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Women in Islam

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 psuedo-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 convenant 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 embarassed to have their voices heard nor did the Prophet prevent their inquiries. Even in the case of Omar when he was challenged by a woman during his khutba on the minbar, 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 coversation 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 posessions 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 sacrafice 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 welath 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 Muslimat), the believing men (Mumins) 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.

Gender Equity in Islam
Gender Equity in Islam presents an overview of the status and rights of Muslim women as defined by the Qur'an and Sunnah. In this brief but important work, Dr. Jamal Badawi examines the spiritual, social, economic, and political aspects of women's position in Islam and, in doing so, effectively summarizes the role of women in Muslim society. Further, in explaining the sources that provide the foundations for Islam's stance on gender equity, the author discusses the role of Islamic scholars in their approach to women's issues.
Dr. Badawi is a well-respected author and scholar of Islam. I respect him highly and also recommend this book to muslims and non-muslims alike (i wish it was required reading :)) Dr. Badawi takes no profit from his books and tapes, and the cost of his books are basically the cost of printing. May we make duah for him and his family Ameen.

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the desires (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well acquainted with all that you do. (Qur'an 4:135)

O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women--fear Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. (Qur'an 4:1)

The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His Mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (Qur'an 9:71)

Prophet Adam (Peace Be Upon Him)
Adam is an Arabic word for man. He was the progenitor of human race. He is reckoned to be the first prophet by the Muslims. He was also the first man whom Almighty Allah had created from the elements of clay. The Holy Qur'an affirms:

"0' mankind! Surely We created you from dust." (30:20)

The gradual process of man's physical development has been referred to in the following Verses of the Holy Qur'an:

"He began the creation of man from dust. Then He made his progeny of an extract of water held in light esteem. Then He made him complete and breathed into him of His spirit and made for you ears and eyes and heart." (32: 7-9)

According to the latest scientific researches the man has been created from clay with all its element and their inherent properties. It is discovered by a chemical analysis of the human body that a defect occurs in its normal functioning when the quantity of any of these element gets diminished. In such case vitamins are used to supplement the deficiency and restore normal health.

The Creation of Prophet Adam:
Before the creation of mortal, Almighty Allah directed all the angels to assemble. Thousands upon thousands of angels (created from light) and Jinns (created from fire) gathered in groups. They bowed respectfully in the presence of Almighty Allah. The Creator of the universe declared that he intended to create the man and sought their counsel. The angels and Iblis (Satan) disapproved the idea and pointed out that human beings would cause disorder on the earth. They would make mischief and shed blood indiscriminately. The Holy Qur'an gives a description of this event in the following Verses:

"And when your Lord said to the angels: I am about to appoint a vicegerent in the earth. They said: Will you place therein such as will cause disorder in it or shed blood ? We celebrate your praise and extol your holy names. He answered: I know what you know not." (2:30)

Angels were asked to make Obeisance to Adam:
Allah taught Adam the names of all things and inculcated into his mind the knowledge of their properties. The Holy Qur'an says:

"And He taught Adam the names of all things; then presenting them to the angels, He said: Tell Me the names of these if you are right." (2: 31)

The angels did not know their names and said:

"Glory be to You. We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Surely, You are Knowing, the Wise." (2: 32)

After that Allah questioned Adam in the presence of all angels about the names of different objects. He gave correct answers on the basis of this superiority. Allah asked all the angels to bow as a mark of respect to Adam who was created so miraculously. The Holy Qur'an affirms:

"0' angels! Fall down making obeisance to Adam" (15:29)

Angels Prostrated but Iblis Refused:
When the angels heard the Commandment of Almighty Allah, they all complied without hesitation. They bowed with respect and admiration to the new creation and that was Adam. However Iblis (Satan) did not surrender on various pretexts and stood still. The Holy Qur'an says:

"And when We said to the angels: Make obeisance to Adam, they did obeisance, not so Iblis, he refused and was haughty and he was of the: rejecters." (2:34)

Challenge of Iblis:
Iblis disobeyed Allah and became defiant. He arrogantly refused to accept the authority of a creature who was made of rubbish. Iblis thought himself superior to human being. As a result, God expelled Satan from the Garden of Bliss and deprived him of all Divine favours. Satan requested Almighty Allah to allow him to exist until the Day of Judgement. I would bring most of the descendants of Adam under my sway. I would lead them astray from the Right Path. Allah gave him respite. The conversation between God and Iblis has been narrated in the Holy Qur'an as follows:

"Iblis said: Give me respite till the Resurrection Day. Allah said: Be you among those who are given respite. He said: Because You have thrown me out of the way, I will certainly lie in wait for them on Your Straight Path. Then will assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, nor will You find most of them grateful." (7: 14-18)

Devil is, in fact, an evil spirit which temps the man to indulge in sins. It invites the heart to do bad deeds and disobey Allah. It tries to weaken our sense of morality but if we are spiritually too strong to yield to its temptations, we become immune from all sins. Those who follow the Commandments of Allah, invite God's grace to protect them. On the other hand those who deliberately follow the wrong way, are responsible because they put themselves into the hands of Evil Spirit.

Hawa Created:
In order to remove the lonesomeness of Adam, a female mate named Hawa (Eve) was created. The Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and his wife Hawa were given a place in the Garden (of Bliss) to reside. The Holy Qur'an affirms:

"And O' Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Garden (of Bliss) and eat therefrom wherever you will but approach not this tree lest you should be: among the wrong-doers." (7: 20)

Trial of Prophet Adam:
The Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and his wife Eve continued enjoying each others company and carefully avoiding that specific prohibited tree. Iblis became very jealous when he saw the favours of the Almighty Allah on the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and he began to devise ways and means to humiliate them. He kept on making evil suggestions to the couple in a sneaky way. He tried to persuade them to approach the prohibited tree. One day the Iblis sympathetically said to them:

"Your Lord has only forbidden you this tree lest you should become angels or immortals, and he swore to them saying: Surely, I am a sincere counsellor unto you. So he beguiled them by deceit." (7:22)

On hearing this both Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and Eve became curious. They started wondering as to why God did not want them to approach the specific tree. This temptation gradually became stronger but Allah guided them alright and warned that not to be taken in by the evil suggestions of Iblis. The Holy Qur'an says:

"Then We said: O' Adam! Verily, this Iblis is an enemy to you and your wife, so let him not get you both out of the Garden so that you are landed in misery." (20: 117)

The Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and his wife used to live happily in the Garden of Bliss. They were endowed with the knowledge to discriminate between good and evil. They were also warned of the power of evil. They overpowered all sorts of evil temptations at first and tried hard to ward off the influence of Satan. But he made numerous attempts to misguide them off and on. Finally Satan succeeded in his mission and made them approach that specific tree. Instantly evil consequences appeared. The Holy Qur'an says:

"When they both tasted of the tree, their private parts became manifest to each other and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the trees (in the garden), and their Lord called them saying: Did I not forbid you both from that tree and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy. They said: Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If you forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall surely be of the losers." (7: 23, 24)

The Prophet Adam and Hawa Feel Penitence:
The Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and Eve followed the temptations of Iblis and were deprived of the heavenly bliss. They were, however, overflowed with grief. They requested Almighty Allah to forgive them. Allah, the Most Merciful accepted their repentance and chose them for His mercy. At the same time He dispelled them from the Garden of Bliss. They became ordinary people. They had to live like us for only a certain span of life on this earth. They would be recreated again to be judged for their actions on the Day of Judgement.

Allah gives Directions:
They lived for many years. Allah sent directions and guidance to the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). He taught others about the religion of Allah. He advised his followers to do good and avoid evils. He told the people to act upon the Commandments of Allah and follow his guidance. It would serve the purpose of shield to do away with the attacks of the devil. Allah says:

"Whoso shall follow My Guidance, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. But those who will disbelieve and treat Our Signs as lies, they shall be the inmates of the fire and they shall abide therein." (2: 39, 40)

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