Has Islam Prescribed The Duties of Woman?(2)

Has Islam Prescribed The Duties of Woman?(2)

The Qur'an relates the story of the Paradise of Adam, but never says that Satan or a snake tempted Eve and she tempted Adam. Neither does the Qur'an describe Eve as the main person responsible, nor does it exonerate her from the sin. The Qur'an says: O Adam, inherit, thou and thy wife, the Garden, and eat of where you will.(1) Wherever the Qur'an describes the matter of Satan's tempting, it uses the pronouns in the form of the dual (i.e., referring to two persons). It says :فوسوس لهما الشيطان
Satan tempted both of them,. فدلاهما بغرور(2)
So he led them both on by delusion, و قاسمهما اني لكما لمن الناصحين(3)
And he swore to both of them, "Truly, I am for you both a sincere adviser." (4)
In this way the Qur'an strongly refutes the misconception which was prevalent at that time and which is still found in certain quarters and among certain people of this world, and exonerates the female sex from the accusation that woman is the source of temptation and sin, and is half a devil.
Another contemptuous view which exists concerning woman is in the field of her spiritual ability. They say: "A woman cannot go to Heaven. A woman cannot traverse the spiritual and divine stages of enlightenment. A woman cannot attain proximity to God as can a man. The Qur'an, on the other hand, has made it explicitly clear in a large number of verses that reward in the life after death and nearness to God do not depend upon sex, but upon faith and deeds, whether they be of a woman or a man.
For every great and pious man, the Qur'an mentions a great and pious woman alongside him. The wives of Adam and Ibrahim (Abraham) and the mothers of Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus) are mentioned with great esteem. Although the Qur'an refers to the wives of Nuh (Noah) and Lut (Lot) as being unworthy of their husbands, it does not ignore the wife of Fir'awn (Pharaoh) as a woman of distinction under the control of a detestable man. It can be said that the Qur'an purposely seeks to keep a balance in its histories and the leading role in them is not confined to men.
About the mother of Musa, the Qur'an says: So we revealed to Moses' mother, "Suckle him, then, when thou fearest for him, cast him into the water, and do not fear, neither sorrow, for We shall return him to thee." (5)
About Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa, the Qur'an says that she had attained such an elevated spiritual degree that the angels used to visit her in her prayer-niche and converse with her. Sustenance was supplied to her from an invisible source. She had attained so high a position of Divine favour that it completely astounded the prophet of that time, and exceeded his own degree. Zakariyya (the prophet) was dumb-founded when he looked upon her.
In the history of Islam itself there are many pious and distinguished women. There can be few men who are able to reach the high status of Khadijah,1 and no man except the Holy Prophet himself and Ali could attain the status of az-Zahra'. az- Zahra' excelled her sons, the Imams, and all the prophets as well, excepting the Seal of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Islam does not make any difference between man and woman in the journey from this world towards al-Haqq (the Truth, i.e., towards God). The only difference that Islam makes is in the journey from al-Haqq to this world, in returning to mankind and bearing the prophetic message, and here it recognizes man as being more suitable.
Another derogatory view that was held was in connection with sexual abstention and the sacredness of being single and celibate. As we know, in some religions, sexual intercourse is in its essence unclean. According to the followers of these religions only those who live all their life in celibacy can attain the stations of the spirit. One of the world's well-known religious leaders said:
"Root out the tree of marriage with the spade of virginity."
The same religious leaders allow marriage only as one evil to ward off a greater evil. In other words they maintain that, as the majority of people are unable to endure the hardship of remaining celibate and may lose self-control and thus become victims of perversion, indulging in sexual contact with numerous women, it is better that they should marry and not have sexual relations with more than one woman. The root cause of sexual abstention and celibacy is a feeling of aversion against the female sex.
These people consider love of women to be one of the great moral depravities.
Islam has combated fiercely against this superstition. It considers marriage to be sacred and celibacy to be impure. Islam considers love of women to be a part of prophetic morality, and says: من اخلاق الانبيا حب النسا
"Love of women is of the normality of the prophets. The last Prophet used to say: "Three things are dear to me: perfume, women and prayer.
Bertrand Russell says: "In all codes of moral conduct there appears a kind of aversion to sexual relations except in Islam. Islam has ordained regulations and limitations with regard to this relationship for social reasons, but it has never considered it an abominable and unclean matter."
Another derogatory opinion held regarding women was that she is only a means for bringing man into existence, and that she was created for man.
These ideas can never be found in Islam. Islam most explicitly explains the basis of the final cause, it says quite clearly that the earth and the sky, the clouds and the winds, plants and animals have all been created for man. But it never says that woman was created for man. Islam says that man and woman were each created for the other :
هن لباس لكم و انتم لباس لهن
They are a vestment for you (man) and you are a vestment for them.(6)

If the Qur'an considered woman to be a means of making men and something created for them, it would certainly have kept this fact in view in its laws. As Islam, in its explanation of creation, does not have this opinion and does not consider woman to be a parasite on mane s existence, there is no trace or reflection of this idea in its special precepts regarding man and woman.
Another of the derogatory views held in the past was that women were considered an unavoidable and necessary evil. Many men, in spite of all the gains and advantages they had derived from women, regarded them contemptuously and considered them to be a source of misfortune and misery. The holy Qur'an makes a special mention of the fact that woman is a blessing for man and is a source of solace and comfort for his heart.
Yet another derogatory view was that woman played a very insignificant part in bringing offspring into the world. Arabs of the pre-Islamic age, and certain other peoples, considered women to be only a repository for the sperm of the man, which, according to them, was the real seed of the child, and they said that her part was to keep that seed safe and to nourish it. The Qur'an says in several verses that: "You were created from man and woman."
In other verses, which are analyzed in the commentaries, the final answer has been given in a similar way.
From what has been said above, it is clear that both from a philosophical point of view, as well as from its explanation of the nature of creation, Islam does not hold any derogatory ideas concerning women; rather, it has seen to it that all the above mentioned derogatory views are discarded. Now it is appropriate to examine why there is an absence of identicalness in the rights of men and women.
1. Khadijah was the Holy Prophet's first and most dearly beloved wife. She was the first person to believe in his prophethood, and she proved a firm support for him in the first difficult years of his mission.
2. Fatimatu 'z-Zahra' was the Holy Prophet's daughter, the wife of All, and the mother of the second and third Imams, Hasan and Husayn. She is included by the Shia, together with the Holy Prophet and the twelve Imams, among the fourteen immaculate ones, free from sin.
3. Translated from the Persian, reference untraced.
“The Rights of women in Islam”

The Author: Murtaza Mutahhari

NOTES:

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1. (7:19)

2. (7:20)

3. (7:22)

4. (7:21)

5. (28:7)

6. (2:187)