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A Response to the so called Qur'an Inconsistency How many mothers does a Muslim have?
(He is a new convert to Islam, from the Netherlands)
A response to answering-islams article Qur'an Inconsistency How many mothers does a Muslim have? which can be found dat: : http://answering-islam.org.uk/Quran/Contra/mothers.html
Blue = text from answering-islam (jochen katz)
Black= my islamic response to them (karim)
Qur'an Inconsistency How many mothers does a Muslim have?
Some introductory questions to the Muslim reader: Do you know how many mothers you have? Do you know the name of each of your mothers?
The Quran says that a mother is one who gives birth to a person:
God has heard the words of her that disputes with thee concerning her husband, and makes complaint unto God. God hears the two of you conversing together; surely God is All-hearing, All-seeing. Those of you who say, regarding their wives, 'Be as my mother's back,' they are not truly their mothers; their mothers are ONLY those who gave them birth, and they are surely saying a dishonourable saying, and a falsehood. Yet surely God is All-pardoning, All-forgiving. S. 58:1-2 Arberry
Clearly, under this quranic definition of the word "mother", everyone has and can have only one mother.
AzZihâr is the saying of a husband to his wife, "You are to me like the back of my mother" i.e. You are unlawful for me to approach. Allah criticized the men in the verse for saying to their wives that to them, having sex with them is like having sex with their own biological mothers (the worst sin possible to arabs and muslims) , by saying those words husbands divorced their wives, in other words the husband viewed his wife the same way as his biological mother, they way in which those men spoke those words, made it look like wives suddenly became biological mothers in a literal way , because how can someone say to his wife i dont approach you, because to me your body is the same as the body of my mother , this statement is impossible, because a wife can never be the same as his biological mother.
The intention of this passage is to abolish a certain way of divorce in Arab society, see this dictionary entry on ZIHAR. I agree with the quranic condemnation of such an unjust method of divorce. However, the author of the Quran makes the blunder to attack the use of the word "mother" in a non-literal sense and to categorically rule that the word mother can ONLY be used for the woman who gave birth to the person, i.e. the word mother may not be used in any other way.
Nowhere does the quran say that we cannot use the word mother in a non-literal / figure way. The Quran only made clear that no one can say to his wife you are to me the same as my mothers back (mothers body) , how can a wife be viewed the same as the body of his biological mother ? how can a husband say i cant approach you because your body is like my mothers body (forbidden for me), because a wife is his wife, she can never be the same as his biological mother.This does not mean that we cannot use the word mother in a figure way of speech.
Although I consider this Quranic response inappropriate, the statement in S. 58:2 is consistent with the Quranic prohibition on adoption:
God has not assigned to any man two hearts within his breast; nor has He made your wives, when you divorce, saying, 'Be as my mother's back,' truly your mothers, neither has He made your adopted sons your sons in fact. That is your own saying, the words of your mouths; but God speaks the truth, and guides on the way. Call them after their true fathers; that is more equitable in the sight of God. If you know not who their fathers were, then they are your brothers in religion, and your clients. There is no fault in you if you make mistakes, but only in what your hearts premeditate. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. S. 33:4-5 Arberry
The Quran reasons that since adopted children are not the adoptive parents' literal biological offspring, they shouldn't be reckoned as their children. Based on this verse, Islam has forbidden adoption. Again, children should only be called sons (or daughters) of their literal, biological fathers (and mothers). Vice versa, this certainly implies that only the biological parents should be called father and mother as in 58:2 quoted above.
What you consider inappropriate is the result of wrong interpretation of the quran. The quran doesnt forbid to use the word mother in a figure way of speech.
Let me explain what Allah means in Quran 33:4-5
First made Allah clear that no man can say to his wife you are to me the same as my mothers back (mothers body) , how can a wife be viewed the same as his biological mother ? how can a husband say i cant approach you because your body is like my mothers body (forbidden for me), his wife can never be the same to him as his biological mother. Next:
Adopted sons can never be your biological sons, thats a fact. Therefore in islam you cant give adopted children your family name, Allah says name them after their fathers, if the father of an adopted son for example was Jochen Katz, and the name of the adopted son was Sham, then the child should be named Sham Ibn Jochen Katz (ibn = son of). Further the Quran says and if you dont know the name of their fathers then they are your brothers in religion . Clearly the quran did not say that nobody can use the word mother in a figure way of speech.
Its also important to let the reader know islams stance on adoption (check the link below):
Up to this point, the verses that have been quoted are consistent. However, the Quran states elsewhere that a person's wet-nurse is to be viewed like one's own mother, thereby making it unlawful for them to marry their wet-nurses or anyone nursed by the same woman:
Forbidden to you are your mothers and daughters, your sisters, your aunts paternal and maternal, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your mothers who have given suck to you, your suckling sisters, your wives' mothers, your stepdaughters who are in your care being born of your wives you have been in to -- but if you have not yet been in to them it is no fault in you - and the spouses of your sons who are of your loins, and that you should take to you two sisters together, unless it be a thing of the past; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate; S. 4:23 Arberry
So which is it? Is a mother only one who gives birth to a person, or can a person consider others to be their mothers such as their wet-nurses?
On the one hand the Quran argues that only the genetic connection establishes motherhood or fatherhood, i.e. people should be called mothers or fathers ONLY in relationship to their biological offspring. On the other hand, in regard to marriage, nursing is claimed to establish the same kind of legal relationship as birthing.
Islam refuses to recognize the much stronger parenting bond between a child and the people who raised him or her for many years, forbidding them to even call them mother or father, but already a few weeks of nursing (which a child will usually not even remember) has strong consequences.
As a reponse to On the one hand the Quran argues that only the genetic connection establishes motherhood or fatherhood, i.e. people should be called mothers or fathers ONLY in relationship to their biological offspring . The Quran clearly says that your biological/real mother is only she who gave you birth! This is a fact, again nowhere does the quran say that we cannot use the word mother in a non-literal/figurative way.
Jochen Katz also said: However, the Quran states elsewhere that a person's wet-nurse is to be viewed like one's own mother
This statement is not correct, The christian missionaries are mixing: your true mother is she who gave you birth, with a figure of speech, a title of respect and honor you address the woman who suckled . Where does the quran say that his wet-nurse is the same like his (biological) mothers back (body) ?
An-nisa 23, the verse about degress of prohibitioins for marriage is, by no means, degrees of biological relations: the verse is about those women whom one cannot marry: some are biological degrees (mothers, sisters), some take the honor of biological degrees ( foster mothers, sisters from suckling, step-mothers [remember that the bible mentions step mothers 'MOTHERS' too, yet, we muslims did not say that the bible makes them real mothers] ) , the key here is allah said 'from suckning' when he mentioned the foster mother, for instance, making it clear that they are not viewed as 'biological mothers, but FOSTER MOTHERS', they just take the same honor as mothers do with regards marriage , nowhere does the quran say that these mothers get inheritance, which is proof to what i said here that they are not be viewed like mothers in relation but in honor and respect, men cannot marry their fosther mother because:
Suckling prohibits what blood relations prohibit (hadith: sahih muslim, see also tafsir Ibn Kathir an-nisa 23)
This rule is made by Allah out of honor and respect to the view moslims have in a figure way towards theis wet-nurses and suckling sisters and not because wet-nurses are viewed the same as biological mothers (in other aspects then honor and dignity), nowhere does Allah say that 'fosther mothers are the same to men as their biological mothers' (which is not possible, and did not happen, because man can only have one biological mother and no one can be viewed the same as them in that regard). The quran makes a distinction between the two in an-nisa 23 (same story applies for his suckling/foster-sister). so again: where did the quran say that foster mothers are the same as biological mothers with regards to anything other than marriage (which is out of respect and honor, and no other way) ? where did the quran give inheritance to foster mothers ? and why cant a son be named after his fosther-mother if Allah according to the christian missionaries viewed fosther-mothers the same as biological mothers (in other aspect then respect, honor and dignity) ? Why does ones biological mother has a right to obedience from her son and not his fosther-mother ? Also one can marry his foster mother's other daughters that she did not suckle, which again proofs that in Islam fosther-mothers are not viewed the same as biological mothers (in all other aspect then respect, honor and dignity).
Suckling prohibits what blood relations prohibit (hadith: sahih muslim, see also tafsir Ibn Kathir an-nisa 23) , this has to do with respect , honor and dignity , and with nothing else ! Also notice that an-nisa 23 didnt only mentioned fosther mothers and biological mothers , but also the mothers of your wifes , aunts etc. Does this mean that aunts and the mothers of your wifes are viewed the same as ones biological mother (just because they are mentioned in the same verse) ? Off course not ! You cannot marry them out of respect and dignity and not because they should be viewed the same as the body of your biological mother, nowhere does the quran say this ! Islam is a religion of honor and dignity , because suckling sisters and foster mothers are (only) in honor and respect viewed as sister/mother (in a figure way of speech) , it would be in an islamic view inappropiate to marry them ( also it doesnt sound proper for a man to be married with his suckling sister , since islam has given her this name towards him ).
Further the quran doesnt forbid to use the word mother in a figure (non-literal) way of speech.
It will rarely happen that a man wants to marry his wet-nurse, but the prohibition to marry another person who merely drank milk originating from the same woman hardly makes sense, even more so if it is only offspring of a "wet-nurse sibling". In fact, this rule had consequences for Muhammad's own marriage intentions. He could not marry the daughter of a man who was nursed by the same woman as Muhammad himself, see the endnote in this article.
The inconsistency is compounded when we realize that Islam is over-strict in the area of wet-nurse relationship, but at the same time some Islamic scholars allow a man to marry his own biological daughter in certain circumstances, see this article.
There are at least four concepts of motherhood, i.e. people who could be called the mother or a mother of a person:
[ Side remark: For the purpose of this article, we will not discuss modern developments of surrogate mothers, i.e. when medical doctors implant fertilized eggs of one woman into the womb of another woman ... In that case, the Quranic definition of S. 58:2 will create another problem. Is the mother only the one who gave birth, even if she is genetically unrelated to the child she delivered? ]
In my previous response i explained very well why a man cannot marry his fosther/suckling sister, this has to do with honor, dignity and respect and nothing else. To me it doesnt make any sense that the bible doesnt prohibit marriage between a man and his own mother and sister etc.
Ive checked the link Jochen katz referred to, and since the translation of arabic into english is done by answering-islam it would be no surprise if the translation is not correct, i will check this out later. Their article is ridiculous http://answering-islam.org.uk/Shamoun/incest.htm . Sham shamoun stated that two scholars allowed a marriage between a man and his daughter whom he conceived through adultery ( however since answering-islam translated those comments, i doubt if those sayings are even true ) , the quran clearly says:
Quran 4:23 Forbidden to you are your mothers and daughters (for marriage)
It doesnt matter if he she was born through adultery, a daughter is a daughter, and no man may marry his daughter in Islam. The quran is cristal clear about this issue. The most highly know scholats such as Imam malik and Imam Abu hanifa clearly tol dus that this refers also to daughters whom are conceived trough adultery.
Further the bible does nowhere prohibit a man from marrying his own mother and daughter. It prohibits sexual intercourse with them, but not marriage ! So a sick man who fells in love with blood relatives can marry his own daughter or mother, and deprive them from marriage with a non-relative man, keep in mind that daughters according to the bible dont have much to say:
Concept 1 is uncontroversial. The biological mother will usually also be the person who both breastfeeds and raises the child. Nevertheless, some children can have "mothers" in some or all of these categories. A child may be born of woman A, breastfed by woman B, then live with foster-parents for a few years (woman C), and finally be adopted by another couple (woman D).
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, experienced the first three categories. His mother was Amina. Then he had a wet-nurse, Halimah, and a foster-mother, Fatima bint Asad.
[ Side remark: Interestingly, the Arabic language does not conform to the wishes of the author of the Quran. It uses the formulation ommahatukumu allatee ardaAAnakum (literally: "your mothers who nursed you") for wet-nurses, i.e. it uses an expression that includes the word omm ("mother"), even though one is not supposed to call that person mother according to the Quran. In other words, the Quran breaks its own command. It rules to call only those women mothers who have given birth to you, but then it states "your MOTHERS who nursed you", when this part could easily have been formulated as "the WOMEN who nursed you". ]
We have already showed that the quran doesnt forbid the use of the word mother in a figure (non-literal) way of speech.
There is yet another inconsistency. We have just seen that the strong emotional bond of a foster parent to the child does not provide sufficient grounds to call someone mother or father. It is only the biological link. Yet the Quran explicitly calls some women mothers of others who have no biological link to them:
The Prophet is nearer to the believers than their selves; his wives are their mothers. Those who are bound by blood are nearer to one another in the Book of God than the believers and the emigrants; nevertheless you should act towards your friends honourably; that stands inscribed in the Book. S. 33:6 Arberry
Again, nowhere does the quran say that we cant use the word mother in a figure way of speech. Muslims call each other brothers and sisters, does this mean we compare other muslims in a literal way to our biological brothets and sisters by using those words ? Off course not ! Everyone knows its a figure way of speech. In the same way this verse uses the word mothers as a figure. This out of respect for the prophets (saw) wives (mother) role in the Ummah. His wifes were an example for all muslim men and women, also the prophets (saw) wives were a source of information for all the muslims. They could learn and teach the muslims many things, just like a mother can teach her children many things.
Like a foster mother, the wives of Muhammad may have had an emotional bond to Muhammad's companions (and their wives). They may have cared and provided for the poor among them like a foster mother would love a child in her care. Here is one example how this verse was applied:
Abu Musa reported: There cropped up a difference of opinion between a group of Muhajirs (Emigrants) and a group of Ansar (Helpers) (and the point of dispute was) that the Ansar said: The bath (because of sexual intercourse) becomes obligatory only when the semen spurts out or ejaculates. But the Muhajirs said: When a man has sexual intercourse (with the woman), a bath becomes obligatory (no matter whether or not there is seminal emission or ejaculation). Abu Musa said: Well, I satisfy you on this (issue). He (Abu Musa, the narrator) said: I got up (and went) to 'A'isha and sought her permission and it was granted, and I said to her: O Mother, or Mother of the Faithful, I want to ask you about a matter on which I feel shy. She said: Don't feel shy of asking me about a thing which you can ask your mother, who gave you birth, for I am too your mother. Upon this I said: What makes a bath obligatory for a person? She replied: You have come across one well informed! The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When anyone sits amidst four parts (of the woman) and the circumcised parts touch each other a bath becomes obligatory. (Sahih Muslim, Book 003, Number 0684)
This story expresses a closeness of relationship, trust and confidence, and a caring attitude for the Muslim community on the part of Aisha. If she had said "I am LIKE a mother to you", and if S. 33:6 had stated "his wives are LIKE mothers to the believers", there would not have been much of a problem, but it is said that "his wives ARE their mothers" and Aisha said "I AM too your mother" even though she had never given birth to anyone.
Again, no where does the quran say that we cannot use the word mother in a non-literal/figure way of speech. The christians missionaries completely mis-interpretated Quran 58:1-2 and Quran 33:4-5. Everyone who reads this hadith will clearly understand that Aicha uses the word mother in a non-literal / figure way. Obvious christians have a problem in understanding figure way of speech, thats why most of them interpretate son of god as literal son of god or part of god, instead of servant of god , off course its therefore no surprise for me to see that christian missionaries dont understand the way of figure speech in the quran. Also when christian nurses and/or priests call each other brothers and sisters, they dont say your like a brother to me but they say brother, just like muslims do, i taught everyone would understand that its a figure way of speech.
However, when the Quran calls the wives of Muhammad the MOTHERS of the believers, does it not contradict its own principle?
Again, for direct contrast:
... they are not truly their mothers; their mothers are ONLY those who gave them birth, and they are surely saying a dishonourable saying, and a falsehood. ... S. 58:2 Arberry
The Prophet is nearer to the believers than their selves; his wives are their mothers. ... S. 33:6 Arberry
Or, putting the issue somewhat differently, we ask with E. M. Wherry:
"If this saying is unjustifiable and a falsehood for the people, why not for the Prophet?"
(A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur'an, Vol. 4, p. 124)
Again, where does the quran say that we cannot use the word mother in a non-literal / figure way ? Nowhere! Remember that those men in verse 58:1-2 performed AzZihâ.r
AzZihâr is the saying of a husband to his wife, "You are to me like the back of my mother" (body) i.e. You are unlawful for me to approach. Allah criticized the men in the verse for saying to their wives that to them, having sex with them is like having sex with their own biological mothers (the worst sin possible to arabs and muslims) , by saying those words husbands divorced their wives, in other words the husband viewed his wife the same way as his biological mother, the way in which those men spoke those words, made it look like wives suddenly became biological mothers in a literal way , because how can someone say to his wife i dont approach you, because to me your body is the same as the body of my mother , this statement is impossible because a wifes body can never be viewed the same as the body of his biological mother , she can never change or become his biological mother, and therefore no husband is allowed to say you are to me the same as the back of my mother. This does not at all mean that we cannot use the word mother in a figure way of speech out of respect and honor.
P.S.: Back to the introductory questions: Do you know the names of all your mothers? Find out how many wives Muhammad had, what are their names, and how he treated those women whom the Quran calls your mothers, e.g. Sauda bint Zam'ah.
A related article: The Quran's Use of Filial Terms
As a response to Sauda bint Zam'ah.
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