Present your case to Allah
The story of Khawla bint Tha’laba
Surat al-Mujadilah, which is a Madani surah with has an interesting story behind it. Khawla bint Tha’laba was a female Companion of the Prophet (peace be on him), who was married to a man named ‘Aws ibn as-Samit. They had had an argument, and he said to her ‘You are to me as the back of my mother.’ This was a common statement among Arabs in Jahiliyya, and it was an infinite prohibition – it wasn’t a divorce, but the husband could not take his wife back after saying it, so it left the woman in a difficult limbo state.
So she went to the Prophet (peace be on him) to raise her case, and told him what had happened. He said that he hadn’t received any revelation not to allow this practice, but she kept arguing and insisting that this was not fair. She said that her husband was old: if she left him, he wouldn’t be able to look after their children. And if she took the children with her, she wouldn’t be financially able to raise them on her own. She was in between two bad choices, so she kept complaining.
Allah listened to her case
Then Rasul Allah (peace be on him) received the beautiful opening of this surah, ‘Allah has heard the woman who argued with you about her husband and complained to Allah.’ [58:1] This is why the surah is called al-Mujadilah, the one who argues (in a good way, not a bad way.) So whatever calamity you have, raise it to Allah. He is listening. He is with us.
Khawla confronts Omar ibn al-Khattab
Khawla is an interesting character, read her biography. Once, when Omar ibn al-Khattab was the Khalifa, he saw that people were competing in raising the level of their mahr, and he saw this as a deterrent for people to get into halal, if they couldn’t pay such extravagant amounts and therefore couldn’t get married. So he tried to create a law which would limit the mahr. But Khawla said it was not up to him, quoting the ayah, ‘If you had given you wife piles of gold’ [4:20]. And he agreed that she was right.
The people who were with Omar had tried to stop her and keep her away, but Omar said to let her speak. He said, ‘This is a woman whose complaint Allah listened to. Who is Omar not to listen to her.’
Replacing Jahiliyya practices with Islam
In Surat al-Mujadilah, she was putting her case before Allah and sincerely asking Him for a solution. And the solution he gave her was to change Jahiliyya practices to Islam. This is not an easy task, but Allah was training the community to be complying with Shariah instead of Jahiliyya. So he gave some ways out for a husband, to regain their wives after this kind of statement. Number one, you free a slave. If you don’t have slave, then fast for 60 days. If you can’t do that, then feed 60 poor people. And this the practice since that time until the Day of Judgement.
Present your case to Allah for a solution
The most relevant part of the story is in the beginning, when she put her case to Allah. It’s a very deep message: when you have a case, put it in Allah’s court and ask for solution. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything else: she also went to the Prophet (peace be on him) and was willing to argue. So do what is required to get out of the situation, but be in sincere connection with Allah. Ask Him with sincerity to give you way out. And if you are sincere enough, Allah will give you a solution.
He is listening, not just to Khawla but to all of us. He gave her a solution, and He can give every single one of us a solution as well. We just need the courage and sincerity that she had. He’s there, the kind and the generous, ready to give solutions to anyone who is sincere and asking for it. So we ask Allah to give us sincerity and ikhlaas, ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Ramadan Night 25
Transcribed by Hana Khan
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May 25, 2023