Influential Muslim Women

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Amazing Muslim Women: Hawa

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 5-part series about the amazing Muslim women who paved the way for others after them.

The first installment of the series speaks about Hawa or Eve: first woman to be created.

Hawa’s Story

Her story is narrated in Sura al Baqara, the second chapter of the Holy Qur’an. In this chapter, we learn about the Exodus as we know it in the Islamic tradition, and about the first two humans created in Paradise. We also learn about their deception at the hands of the Devil, leading to their exodus from Paradise.

Throughout the Qur’an, Hawa is referenced alongside Adam, as Allah refers to both of them in the dual context. This affirms that Hawa shares Adam’s status, accomplishments, and struggles. Most importantly, she shares his stature with Allah.

For example, they are both commanded not to approach the Forbidden Tree, rather than the responsibility being placed simply on one of them.  Thus, she is established as his equal, not his inferior.

Sharing Responsibility Rather Than Blaming

Later on, Allah says, “I will send you both down to Earth for a time.” Here, Hawa shares the responsibility of Adam’s situation. However, she is never blamed for their fall. In addition, their eating from the tree has been forgiven by Allah. Their exodus to Earth is part of Allah’s plan for both Hawa and Adam to be Allah’s Vicegerents, or Khalifa, on this Earth.

This responsibility does not include only Adam, and it does not exclude Hawa. Rather, they both possess intelligence and the unique faculties that Allah created in them, and they are both considered the Vicegerents.

The Context of Gender

Among the lessons we can take from Hawa’s story, is that  Hawa and Adam together compliment each other. Only when you combine Hawa with Adam, do you get an accurate picture of human nature. Rather than focusing just one gender, we are taught that we all have a special role to play in our lives, no matter who we are.

Resources for Seekers