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THE VOICE OF A WOMAN IN ISLAM

                                   

By  Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi

 

 

Many Muslims have adopted the Judeo-Christian ethic which views women as the source of human tragedy because of her alleged biblical role as the temptress who seduced Adam into  disobedience to his Lord.  By tempting her husband to eat the forbidden fruit, she not only defied Allah, but caused      humankind's expulsion from Paradise, thus instigating all temporal human suffering. Those misogynists who support this

Biblical myth, dredge from the archives of pseudo-Islamic literature such as false and weak hadiths.

 

This Old Testament myth is a widely circulated belief in the

Islamic community despite the fact that Allah in the Qur'an

stresses that it was Adam who was solely responsible for his

mistake. In 20:115 it is stated: "We had already, beforehand,

taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot; and we found on

his part no firm resolve." Verse 20:121-122 continues: "In

result, they both ate of the tree...thus did Adam disobey His

Lord, and fell into error.  But his Lord chose for him (From

His Grace): He turned to him, and gave him guidance."

Therefore, there is nothing in Islamic doctrine or in the

Qur'an which holds women responsible for Adam's expulsion

from paradise or the consequent misery of humankind.

However, misogyny abounds in the pronouncements of many

Islamic "scholars" and "imams."

 

The result of such misinterpretation of hadiths and spreading

negativity is that entire societies have mistreated their

female members despite the fact that Islam has honored and

empowered the woman in all spheres of life.  The woman in

Islamic law is equal to her male counterpart.  She is as

liable for her actions as a male is liable.  Her testimony is

demanded and valid in court.  Her opinions are sought and

acted upon.  Contrary to the pseudo hadith: "Consult women

and do the opposite," the Prophet (SAW) consulted his wife,

Um Salama on one of the most important issues to the Muslim

community.  Such references to the Prophet's positive

attitudes toward women disprove the one hadith falsely

attributed to Ali bin Abi Talib: "The woman is all evil, and

the greatest evil about her is that man cannot do without her."

 

The promotion of such negativity against women has led many

"scholars" and "imams" to make the unsubstantiated ruling

about female speech.  They claim that women should lower

their voice to whispers or even silence except when she

speaks to her husband, her guardian or other females.  The

female act of communication has become to some a source of

temptation and allurement to the male.

 

The Qur'an, however, specifically mentions that those seeking

information from the Prophet's wives were to address them

from behind a screen (33:53). Since questions require an

answer, the Mothers of the Believers offered fatwas to those

who asked and narrated hadiths to whomever wished to transmit

them.  Furthermore, women were accustomed to question the

Prophet (SAW) while men were present.  Neither were they

embarrassed to have their voices heard nor did the Prophet

prevent their inquires.  Even in the case of Omar when he was

challenged by a woman during his khutbah on the mimbar, he did

not deny her.  Rather, he admitted that she was right and he

was wrong and said:  "Everybody is more knowledgeable than

Omar."

 

Another Qur'anic example of a woman speaking publicly is that

the daughter of the Shaykh mentioned in the Qur'an in 28:23.

Furthermore, the Qur'an narrates the conversation between

Sulayman and the Queen of Sheba as well as between her and

her subjects.  All of these examples support the fatwa that

women are allowed to voice their opinion publicly for

whatever has been prescribed to those before us is prescribed

to us, unless it was unanimously rejected by Islamic

doctrine.

 

Thus, the only prohibition is the female talking softly and

flirting in a manner meant to excite and tempt the male.

This is expressed in the Qur'an as complacent speech which

Allah mentions in 33:32: "O consorts of the Prophet! Ye are

not like any of the other women: If ye do fear Allah, be not

too complaisance of speech, lest one in whose heart is a

disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech

that is just."

 

What is prohibited then is alluring speech which entices

those whose diseased hearts may be moved with desire and

that is not to say that all conversation with women is

prohibited for Allah completes the verse: "...but speak ye

a speech that is just." (33:32)

 

Finding excuses to silence women is just one of the

injustices certain scholars and imams attempt to inflict upon

women. They point to such hadiths as narrated by Bukhari

about the Prophet which says: "I have not left a greater harm

to men than women."  They assume that the harm implies that

women are an evil curse to be endured just as one must endure

poverty, famine, disease, death and fear.  These "scholars"

ignore the fact that man is tried more by his blessings than

by his tragedies.

 

And Allah says: "And We test you by evil and by good way of

trial." (21:35). To support this argument Allah says in the

Qur'an that two of the most appreciated blessings of life,

wealth and children, are trials.  Allah says: "And know ye

that your possessions and your progeny are but a trial."

(Anfal 28)  A woman, despite the blessings she bestows on her

relations, can also be a trial for she may distract a man

from his duty toward Allah.  Thus, Allah creates awareness

how blessings can be misguided so that they become curses.

Men can use their spouses as an excuse for not performing

jihad or for eschewing sacrifice for the compiling of

wealth.  Allah in the Qur'an warns: "Truly among your wives

and children are enemies for you." (64:14)

 

The warning is the same as for the blessings of abundant

wealth and offspring (63:9). In addition, the Sahih hadith

says: "By Allah I don't fear for you poverty, but I fear that

the world would be abundant for you as it has been for those

before you so you compete for it as they have competed for

it, so it destroys you as it has destroyed them." (Agreed

upon) This hadith does not mean that the Prophet (SAW)

encouraged poverty.

 

Poverty is a curse from which the Prophet sought refuge from

Allah. He did not mean for his Ummah to be bereft of wealth

and abundance for he said: "The best of the good wealth is

for the pious person." (narrated by Ahmed and Al-Hakam) Women

are also a gift for the pious person for the Qur'an mentions

the Muslim men and women (the Muslimah), the believing men

(Mu'mins) and women Muminat as aids and comforts for each

other here and in the hereafter.  The Prophet did not condemn

the blessings Allah provided for his Ummah.  Rather the

Prophet wished to guide the Muslims and his Ummah away from

the slippery slope whose bottomless pit is a mire of

callousness and desire.

 

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