by Imam Na’eem Abdullah
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Peace and blessing be upon our master (sayyidina) Muhammad and also upon his Family (alihi), his Companions (sahbihi), his wives (azwaajihi) and his descendents (dhurriyyaathi). As to what follows:
Says the poor slave in great need of the mercy of his Lord, Imam Na’eem Abdullah. All praises are due to Allah: who raised the supports of the Sunnah and exalted its lamps; who diminished the existence of innovation (al-bid`ah) and eclipsed its lights; who elucidated the evidences of truth (al-haqiqah) and revealed its secrets; who laid bare the path of falsehood and wiped out its traces; who clarified the procedures of the spiritual realities (al-haqa'iq) and constructed its mysteries; and who commanded us to follow the Sunnah and to adhere to its traditions. May the best prayers and most abundant peace be upon our master Muhammad and upon his family and Companions - all of them. May Allah be pleased with the best of the Followers (Taabi`een), the right-acting scholars, the four Imams who exercised independent judgment, and those who follow them until the Day of Judgment.
We have named this document: Children: The Contemporary Cash-Cow. If Allah wills, it will be of some benefit for the believers in this age. Success is with Allah!
This effort is intended to bring clarity to an issue which has been glossed over far too long. The bulk of the Islamic legal rulings and other information that has reached us regarding this issue is too general and lacks any in-depth knowledge of the intricacies and inner workings of those various governmental institutions connected to this emotionally charged issue (mas’alah). We pray this will serve as a tool for the rightly-acting scholars (‘ulama’ ‘aamileen), a severe warning for those who seek to commodify Allah’s innocent servants (our children), and a place of refuge for those who are tested by this modern fitnah! Ameen!!!
Many Muslims in America have sought advice from various religious authorities in the Muslim world on how to deal with issues relating to public assistance (welfare), child-custody, alimony, and child-support. The responses to these inquires range from inadequate to disgusting; due to the fact that these scholars don’t know how the ‘system works.’ Nor is it possible to articulate the workings of this ‘system’ in a letter, email, or in a single sitting with a shaykh. In his book Adab al-Fatwa wal Mufti wal Mustafti, Imam an-Nawawi, may Allah be pleased with him, said
لاَ يَجُوزُ أَنْ يُفْتِي فِي الأَيْمَانِ وَ الإِقْرَارِ وَ نَحْوِهِمَا مِمَّا يَتَعَلَّقُ بِالأَلْفَاظِ ,إِلاَّ أَنْ يَكُونَ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَلَدِ اللاَّفِظ , أَوْ مُتَنَزِّلاً مَنْزِلَتهمْ فِي الْخِبْرَةِ بِمُرَادِهِمْ مِنْ أَلْفَاظِهِمْ , وَعُرْفِهِمْ فِيهَا.
"It is not permissible (laa yajuuzu) for a person of one area or country, not aware of the customs and the circumstances of another area to issue fatwa in that place, until he is fully acquainted with the people of it, their style of speaking and what they mean by their words and expressions."
In this light, it would have been better for these scholars to have remained silent rather than issue fataawa which do nothing more than over simplify several complex and overlapping issues and confuse the believers even more.
For this very reason, it is necessary for those who have knowledge of the ‘system’ to explain it – in detail – for the scholars amongst us; then and only then will the appropriate legal ruling be attached to this issue. Shehu ‘Uthman Dan Fodio said in his Najm ul-Ikhwaan,
فَاشْتَغِلُوا يَا إِخْوَانِي بِقَرَاءَةِ تَوَالِيفِ عُلَمَاءِ زَمَانِكُمْ لِأَنَّهُمْ هَمَّ الْعَالَمُونَ بِمَا هُوَ الْأَهَمَّ فِي زَمَانِكُمْ ؛ وَ لِأَنَّ تَوَالِيفِهِمْ تَفْصِيلٌ لَمَّا أَجْمَل مِنْ تَوَالِيفِ الْعُلَمَاءِ الْمُتَقَدِّمِينَ لِأَنَّ تَوَالِيفَ كُلّ دَوْرِ تَوَالِيف مِنْ قَبْلِهِ
O my Brothers, busy yourselves, with reading the works of the scholars of your time period (‘ulamaa zamaanikum i.e. contemporary scholars), because they are more knowledgeable about the important matters of your time. And their writings are elaborations of what the previous scholars had summarized. Also, the writings of each decade are an elaboration of the writings of the previous one.
During this discourse, we intend, by the permission of Allah, to shed some (Islamic) light on an all-too-common occurrence taking place in the United States of America. Often when a couple - married or unmarried - has children and later dissolve their relationship, it is common for the woman to make use of various governmental agencies in order to secure monetary help and support for herself and her children. These agencies have the ability to automatically and forcibly extract wealth from the former husband and father of the children by means of garnishing his wages and other means. Sometimes this is necessary and at other times it becomes a weapon in the hands of vengeful women. We intend to take a real-life example of a real-life situation where a Muslim woman used i.e. commodified her children in order to secure income for herself and punish her ex-husband at the same time.
We will use this real-life example so that we can  look at the actions of the Muslims involved through the lens of the Shari’ah and to  avoid the inevitable and endless bombardment of ‘what ifs’. There are just too many variables involved in a situation like this. Changing one detail could and would alter the entire discussion, and would most likely render any previously established conclusions (within this paper) null and void. This was the methodology of our beloved Imam – Malik ibn Anas, may Allah have mercy on him. Whenever someone would come to him with a question on an issue he would ask “Did it actually happen?” and if the response was in the negative he would instruct them to come back to ask the question if and when it actually happened.
There was a Muslim couple who had been married well over ten years. During their time together, Allah blessed them with several children. This Muslim family was active in the Muslim community and the community in general. For all of those who knew them, they seemed to be the perfect family (though we know that nothing and no one is perfect in the literal sense of the word).
However, internally the family was going through a rough period. Without getting into specifics, both the husband and wife claimed to love each other but their personalities were clashing. They went though several sessions of counseling. The woman asked for a divorce several times. And each time, the husband refused to grant it, with the hope that they could work things out. Finally, the husband, who we will call Abdullah, granted the divorce (by means of a talaq) that the wife, who we will call Fulaanah, demanded.
Several things should be noted here. Abdullah was unhappy in his marriage but nonetheless did not want to divorce Fulaanah, for several reasons. During the period leading up to the divorce, Fulaanah was distant from the children. She openly stated on several occasions that she needed some time away from everybody, including the children. Likewise, she had complaints against Abdullah. Many of these complaints were rooted in his finances (Abdullah is self-employed and a homeowner). She also said that his personality was too strong.
During the waiting period (iddah), Fulaanah left the house to live with a friend. This was her choice; in fact, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Abdullah cared for his children without Fulaanah’s help; except for a few isolated occasions when she came back to the marital home, spent a few hours with the children or when the children spent the night with her at her friend’s home. This situation crippled Abdullah’s ability to work and his community activities because he now had to spend even more time looking after his children during their mother’s absence. During the initial separation, they had a verbal agreement that basically allowed her  unrestricted access to the children, and  she would have custody of the children when she got on her feet (her own house or apartment), unless or until she remarried; in which case Abdullah would maintain custody of their children.
Before the divorce, the children were homeschooled. It was agreed that this would continue, however, actual instruction was virtually non-existent at this point because of Fulaanah’s absence.
When her third menstrual cycle began - signaling the end of her iddah - she asked that the children spend the night with her. Abdullah agreed. While the children were with her, Abdullah was visited by the local police and officially served with, what is known in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as, a PFA or Protection From Abuse order. In other states, this is also known as a restraining order. This PFA stated that emergency/temporary custody of the children be awarded to the Fulaanah based on the alleged abuse which was spelled out in the order. This document also forbade Abdullah from having any contact with Fulaanah and limited his interaction with his children to telephone calls.
In this PFA, Fulaanah alleges that  her children were not being fed while in Abdullah’s care;  she was a victim of physical abuse at the hands of Abdullah;  and that Abdullah disciplines the kids by spanking them with a belt.
In an attempt to fight the PFA, Abdullah went to the courthouse to see how he could fight the allegations mentioned in it and to see what needed to be done to get custody of his children. When he arrived at the courthouse, no one would help him, in fact, they lied to him. He was told that there was nothing he could do except wait for his court date. He then called another Muslim brother who is familiar with the process and is, generally speaking, legally savvy. The brother immediately came to the courthouse and was able to help Abdullah file the papers necessary to petition the court for custody of his children as well as some other papers – all of which the clerks of the court said could not be done because he is the defendant!
Fulaanah has been to the welfare office to transfer the assistance over to her. She is living in a shelter. Being that the children were homeschooled, Abdullah went to the home-school office, where the records are kept, in order to obtain proof that his children were being educated and was informed that Fulaanah had been already there. He was also made aware that she claimed that they were homeless and requested some books and teaching materials based upon that fallacy.
Fulaanah has since left the masjid where she was once active with her husband and children and is frequenting other masaajid. Every step of the way, she informs the Muslims of her plight and some of her allegations have reached Abdullah. There are a handful of sisters who are supporting Fulaanah in her efforts and have announced a boycott of the masjid where Abdullah is an active member.
As of the writing of this article Abdullah has not seen his children and is waiting for his day in court.
This is a summary of what took place. Obviously we could not mention every detail because it would turn into a novel on its own. We have tried to restrict the narrative to information which is relevant to this topic – the commodification of our children.
Our readers who are not familiar with the various agencies setup to help women who claim to have suffered abuse at the hands of their former partners must be made aware of some things.  These women are encouraged to apply for, what is commonly known as, Section 8 Housing. Section 8 Housing is a nationwide program which awards vouchers to women who in turn use these vouchers to pay their rent. For example, a Section 8 voucher may specify how many bedrooms the house or apartment must have and it may state what percentage of the rent the government will pay directly to the landlord. The holder of the voucher can usually move anywhere with it. In other words, she is not restricted to public housing or poor neighborhoods. The more children she has, the higher the voucher would be. The less income she has, the higher the percentage of the rent the voucher will pay. In other words, there is an incentive for the woman not to earn her own income. All of this is fast tracked because of her status as a domestic abuse victim.
 She will get food stamps, medical assistance and cash assistance from the Department of Welfare or Public Assistance, which will be substantial because her family is large, she has no income and is ‘homeless’.
 When these things are in place, through the courts, the various agencies will automatically demand financial child support from the father; regardless if he is already providing this support – even if it can be documented. Once an order for child support has been established they will begin to automatically take the court mandated amount from his paycheck. If he somehow avoids all of this, once his arrears reaches $5000, his driver’s license and passport will be suspended, and a warrant can be issued for his arrest. In many cases, the money taken from the father does not go to the mother or the children. It goes back to Public Assistance in order to pay for the cash assistance that was received by the applicant.
Our comments will be restricted to seven (7) different issues related to this story. Again, everyone’s situation is different, while a course of action may be justified in one context, it may be inappropriate in another.
Issue #1: Leaving the house of her husband (khuruuj min bayti zawjiha)
Fulaanah left the home; though there was no threat to her safety. If she was in eminent danger, no one with any sense would condemn her for leaving the home.
وَ لاَ تَخْرُجُ مِنْ بَيْتِهَا فِي طَلَاقٍ أَوْ وَفَاةٍ حَتَّى تُتِمَّ الْعِدَّةَ
“When she is divorced or widowed, she should not leave her house until her 'iddah is over.”
“The divorced woman lives in the husband’s house until she finishes her ‘iddah. It is not lawful for her to leave it, nor must the husband turn her out of it. Even if she was not present in her matrimonial home at the time of the pronouncement of divorce or separation, it is essential for her to return to the house of her husband.” All of this is consistent with the command of Allah:
*لاَ تُخْرِجُوهُنَّ مِن بُيُوتِهِنَّ وَلاَ يَخْرُجْنَ*
And turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they themselves leave.
Allah explicitly prohibits the man from kicking his wife or ex-wife out of the house; and He also explicitly prohibits her from leaving the house voluntarily. By leaving the marital home before the completion of her ‘iddah, and indicating the presence of domestic abuse she made the first of many steps to secure her state-sponsored economic ‘freedom’. For the record, Abdullah flat-out denies the allegations of physical abuse leveled against him. By leaving the home in this fashion, she also rebelled against the command of Allah, as we mentioned above. Her desires were more important than Allah’s command. Whenever Allah orders a thing and this order is not acted upon (without good reason) this constitutes a sin which makes one worthy of Allah’s punishment.
Issue #2: Breaking of Family ties (Qata’u r-Rahim)
When Fulaanah obtained a PFA which prohibited Abdullah from visiting or otherwise interacting with his children she committed one of the greatest crimes in Islam. She cut off or broke the ties of blood. And what family tie is closer or more sacred than the tie of a parent with their child? Allah the Most High says:
*وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِي تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِ وَٱلأَرْحَامَ *
Fear Allah in whose name you ask each other (for your rights), and fear (the violation of the rights of) the womb-relations.
*فَهَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ أَن تُفْسِدُواْ فِي ٱلأَرْضِ وَتُقَطِّعُوۤاْ أَرْحَامَكُمْ *
*أَوْلَـٰئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَعَنَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ فَأَصَمَّهُمْ وَأَعْمَىٰ أَبْصَارَهُمْ *
Would you, then, if put in authority, do mischief on earth and break your family ties? Such are the people whom Allah has cursed; He has made them deaf and blinded their vision.
Imam adh-Dhahabi relates in his al-Kabaa’ir that, once before narrating hadith to a group of people, Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, refused to let anyone who has broken family ties to sit in his assembly. He eventually explained why:
إِنِّي سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ سَلَّمَ يَقُولُ ((إِنَّ الرَّحْمَةَ لَا تَنْزِلُ عَلَى قَوْمٍ فِيهِمْ قَاطِعُ رَحِمٍ))
Verily, I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace say, “Allah’s Mercy does not descend upon a group of people if there is one among them who has broken their family ties.”
This is a very serious game that many people are playing! Allah makes it clear in His Book, that those who are guilty of breaking family ties are cursed by Allah! The Islamic definition of being cursed is to have Allah’s Mercy removed from you. We seek refuge with Allah from that! Even those who disbelieve in Allah receive a portion of His Mercy. This is indicated in the basmallah – when we say “In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious (ar-Rahmaan), the Most Merciful (ar-Raheem).” Ar-Rahmaan is that portion of Allah’s Mercy that is given to everybody including those who don’t believe in Him (kuffaar). There are various statements coming from Prophet Muhammad which affirm this critical point; such as the one mentioned above.
We are not explicitly saying that sister Fulaanah is cursed. It is not permissible to say that about a person when it is not clear whether they died as a Muslim or not. This sister is still alive. Therefore the door of tawbah (repentance) is open to her as long as there is breath in her body. Nonetheless, we must emphasize that she is playing with fire – The Hellfire!
Issue #3: Seeking the Help of the Disbelievers (Kuffaar) against a Believer
When sister Fulaanah circumvented the Muslim community in her efforts to achieve her goals, she violated several explicit commands from Allah, ta’ala. Among them:
*يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ بِطَانَةً مِّن دُونِكُمْ لاَ يَأْلُونَكُمْ خَبَالاً وَدُّواْ مَا عَنِتُّمْ قَدْ بَدَتِ ٱلْبَغْضَآءُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَمَا تُخْفِي صُدُورُهُمْ أَكْبَرُ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الآيَاتِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ *
O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy (bitaanah) those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the Signs, if ye have wisdom.
“The word, bitaanah used here means a friend, a confidant, or one with whom secrets are shared. The lining or inside part of a dress which stays close to the body is also known as bitaanah. Derived from batn (inside), it is used in everything opposed to zahr (outside). That which is outside is zahr and that which is inside is batn. In garments, the outer part is zihaarah and the inner part touching the body such as a lining is called bitaanah. Similarly, the expression, bitaanatu-th'thawb lends the metaphor of a friend, a confidant, or one who comes to know internal secrets and that is how the word, bitaanah is used to carry that sense. The well-known, and quite reliable lexicon of Arabic, Lisaan al-'Arab explains bitaanah as follows: It means that a person's bitaanah is one who knows his secrets, has access to his affairs in which he seeks his advice. Raaghib al-Isfahaani: in his Mufradaat and al-Qurtubi in his Tafsir have given the same meaning.”
Thus, it is prohibited (haraam) to expose those things which are considered private among the Muslims to those who disbelieve. This ruling is applicable regardless if you are talking about a family, community or an entire nation.
Fulaanah and other sisters in situations such as hers must expose the inner workings of their families in order to secure the funds and services they are seeking. She has to give an account of Abdullah’s income, the condition of the home, how he treats her and his children, etc. Even if her claims were an established fact, there is no Islamic excuse for exposing those private matters before the non-Muslims. The proper course of action is to go to the jamaa’ah and its leadership to rectify her affairs.
In many cases, there is no jamaa’ah (which is the underlying cause behind many other problems). Sometimes there is a Muslim community; however they may be unwilling or unable to help sisters like Fulaanah out. If this is the case, and her deen or her life are in jeopardy, not only should she go to the disbelievers, but she must go to them – out of necessity – in order to safeguard her deen and her life.
Sister Fulaanah doesn’t have the luxury of this excuse because she was not in any danger, nor did she seek assistance from any of the Muslim communities in the area. The Muslim community would not be able to help her anyway because what she is seeking is a free ride. She wants free or near free housing i.e. Section 8, free food (food stamps), and an allowance (cash assistance). The Muslim community cannot provide her with this because the reins of power are not in their hands. The ability to provide these things is in the hands of the government of the disbelievers. And they require that the woman destroy the bond between the father and his children as well as complete disclosure, before they will provide assistance. Sister Fulaanah made a conscious choice. She chose to violate this well-known Qur’anic principle in order to gain some worldly benefit. May Allah protect us from making choices such as these!
*يَا أَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ ٱلْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَآءَ مِن دُونِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَتُرِيدُونَ أَن تَجْعَلُواْ للَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ سُلْطَاناً مُّبِيناً*
O you who believe. Do not take the disbelievers for protecting friends (awliyaa’) instead of the believers. Do you want to produce before Allah a clear evidence (sultaanan mubeenan) against yourselves?
In this verse Allah is describing one of the characteristics of the hypocrites (al-munaafiqeen). Prior to Islam, the Aus and Khazraj tribes (who later they became known as the Ansaar or the Helpers) had alliances with the Jewish tribes of Madinah. These Jews were actively plotting against Islam; even though they outwardly agreed to cooperate with the Muslims for the protection and well-being of everybody in the city. The hypocrites – or those who were Muslim only externally – still relied on these old alliances even though the Jews were openly fighting against Islam and working for its destruction. Regardless of what form the treachery manifested itself from the hands of the Jews, these munaafiqeen would still hold those old alliances as sacred – over and above their commitment and adherence to Islam.
As the mufassireen - like Imam Suyuti - have pointed out in the books of tafsir, this action is a clear evidence (sultaanan mubeenan) of their hypocrisy.
Those of us who claim to be believers must take this into serious consideration whenever we are thinking about taking legal action, in the courts of the disbelievers, against other Muslims. This type of action could be used against us – in this life as well as the next – as a proof of our nifaaq (hypocrisy)! May Allah protect us from nifaaq! Ameen
Allah, the Most High says,
*يَـٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ ٱلْيَهُودَ وَٱلنَّصَارَىٰ أَوْلِيَآءَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَآءُ بَعْضٍ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُمْ مِّنكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لاَ يَهْدِي ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلظَّالِمِينَ*
O you who believe. Do not take the Jews and the Christians for intimate friends (awliyaa’). They are friends to each other. Whoever takes them as intimate friends is one of them (fa innahu minhum). Surely, Allah does not take the unjust people to the right path.
The above verse was revealed in connection with the same set of circumstances mentioned above. However this verse explicitly mentions the Jews and Christian. They only look out for each other. Allah makes it abundantly clear that whoever seeks their wilaayah (their protective sort of friendship and alliance) is counted as one of them (fa innahu minhum). This is actually a principle in al-Islam called ‘tark ul-muwaalaah’. In other words, we treat non-Muslims kindly and with respect, especially those who are not antagonistic towards Islam and Muslims. But this does not mean that we go to them for protection or assistance, especially against other Muslims.
Fulaanah is guilty of violating these Islamic principles because she is actively using the power and authority of the disbelievers against a believer. And this is being done without a need to do so. There is, nor was there ever a threat to her safety at all.
Dear brothers and sisters, please ponder over these ayaat before you take any action against another Muslim – especially when utilizing the kuffaar to achieve these aims! This is not a light matter! You are literally toying with your imaan!
Issue #4: The order of child custody
وَ الْحَضَانَةُ لِلْأُمِّ بَعْدَ الطَلَاقِ إِلَى احْتِلَامِ الذَّكَرِ وَ نِكَاحِ الْأُنْثَى وَ دُخُولٍ بِهَا ، وَ ذَلِكَ بَعْدَ الْأُمِّ إِنْ مَاتَتْ أَوْ نُكِحَتْ لِلْجَدَّةِ ثُمَّ لِلْخَالَةِ ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ مِنْ ذَوِي رَحِمِ الْأُمِّ أَحَدٌ فَالْأَخَوَاتُ وَ الْعَمَّاتُ ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُونُوا فَالْعَصَبَةُ.
After a divorce, the woman has custody (al-hadaanah) of a boy until he reaches puberty and a girl until she marries and the marriage consummated. After that if the mother dies or remarries, custody goes to the maternal grandmother (al-jaddah) and then the maternal aunt (al-khaalah). If there are no female relatives of the mother, then custody goes to one of the sisters and paternal aunts. If there are none, then custody goes to the relatives on the father’s side of the family.
عِيَّ حَدَّثَنِي عَمْرُو بْنُ شُعَيْبٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ جَدِّهِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو أَنَّ امْرَأَةً قَالَتْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ ابْنِي هَذَا كَانَ بَطْنِي لَهُ وِعَاءً وَثَدْيِي لَهُ سِقَاءً وَحِجْرِي لَهُ حِوَاءً وَإِنَّ أَبَاهُ طَلَّقَنِي وَأَرَادَ أَنْ يَنْتَزِعَهُ مِنِّي فَقَالَ لَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ((أَنْتِ أَحَقُّ بِهِ مَا لَمْ تَنْكِحِي))
It is narrated on the authority of ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father, from his grandfather Abdullah ibn ‘Amr that a woman said to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace: “O Messenger of Allah! This is my child. My belly was a container for him, my breast was a provider of milk for him, and my lap was a holder for him. His father divorced me, and he wants to take him from me.” On that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said, “You have more of a right over him as long as you do not get married.”
Islam is a complete way of life. Allah has sent down guidelines touching every aspect of life; and child-custody is no exception to the rule. When the marriage has reached its end, the mother maintains the right to raise the children under normal circumstances. However, she forfeits her right to custody under certain circumstances. One of example of a mother loosing the right of custody is in the event that she remarries. If she remarries, the custody of the children is transferred to her mother (i.e. their maternal grandmother) and so on.
It is understood that all of the people involved in the upbringing of the children are practicing Muslims. If one of the relatives is not a Muslim or a major sinner to such an extent that it will affect the children, then this relative is skipped and custody is transferred to the next relative. For example, if the maternal grandmother is a Christian and the maternal aunt is a Muslim, the children are put in the custody of this maternal aunt (even though the grandmother comes first in the order of custody).
For many of us Muslims living in America, this list is very short. Many of the Muslims in this country are the only Muslims in their family. For Abdullah and Fulaanah, the upbringing of their children would be with one of them and no one else.
When Fulaanah went to the kuffaar for judgment in this affair, she undermined the application of Islam and gave preference to the laws of the disbelievers (ahkaam ul-kuffaar). When this case goes before a judge, he or she is not going to care what the shari’ah says regarding child custody. Fulaanah and women like her want to ‘win’ regardless if this ‘win’ is in opposition to what Allah has revealed. If she is ultimately victorious in court, she would have custody of the children (along with all of the financial benefits) regardless if she remarries or not.
Imaam as-Suyuti mentions an important story in his famous book Tarikh al-Khulafaa'. This story has been narrated by Abul-Aswad. He said: Two men brought a dispute to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family and grant them peace, and he gave judgment between them. The one who had judgment given against him said, 'Let us go to 'Umar ibn al-Khattaab,' and so the two of them went to him. The man said, 'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, gave judgment in my favor against this man and he said, "Let's go to 'Umar."' 'Umar said, 'Is that so?' He said, 'Yes.' So 'Umar said, 'Stay where you are until I come out to you.' Then he came out to them wrapping his sword in his garment and struck the one who said, 'Let's go to 'Umar,' and killed him. The other returned and said, 'O Messenger of Allah, By Allah, 'Umar killed my companion!' So he said, 'I wouldn't have thought that 'Umar would have ventured to kill a believer.' Then Allah revealed.
* فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُواْ فِيۤ أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجاً مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً *
"No, by your Lord, they do not believe until they ask you to judge between them in what they disagree about and find in themselves no inhibition, regarding what you decide, but submit, in full submission. "
He declared there was to be no retaliation or compensation for the blood of the man and declared 'Umar free from any wrong in his killing.
This should be a wake-up call to any Muslim who is not satisfied with what the Messenger of Allah has left behind for us. This is a right which is due to him – not only during his life – but after his death as well. Notice how Allah nullified the belief (imaan) of the one who was killed, by His words “No, by your Lord, They do not believe…” It should be noted that this dispute was related to agriculture. One man lost his deen and his life because he wasn’t satisfied with the ruling of the Prophet and by extension al-Islam!
Abu Muhammad 'Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-'As, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:
((لاَ يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يَكُونَ هَوَاهُ تَبَعًا لِمَّا جِئْتُ بِهِ))
"None of you (truly) believes until his desires are in accordance with what I have brought."
The benefits of adhering to the Sunnah in this matter are many and should be clear to anyone with eyes to see. Just to mention a couple: Many women with children find it difficult to remarry because some men are apprehensive about dealing with step-children and ‘baby daddy drama’. Many young girls are sexually molested by men who are often trusted relatives or other men who have access to them. Adhering to the Sunnah would invite Allah’s divine pleasure upon His obedient servants and decrease many of the social ills stemming from these un-Islamic living situations.
In contrast, it is also clear to see how this one act of revenge for perceived wrongs on the part of the woman can lead generations of suffering for the innocent casualties of this Shaytanic war of the genders.
Dear Muslims, take all of these things into consideration before attempting to secure the custody of your children using the system of the disbelievers. Submit to Allah’s order! You will be happier in the long run.
Issue #5: Consuming Wealth Acquired Unlawfully
The Shari’ah is very specific as to what the man is financially responsible for during marriage and after the dissolution of the union. Under normal circumstances, the husband is financially responsible for his wife and his children. If there is a divorce, the husband is responsible for the maintenance of his soon-to-be ex-wife until her iddah or waiting period is completed. He is also liable for his children until his daughter marries and his son until he is able to care for himself. Once the sister’s iddah is finished he owes her nothing at all monetarily.
What we have mentioned above are general rulings which are well-known in Islam. However, there are situations when these general rules change. For example, if she has been granted a divorce by means of a khul’a her iddah may be the same but the husband is no longer financially responsible for her upkeep. Perhaps, there may be some sort of agreement between the spouses in place which may also change the normal order of things.
In these types of situations, the state government does not take Islamic Law into consideration when determining the amount of child support or for how long this court-mandated child support will be enforced. The state also does not take Islamic Law into consideration if and when alimony is granted. This is the case even if both parties openly claim to be devout Muslims.
What we have witnessed over the years is that the mother of the child is awarded child-support by the courts; and usually the amount awarded is considerably larger than what the father would be responsible for under an authentically Islamic government. Does the woman take the excess money and return it to the father? It may be the right thing to do but we all know that this is not what is happening. When the woman receives money over and above what is required for the maintenance of her children and she spends this money, she has consumed haraam wealth. Allah ta’ala says:
* وَلاَ تَأْكُلُوۤاْ أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِٱلْبَاطِلِ *
And do not consume your wealth among yourselves in falsehood!
Ibn ‘Abbas said that this refers to the one who takes a false oath in order to appropriate the wealth of his brother falsely. This wealth is as haraam as the money which is acquired by means of a bank robbery. This haraam money cannot be laundered. If this money is spent on anything, that thing which is purchased is haraam and will not yield any benefit for the purchaser!
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said,
((إِنَّ رِجَالًا يَتَخَوَّضُونَ فِي مَالِ اللهِ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ فَلَهُمُ النَّارُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ))
“People who are busy with unjustly acquiring Allah’s wealth (that is, whatever comes from Him) will deserve the Fire on the Day of Standing.”
Some women may feel that this is justified, especially if they feel as though they have been wronged by the father of their children. This may be their way of ‘getting back’ at him for all of the heartache and misery. Fulaanah and sisters like her have to understand that Allah sees all and is aware of all things. Using the kuffaar and their mechanisms to steal the wealth of an ex-husband may give a scorned woman some type of short-lived satisfaction but this action kills the imaan, good deeds, and the spirit at the same time. If this course of action is wrong for a woman who has a legitimate gripe against her ex-husband, what about the one who is just ‘pimping the system’ at the expense of her children and her ex-husband?
Issue #6: Taking a False Oath
In situations such as this, both parties are called on to testify in court or before some other authority. In many cases such as this one, the woman takes a false oath. In other words, Fulaanah lied under oath in order to achieve her objectives. Al-yameenu l-ghamuus or taking a false oath is a kabaa’ir or a major sin in Islam. Fulaalah swore that she was in eminent danger and that her safety and that of her children was at risk. During the time period in which she claimed to be in danger, she was calling, texting, emailing, visiting and moving in and out of her marital home at will. She also did not have physical custody of her children during this time; however she swore under oath that she did. Text messages prove that the contact between Fulaanah and Abdullah were cordial.
Abu Umaamah said: We were with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said “If someone is ordered (by a judge) to take an oath (in a dispute), and he takes a false oath in order to appropriate the property of a Muslim, it becomes incumbent upon Allah to send him to the Fire and forbid him the Garden.” Someone asked: What if it is something small, O Messenger of Allah? He replied, “Even if it is a twig (miswak) from the Arak tree.” Hafs bin Maysarah remarked that this was a very harsh hadith, to which the narrator (Abu Umaamah) replied: Does it not say in the Book of Allah:
* إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَشْتَرُونَ بِعَهْدِ ٱللَّهِ وَأَيْمَانِهِمْ ثَمَناً قَلِيلاً أُوْلَـٰئِكَ لاَ خَلاَقَ لَهُمْ فِي ٱلآخِرَةِ وَلاَ يُكَلِّمُهُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَلاَ يَنظُرُ إِلَيْهِمْ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَامَةِ وَلاَ يُزَكِّيهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ *
Truly, those who sell Allah’s covenant and their oaths for a small price will have no portion in the Hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and theirs will be a painful punishment.
This is a non-issue to those who don’t fear Allah because it is common place in our society. But for the believer who has taqwa, the issue is a grave one. Being on the wrong side could earn the wrong doer the Hell-Fire. May Allah protect us all from this!
Issue #7: Inciting Enmity Among the Muslims
Islam is a way of life that holds the family in high regard. Healthy Muslim families are the foundation of vibrant Muslim communities. When a Muslim man is rumored to be a ‘deadbeat’ or abusive, he is not only looked at as being morally bankrupt but he is also seen as being irreligious. When a man neglects and abuses his family it is a strong indicator that he is not a true follower of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. This is the case because he has taught us that the best of us are those who are the best to their families: and he is the best of us in relation to his family.
A person becomes Muslim by means of reciting two (2) sentences called the shahadah. “I bear witness that there is no god except Allah. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” It is understood by the Muslim who says this that he will learn about, love, and imitate Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The reports of the Prophet’s life are numerous and well-documented. His treatment of his family is no exception. It is well-known that he was the best husband a woman could hope for. And he never hit his wives nor did he neglect his children. Therefore if a man is abusive of his family, he is the opposite of the one who he claims to follow!
Abdullah is a very active and visible member of the Muslim community. When Fulaanah left the home she began to go around to various communities claiming that Abdullah was abusive. When things like this happen there are usually other sisters who rally to sisters like Fulaanah’s aid and provide support for her. The problem with this is that Fulaanah’s claims are unsubstantiated; and from the evidence which this writer has seen – blatant lies!
عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ: ((لَوْ يُعْطَى النَّاسُ بِدَعْوَاهُمْ لَادَّعَى رِجَالٌ أَمْوَالَ قَوْمٍ وَدِمَاءَهُمْ، لَكِنَّ الْبَيِّنَةَ عَلَى الْمُدَّعِي، وَالْيَمِينَ عَلَى مَنْ أَنْكَرَ))
On the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said: "Were people to be given in accordance with their claim, men would claim the fortunes and lives of other people, but the burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim, and the taking of an oath is incumbent upon him who denies."
As this hadith indicates, if we were to believe what everybody has to say people would begin to lay claim to other people’s lives and property. Most of the Muslims are uneducated in regards to the proper way to respond when they hear negative information about someone. Because this involves a Muslim woman, hearts begin to ‘bleed’ and others begin to sympathize and emphasize with the sister because so many of them have experienced similar abuse. Some other women don’t even care if Fulaanah is telling the truth or not, supporting her somehow (in their minds) strikes a blow against abusive men.
Imam al-Hasan al-Basri said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace “Would never take someone’s word over someone else’s.” In other words, he would never believe someone or take their words into consideration until he heard from both sides. Most of us don’t do that, so when we hear some ‘juicy’ news about someone it just gets passed along and people begin to take sides. In this case, some women have taken Abdullah as their enemy along with any brother or sister stupid enough to support or befriend him. Some women have used this situation as an excuse to abandon the Masjid where Abdullah is a respected member.
It should be easy for the reader to see how this situation can turn Muslims against each other. Muslims who were once friends are no longer speaking or cordial with each other. Time will tell but, this situation could possibly pit two masjids against each other. Allah, the Most High says:
* وَٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا ٱكْتَسَبُواْ فَقَدِ ٱحْتَمَلُواْ بُهْتَاناً وَإِثْماً مُّبِيناً *
Those who harm believing men and believing women undeservedly, bear the guilt of slander (buhtaan) and clear sin (ithman mubeen).
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ(( أَلَا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِخِيَارِكُمْ)) قَالُوا بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ((أَلَا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِشِرَارِكُمْ الْمَشَّاءُونَ بِالنَّمِيمَةِ الْمُفْسِدُونَ بَيْنَ الْأَحِبَّةِ الْبَاغُونَ لِلْبُرَآءِ الْعَنَتَ))
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace once asked: “Shall I inform you who are the vicious ones among you?” The listeners said: “Please, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “The vicious ones among you are those  who go around carrying tales (al-mashshaa’una bin-nameemah),  sowing hatred among friends (al-mufsiduuna bayna l-ahibbah), and  creating trouble where there is none (al-baaghuuna lil-buraa’i –l’anata).”
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ((لَا يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ نَمَّامٌ))
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said, “The tale-bearer (nammaam) will not enter Paradise (al-jannah).
Imam Adh-Dhahabi says that “A tale-bearer is a person who comes to someone and says: ‘So-and-so said such-and-such, and so-and-so did this and that;’ without there being any benefit or public interest served by such a report.”
Fulaanah and sisters like her have to know that when they are making moves like this - only to obtain some sort of financial gain - they are responsible for every friendship destroyed, every marriage ruined and every time someone uses this as an excuse not to pray or learn in the House of Allah.
These are not only sins and crimes against the individual who commits them but these crimes have ripple effects that reach farther than we can imagine. For example, there was a sister on Facebook who doesn’t know Abdullah or Fulaanah personally. However she feels as if she knows enough about the situation to slander and call offensive nicknames to those who are associated with Abdullah. One day she went on a vicious tirade against one of Abdullah’s close associates and had most of the personal information related to Abdullah and Fulaanah completely wrong. She didn’t even have the right ethnicity. And this sister lives over 5 hours away from them. This sister - who doesn’t know anyone directly involved in the situation - now has to face Allah with a host of sins on her record all because of some false information put on the ‘grapevine’ by Fulaanah. May Allah protect us all from falling in the traps laid by Shaytan!
Children are a blessing from Allah and can be a means by which a parent can enter al-Jannah. This blessing is abused by many and traded in for some financial reward in the life of this world. Some of our brothers and sisters are ‘prostituting’ our children by using them as money making tools. Many of us have given up the Islamic way of life and chosen the millah of the disbelievers. This capitalist millah commodifies the human being, especially the weaker ones such as our children.
In this paper we have discussed a sad situation where some children were snatched away from their father, their home, their friends, and everyone who they knew and love; by their mother who has decided to fast-track her way to financial freedom. In doing so, she has even undermined her own spirituality and standing with Allah. She disobeyed Allah by leaving the marital home before the divorce was complete (without necessity). She has broken family ties. She has sought the help of the disbelievers against a believer. Fulaanah is attempting to subvert the Islamic order of child custody by inducing the government of the disbelievers to award her full custody of her children regardless of her marital status. She is also seeking to take Abdullah’s wealth from him by force in order to support herself. She has taken several false oaths to achieve her goals. And lastly, she has turned Muslims against each other by tale-bearing and spreading false and negative information against her ex-husband Abdullah.
This situation is far from over. In the meantime, we pray that both of them return to Allah (in tawbah) and seek out Islamic solutions to their problems. We pray that Fulaanah sees the error of her ways and submits to Allah completely before her children are scarred any further.
The intent behind this paper was to assist – not only the scholar or the leader – but also to help the common person – male or female – understand the weight of their actions from an Islamic perspective. We pray that whoever reads this will ponder and think long and hard before commodifying their children! Our children belong to Allah, not us. We are only their caretakers and we will be questioned on how we took care of them. They are not our personal cash-cows! May Allah rectify all of our situations!
Imam Na’eem Abdullah is the Imam of Nur uz-Zamaan Institute and one of the Imams at Masjid al-Mu’min of Pittsburgh, PA. He is a husband, father, author, lecturer and radio show host.
Nur uz-Zamaan Institute
 Imam an-Nawawi, The Etiquettes and Qualifications of Issuing Islamic Judgment, of a Mufti, and of the one seeking his opinion, (Al-Fardani Publishers and Distributors, Birmingham, UK, 1997), 31 (40).
 Islamic legal rulings; pl. of fatwa
 These are not their real names.
 The PFA has been done away with. Now Abdullah only sees his children on weekends (part of it). This will continue until their custody case goes before a judge in the coming months.
Ar- Risaalah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawaani: Abu Muhammad Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawaani was from the Berber tribe of Nafzawa and lived and studied in Qayrawan (Tunisia). He was the Imam of the Malikis in his time and their model. He had a comprehensive grasp of the school of Imam Malik and explained his statements. He had extensive knowledge. His memory and transmission were staggering. He defended the Maliki School and established evidence in support of it. He was a scholar devoted to the education of the youth. His scholarship still remains in a prominent position as one of the earliest proponents of education in history. His ar-Risaalah is a summary of the main aspects of ‘aqeedah (Faith), fiqh (Jurisprudence) and mu’amalah (our day to day interactions). It is divided into small, easy to read and understandable chapters. His impact is easily attested to by the amount of commentaries that have been written on this blessed book. Abu Muhammad Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd died in 386 year after the Hijrah (996 C.E.).
 Abdur Rahman I. Doi, Woman in Shari’ah (Islamic Law) (Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd, 1989),104
 Qur’an: Surah at-Talaq (65), verse 1
 As we mentioned earlier, Abdullah was allowed to contact his children by telephone. However, there is a catch to that because the children don’t have a phone. And the only way for them to contact him is through the use of the Fulaanah’s phone; which could possibly be used against Abdullah, and used as a “proof” of him violating the order established in the PFA forbidding him from contacting Fulaanah.
 Qur’an: Surah an-Nisaa’ (4), verse 1
 Qur’an: Surah Muhammad (47), verses 22-23
 This book is easy to find and has been translated into English with the title “The Major Sins.”
 Qur’an: Surah Aal ‘Imraan (3), verse 118
 Maulaun Mufti Muhammad Shafi’, Ma’ariful Qur’an
 Qur'an: Surah an-Nisaa’ (4), verse 144
 Qur’anic commentary
 Qur’an; Surah al-Maa’idah (5), verse:51
 Ar-Risaalah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawaani
 Abu Dawud and Musnad of Imam Ahmad
 Qur’an: Surah an-Nisaa’ (4), verse 65
 Imaam an-Nawawi's Arba'een (40 Hadith) # 41
 There are many contemporary issues which challenge the stability of the home when step-children are present. For example, many of them are violently rebellious and do not respect authority especially that of a strange male.
 A khul’a is when the woman initiates the divorce. Normally, the divorce is in the hands of the man. In the case of the khul’a the woman demands it. This can take place by mutual agreement of the spouses or she can take her case to the Muslim authority. It is sometimes translated as a ‘ransom’ because the khul’a is granted when she gives something in return for her release from the marriage.
 Qur’an: Surah al-Baqarah (2), verse 188
 This was related by Imam al-Bukhari
 Related by Imam Muslim (kitaabul-Imaan)
 Qur’an: Surah Aal ‘Imraan (3), verse 77
 This is a fine (hasan) hadith that was related by al-Imam al-Bayhaqi and others, may Allah be pleased with them.
 This statement is mentioned in the Shifa’ of Qadi Iyad.
 Qur'an al-Ahzaab (33), verse 58
 This hadith was reported by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad.
 This hadith is agreed upon (Bukhari and Muslim) and is narrated by Hudhayfah, may Allah be pleased with him.