The Status and Rights of Woman in Islam
Written by: Mahdi Mahrizi
Translated by: Hasan M. Najafi
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH,
MOST GRACIOUS, MOST MERCIFUL,
The Muslim woman today is restrained between two ignorances "jaahiliyyah", one being the ignorance of the 20th century, which shows a degraded portrait of the woman, and the other being the preIslamic era that looks at the woman as a being more junior and of less status than the man.
The new jaahiliyyah, with the pretext of the social activity of the woman and defending her rights, calls the woman toward unknown labyrinth. And the other ignorance, under the guise of chastity and purity, keeps the woman far from so many human perfections and virtues.
Many are of the opinion that the Muslim woman has only two alternatives before her, and she has no choice but to select one of them: either to surrender to the western debauchery or to stay secluded in her house deprived of all human perfections and sublimities.
Perusing attentively the main sources of religion "the Quran and Prophetic Sunnah" will lay before us an intermediate way, neither that seduction nor this petrifaction "tahajjur", neither that libertinism nor this seclusion.
Islam, according to genuine texts, presents a portrayal of the woman, proving her to be a human being, but not a man, as the man being also a human being but not a woman. It also divides arenas of life into two parts: human and genus. The human arena makes no difference between the woman and man, as it never recognises genus or sex, giving no consideration to femininity or masculineness, as both - male and female - are actively endeavouring in search for perfection.
But in the field of sexuality in life, the woman should be a woman, doing only womanly acts and abiding by her special necessaries and vestiges, whereas the man has to behave in this arena like a man, practising only manly acts. Identifying and discerning these two arenas, and deducing rules and laws controlling every behaviour, being in fact not an easy job, but so complicated, squandering or excessive.
One this basis, there are some who imagine the humane arena as if representing all life arenas of the man and woman, denying presence of any diversity, considering the quantitative equality to be governing all domains of life. And if it be in their hands they would even desire to dispute the nature so as to eradicate whatever indicating a bit divergence. The fancy they hold in mind may even include distributing fosterage and pregnancy "between man and woman"!
Another group considers sexuality field to be all domains of human life, though denying this in terms of words. Hence, they give limits to the sphere of perfections, in a way that the two sexes would be affected and affect each other so passively, to the extent that one glance and one word produced by each sex would cause decline and decay of the other. The manifestation of these two interpretations can be clearly found in so many cultures, laws and norms.
No one can deny the necessity of diligent endeavour, far from time fusses, for recognising these two God's creatures "man and woman", so as to be able to criticise these cultures, rules, etiquette, formalities and views. In this course, the confirmed and mutawaatir religious texts, i.e. the Quran and Prophetic Sunnah, with intuitive inferences and experiments and man's thinking should be duly exploited and fully used.
In other words: giving heed to experienced researches and recognised indisputable knowledge deductions, verily plays a good role in better apprehending the religious texts. Further, I should refer to some principles that constitute a criterion and foundation for religious studies on women, with using the scientific achievements in this regard, in the following way:
1. When making religious studies, the pivotal role of the Quran should never be neglected, as it being the first and original source for recognising the religion, with hadeeth and narration being studied and examined with its reflection. Also, all Quranic stories, verses on rulings "ahkaam", knowledge branches and preaching sermons and others should be taken into consideration and included in these studies.
2. For making religious studies, the sermons, sayings and practical sirah "conduct" of the Messenger of Allah "may God's peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny" and Infallible Imams should be collected and compiled, so as to infer and deduce rules and verdicts from them. This while analysing the falsified narrations and verses and disregarding the practical Sunnah of the Prophet"S" and Imams"A" being a big blunder, and we should never neglect this principle when doing any investigations about woman in general.
3. The fabrication and tahreef "alteration, perversion" of traditions, with the influence of irreligious cultures should never be neglected, and must be considered attentively. As through investigations and scrutiny, it can be recognised that some beliefs are there which we consider to be of the religion but they be not in truth, and they have, throughout centuries, been foisted and leaked into our religion from other alien cultures and traditions.
4. As regards making use of the accomplishments of human thoughts and experimental sciences, their intuition and definite existence should be realised. As there are so many viewpoints and theories, especially in the field of anthropology, which have no scientific foundation or background at all, so they can never be relied upon by investigators and researchers.
5. In studying affairs and issues of women we should concentrate particularly on external realisms, and past biographies of various nations and peoples.
In this research, I will endeavour to commit myself sincerely to taking these principles as a basis for analysing and studying the subjects set for speculation. The themes of this book have been divided into six sections, the first of which, that is the most essential one and as is explicitly realised from its outward seeming, is dedicated for manifesting the character of the woman. In my conception, the root of so many of the wrong judgements lies in the unrealistic view held in regard of the woman, so the fountainhead should be purified. On this basis, this chapter has a leading role in relation to other chapters.
Thereafter, presence and activity of the woman in three main arenas of life: individual, family and society, will be discussed and elaborated in the next chapters - two up to four - under the titles: "The Human Perfections," "Woman and Family," and "Woman's Participation in Social Life."
The subject of "Veil and Chastity" constitutes the fifth chapter of this book. The fact that led me to broaching this topic being that it is viewed by some people to be incongruous with the social presence of the woman, while some others consider it as a sign of individual perfection for the woman and consolidation of the family system. Analysing the dimensions of veil "hijaab" and chastity and their effect on the life of women, as well as giving replies to some questions would be the objective of the discussion in this chapter.
The last chapter of this book will contain selection of Descriptive Book Identification of Collections, in which general identification of a number of collections and compilations is recorded. All my hope is that this work can give, though so briefly, a manifest Idaho of the Islamic perspective of the woman.
Character of Woman
The issue of the woman's character has a leading role in recognising the woman in every creed and religion, and every thought course can, through the portrait it displays for the woman's character, give its opinion and lay bare its stance in respect of other affairs of the woman. In other words, all other subjects like: woman's rights, her social participation, moral perfections and veil and adornment are relevant and correlated to the theme of the woman's character.
So studying and investigating the woman's affairs in perspective of Islam, should also be conducted from this point. Further, it is explicit that indicating the Islam's view toward the woman should be, on the one hand, compatible to the incontrovertible religious sources, and on the other, it should be compliant and corresponding to the conclusions, necessaries and effects of this theory. Otherwise, this issue would be incompetent to be a source of dependence and basis of inference.
Our view is that from an Islamic perspective, the woman is a human being, having all development talents, with being devoid of any defect or fault in the essence of her entity. And despite her owning all factors of perfection and development, like men, but she has an independent character and never be parasite on others. Because Allah has created man and divided the human being into two classes: man and woman, for the sake of his/her eternity. And classifying the creatures into male and female is in fact a general rule, in this material world.
Allah has sworn by this reality in His Holy Book: "And Him Who hath created male and female." "3:3"
Hence, malehood and femininity are verily not characteristics peculiar to human beings, but rather they be a means of existence of all beings. And as they can never be considered as a defect or evil on the part of all things, the same is true too in regard of human genera. This religious inference can be applied in the case of women in many aspects and respects.
The Holy Quran
The Quran is verily the most important source for recognition of religion, as it being an intact and uncorrupted book, to which other books and sources should be measured and judged, and accepted only when proved to be compatible and incongruous to it. For getting acquainted with the Quranic view in respect of the character of the woman, I shall put forth six questions the answers of which given in this Divine Book would portray the real personality of the woman, as follows:
Creation of Man & Woman
· Creation of the first man and woman has been described, in a storylike form, in many verses in the Quran. First Allah has apprised the angels that he was intending to place a viceroy and deputy in the earth: "And when thy Lord said unto the angles: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth..." "1:30"
· In other verses in surat alhijr, He said to the angels: "And remember when thy lord said unto the angels: Verily I create man of the essence of black mud fashioned into shape. So when I complete him and breathe into him My spirit, fall ye down unto him prostrating "in obeisance"." "16:28, 29"
· Then He taught Adam all the names concluding a covenant with him: "And He taught Adam the Names, all of them..." "1:30"
· "And indeed had we covenanted unto Adam before, but he forgot; but we did not find in him any intention "to disobey us"." "20:115"
· In another place, He said: "Enjoined I not on you O children of Adam! that ye should worship not Satan?" "36:60"
· After that Adam and his wife dwell in the heaven: "And said we "O Adam! dwell thou and thy mate in the Garden..." "1:34"
Then begins the temptation of the Satan when tempting Adam and his wife Eve, or falsely swearing seducing them both to perpetrate that sin through trickery, cheating them to eat from the forbidden tree, causing them to deflect from the heavens.
In the holy Quran, it is said:
· "And said We "O Adam! dwell thou and thy mate in the Garden and eat ye two therefrom freely as ye two wish but approach not ye two this tree lest ye two will be of the transgressors! But Satan made them slip and drove them out of what they were in; and "whereupon" said We: "Get ye down! the one of you as an enemy unto the other..." "1:35, 36"
· Thereat rebellion and disobedience could only be produced on the part of Adam: "And Adam acted not "to the advises of" his Lord "deceived by Satan" and got astray." "20:121"
· In this stage, Adam and his wife started to apologise to the Almighty Allah for their fault, confessing their wrongdoing, seeking God's forgiveness and mercy: Said they "O Our Lord! unjust have we been unto ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not and deal "not" with mercy unto us "then", We will certainly be of the losers." "7:23"
· Then Adam receives certain words and Allah relents toward him: "And received Adam from his Lord "certain" words "of prayer" and God turned unto him "mercifully", for verily He is the Oftturning "unto mercy", the Most Merciful." "1:37"
Pondering and making a meditating pause on this story, the verses of which have already been quoted, we will be led to the fact that no difference or distinction is stated in the Quran in creation of the woman and man. Thus it is incorrect to attribute all characteristics of strength to the man and those of weakness and deficiency to the woman, since it is either talking about the human being and man or son of Adam as a symbol and specimen and representative of humankind.
Hence, in respect of vicegerency and succession, breathing of "God's" soul, prostration "in obeisance" of angels, teaching the names, evil whispering of Satan, rebellion and disobedience, covenant and contract, selection and choosing, receiving of words, and relentness and material of creation, they are both equal.
For completing discussion of this issue, two other subjects to which the verses on creation of man referred, should be studied and perused attentively.
Creation of Woman Out of the Man
When reading some of the Quranic verses, we may come to conclude that Allah has created the woman from the man, and this is considered a kind of deficiency on the part of the women.
These verses are the following:
· "O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single self and created from it, its mate, and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women." "4:1"
· "He it is Who did create you from a single soul, and therefrom did make his mate..." "7:189"
· "He created you from one being, then from that "being" He made its mate..." "39:6"
· "And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves, mates..." "30:21"
· "And God hath given you wives of your own selves, and hath given you from your wives sons and grandchildren..." "16:72"
· "He made for you from among your "own" selves pairs..." "42:11"
In the first three verses, it is stated that men have been created from one self, and from that self their mates were created. In the next three verses this subject was made in the plural form and addressing all men that your wives were created from your own selves. Pondering over and meditating in all the verses as a whole, will verily indicate that what God intends to say is that the spouse of man being his mate and counterpart and from his self, neither being alien to him, nor a part of him or created from him "his body". Since if this be true, it should be said that every wife was created from her own husband, hence the last three verses should be taken as evidences and proofs for manifesting and elucidating the meaning of the first verses.
In interpreting these verses, Al-'Allamah AtTabataba'i says:
The apparent meaning of the verse: "and from it, He created its mate" being that God has created a spouse of the same species of the man, and all the human beings belong to two equal and alike individuals.
The word "Min" "from" in the verse is a genetic preposition "i.e. it shows the origin of something". This verse, like other verses, discusses the issue of creation of the woman and man, like the verses: "And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves, mates... ." and the verse: "And God hath given you wives of your own selves..." and others.
On this basis, whatever is stated in regard of these interpretations like that the denotation of this verse is to indicate the fact that the woman is derived from Adam and a part of him, according to some narrations "one of which claiming that God has created the wife of Adam from his rib", being all baseless claims for which no evidence is ever established. 1 This statement was held by Wahbah Zuhayli, a Sunni exegete, who quoted it from Al-Fakhr Ar-Razi. 2
What can be concluded from all this discussion is the fact that the Quran, when making simile between the woman and man, it concentrates on the origin and root, and oneness of species of the two. Any claim other than this topic should be neglected. Besides, some traditions are there in support of this conclusion, to which we can refer here:
Al-Imaam As-Sadiq was questioned once: Some people claim that Eve is created from Adam's rib "what do you say"? He"A" replied: "Verily God is absolutely pure and free from this." Is God unable to create a spouse for Adam, from other than his rib? So that to close the door leaving no room or excuse to be exploited by some evilminded to raise any doubt, to say that Adam has got married to himself?! May God judge between us and such people. 3
In another Hadeeth it is said:
God has created Eve from the surplus of the clay of Adam, and similar to him. 4
1. Al-Mizaan Fi Tafseer Al-Quran, vol. IV, p. 136
2. At-Tafseer Al-Muneer, vol. 1, pp.139-140
3. Wasa'il Ash-Shi'ah, vol. XX, p. 352, Baab 28, vol. IV, p. 258.
4. Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. XI, p. 115; vol. 42 .
Philosophy of Creation of Woman
In two Quranic verses a reference is made to a subject from which we can conclude a supposition that the woman was created for the man and she being a parasite to him.
Herewith I cite these verses, after which I will elaborate and explain their meanings:
· "He it is Who created you from a single self and from it did He make his mate that he may dwell resting unto her, when he covereth her, she beareth a light burden and carrieth it, when it groweth more heavy they both pray to their Lord; "If Thou givest a good child, certainly we shall be of the grateful ones." 5
· And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves, mates that ye may dwell "inclined" unto them, and caused between you love and compassion: "Verily in this are signs for a people who reflect." "30:21"
Out of these verses it can be understood that the philosophy of creation of the woman being peace and repose for men. In fact, the original cause for life being men, and the women were created for giving them rest and repose.
In response to this we should say that this tranquillity and repose can never be onesided, but it is mutual between the woman and man, since the love and compassion mentioned in the second verse, is stated as mutual and reciprocal between the two. Further the verse considered this affinity as one of God's signs, and in the first verse if dwelling in rest stated onesided, but it should be interpreted in view of the second verse.
In exposing the second verse, Al'Allamah AtTabataba'i
5. Surat Al-A'raf, verse 189
The meaning of the verse "He created for you from yourselves mates." is that He "God" created from your species the like of you so as to make you benefit and get advantage. Because every woman and every man is provided with genitals alike and similar that complement each other, and when coming into each other they give production. That is, by action of both of them "sexual organs" the work of production and procreation of offspring is achieved and fulfilled. Based on this, each one of them "man and woman" has a deficiency and in need and want to the other spouse, and from intermingling them together a complete full production will come out. Due to this need and lacking, each one of them feels inclined to and moves toward the other, and when copulation is done every one feels calm and at peace. Because every imperfect is so eager and anxious to what complements him/her, and every wanting is inclined to what meets his/her need and perfects him/her. This is exactly the sexual appetite "lust" that is established and deposited inside both the spouses. 6
In short, what the Quranic verses intend to demonstrate being not the philosophy of creation of the woman, but they in fact tell of the kind of spiritual and life connection between woman and man, and attachment to each other.
How Quran Introduces Talents of Men & Women
The second question whose answer should be found in the holy Quran being: How were the aptitudes and abilities of the woman and man divided in the Quran? And are all of them stated to belong to the men alone? Or no distinction is mentioned in it?
Further many verses are there in the Quran demonstrating the
6. Al-Mizaan Fi Tafseer Al-Quran, vol. XVI, pp. 173-174
genetic and legislative talents and powers of human beings, using everywhere words of man and mankind with general expressions, with no exception on behalf of women or preference of men over women.
In regard of aptitude, the Quran referred to the following points:
Man has "inside" a Divine Spirit, and this merit is not distinguished alone to the men.
· "So when I complete him and breathe into him My Spirit, fall ye down unto him prostrating "in obeisance"." "15:29"
Fashioning and Modification in Creation
"Surely We created man of the best stature." "95:4"
"O thou man! What hath beguiled thee from thy Lord, the Most Gracious One. "He" Who created thee, and fashioned thee and "gave thee a body" justly proportioned." "82:6, 7"
Tools of Administration
"He it is Who caused for you the hearing and the sight and hearts; "very" little it is what ye give thanks "unto Him"."
The Divine Creation
"Then set thou thy face uprightly for "the right" religion, in natural devotion to the truth "following" the nature caused by God in which He hath made the people..." "30:30"
"By the soul as it is perfected. And inspired unto it "against" its vices and "about" its piety!" "91:7, 8"
Bearing the Trust
· "Verily we offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid thereof..." "33:72"
Further, He considered all natural potentials to belong altogether to man, referring to them with plural form and with expressions like: "He made subservient unto you, created for you, and made for you":
· "And made subservient unto you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth." "45:13"
· "He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth..." "2:29"
· "Who made the earth a bed "resting place" for you and the sky a structure and causeth water to descend from heaven..." "2:22"
In regard of educating the human beings, the plural pronoun with terms of man are used:
· " "God", The Beneficent, Taught He the Quran. He created man, He taught him expression." "55:14"
· " "He" Who taught "to write" with the pen. "He" taught man what he knew not." "96:45"
In regard of delegating the apostles and legislating a religion, and sending down a scripture also there is no distinguishment of differentiation:
· "He it is Who raised among the ummies "illiterates" an Apostle from among themselves, reciting unto them His signs, and purifying them, and teaching them the Book "Quran" and wisdom..." "62:2"
What is Aim of Creation of Woman & Man?
Is there any difference in the objective of creation of woman and man? Has the Quran stated any distinction between women and men in this respect? The answers for these questions are definitely in negative, as the Quran mentions the goal of creation to be servitude and devotion, no difference is there in this regard between the woman and man. Also no separation is seen between the two in regard of the end of invitation "da'wah" of the messengers, which is life and living.
· "I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me." "51:56"
· "O ye who believe! respond ye to His Apostle "Mohammed" when He calleth you to that which giveth you life..." "8:24"
How Do Woman & Man Enjoy the Values?
A number of values are stated in the holy Quran that can be a moral measurement criterion for man, and in which no distinction or preference is seen. These values are the following:
Faith and Good Deed
"Whosoever did good, whether male or female, and he be a believer, then We will certainly make him live a life good and pure..." "16:97"
"Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks." "58:11"
"O ye people! Verily we have created you of a male and a female, and made you in nations and tribes, that ye may recognise each other; Verily the most honoured of you with God is the one of you who guardeth "himself" the most "against evil"." "49:13"
Competing in Faith
"And the foremost in the race, the foremost in the race. Those are they who will be brought night." "56:10, 11"
"... And Allah hath distinguished those who strive above those who sit "holding back" by a great recompense." "4:95"
"So their Lord did respond to them "saying" "I will not suffer the work of any of you that worketh to be lost, be he male or female, the one of you being from the other. They, therefore, who did migrate and were turned out of their homes and suffered in My way and who fought and were slain, I will most certainly blot out their sins from them, and I will most certainly admit them into gardens beneath which flow streams; A reward from God! and God! Verily with Him "only" is the Excellent Reward." "3:195"
In continuing discussion of values it is proper to relate a tale from history of first stage of Islam.
Muqatil says: When Asma', the daughter of Ummays returned with her husband Ja'far from Abyssinia, she went near the wives of the Messenger of Allah "may God's peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny" and said: Is there any verse revealed in the Quran regarding the women? The answer came to her in negative. Thereat she betook herself toward the Prophet"S" saying: The women are sustaining a loss and detriment, all the time. The Prophet questioned: Why? She replied: Since Allah has never referred to them in good terms, as He did in regard of men.
After that the following verse was revealed:
"Verily the Muslim men and the Muslim women, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obedient men and the obedient women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember God much and the women who remember God "much", Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense." "33:35"
How can Felicity Obtained by Man & Woman?
The Quran has introduced only one way toward felicity of man, and invited and asked all children of Adam, men and women, to follow and adopt that way.
"Enjoined I not on you O children of Adam! that ye should worship not Satan? for he is your open enemy. And ye should worship "only" Me, "and" this is the "only" Right way?" "36:60, 61"
Throughout the five daily "obligatory" prayers, every follower of Islam implores God five times, day and night, to guide him toward the straight path, which is way of guidance.
Enemy of Woman & Man on Course to Perfection
Do the woman and man have enemies on the path to happiness? Is their enemy a common one? Is his enmity to each of them of the same degree? These are requests to which answers should be given within the last question. Some of feeble and ignorant thoughts indicate that in view of religion, the Satan contracts enmity with the man while proposing friendship with women, and Adam was entrapped for the first time by Satan, through his wife.
The holy Quran regards this idea to be incorrect. Besides, the creation verses indicate that Satan has whispered and prompted to Adam and Eve to err and they both went astray. But then they both confessed before their Lord that they have wronged themselves.
In other verses the Quran considers the Satan as the enemy of man, not the enemy of men.
"... Verily Satan unto man is an open enemy!"
The Almighty Allah has also made a covenant with all children of Adam charging them to keep themselves far from Satan, as stated in surat Yaseen:
"Enjoined I not on you O children of Adam! that ye should worship not Satan?"
To sum up the discussion, it can be said that the holy Quran never maintains any difference between personality of woman and that of the man, but rather it looks at them both equally as a pure human entity, preparing for both of them the ground of development and progress. The only difference lies in the fact that the Quran considers the woman and man as complementary to each other in human life.
"... they are an apparel for you and ye are apparel for them;..." "2:187"
In his exposition of this verse, Al'Allamah AtTabataba'i writes:
By apparel "libas" the commonly known meaning is indicated, that is whatever man covers his body with. These two sentences are metaphorically used, as each woman and each man can curb the other from following evil ways and being a joint property, and every one of them is raiment for the other, covering his/her defects and screening his/her private parts. 7
The Prophetic Sunnah
Through and between the traditions, an eloquent statement is quoted that manifests the views of our religion leaders "Imams" the character of the woman, to some of which I refer herewith:
7. ibid., vol. 11, p. 44
Mates of Men "shaqaayiq"
It is reported from the Messenger of Allah "peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny" that he said: "The women are verily the mates "shaqaayiq" of the men." 8
The same hadeeth is quoted with other versions like: "They are verily equals of men." and "The women are mates of men." 9
In regard of the meaning of the word Shaqaayiq, lexicographers write:
The woman are verily mates "shaqaayiq" of the men, meaning that they are like and equal to them in morals and behaviour and nature, in a way that it can be said the women have not been separated from the men. 10 The root of the term shaqeeq gives the meaning of full brother "from the same father and mother".
Paradise is under the Feet of Women
In a hadeeth reported from the Prophet"S", he said: "Paradise is verily under the foot of the woman." 11 This hadeeth is recorded in books of hadeeth with other versions, like: "Paradise is under the feet of mothers," 12 and: "Construction of paradise is under feet of mothers." 13 and others.
Honouring the Women
In regard of honouring the women, the Prophet"S" said: "The
8. Musnad Ahmed, vol. VI, p. 256; Kanz Al-'Ummal, vol. XVI, p. 482.
9. Mawsu'at Atraaf Al-Hadeeth An-Nabawi, vol. III, p. 55 & 266
10. Lisaan Al-Arab, vol. VIII, p. 166.
11. At-Tabaqaat Al-Kubra, vol. IV, p. 274.
12. Kanz Al-Ummal, vol. XVI, p. 461.
13. Mawsu'at Atraaf Al-Hadeeth An-Nabawi, vol. IV, p. 513.
best of you are those who be too kind to their wives." 14
He also said: "None honouring the women but the magnanimous, and none insulting them but the mean depraved one." 15
The noteworthy point here is that our religious leaders have, in their last testaments and in most critical situations, recommended to respect rights and dignity of women.
In the last year of his age and in his Farewell Pilgrimage "hijjat alwadaa'", which was attended by a huge multitude of people, the Messenger of Allah"S" addressed people saying:
"O mankind, your wives have right over you and you have right over them... so fear you the wrath of God, in respect of the women, and recommend to them all the good." 16
AlImaam Ali "peace be upon him", after being stroked on the nineteenth night of Month of Ramazan, has summoned his children giving them and all people throughout history, precious recommendations, among which the following maxim was also cited:
" "I recommend you to observe your duty to" Allah in regard of the women and the captives whom your right hands possess. As the last thing recommended by your Prophet was that he said: "I commit to your charge the two feebles: the women and what your right hands possess." 17
That which can be concluded out of this statement is that the custom of enslaving "others" is never approved by religion at all, and it has exerted so many efforts for abolishing and eradicating it from the human society. Further, some laws
14. Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. II, p. 636
15. Mukhtasar Tareekh Dimashq, vol. VII, p. 50.
16. Tuhaf Al-Oqool, p. 30
17. ibid., p. 140
and regulations have been revealed and enacted all for changing and removing this abominable practice with time passage. In regard of women the same method was followed and adopted to the effect that our religion never intending to discriminate between males and females, and the aim of some of the laws and rules was to creating gradual accompaniment with the society and eradicating that habit for ever.
The Concealed Belief
All Muslims, shi'ah and sunni, boast of their history due to having virtuous and chaste women, enumerating for them distinguished characteristics from which many men are deprived.
Among these great notable ladies we can refer to: Khadijah, Fatimah"A", UmmSalamah, Zaynab, Hamidah "wife of AlImaam AsSaadiq"A", Sawsan "mother of AlImaam AlHasan AlAskari"A", Hakeemah "daughter of AlImaam AlJawaad"A" and UmmAhmad "wife of AlImaam AlKaazim"A", and others.
Fathoming and examining the biography of women will show them to be among perfectionseekers, and each having a scholastic and spiritual position in relation to the religious leaders. Rather some of them were known to have the position of succeeding an Infallible Imaam and being a spiritual trustee, depository and executor of him. 18
The question arises here being: Does the woman have any difference in essence and nature with the man, and is her human cause and background like that of the man or that the difference being not in essence and nature, but they differ in the dimension of human perfections affected by outer circumstances.
If the first case be correct, the presence of women of virtue and maturity and superior to many men, would be somehow impossible in essence and unaccepted. Then how can be there
18. Zan Wa Payam-awari, pp. 145-238.
many individuals in whose essence a radical change happened, while no special and unusual provisions being under consideration for them.
And when accepting the second case, that is to consider the women's defect being a transient and ephemeral phenomenon imposed on them by the social circumstances, again this question will still be raised: Are the imposed provisions admitted by religion and religious leaders? Or that they were concerned for removing that defect, intending to take away those inconvenient conditions?
If the first supposition be admitted, then existence of virtuous and prominent women will be incongruous and reversed to purpose and objective of religion. As a result of all this, it is proper to say that no difference is there whatsoever between women and men, in respect of essence of humanity and leaven of development and maturity: And those partial differences were only caused and created by inhuman conditions, with which religion is not content, the evidence for which can be the presence of outstanding women in history of Islam and Muslims, with emphatic recommendations to maturity and perfection.
In short, we can say that according to the description and portrait of the character of woman given by the Quran, "Prophetic" Sunnah and inner belief of Muslims, there is no difference whatsoever in the nature and composition of these two species. Besides, the ability to attain maturity and perfectionseeking is the same for both of them "men and women", as they both can reach the sublime ideal and human positions, and each one of them is never a parasite upon the other.
Al'Allamah AtTabataba'i has an elegant comment in this regard, in which he says:
Evidences and experience necessitate that the man and woman being two individuals of one and the same essential species, which is the human being. As all the marks and signs witnessed in category of men are witnessed also in the category of women, without a bit difference, and emergence of traces of any species undoubtedly obligates realisation of its subject. No one can deny the fact that the category differs greatly and slightly in some of the common traces, but this can never cause the annulment of existence of species in every individual. Thus it becomes clear that the specific extrapolations and maturities available for one species can be found in the other species, of which the moral maturities attained by faith, worships and seeking God's pleasure. So the best and most comprehensive words expressing this meaning can be the following Quranic verse:
"... I will not suffer the work of any of you that worketh to be lost, be he male or female, the one of you being from the other." "3:195" 19
For completing this view, I should give answers to a pair of important questions, since otherwise all my discussion will lead to no conclusion and will be incomplete.
The first question is: If we admit that female and male enjoy one and the same essence and nature, with realising their being not one entity, i.e. neither a woman is a man nor a man is a woman. Then where lies the field of difference between these two beings?
The second question is: Some of religious expressions like deficiency of woman's intellect, and lack of faith, contradict such view and weaken it. But if we intend to defend this view "that the woman differs from the man with 'aql and deen", we should give evidences that it can give reply to such faults. Hence, in conclusion of this chapter, I will make a condensed investigation about these two questions.
Field of Difference between Woman & Man
So many statements are said in regard of differences between woman and the man, with some of them believing these differences to be little in number and of no value and some
19. Al-Mizaan, vol. IV, p. 89.
believing many differences are there between these two species. It is not easy to prove these claims. What can be cited briefly and defended is the following:
1. Verily a difference is there between woman and man, and no one can claim that there be full equality in all walks of life between woman and the man.
2. Among the said differences, that which can be admitted and agreed upon, there being some issues appertained to survival of species of mankind. That is the differences that are relevant to quality of reproduction of offspring of man. Naturally these differences have some marginal consequences, whose limits, extent, steadiness and decline being controvertible.
3. Beside all that is said, other differences could never be established through definite religious or scientific evidences.
4. In regard of the differences circulated among people nowadays, how can we be sure of not returning them to social conditions? And their not being a transient phenomenon? For example, a woman in a locked society may be confined at home never comprehending so many of social affairs, with her social conscience being not shaped. But if this same woman be brought up and grown in convenient and favourable conditions, no one will dare to accuse her of deficiency of intellect.
Based on abovementioned points, we can consider, in case of contravention of differences between woman and man, only that extent which is definitely established, and known to be unproduced by social factors but having roots in the nature and composition of woman and man. Otherwise, the identity of every woman and man, and their independent personality and presence may make us to believe in oneness of all walks of life for both of them.
Essence Deficiency of Women
The second question is thus: Some of the religious expressions raise doubt in regard of common identity of the woman and man, like the phrase saying that the women having defective intellect and shortage in faith... etc.
Studying every and each one of these samples is quite out of scope of this research and discussion, but I can give some criteria and rules through which we can judge and issue decision in regard of them "specimen".
A. Some of these traditions have not been properly interpreted, but by mediation and taking good care a clear meaning can be given to them. If it is stated in a Hadeeth that the women having deficiency in reason, this will not be an informing of a creative and inherent thing in women, but rather taking into consideration acquired and experimental reason, in which social, educational and political conditions have full interference. This should never be taken to indicate inherent inability of women, but would be like saying that the villagers have a lower culture. And this, if supposed to be true, never means inherent ignorance of the villagers, but rather they can, through bringing about the necessary grounds, be equal and even higher than the townsmen, and men of knowledge and culture.
It is natural that if a woman is detained inside the house, and refused the qualifications of honour and knowledge, she would never be able to have, like any other individual attending the events, full knowledge of the incidents and proceedings and possess social understanding. No difference here is found in this regard between woman and man as the same thing would be true in regard of men when they are kept inside the house. Hence the following is said in a Hadeeth:
"Whoever forsaking merchandise, he will verily lose twothirds of his mind." 20
20. Wasa'il Ash-Shi'ah, vol. XII, p. 8, Hadeeth, no, 20
In this manner, the meaning of the Hadeeth of shortage of faith "of women" will be clear. Because what is intended of faith being not a heartfelt and doctrinal state, but rather assignment and precept being meant to which be referred with the term Deen in most of the narrations. That is the assignment "takleef" of women being less than that one imposed upon men, especially in time of menstruation, whereat God has exempted them of some of the ritual duties and impositions.
The Hadeeth of deficiency of faith has been stated in most of the reliable sources and references with the term deficiency of religion, and only in one version was referred to with the expression shortage of faith "iman". 21 Therefore it never implies any slander or deficiency for women. And if what is meant by deficiency the inward defect, then why have the fuqaha said: "It is recommendable for every woman to sit on prayer rug at times of prayers citing some words in remembering Allah." 22
Through abstruseness and pondering over contents of traditions, with comparing and measuring them with other narrations, some of difficulties and objections would be warded off and evaded. But of course this mediation and abstruseness should be accompanied with equity, abstinence from prearbitration and evacuating the mind of the current culture.
B. Some of these traditions can never be ascribed to the religious leaders "Imams", but rather have been fabricated under the influence of irreligious cultures and multifarious stimulants.
As an example for this, the following traditions are quoted from the Prophet"S": "Burial of daughters "alive" is verily
21. Masaadir Nahj Al-Balagha Wa Asaaneeduha, vol. II, p. 86
22. Tahreer Al-Wasslah, vol. I, p. 24, question 11.
a dignity," 23 and "The grave of the bridegroom is goodness."24 That is despite their being contrary to the Quranic verses vilifying the preIslamic "jahili" habits and customs, 25 with the traditionists confirming their being composed.
When the following Hadeeth was reported by AbuHurayrah that the Messenger of Allah"S" said: "Inauspiciousness lies in three things: means of transport, a wife and a house." 'A'ishah said: "The Prophet quoted this saying as a speech of the people of preIslamic era "jahiliyyah", and its narrator has not quoted the first part of the Prophet's speech." 26
There are so many alike samples in the texts of narrations and traditions.
Undoubtedly, it should be noted that it is not right to consider every Hadeeth not agreeing with our taste and view to be fabricated and falsified but we should have full knowledge of criteria of assessment of chain of transmission "sanad", and apply them properly.
C. Some of the traditions and narrations are applicable to special provisions, in a way that they can never be generalised. In other words, the purport of the Hadeeth is regarding the conditions and circumstances of that time, not intended to expose the sought situation, like what is reported between the lines of traditions on preventing the
23. Silsilat Al-Ahaadeeth Az-Za'ifah Wal-Mawzu'ah, p.p. 220-221.
24. Tahreer Al-Mar'ah Fi Asr Ar-Risaalah, vol. I, p. 13.
25. As in the verses 58& 59 of surat An-Nahl: " and when is anounced uto (any) one of them a daughter, black becometh his face and he is filled with wrath. He hideth hismself from the people, of the evil for the tidings given to him ( he pondereth whether) he shall keep her with disgrace or bury her ( alive) in the dust ? Behold, (how) evil it is what they decide,"
26. Al-Ijaabah Li Irad Ma Istadrakathu 'Ala As-Sahaabah, p.p. 114-117.
learning from writings of women. 27
Nowadays no religious expert is found holding the belief that it is not necessary for the woman to learn writing and reading. In the past too, some scholars and thinkers were of this belief. Further a large number of women related "in kinship" to religious scholars, were virtuous and intellectuals. The example for this can be seen in the wife and daughter of AshShahid AlAwwal,28 and Aminah Beigum daughter of AlMajlisi the 1st, 29 and others.
Seemingly, taking into consideration these principles and rules for evaluating and comprehending so many of narrations concerning the woman would be so helpful and useful.
27. Al-Islam Wa Mar'ah, pp. 28-29 and 51-52.
28. Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. 103, pp. 55 & 261; Kanz Al-Ummal. vol. XVI, p. 379
29. Mu'jam Rijaal Al-Hadeeth, vol. XXIII, pp. 179 & 196.
The Human Perfections
After discussing in the first chapter the equal identity of the woman and man, and attaining to a clear conclusion of it, I will discuss in this chapter the first arena of this common identity, that is the human perfections and accomplishments. What I intend to say is that the door of the human maturities under the protection of the Islamic Shari'ah, is uniformly open wide before all women and men, who have ability, aptitude and full innate readiness for traversing the various courses of these maturities.
We have to investigate and peruse the woman's human perfection in two grounds: Knowledge and moral conduct. And this theme can be laid for disputation from two sides, one being theoretical confirmation, and the second being historical and original consideration. Further, this issue can be discussed according to religious texts and sources, that is the holy Quran and Prophetic Sunnah, and also on the basis of historical and external evidences this theory can be proved.
For completing and covering all dimensions of this matter, it is essential and necessary to take its both sides into consideration. In other words, we can say that the way to such development and perfection was paved by the holy Quran and teachings and precepts of the Prophet"S" and Infallible Imams, whose traces can be sought in that epoch and many following eras. What follows is discussion and elaboration of two arenas of perfection, i.e. moral behaviour and knowledge, with due attention to theoretical and historical sources:
The holy Quran has paved the way for moral behaviour before the woman, in a way taking Mary and wife of Pharaoh as two examples and patterns to be followed by all the believers:
"Setteth forth God the similitude unto those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh, when said she: "O my Lord! Build Thou for me a house in the Garden and deliver me from Pharaoh and his doing, and deliver me from the unjust people! And Mary the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; and breathed We unto it "her baby" of Our Spirit, and she testified the truth of the words of her Lord, and His Scriptures, and she was of the obedient ones." "66:1112"
These two women have attained to lofty ranks in faith and nearness to Allah, though one having no father and the other being under protection of an illnatured husband claiming deity.
Further in the Quran the highest moral praises in recognition of Mary are found, and she was addressed and praised with sublime terms like "hath chosen you." and "made thee pure" "3:42", with being many times addressed by the Divine angels who once talked to her: "And when the angels said: O Mary!..." "3:42, 45"
Likewise on hearing that Salman was worried about the old worn clothes of Fatimah"A", shedding tears for this, the Messenger of Allah"S" declared: "Verily my daughter Fatimah is among the foremost caravan." 30
It is also reported that Al-Imaam Al-Husayn"A", in the last minutes of his life "on deathbed", said to Zaynab"A": "O sister! never forget me in qunut of salaat allayl "supplication of night prayers"." 31
30. Taraajum A'laam An-Nisa', vol. I, p. 207.
31. Al-Hayaat, vol. II, p. 217.
Also Hamidah, wife of AlImaam AsSaadiq"A", was of lofty moral position that in her regard AlImaam"A" said: "Hamidah is verily purified of pollutions." 32
Moreover, in her regard Al-Imaam Al-Baaqir"A" proclaimed: "She is commended in the world and praiseworthy in the hereafter." 33
Some are of the opinion that the women being more competent and able than the men, because: 1. The space of marching of the women being shorter than that of men.
2. The women being lighter than men, since their attachments and belongings being lesser than those of men, the fact making them able to cover this short distance faster than men.
3. The obstacles before behaviour of men being more in number than those before women, so they find it so difficult to deliver themselves from them.
Some historical evidences are there to establish this view.
It is known for all that AlImaam Ali"A" got married to Fatimah"A" when she was only nine years old and he in the age of 21, i.e. the difference in age between them was 12 years.
On another part, in the Shi'ah and Sunnah narrations, it is reported that the Prophet"S" said: "Had not been Ali existed, no equal mate could be there for Fatimah." 34
The evidence proving this view can be found in the Prophet's confirmation of their equality and matchness to each other though the difference of twelve years in age. Further, other evidences are there to attest this opinion, but citing them is out of scope here.
32. 'Alaam An-Nisa' Al-Mu'minaat, p. 381.
33. Al-Kaafi, vol. I, p. 477, Hadeeth 2." Kitaab Al-Hujjag."
34. ibid., Hadeeth I.
In regard of women Az-Zuhri is reported to have said: No woman has ever apostatised after having faith." 35
Adh-Dhahabi is also reported to have said: It is never reported about any woman to have falsified "Prophet's" Hadeeth." 36
In Mizan Al-I'tidal he introduced four thousand men by name, who were suspected of fabrication in reporting the hadeeth, saying: I never know a woman accused of falsification in narrating the hadeeth. 37
Some writers have interpreted Adh-Dhahabi's statement in this way:
"The reason behind this may lie in the fact that men are affected and attracted by political tendencies, love for power, wilfulness and supporting of views, sycophancy near kings and emirs with strong desire to seize the people's hearths... beside other things that divert them from straightforward path. But in regard of women these desires and inclinations have no way or control over them." 38
In this respect AlOstaz Jawadi Amuli says: "The holy Quran endeavoured, through preaching which is strongly and directly connected to the heart and mind, to talk to man, and also tried to talk through wisdom which having indirect relation with heart. If channel of intellect and thought fails to reach the passageway into heart and mind, it will be of no use, and the women being more successful than men in respect of heart, mind, tendency and attraction. Therefore fervent prayer has more impact and effect on women than men or at least on their fellow men, and preaching is more effective upon the woman than the man or her mate man."39
35. Awaalim Al-Oloom, vol. XI, p. 278 & 280.
36. Tahreer Al-Mar'ah Fi 'Asr Ar-Risaalah, vol. II, p. 423.
37. ibid., vol. I, p. 118.
38. 'Alaam Al-'Abidaat Az-Zahidaat, p. II.
Muhyi Ad-Deen Al-Arabi has not considered gnostic positions to be special characteristics of men, but counting them to be shared by women, when saying:
"These positions do not belong singly and specially to men, as women also can have them, but since predominance is always for men so they are all the time mentioned in the name of men." 40
Certainly prevalence of gnostic men is never due to their being more talented or able, but rather the social environment and inconvenience of circumstances and atmosphere for education of women were the real reason for this, not to refer to less attention being paid to recording of history of women. The historians who paid much attention to registration of biographies of men, have never cared much in regard of women. Therefore numerous books were written on exposition of Gnostic positions of men, like Hilyat Al-Awliya' and Tabaqaat Al-Awliya, Tabaqaat As-Sufiyyah and others. But when it comes to women, they have inscribed books on conditions of women singers, like the books authored by Abul-Faraj Al-Isfahani: Al-Aghani and Al-Ima Ash-Shawa'ir and others.
In fact, there is no any defect in moral behaviour of women. When a gnostic was asked: What is the number of abdal "substitutes"? He replied: Forty souls..."meaning the Abdal being forty individuals. When he was asked: Why haven't you said "forty men"? he said: First, all these persons of distinction were not men, as among them women are found. Second: Every individual that attained to rank of substitute is man "human being", and man has no specification for female or male at all. 41
AlImaam AlKhumayni, one of eminent personalities, has played a great role in portraying and stabilising this dimension of character of women in the contemporary era.
40. Zan Dar Ainah Jalaal Wa Jamaal, p. 193.
41. Sharh Qaysari Baar Khusus, p. 425.
In regard of status of Fatimah Az-Zahra"A" he said:
"... I suffice with quoting one narration which is reported with authentic Sanad "chain of transmitters" in the noble book Al-Kafi. This riwaayah reads thus: Al-Imaam As-Saadiq"A" says: Fatimah"A" survived after her father"S" for seventy-five days, living in this world overcome with sorrow and hardships, with the Trustee Gabriel descending down upon her offering her consolation, and foretelling her of future events. The outward of the narration is thus: these seventy-five days were days of frequentation, i.e. plying to and fro of Gabriel was too excessive, and I don't believe that other than the first class of great prophets has ever entered in this way upon a person to whom Gabriel frequented to and fro within seventy-five days." 42
He also said: "The holy Quran builds man, and women too build man. The duty of women is building man. If man-building women are taken away from the nations, these nations will verily be transformed to failure and decadence, and they will be defeated and corrupted." 43
He further said:
"The woman is manifestation of coming true of wishes of mankind. The woman is educator and nurturer of honourable women and men. From the lap of woman the man ascends to heaven. The lap of woman is a place for education of great women and men." 44
Nevertheless, despite all this inattention on part of history in ignoring to record moral behaviour of exalted women, still the reality has never remained covered or hidden.
Abu Abd Ar-Rahmaan Sullami "325412H." has written a book exposing in it conditions of ascetic and Sufi women, citing
42. Rooh Al-Bayaan, vol. II, p 34.
43. Tibyaan, vol. VIII, " Woman's Position in Imam Khumayni's thought, " p. 20.
44. ibid., p. 58.
names of eighty-four professional gnostic women. 45
In Nafahat Al-Uns, Abu Abd Ar-Rahmaan Jami' stated names of forty principled gnostic women.46
Another book had been authored in the past years containing accounts and biographies of devout and ascetic women, in which a reference was made to a large number of women. 47
Some of the extant statements that history maintained in regard of these Gnostic women worth mentioning:
Rabi'ah Ash-Shamiyyah, wife of Ahmad Ibn Abi Al-Hawari, when preparing the table spread, said to her husband: "Eat it, as it could never be cooked but only through tasbih "praising God in hymns"." This may either mean that she was reciting Tasbih during cooking the food, or this food being product of Tasbih. 48
Rabi'ah Al-Adawiyyah says:
"Our seeking forgiveness needs another seeking of forgiveness." 49
She also said:
"Conceal your good deeds as you hide your evils and indecencies." 50
Further, once she addressed people saying: "O my soul "self" how much do you sleep, and till when you sleep. You are about to go into a sleep of which you would never get up but only with the scream of the Day of Resurrection." 51
45. ibid., p. 57.
46. Dhikr An-Niswah Al-Muta'abbidaat As-Sufiyyat, by Abu Abd Ar-Rahmaan As-Salami.
47. Nafahat al-Uns, p. 615-635.
48. 'Alaam Al-A'abidaat Az-Zahidaat, Mohammed Ahmed Darniqah.
49. Zan Dar Ainah jalaal Wa Jamaal, pp. 236-238.
50. ibid., p. 239.
51. ibid., p. 240.
In another place she said: "O my God, I have worshipped You neither out of fear from Your Fire nor out of covetousness in Your paradise, but out of love for You and intention to meet You."52
In conclusion of this discussion, it is necessary to refer to the fact that menstruation of women being something natural and intrinsic, and a requisite for procreation of offspring and survival of species of mankind, and can never constitute any impediment in this trend. Though the women are exempted, during these days "of menstruation" from certain worships "like prayer, fasting", but this really being only a religious formality having nothing to do with spiritual and moral states of women, since they can indulge themselves in God's remembrance and reciting of Quran.
This fact is a facilitation on part of religion in regard of women, as the same is true regarding traveller, who can shorten his "four rak'ah" prayers and is ordered not to fast during travelling. A formal facilitation can never be considered as an indication to weakness of faith or moral states. And since in most of the cases a reference was made to this fact, so the traditions on lack of faith can be taken to have this meaning. Because religion means charging with duty and a precept, and weakness of religion in the days of menstruation indicates despising and belittling the precepts and tasks on part of woman throughout these days.
Allah the Most High has considered menstrual discharge as an illness "aza", 53 a state during which the women take pains and suffer troubles. And since they are exempted from any imposition or tasking with additional duty, so they are permitted or rather demanded to have their own moral conditions, sitting on "prayer" rug and reciting hymns for remembering God. Thus the result we get, being that the women have, in field of moral behaviour, an aptitude equal to that owned by men, and in perspective of religion, they have been called to moral maturity
52. ibid., p. 241.
53. ibid., p. 243.
and behaviour, to the same extent of men. Further, so many samples of mature women have emerged on the scene in history of Islam. There are some who even hold that ground for moral growth and capability of women for this motion is more and greater than men.
One of most valuable man's characteristics being one's power and aptitude to acquire cognition and knowledge... cognition of oneself, of the world in which one lives, and of secrets and mysteries concealed in the existence... etc.
Man can acquire all this cognition through reasoning, detection and witnesses, gaining perfection of existence for oneself within the range of this cognition. In the Islamic Law this perfection has not spared classification, rather all classes and species of mankind have been invited to knowledge-seeking.
Allah, when praising the knowledgeable and learned and reproaching the illiterate in general, says: "Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks." "58:11"
In another place He said: "Say "unto them, O Mohammed": what! can those who know be equal to those who know not?" "39:9"
Furthermore, the Almighty Allah regards teaching of people "rules of religion" to be one of goals of prophets, without limiting this to a certain class of them, as stated in the following verse: "Even as We have sent among you a Prophet from amongst yourselves who reciteth unto you Our signs and purifieth you and teacheth you the Book and the Wisdom; and teacheth you that which ye did not know." "2:151"
More than this, the words and conduct of the Imams, contain so much encouragement and persuasion toward knowledge-seeking.
If we get over the following general traditions:
· "Seeking knowledge is a duty incumbent upon every Muslim." 54
· "May the whips be unsheathed over the heads of my Companions so that they learn and distinguish the halaal "lawful" and the haraam "unlawful"."55 we come to some other traditions inviting women to seek knowledge, reported from these great leaders "Imams", like:
· "Seeking knowledge is a duty incumbent upon every Muslim man and Muslim woman: 56
Also the Messenger of Allah"S" said:
· "Beat the women for learning good and benevolence." 57
The Prophet"S" further said: "What excellent women the women of the Helpers "Ansar" are, their bashfulness could never curb them from learning rules of religion." 58
If we pass over these traditions we can see so many evidences indicating prevalence of knowledge and sciences among the women, during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah:
The Women Questioning the Prophet
The history of first era of Islam contains in within numerous examples of science acquiring and knowledgeseeking on part of women.
Zaynab Attarah, whose profession was purchasing and selling women's adornment equipment and tools, once upon a day came near the Prophet"S" questioning him about the way of creation of the world, when the Messenger of Allah"S"
54. Surat Al-Baqarah, verse 222: "they question thee ( o Mohammed) concerning mensttuation. say: it is an illness".
55. Al-Kaafi. vol. I, p. 30. Hadeeth I.
56. Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. I, p. 213, Hadeeth 12.
57. ibid,. vol. I, p. 177, Hadeeth 54.
58. ibid., p. 249, Hadeeth, 39.
responded to her by explaining the creation from the beginning till present time. 59
Also when Asma' bint Ummays returned from migration to Abyssinia, she betook herself toward wives of the Messenger of Allah"S" asking them: Is there any Quranic verse revealed in regard of women? On hearing a negative reply, she had recourse to the Prophet saying to him: The women are sustaining loss and detriment! The Messenger"S" said: What for? She said: Because no one Quranic verse was revealed in their regard. At that time verse 35 of surat AlAhzab was revealed.60
The Women Questioning the Companions
One example from history of first era of Islam is a sufficient evidence for this case. Abdallah Ibn Mas'ud is reported to have said: Why don't I curse those whom Allah has damned in the Quran, i.e. skin tattooer "washimah" and women near whom people go for tattooing "mustawshimah", hairdressers who join hair of some women to head of other women "wasilah", and those to whom people resort for this purpose "mustawsilah"!
The woman who heard this speech, reviewed all the Quran but couldn't find these words uttered by Ibn Mas'ud. The next day she went near him saying: I have read the whole Quran but never found that which you uttered in it.
Ibn Mas'ud said: Hasn't Allah said in His holy Book: "And whatsoever the Messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain "from it"." "59:7"
And also the Messenger of Allah"S" expressed: "Allah has verily cursed the skin tattooers women and women near whom people go for tattooing "mustawshimah"." 61
59. Al-Mar'ah Fi Al-Quran Was-Sunnah, p. 39.
60. At-Tawheed, p. 276.
61. Mizan Al-Hikmah, vol. IX, pp. 94-95.
The Companions Questioning the Women
Too many questions were put forth by the Companions "sahabah" before Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet and 'A'ishah.
One day Ibn Mas'ud betook himself to Fatimah"A" saying: Has the Prophet left anything of "his" knowledge with you?
Fatimah"A" said to her maiden: Bring me the pieces of papers left by my father. 62
Likewise, the Companions used to put questions before 'A'ishah, and also she used to criticise the Sahabah in many occasions.
In his book Al-Ijabah Li Irad Ma Istadrakathu 'A'ishah 'Ala As-Sahaabah, Az-Zarkashi cited ninety narrations in which 'A'ishah found fault with the reporting of the Sahabah, rectifying all their narrations.
These were only two examples of so many instances.
Women Questioning the Women
Women used to, during the lifetime of the Prophet, lay so many questions before the Messenger's wives and daughter. Once upon a day a woman came near Fatimah, Prophet's daughter, saying: I have a crippled mother, and some of rules related to prayers "salaat" are dubious for her. She sent me near you to seek answers and clarifications for her questions and dubieties. Then Fatimah"A" gave her the satisfactory answers. Again she put to her other questions and was given the replies. After repeating this several times, she felt shy and returned. 63
Another woman came near her "Fatimah" and said: My husband told me to come to you to inquire about whether I
62. Majma' Al-Bayan, vol. II, p. 298.
63. Da'irat Al-Ma'arif Al-Islamiyyah As-Shi'iyyah, vol. I, p. 10.
be among Shi'ah "followers" or not? She"A" answered her saying: If you commit yourselves to our biddings and prohibitions, you will be verily among our followers, otherwise you won't be. 64
This scientific movement has created among women a change in culture of Arab Peninsula and Islamic States, in a society in which men were deprived of talent of knowledge and writing, causing to development of learned women and men.
With blessing of this movement, the ground was paved for women to play the role required in fields of time knowledge. As a consequence of this, so many scientific works were brought out by women. Also women have played a special role in field of reporting and narration of hadeeth. This fact was unveiled by books like: Musnad Fatimah Musnad 'A'ishah, Mawsu'at Ummahaat AlMu'mineen and Jami' Masaanid AnNisa'.
Dr. Salih Yousif Ma'tuq has demonstrated the efforts and endeavours exerted by women in relation of hadeeth during the eighth hijrah century, in a separate book. 65 As an example we can refer to the book of Dr. Najiyah Abdallah Ibraaheem, under the title: Al-Juhood Al-'Ilmiyyah Lil Mar'ah Khilal Al-Qarnayn Al-Khamis Was-Sadis Al-Hijriyyayn, in which she exhibited the scientific efforts exerted by Muslim women in Baghdad during the fifth and sixth centuries. 66
Likewise, Al-Ostaz Ahmad Mohammed Isa has revealed the scientific status of Muslim women during the medieval ages of Islamic history, in one short article. 67 It is stated that in Iran alone about 3847 books have been translated and compiled by women during the period from the year 1921 till
64. Mustadrak Al-Wasa'il, p. 17. Hadeeth 22, ( al. Al-Bayt)
65. Tafseer Al-Imaam Al-Askari, p. 308.
66. Johood Al-Mar'ah Fi Riwayat Al-Hadeeth, by Dr, Salih Yousif Mu'tuq.
67. Journal of Ainah Pizhohish, issue, no. 45, pp. 45-46.
1995. 68 Furthermore, many great women have undertaken task of teaching, and so many people became disciples in their school.
For instance Zaynab, the daughter of Mohammed Ibn Othmaan AdDimashqi used to hold a class meeting, which was attended by fifty persons among whom was Ibn Hajar. 69
Ibn 'Asaakir "499571 H." is known to have acquired hadeeth from more than eighty women. 70 Further Sakhawi, the author of the book Az-Zaw AlLaami', learnt under fifty women. 71This practice was something so common in the Shi'ah religious schools "Hawzaat".
Also in the contemporary time the lady Ameena Isfahani was one of knowledgeable women who used to have a class for teaching, from whom scholars like Al-'Allamah Al-Amini author of Al-Ghadeer and Ayatullah Marashi Najafi got license for narration "riwaayah". 72
With all these traditional and historical evidences and indications, there will be no room for any limitation or restriction on reservation of knowledge on part of women. And if supposedly any interdiction was there on hadeeth and Riwaayah it would be specific to exceptional cases and can't be generalised or considered extensive in meaning, since all Muslim Olamaa', Shi'ah and Sunnah have never applied or adopted such traditions. This fact indicates that they either were doubting their "ahaadeeth" veracity or had got a certain meaning from them.
Of course, no one can deny the fact that in some of the
68. Journal of Risaalat Al-Islam, issue no I, pp. 78-83.
69. Goftogo Magazine (dialogue), issue no 9, p. 134; Kitabnamah Zan, 1979- 1995, Az-Zahra university.
70. Risaalat Al-Islam, issue no. I p. 81.
71. ibid., p. 82.
72. ibid., p. 83.
Islamic societies there being some restrictions on knowledge-seeking by women, but this should never be ascribed to the Islamic culture comprises the Quranic verses and Prophet's traditions and conduct which I cited before. And that one should be called a gleaned "multaqaat" culture of Muslims, to that meaning that under the influence of foreign cultures upon the Islamic culture, a new culture under the name of culture of Muslims was produced. This culture is so weak and untenable that Muslims should do their best to refine it.
In the same manner, any failure and negligence on part of women in acquiring knowledge should never be reckoned on account of religion and Shari'ah. The conclusion obtained is that the Islamic Shari'ah has invited both women and men to seek knowledge, never putting any impediment on the way toward their perfectionseeking.
Woman and Family
The second area of human life of woman and man, being the arena of family life, and this chapter will be dedicated for manifesting the common identity of woman and man within the framework of family. Yes, it is impossible to believe in the equal human character of woman and man unless by proving it in all arenas of life. In chapter two, commonness "between woman and man" in human and individual maturities was laid to discussion, and this chapter will elaborate on common identity of woman and man in the scope of the family.
For attaining to this aim, two subjects should be studied:
First the way Islam views marriage and forming of a family should be made clear, and then attention should be paid to exposition of position of woman in the family and her status.
How Islam Views Marriage
Many various laws and regulations on family issues have been enacted in religions and legal old-fashioned schools, that being based on their view toward the phenomenon of marriage. These views and deductions can never be at one level both in regard of depth and profundity and in regard of veracity and deviation.
That is because so many deviated and inclined viewpoints exist in religions and beliefs and even Muslim scholars. Among churches masters and rabbis there was a belief current, that getting married is contradictory to sacredness and chastity, and it is permitted only for procreation of offspring and prevention of unrestrained licentiousness on part of men and women.
Bertrand Russell says:
According to the theory of Sann Paul, the generation production was only a partial goal of marriage, while its main objective was prevention of adulteration and libertinism. This was the main role of marriage, which lies in fact warding off the more corruptive with the depraved. 73
AlGhazaali, a sunni eminent thinker, takes into consideration five benefits for marriage as follows: production of children, defeating the carnal lust, giving calmness to self, bringing settlement to the heart, and selfdisciplining.
Among all these he regards survival of offspring to be the most important advantage, saying: "Procreation "walad": is the origin, and for it marriage "nikaah" is enacted and legalised, with the purpose of maintaining the nasl "offspring, seed" and so as to keep the world from being devoid of mankind. And lust "shahwah" was created only as a compelling and inciting force for keeping the Nasl." 74
The noteworthy point in AlGhazaali's speech being his genusinclined view toward issue of marriage, because his explanation of the last three benefits goes on as if all the profits of marriage are gained by men. In the third advantage, which is giving calmness to self, he says: The human soul becomes fed up and wearied with continual persevered worship and sociability "uns" with women causes the self to get rid of this weariness. In the fourth benefit he says: Since housekeeping is entrusted to the woman, so the man's heart be disengaged and free for worship, with some of his disturbances being eliminated. In explaining the fifth benefit he said: practising strict selfdiscipline can be achieved by guardianship of children and family members and providing all their needs and
73. Banoy Mujtahid Irani, pp. 113-116.
74. Zanushu'i Wa Akhlaaq, p. 31.
Hence, out of these five advantages of marriage two are common between woman and man, but the other three ones pertain only to men.
Al'Allamah AtTabataba'i, a great shi'i exegete, takes the main objective of marriage and copulation to lie in permanence of species and procreation of the same offspring. At the same time he considers subsiding and satisfying the lust and partnership in material living and housekeeping to be out of real essence of marriage, viewing them as preliminaries and preludes for marriage or advantages consequential to it. 76
He also says:
Nature of men pushes them to try to obtain and desire female sex and vice versa. And providing every woman and man with feminine and masculine qualities has no purpose but procreation of same offspring and permanence of human species. Hence marriage is founded on this reality, and all rulings of marriage revolve also round this very reality. 77
After showing this goal he goes on by criticising other viewpoints and opinions, saying.
"The nowadays rules and laws of marriage have been enacted on basis of cooperation between woman and man in managing the living affairs. Hence, marriage contract is a kind of partnership in life whose scope or extent is smaller than the urban community. On this basis, the modern laws do not interfere in the chastity rulings which being legislated in Islam." 78
He holds this theory to be inconsistent with the human temperament and natural disposition, and says: If the purpose
75. Al-Mahajjah Al-Bayzaa, vol. III, p. 58.
76. ibid., vol. III, pp. 67-70.
77. Al-Mizaan, vol. IV, p. 179.
78. ibid., vol. II, p. 277.
of marriage be such a reality, it can be established between two individuals of one sex, and family also would have never been in need of such laws and regulations. 79
Seemingly this viewpoint, which is laid forth by AlGhazaali and his predecessors, is vulnerable to criticism due to the following reasons:
1. There is strong stress in the Quran on matter of tranquillity and relief, and in two verses it stated that the objective of creating woman and man being to find rest and calmness.
2. If the issue of marriage and matrimony be founded on procreation alone with no other purposes in view, there will be no difference between an animal and man. Because the animals produce the same kind and their offspring can survive though they neither commit themselves to a family and its system nor requiring specific regulations.
3. He "AlGhazaali" himself considers, in another place, procreation of kind and permanence of offspring "Nasl" to be philosophy of marriage not its cause "'illah". Therefore he counts getting married to barren and menopausal woman as something permitted. 80
Nevertheless, no one can accept the onesided viewpoint in respect of marriage, whether multiplication of generation or other purposes be taken into consideration as aim of marriage. Rather we believe that marriage contract in the Islamic Shari'ah seeks to achieve several aims, all of which being intended by the Islamic Lawmaker.
Herewith I introduce exposition of these purposes:
Permanence of Human Offspring
The holy Quran, in a verse, refers to marriage with terms like cultivation and harvest:
79. ibid., vol. II, p. 277.
80. ibid., p. 278.
"Your women are a tilth for you "to cultivate", so go to your tilth as ye will..."
Sayyid Qutub, in exposing this verse, says: The Quranic verses manifest the marriage connection with miscellaneous expressions in so many places, using the term raiment "Libaas" once and finding rest and love another time, or tilth "harth" in another place.
The term tilth "Harth" indicates a part of marriage attachment, which is procreation of the kind and multiplication of offspring. Thus we come to realise the profound view of Islam which admitted man, with all his inclinations and needs, not considering a part of his necessities. 81
Some traditions are there to support this theme. Once the Messenger of Allah"S" said: "Get married so that to multiply in number, so as I can boast with you the nations." 82
AlImaam AlBaaqir"A" has also reported a hadeeth from the Messenger of Allah"S" as saying:
"What is that keeping the believer from taking a wife, so that may Allah grant him a child that makes the earth heavy with no god but Allah." 83
Repose and Tranquillity
Habitation and calmness of the couple "bride and groom" being one of the goals upon which the Quran emphasised. This fact is indicated in the Quran by verse no.89 of surat ala'raf, and verse no.31 of surat ArRoom. These verses along with the explanation given in chapter one consider repose of wife and husband to be philosophy of creation of woman
81. ibid., vol. XV, p. 15.
82. Fi Zilaal Al-Quran, vol. I, p. 353.
83. Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. XVII, p. 259.
In some narrations too, spiritual sociability was regarded the factor of creation of the couple, like the following one:
"Then He created for him "Adam" Hawwa "Eve"... Adam said: O my lord, what is this nice creature? I fell so pleased with it, and looking at it. Allah said: O Adam this is My bondswoman "slave" Eve... do you like she be with you so as to entertain you, and talk to you? He replied: Yes my lord, if you do this to me I will be grateful and thankful to you as long as I am alive." 8
Satisfying the Sexual Instinct
One of main instincts of man being the sexual instinct to which and whose position the Islamic Law "Shari'ah" has paid good attention and consideration. In fact Islam's realistic view and attention to the sexual instinct excites so much wonder.
Masadah Ibn Sadaqah is reported to have said: I have heard that AlImaam AsSaadiq was once asked: Why don't you regard the adulterer as kaafir "disbeliever" while using this term for the prayersforsaker. What is the cause of this? AlImaam AsSaadiq replied: The incentive that pushed the adulterer to commit that sin "adultery" being the bestial passion "Libido" that overcame him, but the incentive that made the prayerforsaker to abandon prayers is only belittling and despising the Salaat. The fornicator gets pleasure from the act he practises, and what he intended to gain of his act was only sensual pleasure, while it is not so in case of prayers, as his intention can never be pleasure. 85
In another hadeeth, in a reply to the same question, AlImaam AsSaadiq said:
84. Wasa'il As-Shi'ah, vol. XIV, p. 3, Hadeeth 3.
85. ibid., vol. XIV, p. 2, Hadeeth I.
The reason for this lies in the fact that whatever you yourself hasten to do, with no strong incentive forcing you to doing it, or no overcoming factor, like adultery and wineimbibing, and you called upon yourself to forsake the prayers without any lust or desire, hence this is considered only disdainment and contempt." 86
Yet in another hadeeth Al-Imaam As-Saadiq"A" declared:
"Stone the old man and old woman for adultery because they have passed and spent their stage of lust and sensuality. 87
Also in fiqh and hadeeth books it is stated that every wife and husband that fails every morning and night to satisfy her/his lust lawfully, is counted as muhsan "continent, chaste". If any of them commits adultery "double adultery", her/his penalty is commuted, and the execution "stoning to death" will be changed to flogging "jald"." 88
Once Al-Imaam As-Saadiq"A" put this question to his followers: Do you know what the best pleasure is? But they showed ignorance of the answer. Thereat he"A" declared:
"Verily the most pleasing thing is to lie with women." 89
In another narration Al-Imaam As-Saadiq"A" said: "People have never delighted themselves in the world and hereafter with a pleasure better than the joy of lying with women."
Of course this pleasure for woman and man is not in the way that only men get pleased, so in continuation of this hadeeth this matter is indicated with general expression thus:
Then he said: The heavendwellers never find pleasure in the Garden with anything more desirable to them than
86. Al-Kafi, vol. III, p. 384, Hadeeth, 9,
88. ibid., vol. VIII, p. 176, Baab 3, Hadeeth 3.
89. ibid., p. 178, Baab 3, Hadeeth 10; Jawaahir Al-Kalaam, vol. XLI, p. 269.
copulation with women, neither in "heavenly" food nor drink." 90
All these traditions reflect the strong power of the sexual instinct inside every human being, the fact to which the Islamic legislator paid good attention and consideration.
Now I see it inevitable to say that this instinct with that strength should be satisfied within the boundary of the house, and its healthy basis is marriage contract.
In a continuation of a hadeeth cited in the previous chapter, the following statement is quoted:
"Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, said to Adam:
You can ask her hand from Me, as she is My slave and may fit you too as a wife for satisfying your sexual instinct." 91
If any exciting look to nonconsanguine woman "la mahram", unlawful, and indecent "lewd" deeds like adultery, sodomy, masturbation and alike acts have been forbidden "by Islamic Law", and on the other side strength and intensity of sexual instinct be confirmed, so the only means left for satisfying it being the atmosphere of family. Thus only marriage can also achieve this human need and desire.
90. Wasa'il Ash-Shi'ah, vol. XIV, p. 10, Hadeeth I.
91. ibid., Hadeeth 8.
Partnership in Moral Life
In many narrations it is reported that by marriage man acquires half of religion, with gaining immunity, and has to try his best to safeguard and maintain the other half.
· "Whoever gets married has in fact acquired half of his religion." 92
· "Every one of you should have a remembering tongue, a grateful
92. ibid., vol. XIV, p. 10, Hadeeth I.
heart, and a believing righteous wife assisting him in winning the hereafter." 93
Further many traditions are there concerning the selection of wife, recommending to take into consideration qualities like good morals, faith, and commitment, and warning against getting married to disbelievers and winebibers and alike: All this indicates the fact that the habits and traits of the husband and wife have effect on each other and do play a role in moral development or degeneration of each other.
The holy Quran considers getting married to a believing bondswoman to be preferable to marry a polytheist free woman.
· "... A believing bondswoman is definitely better than an idolater "free" woman..." "2:221"
Partnership in Material life
The wife and husband should help and sustain each other in arranging and ordering worldly life, the fact on which strong emphasis is there in many religious sources, as in the following hadeeth:
AlImaam AsSaadiq"A" said:
"Three things bring comfort to the believer: a spacious house disguising his defects and shameful deed out of people, and a virtuous wife that helps and supports him in "managing" the affairs of world and hereafter." 94
Upbringing of Offspring
It is worthmentioning that one of important purposes of marriage, which has a high degree coming after procreation of the same kind and permanence of species in order, being
93. Al-Kaafi, vol. V, p. 329.
94. Al-Mahajjah Al-Bayzaa, vol. III, quoted from Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth 1856.
upbringing of offspring "children". The wife and husband are verily the best educators for children as vulnerability of children before the parents is much more than others. And the Prophet's hadeeth "Get married and multiply in number, so that the earth gets heavier with your offspring, who are monotheists" is an indication to this very role.
In interpretation of the verse "O ye who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire..." "66:6" AlMuraghi, a Sunni exegete has said: Those who are meant by this verse being the wives and children. AlImaam Ali"A" said: Teach your families the good deeds and educate and discipline them. Yet in another hadeeth: Tell your families to keep in mind the prayers, fasting, zakaat "almsdue", the needy, orphans and neighbours." 95
We think that these six purposes are altogether the object intended by Islam, the fact certified by laws and regulations of marriage, divorce with family manners and morals. Observing chastity and modesty, looking after the children, abstinence from obscene acts and vices, observing rights of wife, 'iddah "a prescribed period which a woman has to pass after her divorce or husband's demise for her remarriage" and inheritance and others all indicate these purposes.
Based on this, the characteristics recommended in selecting the spouse are farther than one purpose, but rather observing all the purposes, like:
· A faithful, wise and modest wife;
· Able to meet all of husband's sexual desires;
· noble and of honourable descent and lineage;
95. Wasa'il As-Shi'ah ah, vol. XVI, p. 24, Baab 20, Ha, 41.
· having a pretty face.96
Further men are recommended not to seek to marry the women for their beauty alone, as this indicates that marriage is viewed only from the angle of satisfying the sexual instinct no more no less. Also it is recommended not to seek to marry a woman for her riches, since this reflects the fact that the man is intending to have a partner in material life. By this we never mean to disregard and ignore wealth and beauty, but just to draw attention to their being reproached and censured.
Alas! from old preIslamic era and more in the modern jaahiliyyah, all views toward marriage are onesided, as marriage with the purpose of having children or for getting help in material life or other purposes. The Islamic Shari'ah regards all this as an inauspicious and reprehensible phenomenon.
In brief, Islam views marriage as a means to achieve the previouslymentioned six purposes, with none of them being fit to replace the other. Also it takes all these goals for the woman and man, on the same level.
Status of Woman inside Family
After making clear the religious perspective of marriage and family, it is recommendable to observe what is the position the woman has within these subjects. Do the woman and man represent the origin and branch in the family? Or do they have equal and equivalent position? Or is the responsibility of woman greater than that of the man? And if the woman's responsibility is greater, what does that mean?
Attention should be given to the fact that the woman and man have two dignities and two roles, one being partnership in marriage "spouse" and the other being fatherhood and motherhood, both of which need study and discussion. About
96.Tafseer Al-Muraghi, vol. XXVIII, p. 162.
this subject also many incorrect views and wrong beliefs are there, that it is proper to refer to them first before elaborating on the subject in as dully as possible.
1. AbulAswad AdDu'ali once has gone with his wife UmmAwf near Ziyad laying before him the disagreement between them in respect of a son. Each one of them claimed the son to belong to him/her:
AbulAswad said: I am more entitled to have the son than her, I bore him before her and laid him before her. Then UmmAwf said: You have laid him "put the sperm into the ovary" out of lust and pleasure, while I have delivered him with difficulty and constraint "kurh", and you bore him when being light while I conceived him when being heavy.
Ziyad then said to UmmAwf: You are right, and more entitled to have the son. And he handed the child to her.
2. AlGhazaali in Ihyaa AlOloom and Mawlana in Fihi Ma Fih and others maintain less important role for the woman within the family "and marriage". In Ihyaa AlOloom, when expounding the five goals of marriage and particularly in explaining three instances of them, AlGhazaali delivered a speech in a way indicating as if the man being the origin and the woman being like a parasite and an uninvited person, since he said:
AlJunaydi said: I am in need of the woman in the same way as I need food and sustenance. Hence woman is a food and cause of heart purity. 97 And because of marriage the heart becomes free from housekeeping and engagement in cooking the food, and tranquil for reserving knowledge and manners, the tasks that can be undertaken by a pious woman. 98
In the same manner man, on his way to earn of halaal "lawful" business and family guardianship, undergoes so many
97. In connection to these qualities and traits refer to Wasa'il Ash-Sha'ia, vol. XIV, pp. 13-24.
98. Al-Mahajjah Al-Bayzaa, vol. III, p. 65.
hardships and exerts efforts which are in themselves laborious struggle "jihad" and selfdiscipline.99
Mawlana Jalaal AdDeen Balkhi, in his book Fihi Ma Fih, was also involved in this sex dilemma, whence he says:
"Day and night you strive and exert endeavour, seeking edification of woman's morals, purifying uncleanness of your wife with yourself. You would rather purify yourself through her than purifying her through you, and you should edify yourself through her, listen to her and obey whatever she says, though this request may be impossible to achieve on your part. Abandon jealousy and zeal though it be one of unavailable qualities of men, but through this good quality bad and abominable habits may characterise your behaviour. For the sake of this meaning the Prophet"S" is quoted to have said: There is no monarchism "rahbaniyyah" in Islam, as the friars chose seclusion from people, living inside the mount, separation from women and abandoning the worldly life; confining God in a narrow passage and raising doubt about Him and the Prophet. They never bother themselves to court a woman as it is something tiresome, and they hate to hear the impossible demands of the women, or going here and there to meet their needs, considering themselves to be welleducated. 100
As it is observed that the woman on one part is regarded as a lust container for the man and on the other as a plantation for the man to cultivate and harvest. That is she is regarded both as a wife and unseen mother.
These were samples of incorrect views in this subject. But reviewing the religious texts especially the holy Quran reveals the falseness of these deductions and inferences, viewing equivalent role for both woman and man with giving superiority to the woman in some respects. This equivalence or superiority, is noticed in both the dimensions as a spouse and as a mother.
99. ibid., p. 69.
100. ibid., p. 70.
Allah commands Adam and his wife Eve to live in the heavens:
· "And O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, so eat ye two from wherever ye two desire..." "7:19"
· "And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely "of the fruits" thereof where ye will..." "2:35"
He also reminds Adam and his wife that the Satan being their enemy: "Then said We: "O Adam! Verily this is an enemy unto thee and thy wife; therefore let him not drive ye both out of the Garden for "then" thou shouldst be put to toil." "20:117"
Also in time of dissension He addresses the wife and husband thus:
· " "And God" said: "Get down hence ye two, all together..." "20:123"
Yes the woman has, as a wife, an independent identity equal to the man, having a share and exploiting all privileges of marriage and family. Also the woman, like man, has choice right in marriage "choosing the husband" and it is not allowed to force or impose any thing upon her. It is reported that Khudham, the father of Khansa' has coerced her to marry someone. When the Messenger of Allah"S" became aware of this, he annulled the marriage contract declaring: "Whoever wants to get married in this way, has got married to the father of Lubalah too. 101
One day a girl came near the Prophet and said to him: My father has coerced me to get married to his brother's son. The Messenger of Allah"S" authorised the girl to accept or refuse, when the girl said: "I have permitted the doing of my father "accepted his wish", but I intended to let the women realise that fathers have no authority to do what they like or interfere in this
101. Simaay Zan Dar Iran, p. 132, quoted from Fihi ma Fih, p. 86.
affair in particular. 102
Ibn Abbas is reported to have said: A daughter reluctantly approached the Prophet"S" and exclaimed: My father has coerced me to marry someone unwillingly. The Prophet then gave authority and choice to the daughter to agree or disagree. 103
Also inside the house no one can be a leader over her, as the woman is a partner in life not a captive. And the family is formed through a contract accepted by two parties with its effects and essentials including both the wife and the husband, with the same extent.
Likewise, the woman constitutes, as a mother, a pillar of the family like the father, and rather it can be said that the woman as a mother has a position superior to the father.
In surat alisra' Allah gives a comprehensive commandment in regard of the father and the mother:
"And commanded thy Lord that thou shalt worship not "any one" but Him, and goodness to parents; if either or both of them reach old age with thee, utter not unto them "even so much as" "fie" nor chide them, and speak unto them a generous word. And lower unto them the wing of humility out of compassion, and say thou: "O My Lord! Have mercy on them as they cherished me when I was little." 104
In this verse, after "God's" recommending the children to show kindness to parents and abstinence from irritating and annoying behaviour toward them, Allah calls the sons and daughters to pray to God to have mercy on father and mother who undertook their fostering and nourishment from childhood.
In other verses a recommendation to be grateful and thankful to the parents was given:
102. Al-Isteea'ab, vol. IV, p. 295.
103. Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. I, p. 602.
104. ibid., p. 603.
"And We did enjoin upon man concerning his parents; beareth him his mother in weakness upon weakness and his weaning taketh two years "and" saying: "Be thou grateful unto Me and unto thy parents; "and remember thou that" unto Me is the ultimate return "of all"." "21:14"
So also the holy Quran leaves determination in respect of period of suckling of the child to consultation between the father and mother:
"... and if both "the father and the mother" decide on weaning by mutual consent and "with due" consultation there shall be no blame on them..." "2:233"
The position of the mother is also described so highly and considerably. It is reported that the Messenger of Allah"S" said: "Had Jarih ArRahib been a faqeeh and knowledgeable man he would have conceived that responding to the request of his mother being verily more preferable than worshipping his Lord." 105
In another hadeeth doing goodness and kindness to the mothers is counted among signs of wise sane men. 106
To sum up, it should be said that the woman inside the sphere of family traverses the second arena of development and enjoyment of profits of life, and it is not true that she becoming cause of maturity of another one. The woman is in fact, a partner in all prerogatives of living, both as a wife and as a mother. So every planning and sketching of rights of woman in the family should be laid down on the basis of this independent and equivalent character of woman. No one can regard the role of woman as a wife to be tantamount to role of husband, but the right to divorce and guardianship "custody" being totally entrusted to the men. And as it is improper to elevate the status of the mother up to the Divine Throne, it is not for us to deprive her of the right of custody and correlation with the child.
105. Surat Al-Israa', verses 23-24.
106. Kanz Al-'Ummal, vol. XVI, p. 460.
On the other hand, the family in perspective of Islam has no chief, and all kinds of predominance "siyadah" of father or of mother or child being deviation from the natural and instinctive path of the family. Rather every and each member of the family has certain rights that should be fulfilled and certain duties that he/she should undertake and be held responsible for.
It is true that there should be a manager in the Muslim family, but he/she should not behave as a master and mawla since the other members are verily not slaves or subjects. Further the manager should, according to qualifications and authority, undertake the function of administration, never being a despotic ruler or a sensualist.
Women's Cooperation in Social Life
The arena of social life being the third area of search and strival of son of Adam for attaining to perfection, in which a great portion of aptitudes and abilities are put in practice and flourishing, as they be effective also in realising individual maturities and success in family life. Further the social life is becoming nowadays much more miscellaneous and extensive than it was in the past. The examples for this can be seen in employment, art, sports, minute and enormous management in the society, parties and associations, legal procedure, and arbitration, education and training.
In other words, it can be said that the social life covers 3 fields:
1. Employment and economical activities;
2. Social activities, like education and training, physical exercise and art;
3. Political participation.
These being the three main domains of participation of women in social life.
Now the following question is raised: Is this area, with all its dimensions, restricted to men, with no role left for women? Or no confinement being there and this field endures no sexuality? Or is it that with accepting the participation and cooperation we should ignore any difference between women and men?
Some are of the opinion that women being created for the house and housekeeping only. Abul'Ala AlMawdudi, an Indian Muslim scholar, says:
"Politics, government administration, military and high services and alike are undertaken by men restrictively. When Islam charges the women with aiding the wounded during wars, this should never be taken to mean that Muslims charge them during peace time with running libraries, schools, workshops, associations and parliaments, since they were never created for performing such jobs. Besides, charging the woman with works for which she was not created by nature, would bring her failure and disappointment.
Stating names of great women having outstanding background in these fields as recorded in history books, never changes the truth, as the criterion for judging the women being to view them the same eye as a group and with regard to the constitution on which they were created. 107
Some of Shi'i writers are reported to have said also:
Therefore the women should be either connected or pregnant, or nursing so as to be counted among the humanity caravan that proceeding toward the Worshipped and Beloved and Centrepoint for the eagers and Ka'bah for lovers, and searchers for reaching His Sanctuary of safety and security, altogether with men. 108
If every woman tries, instead of engaging herself in various social tasks, arts and handicrafts, give birth to a child, grow it up and deliver it to the society with existentialist capabilities, she will elevate herself to the highest status proportionate to the number
107. Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. IXIX, p. 305, Ha 27.
108. Al-Islam Fi Mowajahat At-Tahaddiyaat Al-Mu'asirah, p. 265.
of her children. 109
Such extremist views led some other thinkers to base their viewpoints on the Quran and say that: No trade or social profession is prohibited for women except whoredom! 110
Consulting and examining the holy Quran and biography of the Prophet"S" and infallible Imams will definitely show us a rational and bright path toward truth. Herewith I shall first demonstrate the pivots of social activities from the Quran and Prophet's Sunnah and conduct "Seerah", and then I will give finish to manifesting the motives of social joint cooperation of women with conditions of this presence.
Permission for Social Cooperation
Allegiance to Government
The holy Quran admits swearing allegiance to government, which being the most salient manifestation of the political activity in every society, to be practised by women.
"O "Our" Prophet "Mohammed" when come unto thee believing women pledging that they will not aught with God, and will neither steal, nor commit adultery, nor kill their children, and they will utter not slander, nor utter any falsehood which they had forged themselves between their hands and their feet, and will not disobey them in what is fair, then accept thou their pledge, and ask forgiveness for them from God; Verily God is OftForgiving, the Most Merciful." "60:12"
Further, the history of early Islamic era is indicative of accomplishment of this political process on the part of women; As it is reported that during the 2nd Aqabah Allegiance "bay'at alaqabah aththaniyah", in which a great multitude of Medina men, after performing rites of hajj
109. Anwaar Al-Malakoot, vol. 1, p. 178.
110. ibid., p. 182.
pilgrimage, took an oath of allegiance to the Messenger of Allah"S", two women under the names of UmmImarah and Asma' were present too. 111
Also allegiance was sworn to the Prophet by other women at Mecca besides these two 112 "at Medina".
In his Tabaqaat, Ibn Sa'd has dedicated several pages for explaining how the women took an oath of allegiance to the Prophet, and showing contents of these oaths of allegiance. 113 And in another chapter of this book he stated names of seventy women who took part in these acknowledgements "bay'ahs". 114
In the event that Quranic verse was to be used in these oaths of allegiance "bay'ahs", the women have taken an oath on two pledges: One being religiosity and adoption of Islam, and the other being acknowledging the Prophet as head of government "leader".
Mohammed Ali Qutub has also dedicated a full book for elaboration on subject of women's taking an oath of allegiance to the Prophet"S". 115
Participation in Immigration
Immigration was one of sociopolitical movements that occurred twice during the early Islamic era, in both of which Muslim women participated. These immigrations had so many political dimensions, one of which being banishment and rejection of the regime ruling over the people. The second dimension being communication of the message of new religion, and thirdly it represented a political precautious
111. Al-Mar'ah Fi Ad-Deen Wal-Mujtama', p. 176.
112. Fath Al-Baari, vol. XI, p. 220.
113. At-Tabaqqqt Al-Kubra, vol.VIII, p. 10.
114. ibid., pp. 14-15.
115. ibid., pp. 222-273.
tactic for safeguarding and eternalising the newfashioned school "Islam", to this meaning that when the polytheists would annihilate the Muslims in Mecca, other followers of the new religion would appear in another place for protecting and defending them.
The holy Quran has in many verses, told about migration of Muslim women.
First: It makes migration obligatory on the women and men to the same level:
"Verily those whom the angels take away "at death" while they are unjust to their "own" selves "in sin", they "the angels" shall ask "the sinner souls": "In what state were ye?" They shall reply: "Weakened "and oppressed" were we in the land;" They "the angels" will say: "Was not the land of God vast "enough" for you to migrate there in?" So these "are those" whose refuge shall be Hell: and what a bad resort it is. Except the "really" weakened ones from among the men and the women and the children, who have not in their power the means "to escape from the unbelievers" and nor they find the "right" way." "4:97, 98"
What is gleaned of these verses is that all those disdaining from migration their abode will be in Hell, whether be men or women or children. So all the Muslims, men and women, should migrate so as to keep God's religion safe and intact.
Second: The Quran makes a special reference to migration of women together with the Prophet toward Medina.
"O "Our" Prophet! Verily we have made lawful unto thee thy wives whom thou hast given their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth out of those whom God returneth unto thee "without war", and the daughters of thy paternal uncle, and the daughters of thy paternal aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncle and the daughters of thy maternal aunts who fled with you..."
One of the women participated in this migration was Asma', wife of AzZubayr. She says: In this migration process I was conceived to a child and period of pregnancy was over at that time. On reaching Medina I gave birth to my son Abdallah at Quba. 116
Third: In another verse examining the immigrant women:
"O ye who believe! when come unto you believing womenrefugees, then ye examine them; God knoweth best their faith; and if ye find them to be believing women, return ye not them unto the disbelievers; neither these women are lawful for them, nor are those men lawful for them..." "60:10"
In Hudaybiyyah peace Treaty it was determined that in case of coming of Muslims to Medina they should be repatriated. However, Allah the Exalted revealed this verse in which He exempted the women from that Treaty. Ibn Abbas is reported to have said: The exam or interrogation of immigrant women was thus, that the women should confess and admit that: "I pledge and assure here that I have not migrated out of grudge against my husband, or out of desire and inclination toward the new land or for gaining worldly coveted objects or profits, but the only purpose and goal for which I migrated being love to God and the Prophet." 117
Among the women who migrated and were subjected to examination I can refer to Damimah daughter of Bishr, Subay'ah daughter of Harith, Borough daughter of Aqabah and Abdah daughter of Abd AlAziz.
116. Bay'at An-Nabi Li-Nisaa', by Mohammed Ali Qutub.
117. Saheeh Al-Bukhari, vol. VIII, p. 29, " Kitab Al-Manaaqib, " "Baab Jijrat An-Nabi Wa As-haabih lla Al-Madeenah."
Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil
The third social activity that the Quran attributed to women being to enjoin good and forbid evil "alamr bil ma'ruf wannahy anilmunkar".
It is known that bidding to decent deeds and forbidding from indecent acts being one of social duties with which Islam charged every mature man and woman. Eleven verses are revealed in the Quran talking about this religious duty and rule, as a kind of social guardianship that the believers have over each other. In the following verse this duty is introduced as a common obligation on women and men:
"And the believer men and the believer women they are guardians to one another; they enjoin good and forbid evil and they establish "the regular" prayer and pay the poorrate and obey God and His Apostle "Mohammed". These, God will bestow on them His mercy; verily God is AllMighty, AllWise." "9:71"
This verse indicates that the Islamic society enjoys one and the same identity, which cannot be disintegrated by masculinity and femininity. Within this group, having one identity, every individual has guardianship over the other. Hence, they should all undertake and commit themselves to perform this duty and Divine charge.
The holy Quran confirms doing business and exerting efforts on part of women and men for earning living, arranging and establishing their right of ownership over what they have earned.
"Unto men a fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune from that which they have earned." "4:32"
In this verse, both earning the living and ownership for woman and man have been spoken out. And it separated between women and men for the only reason to dismiss the wrong notion and view which confines and distinguishes ownership, earning and economical labour for men alone.
It is to be noted that no evidence is there in the verse indicating that what is intended by earning and business being only intellectual and moral practices. On this basis, the exegetes gave three probabilities for this verse: wages and labour remuneration, economical earning and activity, and inheritance. 118 Some others gave only two interpretations: wages and remuneration for work, and inheritance. 119
Performing Economic Social Activities
The holy Quran refers to daughters of Shu'ayb in state of performing economicsocial activities, reiterating their modesty during work. In the following verses, the connection between women and men can be clearly seen:
"And when he arrived at the water of Madyan, he found on it a group of men "watering their flocks" and found he besides them two women keeping back "their flocks"; Said "Moses": "What aileth you?" Said the two "women": "We cannot water until the shepherds take away "their sheep from the water", and our father is very old. So he watered "their flocks" for them, then retired he unto the shade, "and" then said he: "O my Lord! Verily of what Thou hast sent down unto me of the good, I stand in need." Then came unto him one of the two women walking bashfully; Said she: "Verily my father calleth thee so that he may recompense thee for what thou hath watered for us. So when came he unto him and narrated unto him his story, said he "the old man": "Fear thou not, thou art "now" secure from the unjust people." Said one of the two women: "O my father! Employ him, verily the best of those who thou canst employ is the strong "man" the trusted "one"." "28:2326"
118. Fath Al-Baari, vol. XI, p. 345
119. At-Tahreer Wat-Tanweer, vol. V, p. 32.
In these verses, the shepherd Shu'ayb's daughters, relation and speaking with men, social insight and recognising the individuals, and bashfulness and modesty have been well manifested, and confirmed by God.
The story of Queen of Saba' and her sovereignty is cited in the Quran without any criticism or censure. On the other hand the Quranic verses introduce her as a person of opinion and consultation and truthseeking, since when receiving the letter of Prophet Sulayman, she tried to find a solution for the problem, having an inclination toward Sulayman:
"Verily I found a woman ruling over them, and she hath been given plenty of every thing, and she hath a throne magnificent." "27:23"
"Said "the Queen of Shebah": "O ye chiefs! Verily, has been delivered unto me a letter honourable!" "27:29"
"Said she: "O ye chiefs! advise me in "this" my affair; "ye know" that I decide not any affair but in your view." "27:32"
"... Said "the Queen": "My Lord! verily I have been unjust to myself, and I submit "along" with Solomon unto God, the Lord of the worlds." "27:44"
Ibn Khaldoon considers Balqees "the Queen" to be the designer and builder of Dam of Ma'rab, with having "ruling over" a populous country full of different fruits with no match ever found in the world. 120
Some of the writers viewed this issue in this way:
I had no doubt in regard of what was quoted by AlBayhaqi, had I not seen with my own eyes women like Indirah Gandi, daughter of Nehru, who managed and administered seven hundred million people, with a handful of needy people starving to death on the sidewalks, reaching them, through a
120. At-Tafseer Al-Muneer, vol. V, pp. 45-46.
green revolution, to a position of a wheatexporting nation. 121
Many of clearsighted men have taken hold of this story, regarding the woman's occupying the highest political posts to be something admissible. 122
In the event of mubahalah "cursing each other", which being a religiosocial conduct.
"And unto him who disputeth with thee therein after the knowledge hath come unto thee, say "O Our Apostle Mohammed!" "unto them": "come ye, let us summon our sons, and "ye summon" your sons, and "we summon" our women and "ye" your women, and "we summon" ourselves and "ye" yourselves and then let us invoke and lay the curse of God on the liars!" "3:60"
Sister for Deliverance
The holy Quran reiterates the attempts of the sister of Prophet Moses"A" for his deliverance, as in this verse:
"When thy sister went "unto Pharaoh's wife" and said: "Shall I show you one who will take care of him?" "20:40"
Participation in Jihad
Participation of women in jihad "Islamic struggle" during the early Islamic era and after it, is known for all. As the women made haste to aid the warriors in the battlefields, preparing the food and looking after the patients, and other things.
1. Anas "Ibn Malik" is reported to have said: During Battle of Uhud, 'A'ishah and UmmSalamah were shifting and handling the leathern bottles of water and pouring them
121. Jami' Al-Moqaddimaat, vol. II, pp, 922-923.
122. ibid., p. 911.
out into mouths of people "giving to thirsty people". 123
2. UmmAtiyyah is reported to have said: "I have accompanied the Messenger of Allah"S" in seven battles "campaigns" altogether, remaining behind their men "in tents", cooking and preparing food for them."124
3. Hafsah, daughter of Sirin, reported from a Christian woman that she said: My brotherinlaw took part in twelve campaigns with the Prophet"S", and my sister was accompanying him in six battles, saying: We were taking care and looking after the patients "wounded"." 125
4. Rabi daughter of Miwaz is reported to have said: "We used to participate in the campaigns with the Prophet"S", replacing and returning the wounded and the killed to Medina." 126
5. Anas is reported to have said: "The Messenger of Allah"S" used to take with him in his battles "against disbelievers" UmmSalim and some Christian women, for looking after and curing the wounded."127
During Battle of Uhud, when the Muslims left the battlefield UmmImarah remained behind holding the weapon for protecting the Prophet.
Omar Ibn AlKhattaab used to say: I heard the Messenger of Allah"S" saying during Battle of Uhud: To every side I was
123. Journal of Farzanah, issue no. I, p. 9; payam Zan, issue no. 3, p. 14; Al-Mar'ah Wal-A'mal As-Si yaasiyyah Ru'yah Islamiyyah, p, 120; journal of Al-Ba'th Al-Islami, vol. XXXIV, issue no. 3, article: Shar'iyyat Qiyaadat Al-Mar'ah Lil-Hukm Fi Ad-Duwal Al-Islamiyyah.
124. Saheeh Al-Bukhaari, vol. VI, p, 418. Kitaab Al-Jihaad, Baab: Ghazwa An-Nisa Wa Qitaalihinna Ma'a Ar-Rijaal.
125. Saheeh Muslim, vol. V, p. 199, Kitaab Al-Jihaad.
126. Saheeh Bukhaari, vol.III, p. 122, Kitaab Al-Idayn, Baab: Idha lam Yakun Laha Julbaab Fi Al-'Id.
127. ibid., vol. VI, p. 420.
turning my face I would see only UmmImarah fighting in defence of me." 128
During Battle of Hunayn UmmSalim was seen holding a dagger. When the Messenger of Allah"S" asked her for what she was holding a dagger, she said:
I have held it for the reason that if one of the polytheists comes near me "to attack the Muslims", I will rip open his belly. Then the Messenger of Allah"S" broke into a laugh.129
This issue was so explicit and manifest that many chapters were dedicated for it throughout books of hadeeth and Sirah. In Saheeh AlBukhari & Saheeh Muslim, we can see a chapter under the heading: "The Women's Fighting with the Men."
Women's engagement in business and employment during the Prophet's lifetime was so extensively common, and women were seen in every and all kinds of professions and trades prevalent and current at that time.
The trade of selling women's adornment outfit was practised by Zaynab Attarah, 130 and Mulaykah daughter of Aqra' Thaqafiyya,131 and Asma' daughter of Makhrabah.132 Besides, Zaynab bint Jahash occupied herself with handicrafts.133
An old woman used to occupy herself with business of selling off milk, when Omar "Ibn AlKhattaab" came in contact with her giving her a good advice. 134 Also Khawwat bint Jubayr
128. Saheeh Muslim, vol. V, p. 196.
129. At-Tabaqaat Al-Kubra, vol. VIII, p. 415.
130. Saheeh Muslim, vol. V, p. 196.
131. At-Tawheed, p. 276.
132. Usd Al-Ghaaba, vol. V, p. 548.
133. ibid., p. 452.
134. ibid., p. 565; Nathr Ad-Durar, vol. I, p. 157.
engaged herself with sale of cooking oil. 135Moreover some other women used to do pastoral occupation and tending flocks, like Sallamah, UmmHani and others.136
A woman called Zaynab was a doctor of Tribe of Bano Awd, and occupied herself with curing the patients. 137 Further other women, like Qaylah mother of Bano Namar, used to exercise commerce business.138
After establishing evidences from religious sources on permission of women's social cooperation and participation, hereafter I will state the incentives and motives behind cooperation "of women".
Motives of Cooperation
Development of Woman's Character
The social activity paves the way for participation and presence in various arenas, the factor causing development of dimensions of existence and blossoming of talents and aptitudes.
"Whoever gives up merchandise, two thirds of his mind "brain" will be lost." 139
From all this, it becomes clear for us that staying at home or seclusion and separation from society and people results in nothing but abatement and torpidity.
And if the sought slogan or best rule "religion" of the Prophet of Islam"S" being abandoning Rahbaniyyah "monasticism, single life",140 but this fact can never be distinguished to men
135. Tareekh Dimashq ( Taraajum An-NIsa), p, 537.
136. Usd Al-Ghaabah, vol. V, p, 477; Al-Mu'jam Al-Kabeer, vol. XXIV, p. 427.
137. Al-Muffassal Fi Taareekh Al-Arab Qabl Al-Islam, vol. IV, p. 620.
138. Usd Al-Ghaabah, vol. V, p. 535; Tabaqaat Ibn Sa'd, vol. VIII, p. 311.
139. Wasa'il As-Shi'ah, vol. XII, p8, Ha 10.
140. Refer to Bu'd Ijtimaa'i Islam, pp. 35-52.
only, and it includes all followers of this religion, whether being women or men. Further, Rahbaniyyah never means forsaking the society and seeking refuge in caves or dens, but confining the women inside the house and driving them out of arena of life and society being in fact some kind of monasticism.
Also education and learning can only be attained through presence and activity within the society and among people. Besides, through this social presence the ground can be prepared for doing service to other human beings, which in itself being a step toward perfection and maturity. More than this, through social participation man can attain to political cognisance and full knowledge of the age, which being among prerequisite for every and each man.
"That who has full awareness of his time, will not be attacked by vicissitudes of time "mischiefs"."141
And thanks to the social activity, the duty of enjoining to good and forbidding from evil can be put to practice, and through this participation guiding the ignorant, which being a human duty, can be fulfilled, beside jihad and immigration.
Therefore, one of incentives and motives for inviting to social life for women, being to sublimate the scientific, theoretical and social character of them, without which they can never attain to such a position or can with exerting much toil.
To live a joyful and pure life, needs easiness and comfort, without which life would be stagnant and lose its brightness and joy. Taking easy and be lenient being one of principles of the Islamic Law. Many evidences supporting this fact can be found in the holy Quran and Prophetic Sunnah. Allah, in many verses on position of legislating some rule or precept, point out ease and leniency, as in the following verse:
141. Al-Hayaat, vol. II, p. 296.
"Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you." "2:185"
The holy Prophet too has described his Shari'ah as plain and tolerant law. It is reported from him to have said:
"The Messenger of Allah"S" was not given the option between two alternatives, but he chose the easier one, unless he being sinful as in that case he would be the farthest man from it."142
On this basis, preventing the women from social presence and cooperation is certainly contrary to principle of easiness. If the women are bound to inquire about the questions and ambiguities facing them from Mahram "consanguine" men "with whom marriage is prohibited" and fulfil their duties through a medium, then their lives will not be free from hardship and difficulty. During the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah"S" the women used to inquire from the Prophet about the questions and problems they face, the act from which the Prophet never prohibited them. Association and supervision on part of the Prophet and Imams with the women in presence of men, used to be an ordinary matter. I draw the attention of readers to the following old quotations:
1. Ali Ibn Hamzah and AbuBaseer are reported to have said: We have had an appointment with AlImaam AlBaaqir "peace be upon him". So we betook ourselves to his house. On entering it he loudly called: O Sukaynah, bring me the lantern. When she brought the lantern, he said to her: Bring me now the skin that is kept in so and so place. She brought it, when he opened it and extracted from it some yellowlike writing.143
2. AshShaykh AtToosi, in his book Tahdheeb, reports from Safwan Ibn Mehran "who was a courier" that he said: I have offered AlImaam AsSaadiq for view the following: A
142. Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Kitaab Al-Adab vol. VIII, p. 37.
143. Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. XIVI, p. 266.
Muslim woman, who has full knowledge of my profession and whom I know to be a Muslim, calls on me to take her with the caravan, but with no Mahram "man" accompanying her, what should I do? He"S" replied: The believing man is Mahram with the believing woman, citing then the verse: "And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another..." 144
These two quotations explicitly indicate that the human relations between Muslim men & women is something natural & normal.
Manners of Social Cooperation
Women's social cooperation has, in view of Islam, certain etiquette, the observation of which leads to permission and persuasion to social presence. Some of these manners being common between men and women, which both groups should observe and abide by. Some of them belong to women distinctively.
Lowering the Gaze
The holy Quran commands the believing men and women to lower their eyes and be modest:
"Say thou "O Our Apostle Mohammed!" unto the believing men that they cast down their gaze and guard their private parts; that is pure for them; Verily God is AllAware of what "all" ye do. And say unto the believing women that they lower their gaze and guard their private parts..." "24:30, 31"
Lowering the gaze never means closing the eyes totally, but means abstaining from seductive and alluring look. Restraining dazzling looks is called in Arabic language "Ghazz". In other words, in these two verses no
144. Al-Mizaan, vol. XIX, p. 347.
prevention on sense of sighting is ordered, as God didn't say: Do not look "la tanzura", but He gave His orders to do something positive, i.e. lowering the eyes.
AbuSa'id AlKhudri, reporting a hadeeth in this context from the Prophet"S", said: "The Messenger of Allah"S" said: Abstain from sitting on the "sidewalk of" roads. People said to him: We have no other alternative but to sit and talk to each other. The Prophet said: Now if it be so, you should fulfil the rights of roads. They questioned: What are rights of roads? He replied: lowering the eyes, abstaining from harming the others, responding to greeting, and enjoining to good and forbidding from evil." 145
Examples of impudence can be found in some of the traditions, like the following:
Ibn Abbas is reported to have said: The Prophet made AlFadl Ibn Abbas ride the mount behind him on Id AlAzha "Greater Bairam". AlFadl was of good and wellcut figure. Once upon a time, the Prophet made a halt for giving answers to people's questions regarding religious ambiguities. A goodlooking woman from Khatham Tribe came near the Prophet to inquire him about some matters. When AlFadl was dazzled with her beauty and kept on gazing her with open eyes. Thereat the Prophet put his hand before his "AlFadl's" face and turned it to the other side.
In this hadeeth a good example and true application of principle of lowering the gaze can be clearly seen.
Abstention from Shaking Hands with Women
Another sample of manners of partnership being abstention from shaking hands with women. In the same
145. Saheeh Muslim, vol. VII, p. 3.
way as seductive looking and dazzling being an indecent and reprehensible act, that paving the way for inhuman and illegal relations, shaking and extending hands to women "on part of men" comes under the same category.
Many traditions are there concerning prohibiting and preventing this habit, and it is reported that the Prophet has never shaken hands with any woman during process of swearing allegiance to him.
A hadeeth is narrated thus:
"By God his "Prophet's" hand has never touched any woman's hand during acknowledgement of allegiance "mubaya'ah": 146
Prohibiting Crowding of Women with Men
UmmSalamah is reported to have said: The Messenger of Allah"S" used to wait and linger in the mosque after finishing congregational prayers, so as that the women could depart before him.
147 Also, the Messenger of Allah"S" has presented a proposal in regard of manners of coming and going of women. 148It is reported too that when the Prophet came out of the mosque once upon a day, he witnessed women and men crowded and gathered in one place. Then he addressed the women saying: You have to keep aside and move on the sidewalks.149
To sum up, we are recommended and commanded to abstain from any act or practice entailing intermingling and crowding, nearness and closeness of bodies and
146. Saheeh Al-Bukhaari, vol. X, p. 261.
147. ibid., vol. II, p. 467.
148. Al-Jami' As-Sagheer, issue no 5134.
149. Silsilat Al-Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah, issue no 856.
interception of breaths "between men and women".
Abstention from Privacy "with women"
One of the manners upon which so much emphasis is made, being prohibition of seclusion to the woman with a foreign "unconsanguine" man "with whom marriage is allowable", in a way that nobody else be present and no room before others to come and go.
In many traditions this practice was prohibited with the following expression:
Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet"S" said: "No man should sit alone and seclusively with any "foreign" woman but only with presence of a consanguine man "with whom marriage is prohibited".150
Abstention from Conversation "with women"
Forbidden is every conversation "between men and women" that entails, with it, sport and entertainment, or some kind of flirtation and seduction or excitement. This subject is indicated in numerous Ahadith.
Khuwat Ibn Jubayr is reported to have said: We have landed one day, with the Prophet, in Zahran "a place outside Mecca". When going out of my tent I noticed some women sitting and conferring with each other. This scene pleased me, so I returned to the tent, put on my best garment and betook myself toward them, sitting beside them for taking part in their conversation.
At that time the Messenger of Allah"S" came out of his tent and summoned me. I became so upset and worried, saying to him: My camel has fled away and I came out in its search "to find it"! The Prophet then passed beside me and I followed him. Then he gave me his cloak and went away. He performed his ablutions and addressed
150. Saheeh Al-Bukhaari, vol. XI, p. 246.
me: Tell me what did your fugitive camel do?! The Prophet kept on reiterating this sentence every time he coming near me. 151
Women's Special Etiquette
In many Quranic verses the Muslim women are ordered to abstain and keep aloof from displaying their charms and adornment, like the following:
· "... and display not your finery like the display of the ignorance of yore..." "33:33"
· "... and they display not their adornment save what is apparent of it; and to draw their veils over their bosoms..." "24:31"
· "O "Our" Prophet "Mohammed"! say thou unto thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their cover garments..." "33:59"
Further many traditions are there emphasising on the proper covering for women, and the Messenger of Allah"S" considers the naked women to be among Dwellers of Hell.
Fatimah daughter of Qays says: The Messenger of Allah"S" said: I never like to see the scarf taken away "removed" from your head, or the clothes be drawn aside from your legs so as men can see them. 152
This subject will be elaborated more in chapter five, to come later on.
151. Majma' Az-Zawaa'id, vol. IX, p. 201.
152. Saheeh Muslim, vol. VIII, p. 203.
Abstention from perfuming
It is impermissible for women to impregnate themselves with odour while attending any meeting "where men are present". The Messenger of Allah"S" has addressed the women once saying: Whenever you be present at the mosque, never perfume yourselves with fragrance.
Abstention from SpeechSoftening
The Almighty Allah said in His holy Quran:
"... and be not soft in "your" speech lest lusteth after you he in whose heart is a disease..." "33:32"
Sobriety of Demeanour
In the holy Quran Allah the Exalted says:
"... and let them not strike their feet "in walking" that what they hide of their adornment gets apparent..." "24:31"
Also the daughters of "Prophet" Shu'ayb were praised in the Quran since they walked with coyness:
"Then came unto him one of the two women walking bashfully..." "28:25"
In conclusion of this subject "of discourse" I draw the attention of readers to the following points:
1. Housekeeping and nurturing and educating the children being an essential duty to be undertaken by the women. And certainly, for maintaining stability and safety and security of the family, men and social foundations should endeavour and do their best to fulfil this goal, since we won't be able to attain to a healthy society without such efforts.
2. Essentiality of duty of housekeeping on part of women never means negation of other social or even family functions for them. Because women are in need of the society and also the society can never attain its healthiness and progress without women. Therefore women have duties other than education of children and keeping warm the house and family.
3. The claim of presence of a decisive and perpetual clash between function of housekeeping and other tasks is invalid and incorrect. Nevertheless, in certain special and rare cases some kind of incongruity may be seen, but it could never be found in the past history, nor nowadays.
In the present circumstances, where children spend their leisure times in educational, cultural and training centres, this nonclash is apparent more clearly. In other words, with more investigation we can discover that most of the women with the ages up to 20 have not got married, and so they got the chance to attend and be active in society, without any predicament.
After marriage, if every couple have, as is common, five children when reaching the age of forty, their last child will be at five and elder child will have reached the age of 17 years. To this meaning that after reaching the age of forty, if average age of women be 60, then they would be able to within twenty years, play an effective role in society with more freedom and devotion.
And throughout these twenty years, that having most of worries pertaining to family, the women can also, with good planning and aid of men, dedicate some time to such businesses.
By this calculation, which is made with great mitigation in behalf of supporters of theory of limiting duty of women in housekeeping, no one can claim presence of clash between duties of housekeeping & social tasks of women, in all cases.
I finish this chapter with saying that every women should regard education of children and housekeeping to be among her first and most important duties and functions, but this thing has no contradiction, whatsoever, with her presence and cooperation in society.