The woman in the eyes of Islam, a feeble or Intelligent being?

Zamena Manekia Manji

(Bujumbura, Burundi)

The debate whether men are superior than women and vice versa, is a seemingly endless one. With a number of men firmly believing the womankind is the root cause of all troubles, only adds up to the fiery arguments which slowly results to a lot of women losing their self-esteem.

But is that really the case? Are women really the reason behind the problems one faces? Wasn’t Eve the one who made Adam sin? Are women really that feeble and too emotional that centrals to wreaking havoc in the society?

Such bizarre claims surprisingly still surface in the 21 st century which leads us to further look into where the whole ‘women are less superior to men ‘statement comes from. A lot of men conveniently think that the religion of Islam positions women under men, without realizing the cultural impact on their mindsets and the society at large, which sadly gets infiltrated into the concept of Islam.

It’s funny how we, the adherents of the Religion of Islam, belittle women despite Islam itself honors women and has elevated our statuses to levels higher than men. This is why we need to delve into history and look into the Qur’an to know where exactly Islam positions women.

Going back to the first woman created – Bibi Hawa/ Eve, we tend to forget her faith, perseverance and strength and instead focus on how she apparently convinced Prophet Adam to sin, leading to the entirety of mankind sinning. Honestly, how absurd is this? Why do we allow weak and baseless narrations to form our thoughts and perceptions? The decision was mutual – with both committing an act that displeased the Lord; which contrary to popular beliefs, wasn’t a sin, rather something that they were asked to stay away from.

Bibi Hawa stood by her husband and together, they sought God’s forgiveness and settled into the Earth – leading to the beginning of mankind. Instead of rambling about how she as a woman is the root cause of all sins – think about how she, is the one who began the Procreation which led to both Men and Women being where they are today. Islamic history is rich with examples on how women saved, preserved and stood up against all odds.

There was Lady Aasiya who stood firm on her faith at the worst of times, there was Prophet Musa’s mum who bravely put her son in a wooden basket on the river Nile to save him off the butchering from the Pharaoh, there was Lady Khadija – a wealthy businesswoman who masterly handled trades with haughty Arab males, at a time when men wanted females like her dead; who later preserved Islam through her wealth. Note, the keyword here is HER.

Then came the revolutionary milestone for women – when the Holy Prophet (saw) sought to revive our dignity – leading to a mass shift in how the world perceived the female, for one of his main missions was to show the arrogant men of his time who belittled women to a point of absolute disgrace, that the women were as bold, intelligent and capable as them if not more. From putting an end to the burying of baby girls to allowing the female to inherit and not get inherited, to permitting them for divorce should they ask for one, to constantly reminding the people on the value a mother has and beyond, this was the time women after decades of considering themselves as worthless finally felt honor shine through
their selves.

While the men fought alongside him during wars, the women served as frontline doctors and nurses. His own daughter, Bibi Fatimah Zahra (a.s) was famously known for carrying water during the battles and tending to her injured father and husband’s wounds.

The Prophet then allowed women to inherit a share of wealth from their deceased family member instead of being inherited, for prior to this rule, the Arab men would leave behind their wives as properties to be owned by the eldest son after their death. Yes, women inherit half the amount, which
again, begs to differ. Since women are not obligated to work, (obligated, not forbidden), the share she receives is for her personal use/savings only unless she decides otherwise. Whereas the men, are obliged to work and hence, have to spend the inheritance received on their families.

Islam also, does not compel women to household chores nor orders the females to confine themselves within their homes, rather it emphasizes that they too have an equal responsibility towards the society at Large. Yes, tending to her children, husband and her home/families is and should be a priority, but then again, a woman is a born multi tasker. She is capable enough to effectively handle her household, her career and her social duties which is perhaps why, the religion of Islam has kept no such restrictions on her. A Woman too, has the freedom to work, (provided she maintains her dignity). Freedom to marriage, freedom in Proprietorship, freedom in seeking knowledge and freedom in residence selection. There are certain guidelines that must be adhered but these rules do not restrict her to anything she is not comfortable with.

There is no denial to the fact that God has filled the heart of a woman with mercy and the ability to nurture but he has also created her as a fierce, powerful and intelligent being. Such traits have been witnessed in several noble women throughout history but perhaps were best exemplified by Lady Fatimah (a.s) and her two daugters , Sayyida Zainab and Umm Kulthum (a.s). Lady Fatimah was a woman of immaculate piety converged with astounding bravery. Her every stride radiated modesty and intelligence.

Her speech so eloquent yet so powerful. Her generosity so great that she would starve but not let the beggar stay hungry. She was known to rise from a pool of her own blood with broken ribs, a miscarried child and a nail pierced through her body to save the Imam of her time and her Husband, Imam Ali (a.s)

She even fought for what was rightfully her property with matchless intelligence and boldness, unveiling the masks off her wrongdoers in minutes. Despite being crushed under the door just moments ago, she didn’t waver for even a second.

Her strength shone through her two daughters during the battle of Kerbala and beyond. Despite watching their entire family being massacred in front of them, the two sisters soldiered through the grueling journey, shielding the caravan through the nights, protecting the little children and the Imam of their time, braving through the whips and lashes and beyond. Such atrocities could kill the strongest of men, yet the two sisters truly showed how strong a woman can be. With hearts full of grief and the physical pain from the lashes, their voices didn’t quiver as they delivered sermons so powerful, they caused the tyrants’ thrones to tremble in fear.

Imam Zainul Abedin was present and he too, gave a very befitting reply to the tyrants yet he didn’t stop his aunties from speaking up because they wanted to highlight that women have an equal responsibility towards saving the message of Islam and speaking up against injustice and oppression. Eventually, their combined effort led to the tyrants’ downfall and thus, saving the message of Islam.

Perhaps it’s about time we realize what a beautiful creation a woman is. Instead of belittling, understand that she is encrusted with a soft heart, a sharp mind and shielded into an armor of strength who is then nurtured into a courageous and caring human being. Tell me how isn’t she one of the best of God’s creations?

Sources of Reference:
An introduction to the rights and duties of Women in Islam book (Ibrahim Amini)
Sayed Ammar Nakshwani : – The life of Imam Ali, Marriage to Bibi Fatimah (2015 lecture) and Women in Islam (2013 lecture)

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About the author

Zamena Manekia Manji was born and raised in Dar es Salaam, a bookworm with a passion for writing that cemented at the age of 13. She served the community alongside her studies through the years and upon moving to Bujumbra , Burundi - continued doing the same. Over time her writings have evolved from fiction to Islamic, contemporary and historical writings. She has also worked on a number of scripts, ad writings, essays, personal statements for universities, and beyond as with each task, she tries to improve her writing skills. Through her words she hopes to shed some light into Islamic History, Islamic concepts and contemporary issues, slowly doing her part towards building a better and stronger society.
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