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|Women in Islam Seminar Notes|
|02/07/05 at 01:31:33|
Long promised... here are some rough notes on what was covered during a seminar I attended recently on the subject of Women in Islam
[Btw I HIGHLY, very HIGHLY recommend Umar Faruq Abdullah's set Famous Women for everyone, men and women... it is beyond scholarly, through and honestly excellent. One day I'll write a review.]
But anyway if anyone needs translations of arabic words or clarification of the below, please let me know...[/i]
Issues Concerning the Status of Women in Islam
In discussing this topic it is first important to set some axioms and principles that relate to all Islamic topics.
1. UBUDIYYAH – Allah defines the purpose of all men and women as “Inna khalaqtal jinna wal insa illa liyabidoon”. This is the vision of life that we should have and is what we were created for. The fulfillment of Ubudiyyah is how we attain happiness, freedom and liberty. This is a freedom of the heart from the self and other creatures. When the intent of the subject of the law (the abd) is in harmony with the Divine intent, then we know we have fulfilled this.
2. KNOWLEDGE – Allah said, “Are they the same, those who have knowledge and those who do not know?” Allah associates knowledge to Ubudiyyah. Knowledge becomes obligatory for Ubudiyyah which leads to a lasting peaceful happiness. Rasullullah [saw] said “Talibul ilmi fareedatun ala kulli muslim”. This means both the male and female. There is an Ilm that is Fard. There is Ilm that is recommended and there is Ilm that is even Haram. Ilm should not be against the 5 protected universals of Islam (faith, life, reason, honor, and property).
Fard Ayn is something obligatory on every individual male or female who has attained the age of responsibility. There is no difference between a man and a woman in this. Salah, Zakat, Sawm are more important to know than baking bread. It is Fard to cleanse and purify one’s heart. More important than become an engineer or a doctor. Thus, the means to pursue what is Fard Ayn must be made available to women.
Fard Kifayah is a collective obligation on the community i.e. for certain people to become doctors, physicists, businesspersons.
If we are in a situation where there is a conflict between Fard Ayn and Fard Kifayah, we must go with the Fard Ayn. This is because if you are not well the community cannot be and there are others fulfilling the Fard Kifayah.
Islam is a civilization of Ilm and because of that Ilm it is a civilization of Rahmaa and Mercy.
“O our Lord you have encompassed all with your Rahmaa and Knowledge” Quran
Rasulullah [saw] said only the miserable are deprived of mercy and love.
In the realm of Ilm of Islam, women always and from the beginning played an important part. For example Aisha (ra) taught many of the famous Sahaba. There are even books written about her 'more correct legal opinions than that of the Sahaba of her time'. They write “This is the madhab of Sayyida Aisha”. One Sahabi said that he had heard Umar, Uthamn, Ali and other companions but he heard “no one as eloquent in literary expression” as Aisha. She alone taught a large body of Sunnah. She was also well versed in the history of the Arabs. Character was taught through her. She was an amazingly beautiful woman, an ayah, a miracle because of her inner virtues and her beauty of Ibadah. She used to fast everyday through the year except the days of Eid. She was also known to be extremely generous. One day Abdullah ibn Zubair sent golden dinars that in our time would be millions of dollars. She distributed them until evening. Then her servant asked for some to buy some bread so they could break their fast, and Aisha said “please do not be harsh with me, if you had reminded me earlier I would have kept some.”
In the later times, Hafsah Bint Sireen was a full-fledged scholar who memorized the Quran and a bulk of Hadith. She was also known as an expert of Qirat. When there was an issue her brother Muhammad ibn Sireen didn’t understand, he would say "go to Hafsa." Others of the time who knew Hafsa, Muhammad ibn Sireen and Hasan al Basri would say there is “no one like Hafsa”
3. NATURE OF AL-INSAN – The word al insaan comes from nisyaan – forgetful by nature and uns - seeking a feeling of solace. Anastubika means your companionship gave me solace. If a person cannot provide uns they are lacking in humanity and are always seeking uns. If you don’t have that uns with Allah then you will not be able to find it in anything else. Everything else becomes Wahsha (bestial). Men and women are created from that same turab, salsa, nafs, ruh with this same propensity. This is a fundamental philosophical principle of Islam. “Women are the other half of men” and in another translation “Women are the real sisters of men”, said Rasulullah [saw]. “O mankind, be conscious of Allah who created you from one Nafs and created his mate” Quran
When it is said woman was “created from the rib of Adam’ we do not know how it happened, but should remember that “one is from the other”. Thus we should know that between men and women is a natural attraction, compassion, love, being like a piece of flesh of ourself, as one.
We should not view this with a negative spin. Allah is beyond male and female and does not have an interest in making one beyond the other. Don’t just look at “I was created from him”, think of it was “He is not full and complete until you are there.”
Divine acts can never be lacking beauty, wisdom and perfection. We should not perceive it as ugly, not moral, illogical, etc. It is like cursing at God.
Our ultimate outcome is Jannah and Naar. Both men and women are meant to seek His divine pleasure to His nearness – the fulfillment of Ubudiyyah in order to attain that happiness in this life and the Hereafter.
Men and women do things, say things, understand things so they obtain more of His Nearness. It shouldn’t be about “me”. "I" becomes the center of the universe, not God. We need to interpret things in light of this pursuit, “How does that help me be nearer to Allah”, we should say.
“The eyes of my heart should always be set on my goal”. Close the eyes of your heart and your path could be lost.
We can start with Adam and Hawwa in Jannah. This is beyond 4 dimensions. In the Quranic narrative eating from the tree did not mean you would become god-like. Shaitan whispered to Adam, not Hawwa. Then they both ate from the tree. Hawwa was not the source of the mistake. The personal responsibility is on both. If it’s more on anyone, it’s on Adam. It is not that all women suffer for Eve’s sins. Rasulullah (s) teaches “If a woman dies while in labor she dies a shaheed.”
The blame on women is not part of Muslim cultural religious psychology. There is a different history and philosophy in Islam. Some problems that others have, we do not have and some problems others have, we do not have.
4. DIFFERENT NATURES – Men and women are different. The arrangements of their molecules are different. That though is not what defines us as human. Your heart, soul, human nature is what does. Caring about this is most essential. If I care more about the arrangement of my molecules, then I do not care about my humanity.
We wouldn’t give two children the same tasks if they are different. The same for a tree and plant, each has tasks and functions. To give them the same tasks would then be considered unjust and inhumane.
Men and women have natural functions that are different i.e. a woman has a womb. No one is better than the other. A woman does not have to be a man or man-like to be the best Allah wanted her to be. Same for a man.
Who defines the differences and consequences of their results in functions?
a. Either each one of us does -- and because of the different ways of being brought up and different lenses on the nafs, we would interpret the knowables differently
b. Or God does it -- the One who created man and woman and would define what our functions are consistent to our objectives.
“Doesn’t God know whom or what He created?” Quran “Wa huwa Lateeful Khabeer”. This implies He has the knowledge of the most tacit, subtle things. That He makes His Rahmaa reach us in ways that are imperceptible. For example being sick might elevate us in wonderful ways spiritually or give you internal knowledge. Yet we say. “Why me?” He leads us to much greater happiness and nearness to him that we otherwise wouldn’t have if we only received what we deserved. Like Joseph, whose brothers were jealous of him, and put him in the well. He was taken away from his father, sold into slavery, etc., the ultimate outcome was greatness -- spiritually and otherwise. Sometimes Allah deprives us from very attractive things in that subtle way. “Verily everything we have created in due measure.” Quran
5. ALLAH’S WISDOM – He is the source of love Rahmaa and compassion. The one who rules other than what Allah commands is a kaafir – one who conceals or denies. There is also collective wisdom by people on divine communication. These are from textual or non-textual sources, and are definitive or probabilistic.
There is a need for juristic knowledge. A Mujtahid is like a supreme court judge, not just a regular lawyer, doctor or businessperson.
Woman as a human being – The nature of a woman and man is the same
Woman as a Mother – We have mother’s day every day in Islam and 3 times more on that! Hadith that the mother is more deserving of our respect.
Woman as a Daughter – The world thought it was better to have a son, but Islam teaches daughters are your path to paradise. Some cultures burned the wife alive when the husband died. Rasulullah [saw] used to stand up and kiss Fatima’s hand when she came and she used to do the same for him. Chivalry was taught to Westerners during the Crusades.
Great men scholars have reported to us about their great women teachers.
Today, women are between 2 sides. On one side, her choice and sometimes behavior, as well as some men, taking her rights and the other side wanting to strip of her of her Islamic identity.
There is no free debate or dialogue any more. They give exposure to only certain types of men or women. The public is not informed. Many articles are just lies. We don’t know because we are not informed or they take things out of context leaving out verses before or after that explain things.
The ISSUE of INHERITANCE:
“Women have half share of man” is not true. This is taken out of context from scholarly things. If read properly would know it has nothing to do with being male or female (gender). The reason is not gender because sometimes women have more or even many more shares. There are instances where women have more than the share of a man. The 2:1 ration is for when real sisters and brothers inherit together. This is because the brother has to take care of her. It is his legal duty and divine duty. Just like a husband must take care of his wife. And if he does not a court may force him to do that.
There are many examples of combinations when a woman will inherit more. For example if a wife dies and she leaves a husband, a father, mother and a daughter. The daughter inherits ½ while the husband ¼, and the father and mother 1/6. (If the ratio does not equal 1, an equal amount is deducted from all the fractions until it equals one). The point being, if the effective cause was gender, then in every case the male would have ½ more.
THE ISSUE OF LEADING SALAH:
The question is often asked “Can a woman lead in prayer?” This to non-Muslims means Dua – so we should answer YES. We are also asked, “Can you pray in any language?” The answer should be yes. Can a woman lead salah? Scholars have differed in this issue because either the text doesn’t exist or interpretations differ. so it is open. 14 centuries ago there were legitimate opinions that women can lead men. One can call a woman “Imam” too.
These issues were also covered briefly, but so briefly I won't add any notes
THE ISSUE OF FMG:
This was a cultural practice that was practiced before Islam. Christians and Animists also do it. It has nothing to do with being a Muslim. It is not religiously mandated, so why associate it with Islam. Scholars in Islam say 'yes there can be female circumcision, others say there is 'no such thing'. For those who say it exists, they do not say it is obligatory, rather they say it's mustahab (what is meant is not the whole, but the gentler form where the women can still feel sensation it is just cleaner) Most Muslims do not practice it. There are experts in that area that may do it -- doctors not just people with a blade. When a woman came and asked how should I do that. He said, "Do it lightly, not abusively." Do it moderately and gently".
THE ISSUE OF WITNESSES:
When there is a contract of trade and commerce the Quran mandates two male witnesses or one male and two women. If one of them errs the other reminds her. The reason is not because she is a woman. Saying this is from God and discriminatory is Kufr. There is no reason for God to discriminate, God cannot.
There is a pattern of law in Islam, reasons behind the laws for the preservation of the 5 universals. There are instances where women's testimony is taken over males. The reason doesn't have to do with gender and discrimination. It has to do with some reason or wisdom. Sometimes scholars can understand the reasons.
Why can't women pray next to men? This is so the spiritual privacy is preserved. Men are not allowed to pray next to women either!
WHY IS GOD HE:
In Arabic table is feminine, chair is masculine. Allah uses masculine pronoun in the Quran but we know He is not male or female. We don't have that conflict in Islam at all.
|02/07/05 at 01:35:31|
|Re: Women in Islam Seminar Notes|
|02/07/05 at 09:25:36|
|Jazak Allahu Khirun|
Who gave the lecture? Do you have more?
|Re: Women in Islam Seminar Notes|
|02/07/05 at 16:26:54|
bro M of course...
I don't have any more... two anecdotes though I remember from it...
one was about FMG he was saying that a few years ago Time magazine did this huge article about FMG and of course tried to relate it to Islam and stuff. And they showed this picture of a woman holding a blade and a poor girl being held down crying etc... and subhanallah around the woman's neck was a small cross clearly shown in the picture that no one probably noticed... and he said this was Allah protecting the deen and he was just mad how people try to disfigure the deen in these ways
he told us a story about our good friend daniel pipes and how at this bigwigs meeting in washington, he of course was going on and on about how islam was bad and then he says, "and you know when they go to hajj they throw stones at a pillar and this pillar represents america.. they are saying i hate america and throwing stones at it!" and omg bro M was likee.!!!........so he didn't know what to do... finally he just started laughing, laughing and laughing... and that's it... he said what can you do with people like that.. how do you answer their ignorance and malice??
|02/07/05 at 16:30:12|
|Re: Women in Islam Seminar Notes|
|02/09/05 at 03:02:25|
|[quote author=jannah link=board=sis;num=1107754293;start=0#0 date=02/07/05 at 01:31:33][Btw I HIGHLY, very HIGHLY recommend Umar Faruq Abdullah's set Famous Women for everyone, men and women... it is beyond scholarly, through and honestly excellent. One day I'll write a review.] |
Dr. Umar’s set is totally incredible – the things he talks about will like blow your mind.....like totally! He raises the bar for what we can regard as scholarship within North American discourse on Islam and women in Islam.
This is not your average simpleton lecture on how “Islam treats women with great respect, but..... women are the root of all evil.” sort of bit you get in your average mosque lecture.
I’d love to write notes on the set but it’s like 14 CD’s long and they are so dense going through them once is not enough – some day InshAllah.
So….Who is Bro. M?
Lots of places sell this set now: Islamicbookstore, ISNA, .....
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