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Islam and Struggle against Humiliating Attitudes towards Women

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh  

Adapted from  the viewpoints of Dr. Morteza Motahhari

First, it should be noted that the content of Quran is not limited to a series of rigid regulations which cannot be interpreted. There are laws in Quran just in the same way that there is history, advice and stories of creation. Quran sometimes expounds rules and regulations and sometimes tells the story of creation and talks about mystery of creation, secrets of life and death as well as reasons behind rise and fall of civilizations.

Quran is not a book of philosophy, but has firmly given its viewpoints on the universe, humans, and society (which are three basic pillars of philosophy). Quran does not teach its followers in legal matters and does not merely suffice to giving advices, but it also expounds the creation to make its followers think about it. The fundament of Islamic regulations about social affairs like ownership, governance, and family rights is the interpretation it has of creation and created objects.

One of the main issues that have been discussed in Quran is the creation of men and women.

To understand Quran’s viewpoint on creation of man and woman, first we must look at the nature of both creatures. Quran has noted that women and men are equal in nature and creation. When talking about Adam, Quran says, “We created you from a single father and created his spouse like himself (Nisa: 1).” With regard to all human beings, it says, “God has created spouses for you who are like you.” (Chapters Nisa, Nahl, and Rome)

Quran has never claimed, like some older scriptures, that women have been created of an inferior substance compared to men. Therefore, Islam has not taken a humiliating approach to women in creation.

Another humiliating viewpoint which existed in the past is that women are inciters of sin; that they are the source of all temptation and evil; and that women are petty devils. They say that women have been involved in all crimes and sins committed by men. They claim that Satan could not directly impress the man and, rather, influences them through women. Satan tempts woman and she, in turn, seduces man. They say Adam was deceived by Devil through his wife, Eve.

Quran has recounted the story of Adam and Eve and their descent from Eden, but has never claimed that Satan or the snake deceived Eve and she, deceived Adam. Quran says, “We told Adam to inhabit in Eden and eat from its fruits.” When it comes to temptation by Satan, Quran has used pronouns that refer to two persons and says, “Satan misled them (Chapter A’raf: 20).” “Satan misguided both of them (Chapter A’raf: 22).” And finally, “Satan swore in front of both of them that he intended nothing for them but good (Chapter A’raf: 21).”

In this way, Quran rejected a common notion that women are sources of sins and temptations.

Another humiliating viewpoint on women was related to their spiritual potentials. They say women do not enter the Heavens; that women cannot attain spiritual perfection as men do. Quran has noted in many verses that the reward given to the pious in the Afterworld has nothing to do with gender, but is related to faith and good deeds, whether that deed is done by a woman or a man. When mentioning sacred men, Quran always mentions great women too. It talks about the wives of Adam and Abraham as well as mothers of Moses and Christ. If it has chided wives of Noah and Lut as unchaste women, it has mentioned the wife of Pharaoh as a great woman who was forced to live with a sinner man. As if Quran has intended to keep its stories balanced and has refrained from restricting their leading characters to men.

When telling the story of Moses’ mother, Quran says, “We revealed to mother of Moses to feed her child and when you have fears about his life, throw him into the sea and don’t worry. We will get him back to you.”

As for Mary the mother of Christ, Quran has noted that she was of such a lofty spiritual position that when she was worshipping God, angels brought her food from the heavens and talked to her. She was such a pious woman that even the prophet of her time was surprised at her high spiritual position.

There are no fewer saint women in the history of Islam. There are few men in Islam who can be considered in spiritual ranking as a match for Khadijeh (SA), the wife of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). And no other man but Prophet Mohammad and Imam Ali (AS) stand equal to Hazrat Fatemeh. She is even superior to her progeny who are imams and are superior to all prophets save for Prophet Mohammad. Islam makes no distinction between men and women in their march toward God and spiritual perfection.

A further humiliating attitude toward women is that women have been created for men.

Islam has never accepted this and clearly announces that the Earth and heavens, clouds, wind, plants and animals have been created for humans, but it never says that women have been created for men. Islam says men and women have been created to supplement each other. “Your women are ornaments and covers for you and you are ornaments and covers for them (Chapter Baqara: 187).” If Quran had accepted that women have come into being for the sake of men, it would have paid attention to it when passing laws for them. However, since this is not the viewpoint of Islam on women, and it does not consider women to be parasitic to men, this has not been reflected in Islamic rules on men and women.

Another humiliating viewpoint about women is that women were blight for men. Despite pleasures that men derived from women, they still considered them a scourge and looked down at them. Quran has noted that woman is a source of blessing for man and brings him tranquility and peace of mind.

A further humiliating viewpoint about women was that they have a small share in creation of the offspring. Primitive Arabs and some other nations maintained that women were just a container for man’s semen (which was considered the main seed from which a child was created), where the child simply grew. Quran has told people that “We have created you from a man and a woman.” Some other Quranic verses have put an end to that way of thinking.

From the aforesaid it can be logically concluded that Islam has never humiliated women, neither from a philosophical standpoint, nor from the viewpoint of their creation. On the opposite, many Quranic verses have refuted widely held ideas about women which were totally inhuman and irrational.

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم