By no means do I want anyone to read into my words here and think that I am somehow, in anyway blaming Aasiya Hassan (May Allah give her a spacious grave and eternal justice, ameen) or any other Muslim woman in similar tragic circumstances for the crimes committed upon them. What I am talking about is a sweeping, cross-cultural lack of knowledge or misplaced fear to act on knowledge. Sure, frequently women (and men!) in some cultures do not see any other options than to do as everyone else has always done and they blindly follow others rather than follow The Truth. But, I have also seen American and Western women with seemingly endless access to knowledge and rights completely ignore their opportunities and privileges for whatever various reasons. The Truth is that you do have the right and I would even say that for your deen and your children’s sake, you have a responsibility to know your potential spouse as well as possible before you agree to marry him/her.
According to this letter on Sister Zerqa’s blog, we are talking about a man who may have had a history of domestic violence and yet he still married after a divorce, again married after a 2nd divorce and finally may have murdered his last wife.* If this is true, it seems very likely that the man’s previous maritial problems were not properly considered before he moved on to his 2nd victim and then, inshallah, final victim.
On a smaller scale of destruction, we see a steady stream of sisters who marry brothers with little to less than zero information about the brother’s background. When it comes to light that these brothers are criminals, womanizers, wife-beaters, deadbeats and so-on, who does the sister blame? The brother? The wali? Brothers who already have one wife will refuse to let their prospective wife meet the first wife (if she even knows about her) let alone interview the current wife to have better understanding of the man’s character. And an ex-wife is always completely beyond consideration as a “character reference.” Who better to know a man than his wife? Ah, yes, but we sisters would rather believe it was her fault and we know that we now have before us our perfect mate who will take all our troubles away.
To be clear, Imam an-Nawawee (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in his Riyaadh-us-Saaliheen,“You should know that backbiting is permissible for specific legislated reasons unreachable except by (way of backbiting) they are the following six reasons:
4. The fourth reason is warning the muslims from evil and advising them and that is from several aspects:
B.) From it is when a man inquires about someone before marriage, or entering into a business partnership with someone, or safekeeping something with someone or doing business with someone. It is obligatory upon the one advising not to conceal his condition rather he should mention the shortcomings he has with the sole intention of advising him.
Now this language is a little sexist— sisters, this means you too. You have the right to inquire about someone before marriage, of all the rights you may waive–don’t waive that one.
*I’m trying not to speculate as much as possible.