I have written so many letters on our women folk and sometimes I receive pro-male emails from persons who believe all kinds of strange things about the genders. I have said on numerous occasions and I want to say again, if we know the standing of women in the “eyes” of our Lord, we will kiss their feet every day. We have been made to believe by male scholars that women are the “weaker” sex or the “other gender” or even, I suppose, the “disposable” gender. If one examines the history of Islam and the role of women in different disciplines of knowledge, we would talk otherwise. Again, if we examine the history of Islam, especially the initial period, we will see the role of women in teaching the transmissions of Prophetic Traditions, the keep of the first Mushaf, and in major intellectual developments. The many women of Madinah especially, were great scholars and could pass religious decisions on the level of what we call mufti’s. in fact many of them were the shining lights of Islam during these initial periods.
Later Islam was infiltrated by discourses declaring women “inferior” and the “other”, so that today, they are considered like that. I read the other day in a book by a very prominent author that because Sayidatuna Hawa (r.a.) was created after Nabi Adam (a.s.), women are inferior to men. I could not believe this bit of inanity and I had to read it a number of times to ensure that my eyes were not playing the fool with me. In another book, also by a prominent Muslim scholar, he declared that what the wife earns are to be put into the household, it was not hers. Many people don’t believe that Islam cannot be distorted. Well … I have come across so many distortions of Islam on women. We have no shame! We even use a word inferior with regard to the creation of Allah Almighty. Allah Almighty created an “inferior” being?! My word, there is no shame!
Perhaps one might think that I go to the other extreme with regard to my view on women, but it is not so. I am just stating the position as it is. Of course, I have a deep respect for them as I have a deep respect for all of my Lord’s creations. But my regard for them has also to do with other matters. I sometimes wish that I could have been granted the same level of function that women have been granted.
I find it very difficult to consider any being in which Allah Almighty creates the next generation of those beings, as being inferior in any way. I cannot see how a creation that was specially prepared to house the next generation, can have any physical or emotional inferiority. This does not make sense. Because when I look at my Lord’s workings, I only see perfection. And when we place the male and female genders side-by-side, in terms of which rulings do we judge superiority or inferiority with regard to the two of them? The body of the woman, supposedly less strong than the body of the man, has been specially created and forged to perform important functions with regard to the new generations. The woman’s body is so structured to allow for the growth within it of the new human being. The softness and tenderness of women have to do with this. Allah Almighty has also given them certain special characteristics to enable them to suckle the new human being and to provide that being with the love, kindness and mercy for the realization of the full potential of the personality of that being. We do not understand this although we pretend we do. We do not understand the link between the nature of the female body and the nature of her offspring. Allah has placed a special link between mother and child; a link that has to do with the physical and emotional growth of that child and the development of that child’s personality. Those who regard women as inferior, have no sense.
Other than what I have mentioned, women perform a major function in God’s creation; a function so delicate that only they could have been able to carry out that function. This function is to receive the souls from its heavenly domain to the earthly domain of the womb. We must understand the heavenly processes that come into operation when Allah Almighty instructs the angel to take the soul from its heavenly domain to its earthly domain of the womb. We do not understand these processes, neither do we know much about them. The little that we do know just has to do with the fact that the soul is transferred from one domain to the other domain, and that women play a major role in this because they are the receivers of that soul. I would like to know whether there is a heavenly function that can be compared to this; the creative process and the transfer of souls to the earthly domain. All of these are of our Lord’s workings and all of these have to do with the expression of the Beautiful Names of our Lord. It is these Beautiful Names that come into operation in the creative process in the womb and the transference of souls.
Why is it that we refuse to see the very unique graces that Allah Almighty has granted women? What is our problem? Are we not happy with this? And so, we declare women “inferior”, or “other”, or “disposable”, or “without soul”? What is our problem? We are Muslims. We must have a deep respect for all of our Lord’s Creation whether animate or inanimate, and we must submit to our Lord’s decision with regard to genders. The creation of women has nothing to do with what is superior or inferior in the same way as the creation of men.
I have had occasion to look at little human beings after they have come out of the womb. When I think back, I can only say: “Subhan Allah”! Absolute Glory to my Lord. The creation of Allah Almighty, whatever that might be, is a major display of His Glory, is a major display of His Infinite Greatness, and is a major display of His Workings. And we, very minute particles in the creation, want to pass judgement on the nature of the creation of human beings? We should hang our heads in shame and ask our Lord to open our hearts to His Truth and to place in those hearts a deep respect for that creation. We ask Him for that, Amin.
NB: Perhaps now you would understand, if you are husbands, why I want each one of you to show considerable respect to your wives who, through the functions granted to them, have made you fathers. Be careful of how you treat them. Just be very careful.
Yours in Islam.
Shaykh Yusuf da Costa