The DEFICIENT Muslim woman

D2FF4AA0-AAE6-4444-BCB0-2B1ED683E1B2This hadith and its alternate versions are often used by imams in mosques to claim that women are deficient and lesser than men in Islam and to portray women as temptresses who lead men astray.

 

حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ أَبِي مَرْيَمَ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي زَيْدٌ ـ هُوَ ابْنُ أَسْلَمَ ـ عَنْ عِيَاضِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ، قَالَ خَرَجَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي أَضْحًى ـ أَوْ فِطْرٍ ـ إِلَى الْمُصَلَّى، فَمَرَّ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ فَقَالَ ” يَا مَعْشَرَ النِّسَاءِ تَصَدَّقْنَ، فَإِنِّي أُرِيتُكُنَّ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ “. فَقُلْنَ وَبِمَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ” تُكْثِرْنَ اللَّعْنَ، وَتَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ، مَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْ نَاقِصَاتِ عَقْلٍ وَدِينٍ أَذْهَبَ لِلُبِّ الرَّجُلِ الْحَازِمِ مِنْ إِحْدَاكُنَّ “. قُلْنَ وَمَا نُقْصَانُ دِينِنَا وَعَقْلِنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ” أَلَيْسَ شَهَادَةُ الْمَرْأَةِ مِثْلَ نِصْفِ شَهَادَةِ الرَّجُلِ “. قُلْنَ بَلَى. قَالَ ” فَذَلِكَ مِنْ نُقْصَانِ عَقْلِهَا، أَلَيْسَ إِذَا حَاضَتْ لَمْ تُصَلِّ وَلَمْ تَصُمْ “. قُلْنَ بَلَى. قَالَ ” فَذَلِكَ مِنْ نُقْصَانِ دِينِهَا

Bukhari

 

It is usually translated as the following;

 

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) on ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.”

 

This has puzzled, confused and sometimes, angered many a Muslim woman. All because the translation and explanation has been done by those looking at it while wearing sexist spectacles and just like the rose-tinted kind, these spectacles affect the understanding and outlook of all those who wear them.

 

In fact, there are a number of corrections necessary here. 

 

1.   وَتَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ

 

This should read ‘ingratitude to the one(s) who supports the woman’. Of course, this is not synonymous with husband. It could be her father, her brother, her relative and so on.

 

The evidence for this is in the Quran in Surah Al Hajj, verse 13.

 

يَدْعُو لَمَنْ ضَرُّهُ أَقْرَبُ مِن نَّفْعِهِ لَبِئْسَ الْمَوْلَى وَلَبِئْسَ الْعَشِيرُ

 

He calls unto him whose harm is nearer than his profit; certainly an evil ally and certainly an evil helper/supporter. 

(Obviously, it is clear from this verse the word ‘a’sheer’ does not mean ‘husband’!)

 

The reason why this is important is that some Muslim men then link the rest of the Hadith to the spousal relationship using it against their wives to criticise and lower a woman’s intellectual capabilities. 

 

2.    مَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْ نَاقِصَاتِ عَقْلٍ وَدِينٍ أَذْهَبَ لِلُبِّ الرَّجُلِ الْحَازِمِ مِنْ إِحْدَاكُنَّ

 

This does not mean ‘I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.’ Rather, the Prophet was stating, ‘I have not previously recognised, that despite being ‘Naqisaat’ (ie. ‘with something missing’ – see below), one of you could overcome a resolute/strong-willed man’.

 

To completely understand this, we must go back to the context. The women were asked to give in charity. They were advised to take heed in the matters of cursing and ingratitude. Then, the Prophet said something motivating to instil hope in the hearts of the women – that women have the capabilities despite being ‘Naqisaat’ to match and even overcome a man.

 

3.  قُلْنَ وَمَا نُقْصَانُ دِينِنَا وَعَقْلِنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ” أَلَيْسَ شَهَادَةُ الْمَرْأَةِ مِثْلَ نِصْفِ شَهَادَةِ الرَّجُل”. قُلْنَ بَلَى. قَالَ ” فَذَلِكَ مِنْ نُقْصَانِ عَقْلِهَا، أَلَيْسَ إِذَا حَاضَتْ لَمْ تُصَلِّ وَلَمْ تَصُمْ “. قُلْنَ بَلَى. قَالَ ” فَذَلِكَ مِنْ نُقْصَانِ دِينِهَا

 

The usual translation (see above) is incorrect.

 

It would be better translated as – “The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is missing in our knowledge/understanding and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is what is missing in her knowledge/understanding. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is what is missing in her religion.”

 

For those who would like more insight into the Arabic, the term ‘nuqsaan’ translates to ‘missing/absent’. ‘Aql’ does not refer to intelligence. Rather if we look at its usage in the Quran, it refers to ‘understanding based upon knowledge’. 

 

There are many examples in the Quran but I will just point out one (Surah Al Baqarah, verse 73),

فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا كَذَلِكَ يُحْىِ اللَّهُ الْمَوْتَى وَيُرِيكُمْ آيَـتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

 

So We said: “Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow).” Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayat (proofs, evidences, etc.) so that you may understand.

 

The Prophet was expressing that a woman despite the fact that, in a specific situation (See Al Baqarah, verse 282) is called as a witness as part of a pair and despite the fact that she misses prayers when she is menstruating, a woman is still able to triumph over a man. 

 

There are those out there who will always point to women as sexual beings, as temptresses. Again, this depends upon the spectacles they are wearing for their world view. 

 

Upon scrutiny, it is clear that this hadith is not about women being inferior. It is not about women as sexual beings. It is the recount of the Muslim women at the time being asked to give in charity. It is also for us to take heed of being grateful to those who work to support us and to be careful of cursing. Yet, it is also an affirmation that women should not be underestimated either by themselves or the men around them.

 

My advice to anyone out there who has read this hadith or any other and felt confusion, injustice, depression, anger, or any other emotion is to always question what the clergy offer. To search for the truth endlessly until you find it. The religion is never the problem. The Lord is Just and Fair. Sexism both within the Muslim world and the wider society is the real issue. Indeed, it is the spectacles the male clergy wear that are causing confusion and misleading us.

Its time for us to see the truth for ourselves.

 

Beat her lightly

woman-sitting-silhouette-clipart

Islam is not the rod with which men beat women. I have just watched yet another so-called ‘Sheikh’ on YouTube state the Quran allows men to beat their wives. Enough is enough. For generations, Muslim women around the world have suffered and continue to suffer from domestic violence and abuse because of such opinions.

Those in a position of power or authority will always present dogma so that they are not undermined. It has served the Muslim clergy well historically and to this day, feeds into a patriarchal culture whereby the husband is somehow responsible or a moral guide for the wife. Thus, she is deemed spiritually lesser, requiring discipline.

The whole argument pivots on the translation of one word – the Arabic verb ‘Dharaba’ (in Surah An Nisa’, verse 34). It is a word which has a huge array of meanings in the Quran including ‘to bring forth’, ‘to strike the ground with a stick’, ‘to deal with’ and so on. Context is all important in helping us to understand what it means in each case in the Quran.

The common misconception that Islam allows and even encourages wife beating is down to a sexist and cultural context within which, this word ‘Dharaba’ is wrongly translated as ‘beat/hit’. This translation works for those cultures where women are seen as lesser citizens, beings to be subjugated and ruled over. In other words, it is not Islam but men who legalize and normalize wife beating. Worse, they use the banner of Islam to hide what is blatantly oppression and wrongdoing.

If you study all the instances of ‘dharaba’ in the Quran and the example of the Prophet, it is clear it means ‘to go away/separate’.

The verse is very clear. If a husband sees ‘nushuz’(ie. an uprising – unreasonable demands) from his wife;

1). He admonishes/speaks to her about it
2). Forsakes her in the bed
3). Separates/goes away

This process is exactly what the Prophet did with his wives when they wanted more financially than he had to give. So my question now is, do the Fuqaha (jurists) know the religion better than the Prophet did?

What allows the same patterns to be perpetuated is that many Muslim women often do not feel able to come forward and seek help. They are afraid that they will be blamed instead of being comforted, reminded that, wife beating is a right of the husband. Terrified of what taking a stand will cost them. In unity comes strength so as Muslim women, we must stand with these women, with our hearts and minds, the correct knowledge of the religion in our hands.

I believe any change in society starts from within us. We, as Muslims, need to change our views so women can come forward and break the chains of silent suffering. We must offer comfort rather than judgement. Most important of all, our understanding and advice must be based upon actual knowledge and Scripture as opposed to deeply entrenched cultural and patriarchal injustices.

Like I said, enough is enough.

For detailed evidence, click this link.

MUSLIM WOMEN are more than ‘Hijab’.

8890505903_abd85199da_bTell a lie long enough, it becomes the ‘truth’.

The word ‘hijab’ appears in the Quran 7 times. Not one of these is in reference to women covering. Nevertheless, Muslims all around the world, whether they speak Arabic or not, talk about ‘hijab’.

‘Hijab’ is Quranic Arabic for ‘barrier’ although it is commonly used for the veil/scarf and translated as ‘covering’,  ‘concealing’ or a ‘curtain’. This is an idea which has been propagated, most likely for centuries, by the predominately Arab male Muslim clergy. A clergy, which has objectified women as much as the Western world has sexualised them. Two sides of the same coin.

After spending years of my life researching women’s issues in Islam, a journey which has taken me places both physically and psychologically, I realised that out of the Quran’s 6235 verses, only 2 are about how women in general should dress in public. That’s around 0.03% of the Holy Book. An indication of how much of a Muslim woman’s faith is about her dress.

One (33:59) tells us to cover ourselves so we are known as Muslims. The other (24:31) that the chest and legs should be covered – the legs covered in a way as not to reveal what is beneath the covering. That’s it.

God tells Muslim women to cover their bodies so that they are known as Muslim women (The culture at the time of revelation was one where people often exposed themselves). Sadly, the majority of Muslim women are unaware of this and wear a headscarf and often a cloak and a face covering (they believe) to safeguard their beauty. That is because they are basing their opinion on the commonly accepted term ‘hijab’ for how they should dress.

I chose the path of Islam, learnt Classical Arabic and am memorising and studying the Quran. I have worn a scarf, a jilbaab (cloak/robe) and even a niqaab (face veil). Based upon God’s word, I now wear modest clothing. My religion is founded upon my own research and studies. I ask all other Muslim women to do the same.

Language and thought are strongly connected. When we use the word ‘hijab’, there are obvious connotations. We are making the whole issue about sexuality. Women become a temptation needing to be tempered, with the potential to lead men astray. It is a term founded in culture. A term that serves the needs of men as it then leads to further arguments that women need to cover their bodies with cloaks (jilabib), their faces (niqaab), and even infringes on their civil liberties (e.g. working, sports, going out/travelling without a male relative). Frankly, it reduces women so that they end up not having a voice or in extreme situations, even a presence.

I believe that we need to stop using the word ‘hijab’. It is a baseless concept. Women regardless of their religion are not defined by men and the word ‘hijab’ is doing exactly that. It leads to Muslim girls as young as 5 years being ‘sexualised’ when they are shrouded in a scarf and sometimes even a cloak. It is a term intertwined with cultural expectations involving shame, honour, and purity. A means by which a woman’s piety can be judged.

Many a Muslim will argue for ‘hijab’ claiming it is not just for a woman’s body but for her character and the way she interacts with the world. I argue the exact opposite. Dressing modestly, based upon evidence, brings religion to the forefront while kicking sexualisation firmly into the background.

We are more than our bodies. It’s time to move forward and it’s up to us as Muslim women to lead the way.