Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
[This series of Khutbah was delivered during 1993 at the Islamic Center of Iowa City, Iowa.
For brevity, the customary invocations toward the beginning and the end of the Khutbahs have been omitted.]
Intro Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII
VI. The Prophetic Vision
Truly did Allah fulfil the Vision for His Apostle: You shall enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah wills, with mind secure, heads shaved, hair cut short, and without fear. For He knew what you knew not, and He granted, besides this, a speedy victory. [al-Fath/27]
I. All the Prophecies of Rasulullah were fulfilled
But many of them were in response to what the Prophet dearly cherished in his heart, as for example, in case of the change of Qibla.
We see the turning of your face (for guidance) to the skies: now shall we turn you to a Qibla that shall please you. Turn then your face in the direction of the sacred mosque: wherever you are, turn your faces in that direction. The people of the Book know well that that is the Truth from their Rabb. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do. [2/Al-Baqara: 144]
II. A Commonly-Known Matter of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence)
Abdullah ibn Umar: "It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Hereafter to travel for more than three nights' journey except when there is a Mahram (one with whom marriage is prohibited) with her." [Sahih Muslim: Vol. II, #3099]
In another version [Sahih Muslim, #3096, Ibn Umar], "A woman should not set out on three (day's journey) except when she has a Mahram with her."
In another version [Sahih Muslim, #3104, Abu Hurairah], "... a night's journey..."
However, despite these hadith, the juristic opinions are often completely without the dynamism of Islam, as explained below.
III. The Prophetic Vision of Women and Society
Adi bin Hatim (r) narrates that the Rasulullah (s) said to me:
"Beware! I know what is keeping you from embracing Islam. You are distracted by the thought that the people who are believing in this man (i.e., the Prophet) and following him are the weak, the oppressed, and the poor, and that the 'big' people of Arabia did not believe him and instead threw him aside and are not accepting him.
Tell me, have you seen Hira (a city in Iraq at that time). I ('Adi) said: I have not seen it, but I have heard of it. The Prophet said: I swear by Him in whose Hand is my life, that Allah Almighty will surely fulfill this matter (of Islam's victory) till the time will come that:
-- a woman without any assistance, alone, will come from Hira to Ka'ba and fulfill the ritual of Tawaf;
-- and by Allah, you people will seize control of the treasures of the Khosroes (the Persian Emperor) through victory.
I ('Adi) asked: you mean the treasures of Khosroes, son of Hormuz, whom no king can face today?
He (the Prophet) said: Yes, the treasures of Khosroes, the son of Hormuz.
-- and by Allah, there will be such prosperity that people will want to give charity in Allah's way and there will be no one to receive it.
(After narrating this part of hadith) 'Adi bin Hatim said: I have seen the fulfillment of the Prophet's words with my own eyes, and you can see that too, that a woman comes from Hira to Mecca, alone, and does the Hajj and the Tawaf, and goes back alone. And I myself participated in the conquest and distribution of the treasures of Khosroes; by Allah, I did. And surely the third thing too will come true because the Messenger of Allah (s) said so.
[Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 4, #19397, 19400; Also Sahih al-Bukhari: Vol. 4, 793]
IV. Reinforcing a General Point
The apparent contradiction between various hadiths forbidding women to travel alone and the hadith containing a set of visionary prophecy historically has been resolved in our received culture in ways that are in clear conflict with the Islamic vision and what our beloved Prophet cherished for his Ummah.
The hadiths that recommend women not to travel alone are reflective of concern about insecurity in society, which is contextual and with the change of context, it is supposed to adjust.
From depriving or discouraging Muslim women from a Masjid-bound life to creating social institutions, cultures, norms that do not nurture the participation of women in general life, we see a pattern of received culture that exists in the name of Islam, but, in fact, demands a thorough overhaul.
The existing conditions in Muslim societies provide ammunitions to the enemies of Islam for vicious propaganda against Islam, which should actually be directed against the deviated cultures in Muslim societies. These conditions mislead many men and women because they often cannot cut through the historical culture and the desired culture of Islam. Many men and women from within Muslim societies have turned and are turning away from Islam, because of these distortions and deviations. They do not know now what Islam offers them and what they are receiving.
Such distortions clearly fall within the scope of Bid'at (unwarranted innovations), which according to the Prophet (s) must not be accommodated. Through our misunderstanding and blind traditionalism rooted in our received culture, not either in the Qur'an or in the Prophetic vision, we are depriving ourselves of the benefit of a vibrant and dynamic Islamic culture where men and women within an Islamic framework participate in this life at levels that Shariah, as given by Allah and as practiced by the Prophet and his companions, desires. Through appropriate changes, Muslims can set a better model of Islam, which is a part of the duty of this Ummah as Shuhada-i-alannas (witnesses over humankind).
Definitely, the participation of women, as desired by the Shariah and as envisioned by the Prophet, is enormously broad in scope. But understanding these issues and developing an appropriate level of sensitivity require dealing with some deeper undercurrents in human society, where the weak consistently have been oppressed and their security and right have been violated because with weakness has been attached a stigma of inferiority.
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