• li'an

    LI’AN: HUSBANDS, BEWARE!

    LI’AN: INTRODUCTION – In Islam, the relationship between a man and a woman can be legalised by way of a valid marriage solemnisation in accordance with the hukum syara’. With marriage, a household is hoped to be showered with love, affection and harmony between its members. The warmth and tranquillity that are expected to be gained from a husband-wife relationship could be reflected by the verse in the Qur’an which equates a wife as a garment/ clothing for the husband, and vice versa. Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 187:

    هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ ۗ

    Translation by Muhsin Khan:They are Libas [i.e. body cover, or screen, or Sakan, (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with her – as in Verse 7:189) Tafsir At-Tabari], for you and you are the same for them.”

    Ironically, the reality that we have to swallow about marriage is just like what Sylvester Stallone had said in a film entitled Rocky Balboa that “the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. This saying applies similarly in a marriage life. Some marriages survive a long-lasting happiness, whilst some people ended up having a wrecked marriage whereby the marriage eventually dissolves through a divorce. Hence, in this article we would discover a type of oath namely; li’an which could dissolve a marriage solemnisation.

     

    THE DEFINITION OF LI’AN

    Linguistically, li’an derives from the Arabic word; la’ana which means “to curse” or “to condemn” as stated in Kamus Arab-Indonesia Al-Munawwir by Ahmad Wirson Munawwir (1997). Whereas, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam defines it as: mutual repudiation. It is a mutual one in the sense that when a husband accuses his wife of committing adultery (zina) without providing four credible witnesses, by following the instructions laid down in Surah An-Nur, verses 6-7, the wife may then deny the allegation by repudiating in the same manner. The curse (la’nat) takes place at the fifth oath, whereby the wrath of Allah will fall on them if they are lying.

     

    AUTHORITIES FROM THE QUR’AN AND HADITH ON LI’AN

    Li’an is not a new creation of men but has long been recognised and inscribed in the Holy Qur’an.

    In Surah Al-An’am, verse 6-7, Allah says:

    And those who accuse their wives [of adultery] and have no witnesses except themselves – then the witness of one of them [shall be] four testimonies [swearing] by Allah that indeed, he is of the truthful. And the fifth [oath will be] that the curse of Allah be upon him if he should be among the liars.

    And in a hadith reported in Sahih Muslim, it was narrated that:

    Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) saying to the invokers of curse: Your account is with Allah. One of you must be a liar. You have now no right over this woman. He said: Messenger of Allah, what about my wealth (dower that I paid her at the time of marriage)? He said: You have no claim to wealth. If you tell the truth, it (dower) is the recompense for your having had the right to intercourse with her, and if you tell a lie against her, it is still more remote from you than she is...”

     

    THE OCCURRENCES OF LI’AN

    Abd al-Fattah Ibrahim in his book entitled Ahkam al-Usrah fi al-Shari’ah al-Islamiah explains that li’an can take place in two occurrences:

    1. When a husband alleges his wife of committing zina (adultery) but could not bring forth four witnesses.
    2. When a husband denies the nasab of the child borne by the wife due to uncertainty in the process of the child delivery.

     

    PILLARS (ARKAN) AND CONDITIONS OF LI’AN

    Meanwhile, Basri Ibrahim in his book called Pemantapan Sistem Kekeluargaan, page 209, lists out the pillars of li’an into four, namely:

    1. The one who pronounces the li’an (the husband):
      The husband must be the legitimate husband of the wife who has been pronounced li’an upon, and the husband must be of sound mind.
    2. The person who has been pronounced li’an upon (the wife):
      The wife must be the legitimate wife of the husband (who pronounces the li’an) and of sound mind.
    3. The cause (sabab) of li’an:
      The cause of li’an as discussed above is either due to the denial of nasab of the child borne by the wife or accusing/alleging a wife of committing zina.
    4. The pronouncement (lafaz) of li’an:
      The pronouncement of li’an must be in the correct order/sequence. The majority of the scholars (ulama’) are of the view that li’an would be valid if pronounced in the Arabic language or even in other languages. Nevertheless, according to the Hanbali madzhab, any husband and wife who can speak Arabic should pronounce li’an in Arabic as illustrated in the Qur’an.

     

    THE CONDITIONS OF LI’AN

    On the other hand, the conditions of li’an as highlighted by Jabatan Kehakiman Syariah Negeri Kelantan on its online portal are:

    1. The qazaf (the allegation of adultery by the husband towards the wife) must precede the li’an.
    2. The li’an of the husband is followed by the li’an of the wife.
    3. Both of the husband and wife must pronounce the words of li’an.  This is because the pronouncement of li’an is elucidated clearly in the Qur’an and must be pronounced accordingly.
    4. All the five oaths/swears of li’an must be pronounced successively, one after another (mu’allat). 
    5. The Judge must advice the parties not to tell lies whilst pronouncing li’an. 

    According to the above portal, all of the above conditions must be fulfilled for a li’an to be valid.

     

    THE DURATION OF THE DENIAL OF PATERNITY (NASAB)

    Muslim scholars have formed different opinions on the duration of the denial of paternity or in other words, for how long can a husband deny the paternity of the child borne by his wife? In a book entitled Pemantapan Sistem Kekeluargaan written by Basri Ibrahim, the majority of the Muslim scholars (jumhhur fuqaha’) opine that a husband cannot deny his paternity upon a child borne by his wife, after his wife gave birth to/delivered the child.

    On the other hand, according to the writer, the Shafi’i madzhab permits the denial of paternity of a child to be done throughout the wife’s pregnancy until the child is born. Whereas, the scholars of the Hanafi madzhab are of the view that the denial of paternity should be made abruptly as soon as the child is born or during the process of delivery, for the li’an to be valid. In contrast, if the li’an is made after that, the li’an would not be valid. The justification for the view is that the silence of the husband before this connotes that the husband is pleased (redha) with the child. 

    Meanwhile, the Maliki madzhab holds the same view as the Hanafi School, but with two extra conditions attached. Firstly, the husband has not consummated the wife within a period which could cause the wife to be pregnant.  Secondly, the denial of paternity must be done before the birth of the child. If the husband remains silent until the birth of the child, even after one day, the li’an of the husband will not be valid, and the husband will be imposed with a hadd punishment for qazaf due to alleging the wife of committing adultery.

     

    THE CONSEQUENCES OF LI’AN

    Now, we have come to the penultimate part of the discussion on li’an, whereby we would explore the effect(s) of the pronouncement of li’an that both husbands and wives must know before they even think of pronouncing li’an. Wahbah al-Zuhaily in his kitab entitled Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh explains the consequences of li’an as follows:

    1. The hadd punishment for qazaf upon the husband will lapse and the same applies to the wife, whereby the hadd punishment for zina would lapse as well once li’an is made by both parties. 
    2.   It is forbidden for the husband and wife to resume conjugal relation even prior to the faraq   (judicial separation) decreed by the Judge.
    3. The parties should be separated (faraq).
    4. Li’an is a type of oath which would prohibit the parties who pronounced it from reconciling the marriage forever (haram mu’abbad).
    5. If the li’an is made to deny the nasab of the child borne by the wife, the husband is not obligated to the wife and the child as there is no link of lineage intertwined between them (the husband and the child).

     

    CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, li’an shows that apart from the pronouncement of talaq, a marriage can be dissolved when a marriage couple pronounce li’an towards each other, provided that all of the conditions and pillars of li’an (as discussed above) are fulfilled. The pronouncement of li’an should not be treated as a jest, as the wrath or curse of Allah would befall upon those who are not being truthful whilst pronouncing li’an. 

    Looking at the Malaysian context particularly in the State of Selangor, li’an is covered under Section 51 of the Islamic Family Law (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003, whereby the provision briefly states the consequences of li’an. The Section reads: 

    Where the parties to a marriage have taken oath by way of li’an according to Hukum Syarak before a Syarie Judge, upon judgment, the Syarie Judge shall order them to be farak and be separated and to live apart forever.

    From the above provision, similar to what have been discussed above, li’an would result in the parties to the marriage to be judicially separated (faraq) forever as li’an causes a marriage to be haram mu’abbad.

    Meanwhile, under Section 36 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995, a man who alleges his wife of committing adultery without bringing forth four witnesses, and refuses to pronounce li’an is said to have committed qazaf, and would be liable for “a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgitor for “imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both.”

    The punishment for qazaf as prescribed in Surah An-Nur, verse 4 which amounts to 80 lashes can only be duly imposed if the proposal to implement hudud law in Malaysia becomes a success. Wallahu a’lam.