Page 1


Š OnIslam.net 1436 AH / 2015 AC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without a prior written permission from OnIslam.net.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 2

Table of Contents

2

Introduction ....................................................................................... 3 Chapter One: Honorable Status ....................................................... 5 A New Way to Treat Women ............................................................. 6 Status of Women in Islam ................................................................ 11 Eminence Islam Gives Women ......................................................... 18 Chapter Two: Prime Examples ....................................................... 24 `A'ishah: Role Model for Muslim Women ........................................ 25 Umm Salamah: A Family of Immigrants .......................................... 37 Asma' bint Abi Bakr: The One with Two Waist belts ........................ 43 Chapter Three: Misconceptions ..................................................... 45 Shari`ah Laws and Women ............................................................... 46 Women and Laws of Inheritance ..................................................... 53 Women Inferior or Hadith Misinterpreted? .................................... 57 Partitions Between Men and Women in the Mosque ..................... 67 Wife Beating in Islamic Perspective ................................................. 71 About the Authors............................................................................ 75


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 3

Introduction

3

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessing be upon the Messenger, his household and those who followed into his footsteps.

Are women human beings or mere "things" that have no souls?


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 4 4

What to do with a baby girl; should she be kept alive despite all the humiliation she would bring to family or should she be buried alive? How about a widow, is she to be inherited just like the other possessions of the deceased man or perhaps she must immolate herself after her husband's death? These are just examples of questions and practices inflicted on womenfolk in the West and East before Islam. The advent of the final religion of mercy, Islam, was a real light at the end of the tunnel for persecuted and oppressed women. Islam came to affirm the dignity of women, their full human rights, their eligibility for high rank and status both in this world and in the hereafter. The history of Islam testifies that when the teachings and principles of Islam were properly applied, women were fully empowered and thus wonderful women pioneers emerged, excelling in social work, knowledge, and activism. This e-book highlights the great status and honorable rank that Islam assigned to women, recount the stories of some of Muslim female role models, and refute a number of misconceptions raised about women in Islam.

We ask Allah to accept this humble effort and make it beneficial and enlightening. www.OnIslam.net Shari`ah Department


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 5 5

CHAPTER ONE HONORABLE STATUS


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 6 6

A New Way to Treat Women By Sayyid Qutb

{Believers, it is unlawful for you to inherit women against their will, or to bar them from remarrying so that you may make off with part of what you have given them, except when they are guilty of a flagrant indecency. Consort with them in a goodly manner. Even if you are averse to them, it may well be that you are averse to something in which God has placed much good.} (An-Nisaa' 4:19) Women were treated very badly in pre- Islamic Arabia, as they were treated badly in all surrounding ignorant societies. Nowhere in that area were human rights extended to women. Indeed, women were given a position much inferior to that of men so much so that they were more akin to inanimate objects. They were, at the same time, used for entertainment and pleasure, treated as sexual objects in order to satisfy carnal desires. Moreover, women were used as subject matter for pornographic arts and literature.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 7 7

Islam came to purify women of all that filth, giving them back their natural position in order to play their role in the family and in human society. The position Islam gives to women is that which accords with the general principle stated at the outset of Surat An-Nisaa' (Women): {Mankind, fear your Lord, who has created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the two of them spread abroad so many men and women.} (An-Nisaa' 4: 1) Islam also sought to raise the standard of feelings in marital relationships from the low animal level to their highest human level. It adds to them overtones of mutual respect, affection and care, and places them on a much more solid foundation so that they can withstand shocks and outbursts of temper. {Believers, it is unlawful for you to inherit women against their will, or to bar them from remarrying so that you may make off with part of what you have given them, except when they are guilty of a flagrant indecency. Consort with them in a goodly manner. Even if you are averse to them, it may well be that you are averse to something in which God has placed much good.} (An-Nisaa' 4:19) This verse outlaws inheriting women altogether. Before Islam rescued the Arabs from the depths of ignorance into which they had sunk, some Arab clans used to consider that the relatives of a deceased man had an overriding claim to his widow. They inherited her like they inherited his animals and property. Anyone of them could marry her if he so wanted. On the other hand, they could marry her to someone else and take her dowry for themselves. In other words, she was no more than an animal that could be sold at will. On the other hand,


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 8 8

they could bar her from marrying anyone, leaving her at home until she bought her freedom from them. Another tradition practised in Arabia, was one whereby if a woman became a widow, a relative of her deceased husband could throw his garment over her. This gesture was sufficient to assert his claim over her. It signified that she was now his, in the same way as if he had looted something. If she was pretty, he might marry her. If she was ugly, he might confine her to his house until she died when he would inherit her, or else, she would buy her freedom by giving him money. If, on the other hand, she was quick to flee from her husband's home, reaching her own family's home before he could throw his garment over her, she was safe and free. Some Arabs used to divorce women and stipulate that they could not marry anyone without the consent of their former husbands. The only way for a woman in such a position to regain her freedom was to refund her former husband part or all of the dowry she received from him when they were first married. In other Arabian tribes, a widow was kept without marriage until a young boy became old enough to marry her. If one of them had an orphan girl under his charge, he would bar her from marriage until his young son grew up, when he would marry her, taking all her money. There were many other similar practices that conflicted with the honourable view with which Islam looked at women, stating that both man and woman were two parts of a single soul. These practices degraded both women and men alike. For it transformed the relationship between the two sexes into a mercenary one.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 9 9

It is from that low position that Islam raised the relationship between man and woman to such a high, honourable level befitting the dignity of man, whom God has honoured and placed higher than all His creatures. It is indeed the Islamic concept of man and human life that made the elevation of relations between men and women possible. Islam outlawed any possibility of a woman being treated as part of a deceased man's inheritance, like an animal or inanimate object. It also forbade the imposition of shackles and constraints on women that caused them harm, except in the case of their being manifestly guilty of gross immoral conduct. That, however, applied before the later punishment for adultery was prescribed. Moreover, Islam makes women free to choose their husbands. That freedom is enjoyed by every woman, virgin, widow or divorced. Moreover, kind treatment, which is expressed in the Qur'an as {consorting with them in a goodly manner,} is a duty which applies to all, even when a man dislikes his wife. In this context, Islam raises the hope of what may come in the future, which is known only to God. This serves as a restraining factor, which makes man hesitate before severing a marital relationship in response to his initial feelings. It may be true that he is averse to his wife but it is also equally true that there is a great deal of good by which he may benefit if he restrains his feelings and continues to live with his wife: {Consort with them in a goodly manner. Even if you are averse to them, it may well be that you are averse to something in which God has placed much good.} (An-Nisaa' 4:19) The last part of this verse helps people to turn to God in hope. It restrains feelings of hatred until man has thought coolly about his situation. Thus, marital relationships are no longer like straw blown with the wind. Rather,


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 10 10

they derive their strength from the permanent and strongest of all relationships, namely, the relationship between a believer and his Lord. This Qur'anic statement is indicative of the Islamic view of family relationships which will be discussed in part 2 of this Series.

* Taken with slight modifications from the author's In the Shade of the Quran.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 11 11

Status of Women in Islam By Hammuda `Abdul-Ati

The status of woman in Islam constitutes no problem. The attitude of the Qur'an and the early Muslims bear witness to the fact that woman is, at least, as vital to life as man himself, and that she is not inferior to him nor is she one of the lower species. Had it not been for the impact of foreign cultures and alien influences, this question would have never arisen among the Muslims. The status of woman was taken for granted to be equal to that of man. It was, of course, a matter of fact, and no one, then, considered it as a problem at all. In order to understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era or in the modern world of today. Islam has given woman rights and privileges, which she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied as a whole in a comparative manner, rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 12 12

woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find even two identical men or women. This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just and fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights - but not identical - shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality. It is not the tone of Islam that brands woman as the product of the devil or the seed of evil. Nor does the Qur'an place man as the dominant lord of woman who has no choice but to surrender to his dominance. Nor was it Islam that introduced the question of whether or not woman has any soul in her. Never in the history of Islam has any Muslim doubted the human status of woman or her possession of soul and other fine spiritual qualities. Unlike other popular beliefs, Islam does not blame Eve alone for the Original Sin. The Qur'an makes it very clear that both Adam and Eve were tempted; that they both sinned; that Allah's pardon was granted to both after their repentance; and that Allah addressed them jointly. Allah Almighty says: {And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely (of the fruits) thereof where ye will; but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrongdoers.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 13 13

But Satan caused them to deflect therefrom and expelled them from the (happy) state in which they were; and We said: Fall down, one of you a foe unto the other! There shall be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a time. Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the Relenting the Merciful. We said: Go down, all of you, from hence; but verily there cometh unto you from Me a guidance; and whoso followeth My guidance, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.} (AlBaqarah 2: 36-38) In fact the Qur'an gives the impression that Adam was more to blame for that First Sin from which emerged prejudice against woman and suspicion of her deeds. But Islam does not justify such prejudice or suspicion because both Adam and Eve were equally in error, and if we are to blame Eve we should blame Adam as much or even more. The status of woman in Islam is something unique, something novel, something that has no similarity in any other system. If we look to the Eastern Communist world or to the democratic nations, we find that woman is not really in a happy position. Her status is not enviable. She has to work so hard to live, and sometimes she may be doing the same job that a man does but her wage is less than his. She enjoys a kind of liberty which in some cases amounts to libertinism. To get to where she is nowadays, woman struggled hard for decades and centuries. To gain the right of learning and the freedom of work and earning, she had to offer painful sacrifices and give up many of her natural rights. To establish her status as a human being possessing a soul, she paid heavily. Yet in spite of all these costly sacrifices and painful struggles, she has not


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 14 14

acquired what Islam has established by a Divine decree for the Muslim woman. The rights of woman of modern times were not granted voluntarily or out of kindness to the female. Modern woman reached her present position by force, and not through natural processes or mutual consent or Divine teachings. She had to force her way, and various circumstances came to her aid. Shortage of manpower during wars, pressure of economic needs and requirements of industrial developments forced woman to get out of her home - to work, to learn, to struggle for her livelihood, to appear as an equal to man, to run her race in the course of life side by side with him. She was forced by circumstances and in turn she forced herself through and acquired her new status. Whether all women were pleased with these circumstances being on their side, and whether they are happy and satisfied with the results of this course is a different matter. But the fact remains that whatever rights modern woman enjoys fall short of those of her Muslim counterpart. An attempt will be made in the following passages to sum up the attitude of Islam with regard to woman: 1- Woman is recognized by Islam as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. He is the father; she is the mother, and both are essential for life. Her role is not less vital than his. By this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities, and in her there are as many qualities and as much humanity as there are in her partner. To this equal partnership in the reproduction of human kind Allah says: {O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo!


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 15 15

the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.} (Al-Hujurat 49: 13) 2- She is equal to man in bearing personal and common responsibilities and in receiving rewards for her deeds. She is acknowledged as an independent personality, in possession of human qualities and worthy of spiritual aspirations. Her human nature is neither inferior to nor deviant from that of man. Both are members of one another. Allah Almighty says: {And their Lord hath heard them (and He saith): Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one from another‌} (Aal `Imran 3: 195) 3- She is equal to man in the pursuit of education and knowledge. When Islam enjoins the seeking of knowledge upon Muslims, it makes no distinction between man and woman. Almost fourteen centuries ago, Muhammad declared that the pursuit of knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim male and female. This declaration was very clear and was implemented by Muslims throughout history. 4- She is entitled to freedom of expression as much as man is. Her sound opinions are taken into consideration and cannot be disregarded just because she happens to belong to the female sex. It is reported in the Qur'an and history that woman not only expressed her opinion freely but also argued and participated in serious discussions with the Prophet himself as well as with other Muslim leaders. Allah Almighty says: {Allah hath heard the saying of her that disputeth with thee (Muhammad) concerning her husband, and complaineth unto Allah. And Allah heareth your colloquy. Lo! Allah is Nearer, Knower.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 16 16

Such of you as put away your wives (by saying they are as their mothers) - They are not their mothers; none are their mothers except those who gave them birth - they indeed utter an ill word and a lie. And lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Those who put away their wives (by saying they are as their mothers) and afterward would go back on that which they have said; (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch one another. Unto this ye are exhorted; and Allah is informed of what ye do.} (Al-Mujadalah 58: 1-4) Besides there were occasions when Muslim women expressed their views on legislative matters of public interest, and stood in opposition to the Caliphs, who then accepted the sound arguments of these women. A specific example took place during the Caliphate of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. 5- Historical records show that women participated in public life with the early Muslims, especially in times of emergencies. Women used to accompany the Muslim armies engaged in battles to nurse the wounded, prepare supplies, serve the warriors, and so on. They were not shut behind iron bars or considered worthless creatures and deprived of souls. 6- Islam grants woman equal rights to contract, to enterprise, to earn and possess independently. Her life, her property, her honor are as sacred as those of man. If she commits any offense, her penalty is no less or more than of man's in a similar case. If she is wronged or harmed, she gets due compensations equal to what a man in her position would get. 7- Islam does not state these rights in a statistical form and then relax. It has taken all measures to safeguard them and put them into practice as integral articles of Faith. It never tolerates those who are inclined to prejudice against


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 17 17

woman or discrimination between man and woman. Time and again, the Qur'an reproaches those who used to believe woman to be inferior to man. Allah Almighty says: {And they assign unto Allah daughters. Be He glorified! and unto themselves what they desire; When if one of them receiveth tidings of the birth of a female, his face remaineth darkened, and he is wroth inwardly. He bideth himself from the folk because of the evil of that whereof he hath bad tidings, (asking himself): Shall he keep it in contempt, or bury it beneath the dust. Verily evil is their judgment.} (An-Nahl 16: 57-59)

* Excerpted, with slight modifications, from Islam in Focus by Hammuda `Abdul-Ati.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 18 18

Eminence Islam Gives Women By Harun Yahya

The mentality of despising women, externalizing them from society and regarding them as second class is a wicked pagan attitude which have no place in Islam. The Qur'an gives the highlights of a civilized social relationship between men and women. The position of women in Islam has recently been an issue of debate. Some misconceptions arise from either traditional practices that are mistakenly thought to be "Islamic" or from prejudices. However, the real issue is how women are regarded in the Islamic faith; and when we look at this, we see that Islam brings a great social value, freedom and comfort to women. The commandments of Almighty Allah about the status of woman and the relations between man and woman, which have been revealed to us through the Qur'an, comprise full justice. In this regard, Islam suggests equality of rights, responsibilities and duties among both of them.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 19 19

In fact, Islam is based on sympathy, tolerance and respect for the human being; it does not discriminate against woman in this matter. Examples of good morals communicated to us in the Qur'an are universally compatible with human nature, and is valid for all stages of history.

A SUPPORT FOR EACH OTHER Respect for woman and women's rights are within this scope. In the Qur'an, Almighty Allah emphasizes that many tasks and responsibilities of women are the same as for men. Furthermore, while performing these tasks and responsibilities, men and women are to help and support each other. {The men and women of the believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, and establish prayer and pay alms, and obey Allah and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.} (At-Tawbah 9:71)

SAME STATUS, REWARD AND PUNISHMENT Almighty Allah also emphasizes that believers will be rewarded in the same manner according to their deeds, regardless of gender. {Their Lord responds to them: I will not let the deeds of any doer among you go to waste, male or female. You are of one another. ‌} (Aal `Imran 3:195)


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 20 20

{Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did.} (An-Nahl 16:97) In another verse, Muslim men and Muslim women are considered together and it is stressed that both have the same responsibility and status in the sight of Allah. {Men and women who are Muslims, men and women who are believers, men and women who are obedient, men and women who are truthful, men and women who are steadfast, men and women who are humble, men and women who give alms, men and women who fast, men and women who guard their private parts, men and women who remember Allah much: Allah has prepared forgiveness for them and an immense reward.} (Al-Ahzab 33:35) There are many more verses in the Qur'an stating that men and women are exactly equal regarding their responsibilities towards their Lord as well as the rewards or punishments they shall receive in return. There are a few differences, however, in terms of social issues, but these are meant for the comfort and protection of women. The commands of the Qur'an regard the biological differences resulting from their creation and suggest a system that maintains equal justice for both the man and the woman. Islam does not see the woman as an object. Therefore, it is not seen as appropriate that a woman of good morals should marry a man of bad morals, or vice versa. This is revealed in the noble Qur'an as follows: {Corrupt women are for corrupt men and corrupt men are for corrupt women. Good women are for good men and good men are for good women. The latter are innocent of what people say. They will have forgiveness and generous provision.} (An-Nur 24:26)


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 21 21

Also in marriage, duties and responsibilities of the spouses toward each other require equality. Almighty Allah demands both spouses be protective and supervising for each other. This duty is expressed in the Qur'an in the following terms: {‌They are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them‌} (Al-Baqarah 2:187) Many rules and commandments exist in the Qur'an regarding the protection of the marital rights of women. Marriage is based on the will and consent of both parties; the husband has to provide economic support for his wife (AnNisaa' 4:4); the husband has to look after his ex-wife after divorce (At-Talaq 65:6).

TRUE EMANCIPATION As the verses make clear, Islam governs justly man-woman relations and terminates harmful practices resulting from customs and traditions of preIslamic societies. An example of this is the situation of woman in the Arab society before Islam. According to pagan Arabs, women had been regarded as inferior and it was a shame to have a daughter. The fathers having daughters sometimes preferred to bury them alive than to announce their birth. By way of the Qur'an, Almighty Allah has prohibited this evil tradition and warned that on the Day of Judgment such people will definitely be held to account for these evil deeds. In fact, Islam brought a great emancipation for women who were severely persecuted in the pagan era. Prof. Bernard Lewis makes the following comment in his book The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years:


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 22 22

In general, the advent of Islam brought an enormous improvement in the position of women in ancient Arabia, endowing them with property and some other rights, and giving them a measure of protection against ill treatment by their husbands or owners. The killing of female infants, sanctioned by custom in Pagan Arabia, was outlawed by Islam. But the position of women remained poor, and worsened when, in this as in so many other respects, the original message of Islam lost its impetus and was modified under the influence of pre-existing attitudes and customs. Thus we can say that the mentality of despising women, externalizing them from society and regarding them as second class is a wicked pagan attitude which have no place in Islam. Two devout women are particularly mentioned in the Qur'an as good examples for humankind. One is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and the other one is the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh; despite her husband's evilness, she is described as an ideal Muslim. (see, At-Tahrim 66:11,12) The noble Qur'an also describes a very kind and civilized conversations between Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) and the Queen of Sheba (An-Naml 27:42-44), and between Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and two young ladies (Al-Qasas 28:23-26). These two conversations give the highlights of a civilized social relationship between men and women. Hence, there is no way that a Muslim can have a bigoted approach toward women. In a society where true Islamic morals are practiced, an immense respect and sympathy will be shown to women, and it will be maintained that they live in freedom and comfort. The fundamental rule of the tafseer of the Qur'an is making sure that the derived meaning is in conformity with the integrity of this noble book. When this is considered, it becomes apparent that all the rules laid down by


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 23 23

Almighty Allah regarding women actually form a social structure that makes it possible for women to live in the most comfortable and happiest way. In a society where all moral values of Islam are practiced comprehensively, the social position of women becomes as exalted as cannot be compared even with the societies that we consider today as modern and developed.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 24 24

CHAPTER TWO PRIME EXAMPLES


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 25 25

`A'ishah: Role Model for Muslim Women By Sheikh Ahmad Kutty

`A'ishah, the mother of the faithful, exemplifies the character of a Muslim nurtured from an early age in a pristine Islamic environment. Having been educated by the best of all teachers, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), she serves as a role model for the perfection that Muslims can aspire for and attain. It is actually a multifaceted role that the life of `A'ishah provides us with. They range from the private to the public and from the domestic to the scholarly. Among these roles was the ever important one of being a Mother of the Faithful and as such, she manifested the best of Islamic ideals as outlined in the Qur'an. Generosity, selflessness, honesty, and the pursuit of justice and truth were among the ideals more prominent in `A'ishah's character.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 26 26

As a student, she rose from an intelligent youth, with a critical and probing mind to a highly effective and successful teacher, scholar and jurist, who held firm and bold views in all of the vital areas of Islamic knowledge such as tafsir, hadith, fiqh, Islamic history, nuances of Arabic language, etc. One of her hallmarks was being courageous and forthright in expressing these views. `A'ishah's assertiveness, confidence and outspokenness for standing up for what she believed to be true and right explodes the stereotype prevailing even among Muslims today of the "rightful" role for Muslim women - that of being a silent witness prevented by her femininity from participating in the real life of the community. Her unparalleled insight into the daily life of the Messenger of Allah as well as the independence of her thought and character brought her life into sharp focus from other personalities of the time.

HER EARLY LIFE While `A'ishah's full name was `A'ishah bint Abi Bakr as-Siddiq, she was more commonly known as `A'ishah bint as-Siddiq as well as "as-siddiqhah bint assiddiq" (the truthful daughter of the truthful). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) nicknamed her Umm `Abdullah because of her special care for her nephew `Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr. She grew up in a pure Islamic environment as both her parents had embraced Islam early in the Prophet's mission. As she states, "since my age of discernment, I was conditioned on seeing my parents practicing only Islam". The experiences of the early years of Islam left vivid impressions on her extremely sensitive consciousness and helped shape her character and personality. From a very young age she acquired a firm faith in Islam and a


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 27 27

keen spirit of sacrifice for truth, as well as a deep revulsion for infidelity and pagan ways. As a Mother of the Faithful, `A'ishah was the only virgin that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ever married. Her marriage to him was inspired by Allah, and took place at a very early age not out of the ordinary according to the customs of the Arabs, Hebrews and other nations of that time. While there is a tendency to dwell on this fact, it would be amiss to judge the Prophet's marriage to `A'ishah by our current cultural standards. The Prophet's marriages cannot be detached from his mission; they had the dual function of uniting the Arabs into a single nation, as well as transmitting legacy of his knowledge and wisdom to the posterity as stated in the Qur'an. `A'ishah by both her nature and her nurture was the most qualified to fulfill this role of being an authentic transmitter of the Prophet's legacy -a fact confirmed by the statements of scholars, past and the present. And she did this by living her formative years at the Prophet's side.

A BELOVED WIFE `A'ishah's deep love for the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) caused her to be jealous of his other wives as her heart was singularly attached to him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also reciprocated this love by showing towards her such intense feelings of love that it became legendary among the companions. Anas remarked that "the first expression of love in Islam was the love of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) towards his wife `A'ishah!" The Prophet's love for her was not purely based on his physical attractions to her which we have no reason to doubt, but even more so it was due to the


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 28 28

role destined to her as an unbroken link in the chain of transmission of the Prophetic legacy. The unique signs of this role were expressed in the fact that while he received revelations from Allah while he was with `A'ishah, this was not the case while he was with any of his other wives. `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was singularly known to have been a conduit of divine mercy as her trials and tribulations and her attitude of selfsurrender merited the revelation of several verses. These verses are enshrined in the Qur'an to serve as inspiration for all generations to come. The sahabah often recognized the divine grace manifested through her as some of them testified explaining the verse concerning tayammum which had been revealed in connection with an ordeal faced by `A'ishah. It is significant that Allah extols her purity, modesty and piety for all to recite (see the verses in Surat An-Nur especially: An-Nur 23: 26).

HER PIETY AND ASCETICISM A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) typified the best ideals expressed in the following verse: {Muslim men and women, believing men and women, obedient men and women, truthful men and women, patient men and women, humble men and women, charity-giving men and women, fasting men and fasting women, men who guard their private parts and women who do so, and those men and women who remember Allah abundantly, for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and an immense reward.} (Al-Ahzab 33: 35). While she was born into a highly respectable family with wealth, fame and status (as Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was a man of abundant means) and in spite of


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 29 29

being brought up with comfortable living conditions, `A'ishah bore patiently the hardships, simplicity and ascetic life-style of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah had given the Prophet's wives the choice to bear patiently the harsh life-style they were accustomed to with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in preference for Allah and His Messenger and the Hereafter, or choose a life of this world and part their ways honorably with sufficient Alimony. Each wife selected the former. With her choice to live a life of utter simplicity and asceticism, `A'ishah ate little and drank little, and preferred to wear tattered clothes her whole life, giving away in charity virtually everything that came to her in terms of money and wealth. The charitable nature of `A'ishah exemplified the Prophet's hadith about spending in such a way that the left hand does not know what right hand had given. Her legendary generosity and trait of selfless giving - forgetting her own urgent needs - also brought to life the Qur'anic ideal, {they prefer others over their own selves even though they themselves are faced with dire need.} (Al-Hashr 59:9) `Urwah, who was one of the great scholars taught by `A'ishah, said of her, "I saw `A'ishah giving away seventy thousand dirhams in charity while she was wearing a garment which had so many patches sewn into it!" It was due to her loyalty to Allah and her devotion to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his cause that `A'ishah gave up the comforts of the lifestyle of her own household and chose the simple life-style of the Prophet, bearing all the harshness of it in spite of her young age. After the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), `A'ishah continued to live an ascetic existence dedicated to fasting, prayers, charities, and to the care of orphans and the destitute.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 30 30

HER INTELLECT AND SCHOLARSHIP `A'ishah was endowed with an extraordinary intelligence that very few had been endowed with. She was not merely a passive student in understanding and learning religion even from the best and noblest of teachers, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Her trademark was her critical, everinquisitive and probing mind. There are numerous examples of her further questioning the Prophet's answers. Once when he found out she had followed him in disguise on his trip to the graveyard to pray for the departed companions in the middle of night, the Prophet asked her, "Did your Devil visit you?" `A'ishah asked back, "Does every person have a devil following him or her around?" When he replied to the affirmative, she asked, "Are you included in this?" He answered, "Yes, but my Lord has helped me against him. Thanks to this he has become a Muslim (i.e. he has surrendered and thus does not command anything but good!)" Another example of her questioning the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) minutely was when the Prophet said that following resurrection people will rise up from their graves as Allah had created them and `A'ishah asked, "Then they will see one another?" He replied, "The matter will be far too grave for them to be looking at each other." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) It was thanks to her intelligence that she never had the patience for an understanding of religion that was irrational and inconsistent with the correct understanding of the Qur'an. She had a principle firmly entrenched in her mind that the teachings of Islam cannot be irrational and incoherent.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 31 31

Accordingly she rejected Ibn `Umar's narration from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) "A person will be punished for his or her family's crying (lamenting) over his or her death!" `A'ishah rejected it outright saying, "How would the Prophet say something like this when Allah says, {No soul shall bear the burden of another} (Fatir 35:18) Then she went on to clarify what she thought was the context of the Prophet's statement. Another example of the same critical understanding is her response to the so called report that "Three things that invalidate one's prayer are a dog, a donkey and a woman." When `A'ishah heard this narration, she asked, "how dare you compare us women with dogs and donkeys when I myself did lie down to sleep and the Prophet, having woken up from sleep, would pray in front of me, and when it was time for him to prostrate he would push my legs gently to the side!" She also dismissed Ibn `Umar's order to the women of his household mandating them to undo their hair while making ghusl (ritual bath) saying, "Why can't he then order them to shave their heads? I used to bathe with the Prophet from a single container and yet I did not do more than pouring water on my head three times!"

HER ASSERTIVENESS `A'ishah's character is nowhere best expressed than in her firm and resolute attitude in facing one of the greatest of all trials she ever faced in her life: the false accusation of adultery. When confronted with the situation she became extremely saddened and depressed and yet she never cowered or stooped low. Instead, she firmly stood her ground trusting in Allah alone until she was vindicated. While she had full confidence that Allah would reveal her


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 32 32

innocence, she never considered herself so great as to be worthy of being vindicated by a direct revelation. When finally an entire surah was revealed, numerous verses of which were directly related to her story and extolled her purity, modesty and piety, she refused to rise up and thank Allah's Messenger and instead simply said, "I thank only Allah!" By this she did not mean to be rude to the Prophet, rather she meant never to attribute the source of her relief to any other than the Source itself, which is Allah and Allah alone! This should serve as a perfect example for all Muslims, men and women, that they should not fear anyone but Allah and if they do this they will be not cower themselves before anyone but Allah, no matter how great that worldly power facing them may be! In fact this is the ultimate freedom that many of the early Muslims enjoyed within themselves. Thanks to her assertiveness, `A'ishah always stood up to what she thought was unjust, unethical and false. When she heard that some individuals were finding faults with Abu Bakr after his death, she gathered them all and spoke to them about his achievements as everyone would readily recognize and then asked them plainly which one of his actions they were critical of. None of his detractors had anything to say. She also stood up to Caliphs such as Mu`awiyah and vocally criticized their policies which she though was unjust and therefore un-Islamic. Another example of her forthrightness is her answer to those who forbade women from visiting cemeteries. On her visit to Makkah, when she stopped by the grave of her brother, someone objected to her and asked how come she was visiting his grave when the Prophet had forbidden women to do so, she replied, "The Prophet had forbidden both men and women from visiting graves in the early years of Islam, and then he lifted that prohibition later." In other words, in her sound understanding the lifting of the ban was applicable


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 33 33

to both men and women, for there is no evidence to suggest that it was only applicable to men. It was because of her strength of character that she made the Caliph implement the will of Safiyyah, the mother of the faithful, who had stipulated one third of her estate to her Jewish brother. When the Caliph thought it was against the dictum of the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), `A'ishah rejected that and obliged him to fulfill the wishes of Safiyyah. Her confidence in the inherent justice of Islam enabled her to exercise many other interjections into commonly held assumptions about women's roles in the Muslim community. One such interjection was her wish not to be left out of performing Janazah prayers (often reserved for men only in the minds of many Muslims - even today). She often sent orders to bring the janazah and place it inside the Mosque itself so that the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), could also offer the prayers, at a time when ordinarily Janazah was performed outside the precincts of the mosque itself.

AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN ALL ASPECTS OF ISLAMIC LIFE `A'ishah serves as the best role model for women's activism in Islam for she never was held back from full participation in any aspect of Islamic life even after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). During his life she accompanied the Prophet even to the battle fields to perform essential duties. She led the war against `Ali because of her mistaken judgment; although at the time she thought she was going out to exact justice for the caliph `Uthman who had been martyred unjustly and she thought that `Ali was harboring his murderers.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 34 34

Later on, she regretted her choice to have waged the war but the point is that according to her, the role of women in Islam was not confined to the home and instead, that they play an active role in Islamic life. Due to her own sound faith and Islamic character, she recanted not her activism but her stand against `Ali and it was because of this that she thought she had become less worthy of being buried beside the Prophet, peace be upon him, and preferred to join her own sisters (i.e. other wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in Al-baqi` cemetry.

HER LEGACY OF SCHOLARSHIP `A'ishah's sound scholarship in Islamic disciplines such as tafsir, hadith, fiqh, history of Arabs and Islam, Arabic language and medicine was proverbial among companions and successors as numerous testimonials bear witness. We know that even the great companions of the Prophet such as Abu Bakr and `Umar as well as other wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would refer to her as the final resource person in all such matters. Abu Salamah ibn `Abd al-Rahman, one of the seven famous jurists of Madinah, said, "I never knew of anyone –who had such thorough knowledge of the traditions of the Prophet, nor sound understanding of fiqh in any issue, that Muslims would need to know nor of any verse and when and where it was revealed or of rules of inheritance- who can surpass `A'ishah." `A'ishah served as a teacher of teachers after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). She would correct those who were teaching in the Prophet's mosque and answer those who came to her seeking rulings, advice and opinions based on her expert knowledge. Furthermore, among the


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 35 35

numerous men and women who graduated under her tutorship were `Abdallah, Qasim, `Urwah, and `Umrah bint `Abd ar-Rahman al-Ansariyyah. Her thorough mastery of fiqh enabled her to exercise independent ijtihad in matters of fiqh and she used to offer rulings based on her ijtihad as testified by al-Qasim during the time of Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman as well as after them until she died. As indicated earlier, `A'ishah's ijtihad was governed strictly by her deep knowledge of the Qur'an. One of the many examples of this was when someone asked her about celibacy and she answered, "Do not resort to it; did you not hear Allah say in the Qur'an, {We have sent before you messengers and appointed for them spouses and children}? (Ar-Ra`d: 13: 38) Thus do not resort to celibacy." The independence of her ijtihad meant that she sometimes confidently held views contradicting the views of other companions and scholars. When someone asked her if it was always necessary for a woman to have a mahram (male relative) to travel, `A'ishah asked rhetorically, "Can everyone find a mahram?"

CONCLUSION `A'ishah's life is especially remarkable when examined with the lenses of contemporary times. Surrounded by current examples of Muslim women around the world not permitted to fully actualize their God-given potentials, `A'ishah's life in the 6th and 7th century is a beacon to the inherent justice in Islam. She was reared with authentic Islam from her earliest memories and yet she grew up to be a woman who was confident, assertive and an active participant and leader of her society.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 36 36

Simply put, `A'ishah lived a life outstanding in its dedication to the cause of Allah and His Messenger. We can end with her own advice, "Whoever seeks to please people by displeasing Allah, Allah will abandon him/her to people and whoever seeks to please Allah, Allah will be sufficient for him/her."


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 37 37

Umm Salamah: A Family of Immigrants By Abdul Wahid Hamid

Umm Salamah! What an eventful life she had! Her real name was Hind. She was the daughter of one of the notables in the Makhzum clan nicknamed "Zad Ar-Rakib" (which means the provision for the traveler) because he was well known for his generosity, particularly to travelers. Umm Salamah's husband was `Abdullah ibn `Abdul-Asad and they both were among the first people to accept Islam. Only Abu Bakr and a few others, who could be counted on the fingers of one hand, became Muslims before them. As soon as the news of their becoming Muslims spread, the Quraysh reacted with frenzied anger. They began hounding and persecuting Umm Salamah and her husband. But the couple did not waver or despair and remained steadfast in their new faith The persecution became more and more intense. Life in Makkah became unbearable for many of the new Muslims. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then gave permission for them to immigrate to Abyssinia. Umm


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 38 38

Salamah and her husband were in the forefront of these seekers of refuge in a strange land. For Umm Salamah, it meant abandoning her home and giving up the traditional ties of lineage and honor for something new, pursuing the pleasure and reward of Allah. Despite the protection, Umm Salamah and her companions received from the Abyssinian ruler, the desire to return to Makkah, to be near the Prophet and the source of revelation and guidance, persisted. News eventually reached the emigrants that the number of Muslims in Makkah had increased. Among them were Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib and `Umar ibn Al-Khattab. Their faith had greatly strengthened the community, and the Quraysh, they heard, had eased the persecution somewhat. Thus a group of the emigrants, urged on by a deep longing in their hearts, decided to return to Makkah. The easing of the persecution was brief, as the returnees soon found out. The dramatic increase in the number of Muslims following the acceptance of Islam by Hamzah and `Umar had infuriated the Quraysh more than ever. They intensified their persecution and torture to a pitch and intensity not known before. So the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave permission to his Companions to immigrate to Madinah. Umm Salamah and her husband were among the first to leave. The hijrah of Umm Salamah and her husband, though, was not as easy as they had imagined. In fact, it was a bitter and painful experience and a particularly harrowing one for her. Let us leave the story now for Umm Salamah herself to tell: When Abu Salamah (my husband) decided to leave for Madinah, he prepared a camel for me, hoisted me on it and placed our son Salamah on my lap. My husband then took the lead and went on


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 39 39

without stopping or waiting for anything. Before we were out of Makkah, however, some men from my clan stopped us and said to my husband, "Though you are free to do what you like with yourself, you have no power over your wife. She is our daughter. Do you expect us to allow you to take her away from us?" They then pounced on him and snatched me away from him. My husband's clan, Banu `Abdul-Asad, saw them taking both my child and me. They became hot with rage. "No! By Allah," they shouted, "we shall not abandon the boy. He is our son and we have a first claim over him." They took him by the hand and pulled him away from me. Suddenly, in the space of a few moments, I found myself alone and lonely. My husband headed for Madinah by himself and his clan had snatched my son away from me. My own clan, Banu Makhzum, overpowered me and forced me to stay with them. From the day when my husband and my son were separated from me, I went out at noon every day to that valley and sat at the spot where this tragedy had occurred. I would recall those terrible moments and weep until night fell on me. I continued like this for a year or so, until one day a man from the Banu Umayyah passed by and saw my condition. He went back to my clan and said, "Why don't you free this poor woman? You have caused her husband and her son to be taken away from her." He went on trying to soften their hearts and play on their emotions. At last they said to me, "Go and join your husband if you wish."


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 40 40

But how could I join my husband in Madinah and leave my son, a piece of my own flesh and blood, in Makkah among the Banu `AbdulAsad? How could I be free from anguish and my eyes be free from tears were I to reach the place of hijrah not knowing anything of my little son left behind in Makkah? Some realized what I was going through and their hearts went out to me. They petitioned the Banu `Abdul-Asad on my behalf and moved them to return my son. I did not now even want to linger in Makkah until I found someone to travel with me and I was afraid that something might happen that would delay or prevent me from reaching my husband. So I promptly got my camel ready, placed my son on my lap, and left in the direction of Madinah. I had just about reached Tan`im (about three miles from Makkah) when I met Uthman ibn Talhah. (He was a keeper of the Ka`bah in pre-Islamic times and was not yet a Muslim.) "Where are you going, daughter of Zad Ar-Rakib?" he asked. "I am going to my husband in Madinah." "And there isn't anyone with you?" "No, by Allah. Except Allah and my little boy here." "By Allah, I shall never abandon you until you reach Madinah," he vowed. He then took the reins of my camel and led us on. I have, by Allah, never met an Arab more generous and noble than he. When we reached a resting place, he would make my camel kneel down, wait


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 41 41

until I dismounted, lead the camel to a tree and tether it. He would then go to the shade of another tree. When we had rested, he would get the camel ready and lead us on. This he did every day until we reached Madinah. When we got to a village near Quba' (about two miles from Madinah) belonging to the Banu `Amr ibn `Awf, he said, "Your husband is in this village. Enter it with the blessings of God." He turned back and headed for Makkah. Their roads finally met after the long separation. Umm Salamah was overjoyed to see her husband and he was delighted to see his wife and son. Great and momentous events followed one after the other. There was the battle of Badr, in which Abu Salamah fought. The Muslims returned victorious and strengthened. Then there was the battle of Uhud, in which the Muslims were sorely tested. Abu Salamah came out of this very badly wounded. He appeared at first to respond well to treatment, but his wounds never healed completely and he remained bedridden. Once, while Umm Salamah was nursing him, he said to her, "I heard the Messenger of Allah saying whenever a calamity afflicts anyone he should say, 'We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return; O Allah, with You I leave my plight for consideration, reward me for my affliction and give me something better than it in exchange for it.'" Abu Salamah remained sick in bed for several days and then he passed away. With his blessed hands, the Prophet closed the eyes of his dead Companion and invoked Allah to forgive Abu Salamah, raise his degree among those who are rightly guided, take charge of his descendants who remain, make his grave spacious, and grant him light in it.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 42 42

Umm Salamah remembered the prayer her husband had quoted from the Prophet and began repeating it, "O Lord, with you I leave this my plight for consideration‌." But she could not bring herself to continue with "O Lord, give me something better than it in exchange for it." She kept asking herself, "Who could be better than Abu Salamah?" But after a while she completed the supplication. Umm Salamah did not know a person better than Abu Salamah. She was not aware that Allah spared for her the best ever person-the Prophet himself. He (peace and blessings be upon him) married her, and so it was that Allah answered the prayer of Umm Salamah and gave her better than Abu Salamah. From that day on, Hind Al-Makhzumiyah was no longer the mother of Salamah alone but became the Mother of All Believers (Umm AlMu'mineen). * Excerpted and edited from http://www.youngmuslims.ca.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 43 43

Asma' bint Abi Bakr: The One with Two Waist Belts By Shari`ah Staff

Asma' bint Abi Bakr belonged to a distinguished Muslim family. Her father, Abu Bakr, was a close friend of the Prophet and the first caliph after his death. Her half-sister `A'ishah was a wife of the Prophet and one of the Mother of the Believers. Her husband, Az-Zubayr ibn Al`Awwam, was one of the special personal aides of the Prophet. Her son `Abdullah became well known for his incorruptibility and his unswerving devotion to Truth. Asma' herself was one of the first persons to accept Islam. Only about seventeen persons including both men and women became Muslims before her. She was later given the nickname Dhat An-Nitaqayn (the One with Two Waist belts) because of an incident connected with the departure of the Prophet and her father from Makkah on the historic Hijrah to Madinah.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 44 44

Asma' was one of the few persons who knew of the Prophet's plan to leave for Madinah. The utmost secrecy had to be maintained because of the Quraysh's plans to murder the Prophet. On the night of their departure, Asma' prepared a bag of food and a water container for their journey. Not finding anything to tie the containers with, she decided to use her waist belt (nitaq). She tore it into two parts and from then on she became known as the One with the Two Waist belts. When it came her turn to emigrate from Makkah, soon after the departure of the Prophet, Asma' was pregnant. She did not let her pregnancy or the prospect of a long and arduous journey deter her from leaving. As soon as she reached Quba' on the outskirts of Madinah, she gave birth to a son, `Abdullah. The Muslims shouted "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest) and "La ilaha illa Allah" (There is no god but Allah) in happiness and thanksgiving because this was the first child to be born to the Muhajirun in Madinah. * Taken with slight modifications from: www.yougmuslims.ca


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 45 45

CHAPTER THREE MISCONCEPTIONS


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 46 46

Shari`ah Laws and Women By Dr. Jasser Auda

Women issues are the real test for the current Islamic reform. The reason is that groundless and unfair differentiation between men and women is deeply embedded in many popular opinions that we inherited from the eras of decline of the Islamic civilization. First of all, it is necessary to make the following differentiations: 1.

Between Islam and Muslims

2.

Between Islamic Shari`ah and Islamic madhhabs or schools of jurisprudence

3.

Between the Scripts and the interpretation of the Scripts


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 47 47

BETWEEN ISLAM AND MUSLIMS First, we should differentiate between Islam and Muslims. This is not necessarily meant to be in a negative sense. But it is crucial that we separate (as much as we possibly could) between the religion, Islam, and its followers, Muslims. What Muslims did, or currently do, is not necessarily what Islam is about. Islam has a core that every Muslim must embrace. However, in addition to this core, the same religion, Islam, could manifest, and had manifested, in a variety of shapes and forms in various cultures. Some of these cultures had social structures that were generally anti-women, and true scholars had struggled to implement the Islamic values of justice and equality of human beings. One example is the practical ban of Muslim women from entering the mosques, despite the clear instruction from Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him): "Do not stop Allah's women-slaves from going to Allah's Mosques" (Al-Bukhari) and despite the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) led the Prayer for many men and many women in his own mosque. Another contemporary example is banning women from driving cars in some Islamic countries, despite centuries of similar practices by Muslims women starting with the Prophet's wife `A'ishah, who actually led a whole battle over her camel (The Battle of the Camel, or Mawqi`at Al-Jamal). There are numerous examples in this area. Similarly, it is also important to differentiate between Islam and the history of the Islamic world, which could have its positive as well as negative sides when it comes to women.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 48 48

We, Muslims, have to admit that there is a lot of anti-women baggage in the history of the Islamic world that is simply un-Islamic, according to Islam's references and sources of legislation. One example is the concept of 'harem', in which a rich or powerful man basically imprisons a large number of women for his own convenience, in the name of concubines. We thank God that such non-Islamic customs no longer exist. Another contemporary example is honor killings that is still taking place, sometimes 'in the name of Islam,' in some areas (like in nowadays Pakistan, Nigeria, and Jordan), despite being clearly against Islam and have no precedent in the Islamic law. Additionally, it is necessary to differentiate between Islam and the politics of Muslims. Islam is a way of life that, naturally, includes politics and governance. However, political positions, even if they are taken based on certain Islamic values, are not necessarily part of 'Islam' that every Muslim has to embrace. When it comes to women, there is a subtle but very strong link between many of the anti-women fatwas (like the ones I referred to above) and certain political agendas.

BETWEEN SHARI`AH AND MADHHABS The second important differentiation is between the Shari`ah and Islamic schools of jurisprudence (in Arabic: madhahib al-fiqh). The word Shari`ah has negative connotations in the English language because it is commonly used to refer to various corporal punishments used in some countries in the name of the Islamic law, which are usually, and unfortunately, applied to the weak and


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 49 49

poor in these societies, and do not apply to the rich or the politically powerful. However, the word Shari`ah is used in the Qur'an only to mean 'the revealed heavenly path or way of life' (Qur'an 5:48, 45:18). So, everything about Islam is Shari`ah. It is supposed to be the Islamic 'way of life.' Regarding the schools of fiqh, the word fiqh is used in the Qur'an and Hadith in various forms to refer to understanding, comprehension, and gaining knowledge of the religion in general (for example, Qur'an 4:78, 6:25, 9:122). However, in Islamic schools of law, the word fiqh has been typically defined as, 'the knowledge of practical rulings.' It is crucial to know that Shari`ah is revealed but fiqh is not! Shari`ah is what Allah said in the Qur'an and what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) instructed every Muslim to do, but fiqh is the understanding of scholars, in various eras and geographical locations, of the revealed knowledge and their opinions in their attempts to apply the Shari`ah to (their) real life. So, generally speaking, fiqh is subject to the society and circumstances that it was applied in, and does not (necessarily) represent God's commands, nor (necessarily) what we should apply in our current circumstances. Of course, there are issues in Islam that are universal and every Muslim, regardless of where and how, should apply. We should consult the scholars of fiqh in these areas. But I am talking here about the issues that concern changing circumstances and, especially, issues related to women, who, in my view, had suffered a lot of discrimination from a number of scholars – in contrary to the Islamic Shari`ah or revealed way of life.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 50 50

BETWEEN THE SCRIPTS AND THE INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTS The third related and important differentiation is between the Scripts and the interpretation of the Scripts. The Scripts are universal, but their interpretations change with the change of time and circumstances. However, there are limits on what could be a valid interpretation. A valid interpretation, for example, cannot alter the meaning until it ends up implying something that is radically different from the obvious meaning of the Script or the obvious tradition of the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him). In this regard, it is necessary to understand how certain historical interpretations shaped Islam in the minds of many Muslims, without necessarily being the only true way of interpretation. Let me mention one example here, which is verse 33:53. This verse has come to be named 'The Verse of the Barrier' (Ayat Al-Hijab). It states: {And when you ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain/barrier. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts.} (Al-Ahzab 33:53) The context of the verse (both in the chapter and in a historical sense) refers to specific rulings that the Companions should follow when they visit the Prophet's home. And the verse was revealed after `Umar ibn Al-Khattab , the Companion, had cautioned the Prophet that some of his visitors do not deal respectfully with his wives (refer, for example, to Al-Shawkani, Fath Al-Qadir, vol.4, p.299, Dar Al-Fikr, Beirut). Yet, this verse was claimed to have abrogated (i.e., cancelled and annulled) numerous narrations that allow Muslim women to lead normal lives. Based


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 51 51

on this interpretation, which has no basis from the Qur'an or the Hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the following fatwas were given: 1.

Based on this abrogation, Ibn Hajar banned Muslim women, in general, from leaving their homes[1]. This is contrary to thousands of narrations and a large number of verses, which were all interpreted as 'legally abrogated.'

2.

Al-Qadi 'Iyad banned Muslim women, in general, from talking with men[2]. This is also contrary to thousands of narrations and a large number of verses, which were all interpreted as 'legally abrogated.'

3.

Al-Mubarkafuri banned Muslim women from narrating the Hadith[3]. This ban is obviously against tens of thousands of narrations that female Companions related to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), without which, our knowledge about Islam itself would have been quite incomplete.

4.

Abadi banned women from visiting men or being visited by men[4], also contrary to many verses and authentic narrations.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 52 52 5.

Ibn Taymiyah, based on the same verse, banned Muslim women from showing their faces in public[5]. He also interpreted the narrations that imply otherwise as abrogated by the same verse.

Therefore, it is important to make these differentiations between Islam and Muslims, between Islamic Shari`ah and Islamic madhahbs, and between the Scripts and the interpretation of the Scripts.

[1] Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.249, Dar AlMa`rifah,Beirut [2] Imam Al-Nawawi, quoting Al-Qadi 'Iyad, in: Sharh Al-Nawawi 'ala Sahih Muslim, vol.8, p.184, Dar Ihyaa' Al-Turath Al-Arabi, Beirut, 1954 [3] Abul-'Ila Al-Mubarkafuri, Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi, vol.4, p.179, Dar Al-Kutub Al'Ilmiyyah [4] Al-`Azim Abadi, `Awn Al-Ma`bud, vol.5, p.263, Dar Al-Kutub Al'Ilmiyyah, Beirut, AH 1415 [5] Refer to: Kutub wa Rasa'el Ibn Taymiyah fi Al-Fiqh, Maktabat Ibn Taymiyah


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 53 53

Women and Laws of Inheritance By Hammuda `Abdul-Ati

Apart from recognition of woman as an independent human being acknowledged as equally essential for the survival of humanity, Islam has given her a share of inheritance. Before Islam, she was not only deprived of that share but was herself considered as property to be inherited by man. Out of that transferable property Islam made an heir, acknowledging the inherent human qualifies in woman. Whether she is a wife or mother, a sister or daughter, she receives a certain share of the deceased kin's property, a share which depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. This share is hers, and no one can take it away or disinherit her. Even if the deceased wishes to deprive her by making a will to other relations or in favor of any other cause, the Law will not allow him to do so. Any proprietor is permitted to make his will within the limit of one-third of his property, so he may not affect the rights of his heirs, men and women.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 54 54

In the case of inheritance, the question of quality and sameness is fully applicable. In principle, both man and woman are equally entitled to inherit the property of the deceased relations but the portions they get may vary. In some instances man receives two shares whereas woman gets one only. This no sign of giving preference or supremacy to man over woman. The reasons why man gets more in these particular instances may be classified as follows: 1- First, man is the person solely responsible for the complete maintenance of his wife, his family and any other needy relations. It is his duty by Law to assume all financial responsibilities and maintain his dependents adequately. All financial burdens are borne by him alone. 2- Secondly, in contrast, woman has no financial responsibilities whatsoever except very little of her personal expenses, the high luxurious things that she likes to have. She is financially secure and provided for. If she is a wife, her husband is the provider; if she is a mother, it is the son; if she is a daughter, it is the father; if she is a sister; it is the brother, and so on. If she has no relations on whom she can depend, then there is no question of inheritance because there is nothing to inherit and there is no one to bequeath anything to her. However, she will not be left to starve, maintenance of such a woman is the responsibility of the society as a whole, the state. She may be given aid or a job to earn her living, and whatever money she makes will be hers. She is not responsible for the maintenance of anybody else beside herself.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 55 55

If there is a man in her position, he would still be responsible for his family and possibly any of his relations who need his help. So, in the hardest situation her financial responsibility is limited, while his is unlimited. 3- Thirdly, when a woman gets less than a man does, she is not actually deprived of anything that she has worked for. The property inherited is not the result of her earning or her endeavors. It is something coming to them from a neutral source, something additional or extra. It is something that neither man nor woman struggled for. It is a sort of aid, and any aid has to be distributed according to the urgent needs and responsibilities especially when the distribution is regulated by the Law of Allah. 4- Now, we have a male heir, on one side, burdened with all kinds of financial responsibilities and liabilities. We have, on the other side, a female heir with no financial responsibilities at all or at most with very little of it. In between we have some property and aid to redistribute by way of inheritance. If we deprive the female completely, it would be unjust to her because she is related to the deceased. Likewise, if we always give her a share equal to the man's, it would be unjust to him. So, instead of doing injustice to either side, Islam gives the man a larger portion of the inherited property to help him to meet his family needs and social responsibilities. At the same time, Islam has not forgotten her altogether, but has given her a portion to satisfy her very personal needs. In fact, Islam in this respect is being more kind to her than to him. Here we can say that when taken as a whole the rights of woman are equal to those of man although not necessarily identical. Allah Almighty says:


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 56 56

{Allah chargeth you concerning your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half. And to his parents a sixth of the inheritance, if he have a son; and if he have no son and his parents are his heirs, then to his mother appertaineth the third; and if he have brethren, then to his mother appertaineth the sixth, after any legacy he may have bequeathed, or debt (hath been paid). Your parents or your children: Ye know not which of them is nearer unto you in usefulness. It is an injunction from Allah. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.} (An-Nisaa' 4: 11)


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 57 57

Women Inferior or Hadith Misinterpreted? By Zainab bint Younus

"Women are deficient in intellect." These words, quoted from a famous hadith, have been gleefully used by many Muslim men to demean and belittle women, implying that they are, by nature, inferior. It is sad that the majority of English translations and explanations (especially the latter) regarding this hadith have an overtly negative attitude, even aggressive in some cases. Yet when one reads the original Arabic text, and searches for other classical explanations – such as that of Qadhi `Iyad – a different picture is painted, one which reflects not negativity, but positivity. The key phrase that we will look at here is the following: "Ma ra'aytu min Naqisati `Aqlin wa deen aghlabu li dhee lubbin minkun"


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 58 58

The differences of translation – and by extension, interpretation – can be seen here clearly: "In spite of your lacking in wisdom and failing in religion, you are depriving the wisest of men of their intelligence." (Sunnah.com) "I have seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but (at the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you."(Sunnah.com) "I have not seen anyone more deficient in intellect or deen. Yet the mind of even a resolute man might be swept away by one of you."(Sunnipath.com) "I have never seen among those who have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion anyone more capable than women of swaying the intellect of the most determined of men."(AnsweringChristianity.com) The differences in these translations – and the connotations that come along with the words used – is quite clear. The first two are quite harsh, and a jumping board for those explanations which go into detail about how women are weak, lacking, and inferior in intelligence. The second two are slightly more ambivalent, less condemning, as it were. Even so, in English – and, I would suspect, most languages – there is very little explanation of this phrase (and indeed, the entire hadith itself) that doesn't come off as an excuse or justification for the horrific misogyny that has permeated our Ummah. What is a better explanation for this hadith, then?


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 59 59

In Ikmaal al-Mu'lim bi Fawaa'id Muslim (a commentary on Saheeh Muslim) by Qadhi `Iyad, he discusses this hadith carefully. To begin with, a small but significant detail in the hadith has been glossed over by many. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) approached the believing women to impress upon them the importance of giving sadaqah and saying istighfaar (praying for forgiveness), one of those women spoke up. `Abdullah ibn 'Umar narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "O womenfolk, you should give charity and ask much forgiveness, for I saw you being the majority amongst the dwellers of Hell." A wise lady among them said: "Why is it, Messenger of Allah, that our folk makes the majority in Hell?" Qadhi `Iyad takes the time to speak about this woman – in the Arabic text, she is described as "imra'atun jazlatun." What does "jazlah" mean? Another analysis of the hadith[1] defines "jazlah" as: "thaat al-'aql, ra'iyy, waqaar" ; meaning, someone with intelligence, with an opinion based upon reason and rationale, and respect. This "imra'atun jazlah" was not merely content to hear this statement, but wanted to understand the reasoning behind it – and as Qadhi `Iyad states, her intelligence was demonstrated in that she did not challenge the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in a disrespectful manner, but spoke up in a firm yet appropriate way. Nor was her question criticizing the statement of the Prophet, but instead, she sought to further her own understanding of his statement.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 60 60

In fact, her behaviour was the very embodiment of the verse: {It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair.} (Al-Ahzab 33:36) Another interesting point that Qadhi `Iyad makes is how the word 'aql is defined and understood, especially in the context of this hadith. Only one definition is the widely translated and assumed one of "intellect," whereas he also mentions it as certain, specific types of knowledge, and excelling in having deep insight and being able to distinguish the true reality and nature of things. The writer Azeez Muhammad Abu Khalaf further discusses the concept of "naaqis `aql" and how it is taken out of context in this hadith to imply something that has no evidence whatsoever either in the Qur'an or Sunnah – that is, the claim that women are intellectually inferior. In the Qur'an, the word `aql is generally related not to intellect in and of itself, but rather, as a tool to push people into reaching a realization regarding Allah, the purpose of life, etc. so that they are motivated into working for their Hereafter. In the context of this hadith, the phrase is used in a similar manner – emphasizing the severity of the matter as a motivational tool, encouraging the women to give in Sadaqah and increase in their Istighfaar. Furthermore, when the Prophet clarified the "nuqsaan" and their causes, they are issues that are purely Shar'i rules: the issues of testimony, prayer, and fasting. The matter of testimony falls under `aql as it is not a ritual act of worship, whereas salah and fasting are acts of worship and therefore deeni.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 61 61

Even those who try to argue that women are inferior because their testimony equals only half that of a man's, are ignoring the fact that the Qur'anic ayah says simply {so that one can remind the other.} (Al-Baqarah 2:282) There is no mention whatsoever of inferiority in any other way, especially with regards to intelligence, either in the Qur'an or the Sunnah. With regards to the details of a woman's testimony, it must be known that it is not a blanket ruling applicable to any and all situations. It must also be understood that there are cases wherein a man's testimony is rejected completely; for example, in matters such as childbirth, breastfeeding, and so on. In other cases, a woman's testimony can be considered equal to that of a man's. However, the details of these situations is beyond the scope of this article, and a discussion of fiqh in and of itself. Abu Khalaf goes on to point out that those who try to use the hadith to demean women are actually missing out a significant aspect of the hadith itself – how could the woman mentioned be described as "jazlah" if the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was actually telling women that they are NOT intelligent? As for the second half of the hadith (aghlabu li dhee lubbin minkun), which has been translated in varying degrees of similar negative connotations, it is an example which highlights the power of words. The word 'ghalaba' in Arabic means 'to defeat, to prevail, overpower, to overcome, to subdue' – basically, to have power over someone. It is a word with connotations of power and influence, of superiority, as it were. Translations such as "robbing the wisdom of the wise," "swaying the intellect of the most resolute of men" etc. give a demeaning impression to imply that women are deceptive, cunning, and manipulative.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 62 62

Yet – just as easily, and perhaps much more accurately – it can be translated as women being able to outwit and outsmart men... which, in turn, highlights that women are not, in fact, lacking in or inferior when it comes to the intellect. After all, how could someone stupid be able to outsmart "dhee lubbin" – a very intelligent man, a wise man, a resolute man? Some explanations of this hadith, including that of Qadhi `Iyad, mention that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) uttered this statement as a compliment – one of surprise, and positivity. Another interesting point made is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was addressing the women of the Ansar, who were known for being outspoken, intelligent, and on an equal footing with their men – in contrast to the people of Makkah, where the men were used to being domineering over their womenfolk. Thus, the Prophet was expressing how impressed he was by the fact that these women were so easily able to match wits with men, despite being physically weaker than them. One very important thing to note about this hadith – and how it has been incorrectly translated and explained – is that this incident took place during the morning of `Eid, an occasion for joy and celebration. It is inconceivable that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would say something deeply offensive or meant to hurt or be harmful to those whom he was speaking to (in this case, the believing women). It is known that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke in the best of ways, in the most eloquent, and that when he spoke to the believers, it was always in a manner that would motivate them to grow closer to Allah, not more distant. Unfortunately, this point is almost never considered in English explanations of the hadith, thus making it seem even more negative towards Muslim women.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 63 63

Finally, if women were indeed inferior in intellect – then how on earth would any woman be accepted as a scholar of Islam in any capacity? If women are inferior in intellect, then how could they be entrusted with the most important type of knowledge – that of Islam itself – and possibly endanger the souls of Muslims throughout the world? Obviously, this is not the case. From A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), Hafsah, Zainab bint Abi Salamah and others, to shaykhaat today, women have been entrusted with the Sacred Knowledge of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his male Companions fully recognized, acknowledged, and valued the worth of women, their intellect, and their contributions to the Ummah. Perhaps one of the greatest evidences regarding Muslim women and their intellectual influence is the quote of Imam adh-Dhahabi – that he had never come across a female hadith transmitter accused of forgery (muttaham) or abandoned due to a high degree of unreliability (matruk)[2]. As a formidable figure in the field of hadith, and specifically in al-Jarh wa Ta'deel, these words of Imam adh-Dhahabi are significant and meaningful. In short, it is enough to know that this hadith does not, in fact, provide any evidence or even imply that women are intellectually inferior in any manner. Rather, what this hadith does is recognize and point out that {the male is not like the female.}(Aal-`Imran 3:36) Whereas the women were first cautioned regarding their own behaviour, and reminded of their differences in specific aspects of the Deen (giving testimony, praying, and fasting) the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also acknowledged that men, too, were not perfect. He pointed out that even "dhee lubbin" (the most intelligent of men) are capable of having their wits matched by women. Whereas there are many


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 64 64

men who feel insulted or offended at the idea of a woman outsmarting them or proving herself to be intellectually superior, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned it as a fact. Allah has created men and women as partners, complementing each other in every way – whether intellectual, emotional, or spiritual. The Qur'an and Sunnah emphasize that men and women were created to assist each other, and were both given duties and responsibilities to fulfill in obedience to Allah. Neither was created superior or inferior to the other, but rather, were designated as responsible "shepherds" – as the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) clearly states: "Every one of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. " (Al-Adab al-Mufrad) In the case of the hadith "naqsaan 'aql wa deen," there are many of those who try to argue that this hadith is evidence of women's inherent "deficiency" and inferiority, and will go on to exaggerate the "weakness" of women. However, as we have already stated, there is absolutely no evidence in the Qur'an and Sunnah to support these claims. As human beings, men and women are held equally accountable in the Sight of Allah, responsible for using their intellect to distinguish between good and evil, and to act accordingly. A more appropriate translation of this hadith, then, could be the following: "Despite your incompleteness in 'aql and deen, I have never seen anyone more able to triumph over a man of (great) intelligence"


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 65 65

Thus, we can see the power of words, positive connotation, and the absolute necessity of having a holistic understanding of the words of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). In reading this hadith – and others which have either been mistranslated or explained in a biased manner – it is necessary for us to always have Husn adhDhann (thinking well) of Allah and His Messenger. Allah is the Most Just, the Prophet was a mercy to mankind - we can never, ever forget that. Should we allow ourselves to think otherwise, to assume that the Qur'an and Sunnah contain injustice in any way, is a victory of Shaytan over us, who strives to make us despair or doubt the perfection of Islam. It is also an important reminder to us of the power of words. Sadly, mistranslations and harsh (mis)explanations have been directly responsible for causing all kinds of spiritual trauma, especially in relation to Muslim women. While we cannot directly accuse translators and writers of deliberately trying to cause harm, we do have to recognize the very real consequences and effects that those words and interpretations have upon the Ummah. Whether it is deliberate on the part of the translators and writers or merely irresponsible translating is not for us to judge, although it is imperative for us to recognize and to challenge the consequences of these translations and interpretations. May Allah make us amongst those who seek the truth and find it, and are given not only knowledge, but wisdom and understanding of His words and His Deen, ameen.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 66 66 [1] Azeez Muhammad Abu Khalaf, Wujuh al-I`jaz fi Hadith `Aql, http://www.saaid.net/female/m121.htm [2] Mizan al-I`tidal, Fasl: fi al-Niswa al-Majhulat

Naqisat


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 67 67

Partitions Between Men and Women in the Mosque Answer by Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi

Q. As-Salamu `aaykum. We have a big controversy going on in our Masjid. Some brothers want to build a wall in the prayer hall musalla to separate men from women. Is that required in Islam? What are the basic rules of Shari`ah on this matter?

A. Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. Dear sister in Islam, thanks a lot for your question which reflects your care to have a clear view of the


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 68 68

teachings of Islam. Allah commands Muslims to refer to people of knowledge to get themselves well-acquainted with the teachings of Islam as well as all aspects of life. It is perfectly Islamic to hold meetings of men and women inside the Masjid, whether for prayers or for any other Islamic purpose, without separating them with a curtain, partition or wall. Giving a detailed answer to the question posed, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, president of the Fiqh Council of North America, states: Both men and women are allowed to pray in the Mosque in the same Jama`ah (congregational prayer). When men and women are together in the Masjid then we should have first men's lines behind the Imam, then children and then women. This is the way Muslims used to pray behind the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). He did not make or ask his Companions to have a curtain or wall between the lines of men and women. (See Al-Sindi's Commentary on Sunan An-Nasa'i, p. 798) According to the Shari`ah, it is not required to have a partition, neither of temporary nor of permanent nature, between men and women in the Masjid. It is perfectly Islamic to hold meetings of men and women inside the Masjid, whether for prayers or for any other Islamic purpose, without separating them with a curtain, partition or wall. It is, however, very important that Muslim women come to public gatherings wearing proper Islamic dress, for it is Haram (forbidden) for a Muslim woman to attend a public gathering without a full Islamic dress. She must cover her hair and neck with a scarf, which


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 69 69

should also go over her bosom. Her dress should be modest and loose enough in order not to reveal the shape of her body. It stands to reason that partitions were introduced inside the Masajid later in Islamic history. This was done, perhaps, because some women began coming to Mosques without observing proper Islamic dress, or perhaps, some men wanted to discourage them from coming to Mosques. In the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) there was no curtain or partition in his Masjid, although women used to come to the Masjid almost for every prayer and for many other gatherings. It is, however, reported that they used to come to the Masjid dressed up in long clothes. `A'ishah, the Mother of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with her) said that the believing women used to attend the Dawn prayer with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). They used to come wrapped up in their long garments and then they used to return to their homes after the prayer, no one could recognize them because of the darkness. (Reported by Al-Bukhari) Jama`ah means a congregation of people who are praying behind one Imam in continuous lines without any barrier or interruption. As for people who pray behind the Imam, they should either see the Imam or see those who are in front of them. There is no Jama`ah when a person is in one room and his/her Imam in another room, the lines are not continuous and the people behind the Imam are also not visible, otherwise people would not have to come to the Masjid for Jama`ah prayer. They would stay home and pray listening to the loudspeakers from their Masjid or through intercoms. They could nowadays even pray Jama`ah prayer in this way in their own homes listening to the prayer broadcasts coming from Makkah and Madinah on their radios, television sets or through


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 70 70

the Internet. But no jurists have ever allowed a Jama`ah prayer in this way. The definition of Jama`ah that I gave above is a general one and it is applicable to both men and women. Only in the case of necessity this rule can be relaxed. For example, if the Masjid was too small and people had to pray on different levels or in different rooms to accommodate every person then this would be permissible because of necessity. Muslims should not deliberately and for no reason bifurcate their congregation in their Masajid. If there is a concern that the lines of men and women will mix inside the Masajid, then there is no harm in putting a lower barrier, only to demarcate the separate area for women. But women should not be put in a totally separate room in the Masajid unless there is a shortage of space and no other proper arrangement can be done for them. The above quotation is excerpted, with slight modifications, from www.islamfortoday.com Allah Almighty knows best.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 71 71

Wife Beating in Islamic Perspective Answer by Dr. Jamal Badawi

Q. As-salamu `alaykum. Respected scholars! Does Islam allow wife beating? Some husbands are violent and they say that the Qur'an allows them to beat their wives. Is there any logical explanation given regarding men being allowed to beat their wives, as stated in surat An-Nisa', verse 34?

A. In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake. Commenting on this issue, Dr. Jamal Badawi states: If the problem relates to the wife's behavior, the husband may exhort her and appeal for reason. In most cases, this measure is likely to be sufficient. In cases where the problem persists, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful manner, by sleeping in a separate bed from hers.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 72 72

There are cases, however, in which a wife persists in bad habits and showing contempt of her husband and disregard for her marital obligations. Instead of divorce, the husband may resort to another measure that may save the marriage, at least in some cases. Such a measure is more accurately described as a gentle tap on the body, but never on the face, making it more of a symbolic measure than a punitive one. Even here, that maximum measure is limited by the following: a. It must be seen as a rare exception to the repeated exhortation of mutual respect, kindness and good treatment. Based on the Qur'an and Hadith, this measure may be used in the cases of lewdness on the part of the wife or extreme refraction and rejection of the husband's reasonable requests on a consistent basis (nushuz). Even then, other measures, such as exhortation, should be tried first. b. As defined by Hadith, it is not permissible to strike anyone's face, cause any bodily harm or even be harsh. What the Hadith qualifies as "dharban ghayra mubarrih", or light striking, was interpreted by early jurists as a (symbolic) use of siwak! They further qualified permissible "striking" as that which leaves no mark on the body. It is interesting that this latter fourteen-centuriesold qualifier is the criterion used in contemporary American law to separate a light and harmless tap or strike from "abuse" in the legal sense. This makes it clear that even this extreme, last resort, and "lesser of the two evils" measure that may save a marriage does not meet the definitions of "physical abuse," "family violence, " or "wife battering" in the 20th century law in liberal democracies, where such extremes are so commonplace that they are seen as national concerns.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 73 73

c. The permissibility of such symbolic expression of the seriousness of continued refraction does not imply its desirability. In several hadiths, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) discouraged this measure. Here are some of his sayings in this regard: "Do not beat the female servants of Allah"; "Some (women) visited my family complaining about their husbands (beating them). These (husbands) are not the best of you." In another hadith the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: "How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then he may embrace (sleep with) her?" d. True following of the Sunnah is to follow the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who never resorted to that measure, regardless of the circumstances. e. Islamic teachings are universal in nature. They respond to the needs and circumstances of diverse times, cultures and circumstances. Some measures may work in some cases and cultures or with certain persons but may not be effective in others. By definition, a "permissible" act is neither required, encouraged or forbidden. In fact it may be to spell out the extent of permissibility, such as in the issue at hand, rather than leaving it unrestricted or unqualified, or ignoring it all together. In the absence of strict qualifiers, persons may interpret the matter in their own way, which can lead to excesses and real abuse. f. Any excess, cruelty, family violence, or abuse committed by any "Muslim" can never be traced, honestly, to any revelatory text


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 74 74

(Qur'an or Hadith). Such excesses and violations are to be blamed on the person(s) himself, as it shows that they are paying lip service to Islamic teachings and injunctions and failing to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah Almighty knows best.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 75

About the Authors

75

Abdul Wahid Hamid is a writer, editor, educationalist, teacher and community activist. His career has included work as a university lecturer and an educational consultant in Saudi Arabia and the teaching of Qur’anic Arabic in London, Chicago, Toronto, Trinidad and Bahrain.

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a Senior Lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Hammudah Abdalati graduated from Al-Azhar University of Egypt. He received an MA in Islamic studies from McGill University and a PhD in Sociology from Princeton University. He was appointed in 1960 the first fulltime director of the Canadian Islamic Center of Edmonton, Aberta. From 1967 till he passed away in September 1976, Dr. Abdalati was associate professor of sociology at Utica College of Syracuse University. Dr. Abdalati was well known to the Muslim communities of North America as well as other intercultural groups and audiences. For years he lectured on Islam, attended Islamic conventions, wrote articles in Arabic and English, and responded to inquiries.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 76 76 Harun Yahya was born in Ankara in 1956. He studied fine arts at Istanbul's Mimar Sinan University and philosophy at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, he has published many books on political, faith-related, and scientific issues.

Dr. Jamal Badawi is an Egyptian born Muslim Canadian. He is a former professor who taught at a number of schools including the Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he taught in the Departments of Religious Studies and Management. He is a well-known author, activist, preacher and speaker on Islam. Dr. Badawi completed his undergraduate studies in Cairo, Egypt and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

Dr. Jasser Auda is the Deputy Director, Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) - Faculty of Islamic Studies, Qatar Foundation, Doha, Qatar

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi is the imam and director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, California, USA and former president of the Islamic Society of North America.


Women in Islam www.OnIslam.net | 77 77 Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) was a prominent and influential Muslim intellectual and writer. He wrote many books about Islam and its distinctive features as a comprehensive way of life. Among his most important works is his exegesis of the Qur'an In the Shade of the Qur'an, which was widely welcomed among Muslims and established itself as one of the best references in Qur'an exegesis.

Zainab bint Younus is a young Canadian Muslimah who has been active in grassroots da’wah and writing about Islam and the Ummah for the last eight years. She was first published in Al-Ameen Newspaper (Vancouver, Canada) at the age of 14; became a co-founder, writer, and editor for MuslimMatters.org at age 16; and began writing regularly for SISTERS magazine at the age of 19 until today. She also blogs atTheSalafiFeminist.blogspot.com and is the mother of a three-year-old girl.

Profile for ematsan1

5 3 15 women in islam  

5 3 15 women in islam  

Profile for ematsan1
Advertisement