Make your own free website on Tripod.com

to

Women In Islam

 

Topics:

 

 



    
    WOMEN IN ISLAM VERSUS WOMEN IN THE Judaeo-CHRISTIAN TRADITION:

             THE MYTH & THE THE REALITY
    *************************************************************

Friday khutbah by Br. Sherif Muhammad
Kingston, February 10, 1995
[size: 42 k byte]

Four and a half years ago, I read in the Toronto Star issue of July 3, 1990 an article titled "Islam isn't alone in patriarchal doctrines", by Gwynne Dyer. The article described the furious reactions by the participants of a conference on women and power held in Montreal to the comments of the famous Egyptian feminist Dr. Nawal Saadawi. Her politically incorrect statements included : "the most restrictive elements towards women can be found first in Judaism in the Old Testament then in Christianity and then in the Quran"; "all religions are patriarchal because they stem from patriarchal societies"; and "veiling of women isn't a specifically islamic practice but an ancient cultural heritage with analogies in sister religions". The participants couldn't bear sitting around while their faiths were being equated with islam. Thus, Dr. Saadawi received a barrage of criticism. "Dr. Saadawi's comments are unacceptable. Her answers reveal a lack of understanding about other people's faiths", declared Bernice Dubois of the World Movement of Mothers. "I must protest" said panelist Alice Shalvi of Israel women's network,"there is no conception of the veil in Judaism." The article attributed these furious protests to the strong tendency in the west to scapegoat Islam for practices that are just as much part of the west's own cultural heritage. "Christian and Jewish feminists were not going to sit around being discussed in the same category as those wicked Muslims" wrote Gwynne Dyer.

I wasn't surprised that the conference participants had held such a negative view of Islam, especially when women's issues were involved. Islam is believed , in the West, to be the symbol of the subordination of women par excellence. In order to understand how firm this belief is, it is enough to mention that the Minister of Education in France, the land of Voltaire, has recently ordered the expulsion of all young muslim women wearing the veil from french schools ! What intrigued me the most about the conference was one question : Were the statements made by Saadawi, or any of her critics, factual ? In other words, do Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the same conception of women? Are they different in their conceptions ? Do Judaism and Christianity , truly, offer women a better treatment than Islam does? What is the Truth?

It is not easy to search for and find answers to these difficult questions. The first difficulty is that one has to be fair and objective or, at least, that one does one's utmost to be so. This is what Islam teaches. The Quran has instructed us to say the truth even if those who are very close to us don't like it: "Whenever you speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned" (6:152) "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" (4:135).

The other great difficulty is the overwhelming breadth of the subject. Therefore, during the last few years, I have spent many hours reading the Bible, The Encyclopedia of Religion, and the Encyclopedia Judaica searching for answers. I have also read several books discussing the position of women in different religions written by scholars, apologists, and critics. Today, I am here to present some of the important findings of this humble research. I don't claim to be absolutely objective. This is beyond my limited capacity. All what I can say is that I have been trying, throughout this research, to approach the Quranic ideal of "speaking justly".

Before we start, I would like to emphasize that my purpose from this presentation is not to denigrate Judaism or Christianity. As Muslims, we believe in the divine origins of both. No one can be a Muslim without believing in Moses and Jesus as great prophets of Allah. My goal is only to vindicate Islam and pay a tribute ,long overdue in the West, to the final truthful Message from God to the human race. I would also like to emphasize that I concerned myself only with Doctrine. That is, my concern is, mainly, the position of women in the three religions as it appears in their original sources not as practiced by their millions of followers in the world today. Therefore, most of the evidence cited comes from the Quran, the Bible, the Talmud , and the sayings of some of the most influential Church Fathers whose views have contributed immeasurably to defining and shaping Christianity. This interest in the sources relates to the fact that understanding a certain religion from the attitudes and the behaviour of some of its nominal followers is misleading. Many people confuse culture with religion, many others don't know what their religious books are saying, and many others don't even care.

1. Eve's fault ?

The three religions agree on one basic fact : Both women and men are created by God The Creator of the whole universe. However, disagreement starts soon after the creation of the first man, Adam and the first woman, Eve. The Judaeo-Christian conception of the creation of Adam and Eve is narrated in detail in Genesis 2:4-3:24. God prohibited both of them from eating the fruits of the forbidden tree. The serpent seduced Eve to eat from it and Eve, in turn, seduced Adam to eat with her. When God rebuked Adam for what he did, he put all the blame on Eve "The woman you put here with me --she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it." Consequently, God said to Eve "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you." To Adam he said,"Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree .... Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life..."

The Islamic conception of the first creation is found in several places in the Quran, for example 7:19-25 "O Adam dwell with your wife in the garden and enjoy as you wish but approach not this tree or you run into harm. Then Satan whispered to them your Lord only forbade you this tree lest you become angels and he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser. When they tasted the tree their shame became manifest to them..Their Lord called unto them did I not forbid you that tree...They said: our Lord we have wronged our own souls and if You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall certainly be lost..."

A careful look into the two accounts of the story of the Creation reveals some essential differences. The Quran, contrary to the Bible, places equal blame on both Adam and Eve for their mistake. Nowhere in the Quran can one find even the slightest hint that Eve tempted Adam to eat from the tree or even that she had eaten before him. Eve in the Quran is no temptress, no seducer, and no deceiver. Moreover, Eve isn't to be blamed for the pains of childbearing. God, according to the Quran, punish no one for another's faults. Both Adam and Eve committed a sin and then asked God for forgiveness and He forgave them both.

2. Eve's legacy

The image of Eve as temptress in the Bible has resulted in an extremely negative impact on women throughout the Judaeo-Christian tradition. In order to understand how negative the impact on women was we have to look at the writings of some of the most important Jews and Christians of all time. Let us start with the Old Testament and listen to excerpts from what is called the Wisdom Literature in which we find," I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare....while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all." (Ecclesiasticus 7:26-28) One has to ask what is the wisdom in denying the existence of even one upright woman on earth ? In another part of the Hebrew literature which is found in the Catholic Bible we read," No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman.....Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die"(Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24) Orthodox Jewish men in their daily morning prayer recite "Blessed be God King of the universe that Thou has not made me a woman." The women, on the other hand, thank God every morning for "making me according to Thy will."

The same severe tone is found also in the New Testament. Listen to St. Paul," A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don't permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam wasn't the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner, but women will be saved through childbearing...."(I Timothy 2:11-15) St. Tertullian was even more blunt than St. Paul, while he was talking to his 'best beloved sisters' in the faith, he said," Do you not 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 the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil wasn't valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image ,man." St. Augustine was faithful to the legacy of his predecessors, he wrote to a friend, " What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman." Centuries later, St. Thomas Aquinas still considered women as defective, "As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence." Finally, the renowned reformer Martin Luther couldn't see any benefit from a woman but bringing into the world as many children as possible regardless of the possible side effects," If they become tired or even die, that doesn't matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there" Again and again all women are denigrated because of the image of Eve the temptress, thanks to the Genesis account.

If we now turn our attention to what the Quran has to say about women, we will soon realize that the Islamic conception of women is radically different from that of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Let the Quran speak for itself. "For muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise-- For them all has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward"(33:35) "Whoever works evil will not be requited but by the like thereof, and whoever works a righteous deed -whether man or woman- and is a believer- such will enter the Garden of bliss"(40:40) "Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him/her we will give a new life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions"(16:97)

It is clear that the Quranic view of women is no different than that of a man. They, both, are God's creatures whose sublime goal on earth is to worship their Lord, do righteous deeds, and avoid evil and they, both, will be assessed accordingly. The Quran never mentions that the woman is the devil's gateway or that she is a deceiver by nature. The Quran, also, never mentions that man is God's image, all men and all women are his creatures, that's all. According to the Quran, a woman's role on earth isn't limited only to childbirth. She is required to do as many good deeds as any other man is required to do. The Quran never said that no upright women had ever existed. To the contrary, the Quran has instructed all the believers, women as well as men, to follow the example of those ideal women such as the Virgin Mary and the Pharoah's wife (66:11-13)

3. Shameful daughters ?

In fact, the difference between the Biblical and the Quranic attitude towards the female sex starts as soon as a female is born. For example the Bible states that the period of the mother's ritual impurity is twice as long if a girl is born than if a boy is (Leviticus 12:2-5). The Catholic Bible does state explicitly that "The birth of a daughter is a loss" (Sirach 22:3) In contrast to this shocking statement, boys receive special praise, "A man who educates his son will be the envy of his enemy." (Ecclesiasticus 30:3) A daughter is considered a painful burden, a potential source of shame to her father "Your daughter is headstrong? Keep a sharp look-out that she doesn't make you the laughing stock of your enemies, the talk of the town, the object of common gossip, and put you to public shame."(Ecclesiasticus 42:11)

It was this very same idea of treating daughters as sources of shame that led the pagan Arabs, before the advent of Islam, to practice female infanticide. The Quran severely condemned this heinous practice "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 contempt or bury her in the dust? Ah! what an evil they decide on?"(16:59) It has to be mentioned that this sinister crime would have never stopped in Arabia if it were not to the power of the scathing terms the Quran used to condemn this practice (16:59, 43:17, 81:8-9). The Quran, moreover, makes no distinction between boys and girls. In contrast to the Bible, the Quran considers the birth of a female as a gift and a blessing from God, same as the birth of a male. The Quran even mentions the gift of the female birth first," To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what he wills. He bestows female children to whomever he wills and bestows male children to whomever he wills"(42:49)

4. Female education ?

The difference between the Biblical and the Quranic conceptions of women is not limited to the newly born female, it extends far beyond that. Let's compare their attitudes towards a female trying to learn her religion. The heart of Judaism is the Torah, the law. However, according to the Talmud, "women are exempt from the study of the Torah." In the first century C.E., Rabbi Eliezer said: "If any man teaches his daughter Torah it is as though he taught her lechery." The attitude of St. Paul in the New Testament isn't brighter "As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."(I Corinthians 14:34,35) How can a woman learn if she is not allowed to speak? How can a woman grow intellectually if she is obliged to be in a state of full submission? How can she broaden her horizons if her one and only source of information is her husband at home?

Now, to be fair, we should ask: is the Quranic position any different? One short story narrated in the Quran sums its position up concisely. Khawlah was a Muslim woman whose husband Aws at a moment of anger pronounced this statement: "You are to me as the back of my mother." This was held by pagan Arabs to be a statement of divorce which freed the husband from any conjugal responsibility but didn't leave the wife free to leave the husband's home or to marry another man. Having heard these words from her husband, Khawlah was in a miserable situation. She went straight to the Prophet of Islam to plead her case. The prophet was of the opinion that she should be patient since there seemed to be no way out. Khawla kept arguing with the prophet in an attempt to save her suspended marriage. Shortly, the Quran intervened; Khawla's plea was accepted. The divine verdict abolished this iniquitous custom. One full chapter (Chapter 58) of the Quran whose title is *Almujadilah* or "The woman who is arguing" was devoted to this incident, "Allah has heard and accepted the statement of the woman who pleads with you (the prophet) concerning her husband and carries her complaint to Allah, and Allah hears the arguments between both of you for Allah hears and sees all things...." (58:1). A woman in the Quranic conception has the right to argue even with the Prophet of Islam himself. No one has the right to instruct her to be silent. She is under no obligation to consider her husband the one and only reference in matters of law and religion.

5. Adultery

Women's position, role, rights, and duties in the Quran are very different from those found in the Bible. Let us take some examples. Adultery and fornication are considered sins in all religions. The Bible decrees the death sentence for both the adulterer and the adulteress (Leviticus 20:10). Islam also equally punishes both the adulterer and the adulteress (24:2). However, the Quranic definition of adultery is very different from the Biblical definition. Adultery, according to the Quran, is the involvement of a married man or a married woman in an extramarital affair. The Bible only considers the extramarital affair of a married woman as adultery (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, Proverbs 6:20-7:27). The extramarital affair of a married man isn't per se a crime in the Bible. Why this dual moral standard? According to Encyclopedia Judaica, the wife was considered to be the husband's possession and adultery constituted a violation the husband's exclusive right to her; the wife as the husband's possession had no such right to him. The New Testament echoes the same attitude in Matthew 5:31-32, where it is attributed to Jesus to have said," I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." Why didn't he label the man who divorces his wife and marries another woman as adulterer? To the present day in Israel, if a married man indulges in an extramarital affair with a woman, his children by that woman are considered legitimate. But, if a married woman has an affair with another man, her children by that man are not only illegitimate but are forbidden to marry any other Jews except converts and other bastards. This ban is handed down to the child's descendants for 10 generations until the taint of adultery is presumably weakened.

The Quran, on the other hand, never considers any woman to be the possession of any man. The Quran eloquently describes the relationship between the spouses by saying," And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect" (30:21) This is Quranic conception of marriage: love, mercy, and tranquility, not possession and double standards.

6. Bearing witness

Another issue in which the Quran and the Bible disagree is the issue of women bearing witness. It is true that the Quran has instructed the believers dealing in financial transactions to get two male witnesses or one male and two females (2:282). However, it is also true that the Quran in other situations accepts the testimony of a woman as equal to that of a man. In fact the woman's testimony can even invalidate the man's. If a man accuses his wife of unchastity, he is required by the Quran to solemnly swear five times as evidence of the wife's guilt. If the wife denies and swears similarly five times, she isn't considered guilty and in either case the marriage is dissolved (24:6-11).

On the other hand, women were not allowed to bear witness in early Jewish society. Women in Today's Israel are not allowed to give evidence in Rabbinical courts because the Talmud says: "Women are temperamentally light-headed" The Rabbis, also, justify why women can't bear witness by citing Genesis 18:9-16, where it is stated that Sara, Abraham's wife had lied. The rabbis use this incident as evidence that women are unqualified to bear witness. It should be noted here that this story narrated in Genesis 18:9-16 has been mentioned more than once in the Quran without any hint of any lies by Sara (11:69-74, 51:24-30).

If a man accuses his wife of unchastity, her testimony will not be considered at all according to the Bible. The accused wife has to be subjected to a trial by ordeal (Numbers 5:11-31). In this trial, the wife faces a complex and humiliating ritual which was supposed to prove her guilt or innocence. If she is found guilty after this ordeal, she will be sentenced to death. Also, if a man takes a woman as a wife and then accuses her of not being a virgin, her own testimony will not count. Her parents had to bring evidence of her virginity before the elders of the town. If the parents couldn't prove the innocence of their daughter, she would be stoned to death on her father's doorsteps. If the parents were able to prove her innocence, the husband will only be fined one hundred shekels of silver and he must not divorce his wife as long as he lives (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). Why should the poor woman live with the man who slandered her in public for the rest of his life?

7. Female inheritance

One of the most important differences between the Quran and the Bible is their attitude towards female inheritance of the property of a deceased relative. According to Numbers 27:1-11, widows and sisters don't inherit at all. Daughters can inherit only if their deceased father had no sons. Otherwise the sons receive the entire inheritance. Among the pagan Arabs before Islam, inheritance rights were confined exclusively to the male relatives. The Quran abolished all these unjust customs and gave all the female relatives their just share (4:7,11,12,176).

8. Plight of widows

Because of the fact that the Old Testament recognized no inheritance rights to them, widows were among the most vulnerable of the Jewish population. The male relatives who inherited all of her deceased husband's estate were to provide for her from that estate. However, widows had no way to ensure this provision was carried out and lived on the mercy of others. Therefore, widows were among the lowest classes in ancient Israel and widowhood was considered a symbol of great degradation (Isaiah 54:4). But the plight of a widow in the Biblical tradition extended even beyond her exclusion from her husband's property. According to Genesis 38, a childless widow must marry her husband's brother, even if he is already married, so that he can produce offspring for his dead brother, thus ensuring his brother's name will not die out. The widow's consent to this marriage is not required. The widow is treated as part of her deceased husband's property whose main function is to ensure her husband's posterity. This biblical law is still practiced in today's Israel. The pagan Arabs before Islam had similar practices. The widow was considered a part of her husband's property to be inherited by his male heirs and she was, usually, given in marriage to the deceased man's eldest son from another wife. The Quran scathingly attacked and abolished this degrading custom (4:22).

Widows and divorced women were so looked down upon in the biblical tradition that the high priest must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a prostitute (Leviticus 21:13). In Israel today, a descendent of the Cohen caste (the high priests of the days of the Temple) cannot marry a divorcee, a widow, or a prostitute. In the Jewish legislation, a woman who has been widowed three times with all the three husband's dying of natural causes is considered 'fatal' and forbidden to marry again. The Quran, on the other hand, recognizes neither castes nor fatal persons. Widows and divorcees have the freedom to marry whomever they choose. There is no stigma attached with divorce or widowhood in the Quran (2:231,232, 234, 240).

9. Polygamy

Let's now tackle the important question of polygamy. Polygamy is a very ancient practice found in many human societies. The Bible didn't condemn polygamy. To the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic writings frequently attest to the legality of polygamy. King Solomon is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3) Also, king David is said to have had many wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5:13). The Old Testament does have some injunctions on how to distribute the property of a man among his sons from different wives (Deut. 22:7). The only restriction on polygamy is a ban on taking a wife's sister as a rival wife (Leviticus 18:18). The Talmud advices a maximum of four wives. European Jews continued to practice polygamy until the sixteenth century. Oriental Jews regularly practised polygamy until they arrived in Israel where it is forbidden under civil law. However, under religious law which overrides civil law in such cases, it is permissible.

What about the New Testament? According to Father Eugene Hillman in his insightful book 'Polygamy reconsidered'," No where in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy." Moreover, Jesus hasn't spoken against polygamy though it was practiced by the Jews of his society. Father Hillman stressed the fact that the church in Rome banned polygamy in order to conform to the Greco-Roman culture (which prescribed only one legal wife while tolerating concubinage and prostitution). He cited St. Augustine, "Now indeed in our time, and in keeping with Roman custom, it is no longer allowed to take another wife" African churches and African christians often remind their European brothers that the Church's ban on polygamy is a cultural tradition and not an authentic Christian injunction.

The Quran, too, allowed polygamy, but not without restrictions, " If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one"(4:3). The Quran, Contrary to the Bible, limited the maximum number of wives to four under the strict condition of treating the wives equally and justly. It should not be understood that the Quran is exhorting the believers to practice polygamy, or that polygamy is considered as an ideal. In other words, the Quran has "tolerated" or "allowed" polygamy, and no more, but why? Why is polygamy permissible or allowed? The answer is simple, there are places and times in which there are compelling reasons for polygamy. Islam as a universal religion suitable for all places and all times couldn't ignore these compelling reasons.

In most human societies, females outnumber males. In the U.S. there are, at least, eight million more women than men. In a country like Guinea there are 122 females for every 100 males. In Tanzania, there are 95.1 males per 100 females. What should a society do towards such unbalanced sex ratios? There are various solutions, some might suggest celibacy, others would prefer female infanticide (which does happen in some societies in the world today !). Others would think the only outlet is that the society should tolerate all manners of moral decadence : prostitution, sex out of wedlock, homosexuality ...etc. Other societies (like most African societies today) would see the most honourable outlet is to allow polygamous marriage as a culturally accepted and socially respected institution. The point that is often misunderstood in the west is that women in other cultures don't necessarily look at polygamy as a sign of women's degradation. For example, many young African brides (whether Christians or Muslims or otherwise), would prefer to marry a married man who has already proved himself to be a responsible husband. Many African wives urge their husbands to get a second wife so that they don't feel lonely. The problem of the unbalanced sex ratios becomes truly problematic at times of war. Native American Indian tribes used to suffer highly unbalanced sex ratios after wartime losses. Women in these tribes, who in fact enjoyed a fairly high status, accepted polygamy as the best protection against indulgence in indecent activities. European settlers, without offering any other alternative, condemned this Indian polygamy as uncivilized.

After the second world war, there were 7,300,000 more women than men in Germany (3.3 million of them were widows). There were 100 men aged 20 to 30 for every 167 women in that age group. Many of these women needed a man not only as a companion but also as a provider for the household in a time of unprecedented misery and hardship. The soldiers of the victorious Allied Armies exploited these women's vulnerability. Many young girls and widows had liaisons with members of the occupying forces. Many American and British soldiers paid for their pleasures in cigarettes, chocolate, and bread. Children were overjoyed at the gifts these strangers brought. A 10 year old boy on hearing of such gifts from other children wished from all his heart for an 'Englishman' for his mother so that she need not go hungry any longer. We have to ask our own consciences at this point: What is more dignifying to a woman? An accepted and respected second wife as in the native Indians' approach, or a virtual prostitute as in the 'civilised' Allies approach? In other words, what is more dignifying to a woman, the Quranic prescription or the theology based on the culture of the Roman Empire?

The world today possesses more weapons of mass destruction than ever before and the European churches might, sooner or later, be obliged to accept polygamy as the only way out. Father Hillman has thoughtfully recognized this fact," It is quite conceivable that these genocidal techniques (nuclear, biological, chemical..) could produce so drastic an imbalance among the sexes that plural marriage would become a necessary means of survival....Then contrary to previous custom and law, an overriding natural and moral inclination might arise in favour of polygamy. In such a situation, theologians and church leaders would quickly produce weighty reasons and biblical texts to justify a new conception of marriage"

It has to be added also that polygamy in Islam is a matter of mutual consent. No one can force a woman to marry a married man. The Bible, on the other hand, sometimes resorts to forcible polygamy. A childless widow must marry her husband's brother, even if he is already married, regardless of her consent (Genesis 38).

It should be noted that in many Muslim societies today the practice of polygamy is rare since the gap between the numbers of both sexes is not huge. One can, safely, say that the rate of polygamous marriages in the Muslim world is much less than the rate of extramarital affairs in the West. In other words, Men in the Muslim world today are far more strictly monogamous than men in the Western world !

10. The Veil

Finally, let us shed some light on what is considered in the west as the greatest symbol of women's oppression and servitude, the veil or the head cover. Is it true that there is no such thing as the veil in the Judaeo-Christian tradition? let's set the record straight. According to Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) in his book 'The Jewish woman in Rabbinic literature', it was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering which, sometimes, even covered the whole face leaving one eye free. He quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying," It is not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered" and "Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen....a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty." Rabbinic law forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a bareheaded married woman since uncovering the woman's hair is considered "nudity". Dr. Brayer also mentions that "During the Tannaitic period the Jewish woman's failure to cover her head was considered an affront to her modesty. When her head was uncovered she might be fined four hundred zuzim for this offense." Dr. Brayer also explains that veil of the Jewish woman wasn't always considered a sign of modesty. Sometimes, the veil symbolized a state of distinction and luxury rather than modesty. The veil personified the dignity and superiority of noble women. It, also, represented a woman's inaccessibility as a sanctified possession of her husband. It is clear in the Old Testament that uncovering a woman's head was a great disgrace and that's why the priest had to uncover the suspected adulteress in her trial by ordeal (Numbers 5:16-18).

What about the Christian tradition? It is well known that Catholic Nuns have been covering their heads for hundreds of years, but that's not all. St. Paul in the New Testament made some very interesting statements about the veil," Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman doesn't cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man didn't come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head." (I Corinthians 11:3-10) St Paul's rationale for veiling women is that the veil represents a sign of authority of the man, who is the image and glory of God, over the woman who was created from and for the man. St. Tertullian in his famous treatise 'On The Veiling Of Virgins' wrote," Young women, you wear your veils out on the streets, so you should wear them in the church, you wear them when you are among strangers, then wear them among your brothers..." Among the Canon laws of the Catholic church today, there is a law that require women to cover their heads in church. Some Christian denominations, such as the Amish and the Mennonites for example, keep their women veiled to the present day. The reason for the veil, as offered by their Church leaders, is "The head covering is a symbol of woman's subjection to the man and to God" : The same logic introduced by St. Paul in the New Testament.

From all the above evidence, it is obvious that Islam didn't invent the head cover, but Islam endorsed it. The Quran urges the believing men and women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty and then urges the believing women to extend their head covers to cover the neck and the bosom "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty......And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms...." (24:30,31). The Quran is quite clear that the veil is an essential part of a recipe designed for the purposes of modesty, but why modesty? The Quran is still clear "O prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should cast their outer garments over their bodies (when abroad) so that they should be known and not molested" (33:59). This is the whole point, modesty is prescribed to protect women from molestation or simply, modesty is protection.

Thus, the only purpose of the veil in Islam is protection. The Islamic veil, unlike the veil of the Christian tradition, is not a sign of man's authority over woman nor is it a sign of woman's subjection to man. The Islamic veil, unlike the veil in the Jewish tradition, is not a sign of luxury and distinction of some noble married women.The Islamic veil is only a sign of modesty with the sole purpose of protecting women, all women. The Islamic philosophy is that it is always better safe than sorry. In fact, the Quran is so concerned with protecting women's bodies and women's reputation that a man who dares to falsely accuse a woman of unchastity will be severely punished," And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations)- Flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors"(24:4).

Compare this strict Quranic attitude with the extremely lax punishment for rape in the Bible " If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives" One must ask a simple question here, who is really punished? The man who only paid a fine for rape, or the girl who is forced to marry the man who raped her and live with him until he dies? Another question that also should be asked is this: which is more protective of women, the Quranic strict attitude or the Biblical lax attitude?

Some people, especially in the West, would tend to ridicule the whole argument of modesty for protection. Their argument is that the best protection is the spread of education, civilised behaviour, and self restraint. We would say: Fine but not enough. If 'civilization' is enough protection, then why is it that women in North America, dare not walk alone in a dark street - or even across an empty parking lot ? If Education is the solution, then why is it that a respected university like ours has a 'walk home service' for female students on campus? If self restraint is the answer, then why are cases of sexual harassment in the workplace on the news media every day? A sample of those accused of sexual harassment, in the last few years, includes: Navy officers, Managers, University professors, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and the President of the United States! I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the following statistics, written in a pamphlet issued by the Dean of Women's office at Queen's University:

Something is fundamentally wrong in the society we live in. A radical change in the society's life style and culture is absolutely necessary. A culture of modesty is badly needed, modesty in dress, in speech, and in manners of both men and women. Otherwise, the grim statistics will grow even worse day after day and , unfortunately, women alone will be paying the price. Therefore, a society like France which expels young women from schools because of their modest dress is, in the end, simply harming itself.

Conclusion

In the light of the evidence presented above, there is no doubt that Islam has immensely improved the status of women compared to the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The Quran has offered women dignity, justice, and protection which ,for long, have remained out of their reach. That's why it is no surprise to find that most converts to Islam, today, in a country like Britain are women. In the U.S. women converts to Islam outnumber men converts 4 to 1. The problem is that the majority of the population in the West do not know these facts. They easily believe the media's distorted image of Islam. Therefore, it is a must that we change our defensive attitude towards the whole issue of women in Islam. We must stop being apologetic. We have nothing to be ashamed of. What the Quran has given to women is unparalleled in the history of religion. Instead of always reacting to the consistent barrage of articles defaming Muslim women, we have to take the initiative. We have to act first and let others react. We should boldly initiate discussions with our friends and colleagues regarding the true status of women in Islam. Tell them how the Quran has ended so many injustices against women found in other scriptures. We have to talk to the media, write to the press, and Invite the whole world to read the Quran, read other scriptures and compare for themselves. It goes without saying that the sisters' role is far more important than the brothers' in this respect.

The Quran is an incredibly powerful book and it is our task to spread its impressive message to the world. But, are we up to this task ?

Notes

  1. The Globe and Mail, Oct. 4,1994.
  2. Thena Kendath, "Memories of an Orthodox youth" in Susannah Heschel, ed. On being a Jewish Feminist (New York: Schocken Books, 1983), pp. 96-97.
  3. For all the sayings of the prominent Saints, see Karen Armstrong, The Gospel According to Woman (London: Elm Tree Books, 1986) pp. 52-62. See also Nancy van Vuuren, The Subversion of Women as Practiced by Churches, Witch-Hunters, and Other Sexists (Philadelphia: Westminister Press) pp.28-30.
  4. Leonard J. Swidler, Women in Judaism: the Status of Women in Formative Judaism (Metuchen, N.J: Scarecrow Press, 1976) pp. 83-93.
  5. Jeffry H. Togay, "Adultery," Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. II, col. 313. Also, see Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1990) pp. 170-177.
  6. Lesley Hazleton, Israeli Women The Reality Behind the Myths (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977) pp. 41-42.
  7. Swidler, op. cit., p. 115.
  8. Hazleton, op. cit., p. 41.
  9. Ibid., pp. 45-46.
  10. Ibid., p. 47.
  11. Ibid., p. 49.
  12. Swidler, op. cit., pp. 144-148.
  13. Hazleton, op. cit., pp 44-45.
  14. Eugene Hillman, Polygamy Reconsidered: African Plural Marriage and the Christian Churches (New York: Orbis Books, 1975) p. 140.
  15. Ibid., p. 17.
  16. Ibid., pp. 88-93.
  17. Ibid., pp. 92-97.
  18. John D'Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A history of Sexuality in America (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988) p. 87.
  19. Ute Frevert, Women in German History: from Bourgeois Emancipation to Sexual Liberation (New York: Berg Publishers, 1988) pp. 263-264.
  20. Ibid., pp. 257-258.
  21. Hillman, op. cit., p. 12.
  22. Menachem M. Brayer, The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature: A Psychosocial Perspective (Hoboken, N.J: Ktav Publishing House, 1986)
  23. 239.
  24. Ibid., pp. 316-317. Also see Swidler, op. cit., pp. 121-123.
  25. Ibid., p. 139.
  26. Clara M. Henning, " Cannon Law and the Battle of the Sexes" in Rosemary
  27. Ruether, ed., Religion and Sexism: Images of Woman in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974) p. 272.
  28. Donald B. Kraybill, The riddle of the Amish Culture (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989) p. 56.
  29. The Times, Nov. 18, 1993.

 

 

 

177 Ayahs About Women In Qur'an

This is a compilation of all the verses in Quran that have the word "women" in them.
Translation by M. Shakir

Please note: These are all verses taken OUT OF CONTEXT from the Quran for _reference purposes_ only. You cannot get a full picture and true view of women in Islam from just reading these verses. To fully understand the issues involved one must look into the contexts, tafsir (commentaries), original lexical arabic, sunnah and hadith (traditions of the prophet saw), ask scholars, etc, which are all integral to understanding these verses.  

From 002.TheCow

49. And when We delivered you from Firon's people, who subjected you to severe torment, killing your sons and sparing your women, and in this there was a great trial from your Lord.

221. And do not marry the idolatresses until they believe, and certainly a believing maid is better than an idolatress woman, even though she should please you; and do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe, and certainly a believing servant is better than an idolater, even though he should please you; these invite to the fire, and Allah invites to the garden and to forgiveness by His will, and makes clear His communications to men, that they may be mindful.

222. And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.

228. And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses; and it is not lawful for them that they should conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the last day; and their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation; and they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

231. And when you divorce women and they reach their prescribed time, then either retain them in good fellowship or set them free with liberality, and do not retain them for injury, so that you exceed the limits, and whoever does this, he indeed is unjust to his own soul; and do not take Allah's communications for a mockery, and remember the favor of Allah upon you, and that which He has revealed to you of the Book and the Wisdom, admonishing you thereby; and be careful (of your duty to) Allah, and know that Allah is the Knower of all things.

232. And when you have divorced women and they have ended-- their term (of waiting), then do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree among themselves in a lawful manner; with this is admonished he among you who believes in Allah and the last day, this is more profitable and purer for you; and Allah knows while you do not know.

235. And there is no blame on you respecting that which you speak indirectly in the asking of (such) women in marriage or keep (the proposal) concealed within your minds; Allah knows that you win mention them, but do not give them a promise in secret unless you speak in a lawful manner, and do not confirm the marriage tie until the writing is fulfilled, and know that Allah knows what is in your minds, therefore beware of Him, and know that Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing.

236. There is no blame on you if you divorce women when you have not touched them or appointed for them a portion, and make provision for them, the wealthy according to his means and the straitened in circumstances according to his means, a provision according to usage; (this is) a duty on the doers of good (to others).

241. And for the divorced women (too) provision (must be made) according to usage; (this is) a duty on those who guard (against evil).

282. O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things.

From 003.TheFamilyofImran:

14. The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life).

41. He said: My Lord! appoint a sign for me. Said He: Your sign is that you should not speak to men for three days except by signs; and remember your Lord much and glorify Him in the evening and the morning. f42. And when the angels said: O Marium! surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of of the world.

61. But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars.

From 004.Women:

O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you.

And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.

And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.

Men shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave, and women shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave, whether there is little or much of it; a stated portion.

And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them.

O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against (their) will, and do not straiten them m order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.

And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) Allah's ordinance to you, and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.

And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means to marry free believing women, then (he may marry) of those whom your right hands possess from among your believing maidens; and Allah knows best your faith: you are (sprung) the one from the other; so marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dowries justly, they being chaste, not fornicating, nor receiving paramours; and when they are taken in marriage, then if they are guilty of indecency, they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women. This is for him among you who fears falling into evil; and that you abstain is better for you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

And do not covet that by which Allah has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn; and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things.

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are Intoxicated until you know (well) what you say, nor when you are under an obligation to perform a bath-- unless (you are) travelling on the road-- until you have washed yourselves; and if you are sick, or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth, then wipe your faces and your hands; surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.

And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.

And they ask you a decision about women. Say: Allah makes known to you His decision concerning them, and that which is recited to you in the Book concerning female orphans whom you do not give what is appointed for them while you desire to marry them, and concerning the weak among children, and that you should deal towards orphans with equity; and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it.

They ask you for a decision of the law. Say: Allah gives you a decision concerning the person who has neither parents nor offspring; if a man dies (and) he has no son and he has a sister, she shall have half of what he leaves, and he shall be her heir she has no son; but if there be two (sisters), they shall have two-thirds of what he leaves; and if there are brethren, men and women, then the male shall have the like of the portion of two females; Allah makes clear to you, lest you err; and Allah knows all things.

From 005.TheFood:

5. This day (all) the good things are allowed to you; and the food of those who have been given the Book is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them; and the chaste from among the believing women and the chaste from among those who have been given the Book before you (are lawful for you); when you have given them their dowries, taking (them) in marriage, not fornicating nor taking them for paramours in secret; and whoever denies faith, his work indeed is of no account, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

6. O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful.

From 007.TheElevatedPlaces:

127. And the chiefs of Firon's people said: Do you leave Musa and his people to make mischief in the land and to forsake you and your gods? He said: We will slay their sons and spare their women, and surely we are masters over them.

141. And when We delivered you from Firon's people who subJected you to severe torment, killing your sons and sparing your women, and in this there was a great trial from your Lord.

From 009.Repentance:

67. The hypocritical men and the hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good and withhold their hands; they have forsaken Allah, so He has forsaken them; surely the hypocrites are the transgressors.

68. Allah has promised the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the unbelievers the fire of hell to abide therein; it is enough for them; and Allah has cursed them and they shall have lasting punishment.

71. And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.

72. Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement.

From 012.Yusuf:

28. So when he saw his shirt rent from behind, he said: Surely it is a guile of you women; surely your guile is great:

30. And women in the city said: The chiefs wife seeks her slave to yield himself (to her), surely he has affected her deeply with (his) love; most surely we see her in manifest error.

50. And the king said: Bring him to me. So when the messenger came to him, he said: Go back to your lord and ask him, what is the case of the women who cut their hands; surely my Lord knows their guile.

From 014.Ibrahim:

6. And when Musa said to his people: Call to mind Allah's favor to you when He delivered you from Firon's people, who subjected you to severe torment, and slew your sons and spared your women; and in this there was a great trial from your Lord.

From 024.TheLight

4. And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors,

12. Why did not the believing men and the believing women, when you heard it, think well of their own people, and say: This is an evident falsehood?

23. Surely those who accuse chaste believing women, unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement.

26. Bad women are for bad men and bad men are for bad women. Good women are for good men and good men are for good women

31. And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful.

60. And (as for) women advanced in years who do not hope for a marriage, it is no sin for them if they put off their clothes without displaying their ornaments; and if they restrain themselves it is better for them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

From 027.TheAnt:

55. What! do you indeed approach men lustfully rather than women? Nay, you are a people who act ignorantly.

From 028.TheNarrative:

4. Surely Firon exalted himself in the land and made its people into parties, weakening one party from among them; he slaughtered their sons and let their women live; surely he was one of the mischiefmakers.

23. And when he came to the water of Madyan, he found on it a group of men watering, and he found besides them two women keeping back (their flocks). He said: What is the matter with you? They said: We cannot water until the shepherds take away (their sheep) from the water, and our father is a very old man.

25. Then one of the two women came to him walking bashfully. She said: My father invites you that he may give you the reward of your having watered for us. So when he came to him and gave to him the account, he said: Fear not, you are secure from the unjust people.

From 003.TheAllies:

32. O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word.

35. Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember-- Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.

49. O you who believe! when you marry the believing women, then divorce them before you touch them, you have in their case no term which you should reckon; so make some provision for them and send them forth a goodly sending forth.

52. It is not allowed to you to take women afterwards, nor that you should change them for other wives, though their beauty be pleasing to you, except what your right hand possesses and Allah is Watchful over all things.

55. There is no blame on them in respect of their fathers, nor their brothers, nor their brothers' sons, nor their sisters' sons nor their own women, nor of what their right hands possess; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is a witness of all things.

58. And those who speak evil things of the believing men and the believing women without their having earned (it), they are guilty indeed of a false accusation and a manifest sin.

59. O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

73. So Allah will chastise the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, and Allah will turn (mercifully) to the believing women, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

From 040.TheBeliever:

25. So when he brought to them the truth from Us, they said: Slay the sons of those who believe with him and keep their women alive; and the struggle of the unbelievers will only come to a state of perdition.

From 047.Muhammad:

19. So know that there is no god but Allah, and, ask protection for your fault and for the believing men and the believing women; and Allah knows the place of your returning and the place of your abiding.

From 048.TheVictory:

5. That He may cause the believing men and the believing women to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein and remove from them their evil; and that is a grand achievement with Allah

6. And (that) He may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, the entertainers of evil thoughts about Allah. On them is the evil turn, and Allah is wroth with them and has cursed them and prepared hell for them, and evil is the resort.

25. It is they who disbelieved and turned you away from the Sacred Mosque and (turned off) the offering withheld from arriving at its destined place; and were it not for the believing men and the believing women, whom, not having known, you might have trodden down, and thus something hateful might have afflicted you on their account without knowledge-- so that Allah may cause to enter into His mercy whomsoever He pleases; had they been widely separated one from another, We would surely have punished those who disbelieved from among them with a painful punishment.

From 057.TheIron:

12. On that day you will see the faithful men and the faithful women-- their light running before them and on their right hand-- good news for you today: gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide therein, that is the grand achievement.

13. On the day when the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women will say to those who believe: Wait for us, that we may have light from your light; it shall be said: Turn back and seek a light. Then separation would be brought about between them, with a wall having a door in it; (as for) the inside of it, there shall be mercy in it, and (as for) the outside of it, before it there shall be punishment.

18. Surely (as for) the charitable men and the charitable women and (those who) set apart for Allah a goodly portion, it shall be doubled for them and they shall have a noble reward.

From 060.TheExaminedOne:

10. O you who believe! when believing women come to you flying, then examine them; Allah knows best their faith; then if you find them to be believing women, do not send them back to the unbelievers, neither are these (women) lawful for them, nor are those (men) lawful for them, and give them what they have spent; and no blame attaches to you in marrying them when you give them their dowries; and hold not to the ties of marriage of unbelieving women, and ask for what you have spent, and kt them ask for what they have spent. That is Allah's judgment; He judges between you, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

12. O Prophet! when believing women come to you giving you a pledge that they will not associate aught with Allah, and will not steal, and will not commit fornication, and will not kill their children, and will not bring a calumny which they have forged of themselves, and will not disobey you in what is good, accept their pledge, and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

From 065.TheDivorce:

O Prophet! when you divorce women, divorce them for~ their prescribed time, and calculate the number of the days prescribed, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their houses, nor should they themselves go forth, unless they commit an open indecency; and these are the limits of Allah, and whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul. You do not know that Allah may after that bring about reunion.

 
rosebar1a.gif (12603 bytes)

 

 


 


THE WOMAN'S STATUS IN CHRISTIANITY & ISLAM

This page was created to compare a woman's status as seen in Christianity and Islam.
The sources are mainly the Bible, Quran, and the teachings of Prophet Mohammed.


The First Woman / Eve

Christianity (Bible)

"When the woman (Eve) saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband (Adam), who was with her, and he ate it...Then the man (Adam) and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" He (Adam) answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he (God)  said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman (Eve) you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." To the woman he (God) said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he (God) said, "Because you listen to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life." 

Genesis 3:6-17

Islam (Quran)

(God said):"O Adam! You and your wife dwell in the Garden, and enjoy (its good things) as you wish: but do not approach this tree, or you run into harm and transgression." "Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them (Adam and Eve), bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them (before): he (Satan) said: "Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest you should become angels or such beings as live for ever." "And he (Satan) swore to them both, that he was their sincere adviser." "So by deceit he brought about their (Adam and Eve) fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called to them: "Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy to you?" "They said: "Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: if You do not forgive us and do not bestow upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost" 

Quran 7:19-23

Female Gender vs. Male Gender


"...if a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days...but if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks..." 

Leviticus 12:2-5

"To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills. 

Quran 42:49   "He who is involved in bringing up daughters, and accords benevolent treatment towards them, they will be protection for him against Hell-Fire." 

Prophet Mohammed

The Female Spiritual Essence


"I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare." "Look," says the Teacher, "this is what I have discovered: "Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things-while I was still searching but not finding- I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all." 

Ecclesiastes 7:26-28

"And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh: behold she said: 'O my Lord! build for me, in nearness to You, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong," "And Mary the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)." 

Quran 66:11-2 "Heaven is at the feet of the mothers." 

Prophet Mohammed

Menses

"When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening." 

Leviticus 15:19-23


Ali asked the Prophet Mohammed if when a man and a woman make love then their clothes stick to them from the sweat of their bodies, or if when a woman has her period her clothes stick to her body, are the clothes considered unclean? 

The Prophet replied: "No, the uncleanness is only in the semen and the blood." 

Prophet Mohammed

Sexual Relation During Her Menses


"Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period." 

Leviticus 18:19

"They ask you concerning women's courses (period). Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: so keep away (of making love) from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean..." 

Quran 2:222

A Woman's Right to Education

"let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law, and if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for woman to speak in the church." 

1Corinthians 14:34-35

Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim man and Muslim woman. 

Prophet Mohammed

Right to Inheritance

"Say to the Israelites, 'If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter...'" 

Numbers 27:8

"From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large, -a determinate share." 

Quran 4:7

Dressing Modesty / Head Covering

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head...If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head" 

1 Corrinthians 11:3-6 "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God" 

1 Timothy 2:9-10

"O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." 

Quran 33:59  ...they (believing women) should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women...or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex..." 

Quran 24:31

Polygamy

"After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him." 

2 Samuel 5:13 "He (Solomon) had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines..." 

1 Kings 11:3 "And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah." 

Genesis 4:19 "If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh..." 

Deuteronomy 21:15 "if he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall her not diminish." 

Exodus 21:10


 
 
 
 

"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one... to prevent you from doing injustice." 

Quran 4:3

Prohibition in Marriage

"Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living." 

Leviticus 18:18

"Prohibited to you (for marriage) are: -your mothers, daughters, sisters...and two sisters (the wife and her sister) in wedlock at one and the same time..." 

Quran 4:23

Divorce

"...Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." 

Mark 10:11-12

"O Prophet! When you do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately) their prescribed periods: and fear Allah your Lord..." 

Quran 65:1

The Divorcee & Widow

"...who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." 

Matthew 5:32  "'The woman he (the priest) marries must be a virgin. He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people.'" 

Leviticus 21:13-4

"If any of you die and leave widows behind, they shall wait concerning themselves four months and ten days: when they have fulfilled their term, there is no blame on you (marrying widows) if they dispose of themselves in a just and reasonable manner..." 

Quran 2:234

The Respect of Parents

"Then he (Jesus) went down to Nazareth with them(his parents) and was obedient to them..." 

Luke 2:51 "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death." 

Mark 7:10 "Each of you must respect his mother and father..." 

Leviticus 19:3

"He (God) has made me (Jesus) kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable." 

Quran 19:32 "And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail (pains of childbirth) upon travail his other bore him, and in two years was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal." 

Quran 31:14



MD-5top.gif (4783 bytes)

rosebar1a.gif (12603 bytes)

 

 

Hijab

Unveiling the Mystery

By Saulat Pervez

 

 

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment… And turn unto God together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.

(Qur’an, An-Nur-24: 31)

That will be better, so that (Muslim woman) may be recognized and not annoyed. God is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

(Qur’an, Al-Ahzab-33: 59)

 

 

American Muslim women today are rediscovering the pristine Islam as revealed by Allah, God, to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, more than 1,400 years ago but without any of the contradictions of ancestral culture. Consequently they are essentially engaging in a life-long exercise of rediscovering their own selves - what it means to be a human, a Muslim, and more so, a Muslim woman. Wearing the Divinely Mandated hijab, the veil or head covering, as a part of their everyday dresses is among the first steps toward this rediscovery.

 

In a society which shamelessly publicly exposes a woman’s body and intimate requirements where nudity somehow symbolizes the expression of a woman’s freedom and where the most lustful desires of men are fulfilled unchecked - it is little wonder such an introspection leads many Muslim women to the decision to wear hijab

However, generalizations about Islam and Muslims are replete in today’s media and, by extension, in the minds of many Americans who shape their image of the world through the media. Veiled Muslim women are typically unfairly stigmatized. They are regarded on the one hand as suppressed and oppressed, and on the other, as fanatics and fundamentalists. Both depictions are grossly wrong and imprecise. Such portrayals not only misrepresent these women’s strong feelings towards hijab, but also fail to acknowledge their courage and the resulting identity hijab lends to them.

 

Amongst such misconceptions is also the belief that any Muslim woman who wears hijab is forced to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, the final determination to wear hijab is often not easily reached. Days of meditation, an inevitable fear of consequences and reactions, and ultimately, plenty of courage weigh heavily in reaching the decision. Wearing hijab is a very personal and independent decision, coming from appreciating the wisdom underlying Allah’s command and a sincere wish to please Him.

"I believe hijab is pleasing to Allah, or I wouldn’t wear it. I believe there is something deep down beautiful and dignified about it. It has brought some beautiful and joyous dimension to my life that always amaze me," said Mohja Kahf, assistant professor of English and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in an internet posting.

 

"To me hijab is a gift from Allah. It gives me the opportunity to become closer to Allah. Also quite importantly, (it provides me) the chance to stand and be recognized as a Muslim," Fariha Khan, 18, of Rockville, Maryland, said.

 

However, with this recognition comes tremendous responsibility as highly visible representatives of Islam and Muslims. Anywhere covered sisters go, Muslims and non-Muslims alike recognize them as followers of Islam. In a land where misinformation about Islam and Muslims abounds, Muslim sisters have the opportunity to portray Islam in its true light.

 

But the greatest responsibility related to hijab is the understanding that there is more to hijab than just the scarf; the internalized modesty really matters. This internal moral system gives meaning to the external scarf. This can be perceived from the overall demeanor of any Muslim woman - how she acts, dresses, speaks, and so on. Only when the internalized modesty manifests itself through the external hijab can sisters represent Muslims according to the beautiful example set by the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and followed by his companions.

 

"Hijab by itself is just a piece of cloth, at some level. I do not think we should take (it) as an exclusive marker of a woman’s moral worth or level of faith. It is the surrounding context - the etiquette, the morals - which make it anything" Kahf said.

 

Saba M. Baig, 21, is a recent graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. She was 17 when she seriously started wearing hijab, and feels she is still in the process of learning internal hijab. "My biggest realization was that hijab was not just about wearing a scarf on my head, but more of a (veil) on my heart," said Baig. "Hijab is more than an external covering. That’s the easy part of it all. It has a lot (more) to do with modesty and just the way you present yourself."

"In this life, I couldn’t think of anything better than being a Muslim. Wearing hijab signifies it and reminds me of it. Hijab is important to me and it means everything to me when I wear it," Khan said.

 

"Unfortunately, it also has its down side: you get discriminated against, treated as though you are oppressed… I wear it for (Allah), and because I want to. Period," said Imaan, a convert to Islam, currently studying in Australia.

 

Yet, the general society, to some extent defines the image of hijab. "The surrounding context can make it oppressive," explained Kahf. "For example, in social contexts where observing hijab includes (the practice) of separating women from the resources of society including education, mosques, sources of religious and spiritual guidance, economic livelihood, etc., … (hijab) develops oppressive qualities. Or when hijab is literally imposed through punitive sanctions rather than encouraged benignly, this distorts the underlying beauty of hijab and turns it into something ugly.

"I believe hijab is pleasing to Allah, or I wouldn’t wear it. I believe there is something deep down beautiful and dignified about it. It has brought some beautiful and joyous dimension to my life that always amaze me."

"(At the same time,) the surrounding context can make it liberating, as we in the United States often experience. For many of us, in a society which imposes degrees of sexualized nakedness on women, wearing hijab has been a liberating experience. To us hijab has meant non-conformism to unjust systems of thought. We have experienced social sanctions for wearing it, and these experiences are seared in our memories, rather than experiences of being forced to wear it," Kahf concluded.

 

For many women hijab is a constant reminder that unlike other women they should not have to design their lives and bodies for men. "Before I started covering, I thought of myself based on what others thought of me. I see that too often in girls, their happiness depends on how others view them, especially men. Ever since, my opinion of myself has changed so much; I have gained (a lot of) self-respect. I have realized whether others may think of me as beautiful is not what matters. How beautiful I think of myself and knowing that Allah finds me beautiful makes me feel beautiful," said Baig softly, her eyes glowing.

Furthermore, modest clothing and hijab are precautions to avoid any social violations. Contrary to popular belief, this is not limited to women only. Preceding the verse in the Qur’an about women lowering their gaze comes the following verse, "Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do." (24:30). In addition, on the authority of Sahl ibn Sa’d, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones (the tongue) and what is between his two legs (the private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him." (Bukhari).

 

Hijab is not worn for men, to keep their illicit desires in check. Rather, Muslim women wear it for God and their own selves. Islam is a religion of moderation, of balance between extremes. Therefore, it does not expect women alone to uphold the society’s morality and uprightness. Rather, Islam asks men and women to mutually strive to create a healthy social environment where children may grow with positive, beautiful, constructive and practical values and concepts. Men are equally required to be modest and to conduct themselves responsibly in every sphere of their lives.

In fact, in this society, enough emphasis cannot be placed on the necessity for men to keep their gaze lowered, as a concerned brother put it. "Think about it -- what has the potential to cause more damage a sister otherwise modestly dressed but no scarf, or a brother who goes about gawking in the streets, (or) on campus? I cannot exactly quantify it, but guess the latter," he said.

Islam asks men and women to mutually strive to create a healthy social environment where children may grow with positive, beautiful, constructive, and practical values and concepts.

According to Jabir ibn Abdullah, when he asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, about a man’s gaze falling inadvertently on a strange woman, the Prophet replied, "Turn your eyes away." (Muslim) In another tradition, the Prophet, on whom be peace, chided Ali for looking again at a woman - he said, the second glance is from Shaitan.

 

The concept of modesty and hijab in Islam is holistic, and encompasses both men and women. The ultimate goal is to maintain societal stability and to please God.

Since Muslim women are more conspicuous because of their appearance, it is easier for people to associate them with the warped images they see in the print and broadcast media. Hence, stereotypes are perpetuated and often sisters seem "mysterious" to those not acquainted with Muslim women who dress according to Divine instructions. This aura of "mystery" cannot be removed until their lifestyles, beliefs and thought-systems are genuinely explored. And, frankly, this cannot be achieved until one is not afraid to respectfully approach Muslim women - or any Muslim for that matter. So, the next time you see a Muslim, stop and talk to him or her - you’ll feel, God-Willing, as if you’re entering a different world, the world of Islam: full of humility, piety, and of course, modesty!

 

____________________________

MD-5top.gif (4783 bytes)

rosebar1a.gif (12603 bytes)

 

 

 

this is an Interfaith Dialogue publication

 

 

The Dress of the Modest

 

God created Adam and Eve who were living in the garden of paradise. After being deceived by Satan, they ate from the forbidden tree. Immediately they became aware of their physical features and developed the sense of shame. They started to sew the leaves of trees together into a form of dress and covered them (Q*. 2:121) & (B*-Gen. 3:7). Although there was no other human being around, it was the sense of shame that dictated the earliest human ancestors to cover themselves. It is the sense of shame that prevents us from participating in many evil activities of society. Sense of shame is a human quality. Animals do not have any sense of shame which is evident from their total disregard to the time and place of their physical union. When they have a desire and the opportunity is available, they perform.

Males and females have different physical features which are extremely attractive to each other. These features are meant to attract the opposite sex to culminate in physical union, so that the species can propagate.

The physical features, by themselves, are objects of pleasure and lust. When they are not manifest, the individual becomes a person. Everyone deserves the dignity and respect of a human being, irrespective of the nature of their physical features.

Human beings are conditioned by the society in which they live. When you see a woman scantily dressed and revealing her physical features, waiting at the road side in the early evening for someone to approach her for physical favors, what is the first impression that will come to your mind? Will it be that this lady is a very religious, pious, and God fearing woman, seeking the blessings of God?

Again, when you see a nun, modestly dressed in long robe, covering her head, and not revealing any of her physical features, what impression will come to your mind? Will it be that this lady is a sex-symbol, waiting for someone to hire her, or to date her, or to invite her to a dinner and then take her home? Certainly not. This dress represents her modesty, purity dignity, and through it she commands the respect of society.

When a man with desire in heart, meets a woman who is scantily dressed, or in a tight dress that reveals her physical shape and features, or with deep V-cut blouse showing part of her adornments, his eyes and mind start relishing them. To him this is just a sample of something more delicious waiting to be explored. To him this lady is giving a signal that she will be available if the time, place, and the price is right.

When one person helps another person in committing a crime, the first person is also guilty. If a person reveals his / her physical features to arouse evil thoughts and desires in another person, he / she is also guilty.

The physical features, by themselves, are objects of pleasure and lust. When they are not manifest, the individual becomes a person. Everyone deserves the dignity and respect of a human being, irrespective of the nature of their physical features.

Human beings are conditioned by the society in which they live. When you see a woman scantily dressed and revealing her physical features, waiting at the road side in the early evening for someone to approach her for physical favors, what is the first impression that will come to your mind? Will it be that this lady is a very religious, pious, and God fearing woman, seeking the blessings of God?

Again, when you see a nun, modestly dressed in long robe and covering her head, not revealing any of her physical features, what impression will come to your mind? Will it be that this lady is a sex-symbol, waiting for someone to hire her, or to date her, or to invite her to a dinner and then take her home? Certainly not. This dress represents her modesty, and through it she commands the respect of the society.

When a man with desire in heart, meets a woman who is scantily dressed, or in a tight dress that reveals her physical features and shape, or with deep V-cut blouse showing part of her adornments, his eyes and mind start relishing them. To him this is just a sample of something more delicious waiting to be explored. To him this lady is giving a signal that she will be available if the time, place, and the price is right.

When one person helps another person in committing a crime, the first person is also guilty. If a person reveals his / her physical features to arouse evil thoughts and desires in another person, he / she is also guilty.

Society abounds with evil people. In the name of advancement of civilization, social progress, women's rights, and women's liberation, these evil people make slight, subtle and almost imperceptible changes in the norm of moral and ethical codes of the society to further their lustful desires. When society gets used to these changes, they make further changes. Ultimately, one day, one finds that hardly any moral code is left.

The evil elements of the society want to bring the women out of the protection of their guardians and well-wishers, to the open field, infested with hungry wolves, so that the ever hungry wolves of the society can start to devour them at the earliest opportunity and continue to do so till their usefulness last.

In the modern society women are mostly used for physical pleasure and promotion of business. There is no modesty in the dress code of modern society. People are constantly busy in exposing their physical features to physically attract others. The result is a decadent immoral society affecting people of all walks of life, from the president to the man in the street.

God made women pure, most dignified, and respectable. They are precious and they should protected from everything that is evil. When you have a precious gem, you do not leave it in the front or back yard to be trodden by others. Rather you keep it in the best possible safe and protected place. Because women are pure and precious, they should protect themselves from everything that are evil. Unfortunately women, in general, have allowed the evil society to exploit them. They have made themselves cheap and easily available. They have exposed themselves to the lustful eyes of the society without much hesitation. They have lost much of their self esteem. In Islam the women are precious and Muslims will go a long way to defend the honour and chastity of their women.

The consequence of exposing physical features can be very serious and far reaching, both for this world and for the hereafter. A look at the western society will reveal some of the consequences (the eastern societies are also catching up fast). There is rampant adultery, uncountable rapes, millions of illegitimate pregnancies, millions of abortions, and millions of illegitimate children without responsible fathers to care for them. Many of them will end up as “street children”, joining the gangs and adding to the ever-increasing violence in the society, which has already reached epidemic proportion. The Bible says: "No bastard shall enter into the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord." ( Deuteronomy 23:2 )

From the above discussion it becomes obvious that both men and women need to cover themselves properly. The main purpose of covering the body is to cover the shame and other physical features so that they remain out of sight of others, will not draw undue attraction, and will not excite evil desires in others. Both men and women must dress modestly, revealing no attractive physical features.

 

Extent of cover:

In medical science there is a saying that “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”. God has made women more beautiful than men, and has blessed them with more physical adornments. Almost every part of the female body is attractive to a male. Keeping this in mind, the nuns have taken the preventive measure of wearing a veil and covering their whole body, except the face and hands.

God says in The Holy Quran: "O ye children of Adam, We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame" (Q* 7:26).

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: ... And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty" (Q* 24:30-31).

The Holy Bible says: “Women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearl or costly attire” (1 Timothy 2:9). It should not be glamorous to cause undue attraction of opposite sex.

The Holy Bible also says: “For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil" (I Corinthians 11:6). Islam also advises the women to cover their head and body except the face and the hands.

Mohammad (P*) said: "If the woman reaches the age of puberty, No (part of her body) should be seen but this- and he pointed to the face and hands" (Ref. 11-p6).

 

The thickness of materials:

The material with whilch we cover our bodies, is also important. The material of the dress should be of such thickness that no part of the body becomes visible through it. It must be thick enough not to reveal what it is supposed to conceal.

 

The fitting:

If the cloth, covering the body, sits on it in such a way that it describes the shape of the body or the adornments, it will excite evil desires in the mind of others. So it must be loose enough not to reveal the shape of the body.

It is noteworthy that when a nun wears long dress and covers her head, this dress represents purity, modesty, dignity, and command of respect to the western society. But when a Muslim woman wears the same long dress and covers her head with a veil, to the same society, it represents Muslim oppression of their women!

 

Other requirements:

There are people who move around with pride and vanity. They also want to display their wealth through their dresses. There should not be anything in a person to be proud of. Very often proud people are humbled by God right before our eyes. When people want recognition through their dress, they themselves probably are not worth much. Mohammad (P*) said: "Whoever drags his clothes (on the ground) out of pride and arrogance, Allah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection" (Ref. 2, Vol. 7, # 683).

As the physical adornments of men are much less as compared to women, the dress code for men is less restrictive. They must also dress modestly, revealing no physical features to excite evil desires in others.

Jewelry is for women. Prophet Mohammad (P*) forbade gold, silver, and silk for men (Ref. 2, Vol. 7, # 722).

Believers should not wear dress that signifies or represents unbelief.

Men should not imitate women and women should not imitate men. Ibn Abbas narrated that: "Mohammad (P*) cursed the men who act like women and the women who act like men" (Ref. 2, Vol. 7, # 773).

The Holy Bible says: “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5).

With His infinite wisdom, God created Adam and Eve of opposite sex. If He would like physical union between people of the same sex, He would have created Adam and Steve. Instead He created Adam and Eve.

Jesus (P*) said: “You will know them by their fruits. ... the bad tree bears evil fruit” ( Matthew 7 : 15 - 17 ). If we look at the modern civilized society we see the fruits of not obeying God’s commandments. We notice the deep moral degradation of the people. Millions of bustards are being produced every year. The Holy Bible says: "No bastard shall enter into the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 23:2 ).

People with the responsibility of developing and leading the society, whether they are politicians, civic leaders, Popes, bishops, priests, pastors, reverends, movie makers, or media program developers, are actually developing and promoting an evil society. Which of these people will be willing to accept responsibility for sending billions of people to hell as indicated in the Holy Books?

 

 

In summary:

Every civilized person must dress properly.

Because of difference in physical features and adornments between men and women, dress codes must be different.

God has laid down the injunctions in the Holy Quran to prevent social and moral degradation. Mohammad (P*) explained them in the Hadith.

If one fails to obey these injunctions, he or she will be participating in promoting evil activities in this world and will be accountable in the hereafter.

 

This is an Interfaith Dialogue publication. Interfaith Dialogue also publishes two books, “The Eternal Guidance” and “The Rational Choice”, and 20 brochures. They are concise and to the point. Read all of them. You will be amazed by the information they contain. Knowledge is power and helps to make rational decisions. Enrich yourself and your family with knowledge. Send for the complete set today. For more information, Interfaith publications, or your comments write to A. S. ALAM, M.D., P.O. Box 1688, Alvin, TX 77512-1688, U.S.A.

 

References:

1.The Holy Quran - Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Tahrike Tarsile Quran Inc., 1988.

2. Sahih Al-Bukhari - Translation by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Dar Al Arabia, Beirut, Lebanon, 1985

3. Sahih Muslim - Translation by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, SH Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan.

4. Life of Muhammad, by M. H. Haykal, North American Trust Publication, 1976

5. Islam, Beliefs and Teachings, Ghulam Sarwar, The Muslim Educational Trust, 1987.

6. Towards Understanding Islam, by A. Mawdudi, ICNA.

7. Islam at a Glance, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Siddiqi Trust Publication.

8.The Preaching of Islam, A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith, Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Westminister A. Constable & Co. London, 1896

9.The Status of Woman in Islam, Dr J. Badawi 1972.

10.Polygamy in Islamic Law, Dr. J. Badawi, 1976

11.The Muslim Women's Dress, Jamal A. Badawi, The M.S.A. of the United states & Canada, May 1980.

12.Bishya Nabi, by Golam Mustafa, Ahmad Publishing House, Dhaka 1982.

13.Dictionary of Islam, T. P. Hughes

14.Islam and Christianity, by U. A. Samad, University of Peshawar, 1988

15.The Bible - Revised standard version, American Bible Society, 1980.

16. Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible - G. G. The Jerusalem Publishing House Ltd., 1986.

17. The Bible The Quran And Science - Maurice Bucaille, North American Trust Publication, 1979.

18.Contradictions and Fallacies in The Bible, by K. Alan 1988.

19.Dimensions of Christianity, Dr. A. H. Qadri, Dawah Academy, 1989

20.Ecumenical Translation of The Bible, New Testament - 1972, Pub. Editions du Cerf et Les Bergers et les Mages, Paris.

21.Gospel of Barnabas, Unity Publishing Co. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1980.

22.The New Jerusalem Bible: Introduction to Gospel of John.

23.Daily Times, London, 25th June 1984

24.Awake, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Sept. 8, 1957.

25.Dimensions of Christianity, Dr. Abdul Hamid Qadri, Islamic Research Institute Press, Islamabad.

26.Let the Bible Speak, Ali Muhsin, Islamic Dawah Center, Dammam, KSA.

Abbreviations

B*.- Holy Bible

P*- Peace of God be upon him / them.

Q*- Holy Quran.

 

Read the unaltered Holy Book of God.

and

Receive Guidance in every walks of life.

MD-5top.gif (4783 bytes)

rosebar1a.gif (12603 bytes)

 

 

this is an Interfaith Dialogue publication

 

 

Women’s Rights

 

 

Women comprise a little more than half the population of the world. But their rights and honour have not always been respected by the civilized society. Only recently, “equal right” was given to women in the western society but on papers only, and not in practice. Women are used mostly for physical pleasures and promotion of business. In the name of progress, equal rights and women’s liberation, slowly and slowly, they have been dragged down from the lofty and most respectable position given by God, to the most disrespectful position of “object of pleasure and lust”. They have been made to discard their graceful and honorable robes for something that is sometimes almost nonexistent. They have been humiliated and made to undress in public by the so called civilized man. In one pretext or another, they have been lured out from the protection of their homes to the open field, infested with hungry wolves, who start devouring them at the earliest opportunity and continue to do so till their usefulness last.

Christianity and Islam are the two largest religions in the world with a combined following of over two billions of people. We shall now see the position women occupy in these religions.

 

 

Status of Women:

The Holy Bible says:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The Holy Quran says:

"And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them" (Q* 2:228).

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other" (Q* 4:34).

Such “a degree above” is maintenance and protection of woman by men, because of their physical and psychological makeup. It implies no superiority or advantage before the law. Financial responsibility for the maintenance of his wife, and children, and needy relatives, especially women, rests on the men (Ref. 9-p23). Woman bears no obligation to spend from her property on her family. She bears no financial responsibility to maintain her children if the husband is alive.

The Islamic law recognizes women's right to her money, real estate, or other properties. She has full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties (Ref. 9 -p 21).

 

The Holy Bible also says:

“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (1st Corinthians 11:8-9).

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for woman to speak in the church” (I Corinthians 14:34-35).

"I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent" (Timothy 2:12).

 

In Islam woman can ask questions, even in the mosque. During the caliphate of Omar, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point and caused him to declare in presence of people: "The woman is right and Omar is wrong" (Ref. 9 -p24).

Mohammad (P*) was employed by a woman named Khadiza.

 

In the Holy Bible God said to woman after Eve gave the forbidden fruit to Adam: "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing ... and he (husband) shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).

 

In Islam the blame for eating from the forbidden tree is put to both Adam and Eve. God later forgave them. “Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord turned towards him; for He is Oft-returning, Most Merciful” (Q* 2:37). In fact, in one verse, Adam was specifically blamed (Q* 20:121).

 

The Holy Bible says: “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head ... For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn (shaved)" (I Corinthians 11:5-6).

The Holy Quran does not order women’s head to be shaved for not wearing head cover. It says: “that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty" (Q* 24:30-31).

To the western society, the long dress and the head cover that the nuns wear, represents purity, modesty, dignity, and command of respect. But when a Muslim woman wears long dress and covers her head, to the same society, it represents Muslim oppression of their women!

 

 

Marriage:

In the Mosaic Law, the wife was betrothed: “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” (Encyclopedia Biblica 1902, VOL. 3 - p 2942).

The consent of the girl was not necessary for the validation of the marriage: “The woman being man’s property, his right to divorce her follows as a matter of course.” In the Mosaic Law divorce was a privilege of the husband only (Encyclopedia Biblica 11th Edition, p 782).

 

In Islam women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent: "You are forbidden to inherit women against their will" (Q* 4:19).

 

The Holy Quran orders husbands: "Live with them (wives) on a footing of kindness and equity" (Q* 4:19).

 

 

 

 

Property rights:

According to English common law: “All real property which a wife held at the time of marriage became a possession of the husband” (Encyclopedia America Intl. Edition V29, p108).

Married woman’s property act of England was passed in 1870 (Ref. 9 -p8). France made woman eligible to make contract in 1938, however the wife was still required to secure her husband’s permission before she could dispose her private property (Ref. 9 -p 21).

 

Islamic law recognizes women's right to her money, real estate, or other properties. She has full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties (Ref. 9 -p 21).

Women has the right to inheritance (Q* 4:7). Her share is hers and no one can make any claim on it (Ref. 9 - P22).

 

 

Status of Mother:

The Holy Bible says: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20). In the same Holy Bible Jesus (P*) addressed his mother as ‘woman’: “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus (P*) saith unto him, ‘They have no wine’. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:3-4).

In Islam kindness to parents is considered next to worship of God: "your lord has decreed that you worship none save Him, and that you be kind to your parents" (Q* 17:23).

Mohammad (P*) also said: "Paradise is at the feet of mother" (Nasai 25:6 Ref. 9-p 21).

 

 

Polygamy:

The Holy Bible did not prohibit polygamy. Many of the Prophets in the Holy Bible were polygamous. Prophet David had 100 wives and Prophet Solomon had 700 wives. Later regulations fixed the number of wives at 18 for kings and 4 for an ordinary man (Dictionary of the Bible, James Hasting, Charles Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1963, p624).

Although the churches do not allow polygamy now, most of the Christians are not monogamous. Because of the absence this safety-valve mechanism, most of the surplus women in post world-war Germany indulged in adultery and fornication.

 

In Islam polygamy is allowed, but under special circumstances and with strict conditions. That is why almost all the Muslims one meets are strictly monogamous. It is interesting to note that although polygamy is allowed in Islam, Muslims are, in general, strictly monogamous, whereas the Christians, although preach monogamy, openly indulge in polygamy!

 

 

Views of Canonized saints of Christianity:

“Woman is a daughter of falsehood, a sentinel of Hell, the enemy of peace; through her Adam lost paradise.” (St. John Damascene Ref. 14-p 79).

“Woman is the instrument which the Devil uses to gain possession of our souls” (St. Cyprian Ref. 14-p 79).

“Woman is the fountain of the arm of the Devil, her voice is the hissing of the serpent” (St. Anthony Ref. 14-p 79).

“Woman has the poison of an asp, the malice of a dragon” (St. Gregory the Great Ref. 14 - p 79).

 

The status which woman in Christian countries reached was not given by the Holy Bible. It was achieved through long struggle and sacrifice on the part of woman and when the society needed her contribution and work, more especially during the two world wars. (Ref. 9 -P26). Even then, when one looks into the positions the women hold in business and political offices, the salary they receive, the sexual harassment they endure, the exploitation of women by the society for physical pleasure and promotion of business, no where equal rights of women are seen.

Her service is bought (at a price), made to do things to satisfy the evil desires of the society and then sold to the adulterous world, all in the name of progress, women liberation, equal rights, economic freedom of women, commercial progress, and personnel life style.

 

 

Special status and responsibility of women in Islam:

Woman are exempted from obligatory daily prayers during their monthly periods and forty days after childbirth. They are also are exempted during pregnancy and nursing of her baby if there is any threat to her health or her baby. Friday congregational prayer is mandatory for men but optional for woman.

Woman has the full right to her 'Mahr', a marriage gift, and such ownership does not transfer to her husband or father. The marriage gift symbolizes man's respect, love and affection for the woman he is going to marry (Ref. 9 - P17). The Holy Quran says: "When you divorce a woman, do not take back anything that you have given her (however great it may be)" (Q* 4:20).

Islam emphasizes the importance of taking counsel and mutual agreement in family decisions: "If they (husband and wife) decide ... by mutual consent and (after) due consultation, there is no blame on them" (Q* 2:233).

 

 

Protection of woman's honor:

The Holy Quran says: "And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes and reject their evidence ever after" (Q* 24:4). When a spouse is accused and no witness is presented, the witness of the woman to defend her honor and chastity is greater than the witness of the male accuser (Q* 24:6-9).

The Holy Quran says: "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: ... And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw veils over their bosom and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers" (Q* 24:30-31).

Both men and women have equal right to seek an end to an unsuccessful marriage. To protect from hasty decision out of temporary emotional stress, certain steps and waiting periods are observed (Ref. 9 - P19). In Christianity Bible forbids divorce (Luke 16:18).

 

 

Advise of Mohammad (P*):

Mohammad (P*) said:

"Best of you are those who are best with your wives” (Ref. 9 -p18).

“It is the generous who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them" (Ref. 9 -p21).

"You have certain rights over your women, but they also have rights over you. ... do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers" (Prophet Mohammed's last sermon).

 

Under Islamic law:

Women are far more secure financially: Women's personal property does not get transferred to husband or father.

Her marriage gift is hers to keep, even if she divorces.

She bears no obligation to spend from her property on her family.

She bears no financial responsibility to maintain her children.

If divorced, she may also get alimony from her ex-husband.

There is no law in Islam which forbids women to seek employment.

“Paradise is at the feet of your mother”

 

This is an Interfaith Dialogue publication. Interfaith Dialogue also publishes two books, “The Eternal Guidance” and “The Rational Choice”, and 20 brochures. They are concise and to the point. Read all of them. You will be amazed by the information they contain. Knowledge is power and helps to make rational decisions. Enrich yourself and your family with knowledge. Send for the complete set today. For more information, Interfaith publications, or your comments write to A. S. ALAM, M.D., P.O. Box 1688, Alvin, TX 77512-1688, U.S.A.

 

 

 

References:

1.The Holy Quran - Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Tahrike Tarsile Quran Inc., 1988.

2. Sahih Al-Bukhari - Translation by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Dar Al Arabia, Beirut, Lebanon, 1985

3. Sahih Muslim - Translation by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, SH Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan.

4. Life of Muhammad, by M. H. Haykal, North American Trust Publication, 1976

5. Islam, Beliefs and Teachings, Ghulam Sarwar, The Muslim Educational Trust, 1987.

6. Towards Understanding Islam, by A. Mawdudi, ICNA.

7. Islam at a Glance, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Siddiqi Trust Publication.

8.The Preaching of Islam, A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith, Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Westminister A. Constable & Co. London, 1896

9.The Status of Woman in Islam, Dr J. Badawi 1972.

10.Polygamy in Islamic Law, Dr. J. Badawi, 1976

11.The Muslim Women's Dress, Jamal A. Badawi, The M.S.A. of the United states & Canada, May 1980.

12.Bishya Nabi, by Golam Mustafa, Ahmad Publishing House, Dhaka 1982.

13.Dictionary of Islam, T. P. Hughes

14.Islam and Christianity, by U. A. Samad, University of Peshawar, 1988

15.The Bible - Revised standard version, American Bible Society, 1980.

16. Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible - G. G. The Jerusalem Publishing House Ltd., 1986.

17. The Bible The Quran And Science - Maurice Bucaille, North American Trust Publication, 1979.

18.Contradictions and Fallacies in The Bible, by K. Alan 1988.

19.Dimensions of Christianity, Dr. A. H. Qadri, Dawah Academy, 1989

20.Ecumenical Translation of The Bible, New Testament - 1972, Pub. Editions du Cerf et Les Bergers et les Mages, Paris.

21.Gospel of Barnabas, Unity Publishing Co. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1980.

22.The New Jerusalem Bible: Introduction to Gospel of John.

23.Daily Times, London, 25th June 1984

24.Awake, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Sept. 8, 1957.

25.Dimensions of Christianity, Dr. Abdul Hamid Qadri, Islamic Research Institute Press, Islamabad.

26.Let the Bible Speak, Ali Muhsin, Islamic Dawah Center, Dammam, KSA.

Abbreviations

B*.- Holy Bible

P*- Peace of God be upon him / them.

Q*- Holy Quran.

 

Read the unaltered Holy Book of God.

and

Receive Guidance in every walks of life.

 

MD-5top.gif (4782 bytes)

rosebar1a.gif (12603 bytes)

 

 

this is an Interfaith Dialogue publication

 

 

Status of Woman in Islam

 

To understand the status of woman in Islam one has to know the position woman held in the society in pre-Islamic days. Before the arrival of Islam woman had, practically, little or no rights. In Arabia man used to marry as many women as they liked and also leave them whenever they desired. Women were looked down upon so much that people were ashamed of having infant girls. Some of the tribes used to bury their infant girls alive !

In Roman law woman could not be a teacher, a surety, or a witness. She could not make any will or contracts. Anything a woman owned became the property of the husband after her marriage, including herself. In India the principle of ‘Manu’ was in practice. Manu said to hold the woman in a state of dependence by her protector, day and night. ( Encyclopedia Britanica, 11th ed., vol. 28, p782 ). The position of women in Greece and Britain was no better.

In the Mosaic Law, the wife was betrothed: “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” (Encyclopedia Biblica 1902, VOL. 3 - p 2942).

The Bible says that the woman can not be a teacher, or have authority over man. She is to keep silent (Timothy 2:12). If a woman do not cover her head, let it be shaved (I Corinthians 11:5-6). Woman is blamed for giving the fruit from the forbidden tree to Adam, whereby the human race lost the paradise. Her punishment for this is to deliver children in pain, and the husband to rule over her (Genesis 3:16).

Islam is the religion that gave woman the proper respect of a human being. It gave her the fundamental rights as well as accountability equal to that of man, although her role and responsibilities are different.

 

Women’s right: God says in Quran:

"And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them" (Q. 2:228).

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other" (Q. 4:34).

Such ‘a degree above’ is maintenance and protection of women by men, because of their physical and psychological makeup. From legal standpoint it implies no superiority or advantage. Financial responsibility for the maintenance of his wife, children and needy relatives, especially women, rests on the man (Ref. 9 -p23). Woman bears no obligation to spend from her property on her family. She bears no financial responsibility to maintain her children if the husband is alive.

The Islamic law recognizes women's right to her money, real estate, or other properties. She has full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties (Ref. 9 -p 21).

Inheritance: The Quran says:

“From what is left by parents and those nearest related, there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large, - a determined share” (Q. 4:7).

Her share is 1/2 that of man, but she is relieved of all responsibility. This way she is much better off. If a woman gets $ 50, it is all hers to keep. When a man gets $ 100 he is to maintain his wife, children, parents, and all dependent relatives particularly widows. In reality he is worse off.

Equal rewards: God said: “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female” (Q. 3:195).

In Islam the blame for eating from the forbidden tree is put on both Adam and Eve. God later forgave both of them (Q. 2:37).

Marriage: Woman can not be forced to marry. The Quran says:

"You are forbidden to inherit women against their will" (Q. 4:19).

Marriage gift: Woman has the full right to her 'Mahr', a marriage gift, and it’s ownership does not transfer to her husband or father. Her marriage gift is hers to keep, even if she divorces. The Holy Quran says: "When you divorce a woman, do not take back anything that you have given her (however great it may be)" (Q* 4:20).

Employment: There is no law in Islam which forbids women to seek employment.

Divorce: Both men and women have equal right to seek an end to an unsuccessful marriage. To protect from hasty decision out of temporary emotional outburst or stress, certain steps and waiting periods are observed (Ref. 9 -p19). If divorced, she may also get alimony from her ex-husband. Under Islamic law Women are far more secure financially.

 

Protection of woman's honor:

The Holy Quran says: "And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes and reject their evidence ever after" (Q* 24:4). When a spouse is accused and no witness is presented, the witness of the woman to defend her honor and chastity is greater than the witness of the male accuser (Q* 24:6-9).

 

Status of Mother:

The Holy Bible says: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20). In the same Holy Bible Jesus (P*) addressed his mother as ‘woman’: “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus (P*) saith unto him, ‘They have no wine’. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:3-4).

In Islam kindness to parents is considered next to worship of God: "your lord has decreed that you worship none save Him, and that you be kind to your parents" (Q* 17:23).

 

 

Prophet Mohammad (P*) said:

"Paradise is at the feet of mother" (Al Nisai Ref. 9-p21).

"Best of you are those who are best with your wives” (Ref. 9 -p18).

(It) is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them" (Ref. 9-p21).

 

 

Polygamy

Polygamy is allowed in every revealed religion of God. Many of the prophets of the Bible were polygamous. Prophet David had 100 wives and prophet Solomon had 700 wives (1 Kings 11: 3). Later, regulations in Talmud (second Jewish Holy Book) limited the number of wives to 18 for kings and 4 for an ordinary man (Dictionary of the Bible, James Hasting, p624).

In the past Christians had more than one wife. Martin Luther himself approved and allowed it. In 1531 the Anabaptists of Munster preached that he who wants to be true Christian must have several wives. (History of Human Marriage, Edward Westermaredk vol. III, p50-51) ). Christians continued to practice polygamy as late as 17th century. Even today Church of Jesus Christ of the Later Day Saints allow and practice polygamy.

Polygamy is allowed in Islam but under special circumstances and with strict conditions. That is why, almost all Muslims one meets, are strictly monogamous. Although Islam allows man to marry up to four wives Quran advises Muslims to marry only one. The Quran says: “But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them) then (marry) only one.” (Q. 4:3).

During the war many men are killed leaving a large number of orphans, widows and surplus women. Besides being fed and clothed, the physical and mental needs of those women requires to be fulfilled. Islam has a solution for this undesirable situation. Present day Christianity offers no solution to this problem. Because of the absence of this safety-valve mechanism in present day Christianity, most of the surplus women in post world-war Germany, indulged in adultery, fornication, and prostitution producing countless illegitimate children. The Bible says: "No bastard shall enter into the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord" ( Deuteronomy 23:2 ).

If a woman after living a married life for a while finds herself unable to carry on her family obligations because of, say, some physical incapacitation like paralysis or insanity or unable to bear children, should her husband kick her out into the street and marry another woman? Is it not more humane to keep the woman he loves, and take care of her along with another wife who will be able to fulfill the family obligations?

If every available man in the city of New York marry one woman, statistics shows that there will be a million of surplus women without any husband. Further, many of the unmarried males are homosexuals. One of the options for the surplus women is that she may observe celibacy rest of her life. For most of the women this is not an acceptable option. Alternatively she may remain as a girl-friend of any number of men she can manage, having no rights and honor of a wife, producing illegitimate children with no responsible father to take care of them. When a woman lives with many men, which of the males will be responsible for a particular child? In these situations a woman is already sharing the man with other women but she has no rights. In the western world, the women are kept as concubines under the title of girl-friends. It is becoming the norm of the day. Another option for the surplus woman is that she could choose to be a legitimate wife of a man (with equal rights) sharing the husband with another woman. Now which of the options will prevent social immorality?

Although the churches do not allow polygamy now, most of the Christians are not monogamous. It is interesting to note that although polygamy is allowed in Islam, Muslims are, in general, strictly monogamous. The Christians, although preach monogamy in words, openly indulge in polygamy in practice!

For the dress codes in Islam, read the Interfaith Dialogue publication titled ‘Dress of the Modest’.

 

 

This is an Interfaith Dialogue publication. Interfaith Dialogue also publishes two books, “The Eternal Guidance” and “The Rational Choice”, and 20 brochures. They are concise and to the point. Read all of them. You will be amazed by the information they contain. Knowledge is power and helps to make rational decisions. Enrich yourself and your family with knowledge. Send for the complete set today. For more information, Interfaith publications, or your comments write to A. S. ALAM, M.D., P.O. Box 1688, Alvin, TX 77512-1688, U.S.A.

 

 

References:

1.The Holy Quran - Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Tahrike Tarsile Quran Inc., 1988.

2. Sahih Al-Bukhari - Translation by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Dar Al Arabia, Beirut, Lebanon, 1985

3. Sahih Muslim - Translation by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, SH Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan.

4. Life of Muhammad, by M. H. Haykal, North American Trust Publication, 1976

5. Islam, Beliefs and Teachings, Ghulam Sarwar, The Muslim Educational Trust, 1987.

6. Towards Understanding Islam, by A. Mawdudi, ICNA.

7. Islam at a Glance, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Siddiqi Trust Publication.

8.The Preaching of Islam, A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith, Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Westminister A. Constable & Co. London, 1896

9.The Status of Woman in Islam, Dr J. Badawi 1972.

10.Polygamy in Islamic Law, Dr. J. Badawi, 1976

11.The Muslim Women's Dress, Jamal A. Badawi, The M.S.A. of the United states & Canada, May 1980.

12.Bishya Nabi, by Golam Mustafa, Ahmad Publishing House, Dhaka 1982.

13.Dictionary of Islam, T. P. Hughes

14.Islam and Christianity, by U. A. Samad, University of Peshawar, 1988

15.The Bible - Revised standard version, American Bible Society, 1980.

16. Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible - G. G. The Jerusalem Publishing House Ltd., 1986.

17. The Bible The Quran And Science - Maurice Bucaille, North American Trust Publication, 1979.

18.Contradictions and Fallacies in The Bible, by K. Alan 1988.

19.Dimensions of Christianity, Dr. A. H. Qadri, Dawah Academy, 1989

20.Ecumenical Translation of The Bible, New Testament - 1972, Pub. Editions du Cerf et Les Bergers et les Mages, Paris.

21.Gospel of Barnabas, Unity Publishing Co. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1980.

22.The New Jerusalem Bible: Introduction to Gospel of John.

23.Daily Times, London, 25th June 1984

24.Awake, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Sept. 8, 1957.

25.Dimensions of Christianity, Dr. Abdul Hamid Qadri, Islamic Research Institute Press, Islamabad.

26.Let the Bible Speak, Ali Muhsin, Islamic Dawah Center, Dammam, KSA.

Abbreviations

B*.- Holy Bible

P*- Peace of God be upon him / them.

Q*- Holy Quran.

 

Read the unaltered Holy Book of God.

and

Receive Guidance in every walks of life.

MD-5top.gif (4782 bytes)

 rosebar1a.gif (12609 bytes)

      

    

  Contents  Home