Bigotry: The Dark Danger

Bigotry: The Dark Danger

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Chapter 3: The Fanatics’ Hatred of Women

Women are One of the Finest Blessings in This World

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One of the most striking examples of the lovelessness and harshness of the fanatic mindset is these people’s attitude towards women. Because of all the superstition they fabricate, fanatics, who regard women as an inferior species, exclude women from society and are unable even to bear the sight of them on the streets. In the pages that follow we shall be setting out the fanatic attitude toward women, citing various fabricated hadiths on the subject, and then seeing how their false perspective is diametrically opposed to the Qur’an and the true word of our Prophet (pbuh). The fabricated hadiths in question will give a much better idea of the utterly immoral way in which women are oppressed in many Muslim countries.

Underlying the fanatic perspective toward women is the idea that women are deficient in faith and mind. The idea that women are semi-people and need to be governed and directed therefore prevails. For people who think like that, even the very existence of women is a menace and a cause of anger; they therefore feel the need to keep them covered up, excluded from society, deprived of all rights and declared non-persons to the maximum extent possible. They foolishly turn women into second-class citizens and prevent them from making decisions and becoming involved in social matters, and seek to turn them into a community under their own dominion because they know full well that women are quite capable of thinking in great detail, making rational judgments and drawing accurate conclusions by analyzing fine detail. Excluding women by false means has also made it possible for some fanatical types to spread their own falsehoods very easily.

Yet God has revealed that there is no differentiation between men and women in terms of piety and that men and women have equal responsibilities when it comes to doing good works, striving to disseminate moral virtues and waging an intellectual struggle on His path. According to the Qur’an, men and women are equal in terms of responsibility; however, the Qur’an also regards women as superior to men in terms of solicitude and worth, taking great care of them. Some verses which various fanatics and enemies of Islam always seek to portray as evidence against women are actually verses that reveal the superiority of women and the importance and value that our Lord attaches to them. We shall be looking at these verses in detail in due course.

One comparison that our Lord makes regarding women in the Qur’an shows how much He values them; He compares woman to a delicate plant, or a flower. This description of Mary (pbuh) is an explicit corroboration of the importance and value attached to women:

Her Lord accepted her with approval and made her grow in health and beauty [like a beautiful plant] .... (Qur'an, 3:37)

Caring for a lovely flower calls for the very greatest sensitivity. A lovely plant is delicate and valuable and requires great care and attention. That beauty of a flower, its delicacy, the care it needs and its value and importance neatly describe the place of women in the Qur’an. It is a fact that God has created all the plants and flowers in the world as elements of beauty, as delightful blessings, as symbols of cleanliness and beauty and as marvels of creation. The use of such an expression of beauty to refer to women, the way that God compares women with a symbol of cleanliness and beauty, is an excellent representation of the value attached to women.

Women in the Qur’an

A magnificent value is attached to women in those verses of the Qur’an that speak of her, and women are placed under special protection under all circumstances. In terms of responsibility, however, she is regarded as equal to man. A woman is placed under protection therefore, not because she needs that protection, but because she possesses a special value.

In the Qur’an, a woman can work if she pleases, but she is not obliged to work. As we see in the example of the Queen of Sheba, women can even rule over states. As we see in the example of Mary (pbuh), a model for all other women, a woman in the Qur’an is superior in her fortitude and determination at times of difficulty. A woman in the Qur’an is a queen, an entity who must always be given pride of place. In terms of its perspective toward women, the Qur’an is therefore the finest guide for the entire world.

In the time of our Prophet (pbuh), women were involved alongside men in all areas of life. The fact that the blessed wife of our Prophet (pbuh), Khadija (ra), was a well-known and respected businesswoman in the region is an important piece of information in terms of showing the active role that women could play in social life. In the time of our Prophet (pbuh), female and male companions enjoyed equal responsibility in the instruction of people who had newly come to Islam, in the establishment of social order and even in war. The kindness, love, warmth and goodness that our Prophet (pbuh) showed his wives are the finest model for the whole world. It is clear that our lovely Prophet (pbuh), who ran races with his wives, who bent down to help them climb up onto the backs of donkeys, who praised the superiority of women at every opportunity and who rested his head on his wife’s shoulder while watching entertainment, would never permit the dreadful practices of the fanatics. There is also no doubt that by casting doubt on the Companions by fabricating false hadiths in the name of the Messenger of God (pbuh), the fanatics are slandering both him and the Companions and are assuming a heavy responsibility on themselves.

The reason why women in the religion of the fanatics are so different to women described in the Qur’an will immediately become apparent when we examine some fabricated hadiths. A clear and definitive response to each fabricated hadith is also provided from the Qur’an.

Ways that the fanatics slander women

The Idea that Women are Deficient in Intelligence and Faith

John William Godward's oil painting “Rich Gifts Wax Poor When Lovers Prove Unkind,” 1916

O women! You curse frequently, and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. (Sahih Bukhari, Chapter 24, Hadith 541)

God said: … I also make her stupid, although I had created her intelligent, and must make her suffer pregnancy and birth with difficulty …. (The History of Al-Tabari: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood, translated by Franz Rosenthal 
[State University of New York Press, Albany], Vol. 1, pp. 280-281)

There is no mention in any verse of the Qur’an of women being weaker than men in terms of intelligence. On the contrary, by referring to “believing women and believing men,” God tells us that they have equal responsibility in His Sight; in other words, that they are similar in terms of intelligence and conscience. Moreover, as in the example of the Queen of Sheba, women can even be rulers of states taking decisions on the most important matters. In addition, it is not having a different anatomy that makes a person more intelligent, but their fear of God, love of God, depth of faith and conscience. God always inspires the truth in the conscience of every human being, man or woman. Therefore, what makes people intelligent and devout is not whether they are men or women, but whether they abide by what is revealed to their consciences and, as revealed in this verse,  You who believe! If you fear God, He will give you discrimination [between right and wrong]...” (Qur'an, 8:29) their fear of God: That is the sole measure of intelligence in the Qur’an. Therefore, in the same way that a man is not superior solely for being a man, a woman is not deficient in intelligence and faith simply because she is a woman. However, as we have said many times, the religion of the fanatics is totally different to the Qur’an and is full of slanders. 

The way that they slander God Himself with the fabricated hadiths in question shows the extremes to which the fanatics will go. Nothing along the lines of “... I make her stupid, and must make her suffer pregnancy and birth with difficulty” appears in the Qur'an, so what is the status of these words alleged to be the words of God? Where is this revelation, alleged to have come from God, if it does not appear in the Qur’an? The greatest danger of the religion of the fanatics is that they speak lies in the name of God and are therefore capable of such slander.

Pregnancy is regarded as a sacred state in the Qur’an, for which reason mothers are also regarded as sacred in it. Our Lord’s verses on the subject read:

Hz. Meryem

Sassoferrato's oil painting “The Virgin in Prayer.”

Mary (pbuh) fell pregnant in a miraculous manner by the will of God. Throughout her pregnancy she bore all her difficulties with fortitude, and she was made superior to all the women of all the worlds because of that fortitude and her devotion to God.

We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility and the period of his weaning was two years: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination.” .” (Qur'an, 31:14)

We have instructed man to be good to his parents. His mother bore him with difficulty and with difficulty gave birth to him; and his bearing and weaning take thirty months. Then when he achieves his full strength and reaches forty, he says, “My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You. And make my descendants righteous. I have repented to You and I am truly one of the Muslims.”  (Qur'an, 46:15)

Mary (pbuh) became pregnant by the will of God and was patient in the face of all the difficulties she encountered during that pregnancy; because of that fortitude and her devotion to God she has been made superior to all the women of the world:

And when the angels said, “Mary, God has chosen you and purified youHe has chosen you over all other women.” (Qur'an, 3:42)

The Messiah, the son of Mary, was only a messenger, before whom other messengers came and went. His mother was a woman of truth...(Qur'an, 5:75)

In exhibiting their own horrifying ways of thinking about women by talking about “stupidity,” and referring to pregnancy and childbirth as punishments from God, the fanatics are at the same time foolishly insulting Mary (pbuh), the Companions and all other devout women praised for their superior virtues.

anne ve çocuk

William-Adolphe Bouguereau's oil painting “Mother and Children,” 1879

The idea that women are “deficient in mind and faith” is a slander from the religion of the fanatics. God addresses men and women equally in terms of responsibility. This is one of the reasons why many verses are addressed to men and women believers at the same time.

A difficult pregnancy and giving birth in pain is one of the tribulations of this world, and one that requires great fortitude, strength and willpower to bear. God reveals that a mother who displays fortitude in the face of this difficulty is very valuable in His Sight. For that reason, a mother who displays submission to God and love of Him despite all such difficulties is a very superior entity. This value attached to mothers is one of the moral values in the Qur’an.

As we have seen, there are ways in which women are even superior to men in the Qur’an, therefore the idea that they are “deficient in intelligence and faith” is a grotesque slander by the fanatics. God addresses men and women equally in terms of responsibility. That is one the reasons why male and female believers are addressed at the same time in numerous verses. One such verse reads:

Men and women who are Muslims, men and women who are believers, men and women who are obedient, men and women who are truthful, men and women who are steadfast, men and women who are humble, men and women who give the alms, men and women who fast, men and women who guard their private parts, men and women who remember God much: God has prepared forgiveness for them and an immense reward. (Qur'an, 33:35)

As seen in this verse, there is no distinction between men and women when it comes to such basic elements of being a Muslim as fearing God, remembering God, being loyal to God, having fortitude and giving alms; there is not the slightest suggestion in the Qur’an that women possess any less of any of the characteristics of a believer. Whether people are men or women they have a responsibility to fear God with all their might, love Him with a profound passion and earn His approval.

The Idea that Women Are Crooked

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Frederic Leighton's oil painting “Light of the Harem,” 1880

According to the Qur'an, people should be advised of their errors in a kindly and gentle language, and these should be corrected by addressing the person's conscience, showing them right and wrong.

Woman has been created from a rib and will in no way be straightened for you; so if you wish to benefit by her, benefit by her while crookedness remains in her. And if you attempt to straighten her, you will break her, and breaking her is divorcing her. (Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Hadith 3467; an-Nasai)

The creation of human beings is described in detail in the Qur’an:

We created man from the purest kind of clay; then made him a drop in a secure receptacle; then formed the drop into a clot and formed the clot into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another creature. Blessed be God, the Best of Creators! (Qur'an, 23:12-14)

No verse of the Qur’an says anything about woman being created from a rib bone and being crooked. In contrast to these terms employed by fanatics, our Almighty Lord reveals that men and women were created “in the best of forms:”

It is God Who made the earth a stable home for you and the sky a dome, and formed you, giving you the best of forms, and provided you with good and wholesome things. That is God, your Lord. Blessed be God, the Lord of all the worlds. (Qur'an, 40:64)

The words “if you attempt to straighten her, you will break her” in the false hadith in question implies that she is crooked in both body and mind and can never be put right; however, no such words appear in the Qur’an. This shows the basis of the fanatics’ anger-filled attitude toward women.

The lesson we receive from the Qur’an is this; everyone, man or woman, has flaws and can make mistakes. According to the Qur’an, these flaws should be corrected by pointing them out in kindly language, showing the person what is right and wrong, and addressing the conscience of the person in question. Nobody has the right to cast anyone aside and say, “This person can never be put right.” Someone who does that and regards himself as superior may see that the person he regarded as “incorrigible” is actually in a better position than him in the hereafter. Only God knows who is on the true path.

The fanatics’ superstitious belief that women are flawed and deficient right from the outset has been strengthened by the idea that it is also impossible for them to change subsequently. Many false hadiths therefore contain false information to the effect that good women are very few in number and that most women are not worthy of paradise.

Hadiths and Claims Fabricated to Debase Women

A pious woman among other women is like unto a raven marked with a white leg. (Nahj al-Fasahah, p.20)

One out of 99 women is in paradise, the rest are in hell. (Sahih Bukhari)

O womenfolk, you should give charity and ask much forgiveness for I saw you in bulk amongst the dwellers of hell. ... (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 142)

The false hadiths in question make it clear how women are belittled and regarded as second-class citizens in societies made up of fanatics. Following the fabrication of these hadiths, some Islamic communities turned into societies of fear and fanaticism that despised and belittled women and shut them up indoors. Women being regarded as second-class citizens led to communities developing a terrible lack of civilization, cultural deformities, lack of taste and emptiness; the representatives of that fanatic mentality never grew or developed. Many countries in the Middle East today are in the middle of that cultural deformity and lack of quality produced by that terrifying perspective. Yet the religion in the Qur’an is lovely, plain, high-quality and peaceable. 

The fanatics in question have completely failed to grasp that God attaches great value to women, the jewels of paradise, in both this world and the hereafter. Most important of all, they never sought guidance from the Qur’an.

None of the terms in the false hadiths in question appear anywhere in the Qur’an. God described people with impaired morals, who do evil and commit unlawful deeds in detail in the Qur’an, and none of these descriptions say anything about them referring particularly to women.

For example, God reveals in the Qur’an that a great many people will not believe, and that a great many of those who do will ascribe equals to Him:

Alif Lam Mim Ra. Those are the signs of the Book. And what has been sent down to you from your Lord is the Truth. But most people have no faith. (Qur'an, 13:1)

Most of them do not have faith in God without associating others with Him. (Qur'an, 12:106)

In another verse, God reveals that despite His creating all possible means for people to learn from, the majority of people still do not learn, but continue with the same moral degeneration:

We have variegated it for them so they might pay heed but most people spurn anything else but disbelief.(Qur'an, 25:50)

As we have seen, neither these nor any other verses of the Qur’an say anything about people with poor morals and behavior being women, in the way that fanatics allege. People who behave immorally are not classified on the basis of their gender in any verse. There is nothing in any verse saying that women are more immoral or less women will enter paradise any less. The information in false hadiths is all fraudulent and fabricated in order to spread hostility toward women. The Qur’an absolutely and definitively refutes the false hadiths in question.

The Idea that Women are a Barrier to People Living by the Faith

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John William Godward'nun "The Peacock Fan" adlı yağlı boya tablosu, 1912

Were there no women, God would be worshiped properly. (Suyuti, Sahih Bukhari, Ibn-i Adiyy, Abu Khatim, Ibn-i Jawzi, Muhammed Nasuriddin and Ibn-i Hibban all accept this hadith.) (Silsilat al-Ahadisuzzaif: 74, Tenzihusharia: 1/62, Al-Leali: 2/59)

Were it not for women, all men would go to paradise. (Ibn-i Arrak and As-Saqafi do not accept the hadith. [Jamiussaghir: 2/113])

Let us first of all recall one very important point; the misogynistic mindset described in the false hadiths appears absolutely nowhere in the Qur’an.

Moving on to the content of the fabricated hadiths above, it is not women or other blessings of this world that prevent people who are weak in, or devoid of faith, from living by religious moral values, but their own weakness of conscience, mind and will. God has created this world as a test. In the same way that people are tested throughout their lives with troubles, difficulties, diseases and weaknesses, so they are also tested by blessings and good things. Women are one of the blessings and jewels of this world. Like every blessing, however, how that blessing is evaluated depends on the moral values of the person possessing that blessing. God reveals in the Qur’an that the blessings of this world are created as a test:

To mankind the love of worldly appetites is painted in glowing colors: women and children, and heaped-up mounds of gold and silver, and horses with fine markings, and livestock and fertile farmland. All that is merely the enjoyment of the life of this world. The best homecoming is in the Presence of God. (Qur'an, 3:14)

Like women, children, gold, silver, splendid animals, farmland and wealth are all blessings of this world and provided for people to enjoy. However, a person who has faith will also be aware that all these blessings really belong to God, that all the blessings found in this world are transitory, and that the most and finest forms of all blessings are to be found in paradise. None of these blessings therefore turn such people away from God or prevent them striving on His path. If a person falls into heedlessness on account of any of these blessings and no longer seeks God’s approval in all things, then this is something stemming from his own weakness of faith; it is not the fault of the blessings, but of the person himself. It is therefore the person himself who will have to face the consequences, so long as he does not correct himself. It will do no good to a person trying to blame someone else in the hereafter.

Therefore, a man who seeks to hold women responsible, on the basis of these false hadiths, for all his own errors, sins and evil deeds, is merely deceiving himself. According to the Qur’an, faith means that a person must serve God properly, no matter what the conditions or circumstances. Nobody will be able to use the idea that, “I was unable to worship properly because of women” as an excuse in the hereafter. As we are told in a verse, “... man will be clear proof against himself in spite of any excuses he might offer” (Qur'an, 75:14-15)  In other words, no matter what excuses a person may come up with, he is still perfectly aware of the truth. Some people who blame women for their own lapses on the basis of these false hadiths are of course perfectly well aware that they are being hypocritical and making up the whole idea up. Ignoring the fact in this world will change nothing in the Presence of God, where “...Every self will be paid in full for what it earned. They will not be wronged.” (Qur'an, 3:25)

The Idea that One Should Never Be Guided by Women

Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler. (Sahih Bukhari, Book 88, Hadith 219)

Obedience to women is regrettable. (Nahj al-Fasahah, p. 35)

Seek women’s advice, and then do the exact opposite of what they say." (Al-Maqasid al-Hasana: 248, Tazkirat al-Mawzuat: 128, Tenzihus Sharia: 2-204, Silsilat al-Ahadith: 432)

Do not seek women’s advice, but oppose them. Oppose them, because prosperity lies in opposition to women. (Religious Information for Women 44,45 Suyuti, al-Laali II, 147; Ibn Arrak, Tenzihus Sharia II, 210)

Whoever obeys his wife, God will cast him face down into hell. (Ibn Arrak II, 215) 

People who entrust the administration of their affairs to a woman will never be saved (prosperous). (Nahj al-Fasahah, p. 188)

Ruin is the end of men who obey women. (Nahj al-Fasahah, p. 203)

Those who are under the reign of women will not reach salvation. (Nahj al-Fasahah, p. 271)

kadın ve çiçek

John William Godward's oil painting “The Bouquet,” 1899

And to recite the Qur’an.’ Whoever is guided is only guided to his own good; if someone is misguided just say, ‘I am only a warner.’ (Quran 27:92)

Woman in the Qur'an can be a head of state, a ruler, and can make decisions and issue commands regarding business. Woman in the religion of the fanatics is the exact opposite of the nature of woman in the Qur'an.

As we have seen, one of the most important reflections of the way in which fanatics despise women is their fervent wish never to see them in positions of authority. They are therefore opposed to women rulers; they are even against the notion of women being consulted at all. They have this idea that everything women think and everything they do is wrong. This is part of their unpleasant stratagem of excluding women from society. The fabricated hadiths above have also served that end and in many countries fanatical communities in which such perverse ideas prevail and which are hostile to women have formed. Yet that mentality is diametrically opposed to the practices of our Prophet (pbuh) in the Qur’an, and is in manifest conflict with Islam.  

For example, as the peddlers of superstition spread the foolish idea that “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler,” God cites the Queen of Sheba, a female ruler, in the Qur’an. Despite all the superstition about “not consulting women,” the Queen of Sheba was the sole ruler who made all the final decisions on matters of state. Verses report the leadership qualities of the Queen of Sheba as follows:

However, it was not long delayed, and then it said, “I have comprehended something you have not and bring you accurate intelligence from Sheba. I found a woman ruling over them who has been given everything. She possesses a mighty throne.” (Qur'an, 27:22-23)

That is how the Queen of Sheba, a female ruler who governed her people, was described to the Prophet Solomon (pbuh). After the Prophet Solomon (pbuh) had sent the Queen of Sheba a letter of invitation, she consulted the leading members of her people who sent the following reply:

They said, “We possess strength and we possess great force. But the matter is in your hands so consider what you command.” (Qur'an, 27:33)

As we have seen, in the Qur’an women can rule states and be rulers and have their decisions and commands enforced. The conceptions of women in the religion of the fanatics and the Qur’an are totally at odds with one another.

When fanatics shamelessly insult women through these false hadiths, they are unaware that they are also insulting Mary (pbuh), the devout female believers in the Qur’an, the blessed wives of our Prophet (pbuh) and his female Companions. It must not be forgotten that a mentality that so despises women turns that contempt toward all women.

We can clearly see how different the lives of the fanatics is from the Qur’an when we look at the position of women in the time of our Prophet (pbuh):

For example, the wife of the Prophet (pbuh), Khadija (ra) was one of the wealthiest merchants of Mecca. She sent trading caravans to Damascus and employed people for that purpose. In the Medina period, women worked as leather workers, manufacturers of thread, weavers, pharmacists, tailors and perfume sellers and took an active part in all spheres of life. Women took part in wars alongside men, and even served in the front line when necessary.

sütuni kadın

John William Godward's oil painting “Autumn,” 1900

Women in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) provided for their households and had a voice in the family life; our Prophet (pbuh) praised these activities.

Raita bint Abdillah says to the Prophet (pbuh): "O Messenger of God, I am a craftswoman. My husband (Abdullah ibn Masud) and my child have nothing; I sell the products I make with my own artistry" and asks whether her expenditure on her family will earn merit. The Prophet (pbuh) replies, “Of course there is merit in your expenditure on them.” (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat, VIII, 290; Abu Nu’aym, Hilya, II, 69; Ibn al-Asir, Usd al-Gaba, VII, 121.) 

As we have seen, the women of the time of our Prophet (pbuh) provided for their households and had authority in the life of the family; our Prophet (pbuh) praises their efforts.

Quayba bint Sa'd, of the people of Aslam tribe, is reported to have treated the sick and injured in the time of our Prophet (pbuh); in other words, women in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) worked as doctors. Indeed, Asma bint Umais, a highly intelligent, educated and experienced women who migrated to Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia), is known to have been a very good doctor. Ummu Salama says that Asma bint Umais made medicine for the Prophet (pbuh) from "plants and olive oil brought from India and Yemen.” That account also says that Asma learned to make that drug in Abyssinia.(Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat, II, 236.)

The names of some of the women who sold attar of flowers in Medina in the time of our Prophet (pbuh) are known. One of these, Mulayka Ummu as-Saib al-Saqafiyya, entered into the presence of the Prophet (pbuh) in order to sell scents; this clearly shows us that women in the time of our Prophet (pbuh) worked as sales people.

The position of the female companions who took part in battles alongside all other Muslims is described as follows in one of the accounts that set the matter out quite perfectly:

“Polytheists who took advantage of the negligence of the believers entered in such a way that a group of 10-12 people charged with protecting the Messenger of God had to also enter the fighting. At one moment our Prophet (pbuh) was left alone, with only Nasiba with him. That isolation lasted 40-50 seconds. One of the polytheists seized the moment and attacked, but Nasiba slew him with her sword. A second polytheist attacked the Messenger of God. That polytheist was double-armored. No matter how much she struck, she could not kill him. She received a sword blow from her shoulder to her lower back. Other believers then arrived and neutralized that unbeliever. Those few seconds were so important! Nasiba received 11 wounds at Uhud. Yet she never left until the end of the battle.

As we have seen, in stark contrast to the false hadiths, women in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) were present in even the most crucial places such as the battlefield. Female companions occupied such eminent positions as protecting the Prophet (pbuh) in battle. The way that our Prophet (pbuh) regarded it as appropriate for women to assume the role of protecting him in such a dangerous and life-threatening situation is an important indication of how much he trusted the intelligence and conscience of the female companions in question.

Not only male believers, but also female believers are addressed in the verse “You who believe! Do not say, ‘Ra’ina’ [be our shepherd], say, ‘Undhurna’ [watch over us] ...” (Qur'an, 2:104). In this verse, women, as well as men, are advised not to say “be our shepherd.” This means that in the Qur’an, women are not regarded as entities needing to be looked after and governed by men because of their weakness of mind, but on the contrary as strong, intelligent people, capable of standing on their own two feet and whose conscience is to be trusted. However, many people in some Islamic countries that have been shaped by these false hadiths that have been brought in over the course of centuries are devoid of that conception: Therefore, when we say, “Men and women enjoy the same rights in the Qur’an,” those who vehemently deny that knowingly or unknowingly rebel against God’s verses.

çalışan kadın

In the Qur'an, a woman is regarded as a person who can stand on her own feet, who is strong, sensible and intelligent and whose conscience can be trusted.

The Defamatory Idea that Women Are Second-Class Citizens and that God Has Left Women Backward

kadın ve ceylan

John William Godward's oil painting “The Belvedere,” 1913

Since God has left women backward, you must leave them backward, too. (al-Tabarani)

If I were to command anyone to prostrate anyone else, I would command women to prostrate their husbands, for God has invested the latter with rights in respect to the former. (Nahj al-Fasahah, p. 119)

The hatred of women that has persisted for hundreds of years in the fanatic mentality has brought a great mass of people to slander God and our Prophet (pbuh). Notice that there is no reference in these false hadiths to women enjoying equal rights with men according to the Qur’an, superiority lying not in gender, but in mind and conscience and in fear of God; neither is there any mention of the existence of Qur’anic verses in which the rights enjoyed by women are protected.

These commandments and accounts are deliberately avoided, and there is never any mention of women being entities who are glorified in the Qur’an. Therefore, these words that have deceived Muslims for hundreds of years, and alleged to be the words of our Prophet (pbuh) himself, have led to a perverse mentality becoming ascribed to Islam. In this way they have defamed Islam and our Prophet (pbuh) for hundreds of years.

Yet the idea of women being left backward by God, may He forbid, appears in not one single verse of the Qur’an. On the contrary, God reveals in the Qur’an, through words such as “believers, those who believe, anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer...” that all believers, male and female, have the same responsibilities, with no allowances made for gender. In verse 95 of Surat an-Nisa’, God says;

kadın, meyve tabağı

Those believers who stay behind – other than those forced to by necessity – are not the same as those who struggle in the Way of God, sacrificing their wealth and themselves. God has given those who struggle with their wealth and themselves a higher rank than those who stay behind. God has promised the Best to both, but God has preferred those who struggle over those who stay behind by an immense reward. (Qur'an, 4:95)

As we have seen, the verse speaks of believers having a responsibility to wage an intellectual struggle on God’s path throughout the course of their lives. However, that responsibility is imposed equally on men and women. By addressing all “believers,” God holds all Muslims, men and women, responsible for discharging that religious obligation. If a Muslim woman performs that obligation better than men, then that woman will be superior to all men in the Sight of God. If a Muslim man does it, then he will be superior in the Sight of God because of his piety; there is no differentiation between the genders here. On the contrary, superiority lies in conscience, intelligence and sincerity.

Therefore, just like all the others, these false hadiths too are at total variance with the pronouncements found in the Qur’an and the value attached to women in the Qur’an. First of all, Muslims prostrate themselves to none but God. The only powers to which a Muslim will bow his head and obey are God and His Prophet.

For a Muslim woman, her husband is a helpless servant whom she loves for God’s sake and for whom she feels respect and compassion to the extent compatible with being a Muslim. Her love and respect are directionally proportional to her husband’s sincere devotion to God, the strength of his faith and his zeal and determination on His path. There is no question of her feeling respect for her husband simply because he is a man, as there is in the rotten mentality of the fanatics. For a Muslim man and woman, marriage is also a vow that applies to the hereafter. A Muslim woman can, therefore, only feel love, respect and affection for a husband who is virtuous, a student of the Qur’an and someone she hopes that God will be pleased with in the hereafter. She would never feel that love and affection if the opposite applied. Even thinking of such a love or using it in a sentence for comparative purposes is absurd for a Muslim. In contrast to what the fanatics think and the model they seek to impose, a Muslim woman is exceedingly aware, lucid, intelligent and worthy of respect, she has adopted the spirit of the Qur’an and lives her whole life by that spirit.

Allegations Prohibiting Women from Adorning Themselves

"God curses those ladies who practice tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed, and those ladies who remove the hair from their faces and those who make artificial spaces between their teeth in order to look more beautiful…" (Sahih Bukhari, Book 60, Hadith 408)

Ibn Umar reported God's Messenger (pbuh) cursing the woman who added false hair and the woman who asked for tattoos. (Sahih Muslim, Book 24, Hadith 5300)

The Apostle of God (pbuh) forbade ten things: Sharpening the ends of the teeth, tattooing, plucking hair, ... (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 32, Hadith 4038)

kadın, makyaj

The main ideas behind the fanatic mindset that seeks to portray women as repulsive, ugly, ill-groomed and second-class citizens stem from these false hadiths. This appearance that fanatics have imposed on women under the name of religion has led to them being regarded as ill-groomed and even no longer human and devoid of beauty, cleanliness and fine speech.

The picture of a Muslim woman drawn by the false hadiths above is one that makes it impossible for a woman to have any place in social life. Under that model, if a woman is a Muslim it is unacceptable for her to be attractive, clean and well-groomed. The fanatic mindset that portrays that notion as a sign of piety thus turns woman into an entity that cannot enter into society because of her appearance and also deprives her of the opportunity of talking about the faith for the same reason.

Just think; what woman would wish to live by a model under which Muslim women are represented by a woman who pays no attention to grooming, who attaches no importance to cleanliness, who never even thinks of dealing with the hairs on her face yet is not even embarrassed to go where other people are? Or who would want such a person to talk about religion? So how can a woman who believes that religion forbids looking attractive, clean and well-groomed, and that she will be cursed by God for doing so, want to have anything to do with such a faith? 

This is one of the main reasons why Islam is all too often literally thought of as a sinister faith best kept well away from, particularly in Western societies. The fanatics have imprisoned Muslim women in an entirely fabricated model that has absolutely no place in the Qur’an, and thus seeks to prevent them living by and preaching Islam. Whereas in the same way that a Muslim woman has a duty to speak of the moral virtues and love of the Qur’an, she also has a responsibility to show these virtues through her behavior and attitudes, to live by them plainly speaking. In talking about being a Muslim she must look good, and in explaining that being a Muslim means love, she must genuinely embody that love; in that way, someone who really needs to know the beauties of the faith must know that this faith will bring all these delights with it and must be able to see them with his own eyes. That is also the way it is described in the Qur’an. The Qur’an speaks of Muslims wearing fine and spotlessly clean clothes and using the finest clothing and accessories when they meet together.

tül elbise

Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts, and fine apparel... (Qur'an, 7:26)

Children of Adam, put on your adornment in every mosque… (Qur'an, 7:31)

In addition, the Qur’an describes in glorious detail the cleanliness, fine grooming, beauty and elegant clothing of the people of paradise, and particularly the women.

Just like closely guarded pearls. (Qur'an, 22:23)

... They will be adorned in them with bracelets made of gold and wear green garments made of the finest silk and rich brocade... (Surat al-Kahf, 31)

... they will be adorned with gold bracelets and pearls, and where their clothing will be of silk… (Surat al-Hajj, 23)

They will wear green garments of fine silk and rich brocade. They will be adorned with silver bracelets. (Qur'an, 76:21)

As will clearly be seen from the few verses quoted here, God employs the beauty of women, the smoothness of their skin from which all hairs have been removed, in the words “Just like closely guarded pearls,” as a measure of beauty, and reveals that this is how the women of paradise will be. This means that God regards smooth and clean skin as beautiful. God loves beauty, cleanliness, elegance, adornment and pleasant clothing, and wishes to see His servants in that form. There is no question that our Prophet (pbuh) would regard as beautiful the things that God regards as attractive and would encourage and advise Muslim women along those same lines.

It must not be forgotten that there may be women who have to resort to such grooming methods for reasons other than esthetic ones. For example, women may have to wear wigs after such difficult forms of medical treatment as chemotherapy. This is perfectly normal, and even necessary, and this is an excellent way of looking after themselves for the women in question. Fanatics, however, try to do away with this beauty and making life easier by means of these false hadiths.

bakımlı kadın

In the same way, there is no prohibition in the Qur’an regarding tattoos in various patterns, the correction of asymmetrical eyebrows for instance through tattooing, or the removal of hairs on the face; that would in any case violate the spirit of the Qur’an. Fanatics who would force a pretty young girl to go out with excess facial hair, who would embarrass her in front of other people and who would strive to make her ugly rather than attractive are therefore unable to represent beauty in any way. Yet God encourages believers to be well-groomed, attractive, elegant and clean in verses.

elde dövme

Muslims always being wellgroomed, clean, elegant and attractive are features specially emphasized in verses.

The Fanatics’ Idea of How Muslim Women Should Treat Their Husbands

When a man calls his wife to his bed, and she does not respond and he (the husband) spends the night angry with her, the angels curse her until morning. (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)

If a woman spends the night deserting her husband's bed (does not sleep with him), then the angels send their curses on her till she comes back (to her husband). (Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, Hadith 122)

O womenfolk, if you knew the rights that your husbands have over you, every one of you would wipe the dust from her husband’s feet with her face. (Reported as sahih by Ibn Hibban, and with a jayyid isnad by al-Bazzar. See Ibn al-Jawzi, Ahkam al-nisa', p. 311.)

By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, if from his foot to the crown of his head there was a wound pouring forth pus, and she (the wife) came and licked that, then she would (still) not have fulfilled his right. (Ibn Hajar al-Haytami 2/121 Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, V, 239)

Any woman who asks her husband for a divorce with no good reason will be deprived of even smelling the scent of paradise. (Reported by Tirmidhi, 2/329, abwab al-talaq, 11; Ibn Hibban, 9/490, Kitab al-nikah, bab ma'ashirah al-zawjayn)

There are three people whose prayers will not be accepted, neither their good works: … a woman whose husband is angry with her, until he is pleased with her again … (Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 12/178, Kitab al-ashribah, 2, fasl fi'l-ashribah)

She who does not observe the rights of her husband will have failed to observe the rights of God. (Shir’a)

A woman who hurts her husband will be under the curse of God until she makes him contented. [R. Nâsihîn]

kadın koltuğa yaslanmış

John William Godward's oil painting “A Souvenir,” 1920

In the mentality of the fanatics, women have an obligation to abide by the ignorant idea of “performing wifely duties” for their husbands, even if they are not happy with their treatment and moral values.

If we consider these hadiths one by one;

O womenfolk, if you knew the rights that your husbands have over you, every one of you would wipe the dust from her husband’s feet with her face. (Reported as sahih by Ibn Hibban, and with a jayyid isnad by al-Bazzar. See Ibn al-Jawzi, Ahkam al-nisa', p. 311.)

By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, if from his foot to the crown of his head there was a wound pouring forth pus, and she (the wife) came and licked that, then she would (still) not have fulfilled his right. (Ibn Hajar al-Haytami 2/121 Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, V, 239)

kadın yağlıboya tablosu

John William Godward's oil painting “A Tryst,” 1912

When we look at these two false hadiths, we see that Islam is portrayed as depicting women as supposedly second-class entities condemned to submit to their husbands’ every whim (surely our Lord, the Qur’an and Islam are beyond that); according to that devilish way of thinking, the husband has such dominion over a woman that she will never be able to repay him, not even if she wipes the dust from his feet with her face or licks his body clean of pus. Despite this weird mentality, for hundreds of years, nobody felt the need to even question why a husband should enjoy such rights over a woman, and that led to this blind, superstitious belief putting down deep roots; so much so that most Muslims have regarded that kind of twisted logic as legitimate.

Under this foul way of thinking, women have been forced to fulfill the ignorant concept known as “a woman’s duties” toward their husbands even if they are deeply unhappy with those husbands’ appalling behavior and lack of moral values. They have been despised and mistreated, and the precious few rights they enjoyed have been restricted to the point of irrelevance. The idea that they are second-class and feeble entities condemned to oppression has been imposed on them by force, and that perspective has become institutionalized in Islamic societies. For centuries, nobody stood up and said, “There is no such way of thinking or belief in the Qur’an. Men and women are equal. God bestows wide rights and freedoms on women in the Qur’an.” On the contrary, for centuries, the mentality of superstition has imposed non-Qur’anic practices on some ignorant Muslims through a variety of falsehoods spoken supposedly in the name of God and the faith, such as, “This is what the faith commands. God and the angels will curse those who do not do it. Such people will be sinners. They cannot earn God’s approval or enter paradise.” The characters of most Muslim women have been annihilated by husbands brought up with the teachings of the fanatical mindset because in the religion of the fanatics, women have no choice but to obey their husbands and do whatever they want. The great majority are not allowed to read, work, enter into social life or even so much as look out of a window. Therefore, since they are made physically and psychologically dependent on their husbands, and since the customs and traditions that prevail in that segment of society also nourish the fanatic mindset, it is next to impossible for women to free themselves from that repression.

We need to ask here, what it is about men in these fanatic societies governed by superstitions that cause men to view themselves as wholly superior and adopt the perspective that women are little more than chattel? In the view of the Qur’an, superiority lies solely in piety, and the reward for that is to be hoped from God. How can a man have such dominion over a woman that she can never repay him even if she licks the pus off of his body? Who created those rights that can never be repaid, and why? What can bestow any rights on him apart from this superiority of piety? God certainly bestows no such privilege on him, and thus that privilege appears nowhere in the Qur’an: So where did this claimed superiority come from? How did “every husband” without exception come to enjoy this lofty position, irrespective of whether he is devout or irreligious, a believer or a polytheist, a sinner or a tyrant?

It is the false hadiths in question that have bestowed this false elevation onto men and that have been made part of Islam by the fanatic mindset. They have spread and imposed that mindset, which is not in the Qur’an and which is cursed by God, in the name of the faith. Most Islamic communities, and even most women who have been indoctrinated in these Islamic communities, simply cannot comprehend any other way of thinking. That is one of the worst scourges that the religion of the fanatics has inflicted upon the world.

The Rights and Superiority Bestowed on Women in the Qur’an Are Nowhere in the Religion of the Fanatic 

In societies under the influence of fanaticism, women cannot enjoy the broad rights and authorities recognized as belonging to women in the Qur’an. Indeed, women living in these societies are wholly unaware even of the existence of those rights and freedoms. The women in question are brought up far removed from the moral values of the Qur’an. One consequence of that exclusion is that most of them are unable even to read and write. There is therefore no way in which they can know that what they are living by is not Islam, but the pseudo-religion of fanaticism. However, not only these miserable women, but also many countries of the world all imagine that these fanatical practices that have persisted for centuries actually stem from the Qur’an. They imagine that, may God forbid, the Qur’an describes a faith in which women are worthless, ignorant, oppressed, devoid of character, deprived of all rights and forced to submit to their husbands without question. Yet none of these slanders appear anywhere in the Qur’an.

Let us continue to respond to the slanders against women that appear nowhere in the Qur’an, but are perceived of as part of Islam because of false hadiths:

The Position of A Woman Who Divorces Her Husband

kadın ve erkek yağlıboya tablosu

Frederic Leighton's oil painting “Wedded,” 1882

Any woman who asks her husband for a divorce with no good reason will be deprived of even smelling the scent of paradise. (Reported by Tirmidhi, 2/329, abwab al-talaq, 11; Ibn Hibban, 9/490, Kitab al-nikah, bab ma'ashirah al-zawjayn)

Firstly, the Qur’an explicitly describes the conditions and rules that apply for spouses to divorce one another (This will be discussed in detail in due course). God recognizes the right to divorce of both sides. Yet there are no statements regarding a woman who divorces her husband being unable to enter Paradise as in the above false hadith. This is manifest proof that the hadith is entirely fabricated. There can be no question of our Prophet (pbuh) making unlawful something that God has made lawful and bringing in a commandment that is the exact opposite of what God commands. Therefore, in the event that a woman wishes to divorce, God bestows that freedom on her in the Qur’an. The conditions for divorce are revealed in verses that contain countless precautions intended to protect the woman, materially and psychologically, both before and after divorce. Therefore, the statement that a woman who asks her husband for a divorce “will be deprived of even smelling the scent of paradise” is totally false and defamatory. It is the product of a devilish logic that has nothing to do with Islam.

It is highly important to note that Islam consists of Divine pronouncements, the word of God, that fully address human nature and the human mind and soul. All the verses in the Qur’an contain pronouncements that lift difficulties from people, prevent oppressive practices, ensure that a person’s free will and mind are involved and are in complete agreement with human nature. None of these pronouncements impose any difficulties on men or women. On the contrary, they resolve disagreements, injustices and inequalities among people. They lift the heavy chains from them. They ease people’s souls. They establish bonds of love and friendship, rather than enmity and hatred. Most important of all, they permit the emergence of a noble and virtuous human model bound to God in complete submission to Him.

Yet the model of marriage that appears in the false hadiths in question reflects a conception far outside the moral values of the Qur’an. According to the Qur’an, there can be no compulsion or coercion between married couples. If a disagreement arises, it is to be corrected through the commandments of the Qur’an. The most important thing is for both parties to the marriage to abide completely by the moral values of the Qur’an and to strive to resolve their differences as much as possible. If incompatibility should persist, however, then both sides have the right to divorce.

It is also revealed in a verse that in the event of divorce both sides will be under the protection of God:

If a couple do separate, God will enrich each of them from His boundless wealth. God is All-Encompassing, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 4:130)

As we have seen, in the Qur’an, after a man and a woman decide to divorce of their own free will they continue to live freely. There is not a single verse in the Qur’an to suggest that a woman cannot enter paradise if she divorces her husband.

A Woman Being Regarded as a Sinner until Her Husband Is Pleased with Her

yatan kadın

John William Godward's oil painting “Dolce Far Niente,” 1889

According to the Qur'an, the man and the woman in a marriage must both be select, noble and virtuous people who fear God. That is the basis of marriage in the Qur'an.

A woman who hurts her husband will be under the curse of God until she makes him contented. (R. Nasihin)

She who does not observe the rights of her husband will have failed to observe the rights of God. (Shir’a)

There are three people whose prayers will not be accepted, neither their good works: … a woman whose husband is angry with her, until he is pleased with her again … (Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 12/178, Kitab al-ashribah, 2, fasl fi'l-ashribah)

The references in the above fabricated hadiths to women “... failing to please their husbands or not observing their rights” are again in blatant opposition to the verses of the Qur’an. If a Muslim woman behaves toward her husband in a manner that is not compatible with the moral values of the Qur’an, then she loses God’s approval, not that of her husband; what truly matters for a Muslim is the loss of God’s approval. For that reason, the important thing for a Muslim is not the approval of his or her spouse, but that of God. So according to the Qur’an, once a Muslim woman has made good her error and earned the approval of God, it is of no importance to her whether her husband or anyone else approves of her. Indeed, if the other person has a Muslim nature, he will naturally be pleased with this state of affairs as that will be pleasing to God.

However, the general perspective of these false hadiths is strikingly reminiscent of marriages from the Time of Ignorance, based entirely on polytheism, rather than on God and the commandments of the Qur’an. As we have already said, a married man and woman in the Qur’an are select people who fear God, and who possess noble and superior moral values. That is what marriage is based on in the Qur’an. So long as they remain married, their feelings of love, affection, respect, compassion and loyalty to one another grow stronger all the time.

God reveals in the Qur’an that love, compassion, modesty and tranquility must all be present together in marriage:

Among His signs is that He created spouses for you of your own kind so that you might find tranquility in them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you. There are certainly signs in that for people who reflect. (Qur'an, 30:21)

There are thus enormous differences between the model of marriage set out in the false hadiths with its conflicts, intense disputes, belittlement and humiliating actions, and the model of marriage in the Qur’an.

It must not be forgotten that in Islam, goodness is shown, not for the hope of reward from other people, but for the approval of God, and Muslims hope for a recompense for their good deeds from God alone. God reveals that morality as follows in a verse:

those who give their wealth to purify themselves – not to repay someone else for a favor done – desiring only the Face of their Lord Most High. They will certainly be satisfied. (Qur'an, 92:18-21)

Therefore, according to the Qur’an, a woman will try to please only God and give thanks to Him and will desire His approval. Her only Lord is our Almighty Lord, not her husband. A mentality that tells women to engage in all sorts of horrible actions in order to repay her husband therefore stands in total opposition to the Qur’an.

Women Being Unable to Go out, and the Idea They Are Prone to Deception by Satan

A woman is ‘Awrah (i.e. should not be exposed); and whenever she goes outdoors, satan receives her. (Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban and Sunan Abu Dawud)

Woman is the mainstay, the beauty and fineness of society. It is a great blessing for a society to have women in it, for them to have the right to speak out and be in charge, to be involved in decision-making mechanisms and to have their opinions sought. Woman has been specially created by God to be able to perform detailed analysis, make complex decisions, think of all precautions beforehand and to be highly considerate and intelligent. That is why the value attached to women in Islam is so high. Once that is fully understood, Islam will be properly comprehended across the world.

It is for these reasons that internal and external forces have striven for hundreds of years to cause damage within Islam, especially on the subject of women. Using fabricated hadiths and superstitious practices, as well as various customs and traditions referred to as “rules” that actually have no place in Islam as a shield, they have tried to give the impression that a woman is a second class, despised, repulsive and dangerous entity prone to leading people into sin.

kadın düşmanlığı

The devilish attitude to women of the fanatical mentality that is filled to overflowing with hostility toward women and hatred has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.

In the above false hadith, for instance, a woman is described as being predisposed to immorality, unable to control herself, weak-willed, unreliable in faith and prone to devilish promptings. That is the reason for all the talk of women being allowed out as little as possible, being kept under supervision and having a strong tendency to immorality in the event that they do go out, thus giving the idea that their every action needs to be monitored.

Yet it is perfectly clear that these fabricated words were never spoken by our Prophet (pbuh). It is the fanatics, with their deep enmity towards women, who spout fatuous falsehoods and ascribe them to our Prophet (pbuh), who in point of fact entrusted his life to women in battle, set aside space for women in assemblies and who felt a profound love and respect for them. In the time of our Prophet (pbuh), as we have already seen in detail, women took their place in battle, were present in all kinds of social environments, engaged in business and were among the leading preachers of the faith. The verses of the Qur’an contain not the slightest suggestion that women are too dangerous or inherently foolish to be allowed out of doors; on the contrary, in the Qur’an God reveals the psychopathic nature of the fanatic attitude to women and how that mentality engaged in fiendish activities in the time of our Prophet (pbuh):

When any of them is given the good news of the very thing which he himself has ascribed to the All-Merciful [i.e. of a baby girl] his face darkens and he is furious(Qur'an, 43:17)

when the baby girl buried alive is asked for what crime she was killed, (Qur'an, 81:8-9)

When one of them is given the good news of a baby girl, his face darkens and he is furious. He hides away from people because of the evil of the good news he has been given. Should he keep her ignominiously or bury her in the earth? What an evil judgment they make! (Qur'an, 16:58-59)

kadın ve kedicikler

John William Godward's oil painting “On the Balcony,” 1911

A woman must learn how to live, not from a man, but from the Qur'an.

The verses in question provide an all too illuminating description of the terrifying nature of the fanatic attitude towards women and show how much this attitude is cursed by God. A mentality that was filled with rage and turned black when it learned that its child was a daughter and that went even further, committing infanticide by burying that child alive existed in the past, and they will have to give account in the hereafter for their actions as described in verses 8 and 9 of Surat at-Takwir. This enmity toward women is a source of great anger in the Sight of God.

kadın yağlı boya tablosu

John William Godward's oil painting “Nerissa,” 1906

Despising women, whom God says He has created in the finest form, and comparing them to dogs, asses and pigs, and describing them as a misfortune is totally incompatible with the moral values of the Qur'an. Muslim women are saintly people who are praised in the Qur'an, cited as role models, who are loved and respected and who are blessings.

As we have seen, the fanatic mindset that overflows with enmity toward and hatred of women has never altered its misogynistic attitude toward them for hundreds of years. Since these people knew that the verses of the Qur’an did not support their wicked way of thinking, they instead sought to wreak harm through these fabricated hadiths: That is the main reason for the existence of these horrifying false hadiths about women in particular. 

In another fabricated verse on the subject, the fanatics seek to train women by starving them almost to death and not letting them wear attractive clothes. According to that diseased mentality, if a woman is starved and only given old and shabby clothes to wear she will be less inclined to want to go outside. The false hadiths in question read:

Let women go hungry, but not enough to harm them, and with only few clothes, though do not go to extremes in that. That is because if women can eat their fill and dress well, there is nothing they like more than going out and walking around. But if they are relatively hungry and naked, there is nothing better for them than sitting at home. ( Ibn al-Jawzi, Mawdu’at, II/282283; Suyuti, al-Laali, II/154 Ibn Arrak, Tenzihus Sharia, II/212213)

Strengthen your control of women through (providing them with) insufficient clothing, for when a woman comes to have excessive dresses and ornaments, she tends to roam outside home. (Nahj al-Fasahah, p. 216)

A man may have lost his teeth and become ugly while his wife happens to be young and very beautiful. It is possible that such a woman, who may have gone out to the market or to other places where she may have been invited, sees handsome men and upon her return home is reluctant to be responsive to her husband’s amorous advances. This is the result of the visit of a woman to markets and social gatherings to say the least. (Imam Sharani, al-Uhud al-Qubra)

The description of women in the false hadiths in question is an abnormal creature, literally one of an animal that cannot control itself anywhere it goes, that tends to act in the light of its own instincts rather than out of faith in, and fear of, God and that therefore needs to be kept in check by various precautions. Such a description is exactly that the fanatics have of women. What concerns us is the perspective of the Qur’an, not that of the fanatic. The Muslim woman described in the Qur’an fears God. She therefore knows very well how she should dress in which environment, how to protect her chastity and honor, and how to behave in the shops, at the market and during celebrations. The Qur’an is all she needs to know. She has no need of a man to tell her in order to know that, nor to tell her what to wear or eat. It is God Who will decide, not a mortal man. Men are given no such authority or license anywhere in the Qur’an. Men are given no privileges or attributes to allow them to claim that they possess such rights anywhere in the Qur’an. Since God addresses female believers in the Qur’an in the same way that He does male believers, a woman will see and understand what our Lord says to her in the Qur’an and strive to act on it in the most perfect way.

In order to act on the morality described in the Qur’an, all a woman needs is to fear God. Those people who maintain that piety can only be established by being imposed by a man are fanatics, who are quite literally prisoners of these terrible false hadiths.

In addition, God reveals in the Qur’an that Muslims, be they men or women, should eat and drink everything that is lawful - without overdoing it of course - come to the mosque in the finest clothes, wear jewels and be clean and well-groomed. There are no verses about a woman not going out of doors. On the contrary, it can clearly be seen from verses that the social responsibilities that God imposes on women require that they play an intensive role in social life. Those hadiths are therefore at complete variance with the Qur’an.

The idea that a woman is misfortune and annuls prayer

balkonda kadın

John William Godward's oil painting “Idleness,” 1900

How can someone who lives by the fanatical mindset feel anything other than hatred for his wife, the person who should be the closest to him of all in this world?

The Apostle of God (pbuh) said: When one of you prays without a sutrah, a dog, an ass, a pig, a jew, a Magian, and a woman cut off his prayer… (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 2, Hadith 704)

Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people). (Sahih Bukhari, Book 9, Hadith 490)

Evil omen is in three things: The horse, the woman and the house. (Sahih Bukhari, Book 52, Hadith 110)

If there is any evil omen in anything, then it is in the woman, the horse and the house. (Sahih Bukhari, Book 52, Hadith 111; Sahih Muslim, Book 26, Hadith 5528)

We need to consider these fabricated hadiths in the light of the above remarks. To belittle women, whom God says He has created in the finest form, by comparing them with dogs, donkeys and pigs, and to describe them as ”evil omen”, is incompatible with the values of the Qur’an. Muslim women are blessed people, praised and shown as role models, and loved and respected in the Qur’an, and are described as blessings throughout the Qur'an.

In addition, the way that animals such as dogs and horses, which are very nice and also of much help to human beings, are described as creatures with evil omen annulling acts of worship is also a sign of the horrible manifestation of the rationale in question.

What is more, there is no such concept as fortune or misfortune in Islam; these concepts are part of polytheism. It must not be forgotten that good and evil both come from God. Nothing created has any power of its own to be either fortune or misfortune for human beings. Believing in misfortune is simply a part of the polytheistic character, and God tells us it is really those people who have ill fortune:

“... No indeed! Their ill fortune will be with God. But most of them did not know.” (Qur'an, 7:31)

Examples of the fanatic mindset that compares women to animals

John William Godward's oil painting “The Love Letter,” 1913

Fabricated hadiths encourage hatred rather than love.

The race of women consists of ten species, and the character of each (of these) corresponds and is related to the distinctive quality of one of the animals. One (species) resembles the pig, another the ape, another the dog, another the snake, another the mule, another the scorpion, another the mouse, another the pigeon, another the fox, and another the sheep. (from Counsel for Kings by Imam Ghazali)

Here we need to ask; what kind of opinion of a woman could a man who believes in such nonsense possibly have? How can he love and respect his wife? How could such a person feel anything other than hatred for the person who should be the closest to him in this world? How could he attain the love that is so important in the Qur’an if he literally regards his own wife as an animal?

He cannot, of course. Yet in the Qur’an, God speaks of the importance of love and compassion between spouses:

Among His signs is that He created spouses for you of your own kind so that you might find tranquility in them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you. There are certainly signs in that for people who reflect. (Qur'an, 30:21)

On that basis we can expand our discussion a little: Generally speaking, someone whose opinion of his wife is framed by such horrible details will doubtlessly think of his own mother, sister or daughter in the same way. His love and respect for them will be a reflection of the perspective in those false words, and his relationships with them will inevitably be based on contempt.

The description of women in the false hadiths obviously encourages hatred, rather than love. It is impossible to feel respect for the woman described in the false hadiths in question and not a word is said about love. This great emotion, which God describes as essential in the Qur’an, the love that is the whole purpose behind God’s creation of the universe, has literally been forgotten. What kind of faith is it that has so many enemies, and particularly women?

Such a faith is most definitely not the true faith in the Qur’an.

In addition, one of the most important things in the Qur’an is to hold favorable opinions of others. It is a sin to jump to conclusions without evidence and witnesses. Therefore, in the view of the Qur’an, it is wrong to think of people as “perfidious, eager for fine clothes, predisposed to steal, cunning, proud and tricky” just because they are women. It is an outrageous lie, and a sin. In order to be able to say that someone is a cheat, we need to witness their trickery and dishonesty; in order to be able to accuse someone of theft, we need to prove that they have stolen someone else’s property. In the view of the Qur’an, it is slander to make such accusations, in the absence of any evidence or witness, solely on the grounds that a person is a woman. However, the fanatics are unaware of the commandments in the Qur’an and are therefore unable to see the perverse logic in the fabricated hadiths because they live by an entirely different and false faith.

Verses addressing the wives of our Prophet (pbuh)

We now need to make one important point very clear; the Qur’an contains verses addressing the wives of our Prophet (pbuh). In order to prevent strife and possible misunderstandings, God kept the wives of our Prophet (pbuh) separate from other women in his time. As it is revealed in the Qur’an:

Wives of the Prophet! You are not like other women provided you have piety. Do not be too soft-spoken in your speech lest someone with sickness in his heart becomes desirous. Speak correct and courteous words. Remain in your houses and do not display your beauty as it was previously displayed in the Time of Ignorance. Perform the prayer and pay alms and obey God and His Messenger. God desires to remove all impurity from you, People of the House, and to purify you completely. (Qur'an, 33:32-33)

In these verses, the wives of our Prophet (pbuh) have separate responsibilities on the subjects of life style, speech, clothing and the like; people looking at these verses sometimes interpret them as being generally addressed to all Muslim women. Yet these verses are not addressed to all Muslim women, and the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) are specifically set apart from other women.


Conclusion:

The main reason for our discussion of the fabricated hadiths concerning women in this chapter is to show the false belief widespread in some Islamic communities and what its true origin is. In this way, those who abide by these views in the name of Islam, and those who are opposed to Islam because of them will be able to see that this oppression of women has absolutely no place in the Qur’an.

However, some people try to find evidence in the Qur’an for the belittlement of women. That stems from the misinterpretation of various verses of the Qur’an, the misinterpretation of various personal annotations made in parentheses and from such misinterpretations being generally made in the light of the fabricated hadiths cited above. Yet when one looks at the Qur’an alone it is impossible to find any of the ideas that the fanatics come up with in the light of their own desires. In order to understand this better, we shall be looking at verses which they have for years sought to portray as supporting evidence for their enforced enclosure and beating of women and women being treated as second-class human beings. When one looks at these through the eyes of a Muslim who abides by the Qur’an, and not through the eyes of a fanatic, when the verses are interpreted according to their true meanings, when that false faith of the fanatics is excluded, then everyone will clearly see that the system that attaches the greatest value to women is the system found in the Qur’an.

Responses to those who look for evidence from the Qur’an in order to restrict and belittle women

The addition of the word “headscarf” to translations of the Qur’an

Kuran, çiçekler

One of the issues that fanatics bring up most of all is that women should cover themselves up. The conception of religion and faith of certain people, who exhibit almost no sensitivity to a great many commandments of the faith, who fail to observe even its most fundamental requirements but who are scrupulous when it comes to abiding by the Sunnah - the hadiths in other words - generally takes the form of “the headscarf=religion.” However, does the headscarf, which some people literally regard as the sole symbol of the faith, appear in the Qur’an?

Many scholars say that they draw their remarks about the headscarf and covering up from the Qur’an, and point to various verses on the subject. The fact is, however, that the word “headscarf” appears in not one single verse. Therefore, we first need to see how the Qur’an is interpreted and what the accurate explanation is.

 

Surat an-Nur verse 31, 1st part

Say to the believing women that they should lower their eyes and guard their chastity and not display their adornments – except for what normally shows – and draw their head-coverings across their breasts. They should only display their adornments to their husbands or their fathers or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons or other women or those they own as slaves or their male attendants who have no sexual desire or children who still have no awareness of women’s private parts. Nor should they stamp their feet so that their hidden ornaments are known. Turn to God every one of you, believers, so that hopefully you will have success. (Qur’an, 24:31)

In almost all translations the verse appears as, “...and draw their head-coverings across their breasts,” but the word “headscarf” actually does not appear in this verse. The verse speaks of “covering.” We can see this more clearly from looking at the meanings of the original Arabic words:

yadribne

ya-dribna: derived from the verb “daraba,” means “to strike, beat, leave (something), cover, close up.”

humurihinnekhumuri-hin-na: derived from “khamara.” “Khamra” means “wine, intoxicating.” In this verse the word means “covering.” It is generally used to mean “all kinds of covering, curtain, screen; shelter; pretext.”

cuyubihinnejuyubi-hin-na: Plural form of the word “juyub.” It means chest, breast, pocket, chest area, cavity, collar.

Let us now look word by word at the part of the verse reading “wal-ya-dribna bi-khumuri-hin-na ‘ala juyubi-hin-na,” translated as “...and draw their head coverings across their breasts.”

“Khimar” / Cover

The word “khumur” used as evidence for the headscarf covers a broad range of meaning, and is the plural form of the word “khimar,” meaning “covering,” and is derived from the root “khamara,” meaning “to cover.”

Dictionaries generally translate the word “khimar” as meaning “cover,” suggesting “anything which covers something.”

Therefore, the word translated as “head coverings” in the verse in fact means just a “cover”, and the word “head” appears nowhere at all in the verse.

“Yadribna” / To strike

This verb in the verse is translated by those who wish to portray the headscarf as being commanded in the Qur’an as, “that they should draw, that they should release.” The reason for that is to be able use the words “and draw their head coverings across their breasts” in order to justify their preconception that the verse refers to a headscarf already existing on the head. The fact is, however, that the verb means no such thing, and is properly used as follows:

The verb “yadribna” is derived from the root “daraba.” Daraba means “to strike, to beat, to leave, to cover, to close.” The verse is referring to the covering of the chest region with a covering when it says “that they should cover (walyadribna) their breasts (juyubihinna) with their coverings (bikhumurihinna).”

In the Qur'an the verb “yudnina” is used when the meaning purported is “that they should lengthen, release, or let down.” This verb however appears in no part of this verse.

“Juyub” / Collar opening

The word “juyub” is the plural form of the word “jayb,” which means “pocket” (it is used in the explanations such as “to open a pocket in a shirt”, “to put into a pocket” or “to remove from pocket”)

It is also used to mean the breast, bosom, heart, pocket, purse, opening.

The word “juyub” appears three times in the Qur’an. ”Juyub” is used in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur, while the singular form of the word, “jayb,” appears in two places in the story of the Prophet Moses (pbuh). It is used as follows in those two verses:

"Put your hand into your bosom (fee jaybika). It will emerge pure white, ... (Qur'an, 27:12)

Put your hand into your bosom (fee jaybika). It will emerge pure white ... (Qur'an, 28:32)

The word “juyub” in these two verses is used to mean the “bosom” of the Prophet Moses (pbuh). Looking at all these facts together, it is clear that when used together with the word “khimar,” the word “juyub” means to cover up the bosom. The verse contains no reference to “covering up the head.”

Therefore, the true meaning of the passage generally interpreted to mean, “...that they should draw their head-coverings across their breasts,” is in fact, “that they should cover their breasts with their coverings.” The commandment in the verse refers to the covering of the breasts, not the head.

cuyub, yaka açığı

The word “juyub” in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur means “breast” and the word “khumur” means to cover. The verse is referring to covering the breasts.
There is nothing in the verse about covering the head.

Misleading or incorrect translations based on fabricated hadiths

In order to be able to produce a commandment referring to the “headscarf” from verse 31 of Surat an-Nur, various misleading interpretations have sometimes been employed by commentators while translating the verse. The aim behind that is to be able to adapt the verse in the light of fabricated hadiths that we will be analyzing soon (surely the verse is beyond that). The main misleading interpretation in question was brought about by the mistranslation of “… that they should draw their head coverings…”

A false interpretation: “that they should draw their head coverings”

başörütü yoktur

Kuran‘ın hiçbir yerinde başörtüsü ifadesi geçmemektedir. Buna rağmen bazı tefsirciler, bir kısım mevzu hadislere uyum gösterebilmek için Kuran‘dan zorlama bir şekilde başörtüsü hükmü çıkarmaya çalışmışlardır.

As we have seen from examining the Arabic, sthis passage, interpreted to mean, “… that they should draw their head-coverings across their breasts,” contains a reference neither to a ”head-covering” nor “drawing down.” Nonetheless, some people desirous of interpreting the verse along those lines fall into serious contradictions and errors in terms of meaning because their interpretations conflict with the Qur’an. Many of them make surprising comments along the lines of “They drew the headscarves they were already wearing on their heads across their breasts,” maintaining that the women already had a covering on their heads. In order for Muslim women of the time to “already have a covering on their heads,” there would have to be a commandment to that effect in the Qur’an: Yet nowhere in the Qur’an does it say anything about the headscarf. It is therefore impossible for the women of the time to have had scarves on their heads as a religious commandment. The idea of the “scarf already on their heads” is therefore a serious logical flaw.

1.      In order to back up the idea of “a scarf already worn on the head,” some commentators suggest that the reference to the “jilbab,” that is burqa, in verse 59 of Surat al-Ahzab was revealed before verse 31 of Surat an-Nur, and that Muslim women therefore already wore scarves on their heads. As we shall be seeing in detail, the jilbab is a piece of cloth that covers the entire body, from head to foot; its purpose is essentially to cover the entire body. If we remember that verse 31 of Surat an-Nur commands women to cover up their breasts, we can see that there is no possibility of the chest of a woman wearing the jilbab being uncovered in any way, so the verse is not addressing women who cover their entire head and body. The people making that claim seem to have forgotten this very important and fundamental point.

2.      Women in Arab societies of the time moved around unclothed and that is why the verse was sent down. Following that verse, Muslim women began covering their previously exposed chests. Let us recall that the word “juyub” in the verse means bosom, and that the true sense of the passage in question is “that they should cover their breasts with their coverings.”

3.      According to some commentators who insist on the idea of a “pre-existing head covering,” the women in question have “already” covered their heads with scarves, yet, according to their way of thinking, their chests are somehow completely uncovered! According to this peculiar way of thinking, women managed to think of covering their heads, but not of covering their breasts (surely Muslims are beyond that). They were supposedly scrupulous when it came to covering their heads, but walked around naked. That is the inevitable conclusion from these commentators’ idea of “the pre-existing headscarf.” With this interpretation, these people are maintaining that women “with their chests exposed but their heads covered up” are being advised to pull those head coverings down to cover up their chests. This terrible flaw of logic is the result of trying to include the idea of the headscarf in the Qur’an.

4.      According to this strange idea, “the pre-existing headscarf” must be so long that it can be pulled down in such a way as to completely cover the chest from both sides. Therefore, each one of the women who were apparently wandering around topless at the time must “already” have been wearing the headscarf, which was as long as a full body covering. The misinterpretation of the verse along the lines of “that they should draw their head coverings” has thus led the proponents of this idea into a logical fallacy. That is the consequence of trying to impute another meaning onto this explicitly clear verse.

Explanations of false hadiths fabricated in order to add the headscarf to this verse result in even worse logical distortions. This will be described in later sections.

göğüsleri örtmek

What needs to be known about the meanings of the Arabic versions of verses and accuracy of interpretations

Care needs to be taken over various elements if an Arabic text is to be properly understood, or accurately translated into other languages:

1-Care over the use of words in Arabic

One subject requiring attention if the criteria involving women covering their body parts is to be properly understood is how the word “cover” is used in Arabic.

The word “cover” is generally used in Arabic together with an emphasis on the object to be covered up. For example, when the word table is used alongside the word to cover, the result is a tablecloth. In the same way, the use of the word "to cover" ("khimar") alongside the word "head" ("ra’as") gives the word “khimaru-ra’as” meaning “head covering.” If the Qur'an commanded women to cover their heads, one of the expressions that need to be used would have to be “khimaru-ra’as.”

In verse 6 of Surat al-Ma’ida, which is about ritual purification before prayer, the word head is expressed with the word “ra’s.”

You who believe! When you get up to perform your prayer, wash your faces and your hands and your arms to the elbows, and wipe over your heads, and your feet to the ankles. (Qur'an, 5:6)

Arabic transliteration: ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo itha qumtum ila alssalati faighsiloo wujoohakum waaydiyakum ila almarafiqi waimsahoo biruoosikum 

It is clear that had God commanded women to cover their heads, that command would have been set out explicitly and unequivocally in the Qur’an. However, examination of the verses regarding women’s clothing contains no such emphasis regarding the head.

2-Examination of words in the Qur’an through other verses

In examining the Qur’an, one needs to look at how a particular word is used with other words in the verse and in other verses.

The word used alongside the word “khimar” (“cover”) in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur and which emphasizes the subject is “juyub.” As we have seen above, this word is used to refer to the bosom region in all the other verses in which it appears. The area that needs to be covered up is therefore the bosom.

3-Care being taken over ascribing meaning to Arabic words in parenthesis

Arabic has a much larger vocabulary than many other languages, and it is exceedingly rich in terms of meanings: Much can be said with few words, and a word can have very different uses, and therefore meanings. Therefore, many interpretations are added in parenthesis even though the meaning of the verse is quite clear; additions are made and meanings are shaped according to the individual interpretations of the translator.

Let us recall here that since some of the people who translate the Qur’an have traditional conceptions of Islam or since these people’s translations are generally highly esteemed, individual interpretations emerging in translations of verses are generally traditional and shaped in the light of fabricated hadiths. Such translators who add remarks in parenthesis have a tendency, conscious or otherwise, to alter the meaning of verses in line with that of such false hadiths.

When we look at the translations of verse 31 of Surat an-Nur, we see that although the word “head-covering” appears nowhere in it, the word is used by commentators either directly in the text or else in parenthesis. Although the word “head” or “ra’as” does not appear in the verse, and the word “bosom” is used in combination with the word “cover,” meaning that the area to be covered up is clearly the bosom, the word “khimar,” meaning “any covering,” is translated as “head-covering.” The instruction in the verse is thus altered; this altered meaning has been made widespread and become the traditional interpretation, and the conclusion is thus drawn that women need to cover their heads.

When this interpretation that was added only later by commentators is done away with, however, it is clear that the verse is explicitly referring to the covering up of the bosom. Anyone reading the verse will encounter that meaning alone.

Kuranda başörtüsü

Some people who translate the Qur'an from a traditional conception of Islam tend to produce changes in meaning, either through the use of parentheses or directly in the text itself. Although verse 31 of Surat an-Nur says nothing about a head-covering, these people have not hesitated to refer to the headscarf either in parenthesis or directly in the text. Yet once this interpretation is done away with, the verse clearly refers to covering up the chest.

Surat an-Nur verse 31, 2nd part

Say to the believing women that they should lower their eyes and guard their chastity and not display their adornments – except for what normally shows – and draw their head-coverings across their breasts. They should only display their adornments to their husbands or their fathers or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons or other women or those they own as slaves or their male attendants who have no sexual desire or children who still have no awareness of women’s private parts. Nor should they stamp their feet so that their hidden ornaments are known. Turn to God every one of you, believers, so that hopefully you will have success. . (Qur'an, 24:31)

Misinterpretations regarding “women’s adornments”

Another subject that God draws our attention in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur is women’s “adornments.” The passage in the verse that reads, ”... so that their hidden ornaments are known” means that they should not display their breasts, and is not a reference to their heads.

However, this is reflected very differently in some hadiths and in some commentaries on the Qur’an through additions in parentheses or the distortion of the meanings of words. Let us have a look at these:

The idea that women are instruments of trial

The true meaning of the first part of the word “zeenatahunna” in this verse is “adornment or ornament,” and the suffix “hunna” indicates that this is being addressed to women.

In their own opinions, some scholars say, “Women’s bodies are decorative and attractive, for which reason the verse is referring to their entire bodies.” From that starting point they claim that women should cover all their bodies up; in truth, the verse is actually saying no such thing.

Some people come up with a very different interpretation to what the Qur’an is saying and say, “This refers to the parts of the body where beads and decorations are displayed, for which reason it is unlawful to look at the regions where these are displayed.” Others go even further and say, “It is unlawful to look at a woman’s cut hair or nail clippings.” They then go on to produce very odd ideas such as, “Looking at just one part usually leads to looking at the whole.” (Ibn Hajar, al-Zawajir)

Even though the verse is perfectly explicit, countless very different and odd interpretations have been produced from the term ”... so that their hidden ornaments are known.” These interpretations vary according to people’s way of thinking, and sometimes depending on their perspective toward women. Mindsets that seek to shut women away, pacify them, make them ugly and keep them away from society and humanity, to make them second-class citizens and – may God forbid - turn them into entities that live only to serve men and not God, have tended to want to eliminate women entirely by means of the single word “ornament.” Through these false interpretations of verses of the Qur’an, many people have departed from the essence of the faith and have regarded the Qur’an as an incomprehensible book, and when these additions have been taken together with fabricated hadiths, the result has become an interpretation of faith very different to that seen in the Qur’an.

However, the term “hidden ornaments” in the verse is very clear, and refers to two areas that are kept hidden, the sexual organs and the breasts.

The error of making adornments and accessories unlawful

takılar, süsler

Some people maintain that the “ornaments” in the verse are things like “beads, jewels and other accessories.” This is significant in grasping the error and oddity of various interpretations based on false hadiths. According to this astonishing claim, a man’s instincts are so primitive that the sight of a single bead is enough to drive him out of control. So according to that mindset, beads should be banned at once in order to keep “men,” supposedly barbaric entities, reined in!

This frightening way of thinking in point of fact is very revealing regarding the fanatics’ view of the Muslim male. Yet a Muslim man is an entity that fears God and the reason he will refrain from unlawful actions is not because some things have been banned, but because they will be unpleasing to God. A Muslim man is not a being who will lose all control when he sees an uncovered woman or a handful of beads, or who lives in the light of animal instincts; to claim that he is represents a worst slander of a Muslim male.

The interpretations in question are actually highly significant in terms of exposing the barbaric mentality of the fanatics. When we set aside the interpretations of the fanatics and limit ourselves solely to the Qur’an we can quite clearly see what the word “ornament” means.

How is the word “ornament” used in the Qur’an?

yeşil çiçek

In complete contrast to the fanatics’ idea of banning ornaments and objects such as necklaces and earrings, God reveals in the Qur’an that He creates such adornments for believers and that indeed they should go to the mosque looking well-groomed and well-dressed:

Children of Adam! Put on your adornment in every mosque … (Qur'an, 7:31)

In the verse, “Say: ‘Who has forbidden the ornament of God which He has produced for His servants and the good kinds of provision?’” God reveals the existence of a mindset that would forbid those things made lawful by Him. In the next part of the verse, “Say: ‘They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Resurrection.’ In this way We make the signs clear for people who know.”(Qur'an, 7:32) He stresses that ornaments are lovely blessings bestowed on Muslims in this world, and that they will belong to believers alone in the hereafter, thus making it clear that believers are the ones worthies of such delights. The fact that fanatics try to prohibit Muslims from enjoying these pleasures, even though God regards them as worthy of believers, shows how directly they fly in the face of the mindset of the Qur’an.

Another verse in which ornamentation is referred to reads:

Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts, as well as to be an adornment to you, but the garment of piety–that is best! That is one of God’s signs, so that hopefully you will pay heed. (Qur'an, 7:26)

The region referred to in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur

In the above verses, God is referring to the use of ornaments and adornments. However, the word “ornament” in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur has nothing to do with beads or anything like that; the verse cites family life of women as an example and shows the kind of freedom given to women in the family. Let us now examine the relevant section of the verse word by word:

… They should only display their adornments to their husbands or their fathers or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons or other women or those they own as slaves or their male attendants who have no sexual desire or children who still have no awareness of women’s private parts. Nor should they stamp their feet so that their hidden ornaments are known. Turn to God every one of you, believers, so that hopefully you will have success. (Surat an-Nur, 31)

The word “ornaments” here does not refer to beads or accessories, but very obviously to the private parts and the people to whom these “ornaments” may be shown are then listed. These include servants who have no need of women (who have no sexual desire or are impotent) and children who as yet have no awareness of women’s private parts. The fact that especially the children who have no awareness of women’s private parts are mentioned shows that the word “adornments” refers to those parts.

The language used in the Qur’an is most pure and perfect. The words are used with great care, they are delicate and this can be immediately understood when examined in detail. The private parts are described in accordance with the delicacy and literary artistry of the Qur’an, and are described as adornments.

One of the main pretexts raised by some commentators in order to produce their interpretation of the headscarf in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur is various fabricated hadiths. These false hadiths so deeply and blatantly contradict the verse that it can be very easily seen with a clear analysis. Let us now examine how the false hadiths in question conflict with the Qur’an, how they mislead the community of Islam on the subject of the head-covering and the feeble logic they contain:

Fabricated hadiths on the subject of the head-covering and their internal inconsistencies

Kuranda başörtüsü

Some commentators have attempted to make verse 31 of Surat an-Nur compatible with fabricated hadiths by making additions or through misleading translations in an attempt to include the concept of the headscarf. The false hadiths in question maintain that when the verse was revealed, Muslim women cut up their skirts and covered their heads with them. According to this illogical claim, a woman's breasts and legs remained uncovered, but she had her head covered.

As we have seen with all the evidence, verse 31 of Surat an-Nur, which some people try to portray as evidence for the headscarf, in fact contains no reference to the word “head-covering” at all. However, with the inclusion of some false hadiths into the literature of Islam, this misconception has spread and come down to the present day. The false hadiths fabricated by fanatics are riddled with significant flaws of logic and contain many inconsistencies. Let us now have a look at some examples:

Aisha (ra) said: “When verse 24:31 was revealed, the women of the migrants from Mecca took their garments and tore pieces of cloth from the edges of their skirts and covered their heads with them.” (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud, Beyhaqi, VII, 88)

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: May God have mercy on the early immigrant women. When the verse "That they should draw their veils over their bosoms" was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them.”  (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 32, Hadith 4091)

Satiyya binti Shayba narrates this memory she heard from Aisha (ra): We were with Aisha, talking about Quraishi women and their virtues. Aisha: Verily, Quraishi women have some virtues. But, I swear by God, I have never seen any women more virtuous than the women of Ansar who believed in the Book of God strongly and firmly. When the verse of the Surah Light they should draw their veils over their bosoms was revealed, believer men went to their homes reciting that verse. They read the verse to their wives, daughters, sisters and other relatives. Each woman made headscarves out of their clothes, by believing and affirming the Book of God. The next morning, the women performed the prayer of fajr (the early Morning Prayer). It looked as if there were crows on their heads. (Sahih Bukhari, Tafsir Sura (The Commentary of the Surahs) 24:12; Sunan Abu Dawud, Libas (Cloth): 29)

As we have seen, these hadiths all claim that when verse 31 of Surat an-Nur was revealed, Muslim women immediately tore pieces from their skirts and wrapped them round their heads. That is where the first violation of logic begins. Now let us look at the flaws of logic in these false hadiths and how they conflict with the Qur’an:

1. As we have already seen in detail, the term in the verse “... they should put their coverings across their bosoms” refers to women covering their breasts. The hadiths in question, however, say that when this verse was sent down Muslim women immediately cut pieces from their garments and covered their heads with them, not their breasts; yet the verse says nothing about covering the head. None of the hadiths in question says anything Muslim women obeying the actual command in the verse, covering up their breasts, in other words.

2. According to the description here, women tore pieces from their own skirts, but instead of covering their breasts, as commanded in the verse, they wrapped them round their heads. In order to agree with the mistaken interpretation of “draw down their head-coverings,” the pieces they cut from their skirts must have been so large that they were able to cover their heads and also descend to their chests.

3. The first thing that comes to mind here would be the state of these torn skirts. Since the piece they cut was enough to cover their heads and chests, their skirts must have turned into modern-day miniskirts, and their legs must have been exposed. According to this description, the women’s chests and legs are exposed, but they have covered their heads. Yet as we have seen with all the evidence, verse 31 of Surat an-Nur was revealed “only” to tell women to cover their breasts.

4. We have already seen how some commentators interpret the term “draw down their head-coverings” in such a way as to justify their idea of an “already existing head-covering.” They make that claim in order to justify the idea that the verse contains the word “head-covering” and maintain that the women addressed by the verse are already wearing head-coverings. The fact is, however, that the false hadiths in question claim that the women made head-coverings for themselves by cutting up their skirts when the verse was revealed. How it is that these false hadiths, which the commentators in question regard as their main support, conflict so much with their own accounts?

kadına şiddet

They conflict with their own accounts because the faith of those who wish to add false commandments to Islam other than the true commandments found in the Qur’an are full of profound flaws of logic. Since all superstitious accounts clash with the Qur’an, they all involve great contradictions. The deceptive interpretations produced solely in order to justify the idea of the head-covering in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur, even though the verse is perfectly clear and easy to understand, show the scale of what is happening. The interpretations made in the light of the false hadiths in question and the conclusions produced from them are all quite terrifying:

In the Sha’afi and Hanbali schools, the entire female body is without exception a region that needs to be covered up (including the face and hands). In the Hanafi and Maliki schools, the hands and face can be left uncovered, so long as that does not lead to sedition (Sabuni, Tafsirul Ayatil Ahkam 2/154,155). As-Suddi: “The woman shall veil one of her eyes and the portion of her face corresponding to that part of the uncovered eye. Only one eye may be left open.” Abu Hayyan: “Such had been the custom in Andalusia. Only one eye of the woman was seen.” (Abu Hayyan, al-Bahr al-Muhit). Sha’afi imams prohibited even glancing at a woman’s nail clippings (Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, What Is Lawful and Unlawful in Islam 2). According to one widespread account, the covering made a binding duty for a woman by Islam also includes her face (Fiqh us-Seerah). Another source described how a woman should look at a man as follows; “It is not permissible for a woman to look at the chest, back or legs of a strange man, even if she has no fear of temptation. Temptation caused by the face is greater than that caused by the feet, the hair or the legs. Since it is unanimously agreed that looking at these parts is forbidden, then it must, a fortiori, be forbidden to look at the face.” (Sabuni, Rewai 2/156).

The terrifying mind of the fanatic can only feel at ease when women are completely covered up: For some people however, even that is not enough, and a woman who covers up every part of her body should then incarcerate herself at home as well. It is impossible to produce such radical and frightening interpretations from the verses of the Qur'an, which gives freedoms to women and describes whom they can behave freely in front of and in front of whom they need to cover their private parts. Yet the false hadiths we have been looking at have made this possible, and these people have been able to go so far as to make their own additions to the verse and turn women into phantoms, covered from head to foot, whose nail clippings it is even forbidden to look at. This example is highly illustrative in terms of seeing the scale of the fanatic mindset.

Let us also remember here that the hadith collection refers to men and women purifying themselves from the same bowl in the time of our Prophet (pbuh). (See Sahih Bukhari, Wudu 43; Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab al-Taharah 39; Sunan ibn Majah, Taharah 36; an-Nasai, Taharah 56) Since the areas purified are the feet, the arms as far as the elbows, the face and the head, it appears from the hadiths that women were alongside men and had their heads uncovered. However, the one unifying feature of the otherwise fractious fanatics is that they completely ignore those hadiths that do not suit them.

Since our sole guide is the Qur’an, and the accounts given in the Qur’an are as explicit as can be, women being present alongside men with their heads uncovered is a behavior entirely compatible with the Qur’an.

dua etmek

Forbidden things are not left obscure in the Qur’an

In looking at the fanatic mindset that produces the idea that “even a woman’s nail clippings are forbidden,” it is important to clarify one important point: God has revealed what is forbidden with very clear and unequivocal descriptions in the Qur’an. For example, Muslims learn that it is forbidden to eat pork in the verse “He has only forbidden you carrion, blood and pork and what has been consecrated to other than God…” (Qur'an, 2:173). There is no question of a Muslim being unsure, of two minds or in need of interpretation and comment regarding the commandment “He has forbidden you…” Another example concerns interest. This is definitely forbidden for Muslims in the verse, “God has permitted trade and He has forbidden usury.” (Qur'an, 2:275). Nobody can enter into a debate on the subject in the face of the verse or try to claim that “interest is indistinguishable from business.”

Therefore, we learn what is forbidden directly from the verse itself, not from the deductions of various commentators, comments added in parenthesis or fabricated hadiths. Verse 31 of Surat an-Nur is crystal clear in that sense. Yet the commentators’ error of adding interpretations in parenthesis to verses has been made many times, particularly with regard to this verse. For example, some commentators, influenced by the imams of schools and making up their own provisions, add the words “... apart from such visible areas as the face and hands” to this verse in parenthesis. Yet in Islam, if all areas “... apart from the hands and face” had to be covered up, there is no doubt that such an important subject would have appeared in the Qur’an in the most unequivocal of terms and our Almighty Lord would have made it abundantly clear and in no uncertain terms. In the same way that we have no doubt that pork, usury or adultery are forbidden, so we would also have seen this in the Qur’an; yet no such way of dressing is described in the Qur’an. It appears only in the accounts of some commentators.

The desire to shut women and their bodies away

For whatever reason, under the influence of fabricated hadiths the fanatics’ interpretations have always been along the lines of shutting women away indoors or covering their bodies up. The main justification they cite is their arousing nature; yet the fact remains that the male body is just as attractive to women as the female body is to men. Since, according to the Qur’an, there is no distinction between the genders, there is no logic to trying to cover up women out of a fear that men might be aroused by them. If the problem is the arousal of men, then would it not be far more logical for men to shut themselves up indoors or to go out wearing a covering that prevented them from seeing what was around them? Given the probabilities of their own arousal, they should elect to eliminate the risk entirely rather than covering women up.

All kinds of detail could be applied on this subject. For example, if some people will think that a woman’s voice is arousing and that she should be prevented from speaking, the same should apply to men. If a woman’s voice or the songs she sings should not be listened to, then bearing in mind that women can be excited by a man’s voice, that restriction should also apply to men. If the fanatic mentality wishes to declare that its false rules are valid, and if it insists on trying to convince people of them, then it should impose the same measures on men.

However, the logic that applies in Islam is that of the Qur’an of course, and there are no such restrictions in the logic of the Qur’an. These restrictions that the fanatics wish to enforce have doubtlessly been fabricated for the purpose of imposing controls and limiting freedoms, and simply serve to create enormous troubles for communities, and ultimately lead to disaster in the societies in which they themselves live.

As in all matters, men and women are equal in terms of chastity. Adultery is forbidden for women and for men. As God reveals in verse 35 of Surat al-Ahzab, “... men and women who guard their chastity,” men have the same obligation to be chaste and pure as women do. However, the way to achieve this is not by shutting people up, not letting them out, and not letting them meet or speak. The way to do it is for them to adopt the moral values of the Qur’an. Human beings are not wild creatures that act out of instinct and go where their desires lead them; human beings are entities with the capacity to distinguish right from wrong through their intelligence, their awareness and, most important of all, the moral values taught them by God and their love and fear of Him.

Therefore, what determines whether a person will behave in a chaste manner is not how much someone else reveals of their body or how much he can see of their hair, but his fear of God and moral values. God reveals in a verse, “… so that God will know those who fear Him in the Unseen” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 94) that He will test people even where nobody can see them. Therefore, using compulsion, shutting people away indoors and generally using violence will not ensure that. Faith, moral values and worship are matters of the heart alone.

kadın iffeti

Men and women are equal in terms of chastity in the Qur'an, as in all other matters. The criterion for chaste behavior is not how loosely one dresses or how much hair can be seen, but rather fear of God and moral virtue.

Conclusion:

flowers

As can be seen from all the detailed analysis above, under the influence of specious statements and forced accounts from various commentators, verse 31 of Surat an-Nur is used as supposed evidence for the idea of the head-covering, which has literally turned into a taboo. It is amazing how a verse that says nothing about head covering, provides no information about the head and yet explicitly describes the covering up of the bosom can be interpreted in such a very different manner.

Something else which is quite astounding is that many people who regard the head-covering, which is never mentioned in the Qur’an, as the sole obligation in the faith never speak of verse 59 of Surat al-Ahzab, which does speak of outer garments. They have turned the head-covering, which does not appear in the Qur’an, into a commandment and yet totally ignore the commandment regarding the outer covering which does appear in the Qur'an. Let us now look at how the outer covering does indeed appear in Surat al-Ahzab and why the proponents of the head-covering choose to ignore it:

Surat al-Ahzab Verse 59

O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the women of the believers to draw their outer garments (jilbab) closely round themselves. This makes it more likely that they will be recognized [as free righteous women] and not be harmed. God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 33:59)

The meaning of the Arabic word in the verse, “jilbab,” is a sheet or garment that covers the body from top to bottom. This verse from Surat al-Ahzab is therefore very clearly describing a garment that covers the head and the entire body. There is one reason cited for the wearing of such a garment, and that is for Muslim women to be recognized as free and chaste.

This means that some environments are not suitable for women to be able to move round in or dress freely. The structure of a society and the moral level of the people within it may sometimes lag behind that of the civilization. Some communities condemn women who walk around not completely covered and may even go so far as to inflict verbal or physical abuse on them. Under normal conditions, Muslim women will not go to such places unless they have no choice. Yet when they have to, it is essential for Muslim women to show that they are Muslims and chaste if they are to avoid unwelcome consequences. The jilbab worn by Muslim women in such environments is just such a measure.

This is of course something a woman will decide on for herself. The democratic and modern societies we generally live in do not meet this description of unsafe places. Therefore, women in Western societies do not generally feel the need to cover themselves up; that being said, there may also be people in such societies that do indeed pose a threat to women. So if a woman does not think she is safe she may well choose to cover herself up, even in a free Western society. The essential condition mentioned in the verse is to prevent Muslim women from being misjudged according to the way she dresses and oppressed.

Espousing the head-covering but never mentioning the “jilbab”

To move on to the subject of the head-covering, a woman can say, “The head-covering appears in the Qur’an and I see it in verse 59 of Surat al-Ahzab,” and wear one if she wishes. By doing this, she prefers the head-covering to a full covering and interprets covering up in that sense. Yet someone who says, “The head-covering appears in the Qur’an and I see it in verse 31 of Surat al-Nur,” is not telling the truth. This is a danger, because our Lord refers to those who regard lawful things as unlawful and distort the verses of the Qur’an. It may be a grave offense in the Sight of God to claim that a commandment that does not appear in the Qur’an is actually in it, even though one is well aware of the truth.

The surprising thing is that some people who regard the head-covering as a literal symbol of the faith and defend it in no uncertain terms almost never mention the reference to the full covering in the Qur’an.

Indeed, some people who measure religious devotion in terms of head covering and who measure superiority in terms of head covering - even though God says superiority lies in piety - never mention the real commandment about the jilbab in the Qur’an. Although the Qur’an says nothing about the head-covering but contains an explicit commandment about the jilbab, they prefer to espouse something which is not in the Qur’an. It is quite astonishing how the head-covering can mean so much in people’s eyes while nothing is said about the jilbab.

cilbap

If she so wishes, a woman can say, “The practice of head-covering does appear in the Qur'an and I can see it in verse 59 of Surat al- Ahzab,” and choose to cover her head. She may prefer the headscarf to covering the whole body and interpret covering up in that way. However, it is untrue to say that this is what verse 31 of Surat al-Ahzab commands because the Qur'an says nothing about the headscarf. The reference to wearing “jilbab” in verse 59 of Surat al-Ahzab is entirely at the discretion of the Muslim woman. Since women feel safe in democratic and civilized societies, they do not generally feel the need to wear the jilbab and cover up entirely.

A Muslim woman knows how to dress in accordance with the Qur’an

Kuranda tesettür

Some women, however, may not feel at ease even in such communities and may prefer to cover up entirely. The important thing is to prevent a woman from being misunderstood or harassed because of the way she dresses.

One important point that needs to be made here is that a Muslim woman knows perfectly well how to dress in accordance with the Qur’an so there is no need for a man to tell women how to dress. A man has no right whatsoever to interfere in what a woman wears, much less tell her how to dress or judge her. God has not given man that right. Today, this is an important matter that needs to be brought up and emphasized, especially in Muslim societies.

A woman may wear the head-covering, or cover herself up entirely or uncover her head or wear low-cut clothes. Once she says, “I am a Muslim,” nobody has the right to judge her. It is known only in the Sight of God which is more virtuous. It is sincerity that counts in the faith, not clothing. In the same way that someone who covers up entirely may be insincere and go to hell, a woman who wears low-cut clothes may also earn the right to enter Paradise. It is God alone Who will decide.

When people adopt guides other than the Qur’an, problems arise that are unsuited to human nature and will invariably make trouble of one kind or another. These also cease to be individual problems and can transform into social conflicts or problems. The distinction based on forms of dress – such as with or without the head-covering, or low-cut clothing versus covering up entirely - is a false perception that has no place in the Qur’an and leads to tensions in society. God reveals in a verse that according to the Qur’an, superiority lies not in dress and external appearance but in piety, or taqwa (acting out of a fear of God):

Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts, as well as to be an adornment to you, but the garment of piety–that is best! That is one of God’s signs, so that hopefully you will pay heed.  (Qur'an, 7:26)

Faith is lived and made reality in the heart. Faith manifests itself through moral virtues, a person’s warmth, affection, generosity, forgiving nature, quality, culture, manners and conception of art and science; in short, in everything. It is therefore important to evaluate people through their moral values, not by their external appearance.

No matter what their external appearance, people who say, “I am a Muslim” are all precious Muslims. It is wrong to discriminate between them. Nobody has the right to discriminate.

The “two women = one man” error

One of the misunderstood issues that some people seek to use as evidence against Islam is the idea that a woman is worth half a man. The main claim made by some opponents of Islam is that “a man’s witness testimony and rights are worth those of two women.” Fanatics have also made use of this misinterpretation, putting it into practice and branding women as worth “half” what men are worth. However, as in so many other areas, the opponents of Islam and the fanatics are also seriously mistaken on this subject.

God makes a man’s witness testimony and that of a woman equal in the Qur’an. The Qur’an says nothing about “a man’s testimony being worth that of two women.” For example, four witnesses are needed for adultery to be established, and the Qur’an says nothing about these being four women or two men, or four men or eight women. It only speaks of four witnesses. In other words, four witnesses are enough, be they men or women, and there is no distinction between them.

As with all matters, when testimonies conflict, woman is regarded as superior in the Qur’an, and her word is to be trusted. When women are accused of adultery, when there is a discrepancy between the woman’s statement and the man’s, the woman’s witness testimony is favored. A woman is even regarded as innocent on the basis of her own testimony. Relevant verses of the Qur’an read as follows:

Those who make an accusation against their wives and have no witnesses except themselves, such people should testify four times by God that they are telling the truth and a fifth time that God’s curse will be upon them if they are lying.

And the punishment is removed from her if she testifies four times by God that he is lying(Qur'an, 24:6-8)

The fact that woman is held superior to man in terms of witness testimony is a very significant one that is not well-known. It describes the essence of the Qur’an and its perspective toward women. The mistaken ideas of the fanatics and the opponents of Islam are very different, however. Let us look at the true meanings of the verses that fanatics who regard women as worth half a man use as evidence when it comes to women’s witness testimony and inheritance rights:

yatan kadın tablosu

John William Godward's oil painting “Endymion,” 1893

Women and witness testimony in loans

The only exception in the Qur’an regarding women’s witness testimony is that regarding loans. In order to grasp the exception here, we need to look at verse 282 of Surat al-Baqara in which loans are described:

You who believe! When you take on a debt for a specified period, write it down. A writer should write it down between you justly. No writer should refuse to write; as God has taught him, so he should write. The one incurring the debt should dictate and should have fear of God his Lord and not reduce it in any way. If the person incurring the debt is incompetent or weak or unable to dictate, then his guardian should dictate for him justly. Two men among you should act as witnesses. But if there are not two men, then a man and two women with whom you are satisfied as witnesses; then if one of them forgets, the other can remind her. Witnesses should not refuse when they are called upon. Do not think it too trivial to write down, whether small or large, with the date that it falls due. Doing that is more just in God’s Sight and more helpful when bearing witness and more likely to eliminate any doubt – unless it is an immediate transaction hand to hand, taken and given without delay. There is nothing wrong in your not writing that down. Call witnesses when you trade. Neither writer nor witness should be put under pressure. If you do that, it is deviancy on your part. Have fear of God and God will give you knowledge. God has knowledge of all things. (Qur'an, 2:282)

This verse sets out the rules on borrowing, and says that “...when you take on a debt for a specified period, write it down,” and that “no writer should refuse to write.” The end of the verse also says that “...neither writer nor witness should be put under pressure.” Being a witness on matters such as borrowing, where material interests are at stake, is something that people prefer to avoid. However, God wishes men to assume the whole responsibility for this unwelcome duty, and wishes “...two men to act as witness.” Note that the verse says nothing about “finding two male or four female witnesses.” It simply speaks of “two men acting as witnesses.” This risky and onerous responsibility is imposed directly on men. In this way, women, who are more susceptible to pressure, are protected from this unwelcome duty.

According to this verse, only if two men cannot be found, but one man is available, is the condition imposed of “one man and two women.” In this way, a woman is not left on her own in the face of a risky situation involving financial self-interest and calculations, such as borrowing. The possibility of a man and a woman ending up opposed to one another in the event of an adverse situation arising is thus avoided.

para-yukumluluk

Responsibilities concerning money are risky matters, especially in present- day society, that can easily result in a person being defamed, accused of wrongdoing or becoming the object of suspicion.

For example, let us imagine there is a misunderstanding concerning the amount of the loan or the method of repayment. If the two witnesses were to give different testimonies, the woman would end up lining up against the man, and in that circumstance when one of the two is definitely lying, she will come under intense stress and pressure. God is unwilling for women, whom He places under protection against all external pressures in the Qur’an, to be exposed to such a state of affairs. The presence of a second female witness to support her will eliminate that pressure. In the event that one man and two women are witnesses, when the number rises to three, the responsibility will be more widely distributed and the stress of bearing witness will be reduced. So people with ulterior motives who want to bring pressure to bear will have to deceive two out of three people, not one out of two parties, and that will make their pernicious task much harder.

It is a well-known fact that responsibilities concerning money, especially in today’s societies, are matters where one person can easily slander another, carelessly launch accusations against the other side and leave the other party under a cloud of suspicion. The precaution taken against this represents a guarantee for women in many respects. Some people find it easy to regard women as weak and to defame them. Such situations, in which money is involved, represent one of the climates in which such people may well attribute crimes to a woman and slander her. But if the loan is witnessed by two women, that eliminates the danger of such false accusations.

This also represents a source of security for a woman in psychological terms. It can be very risky to forget such details as the amount of the loan or repayment terms when witnessing such a transaction. Since Muslims have a responsibility to be impartial witnesses, they also have a responsibility to be fully aware of, and not forget, the details concerning the loan borrowed. In this way, this responsibility that one woman might have to bear is divided between two. Even if a woman has a very good memory and takes precautions not to forget - and women are much more punctilious than men on such matters - the presence of another party will still free her from that psychological burden.

That psychological burden and the possibility of forgetting also apply to men, of course. Yet it is always women who are protected in the psychological and material senses in the Qur’an. Our Lord has created women as entities who attach great importance to details, who take even minor responsibilities very seriously, and who are generally punctilious and highly responsible. Therefore, the burden that a woman will feel, especially during material borrowing, will be very heavy due to the form in which she is created. Almighty God has brought in such a source of easing in order to protect her and prevent her coming under psychological pressure. This is another manifestation of the lofty value that our Lord places on women.

It must not be forgotten that a woman, the Queen of Sheba, is described as a head of state in the Qur’an, and she is emphasized as a powerful decision-maker. This means that in the view of the Qur’an, women are intelligent enough and have sufficient strength of character to govern a state. Therefore, those persons who interpret the above verse, which explicitly protects women on the subject of borrowing, to mean that women are lacking in intelligence are expressing their own wishes, rather than the meaning of the Qur’an. Yet for us, the only measure is that of the Qur’an.

kadının şahitliği

God regards men and women as enjoying equal status as witnesses in the Qur'an. Nowhere does the Qur'an say, “One male witness is equal to two female witnesses.”

Woman and inheritance rights

Kuran, çiçekler

The way that women enjoy half the share of men under inheritance law is another subject frequently misinterpreted by many people. Some people who fail to grasp the spirit of the Qur’an, the basic essentials of Islam and the protectiveness and affection of our Lord seek to provide evidence for their own claims by analyzing verses describing the distribution of inheritance separately instead of as a coherent whole. Yet inheritance law is actually another sign of how women are protected in the Qur’an.

The verses about women’s share of inheritance are as follows:

Men receive a share of what their parents and relatives leave and women receive a share of what their parents and relatives leave, a fixed share, no matter whether it is a little or a lot. (Qur'an, 4:7)

God instructs you regarding your children: A male receives the same as the share of two females. If there are more than two daughters they receive two-thirds of what you leave. If she is one on her own she receives a half. Each of your parents receives a sixth of what you leave if you have children. If you are childless and your heirs are your parents your mother receives a third. If you have brothers or sisters your mother receives a sixth, after any bequest you make or any debts. With regard to your fathers and your sons, you do not know which of them is going to benefit you more. These are obligatory shares from God. God is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 4:11)

As shown in the first verse, inheritance in Islam is a right enjoyed both by men and by women. The second verse describes the distribution of that inheritance, based on people’s needs and responsibilities.

kadın, miras, pay

The fact that the financial support of a woman is the responsibility of a man does not significantly restrict that woman. The precaution here is a symbol of the value attached to women.

Looking at the Qur’an as a whole, we see that the maintenance of the mother, wife, daughter or sister is a responsibility bestowed not on them, but on a son, husband, father or brother; this applies throughout a woman’s entire life. In other words, a son, husband, father or brother is responsible for a woman under his protection until the end of her life.

For example, when a woman gets married she is given a dowry by her husband. In the view of the Qur’an, the dowry is given directly to the woman, not to the family. After marriage, the physical maintenance of the woman and her children is the total responsibility of the man. As we shall be seeing in detail in due course, that maintenance and financial responsibility continues, even after divorce. Any and all expenses not imposed on woman are therefore the responsibility of a man.

The fact that the financial care of a woman is the responsibility of a man does not mean that any restrictions are imposed on her, however. It does not also mean that woman is a needy entity. The precautionary measure here is a symbol of the value attached to women and is intended that a woman never suffers throughout her life. A woman is free to live as she wishes, free to work or not, earn money or not, start a business or not and even govern a state, just as she wishes. Her being under male protection in financial terms does not restrict her social life, stop her from being free or sealed up indoors like a prisoner. A woman being under the protection of a man also does not mean that he has any right of command over her; the Qur’an says nothing about a man being able to command a woman. The financial responsibility imposed on men is intended to ensure that women, who are under special protection in the Qur’an, never suffer throughout their lives.

However, in the view of the Qur’an, a woman has no such responsibility toward anyone. In the same way that she has no responsibility for the maintenance of anyone else, she is also under no obligation to take care of herself. She need not work if she does not wish to; she has no such obligation.

In addition, a woman has the right to spend her own possessions as she wishes. Even if she is rich, she is under no obligation to contribute to the family budget. She is under no obligation to assume any financial responsibility for her children. Even if a woman is richer than the man, his financial obligation nonetheless persists.

A woman can put her share of an inheritance to work if she so wishes, or spend it on herself, or save it. But a man is under an obligation to use his share for the maintenance and care of the woman. The maintenance, well-being and comfort of his wife, children and sister - if he has any - are entirely his responsibility. Let us remember that this is intended, not because a woman needs it, but to prevent her from being wronged throughout her life.

Considered in the light of the facts explicitly stated in the Qur’an, if man and woman were given equal shares of inheritance, the balance would be impaired against the man since he has an obligation to take care of the family, while the woman is under no such obligation.

The following provision in the verse is also very important, “...after any bequest you make or any debts.” If a deceased person has left a legacy behind, any action must be in line with that legacy. The deceased may have left all his property to the woman and nothing to the male members of the family: In that event, the bequest will be valid and everything will go to the woman.

There is special wisdom in the way that God places financial responsibility for women upon men. If God so wished, no such burden would be imposed on men and women would be responsible for their own maintenance, and even that of their children, in the absence of any financial guarantee. That would be a great responsibility and a heavy psychological burden. No such material burden is imposed on women in the Qur’an.

A woman’s right to divorce

The first essential point needing to be made on the subject of divorce is that the practices of those fanatics who refuse to admit a woman’s right to divorce are absolutely wrong. According to the fanatical mindset, no matter how unhappy or oppressed a woman may be, she still has no right to divorce. The frightening mentality of the fanatics - that seeks to oppress women and portray men as superior - is currently put into action in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Not only does such a mindset have no place in the Qur’an, it is also a violation of the spirit of the Qur'an. Nowhere in the Qur’an is there any provision to the effect that “only the man can divorce his wife.” Indeed, verses 228 and 241 of Surat al-Baqara speak of women who have divorced. Divorce is a right bestowed on women as well as men.

Interestingly, some commentators or interpreters of the Qur’an add a parenthesis to the term “divorced women” making it read “women who have been divorced by their husbands.” This stems from such commentators regarding the verses of the Qur’an as insufficient, itself a consequence of their inability to free themselves from a fanatical conception of Islam, and striving to adapt these verses to that same mindset. We have already seen how many of the additions in parentheses are part of an attempt to adapt the Qur’an to the radical mentality. Some people, who know that they cannot alter the verses to suit their own ends, try to produce the same impression by the use of parenthesis. Yet when we disregard these comments in parentheses the verses of the Qur’an carry a totally explicit message.

kuranda boşanma

Under the fanatical mindset, women are regarded as second- class beings needing to be locked away or imprisoned. Frightening practices of the fanatical mindset, which seeks to oppress women and depict men as superior to them, are currently applied in practice in such countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Yet that terrible mindset is the diametric opposite of the Qur'an, and is totally incompatible with the true Islam.

Divorce and the protection of women thereafter

The care and protection of women after divorce is important evidence in terms of the superiority attached to women in the Qur’an. Our Almighty Lord has protected all women’s rights in circumstances in which they might be wronged – such as divorce – and has placed them under protection for their entire lives. Even if he has divorced her, a man has a responsibility to protect and look after his former wife until the end of her life, even if the woman has no need of it.

Women being kept happy and content in the event of divorce

For people who live in the light of the desires of their lower selves, divorce means the total cessation of relations with the other party. Such people believe that once relations based on self-interest have come to an end there is no longer a need to show the other person any care or concern. Since they generally lose all feelings of love and respect for the person they abandon, they act solely in the light of preserving their own interests and are quite capable of ignoring the troubles and difficulties faced by the other party. The fact is, however, that our Almighty Lord described how women should be treated with love and affection and proper moral values after divorce:

When you divorce women and they are near the end of their term, then either retain them with correctness and courtesy or release them with correctness and courtesy(Qur'an, 2:231)

You who believe! When you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, there is no term for you to calculate for them, so give them a gift and let them go with kindness. (Qur'an, 33:49)

Both verses refer to “courtesy” and “kindness.” This means that the man still has a responsibility to treat a woman with kindness after divorce; a woman may not be working, may have no financial means and may have nowhere to live. These verses place a divorced woman under protection, and offer the options of retaining them with correctness and courtesy or else releasing them, again with correctness and courtesy. The man has to treat the woman properly under both conditions.

Women being given financial security after divorce

In the Qur’an God forbids a divorced woman being left alone, unprotected and financially unsupported. In the view of Islam, whether a woman is wealthy or not, she still has to be given financial security after divorce. Her ex-husband has a responsibility to ensure this.

Verses which refer to the need to ensure the financial security of divorced women read as follows:

Divorced women should receive maintenance given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all who have piety. (Qur'an, 2:241)

... give them a gift – he who is wealthy according to his means and he who is less well off according to his means – a gift to be given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all good-doers. (Qur'an, 2:236)

He who has plenty should spend out from his plenty, but he whose provision is restricted should spend from what God has given him. God does not demand from any self more than He has given it. God will appoint after difficulty, ease.(Qur'an, 65:7)

As seen in these verses, a rich person or someone of much more limited means both have a responsibility to protect the wives they have divorced. Even if they never see that person again for the rest of their lives, even if they have no more material or psychological expectations from them, they still have a responsibility to place them under financial protection and treat them with kindness. Almighty God reveals that ensuring women’s material security must also be done sincerely, willingly and with a good grace:

Give women their dowry with a good heart. But if they are happy to give you some of it, make use of it with pleasure and goodwill. (Qur'an, 4:4)

boşanmış kadın

There are verses of the Qur'an that impose the duty to assume financial responsibility for a divorced woman. Even if he has divorced her, a man has a responsibility to protect and take care of her until the end of her life, even if she has no need of that.

Assets given to women must not be taken back after divorce

Our Almighty Lord has revealed in verses that in the event of divorce the man must not take back anything he gave his wife while they were married:

If you desire to exchange one wife for another and have given your original wife a large amount, do not take any of it. Would you take it by means of slander and outright crime? How could you take it when you have been intimate with one another and they have made a binding contract with you?” (Qur'an, 4:20-21)

... It is not lawful for you to keep anything you have given them... (Qur'an, 2:229)

God reminds men in these verses that by marrying women they have promised to take care of them; He reveals that because of that promise they have no right to demand anything back, even if they have given women “a large amount.” A Muslim who abides by the Qur’an will know that this is a promise made to God, and will therefore discharge his responsibility in the finest way. In the verse “It is not lawful for you to keep anything you have given them,” God clearly prohibits any other course of behavior.

Ensuring women have a place to live after divorce

In order that a woman should not find herself in difficulties after divorce, and to ensure that she is protected, Almighty God advises the man to keep her close to him. It is revealed that this should make it possible for him to keep watch over her in times of danger. After divorce, the believer has the important responsibility of providing for her until she can find a place to stay of her own and ensuring that no harm comes to her:

Let them [the women you have divorced] live where you live, according to your meansDo not put pressure on them, so as to harass them. If they are pregnant, maintain them until they give birth. If they are suckling for you, give them their wages and consult together with correctness and courtesy. But if you make things difficult for one another, another woman should do the suckling for you. (Qur'an, 65:6)

Due to the importance of the subject it needs to be repeated here: Those protective measures cited herein of course do not mean that a woman is unable to look after herself; this is nonsense put forward by some prejudiced people in order to attack Islam. The verses are referring to superior moral values. What is under discussion here is kindly moral values and attaching superiority and value to women. Looking after a woman means making her feel that she is very respected and valued. God shows the value and protection He places on women in practical terms. It is also forbidden in the verse to “... put pressure on them so as to harass them.” As stated in the verse, “...consult together with correctness and courtesy,” God advises good relations being maintained between people who have divorced. Considering the difficult position in which women find themselves today in society in general, or in social life, the need for and importance of these measures recommended in the Qur’an become much clearer.

Women not being inherited by force

One of the commandments about the protection of women in the Qur’an regards their not being inherited by force. God reveals that:

You who believe! It is not lawful for you to inherit women by force. Nor may you treat them harshly so that you can make off with part of what you have given them, unless they commit an act of flagrant indecency. Live together with them correctly and courteously. … (Qur'an, 4:19)

In this verse, God forbids any pressure being put on women, and any measure that might create difficulties for them in material terms.

The value placed on mothers

Motherhood is praised in the Qur’an. Respect for parents, treating them well and protecting and watching over them in their old age, as at all times, are particular responsibilities imposed on true believers in the Qur’an, and there are a number of verses on the subject. Some of these read:

We have instructed man to honor his parents, ... (Qur’an, 29:8)

Your Lord has decreed that you should worship none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say “Ugh!” to them out of irritation and do not be harsh with them but speak to them with gentleness and generosity(Qur'an, 17:23)

In the Qur’an God advises Muslims to treat their parents with respect and kindness; yet mothers are especially valued. God reveals in another verse that:

We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility and the period of his weaning was two years: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination.” (Qur'an, 31:14)

Indeed, every mother engages in several months of self-sacrifice to bring her child into the world. As God reveals in the verse, she carries the baby inside with great difficulties and then gives birth to that child with great discomfort. Then, with great altruism, she assumes the task of ensuring that her child is protected and comfortable in all respects. Moreover, they expect no reward for doing all this, and she even pushes her own needs into the background. God is reminding us of these facts and telling us that mothers are very valuable entities indeed.

Kuranda anne

The slander of male superiority and the nonsense about beating women

Some people seek to produce evidence from the Qur’an about male superiority over women, their beating of women, and cite the following verses in that respect:

Men have charge of women because God has made the one excel the other and because they spend their wealth on them. Right-acting women are obedient [to God], guarding the unseen as God has guarded. If there are women whose disobedience you fear, you may admonish them, refuse to sleep with them, and then beat them. But if they obey you, do not look for a way to punish them. God is All-High, Most Great. If you fear a breach between a couple, send an arbiter from his people and an arbiter from her people. If the couple desire to put things right, God will bring about a reconciliation between them. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur'an, 4:34-35)

1. The idea of male superiority:

kuş, kafes

The word “baadahum” in the verse “God has made the one excel the other,” verse 34 of Surat an-Nisa’, clearly addresses a mixed society made up of men and women. Therefore, the true meaning here is “God has made some men and some women excel other men and other women.” This means that God has given each one of them different abilities and characteristics.

The passage interpreted into English as, “Men have charge of women because God has made the one excel the other and because they spend their wealth on them.” refers, not to male superiority to women, but solely to physical differences. The words “...because they spend their wealth on them” remind us of men’s responsibility to take care of women in the material sense, as we have already seen in some detail. The Arabic of the passage “Men have charge of women” is “Arrijalu qawwamoona aala annisa-i.” The real meaning of this Arabic statement is “Men watch over women,” or “Men have a responsibility to take care of matters for livelihood for women.”

The word “qawwam” is translated by many commentators to mean “overlord or master.” However, in all the other verses in which the word appears, it has just one meaning, “to watch over and protect.” As readers will remember, we have already seen how one needs to understand the use and meaning of words in Arabic, a very rich language, in verses by looking at how they are employed in other verses. That also applies to the word “qawwam.”

The word “qawwam” is derived from the root “qwm." Looking at all the verses in which forms of this root appear, you will not find one in which it is used to mean “overlord or master.” Indeed, the word “hukkam” is used for governors and rulers in the Qur’an. On that basis, we may easily conclude that the true meaning of the word in the verse in question is “to watch over and protect.”

We can see this better when we look at the Qur’an in general. As we have already said, women are generally given a superior position in the Qur’an, and they are free, but also protected against the possibility of any difficulty. The defense of women, their protection in the material sense and preventing them from being exposed to difficulties are all responsibilities incumbent upon men (this has been set out in detail in earlier sections). Therefore, as the term “qawwam” makes clear in the verse in question, men have a duty to protect women, always and under all circumstances. This verse, which some fanatics seek to use as evidence for male superiority, is a very important one that actually describes the superiority of women.

The false idea of the “beating of women”

time dergisi

16-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck on her way home from school because of her blog in which she described the oppression of the population by the Taliban. Thankfully, Malala was restored to full health after lengthy treatment and is still fighting for the education rights of young girls.

The original Arabic word in the verse that reads “If there are women whose disobedience you fear, you may admonish them, refuse to sleep with them, and then beat them” that is translated as “beat” in numerous texts is “idribuhunn(a).” The root is the verb “daraba” and ”daraba” may be the word with the widest meaning in Arabic. In addition to meaning “to beat,” it is also used in “minting money” and “going on strike.” Let us consider a comparable example in English; when someone says “the doorbell went off,” it does not generally mean that the doorbell is no longer functioning and therefore no longer of use, but that someone is waiting for us to open the door. When words (or phrases) with broad meaning are used, it is therefore very important to analyze with reason and common sense the way they are used, the context and the true meaning.

One of the most widely employed meanings of the word “daraba” is to travel and to go out. Indeed, the verb “daraba” is used in verses of the Qur’an referring to traveling, going on a journey or departing from somewhere for a period of time. For example;

When you are travelling (darabtumin the land, there is nothing wrong in your shortening your prayer if you fear that those who are irreligious may harass you. (Qur'an, 4:101)

We revealed to Moses, “Travel with My servants by night. Strike (faidrib) a dry path for them through the sea. Have no fear of being overtaken and do not be afraid.” (Qur'an, 20:77)

It is for the poor who are held back in the Way of God, unable to travel (darban) in the land.... (Qur'an, 2:273)

You who believe! Do not be like those who are unbelievers and say of their brothers, when they are going on journeys (darabu)... (Qur'an, 3:156)

The word “daraba” is clearly not being used in the sense of “to beat” in these verses. The same thing applies to verse 34 of Surat an-Nisa’, which we are considering here. When we analyze the word “daraba” in the light of this verse, there are three different meanings we need to look at: 1) Remove them from the home, 2) Force them to go outside from where they are, or 3) Beat them.

In order to understand this, we need to return to the term “If there are women whose disobedience you fear,” at the beginning of the verse. The word “nushuz” is translated to mean “rebellion and disobedience” in many texts. Some commentators who take every opportunity to try and include the idea of humiliating women in verses about them, either put “obedience to men” in parenthesis or else try to give that idea through misleading translations. Yet the word ”nushuz” means unfaithfulness, from a woman flirting with someone who is not her husband up to the level of illicit sexual relations. Therefore, the next part of the verse describes how the husband should treat his wife who has been unfaithful to him. The man is told first of all to advise the woman not to behave unfaithfully. If that is unsuccessful, the husband is advised to sleep separately from her. However, if the woman still persists in illicit relations and commits adultery, then the best thing to do is to try removing the woman from the home entirely.

It is obvious that the Qur’an, in which women are specially protected, will not contain any practices resembling beating women. When we look at it logically, beating a woman who insists on being unfaithful to her husband despite all his admonitions will do nothing but anger that woman, who has in any case betrayed him; that would create new problems rather than resolving the issue. But removal is one solution. A woman may think more logically while she has been sent away, may feel regret in the face of this behavior and may look at matters in a healthier manner. The verse also says that the husband must not take other measures against her if she repents the error of her ways.

In this section, translated in the words “But if they obey you, do not look for a way to punish them,” there is again attempt to shape the issue on the basis of “a woman who obeys a man.” Yet according to the accurate translation, what the passage actually means is “if they heed your advice and behave in a faithful manner.” The criterion here is not a woman’s obedience to a man, but “faithfulness,” a responsibility attendant upon both sides in a marriage.

Kadına şiddet

Although there are campaigns aimed at raising awareness of violence against women in the press and broadcasting media, it has to date proved impossible to prevent across the world. The reason for that is there is no activity on the level of ideas and based on the Qur'an against the fanatical mindset that represents the foundation of such violence.

Other misconceptions concerning women

Another of the misconceptions concerning women concerns the Prophet Adam (pbuh) and his wife. The Qur’an says nothing about Adam’s wife deceiving him and causing him to sin. We see from reading verses 11 to 28 of Surat al-A‘raf that it was satan who deceived Adam and his wife.

In the same way, the Qur’an says nothing about woman being created from a man’s rib. The fabricated hadith that represents the origin of this claim has been described in earlier sections.

Another misconception is that the Qur’an is addressed to men alone. In fact, more than 90% of the Qur’an addresses believers with expressions such as “you who believe,” which refer to both men and women in general. In the same way that there are some verses addressed to men alone, there are others that address only women. Some other verses of the Qur’an are addressed directly and only to our Prophet (pbuh).

kadın özgürlüğü

Nonsense such as the Prophet Adam (pbuh) being deceived by his wife or woman being created from a man's rib are slanders that are nowhere in the the Qur'an. Yet much of the Islamic world is ignorant of the Qur'an.

Sayings of our Prophet’s (pbuh) in praise of women

The Qur’an must of course be our guide if we are to properly understand the place of women in Islam. Since our Prophet (pbuh) applied the Qur’an alone, we can be certain of the veracity of those hadiths which describe practices compatible with the Qur’an. These trustworthy hadiths contain meanings and practices completely at variance with those of the fabricated hadiths that exhibit a frightening attitude toward women and are totally divorced from the spirit of the Qur’an. Some of the hadiths that are very probably trustworthy because of their compatibility with the Qur’an are as follows:

Made beloved to me from your world are women and perfume, and the coolness of my eyes is in prayer. [Ahmad and an-Nasa‘i]

Only a person of nobility and honor will value woman. Only bad and base people will despise them... [Ibn ‘Asakir]

The best of you are those who are best to their women. [Ibn ‘Asakir]

Do not torture your wives! They are entrusted to you by God. Be mild towards them and do favors! [Sahih Muslim]

God loves him who gets on well with his wife and banters with her and He increases their sustenance. [I. Lâl]

The most perfect believer in faith is the one who is the best of them in good conduct. The best of you is the one among you who treats his wife the best[Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings) (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2001), 2:32]

The best of you is the one who is the best to his wives, and I am the best of you toward my wives. [Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings) (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2001), 2:32]

The blessing of emancipating a slave is written in the deed-book of him who looks at his wife with a smiling face. [R. Nâsihîn]

On Doomsday, I will be the enemy of him who hits his wife unrighteously. He who hits his wife will be rebellious towards God and His Messenger. [R. Nâsihîn]

The world is delightful and its greatest treasure is a good woman. [Transmitted by Muslim on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Amr (1467)]

 

Footnotes

[1] İbn Sa'd, et-Tabakât, VIII, 290; Nuaym, Hilye, II, 69; İbnu'l-Esîr, Usdu'l-Gabe, VII, 121.

[2] İbn Sa'd, a.g.e,, II, 236.

 

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