Rebuttal of “Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was a feminist and feminism is Sunnah”

I have known about Ms. Rashid from one of my good friend and I have watched Ms. Shehla Rasid in a few debates. I have greatly respected her stance in them. I also admire her efforts and her fight for women rights and justice. Recently, I came across an article of her via my friend. Although I enjoyed this article, I wish I could agree with her claims.

On Jan 25 2013, Shehla Rashid wrote,

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was a feminist and feminism is Sunnah

>Here’s wishing all Muslims a blessed 12th Rabbi-ul-Awwal the birth date of the holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him). Although there exists a lot of debate around whether this day should be commemorated or not, there’s no second opinion on the fact that his birth was a blessing for the entire humanity.

I’m tempted to quote lines from a popular Kashmiri naat (or nasheed)

ba khuda saari khudayi aasi hey pardan andar
galihe nai zaal zulmatan Rasool-e-Muhataram

sallallahu allaihi wassallam

Translation: The truth about God would have remained shrouded in mystery if it weren’t for the holy Prophet (SAW) who released humanity from the clutches of ignorance

The Prophet (SAW) fought for the emancipation of women in a time and place where girl children were buried alive, not allowed to make any choices, not allowed to hold property. In an era when there were numerous war widows, practically without any rights, he (SAW) took the hand of some of them (RAA) in marriage, while making sure that he (SAW) is not biased towards or against any one or few of them (RAA).

All this was very progressive by the standards of that time. And this was about a millennium and a half back. This was when women were not empowered enough to speak up for themselves. Even centuries after he (SAW) lived, we continue to kill the girl child, not just outside the womb but even inside it. If a girl aspires to live, even in her mother’s womb, technology (esp. sex-selective abortion) has made it possible for us to take even that aspiration away from her. If she manages to survive, the society makes sure that her life is hell- she is harassed if she’s well-dressed, taunted if she isn’t, stigmatised if she’s unmarried, tortured if she’s married, objectified as a “house-wife”, objectified as a “sex-object”, talked down if she’s not making money, mentally tortured if she is, she is blamed for getting raped outside the home, but violence against her inside the home is qualified as “domestic” violence, “dowry” death, “bride” burning, “honour” killing, etc. Unique crimes against her are invented, for example “acid attack”, “female foeticide”, “female infanticide”.

Muhammed (SAW) would not be very happy to see this. It’s a shame that, on a day when we commemorate the 1443rd year of his blessed birth, Muslim women in some parts of the world are still subjected to what is another unique crime against womanhood, “female genital mutilation”.
Dear Muslim men and women and all people reading this post, let’s resolve to make the world a place where women can lead their lives with dignity and make choices on their own. Let’s be progressive rather than regressive. Had Muhammed (SAW) not fought against female infanticide I may not be even alive and writing this post right now. He (SAW) was a feminist, in my humble opinion, and thus, feminism should be Sunnah. Feminism need not be advocacy of short skirts. It’s about equality of rights as humans who are capable of experiencing the same emotions- pain, love, joy and freedom. We will never really progress until we treat our women better.
Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi (SAW) Mubarak!

I take this opportunity to rebut her claims that “Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was a feminist and feminism is Sunnah”. In scientific argumentation, any claim/supposition has to be followed with facts and evidences. With this article, I would like to present facts and evidences from Quran, Hadith and Muhammad’s biography from the most reliable source of Muhammad’s life, that counter her claim.

Pre-Islamic women:

We often hear the claim that, in the time of Jahiliyyah (so called time of ignorance) or pre-Islamic time, women had no rights. They didn’t have rights to property and were sometimes buried after birth. In history, there has been a habit of making such claims about the preceding dark times. Similarly in the case of Islam, there is not enough evidence from non-Islamic sources to substantiate these claims.
Muhammad had 9 wives at one time (13 wives in his entire lifetime, according to some sources), namely
  1. Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid
  2. Sawdah bint Zam’ah ibn Qays
  3. ‘Aa’ishah bint Abi Bakr al-Siddeeq
  4. Hafsah bint ‘Umar
  5. Zaynab bint Khuzaymah
  6. Umm Salamah bint Abi Umayyah
  7. Juwayriyah bint al-Haarith
  8. Zaynab bint Jahsh
  9. Umm Habeebah bint Abi Sufyaan
  10. Maymoonah bint al-Haarith
  11. Safiyyah bint Huyayy ibn Akhtab
His prominent four-followers (Khalifas) also had many wives. In this era of polygyny, do we have any evidence that a woman could have multiple husbands? In contrast, we can use the above evidence to argue for the poor position of women.

Khadijah or Khadīja bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of Mohammad, was a wealthy woman in Mecca, a widow and a single business woman. She had a lot of property inherited from her father and ex-husband(s). At that time Muhammad was still a young man and only 25 years old. The evidences suggest he had not received the holy message from ‘Allah’ yet and Khadijah was already an accomplished woman in this pre-Islamic period. I find it contradicting that, in an era where women were buried alive and had no property rights, how did she have so much property in inheritance. Her success in business preceded the era of Islam. Muhammad was her employee, along with many other men.

There are lots of evidences that there were other accomplished business women, poets (e.g. ‘Asma’ bint Marwan ), female fighters etc. in those times. Other prominent women in this era were Hind bint Utbah, Umm Jamil and many more. There are no evidences of any prominent women in the Islamic world after the death of Mohammad, except for Fatimah (daughter of Mohammad) and Aisha (wife of Mohammad). Some evidences suggest that Aisha was the leader of war against Ali. One can argue that Aisha became the leader because she was the wife of the Mohammad. No other women after the death of Mohammad could achieve such a level of prominence, solely based on her capabilities. It is important to ask if, women could have survived this time without having a male guardian.

 

 

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was a feminist and feminism is Sunnah?Qur’an 4/20

The big question remains “What Islam really thinks about women?”. It is a common perception in the Muslim world that, “Islam and Only Islam gives women the absolute freedom and honor!”. But when we read Quran and Hadith, we are presented with a totally different picture.

Women are your fields- Quran 2/223: “Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please.”

You can beat them- Qur’an 4/34: “Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.”
A man can have 4 wives- Qur’an 4/3: If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.
A man can marry a child- Qur’an 65/4: “Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.”
وَاللَّائِي يَئِسْنَ مِنَ الْمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَاللَّائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ وَأُوْلَاتُ الْأَحْمَالِ أَجَلُهُنَّ أَن يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ يُسْرًا
Women are harmful
Narrated Usama bin Zaid: The Prophet said, “After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women.”
Sahih Bukhari 7:62:33

Women, donkey and dog
Narrated ‘Aisha: The things which annual prayer were mentioned before me (and those were): a dog, a donkey and a woman. I said, “You have compared us (women) to donkeys and dogs. By Allah! I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in (my) bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I disliked to sit and trouble the Prophet. So, I would slip away by the side of his feet.”
Sahih Bukhari 1:9:493

Muhammad Married Aisha when she was 6 years old and cosumate the marraige when she was 9 years old. 

The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.”
Narrated Hisham’s father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married ‘Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed (sic – consummated) that marriage when she was nine years old.
Narrated ‘Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).
Narrated ‘Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have been informed that ‘Aisha remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death).” what you know of the Quran (by heart)’
Narrated ‘Ursa: The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with ‘Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) married me when I was seven or six. When we came to Medina, some women came. according to Bishr’s version: Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter.
`A´isha Bint Abu Bakr: Muhammad married her in the month of Shawwal, three years before the Migration, ten years after he claimed prophethood, according to the tradition of `A´isha herself. He had intercourse with her in the month of Shawwal, eight months after the Migration. She was the only virgin among Muhammad’s wives.
Tabaqat Ibn Sa`d, 8:58; Ansab al-ashraf, 1:410.
Aisha said, “The Apostle of Allah married me when I was seven years old.” (The narrator Sulaiman said: “Or six years.”). “He had intercourse with me when I was 9 years old.”

Muhammad Took One Of The Jewish Women As His Sex-slave

The apostle had chosen one of their women for himself, Rayhana bint Amr . . . one of the women of . . . Qurayza, and she remained with him until she died, in his power. The apostle had proposed to marry and put a veil on her, but she said: “Nay, leave me in your power, for that will be easier for me and for you.” So he left her. She had shown repugnance towards Islam when she was captured and clung to Judaism. (Ibn Ishaq p. 466)

 

 

 

The Prophet  came to Khaibar and when Allah made him victorious and he conquered the town by breaking the enemy’s defense, the beauty of Safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtab was mentioned to him and her husband had been killed while she was a bride. Allah’s Messenger  selected her for himself and he set out in her company till he reached Sadd-ar-Rawha’ where her menses were over and he married her. Then Hais (a kind of meal) was prepared and served on a small leather sheet (used for serving meals). Allah’s Messenger then said to me, “Inform those who are around you (about the wedding banquet).” So that was the marriage banquet given by Allah’s Messenger  for (his marriage with) Safiya. After that we proceeded to Medina and I saw that Allah’s Messenger  was covering her with a cloak while she was behind him. Then he would sit beside his camel and let Safiya put her feet on his knees to ride (the camel).

Reference
Sahih al-Bukhari 2235
In-book reference

Allah also allows jihadists to have sex with female slaves.

Sources: Ibn Ishaq, pp. 464-66; Tabari, vol. 8, pp. 27-41.

Quran-8:41— “And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,- if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing,- the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things.

Sulaiman Ibne Harb…Aannas Ibne Malek (ra) narrated, “in the war of Khayber after the inhabitants of Banu Nadir were surrendered, Allah’s apostle killed all the able/adult men, and he (prophet) took all women and children as captives (Maal e ghanimat ).. Among the captives Safiyya Bint Huyy Akhtab was taken by Allah’s Apostle as booty whom He married after freeing her and her freedom was her Mahr.” [Sahi Buchari Hadiths #143, page-700]

You can replace your wife- Qur’an 4/20: But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?

A woman is only half the worth of a man- Qur’an 4/11: “Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females; then if they are more than two females, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased has left, and if there is one, she shall have the half; and as for his parents, each of them shall have the sixth of what he has left if he has a child, but if he has no child and (only) his two parents inherit him, then his mother shall have the third; but if he has brothers, then his mother shall have the sixth after (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.”

Qur’an 2/282: O you who have believed, when you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a scribe write [it] between you in justice. Let no scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him. So let him write and let the one who has the obligation dictate. And let him fear Allah , his Lord, and not leave anything out of it. But if the one who has the obligation is of limited understanding or weak or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses – so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her. And let not the witnesses refuse when they are called upon. And do not be [too] weary to write it, whether it is small or large, for its [specified] term. That is more just in the sight of Allah and stronger as evidence and more likely to prevent doubt between you, except when it is an immediate transaction which you conduct among yourselves. For [then] there is no blame upon you if you do not write it. And take witnesses when you conclude a contract. Let no scribe be harmed or any witness. For if you do so, indeed, it is [grave] disobedience in you. And fear Allah . And Allah teaches you. And Allah is Knowing of all things.

 

Women, Not intelligent enough?

Narrated Abu Bakra: During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler.”
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri
The Prophet said, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?” The women said, “Yes.” He said, “This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.”
There are hundreds of laws, verses written in the Quran and Hadith, which are well documented and practiced by Muslims all over the world. These laws and verses conflict with the modern idea of women rights and human rights in general. In the modern society, we cannot tolerate that having sex with a slave girl is moral, as found in many verses and Hadith. A modern citizen of this world should have the right to criticize not only the fundamental and intolerant bigots, but also the original text written in the so called “Holy Quran”.
It is in no way, my intention to discourage Shehla Rashid, but only to open up a broader discussion in these topics with additional facts and counter-perspectives.

 

Conclusion:

Maria al-Qibtiyya or Maria the Copt was one of the sex slave of Muhammad. He got her from the Christian ruler of Egypt at the time as gift. Safiyya bint Huyayy, a newly wedded woman of Jewish tribe Banu Nadir, Muhammad’s army killed her whole family and took her as captive. Later he married her. But one cannot claim that, Safiyya married Muhammad out of her will, just after her entire family and almost the tribe were killed by the Army of Muhammad. Aisha, the 9 years old child, had a 53 years old husband. After reading all the hadith and Quranic verses, I am not convince if, Muhammad was a feminist! Seriously?
References:
3. Sahih al-Bukhari
4. Sahih Muslim
5. Sunan Abu Dawud
Photo credit: CartoonStock.com
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