Posts Tagged ‘Pre-eminence of Man’

A WOMAN’S PLACE IN ISLAM

January 11, 2018

 

Image result for pic of woman in islam

 

Women’s position in Divine religions; is not as it is contemporaneously construed; on the basis of western social and cultural practices; rationalized in the hoopla of gender-equality, since it is based on Divine wisdom. It, therefore, demands an extensive contemplation to reach an understanding of the real role of a woman in Islam. It is somewhat supplementary and utilitarian graced with superlative* dignity and respect. (It may sound outlandish/non-apologetics but is the reality).

*(Islam stands out in conferring maximum rights, respect and dignity to women)

 

A Look at the Primal Divine Mode of the creation of man and woman

In support of this, two postulates need to be pondered upon. 1)-The woman was created out of the rib cage of man (Adam-PBUH) who was created by God with His own hands (Created by His own hands here signifies the preeminence of Man) and that; 2) – the woman was created for the service/comfort of “The Man”. She was created so, for she was to supplement, as a part and parcel of, man and NOT as his competitor or a distinct equal; which, is obviously counter-intuitive, cause for acrimony and antagonism, defeating the very purpose of her creation. Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah. And know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe” (Q, 2:223)

(She has never been endowed with the responsibility of Prophet-hood, leading the prayer, or divorcing but rather asking for it when necessary). 

 

“O humanity, fear your Lord who created you from one soul, and created from it its mate…”(Q,4:1) Many Scholars and exegetes understood this to mean that Allah Most High first created Adam (PBUH), and then from him, i.e., from his rib cage, our mother Hawwa {Eve-PBUH}

 

Both Jewish and Christian traditions also maintain that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, although in a literal translation of the Jewish tradition, a rib is sometimes referred to as side.

 

Imam Razi and others mentioned that another interpretation is also possible, meaning; “Who created you from one soul” i.e., “starting from one soul” since “from” in Arabic could indicate the starting point of something [ibtida’ al-ghayab], and then “created from it its mate” i.e., “created from that same species, its mate.” [Mafatih al-Ghayb]

 

A scholar who pondered about this verse (4:1) states;“It is believed that there is no text, old or new, that deals with the humanity of women from all aspects with such an amazing brevity, eloquence, depth and originality as this divine decree”

 

Why man has a degree above woman?

We have created everything in pairs so that you may reflect (Q, 51:49) When observed carefully It is noticed that one of the pairs is always given/created with an edge over the other to make them befitting the purpose. For example, A lioness kills the pray but the lion devours the kill first–for he is the protector and head of the family. A hen, for the most part, sits on the eggs to hatch the chicks whereas cock, for the most part, is busy serenading other hens—to produce more eggs and chicks. This excellence (pre-eminence) of one over the other, as a norm in a couple; is always maintained. .“Because Allah has made one of them to excel the other” (Q, 4:34)

The western rationale for women’s conversion to Islam (improvised for this article)

A woman realizes that she is a pack animal and that packs are hierarchical. There is a chain of command. There are the pack leader and his followers. That understanding is built into her nature. She is hardwired to lead (when compelled by circumstances) or submits. Her psychological comfort will depend on a clear understanding of where she stands on the pecking order, and what her role is in the group in the given circumstances. For a pack animal, nothing is more stressful than uncertainty about his place in the hierarchy.

We, the westerners, have been born and raised in an environment where pathological concepts like democracy and gender equality are thought to be desirable and viable.  We embrace these concepts on a conscious level but not on a subconscious level, for they conflict with human nature. People, as pack animals, crave for clarity and moral absoluteness. They need a clear demarcation of good and evil, right and wrong, dos and don’ts and a sense of purpose. If they don’t have it, they’ll find one. Whom Allah guides turn to Islam else goes astray and the devil will find one for him. (added on 10/15/2018)

 

Human beings as the crown of the creation [most innovative, intelligent and beholden to the urges of free-will] may, however, alternate this edge or dispense with it altogether, due to circumstantial compulsions; falling victim to botched notion of gender-equality, hence have been told specifically of their assigned places/roles in tandem with Adam and Eve (PBUT). Allah knows well what He has created; which we humans cannot fathom, even at the prime of our intelligence. “Nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created, man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah’s creation”. (Q, 30:30)

 

Spiritual Equivalence

Quran provides clear-cut verdict that a woman in the sight of God is equal to a man as far as her rights and responsibilities entailing retribution are concerned. “Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds” (Q, 74:3)

(Responsibilities/deeds include obedience/fidelity to Husband–Q, 2: 223 & Ahadith quoted in forthcoming paragraphs)

 

One may accept it as “Divine Wisdom” —OR— exploit it as “Denigration of Women” It, however, does not mean, in any sense, that she is made either worthless or insignificant or should be treated as such. Both, man and woman have been assigned a specific role.

 

Her personality and contour, by design, is made attractive to the man. She has been endowed with femininity coupled with, an intense desire for a mate (man) to fulfill her role as an embodiment of procreation. All these factors result in complete harmony and synchronicity; between a man and a woman; (with the help of Allah, placing love and mercy between them-Q, 30; 21); providing a sound foundation, for an efficacious family unit.

 

Islam, to compensate for her; apparently—obsequious—but in reality; indispensably supportive role–accords her highly respectable status; with specific instructions to be treated with dignity and respect; even in worst of the situations, such as divorce.

 

Women not only used to help in wars and other matters but also were consulted by the Prophet (PBUH) in certain matters. Ayesha (Prophet’s wife) and Fatima, (Prophet’s daughter) are among the most revered women; describing and elaborating Prophet’s (PBUH) religious teachings, including those relating to women.

 

In Quran mother of the Jesus Christ Maryam (Marry) has been mentioned by name and characterized as the “Most PIOUS, PURIFIED” woman. The wives of the Prophet (PBUH) have been venerated as the mothers of the believers; hence no other man; after the prophet (PBUH), may dare marry them. Daughters in Islam are considered a sign of blessing and mercy of God. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) used to adore his daughters.

 

Prophet (PBUH) said that “paradise lies under the feet of the mother”. With these instruction/sayings, it became a religious responsibility, a praiseworthy act, to respect and honor women.

 

The woman, according to Qura’an is not blamed for Adam’s first mistake (Original sin, in Christianity). Both were jointly held responsible for disobedience, both repented and both were forgiven.                           (Q, 2:36, 7:20-24)

 

In another verse, Adam alone was specifically held responsible.           (Q, 20:121). {An allusion to his {man’s} preeminence and leadership role}

 

Accolade lavished, by the prophet (PBUH), on those raising daughters.

“Whosoever has a daughter and does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor son over the daughter. God will enter him into Paradise” {Ibn Hanbal # 1957}

 

“Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he and I (Prophet-PBUH) will come in the Day of Judgment as this” (Prophet joined two fingers together). (Muslim & Tirmidhee)

 

The tender touch of Islam for women                           (Exceptions granted in religious duties)

 

A woman is exempted from fasting; during pregnancy; or while nursing a baby, if there is some risk to her or her baby’s well being. She does not have to make up for the missed prayers in the above cases. She is not obligated to go to the mosque for congregational prayers. Her physiological and psychological changes associated with her natural functions are also taken into account.

 

The traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) relate that Eve was created while Adam was sleeping from his shortest left rib and that, after some time, she was clothed with flesh.  He (Prophet Muhammad-PBUH) used the story of Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib as a basis for imploring people to be gentle and kind to women.  “O Muslims!  I advise you to be gentle with women, for they are created from a rib, and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part.  If you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked; so I urge you to take care of the women.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari

          

Man on the other hand; right through the known history of mankind; has been beholden to the status of; the head of the family, rationality and reasoning

Quiwama—(Maintenance and Protection)

This alludes to the natural physical difference between the sexes which entitles the weaker/feminine sex to the protection (as a norm in a couple) of the stronger/masculine sex. Man’s leadership role in relation to his family does not mean the husband’s dictatorship. (Islam quashes any such misunderstanding by clear-cut advice issued by the prophet).

“The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are the best to their wives” {Ibn Hanbal # 7396}

Here is how the scholars and renowned exegetes interpret the position of a woman in Islam.

 

“According to Qura’an women are created for men. Their existence is based on comfort for men”. “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought” (Q, 30:21) &

“He is the one who created you [man] from a single soul, and from him created his wife, so that he may find comfort in her. So when he covered her with himself, she carried a light burden and moved about with it, thereafter, when she grew heavy, they both prayed to their Lord, if you bless us with a perfect child, we shall be among the grateful”     (Q, 7:189)

The Creation of Hawa (Eve)

Adam knew the names of everything. Sometimes he talked to the angels, but they were preoccupied with worshipping Almighty Allah. Therefore Adam (PBUH) felt lonely. One day he slept and when he awoke he found near his head, a woman gazing at his face with beautiful tender eyes. The angels asked him her name. He replied: “Eve (Hawa).” (Means living things).They asked: “Why did you call her Eve?” Adam said: “Because she was created of me and I am a living being.”

Ibn Abbas and a group of companions of the Prophet (PBUH) narrated that when Iblis (satan) was sent out of Paradise and Adam was accommodated therein, Adam was alone in Paradise and did not have a partner from whom he could get tranquility. He slept for some time and when he woke up, he saw a woman whom Allah had created from his ribs. So he asked her, “Who are you? She replied, “A woman,” He asked: “Why have you been created?”She said;”So that you could find tranquility in me” The angels, trying to find out the extent of his knowledge, asked him: “What is her name O Adam?” He replied, “Eve,” They asked, “Why was she so named?” He replied, “Because she was created from something living” (Based on Q, 2; 33 & Hadith narration).

 

 

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them, guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them*3. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed Allah is ever exalted and grand” (Nisa, 4:34)

*3 (with something like a handkerchief or a bunch of shrubs not leaving a mark on the skin).

Because Allah has made one of them excel the other, for they spend (t support them) from their means” (other here is the man) [Al Nisa’ 4:34]

 

 

{Explanation/Tafseer}

Al-Badawi said in his Tafseer (2/184): “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women’ means that they are in charge of them and responsible to take care of them. He gave two reasons for that, one that is inherent in them and one that is acquired subsequently, and said: ‘because Allah has made one of them to excel the other’, because Allah has favored men over women by making men more “Apt” in reasoning and running affairs, and has given them more (physical) strength (and endurance) with regard to work and acts of worship. Hence men are singled out when it comes to Prophet-hood, leadership, guardianship, establishing rituals, giving testimony in legal matters, the obligation to engage in jihad and praying Jumu’ah, and so on, and they are given a greater share of the inheritance, and divorce is in the man’s hand. ‘and because they spend (to support them) from their means’ refers to what they spend with regard to marriage, such as the “mahr” (man’s obligatory due committed to the wife) and maintenance, etc.”

{Note:-Firstly, Maintenance here is not limited to monetary or material support, it encompasses every tangible and intangible aspect attached to this relationship. Secondly, In Islam this obligation is not reversible despite the fact that a wife may be a woman of means or a breadwinner of the family—for injunctions are ordained for commonplace situations, not exceptions}

 

Mutuality of rights and obligations

“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise”

[Al-Baqarah 2:228]

 

Gender-equality in Islam exists insofar as all human beings are equal and that they shall be equally accountable for their good and bad deeds. There is nevertheless a marked divergence when it comes to the roles of the two; which is a schematic, innate and natural; evident from the episodic story of Adam and Eve, described in scriptures and Ahadith. Gender –equality in the western sense of the word is malevolent, contrary to the natural order of things. Its ill effects, unfortunately, are being portrayed as an epitome of women’s emancipation achieved by the western progress and liberalism. Women have been brainwashed to give up her most coveted position to be exploited willingly as a cheap sex object. Most abused partner in sexual nomadism.

 

Woman in Ahadith

“If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman can fulfill her duty towards Allah until she fulfills her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.”

Note:- (Similitude of prostration to husband emphasizes the pre-eminence of man and importance of woman (wife)’s obedience to her husband; providing him comfort, which is the very foundation of a happy and tranquil family)

Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1853; classed as “Saheeh” by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.

 

Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (1/363):  “The phrase ‘but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them’ means that they are superior in physical nature, attitude, status, obedience to the commands of Allah, spending, taking care of interests, and virtue, in this world and in the Hereafter, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

 

“Because, Allah has made one of them to excel the other’ means because men are superior to women, and men are better (poised) than women. Hence Prophet-hood was given to men only, as is the highest position of authority (i.e., Khilaafah or the position of caliph) because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No people will ever succeed who appoint a woman as their ruler.” Narrated by Al-Bukhaari, from the hadeeth of ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr, from his father. “The same applies to the position of judge etc. ‘and because they spend (to support them) from their means’ means, because of the “mahr”, spending and maintenance that Allah has enjoined upon men with regard to women in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Prophet (PBUH). So men are better (poised) than women in and of themselves, and they have the responsibility to spend on them and maintain them, so it is appropriate that the man should be the protector and maintainer of the woman”

 

Al-Baghawi said in his Tafseer (2/206):  “because Allah has made one of them to excel the other means, men excel women because they have more powers (apt) of reason and religious commitment and they are in charge of affairs. And it was said that this refers to giving testimony because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women’ [Al-Baqarah 2:282].  And it was said that it refers to jihad, to worship i.e., Jumu’ah and prayers in congregation, or that it refers to the fact that a man may marry four wives, (consent of the wife{ves} is not required) but a woman is not permitted to have more than one husband; or the fact that divorce is in the man’s hand; (though women may also resort to authorities, seeking the divorce from her husband, for legit reason) or with reference to inheritance, or Diyah (blood money), or to Prophet-hood.” 

 

Material Equivalence

One may appreciate that; where Allah (SWT); on the one hand; has created man with an edge; He on the other; has granted a favored status to woman affording her some exceptions, thereby maintaining “material equivalence” in their rights and responsibilities.

 

Social and Political Rights

There are many recorded historical references that at the beginning of Islam, at the time of the Prophet (PBUH), Muslim men or women chose to join the Prophet’s army to fight against his enemies, and leading wars after his passing. There are also occasions recorded in the history of Islam where men and women, would equally, take bayat (pledge) with the Prophet, voting and choosing him as a political leader”

Such positions, rights and equality among all were the results of the support and the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH). Women could take part in social, political, and military affairs. The result of his teachings was not only the promotion of human rights but also encouraging individuals to stand for their own rights.

Fatima, daughter of the Prophet (PBUH), was well learned and highly respected. It is reported that whenever Fatima entered the room, the Prophet would stand up and give his seat to her. Her sacrifices to protect and support human rights were among the most praiseworthy acts.

Property Rights conferred on women

Under the laws of Islam, women have obtained the right to sell and buy property, own business, take legal action, vote, and participate in political affairs. Inheritance law was/is also among the most important rights. According to Islam, a woman inherits half the share of her brother. At the same time a daughter, can choose but has no obligation to support her parents or children, while her brother does. This right undergoes no changes whether she is single or married. She retains her full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties. A man, a brother, has the obligation, by the rules of Islam, to support his mother, wife, children, sisters, and the children of his sisters if necessary. If a woman, a mother, a sister did not have the wealth or the desire to support her children it would become the duty of her brother to support them. The Prophet (PBUH) has introduced the rules and the laws for humanity, some honor the rules and some chose not to. Under Islamic law, women also have control not only over their property but also dowry claims. Once she is married, she may demand her dowry from her husband at any time, and in the case of divorce, she would receive her share of the property.

 

A woman in Politics & Public life

During the Caliphate of Umar Ibn Al Khattab, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point and caused him to declare in the presence of people, “A woman is right and Umar is wrong”

Women role in the early period of Islam had been significantly visible but seems to have been curtailed in the later period*1. Women excelled in the field of war, literature, oratory, public administration, music, theology (Kalam), jurisprudence (Fiqh), Hadith Studies (I’lmul Hadith), mysticism (Tasawwuf), poetry etc. Fatima Binte Abbas and Sikha Sayeeda, the two Islamic scholars, used to come to the mosque regularly to deliver lectures on Islamic theology.  Ayesha (R.A) is recorded to have been chanting Adhan and saying Aqama. History records the name of many female warriors who fought against the enemies in the battlefields. Even Hazrat Ayesha (R.A) took an active part in many battles. Umme Atyqah was a brave lady who accompanied the Prophet (PBUH) in seven battles. Wairyh, the sister of Muawia, led a contingent of women in the battle of Yarmuk.

*1 (Most logical reason seems to be the rationalization of the division of labor in the aftermath of an increased numerical strength of Muslims).

Woman as a Head of State

There is no verse in the Quran regarding the permission or prohibition of a woman being head of the state/ruler. The Quran is silent on this point but according to one Hadith Prophet (PBUH) rendered woman ineligible (not incapable) for the position of “Head of the State” in these words;”A people will not prosper if they let a woman be their leader”.*2 this limitation has nothing to do with the dignity of the woman, or with her rights. It is rather, related to the natural differences in the biological, physiological and psychological make-up of men and women.

*2–The reporter of this Hadith Abu Bakra; according to some sources, lacks the credibility.

 

Though the majority of Islamic scholars do not support the leadership role of a woman or woman as a head of the state, there are some eminent scholars who support it.

 

Apologetes for woman’s position.

Allama Syed Sulaiman Nadavi (R.A), in his book Seerat-i-Ayesha (R.A), recognized the practical considerations in this context:

This is correct that the natural tendencies of the women make her unfit for discharging the duties of Imamate (government or chieftainship) and it is not possible for the fair sex (Woman) to comply with the conditions which Islam has imposed for the governmental role. For this reason, the women are exempted from the assumption of the authority of the head of the state. But from this, it cannot be concluded that it is not lawful for a woman to ever lead the public politically or to assume the leadership of the army. (Hossain 1987:217).

 

Mohammad Elius, Lecturer, Department of World Religions, the University of Dhaka published in The Arts Faculty Journal, July 2010-June 2011

If we make a thorough examination and critical appreciation of the arguments advanced by both parties, we come to notice that none of these two parties has been able to carry their points. Arguments given in favor of the proposition and arguments given against the proposition are by and large indirect. There is no verse in the Quran which directly either permits the rule of women or prohibits it. The traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), mentioned in this article, against women as the head of the state are believed to be unreliable and unauthentic due to many reasons. As a result, we can say without contradiction that the Quran and Sunnah. Rather the silence of the Quran and the Hadith on this very important and vital issue is not without wisdom and sagacity.

(The author of this opinion is assuming the silence of Ahadith, against women being Head of State, due to their reported weaknesses)

(Translation of  4:32 by Yusuf Ali)

“And no wise covet those things in which Allah has bestowed His gift more freely on some than the others; to men is allotted what they earn and to women is allotted what they earn; but ask Allah of His bounty, for Allah has knowledge of all things” 

Explanation Note – 542

Men and women have gifts from Allah-some greater than others. They seem unequal, but we are assured that Allah has allotted them by a scheme by which people receive what they earn. If this does not appear clear in our sight (view), let us remember that we have no full knowledge but Allah has. We must not be jealous if other people have more than we have-in wealth or position or strength or honor or talent or happiness. Probably things are equalized in the aggregate or in the long run, or equated to needs and merits on a scale which we cannot appraise. If we want more, instead of being jealous or covetous, we should pray to Allah and place before Him our needs. Though He knows all and has no need of our prayer, our prayer may reveal to ourselves our shortcomings and enable us to deserve more of Allah’s bounty or make ourselves fit for it. (an apologetic contrivance by Yusuf Ali)

 

Imam Malik (R.A) is reported to have opined that a woman can become head of the state in all its affairs.

Imam Abu Hanifa (R.A) would have given an opinion in favor of their appointment as judges.

 

A rational, logical and cogent explanation

(It would make sense only, when looked at objectively, with an open mind and without being emotionally charged—especially by the women).

 

According to Islam, the head of the state is not merely a figurehead. He leads people in the prayers and festivities, decision making in times of war and peace, leading in Jihad as commander-in-chief. This demanding position or any other of a similar nature is generally inconsistent with the biological, psychological and physiological make-up of a woman. For example, during their menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, rearing and weaning of children such demanding positions; which require maximum strength, rationality, composure and emotional stability, may put excessive strain/stress, thereby impairing their decision making capability thereby distracting them from fulfilling their leadership role.

Such a demanding position, therefore, is logically and rationally, inconsistent with the natural disposition/make-up of a woman.

 

 The Last word

Islam is a religion in which a Muslim’s temple is not limited to a building; instead it is the whole wide world; whereas the guidance always descends on his heart; a Muslim’s preacher/trainer is neither a priest nor a liberal teacher, but the intellect (Wisdom) descending on his unblemished heart (Fuwad–enlightened by Allah’s mercy through Qura’an, and the Prophet) by Allah (SWT). It’s a religion of preemption to stem the miscarriage of justice and obligation; and if one’s religion is founded upon mere (thoughtless) imitation, he enjoins blasphemy. In Islam, ignorance is an unforgivable sin; so is one’s evasion of responsibility, towards oneself as well as all the sentient beings.

(May Allah forgive and guide us all on the right path with true understanding)

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