Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sura 4 - Women

Date: 4 A.H. Muhammad has had the Islamic state in Medina going for 4 years now. In this sura he deals with social issues and with questions raised by the Jewish tribes in Medina. There is also some interaction with Christians.

Structure

vv. 1- 43 Women’s and orphans rights
vv. 44-56 Answering the People of the book
vv. 57- 86 Urging the Muslims to fight
vv. 87-127 Issues about those trying to turn the Muslims away.
vv. 128-130 Women’s Issues.
vv. 131- 176 Humanity and Allah
v. 177 Inheritance (An odd ending though this is where the sura started?)

What I found interesting

1. Women - This sura has much teaching about how to treat women. The dominant theme was of being kind and caring for women, but, the understanding of what it means to be king was not the Christian or Western understanding.

Polygamy is allowed (4:3) but only if you can deal equally to each wife. However later it says:
Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so). 4:129

But polygamy is still allowed and Muslim men know this. I have had two Muslim friends try to convert me on this point and leading Australian Muslims are calling for its introduction in Australia. I wonder what Islamic wedding vows look it?

Exchange your wife.
And if ye wish to exchange one wife for another and ye have given unto one of them a sum of money (however great), take nothing from it. 4:20

How different this is to Jesus’ teaching.

Beat your wife
... As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. ... 4:34

Women are unclean when menstruating (2:222).
O ye who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when ye are drunken, till ye know that which ye utter, nor when ye are polluted, ...4:43

The result is that it is sin for a woman to pray when she is menstruating (or touch a Qur’an or enter certain areas of Mecca).

2. Again a strong theme of the belief in the previous scriptures to the Qur’an.
O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. 4:136, 47, 162

3. The Jews and Christians do not teach their scriptures faithfully
O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. ... 4:171

Some of those who are Jews change words from their context ... 4:46 (44)

4. Jesus is not lord or died on the cross.
And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. 4:157-158

O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender. 4:171

5. Man is not corrupt but weak.
Allah would make the burden light for you, for man was created weak. 4:28

6. Verses on sin

If ye avoid the great (things) which ye are forbidden, We will remit from you your evil deeds and make you enter at a noble gate. 4:31

And surely I will lead them astray, and surely I will arouse desires in them, and surely I will command them and they will cut the cattle' ears, and surely I will command them and they will change Allah's creation. Whoso chooseth Satan for a patron instead of Allah is verily a loser and his loss is manifest. 4:119

7. If you fight for Islam then you have higher status with Allah.
Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary; Degrees of rank from Him, and forgiveness and mercy. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. 4:95-96

8. I was surprised to see that immigrating for Islam is commended.
Whoso migrateth for the cause of Allah will find much refuge and abundance in the earth, and whoso forsaketh his home, a fugitive unto Allah and His messenger, and death overtaketh him, his reward is then incumbent on Allah. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. 4:100

There are many migrations in Muhammad’s history: to Ethiopia, Medina, and to the colonies that Muhammad began to setup, no doubt some Muslims are still immigrating for Islam today.

9. Hiding your true intentions is also taught.
And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you. 4:101 (3:28, 18, 16:106)

1 comment:

  1. How would you compare the treatment of women in sura 4 to the Christian bible? in relation to the power they are accorded? varying degrees of sexism?

    ReplyDelete