/7/00, p. 9.

UNDCP, ‘Afghan Opium Cultivation in 2000 Substantially Unchanged’, UNIS/NAR/696, 15 September 2000. [press release].

UN Economic and Social Research Council, World Situation with regard to illicit drug trafficking and action taken by the subsidiary bodies of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (Vienna: UNESRC, 1999), E/CN.7/2000/5

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