Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gender Equality in Islam
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

If i received a pence for everytime I come across a slur for wearing a veil and being taunted for being subordinate to my male brother counterpart - i'd be a very wealthy lady! Its a sad state of affairs when islamic doctrine has been hijacked by mullas most of whom have mixed their own cultural strains of "islam" and present this as being mainstream.
Fortunately we still have the Quran and Sunnah (sayings of the prophet (saw)) ...

"I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in My way, be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other (3:195)"

Spiritual equality, responsibility and accountability for both men and women is a well-developed theme in the Quran. Spiritual equality between men and women in the sight of God is not limited to purely spiritual, religious issues, but is the basis for equality in all temporal aspects of human endeavor.

The concept of gender equality is best exemplified in the Quranic rendition of Adam and Eve. The Quran states that both sexes were deliberate and independent and there is no mention of Eve being created out of Adam's rib or anything else (ill let the christians explain their own doctrine - nothing to do with me!). Even in the issue of which sex was created first is not specified, implying that for our purpose in this world, it may not matter.

"O mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity (nafs), and out of it created its mate, and out of hte two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand your rights from one another, and of these ties of kinship. Verily, God is ever watchful over you! (4:1)"

Quranic translators disagree on the meaning of "nafs" in the above verse which Muhammad Asad translates as "living entity." Many claim that "nafs" translates as "person," that is, Adam. But according to Asad and other scholars, God created humankind and its sexual counterpart out of its own kind. The Arabic word referring to mate (zawj) in the above Quranic verse is grammatically neutral and can be applied both ot male and female interchangeably. So it is not clear, nor should we conjecture, that Adam was created first, Eve was created out of Adam, or that Eve/woman is innately subservient to Adam/man. The fact that this Quranic verse does not specify one specific sex over the other is proof of gender non-bias and equality. It is commonly (and mistakenly) argued that Adam was created first, and that by this gesture God finds the male dominant and superior to the female; however, the wording of the Quran in the aforementioned verse does not support this claim.

So now we come to the infamous tree...the Quran describes how Adam and Eve were told to avoid a specific tree, which they both approached. For this act of disobedience to God, they were consequently banished from the garden; however, later both repented and were forgiven by God. The Quran does not allude to Eve tempting Adam to eat from the tree and being responsible for their downfall. In the Quranic version, both were held accountable and both paid the price for their choices, proving that gender equality is an intrinsic part of Islamic belief. (See Quran 2:30-37)

Women are independent individuals, as exemplified by the fact that all human beings will be accountable for their own intentions and deeds on the Day of Judgment when "no human being shall be of the least avail to another human being" (82:19) If men were ultimately responsibile for women (fathers for their daughters, husbands for their wives, etc.), then this accountability would be solely on men's shoulders to bear until the Day of Judgment?. But this is not the case:
"And whatever wrong any human being commits rests upon himself alone; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden..." (6:165)Consequently, we cannot be judged according to our own deeds unless we have the freedom of choice to do so. This free choice carries with it the responsibility to make the right choices or paying the consequence for wrong ones.

A great read here too !


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