The impact of Islamic teachings on women
By Sadaf Farooqi | OnIslam | 23 Nov 2012
The Qur’an is indeed a miracle that has withstood the test of time; not a single letter in it has changed over 14 centuries. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims memorize and preserve it in their hearts. It contains amazing scientific facts confirmed much later after their revelation. Allah, the Exalted, promised to protect and preserve it. He says, “Surely We have revealed the Reminder, and We will most surely be its Guardian.” (Qur’an, 15:9)
Some of the Qur’anic verses possess immaculately poetic perfection. Yet, in addition to these and more exclusive qualities of this glorious book, one of the most profound ways in which the Qur’an has proved to be miraculous is how it transforms those who read it, understand it, and then act upon it.
As a Muslim woman who has witnessed such a change in numerous Muslim sisters of different ages and backgrounds after they started to study, ponder over, and adhere to the commands of the Qur’an, I can testify to the miraculous phenomenon that this book brings about.
So flabbergasting has this effect been that even Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was initially accused, by the disbelievers of Makkah, of practicing sihr (witchcraft) over the early Muslims, as the unflinching change of their hearts toward the Qur’an’s monotheistic message could not be attributed to any human cause. In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says, “And they wonder that there has come to them a warner from among themselves, and the disbelievers say, ‘This is an enchanter, a liar’.” (Qur’an, 38:4)
It is the same today. Whenever a Muslim adheres to the Qur’an, reciting it with understanding, reading its translation or exegesis with deep reflection, or teaching it to others, he or she undergoes a real change for the better in his or her lifestyle and habits, worship, dealings with others, and best of all in his or her innate spiritual self.
Knowledge of the Qur’an improves the Muslim woman’s understanding of monotheism, the Oneness of Allah, in such a way that her Creator becomes the center of her existence. Her basic beliefs are rectified and her heart is cleansed from the impurity of shirk (polytheism), as she reads in the Qur’an, “Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him.” (Qur’an, 4:36)
She also experiences a gradual decline in the reverence of intangible deities that her heart previously harbored, such as strong love for the world and its adornments (e.g., fashionable clothes, jewelry, shoes, interior decor, and luxuries), the human base self’s innate desires, and dependence on physical means and people (who are among Allah’s creation) in achieving ends.
Her attitude toward taharah (purity) in herself, her home, and her family also undergoes a radical change, so that she can be seen focusing more on simple, clean, clutter-free living rather than lavish opulence and exhibitionist extravagance. That is because Almighty Allah loves the repentant and the purified. He, the Exalted, says, “Surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.” (Qur’an, 2:222)
Knowledgeable companionship with the Glorious Qur’an removes from a Muslim woman’s life all useless pastimes, such as window shopping, buying unnecessary possessions, watching soaps or drama on television, gossiping for hours on the phone, attending extravagant parties to ascend the social ladder, showing acquired assets off, and attending gatherings of innovative religious rituals.
Eventually, the Qur’an enables her to relinquish social ills such as backbiting, mingling with members of the opposite sex, and indulging in impermissible entertainment (like films, music, dating, singing, and dancing). By refraining from all these ills, a Muslim woman will have ample time to pursue leisure-time activities and hobbies that will be more fruitful for her in the hereafter.
Most Muslim girls and women who gain knowledge of Allah’s Book eventually start teaching what they learned to others or actively start volunteering for social work on a community level (e.g., feeding the poor, paying off others’ debts, facilitating marriages, counseling those who are aggrieved, and providing the needy with work).
They also start to focus more on their family and on building its Islamic character. The major cause of this shift in focus is, as mentioned before, relinquishing mundane and time-wasting pursuits.
Modesty in dress and dealings
The more a Muslim woman studies the Qur’an, the more she becomes inclined to chastity, humbleness, and modesty. The Qur’an reconnects her to her fitrah (intrinsic human nature), and thus she starts becoming conscious of how she dresses in public, how she talks to men who are not mahrams (unmarriageable kins), and how she uses body language outside her house.
In fact, all her manners undergo a noticeable change for the better: her dressing, her tone of voice, her conversational style, her sense of humor, her gestures, and her way of talking with men all become compliant with Allah’s ordainments in the Qur’an: “And do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore, and keep up Prayer, and pay the poor rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger.” (Qur’an, 33:33)
Deep understanding of the Qur’an leads to a high level of taqwa, which is piety, perpetual consciousness of Allah, and fear of His anger. This makes a Muslim woman extremely careful to give other people their due rights. This taqwa improves her relationships with them, making her more patient, tolerant, forgiving mistakes and shortcomings, and more kind to everyone in general.
The Qur’an makes her more zealously cherish, obey, respect, and serve her parents, especially if she is single and free from the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood. She thus helps out more with household tasks instead of always going out with friends. She gives due attention to her parents’ advice and opinions and obeys their decisions regarding her marriage proposals.
Similarly, the Qur’an reminds the married Muslim woman of the nature of her husband’s and children’s rights, which are her duties toward them. It is therefore not uncommon to see a husband (who himself might not be so practicing of the teaching of Islam beyond basic obligations) singing his wife’s praises once she starts studying the Qur’an.
This is because he strongly feels the improvement in her overall character and conduct; he notices her hard work on the moral upbringing of their children and her increased dedication to her home life. He finds a warmer, happier home and family awaiting him each evening, so he openheartedly welcomes this change, which was brought about by the Qur’an’s effect on his wife.
In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says,
(O humankind! There has come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts and, for those who believe, a guidance and a mercy.) (Qur’an, 10:57)
Last but not least, the greatest blessing that the Qur’an gives to a Muslim woman is a heart filled with Allah’s love. This heart throbs with unadulterated faith and is free from any malice, rancor, hatred, or envy toward others; it is a heart that knows no despair of Allah’s mercy in bleak circumstances and is tranquil due to complete trust in Allah.
This is the heart described by Allah Himself as the sound heart:
“The day on which property will not avail, nor sons, except him who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Qur’an, 26:88–89)