بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Importance of Girls’ and Women's Education under Islamic Rule
Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Âlim, Es-salatu ves-selamu âlâ seyyidina Muhammedin ve ala âlihi ve sahbihi ejmain...
Secular media, politicians, organizations and feminists accuse Islam of being misogynistic, and claim that it is the Islamic laws that deprive women and girls of access to quality education. These laws, it is claimed, were interpreted in a "men-profiting" manner by "male-dominated mentalities and rulers" who declared them to Islamic rules. In particular, feminist female Muslim academicians demand a new interpretation of Islam "through the eyes of women". The West has discovered them as an effective tool in distorting the true causes of Muslim women’s oppression. Also, the marriage of girls before the age of 18; choosing the education of boys over girls; the Islamic dress code and social rules; as well as the cruelties by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and actions taken by the Taliban and other religious groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan such as the shooting of the teenage girl Malala Yousafzai in 2012, are favourite topics of secular media, politicians and feminists in enforcing the perception that Islam is the major threat and obstacle in women's education and progress.
However, it is NOT Islam that prevents Muslim girls and women from dignified access to education and from taking an active role in society! In contrary; it is the colonial Kuffar powers, in their effort to protect their own creed and culture against the culture of Islam and preserve their existence in our lands, who create environments and conditions that harden education and life generally for Muslim women across the world. Their colonial invasions and wars are not enough to achieve this goal; thus they additionally struggle for the destruction, weakening and discrediting of the Islamic culture and history. And this, they conduct through the puppet rulers and Kufr systems they implanted in our lands, who promote the toxic colonial secular liberal life-style and culture, which led to the devaluation of women and thus to epidemic levels of sexual assaults and attacks in the streets, schools and workplaces across the Muslim lands which also hinder girls from attending schools and other education institutes. They implement the faulty capitalist economics in our lands, which generated mass poverty, expensiveness in education, commercializing of education and spread of bribery. This is the reason why families are forced to choose between their children in providing education and prefer the education of their sons because of their role as the main future breadwinners of the family. And it is due to selfish governments who do not invest in adequate number and quality of schools that children are forced to travel far distances for education, which also prevents some parents from sending their girls to be educated due to concern over their safety. Furthermore, in the face of the dangers arising from secular culture, triggered through mixed-education; families do not want to send their daughters away for school.
These Western governments, which aim at protecting their own culture, also finance educational institutions, build schools, grant scholarships for talented and poor students and development support for state schools in our countries, through their NGOs like USAID, UNICEF, UNESCO and other institutions. According to them, concepts like "gender equality, women's and girls' empowerment, human rights and freedoms" are "critical to building stable, democratic societies" as defined in their statutes. Through these various programs, they deceptively claim they want to improve the education of Muslim girls and women. However, it is obvious that this is not their true purpose; rather it is to convert our women and girls into secular liberal personalities, who embrace the Western life-styles and ideals such as gender equality as the recipe to a civilized, developed and prosperous life; while despising their Islamic personalities and roles.
Indeed, upon receiving the first Revelation, Rasulallah (saw) shared this news with his wife Khadijah (ra), and she immediately declared her faith. When commanding to gain knowledge; Islam did not differentiate between men and women, and did not regard them as secondary, as is evident in Rasulallah (saw)’s following command:
«طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ»
“Knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim to demand.” (Reported by Ibn Majah).Furthermore, Rasulallah (saw) taught men and women alike in the masjids and other places of assembling. He even assigned one day of the week for the education of women in the masjid of Al-Madinah, as reported by Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri (ra):
عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ، قَالَتِ النِّسَاءُ لِلنَّبِيِّ rغَلَبَنَا عَلَيْكَ الرِّجَالُ، فَاجْعَلْ لَنَا يَوْمًا مِنْ نَفْسِ فَوَعَدَهُنَّ يَوْمًا لَقِيَهُنَّ فِيهِ، فَوَعَظَهُنَّ وَأَمَرَهُنَّ»
"Some women said to the Prophet (saw), “Men have gone ahead of us (in terms of acquisition of knowledge). Therefore, appoint a special day for our benefit as well.” The Prophet (saw) fixed one day for them. He (saw) would meet them on that day, advise them and educate them about the Commandments of Allah (swt). (Bukhari)
The "Faqihat ul-Ummah", as the Mother of the Believers Aisha (ra) was titled, is the most sparkling example in showing the importance of female education in Islam. She was a scholar whose advice was sought by even the Khalifahs Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) and Uthman bin Affan (ra), due to her excellence in hadith, fiqh and other issues. She narrated 2,200 Ahadith and thus is among those who narrated most after Abu Hurairah (ra), Ibn Omar (ra) and Anas bin Malik (ra). The great Islamic jurist and Sahaba, Abu Musa Ashari (ra) said, “Whenever any matter became difficult for us, the Companions of the Prophet (saw), then we asked Aisha about it. We found she had knowledge of that.” Moreover, Aisha (ra) was also versed in medicine, poetry, Arab history and other fields of science. Urwah ibn Az-Zubayr (ra) said of her, “I have never seen any (man or woman) who has more knowledge of jurisdiction, medicine, or poetry than Aisha.”
All the other wives of Rasulallah (saw), his daughters, and countless Sahabiyat were reliable and learned personalities in Islamic knowledge, in literature, medicine, etc., and taught their skills to every woman and girl who demanded it, for this was encouraged by Rasulallah (saw), who for example asked Shifa bint Abdullah to teach his wives and other women writing and medical knowledge. This eminent Sahabiyah was later appointed to the post of judge and inspector over the market-place by Khalifah Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra). Moreover, Rasulallah (saw) heralded Jannah for those who are attentive to educating their daughters:
«مَنِ ابْتُلِيَ مِنَ الْبَنَاتِ بِشَىْءٍ فَأَحْسَنَ إِلَيْهِنَّ كُنَّ لَهُ سِتْرًا مِنَ النَّارِ»
“He who is involved (in the responsibility) of (bringing up) daughters, and he accords benevolent treatment towards them, there would be protection for him against Hell-Fire.” (Muslim)
The rulers of the Khilafah "Caliphate" State, after Rasulallah (saw), regarded it an Islamic responsibility upon themselves to provide for the Ummah's need for gaining knowledge. There does not exist any evidence that women were regarded as second class citizens, or were deprived of their right to education, or to profess, or utilize their skills for the service of the society. However, there does exist thousands of evidences that demonstrate the converse! The implementation of the Islamic laws encouraged and opened the ways for gaining knowledge or developing various skills. Therefore, women also contributed to that aim. Women had a major role in advancing science, and established educational and religious institutions, like mosques, madrasas and universities. The Qarawiyyin Mosque and University, founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859 CE, is a beautiful example of this, and it was the first "degree-granting" institution in the world. The State also encouraged the establishment of girls-only Madrasas, and a considerable number was funded by women. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women. The number of female lecturers in these has still not reached the number of female lecturers in today's Western universities. Alongside this, women travelled intensively from one end of the Islamic world to the other in order to learn and teach knowledge. There existed neither borders to hinder them in this endeavour, nor any environment that would threaten their safety or dignity.
Women played an essential role in the preservation and development of the methods of study of Hadith and Fıqh; they gave ijazah; and had the same authority in ijtihad (jurisdiction) as men. Furthermore, although there existed madrasas for women and girls only; they taught 'ilm even to the men in the big mosques, universities and other places. Umm Darda as-Sughra al-Dimashkiyya, who was a jurist and scholar, taught Fiqh and hadith in the men's section of the great mosques in ash-Sham and Jerusalem. And Khalifah Abdul Malik ibn Marwan was one of her students. One of Imam Malik's teachers was the jurist and scholar Aisha bint Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqas. Hassan (ra)'s daughter, Nafisa bint Hassan, was one of Imam Shafii's teachers. Ibn Hajar, and Ibn Taymiyya praised their female teachers for their knowledge, intelligence, patience, virtuous conduct, integrity, and piety. Famous scholars of Hadith, Ibn Hajar al-Askalani received ijazah from 53, and As-Sahawi from 68 female teachers. Fatima bint Muhammad al-Samarkandi was a jurist (mujtehid); and she even advised her famous jurist husband in matters of jurisdiction. The women scholars enjoyed considerable public authority in society, not as the exception, but as the norm. All of this - of course and "naturally!" - was realized without compromising any of Islam's social provisions – meaning, through the segregation of genders, the adherence to the Islamic dress, and in an environment where men and women strictly observed all the Islamic social laws.
Women not only excelled in Islamic sciences, but also in calligraphy, literature, and other fields of science like mathematics, astronomy, and engineering, and thus participated in constructing the Islamic culture and civilization envied by other nations. During the 10th century for example, Lobana of Cordoba, was a mathematician, poet, translator, director of the time’s largest library, and private secretary to the Umayyad Caliph al-Hakam II. Also in the 10th century, it was a woman who gave new sophisticated features to the Astrolabe, an astronomic device. Her name entered history as Maryam al-Asturlabi. Thanks to her contribution to the Astrolabe she was employed by the ruler of Aleppo Sayf al-Dawla. We also know of the female surgeons of Anatolia and their surgical procedures in the 15th century from the Turkish surgeon Sherafeddin Sabuncuoglu. In addition, the most beautiful copies of the Qur'an al-Kareem were produced by female calligraphers from Spain to Syria, Iraq to India. During one period, in Eastern Cordoba alone, there were 170 female calligraphers who transcribed the Qur’an in the Kufi script.
Despite the increasing ideological decline and the political turmoil within the last 100-150 years of the Khilafah "Caliphate" state, the Khalifahs continued to make investments and regulations for a structured education and gave special importance to the education of girls. In particular, the efforts of Khalifah Mahmud II and Abdulhamid I are admirable on this issue. A structured and compulsory education for both, boys and girls, was introduced for the first time by Khalifah Mahmud II in 1830. The very last investments the Ottoman State was able to make for education were the Tıbhane-i Amire Mektebi, a midwifery school in 1842, which was followed by the "Inas Rushtiyas" (secondary education for girls), the "Sanayi Mektepleri" (vocational schools for girls) as well as the educational institutes which educated the female teachers for these schools. Graduates of these studies were also employed by the state in various fields to serve the people with their skills, including working as translators in various foreign languages. Records also show that women even received grants during their education. Also non-Muslim women and girls were among their graduates. The first graduates of the midwifery school alone were 10 Muslim and 26 non-Muslim women.
It is therefore clear that women under Islamic rule assumed important roles in the enlightenment of the society and were therefore appreciated and held in the highest esteem. This was a system which regarded seeking knowledge as equivalent to worship; thus it was able to encourage women to a lively contribution to knowledge and sciences.
In the West, however there is a phenomenon called the "Matilda Effect", describing the phenomenon of very frequent neglect of women scientists' contribution to research, and the frequent attribution of their work to their male colleagues. Furthermore, although many women were entitled the Nobel Prize, they were awarded to their male colleagues or husbands. So those who actually are overshadowed by "misogyny"; and who are trapped under "male domination", are the women in societies deprived of Islam! "Because She's A Woman!" is a phrase born out of non-Islamic liberal capitalist ideology itself and pertains only to it.
Muslim women throughout the history of Islam have never had such a slogan or phrase. They have been successful as scholars and businesswomen, as well as fulfilling their Islamic roles as wives and mothers. These women enjoyed the Islamic life to the full, managed their households, raised their children, attained scholarship, contributed to science, participated in community affairs, and defended justice by commanding the Ma’rouf and forbidding the Munkar, and accounting the ruler. The Indian scholar, Mohammad Nadwi Akram, who collected the biographies of over 8,000 female Hadith narrators, observed the following: He said, "Not one of them is reported to have considered the domain of family life inferior, or neglected duties therein, or considered being a woman undesirable or inferior to being a man, or considered that, given aptitude and opportunity, she had no duties to the wider society, outside the domain of family life."
The return of the second Khilafah "Caliphate" Rashidah upon the Method of Prophethood, will guarantee the educational rights and aspirations of girls and women in the future as the Khilafah "Caliphate" did in the past. It will eradicate any traditional attitudes or cultural barriers that devalue female education or prevent girls from having access to education. It will generate a safe environment through the Islamic social laws, which will enable them to travel safely to schools, and university. It will also separate teaching of male and female students in both state and private schools, which will enable Muslim girls and women to pursue their educational aspirations while also adhering to all the laws of Islam which ensure the protection of their dignity and safety. Article 177 in Hizb ut Tahrir’s Draft Constitution for the Khilafah "Caliphate" states: “Teaching in such schools should not be mixed between males and females, whether for students or teachers…”
Furthermore, the Khilafah "Caliphate" views the provision of education for every citizen of the Khilafah "Caliphate" – whether male or female - as a basic right and an obligation of the state. Article 182 in Hizb ut Tahrir’s Draft Constitution for the Khilafah "Caliphate" for example states: “It is an obligation upon the State to teach every individual, male or female, those things that are necessary for the mainstream of life.” Thus it will secure the educational dreams of girls and women as part of its Islamic responsibility. In addition, it is obligatory upon the Khilafah "Caliphate" to provide the best education and medical services possible to its citizens. It is therefore necessary to have an abundance of women doctors, nurses and teachers to fulfil these roles. It will also encourage women to specialize in various other fields, including the Islamic disciplines, science, languages and engineering, harnessing their thinking and skills to elevate and benefit the whole society.
Dear Sisters, the Khilafah "Caliphate" will become the world leader in the provision of female education and securing their educational aspirations. It will not only establish institutions to facilitate this, but ensure a safe and respectful environment in schools, colleges, universities and society overall. This will be a state where women and girls will be able to pursue a first-class education in a safe environment, free from harassment or violence.
Their success provided by such an environment will make them the pride of the whole Ummah. And as in former times; other nations will envy the prestige and esteem that women enjoy under the Khilafah "Caliphate" Rashidah upon the Method of Prophethood. Allah (swt) says,
﴿يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِؤُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ﴾
“They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.” [As-Saff 8]
Member of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir