Female figures in the Quran

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This article is about female figures that appear in the Qur'an. For the roles, rights, and duties of women as laid out in the Qur'an, see Women in Islam.

Female figures in the Qur'an are important characters and subjects of discussion in the stories and morals taught in Islam. Some of the women in the Qur'an are portrayed in a positive light, while others are condemned for their actions. Mary (Maryam - مريم) is the only woman mentioned in the Qur'an by name. The others' names come from other traditions. Most of the women in the Quran are represented as either the mothers or wives of certain leaders and prophets. Women in the Quran retained an amount of autonomy from men in some respects; for example, the Quran describes women who converted to Islam before their husbands did, or women who took an independent oath of allegiance to Muhammad.[1]

Eve (Hawwa)[edit]

Eve, like all other female figures in the Qur'an, save for Mary, is not mentioned by name. However, in later hadith she is referred to as Hawwa. She appears in a total of three Suras, referred to both as Adam’s partner and wife, while Adam appears separately in an additional two. The Qur'anic narrative of Adam and Eve's creation and fall differs thematically from the more fleshed out story in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Similar to the Christian and Jewish tale, Allah created Adam and Eve and created a place for them to live, Paradise. However, in the Qur'an Hawwa’s role is minimal, as she is the accomplice to human sin rather than the instigator. It is Adam who is forewarned by Allah that Iblis, Satan, is his and Hawwa's natural enemy and the threat to getting them removed from heaven.

"So We said: O Adam! This is an enemy to you and to your wife; therefore let him not drive you both forth from the garden so that you should be unhappy; "

— Qur'an, Sura 20 (Ta-Ha), ayat 117[2]

The literal Qur'anic text in many ways removes the blame that is often placed upon Eve. Instead of being portrayed as the cause of Adam’s fall, Eve is merely presented as equally compliant in the sin and then later, equally compliant in the punishment and atonement.[3] However the early exegeses surrounding the creation and fall story was influenced heavily by the pervading Christian and Jewish notions of Eve.[4] Therefore, the early medieval exegesis focus on depicting Hawwa as morally and mentally compromised. Like in the Christian and Jewish tradition, Hawwa is seen as the one who tempts the prophet Adam into sin. In particular, the early work of Hadith-based scholar al-Tabari showcases many passages that claim women’s menstruations and affliction of bearing children are a direct result of Hawwa’s foolishness.[5]

"Were it not for the calamity that afflicted Hawwa, the women of this world would not menstruate, would be wise, and would their children with ease"

—al-Tabari (I:529)[6]

However, in modern times the exegeses and general understanding of Hawwa have shifted and are deeply debated. Her status as the first woman in the world is incredibly relevant since she is looked upon as the model for her gender and Allah's archetype of a woman.[7] Today both traditional and modernist thinkers look to Hawwa to either support or deny their argument regarding the equality of women in the religion. Specifically, those with a traditionalist view believe in the Hadith and exegeses that Hawwa was created from one of Adam’s crooked ribs. And therefore when the Prophet explained women were created from the crooked part of the rib, “He was not blaming the woman, but was defining women’s natural disposition and the preponderance of emotions over rationality.[8] In response, more liberal interpretations cite no direct and incontestable truth that Hawwa was created from a “crooked rib”; they claim such suggestions do not stem from verifiable sources. Rather they strive to emphasize the purpose of the creation and fall story itself, which was not to decry the human nature of either gender, but act as an example of Allah’s guidance, punishment, and ultimate forgiveness.[9]

Wives of Noah and Lot[edit]

The three verses in the Qur'an mentioning the wives of Noah and Lot, or Nuh and Lut in Arabic, are a conjoined entry depicting the consequences and response by Allah to non-believers. According to the Qur'an and later depictions, both women were guilty of not believing the message of their prophet husbands, and therefore failed both as wives and religious figures.

"God sets forth an example to those who disbelieve: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot, they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against God, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter."

— Qur'an, Sura 66 (At-Tahrim), ayat 10[10]

Oftentimes the names of these women are confused, however the general scholarly consensus regards that Noah’s wife was Amzura while Lot’s wife was Wā‘ila.[11] This continual reversal of the two names underscores exactly how both women have ultimately served the same purpose in Islamic exegesis. In the case of Noah’s wife many theorists surmise that she died in the flood and was not allowed on the ark due to her continual instigation that her husband was crazy.[12] Lot’s wife in turn is thought to have died alongside the people of Sodom since she betrayed her duty as a wife and conspired alongside the corrupt people.[13] In both examples the wives of Allah's prophets were the only ones punished for their disbelief and betrayal of their husbands. This is an important distinction since Islamic theorists highlight that this establishes the spiritual individuality of women.[14] It is they who have the freedom to choose their religiosity, and it is they who in turn pay the price. Ultimately the purpose of their mention in the Qur'an is to set an example of the consequence for active disbelief in Allah and his prophets.

Daughters of Lot[edit]

The daughters of Lot are first mentioned in Sura 11 (Hud) when Lot offers their hand in marriage as a path to absolve the sins of his neighbors in Sodom.

And his people came rushing towards him and they had been long in the habit of practising abominations. He said: "O my people! Here are my daughters: they are purer for you (if ye marry). Now fear God and cover me not with shame about my guests! Is there not among you a single right-minded man?" They said: "Well dost thou know we have no need of thy daughters: indeed thou knowest quite well what we want!"

—Qur'an, Sura 11 (Hud), ayat 79[15]

However, the fellow people of Sodom reject Lot's offering and continue their sinful deeds. At next mention in Sura 15 (al-Hijr) Lot again offers his daughters. This time though, his actions were taken in order to prevent the people of Sodom from committing abominations against the guests in his house.[16]

"he said,'Here are my daughters, if you must be doing what you intent to do!'

—Qur'an, Sura 15 (al-Hijr), ayat 71[17]

The role that Lot's daughter's play in these interpretations is largely passive and an attempt to demonstrate Lot's devotion to God. However, beyond that simple explanation the daughters of Lot also act as a foil to their Mother, who conspired with the people of Sodom by alerting them to Lot's guests. While their Mother was therefore condemned to the same fate as the sinners in Sodom, Lot's daughters were spared and escaped due to their personal atonement.[18]

Sarah, Wife of Abraham[edit]

In contrast to the Old Testament and the Torah, Sarah, wife of the Prophet Abraham, plays a decidedly smaller role in the Qur'an. In both the Christian and Jewish tradition she is the mother of the chosen son, Isaac, and therefore a more important figure.[19] However, it is the Islamic belief that Ishmael, son of Hagar, is the preferred son of Abraham and therefore Sarah's role is mitigated when compared to Hagar. The sole Qur'an entry that references Sarah quite simply recounts her astonished reaction to the news she would conceive a child despite her old age.

And his wife, standing [nearby], laughed [with happiness]; whereupon We gave her the glad tiding of [the birth of] Isaac and, after Isaac, of [his son] Jacob.Qur'an, Sura 11 (Hud), ayat 71-72[20]

In the Hadith Sarah is not mentioned directly but rather alluded to in Hagar's expanded story.[21] Hagar's struggles, dealt with extensively in Sahih al-Bukhari, are incredibly important to the Islamic tradition since, many Muslims paint her as the mother of all Arabs and one of the pre-Islamic pioneers.[22] While, this may seem to castigate Sarah as the villain in Hagar's story, she is not seen or depicted in Islamic writing as the impetus for Hagar's exile. Unlike the more traditional Jewish and Christian exegeses that paint a contentious relationship between Hagar and Sarah, the Islamic exegeses is largely devoid of commentary on Sarah, choosing rather to focus on the hardships and successes of Hagar.[23]

Aziz's Wife (Zulaykha) and the Ladies[edit]

The story of Yusuf and Zulaykha, wife of Joseph's master the Aziz, is one of the most extensive depictions of women in the Qur'an.[24] She appears in Surah 12 (Yusef) as part of Joseph's chronological narrative shortly after he is sold into slavery in Egypt. In this narrative Zulayka attempts to seduce Joseph, at first outright and then by using guile and wit.

But she in whose house he was, sought to seduce him from his (true) self: she fastened the doors, and said: "Now come, thou (dear one)!" He said: "God forbid! Truly (thy husband) is my lord! He made my sojourn agreeable! Truly to no good come those who do wrong!"

—Qur'an, Sura 12 (Yusuf), ayat 23[25]

After her direct advances were rebuffed by Joseph the women of society began to gossip of Zulaykha's affection for Joseph; in turn she prepared a banquet in these women's honor. At this banquet when Joseph appeared the women extolled him and yelled out to God that he must be an angel.[26] The story continues with Zulaykha attempting to trick Joseph into entering into an affair with her. The results of which land Joseph in jail. When the King then asks both the women and Zulaykha of their role they respond:

"The king said (to the ladies): "What was your affair when ye did seek to seduce Joseph from his (true) self?" The ladies said: "God preserve us! No evil know we against him!" Said the 'Aziz's wife: "Now is the truth manifest (to all): it was I who sought to seduce him from his (true) self: He is indeed of those who are (ever) true (and virtuous)."

— Qur'an, Sura 12 (Yusuf), ayat 51[27]

The renditions of this story outside of the Qur'an have historically focused and sought to establish the natural duplicitous and cunning nature of women.[28] Especially in the works of early exegetes, Zulaykha and the ladies are not portrayed as the multi-faceted characters the Qur'an suggests but, rather are considered only for "their unbridled sexuality and guile."[29] This depiction is used as yet another conservative example of the inherent threat the female gender poses to men and their piety. al-Baydawi's exegesis specifically highlights the inherent contrast between a prophet's devotion to god and the sly nature of women.[30] However, recently the exegeses surrounding Zulaykha has expanded to present different possible interpretations. In many instances this story is now utilized as an allegory depicting the ability of pious people, in this case a prophet, to overcome the temptations of the world and adversity.[31] In these cases, exegetes argue Zulaykha's presence in the Qur'an is not meant to imply the evil nature of all women, but rather the different possible distractions that society in general can present and the need to rebuff them.[32]

Mother and sister of Moses[edit]

The mother of Moses is the only woman in the Qur'an to receive divine inspiration.[33] God inspired her to suckle the child until she fears for his life and then to cast him into the river without sadness or fear, because God will eventually restore him to her and make him one of His messengers.[34]

"God sent an inspiration to Moses’ mother that she should put Moses in a chest and throw the chest into the river, which would ultimately wash up on shore of God’s enemy and he would be taken in."

— Qur'an, Sura 28 (Al-Qasas), ayat 7[35]

The chest would ultimately wash up on shore of God’s enemy and he would be taken in. When the Pharaoh’s wife discovered Moses on the shore, God had to strengthen Moses’ mother’s heart to make her a firm believer.[36]

"And the heart of Musa's mother was empty she would have almost disclosed it had We not strengthened her heart so that she might be of the believers."

— Qur'an, Sura 28 (Al-Qasas), ayat 10[37]

Then, after Moses’ sister sees that Moses refuses to nurse with his new nurse, she suggests that Moses’ mom becomes the nursemaid for Moses. In a sense, they were reunited.

"And We had before forbidden foster-mothers for him, so she said: Shall I show you a household who will rear him for you and take care of him? So We restored him to his mother that she might be comforted and not grieve, and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of them know not."

— Qur'an, Sura 28 (Al-Qasas), ayat 12-13[38]

Wife of Moses[edit]

Moses’ wife was the daughter of a Madyanite flockherder that Moses met before he became a prophet. The Madyanite flockherder wedded Moses and his daughter in exchange for Moses performing either to ten years of work.[39]

"Said one of the (damsels): "O my (dear) father! engage him on wages: truly the best of men for thee to employ is the (man) who is strong and trusty. He said: "I intend to wed one of these my daughters to thee, on condition that thou serve me for eight years; but if thou complete ten years, it will be (grace) from thee. But I intend not to place thee under a difficulty: thou wilt find me, indeed, if God wills, one of the righteous."

— Qur'an, Sura 28 (Al-Qasas), ayat 26-27[40]

She is not mentioned by name in the Qur'an, but some qisas al-anbiya’ identify her as Zipporah.[41] Many of the details surrounding Moses’ wife have been filled in throughout history. Contemporary Muslims see her as a righteous Muslim female because of her respect for the different gender spheres. When she first met Moses, she was getting water in public, but was afraid because it is typically a male domain.[42]

"And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan, he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: "What is the matter with you?" They said: "We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take back (their flocks): And our father is a very old man."

— Qur'an, Sura 28 (Al-Qasas), ayat 23[43]

Asiyah, Wife of the Pharaoh[edit]

The wife of the Pharaoh, known in some traditions as Asiyah, played a large role in Moses’ life because she became his foster mom; she saved his life when she took him in and raised Moses from infancy in a household of non-believers while God watched over him.[44]

Of all of the women in Moses’ life, Pharaoh’s wife is the subject of the greatest amount of exegetical literature and there is a large amount of emphasis on her as an example for the believers.[45] Many think of her as a righteous woman because of her role in keeping Moses alive, as shown in Q 28:9.

"And the wife of Pharaoh said: (He will be) a consolation for me and for thee. Kill him not. Peradventure he may be of use to us, or we may choose him for a son. And they perceived not."

— Qur'an, Sura 28 (Al-Qasas), ayat 9[46]

Additionally, Asiyah is praised because in Q 66: 11, which is dated into the late Medinan period, she prayed to God to build her a house in paradise and save her from her wicked husband Pharaoh.[47]

"And Allâh has set forth an example for those who believe; the wife of Fir'aun (Pharaoh), when she said: "My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir'aun (Pharaoh) and his work, and save me from the people who are Zâlimûn (polytheists, wrong-doers and disbelievers in Allâh)."

— Qur'an, Sura 66 (At-Tahrim), ayat 11[48]

Asiyah represents the ideal of virtue as one of the four most outstanding women of the world and one of the four “ladies of heaven” that include: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Khadija, Muhammad’s wife; and Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter.[49] She married Pharaoh as a sacrifice to her people, but never consummated it.[50] She died a martyr’s death after the tyrannical Pharaoh killed many of the believers in the palace and she tried to avenge their deaths.[51]

Ibn Kathir, part of the medieval traiditon speaks of Pharaoh’s wife as one of the prophet’s “celestial wives,” which is a supreme honor shared with the Prophet’s earthly wives and Mary.[52] Asiyah is celebrated in the Islamic faith because she remained faithful to God even though her own husband, Pharaoh, thought of himself as God. She demonstrates that a woman has the ability to exercise faith and believe in God, even against the wishes of a harsh husband.[53]

The Queen of Sheba (Bilqis)[edit]

The Qur'an speaks of the Queen of Sheba, also known as Bilqis. The Queen of Sheba is a sovereign ruler over her people who engaged in political negotiations set in the time period of jahiliyya. The story of the Queen of Sheba takes place in Qur'an, surah 27 (Al-Naml): 22-44.

The hoopoe reported to Solomon of a Queen from Sheba who led her people in pagan rituals worshipping a Sun God instead of Allah.[54]

"I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a magnificent throne. [Quran 27:23]

"I found her and her people worshipping the sun besides God: Satan has made their deeds seem pleasing in their eyes, and has kept them away from the Path,- so they receive no guidance,- [Quran 27:24]

Solomon writes a letter to the queen that the hoopoe delivered to the queen’s palace and left it on her chest while she was sleeping. Then Bilqis prepared presents for Solomon to test him as a prophet (whether he was a “pious” or “worldly” prophet) through a series of riddles.[55] The queen set out to visit Solomon; some say that Solomon magically moved her throne while others say that he wished for the throne and knew he had to acquire it before the queen and her followers submitted to Allah.[56]

She said: "Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest thus do they behave. [Quran 27:34]

"But I am going to send him a present, and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) ambassadors." [Quran 27:35]

So when she arrived, she was asked, "Is this thy throne?" She said, "It was just like this; and knowledge was bestowed on us in advance of this, and we have submitted to God (in Islam)." [Quran 27:42]

The Queen of Sheba submits to God with Solomon.[57]

She was asked to enter the lofty Palace: but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she (tucked up her skirts), uncovering her legs. He said: "This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass." She said: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds." [Quran 27:44]

Legend says that Solomon married Bilqis who then bore him a son. Some say she returned to Yemen as a queen and Solomon would go visit her there for three days a month; others say that Solomon married her off to the king of Hamadan.[58]

Many historians have attempted to humiliate or reduce the Queen of Sheba. Historian Mas’udi (10th Century) was convinced that Bilqis could not have been fully human because she had a throne and led people.[59] He said that she had a human father but a jinn mother because he felt the need to attack Bilqis and question her humanity as a way to cope with the fact that she was a woman in political power.[60] Additionally, to traditional Islamic exegetics, the story of the Queen of Sheba is difficult to grasp because of the way that a woman in political power falls outside of the traditional gender role of women in society.[61] Classical Islamic authors shy away from addressing the question concerning the Queen of Sheba and the potential implications that it could have on female rulers.[62]

Bilqis remains one of the more mysterious figures in the world of scholarly exegesis.[63] Some main issues that arise are how she became ruler, her competence in the role and how this can impact Islamic society. The beautiful Sheba married a tyrannical Himyarite king, got him drunk, cut off his head and convinced his ministers to declare their loyalty to her.[64] She gained her position through proximity to a male ruler and deceived him using her female characteristics.[65] Against Solomon, the Queen of Sheba demonstrates ability to hold her own and validates her intelligence and good judgment, qualities that are typically reserved for men.[66] However her big fault is mistaking the glass for a pool and revealing her hairy legs, an act that she cannot redeem.[67]

In contemporary terms, the story of the Queen of Sheba represents the righteousness of incorruptibility, exemplified when Solomon refused to be bribed by the queen’s elaborate gifts.[68] The lesson that contemporaries draw is the ultimate submission to no one but God. Only God sees all of the true believers equally and the ultimate submission should be to him and not to anyone else, whether he is a leader or a prophet.[69]

Wife of Imran[edit]

The wife of Imran (father of Mary), and thus Isa's grandmother is not named in the Qur'an, but referred to in two passages of the narratives section.[70] In Judeo-Christian tradition she is identified as Hannah. According to the Qur'an, Imran and his wife were old and childless, and she invoked God for a child:[71]

"Behold! a wife of Imran said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things." "When she was delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!"- and God knew best what she brought forth- "And whatever no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from Satan, the Rejected."

— Qur'an, Sura 3 (Ali Imran), ayat 35-36[72]

It is important to note that while the name Imran is attributed to both the father of Mary and the father of Moses and Aaron, exegetes explain that these two figures are not to be confused.[73] They are separated by a long time period - 1,800 years according to some sources - and are called different names. The father of Mary is called Imran b. Mathhan/Matan while the father of Moses and Aaron is called Imran B. Yashar or Imran b. Qadith.[74]

Mary (Maryam)[edit]

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one of the most important women in the Qur'an, as she is the only woman identified by name.[75] Her name not only appears far more in the Qur'an than in the New Testament, but it is also the title of Sura 19, which discusses the annunciation, Jesus' birth, and Jesus' first words, spoken before birth and in the cradle—"most other personal names used as titles of Qur'anic chapters are those of prophets.[76] A Hadith claims that Mary was consecrated to God, thus "escaping the pricking of the devil" at birth; this is said "to have played a a role in the formation of the later Islamic doctrine of prophetic ‘isma (innate quality of ‘impeccability,' 'immunity from sin and error' of prophets).[77]

As a young girl, and a virgin, Mary stayed in the Mihrab, where she received "glad tidings of a word (kalima) from God" about her giving birth the a "pure son."[78] In Sura 19, the angel Gabriel, sent by God, says to Mary, "I am only your Lord's messenger, to give you a pure boy."[79] The Qur'an also states that the conception of Jesus by Mary was miraculous:

Islamic scholars have long debated this happening, specifically the meaning of "spirit' (ruh and the "word" (kalima) that Mary received from God. If she were informed of things to come by God's word, even through his angel, and infused with God's spirit, was Mary, then, a Quranic prophet?[80] Scholars that focus on the literal meaning of the text have found proof of her prophethood, for "she differs from other Qur'anic women figures in nature and life experiences,"[81] yet, perhaps because of her gender, Mary's prophethood is not widely accepted.

Nevertheless, Mary is still revered by many Muslims, mostly women, throughout the Islamic world, and is praised in the Qur'an: Behold! the angels said: 'O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee - chosen thee above the women of all nations.'"[Quran 3:42] In Sura 21:91 Mary is revealed as a sign (ayah) from God: "And she who guarded her chastity. Then We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for the wrolds."[82] Sura 66 establishes Mary as the "example for believers" because of her chastity, obedience, and faith; however, "religious authorities have attempted to define the social applicability of Mary's qualities, that is, the facets of her model status suited for emulation."[83] When Gabriel informs her of God's plan, Mary responds by [indirectly] questioning God's power: "How could I have a boy when no human has touched me and I am not a whore?"[84] Later, "the pains of chidbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said: If only I had died before this and were completely forgotten."[85] These two acts could be viewed as rebellious.

Mary also appears in Sura 3, where she and her story are closely connected to that of her guardian, the prophet Zakariyya. The angel's words about the birth of John to Zakariyya (Sura 3:39) is almost identical to those on Jesus's (Sura 3:45). Similarly, both respond by questioning the message (Sura 3:40;47) and receive the same answer.

Wives of Muhammad[edit]

For greater detail on the individual female figures refer to their specific pages or Muhammad's wives

The wives of Muhammad are known to Muslims as the "Mother of the believers", or in Arabic, umm'ul mu'mineen', coming from a Sura 33:6: "The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers."[86][87] While Sura 4:3 limits Muslim men to having four wives, Hadith maintain "that the Prophet's right to unrestricted polygamy was a prerogative that God's sunna had extended to all prophets: a 'natural right' of His spokesmen on earth."[88] They are mentioned in several places in the Qur'an, but never by name, making the Hadith as scripturalist exegesis most important, yet "are not like any [other] women."[89] Muhammad's wives play a prominent role in Islam and Muslim practices; "their reception of specific divine guidances, occasioned by their proximity to the Prophet, endows them with special dignity."[90] They form the basis for the status of women in Islam, and are thus important for gender debates and study.

Only a few "are consistently presented as key figures in the Hadith accounts of contexts of specific revelations ('occasions of revelation,' Asbab al-nuzul).[91] Stowasser states "The Qur'anic legislation directed at the Prophet's wives, then, is entirely of Medinan provence and belongs into the last six or seven years of the Prophet's life."[92] Sura 33:50 outlines the "categories of females" lawful that are able to marry the Prophet: "wives with whom the Prophet contracted marriage involving a dower; female prisoners of war (slaves) who fell to him as part of his share of spoils; both paternal and also maternal cousins who had migrated with him to Medina; 'and a believing woman, if she gives herself to the Prophet.'"[93]

With the exception of Aisha, as she was only nine at the time, Muhammad only married widows and divorced women.[94] Aisha bint Abi Bakr is often thought of as the Prophet's favorite wife. She is linked to the Qur'an's injunctions against slander in Sura 24:11-26, for her involvement in "the affair of the lie [or, slander]" (al-ifk), in which she was falsely accused of "being with" another man, Safwan ibn al-Mu'attal al-Sulami.[95] She is considered to be the first woman to choose "God and His Prophet" over "the world and its adornment";[96] in Sura 33:28-29, God ordered Muhammad's wives to make this decision of preference, after the Prophet was annoyed by the wives growing desire for material possessions.[97] Aisha is also important to the Sunni sect of Islam. Immediately following the "choice verse," the Qur'an establishes the rules of "double punishment" and "double reward," which are also directed at the wives of Muhammad.

Muhammad's wives were the first women to follow the practice of veiling with a Hijab.[98] Sura 33:53, commonly called the "hijab verse," states that if "believers" want something from Muhammad's wives, they must ask "from behind a hijab; it also forbids "believers" from marrying Muhammad's wives after him.[99][100]

Sura 33:33-34 have been a part of the gender controversy in Islam. These verses place restrictions on the wives' lives that many modern women find sexist and unjust.

Daughters of Muhammad[edit]

The Prophet, Muhammad, had four daughters with his wife, Khadija bint Khuwaylid: Zainab, Umm Kulthum, Ruqayyah, and Fatimah; however, Shias believe Fatima was the only daughter of Khadija and Zainab, Ruqayya and Umm Kulthum were the daughters of Khadija's sister, Hala. Fatima is held on the same level as Mary in the Shia tradition, and is referred to as the "mistress of sorrows."[102]

The Qur'an speaks of Muhammad's daughters in Sura 33:59.

"O Prophet! tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

— Qur'an, Sura 33 (Al-Ahzab), ayat 59[103]

The Qur'an refers to the daughters as a whole, banatika, never identifying them by name.

The woman who complained to Muhammad[edit]

The Qur'an speaks of her in Sura 58 (Al-Mujadila), but not by name. Hadith provides her name, Khawlah bint Tha'labah.

"God has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to God: and God (always) hears the arguments between both of you: for God hears and sees (all things)."

— Qur'an, Sura 58 (Al-Mujadila), ayat 1[104]

The verses that follow are to restore her rights (as well as those of any other woman in her position), when a husband mistreats his wife. Muslims refer to this woman and her story to express the mercy of God.

Wife of Abu Lahab[edit]

The Qur'an mentions the wife of Abu Lahab in Sura 111 Al-Masadd, but not by name. Hadith claims that her name is Umm Jamil bint Harb and the sister of Abu Sufyan. It is said that she interrupted Muhammad and Abu Bakr praying in the Ka'ba and, unaware that the Prophet was present, spoke badly of him and his religion. Therefore, the Qur'an describes how she will be punished, alongside her husband, in Hell for hurting Muhammad.

"His wife shall carry The (crackling) wood as fuel. A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre Round her (own) neck."

—Qur'an, Sura 111 (Al-Masadd), ayat 4-5[105]

Conclusion[edit]

While the Qur'an does not directly name any woman except for Mary, women play a role in many of the rich and varied stories that the Qur'an tells. These stories have been subject to manipulation and rigid interpretation in both classical commentary and popular literature from patriarchal societies.[106] The cultural norms existing within patriarchy have shaped the way that these societies approached the text and created a pervading narrative that dictated the way future generations were set up to interpret these stories and the role of women within the Qur'an. Throughout history, different Islamic exegetes and lawmakers constantly reinterpreted the female figures presented in the Qur'an as a result of the dominating ideology and historical context of the time. In the wake of modernity and the rise of Islamic feminism, many scholars are looking back to the original text, reexamining the accepted classical interpretations of female figures, and reimagining the woman’s role within the Qur'an.[107]

It is also important to note that these same feminist Islamic scholars have drawn particular attention to the inaccuracies of non-Arabic versions of the Qur'anic and Hadith. They highlight that oftentimes these translations are biased by the ideology of the interpreter. Therefore, many modern scholars highlight that the classical understandings misappropriate the intended purpose of the appearances of women in the Qur'an.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "From the article on Women and Islam in Oxford Islamic Studies Online". Oxfordislamicstudies.com. 2008-05-06. doi:10.1093/0198297688.003.0006. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  2. ^ Quran 20:117
  3. ^ Chand, M. (1991). Adam, eve, & satan in the garden of eden. The University of Singh Arts Research Journal, 30(1), 25-35.
  4. ^ Pregill, M. (2008). Isra'iliyyat, myth and pseudepigraphy: Wabb b. Munabbih and the early Islamic versions of the fall of Adam and Eve. Jerusalem studies in Arabic and Islam,
  5. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Ṭabarī, Cooper, J., Madelung, W., & Jones, A. (1987). The commentary on the Qurʼān [Jāmiʻ al-bayān ʻan taʼ wīl āy al-Qurʼān.English]. London; New York: Oxford University Press.
  7. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  8. ^ Muhammad Mutawalli al-Sha’rawi, Qadaya al-mar’a al-muslima (Cairo: Dar al-Muslim, 1982), pp. 32-33 qtd. Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  9. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  10. ^ Quran 66:10
  11. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  12. ^ Maḥallī,Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Suyūṭī, & Hamza, F. (2008). Tafsīr al-jalālayn. Louisville, Ky.: Fons Vitae.
  13. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  14. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  15. ^ Quran 11:79
  16. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  17. ^ Quran 15:71
  18. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  19. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  20. ^ Quran 11:71–72
  21. ^ Trible, P., & Russell, L. M. (2006). Hagar, sarah, and their children :Jewish, christian, and muslim perspectives (1st ed.). Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press.
  22. ^ Trible, P., & Russell, L. M. (2006). Hagar, sarah, and their children :Jewish, christian, and muslim perspectives (1st ed.). Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press.
  23. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  24. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  25. ^ Quran 12:23
  26. ^ Qur'an, Sura 12 (Yusuf), ayat 31
  27. ^ Quran 12:51
  28. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  29. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  30. ^ al-Bayḍāwī, ʻ. A. i. ʻ.Baiḍāwī's commentary on sūrah 12 of the qur'ān. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  31. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  32. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  33. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press, 57
  34. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press, 57
  35. ^ Quran 28:7
  36. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 57
  37. ^ Quran 28:7
  38. ^ Quran 28:12–13
  39. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 57
  40. ^ Quran 66:26–27
  41. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 57
  42. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 60
  43. ^ Quran 66:23
  44. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 57
  45. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.; Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 58
  46. ^ Quran 28:9
  47. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  48. ^ Quran 66:11
  49. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  50. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  51. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 59
  52. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 59
  53. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 60
  54. ^ Mernissi, F. (1993). The forgotten queens of Islam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 142
  55. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 64
  56. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 64
  57. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 64
  58. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 65
  59. ^ Mernissi, F. (1993). The forgotten queens of Islam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 143
  60. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 65
  61. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 62
  62. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  63. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 62
  64. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 64; Encyclopedia of the Quran, “Women and the Quran,” p. 533
  65. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  66. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  67. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  68. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 66
  69. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 66
  70. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001.
  71. ^ "Maryam", Encyclopaedia of Islam
  72. ^ Quran 3:35–36
  73. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print
  74. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print
  75. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  76. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  77. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  78. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994) Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  79. ^ Quran Sura 19:20
  80. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  81. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  82. ^ Quran Sura 19:21
  83. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  84. ^ Quran Sura 19:21
  85. ^ Quran Sura 19:21
  86. ^ Mernissi, F. (1993). The Forgotten Queens of Islam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  87. ^ Quran 33:6
  88. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  89. ^ Quran 33:32
  90. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  91. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  92. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  93. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  94. ^ Mernissi, F. (1993). The Forgotten Queens of Islam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  95. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  96. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  97. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  98. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  99. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  100. ^ Quran 33:53
  101. ^ Quran 33:34
  102. ^ Stowasser, B. F. (1994). Women in the qur'an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
  103. ^ Quran 33:59
  104. ^ Quran 58:1
  105. ^ Quran 111:4–5
  106. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  107. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.

External links[edit]