Social System of Islam 22 – Muslim Women In Recent History

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Jamal Badawi

Channel: Jamal Badawi

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Topics: History,Women

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Episode Transcript

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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. I mean, 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, as is my fashion I greet you with the universal greetings of peace, a greeting that has been used by all the prophets from Abraham through the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace be unto you. I'm your host Hamlet Rashid. Today we have our 22nd program and our series dealing with the social system of Islam. We'll

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be looking at the topic of Muslim women in recent history. Have joining me on the program as usual. Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University, Jamal Assalamualaikum. Ronnie,

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could you more quickly summarize the main points we touched on in our program last week. Secondly, we continued our discussion of Muslim women in history. And we indicated that our emphasis on the early days of Islam was simply because this represented the perfect model the closest model to what ideal Islam teaches in terms of practice.

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Secondly, it was indicated that the position and status of Muslim woman afterwards had gone through various ups and downs depending on the variations and influences of different places and different times and local cultures. And in this variations, it was obvious that one could not have expected that there would be perfect compliance with the letter and spirit of Islam they have been aberration they have been deviations. There have been cases where a Muslim woman was deprived of her Jew, right, as determined in Islam. We give certain specific examples of that like discouraging women to go to the mosque, contrary to the instructions of the Prophet, like the concept of poor dad, which

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means total seclusion of woman from society, a practice that has nothing to do with Islam that preceded Islam, in fact, and was simply adopted by some Muslims, because of the influence of culture.

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And we have indicated that there is a difference in Islam between the emphasis on preserving the morality of the individual and society,

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the issue of chastity and modesty and dress and behavior. And you said all of these are one. But that's quite different from the notion of total seclusion of women from society. And we have seen in previous programs how Muslim women with the approval and consent of the Prophet were heavily involved and actively participating in a variety of other affairs in the Muslim community within the boundaries of Islam.

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Now, in our recent programs, we've discussed the several aspects related to the

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situation of Muslim women in history, only, perhaps I could ask you to shed some light on the situation of the Muslim woman in the recent and contemporary history.

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In my humble understanding, I would perhaps, put that into three basic trends more or less successively, like this in chronology.

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One was the trend towards solution of this problem by total westernization.

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The second trend was to uphold the status quo, not to try to change what is present.

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And the third approach,

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competitively the more recent one in terms of its gaining momentum is the approach of Islamic revivalist movements.

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The trend towards total westernization

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took place largely in the late 19th century and the earliest part of the 20th century.

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And it came at a point which was really a very low point in the Muslim civilization in Muslim history, a point of decadence in backwardness.

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a time where virtually the entire Muslim world was under some form of colonialism, Russian, British, French, Italian, Dutch, there was hardly any Muslim country that was not under a state of foreign occupation and colonialism.

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Now, this period of decadence of Muslims seem to have coincided with the rising powers of the west or Western nations. And as a result, we find that colonial powers occupying the Muslim world in order to strengthen their hold on those countries tried very hard to convince Muslims with the help of missionaries in orientalist, tried to convince Muslims that the main reason for them being backward or suffering from social or moral decay or whatever is because of their religion, that their faith is Islam, in their mind, that was the cause of all this ailment. And as such, they tried to convince Muslim that the only way to progress to get out of that dilemma is to reject Islam and

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to adopt Western manners in a wholesale

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fashion.

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Now, this efforts definitely had some results and we find that some Muslims responded, those specialists are not totally familiar with their faith responded favorably to those call. However, we find that many of the people who supported this kind of life in Egypt for example, Kasim Ameen and Hoda, Shara, we were people with a history of collaboration either with the occupying army, helping the army to establish its colonial power and hold on the country.

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Or people who were also collaborators with the corrupt court of the monarchy in Egypt that ended with King farrokh, who was dismissed in 1952, ending the monarchy that extended for a long time, for example, in Egypt.

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So that again, might say something about the nature of people who are enthusiastic towards calling on Muslim women to uncover themselves and just follow the path of the West uncritically without any rational selection type of process. However, we find that decades of practical experience in different parts of the Muslim world showed clearly that total uncritical westernization is not really the solution to the dilemma or problem.

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administering getting your view as to why this approach that you've just described,

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by and large was unsuccessful, it was unsuccessful, first of all, because even though there was a feeling that reform is needed, improvement, is needed change is called for, however,

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to have a change, which is successful, and movement, which would really have a long Grinch chances of growing, those changes must be based on the religion, the beliefs and the values of the people involved of the populace. This way, those reform movements can gain wider support and sponsorship on the part of the population in different Muslim countries. Secondly, the principle of adopting in a wholesale fashion.

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other cultures and other practices without any rational process of choosing and selecting depending on your needs, and your own circumstances is in itself an evidence of ignorance and decadence. Only a nation which is in the State of Decay, adopt without being critical, just imitate others in a blind way.

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Thirdly, is that insofar as Islam is concerned, there is nothing wrong to adopt reformist ideas,

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good thoughts, whatever.

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And whenever these thoughts emanate, but the point here is that a Muslim should always be in a state where he can critically choose

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to establish the process of change, improvement and reform within the boundaries of the face, not outside of the faith. In other words, there is no reason whatsoever why reformation and liberation could be done on the basis of rebellion against the faith or rebellion against God, that within the boundaries of faith reforms could be accommodated, but this was not necessarily the clear orientation of the trend of certain

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type of westernization. On the other hand, it is important also to clarify that the solution to all of the dilemmas and problems faced by by Muslims and particularly the case of Muslim women,

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where

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we're problems who is solve a solution, though that exists the solution to exist in the boundaries of the teachings.

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Islam. So instead of importing ideas, why don't you apply what you have, in other words, if Islam did protect within its legal framework, the rights and dignity of women. And if there is deficiency on the part of Muslims not implementing those teachings, then the logical thing is to get them to apply rather than import something different.

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The second group, that you describe the second major trend that you described, relating to those who believe that the status quo should be maintained,

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what was the what was their viewpoint, what this particular trend seemed to have emerged as a reaction to the attempt to impose

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alien and foreign values and way of thinking and beliefs on a population, which was largely Muslim population. So many people felt that the reforms are not stemming from the faith, but rather something that is imposed or different from the trend of their heritage and their own beliefs. A second point is that some people also

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had some probably justified worries. Because what happens that along with the wholesale adaptation of Western ways, not only just the ideas of reformation and firmness were adopted, but also many other practices which are contrary to Muslim beliefs and behavior, such as

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being too lacks on moral issues on the proper cover,

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free mixing without any restriction whatsoever in the in the fashion that has been going on in the West. So many people felt that there is a big threat to the moral values of the Muslim society. There is threat to the cohesiveness and integrity of the family, especially when they compared Western ways with what was going on and still going on in the western sense of breaking down of the family as a basic unit in society. So they did not really necessarily fear reforms, they feared the approach of reform, which mixes good ideas with practices that are not necessarily productive, some even are counterproductive in terms of bringing society to a better state. They, it is fair,

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however, to say that some of those who objected or were leery about reforms did so also partly, at least, because of their lack of appreciation of the vitality of Islam, and its ability to face all kinds of challenges in different places and different times without necessarily deviating from its fundamental framework. And I would say in some cases, even some had sort of misgivings and probably even misinterpretations of some of the saying of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him that they interpreted as putting woman in less

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position than that of

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this last point that you mentioned, relating to the number of questions that are raised about the interpretation of some of the prophetic traditions.

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leads me to raise a question about a particular areas many people.

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Quote, the Prophet is saying that if a woman prays, if she fast, if she's chaste, and she obeys her husband, then she will end their paradise. Could you comment on on that? Yeah, it is true that there is a hadith to that effect, which and that was narrated by Ennis. And it is available in the book called affiliate, written by Abu nine, in which the Prophet says the four basic things that if a woman keeps observing her five prayers is fasting during the month of Ramadan, and maintaining his chastity and honor and obeying her husband, she will be told that she can enter from any door of Paradise that she will enter into a paradise. But the point here is that some people misinterpret

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that to mean that this is all that a woman a Muslim woman is required to do. Yes, that is a this is just an exclusive list of what the obligations and involvement of the Muslim woman that should be. There are two reasons why I would say that this is not a correct interpretation. First of all, everybody knows Muslims and many others non Muslims, that there are five basic Pillars of Islam, which include belief, which include things that are not mentioned in that prophetic tradition, such as charity, and pilgrimage, and nobody definitely that these are absolute requirement of any Muslim male or female. Now, these things were not mentioned in that Hattie's that prophetic tradition, does

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it mean that a woman doesn't have to pay charity or doesn't have to make pilgrimage doesn't have to have other religious duties.

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Have faith in God. So the point is to remember is that the text of the Hadees is not meant to be exclusive that if the woman only do this things that that's all that's required. It's just an example of some of the more significant behavior on the part of the Muslim woman. That's one reason.

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Another reason why this interpretation may not necessarily be correct, is that we have seen in several programs in this series, such a system of Islam, how Muslim women during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him were heavily involved in a variety of economic, social, and even what we call today political type of activities, even participating in the battlefield. And the Prophet gave his consent to that. So again, one has to look at it in the context of the teaching of Islam.

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Is it true that Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon them, he expressed his fears that

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men would be tempted by women after him? And if this is true, what are the implications of the saying, in your opinion? Yes, and both Bukhari and Muslim there is mentioned about the fear of the prophets that women might be a source of temptation

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for them, but when you go to the original wording in Arabic, it says fitness method to embody fitness. See the word fitness in Arabic, which says in English, if I T, and H. sickness is sometimes translated into temptation, which would be one meaning, but what is forgotten is that the term also an Arabic means test, or trial. And the evidence is right there from the Quran. I could give you two references. For example, in the Quran, when that term sickness in a sense of trial, not temptation, this is a trial and test are mentioned in chapter eight in the Quran, verse 28, and also in chapter 64, in verse 15.

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In both of these, it uses a term like in Amal Kumar.

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That is your wealth and your children are fitna.

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It doesn't mean necessarily temptation, it could mean the test. What this really means is that

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not that this things which are called fitna

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are negative, whether it is wealth, women or children.

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Because Indeed, we find that the Quran in many places speaks about

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having spouses, having children and having worth as one of the blessings of God. There is no word in the Quran, or the prophetic traditions that say that these things are forbidden or negative in themselves.

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But fitna hears or siltation, or trial in a sense that first of all,

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when God blesses us, with women with children with wealth,

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these things should not keep us away from remembrance of Allah that He, above all is the one who gave it so we should not forget him. There's nothing negative about that.

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Uh, secondly, is that it also reminds us that in our pursuit of wealth, in our pursuit of satisfaction of our instinctive needs the need for a woman on the part of men and they reverse in the case of the woman, in our pursuit of having having children or big families, we should try to do that within the boundaries of what is permissible, rather than doing it in a way which is forbidden, for example, like through adultery and all other forbidden things. So there is no negative connotation whatsoever with the usage of the term fitness test, because everything in our life, it can be regarded as a test to remember God and to follow his fan.

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You know, some people have also caught the pessimism a piece of recipe, as saying that women are at a disadvantage compared to men and matters of religion in mind. Could you perhaps explain the context of the saying, and what does it mean, right, the Hadith in Arabic that says, and it's our nakazato applin. I think that'd be lots of misunderstanding also about about that particular text. And perhaps you rightfully asked as to the context of that. In fact, the context of that prophetic tradition is in the area of exhortation of women to do good deeds. And when you really talk about exhortation, many times, allegories are used allegories, which should not be interpreted in a

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literal, very restrictive, literal sense, but rather as allegories to encourage people and to appeal to them spiritually to engage in more charitable activities and good deeds.

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That's one thing. Secondly, that this text does not really speak about inferiority or superiority of either men or women. But still

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In the context of natural differences between men and women, and natural differences created by God can never be regarded as a source of absolute inferiority or superiority over all superiority or inferiority of either of the two sexes, it's all.

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Thirdly, that this prophetic tradition itself explains what is meant by that ensures that the meaning is very restrictive rather than what people try to overgeneralize out of it. For example, women asked him, in what sense would women be at a disadvantage from the point of view of religion or religious practices? And his answer was simple. He said that during the monthly cycle, a Muslim woman does not pray. While talking about the specific form of the five daily prayers, he does not pray.

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But the point here is this in Islamic law, a Muslim woman is not even permitted to pray because there are certain requirements from both male and female, it's called a tahara. The preparation or minimum degree of cleanliness before one goes for the prayer and pleading for men or women is regarded as a reason why a person cannot perform his prayer until he is cleansed, he or she is cleansed.

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So in that sense, then, if we interpret that prophetic tradition as saying that women are less religious, it would contradict the Quran. If we say that she is deficient, because she does not pray during her cycle, what the answer, how come, she should be blamed for that even though the Islamic law does not allow her even that's totally illogical and contradictory to the overall spirit of Islam. So again, we go back to the context of the prophetic tradition that was appealing to them to make up for the missed prayers, which they don't have to do, by the way, they can make up for missed testing, but not prayers, that to make up for that, they are not required, but they are highly

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encouraged to engage in acts of charity. That's why these prophetic traditions tie starts by

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being a more charity or you women. So this is a kind of allegory again, to encourage them to be good to be charitable.

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The other aspect also, which some people say is they are deficient or less. And,

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again, there is a great deal of misunderstanding of that, because the very prophetic tradition itself does not speak in the context of one sex or the other, being more intelligent than the other. There's no such connotation whatsoever. Nor does it speak on the power of reasoning which Allah or God has endowed to both men and women. It specifically addresses one issue which the Prophet explained when he was asked again, what is that toxin? And what's what's that disadvantage in

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or you leave the word because the translation might be a problem. And he explained, he said that in the case of witness, particularly in the methods of financial dealings, he said, the requirement is to have two man's are one male and two female. And this is a method which we have already explained before in several programs and in greater detail, so we can refer to that. But the point there is that it does not have nothing to do with the integrity of the woman her intelligence or reasoning, but the extent relatively, of exposures to the business world, within standard context, the competitive experience that an average woman may have in financial data which required this

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additional precaution of having two women

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for one man just to make sure that things are not misinterpreted or misunderstood. So aka aka shake in Arabic, does not mean does not have a mind or does not have integrity is the degree of understanding or degree of depth of understanding or experience in certain areas of life. And it should emphasize again, that this was mentioned specifically in this context of goodness of being charitable. So one should not really take it in a literal sense that would contradict both the Quran and other prophetic tradition.

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Now, another related issue was the

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one of the sayings of a piece of versus being part of that a woman is like a bed read, would you explain this tradition to us? Right? Well, first of all, I would like to clarify that this particular tradition came in two different versions. And one of the one of them it might appear that the woman was created from Arab, but it does not mean physically from Arab as we have explained in previous programs, because in other versions of the same tradition, it says a lot to Kabbalah that a woman is like Arab, so it's not a physical creation from a rape but rather that she has some characteristics that are similar to the bent red. What does bent means? If you look at the red, you

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find that it is curved.

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That means it has some kind of inclination,

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tendency,

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or curvature, if you will.

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Now,

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the in the context of that thing, he explains, he says, If you try to make that trip straight, you would break it.

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In that sense, then he's not really talking about the efficiency on the part of women, but they think they have a particular nature, they have a particular inclination. And if you as a man, or a husband, let's say, becomes so intolerant to the peculiarities of women, just as you yourself might have certain peculiarities. If you try to force woman against her own nature, by trying to make that trip straight in your own mind, then you will break it.

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Indeed, in some jurist explanation, they said, the breaking of the rape is divorce, which again, is an appeal to the believer and appear to the Muslim men to be tolerant towards his female companions, whether wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, and so on. Not to try to force them again is their nature which is basically physiological, mental and psychological not to try to expect everybody to be regimented and behave in the same way they have that particular individual bent, that should not be forced.

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The the biggest evidence of the validity of this meaning is that this very saying in which the Prophet talks about this woman being like a curved or bent rib, it begins with stuff. So Vanessa, and ends with the same statement as also Vanessa. And that's in Arabic means Be kind to women. I commend you. I commend you to be

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kind and considerate to women. And then he says, because they are created like a

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curved Rep. And if you try to force it

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to be straight, you will break it, and then he ends. So I recommend you hayfields, to be kind, and considerate to women. So in that context, then you're really talking about consideration to women rather than really guarding them as inferior or crooked or bent. Because each one of us has his own bent also, and inclination, just like for example, in some other prophetic traditions when he likens a woman, like a prisoner

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doesn't mean that she is a prisoner, or she should be a prisoner. We have seen again, lots of evidence contrary to that, but it means that you should have sympathy you should have kindness to women who are tied to your tight your family, tight your children as if they are really captives of their families, that you should also reciprocate by showing respect, dignity, and appreciation to him in the context of Well, now, you've clarified several wildly misunderstood

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issues, which may sound new to many people who have had the opportunity to see the program. How do we know that the interpretations

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that you've given are valid within the framework of Islam? Well, that's the logical question, which I think is a very well taken question. But to start with, in discussing or trying to understand any aspect of Islam, or Islamic law.

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Everybody agrees This is a kind of universal rule, that the primary sources of Islam are number one, the Quran, that is the word of God, and the prophetic tradition, this thing of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Now, within that, subdivision again, the Quran is regarded as the direct Word of God as dictated to Prophet Muhammad with the prophetic tradition as a sort of elaboration and explanation. That's one point.

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Secondly, if you go through the entire Quran, you cannot find any direct verse at all, that seems to imply in any way that Muslim women are inferior to men or that men are superior, if there's anything like that it's Miss translation of the original wording of the Quran.

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So third point, is that as a basic methodology in the interpretation of Islam, no text of prophetic tradition can be interpreted in a way which contradict the Word of God in the Quran, or contradict other prophetic traditions. So one has to put all the text together with the primary importance to the Word of God in the Quran, and then collect old sayings of the prophet in a given topic and then try to understand them in that context, rather than what some people do by taking pieces from here and there out of context and come up with erroneous conclusion. And we have seen already, let the Quran emphasize that whoever does good deeds man or woman, God will give them the full award. We

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have seen also how a woman Muslim woman was dignified in

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many respects in a variety of activities. And this would make it quite plausible and quite important, in fact, to look into this interpretations in view of all of this, I'd like only to refer to one verse that I have no time now to decide. But I would encourage the audience to refer to chapter 33 verse 35, which shows this complete spiritual equality between men and women in Islam. We have to sign up very quickly because we've exhausted our time. Thank you for watching. Join us next week. Assalamu alaikum