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Offline Star

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Verses on Women
« on: January 01, 2016, 02:58:31 AM »
Salam 8)

I think this question might be better off in the Women section, so if I put it in the wrong place, I can move it--but it does primarily concern a variety of Quranic verses.

I'm going to start off by citing some verse numbers on women:

4:34--suggests male leadership in marital relationship (natural roles, not discrimination)
2:228--same thing
49:13--only good deeds make a person superior, not gender or anything else
27:23--introduces Queen of Sheba, a female ruler
27:30-31--Queen of Sheba was smart and cautious

What I'm getting at here is that the Quran delegates leadership to men, but it seems to honor the Queen of Sheba. It talks about how she accepted Islam and presumably continued to rule afterward.

Prophethood was arguably only delegated to men, because of the physical and leadership burdens. However God did send messages to women via Himself or angels (Mary, Moses' mother).

Can a woman generally be head of state according to the Quran? Also, what is their position in relation to men?

Offline Hassan A

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Re: Verses on Women
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2016, 12:14:55 AM »
Salaam mia666,

You asked two good questions which, God-willing, I wish to give may taken on. But First I would like to tackle one statement you made.

You said:

"Prophet-hood was arguably only delegated to men, because of the physical and leadership burdens."

I agree and disagree with you here. I agree that prophet-hood was delegated only to men, but I disagree with you in saying that it was on the basis of their physical and leadership burdens. The reason all of God's prophets were men, I believe, has to do with the attitude and era in which those prophets lived. The era of the prophets was an era in which women were seen, among many thing, as inferior (physically and mentally) and unequal to men. So to send women prophets would have been unproductive as they would have been dismissed from the get-go solely on the basis of their gender. The equivalence of this would be like trying to get an African-American elected as president in 17th century America where they were treated (at that time) as slaves and seen as less then human; hence dismissed from the get-go.

Now unto your questions.

You asked:

"Can a head of state according to the Quran?

I, personally, see no Quranic evidence to the contrary. I believe, from a Quran perspective, that leadership (especially in the political sense) should be delegated on the basis of merit and only to those of moral excellence. 49:13, which in part reads: [Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you], is evidence enough that a leader (in an Islamic state) should be elected solely on the basis of merit; precluding any consideration on the basis of race, family origin, social status, and gender. Furthermore, consider the following verse:

"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 zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those - Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise." [Quran 9:71]

In the above verse, I believe the words "they enjoy what is right and forbid what is wrong" is not restricted only to sermon in the mosques, but also an obligation unto men AND women in leadership roles (in the political sense). Consider, also, the following verse:

"[And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters." [Quran 22:41]

I consider the above verse, and in particular the words/pro-nouns "those who", to be gender-neutral. I take from this verse that authority (in the political sense) is not restricted to one gender or another; that God will give authority in the land to any man and/or woman who are of moral excellence and will fulfill the covenants of God entrusted on him/her.

Lastly, of course, there is the story of the Queen of Sheba which you have already alluded to.

Now unto your second question.

You asked:

"what is their position in relation to men?"

The Quran has placed the relation between man and woman on a basis of equality. And nowhere is that more evident than in the following verses which 1) Puts, beyond any doubt, that men and women are equal in all things that really matter in social activities; 2)That the path of progress is open to both alike and the reward for achieving it is the same for both; 3)That each has the right to their own possessions:

"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 Allah often and the women who do so - for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward." [Quran 33:35]

"And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer - those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed." [Quran 4:124]

"And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing." [Quran 4:32]


Offline Wakas

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Re: Verses on Women
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2016, 02:10:45 AM »

4:34--suggests male leadership in marital relationship (natural roles, not discrimination)

Your above understanding seems to hinge upon one word. Are you sure you have understood it correctly?


Analysis of 4:34 and context

"supporters/maintainers" (Arabic: qawwamoon, root: Qaf-Waw-Miim) occurs in the same form in:
4:135 (stand / stand up / support / maintain with justice as witnesses to God)
5:8 (stand / stand up / support / maintain for/to God as witnesses with justice).

M. Asad: The expression qawwam is an intensive form of qa'im ("one who is responsible for" or "takes care of" a thing or a person). Thus, qama ala l-mar'ah signifies "he undertook the maintenance of the woman" or "he maintained her" (see Lane's Lexicon, Volume 8, p2995). The form qa'im can be found in 4:5 and 5:97.
It should be noted that the occurrences of 4:135, 5:8 and 4:5, 5:97 cancel out some male-centric translations, such as "charge of" (M. Pickthal), "managers of" (Arberry, Hilali/Khan/Saheeh), "superior to" (Rodwell) which simply do not fit once cross referenced. It refers to a wider duty of care/responsibility, such as providing for the family/household which is discussed in several verses [2:228, 2:233, 65:6], and is the default role/duty for men, but not the only role as it can depend on situation. Contrast this to The Quran never mentioning managing one's wife or being in charge of her and the correct meaning becomes obvious. In fact, there is not one example of God addressing the husband/wife relationship in this manner, e.g. all examples involving decisions between marriage partners are in the reciprocal Arabic word form, e.g. "taraadaa" [2:232-233, 4:24], "tashaawar" [2:233], which means they are mutual. If society is to be governed by mutual consultation [3:159, 39:18, 42:38, 58:11], then naturally this principle should apply to the most basic social unit, the family, and done with what is maruf (honourable, known/recognised as good, befitting, fairness, kindness), see 2:231, 4:19.
If one wishes to refer to Traditional Ahadith/narrations, the meaning of maintenance/support for this word is also present, e.g. the use of "taqumu AAalayhinna" (look after them) in Bukhari volume 3, book 34, number 310.
Lastly, the actual verse of 4:34 clarifies/limits the scope of meaning of "qawwamoon" to maintenance, i.e. because of God bestowing more on some of them than on others and with what they spent (perfect tense, i.e. an action done/completed) of their money. To state the obvious, without spending on someone, a person cannot be regarded as a supporter/maintainer of them, whether male or female.

"...bima (with what) faddalaAllahu (God preferred) baAAdahum (some of them) AAala (over/above/on) baAAdin* (others)..." *masculine
This likely refers to al rijal (the men) as indicated by keeping the same suffix reference later in the sentence, i.e. its logical and contextual flow. Note that 4:32 says "some of YOU over others" whilst 4:34 says "some of THEM over others" - which implies that in 4:32 it is referring to one pool of people (i.e. humankind, i.e. men and women), whilst 4:34 is referring to two groups (or a subgroup) of people, hence "THEM" i.e. referring to the men.
See "baAAdahum AAala baAAdin" / "some of them above others" in 2:253 and 17:21, and also 6:53 "baAAdahum bi baAAdin" / "some of them with others", for a comparison. However, there are three theoretically possible interpretations of this phrase:
with what God preferred on some (men/women) over others (men/women)
with what God preferred on some (men) over others (men) **most likely based on the evidence.
with what God preferred on some (men) over others (men/women)

The keyword being "some". Thus, whichever way it is translated it proves the obvious, that not all men are preferred/bestowed equally, and/or not all men are preferred/bestowed more than women. Also, the term "preferred" is general, unless made specific in context, and in this case may refer to distribution of wealth, e.g. inheritance, as mentioned by similar phrasing in 4:32. Since spending of wealth is mentioned separately the preference likely refers to the fact that men do not have the physical burden of pregnancy hence are in a more favourable position to work/provide by default, or simply that some men are in a position to work whilst other men may not be.
It should be noted that some traditional commentators interpret this phrasing to suggest men are preferred to women with respect to various things but this is completely disproven by the Arabic itself, as the masculine plural is used in the phrase. The masculine plural in Arabic either refers to an all male group or male+female group, NEVER all female group. To add to this point, the same phrasing is used for preferring some messengers to others [2:253] and some prophets to others [17:55] and yet The Quran repeatedly tells us not to make distinction among them. The best person according to The Quran is whoever is the most righteous/pious/God-conscious [49:13]. It should also be kept in mind that each person will be judged according to how they conducted themselves with what they have been given [6:165]. In other words, with privilege comes responsibility.
As we can see, The Quran is not stating a fixed rule, i.e. that all men are the maintainers/supporters of women, they are only so if they fulfill the criteria and it is referring to the wider duty of care/responsibility men have as mentioned above. It is conditional.

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Re: Verses on Women
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2016, 12:37:36 AM »
Salam :)

Hassan: Regarding your first statement, I agree. Back then, people were debating over whether or not women had souls. It wouldn't make sense to make a woman a prophet in such an environment.

About your second statement, I also agree. It seems, according to the verses you cited, that leadership is based on character/intelligence and has nothing to do with gender. Verses like 4.34 and 2.228 are limited to marriage, which is shown clearly by the verses before and after. They have nothing to do with being the ruler of a country.

And about the last answer: Verses like 33.35 put this beautifully. Nobody becomes superior to another person just because certain duties are assigned to them. They only become superior by becoming more righteous. Another verse that shows this is 49.13. Men and women are equal overall in the Quran, even though they're different. I feel like I should have figured this out already, but those irritating misogynistic translators are messing things up.

Wakas: Regarding the word "qawwamuna," it has a few definitions on the site you cited, like "upholders of justice" and "caretakers." Upon close examination, it doesn't really denote leadership.
About the next part of 4.34, "some more than others", this statement is noncomittal. I think it's talking about some PEOPLE over other PEOPLE and not much beyond that. I've found several translations that translate this as "God has made the one to excel the other," and these translations are perfectly ridiculous. They totally disregard the meaning of the original Arabic, where the two groups mentioned are in PLURAL and are completely genderless.
About your final statement: Yes, this verse is conditional. Men have to be responsible for them to have this role. Plus, this verse is limited to marriage, if you read the statements before and after it. And the roles are not necessarily mutually exclusive, because of course a female ruler would be responsible for the men on her court.

Thank you both for your answers :) It's nice to have intelligent discussions with people who follow Quranic ideology, rather than blindly following nonsensical Sharia law. Everyone on here is also very respectful and tolerant. You don't find that on other forums.