Saturday, 6 August 2011

Hadith about Jabir RA's marriage: the bigger picture

Alhamdulillah, we are now in the blessed month of Ramadhan. In the days leading to it, I kept thinking about what afida wrote on being given the opportunity to be alive long enough to be in it. Many people we know and perhaps we don't know are no longer with us now. Could we be joining them during next Ramadhan, or even before the end of this one?

I know it's a scary thought but then again we have very little control over the matter of life and death. What we do have some control over is how we spend the opportunity afforded to us. Ramadhan is here and we are, thanks to Allah, are still here as well. Let's make the best of it, shall we?

Source: Dar-us-Salam Publication

This year I try to follow my friends who decide to take a break from their regular reading materials to focus more on the Quran and Islamic books. In previous Ramadhans I didn't focus as much as I do this year and really I should've been doing this years ago. Better late than never, I guess.

I started with Dr. Muhammad 'Abd Al-Rahaman Al-'Ariff's Enjoy Your Life, a book I bought years ago but never really read seriously. I flipped through it a couple of times because of the way the content is organised, similar to other Islamic motivational books such as La Tahzan (Don't Be Sad) and Langit Ilahi, where the chapters stand on their own. We can easily pick a chapter and read it without worrying about losing sight of the book's message.

The book is introduced to us as "the art of the interacting with people... as deduced from a study of the Prophet's life." So maybe I was wrong about it being an Islamic motivational book, although they are many motivational stuff in it that backed with sources from the Sunnah and the Quran. At least it motivated me reassess my people skills. (In other words, I come to realise that I'm really not that great with people. Well... new rooms for growth.)

In one chapter I came across the story of Jabir RA, a companion of Rasullullah SAW who was mentioned in the hadith about marrying a virgin. Rasulullah SAW learned that Jabir RA was getting married to a women who had been married before (there wasn't any mention of whether she was a widow or a divorcée), and asked, "Why didn't you marry a virgin so that you could fondle one another?"

I have seen how frequent this hadith is used to argue for the advantage of marrying a women who has never been married over marrying a women who has been married before. I won't argue against this usage because I'm not qualified. I don't know about the related Quranic verses or Hadiths.

I prefer to is to relate the story in the context of what actually happened between Rasullullah SAW and Jabir bin Abdullah RA. I hope that being understanding the story behind the Hadith, the bigger picture, we would better appreciate the Hadith and its message.

Jabir bin Abdullah RA was a young Sabahah, and when the conversation recorded in this particular Hadith took place Jabir was a newly-wed. He was travelling with Rasulullah SAW back to Madinah at the time. The conversation was a friendly one and Rasulullah SAW was engaging with Jabir RA in a way that would interest a young man like Jabir RA. And since Jabir RA was recently married, it's only natural that sooner if not later they would veer into the topic of marriage.

(And as far I know young people, working with them at work, if you ever want to get their attention, start talking about marriage and married life and stuff related to it.)

Jabir RA was not only a newly-wed, he was had a father who was martyred in the battle of Uhud. And Jabir had nine sisters to take care of. Nine. Let that number sink in for a while.

Nine sisters plus debt collectors knocking on their doors, being financially destitute and a new wife. I can only to imagine the burden on Jabir RA's shoulders.

Coming back to the Hadith about Jabir RA's choice to marry a women who had been married before, Jabir RA replied,
O Messenger of Allah! My father died a martyr at Uhud, leaving behind daughters, so I did not wish to marry a young girl like them, but rather an older one who could take care of them and look after them.
In other words, he needed someone who would fulfil the role that is similar to a mother's, rather than a another 'sister.'

As explained by the author, Jabir RA was actually sacrificing his pleasure for the sake of his sisters. Being to someone who was married before is quite a challenge. Widowers, widows or a divorcées are sometimes influenced by their experiences in previous marriages. They normally enter their new marriages with their own emotional baggages. It takes incredible amounts of patient and love to make this type of marriage to work.

One part of this Hadith that people often neglect to mention is the reply from Rasulullah SAW,
You have made the correct choice.
This Hadith was reported in both sahihs Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

There are a few lessons can we learn from looking at the Hadith in its context.

When it comes to choose to a suitable candidate for wife, the fact that the woman was previously married (or not) shouldn't be made into the ultimate deciding factor. A virgin is not necessarily the better choice. Everything boils down to, again, the bigger picture.

Usually, the best match for someone who has never been married before is someone likewise. However, in Jabir RA's situation, Rasulullah SAW approved of his decision because his situation is an extraordinary one. Nine sisters, don't forget.

In fact, Rasulullah SAW was married to a Saiditina Khadijah RA, who was married a few times before she becoming his wife. This too is an extraordinary situation, for both Rasulullah SAW and Ummul Mukminin Khadijah RA were persons of exemplary characters, and no one in their society could imagine a better match than the two of them.

Wallahua'lam and Ramadhan Kareem.


Afida Anuar said...

Assalamualaikum rol.. i know why. But nowadays,is there any man who would sacrifice his pleasure by marrying a widow/divorcee like Jabir RA? susah nak jumpa kan? he he...

r.o.l. said...

Memang susah, afida, itu pengorbanan tahap tinggi... bolehlah afida consider menulis cerpen tentangnya :-)

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ieka said...

nice post.. the last part when Rasullulah SAW said Jabar r.a. made a right choice is really touching.

We usually took only the half one that were actually support our interest, kan.. it was even told many times in many events especially during the kursus kahwin.. alHamdulillah, another knowledge added to the rusted knowledge in head. hehe :D

r.o.l. said...

Alaikum salam, ieka. Yes I it touching, after all no one wants to be told that we've made a wrong choice, especially if it's coming from Rasulullah SAW himself. I'm glad this issue cleared up for me too because I think in our society widows and divorcees have a certain stigma attached to them.

SoulSeek said...

Assalamu Alaikum,

I was also about to write an entry on this topic. Could I use and reference this article?

Jazakallah Khair

r.o.l. said...

Alaikum salam WBT. Yes, you may. I apologise for the late reply, and please point out any mistake if I have made any.

SoulSeek said...

Walaikum Salaam,

Jazakallah Khair, I'll be sure you quote you in the footnotes :)


exxecutor000 said...

good one :)

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