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21 May 2010

Women in the Quran


Women in the Quran
It is a well known fact that in Islam, women are held in high esteem. Bibi Khadija, Prophet Muhammad's (p.b.u.h.) wife was a business woman and in fact the Holy Prophet was her employee! Then, our beloved Bibi Fatima (a.s.) the Prophet's daughter was helping him and Hazrat Ali in the management and distribution of charities and social welfare of the Muslim Ummah of the time. The veil imposed upon women by the Mullahs and patriarchs, seems to be a later, cultural development. In the Holy Quran Allah asks that both women and men cover their fineries. Respectable dress has been ordained but not robes covering the head where vision is impaired and makes it tough to be mobile - running after kids, cooking, going to work.

This essay aims at acquainting us with women mentioned in the Holy Quran. To be sure, it by no means is a comprehensive or a definitive account nor a scholarly discourse. It is simply aninteresting look at the life and lifestyles of women appearing in the Quran.
The women mentioned in the Quran are often treated as narrative tools in stories centred around men. They have seldom been studied to find out what kind of images Allah has chosen to give us regarding them.Generally, the Holy Book mentions women by their family references instead of by their own names(an Arab social tradition of the times). However, there is one exception - Bibi Mariam who is clearly mentioned by her own name, elucidating therefore the unique position or status of the Holy Virgin. Also, the Quran mentions 'good' and 'negative' examples of women.
THE FIRST LADY - HAVA

She does not appear in the Quran as such. She is simply referred to as 'the spouse of Adam'. She was created by Allah as companion to Adam, and together they were to live in Paradise.Misled by Shaitan, they both defaulted. Repenting,
they together sought forgiveness in the words from Surah Araf"Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not, and have no mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers." In the same Surah, Allah says: "O Children
of Adam! Let not the Shaitan cause you to fall into affliction as he expelled your parents from the garden, pulling off from both of them their clothing..."
SARAH

She was the wife of Hazrat Ibrahim with who she migrated first to Palestine and then to Egypt. In her old age, the angels approached her with a prophecy that she would give birth to a son, Ishaq: "And his wife was standing by, so she laughed, then we gave her the good news of Ishaq and after Ishaq of (a son's son) Yaqoub.She said: O wonder! Shall I bear a son when I am an extremely old woman and this my husband an extremely old man?..."
HAJIRAH
She is described as the younger wife of Hazrat Ibrahim, and mother to Hazrat Ismail. Allah ordered Ibrahim to leave her with her son alone in the desert of Mecca. Frantic for water for her infant, she ran across between the mountains of Safa and Marwah. This action was later on made mandatory by Allah for every pilgrim. In a miracle, water gushed forth for mother and son in the form of 'Zamzam'.
ZULEKHA

She is mentioned as the wife of an Egyptian chief. She made repeated attempts to seduce Hazrat Yusuf who had been brought as a young slave to her palace."And she in whose house she was sought to make him yield to her, and she made fast the
doors and said:Come forward..." Failing in her seductive attempts she had him imprisoned. Yusuf was tried and acquitted, and Zulekha confessed her sin:"...The chief's wife said:Now has the truth become established; I sought him to yield to me, and he is most surely of the truthful ones." This confession is viewed as
the transformation of her soul - from worldly love to love of God.
EUCABID

Believed to be Hazrat Musa's mother whom Allah addressed:"And we revealed to Musa's mother saying:Give him suck, then when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear nor grieve; surely We will bring him back to you and make him one of the apostles. (28:7)
ASIYA

She is described in the Quran as the wife of Pharoah. She adopted Hazrat Musa after he was rescued from the Nile. She also protected him from the Pharoah and pleaded for him:"And Firon's wife said:"A refreshment of the eye to me and to
you; do not slay him;may be he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son."
SAFURAH

She is Hazrat Musa's wife. In the Quran, she is one of the two women whom Hazrat Musa rescued from bad men and helped them:"So he watered their sheep for them..." She recommended him to her father for employment:"O my father! employ him, surely the best of those that you can employ is the strong man,the faithful one." The father then offered the girl in marriage to Musa:" I desire to marry one of these two daughters of mine to you on condition that you should serve me for eight years..."
BILQUIS, THE QUEEN OF SHEBA

Bilquis is the name given by the Arab Jews to the Queen of Sheba, who in the Old Testament is depicted as a temptress. However, the Holy Quran vindicates her as a powerful. wise and enlightened monarch. She refuses her advisors to try their
military prowess against Hazrat Sulaiman. After visiting him, she accepted the faith:"Surely I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given abundance and she has a mighty throne." " I found her and her people adoring the sun instead of Allah..." Finally, convinced of the truth, she submitted"...and I
submit with Sulaiman to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds." Her reference in the Quran offers a strong argument to those who believe that Islam is not against the concept of a woman ruler.
MARIAM (Mary)

Exalted in the Quran "above the women of all the worlds":"OMariam! Surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the world...O Mariam! Keep to obedience to your Lord and humble yourself..." She is the only
woman who is mentioned in the Quran by her own first name and has a Surah named after her. Two Surahs - Al Imran and Mariam narrate her story in considerable detail.She was brought up by the prophet Zakariya who soon discovered her spiritual
link with Allah. When she became an adult, she was approachedby angels:"O Mariam!, surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him (of one) whose
name is the Messiah, Isa, son of Mariam, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near to Allah." In the Quran, there is evidence of all the experiences a woman in her circumstances undergoes - embarassment and anxiety, labour and delivery pains, and her agony at not being able to have any proof of her chastity in the face of questioning people. She testified to the truth of the words of her Lord (Allah) and of His revelations, and was one of the most devout believers: "And Mariam, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her of Our inspiration and she accepted the truth of the words of her Lord and His books, and she was of the obedient ones." (66:12)
AYESHA

Ayesha, daughter of Abu Bakr, was one of the wives of the HolyProphet(PBUH). It is said that she was very young, in her teens, at the time of her marriage. She was unduly involved in a scandal by the hypocrites in Madinah,and the Quran declared her innocence by stipulating that whoever fails to prove an allegation against a woman should himself receive punishment for adultery: "Surely they who concocted the lie are a party from among you... Every man othem shall have what he has earned of sin...he shall have grievouschastisement." (24:11)
Bibi Ayesha was a brilliant woman. She is believed to have narrated more than 2000 Hadith of the Holy Prophet(PBUH). She was considered to be an authority on the Prophet's life as well as on the interpretations and meanings of the verses of the Holy Quran. Her guidance was frequently sought onintricate religious and judicial matters. Testifying to the sublimity of the Prophet's morals she commented: 'His morals are the Quran'. She lived for some 48 years after Prophet Muhammad(PBUH).
The Quran also mentions 'negative' women.
NUH'S WIFE

Her first name is not known. She was a non-believer: "Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve, the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them...and it was said: Enter both the fire..."(66:10) She was drowned in the great flood.
WIFE OF LUT

She was also a non-believer married to Prophet Lut. When Allah chose to wipe out the people of Sodom for their sin, she too was wiped out: "We will most surely deliver them all, except his wife; We ordained that she shall surely be of those who remain behind." (15:59-60)
URWAH

Wife of Abu Lahab, a non-believing uncle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). She used to cut down thorny branches and spread them in the Prophet's way as he passed by. Surah 111 called Lahab (Flame) speaks of Abu Lahab and his wife: "...And his wife, the wood carrier, upon her neck a halter of strongly twisted rope."