Imam Mohammad Tawhidi
masculinisation of Muslim societies stems from the masculinisation of Arabian
societies in pre-Islamic Arabia, where culture continues as an essential part
of life alongside religion.
on the other hand, addressed the early Muslims in a manner that they would comprehend,
and therefore preferred masculinity over femininity when shedding light on the
position of males and females, the social relations between them and their role
in society, as well as legislative aspects of their lives – such as marriage,
divorce, inheritance and personal status.
As a Muslim
theologian, I cannot deny the fact that the Quran acknowledges Arab societies
as male-dominant societies. However, it did oppose the burying of newborn
“And when the girl [who was] buried alive is
asked, for what sin she was killed. And when the pages [of deeds] are made
public…” (Quran, 81:8-10).
Muhammad Shinqiti, an Islamic jurist and interpreter of the Quran who was a
former member of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia and a teacher
within the two sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina, reported:
Caliph of Islam] Omar ibn Al-Khattab said, “There were two things in the
pre-Islamic era, one of them makes me cry and the other one makes me laugh. The
one that makes me cry; I had taken a daughter of mine to bury her alive and I
was digging the hole for her while she was dusting my beard off without knowing
what I am planning for her, when I remember that, I cry. And the other one is
that I used to make a God of dates that I put over my head to guard me during
the night, then when I woke up I would eat it, and whenever I remember that I
laugh at myself” (Muhammad al-Amin al-Shinqiti, Adhwa’ul Bayan, Beirut,
Lebanon, 1995, Vol. 9, p. 63).
Islamic jurists and influential scholars have also testified to this incident
within their publications. They explain:
to dig a hole under the pregnant woman whenever she experienced labour, in
order that the child will be placed into it when delivered. If he was a boy
they would take him out of it and if she was a girl then they would leave it
and they would dump soil over her body till she dies, and that Omar Ibn
Al-Khattab testified to the Prophet Mohammad, saying “O Messenger of Allah, I
have committed female infanticide during the pre-Islamic era” (Al-Haythami,
Majmau’ al-Zawa’id wa Manba’ al-Fawa’id, 1994, Vol. 7, p. 204, Hadith 11469;
Al-Mawardi, Al-Hawi Al-Kabir [The Comprehensive Book[, 1994, Vol. 13, p. 67) .
masculinity was a social reality, and even though Muslims in general and
Arab-Muslims in particular do not bury their new born females anymore, they do
oppress them in different ways.
respect, we Muslims need to ask ourselves: By the Quran recognizing the
dominant male culture, does that mean that it supports it? Or do the solutions
it proposes mean that it should disappear from Muslim/Arab societies after the
revelation of the aforementioned verse?
reviewing Quranic scripture, we find that there is more equality than
inequality between men and women, especially in verses of punishment and
reward, as well as work and labour. One of the famous verses that can be cited
in this regard is:
“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 Allah is the most righteous of
you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted” (Quran, 49:13).
is no superiority between male and female in this particular verse, which
speaks regarding one of the purposes of creation. However, other verses which
clearly state that men have authority over women are open to interpretation, as
they are legislative in nature and not strictly doctrinal.
view verses in the Quran from a lingual, social, philosophical as well as
jurisprudential lens in order to understand the divine intent behind the
legislations that they carry, and not from the lens of Meccan heritage or
Arabic culture that applies the laws of its backward culture onto the Torah,
Bible and Quran.
religion develops into a ‘Religion of Men,’ then the issue no longer becomes an
issue of prioritizing between political or religious reforms, because either
way, the outcome will result in the continued suppression and oppression of
women, and their treatment as second- or even third-class citizens.
example, is a highly developed country with an onward-thinking majority, yet
women regained the right to vote and stand for office only in 2005. The reason
for this is somewhat sophisticated for a non-Arab to completely comprehend, and
it has a lot to do with the Arabic mentality and the masculinity of society
that is entrenched within it, allowing it to naturally exist in social,
educational, judicial, religious as well as political systems; including
developed cities, the majority of us seem to have a Bedouin mentality when it
comes to women. Therefore, it becomes safe to assume that there is no hope for
political, intellectual and religious reform without cultural reform.
plays a vital role in the daily lives and behaviors of all members of society.
For us to realistically find a solution to how women are treated by the
religious institutions, we must correct how they are treated within culture.
the matter of women, a word that immediately comes to the Muslim mind is
‘honour.’ The meaning of the word ‘honour’ then differs from one Muslim
community to another. In conservative Muslim societies, the honour of a man is
attached to the honour of his mother, sister, wife or female cousins.
Therefore, if they exceed the boundaries of culture, and tarnish the man’s
honour, the man regains his honour by setting out to kill the woman in a
practice known as honour killing.
mentality has to change, simply because such a description of honour does not
exist in the Quran or in the books of Hadith. Secondly, the mindset of women
having less or no honour when committing error, while a man’s actions will
always be justified as honourable, must change.
cannot convince developed nations that it is a universal religion when it fuels
a culture that favours one gender over the other. As Muslims, we must address
our challenges through modern-day practices, and not through historical
experiences of past generations. The greatest challenge we face is Muslims
trying to connect historic scripture with today’s reality.
Imam Mohammad Tawhidi is an Australian Muslim scholar, ordained
Islamic authority, peace advocate, educator, speaker, national bestselling
author and one of the main leading voices in the global movement of Islamic
reform. He has dedicated his life to ideologically tackling the spread of
Headline: Islam Doesn’t Have To Be A Religion Of Men
Source: Jakarta Post