Thursday, November 17, 2016

The woman’s educational status in Islam

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Islam is a religion that is closely related to science, acquiring knowledge, learning and teaching. It is enough to remember that the first word in the constitution of Islam – the Quran - that regulates Muslims’ life and legislates for them is…“Read…”

In principle, seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim - male or female -- as stated by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. [Ibn Maajah and Abu Ya‘la (Al-Albaani: Saheeh - Authentic)]

There are numerous Quranic verses and Prophetic Ahadeeth that call for learning, thinking, seeking evidence and searching for wisdom. For example, Allah, The Almighty, Says (what means):

{Say, "Are those who know equal to those who do not know?" Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding.} [Quran 39:9]
{Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.} [Quran 58:11]

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
"When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him understanding of the religion (of Islam).” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
“Allah makes the way to Paradise easy for him who treads a path in search of knowledge.” [Muslim, Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah, At-Tirmithi and Al-Haakim]

These texts are general, comprehensive and address both men and women equally and urge both of them to acquire and seek any knowledge that may benefit them in this world and the Hereafter.

As for the texts that addressed women specifically, Allah, The Almighty Says (what means): {And remember what is recited in your houses of the verses of Allah and wisdom. Indeed, Allah is Ever Subtle and Acquainted [with all things].} [Quran 33:34]

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, presented the best example in instructing the Muslim women to learn and teach. For example, he asked one of the female companions to teach Hafsah, may Allah be pleased with her, how to read and write.

He also educated ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, such that she became knowledgeable about the Sharee‘ah. She was very intelligent, sharp-witted and a strong memorizer of all that she heard or knew.

Al-A‘mash, may Allah have mercy upon him, said that Muslim reported that Masrooq said that he was asked, “Was ‘Aa’ishah competent in inheritance rulings?” He answered, “Yes, by Allah, I saw the senior companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, asking her about inheritance affairs.” [Ibn Abi Shaybah, Al-Haakim, At-Tabaraani and Ibn Hajar]

‘Urwah, may Allah have mercy upon him, said about her, ''I have not seen a more knowledgeable person in jurisprudence, medicine or poetry than ‘Aa’ishah.” [Ibn ‘Abdulbarr, Al-Mizzi, Ath-Thahabi and Ibn Hajar]

‘Ataa’ ibn Abi Rabaah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, “She was the most knowledgeable of all people in jurisprudence and wise judgment.” [Ibn ‘Abdulbarr, Al-Mizzi, Ath-Thahabi and ‎As-Suyooti]

‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, was known for her extensive knowledge of Sharee‘ah including Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran), Hadeeth, and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), to the extent that Al-Haakim mentioned in Al-Mustadrak that one quarter of the rulings of Sharee‘ah was reported from her.

That is why Abu Moosa Al-Ash‘ari, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, “We, the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, never asked ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, about a Hadeeth regarding which we were in doubt without finding that she had knowledge of it.” [At-Tirmithi, Ibn ‘Adiyy and Ath-Thahabi (Al-Albaani: Saheeh - Authentic)]

Therefore, she remains considered as one of the most senior and revered teachers and educators throughout Islamic intellectual history.

'Urwah ibn Az-Zubayr, may Allah have mercy upon him, said to ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, “O my mother, the fact that you are knowledgeable about poetry and history does not astonish me, but what really astonishes me is your knowledge about medicine. I wonder, who taught it to you and how you were taught?” She placed her hand on his shoulder (she was his maternal aunt) and said, “My dear son, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was sick at the end of his life and the visiting Arab delegations that came from all over Arabia gave him many prescriptions and it was me who used to treat him with these prescriptions.” [Ahmad and Al-Haakim]

If we went on speaking about the influence of Islam on women’s education, we would find countless examples of women who became knowledgeable about their religion and permanent attendees of knowledge sessions. For example:

- Ibn ‘Asaakir, may Allah have mercy upon him, mentioned that he had eighty female teachers.
- Al-Balaathuri, may Allah have mercy upon him, mentioned in Futooh Al-Buldaan that in his time the Muslim women learnt how to read and write and that the number of known literate women was equal to half of the known literate men.
- Historians also mentioned that the female lecturers during the Umayyad caliphate reached to being about eighty in number and that some of them taught medicine and other sciences.

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