Women in the Qur'an by Asma Lamrabet translated by Myriam Francois-Cerrah is a VERY bold read. This book of 177 pages is divided in an introductory section, a part one that deals with 'When the Qur'an speaks OF women' and a part two 'When the Qur'an speaks TO women.'
The author Asma Lamrabet is a pathologist in Morroco's Avicenna Hospital. She's also an award winning author of many articles tackling Islam and Women's issues. On the other hand, the translator, Myriam Francois-Cerrah is a writer, broadcaster and academic with a focus on current affairs, France, Islam and the Middle East. She writes for many accredited news magazines and channels like Al Jazeera English.
To continue, I found this read particularity bold and daring because it's a tafsir-exegesis- of the holy verses we have been exposed to all our lives about the women we already know but by a women's perspective that is very dismissive of many popular and biased male's interpretations of the Qur'an which at some point were deeply ingrained to us as a collective as the norm for nearly 15 centuries.
Some of the women cited are Awa (as), Bilqis (as), Maryam (as), Hagar (as), Sarah (as). You get the gist, women after which great miracles were bestowed upon, holy rituals were fashioned after or great doom descended upon because of their betrayal such as the wives of prophets Lut and Noah (as).
I'm sure there is a history of books that critically interpret the scriptures from a women's perspective but this is the first one I read. I have always thought that certain religious Muslim men since the time of rassullulah sallalahu aleihi wassalam to today were and are bonified dictators, patriarchs, and who could never see a woman as their equal even if their faith in Allah and Islam were/are steadfast. It's an oxymoron indeed. Thus, I'm sure many of them made sure to reduce the meaning of certain verses pertaining to fairness and equality toward women. I also have this strong feeling that many works by Muslim women weren't promoted and subsequently died out or weren't preserved the same way men's works and stories were. It's a shame.
Now, did I find Women in the Qur'an blasphemous at times? Yes! But is that because I have never challenged and critically analyzed my past exegeses about women in the Qur'an written by prominent Muslim scholars? Probably. The book is thought provoking, makes many valid points, and also supports exegeses by Muslim men who support Lamrabet's point of views.
With all that being said, this book is needed because no matter how much the Qur'an and the Sunnah vouch for an equality between the sexes, for the fair treatment of women, for the inclusion of women in social events, the reality on the terrain is different. There is a big majority of Muslim women who are still oppressed by imposed and cultural patriarchal ways when it should be the Muslim woman's choice to decide to work, to go pray at the mosque, to have children when in a marriage, to accept or refuse a suitor, to pick her own husband, to wear hijab, to be educated, etc. Unfortunately many Muslim women can't escape their husbands and families (in-laws, biological or even elder non-relatives) making choices for them.
I also believe that this wrong will be right as we all speak up and ask about a change like Lamrabet started. In my opinion, there is also a reason why women will start to outnumber men at the crack of doom; a thing that is already noticeable as the numbers of baby girls born are slightly over the baby boys born. Now, when the women have the majority, it's imperative to stay fair to men, to not act like non-Muslim feminists who can't seem to accept or recognize Muslim Feminists. Jahannam will have a larger number of women and I hope none of the ummah will dwell there because they left sirat-al mustakim.
Furthermore, just because an increase of independent women is a sign of the end times, it doesn't mean women should be kept under a tight leash. I actually see men controlling everything a woman does as a way to stop times. I see it as a way to worship dunya. Everything has an expiration date and things will follow their course no matter what. It's the qadr of Allah. It's been written eons ago. Why fight it?
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Thank you for reading,