Do Men Excel Over Women-Islam QA, Ibn Katheer, Dr. Al-Alwani

19 Jan

Salaam alaikum sisters,

Yesterday I went on Islam QA to ask a simple question: to please explain the ayah where Allah says that men excel over women. Here is the complete ayah: 

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means”

[al-Nisa’ 4:34] 

Now when reading the answer Islam QA provided I was extremely disappointed and astonished at the level of intelligence the website was providing me with. This is the part that upset me: 

‘because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other’ i.e., because men are superior to women and are  better than women. Hence Prophethood was given only to men, as was the position of khaleefah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘No people shall ever prosper who appoint a woman as their ruler.’ This was narrated by al-Bukhaari from the hadeeth of ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Bakrah from his father. The same applies to the position of qaadi (judge), etc. 

‘and because they spend (to support them) from their means’ refers to the mahr and the spending on women’s maintenance that Allaah has enjoined upon men in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). So a man is inherently better than a woman, and he is superior to her because he spends on her. So it is appropriate that he should be in charge of her, as Allaah says, ‘but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them’ [al-Baqarah 2:228]. 

The two phrases: men are superior to women and are better than women AND a man is inherently better than a woman. Now, PLEASE tell me where there is proof for this…it just doesnt make sense that Allah would expressly state that the value of a woman is equal to that of a man and later state that a man is better than a woman. NOWHERE in hadith OR Quran can this be found. Allah makes it very clear that we are of one soul and we are here as counterparts to one another. Neither is better than the other because without one the other does not exist. 

Now if you look closely Islam QA says that they got this answer from Ibn Katheer. So I decided to look up Ibn Katheers tafseer on this matter myself. These are his words: (and Allah has made one of them to excel the other,) meaning, because men excel over women and are better than them for certain tasks. FOR CERTAIN TASKS. Now, noone will understand what excel means by itself except Allah alone, however to say a man is BETTER than a woman…inherently better is just ignorance like kufr. They actually sound like ufr to me saying that: it is something I would expect from a kufr saying that Islam says men are better than women and subhanallah here is Islam QA saying that! A site that is supposed to be trustworthy! Now it really is not trustworthy since they clearly changed Ibn Kathees words. Ibn Katheer explicitly stated “at certain tasks“. Furthermore the scholars always insist to look at the context of the ayah to clearly understand it. Now in this ayah we are speaking about providing and maintaining, so yes, perhaps men excel over women when it comes to providing (in terms of finances, protection, discipline etc) but I am 100% sure Allah did not mean men are better than women. Ibn Katheer said at certain tasks which I believe is what Allah meant as well.

Dr. Taha Jabi Al-Alwani also agrees with me:

It must be admitted that Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars have neglected the wisdom of their respective revelations concerning the equality of the sexes. Qur’anic commentators and jurists in particular seem to have ignored the broader intellectual aspects of a woman’s testimony. In addition, some seem to have allowed themselves to completely overlook the basic Qur’anic principle of gender equality, even though this teaching is mentioned in literally hundreds of Qur’anic verses. Instead, they have engrossed themselves in studies emphasizing biological and psychological differences, thereby attempting to derive evidence from divine revelation to support the attitudes and customs of their pre-Islamic heritage.
    Such a decidedly un-Islamic bias has prevented Muslim scholars from considering the issue of a woman’s testimony in light of the broader Qur’anic teachings of equality. Instead of looking at the issues as a mere division of labor, they considered it as one based on natural incompetence. Taking their cue from Jewish, Christian, and pagan Arab traditions and attitudes, they dwelt on a “woman’s natural tendency to be forgetful and fall into error” and her physical “disabilities.” Did God not say, they argued: “if one of them should make a mistake, the other could remind her” (2:282), thereby reading nor more than the letter of revelation and without taking into consideration the verse’s context or attempting a balanced reading of woman or of nature?
    In essence, Muslim jurists and Qur’anic commentators allowed their cultural prejudices to color their discussions on the subject of women. In their ignorance, they used those verses declaring the competence and equality or women to “prove” the contrary. Using the same perverted logic, they dealt with the subject of the shares due to women through the laws of inheritance.

The sentence that really rings a bell is: instead of looing at the issues as a mere division of labor, they considered it as one based on natural incompetence.

Who could have said it better…Thank you Dr. Al-Alwani for boosting my iman.

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