Women in Islam

Oct - Dec 2011, Women in Islam

In Memory of Sister Mary Ali

By Rebecca Abuqaoud

December 9, 2011

Assalam Aleikum dear sisters in Islam,

It was not easy to receive the sad news of the decease of Sister Mary Ali last Tuesday. The news was shocking. She leaves us with great memories.

May Allah SWT have mercy on her soul and grant her the highest rank in Paradise.

It was an honor to have Mary Ali among us with her teachings, advice, and wisdom.

The first time, I met Sister Mary Ali face-to-face was in my house in September 8, 2001. I invited her over the phone to my house to share a topic for the women in Islam.

As a new Muslim at that time, I was anxious to learn more about my new religion and I had so many questions to ask. For that occasion, I also invited other women and about 18 women attended the lecture. I liked her presentation very much, I liked her patience and time she answered the questions she was asked. I continued inviting her for more of her presentations. SubhanaAllah people showed interest in learning more of Islam. Her second presentation was at the MCC, in September 14, 2002, with another appealing topic for the woman. This day is unforgettable; there was a shahada of a young Mexican lady.

SubhanaAllah, this second gathering of ladies is known as the 2nd Annual Sisterhood event. Most of the attendees were Latina women; they showed interest and asked for lectures and classes in Spanish more often. Glory be to Allah. Classes for ladies in Spanish were established at the MCC in March 2003. Sister Mary was the bridge of connection to the MCC. I let her know of this request by ladies, so sisters can have a classroom where they can learn of their religion.

With the continuous classes for the Spanish-speaking ladies, came along the bloom of many programs and events in Spanish not only for sisters but for brothers also. In short, the continuous gathering of this community has led to an organization known today as the Latino Muslims of Chicago.

Sister Mary Ali continued to be invited to the Annual sisterhoods events in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007. Many were blessed to listen to her wonderful presentations.

It was a huge blessing to continue having her for more presentations more often since February of 2010 until before Ramadan of this year in the program known as the monthly halaqa that takes place on Friday evenings. Many were blessed to listen to her wisdom. Many were touched and inspired by her. She was a role model.

As a coordinator of the halaqas and as an organizer of the annual sisterhood events, I was the one to call Sister Mary to schedule her lectures and presentations around her calendar. This opportunity to contact her led us to a strong bond. She became my mentor. At this moment, I’m weeping non-stop. I have so many great memories of her. Our friendship became closer after she became ill. I would always call her to see how she was feeling. We would have long conversations over the phone, sometimes almost an hour long.

She shared with me experiences of her journey as a young mother, and many more experiences and…Wow! What a wise woman! I’ll miss her. I was very fortunate to meet her a long time ago, and I’m almost positive many of you who met Sister Mary Ali feel so fortunate to have known her. May Allah SWT bless her for her great contributions and may Allah SWT reward her Paradise.

Islam, July - Sept 2011, Women in Islam

“Aren’t You Hot in That?” – My First Summer in Hijab

By Holly Garza


July 14, 2009

As-salamu Alaykum! This just means “peace be upon you” or, in Spanish, “La paz sea con usted”.

Am I hot in my headscarf with covered arms and legs? Yes, I am hot, but I’m not any hotter than you not covering like I do. Honestly, at times I’m even four to six degrees cooler than you.

Now, a few degrees cooler will not make me feel cool in 95 degree weather, but I am not really suffering much more than someone who is not covered. This I know for a fact.

At home I do not dress this way, and when I go out to the back yard with my daughter to hang laundry, boy, does the sun bite and eat at my skin, I get very hot and very itchy very quickly from the sun.

These are some tips I use to avoid the all-feared heat stroke, and you can use them too to stay comfortable in the summer.

1- Stay hydrated. I force myself to drink that water. You have to and besides, it’s great for your skin and hair.

2- Use sunscreen on your face and carry an umbrella to make your own shade. We all know the umbrella makes it at least 2-3 degrees cooler, and you can try staying to the side of the road with trees as well.

What I do to dress Islamically, and stay somewhat comfortable, is to dress in appropriately light and loose clothing whenever I can. Wide-leg pants let the heat out, and a gentle breeze in, every now and then. I admit that I don’t have many of these, but they make all the difference. Currently I am purchasing more for my wardrobe.

Underneath my tanks, or dressy short-sleeved shirts, I like wearing a long-sleeved, super thin, white, or very light-colored, garment. It helps so much in this weather to wear light, breathable fabrics.

I have three main shirts I always wear: a white long-sleeved shirt of super thin material, a grey long-sleeved shirt also of super thin material, or a thin off-white turtleneck. These shirts compliment 90% of my clothing colors and styles and are perfect for the heat.

You are probably thinking long sleeves = HOT. But not really, just try it. The real truth is, light-colored and loose-fitting articles of clothing which reflect heat are much better for keeping cool than bare legs and bare arms. And I don’t know about you, but I burn easily in the sun’s harsh rays.

Honestly, it’s perfect because I cover my skin from sun damage, and because the fabric actually is breathable, I get the random cool breeze. So while its still very warm outside, I’m not burning up or catching a sun burn.

And the best thing is that I can be identified as a Muslim. If it gets very hot for me, I remind myself that even if I take it off, it won’t really make me any less hot. And there is only so much clothing you can remove; I’m not about to go into work wearing a bikini, so why not be an Islamically-dressed woman and proud?

I love for the world to know that I’m Muslim; it’s a huge part of who I am and I love the questions I get because of it. I don’t want to take off my little super thin scarf over two extra degrees of heat. Why should I?

I’ll keep my sleeved, breezy, non sun-burned scarf-wearing self and be happy.

Jan - Mar 2011, Women in Islam

The Female Scholars Of Islam

By Latifah Martinez

As-Salaam Alaykum,

I wanted to put together this little piece to briefly mention a few of the MANY female scholars throughout history to make the point that women have always had an important position in this deen that was never questioned in the past.

I think that if more Muslim women and girls knew about these noble women then less would be affected by the false talk of the so-called “Muslimah feminists” who make us think that we must either reduce or completely remove the hijab, mingle with men and other such things in order to be “liberated”. Not so, as these great women have shown.

Upon reflection, what is more amazing about these women is that they were not only scholars who memorized the Qur’an, memorized several thousand ahadith along with the chain of narrators for each, but also wives and mothers who had duties at home MINUS the modern conveniences we have today. This should be a reminder and inspiration to the women to not only to study the deen but be very diligent and strive to go above and beyond in their studies of this deen.

And finally, as many of these women were taught by their fathers and/or husbands (although many taught their husbands) this should serve as a reminder to the MEN to teach their daughters (and wives for that matter) just as diligently as the sons are taught. In many cases, the blame for level of ignorance amongst some of the sisters must be laid firmly at the feet of the men (Husbands/Fathers). Some of you would be amazed at how ignorant some of the sisters are because their husbands do not teach them. I knew of a sister who was Muslim for a couple of years that did not even know her salaat completely because her husband did not teach her.

Some may not know this, but women had an important role in the collection of hadith going back to the time of the Tabieen. Women such as Hafsa, the daughter of Muhammad Ibn Sireen, and Rawaahah, the daughter of Imaam Al ‘Awzaa’e who was a narrator that carried ijaazah through her father, among others held important positions as Hadith narrators.

Umm ad-Darda and ‘Amra bint ‘Abdir-Rahman were also from amongst the female hadith scholars of the period of the tabieen. ‘Amra was considered a great authority on traditions related by A’isha. Among her students was Abu Bakr ibn Hazm who was a famous judge of Madinah of his time.

Also during the time of Imam Maalik, was a woman known as ‘Aabidah Al Madinah. She was from the freed slave girls of Madeenah and narrated from Imam Maalik to the point where it was said that she narrated 20,000 ahadith.

Women remained very important in the collection of the ahadith well into the period when the famous collections of hadith were compiled. All of the important compilers of hadith received many of their narrations from women and every major collection gives the names of many women as the immediate authorities of the author. And even after these works were compiled, the women hadith scholars mastered them as well and taught others to whom they would issue their own ijazas.

Here are some other interesting facts:

– Many of Imam Ahmad’s students were women including Maymunah bint al- Aqra`, Khadijah Umm Ahmad, Makhtah, the sister of Bishr bin al-Harith, Umm Salih `Abbasah bint al-Fadl (Imam Ahmad’s first wife), Rayhanah (Imam Ahmad’s cousin and ‘Abdullah’s mother. He married her when Umm Salih died.), and Husn.

– The great hadith scholar Abu Dawood’s granddaughter Fatima was also a scholar of hadith.

– Imam Ath-Thahabi had many female teachers whom he used to praise including: Khadeejah Bint Yusuf, ‘Amatul ‘Azeez Al Baghdaadiyyah (Thumma Dimashqiyyah), Faatimah Bint Ibraheem Ibn Mahmood Ibn Jawhar, Hadiyyah Bint ‘Abdul Hameed Al Maqdisiyyah, and Hadiyyah Bint ‘Alee Al Baghdaadiyyah.

– Ibn Qudaamah’s daughters, Raabi’ah and Ruqayyah, were both scholars of their own merit who had ijaazahs from their father.

– Ibn Hajr received an ijaazah from Zaynab Bint ‘Uthmaan Ibn Dimashqee and had several other women teachers. Also there was Zaynab Bintu Yahyah Bint ‘Izzud Deen As Sulamee who narrated the book Mu’jam As Sagheer of Tabaraani. Fatima bint al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn al-Daqqaq al-Qushayri, a scholar who was known not only for her great knowledge of hadith, the chains of narrators, and her mastery of calligraphy, but for her great piety.

Karima al-Marwaziyya was a central figure in the transmission of Sahih al-Bukhari and was considered the best authority of it in her time. Abu Dharr of

Herat, one of the leading scholars of the period, held her scholarship in such high regard that he advised his students not to study the Sahih of al- Bukhari under anyone else. Among her students were al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi and al-Humaydi.

I could have gone on and on listing the names of great women scholars throughout Islamic history who achieved as much as many of the men of this Ummah (May Allah have mercy upon them all) and in some cases were considered amongst their peers to be the BEST (bar none) of their time in their fields, but for the sake of brevity I will keep it short because I just wanted to make this point/reminder to benefit everyone.

I hope that someone will put together a collection of biographies of the female scholars into a book to be distributed in the English language. To my knowledge this hasn’t been done and I think this project would be a very beneficial and a wonderful inspiration to Muslim women and girls who are seekers of knowledge.

© December 31, 2003.

April - June 2009, Women in Islam

The 9th Annual Gathering of Latina Sisters in Chicago

By Ingrid Ascencio d’ Farrukh

The 9th Annual Gathering of Latina Sisters in Chicago was held on May 24, 2009 in the Youth Center of the ICCI Masjid. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) made it possible once again, for this group of women to get together and share an afternoon of topics of interest, delicious food and a warm environment full of hugs and kids. The entire program was held in Spanish, and after the formal welcome and introduction of the event, little Sarita Hashlaman (7 years old) gave a beautiful recitation of Surah Ash-Shams and Ayat Al Kursi to invite the blessings into the occasion. The main theme for this year’s event was “The role of the Latina Muslim as contemporary women.”

The presentation started with the topic of Mrs. Jen Ai Aristizabal on “Transition of Cultural Identity.” After defining the term identity, the question of what is it that identifies us as Latino women was addressed. There are things such as: language, rhythm, sentimentality, religion, and fervor. In the religious aspect, the Latino of today is really a mixture of the European Catholic, Aboriginal polytheist, and African animistic. The focus of the talk was on the Catholic aspect because it’s the most common practiced religion in Latin America today, which has very peculiar practices that distinguishes it from other regions in the world. For example, in Mexico, the native aborigines had their deities replaced with Catholic saints: Tlaloc (god of water) became known as Saint Isidro Labrador, Tonantzin or Xihuacoatl (goddess mother of all other deities) became Virgen De Guadalupe, etc. There were other examples given for the Caribbean region and the known practice of ‘santeria’, as a result of merging African Yoruba religion with Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. From these examples, we conclude that the Latino is really a hybrid of many other practices, a fusion of characters and flavors. However, the Fitra or innate disposition of human nature has guided us by the will of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) back to Islam – the true, pure state of monotheistic belief.

During our religious conversion, we begin a transitional process of values in which many dilemma arise. The ambivalence or contradictory feelings that were initiated by the cultural shock result in a mental and emotional state of perplexity, as a product of transferring the cultural and spiritual values of one group to another. Therefore, we should not overwhelm ourselves with the transition of our habits and ideas; we should seek Allah’s refuge and take Islam one step at a time. It is important to remember that it should be a gradual change. This does not mean we should allow ourselves to be lazy and take a long time to embrace the correct practices. We are obliged to continue our education in our religion and strive for improvement in our behavior, words, and beliefs. However, we must be patient with ourselves and with one another. And, remember that we are not stripping ourselves away from our essence – we are only improving it.

The second presentation was given by Mrs. Ingrid Ascencio on the topic of “Friendship and Sisterhood in Islam.” She discussed how friendship is one of the most important social aspects in our lives. She also reminded us about the hadith in which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) mentioned how we must be careful in choosing our friends, because the person inevitably follows the steps of his or her companion. Another example mentioned by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) was the analogy made of a good friend to a seller of musk while a bad friend is like the one who blows in the blacksmith’s bellows.

Friendship has many important aspects. In general, the Muslim must maintain good manners and show kindness to everybody. However, some characteristics or experiences make us naturally inclined towards a certain type of people versus another. It could potentially be due to ties of similar faith, habits, traits, or experiences. Keep in mind that the ties of brotherhood based on the Islamic faith is one of the greatest blessings from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) since these acquaintances create a social circle. Hopefully, this social circle is formed of believers who are good in character, because they are essential in a support group that lives up to Islamic principles.

We must bear in mind some advice regarding our relations with our friends and brothers/sisters in faith. First, remember to always give the proper greeting of ‘salam’, because this is the first step that opens the hearts. Also, keep your intention firm in loving each other for Allah’s sake, because those who do so have been promised to have the shade of Allah on the Day of Judgment. In addition, the Golden Rule applies, because we must wish for others what we would wish for ourselves. We can keep our hearts clean of disease by following several guidelines such as refraining from gossip, slander, and backbiting, concealing the faults of others, forgiving, and in case of disputes, following the limit of three days to cool off. We are never allowed to break ties or distance ourselves permanently from one another.

We have to remember that in the end the final recompense is not from others, but from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), The Most Merciful. Allah will remove our distress and our hardship, and He will have our faults covered in this world if we are this way toward our fellow brothers and sisters.

The final topic “Modesty in Islam” was presented by Mrs. Celia Snowber. She began by explaining how all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) encouraged Haya. Haya is usually translated as modesty and shyness. This concept plays a very important role in the affairs of the Creator and the creation. Modesty in Islam is reflected by a Muslim in his/her way of talk, clothing as well as in his/her public and secret behavior.

Any talk regarding modesty starts in the heart, because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) mentioned how modesty is part of faith, and faith resides in the heart. The Muslim must be cautious when talking and must be moderate in his/her conversations. Using obscene words, shouting when angry, and lying are not acceptable qualities in Islam.

Modesty in clothing is described in the Qu’ran (24: 30-31): “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.”

In these ayat, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) teaches us how to dress and who are excluded from the hijab. The modesty protects women from being a prisoner, a victim of society, because her clothing not only protects her, but identifies her as a believing woman.

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) told his companions to be modest in front of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) wants you to protect your mind from what you have learned, your stomach from what you have eaten. He requests that we remember death and its tribulations and that we leave the adornments of this life for those who wish goodness in the next life. The daily conduct of a Muslim has to do with rememberance of the presence of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in every moment of his/her life, because this awareness is what helps to acquire modesty. The shyness towards our Creator develops when the Muslim understands that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) knows everything we do and he/she has shame of committing something that would displease the All-Mighty. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) said that every religion has its characteristics and that the characteristic of Islam is Haya (modesty, shyness).

The evening ended with great gems of knowledge in our hearts and minds and with a renewed sense of sweetness in our faith and in our bonds towards each other. The event came to an end with a closing du’a and the Asr prayer. Wonderful dishes were shared in good-natured company among all the participants and kids.

May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) keep us growing in love and knowledge of our faith.

The agenda of the program follows:

“La Gran Novena Confraternidad Annual para las hermanas”
es presentado por LADO
Latino American Dawah Organization
Domingo, 24 de mayo del 2009

Assalam Aleikum!
4:00 PM Introducion y Bienvenida
4:05 PM Recitacion del Quran: niña Sara Haslaman
4:20 PM Presentacion del tema: El Rol De La Musulmana Latina, Como Mujer Contemporanea
Expositoras del tema: Jenai Aristizabal, Ingrid Ascencio y Celia Snowber
5:00 PM Breve pausa del tema (aproximadamente 5 minutos)
5:05 PM Continuacion y conclusion del tema
5:35 PM Entrega de Certificados
5:40 PM Anuncio de programa y actividades
5:50 PM Agradecimiento
5:50 PM Conclusion del evento
6:00 PM Oracion Asar (ir a la oracion)
6:00 PM Cena y Socializacion (de la oracion Asar)

A Thank You Note:
First of all, Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah SWT.
It is really appreciated that this event was supported and
hosted by LADO and a committee of the Latina Muslim Sisters of Chicago.

During the event, sister Idalia Nieves was given a Certificate of Recognition for satisfactorily completing a course entitled “Fundamentals of Islam.” The course was a program developed by the ‘Clases Islamicas en español para hermanas ‘ and hosted by the Latina Muslim Sisters of Chicago.

Islam, Oct - Dec 2007, Women in Islam

Identity of a Muslim Woman and Maintaining it

By Samantha Sanchez

A Muslim is someone who submits his/herself to Allah (God). A person who believes that there is only one God and Muhammad (pbuh) is His Prophet. Who believes in the Day of the Judgment, the Books, the Angels…

But what is a Muslim woman… something far beyond this definition. A Muslim woman is unique in that she wears her Islam on her sleeve or her head and not just in her heart. Why? Well we can debate all day from both standpoints the feminist and the REALIST about whether or not it is an infringement of her rights, or a blame on her sexuality. We might also say we wear it because we are modest and we fear God who states in the scripture that it is required of us. In verses 24:31 and 33:59 of the Qur’an women are instructed to cover and are given several reasons for this. First, to guard their modesty (as a protection for themselves), second not to display their ornaments (not to objectify themselves), and third so they be recognized and not molested.

The truth remains when a woman wears her Islam on her head or her sleeve, I identify her as Muslim, and if she doesn’t cover, she becomes as obscure as the men (sort of blends in to the crowd). How many of us are not sure unless we know that she is Muslim, whether or not we should say salaam. It is an honor, a right, a privilege and a liberation to be a Muslim woman and be seen as just that. We all know that people regardless of the phrase, judge a book by its cover. Certainly this has drawbacks. But that all depends on what the person judging believes it symbolizes. Oppression or liberation?

I assure you my Muslim sisters and I are not oppressed. Muslim women are the most “progressive”, educated, intelligent, active, happy, spiritually centered people I know. No this doesn’t come from covering the head. But covering the head doesn’t hinder any of these qualities either.

I always think of the Muslim Woman this way:

Mothers (of the)
Ummah (muslim community)


Does this sound to you like an oppressed individual? The ignorant outsider sees Muslim women as a piece of history in the here and now, her backward ways, her cultural preoccupations. But if we look at examples of women even in the beginning of Islam we can be sure that even then they were not oppressed.


May Allah be pleased with them. These are just some of the women in Islamic history who epitomize what it is to be a Muslim woman. Strong, intelligent, independent women who are willing to believe and have faith, to fight for a cause despite the consequences, and to ensure that Islam lives on.

We are rebels with a cause. The cause is Islam. Why does Turkey fear women’s covering? Will they be too strong?

Being a woman in the world means having to decide whether you should be judged by your looks and charms or by your intelligence. Women often sway at the border between a subject and an object. The Western world talks about feminism and a woman’s right to choose what to wear what job to have etc.. But this type of feminism leads women to either strive to be something they are not…i.e. MEN…or it tells them that the only way they can get respect or attention is to become an object. TRUE FEMINISM says yes a woman has the right to choose what to wear. The right choice, however, should be that which frees her to be seen for her mind and not her body as a subject to be respected and not an object to be projected.

The Muslim woman can be or do anything she wants. Despite misconceptions about how they do not have a voice and cannot be leaders, Muslim women have and will lead nations as prime ministers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and last but certainly not least, mothers. She has rights given to her 1400 years ago that other women only gained in the last century.

Now that we know the true identity of the Muslim woman, how can we maintain it? First, regardless of your level of faith at present, you should remember that comporting yourself as a Muslim woman means dressing modestly but it also means not being complacent in speech. This does NOT mean that women should not talk it means they should not flirt. If you have something to say, say it, like you mean business, especially when talking to the opposite sex.

Second, the issues of other Muslim women should tug at your heartstrings. By involving yourself in the cause of other fellow sisters, we empower ourselves and maintain the identity that throughout history Muslim women have always had…as defenders of the faith, loyal to the ummah.

Third, we should become as educated as possible not only in the secular but in the sacred. What good is hijab if you don’t know what it stands for. I urge all of you to strive to the top of your given field, become lawyers, doctors, professor, engineers, etc. Look to Khadijah (ra) a successful businesswoman.. But also, become scholars of Islam. Part of being a Muslim woman is being able to impart your knowledge of Islam to others. Look to Aisha and Hafsah (ra) the women who narrated so many ahadith (sayings of the Prophet) and guarded the Qur’an so that our generation could have the unchanged truth.

These women are known as the Mothers of the Believers, respected and held in high regard.

Fourth, we have rights and responsibilities and part of maintaining our identity is exercising those rights and fulfilling those responsibilities. We have a duty to our families. One day all of you will be married and have families of your own. Remember my acronym. Muslim woman are the mothers of the future Muslim community and the makers of a nation. There is a saying, “the first university is the mother’s lap.” We should be educated not only for ourselves but as part of our duty to our children. We would not want to place the burden on them of drifting along wandering to find what is Islam is. We should be the best resources for them.

Fifth, maintaining a Muslim woman’s identity in the western world, even in Muslim countries (i.e. Turkey, Kosovo) can be a daunting task. There is a famous quote, “Ignorance is bliss.” I suppose it rings true for those who are ignorant. They can be happy with their present situations. It is quite a task here and in so-called Muslim countries to separate fact from fiction. Many authors who claim to be Muslim tell us that what I have defined as the Muslim identity is antiquated and needs to be revised. They believe that they are doing us a favor but it is a disservice. The first step to maintaining a Muslim woman’s identity is to know what it really means and what it does not. It does not mean that in order to be a Muslim woman in the present time I have to alter the meaning of the scripture to suit my needs. Fatima Mernissi and others want us to do that. This is a destruction of the true Muslim woman’s identity. If I comply with their wishes and reinterpret as they call it, the scriptures of God then I am no longer a Muslim. How can I tell God what He means in a verse if I am supposed to be submitting to Him? Certainly there are opinions in Islam. Scholars have debated many things. But when there are interpretations that are agreed upon based on evidence, how can I oppose them. Perhaps if these women studied as much Islam as they did secular works, they would not have this misinterpretation.

In closing, being a Muslim woman is not always easy. But the easy path is not always right one and the right path is sometimes the one with obstacles. People may stare, tell you how backward you are, claim that you are oppressed. Remember, ignorance is bliss, then, enlighten them. Exude the confidence, the grace, and the intelligence, that the true Muslim woman possesses.

© 2001

Islam, July - Sept 2004, Women in Islam

Women in Islam

By Hasan Rabani

How do women fit into Islam? What is their fate?
This has been the subject of many a debate.
“for the believing men and women, is a great reward’
This is from Surah Al Azaab, the words of our Lord.
It can be seen from reading the Holy Quran
that a woman has some privilege over a man.

Women can pray at the mosque or even at home.
They may marry or divorce, its their choice, their own.
After marriage she can retain her old maiden name
and is rewarded for treating all her offspring the same.
Once women are married they should live pious lives.
“and the best men are those who are best to their wives’

A woman after marriage becomes a wife.
And, for nine long months she carries new life.
During childbirth she is exempted from fasting.
Islam ended the past tradition of burying baby girls.
Praying is exempted during menstruation.
Here Islam gives women consideration.

Islam shows equality my sisters and brothers.
Don’t forget paradise lies at the feet of your mothers.
Women in the UK have had property rights since 1938.
This right was given by Islam, 14 centuries to date.
In the UK, women have had the right to vote since 1918.
This was stated 1400 years ago in islam, our deen.

Women can work and lead a happily married life
but shouldn’t neglect her role as mother and wife.
A woman, for her child’s upbringing, deserves credit.
Islam also gives a woman the right to inherit.
A woman’s status in Islam, we should never neglect.
In Islam women are favoured and deserve our respect.

April - June 2004, Islam, Quran, Women in Islam

La Virgen María en Islam

Por Juan Galvan

Mucha gente se sorprendería al ver el amor que los Musulmanes sienten por la Virgen María, la madre de Jesús. En el Corán, a ninguna otra mujer se le da más atención que a María. Ella recibe más atención que a todos los Profetas con la excepción de Adán. En los 114 capítúlos del Corán, María esta entre las ocho personas en tener un capítúlo a su nombre. El decimonoveno capítúlo del Corán se llama Mariam, en honor a la Virgen María. ‘Mariam’ significa María en Árabe. El tercer capítúlo del Corán se llama Amran, el cuál es el padre de María. Los capítúlos de Mariam y Amran son de los capítúlos más bellos de todo el Corán. María (que en paz descanse) es la única mujer específicamente nombrada en el Corán. Existe un Hadiz auténtico en el cuál el Profeta menciona que: “La superioridad de Aisha con respecto a otras mujeres es como la superioridad de Tharid (un platillo de pan y carne) con respecto a otros platillos. Muchos hombres alcanzan el nivel de perfección, pero ninguna mujer ha alcanzado ese nivel a excepción de María, hija de Amran y Asia, y la esposa del Faraón.” (Bukhari 4.643). Verdaderamente, María y la esposa del Faraón son un verdadero ejemplo (Corán 6:11-12). La Virgen María posee un papel muy significativo en la religión del Islám. Ella es un ejemplo y una guía para la humanidad.

En el Corán, la historia de María comienza cuando ella todavía esta en el vientre de su madre. La madre de María dijo: “¡Señor! Yo te ofrezco en voto lo que hay en mi vientre. Aceptalo de mi. Tú eres ciertamente el Oyente y el Omnisciente.” (Corán 3:35). Ella deseaba a ese bebé en su vientre solo para servir a su creador. Cuando dio a luz a María ella dijo: “Señor, yo he dado a luz a una hija..” (Corán 3:36). Ella esperaba tener a un varón quien al crecer sería un líder religioso. Sin embargo, Dios tenía para ella un plan mejor. Dios es el que mejor planea. “�.y Dios sabía bien lo que ella había dado a luz. El varón no es como la niña. Yo la he llamado María y yo la coloco, asi como su descendencia, bajo Tú proteccion contra Satanas el expulsado.” (Continuacion de Corán 3:36) María literalmente significa Servidora de Dios.

En el Corán 3:37, Dios confirma que el ha aceptado a María tal como su madre lo ha pedido. Dios ha hecho que María crezca en belleza y pureza. Fué asignada al cuidado de un Pastor de nombre Zacarías. Lo cuál es muy importante ya que muy pocas mujeres tienen esa gran oportúnidad. “�.Cada vez que Zacarías entraba a verla en el santúario, encontraba cerca de ella alimentos. El dijo: ¡Oh María! ¿De donde te vienen esos alimentos? Ella respondio: Me vienen de Dios. Dios da favores a quien desea sin medida.” (Corán 3:37). Al escuchar la respuesta de María, “Entonces Zacarías suplico a su Señor exclamando: ¡Señor Mio! Dame, de Tú parte, una descendencia excelente, porque Tú eres quien escucha los ruegos.” (Corán 3:38) Aúnque su esposa era estéril y el era ya un viejo, Dios bendició a Zacarías y a su esposa Elizabeth con Juan. Juan es conocido en la Biblia como “Juan el Bautista.” Zacarías estaba esceptico después de escuchar a los angeles anunciar el nacimiento de Juan. Como respuesta a su escepticismo: “Dios dijo: Es asi como Dios hace lo que le place.” (Corán 3:40) “Juan será jefe, casto, profeta de la gente virtúosa.” (Corán 3:39)

En el Corán se explica también el milagroso embarazo de María. “Menciona en el Corán la historia de María, cuando ella se retiro de su familia en un lugar hacia el Oriente. Ella puso un velo entre ella y ellos. Nosotros le enviamos Nuestro Espiritú, el angel Gabriel, en forma de un hombre perfecto.” (Corán 19:16-17) Después de ver al angel, ella dijo: “Yo me refugio contra ti, donde el Misericordioso. Si tú eres piadoso (no te acerques a mi).” (Corán 19:18) El angel Gabriel respondio: “Yo soy un mensajero de tú Señor y vengo a anunciarte el don de un hijo puro.” (Corán 19:19) Su siguiente respuesta es obvia. Ella pregunta: “¿Como podre tener un hijo, siendo que ningun hombre me ha tocado y yo no soy corrompida?” (Corán 19:20) El angel Gabriel le dijo: ¡Asi será! Tú Señor ha dicho: ¡Esto es facil! Y nosotros haremos de él un signo para las gentes y una misericordía de nuestra parte . Esto es algo que ya se ha decretado.” (Corán 19:21) María después resulta embarazada.

Jesús (paz y bendiciones sean con el) es un Profeta y un Mensajero. Un mensajero es un Profeta al cuál se le ha dado una revelación de Dios. Por otro lado la Tora le fué revelado a Moisés, y el Evangelio fué revelado a Jesús. Los Mensajeros son una misericordía, una guía, y una señal de Dios. “Y Dios le enseñará (a Jesús) el Libro y la Sabiduría, la Tora, y el Evangelio. Y el será el mensajero para los hijos de Israel (y les dira): Yo vengo a vosotros con un signo por parte de vuestro Señor. Yo hare, para vosotros, de barro, la forma de un pájaro y soplare de el y con el permiso de Dios se convertirá en un pájaro. Y curo a los ciegos de nacimiento, a los leprosos y resucito a los muertos con permiso de Dios. Y os dire lo que vosotros coméis y lo que vosotros guardáis en vuestras casas. Todo esto es un signo para vosotros sí sois creyentes. Yo he venido a confirmaros la Tora que habéis recibido antes que yo y a permitiros algo de lo que os estaba prohibido. Yo he venido hasta vosotros con un signo de vuestro Señor. Temed a Dios y obedecedme. Dios es mi Señor y vuestro Señor. Adoradle. Ese es el sendero de la rectitúd.” (Corán 3:48-51) Dios escoge a mensajeros para ayudarnos a resolver preguntas tales como: ¿Que sucede después de que muero? ¿Que esta bien y que esta mal? ¿Existe un mundo supernatúral? ¿Cuál es el propósito de mi creación? Jesús ha llamado a la gente para que vengan a un solo Dios. Solo por gracia de Dios, Jesús es capaz de conceder milagros. “Cuando Jesús presintió la incredulidad de ellos, de los judios, les dijo: ¿Quienes serán mis auxiliaries en el camino de Dios? Los apostoles respondieron: Nosotros somos los aliados de Dios. Nosotros creemos en Dios y que seas testigo que a El nos hemos sometido.” (Corán 3:52)

Después de concebir a Jesús, María huyo a un lugar apartado (Corán 19:22) “Los dolores del parto la llevarón hacia el tronco de una palmera y dijo: ¡Que desgracia la mia! Si hubiese muerto antes de esto y hubiese sido olvidada completamente” (Corán 19:23) “Entonces una voz la llamo desde abajo de ella diciendo: No te aflijas. Tú Señor ha hecho correr bajo tús pies un riachuelo. Sacude hacia ti el tronco de la palmera que hara caer sobre ti dátiles frescos y maduros. Come pues y bebe y que se tranquilice tú ojo (deja de llorar), pero si tú ves a alguien di: He hecho un voto al Misericordioso de ayunar (ayunar en el sentido de no hablar con nadie) y hoy no hablare con ningun ser humano.” (Corán 19:24-26) Jose, los Magos y el pesebre no se mencionan en el Corán. Dios fué el unico proveedor de María. Los Musulmanes no aceptan el nacimiento virgen de Jesús como una evidencia de la divinidad de Jesús. “Para Dios, Jesús es como Adán que creo del polvo y después le dijo: Se y el fué.” (Corán 3:59) La creacion de Adán fué aún más milagrosa puesto que fué creado sin madre y sin padre.

Cuando María trae al bebé a su gente, ellos dicen: “¡Oh María! Tú has hecho una cosa extraña. ¡Oh hermana de Aaron! Tú padre no era un hombre de mal y tú madre no era una corrompida.” (Corán 19:27-28) Después María señala al bebé. “Ellos dijeron: ¿Como hablaremos con un niño que aún esta en la cuna?” (Corán 19:29) Después un milagro ocurre, el cuál no es mencionado en la Biblia. En defensa de su madre, Jesús dice: “Yo soy un servidor de Dios. El me ha dado el Libro y me ha hecho profeta. El me ha hecho bendito donde me encuentre y me ha recomendado la oración y el Zakat³ mientras viva, y la bondad con mi madre. Y no me ha hecho violento ni desgraciado, y que la paz sea conmigo el día en que nací, el día en que muera, y el día en que resucite vivo.” (Corán 19:30-33) El hecho que la virgen diera luz a Jesús fué una señal. “Y aquella que había preservado su castidad. Nosotros soplamos en ella Nuestro Espíritú, proveniente de Nosotros e hicimos de ella como de su hijo, un milagro para el universo.” (Corán 21:91)

Todos los Profetas anteriores confirman la unidad de Dios (Tawhíd). Asi como la Santa Trinidad es fundamental como concepto de Dios en el Cristianismo, Tawhíd es la teoría fundamental de Dios en el Islám. Dios existe independientemente de cuálquier religión. Los Musulmanes no creen en el concepto de la Santa Trinidad (Corán 5:73). Dios no es Jesús (Corán 5:72). En el Día del Juicio, cuando a Jesús se le pregunte si ha llamado a venerarlo a él y a su madre como si fuéran dos Dioses, Jesús dira: “¡Gloria a Ti! ¿Como podría yo decir lo que no tengo derecho a decir? Sí lo hubiera dicho, ciertamente Tú lo sabrías, porque Tú sabes lo que hay en mi, y yo ignoro lo que hay en Ti. Solo Tú eres quien conoce lo oculto.” (Corán 5:116) La gente no debería de venerar ninguna de las creaciones de Dios, incluyendo a Jesús y a María. No debemos de asignar a ninguna de las creaciones de Dios sus atributos y caracteristicas divinas. “El es Dios. El Creador, el que da comienzo de nada, es el Formador. De El son los más bellos nombres. Todo lo que hay en los Cielos y en la tierra le glorifica. Pues El es el Potente, el Sabio.” (Corán 59:24)

Aúnque Dios puede hacer todas las cosas, El solo puede hacer las que sean consistentes con su Natúraleza fundamental. Engendrar a un hijo no es congruente con la Natúraleza magnifica de Dios (Corán 19:35,92). Algo compatible con su Natúraleza fundamental es el perdon. Aúnque Adán y Eva no pudieron seguir viviendo en el Paraíso, Dios los perdonó después de haberse arrepentido de su pecado (Corán 2:35-37). Nosotros los humanos somos los responsables de nuestros propios actos y no serémos castigados por las acciones de otra persona (Corán 53:38-42). Por lo tanto, los Musulmanes rechazan la doctrina del pecado original. Aún y aúnque Adán y Eva fuéron castigados, Dios es misericordioso y le manda a la humanidad guías para vivir. “Nosotros dijimos: Descended de aqui todos vosotros. Cuando yo os envié un guía, los que le sigan, estarán al abrigo de todo temor y desgracia.” (Corán 2:38)

Otro Profeta, con un mensaje similar al de Jesús, nace después en Arabia en el Siglo VI. También el motivaba a la gente a adorar a un solo Dios. Aúnque el Profeta Mohamed (que la paz y bendiciones esten con el) no sabía ni leer ni escribir, pudo recitar hermosos versos del Corán tal y como le fuéron revelados. El Corán es un hermoso milagro, una señal, una misericordia, un aviso, una guía para la gente. Mohamed es el último Profeta de una lista de Profetas a los cuales incluye Noé, Abrahán, Moisés y Jesús (la paz y bendiciones sean con todos ellos). Todos los Profetas fuéron modelos para la gente vivir justa y rectamente. El Sunnah² del Profeta Mohamed, sus dichos, sus ejemplos, sus tradiciones son también consideradas como una revelación. Su Sunnah² esta escrita en varios libros de Hadiz¹. “Vosotros teneis en el Mensajero de Dios un ejemplo excelente de conducta para el que tenga esperanza en Dios y en el Día Final e invoque mucho a Dios.” (Corán 33:21)

Cuando la gente escucha la palabra “Islám,” por lo general piensa que es una religión organizada, que comenzo con el Profeta Mohamed. Sin embargo, en Árabe, la palabra Islám viene de la raiz “salema” que significa paz, pureza, sumision, y obediencia. En el sentido religioso, Islám significa paz y pureza alcanzada por la sumisión a los deseos de Dios y obediencia a su ley. Los Musulmanes son aquellos que se someten. Creen que todo ser que se someta a los designos de Dios siguiendo la revelación divina de los Mensajeros anteriores se les puede llamar Musulmanes. Partiendo de este concepto, los Musulmanes creen que los seres humanos somos la continuación de la fe de Jesús y María. “Acuerdate cuando los angeles dijeron: ¡Oh María! Dios te ha elegido y te ha purificado. Dios te ha escogido de entre todas las mujeres del mundo. ¡Oh María! Obedece a Tú Señor, prosternate e inclinate con los que se inclinan.” (Corán 3:42-43) María, Jesús, y sus discípulos han sido todos Musulmanes porque se han sometido a Dios.

Dios creo a la gente para que le sirvan a El y para vivir la vida de acuerdo a sus enseñanzas y guías. “Asios todos a la cuerda de Dios. No os separéis. Acordaos del favor que Dios os concedió cuando eráis enemigos. Es El quien reconcilió vuestros corazones. Después por su gracia habeis llegado a ser humanos. Estabáis al borde de un abismo de fuego. Es El quien os ha salvado. Asi es como Dios os muestra sus signos para que seáis bien guiados.” (Corán 3:103) “Aquel que desee otra religión que el Islám, no será aceptado por Dios en la vida futúra y será de los perdedores.” (Corán 3:85) Lo podemos confirmar gracias a los que atestiguan que Dios solo es uno y aceptan su revelación final en nuestras vidas cotidíanas. “¡Oh Creyentes! Temed a Dios como se debe temed y no lleguéis a la muerte antes de ser Musulmanes.” (Corán 3:102) No existe nada en el mundo que valga la pena venerar más que Dios, y Mohamed es su Mensajero.

Nota de Termino:
Al escribir a cerca de La Virgen María, quise evitar cuálquier tipo de confusión para los no-Musulmanes. Este artículo fué escrito y dirigido a una audiencia no-musulmana. Por consiguiente usé terminos en inglés y figuras familiares para los Cristianos en lugar de utilizar términos en Árabe. Por ejemplo “Isa” significa Jesús en Árabe; y “Yahya” significa Juan en Árabe. Al-lah significa literalmente “Dios” en Árabe. Cuando nos referimos a Dios, los Musulmanes prefieren utilizar el termino “Al-lah” parta remarcar su unidad. Tambien evité el uso de terminos e iniciales generalmente usados entre Musulmanes tales como SWT, PBUH, SAWS, RA, y AS. De antemano ofrezco una disculpa si ofendí a alguien con este escrito.

Traducido por Rocio Martinez-Mendoza

April - June 2004, Islam, Quran, Women in Islam

The Virgin Mary in Islam

By Juan Galvan

Many people may be surprised that Muslims love Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Quran, no woman is given more attention than Mary. Mary receives the most attention of any woman mentioned in the Quran even though all the Prophets with the exception of Adam had mothers. Of the Quran’s 114 chapters, she is among the eight people who have a chapter named after them. The nineteenth chapter of the Quran is named after her, Mariam. Mariam means Mary in Arabic. The third chapter in the Quran is named after her father, Imran. Chapters Mariam and Imran are among the most beautiful chapters in the Quran. Mary (peace be upon her) is the only woman specifically named in the Quran. An authentic Haddith states that the Prophet said, “The superiority of ‘Aisha to other ladies is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. meat and bread dish) to other meals. Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Mary, the daughter of Imran and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh.” (Bukhari 4.643). Indeed, both Mary and Pharoah’s wife are an example (Quran 66:11-12). The Virgin Mary plays a very significant role in Islam. She is an example and a sign for all people.

In the Quran, Mary’s story begins while she is still in her mother’s womb. The mother of Mary, said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things.” (Quran 3:35). She wanted the baby in her womb to serve only the Creator. When Mary was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!” (Quran 3:36). She had expected her baby to be a male child who would grow up to be a scholar or religious leader. However, God had a better plan. God is the best of planners. Quran 3:36 continues “�and God knew best what she brought forth- ‘And no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mariam, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from Satan, the Rejected.'” Mariam literally means “maidservant of God.”

In Quran 3:37, God states that He accepted Mary as her mother had asked. He made Mary grow in purity and beauty. She was assigned to the care of a priest named Zacharias. This is interesting considering few women were given this opportunity. “Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: ‘O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?’ She said: ‘From God. For God provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.'” (Quran 3:37). Upon hearing Mary’s answer, “There did Zakariya pray to his Lord, saying: ‘O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayer!'” (Quran 3:38). Although his wife was barren and he was very old, God blesses Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth with John. John is known as “John the Baptist” in the Bible. Zacharias was skeptical after the angels announced John’s birth. The response to his skepticism was “Doth God accomplish what He willeth” (Quran 3:40). John would become a noble and chaste Prophet as the angels had stated (Quran 3:39).

The Quran discusses Mary’s miraculous pregnancy as well. “Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.” (Quran 19:16-17). After seeing the angel, she said: “I seek refuge from thee to (God) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear God.” (Quran 19:18). The angel Gabriel responded: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a pure son.” (Quran 19:19). Her next response is expected. She asked: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” (Quran 19:20). The Angel Gabriel said: “So (it will be): thy Lord saith, ‘That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us.’ It is a matter (so) decreed.” (Quran 19:21). Mary then becomes pregnant.

Jesus (peace be upon him) is a Prophet and a Messenger. A Messenger is a Prophet who is given revelation from God. Whereas the Torah was revealed to Moses, the Gospel was revealed to Jesus. Messengers are a mercy, guidance, and sign from God. “And God will teach him (Jesus) the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel, and (appoint him) as a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): ‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I bring the dead into life, by God’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe. (I have come to you) to attest the Torah which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you. I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear God, and obey me. It is God Who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a Way that is straight.'” (Quran 3:48-51). God appointed messengers to help us answer questions such as: What happens after I die? What’s right and wrong? Does a supernatural world exist? What’s the purpose of my creation? Jesus was calling people to the worship of only God. Only by God’s leave was Jesus able to perform miracles. “When Jesus found unbelief on their (the disciples) part he said: ‘Who will be my helpers to (the work of) God?” Said the disciples: “We are God’s helpers: We believe in God, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.'” (Quran 3:52).

After conceiving Jesus, Mary went away with the baby to a distant place (Quran 19:22). “And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She cried (in her anguish): ‘Ah! would that I had died before this! would that I had been a thing forgotten!'” (Quran 19:23). “But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): ‘Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to (God) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.'” (Quran 19:24-26). Joseph, the magi, and manger are not mentioned in the Quran. God was Mary’s only Provider. Muslims do not accept the virgin birth of Jesus as evidence of Jesus’ divinity. “The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be.’ And he was.” (Quran 3:59). Adam’s creation was even more miraculous because he was born without father and mother.

When she brings the baby to her people, they said: “O Mary! truly a strange thing has thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!” (Quran 19:27-8). Mary then points to the baby. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” (Quran 19:29). Then a miracle occurs that is not mentioned in the Bible. In defense of his mother, Jesus said: “I am indeed a servant of God. He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; (He hath made me) kind to my mother, and not overbearing or unblest; So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!” (Quran 19:30-33). The virgin birth of Jesus was a sign. “And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.” (Quran 21:91).

All previous Prophets confirmed the oneness of God, Tawheed. Whereas the Holy Trinity is the fundamental concept of God in Christianity, Tawheed is the fundamental concept of God in Islam. God exists independent of religion. Muslims do not believe in the concept of Holy Trinity (Quran 5:73). God is not Jesus (Quran 5:72). On the Day of Judgment, when Jesus is asked if he had called people to worship him and his mother as two gods, Jesus will say: “Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.” (Quran 5:116). People should not worship any of God’s creation, including Jesus and Mary. We must not assign any of God’s creation His divine attributes and characteristics. “He is God the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Qur’an 59:24).

Although God can do all things, He only does things that are consistent with His fundamental nature. Begetting a son is not consistent with God’s magnificent nature (Quran 19:92, Quran 19:35). Consistent with His fundamental nature is forgiveness. Although Adam and Eve could no longer live in the Paradise, God forgave Adam and Eve for their sin after they sincerely repented (Quran 2:35-37). We are responsible for our own deeds and will not be punished for the deeds of another person (Quran 53:38-42). Therefore, Muslims reject the doctrine of original sin. Although Adam and Eve were punished, God would still be merciful by sending Guidance to mankind. “We said: ‘Get down all of you from this place (the Paradise), then whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve.'” (Quran 2:38).

Another Prophet with a message similar to Jesus’ would later be born in Arabia in the sixth century. He also called people to the worship of only God. Although unable to read and write, Muhammad (peace be upon him) would recite beautiful verses of the Quran as they were revealed to him. The Quran is a beautiful miracle, a sign, a mercy, a warner, and a guidance for all people. Muhammad is the last Prophet from a line of Prophets that included Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them). All Prophets were models for righteous living. Muhammad’s Sunnah, his sayings, example, and traditions, is also considered revelation. His Sunnah is expressed in various books of Haddith. “Indeed in the Messenger of God you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) God and the Last Day, and remembers God much.” (Quran 33:21).

When people hear the word “Islam,” they usually think of the organized religion of Islam that began with the Prophet Muhammad. However in Arabic, the word Islam comes from the root “salema” which means peace, purity, submission, and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means peace and purity achieved by submitting to the will of God and obedience to His law. Muslims are those who submit. Muslims believe that all those who submitted to the will of God by following the divine revelation of previous Messengers were themselves Muslims. So coming from this understanding, Muslims believe that we are part of one continuing faith community with Jesus and Mary. “Behold! the angels said: ‘O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations. O Mary! worship thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.'” (Quran 3:42-43). Mary, Jesus, and the disciples were all “Muslims” because they submitted themselves to God.

God created all people to worship Him and to live life based on His teachings and guidance. “And hold fast, all together, by the Rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favor on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you that ye may be guided.” (Quran 3:103). “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost.” (Quran 3:85). We accomplish this by bearing witness to God’s oneness and accepting His final revelation in our daily lives. “O ye who believe! Fear God as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.” (Quran 3:102). There is none worthy of worship but God, and Muhammad is His messenger.

End Note:
While writing about the Virgin Mary, I wanted to avoid as much confusion as possible among nonMuslims. My article was written with a nonMuslim audience in mind. Consequently, I used English terms and figures familiar to Christians rather than those in Arabic. For example, “Isa” means Jesus in Arabic, and “Yahya” means John in Arabic. Allah literally means “The God” in Arabic. When referring to God, Muslims prefer the term “Allah” to assert His oneness. I also avoided using terms of respectability commonly used among Muslims such as SWT, PBUH, SAWS, RA, and AS. I apologize if I have offended anyone.

July - Sept 2003, Poems, Women in Islam

I am a Muslim Woman

By Jenn Zaghloul

I am a Muslim woman. Feel free to ask me why.
When I walk, I walk with dignity
When I speak I do not lie

I am a Muslim woman. Not all of me you’ll see
But what you should appreciate. Is that the choice I make is free

I’m not plagued with depression. I’m neither cheated nor abused.
I don’t envy other women. And I’m certainly not confused.

Note, I speak perfect English. Et un petit peu de Francais aussi.
I’m majoring in Linguistics. So you need not speak slowly.

I run my own small business. Every cent I earn is mine.
I drive my Chevy to school & work. And no, that’s not a crime!

You often stare as I walk by. You don’t understand my veil.
But peace and power I have found. As I am equal to any male!

I am a Muslim woman. So please don’t pity me.
For God has guided me to truth. And now I’m finally free!

(c) 1999 Jenn Zaghloul

July - Sept 2002, Women in Islam

An Answer: Why Muslim Women Cover

by Samantha Sanchez

Don’t deny it. You have seen a Muslim woman in the street or on television and thought she must be in complete submission. In which case you’d be right…read on to find out why.

Today’s society often looks upon the modestly dressed woman with disdain with ideas that she is an oppressed woman who dons a headcovering because of her husband or some other man in her life. For these people, life that is devoted to modesty and piety is something shameful and unfashionable.

But many of these people need only look in their own scriptures to find references enjoining them to cover as well and to purport themselves in a modest fashion. Certainly today’s clothing in not in keeping with these verses. Halter tops, midriffs, miniskirts and bikinis are body baring, immodest and immoral ways of dressing that only attract attention to women’s sexuality and away from a woman’s morality and spirituality.

In the Old Testament, Num.5:18, when a woman suspected of adultery comes to the Temple to drink the “bitter waters”, the priest uncovers her hair; this implies that ordinarily it was covered. The Mishnah (Kesubos 7:3) calls covering the hair a “Jewish ordinance” (das Yehudis). See also Gemara, 72a; and Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 75:2 and Even Ha-Ezer 21:2. The Talmud states “The sight of a woman’s hair constitutes an erotic stimulus (Berakhot 24A)”. “Jewish women, married or not, should not walk in the marketplace with their hair uncovered (Shulhan Arukh, Even ha-Ezer 21:2)”.

We can also find references for covering the head in the New Testament. Let’s take a closer look at the passage so many people would rather pretend is not in their Bible. Let’s confront the issue regarding head covering today.

“Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” – I Corinthinas 11:2-16

Particularly of importance is the line which states, “But every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is the same as if she were shaven” (1 Cor. 11, 5).

Clearly Judaic and Christian Scriptures require women to cover their hair.

If this is so, why would the following verse from the Qur’an startle a Jew or a Christian. Is it not the same idea?

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59).

The only difference is that with the Christian tradition, one of the reasons given by Paul for women’s covering was to show authority to men. The similarity between the three Abrahamic traditions is that it is a sign of loyalty to God and marker of identity.

Women of today come up with many excuses of why they shouldn’t cover their heads. Worldly fashions should not have any kind of influence on our life. Perhaps the head­ covering does spoil one’s hair­do; but at the same time, for example, women wear high­heel shoes for the sake of beauty. It seems that one can endure discomfort for the sake of beauty, but to do so for the sake of God is impossible.

If a woman is trying to lead a God conscious life and she is Jewish, Christian or Muslim, she knows that God requires her to cover her head from the references that have been cited. Any denial of these references would be a denial of God’s word.

So time for self reflection…are we displaying ourselves wantonly or conducting ourselves as modest women for whom God is central part of our lives and for whom His words we devote ourselves to?

A Muslim woman who covers IS in complete submission – to the One True God and Creator. The next time you see a Muslim woman who covers you should be humbled because she has the courage to display her religion, her belief, and her love for God on the outside as she is commanded.

Hajj, Jan - Mar 2002, Other, Women in Islam

A Woman on a Mission

By Sidra Khan


The Guardian (London)
Thursday 8th May 1997
Sidra Khan reports on Aisha Bhutta’s bid to convert the world to Islam

Aisha Bhutta, nee Debbie Rogers, is serene. She sits on the sofa in big front room of her tenement flat in Cowcaddens, Glasgow. The walls are hung with quotations from the Koran, a special clock to remind the family of prayer times and posters of the Holy City of Mecca. Aisha’s piercing blue eyes sparkle with evangelical zeal, she smiles with a radiance only true believers possess. Her face is that of a strong Scots lass – no nonsense, good-humoured – but it is carefully covered with a hijab.

For a good Christian girl to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim is extraordinary enough. But more than that, she has also converted her parents, most of the rest of her family and at least 30 friends and neighbours.

Her family were austere Christians with whom Rogers regularly attended Salvation Army meetings. When all the other teenagers in Britain were kissing their George Michael posters goodnight, Rogers had pictures of Jesus up on her wall. And yet she found that Christianity was not enough; there were too many unanswered questions and she felt dissatisfied with the lack of disciplined structure for her beliefs. “There had to be more for me to obey than just doing prayers when I felt like it.”

Aisha had first seen her future husband, Mohammad Bhutta, when she was 10 and regular customer at the shop, run by his family. She would see him in the back, praying. “There was contentment and peace in what he was doing. He said he was a Muslim. I said: “What’s a Muslim?”.

Later with his help she began looking deeper into Islam. By the age of 17, she had read the entire Koran in Arabic. “Everything I read”, she says, “was making sense.”

She made the decision to convert at 16. “When I said the words, it was like a big burden I had been carrying on my shoulders had been thrown off. I felt like a new-born baby.”

Despite her conversion however, Mohammed’s parents were against their marrying. They saw her as a Western woman who would lead their eldest son astray and give the family a bad name; she was, Mohammed’s father believed, “the biggest enemy.”

Nevertheless, the couple married in the local mosque. Aisha wore a dress hand-sewn by Mohammed’s mother and sisters who sneaked into the ceremony against the wishes of his father who refused to attend.

It was his elderly grandmother who paved the way for a bond between the women. She arrived from Pakistan where mixed-race marriages were even more taboo, and insisted on meeting Aisha. She was so impressed by the fact that she had learned the Koran and Punjabi that she convinced the others; slowly, Aisha, now 32, became one of the family. Aisha’s parents, Michael and Marjory Rogers, though did attend the wedding, were more concerned with the clothes their daughter was now wearing (the traditional shalwaar kameez) and what the neighbours would think.

Six years later, Aisha embarked on a mission to convert them and the rest of her family, bar her sister (“I’m still working on her). “My husband and I worked on my mum and dad, telling them about Islam and they saw the changes in me, like I stopped answering back!”

Aisha’s father proved a more difficult recruit, so she enlisted the help of her newly converted mother (who has since died of cancer). “My mum and I used to talk to my father about Islam and we were sitting in the sofa in the kitchen one day and he said: “What are the words you say when you become a Muslim?” “Me and my mum just jumped on top of him.”

Three years later, Aisha’s brother converted “over the telephone – thanks to BT [British Telecom]”, then his wife and children followed, followed by her sister’s son. It didn’t stop there. Her family converted, Aisha turned her attention to Cowcaddens, with its tightly packed rows of crumbling, grey tenement flats.

Every Monday for the past 13 years, Aisha has held classes in Islam for Scottish women. So far she has helped to convert over 30. The women come from a bewildering array of backgrounds. Trudy, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow and a former Catholic, attended Aisha’s classes purely because she was commissioned to carry out some research. But after six months of classes she converted, deciding that Christianity was riddled with “logical inconsistencies”. Unlike Aisha, Trudy has chosen not to wear the hijab, believing it to be a masculine interpretation of the Koran. Her family don’t know that she has converted.

“I could tell she was beginning to be affected by the talks”, Aisha says. How could she tell? “I don’t know, it was just a feeling.” The classes include Muslim girls tempted by Western ideals and needing salvation, practising Muslim women who want an open forum for discussion denied them at the local male-dominated mosque, and those simply interested in Islam. Aisha welcomes questions. “We cannot expect people blindly to believe.”

Her husband, Mohammad Bhutta, now 41, does not seem so driven to convert Scottish lads to Muslim brothers. He occasionally helps out in the family restaurant, but his main aim in life is to ensure the couple’s five children grow up as Muslims. The eldest, Safia, “nearly 14, alhumdulillah (Praise be to God!)”, is not averse to a spot of recruiting herself. One day she met a woman in the street and carried her shopping, the woman attended Aisha’s classes and is now a Muslim.

“I can honestly say I have never regretted it”, Aisha says of her conversion to Islam. “Every marriage has its ups and downs and sometimes you need something to pull you out of any hardship. But the Prophet Peace by upon him, said: ‘Every hardship has an ease.’ So when you’re going through a difficult stage, you work for that ease to come.” Mohammed is more romantic: “I feel we have known each other for centuries and must never part from one another. According to Islam, you are not just partners for life, you can be partners in heaven as well, for ever. Its a beautiful thing, you know.”