Category Archives: understand Islam

The Medicine We All Must Take

Allaah does not grant His love to the penitents but they become the elite of people before Him. Were it not that repentance is a word that encompasses all the laws of Islam and truths of faith, the Lord would not rejoice so greatly over the repentance of His slave.

The fact that the harder you strove in worship, the more means of finding halaal provision became available to you shows that fearing and obeying Allaah brings provision, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine” [al-Talaaq 65:2-3]

Similarly, sin brings poverty. A person may be deprived of provision because of sins that he commits. Nothing brings provision like doing acts of obedience and avoiding sins. But you have to pay attention to your intention before you start to act, so that the motive for doing good in the first place will be to seek the pleasure of Allaah, and you should keep an eye on your intention and guard against it being corrupted during and after the action, so that you can rid it of self-admiration, showing off, and seeking praise and status in people’s hearts because of it, and avoid doing it because of what it brings you of good things in such a way that if your provision was reduced you would stop doing it. These are all things that are contrary to sincerity and spoil acts of obedience.

The things that spoil and cancel out good deeds are too many to list. What matters is not the deed; what matters is protecting the deed from that which would spoil it and cancel it out.

It should be noted that if a person’s intention in doing acts of worship is to seek the pleasure of Allaah and His reward in the Hereafter, and he also intends to seek the immediate reward of obedience in this world, such as ample provision, a good life and so on, there is nothing wrong with that.

Allaah has encouraged us to obey Him and to avoid disobeying Him, by mentioning that reward in this world, which indicates that there is no blame on the believer if he seeks that.

If a person intends two good things by his action: the good of this world and the good of the Hereafter, there is nothing wrong with that [i.e., no blame and no sin on him] because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine.” [al-Talaaq 65:2-3]

Do not let the Shaytaan tell you that you are a hypocrite or insincere, because his aim is to divert you from doing righteous deeds and to lead you astray from the path of good. Do not let your motive in doing acts of obedience be the provision that they bring, in such a way that if the benefits were to dry up you would stop doing them. Rather make your deeds sincerely for your Lord, and thank Him for the good things that He has bestowed on you:

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allaah), I will give you more (of My Blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe.’” [Ibraaheem 14:7]

shows that fearing and obeying Allaah brings provision, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine” [al-Talaaq 65:2-3]

Similarly, sin brings poverty. A person may be deprived of provision because of sins that he commits. Nothing brings provision like doing acts of obedience and avoiding sins. But you have to pay attention to your intention before you start to act, so that the motive for doing good in the first place will be to seek the pleasure of Allaah, and you should keep an eye on your intention and guard against it being corrupted during and after the action, so that you can rid it of self-admiration, showing off, and seeking praise and status in people’s hearts because of it, and avoid doing it because of what it brings you of good things in such a way that if your provision was reduced you would stop doing it. These are all things that are contrary to sincerity and spoil acts of obedience.

The things that spoil and cancel out good deeds are too many to list. What matters is not the deed; what matters is protecting the deed from that which would spoil it and cancel it out.

It should be noted that if a person’s intention in doing acts of worship is to seek the pleasure of Allaah and His reward in the Hereafter, and he also intends to seek the immediate reward of obedience in this world, such as ample provision, a good life and so on, there is nothing wrong with that.

Allaah has encouraged us to obey Him and to avoid disobeying Him, by mentioning that reward in this world, which indicates that there is no blame on the believer if he seeks that.

If a person intends two good things by his action: the good of this world and the good of the Hereafter, there is nothing wrong with that [i.e., no blame and no sin on him] because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine.” [al-Talaaq 65:2-3]

Do not let the Shaytaan tell you that you are a hypocrite or insincere, because his aim is to divert you from doing righteous deeds and to lead you astray from the path of good. Do not let your motive in doing acts of obedience be the provision that they bring, in such a way that if the benefits were to dry up you would stop doing them. Rather make your deeds sincerely for your Lord, and thank Him for the good things that He has bestowed on you:

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allaah), I will give you more (of My Blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe.’” [Ibraaheem 14:7]

Islam And The Go Green Concept

By NOR AZARUDDIN HUSNI HAJI NURUDDIN
Islam not only calls for environmental protection but also advocates its care. The concept is more comprehensive and not only protects earth from damage but also allows the environment to flourish.

ISLAM emphasises the necessity and importance of environmental protection so that man can live in harmony with nature, as well as achieve sustainable development, enrich life on earth, and make best use of available resources.

Islam talks not only of the relationship between Allah and man, and between peoples, but also provides guidelines on how to deal with our environment and natural resources.

Islam not only calls for environmental protection but also advocates care for the environment. The concept of caring for the environment is more comprehensive and deeper than protection as it involves different aspects such as protection from damage and pollution, as well as allowing for the environment to flourish.

In Islam, man’s relation to the earth is seen as that of a custodian.

It is required that man should work towards the conservation of earth, ensuring sustainability of natural resources for future generations.

There are general guidelines to develop the earth. ENTIRE ARTICLE AT http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=ikimviews&file=/2012/11/6/columnists/ikimviews/12262871&sec=IKIM%20Views

The Status of the Sunnah in Islam

Book: The Authority And Importance Of The Sunnah Download this Book

The Sunnah cannot dispense with the Quran: Allaah Almighty chose Muhammad , as His Prophet and selected him to deliver His final message. The Quran was revealed to the Prophet in which Allaah commanded him to obey everything that was ordered of him; that is, to convey and explain His message to the people.

Allaah Almighty says what means: “…And We revealed to you the message [i.e., the Quran] that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them…” [Quran: 16:44]

The declaration mentioned in the verse contains two commands:

1. To propagate the speech of Allaah (i.e. the Quran). This is to openly communicate the Quran to (all) mankind as Allaah Almighty has revealed to the Prophet that which means: “O Messenger! Announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord…” [Quran: 5:67]

‘Aa’ishah is reported to have said: “Whoever says that Muhammad concealed anything that he was commanded to communicate has forged a great lie against Allaah.” Then she read the abovementioned verse. [Al-Bukhaari & http://futureislam.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/the-authority-and-importance-of-the-sunnah.jpg?w=450&h=395Muslim]

Another narration is found in the book of Imaam Muslim which states: “If the Messenger of Allaah had concealed something that he was commanded to communicate, he would have concealed the saying of the Almighty (which means): “And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allaah bestowed favour: ‘Keep your wife and fear Allaah,’ while you concealed within yourself that which Allaah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allaah has more right that you fear Him.” [Quran: 33:37]

2. To clarify words, sentences or verses from the Quran that are not easily understood by most people. Some verses may be comprehensive or general in their meaning, and the Sunnah clarifies and defines them through the Prophet’s sayings, actions and confirmations.

The Necessity of the Sunnah to Understand the Quran:

Allaah says what means: “[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands…” [Quran: 5:38] In the context of this verse, the thief and the hand are mentioned in a general manner. It is the Sunnah that explains the first of them and places a restriction on it by explaining the meaning of the word ‘thief’ to mean the one who steals something worth at least a quarter of a Deenaar (a unit golden currency) according to the saying of the Prophet : “There is no cutting of the hand unless the thing stolen is worth a quarter of a Deenaar or more.” [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]

The latter (i.e., how the hand is to be amputated) is explained by the actions of the Prophet and his Companions . They would amputate the hand of the thief from the wrist, as is known from a saying of the Prophet .

There are many other verses of the Quran that cannot be completely understood except through the Sunnah, such as:

1. Allaah says what means: “And when you travel throughout the land, there is no blame upon you for shortening the prayer, [especially] if you fear that those who disbelieve may disrupt [or attack] you. Indeed, the disbelievers are ever to you a clear enemy.” [Quran: 4:101] It is obvious from this verse that fear is a pre-requisite for the shortening of prayers. However, some of the Companions asked the Prophet : “Why do we shorten our prayers while we feel safe?” He replied: “It is an allowance from Allaah, so accept it.” [Muslim]

2. Allaah says what means: “Say: ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of [i.e., from] Allaah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?…” [Quran: 7:32]

But the Sunnah has forbidden some ‘adornments’, and this is evident from the saying of the Prophet : “The wearing of silk and gold has been made unlawful for males and lawful for the females of my nation.” [At-Tirmithi]

3. Allaah says what means: “Say: ‘I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure – or it be [that slaughtered in] disobedience, dedicated to other than Allaah…” [Quran: 6:145]

But the Sunnah has forbidden many things not mentioned in the abovementioned verse; an example of this lies in the saying of the Prophet : “All predatory animals with tusks and every bird with claws are forbidden for consumption.” There are other narrations that have forbidden the consumption of such animals, such as the one where the Prophet is reported to have said: “Allaah and His Messenger have prohibited the consumption of domesticated donkeys, for they are filth.” [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]

There are many other examples that show the necessity of the Sunnah within Islamic Law. There is no other way to understand the Quran correctly except with the interpretation of the Sunnah.

The Inadequacy of Philology to Understand the Quran:

The Companions of the Prophet were the most knowledgeable of people in the Arabic language, yet, if they were to attempt to understand the verses quoted above by relying on the Arabic language alone, then they would have erred.

It is agreed upon by the majority of Muslim scholars, past and present, that the Quran should first and foremost be interpreted by the Quran itself, then by the Sunnah, then by the sayings of the Companions, and so on.

It is here that the cause of deviation of scholastic theologians (Ahl Al-Kalaam), both ancient and modern, becomes clear, as well as their opposition to our righteous predecessors in doctrine and law.

In short, what is obligatory upon all Muslims is that they do not separate the Quran from the Sunnah; moreover, it is obligatory to follow both of them and to formulate laws using both. This is a safeguard for the people, so that they do not falter and regress, as explained by the Prophet : “I am leaving behind two things – you will never go astray if you hold fast to them: the Quran and my Sunnah.” [At-Tirmithi]

Women Defending Islam (+Never Miss this Video)

The status of women in society is neither a new issue nor is it a fully settled one.

The position of Islam on this issue has been among the subjects presented to the Western reader with the least objectivity.

This paper is intended to provide a brief and authentic exposition of what Islam stands for in this regard. The teachings of Islam are based essentially on the Quran (God’s revelation) and Hadith (elaboration by Prophet Muhammad).

The Quran and the Hadith, properly and unbiasedly understood, provide the basic source of authentication for any position or view which is attributed to Islam.

The paper starts with a brief survey of the status of women in the pre-Islamic era. It then focuses on these major questions: What is the position of Islam regarding the status of woman in society? How similar or different is that position from “the spirit of the time,” which was dominant when Islam was revealed? How would this compare with the “rights” which were finally gained by woman in recent decades?

II. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

One major objective of this paper is to provide a fair evaluation of what Islam contributed (or failed to contribute) toward the restoration of woman’s dignity and rights. In order to achieve this objective, it may be useful to review briefly how women were treated in general in previous civilizations and religions, especially those which preceded Islam (Pre-610 C.E.). Part of the information provided here, however, describes the status of woman as late as the nineteenth century, more than twelve centuries after Islam.

Women in Ancient Civilization

Describing the status of the Indian woman, Encyclopedia Britannica states:

In India, subjection was a cardinal principle. Day and night must women be held by their protectors in a state of dependence says Manu. The rule of inheritance was agnatic, that is descent traced through males to the exclusion of females.

In Hindu scriptures, the description of a good wife is as follows: “a woman whose mind, speech and body are kept in subjection, acquires high renown in this world, and, in the next, the same abode with her husband.”

In Athens, women were not better off than either the Indian or the Roman women.

Athenian women were always minors, subject to some male – to their father, to their brother, or to some of their male kin.

Her consent in marriage was not generally thought to be necessary and “she was obliged to submit to the wishes of her parents, and receive from them her husband and her lord, even though he were stranger to her.”

A Roman wife was described by an historian as: “a babe, a minor, a ward, a person incapable of doing or acting anything according to her own individual taste, a person continually under the tutelage and guardianship of her husband.”

In the Encyclopedia Britannica, we find a summary of the legal status of women in the Roman civilization:

In Roman Law a woman was even in historic times completely dependent. If married she and her property passed into the power of her husband… the wife was the purchased property of her husband, and like a slave acquired only for his benefit. A woman could not exercise any civil or public office, could not be a witness, surety, tutor, or curator; she could not adopt or be adopted, or make will or contract. Among the Scandinavian races women were: under perpetual tutelage, whether married or unmarried. As late as the Code of Christian V, at the end of the 17th Century, it was enacted that if a woman married without the consent of her tutor he might have, if he wished, administration and usufruct of her goods during her life.

According to the English Common Law:

…all real property which a wife held at the time of a marriage became a possession of her husband. He was entitled to the rent from the land and to any profit which might be made from operating the estate during the joint life of the spouses. As time passed, the English courts devised means to forbid a husband’s transferring real property without the consent of his wife, but he still retained the right to manage it and to receive the money which it produced. As to a wife’s personal property, the husband’s power was complete. He had the right to spend it as he saw fit.

Only by the late nineteenth Century did the situation start to improve. “By a series of acts starting with the Married women’s Property Act in 1870, amended in 1882 and 1887, married women achieved the right to own property and to enter contracts on a par with spinsters, widows, and divorcees.” As late as the Nineteenth Century an authority in ancient law, Sir Henry Maine, wrote: “No society which preserves any tincture of Christian institutions is likely to restore to married women the personal liberty conferred on them by the Middle Roman Law.”

In his essay The Subjection of Women, John Stuart Mill wrote:

We are continually told that civilization and Christianity have restored to the woman her just rights. Meanwhile the wife is the actual bondservant of her husband; no less so, as far as the legal obligation goes, than slaves commonly so called.

Before moving on to the Quranic decrees concerning the status of woman, a few Biblical decrees may shed more light on the subject, thus providing a better basis for an impartial evaluation. In the Mosaic Law, the wife was betrothed. Explaining this concept, the Encyclopedia Biblical states: “To betroth a wife to oneself meant simply to acquire possession of her by payment of the purchase money; the betrothed is a girl for whom the purchase money has been paid.” From the legal point of view, the consent of the girl was not necessary for the validation of her marriage. “The girl’s consent is unnecessary and the need for it is nowhere suggested in the Law.”

As to the right of divorce, we read in the Encyclopedia Biblical: “The woman being man’s property, his right to divorce her follows as a matter of course.” The right to divorce was held only by man. “In the Mosaic Law divorce was a privilege of the husband only…. ”

The position of the Christian Church until recent centuries seems to have been influenced by both the Mosaic Law and by the streams of thought that were dominant in its contemporary cultures. In their book, Marriage East and West, David and Vera Mace wrote:

Let no one suppose, either, that our Christian heritage is free of such slighting judgments. It would be hard to find anywhere a collection of more degrading references to the female sex than the early Church Fathers provide. Lecky, the famous historian, speaks of (these fierce incentives which form so conspicuous and so grotesque a portion of the writing of the Fathers… woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman. She should live in continual penance on account of the curses she has brought upon the world. She should be ashamed of her dress, for it is the memorial of her fall. She should be especially ashamed of her beauty, for it is the most potent instrument of the devil). One of the most scathing of these attacks on woman is that of Tertullian: (Do you know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree; you are the first deserters of the divine law; you are she who persuades him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert – that is death – even the Son of God had to die). Not only did the church affirm the inferior status of woman, it deprived her of legal rights she had previously enjoyed.

III. WOMAN IN ISLAM

In the midst of the darkness that engulfed the world, the divine revelation echoed in the wide desert of Arabia with a fresh, noble, and universal message to humanity:

“O Mankind, keep your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate (of same kind) and from them twain has spread a multitude of men and women…”. [Noble Quran 4:1]

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

Stressing this noble and natural conception, them Quran states:

“He (God) it is who did create you from a single soul and therefrom did create his mate, that he might dwell with her (in love)…” [Noble Quran 7:189]

“The Creator of heavens and earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves” [Noble Quran 42:11]

“And Allah has given you mates of your own nature, and has given you from your mates, children and grandchildren, and has made provision of good things for you. Is it then in vanity that they believe and in the grace of God that they disbelieve?” [Noble Quran 16:72]

The rest of this paper outlines the position of Islam regarding the status of woman in society from its various aspects – spiritually, socially, economically and politically.

1. The Spiritual Aspect

The Quran provides clear-cut evidence that woman is completely equated with man in the sight of God in terms of her rights and responsibilities. The Quran states:

“Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds” [Noble Quran 74:38]

It also states:

“…So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another…” [Noble Quran 3:195]

“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to their actions.” [Noble Quran 16:97, see also 4:124]

Woman according to the Quran is not blamed for Adam’s first mistake. Both were jointly wrong in their disobedience to God, both repented, and both were forgiven. [Noble Quran 2:36, 7:20-24]

In one verse in fact [20:121], Adam specifically, was blamed.

In terms of religious obligations, such as the Daily Prayers, Fasting, Poor-due, and Pilgrimage, woman is no different from man. In some cases indeed, woman has certain advantages over man. For example, the woman is exempted from the daily prayers and from fasting during her menstrual periods and forty days after childbirth. She is also exempted from fasting during her pregnancy and when she is nursing her baby if there is any threat to her health or her baby’s. If the missed fasting is obligatory (during the month of Ramadan), she can make up for the missed days whenever she can. She does not have to make up for the prayers missed for any of the above reasons. Although women can and did go into the mosque during the days of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and thereafter attendance at the Friday congregational prayers is optional for them while it is mandatory for men (on Friday).

This is clearly a tender touch of the Islamic teachings for they are considerate of the fact that a woman may be nursing her baby or caring for him, and thus may be unable to go out to the mosque at the time of the prayers. They also take into account the physiological and psychological changes associated with her natural female functions.

2. The Social Aspect

a) As a child and an adolescent

Despite the social acceptance of female infanticide among some Arabian tribes, the Quran forbade this custom, and considered it a crime like any other murder.

“And when the female (infant) buried alive – is questioned, for what crime she was killed.” [Noble Quran 81:8-9]

Criticizing the attitudes of such parents who reject their female children, the Quran states:

“When news is brought to one of them, of (the Birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance) and contempt, or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on?” [Noble Quran 16:58-59]

Far from saving the girl’s life so that she may later suffer injustice and inequality, Islam requires kind and just treatment for her. Among the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in this regard are the following:

Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her, God will enter him into Paradise. [Ibn Hanbal, No. 1957]

Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he and I will come in the Day of Judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together).

A similar Hadith deals in like manner with one who supports two sisters. [Ibn-Hanbal, No. 2104]

The right of females to seek knowledge is not different from that of males. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim”. [Al-Bayhaqi]

Muslim as used here including both males and females.

b) As a wife:

The Quran clearly indicates that marriage is sharing between the two halves of the society, and that its objectives, besides perpetuating human life, are emotional well-being and spiritual harmony. Its bases are love and mercy.

Among the most impressive verses in the Quran about marriage is the following.

“And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect.” [Noble Quran 30:21]

According to Islamic Law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent.

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice… (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it). [Ibn Hanbal No. 2469]

In another version, the girl said:

“Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right (to force a husband on them)” [Ibn Majah, No. 1873]

Besides all other provisions for her protection at the time of marriage, it was specifically decreed that woman has the full right to her Mahr, a marriage gift, which is presented to her by her husband and is included in the nuptial contract, and that such ownership does not transfer to her father or husband. The concept of Mahr in Islam is neither an actual or symbolic price for the woman, as was the case in certain cultures, but rather it is a gift symbolizing love and affection.

The rules for married life in Islam are clear and in harmony with upright human nature. In consideration of the physiological and psychological make-up of man and woman, both have equal rights and claims on one another, except for one responsibility, that of leadership. This is a matter which is natural in any collective life and which is consistent with the nature of man.

The Quran thus states:

“…And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men are a degree above them.” [Noble Quran 2:228]

Such degree is Quiwama (maintenance and protection). This refers to that natural difference between the sexes which entitles the weaker sex to protection. It implies no superiority or advantage before the law. Yet, man’s role of leadership in relation to his family does not mean the husband’s dictatorship over his wife. Islam emphasizes the importance of taking counsel and mutual agreement in family decisions. The Quran gives us an example:

“…If they (husband wife) desire to wean the child by mutual consent and (after) consultation, there is no blame on them…” [Noble Quran 2:233]

Over and above her basic rights as a wife comes the right which is emphasized by the Quran and is strongly recommended by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him); kind treatment and companionship.

The Quran states:

“…But consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein God has placed much good.” [Noble Quran 4:19]

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family.”

The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives. [Ibn-Hanbal, No. 7396]

Behold, many women came to Muhammad’s wives complaining against their husbands (because they beat them) – - those (husbands) are not the best of you.

As the woman’s right to decide about her marriage is recognized, so also her right to seek an end for an unsuccessful marriage is recognized. To provide for the stability of the family, however, and in order to protect it from hasty decisions under temporary emotional stress, certain steps and waiting periods should be observed by men and women seeking divorce. Considering the relatively more emotional nature of women, a good reason for asking for divorce should be brought before the judge. Like the man, however, the woman can divorce her husband with out resorting to the court, if the nuptial contract allows that.

More specifically, some aspects of Islamic Law concerning marriage and divorce are interesting and are worthy of separate treatment.

When the continuation of the marriage relationship is impossible for any reason, men are still taught to seek a gracious end for it.

The Quran states about such cases:

“When you divorce women, and they reach their prescribed term, then retain them in kindness and retain them not for injury so that you transgress (the limits)…” [Noble Quran 2:231] [See also Quran 2:229 and 33:49]

c) As a mother:

Islam considered kindness to parents next to the worship of God.

“And we have enjoined upon man (to be good) to his parents: His mother bears him in weakness upon weakness…” [Noble Quran 31:14] [See also Quran 46:15, 29:8]

Moreover, the Quran has a special recommendation for the good treatment of mothers:

“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none save Him, and that you be kind to your parents…” [Noble Quran 17:23]

A man came to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) asking:

O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, Your mother. The man said then who else: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? Only then did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say, Your father. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

A famous saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is: “Paradise is at the feet of mothers.” [In An-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad]

“It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”

3. The Economic Aspect

Islam decreed a right of which woman was deprived both before Islam and after it (even as late as this century), the right of independent ownership. According to Islamic Law, woman’s right to her money, real estate, or other properties is fully acknowledged. This right undergoes no change whether she is single or married. She retains her full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties. It is nowhere suggested in the Law that a woman is a minor simply because she is a female. It is also noteworthy that such right applies to her properties before marriage as well as to whatever she acquires thereafter.

With regard to the woman’s right to seek employment it should be stated first that Islam regards her role in society as a mother and a wife as the most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor baby-sitters can possibly take the mother’s place as the educator of an upright, complex free, and carefully-reared children. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as “idleness”.

However, there is no decree in Islam which forbids woman from seeking employment whenever there is a necessity for it, especially in positions which fit her nature and in which society needs her most. Examples of these professions are nursing, teaching (especially for children), and medicine. Moreover, there is no restriction on benefiting from woman’s exceptional talent in any field. Even for the position of a judge, where there may be a tendency to doubt the woman’s fitness for the post due to her more emotional nature, we find early Muslim scholars such as Abu-Hanifah and At-Tabari holding there is nothing wrong with it. In addition, Islam restored to woman the right of inheritance, after she herself was an object of inheritance in some cultures. Her share is completely hers and no one can make any claim on it, including her father and her husband.

“Unto men (of the family) belongs a share of that which Parents and near kindred leave, and unto women a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, whether it be a little or much – a determinate share.” [Noble Quran 4:7]

Her share in most cases is one-half the man’s share, with no implication that she is worth half a man! It would seem grossly inconsistent after the overwhelming evidence of woman’s equitable treatment in Islam, which was discussed in the preceding pages, to make such an inference. This variation in inheritance rights is only consistent with the variations in financial responsibilities of man and woman according to the Islamic Law. Man in Islam is fully responsible for the maintenance of his wife, his children, and in some cases of his needy relatives, especially the females. This responsibility is neither waived nor reduced because of his wife’s wealth or because of her access to any personal income gained from work, rent, profit, or any other legal means.

Woman, on the other hand, is far more secure financially and is far less burdened with any claims on her possessions. Her possessions before marriage do not transfer to her husband and she even keeps her maiden name. She has no obligation to spend on her family out of such properties or out of her income after marriage. She is entitled to the “Mahr” which she takes from her husband at the time of marriage. If she is divorced, she may get an alimony from her ex-husband.

An examination of the inheritance law within the overall framework of the Islamic Law reveals not only justice but also an abundance of compassion for woman.

4. The Political Aspect

Any fair investigation of the teachings of Islam into the history of the Islamic civilization will surely find a clear evidence of woman’s equality with man in what we call today “political rights”.

This includes the right of election as well as the nomination to political offices. It also includes woman’s right to participate in public affairs. Both in the Quran and in Islamic history we find examples of women who participated in serious discussions and argued even with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself (see the Noble Quran 58:14 and 60:10-12).

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

Although not mentioned in the Quran, one Hadith of the Prophet is interpreted to make woman ineligible for the position of head of state. The Hadith referred to is roughly translated: “A people will not prosper if they let a woman be their leader.” This limitation, however, has nothing to do with the dignity of a woman or with her rights. It is rather, related to the natural differences in the biological and psychological make-up of men and women.

According to Islam, the head of the state is no mere figurehead. He leads people in the prayers, especially on Fridays and festivities; he is continuously engaged in the process of decision-making pertaining to the security and well-being of his people. This demanding position, or any similar one, such as the Commander of the Army, is generally inconsistent with the physiological and psychological make-up of woman in general. It is a medical fact that during their monthly periods and during their pregnancies, women undergo various physiological and psychological changes. Such changes may occur during an emergency situation, thus affecting her decision, without considering the excessive strain which is produced. Moreover, some decisions require a maximum of rationality and a minimum of emotionality – a requirement which does not coincide with the instinctive nature of women.

Even in modern times, and in the most developed countries, it is rare to find a woman in the position of a head of state acting as more than a figurehead, a woman commander of the armed services, or even a proportionate number of women representatives in parliaments, or similar bodies. One can not possibly ascribe this to backwardness of various nations or to any constitutional limitation on woman’s right to be in such a position as a head of state or as a member of the parliament. It is more logical to explain the present situation in terms of the natural and indisputable differences between man and woman, a difference which does not imply any “supremacy” of one over the other. The difference implies rather the “complementary” roles of both the sexes in life.

IV. CONCLUSION

The first part of this paper deals briefly with the position of various religions and cultures on the issue under investigation. Part of this exposition extends to cover the general trend as late as the nineteenth century, nearly 1300 years after the Quran set forth the Islamic teachings.

In the second part of the paper, the status of women in Islam is briefly discussed. Emphasis in this part is placed on the original and authentic sources of Islam. This represents the standard according to which degree of adherence of Muslims can be judged. It is also a fact that during the downward cycle of Islamic Civilization, such teachings were not strictly adhered to by many people who professed to be Muslims.

Such deviations were unfairly exaggerated by some writers, and the worst of this, were superficially taken to represent the teachings of “Islam” to the Western reader without taking the trouble to make any original and unbiased study of the authentic sources of these teachings.

Even with such deviations three facts are worth mentioning:

The history of Muslims is rich with women of great achievements in all walks of life from as early as the seventh century (A.D.)

It is impossible for anyone to justify any mistreatment of woman by any decree of rule embodied in the Islamic Law, nor could anyone dare to cancel, reduce, or distort the clear-cut legal rights of women given in Islamic Law.

Throughout history, the reputation, chastity and maternal role of Muslim women were objects of admiration by impartial observers.

It is also worthwhile to state that the status which women reached during the present era was not achieved due to the kindness of men or due to natural progress. It was rather achieved through a long struggle and sacrifice on woman’s part and only when society needed her contribution and work, more especially during the two world wars, and due to the escalation of technological change.

In the case of Islam such compassionate and dignified status was decreed, not because it reflects the environment of the seventh century, nor under the threat or pressure of women and their organizations, but rather because of its intrinsic truthfulness.

If this indicates anything, it would demonstrate the divine origin of the Quran and the truthfulness of the message of Islam, which, unlike human philosophies and ideologies, was far from proceeding from its human environment, a message which established such humane principles as neither grew obsolete during the course of time and after these many centuries, nor can become obsolete in the future. After all, this is the message of the All-Wise and All-Knowing God whose wisdom and knowledge are far beyond the ultimate in human thought and progress.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Holy, Quran: Translation of verses is heavily based on A. Yusuf ‘Ali’s translation, The Glorious Quran, text translation, and Commentary, The American Trust Publication, Plainfield, IN 46168, 1979.

‘Abd Al-Ati, Hammudah, Islam in Focus, The American Trust Publications, Plainfield, IN 46168, 1977.

Allen, E. A., History of Civilization, General Publishing House, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1889, Vol. 3.

Al Siba’i, Mustafa, Al-Alar’ah Baynal Fiqh Walqanoon (in Arabic), 2nd. ea., Al-Maktabah Al-Arabiah, Halab, Syria, 1966.

El-Khouli, Al-Bahiy, “Min Usus Kadiat Al-Mara’ah” (in Arabic), Al-Waay Al-lslami, Ministry of Walcf, Kuwait, Vol.3 (No. 27), June 9, 1967, p.17.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, The Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, III., 1968, Vol.23.

Hadith. Most of the quoted Hadith were translated by the writer. They are quoted in various Arabic sources. Some of them, however, were translated directly from the original sources. Among the sources checked are Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal Dar Al-Ma’aref, Cairo, U.A.R., 1950, and 1955, Vol.4 and 3,SunanIbnMajah, Dar Ihya’a Al-Kutub al-Arabiah, Cairo, U.A.R., 1952, Vol.l, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Vol.3.

Mace, David and Vera, Marriage: East and West, Dolphin Books, Doubleday and Co., Inc., N.Y., 1960.

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