All Muslims, shi’ah and sunni, boast of their history due to having virtuous and chaste women, enumerating for them distinguished characteristics from which many men are deprived.
Among these great notable ladies we can refer to: Khadijah, Fatimah (A), Umm Salamah, Zaynab, Hamidah “wife of al-Imam as-Sadiq (A), Sawsan “mother of al-Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (A), Hakeemah “daughter of al-Imam al-Jawad (A) and Umm Ahmad “wife of al-Imam al-Kadhim (A), and others.
Fathoming and examining the biography of women will show them to be among perfection seekers, and each having a scholastic and spiritual position in relation to the religious leaders. Rather some of them were known to have the position of succeeding an Infallible Imam and being a spiritual trustee, depository and executor of him.1
The question arises here being: Does the woman have any difference in essence and nature with the man, and is her human cause and background like that of the man or that the difference being not in essence and nature, but they differ in the dimension of human perfections affected by outer circumstances.
If the first case be correct, the presence of women of virtue and maturity and superior to many men, would be somehow impossible in essence and unaccepted. Then how can be there many individuals in whose essence a radical change happened, while no special and unusual provisions being under consideration for them.
And when accepting the second case, that is to consider the women’s defect being a transient and ephemeral phenomenon imposed on them by the social circumstances, again this question will still be raised: Are the imposed provisions admitted by religion and religious leaders? Or that they were concerned for removing that defect, intending to take away those inconvenient conditions?
If the first supposition be admitted, then existence of virtuous and prominent women will be incongruous and reversed to purpose and objective of religion. As a result of all this, it is proper to say that no difference is there whatsoever between women and men, in respect of essence of humanity and leaven of development and maturity: And those partial differences were only caused and created by inhuman conditions, with which religion is not content, the evidence for which can be the presence of outstanding women in history of Islam and Muslims, with emphatic recommendations to maturity and perfection.
In short, we can say that according to the description and portrait of the character of woman given by the Qur’an, “Prophetic” Sunnah and inner belief of Muslims, there is no difference whatsoever in the nature and composition of these two species. Besides, the ability to attain maturity and perfection seeking is the same for both of them “men and women”, as they both can reach the sublime ideal and human positions, and each one of them is never a parasite upon the other.
al-Allamah At-Tabataba’i has an elegant comment in this regard, in which he says:
Evidences and experience necessitate that the man and woman, being two individuals of one and the same essential species, which is the human being. As all the marks and signs witnessed in category of men are witnessed also in the category of women, without a bit difference, and emergence of traces of any species undoubtedly obligates realisation of its subject. No one can deny the fact that the category differs greatly and slightly in some of the common traces, but this can never cause the annulment of existence of species in every individual. Thus it becomes clear that the specific extrapolations and maturities available for one species can be found in the other species, of which the moral maturities attained by faith, worships and seeking God’s pleasure. So the best and most comprehensive words expressing this meaning can be the following Qur’anic verse:
“… I will not suffer the work of any of you that worketh to be lost, be he male or female, the one of you being from the other.” (Qur’an, 3:195). 2
For completing this view, I should give answers to a pair of important questions, since otherwise all my discussion will lead to no conclusion and will be incomplete.
The first question is: If we admit that female and male enjoy one and the same essence and nature, with realising their being not one entity, i.e. neither a woman is a man nor a man is a woman. Then where lies the field of difference between these two beings?
The second question is: Some of religious expressions like deficiency of woman’s intellect, and lack of faith, contradict such view and weaken it. But if we intend to defend this view “that the woman differs from the man with ‘aql and deen”, we should give evidences that it can give reply to such faults. Hence, in conclusion of this chapter, I will make a condensed investigation about these two questions.
- 1. Zan Wa Payam-awari, pp. 145-238.
- 2. Al-Mizaan, vol. IV, p. 89.
Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi