Inspired by an MA Thesis “The Woman, in the Islamic Social and Philosophical Perspective” by SuhamHamiye
Edited and translated by Fatema Makki
Allah has mentioned in His Holly Quran: “These are they whom Allah guided, therefore follow their guidance. Say: I do not ask you for any reward for it; it is nothing but a reminder to the nations.” (6:90). The aforementioned verse addresses the Messenger of Allah (p) to follow the footsteps of previous Messengers (p)since all Messengers (p) function withincertain guidelines that dictates their apostolic mission; regardless of the minute differences in fulfilling their missions and that are imposed by the different circumstances of each era. Accordingly, disparaging or expressing negative view towards one Prophet is a disparagement of all Prophets. In the same breathe;renouncing a certain Heavenly Religion is a renouncement of all religions.
The three Heavenly Religions emphasized the several roles that man is endowed with in this life. The Quran itself is regarded as an educational book as it presented a set of rules and doctrines that organizes one’s life and determines his role. With the commencement of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, the Quran did not entirely wipe out pre-Islamic conventions and traditions. However, Islam rejected one of empirical implications: female infanticide.
The pre-Islamic society was one that regarded females as creatures with less status than males, and even felt extreme grief and disdain if one knew that his wife gave birth to a baby-girl. “And when a daughter is announced to one of them his face becomes black and he is full of wrath.He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that which is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust? Now surely evil is what they judge.” (16:58-59). “And when the female infant buried alive is asked.” (81:08).
The Quran included a variety of doctrines and legislations that allowed women to evolve from being a creature that is disrespected and looked down at into a human being who fully enjoys her rights. Islam represents the line that separates the stage where women were regarded as products that could be bought and sold and even passed as inheritance, and used for pleasure from the one where she became regarded as an individual that is to be respected and even admired.
However, certain critics, such as LiousaChaidolina in her book “The Arabian Woman, The Era, The Development of Islam and Women issues” and Dominique Sorodille, in his book “Islam”, believed that the Quranic text perpetuates the belief that women are of a lower status than men. Did Islam really emancipate women and preserved her rights?
The answer to the aforementioned question can be derived from the Quran itself:
Among the several verses that talks about women reverently is the following: “O people! if you are in doubt about the raising, then surely We created you from dust, then from a small seed, then from a clot, then from a lump of flesh, complete in make and incomplete, that We may make clear to you; and We cause what We please to stay in the wombs till an appointed time, then We bring you forth as babies, then that you may attain your maturity; and of you is he who is caused to die, and of you is he who is brought back to the worst part of life, so that after having knowledge he does not know anything; and you see the earth sterile land, but when We send down on it the water, it stirs and swells and brings forth of every kind a beautiful herbage.” (22:05). These verses clarify that GodAlmighty created the first human body out of dust and endowed it with female and male characteristics from which He created Adam and Eve: “Your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women.” (4:01)
Then God created the clot which develops into a lump of flesh and is stable in the womb. Later on, bones developed and are covered with flesh until a human being is formed: “Does not man remember that We created him before, when he was nothing?” (19:67).And indeed Allah has created man in the best shape and form: “Certainly We created man in the best make.” (95:04).
Then God endowed man with knowledge: “And He taught Adam all the names.” (02:31). All the aforementioned verses discuss the majesty with which man was created. Not only is man given an appropriate physical appearance, but also a spiritual dimension.
The Quran demonstrates how man was given several roles in life and was also given all the potentials and means to reach his aspirations. And none of man’s goals could be achieved unless there was a participation of both sexes in the process just like the act of making babies. Thus, the Quran explicitly expresses how no sex is higher than the other one as they are both complementary.