teacher and student

Some Answers On Issues Pertaining To Women

1. Can you explain the term *qawimmah* in ayat 228 of Surat al-Baqarah, with referecne to the Classical Scholars, please?

2:228 does not have that term but has *wa lil-rijaali ʿalayhinna darajah*. Pickthall translation: {And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them} (2:228).

Al-Tabari said the best explanation is that of Ibn ʿAbbas: "The daraja mentioned by Allah Most High here is the exemption, on the man's part, of some his wife's obligations towards him and his indulgence towards her, while he is fully obligated to fulfill all his obligations towards her, because the verse came right after {And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness}. Hence Ibn ʿAbbas said: 'I would not like to obtain all (astanzif) of my right from her because Allah Most High said {and men are a degree above them}.'"

Other explanations: pre-eminence in jihad [Mujahid], or a greater share in inheritance [Mujahid], or the final word in talaq [Abu Malik], or political leadership (imara) [Zayd ibn Aslam] and right of obedience [Zayd ibn Aslam].

Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir says: "Preference in physical and moral character, pre-eminence, obedience of the [Divine] command, spending, establishing the welfare of people, and merit in the world and the hereafter, as Allah Most high said: {Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath men the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women)...} (4:34)."

Regarding the latter verse, I will quote from a response on a similar question on a mailing-list a while ago:

"Ar-rijalu qawwamoona ala an-nissaa." Many translators give this as showing men have superiority over women. Is that a fair reflection of the meaning? I suggest the answer is No! "Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are truly the devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has ordained to be guarded." I believe this is well put by Muhammad Asad. It is not a question of superiority or inferiority. Rather it is a question of defining responsibilities. The word which causes much of the misunderstanding is "qawwamoon" which some people take to mean authority. If you check in the Lissan Al-Arab, which is the most authoritative and voluminous Arabic dictionary you will find Muhammad Asad's translation exactly matches the explanation in this dictionary."


2. What is the Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jammah position with respect to a woman leading the Salat comprising of both men and women if she's the only one who fulfills the criteria of Imam? For example: Ghazala is known to have led the prayer of both men and women.

It is impermissible for a women to lead men in prayer whether in the obligatory or the tarawih. However, there is a view in the Hanbali madhhab that a woman may lead men in the Tarawih prayer, as stated by Ibn al-Jawzi in Ahkam al-Nisa' and in other books. I do not know Ghazala.


3. Can you explain the context of *two women witnesses*? Does this indicate deficiency in capability or intellect [of women]? Please insha'Allah, provide references too.

Al-Zuhayli said the second women was needed to remind the first of any detail she might have forgotten (as explicitly mentioned in the aya), just as the second man - if there actually were two male witnesses - would have done with the first. For men socialize with men, and women with women; they do not mix so, a priori, they would not be able to correct each other as easily as a member of their own sex. Another reason is that from the psychological perspective men and even little boys tend to be more finnicky about rules and details - even meaningless details - whereas women and little girls often brush off the rules as unimportant and overlook minutiae that to their minds may seem irrelevant. Also, contractual and commercial life tends to be male-dominated i.e. of greater access and familiarity to men, although there are social situations where only women are present.

The following is taken from the same response as above from the mail-list:

"- In Muslim countries, usually only women are present at the time of a birth; whether they are the mid-wife, doctor etc. In some cases only one woman may be present. There are serious legal implications in inheritance as to whether the baby is still-born, lives, or breathes (is alive) and then dies almost immediately. Yet, if only one woman is present at such times, her testimony is taken as valid.

"- In the case of two spouses each accusing the other of adultery with no other witnesses: each spouse may witness four times, the fifth time they invoke the curse of "A" on them if they are telling a lie.

"In neither of these two examples is the man's word equivalent to that of two women."


4. To what extent can a Muslimah participate in the battlefield? Is she limited to the role of nursing and care, or may she take up arms? Please can you give examples from history?

I will quote some more material I saved from previous postings on the internet:

"Somayya who was among the first to be martyred upholding Islam. Al-Bukhari and Ahmed (reporters of the traditions of the Prophet Mohamed) cited Al-Rabiyya' the daughter of Mu'awadh as saying: 'We used to participate in the battles with the Prophet of Allah. We gave water to the fighters, served them, and returned the dead and wounded to Medina.'

"Also Muslim, Ibn Majah and Ahmed (in their narrations) said that Umm Ateyya, the Ansari , said: 'I accompanied the Messenger of Allah (SAAS) seven times, guarding the camp, making the food, treating the wounded and caring for the sick'.

"In his Sahih, Muslim reported Umm Sulaim, the wife of Abi Talha, as saying that she carried a dagger on the day of the battle, of Hunain. When the Prophet (SAAS) asked her about it she said, 'I carry it so that I can defend myself against the enemies.' The Messenger (SAAS) did not forbid this. Nusaibah, the daughter of Ka'b, fought in the wars of riddah (apostasy) at the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr and she suffered many wounds caused by stabs and strikes."

5. What is the reasoning behind the prohibition of a woman acting as a Head of State ... ?

... [i.e. she is aware of the daleel, but wants to know if there is a reason for it]? Is there ikhtilaf on this, and [if so] amongst which scholars [I am aware of the contemporary opinion of Jamal Badawi which says a woman *can* be a Head of State, but I think the Sister is looking more in the direction of the Classical Ulema, wallahu a'lam]. And in what areas may she act as a Qadi in the Islamic State? Is it limited only to Family Law? Is there a difference of opinion on this (e.g. I am aware [without detail] of opinions of Tabari, Abu Hanifah, and [perhaps] Bayhaqi [raa]).

Some of the best answers have indeed come from esteemed figures of daʿwa in the West, but we should still ask the scholars. I refer you to (1) the relevant pages of al-Qaradawi's Fiqh al-Dawla, translated online by Hamdan Muhammad Hassan at http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Hamdan/hamdan26.htm ("Afghanistan: Women in Politics. Views randomly taken from Fiqh al-Dawlah (10 May 1999)" and

(2) the articles of Mohammad Fadel , among them: "Two Women, One Man: Knowledge, Power and Gender in Medieval Sunni Legal Thought," International Journal of Middle East Studies, May 1997. He summarized it thus:

"The gist of the story is this: Malikis, Shafi'is and Hanbalis prohibited women from being judges, although there are certain transmissions in the Maliki school allowing it. The mashhur of the Hanafi school is that a woman may be judge in any case that admits the testimony of a woman. All Sunni schools agree that a woman may be a mufti, just as a man. Based on that consensus, moreover, al-Tabari, and probably al-Shaybani, were also of the position that a woman could be a judge (qadi) for all types of cases, because a fatwa is more important (a'zam makanatan) than a judgment (qada'). Wa allahu a'lam.

"However, it is true, as a matter of history, that no Muslim woman in the pre-Modern era, was ever appointed to be a qadi, as far as I know. Indeed, that historical evidence was taken as conclusive by Ibn Qudama in his Mughni, although the probative practice of history on a question such as this is probably not very strong. I also found in a later Hanafi work the following statement regarding Salat al-jumu'a, a condition of which according to the Hanafis is permission of the ruler, namely, that if there is a sultana, i.e., a female head of state, her command to perform the Jumu'a is valid, although her leading of the actual prayers is not. By implication, then, at least in certain instances, the commands of a female head of state according to the Hanafis should be given the effect of validity.

"Wa-allahu a'lam."

Hajj Gibril

GF Haddad ©

Wife threatening to leave Islam


Salaamu alakum wr wb. Bismillah Rahmaani Rahiim. My wife has great problems being a Muslima. The major problems she has is accepting the following ahadeeth:

1) “The majority of the people in hell-fire are women.”

2) “I have not seen any one more deficient in intelligence and religion than you (women).”

There has been several other isuues as well, but after some research we have found them to be either misquotes, weak ahadith or taken out of context. Jazaakumullahu Khayran.


`Alaykum Salam,

(1) The majority of people are women, period. As for Muslim women, they will all be in Paradise without exception.

(2) The contextual meaning is a hyperbole to show that Divine generosity and reward is just as great for women despite less credit for them in dunya.

Allah Most High said 49:13 … {Truly the most honorable of you (male/female, human tribes) are the most Godfearing.} And He said: 2:195 {and do not throw yourselves by your own hands into destruction.}

Hajj Gibril Haddad
[ES 2012-12-02]


see also:

•   Concerning The Hur al-ʿAyn (Houris)

@ Refercences:
•   Women - Your Partners and Committed Helpers




latest update: 2012-12-31
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