Category Archives: Religion

Hark the Herald Angels Sing, What Does Christmas Really Mean?

I was listening to a talk radio show a few days ago when a British-born muslim gentleman called in to say that  Christmas, to him, is about spending time with his family, buying presents for his children and putting up Christmas decorations.

The next caller, a Christian woman, said Christmas to her was about spending quality time with her  friends and family. These comments made me  ponder how relevant the religious significance of Christmas really is in present day UK.

Although much has been said and written on how Christmas has snowballed into a commercial ritual, my question is this: how should Christmas really be celebrated?

Now, with Christian scriptures being silent on Christmas, how it should be celebrated and the exact date and year of Jesus’ birth,  it really is little wonder that the origins of this commemorative holiday is steeped in so much controversy.

I do not intend to fuel this controversy as I really have nothing to add to what historians and some Christian theologians have already said and written on this subject.  I do, however, wonder if there ever was a period in the UK, within living memory, when Christmas was a truly religious affair?

If the comments made by the Muslim gentleman and Christian woman, are anything to go by, maybe Christmas has now become a secular holiday with no religious significance whatsoever.

Personally, I do believe in Jesus Christ and his miraculous birth, but I do not mark the occasion as a religious holiday. Consequently, Christmas has no religious significance for me, although it accords me two weeks off work annually to relax and ‘chill out’ in preparation for the new year.

Please take my poll and let me know what Christmas means to you? Also feel free to leave a narrative comment if you want to.

Happy Holidays !

Temporary Wife: A Tragic End

Shahla Jaled

Despite pleas from the international community, the Iranian authorities proceeded with the execution of 40-year old Shahla Jaled, two days ago, for the alleged killing of her lover’s wife in 2002. Some believe that Shahla, who was the ‘temporary wife’ of former Iranian soccer star Nasser Mohammed Khani, was wrongly convicted of the crime in 2004 and again in 2009.

Now, whether it is America’s execution of mass murderers; Malaysia’s killing of drug traffickers; or Iran’s execution of political dissidents among others, the death penalty is wrong in my view. Not only is the act barbaric, it is also debatable whether there really is any justice in killing someone for killing someone. Oh, but I digress.

My main rant today isn’t on the death penalty, but ‘temporary marriages’ also known as Mut’ah in Arabic.  What exactly is mut’ah?  It is a transient marriage of pleasure available to a man so that he can engage in lawful sex with a woman for a fixed period – anything from one hour to 99 years. At the end of the fixed period, the temporary marriage is automatically annulled, although the couple may extend it if they wish.

The temporary marriage contract is sealed by the woman declaring that she is marrying herself to the man for a specified amount and for a specified period. The man accepts the proposal, pays the woman a dower and they are temporarily married. The man has no financial responsibility for the woman other than the dower he has paid. The couple do not live together and generally, these unions are not supposed to lead to children, although they sometimes do.

It is important to note that mut’ah is not practiced by all Muslims. It is mainly  advocated by Shiite Muslims, who believe that mut’ah is a benefit given to them by God. They also generally cite a verse from the Holy Qur’an (Surat An-Nisa, Verse 24) to justify this practice. Shiites also argue that mut’ah was common and legal during the time of Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) and its practice was never abrogated by God or the Prophet. Sunni Muslims on the other hand hold that the practice of mut’ah was permitted by Prophet Mohammed, but only on two distinct occasions; for three days each, after which it was prohibited until the day of resurrection.

Shiites offer further justification for temporary marriages. These include the following:

  • it is the only option available to widows and single women over 45 to engage in legal relationships if proposals of permanent marriage are not forthcoming;
  • it enables men to satisfy their sexual needs where there is a scarcity of women;
  • it is a good way for a young man and woman to get to know each other before they decide to embark upon permanent marriage; and
  • it is better than the shameful practice of cohabitation, which is rampant in the western world.

Personally, I find the reasons outlined above to be ludicrous at best. How could anyone possibly argue that cohabitation is better than prostitution? Or that pleasure marriages can realistically be a precursor to a permanent marriage? For want of a better phrase, I think mut’ah stinks. It is nothing short of legalised prostitution. And if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, then surely it must be a duck. Why else would a man want to get married for three days, 10 days or even six months, considering the fact that even if the woman is rich, under mut’ah, he has no right to that wealth?

And so Shahla Jaled is no more. If she really did kill the wife of her lover, what drove her to it? Could she have been driven by a desire to extend the temporary union, or better still, possible upgrade to a more permanent marriage? Furthermore, would she still be alive today if she had not become involved with Nasser Mohammed Khani? God knows best.

Temporary marriage = legalised prostitution