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The Soul Of Woman

There is no doubt that humankind - comprising both genders - is endowed with facets and aspects which are physical, emotional, sensual, intellectual and spiritual. However, for aeons - or so it seems - philisophical, religious, scholarly and scientific discussions have led many (men) to the erroneous conclusion that Woman is devoid of a soul. Interesting though that belief is, it is centred, in the main, upon an inability to reconcile the role of woman in the home and society with that of her male counterpart. In other words, the two genders are not only viewed as opposites (which, by definition and design they are) - they are also viewed as essentially different "beings".

This article deals with the subject of Woman through examination of the Final Book of Revelations: ie., the Qur'an. Islam, perhaps the most misunderstood (and misinterpreted) Religion in the world, introduced ground-breaking reforms and legislation detailing the rights of women: eg., the right to recieve marriage dower, Q4:4; rights of inheritance, Q4:7-12; the right to divorce, Q2:229; and so on. Women were no longer viewed as mere possessions, the material property of men - to be used and discarded at will -

Chapter 81 "Shrouding In Darkness" Verses 8-9
And when the girl-child that was buried alive is made to ask
for what crime she had been slain.

One of the most inhumane practices during the Times Of Ignorance (ie., pre-Islamic 'Arabia) was the burying of female babies - with the advent of Islam this barbaric custom was brought to an end. Verses 8-9 of Chapter 81 make abundantly clear that the tragic victims will themselves provide testimony about their cruel treatment on the Day of Judgment. Resurrection encompasses all human beings, including infant girls - this effectively disproves the theory or belief (based upon nothing other than conjecture, surmise and guesswork) that females are devoid of soul.

Part 1
The following Verses from the Bible and Al-Qur'an highlight the differences in narrative about the creation of Man and Woman.

Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said: Let US make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..
So God created man in HIS Own image; HE created him in the image of God;
HE created them male and female.

Al-Qur'an, Chapter 102 "The Declaration Of God's Perfection" Verses 1-4
Say: HE Is Allah, The One
Allah The Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All That Exists
HE begets not, and neither is HE begotten;
and there is nothing that could be compared with HIM.

This Chapter emphasises the Uniqueness and Incomparability of God. Humans are not, nor is anything anywhere, remotely comparable to The Creator. There is no question of men and women "looking like" or resembling God - either in the literal or figurative sense.

Genesis 2:7
Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:21-22
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place.
Then the Lord God made the rib HE had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.

If we interpret the above two Verses - G2:21-22 - in a literal sense, then Woman is only created from bones and flesh. Thus, Woman is intrinsically different from man in the sense that she has no soul or spirit - no "breath of life" having been breathed into her nostrils by her Creator.

Al- Qur'an, Chapter 4 "Women" Verse 1
O Mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity - Nafsin Wahidatin - and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women..

Chapter 31 "Luqman" Verse 28
(For HIM) the creation of you all and the resurrection of you all is but like (the creation and resurrection of) a single soul - Kanafsin Wahidatin: for, verily, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.

The meaning of the (feminine) word Nafs, employed in the above Verse, is:
Animate being,
Living creature,
Human being,

Chapter 15 "Al-Hijr" Verses 28-29
And lo! Your Sustainer said to the Angels: Behold, I Am about to create mortal man out of sounding clay, out of dark slime transmuted;
and when I have formed him fully and breathed into him of MY Spirit - Ruhee - fall down before him in prostration.

Chapter 32 "Prostration" Verses 7-9
..Thus, HE begins the creation of mankind out of clay;
then HE causes him to be begotten out of the essence of a humble fluid;
and then HE forms him in accordance with what he is meant to be, and breathes into him of HIS Spirit - Ruhihi: and HE endows you with hearing, and sight, and feelings as well as minds: how seldom are you grateful!

Chapter 38 "Saad" Verses 71-72
Lo, your Sustainer said to the Angels: "Behold, I Am about to create a human being out of clay;
and when I have formed him fully and breathed into him of MY Spirit - Ruhee - fall you down before him in prostration.

The meaning of the (masculine as well as feminine) word Ruh used in the above three Verses is:
Breath of life,

Thus, humankind is composed of different elements: the material - clay and dust; the spiritual - soul and spirit; the sensual - hearing and sight; the emotional as well as intellectual - feelings and mind. A human being - whether male or female - is multi-dimensional and multi-layered: no-one is without spirit unless they make themselves soul-less.

Part 2
Chapter 17 "The Night Journey" Verse 70
Now, indeed, WE have conferred dignity on the children of Adam..

The status of women in the Sight of God is equal to that of men. Both are assigned tasks and appointed roles in life best suited to their nature: the Commandment to care for parents, especially the Mother, is repeated for the sake of emphasis -

Chapter 31 "Luqman" Verse 14
And (God says) "We have enjoined upon man goodness towards his parents: his mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his utter dependance on her lasted two years: be grateful towards ME and towards your parents, with ME is all journey's end.

Chapter 46 "The Sand-Dunes" Verse 15
Now (among the best of deeds which) WE have enjoined upon man is goodness towards his parents. In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth; and her bearing him and his utter dependance on her took thirty months..

We may take a brief pause here to consider the illogical supposition of woman being devoid of a soul: as a mother, she carries the male in her womb - is the soul "breathed into" him before, during or after delivery? A soul-less carrier of a soul-filled entity, surely that is a tremendous contradiction!

Women are fully entitled to recieve gifts upon marriage, and their male counterparts are admonished to accord their wives the respect they undoubtedly deserve: an expression of the love which exists between man and wife:

Chapter 30 "The Byzantines" Verse 21
And among HIS Wonders is this: HE Creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you might incline towards them, and HE engenders love and tenderness between you: in this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!

Chapter 4 "Women" Verse 4
And give to women their marriage portions in the spirit of a gift; but if they, of their own accord, give up to you aught thereof, then enjoy it with pleasure and good cheer.

Verse 34
Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has (ordained to be) guarded.

Verse 19
O you who have attained to faith! It is not lawful for you to (try to) become heirs to your wives (by holding onto them) against their will; and neither shall you keep them under constraint with a view to taking away anything of which you may have given them, unless it be that they have become guilty, in an obvious manner, of immoral conduct.
And consort with your wives in a goodly manner; for if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something which God might yet make a source of abundant good.

Chapter 2 "The Cow" Verse 187
It is lawful for you to go in unto your wives during the night preceding the (day's) fast: they are as a garment for you, and you are as a garment for them..

Verse 229
A divorce may be (revoked) twice, whereupon the marriage must either be resumed in a fairness or dissolved in a goodly manner.
And it is not lawful for you to take back anything of what you have ever given to your wives unless both (partners) have cause to fear that they may not be able to keep within the bounds set by Allah: hence, if you have cause to fear that the two may not be able to keep within the bounds set by God, there shall be no sin upon either of them for what the wife may give up (to her husband) in order to free herself.

"...Islamic Law stipulates that whenever a marriage is dissolved at the wife's instance WITHOUT any offence on the part of the husband against his marital obligations, the wife is the contract-breaking party and must, therefore, return the dower which she recieved from him at the time of concluding the marriage..."
("The Message Of The Qur'an" by Muhammad Asad, pg 50, note 218)

Inheritance Laws are applicable to both men and women. Though women may recieve a lesser share than men in respect of bequests of parents and relatives, this apparent disparity is necessitated by the fact that men have full and complete responsibility for all financial obligations. Women may own property and wealth in their own right - but they are not required by Law to spend it upon the family, although they may contribute financially if they so desire.

Chapter 4 "Women" Verse 7
Men shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind, and women shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind, whether it be little or much - a share Ordained (by God)

Verses 32-33
..do not covet the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on some of you than on others. Men shall have a benefit from what they earn, and women shall have a benefit from what they earn. Ask, therefore, God (to give you) out of HIS Bounty: behold, God has indeed full Knowledge of everything.
And to everyone have WE appointed heirs to what he may leave behind: parents, and near kinsfolk, and to those whom you have pledged your troth: give them, therefore, their share. Behold, God is indeed a Witness to everything.

Islam enjoins upon humankind modest, measured and moderate behaviour: achieving balance between needs and desires - the latter never being permitted to outstrip the former. Thus, the manner in which men and women comport themselves has a direct bearing upon the moral character of the society or nation to which they belong:

Chapter 24 "The Light" Verses 30-31
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: this will be most conducive to their purity - (and) verily, God is Aware of all that they do.
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms (in public) beyond what may (decently) be apparent thereof; hence, let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms..

Part 3
In the spiritual realm, all religious obligations and responsibilities arising out of Faith are applicable to both men and women: the rewards and blessings from their Creator are not the exclusive preserve of one gender, but are reserved for both.

Chapter 2 "The House Of 'Imran" Verse 195
And thus does their Sustainer answer their prayer:
"I shall not lose sight of the labour of any of you who labours (in MY Way), be it man or woman: each of you is an issue of the other. Hence, as for those who forsake the domain of evil, and are driven from their homelands, and suffer hurt in MY Cause, and fight (for it), and are slain - I shall most certainly efface their bad deeds, and shall most certainly bring them into gardens through which running waters flow, as a reward from God: for with God is the most beauteous of rewards.

Chapter 33 "The Confederates" Verse 35
Verily, for all men and women who have surrended themselves to God, and all believing men and believing women, and all truly devout men and truly devout women, and all men and women who are true to their word, and all men and women who are patient in adversity, and all men and women who humble themselves (before God), and all men and women who give in charity, and all self-denying men and self-denying women, and all men and women who are mindful of their chastity, and all men and women who remember God unceasingly: for (all of) them has God readied forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward.

Part 4
The Messengers and Prophets (peace be upon them) of God were men; they were assigned the task of conveying HIS Message to humankind. However, these Chosen Ones had mothers, wives, sisters and daughters - women who were in the forefront of the struggle to protect, preach and preserve the Revelations -

Chapter 13 "Thunder" Verse 38
And, truly, WE sent forth Apostles before you, and WE appointed for them wives and offspring; and it was not given to any apostle to produce a miracle save at God's behest.
Every age has had its Revelation.

Chapter 3 "The House Of 'Imran" Verses 35-37
When a woman of (the House of) 'Imran prayed: "O my Sustainer! Behold, to YOU do I vow (the child) that is in my womb, to be devoted to YOUR service. Accept it, then, from me: Verily, YOU Alone are All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
But when she had given birth to the child, she said: "O my Sustainer! Behold, I have given birth to a female" - the while God had been fully aware of what she would give birth to, and (fully aware) that no male child (she might have hoped for) could ever have been like this female - "and I have named her Mary. And, verily, I seek YOUR Protection for her and her offspring against Satan, the accursed.
And so her Sustainer accepted her with goodly acceptance, and caused her to grow up in goodly growth, and placed her in the care of Zachariah.

Chapter 21 "The Prophets" Verse 91
And (remember) her who guarded her chastity, whereupon WE breathed into her of OUR Spirit and caused her, together with her son, to become a symbol ( of OUR Grace) to all people.

The above Verse refers to Mary and Jesus (peace be upon them).

Chapter 28 "The Story" Verses 9-13
Now the wife of Pharoah said: "A joy to the eye (could this child be) for me and you! Slay him not: he may well be of use to us, or we may adopt him as a son!" And they had no presentiment (of what he was to become).
On the morrow, however, an aching void grew up in the heart of the Mother of Moses, and she would indeed have disclosed all about him had WE not endowed her heart with enough strength to keep alive her faith (in OUR Promise)
And so she said to his Sister, "Follow him" - and (the girl) watched him from afar, while they (who had taken him in) were not aware of it.
Now from the very beginning WE caused him to refuse the breast of (Egyptian) nurses: and (when his sister came to know this) she said: "Shall I guide you to a family that might rear him for you, and look after him with good will?"
And thus WE Restored him to his mother, so that her eye might be gladdened, and that she might grieve no longer, and that she might know that God's Promise always comes true - even though most of them know it not!

Chapter "Prohibition" Verses 11-12
And for those who have attained to faith God has propounded a parable in (the story of) Pharoah's wife as she prayed, "O my Sustainer! Build YOU for me a mansion in the paradise (that is) with YOU, and save me from Pharoah and his doings, and save me from all evildoing folk!"
And (WE have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of) Mary, the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity, whereupon WE breathed of OUR Spirit into that (which was in her womb), and who accepted the truth of her Sustainer's Words - and (thus,) of HIS Revelations - and was one of the truly devout.

Part 5
In conclusion: men and women are not only part of each other in that they emerge from one another - after having merged together - they are also two aspects of one and the same reality. Namely, that humankind represents and is a manifestation of that vital life-force which flows through every aspect of Being: from the spiritual to the sensual; the physical to the emotional, the intellectual to the mental. The complimentary and co-operative roles of both genders enable them to fulfill their potential as truly human beings. To claim or assume that either one or the other is inferior or superior in nature or design, defeats the very purpose of life: which is to be good, just and merciful to every living being.

Chapter 49 "The Private Apartments" Verse 13
O mankind! Behold, WE have created you all out of a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of HIM. Behold, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.


Allahu 'Alam

Translation from:
The Message Of The Qur'an, by Muhammad Asad.
Extracts from the Holman Christian Standard Bible

For further reference:
Commentary On The Torah, by Richard Elliot Friedman

Dictionary Definitions:
Hans Wehr: A Dictionary Of Modern Written Arabic, Edited by J.M. Cowan.

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