Thursday, 5 February 2015

The idealised role of Women in Islam, as explained by the Islamic Caliphate

I heard on the BBC Radio 4 news this morning that the Quilliam Foundation has now published a 41-page English translation of a manifesto originally written in Arabic, which sets forth the views of the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East. The manifesto - actually it is two manifestos in one, with a case study on the role of women in Muslim life - was thought to be published in January, but not then in English, as it was aimed at women living in neighbouring states, especially Saudi Arabia.

The Quilliam Foundation have analysed the manifesto's purposes and appeal - an analysis worth reading. But really one ought to study the actual words of the original authors. I don't ordinarily quote at length, because I think it not only bulks out a post with someone else's words - rather a cheat, if you ask me - but I like to show, through my own commentary, that I have read the publication and formed a view of my own. But in this case, I think it's best to quote verbatim (well, verbatim as translated, anyway) so that nuances won't be missed. Much of the document concerns women, but there are remarks on the modern Muslim man as well that are equally worth study. I think I am now rather better informed as to what is driving the formation of the Caliphate, and why Muslim women, that is, true-believing women, might feel that a subservient role in relation to their husbands - regarded as outmoded in the West - will in fact get them back to a virtuous simplicity and open a door to Paradise.

The (translated) title is Women of the Islamic State - A manifesto on women by the Al-Khanssaa Brigade. A PDF version can be accessed on this link:

After an introduction, the IS's own words begin in earnest on page 13 of the translation:

Manifesto on Muslim Life
As is said above, Muslims are distinguished from those with false beliefs by the fact that they strive to realise tawheed on Earth and are undistracted by the theory of worldly objectives. His purpose, from birth to death, is the pursuit of this goal. As the Prophet said: “Say, Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the Worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims” (Quran 6:162-163). As such, the Muslim community is like none other. Certainly, it is wrong to compare it with the materialistic societies found in the world today. Some people compare Muslim society with Western atheist society [implying it is worse], with regards to the issues of civicness and material progress, they claim! [Hence, materialists] make a trade-off between humanity and raising aloft God’s Word or ignoring it, even though Islam decrees otherwise. As God said: “They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware” (Quran 30:7).

If we look back to the Prophet’s community in Medina, it was the best of communities. With the best leaders, absolutely and indisputably. While it was a very simple society in terms of the material world and worldly sciences, it was strong in terms of its faith and the science of the next. People in it were hungry more than they were satisfied. They had houses of palm and mud, rode camels and horses and did not know physics, engineering or astronomy. Because of all this, God was kept at the forefront, and the Righteous were His slaves.

We must correct that which has become entrenched in our minds since we were small, what we were told by our teachers that Muslims must prove to the disbelievers of Europe and elsewhere in glorious days gone by, that he had built material civilisations, its heroes the atheists and libertines like Ibn Sina the esoterist, Ibn Nafis [who discovered the circulation of blood] and Ibn al-Haitham [optics and physicist] and others. The civilisations of these people were built upon the ruins of those before it. Now, we must disavow these heretics, these “geniuses” of Europe - they are friends and protectors of each other. Muslims do not need what these people provided. Muslims do not need to spend long parts of his short life learning of the worldly sciences that give no spiritual reward, apart from that which repulses the might of the infidels and benefits Muslims. This issue is known and clear – Muslims do not need any of the above.

Further on, the translation goes on to say:

Today, Muslims face two big problems that mean they have transgressed against themselves by focusing on worldly sciences and turning away from the most honoured science. These are:

• They forgot that worship is the only reason for their existence. They became trapped in ignorance and turned away from the Shariah and their religion. Because of this, they do not understand their faith today and do not realise the origin of their religion and do not know the apostasy of their governments. Hence, they are very ignorant in their worshipping and daily relations, but you find many of them versed in the nullifiers of Islam, but they do not know about it, may God guide them.

• There is an imbalance between people, in terms of loyalty and disavowal (al-wala’ wa-l-bara’). (49:13) You may find Muslims having friendly relationships with the infidels who are at war with us and living in their midst and benefit from their worldly knowledge, which is unworthy in relation to knowledge of the afterlife. Following that, you find them relying upon international scientific organisations that issue this science, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization and so on, organisations that break down the spaces between peoples and remove the borders between religions, claiming that they are doing so for the good of humanity, the safety of the world and development of its nations.

Not all science is banned by any means, as an excerpt from further on states :

This is not to say, in any sense that we should wholly do without the necessary worldly sciences without which humans could not live – agriculture, medicine and building and so on. Just those that people need, that help facilitate the lives of Muslims and their affairs are permissible.

Next, the other part of the manifesto, from page 17 of the translation, specifically now about women:

Manifesto on Muslim women
Our treatise concerning Muslim women in life does not differ from the treatise concerning the Muslim community in any way – rather, it is derived from it and taken from it. Its principles and concepts are based on the same two Righteous paths. [Muslim women] should emulate the women first called to religion, Mariam and Asia and Khadija, Fatima, Aisha and the mothers of the believers, women of the Companions and their followers, the biographies of whom were written down in ink of Light may God be pleased with them and may he please them. The central thesis of this statement is that woman was created to populate the Earth just as man was. But, as God wanted it to be, she was made from Adam and for Adam. Beyond this, her creator ruled that there was no responsibility greater for her than that of being a wife to her husband. God said: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy” (Quran 30:21).

The role was defined and purpose indicated with the word “That you may find tranquility in them”. In the hadith, “when any woman prays her five, fasts her month, guards her body and obeys her husband, it is said to her: Enter Paradise from whichever of its doors you wish”. This was related by Ibn Haban and authenticated by al-Albani. 

The problem today is that women are not fulfilling their fundamental roles, the role that is consistent with their deepest nature, for an important reason, that women are not presented with a true picture of man and, because of the rise in the number of emasculated men who do not shoulder the responsibility allocated to them towards their ummah, religion or people, and not even towards their houses or their sons, who are being supported by their wives. This idea has not penetrated the minds of many women. This has forced women away from their true role and they do not realise it. Because men are serving women like themselves, men cannot distinguish themselves from them according to the two features referred to by God: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what God has given over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth” (Quran 4:34).

This is the great Right for husbands – “If I was to order anybody to prostrate to another person I would have commanded the woman to prostrate to her husband” – but there are few women like this, these days – generally – unfortunately, except those of the mercy of God. If men were men then women would be women. With this in mind, [it is all the more important] for Muslim women to train themselves and bring up their girls according to how God has ordained it. He created them as such that the Muslim household would be established, and in so doing, the Muslim community would be based for the Lord. 

Hence, while Islam gives man dominance, it bestows upon women the honour of implementation (executive). This is an equilibrium agreed upon from the birth of all humans and something that we have gotten used to – a commander who oversees and is capable, and others under his leadership who obey him and carry out his requests. This is how humanity has operated for a long time and this is how it always was, even in “liberal” states and for today's “free” societies.

That is the right of the husband and this is the right of the wife. They are to give and take in kind and live amicably, “And live with them in kindness” (Quran 4:19), and not by coercion or force, but by goodness and virtue. The average Muslim man should not exploit his position to overpower or hurt. The average Muslim man is characterised by goodness and sympathy towards the weak. This was the normal way for the average man, even infidels, which would mean they should rise above harming women and criticise those who do, detract against and vilify them.

This is women’s fundamental role and rightful place. It is the harmonious way for her to live and interact amidst her sons and her people, to bring up and educate, protect and care for the next generation to come. She cannot fulfil this role if she is illiterate and ignorant, though. Hence, Islam does not ordain the forbidding of education or the blocking of culture from women.

The greatness of her position, the purpose of her existence is the Divine duty of motherhood. Truly, greatness is bestowed upon her. This is the command that God sanctified to His sons. The Righteous were distinguished from the others, “And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant” (Quran 19:32), and the Prophetic ruling was "Paradise is under the mother's feet", narrated by Ibn Majah, authenticated by al-Albani. Indeed, carrying a son of Adam, nurturing and preparing him for life, is a difficult job that God has bequeathed to the wife of Adam, because he has given her physical and psychological nature things which qualify only the woman for this arduous task that God bequeathed to her. For this, she receives a great reward from the Lord, something that would not come to her from any other employer of any other job, however hard she worked or succeeded, and the great right that may not be paid back, no matter what the child does for his mother "He does not pay back even one contraction".

The failure of the western model for women 
The model preferred by infidels in the West failed the minute that women were “liberated” from their cell in the house. Problems emerged one after another after they took on corrupted ideas and shoddy-minded beliefs instead of religion, Shariah and the methodology of life that was ordained by God. The falsity of these ideas were made evident by governments giving salaries to those who return to their homes and raise their children, finally openly accepting that they are “housewives”. 

Here, we are not going to present a list of the negatives that are caused in communities from the “women’s emancipation” narrative. These are apparent, unhidden from the distant observer, let alone the close observer. Rather, women have this Heavenly secret in sedentariness, stillness and stability, and men its opposite, movement and flux, that which is the nature of man, created in him. If roles are mixed and positions overlap, humanity is thrown into a state of flux and instability. The base of society is shaken, its foundations crumble and its walls collapse. It is sufficient for the ones considering this issue, who are aware of the Prophetic Tradition that supports the idea that women should not leave for prayer even though it is the most important matter, especially while men are required to leave for prayer five times, night and day. Verily God has ordained this sedentary existence for women, and it cannot be better in any way, for He is the Creator and He Knows what works and what does not in religion.

I think that's sufficient. The manifesto next goes into a detailed critique of Western Life and its satanic influence, followed by a case study with photographs, describing women's lives in the Caliphate. The document concludes like this:

To conclude, there are four things we want to convey to the people.

1: The emir – may God protect him – his soldiers and his workers, God bless your efforts, hold dear our state and your state, you are of us and we of you. As the secularists have been quashed, women have been raised aloft, and they have stayed in the Way of God as a result of his charity and protection. Their rights are protected after the expulsion of the ignorant.

2: For our sisters who enjoy the rule of God in the shadow of the Caliphate, fear God and fulfil your duties to the state, be careful not to do any harm to it, knowingly or unknowingly. Bring up the sons of the Caliphate to know true tawheed. Bring up its daughters such that they know chastity and decency. Know that you are the hope of the ummah. The guardians of the faith and protectors of the land will emerge from you. God bless you and your patience, you are of us and we of you.

3: To women everywhere, especially those who care about the ummah, may you be aware that the ummah of Muhammad (pbuh), which would not rise without your help, do not disgrace the caliphate, but serve it even if it is by one word, may your sons be the bricks and mortar in the tower of majesty and minarets of the State of Islam. God bless you and your patience, you are of us and we of you.

4) To the enemies of the Islamic State, the enemies of chastity and purity, the secularists and liberals from among our own people, women have been returned to their Rightful jilbabs and sedentary lifestyle. Throw the sputum of your culture, your civilisation and your thinking into the sea. God fights you and you are not of us and we are not of you.

There you have the guts, I think. The Quilliam Foundation did say that it wasn't meant for, say, European eyes, but for erring or susceptible sisters in the Middle East. But, remembering the first historic expansion of Islam in the 600s, fifteen hundred years ago, the views expressed would apply to all women in any territories taken over by this or similar caliphates. Which could mean me or you.

There is clearly no place for any man or woman who can't fit into the rigid roles outlined. That's not of course a novel situation. I don't imagine that there have been many eras in history, speaking now especially of Europe, when anyone has been free to live exactly as they please. But one of the most valuable things about modern Western life is the free and open expression of the true self. Of course it's often carried too far. Of course some people do sidetrack themselves into dead-end and worthless obsessions. But most don't. Certainly not retired, responsible, well-informed caravanning ladies living in Mid Sussex!

This tract of the IS has convinced me that I must never throw away my independence, nor my personal best judgement, nor my recognition that constant change and impermanence is a basic feature of the universe. Indeed the key truth.

I am a woman, but that's my secondary role: I am a person, a human being, first. And I think the prime aim of a person - beyond straightforward survival - is to have a life worth living. That's best achieved by having full personal control. Letting someone else call the shots is no part of it. Letting someone else take all the responsibilities is no part of it either. Facts hit hard, and go on hitting and hurting, until one faces them and adapts to them. I wouldn't feel I was living my life with my eyes wide open, nor living it honestly, nor safely, if I used psychological techniques to give me a spurious feeling of happiness and invulnerability.

If I have any belief at all, it is that only natural forces really matter - and not what people believe in at any given point in time. Indeed I don't think people and their various points of view count for anything at all in the vastness of eternity. We came - and will vanish - all in a flash. And along with us, all we have ever known and cherished. Only atoms endure.

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