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“O Mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, Who created you out of one living entity, and out of it created its mate and from this pair scattered countless men and women. And remain conscious of Allah in whose name you demand (your rights) from one another…” (4:1)  


Women in Islãm are almost always portrayed as uneducated, pregnant, subservient wives who silently endure abuse at the hands of their oppressive husbands. They are generally depicted as beings with ‘veiled character’ who have no independent identity or personality. Their contributions beyond household chores are hardly ever recognized or acknowledged. 


Women in Islãm have made a considerably contribution to the rich heritage of Islãm. Khadija (R.A.), the wife of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Aasallam) was the world’s first Muslim. Her fortitude, her resilience, her financial and emotional support served as the most critical contribution to Islãm making her the ‘mother of believers.’ Her conduct as an ideal wife, mother, and companion makes her one of the most revered personalities in the annals of Islãmic history. 


Likewise Aisha (R.A.) and Umm Salama (R.A.) became renowned transmitters of hadith after the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Hisham Ibn Urwa (R.A.) quotes his father as saying: "I have not seen any one who was more knowledgeable in theology, medicine and in poetry than Aisha (R.A.)." Abu Musa (R.A.) reports that every time we were confronted with a hadith that we could not understand, we would refer it to Aisha (R.A.) who (always) had information about it.” (Tirmidhi) The wives of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) on account of their close proximity to him became particularly important figures in the development of Islãmic jurisprudence after his demise. 


Women also played a pivotal role as spiritual luminaries in what is known as Sufism today. One of the most important founders of Sufi thought was Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya from Basra. She is largely recognized as the first person to express the nowstandard Sufi belief in ‘divine love’. Her poems, dedicated to a mystical union with Allah Ta’ala and her saintly personality has made her one of the most revered Sufis in Islãmic history. Nafissa bint al-Hassan ibn Zaid, a student of Imãm Mãlik, lectured in Egypt; her lectures were attended by the most prominent scholars of her time, including the renowned scholar Imãm Shãfi.


* The contribution of women was not confined to the field of Islãmic sciences only. 


* In the beginning of the ninth century, Alia, daughter of the great scholar Tayeb bin Kiran, taught logic in Andalus Mosque in Fez (Morocco).


* Fatimah al-Fihria built alQarawyeen Mosque in Fez. The mosque became the first Islãmic university in the w o r l d . 


* The royal Ayyubid women in Egypt used their wealth and position to establish waqf for schools, hospitals, and other charitable institutions.


* In South Africa the land for the first masjid known as Awwal Masjid in Cape Town was donated by a Muslim woman known as Saartjie van de Kaap who was born to slave parents. 


It will however be a great injustice to measure the contribution of women solely in terms of their contributions outside the confines of their home. If we consider home as the starting unit of society, the architects of good homes are women; thus women are indispensable role players in moulding and developing their societies. It's easy to overlook the important role they play as wives and as mothers. A mother provides love, encouragement, hope, counsel, discipline, and understanding. She serves as the light of the home offering unending selflessness. In the same vein a wife serves as the foundation of tranquillity and peace, as so aptly mentioned in the Qur’ãn: "Among His signs is that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (30:21) 


There can be no peace or tranquillity, no sense of fulfilment without the love and mercy that women infuse into our homes and lives. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said: "This world is but a passing delight; and the best of passing delights of this world is a pious and virtuous woman" (Muslim). 

Islãm brought about a social revolution regarding the dignity, treatment and rights o f w o m e n. W o m e n rediscovered themselves and were no longer used as dispensable doormats. Are we living up to the teachings of Islãm? Are we perhaps not contributing to the stereotypes by confusing religion with culture? Culture sways between two extremes, it either regards a woman as a necessary evil in which case she is more aptly called “WOE” MAN (a curse unto man) or as a sex object in which case she is referred to as “WOO” MAN (one who entices man.) We need to regard her for what she is: “WHO (made) MAN!



Volume 14 - Issue 2

Islamic Tarbiyah Academy

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