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Some prejudiced and ignorant people claim that Islam does not encourage women to be educated and that it prefers women to be ignorant or close to it. This is a biased, unfounded allegation against Islam. Indeed, there is no religion or doctrine on earth that encourages man to seek knowledge as much as Islam. Islam strongly encourages humans, both men and women, to acquire knowledge in all fields of life, as well as to research and reach the facts. Islam defines knowledge to be the correct way to know Allaah The Almighty, have belief in Him, and surrender to His Shareeah. Were not the first verses revealed to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, a strong declaration of this fact? The first verses that were revealed to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, are those in which Allaah The Almighty addressed His Messenger, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, Saying (what means): {Recite in the Name of your Lord Who created. Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is The Most Generous. Who taught by the pen. Taught man that which he knew not.} [Quran 96: 1-5] This is a command to recite in the name of the Creator who created humans, both men and women, from a clinging substance. This refers to the fact that the creation of Allaah The Almighty is the field for humans to seek knowledge, and that this will guide them to the way of Allaah The Almighty. Researching what Allaah The Almighty created is the closest and best way for the seekers of knowledge and the pursuers of the truth, wherever they may be and in whichever scientific field they may be engaged.

The revelation began with a command to read, because reading is the most important means of consolidating knowledge and continuing with it. Reading comes after writing, which is why Allaah The Almighty displayed His favor upon His slaves since He taught humans to write with pens which is the greatest tool of writing. This means that Allaah The Almighty has taught all humans - male and female. This call with which Allaah The Almighty invites humans to seek knowledge and establish sciences, since the very beginning of Islam, is the greatest evidence of the full equality between man and woman with regard to calling them to science, knowledge, pondering on the creation of Allaah The Almighty, and using the two correlated means of knowledge; namely, reading and writing. Knowledge is the way to know Allaah The Almighty, have faith in Him, and know the rulings of the religious obligations for both men and women. It is a must for every Muslim man and woman to learn all that guides him or her to know the teachings and ordinances of their religion that each of them has to abide by, because each man and woman will be individually reckoned for their acts before Allaah The Almighty. Humans, both men and women, are tried in this life. Each one is fully responsible for his actions as long as he or she is competent, and as long as he or she possesses reason, will, and ability.

Since humans are responsible for their actions, they are obligated to acquire all that will enable them to distinguish between truth and falsehood, goodness and evil, benefit and harm, and to know the boundaries of his responsibility before Allaah The Almighty. Islam is very keen on teaching woman all that makes her an element of goodness and reform in a secure, happy Islamic society that develops towards perfection and advances towards power and glory. To do so, Islam is keen on women attending Islamic assemblies, large and small. Islam encourages women to perform the congregational Salaahs (prayers), to attend the Friday Salaah and sermon, and the Salaah and sermon of Eed even if she has the excuse that prevents her from performing the prayer. Islam also orders women to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) and Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), and encourages her to attend sessions for religious knowledge. Moreover, Allaah The Almighty addresses both men and women together, except in a few cases, which shows His keenness on educating them, cultivating them, teaching them the matters of their religion and allowing them to take part in the issues facing Muslims. A look at the reality of life shows us how important it is for a woman to be upright, knowledgeable, and well-mannered, for the sake of her family and then for the good of the entire society. The extent of a woman's uprightness or corruption within her family determines the extent of the uprightness or corruption of her children. In addition to this, the woman greatly influences the man whether he is a husband, a father or a brother. The woman's uprightness is more important for the family than the man's uprightness, because the woman can play an effective role in either guiding or corrupting the formation of manners, principles, and habits in young children; this role is much more important than man's role for many reasons: 1Allaah The Almighty has endowed woman with flowing sentiment, a lenient disposition and an ability to be involved and take part in the life of children in accordance with their mentality and nature. This makes her acquire the children's love and confidence, so they imitate her behavior and all that she says or does. 2The woman accompanies her children most of the time when they are being brought up. During this stage, a child still has a pure human nature and is like soft dough that can be adapted to traditions and customs. Since women have this great impact on raising children inside or outside her family, they must be properly qualified so as to be a righteous, good example. This can only be done through teaching women how to become righteous educators to bring up children in a good, Islamic way and make use of their gentle sentiment to fill their hearts and souls with faith and goodness so that these women would be able to pass them on to the generation which she is raising and educating. When we see upright, well-mannered children and investigate the reason behind this, we come to know that they have a righteous, upright, well-mannered mother, even if their father is not so. Similarly, when we see corrupt, deviated children and search for the

reason behind this, we realize that they have a corrupt mother, even though their father may be righteous and well-mannered. Due to these factors and examples that call for the reformation of the education of women and refining their behavior and morals so they would be righteous caretakers, it is no wonder that Islam is keen on teaching women. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would dedicate specific days for women to gather, in addition to the days when they would attend with men, so that he would be able to teach them the divine knowledge which Allaah The Almighty taught and are related to women only, particularly due to their physical and psychological formation. They had the courage to request that from the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam; a request that he responded positively to.

Abu Saeed Al-Khudri


A woman came to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and said, O Messenger of Allaah, the men get all your speech, so devote to us a day on which we may come to you so that you would teach us of what Allaah has taught you. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: Gather on such-and-such a day. They gathered and the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, came to them and taught them of what Allaah had taught him. He then said: No woman of you gives three children [i.e., loses them to death] except that they will screen her from the Fire. A woman said, O Messenger of Allaah, and two [of her children]? The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, replied: And two! [AlBukhaari and Muslim] This was a woman from the Companions who politely and courageously went to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and confidently addressed him, saying, "Men get all your speech, so devote to us a day on which we may come to you so that you would teach us of what Allaah The Almighty has taught you. As men would sit at the front of the sessions of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, most of the words, admonitions and statements were directed at them. Although the call of Islam, its rulings, obligations, and admonitions concern both men and women, some issues and rulings are specific to women, while some others are specific to men. The men obtained their share of knowing the rulings that are specific to them because they could easily and directly speak to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam; they were also bold enough to ask about every matter in their religion. They could ask the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, at any time, whereas women could not always ask about the religious rulings that were specific to women or the solutions to their problems. Even if they could attend the sessions of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, without intermixing with men, they might have felt too shy to ask about their specific matters in the presence of men. Therefore, teaching them the rulings that were specific to them and solving their problems entailed dedicating special sessions for them to discuss their issues and give them the rulings and provide them with the teachings in accordance with their psychological, intellectual, moral, and social characteristics as well as in accordance with their responsibility in their life inside and outside their families. For all these reasons, this woman demanded that a specific time be allocated for women to be taught the matters of

religion that were specific to them, and for the same reasons the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, accepted and answered her demand. This is the correct way for women to be educated and driven out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge, so that they would fulfill their responsibility in this life in the best and most perfect way. Also, in this way, they can properly bear the responsibility while maintaining their chastity and modesty, without being cast into an intermixed society that quickly adopts the corruption that is typical of such societies, causing women to suffer from the desires that trigger acts of disobedience, sins and many other forms of immorality to spread. Sound knowledge is the first means for reforming any society including men and women; both the old and the young. Muslim women, in the beginning of the first Islamic era, were enthusiastic to learn the teachings of their religion and the rulings that addressed their specific issues. They gathered at the special sessions which the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, dedicated for them. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, came to them at specified times; he taught them from what Allaah The Almighty taught him and he explained matters to them. They asked him about many issues and he answered them. Some female Companions of the Ansaar were bold enough to ask about the issues that

were specific to women. Aaishah matters of their religion.

praised them saying, May Allaah have mercy upon

the women of Al-Ansaar; their bashfulness did not prevent them from asking about the

At this exalted standard, Islam defined its policy for women's education. Having manifested all these facts, would the enemies of Islam still have anything to say in order to delude people about the issue of women's education, as part of their attempt to give a false image about Islam? With this full equality between men and women concerning both knowledge and deeds, would the complaints of those who try to distort the wonderful image of Islam continue to hurt our ears with things that cause a sound disposition to be repulsed?