Published on March 27, 2008
The Woman A Breath of Inspiration
This Aristotelian outlook of women later passed on into the Christian tradition of the Catholic Church. Saint Thomas of Aquinas proposed that women were the trap of Satan, his motivation being the belief that man had been created as a pure being in the image of God and that he had been duped into his fall from grace by the corrupting influence of a woman. Reviewing the works of early Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle and Plato, one finds that they had very weary views of women. Aristotle argued that women were not full human beings and that the nature of women was not that of a full person. As a result, women were by their nature incomplete, not to be believed and to be seen as inferior.
Contrary to erroneous popular belief, Islam elevated the status of women by proclaiming that women are in harmony to men, not inferior, condemning pre-Islamic practices that left women in a state of degradation and oppression. The Islamic understanding is that there is a single humanity, a single essence which is shared, and there are twin halves of which one is man and one is woman.
O people! Be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you. [Holy Quran 4:1]
Indeed throughout the Quran there are many examples of highly prominent, respected women. One being the wife of the Pharaoh during the time of the Prophet Moses… And Allah sets forth an example to those who believe the wife of Firon when she said: My Lord! Build for me a house with Thee in the garden and deliver me from Firon and his doing, and deliver me from the unjust people. [Holy Quran 66:11] And Marium, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her of Our inspiration and she accepted the truth of the words of her Lord and His books, and she was of, the obedient ones. [Holy Quran 66:12] Another example being that of the Virgin Mary…
In Islam, however, the basis of submission is not that of women’s submission to men, but that of both men and women’s submission to God only. Thus, in reading the Qur'an, it becomes very clear that the compliant from among both the believing men and women receive paradise, which is the greatest aim and goal in a Muslim's life. The Arabic language, like French the romance languages, and many others, has two types of verbs, one representing the feminine and one the masculine. Looking at the Qur'an linguistically, one finds both sexes being addressed. This stands in marked contrast to the aforementioned notion of “Satan’s trap” of the Aquinan tradition and the political and social understanding common among the philosophers before the coming of Islam. As a result, we find that Islam accorded women rights some 1400 years ago.
Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember-- Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward. [Holy Quran 33:35]
Islam senses that women have the nature of motherhood, not merely by cultural tradition or by some sociological system, but inherently by the very fiber of their being, and that, in providing and taking care of the offspring, there is a bond which goes beyond cultural tradition: A psychological bonding, a physical bonding, something which is more than just traditions of human beings. As a result, nature has placed greater responsibilities upon women towards their children than those of men.
If one really ponders over every society’s perception on women, they would be able to see very clearly that the most distinct concept of these societies in general is their essential belief that women are the bearers of children and have a great deal of responsibility in raising them. A closer observation of this may reveal more about the essence of women in general and where this idea of motherhood comes from. In Islam there is a defined role for men and a defined role for women. Who is the one who defines this role for men and women? It's their Creator. Perhaps that natural motherly instinct is really planted in the heart of women and for that reason even the most immoral, vicious societies can see this.
What has gone wrong, plainly, is that women have confused sexual sameness with equality and have imagined that competing with men was part of their social emancipation.
We should understand that Muslims, in contradiction to the ancient Greeks or the philosophes of the French Revolution, are not under the belief that their ideas are of other men. Instead they believe that Islam in its entirety is all a part of a divine revelation given to them by God, a religion that covers all aspects of life, from family law to the broader political laws. The Muslim argument is that God knows best, He created mankind and therefore knows what is best for them. Muslims live under a code of law in order to reinforce those rules God has given them so they can have a more peaceful productive life.
Even though the differences between men and women are obvious in the Islamic point of view, they are not, however, in opposition to one another, which is quite unlike much of the western thought, especially that of radical feminist traditions. In Islam, men and women work in harmony, not against one another, and share in the same aim and the same humanity. They have different roles, but these roles harmonize one another and of mutual necessity to the success of humanity.
Her never-ending labor, her constant soul nurturing and mothering of her children add to her recognition in this world, and the next. Her husband and her children will ascend higher to praise her for the everlasting love she gave them.
The current rights of the women in the west today were not shaped voluntarily or out of kindness to women. The common western woman has arrived at her present position by force, not through natural development or common consent of Divine tradition. She had to push her way through, and a variety of conditions assisted her. Scarcity of manpower throughout wars, pressure of economic needs and necessity of industry required women to leave their homes and go off to work.
Whether or not the majority of women are genuinely pleased with these circumstances, and whether or not they are content with the results, is a completely different issue. The underlying fact still remains that whatever rights the western women have, they still fall short of those of the Muslim woman. Islam has given the woman what compliments her female nature. It gives her full security and looks after her against becoming a mere sexual object, or a slave to her husband.
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