By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
27 January 2013
“Mother is a school, if well prepared.”- Hafiz Ibrahim
Acquiring education, both religious and secular is compulsory upon women in Islam. Preventing women from gaining education is an un-Islamic act. The Quran and the Ahadith both make it compulsory upon Muslim men and women to acquire knowledge and education.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The search for knowledge is a duty for every Muslim (whether it be male or female)”. “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”.
The significance and fineness of knowledge has been highlighted both directly and indirectly in hundreds of places in the Holy Qur’an. Indeed one of the essential duties and responsibilities of the Prophet was the propagation of knowledge and wisdom to all. Allah says:
“We have sent you from amongst yourselves who recites to you Our Revelations and purifies and sanctifies (your hearts and ill-commanding selves) and teaches you the Book and inculcates in you logic and wisdom and enlightens you (on the mysteries of spiritual gnosis and divine truth) which you did not know. [The Quran, 2:151.]
“He is the One Who sent a (Glorious) Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) amongst the illiterate people from amongst themselves who recites to them His Revelations and cleanses and purifies them (outwardly and inwardly) and teaches them the Book and wisdom. Indeed, they were in open error before (his most welcome arrival). [The Quran, 62:2.]
Knowledge and education are a must on both Muslim men and women. Those who know are better than those who do not know. Those who are rich in knowledge have more taqwa i.e., God consciousness, only through taqwa we can glorify Him, appreciate Him and respect His Mighty Power, for they would have more knowledge about Him than those who don't know.
Also, those who seek good knowledge and education will be granted Paradise and the Angels will lower their wings for them with great pleasure, and forgiveness will be asked for them. The learned are considered the heirs of the Prophets.
Say: ‘Can those who have knowledge and those who do not be alike?’ So only the wise do receive the admonition. [The Quran, 39:9.]
So only those of His servants who have knowledge (of these realities with a vision and outlook) fear Him. Surely, Allah is Almighty, Most Forgiving. [The Quran, 35:28.]
None of these verses specify that only ‘wise men’ receive admonition or that only ‘male servants’ who have knowledge fear Him. The study of the life of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) also shows that he himself made special arrangements for the education and training of women.
Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri reports that some women said to the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him): ‘men have gone ahead of us (in terms of acquisition of knowledge). Therefore, appoint a special day for our benefit as well.’ The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) fixed one day for them. He would meet them on that day, advise them and educate them about commandments of Allah Almighty. [Narrated by al-Bukhari in al-Sahih, 1:50.]
Aisha (may Allah be please with her), was one of the sharpest minds of her time. She was a scholar, intellectual and jurist of very high standing. She is believed to have reported over 2000 traditions. Only two men were ahead of her. This shatters the ideology that women could not teach or guide men.
Some say that women are allowed to gain knowledge provided that they are taught by women teachers only. We do not live in an ideal world. We have to make distinctions between ideal and practical. This is no ideal world, in order to move ahead we have to be practical in life. But practicality does not mean immorality; but when idealism, if followed to the extreme, may lead to immorality. So, if need be, a woman can be taught by a male teacher; she should not be hesitant.
Sometimes the issue “raised” is dress; sometimes the focus shifts towards education. From Sania Mirza’s skirt to Malala’s liberal mind, the fanatics need something to be in the limelight. They say that women should not step out of their houses because the devil gets after her. If that is the case then why did the wives of the Prophet participate in the battles? Why did they lift up (touch) the wounded men and nursed them? These ideas are so nonsensical that it is difficult to ignore, the only way to deal with them, according to me, is to challenge their ideas and counter them with what they believe.
Saudi Arabia is a country that prohibits women from driving cars. I don’t know how this Einsteinium idea came about (sarcasm intended). Certainly cars didn't exist then. All these verdicts that we witness or hear today in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and some other so-called ‘Islamic’ countries from banning women to be educated and from driving cars are today’s authorities’ verdict and most of them, if not all, are miles away from Islam.
It is very difficult to get into the psyche of the Arab’s or Talibani’s minds because Khadijah (may Allah be please with her), Prophet Muhammad's first wife, was a business woman. She actually used to travel on her camel and bargain with men and make deals with them! Aisha led an army of 60,000 Muslim men after our Prophet peace be upon him died. That battle was called the "Battle of Camel".
The Quran says ‘this is a book for those who understand’. Truly those ‘Muslim’ men who do not give freedom to women aren’t fit to be called as Muslims, because they do not understand.
The difficulty with the Taliban of Afghanistan, however, is that most of their top leaders are illiterate. They don't know how to read and write. The "Mullah Omar" their one of the highest leaders is one example. As was mentioned in the beginning of the article, those who lack education have a problem appreciating God. They are not favoured in Islam, and they could cause a lot of trouble. And sure enough we see what their lack of education is doing: it is not only leading to the death of thousands of people but it also distances the moderate, educated Muslims from being totally welcomed by other communities. Just because of these few fundamentalists majority of the community members suffer.
The Taliban give verdicts that all Shia Muslims are infidels, and therefore it is not at all wrong to kill them. Their followers, who are mostly uneducated, blindly and foolishly follow their leaders' twisting of Allah Almighty's Commands:
"O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Apostle, if ye do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination. (The Noble Quran, 4:59)"
They portray themselves as “those charged with authority”. So it becomes compulsory to blindly follow them. They and their leaders, however, obviously lack a great deal of knowledge about Islam, because Noble Verse 4:59 is talking about obeying the people with authority only in what is Islamic.
This was clearly defined by our Prophet(pbuh):
Narrated 'Abdullah: "The Prophet said, 'A Muslim has to listen to and obey (the order of his ruler) whether he likes it or not, as long as his orders involve not one in disobedience (to Allah), but if an act of disobedience (to Allah) is imposed one should not listen to it or obey it. (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Judgments (Ahkaam), Volume 9, Book 89, Number 258)"
Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.