It didn’t strike me until my male cousins started joking, saying that it’s more women in hell than men. Sometimes, it’s impossible to consider these jokes because they fuel misconceptions and create negative feelings in women’s hearts. As a Muslim woman, I didn’t particularly appreciate that more women go to hell than men; it is gender-discrimination, although Islam isn’t gender-based. I didn’t make an effort to verify or research the credibility of the hadiths circulating until now. But this is the time to learn and clear the misconception that most men have taken for their benefit. Let’s dive in to understand whether this is precisely what Islam says.
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The below verse from the Quran will set the bar for our discussion:
“For Muslim men and women- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise,- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 35)
We can clearly see that there is no gender discrimination in the above verse. Moreover, Allah treats both men and women equally.
“If any do deeds of righteousness- be they male or female – and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them.” (Surah An-Nisa, 124)
So, how can we draw the line saying that it’s more women in Hell than men? How are we supposed to assume the unseen? Well, all these misconceptions boil down to one of the hadiths.
Abdullah bin Abbas narrates,
Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “I saw the (Hell) Fire, and I have never before, seen such a horrible sight as that, and I saw that the majority of its dwellers were women.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the reason for that?” He replied, “Because of their ungratefulness.” It was said. “Do they disbelieve in Allah (are they ungrateful to Allah)?” He replied, “They are not thankful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors done to them. Even if you do good to one of them all your life when she seems some harshness from you, she will say, “I have never seen any good from you.” – Sahih al-Bukhari Book 62 Hadith 125
This is one of the hadiths that makes us assume that gender discrimination persists in Islam. When you read the hadith without understanding its context, you might find it more biased towards men, but once you peel the layers, it gets better and more apparent.
However, some claim that this is a weak hadith (Daeef), which means it cannot be understood or verified. Prophet (PBUH) is known as a man of peace and equality. Hence, it is unlikely that he would have advised about a wife’s responsibilities rather than talking about both husband and wife’s responsibilities in general.
But there’s another take on this hadith, and it was not meant that women would outnumber men just because of their “womanhood.” The hadith doesn’t mean it in any form because Islam is about equality. Another misconception derived from the hadith is that women have to bear their husbands’ toxic behaviors without complaining. This is not the right interpretation because the hadith was to educate women about their responsibilities, not just about putting up with their husbands’ toxic behaviors. Surah Mujadila discusses a woman’s complaint about her husband’s behaviors to the Prophet, and he listened to it carefully to guide while condemning the husband’s behavior.
Lastly, the hadith is periodic because it was said that Hell-Fire was shown to the Prophet during his journey (Night of Ascension). So it’s pretty easy to understand that it doesn’t mean that women will outnumber men in hell forever; it’s at the time of the journey that he saw, which means it’s not likely to be the same even now.
Digging deeper into the hadith’s context has opened my views and ideas that I was fed with. I didn’t know or make an effort to clarify the truth behind it. Unfortunately, most of the advice and guidance provided by many “scholars” have become God’s words for many of us. We hardly ponder the Quran’s verses, and it shows in our behaviors because we don’t question, seek, and learn. It’s easier to accept whatever you are fed with instead of finding whether it’s reliable or not.
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
“Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created-Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the pen, Taught man that which he knew not.” The Holy Quran: Al-Alaq 96:1-5.
The verses of the Quran itself mention that learning and seeking knowledge is crucial. If you doubt a hadith or statement made by scholars, you need to do your research. Try to understand the context, period, and every other detail related to it.
In one of the narrations, the Prophet (SWT) said, “You must seek knowledge from birth till death.”
Overall, I must mention that we cannot assume or come to conclusions about hadiths without doing our part. There are tons and tons of fabricated hadiths, so it’s in our hands to filter out the verified hadiths. We’d have to fight to keep our Iman (faith) strong during the end time, and it’s not as if we didn’t see this coming. Allah knows the best, so we cannot decide what the hereafter has for us.
Also Read: Striving and Entrusting One’s Soul to Allah
Nevertheless, the following Quran verse is a delight for everyone who were misled to believe that women outnumber men in hell.
“Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds.” Surah An-Nahl16:97
India: School Principal Booked After Students Recite Iqbal’s Poem- What Makes Muhammad Iqbal a Contentious Figure in India?
School Principal booked after students recite Iqbal’s Poem- What makes Muhammad Iqbal a Contentious figure in India?
After the great poet Muhammad Iqbal’s poem “Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua” was recited by students during the morning assembly, a video of the event went viral, leading to the arrest of the principal of a government school and a Shiksha Mitra in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. The Education Department has also placed Shiksha Mitra Wazeeruddi under investigation and suspended the school’s principal, Nahid Siddiqui. “Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua”, also known as “Bachche Ki Dua” (A child’s prayer), is an Urdu language dua, or prayer, in verse form authored by Muhammad Iqbal in 1902. The poem has been set to music and sung in morning school assemblies in Pakistan as well as India.
While far-right groups have been using this and similar incidents in order to demonize Iqbal for quite some time, Muhammad Iqbal has become a contentious figure in India for many more reasons. Muhammad Iqbal is also known for writing the most popular patriotic song of India “Saare Jahan se acha Hindustan humara” (Better than the entire world, is our Hindustan), which he also called “Tarana-e-Hind” (Song of India).
School Principal booked in UP
A First Information Report was filed against Siddiqui and Wazeeruddin at the Fareedpur police station in response to a complaint made by Sompal Singh Rathore, a local Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) official, who claimed that a “religious prayer” was recited at the public school in an effort to convert the children. He also alleged that the principal “made” the students recite the Islamic prayer with the purpose of offending Hindu sensibilities. Police have filed the FIR against the two instructors under sections 298 (deliberate intention to wound religious sentiments) and 153(provocation with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after taking notice of the complaint.
The complaint was lodged by Sompal Singh Rathore, a local leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an Indian right-wing Hindu organization based on Hindu nationalism. According to Rathore, students should be made to recite the Indian national anthem and “Saraswati Vandana” (a Hindu mantra for goddess Saraswati that is recited for music, knowledge, and wisdom). Instead, they were forced to chant “Mere Allah Burai Se Bachana Mujhko” (O Allah, protect me from evil) by the headmaster.
Controversy over Iqbal- The Second Incident in Four Years
This is not the first time that a school head has been terminated because of a prayer. This is the second time in four years that a local VHP worker filed this type of complaint. Three years ago, in October 2019 a VHP worker alleged that the headmaster of a government primary school in the Bisalpur neighborhood of Pilibhit had forced students to recite a religious prayer that is typically recited in madrasas. As a result, the headmaster was subsequently suspended. The students also recited “Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua” by Allama Iqbal in that instance. Later, the headmaster was reinstated but moved to a different institution.
Soon after the complaint was lodged and the incident made it to the news, BJP spokespersons took to social media to support the FIR. Anyone who called out the absurdity of the complaint started to get trolled by BJP spokespersons and supporters who called these people anti-nationalists and supporters of a communal leader like Iqbal. Right-wing groups started demonizing Iqbal by calling him a bigot and father of the two-nation theory and a staunch advocate for the creation of Pakistan.
When a popular Indian journalist Rajdeep Sardesai took to his Twitter handle to express his disappointment with the incident, he was severely trolled. One BJP supporter and journalist even wrote an article dedicated to “demystifying” the myth of Iqbal’s pedestalization by the Indian left and Indian Muslims.
“While the nation and especially those advocating secularism know Iqbal only for writing ‘Sare Jaha Se Accha, Hindustan Hamara’, there’s much more to him that they conveniently sweep under the rug, which includes Tarana-e-Milli and the formation of Pakistan . . . The Islamic fundamentalist nature of Muhammad Iqbal became entirely evident as he wrote, ‘Cīn o-ʿArab hamārā, Hindūstāṉ hamārā, Muslim haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai sārā jahāṉ hamārā’ ”, the article mentioned.
Who is Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) ?
Iqbal, one of the most prominent figures in Urdu literature during the first three decades of the 20th century, transitioned from writing about subjects that were specifically Indian and reflective of pluralism and multiculturalism to using worldwide realities to arouse, stimulate, and encouraging the imagination of Indian Muslims. Through his stirring poetry, he was one of the first to teach socialism and the socialist movement to young people in India. In addition, he added contemporary philosophical ideas that he had learned about while studying in Europe and greatly expanded the range of the educated Muslim intellectual discourse while keeping it bound to their essentially Islamic roots. He advocated “socialism” cloaked in Islam in his fiery rallies against the powers of capitalism and imperialism.
Poems like “Masjide-e-Qartaba” (The Mosque at Cordoba) and “O Ghafil Afghan” (O Heedless Afghan), written by a celebrated and lauded poet like Muhammad Iqbal, fueled a rising fear that a “grave disaster” was waiting to strike the Muslims of the sub-continent. Iqbal was one of the first to notice the struggles that the Indian Muslims were experiencing on account of their religion, and to include it in his poetry. The fate of his fellow Muslims in various colonized lands seemed to foretell even worse things for Muslims in India, who were a minority in a colonized Hindu majority population.
Upon the formation of Pakistan, he was honored as its national poet, as well as earning the titles ‘Mufakkir-e-Pakistan’ (thinker of Pakistan), Hakeem-ul-Ummat (sage of the Ummah), and Shayar-e-Mashriq (poet of the east).
The Vilification of Muhammad Iqbal
The most well-known of Iqbal’s many works is the timeless “Saare jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara,” which he wrote in 1904 and which became one of the songs that propelled Indian independence fighters against British authority. The right-wing groups vilifying Iqbal keep reinforcing that after writing “Tarana-e-Hind” (song of India) in 19004 he went on to write “Tarana-e-Milli” (song of the community) in 1910. They use this example to display the contradiction between the India-loving patriot that he is thought of instead of the Muslim bigot and the father of the two-nation theory that he turned out to be.
The Tarana-e-Hind and the Tarana-e-Milli show the progression from “Hindi hain hum watan hai Hindustan hamara” (We are the people of Hind and Hindustan is our homeland) to “Muslim hain hum watan hai sara jahan hamara” (We are Muslim the whole world is our homeland). However, it might be worthwhile to consider his body of work as a whole to try and understand the movement in his poetic thought. Iqbal’s history and poetic career can be split into three phases. The first one is his patriotic poetry dedicated to the Indian nation and patriotism from 1901 to 1905, after which he did philosophical poetry from 1905 to 1908, and eventually, his work and poetry focused on the Muslim community from 1908 to 1938.
Iqbal is considered to have given the vision for the creation of Pakistan, whereas Jinnah is considered to be the one who shaped this vision.
While Iqbal’s “Tarana-e-Milli” is a poem that talks about the notions of Islamic universalism, it has no offensive hints at the Hindu community. Therefore, using this poem to call Iqbal a Muslim bigot seems absolutely absurd.
Hindu Right Wing Group’s blind hatred for Muhammad Iqbal
Soon after his death, Iqbal (1877–1938) was denounced as the creator of the “two-nation theory,”, a follower of pan-Islamism, and a fervent supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. After being hailed as Pakistan’s “national poet,” this criticism gained momentum in the years following the 1947 partition. However, people of India should pause and think about BJP’s hatred for the same poet who gave India “Saare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan hamara,” a song that, incidentally, is used as the marching theme by not just one but multiple military bands of different regiments of the Indian armed forces.
BJP’s and other Hindu right-wing groups’ tendencies to perceive India through a starkly black or white lens, has led the Indian people towards majoritarianism and vilifying any belief system that differs from their own. The mindless loathing for Iqbal and everything he stands for seems unsurprising and even inevitable given the intensely volatile and polarizing times we live in.
Suspending women’s college education by Taliban spells ignorance of Islam
It is with great sadness that I write about the latest shocking news from Afghanistan where the Taliban regime has decided to suspend college education for women.
A number of utterly unconvincing excuses were given to explain the sorry decree. These excuses ranged from the need to observe Hejab and modesty rules to financial hardships.
However, these justifications seemed too feeble and rickety to be taken seriously by friend and foe alike.
Predictably, traditional enemies of Islam in several Western countries wasted no time in lambasting Taliban in the strongest language and hurling all sorts of insinuations and innuendos at Islam itself as if the Taliban regime were the ultimate paragon of God’s final testament to mankind.
I will not allow myself to be swayed or unduly influenced by the vindictive waves of Islamophobia coming from Washington, London and Paris. But the US, for example, is absolutely unfit to give humanity lectures on human rights. Indeed, the American empire needs hundreds of years to atone for its crimes against humanity, carried out, with malice aforethought, against the thoroughly savaged, thoroughly tormented and thoroughly impoverished people of Afghanistan. The American Yankees, whose ancestors, such as Andrew Jackson, exterminated millions of native Americans and then had the audacity to call the gargantuan genocide “Manifest Destiny,” and designate a special day to celebrate the “victory” calling it a “Thanks-giving Day“
Nor am I eager to further demonize Taliban, in which case, I would be effectively joining the ranks of Afghanistan’s many enemies.
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However, consistent with the lofty Islamic ideal of “al-Amr Bilma’ruf Wan-nahye Anel Munkar” (Propagation of Virtue and Prohibition of Vice), I feel compelled to address our Afghani brothers: “Brothers, you have made a grave mistake, education for women is not only perfectly compatible with all schoobls of Islamic thought and Jurisprudence, it is actually an outstanding commandment in the Sharia of Muhammed (S) who said in the authentic Hadith ” Seeking knowledge (through education) is a duty incumbent upon every Muslim (man and woman). Again I am not invoking this Hadith to appease anyone. I am only trying to tell the truth for its own sake.
Suspending college education for women is incompatible with Islam
This writer has consulted all major Muslim schools of thought, especially the Four Sunni schools of Jurisprudence (Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki and Shafie) but couldn’t find a single text or credible opinion supporting the Taliban’s decision.
The opposite is true. There are compelling and overwhelming evidences showing that Islam accords ample attention to education for men and women alike.
The Prophet of Islam (S) said in the authentic Hadith “seek knowledge from cradle to grave.” This Hadith alone should be sufficient to prompt the Taliban leadership to reconsider this unfortunate decision, which has made Muslims a laughingstock around the world.
Azhar: Suspension college education for women violates the Rules of Islam
The Grand Imam of Azhar, Ahmed Tayeb reacted angrily to the Taliban’s decision to suspend college education for women, saying” the decision is manifestly erroneous and is a product of Ignorance.”
He cited a Major classical reference of Fiqh, namely Ketab “Tahtheeb-ul-Tahteeb” (roughly translated as “Refining the Refined”), which mentioned more than 30 Muslim women from the Sahaba era (Companions of the Prophet), Tabi’in (the immediate generation after Sahaba) and the following generations, who were Sharia scholars, theologians, historians, literary writhers, and poets.
Tayeb cited two other books titled ” Prominent Women”, the first by Zaynab Ameli, and the second by Omar Reda Kahala, which explained Muslim women’s contributions in various fields of knowledge. Tayeb added that the Taliban’s strange feat didn’t represent Islam in any way and actually violated the rules of the Quran itself.
Concluding his remarks, Tayeb appealed to Taliban to “immediately cancel the unfortunate decision and reopen colleges and universities for Afghan women.”
Islam is moderation and moderation is Islam
There are some Islamic groups who mistakenly think extremism and excessive radicalism make a Muslim a better Muslim. This is not true at all. Extremism is as harmful as indulgence and laxity.
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According to the authentic Hadith, three men came to the Prophet to ask about religious obligations. One said: I fast every day, and never eat (in day time). The second man said: I devote myself to worshipping God and remain celibate. The third said: As for me, I pray all night long and don’t sleep. After the Prophet heard them, he said: As for me, I fast and eat, pray and sleep, and marry. He that shuns my Sunna (Way) is not my follower.
A moderate Umma
The claim of moderation is not a public relations stunt intended to enhance Islam’s image as some westerners might be prompted to think. It is actually enshrined in the Quran and was encapsulated by the Prophet in his life.
In Surat al Baqara, verse143 (first part), we read:
وكذلك جعلناكم أمة وسطا لتكونوا شهداء على الناس ويكون الرسول عليكم شهيدا
“And thus we have made you a moderate community that you will be witnesses over humanity and the Messenger will be a witness over you.”
I believe the ball is now in the Taliban’s court, and I hope and pray that they will heed the sincere advice of Muslim Ulema to reconsider this un-Islamic feat. After all, this is not a controversial matter, and doing the right thing would dignify, not disgrace or embarrass, the Muslim movement. Doing the right thing is always right.
A final world
The decision by the Taliban regime to suspend college education for women in Afghanistan is apparently a symptom of a deeply stressful situation facing the country.
Afghanistan is being severely punished by the US, Britain and a number of other Western countries. The US is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of Afghani funds in American banks as a bargaining chip to force the Taliban regime to revolve in the American orbit and meet certain American demands. The money is urgently needed to overcome the harsh financial crisis facing Kabul.
Hence, the latest decision to suspend college education for women should be viewed as a desperate SOS call by the radical Islamic group.
In light, Muslim states are strongly advised to offer Afghanistan every possible form of assistance to enable the country to stand up on its feet once again. Qatar has been generously helping the Taliban government ever since the movement came to power anew following the defeat and collapse of the American puppet regime earlier this year.
Explaining Iran’s Islamic Revolution and its Legacy
The protests in Iran today have raised many questions on the Islamic Revolution and its legacy. This article explains Khomeinism as a political ideology and attempts to answer why Iran failed to export its revolution to other Islamic countries.
Analyzing Ervand Abrahamian’s Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic (1993) and Simon Wolfgang Fuchs’ “A Direct Flight to Revolution: Maududi, Divine Sovereignty, and the 1979-Moment in Iran”, this article argues that: (i) Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was politically expedient. He dressed a selection of Western political concepts in Islamic language and justified as well as historicized his ideas using examples from the history of Shia Islam. (ii) Iran was unable to export its revolution to other parts of the world, including its Muslim majority neighbouring countries like Pakistan because it had found the instrument of mobilization and justification for its revolution in the history of Shia Islam.
Khomeini was a Populist?
Abrahamian argues that the term “fundamentalist” that is usually used to label Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is not only confusing but also misleading in the context of the Iranian Revolution. He gives eight reasons to argue that Khomeini was not a fundamentalist. Further, the author goes into Khomeini’s ideology and views- especially his views on the state and the society, the Constitution of Iran and Khomeini’s political testament to argue that the term “populist” better fits Khomeini because his views and his actions resemble Latin American populism.
The author further highlights various conceptual inconsistencies in Khomeini’s ideas. There are several instances when Khomeini reacted to the emerging circumstances by changing his views, hence he was politically expedient. For years he had argued against women’s suffrage because it was un-Islamic but then Iran’s constitution implemented universal adult suffrage and Khomeini now argued that it was un-Islamic to deprive women of their voting rights. Hence, what was earlier un-Islamic later became Islamic. Khomeini essentially did a political interpretation of Islam (Quran and Islamic history) and dressed several Western political concepts like enqelab (revolution), jomhuri (republic), tabaqat (classes) in the Islamic language to make them appealing to the Muslim majority masses of Iran. Since Iran is a Shia majority nation, he provided justification for his views from Shia history. Khomeinism, thus, instrumentalized Islam for bringing about a revolution in Iran. However, it raises several questions- why would the masses follow? Why would they accept inconsistencies in Khomeini’s thought, especially when something that was considered un-Islamic earlier was declared Islamic later? Since politically expedient means were deployed to bring about the revolution, was the Iranian Revolution more about the consolidation of Shia identity in the world rather than an Islamic revolution?
Why Iran was not able to Export its Revolution?
Fuchs explores the engagement of Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) with the post-revolutionary Iran. He analyses various JI leaders’ travelogues and several JI publications to argue that initially JI was enthusiastic about the revolution but it slowly grew concerned about the same around the early 1980s. JI initially thought that the Islamic Revolution in Iran was the realization of JI founder Maududi’s concept of hakimiyya ilahiyya (God’s sovereignty). In order to not miss the woods for the trees, they first ignored the sectarian implications of the revolution. They also turned blind eye to the top-down model of the revolution. Since JI has always advocated the bottom-up approach to bring about Islamicization of the society, Iranian Revolution did not fit into their ideology.
However, when it was apparent that it was the Shia history of Islam and the Shia model of governance that was being deployed in Iran, JI grew concerned. At home, JI also found itself being called out by Sunni organizations for appeasing and being soft on Shia. In order to highlight the JI’s distancing from the Iranian Revolution, Fuchs cites the example of the absence of Irani delegation and absence of any mention of the Iranian Revolution at a seminar hosted by JI in Lahore in November 1989, where several international delegations were present, to discuss the questions and the challenges facing the ‘Muslim World’. Fuchs does not however inform if there was any Shia Islamist organization from any other country present at all among the 30 organizations that were represented at the seminar.
Anyway, JI’s engagement with post-revolutionary Iran raises a question- did JI expect too much from Khomeini? As argued by Abrahamian, Khomeini was pragmatic and in order to get support from the majority, it was realistic for him to address his message to the Shia majority population of Iran.
Since it is apparent that Khomeini’s selective use of history and language of Shia Islam appeared sectarian to JI, forcing the organization to practice social distancing from the revolution, it would be safe to assume, within the context of the information provided by Abrahamian and Fuchs, that Iran was unable to inspire a revolution in other Muslim majority countries, like its neighbouring country Pakistan, primarily because it adopted the language and history of Shia Islam. That would explain why Iran has not been able to export its revolution to other Islamic countries.
This article analysed Ervand Abrahamian’s Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic (1993) and Simon Wolfgang Fuchs’ “A Direct Flight to Revolution: Maududi, Divine Sovereignty, and the 1979-Moment in Iran”, to argue that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was politically expedient. It further argued that Iran was unable to export its revolution to other parts of the world, including its Muslim majority neighbour countries like Pakistan because it had found the instrument of mobilization and justification for its revolution in the history of Shia Islam and therefore had sectarian implications.
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