Black Spirituality Religion : The Role and Condition of Women in Islam

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by abdurratln, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. abdurratln

    abdurratln Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 27, 2007
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    Hey Sekhemu. Why don't you get off your sorry behind and do a googlesearch on women and Islam. You might learn something.

    It just so happened that I had that bit of information in the back of my mind all along. If the truth be told, I only recently learned about what the Muslim sisters are doing in China. And, I referenced it just to prove a point. The point being that most non-Muslims are ignorant about Islam in general and about the Role and Condition of Women in Islam in particular. Accordingly, there is a great need for enlightment on this subject. But, I do not have all the information readily at hand. Nevertheless, there is a great wealth of information available over the internet. All that is needed is for folks to just investigate and research with open minds with a desire and willingness to learn. So, I ask all of us to look into this issue and see what we can learn and share it. I am looking to learn from you and I hope I can offer something that you can learn from me.
  2. info-moetry

    info-moetry STAFF STAFF

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  3. abdurratln

    abdurratln Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Women as imams

    Women as imams
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
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    There is a current controversy among Muslims regarding the circumstances in which women may act as imams—that is, lead a congregation in salat (prayer). Three of the four Sunni schools and the Shia school[1] agree that a woman may lead a congregation consisting of women alone in prayer. However Shia and Sunni schools do not believe in women leading the mixed congregational prayers.[2]

    Some schools make exceptions for Tarawih (optional Ramadan prayers) or for a congregation consisting only of close relatives. Certain sects, such as the Haruriyyah branch of the Kharijites movement in the 7th century, considered it acceptable for a woman to be imam. Certain medieval scholars—including Al-Tabari (838–932), Abu Thawr (764–854), Al-Muzani (791–878), and Ibn Arabi (1165–1240)—considered the practice permissible at least for optional (Nafl salat) prayers; however, their views are not accepted by any major surviving group.

    Within the Muslim communities in recent years the debate has been reactivated, arguing that the spirit of the Qur'an and the letter of a disputed hadith indicate that women should be able to lead mixed congregations as well as single-sex ones, and that the prohibition of this developed as a result of sexism in the medieval environment and patriarchal interpretations of religious texts, not part of or reflective of true Islam.[3]

    The earliest history of female imams can be found in China, where Quranic schools for girls have evolved into woman-only mosques and where females acted as imams as early as 1820. [4]

    [edit] Traditions
    The Qur'an does not address this issue; relevant precedents are therefore sought for in the hadith, the traditions attributed to Muhammad. The only hadith that unequivocally states that women may not lead mixed congregations is Ibn Majah (Kitab iqamat is-salat was-sunnati fiha) #1134, narrated through Jabir ibn Abdullah: "A woman may not lead a man in Prayer, nor may a Bedouin lead a believer of the Muhajirun or a corrupt person lead a committed Muslim in Prayer."

    An indirectly relevant hadith is widely considered to be crucial, since the imam stands at the front of the congregation.[citation needed] The hadith in question is #881 of Sahih Muslim:

    Abu Huraira said: The best rows for men are the first rows, and the worst ones the last ones, and the best rows for women are the last ones and the worst ones for them are the first ones.[5]
    The sunnah—actions of Muhammad (including but not limited to hadith)—is a more general source of precedent; it is usually considered to militate against women leading mixed congregations, as there are no reports of it happening in Muhammad's time, unless, as Amina Wadud suggested, the aforementioned Umm Waraqah hadith is interpreted to apply to her town rather than to her household alone.

    A third source of precedent is the principle of ijma—consensus—supported by the hadith "My community will never agree upon an error." This is also generally quoted against it, since the consensus of the traditional jurists is overwhelmingly against it; however, supporters of the idea argue that this consensus is not universal.

    With regard to women leading congregations of women, however, several hadith report that Muhammad's wife Aisha and Umm Salamah did so, and as a result most madhhabs support this. According to Qaradawi:

    The hadith of `A’ishah and Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with them). `Abdur-Raziq (5086), Ad-Daraqutni (1/404) and Al-Bayhaqi (3/131) reported from the narration of Abu Hazim Maysarah ibn Habib from Ra’itah Al-Hanafiyyah from `A’ishah that she led women in Prayer and stood among them in an obligatory Prayer. Moreover, Ibn Abi Shaybah (2/89) reported from the chain of narrators of Ibn Abi Layla from `Ata’ that `A’ishah used to say the Adhan, the Iqamah, and lead women in Prayer while standing among them in the same row. Al-Hakim also reported the same hadith from the chain of narrators of Layth Ibn Abi Sulaim from `Ata’, and the wording of the hadith mentioned here is Al-Hakim’s.
    Furthermore, Ash-Shafi`i (315), Ibn Abi Shaybah (88/2) and `Abdur-Raziq (5082) reported from two chains of narrators that report the narration of `Ammar Ad-Dahni in which he stated that a woman from his tribe named Hujayrah narrated that Umm Salamh used to lead women in Prayer while standing among them in the same row.
    The wording of `Abdur-Raziq for the same hadith is as follows: “Umm Salamah led us (women) in the `Asr Prayer and stood among us (in the same row).”
    In addition, Al-Hafiz said in Ad-Dirayah (1/169), “Muhammad ibn Al-Husain reported from the narration of Ibrahim An-Nakh`i that `A’ishah used to lead women in Prayer during the month of Ramadan while standing among them in the same row.
    Further, `Abdur-Raziq reported (5083) from the narration of Ibrahim ibn Muhammad from Dawud ibn Al-Husain from `Ikrimah from Ibn `Abbas that the latter said, “A woman can lead women in Prayer while standing between them.”
    But, all of the hadiths state that the given women lead the other women in prayers while standing among them in the same row, and not standing on the first row of the prayers as Imams do, and also states that they were only among the women and not all the worshippers such as males.

    [edit] Mixed-gender congregations
    Three Sunni schools accept that women can lead other women in prayer; however none of them see it acceptable to lead men in prayers. A minority of people see it fit in the Hanbali school for women to lead men in tarāwīh in certain conditions and if she remains behind the men during prayers. A woman is not to be in front of men with the consideration to largely obviate the danger of the men being aroused by her presence. According to Imam an-Nawawi “If a woman leads a man or men in a congregational prayer, the prayer of the men is invalid. As for her prayer, and the prayer of the women praying with her, it is sound.” While in a household, if there are no qualified men to lead a prayer it is the one exceptation for women to lead men in prayers.[1]

    In the early years of Islam, however, the Haruriyyah sect, a branch of the Kharijites movement, founded by Habib ibn-Yazīd al-Harūrī, held that it was permissible to entrust the imamate to a woman if she were able to carry out the required duties. In 699 A.D. (77 A.H.), the founder's wife, Ghazāla al-Harūriyya, even led her male warriors in prayer in Kufa after having controlled the city for a day, following the example of Abu Sufyan's daughter Juwayriyya at the battle of Yarmuk. Not only did she lead Muslim men in prayer, she recited the two longest chapters in the Quran during that prayer.[6]

    Modern Islamic scholars such as Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, based on the Umm Waraqah hadith mentioned above, consider it permissible for a knowledgeable woman to lead mixed prayers within her own household, as he considers this to largely obviate the danger of the men being aroused by her presence.

    This view, however, is rejected by the vast majority of Fiqh jurisprudence specialists and religious experts. However, a few fatwas exist permitting women to lead a mixed gender congregation regardless of familial relationship for instance one by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, who recommends that the placement of the imam be made with greater modesty in mind for a female imam. Some traditional scholars caution against Yusuf Qaradawi's methodology and regard him as excessively lenient as he does not limit himself to the positions of the four Sunni schools of fiqh.

    Wellknown early jurists like Al-Muthani (d. 878), student of Shafii and contributor to the establishment of the Shafii juristic school, Ibn Thawr (d. 854) mufti of Iraq, and At-Tabari (d. 922) historian, exegete and founder of a now defunct juristic school all allowed women to unconditionally lead men in prayer. In addition, the Hanbalis permitted that a woman leads men in taraweeh prayers.[7]

    Thus, although the practice of women leading prayer is not commonly accepted, one cannot simply conclude that it is prohibited without first conducting honest and unbiased research.

    [edit] Women-only congregations
    Schools differ on whether a woman may be imam (leader) of a Jama'ah (congregational) prayer if the congregation consists of women alone: three of the four Sunni madhhabs—Shafi'is, Hanafis, and Hanbalis—allow this [although Hanafis consider it to be makrooh (disliked act)], while Malikis do not. In such a case, the woman stands among the congregation in the front row, instead of alone in front of the congregation. In 2000, six marjas among Iran's Shia leadership declared that they too allowed women to lead a woman-only congregation, reversing a previous ban in that country.[8]

    The hadith of Umm Waraqa has given rise to debates among Islamic leaders, whether it is acceptable or not for women to lead prayers, and some cite it as proof to argue that women can lead congregational prayer.

    Umm Waraqa bint Abdallah, an Ansari woman, who was well versed in the Quran, was instructed by Prophet Muhammad to lead ahl dariha (ahl dariha means the people of her home where dar means home and can refer to one’s residence, neighborhood, or village), which consisted of both men and women, in prayer. The "people of Umm Waraqa’s home" were so numerous that Prophet Muhammad appointed a muezzin for her. Umm Waraqa was one of the few to hand down the Quran before it was recorded in writing.[9]

    Use of the word "Dar" in the hadith, when speaking of where the prayer was held has resulted in different interpretations of the hadith. A general interpretation of the word is "area", constituting the community around where Umm Waraqa lived. This idea is not accepted by many scholars. The other interpretation of "Dar" means household, saying prayers were led in Umm Waraqa’s home. Who was she leading? Imam Zaid presents three possibilities; she was leading the two servants of her household and the mu'ahdhin, the women of her surrounding “area”, and only the women of her household. All of these possibilities are based on great assumption, but the most accepted is that Umm Waraqa was leading the women of her household. Giving a suggestive response that women are allowed to lead prayers of all women congregations. Furthermore Aisha and Umm Salama led women in prayer as well. Zaid insists that if the Prophet was to establish a mosque in the household of a man, which was not uncommon, Itban b. Malik, then also there would be a women only congregations established by the Prophet.[1]

    An unusual feature of Islam in China is the existence of nüsi, mosques solely for women. The imams and all the congregants are women and men are not allowed into the mosques. A handful of women have been trained as imams in order to serve these mosques.[10] However, in at least some communities where these mosques operated, women were not allowed in the men's mosques. In recent years, efforts have been made to establish similar mosques in India and Iran.[11]

    [edit] China
    China is probably the first country in the world where women acted as imams and where there were woman-only mosques. Such history dates back to over a hundred years ago. This practice continues today and is a unique feature of Islam in China. [12]

    [edit] South Africa
    This section does not cite any references or sources.
    Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2006)

    One of the earliest reported cases of a woman imam in the West occurred in 1995 in Johannesburg, South Africa. For about two years, a congregation met every Friday for the Jum'ah prayer and every night in Ramadan for the special tarāwīh prayer in a building owned by the Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa (MYM). The khutbah for the Jumu'ah was delivered by either a male or female khatib and the imams for the prayer also included men and women. One of the prime movers behind this congregation was well-known South African Muslim women's rights activist Shamima Shaikh (1960–1998).

    A year earlier, Amina Wadud (see below) became the first woman in South Africa to deliver the jum'ah khutbah, at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town. Farid Esack discusses this event in his 1997 book Qur'an, Liberation, and Pluralism. Following that event, both the Claremont Main Road Mosque and Masjidul Islam, in Johannesburg, often have had women speakers for Jum'ah.

    In January 1998, as per her wishes, one of the four funeral prayers for Ms. Shaikh was led by a woman friend.

    In 2003, a new venue for Eid prayer was established in Durban by a group of individuals and was later taken on by an organisation called Taking Islam to the People (TIP). The venue is designed to allow entire families to attend the Eid prayer together in a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. Located at Durban's North Beach, the Eid prayer is an open-air event performed against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. Each event includes two khutbahs, one each by a male and a female.

    To date eleven women have offered khutbah's at this venue. Amongst them are Dr. Lubna Nadvi, Zaytun Suleyman, Fatima Seedat, Fatima Hendricks, Dr Mariam Seedat and Hajra Hussein.

    [edit] Canada
    2008–present: The Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto includes women on their Board of Khatibs. The women regularly give full length sermons prior to the second adhan. A male Khatib delivers the Arabic portion in brief after the second call. Also, women and men trade off giving the call to prayer each week at the Noor.

    Academic Laury Silvers and Lawyer and Activist El-Farouk Khaki founded the El-Tawhid Juma Circle in Downtown Toronto. The circle is gender-equal, homosexual-friendly, and religiously non-discriminatory. All Muslims are welcome to lead the prayer and give the sermon.[13][14][15]

    2004: 20-year-old Maryam Mirza, delivered the second half of the Eid al-Fitr khutbah at the Etobicoke mosque in Toronto, Canada, run by the United Muslim Association.[16]

    2004: Yasmin Shadeer led the night 'Isha prayer with her congregants including men and women.[17] This is the first recorded occasion in contemporary times where a woman led a congregation in prayer in a mosque. The United Muslim Association is determined to continue this practice of having women delivering the khutbah and leading the salah.

    In April 2005, Raheel Raza led Toronto's first woman-led mixed-gender Friday service, delivering the khutbah and leading the prayers of the mixed-gender congregation organized by the Muslim Canadian Congress to celebrate Earth Day in the backyard of the downtown Toronto home of activist Tarek Fatah.[18]

    In 2008, Pamela Taylor, a Muslim convert since 1986, gave the Friday khutbah and led the mixed-gender prayers in Toronto at the UMA mosque at the invitation of the Muslim Canadian Congress on Canada Day.[19]

    The former Mufti of Marseille, Soheib Bencheikh, requested that either Raheel Raza[20] or Pamela Taylor lead him in prayer during a visit to Canada in February 2006. The prayers were sponsored by the Muslim Canadian Congress and held in a private venue with a mixed gender congregation.[21]

    [edit] Bahrain
    2004: In an aborted attempt of a woman delivering a Jum'ah khutbah, Bahraini police arrested a 40-year old woman in 2004 for trying to deliver the khutbah at one of the biggest mosques in the island state. The incident took place on the last Friday of Ramadan. The would-be khatib was wearing full male dress with an artificial beard and moustache. The mosque was packed with 7000 worshippers. When sat on the minbar just before she was to deliver the khutbah, some worshippers realised that the new imam was a woman in disguise. They and the mosque's imam, Sheikh Adnan Al-Qattan, handed her over to the police.[22]

    [edit] USA
    The Wadud Prayer: (March 18, 2005) NOTE The Wadud prayer is not the first woman-led mixed-gender congregational prayer (see the above noted events), but the first to gain national and international attention.

    In early 2005, it was announced that Amina Wadud, an African American Muslim, and a professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, would lead a congregation in Friday salat prayer in New York, sponsored by the Muslim Women's Freedom Tour,[23] under the leadership of Asra Nomani, by the website "Muslim WakeUp!," and by members of the Progressive Muslim Union.

    Supporters of the event insisted that, to the contrary, it was a long overdue change; Khaled Abou El-Fadl, professor of Islamic Studies at UCLA, California said; "What the fundamentalists are worried about is that there's going to be a ripple effect not just in the U.S. but all over the Muslim world. The women who are learned and frustrated that they cannot be the imam are going to see that someone got the guts to break ranks and do it."[24]

    Three mosques refused the group; the event was then scheduled to be held at an art gallery in the SoHo district of Manhattan, but this site was changed after a bomb threat. The final site selected for the service was the Synod House owned by and adjoining the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

    On Friday March 18, Amina Wadud acted as imam for a congregation of about 60 women and 40 men seated together, without the traditional separate male and female sections. The call to prayer was given by another woman, Suheyla El-Attar. Wadud stated,

    I don't want to change Muslim mosques. I want to encourage the hearts of Muslims, both in their public, private and ritual affairs, to believe they are one and equal.
    A small number of protestors gathered outside.

    Afterwards, the general ˤUlamā' response from across the world has been similar to that of the widely watched Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who responded that, while a woman could lead other women and even possibly her family in salat, she could not lead a mixed group including non-mahram males:

    The currently extant juristic schools agree that it is not permissible for women to lead men in the obligatory Prayer, though some scholars voice the opinion that the woman who is well-versed in the Qur'ān may lead the members of her family, including men, in Prayer on the basis that there is no room for stirring instincts in this case.
    The Progressive Muslim Union followed the Wadud prayer with a Woman-led Prayer initiative. The initiative sought to bring together the varied Progressive opinions on the prayer as well as engage more conservative Muslims by encouraging further debate, highlighting legal opinions in support of the prayer (as well as giving space to the overwhelming negative opinions), facilitating Muslims who would like to organize future prayers, and documenting those events as they heard of them. Progressives and others sympathetic to bringing about a transformation of gender privilege in Islam continue to work for the establishment of woman-led prayer.

    Many perceived the Wadud prayer to be an inevitable reaction to the deplorable situation of women in mosques in North America. The attention garnered by the event forced more conservative Muslim organizations to publicly acknowledge the situation and call for changes. ISNA responded with guidelines for Women-Friendly Mosques.[25] Scholars such as Imam Zaid Shakir and Dr. Louay M. Safi have been calling attention to and working to change mosque conditions for years. For example, see Imam Zaid's essay "Flight from the Masjid", and Safi's Women and the Masjid between Two Extremes and Towards Women Friendly Mosques. Progressives and others would argue, though, that mosque conditions are merely a symptom of a widespread sense of male entitlement following centuries of male privilege in the intellectual and political power centers of Islam.

    Women continue to lead prayers in the United States in their communities with or without media coverage: Nakia Jackson led Eid prayers in 2006 and 2007 with Laury Silvers giving the khutba. In May 2007, as a guest of the Muslim Youth Movement, Silvers gave the Friday sermon at the Claremont Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa and an associated mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    [edit] Spain
    Spanish Muslims have been some of the greatest supporters of the woman-led prayer movement in Islam. Spanish Muslim religious scholar Abdennur Prado responded immediately to the Wadud prayer with a supportive legal opinion. In October 2005 Wadud led a mixed gender congregational prayer in Barcelona.[26]

    [edit] United Kingdom
    On 17 October 2008, Amina Wadud became the first woman to lead a mixed-gender prayer in the United Kingdom, when she performed the Friday prayer at Oxford's Wolfson College.[27
  4. abdurratln

    abdurratln Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 27, 2007
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    Imama Amina Wadud

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
    This article needs additional citations for verification.
    Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2008)

    Amina WadudAmina Wadud (born September 25, 1952) is an Islamic feminist, imam, and scholar with a progressive, feminist focus on Qur'an exegesis.

    Early life
    Wadud was born as Mary Teasley in Bethesda, Maryland. Her father was a Methodist minister and her mother descended from Muslim slaves of Arab, Berber and African ancestry dating back to the 8th Century. She received her B.S, from The University of Pennsylvania, between 1970 and 1975. In 1972 she pronounced the shahadah and accepted Islam, not knowing of her maternal ancestry and by 1974 her name was officially changed to Amina Wadud to reflect her chosen religious affiliation. She received her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies and her Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Michigan in 1988. During graduate school, she studied advanced Arabic in Egypt at the American University in Cairo, continued with Qur'anic studies and tafsir at Cairo University, Egypt, and took a course in Philosophy at Al-Azhar University.

    [edit] Work
    She was contracted for a period of 3 years as Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia in the field of Quranic Studies in Malaysia, between 1989 and 1992, where she published her dissertation Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective, a book, which is banned in the UAE. However, the book, continues to be used by Sisters of Islam in Malaysia as a basic text for activists and academics alike.[1] During the same period that she also co-founded the NGO Sisters-In-Islam.[2]

    Wadud's research specialities include gender and Qur'anic studies. After publishing her first book, she spoke at universities, grass roots level, government and non-government forums at various gatherings throughout the United States, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. In 1992 Wadud accepted a position as Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University, from where she retired as of 2008.

    In 2007 she received the Danish Democracy Prize, and in 2008 she gave the keynote address "Islam, Justice, and Gender" at the international conference Understanding Conflicts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, held at Aarhus University, Denmark.

    From 2008–present, she is a visiting professor at the Center for Religious and Cross Cultural Studies at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

    In February 2009, she was a speaker at Musawah - Equality and Justice in the Family conference, where she presented a paper titled “Islam Beyond Patriarchy Through Gender Inclusive Qur’anic Analysis”.[3]

    Wadud was also a speaker at The Regional Conference on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Muslim Societies, hosted by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the International Centre for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP) in Jakarta, Indonesia, in March 2009.[4]

    Wadud was also spoke at a workshop "Sharia and Human Rights" University of Bergen, Norway in late November 2009.[5]

    She is scheduled to speak an upcoming public lecture titled "Muslim Women and Gender Justice: Methods, Motivation and Means" Faculty of Arts, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne, Australia on 18 February 2010.[6]

    Friday prayer
    Wadud was the subject of controversy, debate and Muslim juristic discourse after leading a Friday prayer (salat) of over 100 male and female Muslims sponsored by the Progressive Muslim Union and held in the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on March 18, 2005, breaking with the tradition of having only male imams (prayer leaders). Three mosques had refused to host the service and the Sundaram Tagore Gallery withdrew its acceptance of the event after a bomb threat.[7] Becoming the target of death threats, the police and VCU, fearing for her security and reacting to concerns from parents about their children's safety, asked Wadud to conduct her classes from home through a video link.[8] (The event was not the first time in the history of Islam that a woman had led the Friday prayer. See Women as imams for a discussion of the issue.)

    Before in August 1994, Wadud also delivered a Friday khutbah (sermon) on "Islam as Engaged Surrender" at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa.[9] At the time, this was largely unheard of in the Muslim world. As a result, there were attempts in Virginia by some Muslims to have her dismissed from her position at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    There has been objection and support from Muslims around the world to Wadud's imamate. In spite of the criticism, Wadud has continued her speaking engagements, and has continued to lead mixed-gender Friday prayer services. On October 28, 2005, following her talk at the International Congress on Islamic Feminism in Barcelona, Spain, she was invited to lead a congregation of about thirty people.[10] Following an invitation by The Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, she also led a mixed-gender prayer in The U.K., even though Muslims planning to attend were threatened with being disowned by conservative imams through personal visits from mosques.[11]

    Scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi berated her on Al-Jazeera, calling her action unislamic and heretical; while Eygptian scholar Gamal al-Banna argued that her actions were supported by Islamic sources, and were, therefore, orthodox.[12] Other supporters include Leila Ahmed, Islamic Scholar, who thought it was a good thing as it brought attention to the issue of women in Islam, and Ebrahim E.I. Moosa, an associate professor of Islamic studies at Duke University, who called the prayer a "wonderful move".[13]

    [edit] Personal life
    Amina Wadud is a divorced mother of five children and three grandchildren.[14]

    [edit] Media appearances
    She was interviewed on WNYC radio on July 14, 2006, to discuss her book Inside the Gender Jihad. She responded to questions and comments about other activities including women in gender-mixed Friday prayer service.[15]

    In 2007, Wadud was the subject of a documentary by Iranian-Dutch filmmaker, Elli Safari, called "The Noble Struggle of Amina Wadud".[16]

    [edit] Books
    Her first book, titled "Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective", published in March 1999, contributes a gender-inclusive reading to one of the most fundamental disciplines in Islamic thought, Qu'ranic exegesis.

    Her latest book, "Inside the Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam", was published in 2006. It not only continues her Qur'anic analysis but also provides extensive details about her experiences as a Muslim, wife, mother, sister, scholar, and activist.
  5. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jul 9, 2003
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    new jersey
    +1,063 / -1

    "Hey Sekhemu. Why don't you get off your SORRY behind"

    I'm gonna give you a Chance to apologize, like a man...before I report you
  6. abdurratln

    abdurratln Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 27, 2007
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    Do you always have to resort to threats whenever you cannot win an argument? The fact is, had you used your head, this discussion would have never gone in this direction. It is yiou who owe me an apology. Your type come in here and spread outrageous lies about issues that you obviously know nothing about. And, when someone calls you on it, you come back with some non-sense or another. You act like a spoiled brat all the time.

    Now report me.
  7. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jul 9, 2003
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    new jersey
    +1,063 / -1
    If you insist! :)
  8. ru2religious

    ru2religious Well-Known Member MEMBER

    United States
    Jun 10, 2008
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    Long article -

    How many of these woman are married to Muslim men? How many of them are Orthodox Muslims married to Orthodox Muslim men? The word Feminist Imam does not go very well in the Orthodox Muslim communities and no self-respecting Orthodox Muslim man such as yourself would accept that correct? lol!!!

    Your grabbing articles off of Wikipedia and you know that you don't even accept feminist Muslims. You are simply trying to win a argument because you don't debate and you will use material that you don't even agree with to accomplish just one 1 win if you could which you still haven't; terrible - just terrible!!!


  9. abdurratln

    abdurratln Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 27, 2007
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    The Forgotten Queens of Islam

    The following book was written by a Muslimah historian:

    The Forgotten Queens of Islam

    Fatima Mernissi
    Translated by Mary Jo Lakeland

    $22.50 Paper
    ISBN: 0-8166-2439-9
    ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-2439-3

    The essential work about women in Islamic history.

    When Benazir Bhutto became prime minister of Pakistan in 1988, many claimed that it was a blasphemous assault on Islamic tradition since no Muslim state, critics alleged, had ever been governed by a woman. But Fatima Mernissi examined fifteen centuries of Islamic history and discovered that the critics were wrong. Recovering the stories of fifteen Islamic queens, this remarkable exploration tells how they ascended the throne, how they governed and exercised their power, and how their forgotten reigns influence the ways in which politics is practiced in Islam today.

    "Fatima Mernissi is regarded by many as the greatest living Koranic scholar. In her inspiring book, she gives a glimpse of how one might escape a narrow dogma of a political creed." —Vanity Fair

    "Mernissi's writing is intellectually relevant both to her own people and to others because of her thorough explanations and fascinating stories about each queen. An unusual piece of detective work. Reasoned, informative, respectful, and groundbreaking." —Belles Lettres

    “If the battle for the soul of Islam ends up being won by the moderates, the victory will in no small measure have been secured by women. The noted Moroccan scholar Fatima Mernissi has been challenging the fundamentalist version of Islam for decades.” —First Things

    "In The Forgotten Queens of Islam, a short and very readable volume, Fatima Mernissi, perhaps the best known writer on woman and Islam, establishes a historical foundation for women's political independence. A very clear and useful discussion, providing a concise but thoroughly accessible hermeneutics of Arabic and Koranic terminology. The material presented is clear and interesting, and it should enlighten [those] who are inclined to make broad and unqualified generalizations about the role of women in Islamic political history. A valuable introduction to Mernissi's perspective." —Journal of World History

    "Mernissi's breathtaking investigation challenges both contemporary fundamentalist Islamic opposition to women in the public sphere and one-dimensional Western representations of Muslim women as completely lacking in agency. Essential not only for those interested in the history of Islam, but also for all those committed to contextualizing women's history and to multiculturalizing feminist discourse." —Ella Shohat

    "A brilliant achievement of feminist historical archaeology. With wit and apparent ease, Mernissi leads us through the intricacies of the language, history, and culture of Islam, right up to the tensions between Islamic tradition and modern democracy in contemporary Islamic states." —Susanne Kappeler

    Fatima Mernissi teaches sociology at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. She is the author of numerous books, including Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society (1987).

    238 pages | 1997


    Introduction: Was Benazir Bhutto the First?

    Part I: Queens and Courtesans

    How Does One Say "Queen" in Islam?
    The Caliph and the Queen
    The jawari or Revolution in the Harem
    Khayzuran: Courtesan or Head of State?
    Part II: Sovereignty in Islam

    The Criteria of Sovereignty in Islam
    Fifteen Queens
    Part III: The Arab Queens

    The Shi'ite Dynasty of Yemen
    The Little Queens of Sheba
    The Lady of Cairo
    Conclusion: The Medina Democracy
  10. abdurratln

    abdurratln Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 27, 2007
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    The Status of Women in Islam from a Muslim Source

    The Status of Women in Islam
    Jamal A. Badawi provides a brief and authentic exposition of the teachings of Islam regarding women.




    Women in Ancient Civilization
    1. The Spiritual Aspect
    2. The Social Aspect
    (a) As a Child and Adolescent
    (b) As a Wife
    (c) As a Mother
    3. The Economic Aspect
    4. The political Aspect




    Family, society and ultimately the whole of mankind is treated by Islam on an ethical basis. Differentiation in sex is neither a credit nor a drawback for the sexes. Therefore, when we talk about status of woman in Islam it should not lead us to think that Islam has no specific guidelines, limitations, responsibilities and obligations for men. What makes one valuable and respectable in the eyes of Allah, the Creator of mankind and the universe, is neither one's prosperity, position, intelligence, physical strength nor beauty, but only one's Allah-consciousness and awareness (taqwa). However, since in the Western culture and in cultures influenced by it, there exists a disparity between men and women there is more need for stating Islam's position on important issues in a clear way.

    Dr. Jamal Badawi's essay, The Status of Women in Islam, was originally published in our quarterly journal, Al-lttihad, Vol. 8, No. 2, Sha'ban 1391/Sept 1971. Since then it has been one of our most-demanded publications. We thank Br. Jamal for permitting us to reprint his essay. We hope it will clarify many of the misconceptions.

    Anis Ahmad,
    Director Dept. of Education and Training
    MSA of U.S. and Canada
    P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168 USA

    Jumada al Thani 1400 April 1980



    The status of women in society is neither a new issue nor is it a fully settled one.

    The position of Islam on this issue has been among the subjects presented to the Western reader with the least objectivity.

    This paper is intended to provide a brief and authentic exposition of what Islam stands for in this regard. The teachings of Islam are based essentially on the Qur'an (God's revelation) and Hadeeth (elaboration by Prophet Muhammad).

    The Qur'an and the Hadeeth, properly and unbiasedly understood, provide the basic source of authentication for any position or view which is attributed to Islam.

    The paper starts with a brief survey of the status of women in the pre-Islamic era. It then focuses on these major questions: What is the position of Islam regarding the status of woman in society? How similar or different is that position from "the spirit of the time," which was dominant when Islam was revealed? How would this compare with the "rights" which were finally gained by woman in recent decades?



    One major objective of this paper is to provide a fair evaluation of what Islam contributed (or failed to contribute) toward the restoration of woman's dignity and rights. In order to achieve this objective, it may be useful to review briefly how women were treated in general in previous civilizations and religions, especially those which preceded Islam (Pre-610 C.E.). Part of the information provided here, however, describes the status of woman as late as the nineteenth century, more than twelve centuries after Islam.

    Women in Ancient Civilization

    Describing the status of the Indian woman, Encyclopedia Britannica states:

    In India, subjection was a cardinal principle. Day and night must women be held by their protectors in a state of dependence says Manu. The rule of inheritance was agnatic, that is descent traced through males to the exclusion of females.

    In Hindu scriptures, the description of a good wife is as follows: "a woman whose mind, speech and body are kept in subjection, acquires high renown in this world, and, in the next, the same abode with her husband."

    In Athens, women were not better off than either the Indian or the Roman women.

    "Athenian women were always minors, subject to some male - to their father, to their brother, or to some of their male kin.

    Her consent in marriage was not generally thought to be necessary and "she was obliged to submit to the wishes of her parents, and receive from them her husband and her lord, even though he were stranger to her."

    A Roman wife was described by an historian as: "a babe, a minor, a ward, a person incapable of doing or acting anything according to her own individual taste, a person continually under the tutelage and guardianship of her husband."

    In the Encyclopedia Britannica, we find a summary of the legal status of women in the Roman civilization:

    In Roman Law a woman was even in historic times completely dependent. If married she and her property passed into the power of her husband . . . the wife was the purchased property of her husband, and like a slave acquired only for his benefit. A woman could not exercise any civil or public office . could not be a witness, surety, tutor, or curator; she could not adopt or be adopted, or make will or contract. Among the Scandinavian races women were:

    under perpetual tutelage, whether married or unmarried. As late as the Code of Christian V, at the end of the 17th Century, it was enacted that if a woman married without the consent of her tutor he might have, if he wished, administration and usufruct of her goods during her life.

    According to the English Common Law:

    ...all real property which a wife held at the time of a marriage became a possession of her husband. He was entitled to the rent from the land and to any profit which might be made from operating the estate during the joint life of the spouses. As time passed, the English courts devised means to forbid a husband's transferring real property without the consent of his wife, but he still retained the right to manage it and to receive the money which it produced. As to a wife's personal property, the husband's power was complete. He had the right to spend it as he saw fit.

    Only by the late nineteenth Century did the situation start to improve. "By a series of acts starting with the Married women's Property Act in 1870, amended in 1882 and 1887, married women achieved the right to own property and to enter contracts on a par with spinsters, widows, and divorcees." As late as the Nineteenth Century an authority in ancient law, Sir Henry Maine, wrote: "No society which preserves any tincture of Christian institutions is likely to restore to married women the personal liberty conferred on them by the Middle Roman Law."

    In his essay The Subjection of Women, John Stuart Mill wrote:

    We are continually told that civilization and Christianity have restored to the woman her just rights. Meanwhile the wife is the actual bondservant of her husband; no less so, as far as the legal obligation goes, than slaves commonly so called.

    Before moving on to the Qur'anic decrees concerning the status of woman, a few Biblical decrees may shed more light on the subject, thus providing a better basis for an impartial evaluation. In the Mosaic Law, the wife was betrothed. Explaining this concept, the Encyclopedia Biblica states: "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." From the legal point of view, the consent of the girl was not necessary for the validation of her marriage. "The girl's consent is unnecessary and the need for it is nowhere suggested in the Law."

    As to the right of divorce, we read in the Encyclopedia Biblica: "The woman being man's property, his right to divorce her follows as a matter of course." The right to divorce was held only by man. "In the Mosaic Law divorce was a privilege of the husband only .... "

    The position of the Christian Church until recent centuries seems to have been influenced by both the Mosaic Law and by the streams of thought that were dominant in its contemporary cultures. In their book, Marriage East and West, David and Vera Mace wrote:

    Let no one suppose, either, that our Christian heritage is free of such slighting judgments. It would be hard to find anywhere a collection of more degrading references to the female sex than the early Church Fathers provide. Lecky, the famous historian, speaks of (these fierce incentives which form so conspicuous and so grotesque a portion of the writing of the Fathers . . . woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman. She should live in continual penance on account of the curses she has brought upon the world. She should be ashamed of her dress, for it is the memorial of her fall. She should be especially ashamed of her beauty, for it is the most potent instrument of the devil). One of the most scathing of these attacks on woman is that of Tertullian: Do you 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 that forbidden tree; you are the first deserters of the divine law; you are she who persuades him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert - that is death - even the Sop of God had to die). Not only did the church affirm the inferior status of woman, it deprived her of legal rights she had previously enjoyed.



    In the midst of the darkness that engulfed the world, the divine revelation echoed in the wide desert of Arabia with a fresh, noble, and universal message to humanity: "O Mankind, keep your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate (of same kind) and from them twain has spread a multitude of men and women" (Qur'an 4: 1).

    A scholar who pondered about this verse states: "It is believed that there is no text, old or new, that deals with the humanity of the woman from all aspects with such amazing brevity, eloquence, depth, and originality as this divine decree."

    Stressing this noble and natural conception, them Qur'an states:

    He (God) it is who did create you from a single soul and therefrom did create his mate, that he might dwell with her (in love)...(Qur'an 7:189)

    The Creator of heavens and earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves ...Qur'an 42:1 1

    And Allah has given you mates of your own nature, and has given you from your mates, children and grandchildren, and has made provision of good things for you. Is it then in vanity that they believe and in the grace of God that they disbelieve? Qur'an 16:72

    The rest of this paper outlines the position of Islam regarding the status of woman in society from its various aspects - spiritually, socially, economically and politically.

    1. The Spiritual Aspect

    The Qur'an provides clear-cut evidence that woman iscompletely equated with man in the sight of God interms of her rights and responsibilities. The Qur'an states:

    "Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds" (Qur'an 74:38). It also states:

    ...So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another ...(Qur'an 3: 195).

    Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the their actions. (Qur'an 16:97, see also 4:124).

    Woman according to the Qur'an is not blamed for Adam's first mistake. Both were jointly wrong in their disobedience to God, both repented, and both were forgiven. (Qur'an 2:36, 7:20 - 24). In one verse in fact (20:121), Adam specifically, was blamed.

    In terms of religious obligations, such as the Daily Prayers, Fasting, Poor-due, and Pilgrimage, woman is no different from man. In some cases indeed, woman has certain advantages over man. For example, the woman is exempted from the daily prayers and from fasting during her menstrual periods and forty days after childbirth. She is also exempted from fasting during her pregnancy and when she is nursing her baby if there is any threat to her health or her baby's. If the missed fasting is obligatory (during the month of Ramadan), she can make up for the missed days whenever she can. She does not have to make up for the prayers missed for any of the above reasons. Although women can and did go into the mosque during the days of the prophet and thereafter attendance et the Friday congregational prayers is optional for them while it is mandatory for men (on Friday).

    This is clearly a tender touch of the Islamic teachings for they are considerate of the fact that a woman may be nursing her baby or caring for him, and thus may be unable to go out to the mosque at the time of the prayers. They also take into account the physiological and psychological changes associated with her natural female functions.

    2. The Social Aspect

    a) As a child and an adolescent

    Despite the social acceptance of female infanticide among some Arabian tribes, the Qur'an forbade this custom, and considered it a crime like any other murder.

    "And when the female (infant) buried alive - is questioned, for what crime she was killed." (Qur'an 81:8-9).

    Criticizing the attitudes of such parents who reject their female children, the Qur'an states:

    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 (sufferance) and contempt, or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on? (Qur'an 16: 58-59).

    Far from saving the girl's life so that she may later suffer injustice and inequality, Islam requires kind and just treatment for her. Among the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (P.) in this regard are the following:

    Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her, God will enter him into Paradise. (Ibn Hanbal, No. 1957).

    Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he and I will come in the day of judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together).

    A similar Hadeeth deals in like manner with one who supports two sisters. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 2104).

    The right of females to seek knowledge is not different from that of males. Prophet Muhammad (P.) said:

    "Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim". (AlBayhaqi). Muslim as used here including both males and females.

    b) As a wife:

    The Qur'an clearly indicates that marriage is sharing between the two halves of the society, and that its objectives, beside perpetuating human life, are emotional well-being and spiritual harmony. Its bases are love and mercy.

    Among the most impressive verses in the Qur'an about marriage is the following.

    "And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect." (Qur'an 30:2 1).

    According to Islamic Law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent.

    Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad (P.), and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice . . . (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it). (Ibn Hanbal No. 2469). In another version, the girl said: "Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right (to force a husband on them)" (Ibn Maja, No. 1873).

    Besides all other provisions for her protection at the time of marriage, it was specifically decreed that woman has the full right to her Mahr, a marriage gift, which is presented to her by her husband and is included in the nuptial contract, and that such ownership does not transfer to her father or husband. The concept of Mahr in Islam is neither an actual or symbolic price for the woman, as was the case in certain cultures, but rather it is a gift symbolizing love and affection.

    The rules for married life in Islam are clear and in harmony with upright human nature. In consideration of the physiological and psychological make-up of man and woman, both have equal rights and claims on one another, except for one responsibility, that of leadership. This is a matter which is natural in any collective life and which is consistent with the nature of man.

    The Qur'an thus states:

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

    Such degree is Quiwama (maintenance and protection). This refers to that natural difference between the sexes which entitles the weaker sex to protection. It implies no superiority or advantage before the law. Yet, man's role of leadership in relation to his family does not mean the husband's dictatorship over his wife. Islam emphasizes the importance of taking counsel and mutual agreement in family decisions. The Qur'an gives us an example:

    "...If they (husband wife) desire to wean the child by mutual consent and (after) consultation, there is no blame on them..." (Qur'an 2: 233).

    Over and above her basic rights as a wife comes the right which is emphasized by the Qur'an and is strongly recommended by the Prophet (P); kind treatment and companionship.

    The Qur'an states:

    "...But consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein God has placed much good." (Qur'an 4: l9).

    Prophet Muhammad. (P) said:

    The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family.

    The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 7396)

    Behold, many women came to Muhammad's wives complaining against their husbands (because they beat them) - - those (husbands) are not the best of you.

    As the woman's right to decide about her marriage is recognized, so also her right to seek an end for an unsuccessful marriage is recognized. To provide for the stability of the family, however, and in order to protect it from hasty decisions under temporary emotional stress, certain steps and waiting periods should be observed by men and women seeking divorce. Considering the relatively more emotional nature of women, a good reason for asking for divorce should be brought before the judge. Like the man, however, the woman can divorce her husband with out resorting to the court, if the nuptial contract allows that.

    More specifically, some aspects of Islamic Law concerning marriage and divorce are interesting and are worthy of separate treatment.

    When the continuation of the marriage relationship is impossible for any reason, men are still taught to seek a gracious end for it.

    The Qur'an states about such cases:

    When you divorce women, and they reach their prescribed term, then retain them in kindness and retain them not for injury so that you transgress (the limits). (Qur'an 2:231). (See also Qur'an 2:229 and 33:49).

    c) As a mother:

    Islam considered kindness to parents next to the worship of God.

    "And we have enjoined upon man (to be good) to his parents: His mother bears him in weakness upon weakness..." (Qur'an 31:14) (See also Qur'an 46:15, 29:8).

    Moreover, the Qur'an has a special recommendation for the good treatment of mothers:

    "Your Lord has decreed that you worship none save Him, and that you be kind to your parents. . ." (Qur'an 17:23).

    A man came to Prophet Muhammad (P) asking:

    O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet (P) said, Your mother. The man said then who else: The Prophet (P) said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? Only then did the Prophet (P) say, Your father. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

    A famous saying of The Prophet is "Paradise is at the feet of mothers." (In Al'Nisa'I, Ibn Majah, Ahmad).

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

    3. The Economic Aspect

    Islam decreed a right of which woman was deprived both before Islam and after it (even as late as this century), the right of independent ownership. According to Islamic Law, woman's right to her money, real estate, or other properties is fully acknowledged. This right undergoes no change whether she is single or married. She retains her full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties. It is nowhere suggested in the Law that a woman is a minor simply because she is a female. It is also noteworthy that such right applies to her properties before marriage as well as to whatever she acquires thereafter.

    With regard to the woman's right to seek employment it should be stated first that Islam regards her role in society as a mother and a wife as the most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor baby-sitters can possibly take the mother's place as the educator of an upright, complex free, and carefully-reared children. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as "idleness".

    However, there is no decree in Islam which forbids woman from seeking employment whenever there is a necessity for it, especially in positions which fit her nature and in which society needs her most. Examples of these professions are nursing, teaching (especially for children), and medicine. Moreover, there is no restriction on benefiting from woman's exceptional talent in any field. Even for the position of a judge, where there may be a tendency to doubt the woman's fitness for the post due to her more emotional nature, we find early Muslim scholars such as Abu-Hanifa and Al-Tabary holding there is nothing wrong with it. In addition, Islam restored to woman the right of inheritance, after she herself was an object of inheritance in some cultures. Her share is completely hers and no one can make any claim on it, including her father and her husband.

    "Unto men (of the family) belongs a share of that which Parents and near kindred leave, and unto women a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, whether it be a little or much - a determinate share." ((Qur'an 4:7).

    Her share in most cases is one-half the man's share, with no implication that she is worth half a man! It would seem grossly inconsistent after the overwhelming evidence of woman's equitable treatment in Islam, which was discussed in the preceding pages, to make such an inference. This variation in inheritance rights is only consistent with the variations in financial responsibilities of man and woman according to the Islamic Law. Man in Islam is fully responsible for the maintenance of his wife, his children, and in some cases of his needy relatives, especially the females. This responsibility is neither waived nor reduced because of his wife's wealth or because of her access to any personal income gained from work, rent, profit, or any other legal means.

    Woman, on the other hand, is far more secure financially and is far less burdened with any claims on her possessions. Her possessions before marriage do not transfer to her husband and she even keeps her maiden name. She has no obligation to spend on her family out of such properties or out of her income after marriage. She is entitled to the "Mahr" which she takes from her husband at the time of marriage. If she is divorced, she may get an alimony from her ex-husband.

    An examination of the inheritance law within the overall framework of the Islamic Law reveals not only justice but also an abundance of compassion for woman.

    4. The Political Aspect

    Any fair investigation of the teachings of Islam o~ into the history of the Islamic civilization will surely find a clear evidence of woman's equality with man in what we call today "political rights".

    This includes the right of election as well as the nomination to political offices. It also includes woman's right to participate in public affairs. Both in the Qur'an and in Islamic history we find examples of women who participated in serious discussions and argued even with the Prophet (P) himself, (see Qur'an 58: 14 and 60: 10-12).

    During the Caliphate of Omar Ibn al-Khattab, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point, and caused him to declare in the presence of people: "A woman is right and Omar is wrong."

    Although not mentioned in the Qur'an, one Hadeeth of the Prophet is interpreted to make woman ineligible for the position of head of state. The Hadeeth referred to is roughly translated: "A people will not prosper if they let a woman be their leader." This limitation, however, has nothing to do with the dignity of woman or with her rights. It is rather, related to the natural differences in the biological and psychological make-up of men and women.

    According to Islam, the head of the state is no mere figurehead. He leads people in the prayers, especially on Fridays and festivities; he is continuously engaged in the process of decision-making pertaining to the security and well-being of his people. This demanding position, or any similar one, such as the Commander of the Army, is generally inconsistent with the physiological and psychological make-up of woman in general. It is a medical fact that during their monthly periods and during their pregnancies, women undergo various physiological and psychological changes. Such changes may occur during an emergency situation, thus affecting her decision, without considering the excessive strain which is produced. Moreover, some decisions require a maximum of rationality and a minimum of emotionality - a requirement which does not coincide with the instinctive nature of women.

    Even in modern times, and in the most developed countries, it is rare to find a woman in the position of a head of state acting as more than a figurehead, a woman commander of the armed services, or even a proportionate number of women representatives in parliaments, or similar bodies. One can not possibly ascribe this to backwardness of various nations or to any constitutional limitation on woman's right to be in such a position as a head of state or as a member of the parliament. It is more logical to explain the present situation in terms of the natural and indisputable differences between man and woman, a difference which does not imply any "supremacy" of one over the other. The difference implies rather the "complementary" roles of both the sexes in life.



    The first part of this paper deals briefly with the position of various religions and cultures on the issue under investigation. Part of this exposition extends to cover the general trend as late as the nineteenth century, nearly 1300 years after the Qur'an set forth the Islamic teachings.

    In the second part of the paper, the status of women in Islam is briefly discussed. Emphasis in this part is placed on the original and authentic sources of Islam. This represents the standard according to which degree of adherence of Muslims can be judged. It is also a fact that during the downward cycle of Islamic Civilization, such teachings were not strictly adhered to by many people who profess to be Muslims.

    Such deviations were unfairly exaggerated by some writers, and the worst of this, were superficially taken to represent the teachings of "Islam" to the Western reader without taking the trouble to make any original and unbiased study of the authentic sources of these teachings.

    Even with such deviations three facts are worth mentioning:

    1. The history of Muslims is rich with women of great achievements in all walks of life from as early as the seventh century (B.C.)

    2. It is impossible for anyone to justify any mistreatment of woman by any decree of rule embodied in the Islamic Law, nor could anyone dare to cancel, reduce, or distort the clear-cut legal rights of women given in Islamic Law.

    3. Throughout history, the reputation, chastity and maternal role of Muslim women were objects of admiration by impartial observers.

    It is also worthwhile to state that the status which women reached during the present era was not achieved due to the kindness of men or due to natural progress. It was rather achieved through a long struggle and sacrifice on woman's part and only when society needed her contribution and work, more especial!; during the two world wars, and due to the escalation of technological change.

    In the case of Islam such compassionate and dignified status was decreed, not because it reflects the environment of the seventh century, nor under the threat or pressure of women and their organizations, but rather because of its intrinsic truthfulness.

    If this indicates anything, it would demonstrate the divine origin of the Qur'an and the truthfulness of the message of Islam, which, unlike human philosophies and ideologies, was far from proceeding from its human environment, a message which established such humane principles as neither grew obsolete during the course of time and after these many centuries, nor can become obsolete in the future. After all, this is the message of the All-Wise and all-knowing God whose wisdom and knowledge are far beyond the ultimate in human thought and progress.