Social System of Islam 21 – Muslim Women In History 3

Jamal Badawi

Channel: Jamal Badawi

Series:

Topics: History,Women

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Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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In the Name of God, the beneficence, the Merciful, the creator and Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant and messenger Muhammad forever meaning, I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except the one true God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger and slave servant of God. I greet you with as as my usual fashion with the universal greetings of peace. This is a greeting that has been used by all of the profits from Abraham through the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon the mall. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace be unto you. Today we have our 21st program in our series dealing with the social system of Islam. And we'll

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continue with our third segment dealing with the Muslim woman in history. I'm your host hammer Rashid and I have joining me as usual, Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University. Hello, Jamal. Assalamu aleikum. Ronnie, I wonder if I could have you very quickly summarize the main points that we touched upon in our second segment in this series, dealing with the Muslim woman history. Okay, in continuation

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to look at the role of Muslim woman in history, we looked into her role and involvement in matters like propagation of the faith and how they participated in various ways, spreading the truth,

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that participation in educational function. And we showed that how many Muslim women were scholars on their own rights, that they were teachers and professors of other men who learned a great deal from them.

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Those who had a great deal of accomplishment and the area of social service in the area of even participation in the battlefield, both in logistical support as well as in some emergency cases, actual involvement in the and the fighting for self defense. And we indicated that one cannot claim that these were only limited cases or conditioned by the special circumstances. But we said that if there's any circumstances that are similar to those, then the same kind of involvement would still be permissible because they weren't consented to by

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now, in our last program, in our first program, where

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you seem to have focused in your examples on the early days of Islam, was there a particular reason for doing that? There are two basic reasons for that, Abraham, first of all, is that the early days of Islam, represented perhaps the most perfect model of implementation of Islam. By perfect we don't mean again, absolute perfection. But we mean simply that in the early days, people used to stick more closely to the precepts of their faith. And especially during the days of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him because he was guiding them and consenting to whatever right they doing objecting to whatever wrong was being done. So that represents the perfect example to follow. That's one

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thing. The second thing that it is interesting to refer to this early days, because it shows that

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the teachings of Islam, the way it restored the dignity, right, and independent personality of a Muslim woman was something that is that was totally different from the spirit of the time, as they call it. In other words, it was not a result of any code for liberation or pressures from political groups.

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And that proves and shows that the source of Islam is divine, that it didn't really come from any human being would be influenced by his environment, but rather, it is divine revelation coming directly from God.

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What

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do we know about the situation of Muslim woman and later time? How could you commentary about the situation of women in later times? Well, I think it would be wrong and inaccurate to imply in any way that because Islam in terms of the teaching in the Quran, the prophetic tradition gave women that position or that equitable status, that the practice of Muslims throughout 1400 years has been so perfect that women were treated all the time like queens. I think this would be misleading and incorrect. But one can say that, beyond this early stage where the model of Islamic treatment of women was

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implemented quite closely, that the status of Muslim woman in the remaining centuries has gone up and down. Sometimes, the treatment were as close as possible to the early model. Sometimes it wasn't really mentioned up to those standards. At times, even you could say that the Muslim woman was subjected to some degree or the other of oppression and disregard of her rights as guaranteed in Islamic law.

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This variation is, however, would not like the constant scent, it varied from time to time, it varies from place to place. After all, when you talk about the practice of Muslims, what today, for example, Muslims constitute the majority in nearly 57 or more countries. And these are all widespread from Asian countries, African countries, Middle East, some Western countries, even like Albania, or turkey, were with the majority Muslims. So it's very difficult

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to assume that the local cultures and traditions in this varieties of backgrounds did not have any influence, not on Islam, at least on the behavior of Muslims, after all, Muslims are like anybody else are human beings, and they are not perfect and the way they adheres to their faith or decrees. But I could say, in general, that the status and treatment of Muslim woman seem to have gone up and down, more or less along the same line of progress or decline in Islamic civilization. It's almost was a consistent type of

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change. Now, how do you analyze? What's your analysis of this decline and the reasons for this taking place?

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Well, I think, my understanding that the decline started basically from a decline in the commitment to faith on the part of Muslims,

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when faith becomes a lip service, when it becomes just a formalistic aspect of life. So it has to start with it from the heart as the Quran says, that God will not change the lives of the people until they change themselves. So when Muslims were following the teaching of Islam, they changed for the good. So when changes went in the wrong direction, it must have started from the heart that this is the basic law of history that the Quran specifies. And the the lack of commitment, or the decline in the lack of sincere commitment to faith on the part of some Muslims, obviously results in the decline in Muslim civilization.

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And that decline in Muslim civilization, in turn resulted in ignorance, or lack of proper information and knowledge about the nature of Islam. And it's true teaching, sometimes distorted information were circulated, and proper

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notions.

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But even though the question of ignorance in the declining period of Muslim civilization, affected both male and female indeed, but as it happens, in many cases, the oppression which could be for both male and female seems to affect humans, even to a greater extent and the ignorance would affect them even or affected them into a greater degree.

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So in a way, the result of all of that was the fact that in some cases, the man's or Muslim men did not accord the Muslim women their equitable rights that has been specified in Islamic law, particularly in the Quran, and prophetic tradition. But one should say also that women carry part of the blame also, because they had already the foundation in Islamic law, and they should have resisted any attempt to deprive them or lessen the rights that God has given them in accordance with Islamic law. So it was a whole vicious circle of

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aberration or deviations from the purity of Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad peace. Could you give us some specific examples of instances where Muslim women were deprived of their legitimate rights guaranteed by Islamic law? The list could be quite extensive, but I think there are four clear examples that immediately come to mind.

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First of all, the question of restricting

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by prevention or discouragement of women to go to the mosques, which might still remain even in some areas of the Muslim world.

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A second with is that was the practice

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Which has been disappearing. But again, it's still one has to face it and indicate what is wrong with it

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is to give daughters in marriage without their consent, and that's again against Islamic law.

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A third aspect was the so called proto

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MP u r. d h.

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More or less life seclusion of women so that they are not seen, regardless of the circumstances. And in some cases, even a very strange notion that it is not permissible for the Muslim man to hear the voice of a female that it is our rights it's unlawful to, to hear this are just some of the common examples of what I consider to be aberration from pure Islam. Could you explain for the benefit of viewers why you consider these to be contrary to Islamic teachings and perhaps unduly or unnecessarily strict? Well, it's the question of women going to the mosques for example.

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We find that in Bukhari collection of prophetic tradition, there have been several indications and evidence that the Prophet peace be upon him. Prophet Muhammad said it very clearly, that do not prevent the servants, the female servants of Allah from going to the mosque. So Allah, He said it, he allowed it in terms of his own lifetime, there are lots of

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narrations of Muslim women during the lifetime of the prophet who said that we used to go to the masses and come even

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after the don't prayer, when it's still that so they even went at night to the mosque. We have given additional documentation of this sometimes ago on this series of Pillars of Islam, when we dealt with the prayers and women going to the mosque. So he did not restrict them. So who has the right to restrict them?

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A second aspect is the question of manage.

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This will be forthcoming hopefully in the discussion of the family in Islam.

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But suffice to say at this point, that an Islamic law,

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marriage requires the consent of both the bride and groom, otherwise it would not be regarded as a legitimate marriage, it could be voided

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or declared void.

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And the other aspect of the question of the per the

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it's important to note here that many writers about Islam seem to associate further with Islam as if it is an Islamic concept. The fact is that paragraph, if you look into the Webster dictionary, was a practice by the Hindus, not by Muslims. It says it's a practice of seclusion of women, a Hindu practice, indeed, in the entire Quran, or prophetic tradition, I have never seen the word put that even once. In fact, it's a melodically the word put that is both a Hindi and Prussian term. It's not even an Arabic term, the language in which the Quran was revealed. Some historians say that this practice was common, not only among Hindus, but also among the Zoroastrian Christians. That's

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increased prayer, and even among the rich and wealthy people in the Christian, Byzantine Empire.

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In other words, it has nothing to do it's a practice that existed before Islam has no connotation and no sanction whatsoever.

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an Islamic teaching, but that is quite different from hijab. H is a B hijab in Islam, which simply means modesty, and dress and behavior, restriction of the free and

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are often loose type of mixing between the sexes, for the purpose of protection of public morality and to protect women themselves, from exposure to molestation and injury. But this is quite different. It does not imply in any way, lacking women and preventing them from going out for legitimate purposes.

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The same thing that seems to be related here also, is the concept of Herim H, ar e and many people also talk about him. Again, originally, apparently, the word came from Haram, that's a place in the households that was regarded as the exclusive quarters of the ladies of the house, daughters, wife, and son, children. And it was regarded as haram or forbidden that means other men outside foreign men would not be permitted into this quarters in order to preserve the privacy of women. But they could go in some other quarters of the house that's outside as well in that sense. There's not

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run with it. In fact, many historians report that Herim was not, as some people think of it as a prison or something, it was like, very nice quarters with fountains of waters, plant vegetations and plantations, flowers and all that preserving the the privacy of women who still leave it, whenever they go for

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parties or parties, of course, does not equate or religious celebrations or other similar type of

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functions like visitations. But Hayden as expressed in many of the romantic novels,

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in a sense of the corrupt practices that crept into the households of some Muslim rulers in history, in the sense of having so many women and concubines and so on.

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Just living in this kind of corrupt luxury, is something that has nothing to do with Islam. In fact, it is totally contrary to the teachings of Islam. So in other words, this whole notion of the poor, the or, or him, has no foundation at all from Islamic teaching. In fact, we find many positive evidences

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from stomache teaching, that the mixing between men and women within the boundaries of Islamic law within certain restrictions of modesty has taken place in a variety of forms in worship, pilgrimage education, and as we have seen in the previous programs, even in the battlefield.

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Now, in addition to the points that you've just made, are there any citations in the Quran or on the prophetic traditions, which would lend support to what you've just made? What there are plenty of them? Let's take a few of these examples. I've already given examples of the prophetic tradition in new Bukhari, about women going to the mosque and the marriage, we'll be talking about that. But let me touch on a couple of points. The whole notion of women being totally secluded, and locked in, if you will, or in their own homes and forbidden from going out not to be seen by others period,

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seem to be contrary to what the Quran teaches. For example, in chapter 33, in the in the Quran, it talks especially in in verse 59, about the teaching or commands to Muslim women to draw their clocks on their questions when they go out. That is to properly cover themselves to prevent themselves from being molested or attacked by perverts. But the very fact that it says that you should use this clock, or you're recommended to use this clock in itself means that you are allowed to go out or entity would be no sense

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stating it in the Quran. Another thing is that after even the verse was revealed in the Quran, which required additional restrictions in on the household of the Prophet, because his wife's were regarded as the mothers of believers and it should, their reputation should have been kept always beyond any reproach. And since the household of the Prophet was a place where everybody comes, including good people, and not so good people, but even after that verse was revealed, it was narrated in Buhari collection of prophetic tradition, that almost the second came after the Prophet, one so soudha, the wife of the Prophet going out and he objected, how come you know you're getting

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out and I could recognize you. She went back to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and she complained that Omar seemed to object on her going out. At that time the Prophet received revelation. And he simply replied and said, God has forbidden has allowed you Sorry, Allah has allowed you to go out for your legitimate needs. So this has been said, you know, proven

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in other tradition, other prophetic tradition, for example, in the collection of Muslim,

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we find that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, said to his people, he said, don't you sit and lighters, let's say on roadways, except if you perform your duties and fulfill the requirements of sitting, they said, What are these requirements? He said, to lower your gaze, that is not to stare at women coming and going with passion.

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Secondly, to avoid or prevent any hurts to other people. Thirdly, to respond to greetings of peace, by similar greeting force to to ordain all that is good and decent five to forbid or that is evil. Now, the first condition is quite interesting, because I said you could sit on roadways or like cafes and some kind of provided that you don't stare at women with fashion, quite going and coming which implies that they are allowed

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to go out and do it again No, exactly. There's no sense of of mentioning that at all. In addition, we find several prophetic traditions, that shows that even family visits in which involves both male and female within the boundaries, of course of Islam in terms of dress and behavior and all that

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did take place with the consent of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and during his lifetime, just to give you a few examples, in both the collection of Bukhari and Muslim, it was narrated that the Prophet once went to a wedding. And in the house of the bride, she herself was reported to have offered the drink, or give the profit, or made the pots tilted the pot, or the container for the profit to drink from, which means that they were in the same place with other people. In another occasion, in the collection of Muslim, the prophet was visiting a woman, of course, not alone, because that would be contradictory to Samson, there were others other people present. Her name is

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Karla the case. And that lady was reporting that she was eating from the same pot or container as Prophet Mohammed, which means that they were all sitting, eating together, still observing the standard modesty in every respect, but still, even the same container was used in the presence of both males and females. And a Buddha would utter mizzi. And it no matter other collections of a prophetic tradition,

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it was said that the Prophet once visited a lady by the name agraphia. Then tomorrow with we mentioned the lady's name previously as one of the most knowledgeable Muslim scholars and her husband. And it was reported that he asked her to bring him water to make ablution before prayers, which means again, that they were all in the same place, and several others numerous saying it was mentioning about the Prophet, visiting with other people, some prominent Muslim leaders in their homes staying there and eating in their homes and so on. And there is no evidence that said You know, there must be some partition or you should never be present in the same place.

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There is even one interesting

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case which was narrated both in Bukhari Muslim as well as Abu Dawood collections, that one time even a woman came to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, and she wanted to ask him a private question, not in the presence of others. He simply thought that all rights find any street in Medina that suits you, and they'll come and talk to you privately. The idea here is that in the state, of course, it is an open place, there is no question of total, and absolute privacy, which is not allowed in Islam. But in the meantime, she had also sufficient privacy through asking privately, whatever questions she has in mind.

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It is obvious from this, that

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the notion that women should never be seen, or a Muslim woman is not never to be seen by others, regardless of the conditions in the surrounding. And the kind of activity is something that does not seem to have any support, neither from the Quran, or not from the prophetic tradition. Now, earlier in today's program, that you mentioned that it's incorrect, for some the claim that the woman's voice is unlawful for

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males to hear.

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How do you support that statement? Well, it can be supported, like the previous issue also both from the Quran and prophetic tradition. For example, we refer to the Quran in chapter 24. In verse 32, it addresses the wives of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him in terms of their treatment of others. And maybe I better quote it because it's, it's quite revealing, in giving a conclusive evidence that the voice of a Muslim woman, it's not really forbidden thing for men to hear it says, oh, ye wives of the Prophet. You are not like any other women. If you keep your deity to Allah, then be not soft in speech that don't speak in a seductive way. lest he in his heart is a disease aspires to but other

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customary speech. In other words, it did not say, never speak because it's not right for me to hear the voice of Athena and it simply says, when you speak, speak the right thing and don't speak in a very soft or, you know, seductive manner.

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The same thing we find the Quran in the beginning of chapter 58, the case of a woman who came to the prophet to argue and complaint against her husband. Again, how could the Prophet allow himself to hear a woman if the voice of a woman is unlawful? And he is the our example, example for Muslims. In the prophetic tradition we find multitudes of prophetic sayings

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or narrations about the life of the prophet in mentioning a woman came to ask

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About such and such a woman came to suggest to him such and such, which again shows that the voice of the woman in itself cannot be regarded as unlawful. We have mentioned before that many of the companions of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and the follow their followers later on, learned a great deal about Islam from women like Ayesha. Again, how could that happen? With if that's forbidden? I think this point is quite interesting. Because whenever he addressed Muslim woman seminars, the sister used to complain, they said, some of our brothers, the Muslim Brothers, some

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feel rather uncomfortable and uneasy, you know, when they pass by them as if it's a sin, to talk to them or to greet them a greeting of peace. And indeed, if you refer to authentic traditions of the Prophet, for example, in Abu Dhabi, as the daughter of Abu Bakar

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reported that she was sitting with some women or the Prophet passed by and he said Sandra Marlena, he greeted us he says, There is nothing wrong with it at all. And he could reply also, the greeting of peace in Buhari, many of the companions reported that after the congregational prayer on Friday, they used to go to an old woman who used to make some kind of soup and give it to them after the prayer and they said, they used to feel very happy with this. So long as this interactions between male and female are within the standard boundaries. There is nothing, no text in Islam that says then all this should be kept totally never interacting with each other regardless.

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And I'm sure some viewers will be curious to know the the arguments on which the unduly strict interpretations

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have been based.

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Did you perhaps give some clarification on that? Okay, well, first of all, to make sure that

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we are on the right track. It is important to notice that in the case of Islamic teaching, the texts that are conclusive and clear in the book of Allah, the Word of God, that is in the Quran, or the authentic tradition of the Prophet, nobody has the right to change. In other words, there is nothing in Islam, like a conference of learned people or conference of jurists can change it, nobody can supersede the Word of God. That fortunately made it possible that some of the fundamental rights of Muslim women, as sentient in those references, Quran and prophetic tradition could never be changed by anyone, nobody could dare say, my interpretation is more valid than what the Quran said. But in

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some other, more detailed issues, there have been differences of interpretations between some of the Muslim jurists.

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And those people, after all, with due respect to their knowledge and piety,

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are human beings and some of them have been influenced also by their own environment and the customs that were prominent in their particular time. Some of them spoke against some of those oppressive practices, some tended to have a slightly more strict interpretation. But some of the foundations for this, that some of them exaggerated about the purity of the immediate generation that was living in the time of Prophet Mohammed and say, these people are so pure, but now it's not the same. So we cannot allow the same interaction to take place. And what they forget that, for example, in the Quran, Chapter 24, verse 60, it speaks about the existence also of people who are deviant even at

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the time of the Prophet. Yes, they were the best, but it was not. They were not angels either. So this is another point of exaggeration. Another aspect was over generalizations of some of the texts in the Quran that deals with the special restriction on the wives of the Prophet because of their status and reputation. The mothers of the believers, and they try to generalize that to everybody else.

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Of course, some are generalizable, but some were specifically for the prophets wives. And finally, some use the rule in Islamic law that says, you could restrict permissible things if there's insecurity and fear of temptation or fear of problems, or molestation. And they say today's age, or even in their own time, the situation was not very secure. But again, as I mentioned in a previous program, how far do you go with this precaution, if you really want to be totally cautious, then men also should not go out.

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There are some limits and one has to look into the foundation or purposes of Islamic law, both applying to protection and security and precautions as well as also other things by benefits that should accrue as a result of interaction in a pious way within an Islamic Society. So in other words, it's a question of moderation and application of Islamic law.

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Well, that's our

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fingering for the day. We want to thank you for being our guests Assalamu alaikum peace be unto you