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The Importance of Female Scholarship in Islam, by Habib Ali Al-Jifri

Habib Ali al-Jifri answers a question about the importance of female scholarship in Islam at the SeekersHub in Toronto, Canada. He describes female scholarship as “fulfilling the divine balance”.

“We are in need of women who are active within the Islamic discourse, so they can counter the oppressive filth created in the name of the shariah.”

Translated by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Is It Permissible to Elect a Woman as Head of the MSA?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: There was some controversy amongst our student body as to whether it was permissible to elect a female head of the MSA. Some people took the position that it was religiously unacceptable while others fought for the right of a female to be president. My question is, what is the actual Islamic legal position regarding female leadership?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

It is permitted for a woman to assume such leadership positions.

The common hadith that is cited to justify the ruling of impermissibility is the statement of the Prophet (God bless him) that, “No nation shall prosper who consign their affairs to a woman.” [Bukhari, Muslim] However, leading scholars have stated that this only applies to a particular form of political authority, namely one that is autocratically exercised over a people that properly constitute a ‘nation’ (qawm). [al-Quduri, al-Tajrid; al-Thanawi, Imdad al-Fatawa]

Clearly, the MSA is not a ‘nation’ and nor is the head of an MSA an autocrat. Therefore, a woman being head of the MSA does not enter into the prohibition of the hadith mentioned previously.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Did Imam ‘Ali Say “If the Eyes of a Female Cry Over a Man That Oppressed Her, Angels Will Curse Him With Every Step He Walks”?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Did Imam ‘Ali – God be pleased with him – say “If the eyes of a female cry over a man that oppressed her, angels will curse him with every step he walks”?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I have not found this quote, authentic or otherwise, in any of the available Sunni sources. It is possible that the quote has been attributed to Imam ‘Ali – God be pleased with him – in Shi’i sources.

Because the quote does not appear to be authentically traced back in Sunni sources to Imam ‘Ali – God be pleased with him – it is better to not attribute it to him. There are many other similar verses of the Qur’an, authentic narrations of the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – or statements attributed to the companions or later scholars that carry a similar meaning of dealing well with one’s spouse, specifically female, and prohibiting oppression in all its forms.

The Qur’an commands us to “Live with them kindly; if you hate them, it might be that you hate something and God has placed in them a lot of good” [Qur’an; 4.19].

The Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – said, “The best of you are the best to their families; I am the best of you towards his family” [Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah]. He also said, “The elect among you are the best to your women” [Ahmad].
He also is reported to have said, “Fear the prayer of the oppressed, for it is answered!” [Abu Dawud]. In the same vein, he is reported to have warned Mu’adh b. Jabal – God be pleased with him – to “fear the prayer of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and God!” [Bukhari; Muslim].

God knows best.

Shuaib Ally

Chicago Muslim (and Seeker of Knowledge) Jameela Jafri is Scientist of the Month – Chicago Crescent

Source: Chicago Crescent

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The Association for Women in Science, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving equity and full participation of women in all areas of science, technology and engineering, recognized Jameela Jafri as Scientist of the Month in September 2010.

A Columbia University graduate, Jafri was recognized for her work as the manager of the girls’ programs for Project Exploration. Founded in 1999, PE is a non-profit science organization whose goal is to “change the face of science” by working to ensure communities traditionally overlooked, particularly minority youth and girls, have access to personalized experiences with science and scientists.

For almost four years, Jafri worked closely with professional female scientists helping them cultivate and develop meaningful relationships with students through after-school programs such as Sisters4Science, summer field experiences to Yellowstone National Park, weekend retreats and other science education services for Chicago public school girls.

Heather King, a first year PhD candidate in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago, nominated Jafri for the honor. King has known and worked very closely with Jafri for three years as a volunteer with PE.

“Through Scientist of the Month, AWIS identifies and highlights individuals who are serving to bring women to science,” King said. “Jameela has a wonderful gift in reaching the youth. She has such a burning enthusiasm for science and has the ability to embark others towards the field. She is a great educator and has inspired me to work with youth particularly in science,” shared King.

In 2004, Jafri took a hiatus from teaching science to study tajweed (rules of Quranic recitation) and Arabic in Syria. While there, she received her ijaaza in Quran. Upon her return, she taught Quran to sisters in the Hyde Park community. She continued her Shariah studies in Chicago through Darul Qasim under the guidance of Shaykh Muhammad Amin Kholwadia. This year, she received a Fulbright Scholarship from the United States Department of State to return to Damascus to study science education.

“I am examining perceptions of science and technology among underprivileged women,” said Jafri. “While I conduct my research, I am taking advantage of the vast number of scholars in the blessed city and continuing my Shariah studies. Within the study of Hanafi fiqh itself, I am particularly interested in women’s issues, because I work with female populations that may not readily have access to resources and information,” she said.

With her science background coupled with an understanding of the Islamic rulings, Jafri hopes to gain a particular perspective that will be of benefit to the female Muslim community.