By Farid Gabteni
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي؛
رَبِّ أَدْخِلْنِي مُدْخَلَ صِدْقٍ وَأَخْرِجْنِي مُخْرَجَ صِدْقٍ وَاجْعَلْ لِي مِنْ لَدُنْكَ سُلْطَانًا نَصِيرًا
In The Name of God The Origin The Arranging
God My Lord! Relieve for me my chest and Ease for me my task, and Untie the knot from my tongue that they may understand my speech.
God My Lord! Make me Enter a credible entrance, and Make me Emerge a credible emergence; and Give for me, from Yourself, a rescuing authority.
In this fourth cycle of conferences on my presentation about the Original Message of Islam, if I may, I would now like to address a subject which is more than ever topical, extremely important and which concerns everyone; this subject relates to half of mankind: women and the natural law, sacred by God.
Firstly, it should be pointed out that natural law is the set of rights that each individual possesses as a result of belonging to humanity, and not as a result of the society in which he or she lives.
By removing some Quranic verses from their context – circumstantial of time, place, cause and purpose- traditionalists preach that women should spend their lives under the guardianship of men.
By indiscriminately relying on their words, too many Muslims still lag behind when it comes to the women’s right to emancipation.
In addition to being ridiculous, this, once again, is in total contradiction with the Heart of the Qur’an and the original Message of Islam.
All human beings, men and women, are born and remain absolutely free and equal in dignity and rights by and before God. The analytical reading of the Qur’an as a whole leaves no doubt on this subject.
This parity is solemnly declared in verse 35 of chapter 33:
”إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا“
“Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember God often and the women who do so – for them God has Prepared forgiveness and a great reward”
Similarly, in verses 71 and 72 of chapter 9, it says:
”وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُولَئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (٧١) وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ (٧٢)“
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give the sacred tax [al-zakāt] and obey God and His Messenger. Those – God will Have mercy upon them. Indeed, God Is Exalted in Might and Wise 71 God has Promised the believing men and believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence; but approval from God is greater. It is that which is the great attainment 72”
And indeed, this parity is always relevant, even in the hereafter, with God. In verse 12 of chapter 57, it says:
”يَوْمَ تَرَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَسْعَى نُورُهُمْ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ بُشْرَاكُمُ الْيَوْمَ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ“
“On the Day you shall see the believing men and the believing women their light running forward before them and by their right hands. Glad tidings for you this Day! Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever! Truly, this is the great success!”
These verses are compelling, clear and decisive, they leave no room for ambiguity, and are unequivocal, concerning the equality of men and women.
Anything else from the Qur’an that seems to be contrary to the verses I have just quoted is either an error of meaning, misinterpretation, of good or bad faith; or circumstantial of time, place, cause and purpose.
For example, verse 228 of chapter 2 is interpreted in the sense of: man, a degree greater than woman; in fact, in front of her, in a conflict for example, he has a subsidiary degree of responsibility:
”وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَنْ يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِنْ كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُوا إِصْلَاحًا وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ“
“Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what God has Created in their wombs if they believe in God and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And God Is Exalted in Might and Wise”
As it is clearly stated in this verse that a woman’s rights are not less than her duties, it is therefore evident that the “degree” concerning men is a subsidiary degree of responsibility, which they have towards women; the context of the verse shows and proves it.
Another example is verse 34 of chapter 4, which is interpreted to mean:
1 – the man is the head of the family; in fact, circumstantially at the time, depending on his social skills and financial means.
2 – he has the right to beat his wife; in fact, to appease her sexually, after an argument, and having previously left her bed and, even before, having tried to urge her to calm down.
3 – the wife must obey her husband; in fact, circumstantially, depending on the nuances conveyed in the context, reported by the verse.
”الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا“
“Men are maintainers (in charge) of women for that God has Preferred one over the other and for that they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in the unseen by what God has Guarded [their privacy]. But those [wives] from whom you fear rebellion – admonish them; [then] banish them to their couches; and enforce them [to sexual appeasement]. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Certainly, God Was (Is) ever High, Great”
“Certainly, God was (Is) High, Great”, to hear and understand, at the conclusion of the verse, that God is above these bickering couples.
Another example is many traditionalists’ claim that the testimony of one man is equivalent to that of two women; they gladly quote a fragment of the verse: “if one of them goes astray (rambles), then the other can remind her”.
This gross misunderstanding feeds loquacious discussions such as: “it takes two women to testify, otherwise they will testify like their husband or their brother or their father”.
It is the same in France, during the first half of the last century, about women’s right to vote: “they will vote like their husband or their priest”.
This allegation, made from verse 282 of chapter 2, which deals with the acknowledgment of debt, is a more than equivocal extrapolation, that has been discussed and questionable, even by ancient exegetes and traditionalists.
”يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا تَدَايَنْتُمْ بِدَيْنٍ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى فَاكْتُبُوهُ وَلْيَكْتُبْ بَيْنَكُمْ كَاتِبٌ بِالْعَدْلِ وَلَا يَأْبَ كَاتِبٌ أَنْ يَكْتُبَ كَمَا عَلَّمَهُ اللَّهُ فَلْيَكْتُبْ وَلْيُمْلِلِ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ وَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّهَ رَبَّهُ وَلَا يَبْخَسْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا فَإِنْ كَانَ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ سَفِيهًا أَوْ ضَعِيفًا أَوْ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُ أَنْ يُمِلَّ هُوَ فَلْيُمْلِلْ وَلِيُّهُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَاسْتَشْهِدُوا شَهِيدَيْنِ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُونَا رَجُلَيْنِ فَرَجُلٌ وَامْرَأَتَانِ مِمَّنْ تَرْضَوْنَ مِنَ الشُّهَدَاءِ أَنْ تَضِلَّ إِحْدَاهُمَا فَتُذَكِّرَ إِحْدَاهُمَا الْأُخْرَى وَلَا يَأْبَ الشُّهَدَاءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُوا وَلَا تَسْأَمُوا أَنْ تَكْتُبُوهُ صَغِيرًا أَوْ كَبِيرًا إِلَى أَجَلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ أَقْسَطُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَأَقْوَمُ لِلشَّهَادَةِ وَأَدْنَى أَلَّا تَرْتَابُوا إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً حَاضِرَةً تُدِيرُونَهَا بَيْنَكُمْ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَلَّا تَكْتُبُوهَا وَأَشْهِدُوا إِذَا تَبَايَعْتُمْ وَلَا يُضَارَّ كَاتِبٌ وَلَا شَهِيدٌ وَإِنْ تَفْعَلُوا فَإِنَّهُ فُسُوقٌ بِكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ“
“O you who have believed! When you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a writer write it down between you justly. Let no scribe refuse to write as God has Taught him. So let him write and let the one who has the obligation dictate. And he should be careful of God, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it (the debt); but if he who owes the debt (the debtor) is a fool, or weak, or [if] he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness. And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. But if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of them goes astray (rambles), then the other can remind her; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned. And do not be weary to write it [the debt], whether it is small or large, for its term. That is more just in the sight of God and stronger as evidence and more likely to prevent doubt between you, except when it is an immediate transaction which you conduct among yourselves. For [then] there is no blame upon you if you do not write it. And take witnesses when you conclude a contract. And let neither scribe nor witness suffer harm. If you do [such harm], it would be wickedness [done] by you. And have fear of God. God Teaches you. He Has knowledge of all things”
This verse emphasises the necessity, as a preventive measure, to have the debts recorded in writing, end to end, with their due dates.
To avoid any suspicion, the choice of witnesses is circumstantial; it depends on the appreciation and approval of the protagonists.
In addition and beyond the context, circumstantial of time, place, cause and purpose, there is no question in this verse of the validity of the testimony of women, or men for that matter.
The validity of the testimony of one or the other, woman or man, is equal; verses 6 to 9 of chapter 24 testify to this:
”وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ شُهَدَاءُ إِلَّا أَنْفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ (٦) وَالْخَامِسَةُ أَنَّ لَعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ كَانَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ (٧) وَيَدۡرَؤُاْ عَنْهَا الْعَذَابَ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَرْبَعَ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ (٨) وَالْخَامِسَةَ أَنَّ غَضَبَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا إِنْ كَانَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ (٩) “
“And those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves; let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies, [swearing] by God that he is most surely of the truthful ones 6 And the fifth [testimony will be] that the curse of God be upon him if he was among the liars 7 And they shall avert the chastisement from her if she testify: four testimonies [swearing] by God; that he is surely of the liars 8 And the fifth [testimony will be], that the Wrath of God be on her if he was of the truthful ones 9”
Once again, these verses are compelling, clear and decisive; they leave no room for ambiguity, and are unequivocal when it comes to equality between men and women; in this instance, the woman’s testimony is equivalent to the man’s.
It should be noted that these verses are explicitly situated in a context where women are challenged; and what’s also noteworthy is that they are quoted in verse 4 of chapter 24, which severely punishes false testimony against women:
“وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ“
“And those who launch [a charge against] chaste [women], and then have not produced four witnesses, lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the evil-doers”
Have not produced four witnesses, in other words: have failed to support, demonstrate, prove their denunciation, by means of four witnesses.
This is a chance to remind you that in Arabic, the word ب / “bi” / “by”, as in بسم الله / “In The Name of God”, “By The Name of God”, is a particle that can be understood as a prefix, but also as a preposition, adverb or prepositional locution.
It expresses, in a variable or complementary way, the meanings of: “with, in, because of, thanks to, by means of, through, etc.”
In the Qur’an, there is a considerable expressive significance of the particle ب / “bi”, therefore I have not allowed myself to overlook or disregard it.
Consequently, I regularly translate it as “by”; the variability, or complementarity of its meanings can be inferred from the context of its use.
Now, let’s go back to another example of what is circumstantial of time, place, cause and purpose, still on the subject of the woman: what she can inherit.
Let’s specify beforehand that the dogma of traditionalism, among Muslims, is codified and sacralised, mainly by two distinct but complementary branches:
1 – “Usūl al-Dīn” / أصول الدّين, the principles of the Creance, which some translate as the fundamentals of religion. This discipline deals with belief as such; it is about theology.
2 – “Usūl al-Fiqh” / أصول الفقه, the principles of Instruction, which some translate as the fundamentals of the science of laws. This discipline deals with the sources of law; it is about jurisprudence.
So, theology and jurisprudence in Islam, it would be extremely long and tedious to go into detail here about all the exegetical and traditionalist literature that has been used for centuries, to keep the rate of inheritance fixed, in the Muslim society.
Among traditionalists, it goes without saying that the first principle, or basic sentence, in this area is that, for a brother and two sisters, for example, the man inherits 50% and the two women share the remaining 50%, i.e. 25% each.
At the time, in society in the early 7th century, before and long after, men arbitrarily ruled over women in every sense of the word.
However, it was the man’s responsibility to support the family. Even wealthy women were under no obligation to contribute to expenses. Moreover, because of male chauvinism, many men refused to accept financial help from their wives.
As a result, at the time of the Revelation of the Qur’an and the woman’s right to inheritance, the rate of the woman’s share, which was fixed at that time, was more or less beneficial to her.
Especially since, if need be, the gentleman had to use his inheritance for the family’s upkeep; this was not the case for the lady, who could use hers as she pleased. Add to this that she was even paid to breastfeed her own children.
In fact, I have very briefly summarised the circumstances of that time that eventually justified the rate of inheritance, fixed during the Revelation, and under those conditions, precisely those I have mentioned; I do not dispute the rate set circumstantially.
The problem is that traditionalists dwell on a stereotype of women’s rights, recognised by the Qur’an, that conforms to their vision; they deliberately and obstinately fail to recognise that this stereotype is completely outdated, even ridiculous, today.
How do we make people see and hear that it is not just time and century that have changed, but it is the world that has completely changed?
To think that there are still literate people on earth, and not only among Muslims, who remain anchored, bolted to the past, in which, apart from a few flashes of light, darkness reigned no less than today.
However, what is clear to understand about inheritance and its rate, in terms of law, and which should be recalled as a legal axiom, is that there is a difference between right to inheritance and share of inheritance.
1 – the woman’s right to inheritance, introduced by the Qur’an among Arabs at the beginning of the 7th century, is inalienable, unchanging and timeless.
2 – the fixed rate, minimal limit, during the Revelation, is circumstantial of time, place, cause and purpose.
In France, minimum wage is a right that nobody disputes. Is there anyone in their right mind who would consider enforcing the 1970s minimum wage rate today? Of course not!
“ḥudūd Allah” / حدود الله, “the limits of God”, this expression is quoted, as it is, 12 times in the Qur’an:
In chapter 2,
Once in verse 187,
Four times in verse 229 and,
Twice in verse 230;
Also in verse 13 of chapter 4;
In verse 112 of chapter 9;
In verse 4 of chapter 58 and,
Twice in verse 1 of chapter 65.
Once more, with a variation in verse 14 of chapter 4; “ḥudūdahu” / “His limits [of God]”.
There is also a distinct variant in verse 97 of chapter 9, where it says:
”الْأَعْرَابُ أَشَدُّ كُفْرًا وَنِفَاقًا وَأَجْدَرُ أَلَّا يَعْلَمُوا حُدُودَ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ“
“The bedouins (Arabs) are stronger [in] disbelief and hypocrisy and more likely not to know the limits of what God has Sent down to His Messenger. And God Is Knowing, Wise”
The majority of these quotes, about the limits of God, are related to women, to preserve their rights, which, at that time, were very basic.
As a matter of fact, as soon as it was a question of due to a woman, there were those who were stubborn and who had to be reminded of “ḥudūd Allah” / حدود الله, “the limits of God”, minimal, not to be crossed.
It should also be noted that at the beginning of the 7th century, this woman’s right to inheritance was not welcomed by the Arabs with great enthusiasm. This may also explain the circumstantial rate of her share of inheritance at that time.
And even with the rate of that time, of the late Antiquity, the woman’s right to inheritance was and still is poorly enforced, in some cases, even today. And not only among Arabs, I admit and speak from experience.
Deviationist Muslim traditionalists, who define words by twisting their meaning and taking them out of the Quranic context, are no better than their Jewish and Christian counterparts, who preach that woman was the first to commit the original sin, but they take this literally from their Bibles; in verse 6 of chapter 3 from Genesis, it says:
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it”
And in verse 12, it says: “The man said [to the Lord], “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it””
To prove that woman is not man’s equal and should be subject to man’s authority, deviationist traditionalists put forward various arguments, including that God did not anoint any female Prophets.
Imagine female Prophets preaching to backward tribes who lacked faith and law, were warlike and murderous, practised child sacrifice, and misogynistic in the extreme, regarded and valued women as no more than useful tools!
And knowing what many women still suffer in our time, how might we describe the horrific living conditions women experienced in decades, centuries and millennia past?
When reading and/or listening to what I have just developed, some will exclaim: “A man and a woman are complementary, but different; is it not written in the Qur’an that the male is not like the female?”
And while we’re at it, they may add, if they haven’t already done so: “a Kabyle and an Arab person, a white and a black person, a Japanese and a Chinese person and what have you; all are complementary, but different”. Are you suggesting that “different” means “unequal”?
Let’s go into further detail of how this difference between male and female is told in the Qur’an. In verse 36 of chapter 3, it says:
”فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنْثَى وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنْثَى وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ“
“But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And God Is Most-Knowing by (of) what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled””
Strictly speaking, then, it is Jesus’ grandmother who wanted to consecrate a son to God; a son and not a daughter, in accordance with the norms at that time, once again.
She gave birth to a daughter, Mary, the future mother of Jesus; she was extremely apologetic, thinking foolishly, like the people, that only men could claim priesthood.
So, it was she who said, innocently, that the male is not like the female. And contextually, it is in her consecrated locution that God made a questioning remark, “and God Is Most-Knowing by (of) what she delivered”, to clearly Signify that for Him, The Creator, it does not matter what gender.
And now, for centuries and centuries, and today, the whole world knows the importance of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Qur’an, one chapter, and not least of which, bears her name: chapter 19; yet another bears her family’s name, Āl ΣImrāne: chapter 3.
And precisely, verses 42 and 43 of this 3rd chapter tell us that God has especially Chosen, Purified, Exalted this woman, above all the women, as well as informing us of her consecration:
”وَإِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَى نِسَاءِ الْعَالَمِينَ (٤٢) يَا مَرْيَمُ اقْنُتِي لِرَبِّكِ وَاسْجُدِي وَارْكَعِي مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ (٤٣) “
“And when the angels (possessors) said: “O Mary, indeed God has Chosen you and Purified you and Chosen you above the women of the worlds 42 O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow down with those who bow down [in prayer].” 43”
And verse 12 of chapter 66 tells us that she was “min al-qānitīne” / مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ, of the devoted, in the masculine, and not in the feminine “al-qānitāt” / الْقَانِتَات; the feminine term is, however, used in the Qur’an. It is here through Mary that God once again Signifies to us the equality between men and women:
”وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ“
“And Mary, daughter of ΣImrāne, who guarded her chastity; so We Breathed into her of Our Spirit, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and [by] His Books, and she was of the devoted”
Still on the subject of the importance of women in the Qur’an, and thus in God’s creation, even the Pharaoh’s wife is presented as an example for assurers (believers) to follow; in verse 11 of chapter 66, it says:
”وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا امْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ“
“And God has Struck an example for the assurers (believers) – the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, ‘My Lord! Build for me a house in Paradise, in nearness to You, and Deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and Deliver me from the unjust (obscurantist) people’ ”
I would like to point out, again and again, that in Arabic, the words “injustice” and “obscurity” / “ẓulm” and “ẓulmah” or “ẓalām” /ظلم وظلمة أوظلام have the same root (Ẓ-L-M / ظ ل م), from which the word “ẓulm” / ظلم is derived meaning “injustice”.
An inherent logic in the Arabic language explains the link between injustice and obscurity:
In the darkness we act without correctness, we operate blindly, we take and move things incorrectly, we deviate, we stray and lead others astray; we are unjust, we assess and act unjustly.
In light of these facts, you will understand that I use these terms for my own good and for good. In light of the facts that I have mentioned about the lack of accuracy in obscurity.
We can say and argue that the unjust is obscurantist and obscuring, and conversely, the obscurantist, obscuring, is unjust: الظّالم ظلاميّ والظّلاميّ ظالم.
And in the same way, we can argue and say that he who suffers injustice is obscure and obscured: المظلوم مُظۡلِم.
I would like to point out that in both Bukhari’s and Muslim’s collections, we read a ḥadīth attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, which confirms and reinforces the principle of a relationship between injustice, obscurity and obscurantism:
“… الظُّلْمَ ظُلُماتٌ يومَ القيامةِ …”
This passage is usually translated as:
“… Injustice (الظُّلْمَ / al-ẓulm) is darkness ( ظُلُماتٌ/ ẓulumāt) on the Day of the Straightening…”.
Therefore, I occasionally, but intentionally translate the word “unjust” as “obscurantist”. In verse 16 of chapter 13, it says:
“… قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الْأَعْمَى وَالْبَصِيرُ أَمْ هَلْ تَسْتَوِي الظُّلُمَاتُ وَالنُّورُ…”
“… Say: Can the blind and the seeing be adjusted? Or can darkness and light be adjusted?…”
I would like to stress here that, contrary to Quranic Arabic, the term “obscurantism” has only existed in the French language since the 19th century, precisely since 1819, to mean hostility to the Enlightenment.
The Qur’an thus clearly focuses on women, in particular: the grandmother – not the grandfather – of Jesus, the mother – not the father – of Moses, the sister of Moses, and even the Pharaoh’s wife, who is presented as an example for assurers (believers) to follow.
I would also like to bring your attention to some verses that could indicate a female origin of humanity. And God Is Most-Knowing.
In verse 1 of chapter 4:
”بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا“
“IN THE NAME OF GOD THE ORIGIN THE ARRANGING. O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord, Who Created you from a single being, and Created from her her mate, and Dispersed from both of them many men and women. And be careful of your duty toward God, by Whom you ask one another and [by] the wombs. Indeed God Was ever, over you, an Observer”
And in verse 189 of chapter 7:
”هُوَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفۡسٍ۬ وَٲحِدَةٍ۬ وَجَعَلَ مِنۡہَا زَوۡجَهَا لِيَسۡكُنَ إِلَيۡہَاۖ فَلَمَّا تَغَشَّٮٰهَا حَمَلَتۡ حَمۡلاً خَفِيفً۬ا فَمَرَّتۡ بِهِۦۖ فَلَمَّآ أَثۡقَلَت دَّعَوَا ٱللَّهَ رَبَّهُمَا لَٮِٕنۡ ءَاتَيۡتَنَا صَـٰلِحً۬ا لَّنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلشَّـٰكِرِينَ“
“It is He Who Created you from a single being, and of the same [kind] did He Make her mate that he might incline to her, so when he covers her she bore a light burden, then moved about with it, so when she grew heavy, they both invoked God, their Lord, ‘Certainly, if You Grant us a healthy [child], we will surely be among the grateful’”
The Qur’an mentions racism as the first great sin committed against divine law and that it originated from the devil; replying to God about mankind, in verse 76 of chapter 38:
”قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ“
“he said, ‘I am better than him. You Created me from fire and Created him from clay”
This verse is simply a reiteration of his response found in verse 12 of chapter 7. And verse 76 reminds us of chapter 76, which is rightly entitled “The Human”.
Consequently, whoever believes himself superior to another perpetuates this sin of diabolic origin; and God Knows that racists are numerous, everywhere in the world.
In verse 13 of chapter 49, it says:
”يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ“
“O mankind, indeed We have Created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God Is Knowing and Acquainted”
To conclude this fourth part, I will quote verse 58 of chapter 33:
”وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُبِينًا“
“And those who harm believing men and believing women for [something] other than what they have earned have certainly born upon themselves a slander and manifest sin”
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.
والحمد لله رب العالمين
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