Women in the Quran, Literal Narration, Unprotected Masses

Issue 1044 » March 29, 2019 - Rajab 22, 1440

Living The Quran

Women in the Quran
Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) Sura 33: Verse35

"For submitting men and submitting women, believing men and believing women, devout men and devout women, truthful men and truthful women, patient men and patient women, humble men and humble women, charitable men and charitable women, men who fast and women who fast, men who guard their private parts and women who guard [their private parts], men who remember God often and women who remember [God often], God has prepared forgiveness and a great reward."

Regarding the revelation of this verse, it is reported that when Asma bint Umays returned with her husband, Jafar ibn Abi Talib, from Abyssinia, she went to the wives of the Prophet and asked, "Has anything from the Quran been revealed about us [women]?" When they answered that nothing had been revealed about them, she went to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of God, women are disappointed and at a loss!" He asked, "How is that?" She replied, "They are not mentioned [in the Quran] in goodness as are the men," after which this verse was revealed. Others say that it was revealed after Umm Umarah al-Ansariyyah came to the Prophet and said, "I do not see but that everything is about men, and I do not find the women mentioned with regard to anything." According to another account, Umm Salamah said to the Prophet, "Why is it that we are not mentioned in the Quran as are the men?" Then later that day she heard him reciting this verse in the mosque.

This verse may also be related to 4: 32 and 3:195, both of which explicitly confirm an otherworldly reward— without differentiation— for both men and women who uphold the moral requirements of Islam. Regarding men and women who remember God often, al-Tustari writes, "One who observes true remembrance is one who is aware that God witnesses him. He perceives Him with his heart as being close to him, and therefore feels shame before Him. Then he gives Him priority over himself and over everything else in every situation."

Compiled From:
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Literal Narration

Although the literal narration is better and always preferable, narration of meaning is allowed if the narrator has an expert command of Arabic, if the word used is appropriate in the given context, and if the original has been forgotten. However, the Companions always narrated Traditions literally despite this permission. For example, one day Ubayd ibn Umayr narrated: "A hypocrite resembles a sheep left between rabidayn (two flocks)." 'Abd Allah ibn Umar objected: "He did not say so. I heard the Messenger say: 'A hypocrite resembles a sheep left between ghanamayn (two flocks).'"[Abu Dawud] The meaning is the same; the difference is only between the words rabidayn and ghanamayn.

Bara ibn Adhib related: The Messenger advised me: Perform wudu before going to bed. Then lie on your right side and pray: "O God, I have submitted myself to You and committed my affair to You. I have sheltered in You, in fear of You, and in quest of You. There is no shelter from You except in You. I believe in Your Book You sent down, and Your Prophet You raised." To memorize this immediately, I repeated it to the Messenger and said at the end of it "Your Messenger You raised." He corrected the final sentence, saying: "and Your Prophet You raised." [Bukhari]

People dream when they sleep. True dreams constitute 1/46 of Prophethood, for the Messenger had true dreams during the first 6 months of his 23-year period of Prophethood. As they are related to Prophethood, not to Messengership, the Messenger corrected Bara. This care was shown by almost all Companions, who studied the Traditions they heard from the Messenger and then discussed them. The Messenger told them: "Memorize and study the Traditions, for some are related to others. Therefore, come together and discuss them." [Darimi]

Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, pp. 339, 340


Unprotected Masses

Muhammad Ibn Abdallah ibn Abd al-Muttalib came into the world the only son of a widow, in a city where widows were left without protection. He became an orphan while still a child, in a society that treated orphans as chattel to be bought and sold. Through the assistance of a kindly uncle, the young Muhammad was able to avoid this fate and to earn a meager living making trade runs north to Syria and south into Yemen. In his twenties his prospects suddenly improved when he married an older merchant named Khadija and took over the management of her successful caravan business.

Yet despite the relative wealth and comfort of his new life, Muhammad could never shake the feeling that there was something profoundly wrong with a society that had brought him so close to a life of slavery and despair—a society in which the unprotected masses could be so easily exploited by the powerful and affluent for their own gain. He became restless and dissatisfied. He began giving away his wealth and seeking solace in the mountains and glens of the Meccan valley, where he would spend his nights in prayer and meditation, beseeching the heavens for an answer to the misery and sorrow that he saw in his world.

Then, one day, the heavens responded.

According to tradition Muhammad was meditating in a cave on Mount Hira when he was seized by an invisible presence commanding him, "Recite." What followed that initial experience was twenty-two years of nearly uninterrupted prophetic revelations from a god he called Allah—revelations that would eventually be collected into what is now known as the Quran, or the Recitation.

Compiled From:
"God" - Reza Aslan, p. 150