Why is a woman not a wali of her children?

Question:

Salaam What is the logic behind Father and grandfather only being the wali of underage children, who are given in marriage? Why may not a mother be the wali, she is their guardian too?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Allah Ta’ālā has created both men and women on this earth to fulfill the purpose of their creation and strive to achieve His pleasure by living their lives out the way He has ordained for us. He says in the Holy Quran:

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

Surely, Muslim men and Muslim women, believing men and believing women, devout men and devout women, truthful men and truthful women, patient men and patient women, humble men and humble women, and the men who give sadaqah (charity) and the women who give sadaqah, and the men who fast and the women who fast, and the men who guard their private parts (against evil acts) and the women who guard (theirs), and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember (Him) — for them, Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.[1]

In any society, different people are given different roles to fulfill as a member of that society. The mayor is there to make all major decisions involving the running of that society, a police man is tasked with protecting the civilians, and a doctor is ready to assist all those in need of medical attention. While men and women have been assigned the same ultimate goal in life, they have also been given different roles to fulfill in the society due to inherent differences that exist among them.

In order to understand this more easily, consider the following examples:

1) Biological differences: Such as physical features (e.g. the beard) and bodily differences (e.g. experiencing menses).

2) Societal differences: Such as clothing, makeup, hair styles, cosmetics, etc.

3) Religious differences: Laws pertaining to Salah, the ihrām of Hajj, and Nikāh.

Islam is a religion based on a natural disposition full of modesty and free of all negative qualities and traits that stain the pure foundation of a human heart. In this context, each man and woman is given certain roles in society according to each of their intrinsic differences. Similarly, the injunctions of Islam as decreed by Allah the Almighty himself are designed to be selective in regards to the specific preferences resulting from these gender differences.

The following hādīth clearly emphasizes the need to keep such differences in mind and censure those who neglect them:

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ: «لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ المُتَشَبِّهِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ بِالنِّسَاءِ، وَالمُتَشَبِّهَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ بِالرِّجَالِ»

Ibn `Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anhu) narrates: Allah’s Messenger () cursed those men who assume similarity with women and those women who assume similarity with men.[2]

As such, Shari’ah has divided the roles of men and women in all aspects of life whether it is related to acts of worship, dealings in our society, or the structuring of a family. It is not a discussion of rights and privileges, rather it is a discussion of responsibilities and roles as a Muslim man and woman. There are numerous examples where women have been given preference over men as well due to their status in the eyes of Allah Ta’ālā. For example, Islam has emphasized the lofty status of a woman as a mother and a wife. Consider the following ahādīth:

عن عبد الله بن عمرو، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: «الدنيا متاع، وخير متاع الدنيا المرأة الصالحة»

‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) narrates that the Holy Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “The whole world is a provision, and the best provision of this world is a pious woman.”[3]

عن أبي هريرة، قال: جاء رجل إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقال: من أحق الناس بحسن صحابتي؟ قال: «أمك» قال: ثم من؟ قال: «ثم أمك» قال: ” ثم من؟ قال: «ثم أمك» قال: ثم من؟ قال: «ثم أبوك»

Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reported that a person came to Allah, ‘s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and said: Who among the people is most deserving of a fine treatment from my hand? He said: Your mother. He again said: Then who (is the next one)? He said: Again it is your mother (who deserves the best treatment from you). He said: Then who (is the next one)? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Again, it is your mother. He (again) said: Then who? Thereupon he said: Then it is your father.[4]

In regards to the concept of wilāyah (guardianship), Shari’ah has again taken the different roles of men and women into consideration. Where the man has been tasked with the job of bringing bread to the table, the woman has been tasked with the upbringing of children. Similarly, the man has been tasked with protecting the marital future of his child due to his inherent qualities of ghairah (i.e. zeal to always keep one’s family status secure). A father is always over protective of his children in terms of marriage, especially for his own daughters. Due to this nature, Allah Ta’ālā has given the responsibility of securing the child’s future to him and lifted the burden off the shoulders of women. Such a concept is not only specific to Islam, rather it is a norm in society to ask the father for the daughter’s hand in marriage. The reason for this is not due to a lack of love and care a woman has for her children or due to her being lesser guardian, rather it is due to the different roles of men and women that have a direct impact on their function as a member of the family.

Before concluding, we would like to state the following points:

1) A mother is always considered to be a guardian of her child, even if the father is given wilāyah over the children in terms of marriage. Such a concept does not lessen her status as a mother. As clearly stated in the hadīth above, she is still entitled to more respect than the father as a parent of the child.

2) There are also certain instances where Shari’ah has given a certain “right” to a woman even though the man is considered to be an “equal partner”. Consider the following two examples:

  1. The right of receiving mahr (dowry): A woman is entitled to receive dowry whereas the man is obliged to pay the dowry to her even though both are contracting the nikāh
  2. The right of custody: In the event of the mother and father separating, Shari’ah has given the woman exclusive right over a boy until he reaches the age of 7 and over the girl until she reaches the age of nine[5] even though the father is also an equal guardian of the child.

 

As stated above, Allah the Almighty has given specific roles to men and women. It is according to these roles that the rights and duties of both mother and father have been defined. It is our job to accept the roles Shari’ah has given us and submit to the wisdom of Allah Ta’ālā as He is our creator and knows what is best for us.

 

May Allah Ta’ālā grant both you and your family success in this life and the hereafter. Ameen.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

 

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

[1] Al-Quran, Al-Ahzāb: 35
[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, 5885, The Book of Dress
[3] Sahih Muslim, 715, Chapter regarding the best provision of this world is a righteous woman
[4] Sahih Muslim, 2548, The Book of Virtue, Enjoining Good Manners, and Joining of the Ties of Kinship
[5] (وَالْحَاضِنَةُ) أُمًّا، أَوْ غَيْرَهَا (أَحَقُّ بِهِ) أَيْ بِالْغُلَامِ حَتَّى يَسْتَغْنِيَ عَنْ النِّسَاءِ وَقُدِّرَ بِسَبْعٍ وَبِهِ يُفْتَى لِأَنَّهُ الْغَالِبُ. وَلَوْ اخْتَلَفَا فِي سِنِّهِ، فَإِنْ أَكَلَ وَشَرِبَ وَلَبِسَ وَاسْتَنْجَى وَحْدَهُ دُفِعَ إلَيْهِ وَلَوْ جَبْرًا وَإِلَّا لَا (وَالْأُمُّ وَالْجَدَّةُ) لِأُمٍّ، أَوْ لِأَبٍ (أَحَقُّ بِهَا) بِالصَّغِيرَةِ (حَتَّى تَحِيضَ) أَيْ تَبْلُغَ فِي ظَاهِرِ الرِّوَايَةِ. وَأَقُولُ: يَنْبَغِي أَنْ يُحَكَّمَ سِنُّهَا وَيُعْمَلَ بِالْغَالِبِ. وَعِنْدَ مَالِكٍ، حَتَّى يَحْتَلِمَ الْغُلَامُ، وَتَتَزَوَّجَ الصَّغِيرَةُ وَيَدْخُلَ بِهَا الزَّوْجُ عَيْنِيٌّ (وَغَيْرُهُمَا أَحَقُّ بِهَا حَتَّى تُشْتَهَى) وَقُدِّرَ بِتِسْعٍ وَبِهِ يُفْتَى.
(رد المحتار علي الدر المختار، ج ٣، ص ٥٦٦، ايج ايم سعيد كمبني)