Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|The Rights of Women *must read*|
|07/12/01 at 15:49:01|
|as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatAllahi wa barakatuh,|
This is an EXCELLENT excerpt from [i]The Rights of Man[/i] by Shaykh Abdullah bin Baiyyah, translated into English by Hamza Yusuf with footnoted commentary, taken (without permission) from a booklet of 'articles and excerpts from important works by speaker at the Depending on Allah conference' published by Zaytuna Institute. Please do not copy or distribute this excerpt. I am typing this in response to a specific issue brought up on the board. Please purchase the booklet from [url=http://www.alhambraproductions.com/contactus.html] Alhambra Productions[/url], it only costs a few dollars. Jazak Allahu khayran.
(read the footnotes too! :))
The Rights of Women
"Women's rights is perhaps one of the most important topics due to the fact that it is surrounded by misconceptions, and confusion and misunderstanding concerning it invariably arise. There are several reasons for the differences between Islam and the West regarding this issue and human rights in general.
Firstly, Islam is a revelation from Allah, the Exalted, to His prophet, peace be upon him; thus, its source is Divine. Therefore, Islam was absolutely revolutionary in regards to the social conditions of women all over the world but especially among the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance who considered a woman a stigma upon her father to such an extent that the father felt compelled to bury her daughter alive. Indeed, the Quran severely castigates them for this horrific social practice:
[i]And when one of them is given good news of a daughter, his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief.
If Allah were to punish men for their wrongdoing, He would not leave on the earth a single living creature; but He reprieves them to an appointed term, and when their term comes, they cannot put it back by a single hour nor put it forward.[/i] (16:58, 61)
In pre-Islamic times, women had no portion of inheritance. The case of the wife of Sa'ad bin Ar-Rabi' is well known: she came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and complained that her daughters' paternal uncle had taken all the inheritance that their father left. At that juncture, the Quranic revelation descended granting inheritance rights to women.[sup]4[/sup] This is well-established in authenticated hadiths. In addition, men were able to marry as many women as they pleased with no limit as is documented in the well-known hadith of Ghaylaan who had ten wives before Islam.
Islam dealt with all of these various conditions in specific ways. It completely prohibited the killing of female children, deeming it a grave crime, and also introduced the concept that a female is an equal spiritual soul to a male without any difference.[sup]5[/sup] Islam gave women the right of inheritance and specified the amount of that inheritance in accordance with the social conditions of the legal heirs.[sup]6[/sup] Also, Islam limited the number of wives a man may marry to four with the condition of the ability to be just towards them all. In fact, at the time of a marriage contract, a woman is permitted to stipulate that she does not accept being in a polygynous marriage as is known in the Maliki school of jurisprudence; this right is fully hers, and no one can prevent her from that stipulation.
The second reason for the difference between Islam and the West concerning human rights is that there is a clear difference between the sources and references for legislation. On the one hand, Islam is a revealed religion that came from the Creator of humanity. On the other hand, the legal authority of human rights in the West is a man-made law that is affected by the various conflicts and struggles of men and their philosophical ideas that arise from a certain environment representing a reference point. For instance, the distinction made between men and women regarding some of the rights in Islam does not emerge from any idea of inequality between the two from the principle of human dignity because, in Islam, human dignity and honor is conferred upon both the male and the female equally. This is clear because the Quran addresses both without any distinction: Allah says,
[i]Whosoever does a righteous deed, whether male or female, and is a believer, We shall assuredly give him to live a goodly life, and We will bestow upon them their reward according to the best of what they used to do.
And the believers, men and women, are friends to each other; they enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and they establish the prayer and pay zakat and obey Allah and His messenger. On these, Allah will have mercy. Allah is Mighty, Wise. [/i] (16:97, 9:71)
From this, we can see that a mutual authority has been established for both sexes and has confirmed for both of them the responsibility of enjoining right and forbidding evil without any distinction. However, it is necessary that the specific functions necessitated by the physiological and psychological differences of the two be examined, especially given that the distribution of burdens and obligations as well as the regulation of rights is functional and not meant for unqualified consideration.
For these reasons, if we look with disinterested perspicacity, we find that there is a compatibility and complimentary completeness between the two sexes in Islam. For instance, inheritance in certain instances is apportioned equally between the male and female such as the case of the siblings of a mother whose males and females are equal in their portions. In many cases though, a male's portion is greater due to his social responsibilities, such as domestic maintenance. A man is financially responsible for the care and maintenance of a woman if she is his wife and also for her children if she is a mother; her maintenance is binding upon her father whe she is unmarried. Thus, the various distributions of social responsibilities necessitate a corresponding distribution of rights both religiously and rationally. In legal testimony, there are times when a man's testimony is equivalent to two women and other times when a woman's is equivalent to two men as in the areas that generally concern women, such as wet-nursing, according to some scholars, as this division is understood to be functional.
As for the verification of reports, men and women are identical in reliability in their transmission of the sacred law.[sup]7[/sup] For this reason, no scholar has ever stipulated that a woman's transmission be verified by another woman before it is accepted. Indeed, a man and a woman are on equal footing in this area. In fact, the experts of the hadith science have declared that all the women in the history of hadith transmission have been truthful in their transmissions. Indeed, not one woman has ever been accused of fabricating or transmitting false hadiths! On the other hand, large numbers of men have been accused and found guilty of that from among the hadith transmittors.
Also, women were known to have accompanied the Prophet, peace be upon him, on military expeditions and generally treated the wounded but occasionally shared in combat, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, was content with that. It should be clear from this that we need to re-examine the idea of a woman as the "prisoner of her house" because it is, in fact, an unsound principle that counters Islam. On the contrary, women graduated from the prophetic school as scholars, poets, and warriors.
As for rearing children, Islam has granted a woman the right to raise her own child, and it is known as child custody (hadaana) in jurisprudence. This is a role that a man is incapable of except in rare circumstances.[sup]8[/sup] Teaching and education positions were among the most important social duties that women took charge of in the early history of Islam, just as there were women who were actively engaged in the responsibility of quality control in the markets. Abu 'Umar bin 'Abdal Barr informs us that Asma' bint Nahiik al-Asadiyya was a companion who lived to a ripe age. She used to examine the market-places, enjoining right and forbidding evil, and she carried a stick in her hand. Imam al-Qaraafi also mentioned that Umm Sulaiman was in charge of the market-place during the time of the companions.
Concerning women in the court, our scholars have differed about their appointment as judges. The majority of scholars were of the opinion that women should not assume a judicial position because judicial positions necessitate expertise that is only acquired through mixing in society. However, Imam Abu Hanifa was of the opinion that a woman could indeed be appointed judge and accept legal authority in all types of civil cases, including marital, commercial, and others, with the exception of being appointed a judge in criminal hearings involving the penal code and retaliatory laws. The Jurist, Imam Bin Jarir at-Tabari, however, permitted a qualified woman's appointment to any judicial position that a man held.
Scholars also disagreed about whether a woman could stand as a character witness, and some have analogically applied this to electing a candidate. Again, the Hanafi scholars were of the opinion that if a woman was high profile and interacted with people, she could indeed act as a character witness.
Among current Islamic issues under discussion is a woman's election to either the position of parliamentary representative or president of a government or country; it is a matter that is appropriately placed under the rubric of the Caliph 'Umar bin 'Abdal 'Aziz's principle, 'Rulings emerge for people commensurate with what they bring about of social dissolution.' The Andalusian jurist, Ibn Rushd, known in the West as Averroes, stated in a collection of his legal opinions, 'Surely Allah has legal rulings that emerge as a result of conditions that did not exist in the first period of Islam.' The basic principle is that a woman can not take on the position of highest political authority if indeed the presidency is a form of highest authority (imama kubra). According to the understanding of Ibn Hazm, 'A woman may assume any position except the caliphate (khilaafa).'
Regarding a woman being caliphate, Bin Abidin states in his interlinear commentary, 'Indeed, she is not recognized as the head of state.' Furthermore, he attributed a state of ignorance to anyone who recognizes her authority. However, in contradistinction to Bin Abidin's position, if the election game in a given country or area results in placing a woman in such a position, then the principle of warding off harm necessitates that she be recognized as legitimate although we ourselves would add that her election to such a position is not permissable essentially for several legal and personal reasons. But should it indeed occur, then to remove her from office by force would obviously lead to the shedding of blood, and therefore it is more appropriate that she be accepted and the matter be redressed with wisdom until she is removed by future elections.
We should realize from the aforementioned that Islam was a historical windfall concerning the rights of women, that their rights are commesurable to the rights of men, and that the balanced path that this religion has forged for humanity is congruous with the nature of things. It is an epitomized expression of absolute equality in human dignity and in the appropriate and functional distribution of roles, rights, and tasks. Moreover, a sound essential and inherent human understanding will recognize and admit that what Islam has given humanity corresponds to the natural functions of a woman, and it in fact protects her dignity and guards her femininity. Islam also avoid pitfalls of familial disintegration and moral dissolution which is in fact the source of many of humanity's psycho-spiritual and physical ailments that continue to reveal themselves with the passage of time.."
[sup]4[/sup] -- It is interesting to note that in most Western countries women did not receive this right until the late nineteenth century. Many of Jane Austin's novels from nineteenth century England deal with this subject. (Translators Note)
[sup]5[/sup] -- Again, in the middle ages, there were official church debates held as to whether women had souls or not! (TN)
[sup]6[/sup] -- The amount can change based upon the actual relationship between the heirs, their sex, and social responsibility. There are situations whereby female heirs can receive more than male heirs, and it is not cut and dry as many people imagine. A daughter gets half the sum of a son not because she is of half the worth but because a son has obligatory financial responsibilities, including the maintenance of his family as well as his parents, should they need it, whereas a woman's wealth is solely discretionary, and she has no financial responsibilities other than zakat. Many people fail to understand this important fact and assume that the distribution is unequal. In reality, a woman inherits more real capital than a man does. For this reason, Islam has a great history of incredibly wealthy women, many of whom deeded great properties to endowments and universities, such as Fatima Fihriyya who endowed the University of Fes and her sister Maryam who endowed the famous Andalus mosque and university, known as Jami' al Andalus in Fes. There is no parallel to this phenomenon in the West outside of loyalty due to the fact that women did not inherit wealth. (TN)
[sup]7[/sup] -- This should be clear to all that the differences are definitely seen in sacred law as functional due to the clear fact that nothing is more dangerous, difficult, and important than the transmission of sacred knowledge and reports related to spiritual and eternal matters. Given that women have been authenticators and valid transmittors of hadith and remain to this day in many chains of transmission, it is clear that a woman's word is as good as a man's or perhaps better given that no woman has ever been known to invent or transmit fabricated hadith. (TN)
[sup]8[/sup] -- In the West, the concept of "Mr. Mom", a man who stays home and takes care of the children while the woman works, is contrary to the nature of most men. There are few men who have the patience and nurturing skills to properly raise their children. (TN)
|Re: The Rights of Women *must read*|
|07/12/01 at 04:32:28|
[quote]8 -- In the West, the concept of "Mr. Mom", a man who stays home and takes care of the children while the woman works, is contrary to the nature of most men. There are few men who have the patience and nurturing skills to properly raise their children. (TN)[/quote]
Mothers, and to-be-mothers: please take notes :)
Excellent article se7en (I'm not saying that just because of this footnote, the entire article is really good ... I thought). Jazak Allahu khairan
|Re: The Rights of Women *must read*|
|07/12/01 at 06:33:27|
|Indeed, not one woman has ever been accused of fabricating or transmitting false hadiths! On the other hand, large numbers of men have been accused and found guilty of that from among the hadith transmittors.|
All I have to say for that is: Wow. :)
Abu 'Umar bin 'Abdal Barr informs us that Asma' bint Nahiik al-Asadiyya was a companion who lived to a ripe age. She used to examine the market-places, enjoining right and forbidding evil, and she carried a stick in her hand.
Stick in her hand.... :) I wonder how many people she used it on? Man, that's authority! hmmm...I can think of all sorts of ways I would have used that stick. :) (that's an evil smile) just kidding.
|Re: The Rights of Women *must read*|
|07/13/01 at 00:24:57|
|As far as the stick weilding Asma' bint Nahiik al-Asadiyya, I can only imagine the celebrations of the notion that perhaps she wacked some men as well, in the minds of the sisters out there|
It's all in good humor. :) Like that cow thing on this board.. no one takes it seriously... nor should my comment be taken seriously.
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