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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Salam Alaikum, Inshaallah this writing will enlighten us all. With the prayer of success, FB/Sisters In Islam ________________________ Commentary on Nahjul Balagha Sermon 80 – The “Deficiencies” in Women by : Ayatullah al-Uzma Hajj Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi In order for us to truly understand the status and character of women in Nahjul Balagha, we need to refer to the Qur’an and then understand the position of women in Nahjul Balagha vis-à-vis what is contained in the Qur’an. Without a doubt, historical events have a great deal of influence on one’s speech and if we don’t keep in mind the history behind the words of Imam Ali , then the message behind his words would be lost. Thus, the description and analysis of women he has given in his sermons must be read and understood in the light of specific historical events which were taking place that he was forced to speak about. As it has been mentioned in the discussion concerning the transmission of this sermon (as seen below), Imam Ali delivered this sermon after The Battle of the Camel (Al-Jamal) which took place in Basrah (Iraq) in the year 656 CE/35 AH and the subsequent defeat of the army of Ayesha b. Abu Bakr. In this sermon, he reproaches women, and of course the meaning of him ‘reproaching women’ are only those types of women who had launched (such calculated) attacks - those who were responsible for instigating The Battle of the Camel. Imam Ali referred to such women as having a “deficiency” and it was because of this shortcoming that they engaged in such detrimental activities. Therefore, he reprimanded them and warned the believers to steer clear of their inductions. There is no doubt that these three forms of ‘deficiency’ have their own understandings. If Allah has removed the responsibility of praying and fasting from women during their monthly menstruation period, then it is because during the time of their menstruation, they enter into an “almost-ill” period in which they require rest and they are not in a position to engage in acts of worship. If the testimony of two women is equivalent to one man than it is due to the fact that the sentiments and emotions of a woman often overpower them and they may give testimony in favour of one and to the determinant of another merely based on their emotions. A woman’s portion of the inheritance is half of that of a man only in certain circumstances when children and wives are inheriting from the man; whereas in relation to inheriting from a father and mother – in many instances – the inheritance (of a man and woman) are the same and also in regards to the inheritance of brothers and sisters and their children – their inheritance is also similar. In order words: a woman – as a mother or sister – in many instances, takes an equal share of inheritance as a man. Another reason why sometimes the man gets double the share of inheritance than the woman is due to the fact that the financial maintenance and all of the woman’s daily requirements are the responsibility of the men (in her life) and not only does the woman not have to spend her own money on the maintenance of her children, but in fact her husband must provide all of her requirements, even if a large amount of money comes to her by way of inheritance or anything else. Therefore, all of these differences (between the genders) which Islam has brought have been carefully calculated (and there are logical reasons behind each one of them). At the end of the sermon, the Imam brings a short conclusion and states that: "So beware of the evils of women. Be on your guard even from those of them who are (reportedly) good." He concludes his sermon and says: "Do not obey them even in good things so that they may not attract you to the evil things." It is clear that the meaning of ‘not obeying women even in good things’ does not mean that if they encourage towards good actions such as the prayers (salat), fasting, justice and goodness that we are to disobey them; rather it means that we must not unconditionally follow them. In other words, ‘goodness’ must be performed because it is good, and not because one’s spouse has commanded it to be done, such that onebecomes bold and they think that they now can order you to do bad things and that they will be obeyed. Even though the wordings in Nahjul BalÁgha in this section are not specifically directed to one’s wife and all women in general have been included in the discussion, however it is clear that such an issue would usually occur more so within the context of a husband and wife relationship. Therefore, what has been mentioned in this sermon - and also keeping in mind the verses of the Quran which speak on the obligation to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and the necessity to accept that from others - applies TO MEN AND WOMEN ALIKE, and the meaning of this sermon is not that one needs to ignore the performance of good deeds! Rather, the meaning of this sermon is that one’s actions must not be done through unconditional obedience (of another person). In any case, those women with true faith, awareness, intellect and dedication (to the faith of Islam) are definitely exempt from this ruling; those women whose pleasure lies in Allah's pleasure; whose anger is the anger of Allah - such as Fatima al-Zahra - whose commands were nothing other than advising towards goodness and righteousness, and who constantly sought to attain the pleasure and closeness of the Creator. This point is also clear that when it is said: ‘be careful of even the good ones amongst them’ that “good” is a relative term and is not absolute, as one should not only not be on the lookout for those who possess ‘absolute goodness’, rather one must accept such a person’s advice and consider their council as being worth something. It is for this reason that in the history of Islam, we see men who gave great importance to the suggestions of their wives. In some of the verses of the Qurann we see that asking women for advice has actually been considered as a noble trait. For example in regards to weaning a child off of his mother’s milk, we read the following in Suratul Baqarah, verse 233: "Mothers shall suckle their children for two full years — that for such as desire to complete the suckling … And if the couple desire to wean, with mutual consent and consultation, there will be no sin upon them…" "Indeed the muslim men and the muslim women, the faithful men and the faithful women, the obedient men and the obedient women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and the humble women, the charitable men and the charitable women, the men who fast and the women who fast, the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, the men who remember God greatly and the women who remember [God greatly] —God holds in store for them forgiveness and a great reward. (Quran, 33:35) This well-known verse of the Quran also classifies the spiritual proximity which one can attain to Allah as being accessible by anyone regardless of their gender – male or female: ___________ In a hadith which the late Shaykh al-Kulayni quotes in his book Al-Kafi, we read the following: The sister, by way of suckling with the same wet-nurse who also took care of and fed the Prophet Muhammad , came to the Prophet and when she entered into his room and saw him, she became extremely elated and spread her own coverlet on the ground and made him sit on it. She then began to speak warm words with him and when she was about to leave the Prophet , her brother came (this sister and brother were two of the children of Halimatul Sadiyah who was the suckling mother of the Prophet ), however the Prophet did not treat his sister (by way of suckling) in the same way that he treated her brother (even though he treated them both with respect and love). Some people asked the Prophet of Allah , “The same level of respect which you displayed to your sister you did not extend to your brother (by way of suckling) – is it because he is a man?” The Prophet replied: “[This was because] she is much nicer to her mother and father than he (the brother) is.” It is interesting to note that the companions felt that how you treat a person should be based on their gender, however not only did the Prophet not consider that as being a means of distinction (in society), rather he placed a woman - his sister, due to her upholding the Divine values and morals, at a loftier position. Full text : http://library.compassionatefather.org/En/the-deficiencies-of-women-in-the-eyes-of-imam-ali-in-nahjul-balagha/
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