Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Akhir / Rajab 1423 H
September 2002
Volume 15-09 No:189

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Religion


Islam is not a rigid religion
Allah has given women an edge over men


Dr. Zakir Naik

Dr. Zakir Naik

Islam is not a rigid religion

Religion or a way of life, should not be rigid but should be flexible.
Islam is very rigid, has several rules, with doís and doníts. Why is it so?

I agree that religion as a way of life should be flexible and not rigid, (every rule and regulation for anything to function properly then should at least be a few sets of fixed rules). Overall I agree with that a way of life should be flexible, but a few set of rules are necessary for any system to function properly. For example, if the government of India has to function well there should be a few set of rules e.g. no one should rape, no one should rob, no one should cheat. If you do not have these rules, so as to be flexible, then someone could come and rape your sister or rape my sister. Would you like a life, where someone comes and robs you. Do you not agree that if the country has to run properly at least few rules have to be enacted / implemented, viz no one should rob, no one should rape, no one should cheat. Other things are necessary e.g. you become a doctor, you become an engineer, you stay in Bombay, you stay in Delhi are optional. Similarly in Islam, there are a few doís and doníts, while every thing else is optional. A few doís and doníts for example, you should believe in only One God; you should offer Salaah; you should give charity if you are rich; you should fast during the month of Ramzan; should be there. Remaining you can be a Muslim living in India, whether you are a Muslim living in America or in Saudi Arabia. Whether you are black or white, or yellow or brown or rich or poor, you are a Muslim. Is not Islam flexible? Yes, most of the things are flexible.

For any system to be successful, there has to be basic set of rules which are fixed. For example, if you want to learn English, you should know A,B,C,D. The styles of teaching may differ. St. Peterís School may have a different style of teaching English language i.e. reading, writing and understanding. St. Maryís School may have a different style from Rosary School. If you go to America, they have a different type of English from Britain, but the basic rule is same i.e. A,B,C,D. Whether you are in America or India or St. Peterís School or St. Maryís School, if you want to read and write and understand English, first you should know A,B,C,D. There is no other option. That rule is fixed. Other things like pronunciation etc. may differ. You may teach with pictures or teach with pencils or with paper - the style will differ. The basic rules should be the same. If you want to know Maths, you should know 1,2,3, or else you cannot do maths. Thus, the basic set of rules should be there.

The same is in Islam. There are a few doís and doníts, whereas the remaining are optional. When it comes to wearing clothes, a few basic rules exist. A man should cover himself from navel to knees whereas a womanís complete body except face, hands up to the wrists should be covered - clothes should not be tight or transparent, clothes should not be glamorous, clothes should not resemble that of the opposite sex, and should not resemble that of the unbeliever. You can wear cotton or terricotton, the latest or old model shirt, as long as it fulfills the Islamic criteria, the rest is optional. You can wear a blue shirt or green shirt, or a white shirt, or black shirt, so far as you fulfil the Islamic criteria. For every system to be successful, a little rigidity must be there. So I agree with you that life should not be fully rigid. Islam is not fully rigid but it is the media which portrays Islam as very rigid. For the complete life to be successful, the basic fundamentals should be fixed, along with a few options. For example, few rules for eating of food, Pork is haram, alcohol is haram. On the other hand, you can have chicken, or mutton biryani, or veg. pulav or roti. There are many options but the doís and doníts are few. Therefore, for any manner of life to be successful, a few of the rules should be rigid and the remaining should be flexible, and Islam is the best example. Alhamdulillah it shows a complete way of life which caters to the body as well as to the soul. It is a complete way of life along with an Instruction Manual - the Qurían just as every machine requires a manual, human beings also require a manual with doís and doníts.

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Allah has given women an edge over men

Is a woman allowed to be the head of State?

There is no direct reference in the Quran, which says that a woman should not be a head of state. However since Islam considers man to be the leader of the house, therefore the head of the state should also be a man.

There is a Hadith in which the Prophet said that people will not succeed if they have a woman as the head of state. Some scholars say this refers only to a particular state at the time of the prophet i.e. Persia where a Queen was made the leader. (Sahih Al-Bukhari 9. 219). But all the Scholars unanimously agree that a woman cannot be a Khalifa.

Let us analyse the pros and cons of a woman being the head of state in the present context:

  1. The head of State has to lead congregational prayers. A woman cannot be an Imam because during prayers (Salaah) there are several postures to be adopted such as Qayam, Ruku, Sujud, i.e. standing, bowing and prostration, and if a woman leads prayers, with men standing behind, it is bound to create disturbance and distraction.

  2. The head of state very often has to meet other heads of state who are usually men. Many a times they have to have private closed-door meetings. Islam does not permit a woman to be alone in a closed room with any non-mahram (i.e. a male except her father, brother, husband, son, father-in-law, son-in-law etc). Islam does not permit inter-mingling of sexes.

  3. There is usually a lot of media exposure of the head of state. Photographs and Video recordings are regularly taken. There is normally some physical contact between the head of State and other dignitaries, including hand shakes.

  4. The head of state has to normally meet women and men regularly to attend to them and to try help solve their problems.

  5. During the menstrual cycle, there are certain mental, psychological and behavioral changes, which take place in women due to the release of the sex hormone oestrogen.

  6. According to Medical Science, women in general perform better than men in vocal and verbal skills irrespective of the level of oestrogen. Men perform better in Spatial relationships which is the ability to see or imagine objects in space, e.g. think in advance how a building or a project will turn out.

    The decision of a leader is related mainly to this spatial relationship skill. Verbal, vocal and other skills of a woman are very important for her as a mother to raise a child. Here Allah (SWT) has given women an edge over men. This study was done by two psychologists of Canada both of whom were women.

  7. If a woman gets pregnant, she requires rest for at least a few months during which she will not be able to attend to the duties as a head of state.

  8. If she has children, her responsibility as a mother is important than that as a head of state.

Therefore I am more inclined to the view of those scholars who say that a woman should not be made the head of state. However this does not mean that women cannot take active part in politics. They have a right to vote as well as take part in law making.

When the treaty of Hudaibiya was signed most of the people were disturbed. It was the wife of the Prophet, Umme - Salma, who gave him advice and supported him.

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