Books and Documents

Books and Documents (24 Aug 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim Women Calling For the Equality and Liberation; That Is At the Heart of the Qur'an

By Ilham Essalih

20 June, 2019

In the introduction to the book, Women in the Qur'an, Asma Lamrabet writes that the issue of Muslim women is held hostage between two perceptions: a conservative Islamic approach and a liberal Western approach. "At the heart of this debate Muslim women are seeking to reclaim their right to speak in order to re-appropriate their own destinies, calling for the equality and liberation that is at the heart of the Qur'an," she writes.

To 'reappropriate' Muslim women's destinies, Lamrabet attempts to debunk beliefs and myths surrounding what is considered the 'weaker sex' by discussing and reinterpreting Quranic verses that either tell stories of female Quranic figures, or that directly address believing women.

The chapters that tell the tales of the women mentioned in the Quran are incredibly inspiring and Lamrabet does a great job of honouring them. She gives beautiful descriptions of Balkis (Queen of Sheba), Sarah, Hagar, Zulaykha, Asiah, and of course, Mariam (Mary). She gives proof of their importance and influence in the lives of the Islamic prophets, and rightfully claims that the spread of Islam would not have been as successful without them.

The first woman she describes is the woman whom Muslims believe to be the mother of humanity – Eve. Lamrabet explains the several myths surrounding her life that, according to Lamrabet, have contributed to the development of a strongly patriarchal society and the belief that women are inherently inferior.

The Very First Myth Is That Of Her Creation.

"This belief stipulates that Adam – as a man – was God's first creation and that Eve, the woman, was created from one of Adam's ribs," she writes.

This 'legendary truth' is to Lamrabet the founding myth of the inferiority of women, and it finds its origins in 'theological assumptions widely anchored in ways of thinking, both in Judaeo-Christian cultures and in Muslim lands.'

Her first observation is that to be created from Adam's rib equates to saying that her creation is secondary, and that Adam represents a norm or human ideal. The second observation is the idea that Eve would be the primary cause of Adam's downfall, because she would have tempted him to transgress God's command by tasting from the forbidden tree. According to Lamrabet, Eve has become the undeniable muse of the legendary 'original sin'. Her final observation is that Eve was created from Adam as well as for him, a myth that she believes is the foundation that has legitimised the oppression of women.

These beliefs are rooted in Christian tradition but they aren't actually present in the Quran. She explains that nowhere can one find this conception of Eve coming from Adam's rib. Rather, she gives an interpretation of Quranic verses to prove that Eve was never created from Adam's rib, and she roots her interpretation mostly in linguistic analysis.

Her interpretation of the verses written about Eve and those about other women in the Quran seems convincing and logical, but it is unfortunately only convincing if the reader is already convinced or already a feminist. This is arguably the book's most striking weakness: its obsession to convince the reader.

Lamrabet's voice is disturbingly present throughout the book, you can feel her constant attempt to convince the reader that hers is the ultimate truth. The book doesn't feel very academic and sometimes sounds poorly essay-ish.

While it is difficult to disagree with the conclusions, the tone and Lamrabet's overwhelming voice beg the question whether the writer's methodology is fully solid and trustworthy.

Is this book useful for the feminist cause or does it harm it?

The frequent use of phrases such as 'we all know that…' or 'it is saddening to see that…' creates an atmosphere of disdain and judgment towards more traditional opinions, which makes one wonder whether the writer does not reinforce a Western, white feminist paradigm, only to the detriment of Muslim women.

This reinforcement of a Western approach would only serve to increase feelings of hostility for feminist opinions. Instead of creating allies out of traditionalist groups, this book would likely alienate them further.

It is important however to contextualise the publication of the book. Women in the Qur'an was published in 2007, which is a solid decade before our 'woke' era, making it quite ahead of its time.

A disturbing element in the text is the punctuation, e.g. the frequent use of exclamation marks and ellipses, which only increases the tone of informality, thereby decreasing its trustworthiness. This book was first published in French and only translated to English in 2016, and it's unclear whether the issue lies in the original writing or the translation.

Women in the Qur'an is an interesting read because it debunks myths and misconceptions about women, a very important exercise that needs to be done within Muslim communities. It's also a problematic book because it focuses on the liberation of women in a slightly too white-oriented way and one that isn't inclusive of more conservative women.

Lamrabet seeks a liberation of Muslim women, but at the expense of whom can this liberation be achieved?

Original Headline: Women in the Qur'an: 'Reappropriating' Muslim women's destinies

Source: Al-Araby

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/ilham-essalih/muslim-women-calling-for-the-equality-and-liberation;-that-is-at-the-heart-of-the-qur-an/d/119555


  • Now watch GM sb the apostate dodge the questions that corner him. The lying hypocrite that he is, he will not answer the following two simple, straightforward questions:
    1. Can you tell us what the Quran says on the subject of  female witnesses?
    2. Do you endorse it?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/29/2019 1:06:43 AM

  • The only answer from Naseer sb. is to call me an apostate, showing again the low level of his discourse. He has no hesitation or shame in misquoting  the Quran.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/28/2019 12:06:15 PM

  • GM sb, the apostate has spoken. What can be expected of him except opposition to a correct understanding of the Quran?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/28/2019 12:51:45 AM

  • Naseer sb. says, "The Quran also does not equate the testimony of two women to that of one man, but merely allows women the privilege and option of witnessing jointly."
    This is false.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/27/2019 12:38:27 PM

  • Bilqis was at least a thousand years before Muhammad (pbuh) and there were many other women rulers besides. The Prophet's own first wife was an independent business woman and the Prophet's employer before their marriage. There were always women superior to men in education, social/economic status and even to this day, there are millions of uneducated men. The Hadith therefore makes no sense and is concocted falsehood. The Quran also does not equate the testimony of two women to that of one man, but merely allows women the privilege and option of witnessing jointly.

    Read:    Is A Woman’s Testimony Worth Half That of A Man?

    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/27/2019 12:39:57 AM

  • Hadith mentions the reason why women were treated unequally was due to the deficiency of women's mind instead of any other reason.  The following is the extract:
    Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri:
    The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind."
    حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ أَبِي مَرْيَمَ، أَخْبَرَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي زَيْدٌ، عَنْ عِيَاضِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏"‏ أَلَيْسَ شَهَادَةُ الْمَرْأَةِ مِثْلَ نِصْفِ شَهَادَةِ الرَّجُلِ ‏"‏‏.‏ قُلْنَا بَلَى‏.‏ قَالَ ‏"‏ فَذَلِكَ مِنْ نُقْصَانِ عَقْلِهَا ‏"‏‏.‏
    The above is the extract from Sahih al-Bukhari 2658; in-book reference: book 52, hadith 22; USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol 3, book 48, hadith 826.
    The phrase, the witness of a woman equal to half..of a man..is because of the deficiency of woman's mind, as mentioned above implies women in the past as demanded by Quran to be unequal with men were merely due to the deficiency of their mind instead of any other reason, such as it is Allah's mind to do it or it is Allah's decision to condemn women or any other reasons.
    The phrase, the deficiency of their mind, as mentioned here implies women in the past were less intelligence to men due to they were uneducated or unfair treatment to them may not annoy them as compared to men.  However, modern women are more educated than historical women and much more intellectual than them.  To modern women, there is no deficiency in their mind, since some are even smarter than men to have the access to universities for their further studies. 
    As hadith links inequality of treatments to their deficiency of mind instead of to Allah's command, it implies the inequality of treatments as mentioned in Quran and hadith is no longer applicable to this modern world, since modern women, who are more educated, are no longer to be in deficiency of mind.  Thus, it is rational to treat women fairly regardless what is mentioned in Quran and Hadith about them.
    The extract below permits women to rule over the people and these include to rule over men:
    An-Naml (The Ants) - 27:23  [read in context]
    إِنِّي وَجَدتُّ امْرَأَةً تَمْلِكُهُمْ وَأُوتِيَتْ مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَلَهَا عَرْشٌ عَظِيمٌ (27:23)
    Basit -   Hussari -   Minshawi -  f
    Innee wajadtu imraatan tamlikuhum waootiyat min kulli shayin walaha AAarshun AAatheemun
    Topics discussed in this Verse:
    [Balqis] [Hoopoe] [Saba] [Solomon:and Bilqis]
    “Behold, I found there a woman ruling over them; and she has been given [abundance] of all [good] things, and hers is a mighty throne, - 27:23 (Asad) - 
    The only possible reason to explain why this woman was allowed to rule over the nation was her mind was not deficient, as mentioned in the hadith above.  As this woman was intellectual without deficiency in mind, she was allowed by Allah to rule over nation and this includes men too.
    By right, according to Quran and hadith, this woman had no right to rule and she had to be subject to her husband without freedom and she would be treated unequally as the rest of the women.  As hadith mentions the reason for treating women in the past secondly was due to their deficiency of mind instead of it was Allah's command, it is rational for Quran to mention this woman has been treated specially, since probably she was educated and turned up she was given with power to rule.
    Nevertheless, modern women should not be treated unfairly since they are more educated and no longer to be deficient in their mind. 
    By zuma - 8/24/2019 5:28:51 AM

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