Ilhan Omar and the Revolving Doors of Marriage

A curous marital history raises some intriguing questions.

U.S Rep. Ilhan Omar presents herself as a practicing Muslim — she wears a head-covering out of religious conviction, talks proudly of her Muslim heritage, speaks at fundraisers for the Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) and often seems to take the side of Islamic regimes over against U.S. interests. (Notably, she has praised her native Somalia, defended Hamas leadership over its rocket attacks on Israel and sided with the mullahs of Iran over against the present foreign policy actions of the United States.)

Yet, at the same time, she wishes to be seen as a progressive Democrat. So she stands as a proud feminist even though Islam as a worldwide movement is the greatest oppressor of women ever to control human behavior patterns. She claims to be a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights, even though Shari’a law commands that those declared guilty of homosexual behavior must be executed — this is based on three passages in the Qur’an (7.80-84; 26.165-166, and 4.16) and numerous Hadith traditions such as this one from Sunan Abu Dawud 4462:

The Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot [Lot] (i.e., the people of Sodom), execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”

The conflict between settled Islamic law and Western leftist values is inescapable, but it is nonetheless ignored by both Muslim and secular progressives alike so they may harmoniously band together to destroy a larger, common enemy: traditional Western culture founded upon a biblical worldview and ethic. Hence, Ilhan Omar and so many others are able to live a lie without batting an eyelash or being challenged in their hypocrisy.

Omar’s past life is coming under increasing scrutiny as she dwells in the public spotlight. One area of special interest is her marriage history. She has been married and divorced two times, is married once again but apparently has recently filed for divorce a third time. In our present culture this is not all that unusual, sadly, but it is even more acceptable in Muslim circles since marriage is treated solely as a legal contract, not as the lifelong partnership/covenant envisioned in the Bible. What is a bit surprising, however, is the freedom Omar has had in initiating her divorces. Under Islamic law the husband can procure a divorce instantly for almost any reason, but the wife is extremely limited in her capacity to seek legal exit from the marriage.

Omar’s marital history is a bit complicated, particularly if she claims to submit to Shari’a, as any good Muslim must. Here’s a timeline of her marriages and divorces, according to civil and legal documents:

  • 2002 — Islamic religious marriage to Ahmed Abdisalan Hirsi
    • They have two children before divorcing
  • 2008 — They are divorced according to Shari’a law
  • 2009 — A few months after the divorce, Omar marries Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in a state-sanctioned ceremony.
    • no children come from this union; apparently Hirsi, Omar and Elmi all live together in the same house for the next two years.
    • questions have been raised about whether Elmi and Omar are brother and sister, and the marriage was arranged “for immigration reasons.” Omar denies this.
  • 2011 — Omar separates from Elmi in a religious ceremony but does not file for legal divorce.
  • 2012 — Within a few months by Islamic ceremony she enters into a remarriage with Hirsi. Their third child, Ilwad, is born June 11, 2012. You can do the math for yourself.
  • 2017 — Omar files for legal divorce from Elmi late in the year.
  • 2018 — Divorce is granted early in the year. One month later, she marries Hirsi in a civil ceremony.

A few things stand out at first glance. From the perspective of Shari’a law, although a Muslim man can have up to four wives concurrently, a Muslim woman can be married to only one Muslim man at a time. Marriages contracted among Muslims, whether civil or religious, are recognized by Islamic courts as valid.

Though Omar has attempted to spin her merry-go-round marriages as “religious/cultural”  or “legal”, her distinctions fall flat. As a Muslim entering into a religious marriage before Allah, she must consider that marriage even more legitimate than one merely solemnized before the State. Otherwise she places a human authority above Allah. Likewise, if she dismisses her first union with Hirsi as only an affair, not a “true” marriage, then according to Shari’a law, she and Hirsi are guilty of repeated fornication (the penalty for which is death by stoning) and the children of this relationship are ever in a state of disgrace.

If, on the other hand, she recognizes her relationship with Hirsi as a true marriage, then according to Shari’a, when they are irrevocably divorced (which is accomplished with a threefold declaration by the husband of “talaq”) they cannot be remarried until Omar has been married to another man, consummated that marriage with a sexual union, and then been irrevocably divorced from that husband. At that point she would be able to remarry her first husband Hirsi.

This bizarre arrangement stems from “revelation” in the Qur’an found in Sura 2:230 —

After a divorce for the third time, it is not lawful for the husband to resume marital relations with her or remarry her until she has been married and divorced by another husband. In that case, there is no sin for the former husband to marry her if they (both) think that they can abide by the law. These are the laws of God. He explains them for the people of knowledge. (Sarwar trans.)

That the wife in this case must have engaged in sex with the second husband bef0re being divorced and remarried to the first husband is confirmed by a hadith tradition found three times in Sahih Bukhari (7.72.715; 7.63.187; 8.73.107) as well as in al-Muwatta Imam Malik (28.7.17). Here’s the version from Bukhari 7.72.715:

Narrated ‘Ikrima: Rifa’a divorced his wife whereupon ‘AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. ‘Aisha [Muhammad’s young and favorite wife] said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (‘Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah’s Apostle came, ‘Aisha said, “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!” When ‘AbdurRahman heard that his wife had gone to the Prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, “By Allah! I have done no wrong to him but he is impotent and is as useless to me as this,” holding and showing the fringe of her garment, ‘Abdur-Rahman said, “By Allah, O Allah’s Apostle! She has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifa’a.” Allah’s Apostle said, to her, “If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifa’a unless Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you.” Then the Prophet saw two boys with ‘Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), “Are these your sons?” On that ‘AbdurRahman said, “Yes.” The Prophet said, “You claim what you claim (i.e., that he is impotent)? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow.”

The woman in question seeks release from her second marriage so she can go back to her first husband. Apparently, her present husband is physically abusive (she is sporting deep bruises from his beatings, as Muhammad’s wife ‘Aisha points out to the prophet). Additionally, she claims he is impotent and cannot satisfy her sexually, meaning their marriage had never been consummated. The husband, ‘Abdur-Rahman, learning that his wife had gone to the prophet to complain, rushed over to defend himself and his marriage. Disputing her charge of impotence, he claimed that she was rebellious toward him and only wanted to return to her first husband. Muhammad completely overlooks the issue of physical abuse by ‘Abdur-Rahman (after all, the Qur’an gives license to the husband to beat his wife or wives if he “fears rebellion” from them and they have not responded favorably to lesser punishments (see 4:34)), and deals only with the wife’s desire to divorce ‘Abdur- Rahman in order to return to Rifa’a, her first husband. He makes it clear that she is “stuck” with Abdur-Rahman until she allows him to consummate the marriage with her, after which point he can divorce her and she can be permissibly remarried to her first husband.

This arrangement has come to be known as “nikah halala” or “nikah hilla”. The Arabic word “nikah” literally means sexual intercourse, but more largely refers to the institution of marriage, to which intercourse is largely confined (except for sex slaves and those raped licitly during jihad, according to Shari’a law). “Halala” and “hilla” come from the same Arabic root word used to designate permissible foods to eat (halal) over against forbidden ones (haram). So, nikah halala means “permitted or licit sex” and has come to designate a marriage entered into specifically so as to make a divorced woman “permissible” for her first husband to marry once again, after she has been “enjoyed” sexually by another man in an intervening marriage. In fact, in Islamic Arabic parlance, the intervening husband is known as a “muhallil” (also from the same root for halal), which means “one who makes permissible/lawful.”

Sadly, in some parts of the Muslim world this has turned into something of a cottage industry with men hiring themselves out as muhallils, all in “a humanitarian effort” to reunite couples divorced through a husband’s impetuous and hotheaded “triple talaq” (talaq is the Arabic word for divorce, and when a husband repeats it three times in succession to his wife, she is immediately and irrevocably divorced). If he regrets his hasty act and wants to keep his wife, his only recourse is to find a muhallil who will marry his wife, sleep with her at least once, and then agree to divorce her immediately.

According to Shari’a law as found in one popular manual (Reliance of the Traveller), such a “one night stand” kind of marriage is not valid, if the purpose of the sham marriage is only to allow a divorced couple to remarry. But there is a way around this legally — as long as that purpose is not explicitly stipulated in the written marriage contract, then the nikah halala is legal:

m6.12 The following types of marriage are legally invalid:

(3) or to marry a woman after her threefold divorce solely to cohabit and thus permit her (dis: n7.7) to remarry her previous husband (A: which is an enormity (dis: p29)), though if the marriage agreement is made for this reason but does not expressly stipulate it, then it is legally valid (dis: c5.2).

So, with regard to practicing Muslim Ilhan Omar, who married and divorced Ahmed Hirsi (2002-08), and then married him again in 2012, such a remarriage would only be allowed to them if she had married and been sexually active with another husband in the intervening years. Omar asserts that this is indeed the case, as she legally married Ahmed Elmi in 2009. However, there are significant questions as to the legality of this marriage since there is growing evidence that Elmi may in fact be Omar’s full brother (from the same parents). If that is the case, then Omar and Elmi might not have consummated the relationship — it would have been a marriage only on paper, to grant him legal status in the USA and the ability to quickly pursue a college degree (which he did). However, if the marriage was never consummated, then Omar’s remarriage to Hirsi would be forbidden according to Islamic law. On the other hand, if she and Elmi did consummate their marriage and are in fact sister and brother, then they would be guilty of incest, a crime in America and a major sin in Islam. Such a marriage would not be regarded as valid by Shari’a law, and would again not qualify as “nikah halala”. In this case, her subsequent remarriage to Hirsi would also be forbidden.

Read the rest here.


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