An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Girl Education is unIslamic

This guy Anwar Syed writes in Dawn – a Pakistani daily – that a Maulana (Islamic cleric) has pronounced that Girl education is un-Islamic and asked the parents to withdraw girls from public school. Syed says that this is untrue from the religious scriptures standpoint and from history. He cites a few examples of learned women. Unfortunately, none of the ladies had any secular credentials – all were religious in orientation. None, for example, boasts any knowledge of Math or Science. It is not the madrasa education that the Maulana is targeting but the “Public School” education! And this is very common in rural Muslim areas. Modern education is Math and Science subjects is deemed unIslamic for anyone by many Maulanas!

This incident also underscores Vish’s point that he makes in his post that there is a strong correlation between women and a country’s prosperity.

A REPORT in this newspaper last month tells us that a cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, has issued an edict (fatwa), holding that education of girls is un-Islamic, and urging people in the villages of Swat to withdraw their daughters from public schools. Several thousand parents have acted on his advice, and young girls are now playing on the street instead of attending their classes.

Apparently, there is nothing to stop a man from appropriating the prefix, “maulana,” regardless of his educational attainments.

Fazlullah is evidently ignorant of Islamic history and the scholarly achievements of Muslim women. It may not be his fault that he is essentially uneducated. But it is surely a fault on the part of Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, and their colleagues in the MMA not to go out and remind this man of the Prophet’s (PBUH) saying that the acquisition of knowledge is required of all Muslims, men and women.

I want to call attention to a few women famous for their learning during early and medieval Islam. Let me begin with Ayesha, one of the Prophet’s wives. It is well known that she was a frequently consulted narrator of his sayings and actions. It may not be as well known that she was regarded as an authority on Islamic law (fiqh). She offered interpretations and commentaries on the Quran.

I find a number of women during this period whose accomplishments were of the same order. A quick listing should suffice: Um Adhah al-Adawiyyah (d. 83 AH), reputable scholar and narrator of hadith based on reports of Ali ibn Abu Talib and Ayesha; Amrah bint Abd al-Rahman (d. 98 AH), one of the more prominent students of Ayesha and a known legal scholar in Madina whose opinions overrode those of other jurists of the time; Hafsa bint Sirin al-Ansariyyah (d. approx. 100 AH), also a legal scholar.

The list includes Amah al-Wahid (d. 377 AH), noted jurist of the Shafaii school and a mufti in Baghdad; Karimah bint Ahmad al-Marwaziyyah (d. 463 AH), teacher of hadith (Sahih Bukhari); Zainab bint Abd al-Rahman (d. 615 AH), linguist and teacher of languages in Khorasan.

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