Woman and Society 10

Woman and Society 10

Woman and Political Works

Woman's rights are among the basic matters that face intellectual and civilizational discussion in the 20th century. Among these rights are woman's participation in political life and work. We find it strange that those who support woman's rights accuse Islam and Islamic beliefs of depriving woman of participating in political life and work. They support their claims with the political and social situations which they witness in Muslim countries. They do not differentiate between Islam, as regime, law and principles, and those of Muslims who do not represent Islam through their social and political actions. What they see in the society of Muslims is different from Islam.

The picture of woman in that society of Muslims, the way of treating her, and her value in society opposes Islam, have resulted from views and concepts that have arisen from social practices, habits, and customs that do not represent Islam, especially as it concerns the attitude towards woman in political, social, cultural, and scientific fields, and her relationship with man. In Islamic thought, policy means taking care of the affairs of the community in all of its vital fields, and leading its movement in the way of Islam. So, policy is a general social responsibility. All Muslims are responsible for it. In the terms of a religious scholar, that responsibility is an individual obligation. In it the command and address is directed to all Muslims, regardless of whether they are men or women, but some exceptions exist. In this connection, Allah, the Exalted, says: "...that: `Establish you the religion and be you not divided therein'." (1)

"Allah has promised unto those of you who believe and do good deeds that He will certainly appoint them successors in the earth before them." (2) "Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those vested with authority from among you." (3) In all these verse, the address is directed to all Muslims, men and women. So, establishing religion with its thought and with all its religious, social and political regulations, is the responsibility of all Muslims. The address of obedience to the Muslim ruler, which has been mentioned in the verse that talks about obedience, is directed to all Muslims, and the promise of succession is directed to all those who believe (in Allah) and do good deeds.

In the Surah of al-Mumtahana, v.12, Allah, the Exalted, says: "O (Our) Prophet (Muhammad!) when come unto you believer women pledging that they will associate not aught with Allah, and they will steal not, and they will commit not adultery and kill not their children, and they will utter not slander, nor utter any falsehood which they had forged themselves between their hands and their feet and will not disobey you in what is fair, then accept you their pledge, and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." This verse is a practical practice and Quranic proof, which the Prophet (PBUH&HP) carried out during his political and propagative life, for accepting the pledge of allegiance of woman to Muslim ruler. In fact, her pledge of allegiance to him is obligatory. In this verse, the pledge of allegiance is the pledge of obedience to the Muslim ruler to conform to legal precepts and laws and to acknowledge his authority. This pledge of allegiance represents the most prominent meanings of the political rights in human society.

Perhaps, the clearest proof for the political role of woman and her rights in Islam is that which has been mentioned in the verses that enjoin (people) to do good and prevent (them) from doing evil, and the verses of authority that includes both men and woman. The jurist and great Muslim thinker, and martyr, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (may his grave be sanctified) has produced this verse as evidence that every believing man and woman is qualified for political authority. Both men and woman are equal in that. This is mentioned in the text of his words: "The community practices its role in succession within the legislative frame of the following two Quranic verse: "...and (conduct) their affairs with counsel among themselves," "...and the believer men and the believer women, they are guardians to one another; they enjoin good and forbid evil."

The first text gives the community the power to practice its affairs through a consultative committee, unless there is a special text opposing this text.(4) The second text talks about authority, and about that believers rule each other. By authority `wilaya', He (Allah) means ruling His affairs. For the context enjoining (people) to do good and preventing (them) from doing evil' branches from it (authority). The text is obvious in that authority includes equally both believing men and women. Putting into effect the principle of consultation and the view of majority during differences results from that." (5)

Muslim women entered the field of policy at the lifetime of Allah's Apostle (PBUH&HP), as the verse of pledge of allegiance has mentioned. Muslim women entered the political field and took part in political life. Muslim women also entered and showed their opinions on the matter of the Imamate, policy, and caliphate after the death of Allah's Apostle (PBUH&HP). The best example of that was the attitude of Fatima the Chaste (PBUH), daughter of the most honorable Apostle, Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and wife of Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (PBUH).

That was when she entered the field of policy after the death of her father (PBUH&HP). She stood by Imam Ali during her political movements and attitudes. So a group of the emigrants and the Ansar joined her. Accordingly, a political ideological party was formed. The party opposed and refused the pledge of allegiance (to Abu Bakr) that took place under the shelter (saqifa), and then it summoned the people to Pledge allegiance to Imam Ali (PBUH). Moreover Fatima (PBUH) communicated with the Ansar in their houses and summoned them to pledge allegiance to Ali (PBUH) and to oppose Saqifa.

This has been mentioned in some historical books: "Ali, may Allah honor him, went out at night carrying Fatima, daughter of Allah's Apostle (PBUH&HP), on a riding animal, (and made her pass) through the assemblies of the Ansar to ask them to support (Ali). However, the Ansar said: `O Daughter of Allah's Apostle (PBUH&HP), our pledge of allegiance to this man([3])husband and your cousin had come to us before Abu Bakr, we would not have turned away from him."(6) The books of history have also mentioned opposing attitudes took place between Fatima, the Chaste (PBUH) and the caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar b. Khattab.

When we consider carefully the two verses (the verse of consultation and the verse of authority of believers), which martyr al-Sadr has explained, we will find that they are the wide intellectual foundation of political rights, in fact they are the wide intellectual foundation of all the members of the community, men and women. In this respect, there is another verse. The verse urges both men and woman to oppose tyrannical rulers, to establish the Islamic state, to guide political public opinion, etc.

The verse contains these words of Him, the Exalted:"And that there should be among you a group who call (mankind) unto virtue and enjoin what is good and forbid wrong; and these are they who shall be successful." In this verse the Qur'an makes it obligatory that there should be a group from Muslims to enjoin (people) to do good and to forbid doing evil. This group includes both men and women. The clear proof for that is these words of Him, the Exalted: "And the believer men and the believer women, they are guardians to one another; they enjoin good and forbid evil."

It is clear, in Islamic thought, that the political field is so wide that it includes enjoining good and forbidding evil and includes the summons to establish the Islamic regime, facing oppressive rulers and regimes. It also includes participating in managing authority, planning the policy of the community, political education, consultation, pledge of allegiance -such as electing the ruler and the representatives of the community, and taking part in consultative assemblies that practice enjoining good, and forbidding political means, etc.

From studying political and social situations and conditions, according to which we should act, we can conclude that this group which the Qur'an ordered to be founded: "And that there should be among you a group...", cannot practice its role as the Qur'an wants except when it is an organized group to practice its role according to developed means and methods which should suit the conditions of the historical period of its Muslims. This means that woman can take part in political groups and activities, various reformative and intellectual foundations and associations. From these Quranic bases, we understand that political life is open to woman, as it is open man, on both levels- individual and collective obligations- or to permit participation in all fields of political life.

A practical example of women's political life in Islam is their true participation in political life In the Islamic Republic of Iran. The constitution here has given woman the right to elect and participate in the parliament (the Consultative Assembly) and political organizations, activities, and jobs, just as woman took part in the Islamic revolution against the Shah's regime. She participated in strikes, demonstrations, distributing leaflets, and delivering speeches. She shared with man all his political struggle. Accordingly, she has obtained all her political rights under the Islamic regime.

Epilogue

Only Islam has given woman rights and dignity. In this connection the Qur'an says: "And indeed We have honored the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and on the sea and We provided them with sustenance of good things, and We have exalted them over most of those whom We have created, by (high) degree of exaltation." (7) "and for the women shall be similar rights (over men) in fairness,." (8)

The Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: "It is the manner of the prophets to love women." Therefore, woman should demand her rights as the Qur'an gives her. The Qur'an wants her to be mother, daughter, and wife. It wants her to be a person who has the right of support and love in society. It wants her to practice her biological, psychological, and intellectual abilities in the place of good, purification, and righteousness. For woman has tasted the bitterness of life in the chaotic world of material civilization. And praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds. Man becomes intimate with fire, for it removes darkness, secures warmth, and cooks food.

The jurists exclude that woman is not permitted to undertake the authority over Moslems and the judiciary. While jurists believe that there is no text on which they depend to prevent woman from undertaking the judiciary.

Source: Al-Balagh Foundation

NOTES:

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1. Holy Qur'an (Shura 42:13)

2. Holy Qur'an (Nur 24:55)

3. Holy Qur'an (Nisa'4:59)

4. Harrani, Tuhaf Uqul an Aal Rasul, Mawa`idh Nabi (s.a.w.).

5. An example of that is the text which has been reported on the authority of the Prophet (s.a.w.) concerning the Imamate of the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) in the farewell Pilgrimage, and the like. Also see Ahmed, Musnad, vol.1, p.118. Ibn Maja, Sunan, vol.1, p.43. Hakim, Mustadrak, vol.3, p.109.

6. Martyr, Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Sadr, Islam Yaqud Hayat, p.171.

7. Holy Qur'an (Bani Israel 17:70)

8. Holy Qur'an (Baqara 2: 228)