Vivienne Stacey discusses the Quran and Muslim teachings on women and the impact of these teachings in modern society. This lecture was delivered at Columbia International University (CIU). We also have a course study guide that you might find helpful. This is the second part of two lectures given on the topic of Quranic Teachings about Women.


Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Vivienne Stacey’s Lecture on What Does the Quran Say About Women Pt. 2:


We’re continuing our study of women, in the Quran, the Quranic view of women and the family. And we’re just arriving at the family here, the Quranic view of the family. And the Quran clearly states that women that children are a gift of god. This is Surah 1672. And Allah has made for you mates and companions of your own nature and made for you out of them sons and daughters and grandchildren and provide for your sustenance of the best.


Will they then believe in vain things and be ungrateful for Allah’s favors? In pre Islamic, Arabia, just before the rise of Islam, the birth of a girl wasn’t as important as the birth of a boy. There was less honor in the birth of a girl. And sometimes there was the killing of infant girls. Muhammad was very much against this, and it could almost seem that he regarded girls and boys equally, and he certainly, the only male the only child that of his that survived to be an adult was his daughter Fatima.


Anyway, let’s see what the Quran says. There’s, what about surah 16 verses 58 to 59? When news is brought to one of them of the birth of a female child, his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief. With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had. Shall he retain it on sufferance and contempt or bury it in the dust?


What an evil choice they decide on. And, Surah 43 verse 10? Actually, I found it in 4316. Oh, I see. Now that’s a good example of having to look around a bit.


Okay, 4316. It’s probably a type technological error. What’s that’s your word? K. Navigate.


Again, I’m not sure. What has he taken daughters out of what he himself creates and granted you sons of choice? I guess it was the element of the choice Yes. That seemed to be given place to the female. And 818, does that, When the female infant buried alive is questioned?


Yes. That was as far as it right there. Most of the the surahs are the 114 surahs in the whole of the Quran. The first one is the opener, the fat fatiha. I think that’s right.


Yeah. It’s just, a few verses, and then the longest of the surahs comes next, the al Bakrah or the cow. Suras have names as well as numbers. And, then the next one in length comes next, and then they get shorter and shorter and shorter till they’re very short ones at the very end, numbers a 114, and number a 113, and so on, much shorter. That’s the usual way in which you find it.


You don’t then all, qurans don’t order it that way. There is there are those who’ve tried to put it according to dating, but it’s not proved. Generally, surahs are divided into those that belong to the period in Mecca, the early period, and then later, the later period when Muhammad moved to Medina, and every surah will have at the head of it Mecca or Medina. So that by that way, you know which is a heavy a later one or an earlier one. And Suras, as I said, have names.


So Sura 19, for example, is called Mariam, after Mary. So let’s, hear. Have we we The the surah following that, 819 says, for what crime she was killed. So, again, here’s looking at the daughter, being buried alive. Yes.


The crime. Yes. Thank you. Now another point about children and the family, obedience to parents is like that obedience which is due to God. It’s very, very important to in fact, it’s regarded as part of one’s worship to God that you obey your parents, And this is partly what sometimes makes it difficult for Muslims who become, believers in Jesus Christ as lord and savior, to, at least make it if they to say it sometimes to their parents who may disapprove and may want them to leave home because of the what they have believed and done.


But, so it’s an added difficulty. We can, in our societies, perhaps, sometimes, on a matter of principle, disobey what our parents might want to say, but on maybe they don’t even give us orders anyway. But this whole idea of obedience to parents is like the obedience that’s due to god, and you honor god through obeying your parents. Let’s hear about it from the Quran. Surah 37 verse 102.


Then when the son reached the age of serious work with him, he said, oh my son, I see in vision that I offer you thee in sacrifice. Now see what is thy view. The son said, oh, my father, do as thou art commanded. You will find me if all is so wills, practicing patience and constancy. Yeah.


I think, we’ll leave the other references in your text for you to look up yourself. And, if you can get a copy of, Yusuf Ali, which will have Arabic on the side one side and English on the other, that will be good. So let’s just look at another point. The approval of God reveals itself in the approval of parents, and the anger of God reveals itself in the anger of parents. Surah 64 and verses 14 to 15.


Oh, you who believe truly among your wives and your children are some that are enemies to yourselves, so beware of them. But if you forgive and overlook and cover up their faults, verily, Allah is oft forgiving, most merciful. Yes. Thank you. Yes.


So being faithful to Islam, this is another different point, being faithful to Islam comes before obeying your parents. So you are obedient to Islam. That takes precedence over, obeying your parents. But if you become a believer in Jesus as lord and savior, that doesn’t come in that category at all. In Sura 3115, but if they strive to make thee join in worship with the things which thou hast known of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not, yet bear them company in this life with justice and consideration and follow the ways of those who turn to me in love.


In the end, the return of you all is to me, and I will tell you the truth and mean of all that you did. Yeah. And children are to be gracious to elderly parents. Surah 17, 23, and 24. Thy god hath decreed that ye worship none but him and that ye be kind to parents.


Whether 1 or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, my lord, bestow on them thy mercy even as they cherished me in childhood. And then more importance is given to the mother than to the father. Quite an interesting statement. Surah 46 and verse 15.


We have joined we have enjoined on mankindness to his parents. In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the child to his weaning is a period of 30 months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains 40 years, he says, oh, my lord, grant me that I may be grateful for thy favor, which thou has bestowed upon me and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as thou approve and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly, I have turned to you, and truly do I bow to thee in Islam.


There is an emphasis on on the mother in this verse, and, it’s very important to for us to remember the very close bond that there often is between a a Muslim mother and her children, particularly her sons. The sons are, don’t move out of the family house. They become they are the extended family, and they marry and stay in that setting. But the bond is very close, and so the importance of relating to Muslim women is also that they have great influence on their particular, sons. That’s one reason.


I mean, there’s a reason anyway because they are human and, because they are women and because they are Muslim, but it’s their own right. But then this close bond, we should remember it. And one of the hadiths says, whoever believes in God and in the last day maintains his family claims. And in surah 2 and verse 125, we get some indication of the claims of parents. And I found that in in surah, 2124.


Okay. So the information Thank you very much. Yes. Illustrating again that sometimes it’s one behind and sometimes one above. And you might, consider this because, actually, the division of verses is there is this division of verses in the bible as well as the Quran, but, a verse, we put a a mark for the beginning of a verse, at the beginning.


And generally, the mark for a verse in the Quran is at the end of the verse. So if you tell a if you’re studying the bible with a Muslim, and you say look up, John 3, verse 12, they may find I can never remember whether they’ll find John 3 verse 11 or they’ll find John 3 verse 15. See? What say what why I got it wrong? 13.


Is that right? 13. So they may, do it like that. And act anyway, these, maybe it’s the this thing that’s behind it that has made the division slightly different in different renderings of the Quran. I don’t know the reason for that.


But I can say that there’s a a difference in the way we separate the text in the Quran and the bible by bookmarking the beginning of a verse. We were at the beginning, and they marked the end, and you can get a numbering com a bit confused, like I’m confused, about that. Okay. Thank you. So, sir, 124.


And remember remember that Abraham was tried by his lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled. He said, I will make thee an imam to the nations. He pleaded, and also imams for my offspring. He answered, but my promise is not within the reach of evildoers. And then are the claims of kinsmen?


Surah 1726. And render to the kindred their due rights as also to those in want and to the wayfarer, but squander not your wealth in the manner of a spin spendthrift. And now it’s interesting to know that Abraham, who is for Muslims and for Jews and for Christians, the father of believers, Abraham was called to leave his father and his tribe, and he prayed for forgiveness from his father. Surah 9, 114. And Abraham prayed for his father’s forgiveness only because of a promise he had made to him.


But when it became clear to him that he was an enemy to Allah, he disassociated himself from him. For Abraham was most tenderhearted for bearing. Fine. Now we’ll move on to the section, polygamy or monogamy. And maybe I should have said monogamy or polygamy, but, Muslims themselves are, divided on this matter, but the crucial text is, surah 4 and verse 3.


The Muslims interpret variously the Quranic verse that a man may have up to 4 wives provided he treats them equally. Surah 4 verse 3. If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry woman of your choice, 2 or 3 or 4. But if ye feel that ye shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only 1, or a that your right hands possess that will be more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice. Thank you.


So it seems that, a large number of Muslims will argue that no man can treat 2 women or 3 women or 4 women equally. So this verse really means you only marry 1. I mean, quite a lot of Muslims will hold that view, and quite a number will not hold that view. And, even, Abraham, if you remember, had he had 2 wives. I want to do a study on with you about Hagar.


But, Hagar, the Hebrew word there is is wife, not concubine. So he had 2 wives, and he certainly who he’s who is the father of believers, he certainly couldn’t treat them equally. The situation didn’t allow it. He might have wanted to. I don’t think No.


Now, the main arguments in favor of polygamy are the psychological, physiological needs of men, not psychological, but physiological. They’re more compelling than those of women, apparently. And, the and, they last to an advanced age. Barrenness, illness, or long menstruation hinder relationships. So that’s another reason for having more than one wife.


And to guard from the sin of adultery is another reason. And to protect women in immoral societies. So it’s a protection for women, if men have more than one wife because the women, there are not, any unattached women around. Surah 2 in verse 222. So this is 2222.


Sarah 2222. Thank you. They ask thee concerning women’s causes. Say, they are a hurt and a pollution. So keep away from women in their causes, and do not approve them until they are clean.


But when they have purified themselves, he may approve approach them in any manner, time, or place ordained for you by Allah. For Allah loves those who turn to him constantly, and he loves those who keep themselves pure and clean. Okay. Well, this is sort of one of the ground rules, but, it’s easier if you’ve got 2 or 3 or 4 wives is the idea. I think we’ll, turn to the next subject now.


Thanks. And, consider the special situation of the prophet of Islam. So the because the question arises, how is it that Muhammad, had even more than 4 wives? And, here are some of the reasons. One is that he was not an ordinary man.


So Surah 4 verse 80. We have sent the Mohammed as a messenger unto mankind, and Allah as sufficient as witness. Whoso obeyeth the messenger, obeyeth Allah, and who so turneth away, we have not sent thee as a one as a warden over them. And, thank you. Yes.


And what about verse 7 of Sura 59? K. I’m gonna start in verse 6. But Allah giveth his messenger lordship over whom he will. Allah is able to do all things.


That which Allah giveth as spoil unto His messenger from the people of the township, it is for Allah and His messenger, and for the near of kin, and for the orphans, and the needy and the wayfarer, that it become not a commodity between the rich among you, and whatever the messenger giveth you, take it, and whatsoever he forbidth, abstain from it, and keep your duty to Allah. Lo, Allah is stern in reprisal. And, also, surah 4. What’s the name of surah 4? Have you got that there?


No. It it’s Imran. Oh, forgotten what the name is. Yeah. Sometime, I look at names of surahs.


It’s quite good to remember a bit about the names. What it’s called? Oh, it’s called Nis al Nisva. The women. Sorry.


Yeah. So it’s called women. That it sometimes the the name of a Sura is sometimes significant and it’s sometimes not. It’s a one word or two words taking out taken out of the Surah to be given its name. Sometimes it’s just a word that’s picked out, and it’s not an important word in the whole, text.


But sometimes it’s this theme of the Sura, like Sura Maryam is about about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Okay. Well, this is quite a has quite a bit to say about women, certainly. Would you read it? Surah 4 verse 59.


Oh, ye who believe, obey Allah and obey the messenger, and those of you who are in authority. And if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer refer it to Allah and the messenger. If ye are in truth if you are in truth, believes in Allah in the last day, that is better and more seemly in the end. Okay. Thank you.


The bottom line here, is that, Mohammed is, not an ordinary man. He’s, he’s not the perfect man. He’s the ideal man. And as the prophet of God, he has a special as the last prophet, he has a special relationship with God and special privileges as we see here. So it exempts him from the maximum of 4 wives, so he had 9 or 11.


It’s a little difficult to know, maybe 2 were, concubines or or maybe they were all 11 were wives. And it’s quite clear that some of them came from different tribes and religious origins. 1 or 2 possibly 1 was of Christian origin, possibly 1 certainly 1 was of Jewish origin, And, Mohammed had the aim of uniting Arabia, so he married political sort of he had political alliances. He was working on the unification of the country and uniting the tribes. He also wanted to give widows, who have been left widows through war, some protection, And he also took very young, I think Aisha was 9 when he married her, to give protection, to those who are really orphans.


I I’m not sure what Aisha’s background was, but, anyway, he certainly had various motives and purposes in having a large, family, as it were, with many several wives, many wives. So we have yet to deal with, with divorce and inheritance and then come on to to singleness. I will do we’ll do this in the next section. I think it’s probably quite good for us to have a heavy dose of Koranic reading. This is the text.


This is, ideally, we would read it in Arabic and, understand it, but, we have to do it the way we’re doing it, and I will later tell you more about the Hadith. The Quran the Muslim is always asking, what does God want me to do? He’s asking not, he he’s really not asking, what shall I do to be saved? He’s asking, what does the book, the eternal book, tell me that I should do? So he’s not asking the same question as the Christian.


And, obviously, you’re not gonna find in a book the size of the Quran, which is about the length of the New Testament, everything that you’re gonna have to do. So, the the traditions are what Mohammed told people, is what he said and what he did, but it’s also what he didn’t say and what he didn’t do. So the traditions are really what he said and what he did, that comes out of that, ideally what he said. And there has to be always a chain of reference, which is the kind of links through the centuries that show the reliability of the text, which is there, which is called the mutton. In Arabic, it’s called mutton for text, and, and then, you have this chain.


Isnad is the chain. I’ll write these words on the on down, but, I s n a d, you could transliterate from the Arabic for chain, and m a t a n, you could transliterate for text, the text of this hadith or the tradition. So the Muslim, therefore, needs a whole hundreds of thousands of traditions to know what he should do in every aspect of life. Just a few would not be adequate if you’re asking, you know, which way do I pray? There are even instructions on on going to the toilet.


Yeah. And there are all sorts of, minute instructions about, what you do and don’t do. So for every aspect of life. And but these so these aren’t nearly as important as the Quran because they help the Muslim to live according to God’s rules and regulations, not quite as important, but nearly. And as Westerners on the whole, we have undermined not undermined, underestimated the importance of traditions.


Sometimes they’ve got good stories in them. Mohammed was doing this and this, and somebody came and asked this and this. Some of them are quite fun. Some of them are, are a bit, rather, what should we say, we would we might find them a bit offensive or but, not a good idea to show any offense with a tradition. I know one person who had to leave the town where I lived, Christian, because he got into discussion about a particular tradition, and then he got reported by the person, in the mosque.


And the mosque leaders put it out over the loudspeaker, and he had to fly leave for because he was in danger in his life, and he never came back. That’s because he got engaged on a a discussion on a rather offensive, tradition. Okay. Well, we’re gonna leave traditions to a bit later on, and, we’ll, in the next session, deal with divorce in the Quran, her inheritance, and then the interesting subject, I think, of singleness in Islam.