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Woman education: misinterpretation of verses and pattern of spreading societal myths in the name of Islam

EducationWoman education: misinterpretation of verses and pattern of spreading societal myths in the name of Islam

The word ‘education’ holds so much power in itself, but as soon as the gender of a person comes in between, the definition of power gets changed.

If we talk about Muslim women’s education, we see a huge difference between what we are told to do and what we are doing and this difference has caused misunderstanding at a very high level in this world regarding whether Islam gives educational rights to women or not or if Islam is all about patriarchy.

Misinterpretation of Islam on woman education

Due to misinterpretation of verses and patterns of spreading societal myths in the name of Islam, people have misunderstood this religion and refuse the rights Allah Himself has given women, and the right to education is one of them.

The first verses of the Qur’an began with the word Iqra which means “read” in the name of thy Lord created the human being from a blood clot. Read in the name of thy Lord who taught by the pen. He taught the human being what He did not know” (96:1-5). When we understand the meaning of these verses, we see there is no gender preference.

In one hadith the Prophet says, “Acquisition of knowledge is binding on all Muslims”. And in verse number 9, chapter 39 I-zumer, Qur’an says “Are those who have knowledge equal to those who do not have knowledge?”

Allah ordains the responsibility of acquiring knowledge on all humans after analysing the verses; we find Allah has not mentioned gender nor race.

In an- Nahl, 178 Allah says in the Qur’an “and Allah has brought you from the wombs of your mother until you know nothing and then gave you hearing sight and hearts that you might Give thanks To Allah.”

The verses reveal how Allah describes from knowing nothing to giving thanks and that can only happen after seeking knowledge and exploration.

Absolute education is important for all irrespective of their gender

The verses of the Qur’an and the most authentic hadiths tell us how Islam does not forbid girls/women from getting education instead Islam gives us all the rights regarding education.

In the first battle between Muslims and non-Muslims, jung-e-badr, Muslims won and they caught 70 non-Muslims as prisoners of war and the prophet put forth a condition of teaching 10 Muslim children how to read and write for releasing the literate and educated prisoners of war. This too tells us that there was no mention of male or female.

Here is another statement of the Prophet to ponder on: “Allah Almighty makes the path to Paradise easier for the one who walks on it for getting knowledge” (Al-jami’alsahih,4:2074,2699). We see how repeatedly it’s only about the acquisition of knowledge and not about the gender of the seeker.

Highly affluent educated Muslim women

When we look at the women in Islamic history, we find women regarded as scholars, businesswomen, teachers, and more.

Hazrat Khadija (RA) was a successful businesswoman with a very reputed position in society. Without knowledge and education, it is not possible to reach that level if women were not educated.

Ayesha-al-Siddiqah taught 88 scholars and she was considered a teacher of scholars. Is it possible to teach without having ample knowledge on the subject?

Ayesha (RA) contributed her scholarly intellect to the development of Islam. She was known for establishing the first madrasah (Muslim school) for women in her home and not only women and children but men also attended Ayesha’s class with a simple curtain separating the male and female students.

Ayesha (RA) was known for her expertise in the Qur’an, shares of inheritance, lawful and unlawful matters, poetry, Arabic literature, Arab history, genealogy, and general medicine.

Co-education in Islam

Ayesha bint Talha, the servant of Aisha-al-Siddiqah reports, “I stayed with Ayesha. People from every city would come to me including the old ones who would put forward questions because they knew I am her servant and the students who were young would treat me like their sister and would present gifts (to Ayesha through me).

Many would also write me letter so that I could reply to them back after soliciting an answer from Ayesha (RA), I would submit to mister so and so has written a letter and there is his present as well. Ayesha (RA) would say in reply to this: O daughter answer his query and give his present in exchange as well if you have nothing to give, let me know, I will give it to you; thus, she would return the present in exchange and I would send it back along with the letter (Al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad).

The above narration reveals how education is not for a certain people or community but for all, and since Ayesha’s servant could write and read as well, it is clear proof of equality.

If you look at other women of Islam, Umme Salamah-Zainab was one of the greatest jurists of her time. The daughter of Imam Malik (RA) was known for her knowledge and memory.

From the house of the Prophet, Fatima (RA) had a grasping hand in the science of the Qur’an and Hadith, and she was also an eloquent speaker and a proficient poetess.  In the same way, her daughter Zainab (RA), Umm-e-Kulsum, and granddaughter Sakina (RA), and Fatima-tu-Sughra were also reputed scholars and teachers of Muslim science.

Even now when we look at Muslim women around us doing so many great works all in reputed fields, we should understand the importance of acquiring knowledge and getting education as it is a right and responsibility from the Almighty on you.

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