Man, from the very moment of his creation, found its better half. Yet, as though he were jealous of her virtuous and merits, he kept her aloof from the gifts of nature; he oppressed and mortified her, exploiting her whenever the occasion presented itself, benefiting of her charms when it so pleased him. He failed to realize what her contributions would have been had he given her due. Throughout history she suffered under the hands of her mate and had to suppress her wishes and heartaches she was obliged to bury in her breast.
Woman also is a human being, eternal consort of man. O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (43/10)
God addresses both men and women. They both enjoy the same rights. Their innate respective characteristics should not be overlooked. According to the Qur’an, man and woman have been created from the same Self. Man and woman are equal in every respect. They complement each other and enjoy the same rights in terms of law, performance of prayers, work and all sorts of responsibilities. This is what the Qur’an says.
During the lifetime of the Prophet, the principles of the Qur’an were literally applied and there was no restriction as regards women’s rights. This state of affairs continued even after his death, under the caliphs. Man and woman used to greet each other when they ran against each other. There was mutual respect and decorum. Then, there came a moment when mischief makers severed the sexes and treated woman as a castaway. The following is the comment of Matar ibn B. Tahman, calligrapher and scholar who had left Horasan for Basra (d.129-746). ‘Formerly it was the custom of men and women to sit together without segregation. Now the very finger of woman has become taboo.” (Ahmet B.Hanbel, Akhamul Nisa, p.145.)
Such paranoiac behavior which has deprived woman of her rights is a great sin. Our mothers, consorts and daughters under whose feet the Paradise lies, are our most precious assets. If we are determined to develop our community we must give them their due and willingly accept their contribution. The more we enlighten the public on this point, the greater will the benefit to be derived by our society will be.
My dear friend Architect Mesut Kaynak, inspired by the verses of the Qur’an, have delved in valuable works, listed in the bibliography, and beautifully and succinctly rendered the essence of the subject. He set down his own points of view without neglecting to mention the opinions of others and stressed the necessity to set up a council for the re-interpretation of certain points that need to be clarified in the light of contemporary knowledge and circumstances. I congratulate him particularly on this point.
I hope that this book contributes to a better understanding of our religion.
Dr. Lütfü Doğan
Former Secretary of State
in charge of religious affairs.
After an interlude, following the completion of our last book Love and the Qur’an, we resumed our task, inspired by our master of religious affairs Nihat Hodja who induced me to complete the present trilogy. He himself baptized the name of the book as “Woman and the Qur’an”. His suggestion was God sent.
There are about 400 verses in the Qur’an related to women. Our book has been prepared under the light of these verses.
God Almighty sent man and woman upon the earth to complement each other. During the times when strength reigned uppermost woman had been relegated to second rank and was used as chattels. With the advent of Islam, woman regained her rights and human identity. The old Arab customs gave their place to a new conception. This lasted so long the Prophet lived. However, mischief makers did not delay to corrupt this and paved the way once again to segregation.
It is high time now to know realities about God’s policy about women. We have tried to shed light on this issue highlighted by the verses of the Qur’an.
I hope our book will gain the favor of God Almighty.
SUBMIT YOUR APPLES OF DISCORD TO GOD
The Holy Qur’an contains the words of God upon which we must deeply medidate so that we may be guided along into the right path in the course of our journey to the Hereafter. The new age we are ushered in is crowded with endless bones of contention. Remedy likely to cure our ills is within reach in the Qur’an provided we spend the necessary effort to have access to the mystery lying therein. And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition (54/32);… Did ye not, then, understand? (36/62).
For our stumbling blocks in our daily life that keep on increasing and making our lives difficult, we must find solutions. The answers to our vexed questions are in the Qur’an which we must regularly read in order that we may be enlightened and shown the right path; for, abstaining from introducing new methods of cogitation and remaining content with former judgments without having recourse to the use of terms and the principles of correct predication would be against the principles of Islam. To formulate new judgments in interpreting the Holy Book to meet the requirement of the age has become a matter of vital importance. The alternative design concepts that the Almighty put forward will in the end contribute to the formation of a generation of honest and industrious believers.
Whatever it be wherein ye differ, the decision thereof is with Allah. Such is Allah my Lord: In Him I trust, and to Him I turn. (42/10)
… If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day… (4/59)
The divine principles stated in the Qur’an are largely of a general character and avoid details. God warns us against passing judgments on ambiguous wording stating that all discretionary judgment belongs solely to Him; if there is an incontrovertible proof regarding a certain matter in a verse, the said verse is categorically applied and there is no further argument suggesting any doubt as to the veracity of it.
If a relevant solution is suggested regarding a certain matter in the Qur’an, one should refer to the tradition of the Prophet (if any). However, as many of the sayings of the Prophet have come down adulterated, to be absolutely sure of the veracity of a particular tradition requires scholarly wisdom. Thus, the wisest thing to do is to test them in the light of the verses of the Qur’an to see whether they tally with them. Any word not sanctioned by the context of the Qur’an is considered perjured testimony. This criterion was laid down by the Prophet: Be careful! Words attributed to me will go on increasing. Make sure to check the veracity of them by drawing comparisons with the verses of the Qur’an. (See, Öztürk-Kur’ân’daki İslam)
Clarification of a dubious situation requires argument by analogy. This method has been sanctioned by the following verse: … take warning, then, O ye with eyes (to see)! (59/2) For social issues recourse should be made to the Council for Religion. … who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation. (42/38)
Today such questions are expected to be deliberated and decided upon by a council formed by contemporary scholars.
He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding. (3/7)
In the Qur’an there is no clear indication as to the basic and fundamental verses of established meaning; nevertheless, according to scholars, these must be the fundamental canonically lawful acts and acts explicitly forbidden by religion, amongst other, faith and pious deeds. There are also double-edged verses. For instance, faith in God is fundamental, while His attributes and essence are equivocal; belief in the existence of the paradise and hell is fundamental, while their depiction is ambivalent. On the other hand, certain characters at the head of certain surahs, differently interpreted, some words of ambiguous meanings and certain puzzling words and complex legal issues etc are considered among the verses of allegorical character.
Believers believe implicitly in all the verses of the Qur’an. Those of a skeptic turn of mind disregard the fundamental explicit meanings of the verses trying to interpret them at their own discretion. These individuals in pursuit of subjective judgments falsify the true meaning of the Book. The Prophet said: “Those who fall into line with individuals striving to make unorthodox inferences basing on allegorical verses employ skepticism as a method; these are the people that the believers must shun.”
Given the fact that the Qur’an is to remain sempiternally valid up until the Doomsday and be a perpetual guide to believers, God Almighty has had recourse to allegorical verses to shed light on men throughout the ages. There will be a time when the seemingly dubious meanings of such verses will become plain. For every message is a limit of time, and soon shall ye know it." (6/67) (See, Öztürk, Kur’ân’daki İslam; İslam nasıl yozlaştırıldı)
The transformation of an allegorical verse into a fundamentally explicit one may be illustrated with the following verse: And the sun runs his course for a period determined for him: that is the decree of (Him), the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing. (36/38) Astronomy, a branch of science that developed in our present age, had discovered some 30 years previous, that the sun revolved around an orbit. According to this established fact, the sun, which is one of the stars of our galaxy, completes its orbital course every 250 years. The sun passes through billions of stars without any let or hindrance to complete its track. Given the fact, that the Qur’an had been revealed 14 centuries before our time, this scientific truth that must have been outside the scope of the knowledge of astrologers of the time, was made explicit in the said verse.
Jacques Cousteau, oceanographer, who made researches in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean saw that different fauna lived in the said environments. He dived with his submarine in the depths of the Gibraltar strait and found out that there was a sort of screen between the two seas, the result of a physical power called ‘surface tension’, a consequence of the difference of densities of the two seas. When Captain Cousteau learned that this fact had already been told in the Qur’an centuries ago, he declared in a magazine interview that he testified that the Quran was the word of God! The researches conducted afterwards showed that, for instance, at strait between Arabia (northeast) and Africa (southwest) that connects the Red Sea (northwest) with the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean (southeast) and in other such contiguous waters which had different densities the waters did not mix.
The fact that this scientific truth, established as a result of scientific researches in the twentieth century, had already been stated 14 centuries ago shows that the word was not Muhammad’s own word, but of God’s.
We are not stating here the allegorical verses, which, in time, have become basic and fundamental verses, as this is beyond the sphere of our present subject matter.
The difference between fundamental and allegorical verses is shown in the following verse: He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding. (3/7)
Both man and the universe are but a collection of verses (ayat); meaning, at the same time, signs, tokens and miracles. Only science and wisdom can enable man to have access to them. ‘Qur’an’ is also called ‘The Book’. Both man and the universe are books to be read. The revelation, by Gabriel of the Qur’an, had begun with the word ‘Read!’ This command is an introduction to the science of the Universe. Specialization in different disciplines like medicine, mathematics, physics, ecology and astronomy is acquired by getting instruction in those sciences.
Some Muslim scholars put forth the following claim: “Only God knows the real meaning of allegorical verses; the wise versed in the science say merely ‘We have believed’” Nevertheless, one should not interpret this as ‘We are not supposed to speak on the verse in question’. For, such an attitude may lead a country to lethargy. The Qur’an comprises the entirety of the divine law, and, with the exception of the Unknown, the verses are meant to serve as guidance to man. Therefore, in the light of our ever changing society undergoing transformation and development, the Qur’anic verses need be re-interpreted – the said interpretation being made by consultation among the scholars of the day in line with the spirit of the messages that the verses contain – so that the public may have access to the wisdom and practice of them.
CONSULT, Ô PROPHET!
… consult them in affairs (of moment)… (3/159)
… who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; (42/38)
Consultation is the act of consulting or conferring, deliberation of two or more persons on some matter. The said persons are in general specialized in their lines. This deliberation forms the basis of democracy and the republican regime. God desires that men have an insight into His design and guide their deliberations according to the basic guidelines hidden in His verses. It should be noted that in reference to the verses with established and explicit meaning no re-interpretation is allowed. Only in allegorical verses, wherein there is no clear indication as to the exact meaning of them, can one refer to solutions without, however, straying from the right path. One can well guess that in the former case the results of deliberations and re-interpretations may differ according to places and times. One thing that one must ascertain would be to have the said council of deliberations ever ready to tackle a matter that may surge any moment.
God’s command addressed to the Prophet is categorical. Consultation will enable a community not to get involved in suspicion about a question that puzzles the minds. The Prophet had the following to say: “God and His Prophet have no need to consult. The fact that He has commanded me to do so is a mercy to my people. Those who choose to comply with this injunction will eventually find out the right answer to their problems, while others who will refrain to do so, will be liable to err and stray.” As a matter of fact, the Prophet had never failed to convene his Companions and asked their advice during the Badr, Uhud and Ditch campaigns. In questions concerning the community and those that had to do with his own problems, he had recourse to this method.
Questions mostly referred to councils for deliberations related to administrative affairs, religion, economics, justice, social issues, etc. The counsels found solutions to arduous obscure problems in compliance with the prevailing circumstances.
As for the question whether today this method is applied or not, the answer it is not. The great majority of the Islamic world is run by kings, dynasties or army generals whose regime is, in general, oppressive and autocratic; human rights are disregarded. In some countries we see pseudo-democracies wherein a latent despotism lies hidden. This hampers the development of men of science and scholars, and decisions reached by counsels and applications by (kıyas) analogy and the Sunna remain ineffective. (See. Prof. Dr. Yaşar Nuri Öztürk: İslâm Nasıl Yozlaştırıldı, Kur’ân’daki İslâm K.T.K.)
Formerly, in the world of Islam, general concurrence and agreement in opinion and decision of the legalists and applications by (kıyas) analogy and the Sunna reached pert decisions. Yet, among them were also opinions reached according to which the world was flat and that the earth did not revolve or rotate. Today it is of utmost urgency to find right and contemporaneous solutions in the light of the Qur’an.
God Almighty, in 3/7 has indicated two ways to understand the allegorical verses: a) Belief in explicit verses, b) and profound knowledge in wisdom and science – by which it is understood positive sciences like medicine, engineering, physics and astronomy. Members of such councils are to be subject of pertinent selections. Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; and when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things. (4/58) It follows therefore three qualities are required from the members in question: 1) Belief in God; 2) Specialization in sciences, 3) Justice.
Trust must be committed to the care of persons who believe in God, specialized in their subjects and in whose administration in justice one has complete confidence. Such people who entrusted their trusts to people specialized in their fields both in administrative or technical sense enjoyed prosperity, while those who did otherwise retrogressed. The President of a State, the Prime Minister, the Head of the Religious Affairs, the members of the Supreme Council of Religious Affairs, the Mayors etc. being the trustees, they should be selected and elected among the specialized good-willing people. This divine law has come down from centuries past up until today without any alteration.
In our country we have had many religious controversies, among others, the question of interest, wearing of veil, woman’s testimony, battering of spouses, polygamy, etc. The solution to redress controversies engendered by such issues lies in the Qur’an. We urgently appeal to authorities to have a Religious Council formed of scholars and specialized persons, who will, by decisions and fatwas it will have formulated in crucial matters, issue publications enlightening our public. As the problems will be solved in the light of God’s designs there will be no more controversies and conflicts in our community. The world will thus have achieved peace which will continue to be so ever after.
TESTIMONY OF WOMEN
Testimony is a formal statement on a question in the presence of a judge at court. In the Qur’an, with a single exception, everybody may testify before the court. Nevertheless, in controversies about indebtedness the presence of two women are required whose testimonies can be taken as given by one man in the surah 2/282. The ideas behind is woman’s liability to adling, oblivion and erring. It should be borne in mind, that, at the time women, with a few exceptions, were illiterate and ignorant of commercial dealings.
In our contemporary soceity women’s position has changed and become equal with men’s in every respect. The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (9/71) The rule laid down, effective in another age, need to be adjusted to the requirements of the present. In this respect the following verse should be considered once more: … who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation …(42/38).
(See: the present book under Submit your Apples of Discord to God)
GENERAL PRINCIPLE IN TESTIMONY
But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) By Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie; (24/8)
And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;- (24/4)
Thus when they fulfill their term appointed, either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take for witness two persons from among you, endued with justice, and establish the evidence (as) before Allah. Such is the admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out, (65/)
As one can see from the above, with a single exception, women’s testimony is valid. Nevertheless, after the departure of the Prophet from this world, the former customs of Arabs had had the upper hand and overruled the principle laid down in the Qur’an.
WOMEN’S EXCEPTIONAL TESTIMONY O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write: as Allah Has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear His Lord Allah, and not diminish aught of what he owes. If they party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable Himself to dictate, Let his guardian dictate faithfully, and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her. The witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (For evidence). Disdain not to reduce to writing (your contract) for a future period, whether it be small or big: it is juster in the sight of Allah, More suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves but if it be a transaction which ye carry out on the spot among yourselves, there is no blame on you if ye reduce it not to writing. But take witness whenever ye make a commercial contract; and let neither scribe nor witness suffer harm. If ye do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you. So fear Allah. For it is Good that teaches you. And Allah is well acquainted with all things. If ye are on a journey, and cannot find a scribe, a pledge with possession (may serve the purpose). And if one of you deposits a thing on trust with another, let the trustee (faithfully) discharge his trust, and let him Fear his Lord conceal not evidence; for whoever conceals it, - his heart is tainted with sin. And Allah knoweth all that ye do. (24/8)
This verse introduced an exception as regards the equality between man and woman. At the time of the revelation of the Qur’an women hardly did anything other than performing the household chores and bringing up of her children; illiterate as she was, she knew nothing of commercial dealings which were the responsibility of the husband. This led to the imposition of a rule, according to which, in case a woman got confused about an issue regarding transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, the next witness would bear testimony.
Considering that at present women also started to be employed in commercial life this provision has lost its validity; therefore, the Religious Council to be formed must examine the issue and reach a categorical decision to this effect.