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Islam Is Not a Masculine Patriarchal Religion


Islam Is Not a Masculine Patriarchal Religion

Was published in Arabic in October 5, 2015

Translated by Ahmed Fathy


He said to me: Islam is a religion specifically for Arabs, not for all people worldwide.

I said to him: This is wrong. God have sent his messenger, Muhammad, with the message of the Quran to warn all people everywhere and anytime until the end of the world. God says in the Quran: "Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion (the Quran) upon His servant, to be a warning to humanity." (25:1), "We did not send you except as mercy to mankind."(21:107), and "We sent you only universally to all people, a herald and warner, but most people do not know." (34:28).

He said: But the Quran has been revealed in Arabic.

I said: You mean in the Arabic tongue.

He said: Exactly.

I said: God created all people different in race, color, and tongues. God says in the Quran: "And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your languages and colors. In this are signs for those who know."(30:22). Any divine message should come in the tongue in which the prophet/messenger spoke. There is no common tongue for all humanity. The last divine message has descended from God in the tongue of its prophet. God says in the Quran: "We never sent any messenger except in the tongue of his people, to make things clear for them. God leads astray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills. He is the Mighty, the Wise."(14:4). That is why the Quran has been sent to Muhammad in Arabic; the Quran says: "The Honest Spirit came down with it. Upon your heart, that you may be one of the warners. In a clear Arabic tongue."(26:193-195).

He said: Since the Quran came to us in a clear Arabic tongue; it expresses the masculine, patriarchal culture of Arabs.

I said: This is a grave error of judgment on your part; the Quran came to guide Arabs not to endorse their culture. God says in the Quran: "We made it easy in your tongue, in order to deliver good news to the righteous, and to warn with it a hostile people." (19:97) and "We made it easy in your language, so that they may remember." (44:58). Deification, reverence, and worship of human beings and stones (i.e., tangible inanimate things) were among their most important traits of the Arabs' religious culture before the advent of Islam, and the Quran came to destroy such a culture with all its features, including the masculine, patriarchal culture.

He said: But the Quranic legislations are masculine and patriarchal.

I said: This is another grave error of judgment on your part again; the masculine, patriarchal culture is insulting to women and is considered an injustice to them. God does not want any injustice to any people: "...God desires no injustice for mankind" (3:108). Islam is based on justice, and all divine messages came to establish justice among people: "We sent Our messengers with the clear proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that humanity may uphold justice…"(57:25).

He said: But the Quranic legislations are addressed to men in all cases; they do not address women.

I said: In the Arab tongue, the style of addressing the masculine means addressing all people, male and female, and this is the style used in the Quran.

He said: Please give me an example.

I said: God says in the Quran: "God instructs you regarding your children: The male receives the equivalent of the share of two females. If they are daughters, more than two, they get two-thirds of what he leaves. If there is only one, she gets one-half. As for the parents, each gets one-sixth of what he leaves, if he had children. If he had no children, and his parents inherit from him, his mother gets one-third. If he has siblings, his mother gets one-sixth. After fulfilling any bequest and paying off debts. Your parents and your children-you do not know which are closer to you in welfare. This is God's Law. God is Knowing and Judicious. "(4:11). In this verse, the word ''children'' means both males and females; and the word ''parents'' means the mother and the father. Let us be reminded of another example from the same chapter: "…If the siblings are men and women, the male receives the share of two females…"(4:176). Other examples mentioning the word ''parents'' with the order to take care of them are the following: (6:151), (17:23), (2:83), and (4:36). Since the word ''parents'' means both the father and the mother, this refutes the accusation that Islam is a masculine, patriarchal religion.

He said: But the male receives the share of two females in inheritance.

I said: This is in the cases of children and siblings, and in return for that, males are ordered in the Quran to pay the dowry to females in cases of marriage, as well as providing a house and a source of money to spend. A female is not to pay any dowry, as we find in some other cultures and legislations. Justice entails this in the inheritances shares of the daughters, sons, sisters, and brothers. As for parents, both the father and the mother receive equal shares. Let us not forget that one can do justice in one's lifetime by giving away money to parents and relatives if they deserve that.

He said: But the testimony of one man equals that of two women.

I said: in the Quran we find: "…And call to witness two men from among you. If two men are not available, then one man and two women whose testimony is acceptable to all-if one of them fails to remember, the other would remind her …"(2:282). This legislation applies to oral testimony in trade dealings that might be forgotten. This is to reserve rights of people. If the rights of people are reserved and kept in written forms, then there is no need to apply this rule; i.e., in written forms, the testimony of one woman equals that of one man.

He said: Is the female included implicitly in all Quranic legislations?

I said: Of course.

He said: How is that?

I said: 1- Females are included in the word ''people''; for instance, "O people, be conscious of your Lord. The quaking of the Hour is a tremendous thing. "(22:1).

2- Females are included in the phrase "children of Adam"; "O Children of Adam! Dress properly at every place of worship, and eat and drink, but do not be excessive. He does not love the excessive." (7:31).

3- Females are included in the word ''man" than implies humankind: "O man! What deluded you concerning your Lord, the Most Generous? "(82:6).

4- Females are included in the word "individual" that implies both male and female, "There is none in the heavens and the earth but will come to the Most Merciful as a servant. He has enumerated them, and counted them one by one.And each one of them will come to Him on the Day of Resurrection individually" (19:93-95).

5- Females are included in the term "human being", "We did not grant immortality to any human being before you. Should you die, are they then the immortal? "(21:34).

6- Females are included in the word ''soul'': "And the soul and He who proportioned it. And inspired it with its wickedness and its righteousness. Successful is he who purifies it.Failing is he who corrupts it. "(91:7-10), "Every soul will have a taste of death, and you will receive your recompense on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is swayed from the Fire, and admitted to Paradise, has won. The life of this world is merely enjoyment of delusion.'' (3:185), and ''On the Day when every soul will come pleading for itself, and every soul will be paid in full for what it has done, and they will not be wronged.''(16:111).

He said: But the Sunnite creed prevents women from performing acts of worship in times of their period. 

I said: This is wrong. We, the Quranists, find in the Quran that the period prevents only having sex between the wife and her husband. Any woman during her period can perform ablution, pray, fast, read the Quran, holding it in her hand, perform all rites of pilgrimage in Mecca, and glorify God with her tongue as well.

He said: The Sunnite creed insists that women lack faith and reason in comparison to men.

I said: Again, this is totally wrong. Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, lacking in faith and reason? God in the Quran tells us two examples of great faith to all believers: Mary and the wife of the Pharaoh in the time of Moses. Both are women, as you see. God in the Quran tells us two examples of bad faith among women as well: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Hence, women are equal to men; both are human beings that include unfaithful wrongdoers and faithful doers of good deeds.

He said: Are there no exceptions for women in the Quranic legislature?

I said: Islamic sharia is based on alleviation and ease for both men and women: remember the following verses: "He has chosen you, and has not burdened you in religion"(22:78) and "God intends to lighten your burden, for the human being was created weak."(4:28).

He said: So, you mean to tell me that there are no special exceptions for women.

I said: Exceptions, ease, and alleviation are for all humankind in several cases; for men and women alike.

He said: Please give me an example.

I said: In prayers, for instance, see (4:101-103) to examine ease in prayers.

He said: But these cases are in times of battles and times of immigrating/traveling in fear of being followed by enemies. Are these cases linked to women as well?

I said: Yes. Those immigrants included then men and women and children: I refer you to the following verses: "While the angels are removing the souls of those who have wronged themselves, they will say, "What was the matter with you?" They will say, "We were oppressed in the land." They will say, "Was God's earth not vast enough for you to emigrate in it?" These-their refuge is Hell. What a wretched retreat!Except for the weak among men, and women, and children who have no means to act, and no means to find a way out.These-God may well pardon them. God is Pardoning and Forgiving."(4:97-99). Remember that God tells us in the Quran a certain legislation regarding immigrating women in (60:10-12).

He said: So, immigrants and those who received them in Yathreb include men and women, right?

I said: Exactly. Another example that includes men and women is hypocrites mentioned in (9:100).

He said: Are you quite sure that legislations of jihad and wars of self-defense in the Quran include women as well?

I said: Quite sure. Remember the following verse on jihad: "There is no blame on the blind, or any blame on the lame, nor any blame on the sick. Whoever obeys God and His Messenger-He will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away-He will punish him with a painful punishment."(48:17). As for hypocrites, those included men and women as well: "…They are content to be with those who stay behind…"(9:93). This verse refers to those who could not perform jihad war.

He said: What about fasting?

I said: Ease and alleviation in fasting are for both genders in times of illness, weary traveling, and the danger of physical weariness due to fasting. "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become righteous. For a specified number of days. But whoever among you is sick, or on a journey, then a number of other days. For those who are able: a ransom of feeding a needy person. But whoever volunteers goodness, it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew." (2:183-184).

He said: What about pilgrimage?

I said: The excuse here that includes both genders is lack of ability and means for it: "…Pilgrimage to the House is a duty to God for all who can make the journey..."(3:97).

He said: Why God mentions in the Quran sometimes the words ''male'' and ''female"?

I said: This is to assert the equality between both genders and all human beings at large regardless of color, gender, and race. This refutes any gender-based prejudice or inequity. Piety and righteousness are the criteria to judge them in the Afterlife in Doomsday. "O people! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing, Well-Experienced."(49:13). Those mentioned in the Quran who believed and performed good deeds are both men and women. Remember the following verses: "Those who believe and do righteous deeds will have Gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is the great triumph."(85:11), "But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer-those will enter Paradise, and will not be wronged a whit."(4:124), "Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while being a believer, We will grant him a good life-and We will reward them according to the best of what they used to do."(16:97), and "Whoever commits a sin will be repaid only with its like. But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer-these will enter Paradise, where they will be provided for without account."(40:40).

He said: I always keep wondering about the very first verses of the 23rd chapter in the Quran titled "The Believers"; does this mean male believers only?

I said: What do you mean?

He said: I mean in the following verses: "Those who safeguard their chastity. Except from their spouses, or their dependents-for then they are free from blame.But whoever seeks anything beyond that-these are the transgressors." (23:5-7), does the context here specify males? Men can have spouses and slave-girls? Can women have male-slaves for her sexual gratification? This is equality, I suppose.

I said: Let us first specify the meaning of "spouses". This word includes male spouses and female spouses. The Quran never mention this word in a female declension. It has one form in Arabic that implies both genders. Sometimes this word means male spouse(s) only, female spouse(s) only, and in other contexts both genders of spouses.

He said: How could we understand that? Give me examples. 

I said: 1- Here is a verse to exemplify the word ''spouse'' to mean ''husband'': "If he divorces her, she shall not be lawful for him again until she has married another spouse. If the latter divorces her, then there is no blame on them for reuniting …"(2:230).

2- Here are verses to exemplify the word ''spouse'' to mean ''wife'': "If you wish to replace one spouse with another, and you have given one of them a fortune, take nothing back from it. Would you take it back fraudulently and sinfully? "(4:20), "It is He who created you from a single person, and made from it its spouse, that he may find comfort with her. Then, when he has covered her, she conceives a light load, and she carries it around…" (7:189), and "O people! Fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul, and created from it its spouse, and propagated from them many men and women …"(4:1).

3- Here are verses to exemplify the word ''spouse(s)'' to mean both husband and wife: "God has given you mates from among yourselves; and has produced for you, from your spouses, children and grandchildren "(16:72) and "And those who say, "Our Lord, grant us delight in our spouses and our children, and make us a good example for the righteous." "(24:74).

He said: You mean to tell me that in (23:1), believers include men and women, right?

I said: Of course.

He said: Can you prove that?

I said: Examine the following verses (23:2-11) and their context, and you will find in them traits that we are ordered as believers, men and women, to acquire and apply them to be truly believes who will enter Paradise in the Afterlife.

He said: Is there another proof?

I said: Yes. The same description of the traits of true believers who will enter Paradise among humankind is repeated in the following verses to include both genders: "Humankind was created restless.Touched by adversity, it is fretful. Touched by good, it is ungenerous. Except the prayerful. Those who are constant at their prayers. And that in whose wealth is a rightful share. For the beggar and the deprived. And those who affirm the Day of Judgment. And those who fear the punishment of their Lord. Avoidance of their Lord's punishment is not to be taken for granted. And those who guard their chastity. Except from their spouses or those living under their control, for then they are free of blame. But whoever seeks to go beyond that-these are the transgressors. And those who honor their trusts and their pledges. And those who stand by their testimonies. And those who are dedicated to their prayers. These will be honored in Gardens of Paradise."(70:19-35).

He said: Could a woman own a slave-man to have sex with him like men who owned slave-girls?

I said: These meanings of such verses are wrongly understood; a woman can legally marry her slave-man; likewise, a man can marry his slave-girl after paying her dowry. Slave-girls are not to be ''enjoyed'' without marriage as some people suppose. Examine the following verse: "If any of you lack the means to marry free believing women, he may marry one of the believing maids under your control. God is well aware of your faith. You are from one another. Marry them with the permission of their guardians "(4:25). This tells us that slave-girls are to marry their masters when the permission of her guardian is granted, with witnesses to the marriage contract, provided that a dowry is paid to her. This is legal marriage as in the case of free women.

He said: But men will have houris in Paradise, whereas women will not have that.

I said: Entering Paradise, men and women turn into one gender, and their good deeds will turn into houris for all of them.

He said: This calls for a detailed explanation, right?

I said: Yes, God willing, in another article.         

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