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Lack of justice for rape victims

THE Mir Hazar Khan police aren’t inhospitable, at least not in normal circumstances. But Wednesday wasn’t a routine day at the police station in Muzaffargarh’s Jatoi tehsil. Punjab’s top spy was trying to determine the circumstances that had forced Amina Mai to burn herself to death just outside the police station a week earlier. He was also focusing on the police’s role in the release, without a proper probe, of the man Amina accused of raping her on Jan 5. Another team headed by the top provincial investigator was due to arrive the next morning to probe the rape case on the apex court’s orders.
That wasn’t all. Three of the policemen’s colleagues facing arrest — a DSP, an inspector and a sub-inspector — are fugitives from the law. Another DSP is on temporary bail and ASI Rana Zulfiqar Ali, who was investigating the 18-year-old’s complaint but had evidently freed the suspect without a proper probe, is in jail. Against this backdrop, it was but natural for the police to view a journalist in their midst as an unwanted intrusion. “Not now,” said an uncommunicative sentry, pushing us out of the building and bolting the gate behind us.
Outside the police station — 40km from Muzaffargarh — the spot where the Class XI student had set herself on fire after the release of the key suspect doesn’t bear any sign of her tragic death. Eyewitnesses are hard to find. “I saw the girl sprinkling petrol on her scarf from a can handed by her mother and lighting herself,” Tanveer Ahmed, whose father owns a dhaba a few metres away, told Dawn. He was the only person in the area who claimed to have witnessed the incident.
“A couple of TV cameramen were recording the event and continuously encouraging her to burn her scarf if she wanted justice. She was in flames within a fraction of a minute.” Tanveer wasn’t sure if the cameramen, who apparently rode away on their motorbike(s) once things got uglier, had come there on their own or had accompanied the girl.
Amina had alleged that the rape took place in the jungle when she was walking home from the doctor’s with her younger brother. The place isn’t far from the narrow broken and dusty road that takes you to her village, Lundi Pitafi, in 30-35 minutes through fields, villages and small bazaars on both sides.
Murders are easy in Pakistan to wash away. Rapes are even easier to cover up. Every year, thousands of cases of gang rape and rape are registered and the culprits ‘traced’, but only a few perpetrators are convicted because of the investigators’ prejudice against women, corruption, lack or destruction of evidence, police failure to have the victims medically tested or undergo DNA tests, untrained prosecutors and numerous investigation and legal shortcomings.
In Amina’s case, one or a combination of these factors could have played out in favour of her alleged tormentors. “It’s yet to be determined if the investigation officer mismanaged the case intentionally or was too incompetent to handle it,” a police official said privately.
At her home, her elder brother Ghulam Shabbir said his sister was an honourable woman. “[The main suspect’s] release was too much for her. In the court, my sister was jeered at by him and his brothers. They thrust sweets into her mouth. She couldn’t cope with her humiliation,” he said, pointing in the direction of her alleged tormentor’s house nearby. The house has been locked ever since he was rearrested and his brothers went into hiding.
Inside the house, Amina’s mother repeatedly demanded justice for her dead daughter. “If they don’t give us justice I’ll burn myself like her.” She denies she knew her daughter wanted to set herself ablaze. “She went to the police station to collect her clothes. I went along. When the SHO refused to see her, she asked me to bring back her clothes. I was only halfway inside when I heard her screams and looked back to see the flames burning her,” she recalled. She said she was not aware of the presence of cameramen at the spot.
On our way back, we chanced upon local politician Mohammad Sharif Kamboh. “There’s little doubt in my mind that something had happened between the suspect and the girl [on the day she said she was raped]. It is for the police to investigate the girl’s complaint and determine the nature and extent of the crime.” But the police failed her just as they have failed countless other women.
کالج کی ایک اٹھارہ سالہ طالبہ  جسے گھر جاتے ہوئے گینگ ریپ کیا گیا، زیادہ واضح دکھائی دے رہی ہے۔ آبروریزی کرنے والے مجرمان کا حشر اُس بلے کا سا نہ ہوا کیونکہ آمنہ بی بی کا تعلق ایک عام سے گھرانے سے تھا۔ اس کے لیے مختاراں مائی بھی کچھ نہ کرسکی حالانکہ اسے میڈیا کی کوریج ملتی ہے۔ مختاراں مائی کی مشرف دور میں آبروریزی کی گئی تھی لیکن جنرل صاحب کی حکومت میں خواتین کے معاملات کی مشیرنیلو فر بختیار نے اُس سنگین معاملے کو نظر انداز کردیا۔ ہمارے ملک میں تو ایسے واقعات خبر ہی نہیں بنتے، لیکن عالمی میڈیا کی طرف سے اس واقعے کو رپورٹ کرنے پر سب جاگ اٹھے۔
اس کے بعد ایک لیڈی ڈاکٹر شازیہ خالد کا کیس تھا۔ وہ بلوچستان کے شہر سوئی میں ایک پٹرولیم کمپنی میںملازم تھی۔ اُسے اُس ہوسٹل کے کمرے میں، جہاں وہ رہتی تھی، ریپ کیا گیا۔ تاہم اس کمپنی کے مالکوں اور مقامی پولیس نے کیس کو دبا دیا۔ مشرف اور اس کی کابینہ کے ارکان بھی اس کیس میں ہاتھ ڈالنے سے ہچکچا رہے تھے۔ حکومت دم سادھے کھڑی تھی جب غیر ت مند بلوچ قبائلیوں نے قانون کو اپنے ہاتھ میں لے کر فیصلہ سنا دیا اور سوئی جل اٹھا۔ اس کے بعد شازیہ کو وہاں سے جلدی سے نکال کر کسی دوسرے ملک منتقل کر دیا گیا۔ کیا یہ کہانی یہاں ختم ہوجاتی ہے؟ہر گز نہیں۔سندھ
کی سرزمین پر شازیہ خالد کے داد ا نے اُسے کاروکاری قرار دے دیا کیونکہ وہ ریپ ہو کر قبیلے کے لیے بدنامی کا باعث بنی تھی۔ اس کے برعکس مختاراں مائی کا کیس مختلف تھا۔ وہ پاکستان میں ہی رہی اور خود پر ہونے والے ستم کے خلاف قانونی جنگ لڑی۔ میڈیا کی وجہ سے وہ راتوں رات ویسی ہی شہرت پاگئی جیسی آج ملالہ کو ملی ہے۔ اُسے امریکہ آنے کی دعوت دی گئی ۔ وہاں اس نے خود پر ہونے والے ظلم اور پاکستانی معاشرے میں عورتوں پر توڑنے جانے مظالم پر بے دھڑک باتیں کیں۔ اس پر عالمی میڈیا نے اسے بے حد پزیرائی دی۔ اسے مغربی ممالک کی تنظیموں کی طرف سے بہت سے عطیات وصول ہوئے۔ اس رقم سے اُس نے ''مختاراں مائی سوشل ویلفیئر آرگنائزیشن ‘‘ قائم کی۔ تاہم ستم یہ کہ جب آمنہ بی بی مختاراں مائی کی تنظیم کے پا س مدد کے لیے گئی تو اُسے خالی ہاتھ لوٹنا پڑا۔ اس پر مختاراں مائی کا کہنا ہے کہ اُن کی تنظیم اُسے رہائش فراہم کرسکتی تھی لیکن آمنہ چاہتی تھی کہ وہ آبروریزی کرنے والے مجرموں کو گرفتار کرنے میں اس کی مدد کرے اور یہ بات ان کی تنظیم کی پہنچ سے باہر تھی۔ اس پر آمنہ نے خود پر پٹرول چھڑکا اور آگ لگالی۔اس کے بعد حکومت کی آنکھیں کھلیں۔ پھر وزیر ِ اعلیٰ بھاگے بھاگے وہاں پہنچے اور اُس کے اہلِ خانہ کو پانچ لاکھ روپے پیش کیے ، لیکن اس رقم ، یا کسی بھی رقم ،سے آمنہ واپس اس دنیا میں نہیں آسکتی۔
اگر آمنہ بی بی مختاراں مائی جیسے مضبوط اعصاب کی مالک ہوتی تو وہ بھی اپنا کیس عالمی میڈیا کے سامنے پیش کرسکتی تھی۔ پھر شاید اُسے انصاف مل جاتا۔ بات یہ ہے کہ جب تک میڈیا کسی جرم کو کوریج نہ دے ، حکومت کو علم نہیں ہوتا اور جب تک حکومت، اور وہ بھی وزیر ِ اعظم یا کم از کم وزیر ِاعلیٰ بذات ِخود نوٹس نہ لیں، پولیس کارروائی کرنا حرام سمجھتی ہے۔ اب بھلا ریت کے صحرا میں پانی کے چند قطرے کس طرح ہریالی لا سکتے ہیں؟اس لیے ہم جس طرح کی گورننس کے عادی ہوچکے ہیں یا جس طریقے سے ہمیں انصاف ملتا ہے ، اس کے لیے ٹی وی کوریج ضروری ہے۔ دوسرا مشکل آپشن ریاستی نظم و نسق کو درست کرنا ہے کہ ارباب اختیار ایسا نظام وضع کریں کہ ہر کسی کو اس کی دہلیز پر انصاف مل سکے، لیکن اس طرح پھر حکمرانوں کی تشہیر نہیںہوتی اور نہ ہی ان کی خدا ترسی کے گن گائے جاتے ہیں ، چنانچہ ایسا نظام گیا بھاڑ میں...
یہ کم درجے کے انسانوں کے معاملات ایسے ہی چلنے ہیں، اس لیے واپس اعلیٰ درجے کے مور جس کی ہلاکت پر پولیس کی دوڑیں لگ گئیں، کی بات کرلیں۔ کوئی عجب نہیں کہ آئندہ بلّوں کو اپنے دانتوں اور پنجوں کا لائسنس حاصل کرنا پڑے کیونکہ اب قانون سازی لازمی ہوگی۔ لیکن قانون کا عام انسانوں سے کیا کاکام ؟ کچھ سال پہلے ایک اور عورت انصاف کے لیے مرگئی۔وہ شمائلہ تھی اور وہ فہیم کی بیوہ تھی۔ فہیم وہ شخص تھا جسے لاہور میں ریمنڈ ڈیوس نے گولی مار کر ہلاک کردیا تھا۔ امریکی حکومت نے مقتول کے ورثا کو خون بہا کے طور پر 1.4 ملین ڈالر ادا کیے اور اُس کے کچھ رشتے داروںکو امریکی شہریت بھی مل گئی۔ اس پر تمام اہل ِ خانہ خوش تھے سوائے شمائلہ کے ، کیونکہ اس کا کہنا تھا کہ اُسے رقم نہیں، انصاف چاہیے۔ جب انصاف کی قیمت لگ جائے اور انسان ، اور وہ بھی ایک بیوہ کیا کرسکتی ہے۔ چنانچہ اُس نے زہر کھا کر خود کشی کرلی۔
آر سی ڈی روڈ پر ہونے والے حادثے میں درجنوں افراد جل کر راکھ ہوگئے کیونکہ ان میں ڈیزل سمگل ہورہا تھا اور اسے آگ لگ گئی۔ کیا حادثے سے پہلے کسی کوعلم نہ تھا کہ بسوں کی چھتوں پر جو ڈرم رکھے ہوتے ہیں ان میں سمگل شدہ تیل ہوتا ہے؟ ساغر صدیقی نے اسی لیے کہاتھا ؎
معبدوں کے چراغ گل کر دو
قلبِ انسان میں اندھیرا ہے
By Anjum Niaz dunya.com.pk

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15 Important Muslim Women in History

It would be interesting to introduce people to several names of important Muslim women in history that they may not have encountered before. Although the names of such extraordinary figures as the Empress Theodora, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Anne Boleyn, Caterina Sforza, and Elizabeth I are generally well-known, their counterparts in the medieval and early modern Muslim world are not. Women played an important role in the pre-modern Muslim world as scholars, poets, mystics, rulers, and warriors. This is a very short list of some of them. 
1)     Khadīja b. Khuwaylid (d. 620). Even before her famous marriage to the Prophet Muhammad, she was an important figure in her own right, being a successful merchant and one of the elite figures of Mecca. She played a central role in supporting and propagating the new faith of Islam and has the distinction of being the first Muslim. As the Prophet Muhammad himself is believed to have said in a hadith preserved in Sahih Muslim: “God Almighty never granted me anyone better in this life than her. She accepted me when people rejected me; she believed in me when people doubted me; she shared her wealth with me when people deprived me; and God granted me children only through her.” Indeed, another of the most important women of early Islam, Fāṭima al-Zahrā’, was the daughter of the Prophet by Khadīja and it is only through Fāṭima (especially through her two sons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn) that the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad is preserved. These facts make Fāṭima and her mother Khadīja among the most revered female personages in Islamic history.
Tomb of Khadija before its destruction)
2)     Nusayba b. Ka‘b al-Anṣārīyya (d. 634). Also known as Umm ‘Ammara, she was a member of the Banū Najjār tribe and one of the earliest converts to Islam in Medina. As a Companion of the Prophet Muhammad, there were many virtues attributed to her. She is most remembered, however, for taking part in the Battle of Uhud (625), in which she carried sword and shield and fought against the Meccans. She shielded the Prophet Muhammad from enemies during the battle and even sustained several lance wounds and arrows as she cast herself in front of him to protect him. It is said that after she sustained her twelfth wound, she fell unconscious and the first question she asked when she awoke (a day later in Medina) was “did the Prophet survive?”

(Nusayba b. Ka’b as depicted in the MBC TV Series ‘Umar)

3)     Khawla b. al-Azwar (d. 639). Another contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad. She is best known for her participation in the Battle of Yarmuk (636) against the Byzantines. According to later narratives of the Islamic conquests, authors described her as having the skill and fighting ability of the famed Muslim general Khālid ibn al-Walīd. There are a lot of embellishments and unclear details that emerge from later sources about her which make the details questionable, leading some scholars to doubt whether she had even existed at all! Despite these reservations, it is nonetheless notable that scholars such as al-Waqidi and al-Azdi, writing in the eighth and ninth centuries, found it necessary to ascribe such importance to a female warrior in the conquests. Indeed, if she never existed at all this makes her legend all the more interesting.
(Jordanian stamp depicting Khawla b. al-Azwar)
4)     ‘Ā’isha b. Abī Bakr (d. 678). A figure that requires almost no introduction, ‘Ā’isha was the wife of the Prophet Muhammad who had perhaps the most influence on the Muslim community after his death. She played a central role in the political opposition to the third and fourth caliphs Uthmān ibn ‘Affān and ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, even leading an army against the latter at Basra in 656. Although she retired from political life after her defeat, she continued to play a major role as a transmitter of Islamic teachings. She is one of the major narrators ofhadith in the Sunni tradition. In many ways, she is among the most controversial figures in early Islam, especially since the implications of her actions for women’s participation in scholarship, political life, and the public sphere clashed with later conservative conceptions of the role of women. For more about ‘Ā’isha and her legacy, read Denise Spellberg’s excellent book entitled Politics, Gender and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of ‘Ā’isha bint Abī Bakr (1996).

(Battle of the Camel)

5)     Zaynab b. ‘Alī (d. 681). She was the grand-daughter of the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fāṭima (d. 633) and her husband ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (d. 661). She was among the most illustrious and admirable figures of the Ahl al-Bayt (Family of the Prophet) and played a central role both during and after the Massacre at Karbala (680), where her brother al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī, and 72 of her nephews and other brothers were killed by the Umayyads. For a time, she was the effective leader of the Ahl al-Bayt and served as the primary defender of the cause of her brother, al-Ḥusayn. At Kufa, she defended her nephew—‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn—from certain death by the governor of the city  and, when presented to the Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwiya at Damascus, gave such an impassioned and forceful speech in the royal court that forced the caliph to release her and the prisoners taken at Karbala. Her strength, patience, and wisdom makes her one of the most important women in early Islam. Her shrine at Damascus remains a major place of visitation by both Sunnis and Shi’as, a fact that emphasizes the universality of her legacy among Muslims.
(Shrine of Sayyida Zaynab in Damascus)
6)     Rābi‘a al-‘Adawīyya (d. 801). One of the most important mystics (or Sufis) in the Muslim tradition, Rābi‘a al-‘Adawīyya spent much of her early life as a slave in southern Iraq before attaining her freedom. She is considered to be one the founders of the Sufi school of “Divine Love,” which emphasizes the loving of God for His own sake, rather than out of fear of punishment or desire for reward. She lays this out in one of her poems:
“O God! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,
and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.
But if I worship You for Your Own sake,
grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.”

When asked why he included such a major entry on Rābi‘a in his biographical dictionary of mystics (the Tadhkirat al-Awliyā’), the 13th-century scholar Fariduddīn Attār (d. 1220) explained: “the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself said, ‘God does not regard your outward forms. The root of the matter is not form, but the inner intention. Mankind will be raised up according to their intentions.’ Moreover if it is proper for us to derive two-thirds of our religion from a woman, the noble and blessed ‘A’isha bint Abi Bakr (may God be pleased with them both), then surely it is permissible to take religious instruction from [one who can be likened, in status, to] a handmaiden of ‘A’isha (may God be pleased with her).”
7)     Lubna of Cordoba (d. 984). Originally a slave-girl of Spanish origin, Lubna rose to become one of the most important figures in the Umayyad palace in Cordoba. She was the palace secretary of the caliphs ‘Abd al-Rahmān III (d. 961) and his son al-Hakam b. ‘Abd al-Rahmān (d. 976). She was also a skilled mathematician and presided over the royal library, which consisted of over 500,000 books. According to the famous Andalusi scholar Ibn Bashkuwāl: “She excelled in writing, grammar, and poetry. Her knowledge of mathematics was also immense and she was proficient in other sciences as well. There were none in the Umayyad palace as noble as her.” [Ibn Bashkuwal, Kitab al-Silla (Cairo, 2008), Vol. 2: 324].

(Painting of Lubna by José Luis Muñoz)

8)     Al-Malika al-Ḥurra Arwa al-Sulayhi (d. 1138). Her full name was Arwa b. Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Sulayḥī. From 1067 to 1138, she ruled as the queen of Yemen in her own right. She was an Ismā‘īlī Shi’i and was well-versed in various religious sciences, Qur’an, hadith, as well as poetry and history. Chroniclers describe her as being incredibly intelligent. The fact that she ruled in her own right as queen is underscored by the fact that her name was mentioned in the khutba (Friday sermon) directly after the name of the Fatimid caliph, al-Mustanṣir-billah. Arwa was given the highest rank in the Yemeni Fatimid religious hierarchy (that of ḥujja) by the Fatimid caliph al-Mustanṣir. She was the first woman in the history of Islam to be given such an illustrious title and to have such authority in the religious hierarchy. It was also during her reign that Ismā’īlī missionaries were sent to western India, where a major Ismā’īlī center was established at Gujrat (which continues to be a stronghold of the Ismā’īlī Bohra faith). She played a major role in the Fatimid schism of 1094, throwing her support behind al-Musta‘lī (and later al-Tayyib), and it is a mark of her immense influence that the lands under her rule—Yemen and parts of India—would follow her in this. Indeed, Yemen became the stronghold of the Tayyibī Ismā’īlī movement. Her reign was marked by various construction projects and improvement of Yemen’s infrastructure, as well as its increased integration with the rest of the Muslim world. She was perhaps the single, most important example of an independent queen in Muslim history.

(Jibla, Queen Arwa’s capital)

(Coins minted by Queen Arwa)

9)     Fāṭima b. Abī al-Qāsim ‘Abd al-Rahmān b. Muhammad b. Ghālib al-Ansārī al-Sharrāṭ (d. 1216). She was one of the most learned women in al-Andalus during the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Her engagement with works of legal theory, jurisprudence as well as mysticism makes it apparent that she was familiar with a wide variety of Islamic sciences. She was the mother of the eminent professor Abū al-Qāsim b. al-Ṭaylasān. According to the Andalusi scholar Abū Ja’far al-Gharnāṭī (d. 1309): “She memorized enumerable books under the guidance of her father, including al-Makki’s Tanbīh, al-Qudā‘ī’s al-Shihāb, Ibn ‘Ubayd al-Ṭulayṭalī’s Mukhtasar, all three of which she knew by heart. She also memorized the Qur’an under the guidance of Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Madwarī, the great ascetic who is considered from among the abdāl [an important rank within Sufism]. With her father, she also learned Sahīh Muslim, Ibn Hishām’s Sīra [of the Prophet], al-Mubarrad’s al-Kāmil, al-Baghdādī’s Nawādir, and other works.”[Abū Ja’far Ahmad b. Ibrāhīm al-Gharnāṭī, Kitāb Silla al-Silla (Beirut, 2008), p. 460].
10)  Razia Sultan (d. 1240). She was the ruler of the Sultanate of Delhi between 1236 and 1240. Her father, Shams al-Dīn Iltutmish (r. 1210-1236) had Razia designated as his heir before his death, therefore making her the official ruler of the sultanate. She was a fairly effective ruler and was a major patron of learning, establishing schools and libraries across northern India. In all matters, she behaved like a sultan, leading armies, sitting upon the throne and even adopting the same royal dress as her father; to the outrage of many, she also insisted on appearing unveiled in public. In 1240, she was overthrown in a rebellion by the nobles of the kingdom, who—among other things—were strongly opposed to being led by a woman and killed. There is too much to be said about her life than I can do justice to here, but if you want to know more, I suggest you read Rafiq Zakaria’s Razia: Queen of India (1966).
(Coins minted in the name of Razia Sultan)
(Artistic depiction of Razia Sultan)
11)  Shajar al-Durr (d. 1257). She was the widow of the Ayyubid sultan al-Sālih Ayyūb (r. 1240-1249) and played an important role in Egyptian politics following her husband’s death. She was most likely of Turkic origin, beginning her life as a slave-girl in the Ayyubid court. By 1250, she had become the ruler (or sultana) of Egypt; her reign is generally considered to mark the beginning of the Mamluk sultanate of Egypt. She played an important role in the preparations in defending northern Egypt against the Seventh Crusade, defeating the crusaders (although she herself was not present) at the Battle of Fariskur (1250) and taking King Louis IX of France captive. She was the effective head-of-state and her name was mentioned in the khutba and coins minted in her name with the title “Malikat al-Muslimīn” (Queen of the Muslims). However, it was difficult for people to accept being ruled solely by a woman and in August 1250, as a result of various pressures, she married her commander-in-chief ‘Izz al-Dīn Aybak, who became the first Mamluk sultan. Despite the marriage, Shajar al-Durr maintained her power and was even able to ensure that documents of state bore the names of both sovereigns, rather than only that of Aybak. However, in 1257 she decided to eliminate her husband (for political reasons in addition to discovering that he was engaged in an affair with another woman or sought to marry an additional wife [the sources are obscure on this issue]) and assassinated him in bath. When this was discovered, she was deposed and brutally killed, bringing her reign to a tragic close.
(Coins minted by Shajar al-Durr)
(Tomb of Shajar al-Durr)
12)  Zaynab b. Ahmad (d. 1339). She was perhaps one of the most eminent Islamic scholars of the fourteenth century. Zaynab belonged to the Ḥanbalī school of jurisprudence and resided in Damascus. She had acquired a number of ijazas (diplomas or certifications) in various fields, most notably hadith. In the early fourteenth century, she taught such books as Sahīh BukhāriSahīh Muslim, the Muwatta’ of Mālik b. Anas, theShamā’il of al-Tirmidhī, and al-Tahāwī’s Sharḥ Ma‘ānī al-Athār. Among her students was the North African traveler Ibn Battūta (d. 1369), Tāj al-Dīn al-Subkī (d. 1355), al-Dhahabī (d. 1348), and her name appears in several dozen of the isnads of Ibn Ḥajar al-Asqalānī (d. 1448). It is important to point out that Zaynab was only one of hundreds of female scholars of hadith during the medieval period in the Muslim world. For more on the role of Muslim women in hadith scholarship, read Asma Sayeed’s Women and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge in Islam (2013) and Mohammad Akram Nadwi’s Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars of Islam(2007).

Manuscript of Sahih Bukhari)

13)  Sayyida al-Hurra (d. 1542). With a name literally meaning “the Free Woman,” Sayyida al-Hurra was one of the most interesting Muslim figures of the sixteenth century. She was originally from the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, but was forced to flee following its conquest by Christian Spain in 1492. Like many Andalusi Muslims, she settled in Morocco and, along with her husband, fortified and ruled the town of Tetouan on the northern coast. Following the death of her husband in 1515, she became the sole ruler of the city, which grew in strength and population as more Andalusi Muslims were exiled or driven out of Iberia in the early sixteenth century. For various reasons, including the desire to avenge the destruction of al-Andalus and the forcible conversion to Christianity of Muslims there, she turned to piracy and transformed Tetouan into a major base of naval operations against Spain and Portugal. She allied with the famous Ottoman corsair-turned-admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa in Algiers and together they dealt a serious blow to Spanish imperial power in North Africa and the Western Mediterranean. It is interesting to note that Muslim sources are quite silent about Sayyida al-Hurra, and most of our information about her is derived from Spanish and Portuguese documents, who emphasize her effectiveness as a pirate queen and the destructiveness of the raids that she wrought against the southern shores of the Iberian peninsula. She later married the Moroccan Wattasid Sultan, Abūl Abbās Muhammad (r. 1526-1545). While the pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read are well-known female pirates to many audiences, it is a shame that Sayyida al-Hurra is much less known. For a good look at her life, see Fatima Mernissi’s The Forgotten Queens of Islam (1997), where the author discusses al-Sayyida al-Hurra as well as other important female figures in the medieval Muslim world. For those who know Spanish, see Rodolfo Grim Grimau’s “Sayyida al-Hurra, Mujer Marroqui de Origen Andalusi,” Anaquel de Estudios Arabes (2000): 311-320.
14)  Parī Khān Khānum (d. 1578). A Safavid princess and daughter of Shah Tahmasp I (r. 1524-1576) by a Circassian mother, she was one of the most influential Iranian women in the sixteenth century. She was renowned as an educated woman and was well-versed in traditional Islamic sciences, such as jurisprudence. She was also known to be an excellent poet. Parī Khān Khānum  played an important role in securing the succession of her brother Ismā‘īl II to the Safavid throne. However, during Ismā‘īl’s short reign, her influence waned. During the reign of Ismā‘īl’s successor, Mohammad Khodabanda, she was killed because she was seen to wield too much influence and power. For more, see Shohreh Gholsorkhi’s “Pari Khan Khanum: A Masterful Safavid Princess,” Iranian Studies 28 (1995): 143-156.

(Painting of a Safavid princess by Riza Abbasi)

15)  Kösem Sultan (d. 1651). Many English-speaking audiences are quite familiar with Roxelana or Hurrem Sultan, the queen-consort of Suleyman I (r. 1520-1566). However, Kösem Sultan seems to be much less known. As the consort (then wife) of Ottoman sultan Ahmed I (r. 1603-1617), the mother of the sultans Murad IV (r. 1623-1640) and Ibrahim (r. 1640-1648), and the grandmother of the sultan Mehmed IV (r. 1648-1687), she wielded immense influence and can be considered to be perhaps the most powerful woman in Ottoman history. Originally a Greek with the name Anastasia, she was enslaved at a young age and brought to the Ottoman palace, where she became the concubine of the sultan Ahmed I. According to a contemporary source, Cristoforo Valier, in 1616, Kösem was the most powerful of the sultan’s associates: “she can do what she wishes with the Sultan and possesses his heart absolutely, nor is anything ever denied to her.” Between 1623 and 1632, she served as regent for her son Murad IV, who took the throne as a minor. Until her assassination in 1651, as a result of court intrigue, she exercised a major influence on Ottoman politics. For more on Kösem Sultan and the institution of the Ottoman imperial harem, see Leslie Peirce’s The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire (1993).

(Early 18th-century Western representation of Kösem Sultan)

Anyone wishing to learn more about women in the medieval Muslim world should consult the bibliography I compiled here:
By Ballandalusballandalus.wordpress.com

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Humanity, Religion, Culture, Ethics, Science, Spirituality & Peace

Prophet Muhammad as the Feminist

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, a feminist? I can see a few eyebrows raised, several harsh glances thrown and some hands lifted. Relax. Let me explain.
Here comes his story, though it is possible that you might not have heard it from this angle or were just misinformed, as is often the case.
Being a woman is hard work.
Says the Black American writer Maya Angelou. It is indeed hard [and lots of it!] work to be a woman and stay that way! Should I add being a Muslim woman is more difficult, at least in the eyes of the Western world?
The popular image of the suffering Muslim woman is orientalist in nature. The West and its media are obsessed with the false perception of the alleged suffocation of Muslim women. This image suggests that these veiled souls can't speak for themselves and need to be, 'saved'. We do not need, saving, and this liberty is forced upon us.
Also we must do away with despite-being-a-Muslim woman kind of rhetoric. It is too patronizing an attitude and instills dichotomy.
To begin with the story, he began with the banning of female infanticide. It was a hugely revolutionary step. Imagine how difficult it must have been to convince a people, to not be killing their daughters, who had the habit of burying them alive?
Once he wept uncontrollably to hear one such confession. He had not one or two but four daughters and was an exemplary father to them. He had informed his people that they should not prefer their sons over daughters, and they should bring them up with utmost care and never ever subject them to discrimination of any kind. If they succeed in doing so, they were assured, they will be rewarded immensely in the afterlife. We all know how this charity of discrimination with us begins at home; with mothers expecting their daughters to be perfect and contributing in the household work while the sons are spoilt to the hilt.
Discrimination begins with this attitude where sons/boys are preferred for exceptional treatment. He never was one for this. According to his wife Aisha RA, he would be at his happiest best when his youngest daughter Fatima RA came visiting. His face would lit up and he would be at his warmest best towards her and happiest in her company.
When it comes to the issue of women and Islam, everyone is familiar with the commonplace perceptions and stereotypes as to how Islam exploits women, curbs their freedom and condemns them to domestic existence in their homes.
The fact of the matter is that if we look closely, it is actually Muslim men who should be complaining about not being favored as much as women. I am illustrating my case here.
The Prophet said that a woman has the freedom to choose her spouse, to spend her money where she wants to and has the right to own property. That was some 1400 years ago!
Furthermore, without her explicit consent, she can't be married off; she can demand divorce if she is not happy in her marriage. The Prophet was most concerned about widow remarriage and asked for avoiding any delays regarding this. In those times a woman could even send her own marriage proposal to a man!
Can you imagine such a thing today? They could earn their living, why his first wife Khadijah RA was a business woman and had employed him to help her. Financial freedom is the true freedom. In Islam it is binding on the male relations of a woman to take care of her expenses. Irrespective of whether she earns or not, she is not obliged to or does not need to spend on herself, from her own pocket.
If she earns, her money is her property entirely; any male relation, has no right to stake a claim on it, directly or indirectly. The argument that this creates inequality among the genders does not hold water. Does granting of privileges of some special kind, means we are unequal? Why not then ban the special reserved seats for women in buses or even refrain, from offering a woman your seat?
While my case is, if you are given a privilege, a concession, without your asking for it, then just grab it and make hay. Of course the sun shines bright on us the Muslim women. There is no scope for a Muslim man to take a single penny from a woman relative [especially wife] without her unambiguous and happy consent.
This way, the concept of dowry is also automatically rendered un-Islamic.He knew the importance of educating women and had asked the believers to learn teachings of Islam, also from his wife Aisha, who was groomed by him with special care and attention.
I wish to share a few slices of his wonderful life where he shows how cool he was with the women. He understood them, loved them, respected them, cared for them and most of all he showed that he cared. He said it as it was. He was never shy of expressing his love for his wives. They were bestowed with lovely nicknames; were listened to patiently, never taunted, criticized or made fun of by him.
If reprimanding them was necessary, he did so privately and in a very gentle and considerate way. His wives would even stop talking to him if they were miffed for some reason and could even reply back! He was there for them, when they needed him.
Talking to them, narrating the day's happenings, asking for their opinion, never hurting their sentiments, sharing caring and loving….You have to be a wife [woman] to know how precious this feels!
He was also not one among those scores of men who order around their women. He would wash his clothes himself, mend his shoes, serve himself and did whatever other ordinary workmen do.
The popular perception calculatingly enforced in the media is that Islam is a bad religion for women. [Oh! You have four wives! They forget to mention 4, 5 or 6, girlfriends for some!]
When it comes to the matter of rights, there is justice and equality among men and women, no prejudice no favoritism to him or her. Yes, due to their characteristic traits, there are bound to be specifications about their dealings with the world and hence a different set of instructions for them to follow.
This is what the critics of Islam must understand, attributing individual and communal follies, [be it against educating women or their driving cars] to Islam and the Prophet's teachings is like blaming Taliban for the fly sitting on your pretty nose. Thank you.
This champion of women's rights practiced what he preached. He never hit any of his wives, and severely reprimanded the men who resort to violence. Once when Aisha RA angrily smashed a bowl filled with food from another of his wife Safia RA; he dealt with it astutely. He sat down and picked up the shreds of glass with his own hands, uttering the words, Oh, she got angry!
Imagine in his place a typical husband and you know the difference. This slice from his life makes it clear that he was not unaware of the psychology of women, her natural jealousies with a co-wife and, hence his maturity and wisdom of demeanor.
The matter of breaking a bowl was resolved finally when the guilty party was asked to procure a similar bowl with similar filling, and that was that. The matter was over within seconds, no hard feelings and no grudges. He understood a woman's mind perfectly well.
Yes, he was a feminist, a fierce one at that. He was feminist enough to accept his weakness and proclaim that it was his wife Khadija who helped, consoled and supported him when he was emotionally wrought at the time of the first divine revelation. Talking of the Prophet's equation with her, Dr. Gary Miller makes an interesting observation:
As a matter of fact she [Khadija] must have been quite a woman because when the first revelation came to him, he ran home to her, afraid. Certainly, even today one would have a hard time trying to find an Arab who would tell you, "I was so afraid that I ran home to my wife," They just aren't that way. Yet Mohammad, pbuh, felt comfortable enough with his wife to be able to do that.–The Amazing Quran.
How many men can admit to their wives that they were afraid and needed their support? He was courageous and man enough to acknowledge his wife's contribution and gave her the credit where it was due. Stressing the importance of treating a wife in the best way possible, he had said:
The best of the believers are those who are best in their manners and kindest to their wives.

Elsewhere, he said:
The best one of you is the best to his family and I am the best one of you to my family.

The Prophet also famously said that Jannah or heaven lay at the feet of a woman–one's mother.
'Treat women kindly, Fear Allah concerning women' were his last words.
With his model life before us and his noble words to guide us, being a woman is not hard work.
By Asma Anjum Khan: Assistant Professor of English and a community activist based in Maharashtra, India.  www.ummid.com
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Humanity, Religion, Culture, Ethics, Science, Spirituality & Peace

A woman’s lot

I DON’T understand why the Taliban are killing and maiming thousands in their quest to impose their version of the Sharia on us when the Council of Islamic Ideology is doing their job without firing a shot.
In a spate of rulings, the venerable Council has done more to push Pakistan back to the sixth century than all the TTP suicide bombers put together. Just recently, it decreed that there should be no
minimum age for girls to get married as long as they waited until the onset of puberty before being handed over to their husbands.
This means that a girl of, say, eight can be bound in matrimony to a man four or five times her age, and be forced into his bed at around 13. The point here is that she has obviously no say in the matter as a child cannot make such an important decision.
Physical maturity is not so much an issue as is the ability to choose her life partner for herself. A child bride is clearly unable to exercise this right granted to her in Islam.
In another retrograde ruling, the CII has challenged the current law requiring the first wife to give written permission before her husband can take another spouse.
This law has been continuously flouted in spirit as the senior wife is often coerced into giving her written agreement to bigamy. Nevertheless, this Ayub-era provision in the Family Laws Ordinance did provide a theoretical safeguard to women, and was a progressive, pro-women piece of legislation.
A few months ago, the CII ruled that DNA tests could not be used as primary evidence to convict rapists.
Apparently, the learned clerics of the Council continue to insist on the scriptural requirement of four male witnesses to the act. As the vast majority of rapes take place away from prying eyes, it is small wonder that rapists are seldom tried, leave alone convicted.
When public outcry against the increasing tendency to accuse members of religious minorities of blasphemy resulted in a proposal to give false accusers the death penalty, some learned members of the CII opposed it tooth and nail.
One can only hope that this new respect for human life will also be reflected in greater compassion among our learned ulema for those unjustly accused of blasphemy, and who thus face the death penalty.
Then the CII has opposed the Women’s Protection Act of 2006. This progressive legislation had sought to protect women from the horrors of the Zia-era Zina Ordinance under which they could be — and were — accused of fornication when they had actually been raped.
We all recall the dreadful case of the young blind woman who became pregnant after being raped in the Zia period, and was actually found guilty of fornication as she could not identify her rapists.
The Domestic Violence Bill, passed by the National Assembly, has been shelved in the Senate, partly due to criticism by the learned Council. All these religious interventions and opinions reinforce the impression that the CII is an anti-woman body of poorly educated men with little knowledge of anything but the literal rendering of the scriptures.
Consider their ruling on underage marriage as an example. By reducing the legal age of marriage from 16 years, where it is currently, to around 13, they are effectively increasing the child-bearing years of women.
The world over, the trend is for women to marry later, thus lowering the birth rate. Pakistan, with its high population growth rate, hardly needs more children.
This, of course, is quite apart from the cruelty inherent in depriving young women of the right to choose their husbands, or, indeed, the right to pursue an education and a career. Who gave these clerics the authority to snatch away the right to choose given to women by Islam?
Bigamy was permitted in a period when perpetual warfare created many widows, and so it made sense to permit four marriages as a means of providing single women protection and shelter. But surely, this is scarcely the situation today. To insist on a return to a medieval era shows just where the CII stands on the issue of women’s rights.
In world rankings, Pakistan is rated at just about the bottom in terms of how difficult it is to be a woman. Half our population is denied the most fundamental facilities and rights. In the same family, girls are at a disadvantage when it comes to food, medicines and education, with boys being given preference.
Given all the discrimination women face in a very brutal, male-dominated society, should we not do away with a body that makes their lives even more miserable? n
By Irfan Hussain  Dawn.com
Also read:  Marriageable age- Myth Exposed of marriage of young Ayesha ( r.A)
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Marriageable age- Myth Exposed of marriage of young Ayesha ( r.A)

It was neither an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as seven or nine years, nor did the Prophet marry Ayesha at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated.
Obviously, the narrative of the marriage of nine-year-old Ayesha by Hisham ibn `Urwah cannot be held true when it is contradicted by many other reported narratives. Moreover, there is absolutely no reason to accept the narrative of Hisham ibn `Urwah as true when other scholars, including Malik ibn Anas, view his narrative while in Iraq, as unreliable. The quotations from Tabari, Bukhari and Muslim show they contradict each other regarding Ayesha’s age. Furthermore, many of these scholars contradict themselves in their own records. Thus, the narrative of Ayesha’s age at the time of the marriage is not reliable due to the clear contradictions seen in the works of classical scholars of Islam. Read full at link at end of this post.
Therefore, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the information on Ayesha’s age is accepted as true when there are adequate grounds to reject it as myth. Moreover, the Quran rejects the marriage of immature girls and boys as well as entrusting them with responsibilities...
I believe, without solid evidence other than my reverence to my Prophet (pbuh ) that the stories of the marriage of seven-year-old Ayesha to 50-year-old Prophet are only myths. However, my long pursuit in search of the truth on this matter proved my intuition correct. My Prophet (pbuh) was a gentleman. And he did not marry an innocent seven or nine year old girl. The age of Ayesha range
.A  has been erroneously reported in the hadith literature. Furthermore, I think that the narratives reporting this event are highly unreliable. Some of the hadith (traditions of the Prophet) regarding Ayesha’s age at the time of her wedding with prophet are problematic. I present the following evidences against the acceptance of the fictitious story by Hisham ibn ‘Urwah and to clear the name of my Prophet as an irresponsible old man preying on an innocent little girl.
EVIDENCE #1: Reliability of Source
Most of the narratives printed in the books of hadith are reported only by Hisham ibn `Urwah, who was... keep reading at link below 》》》》 http://islamphobia.wordpress.com/the-propeht/vilification/
  • Marriage of Ayesha and Muhammad PBUH Comprehensive Answer - YouTube

    Apr 16, 2009 - Uploaded by manoftruth888
    Marriage of Ayesha and Muhammad PBUH Comprehensive Answer Part http://www.sahihalbukhari.com/sps ...
  • Hazrat Aisha was 19, not 9 at marriage time? by Dr Zakir Naik - YouTube

    May 16, 2012 - Uploaded by MuslimPreachers
    Dr Zakir Naik throw some light on article that published at Hindustan Times about Hazrat Aisha (Radi-Allahu ...
  • Guy Challenges Dr Zakir Naik on Marriage of Ayesha (ra) - YouTube

    Feb 1, 2012 - Uploaded by Taher Khan
    Guy Challenges Dr Zakir Naik on Marriage of Ayesha (ra) ...Hazrat Aisha was 19, not 9 at marriage time? by ..
    1. Addressing Muhammad (PBUH)'s Marriage to Aisha - YouTube

      Apr 18, 2011 - Uploaded by 877-Why-Islam
      In recent times, many wonder as to why the Prophet Muhammad (P) married a girl only 9 years old ...
    1. real Age of hazrat Ayesha at her marriage ,a history roundup - YouTube

      May 12, 2010 - Uploaded by yoursincerefriend
      most of non Muslims bluntly held allegation that prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) married hazrat ...
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