Is this it?

At the risk of over-simplifying, I want to ask you guys whether you think the basic problem between traditionalist Muslims and reformist Muslims is one of approach to the Qur’an?

The debate about the timelessness of the Qur’an is a very old one.  The ‘ulama in general seem to believe that the Qur’anic injunctions can and should be applied as stated in the Qur’an, regardless of time and place.  This is generally the traditionalist view in Islam.  The reformist, modernist, and Islamic feminist position, however, is that the Qur’an contains injunctions that are particular to the context of seventh-century Arabia.  Because of this, it is not possible to apply everything in the Qur’an in a literal and direct manner, without taking context into account.  Instead one must re-interpret the Qur’an constantly.

One approach that has been developed to achieve this aim is that of Fazlur Rahman.  Rahman suggested looking for the principles behind each verse in the Qur’an, and then re-applying them to each particular context.  For example, the Qur’an states that women should receive half the inheritance of their brothers.  At the time of the revelation, the logic behind this was that since women rarely worked, and their husbands usually had to provide for them, it made sense that brothers would inherit more since they had the responsibility to provide for their wives (the money a woman makes is hers to spend as she likes).  Furthermore, the fact that women even inherited anything was truly progressive for that time and place.  Instead of continuing to apply this specific injunction today, we should instead look for the principle behind it.  I would argue that the principle is that whoever must provide for the family could inherit more, since their responsibility is bigger.  When we look at the modern context, it is clear that in most cases, both men and women provide for the family.  It is besides the point that this is not the Qur’anic ideal (where the man is responsible for his family economically).  The fact is that we live in a world where in most cases, both husband and wife must spend on their families in order to live comfortably or in many cases to survive.  Thus we would apply the principle: if it is likely that both brother and sister will have to provide economically for their families, then both should inherit equally.  It no longer makes sense to give the sister half of the brother is she will have to contribute economically to her own family.

While this approach has its logic, many traditionalists and orthodox ‘ulama argue that something stated in the Qur’an can never be changed.  If the Qur’an commands Muslims to give their sons twice than their daughters, then that is what Muslims should do, regardless of time and place.  Thus the process of contextualizing the Qur’an has no place in orthodox Islam.  This is a position that is also often heard from the ‘ulama.  As the progressive Muslim movement grows, more voices are calling for the process of contextualization, and since many ‘ulama do not support this process, they are seen as obstacles in the road to modernizing and/or reforming Islam.

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What do you guys think? About the debate over contextualizing the Qur’an in general and the call for changing things like inheritance laws?

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64 thoughts on “Is this it?

  1. I absolutely think the Qur’an needs to be contextualized. And that isn’t a bad thing, God gave us brains. That’s how God wanted us to follow Islam as far as I see it. I think basically everyone needs to make up their own minds and practise as they see fit, without judging each other. That’s the reason why I don’t believe there can be an islamic state, a real islamic government in these times. There is so much disagreement over what Islamic law really is, over contextualising the Qur’an that an Islamic state couldn’t possibly represent everything Islam and to be muslim means. Nice layout by the way it’s very clear to read!

    • I think an Islamic state may have worked back in the day when the Companions etc existed, because it was very clear what the Prophet did and didn’t do. Now it’s just way too confusing. We can’t go to the Prophet directly and ask him about anything.
      And Muslims have become waay too judgmental.
      Thanks about the layout! Wasn’t sure if people could read it well.

      • actually there were disagreements between the sahaba’s too but they worked on the sense of ijam between ulema. That is why a shura existed during the time. And the Amir never made decisions alone but made them by consulting this shura

  2. I do think this is a large part of the argument between progressives and traditionalists. Many traditionalists I meet are big on valuing the past and trying to emulate the past and all that happened during the prophet’s time. Because of this thought that the past was a better time and place, viewing the Quran in the context of our times seems to be a direct threat to them, and why many conservative traditionalists would call progressives a threat against “real” Islam.

    • I totally agree – I think they see reform as an attack on the past. What’s funny is that most reformists also value the past, and argue that they want to reform Islam so we go back to the old values the Prophet was preaching about.

  3. I don’t think you’re oversimplifying at all. What else would the issue be? But a related issue seems to be that most progressive Muslims live in the West (or at least those that are publishing books about it) and/or are converts. So they’re seen as bringing an inauthentic perspective to the Qur’an and to Islam.

    • Zuhura,

      yes I agree with what you have said and think this also plays a major role in how Progressives are seen. I think Progressive/Liberal/Feminist are all seen as western conceptions in many more conservative Muslim circles, and definitely some converts from the West carry these values with them after conversion.

      Yet, Western Muslims/converts are still Muslim none the less. Does this mean there is a split happening? Or is calling progressive/liberal/feminist values a “westernization” of Islam, just bigotry against how some groups of people choose to practice Islam, no matter what country they live in?

      • I think it’s an way for traditionalists to discredit progressives. Labeling something “western” (and by extension Zionist, of course, lol) is the easiest way to discredit something in the Arab world these days, which is understandable, but false.

        • maybe the question should be why is the woman of the west so discontent with islam? or the understandings set forth by the ulema?

          • Well, I think some people would say being progressive, or liberal, or feminist, are things that fit well within Islam.

            • Yes required – why are many Muslims discontent with the understandings set forth by the ‘ulama? Good question. First of all, the ‘ulama are not a whole – they often disagree with each other, which means each Muslim has their own scholars that they follow. Second of all, too many ‘ulama put forward ideas that appear to contradict the Qur’an (and they get criticized for it by other ‘ulama as well, not just by us “progressive Muslims”.

              • i feel that once a person actually decides to educate themselves about their religion the discontent they feel disappears because now they are informed. As opposed to reading just what an ulema said and not his logic behind it. An Ulema’s logic is always explained using the Qur’an and Sunnah.

                my problem with your question:
                why do you feel the need to reinterpret a direct command of Allah swt? this is in reference to the inheritance laws. Surah nisa very specifically states who gets what. its stated as a command.

                Its like you are over riding a command of Allah, by trying to superimpose what you think could possibly be His logic behind it.

            • Exactly, as opposed to people who are obsessed with outer appearances, miniscule rules and regulations, and judging each other (under the guise of helping other Muslims find the right path).

    • I definitely think the Western aspect is important. Islam has become very Arabized, which makes Western Muslims less authoritative for some reason. But this is something that happened with Persians as well, back in the day.

    • A bit late n this, but I’m not sure about most progressive Muslims living in the West (and where, oh where, is Europe’s share now that we are talking about the West?), and specially not about the thinkers, take the Egyptian Nasr Hamed Abu Zayd, Morroccon Fatima Mernissi, and since I’m Iranian I can name quite a few like Abdolkarim Soroush, Mostafa Malekian, Mojtahed Shabestari, Mohsen Kadivar, Yousefi Eshkevari … I’m sure there are similar scholars and intellectuals in Turkey and East Asian countries that I don’t know or remember the names of. There are also grassroots Islamic feminist movements in many Islamic countries. Maybe they are less known in English speaking environments.

      Whether these people are anyhow influenced by Western ideas or accused of being so is another question, but many of them have traditional Islamic schooling.

      • Sara – the scholars you mention are fantasitc, especially Soroush and Mernissi. I also find it fascinating that there are grassroots Islamic feminist movements in many Islamic countries, something many Western Muslims are unaware of. This is particularly the case in Iran, where much of the Islamic feminist material is coming from.

  4. Sara you said this:
    I would argue that the principle is that whoever must provide for the family could inherit more, since their responsibility is bigger. ”

    If its so, how do you view the fact that most women in the west earn less then a man, even if they do the same work? The differnce here in sweden is sometimes hugh, they try to fix the problem but it has instead increased between the genders.
    So shouldnt the male, who usually provides for his family, and his parents, still earn more?

    As i have stated manytimes, i think that some parts of the Quran should be reinterpreted and other parts cant and shouldnt.
    how big is this progressive movement? islam has a following of 1.5 billiion muslims, how many share this “progressive” view? Do you count in the secular muslims too?

    • What I mean is that if a woman is going to be 50% responsible for the household (as is the case in many situations now), then why should she inherit half of what her brother will inherit? If she will also be responsible, she should also inherit what her brother inherits. In Egypt many women are the only one supporting the family (while their husband hangs out at the coffee shop). This is unIslamic of course but it is a reality. So why should she inherit half of what her brother inherits?

      I’m not sure where secular Muslims fit in. I don’t think they would count as progressives. The progressive movement is small but growing. Also many Muslims who are not progressives are not traditionalists either.

  5. In several mideastern countries,men are still the providers.My husband makes sure that his sisters,even married are well taken care of financialy.It’s the responsibilty of every male in the family.For example,at Eid every woman gets money.And some of his family are living in the west,they still follow islam the right way.If a woman chooses to work, her earnings are solely hers, she can dispose of it the way she wants
    They still see it as their duty.It makes sense that the males would inheritance be higher.So if muslims followed the right teachings why would it need changes?

    • If Muslims followed the right teachings then fine. But in many cases that doesn’t happen. Often women must support the family as well. Besides, I can imagine that if I had a family I would want to spend money on them, even if I know I can keep it. Why not, if it raises our standard of living? In that situation I think it’s fair that I inherit 50% instead of 25% or whatever, especially if my (hypothetical) brother is married to a woman who is also supporting their family.

  6. I agree with Bahlool in a sense with inheritance laws, I don’t know about Holland but here in Australia woman don’t get equal pay for equal work, often far from it. Unfortunately it’s much more often that the male earns more. So I do still think that the inheritance laws are valid. In saying that, I do think that applying them in an individual way is a good thing, because I do truly think that in the time the Qur’an was revealed, if there was a woman who provided 100% for her family due to whatever reason, she would have either received or controlled the majority of inheritance.

    Also I think that along with many things, inheritance laws need to be applied in the Islamic way, not just a man taking everything or not doing it the way the Prophet (pbuh) would.

    • Yes but do we not receive equal pay to the point that we should only get half the inheritance? Is it that unequal still for the same work? Last I saw we get around .75 cents to every man’s dollar. And that is average, which means some of us make more, some less. I think Sara’s point is that we ARE working now, instead of not at all.

      • I still think though that even if a female is working, but a male relative opts to be financially responsible for her, then I see no reason why he should not get more of the inheritance for doing so, after all she doesn’t have to spend her money on anything at all if she doesn’t want to.
        If the woman contributes more to the point where she is the one being financially responsible for the family/person, then yes as I said before I would agree with contextualising the inheritance laws in that case.

        I think what Bahlool was saying regarding equal pay is that we have our own issues here in the west about women receiving money too, not just Muslim women.

    • I think applying them in an individual way is the best option. So many women are suffering cause they have to support their family while their husbands slack off.

  7. very interesting issue.
    althought I think Quran should be reinterpreted , I have a big problem with reformists like this one : http://islamicreform.org/ who claim that all sunni shia sects are lie.alcohole and pork are not haram and so many other things.honestly I was confused when read their manifast!!
    I think we should set our goal then interpret Quran , it seems some of reformists just want muslims have a life like westerners .I think our goal should be more undrestanding not just an interpretion to make us like westerners.is not it?
    I am very interested to read more from you about this issue.
    mariam-Iran

    • I think Westerners are converting to Islam at a pretty high rate. Once more Westerners are in the fold, “Western” issues are going to arise. I guess non-Western Muslims will have to decide how seriously they want to take Western Muslims and western interpretations of Islam.. I am still wondering if we can call this way of viewing Islam “Westernization” or just Western Islam, that deserves it’s own respect.

      • I totally agree – Westerners entering Islam is pretty recent, as is mass Muslim immigration to the West, so what we see now is a process of a “Western Islam” being formed, which is no less valuable than Arab Islam, I think.

    • Most reformists/progressives are not that extreme, so it’s unfortunate that people mix them all up. There are extremist progressives just like there are extremist traditionalists. I don’t think reformists want to Westernize Islam, I think they want to modernize it; and in this day and age the two are almost the same. But that isn’t the fault of reformists 🙂

  8. as I know Islam is a way of life , it is beyond cultures,nationalities and races.if you see muslim countries have infinite problems, it is because , they prefer their culture to Islam, althought they say opposite of this in tongue.
    if westerners are converting to Islam in big numbers , this dont mean that they can make alcohole halal cause it has deep roots in their culture, if they do this, they will face big problems that muslim countries now face.
    alcohole is just an example!!! : ) mariam-Iran

    • Like you said, many Arabs confuse their culture with Islam, and when Western Muslims try to separate the two they get accused of “straying.” Alcohol is an extreme example, as most Muslims agree that it is haram.

  9. It is possible I may have misunderstood but…. The Quran says that men are financially responsible for their families and that God will provide the means—which he has through inheritance—however, men are not simply responsible for their nuclear family, but their mothers and sisters as well—and maybe other widowed relatives (?) —this was the “social security system”—thus, if a sister was divorced/widowed, the brother would have some obligation for her care until she remarried…etc)—-In those countries where the government has taken over the responsibility of social security for both men and women—these principles need not be used–as the whole purpose was to have a social/financial mechanism to take care of the needs of society. The Quran is an astute judge of human nature—and a social security system based on close relatives taking care of the needs of those who require assistance is likely to work out much better than an impervious government handing out assistance based not on needs but rules.—-and in order to ensure that we do not forget compassion and mercy for those in need,—we have Ramadhan…….

    • I agree that that was probably the social system the Prophet had in mind, and I agree that it is an amazing one. However, it is certainly not what’s happening today in *most* Islamic communities, anywhere. So my point is, in an age where many Muslim men are not carrying out their duties, should women continue to suffer and inherit less, even if they are the ones supporting their families?

    • “In those countries where the government has taken over the responsibility of social security for both men and women—these principles need not be used–as the whole purpose was to have a social/financial mechanism to take care of the needs of society.”

      That is an interesting argument. But then where does the government get the resources to “take over the responsibility of social security”? In most cases, I think it’s from taxes? Which begs the question who pays more taxes, if not those who’re earning more—presumably the men?

  10. here is my problem with what you say. These authoritarian figures in islam they spend ages studying the Qur’an, its various supporting texts, its language and all its nuances, and the conclusions are not based on what one person thought or said but are based on ijma’(consensus) of a group(of scholars). If everyone decided to self interpret the Qur’an the original message is lost, as is the case now with judaism and christianity.

    Also what would make your word or interpretation more right than say an ‘alim of today.

    another argument that comes up is: Since Allah is All knowing His rules are eternal, and not open to interpretation. Like the example you stated of inheritance, Allah SWT has spelled out very clearly who gets what. What he didn’t explain was the why. Now if i am decide to take a principle and label it His and so now i as a woman bread winner should get the same amount as my brother, that causes two problems.
    1) the assumption that Allah SWT didn’t know that women would be bread winners and 2) You superimposing your logic onto that of Allah SWT and saying yours is better.

    i don’t quite understand why you can’t see traditional islam and feminism in the same light. One does not negate the other. Maybe limits it to the bounds of shariah.

    The power that ulema have is based around their knowledge of shariah and knowledge of shariah is not limited to men. In a narration of hadith it is stated that ulema are the heirs of the prophets. (mishkat) In another narration it is stated that one aalim is better than one thousand abids (person who performs many nafl acts of worship.) (mishkat)

    The ulema are elite only to the extent of their knowledge. That secret decoder ring is their years of study, from authentic ulema that link all the way back up to the Nabi AS.
    No one needs to wait around for any meaning. We spends years in schools and colleges but spending the same amount of time getting knowledge of this religion is considered bad form?

    you closed with Qur’an being an open text. but i believe i already highlighted this before: it is open so long as the interpretation is the same as that of the prophet AS. And this understanding is found in verses of the Qur’an.

    • These “authoritarian figures” also disagree over many, many things. It is not only traditional and reformist Muslims who disagree. Many ‘ulama disagree with each other, which shows (in my opinion) that Islam is subject to interpretation. While that seems pretty obvious to me, I’ve noticed that many people on this blog have trouble with that idea. Which is fine – we all have different opinions.

      Yes, the Qur’an is eternal – but in what ways? Some argue that we should continue to implement every single thing in the Qur’an today, which is why*slavery is still legal under shari’ah *. Some argue that we should look at the broader, principles which will *always be universal. *I choose to follow the second line of thinking, and that is my right as a Muslim – isn’t it?

      • disagreements between ulema do not happen on matters that are fard, or very clearly stated in the Quran like the example of inheritance.
        And disagreement are formed and in some cases are resolved using Principles derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Where the Qur’an isnt clear the interpretation is sought in the sunnah and where that is unclear ulema look to the sahaba. Here because different sahabba interacted with the Prophet AS at different phases of prophethood you will find variations in some sunnah and nafl acts. The general consensus is all acts are good but some are more preferred.

        Regardless my questions weren’t answered. Why is your interpretation more preferred than an ‘aalims? one actually references the Quran and sunnah to derive principles and the other just wings it.

          • Didnt you and me already have a discussion about slavery? my position on that hasn’t changed since then. and as i scroll thru the comments i don’t see a mention of it to respond to it. am i missing something?

  11. Whats really sad is that Muslims aren’t satisfied with Islam as it is. To you the Qur’an has to be re-interpretted, to millions of Muslims its perfectly interpreted. You suggested that the Qur’an needs re-interpretation? So what about if that interpretation doesnt satisfy some other group of people? It will just be an endless cycle of re-interpretations to meet people’s desires and there will be no truth anymore.

    LOL at your example about inheritance. Don’t you think that Allah swt knew that times would change? Allah has knowledge of time from begining until end so anything in the Qur’an would fit for that.

    The beauty of the Qur’an is that its timeless and its rules have been applied as they were revealed at the time of Rasoolallah (saws) regardless of what year it is. Just because times change doesnt mean the Qur’an has to.

    • I think re-interpretation is inevitable, as it is already happening. I also think a split is inevitable, as conservative traditionalists, conservatives, and progressives will never see eye to eye. I think this issue has ended up becoming political, and a bit bigoted. I think Western has become a cuss word, like “cunt” or “bitch” or “N***er.” Anything that has to do with “Western” is considered bad, extreme examples like alcohol use are what some believe Westerner’s will turn Islam into.

      Westerner’s are converting at very high rates, and with it they bring their values and beliefs and culture. Although it is understandable that Westerners have a bad name these days, it still does not deny the fact that many more Westerners are becoming Muslim, and bringing with them their own ideas about what God is, and what God means in their lives. It will become it’s own group, as in Western Islam, Arab Islam, etc… and then we will have to decide if, like other religions, Islam will split itself between conservatives, and liberals.. Such as Judaism has done with Hasidic Jews, and moderate/liberal Jews, and non-practicing Jews.

      Actually, this has already happened within Islam, but many people still don’t acknowledge it or admit this is happening. It is happening across the world, not just in Western countries. In fact, many would say it is even more evident in Muslim countries, people just don’t talk about it.

      • on a side note: nigger or negro deserved censorship but cunt and bitch didn’t?

        regardless… the point i was getting at is islam is a religion of subjugation of the nafs to Allah SWT. This reinterpretation bit that westerners want to introduce it’ll end up like christianity. See everyone is open to reinterpretation if the interpreter decides to formally educate himself in the religion.

        why is it so hard for a western thinking person to submit to the will of Allah? why must he/she always think they know better?

    • Sorry to burst your bubble but no one interpretation will ever satisfy everyone. It’s nice to think traditionalist Islam works for everyone but it clearly doesn’t. And to me, that’s the beauty of Islam: everyone finds themselves in it. Until of course they get criticized by Muslims who don’t agree 🙂

  12. Actually I think “Western Islam” is actually coming from Arab/Muslim immigrants moving to the States and Europe, and re-evaluating the religion using modern methods of academia – not from Westerners converting.

    In fact, I’ve noticed that a lot of native westerners who are new to the religion, tend to observe a more extreme, identity oriented version of Islam, often too scared to go the progressive root till they get the hang of things.

    I think there’s also a tendency to forget that “Western Islam” isn’t necessarily a mix of Western values and Islam, but a re-evaluation using modern methods. The controversies appearing in Islam today, are mostly built around issues of sociology and anthropology – educational institutions in the Middle East are quite poor when it comes to these subjects, in fact, young Arab men are often encouraged to venture off into engineering and the hard sciences.

    I think the progressive movement lies with people like Khalid Abou El Fadl, and Tariq Ramadan, and others who have grown up with the religion, thus having enough confidence to re-evaluate it, while also growing up in secular, western environments where they’re free to do so, with the highest forms of education available to them.

  13. Salaam Cairo,

    I think what would solve the problems is for people to have a degree of self-application to the Quran.

    If you want a Muslim society then you have to have Muslim laws – and I think playing with interpretations is dangerous. Yes, on the one hand you can re-interpret things so that it’s not so against-women…but if you allow that kind of freedom things can also be interpreted in a really bad way as well…so its touchy ground here on what you allow and what you dont allow in terms of interpretation.

    Its hard

    I would suggest a situation in which people have a degree of freedom allowed in how they do things – so for example, women get half but should the person leaving the inheritance leave a will: the will can be whatever it wants…that kind of thing.

    I am sure this is what the Quran says as well – that “if there is no will….the woman gets half…” etc etc – but what Sharia is doing is disallowing all of the independent decision making and forcing centralised decision making.

    People should have a level of: “I decide” in what they do and the rules should allow for that. Like death penalties for example, the victim should have a choice in whether this punishment should take place or not – it shouldn’t just be the standard practice regardless of what anyone thinks: some people may not want that.

    So…I think opening the door to reinterpretation is necessary – but could have serious negative consequences and people should have a degree of autonomous over how they apply rules to themselves.

    I think the only way this is possible is through a secular system, where different bodies of different opinions regulate everything and allow this to happen.

  14. The Quran is meant to Most Just…God refers to doing justice in every single aspect of your life. He mentions women, non muslims, children, parents, every single human on this planet must be dealt with in a just manner.

    Now the Quran is NOT meant just for Muslims…God says…”Oh Mankind”…not “Oh Muslims”…so that means he is not just talking to Muslims, specifically Muslim men, but to everyone.

    So, in my opinion, unless an ayat is interpreted with true justice in mind…justice towards, men (muslim and not) towards women (muslim or not) children, parents etc etc…then its interpreted WRONG and therefore requires a new interpretation keeping the tenents of justice in mind.

    The Quran has been interpreted by Muslim/Arab men FOR Muslim/Arab men…simple really. How about we let someone else have a shot at it and see how much worse, I mean better, they could do…oh say like Muslim women (arab or not).

  15. I agree with Coolred38—Today, we may think that “interpretion” is dangerous, but if you look at Muslim history—the Quran has always been re-interpreted—todays “laws” are not the same as in the time of the Prophet(pbuh)—As scholars of law such as Aziza Al-Hibri have noted—the laws (Sharia) during the time of the Prophet were far more progressive than what we see today. Over the years, due to “Westernization”—a conservatism and patriarchy has crept into Islam which people today consider as “part of Islam”—it is actually a “new” development—the further back in time you go, the more progressive Islam was.
    An example that Al-Hibri gives is that during early Islam, a wife was not required to do “housework” or grocery shopping or take personal care of kids etc…these roles were mutually agreed upon in a marriage (contract)—today,it is taken for granted that wives are the caretakers of home and family.
    I also disagree that the Quran does not explain why—it does. The Quran says that men and women are equal, however, women have been given an extra biological responsibility that men do not have–pregnancy/childbirth–to balance this extra burden, men have been given the extra responsibility of financial maintenance and protection of women.—thus both Justice and Equality are preserved.

    • @ kat:
      The laws are mostly the same.
      In today’s day and age a woman is still not required to do housework or even breastfeed her child. That she chooses to do so is her business. Is it better if she does, yes. Look at the example of Khadija RA that after marriage she turned over her business to her husband and tended to rearing her kids. Or the example of Fatima RA that she chose to tend to her kids.

      somehow in todays society raising your children is considered backwards? the reason women are encouraged to stay at home or to not work is so that their association with non mahram men is limited. If a woman manages to work and not interact with the non mahram men then great.
      before the example of Khadija RA is given remember that once she married and accepted islam she turned over her business to the prophet AS. Additionally she dealt with her business thru her mahrams.
      again not a law but a recommendation.

      your example is not an example of a “law of shariah”.

      • A Muslim woman I know was among the top student in her class. She went on to earn a first class degree in Civil Engineering. However, during the final year in the university, she met and fell in love with another student from the same university. That man was equally excellent in studies.

        They got married soon after graduation, and the woman decided to be a “true Muslim” by staying at home to look after her kids, while her husband gradually rose in his career, thus improving his earning power.

        Some 20 years down the road, the husband, now a very successful man, true to being a Muslim, married a younger woman. The first woman became like a stranger. Her husband provides for her, of course, but there is hardly anything really. She tried looking for a job in her mid-forties with a long-outdated degree and with no working experience, and competing against younger and fresh graduates. She is miserable, depressed. Just to share with you a true story I know.

        • you are relating to me experiences of a couple of people. i can just as well narrate many similar stories of couples where the outcome is different, more like a happily ever after.
          hence i don’t see your point.

          • My point is that sometimes a woman may have a valid reason why she feels compel to earn something outside; that it’s not always a good idea to rely totally on her husband. Because ever so often Muslim men end up marrying another. Or marrying 3 others. I’m pointing out this example, because you seem not to understand why women would want to have a working career.

            • I agree with this point Cornelius. I think women in general are better off thinking about their own future, “just in case.” I think most women are 1 man away from poverty. We need to educate ourselves! And we need to look out for ourselves. Imagine being in a horrible marriage but with no education or skills of your own. Might make a woman suffer the abuse when she depends on a man so completely. I for one think it is foolish to believe in the fairy tale of “being taken care of.”

          • I have to agree. I can also cite examples of Muslim women who are the top of everything they do, just as I can cite Christian/Jewish/atheist women who have been oppressed by cultural/societal/religious norms.
            Why do you assume that the case of that one woman is proof that Islam subjugates women, instead of considering that it may have been cultural or a misinterpretation?

    • Kat, The reason why during the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) time, wives were not didn’t do the housework was because their husbands never requested it. If their husbands had requested it, they would have done it because its part of obeying the husband. Nowadays people have changed and so have their requests. But the message of the Qur’an remains the same.

  16. Over the years, due to “Westernization”—a conservatism and patriarchy has crept into Islam —one can change the “Westernized” to “Christianized”…..

  17. Not sure how it is in sunniisialm in this matter, but in shiaislam we have ijtihad, if your knowledgble enough (dont have to be an alim) then you are able to do your own ijtihad IN CERTAIN matters..As it was said earlier, some things are so clear written by Allah that there is no question about them, they are not to be questioned if you are a muslim and a believer, other issues can be reinterpreted from time to time as they are not part of the usool al deen.
    We should not fall in the trap of the western countries and think that we have a bad book that should be reinterpreted to satisfy the western view of what is right and wrong.
    The Quran is perfect of our belief would be imperfect and our God would be imperfect, if we feel that there is something wrong with the word of Allah then we should just change religion.
    As long as the Prophet Muhammed was the last messgenger of Allah then there cant be anyone else who can change the Quran or interpret it differendly when its so clear.

  18. @ Sarah and required
    Housework—I may not have been clear—my apologies—the example given by Dr. Al-Hibri was not in the social context but in legal context—She is a scholar of Muslim legal history and it is within the framework of Jurisprudence(Fiqh) that these discussions regarding womens roles occured. Later in some countries, the “marriage contract” had become a standard government form and the roles/resposibilities of women had been put into it.—-However, this was a later development—there was also the development in some countries that women no longer negotiated their own contracts but it was either standardized or negotiated by a “Gaurdian”. When I used this aspect to substantiate the claim that the Quran has always been reinterpreted–I meant that though fiqh uses ijma, ijtihad and other tools to ensure justice—its principles come from the Quran and as such–human agency (interpretation) is required and these change over time….and this is not some unusual phenomenon.

    Mahram and Guardian—(This is my opinion)—There is a big difference between the idea of “protection” and “oppression”. Free-will is a right given to both men and women by God. In order that human beings grow in Taqwa, it is necessary that they make the right choices and avoid temptations—this can only be done in a setting in which they are fully engaged with life/world—that is why the Quran discourages monasticism—because such people remove themselves from full engagement with life. Men and women can be fully engaged in life whatever role they choose, Parent, student, careerperson….etc as long as they have the opportunities to make choices—when choices become extremely limited or non-existent because of man-made laws or rules, this turns into oppression.—and oppression is an injustice and as such is against the Quran.

  19. @ Bahlool
    I feel that we have not yet fully understood the treasure that is the Quran. The vision of society that the Quran unfolds is one based on human nature and as such fits human needs.Yet, today, there is injustice in Muslim countries/societies. Obviously, we have inadequately understood the vision of the Quran.

  20. @cornelius
    Social Security and taxes—-an interesting comment—-Ibn Khaldun (I think) wrote that Big Government was a waste of resources (both human resources and financial resources). Though he meant a large army by the term big government—we can use the concept generally—-For example, when we pay taxes for a social security program—a lot of that money goes into mainataining that program and that requires buildings, utilities, paperwork and human resources.—-all of which have to be paid for with tax money that could have instead been used for the needy!—this does not mean one has to do away with a social security program—it just means that ideally there should be a balance between Government responsibility and individual responsibility. Individuals and communities are better able to identify their community needs and find ways to take care of them than a Government Body.

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