JK Bank
Women and Freedom of Conscience and Initiative
About Us | Contact Us | E-Paper
Title :    Text :    Source : 

Women and Freedom of Conscience and Initiative

“Society, to flourish and to be preserved, requires the common pursuit of practical ends, and these require in turn a morality and virtues readily accepted and commonly agreed upon by all, the majority or the better part of society” … Ibn Khaldun

Post by on Sunday, March 13, 2022

First slide

As a complete code of life, the Qur’an with its exemplification in the form of the Prophetic Sunnah caters to all the diverse aspects of human personality without any discrimination to any section of the human society not to speak of any gender bias. As such, the teachings and the commandments therein provide such a vast but divine canvas which can be used by both/all the genders to write their destiny by making their latent or inborn faculties of reason, morality and aesthetics felt vis-à-vis the society which they live in. Clearly, a divine book of universally eternal antecedents, because of having been preserved in the Preserved Tablet (Lauh-i Mahfu¯z), has put forth precedents in the form of the Prophetic precepts which the people in general could rely upon to ameliorate and organize their individual as well as social lives. 


We, at times, to come to terms with the “onslaught” of Feminism in general and that of Radical Feminism and Eco-Feminism in particular, yield to the polarity that these forms create among the genders. This polarity exhibits itself when men locally are quite reluctant to vacate a seat for a “working woman” or such woman on her own disowns the offer in a vehicle travelling inside the city of Srinagar, for example. Internationally, the anti-Feminists mock at and make fun of women when the Ukrainian government during the current Russia-Ukraine war, exempt the women from the defense of their country and ask them to take care of themselves and their kids who, naturally, are the future of the country. Moreover, we generally resort to some kind of rhetoric while talking about the status, rights and “emancipation” of women. That is why we, in such functions, repeatedly say, she (woman) is mother, she is sister, she is daughter, so on and so forth. Such rhetoric is quite naive because he (man) is father, he is brother, he is son and such other “stuff”!


The Divine Book (Qur’an), however, solemnly declares the interdependence and complementarity of both the genders. The tune of the Qur’an is so dignified that there is hardly any chance for the creation of any kind of polarity or hatred. See, for example, how the mother and sister of Prophet Moses (AS) do a yeoman service not only to save the life of Moses (AS) but to salvage the future of the Israelites when the Egyptians were annihilating the future generations of the Israelites. Another great example which also showcases the dignity of labour, is that of the “two sisters”, one among whom marries Prophet Moses (AS) later on, serve their father by shepherding his herd. We are also made aware how the wives of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) assist him in the execution of his Divine Mission of Monotheism by showing tremendous perseverance while he was establishing different centres for his mission.



One can also notice that the Qur’an treats woman as a unique human being much like it treats a man. Since “test” being the sole aim of the human existence on earth, the “freedom of conscience and initiative” of woman, the wife of one of the Egyptian Royals, traditionally called Zulaikha, to entrap a man of the stature of Prophet Joseph (AS) is given a chance. Even the antagonistic approach of the spouses of Prophet Noah (AS) and Prophet Lot (AS) to their husbands’ mission is highlighted by the Qur’an in unambiguous terms. This shows how “no compulsion in religion” is upheld in principle and women too have enjoyed this “freedom of conscience”. This doesn’t, however, mean that such attitude of these women was liked by God Almighty because “freedom of conscience” and “pleasure of God” are two different things absolutely. To this effect, the Qur’an says: “If you reject (Allah), truly Allah has no need of you; but He does not like ingratitude from His servants: if you are grateful, He is pleased with you.” (39:07)   


Nevertheless, when women (and this is in no way different from men) put the “freedom of conscience and initiative” in service and the uplift of the self and the society, these were preserved for posterity by God as precedents for the humankind to follow and to act upon. About the Spouse of Pharaoh, traditionally known as Asiyah, the Qur’an says: “And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh: behold she said: O my Lord! build for me, in nearness to You, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong.” (66:11) Regarding Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Qur’an says: “And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her Our Spirit, and made her and her son a sign for all peoples.” (21:91)


Since the moral edifice of Islam stands on the principle “verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (s/he who is) the most righteous of you,” (49:13) therefore, in its intellectually oriented belief framework, it envisages only those “nuptial relationships” which pass this socio-moral test: “Women impure are for men impure, and men impure for women impure, and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity.” (24:26) Clearly, for both the genders, the “rope of freedom ends where the nose of moral edifice of Islam starts!” This is precisely the same as put forth by Ibn Khaldun, the sociologist philosopher of Islam as: “Society, to flourish and to be preserved, requires the common pursuit of practical ends, and these require in turn a morality and virtues readily accepted and commonly agreed upon by all, the majority or the better part of society.”


No wonder then that Hazrat Umar, (RA) the Second Caliph of Islam would appoint Shifa’ bint ‘Abdullah as the Market Inspector of Madinah during his Caliphate. And, at times, old women would “force” him to change his decision(s)!    



(The author is Assistant Professor Islamic Studies at GDC Kokernag. Email: alhusain@gmail.com)

Latest Post