THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN ISLAM
(the references that Jamal Badawi left out)

by Samuel Green

Dr. Jamal Badawi has written an article called The Status of Women in Islam . Now when someone discusses such a topic it is important that all the relevant material from the Qur'an and Hadith be examined. If all of the material is not examined then one could form an unbalanced understanding of the topic. My concern with Dr. Badawi's article is that he is quite selective with the references that he gives. For there are references from the Qur'an and Hadith which are significant to this discussion which he does not mention at all. Please read the below references for a more complete picture.

BEATING

And those (wives) you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. (Qur'an 4:34, Arberry)

Some translations of the Qur'an have tried to suggest that the word of "beat" means to hit softly. However the same Arabic word is used in 8:12 which reads:

When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying:) I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger. (Qur'an 8:12, Pickthall)

Here are some hadiths about wife beating.

Umar reported the Prophet as saying, "A man will not be asked about why he beat his wife." (Mishkat Al-Masabih, p. 693: Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)

... Umar then came forward, and when he had asked and had been granted permission he found the Prophet sitting sad and silent with his wives around him. He told that he decided to say something which would make the Prophet laugh, so he said, "Messenger of God, I wish you had seen the daughter of Kharija when she asked me for extra money and I got up and slapped her on the neck." God's messenger laughed and said, "They are around me as you see asking for extra money." Abu Bakr then got up, went to A'isha and slapped her on the neck, and Umar did the same to Hafsa ... (Mishkat Al-Masabih, p. 690: Muslim)

Iyas b. Abdullah reported God's messenger as saying, "Do not beat God's handmaidens" but when Umar came to God's messenger and said, "The women have become emboldened towards their husbands", he gave licence to beat them. Then many women went round God's messenger's family complaining of their husbands. Those are not the best among you. (Mishkat Al-Masabih, p. 692: Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, and Darimi)

Muhammad beat his wives.

... He (Muhammad b. Qais) then reported that it was 'A'isha who had narrated this: Should I not narrate to you about myself and about the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)? We said: Yes. She said: When it was my turn for Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to spend the night with me, he turned his side, put on his mantle and took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down till he thought that I had gone to sleep. He took hold of his mantle slowly and put on the shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist wrapper, and then went out following his steps till he reached Baqi'. He stood there and he stood for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He hastened his steps and I also hastened my steps. He ran and I too ran. He came (to the house) and I also came (to the house). I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Holy Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O 'A'isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly? ... (Muslim: book 4, hadith 2127)

SATISFYING THE HUSBAND'S SEXUAL DESIRES

The Qur'an, speaking figuratively about sex, says of women:

Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please. (Qur'an 2:223 Dawood)

Muhammad gave strong warnings to women who would not accommodate their husbands/masters desire.

Talq b. `Ali reported God's messenger as saying, "When a man calls his wife to satisfy his desire she must go to him even if she is occupied at the oven." (Mishkat Al-Masabih, p. 691: Tirmidhi)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.) said, "if a man invites his wive to sleep with him an she refuses to come to him, then angels send their curses on her till morning." (Bukhari, vol. 7, hadith 121, p. 93)

VIRGIN WOMEN ARE A REWARD IN HEAVEN

Lo! those who kept their duty will be in a place secure amid gardens and water-springs, attired in silk and silk embroidery, facing one another. Even so (it will be). And we shall wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes. (Qur'an 44:51-54, Pickthall)

Surely for the godfearing awaits a place of security, gardens and vineyards and maidens with swelling breasts, like of age, and a cup overflowing. (Qur'an 78:31-33, Arberry)

Perfectly We formed them, perfect, and We made them spotless virgins, chastely amorous, like of age for the Companions of the Right. (Qur'an 56:34-35 Arberry)

Mu`adh reported God's messenger as saying that no woman annoys her husband in this world without his wife among the large-eyed maidens saying, "You must not annoy him. God curse you! He is only a passing guest with you and is about to leave you to come to us." (Mishkat Al-Masabih, p. 691: Tirmidh and Ibn Majah)

MENTAL CAPACITY

The Qur'an says that the testimony of a woman is not equal to that of a man. It says that the testimony of two women is required to be equal to the testimony of one man.

Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses. (Qur'an 2:282 Dawood)

Why is it that the testimony of a woman is only worth half that of a man? Muhammad explains in the following hadith.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: The Prophet (p.) said, "Isn't the witness of a women equal to half that of a man?" The women said "yes". He said "This is because of the deficiency of the women's mind." (Bukhari, vol. 3, hadith 826, p. 502)

THERE ARE MORE WOMEN IN HELL AND LESS IN HEAVEN

Ibn Abbas reported that Allah's Messenger said: I had a chance to look into paradise and I found that majority of the people was poor and I looked into the Fire and there I found the majority constituted by women. (Muslim, vol. 4, hadith 6597, p. 1432).

Imran b. Husain reported that Allah's Messenger said: Amongst the inmates of Paradise the women would form a minority. (Muslim, vol. 4, hadith 6600, p. 1432)

CONCLUSION

Why did Dr. Jamal Badawi not mention these references in his article? I am sure that you know why.

REFERENCE

Mishkat Al-Masabih, Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1981, vol. 1. (translated by James Robson)


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