The Voice of a Woman in Islam


                     THE VOICE OF A WOMAN in Islam
		     
		     Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi


	Many Muslims have adopted the Judeo-Christian ethic which
	views women as the source of human tragedy because of her
	alleged biblical role as the temptress who seduced Adam into
	disobedience to his Lord.  By tempting her husband to eat the
	forbidden fruit, she not only defied Allah, but caused
	humankind's expulsion from Paradise, thus instigating all
	temporal human suffering. Those misogynists who support this
	Biblical myth, dredge from the archives of psuedo-Islamic
	literature such as false and weak hadiths.

	This Old Testament myth is a widely circulated belief in the
	Islamic community despite the fact that Allah in the Qur'an
	stresses that it was Adam who was solely responsible for his
	mistake. In 20:115 it is stated: "We had already, beforehand,
	taken the convenant of Adam, but he forgot; and we found on
	his part no firm resolve." Verse 20:121-122 continues: "In
	result, they both ate of the tree...thus did Adam disobey His
	Lord, and fell into error.  But his Lord chose for him (From
	His Grace): He turned to him, and gave him guidance."
	Therefore, there is nothing in Islamic doctrine or in the
	Qur'an which holds women responsible for Adam's expulsion
	from paradise or the consequent misery of humankind.
	However, misogyny abounds in the pronouncements of many
	Islamic "scholars" and "imams."

	The result of such misinterpretation of hadiths and spreading
	negativity is that entire societies have mistreated their
	female members despite the fact that Islam has honored and
	empowered the woman in all spheres of life.  The woman in
	Islamic law is equal to her male counterpart.  She is as
	liable for her actions as a male is liable.  Her testimony is
	demanded and valid in court.  Her opinions are sought and
	acted upon.  Contrary to the pseudo hadith: "Consult women
	and do the opposite," the Prophet (SAW) consulted his wife,
	Um Salama on one of the most important issues to the Muslim
	community.  Such references to the Prophet's positive
	attitudes toward women disprove the one hadith falsely
	attributed to Ali bin Abi Talib: "The woman is all evil, and
	the greatest evil about her is that man cannot do without
	her."

	The promotion of such negativity against women has led many
	"scholars" and "imams" to make the unsubstantiated ruling
	about female speech.  They claim that women should lower
	their voice to whispers or even silence except when she
	speaks to her husband, her guardian or other females.  The
	female act of communication has become to some a source of
	temptation and allurement to the male.

	The Qur'an, however, specifically mentions that those seeking
	information from the Prophet's wives were to address them
	from behind a screen (33:53). Since questions require an
	answer, the Mothers of the Believers offered fatwas to those
	who asked and narrated hadiths to whomever wished to transmit
	them.  Furthermore, women were accustomed to question the
	Prophet (SAW) while men were present.  Neither were they
	embarassed to have their voices heard nor did the Prophet
	prevent their inquires.  Even in the case of Omar when he was
	challenged by a woman during his khutba on the minbar, he did
	not deny her.  Rather, he admitted that she was right and he
	was wrong and said:  "Everybody is more knowledgeable than
	Omar."

	Another Qur'anic example of a woman speaking publicly is that
	the daughter of the Shaykh mentioned in the Qur'an in 28:23.
	Furthermore, the Qur'an narrates the coversation between
	Sulayman and the Queen of Sheba as well as between her and
	her subjects.  All of these examples support the fatwa that
	women are allowed to voice their opinion publicly for
	whatever has been prescribed to those before us is prescribed
	to us, unless it was unanimously rejected by Islamic
	doctrine.

	Thus, the only prohibition is the female talking softly and
	flirting in a manner meant to excite and tempt the male.
	This is expressed in the Qur'an as complacent speech which
	Allah mentions in 33:32: "O consorts of the Prophet! Ye are
	not like any of the other women: If ye do fear Allah, be not
	too complaisance of speech, lest one in whose heart is a
	disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech
	that is just."

	What is prohibited then is alluring speech which entices
	those whose diseased hearts may be moved with desire and
	that is not to say that all conversation with women is
	prohibited for Allah completes the verse: "...but speak ye
	a speech that is just." (33:32)

	Finding excuses to silence women is just one of the
	injustices certain scholars and imams attempt to inflict upon
	women. They point to such hadiths as narrated by Bukhari
	about the Prophet which says: "I have not left a greater harm
	to men than women."  They assume that the harm implies that
	women are an evil curse to be endured just as one must endure
	poverty, famine, disease, death and fear.  These "scholars"
	ignore the fact that man is tried more by his blessings than
	by his tragedies.

	And Allah says: "And We test you by evil and by good way of
	trial." (21:35). To support this argument Allah says in the
	Qur'an that two of the most appreciated blessings of life,
	wealth and children, are trials.  Allah says: "And know ye
	that your posessions and your progeny are but a trial."
	(Anfal 28)  A woman, despite the blessings she bestows on her
	relations, can also be a trial for she may distract a man
	from his duty toward Allah.  Thus, Allah creates awareness
	how blessings can be misguided so that they become curses.
	Men can use their spouses as an excuse for not performing
	jihad or for eschewing sacrafice for the compiling of
	wealth.  Allah in the Qur'an warns: "Truly among your wives
	and children are enemies for you." (64:14)

	The warning is the same as for the blessings of abundant
	welath and offspring (63:9). In addition, the sahih hadith
	says: "By Allah I don't fear for you poverty, but I fear that
	the world would be abundant for you as it has been for those
	before you so you compete for it as they have competed for
	it, so it destroys you as it has destroyed them." (Agreed
	upon) This hadith does not mean that the Prophet (SAW)
	encouraged poverty.

	Poverty is a curse from which the Prophet sought refuge from
	Allah. He did not mean for his Ummah to be bereft of wealth
	and abundance for he said: "The best of the good wealth is
	for the pious person." (narrated by ahmed and Al-Hakam) Women
	are also a gift for the pious person for the Qur'an mentions
	the Muslim men and women (the Muslimat), the believing men
	(Mumins) and women Muminat as aids and comforts for each
	other here and in the hereafter.  The Prophet did not condemn
	the blessings Allah provided for his Ummah.  Rather the
	Prophet wished to guide the Muslims and his Ummah away from
	the slippery slope whose bottomless pit is a mire of
	callousness and desire.



Back to Path to Islam ...