Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Female figures in the Qur'an

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This article is about female figures that appear in the Qur'an. For the roles, rights, and duties of women as laid out in the Qur'an, see Women and Islam.
Female figures in the Qur'an are important characters and subjects of discussion in the stories and morals taught in Islam. Some of the women in the Qu'ran are portrayed in a positive light, while others are condemned for their actions. Mary is the only female mentioned in the Qur'an by name; the others' names come from other traditions. Most of the women in the Quran are represented as either the mothers or wives of certain leaders and prophets. Women in the Quran still retained a surprising amount of autonomy from men in some respects; for example, the Quran describes women who converted to Islam before their husbands did, or women who took an independent oath of allegiance to Muhammad. [1]
1 Eve
2 Wives of Noah and Lot
3 Sara (سارة), Wife of Abraham
4 Aziz's Wife and the Ladies
5 Mother and sister of Moses
6 Wife of Moses
7 Asiyah, Wife of the Pharaoh
8 The Queen of Sheba (Bilqis)
9 Wife of Imran
10 Mary (مريم)
11 The woman who complained to Muhammad
12 See also
13 References
[edit] Eve
God created Adam and Eve and had them live in Paradise. The first human mistake was by Adam and Eve who both ate fruit forbidden by God:

But Satan whispered evil to him: he said, "O Adam! shall I lead thee to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that never decays?" Then they twain ate thereof, so that their shame became apparent unto them, and they began to hide by heaping on themselves some of the leaves of the Garden. And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray. [Qur'an 20:120]

[edit] Wives of Noah and Lot
The Quran speaks of the wives of Noah (Arabic:Nuh) and Lot (Arabic:Lut) in contempt:

"God sets forth an example to those who disbelieve: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot, they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against God, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter." [Qur'an 66:10]

[edit] Sara (سارة), Wife of Abraham

And his wife was standing (there), and she laughed (either, because the Messengers did not eat their food or for being glad for the destruction of the people of Lut (Lot). But We gave her glad tidings of Ishâq (Isaac), and after Ishâq, of Ya'qûb (Jacob). (71) She said (in astonishment): "Woe unto me! Shall I bear a child while I am an old woman, and here is my husband, an old man? Verily! This is a strange thing!" (72) [Qur'an 11:71-72].

[edit] Aziz's Wife and the Ladies

But she in whose house he was, sought to seduce him from his (true) self: she fastened the doors, and said: "Now come, thou (dear one)!" He said: "Allah forbid! Truly (thy husband) is my lord! He made my sojourn agreeable! Truly to no good come those who do wrong!" [Qur'an 12:23]
When she heard of their malicious talk, she sent for them and prepared a banquet for them: she gave each of them a knife: and she said (to Joseph), "Come out before them." When they saw him, they did extol him, and (in their amazement) cut their hands: they said, "Allah preserve us! No mortal is this! This is none other than a noble angel!" [Qur'an 12:31]
(The king) said (to the ladies): "What was your affair when ye did seek to seduce Joseph from his (true) self?" The ladies said: "Allah preserve us! No evil know we against him!" Said the 'Aziz's wife: "Now is the truth manifest (to all): it was I who sought to seduce him from his (true) self: He is indeed of those who are (ever) true (and virtuous)." [Qur'an 12:51]

[edit] Mother and sister of Moses
The Qur'an narrates that Mūsā is watched by his sister, refuses the milk of other nurses and is suckled by his own mother.[2]

'And We revealed to Musa's mothers, saying: "Give him luck, then when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear nor grieve; surely We will bring him back to you and make him one of the apostles." And the heart of Musa's mother was empty she would have almost disclosed it had We not strengthened her heart so that she might be of the believers. And she said to his sister: "Follow him up. So she watched him from a distance while they did not perceive."' [Qur'an 28:7-10-11]

[edit] Wife of Moses

And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan, he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: "What is the matter with you?" They said: "We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take back (their flocks): And our father is a very old man." [Qur'an 28:23]
So he watered (their flocks) for them; then he turned back to the shade, and said: "O my Lord! truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that Thou dost send me!" [Qur'an 28:24]
Afterwards one of the (damsels) came (back) to him, walking bashfully. She said: "My father invites thee that he may reward thee for having watered (our flocks) for us." So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: "Fear thou not: (well) hast thou escaped from unjust people." [Qur'an 28:25]
Said one of the (damsels): "O my (dear) father! engage him on wages: truly the best of men for thee to employ is the (man) who is strong and trusty" [Qur'an 28:26]
He said: "I intend to wed one of these my daughters to thee, on condition that thou serve me for eight years; but if thou complete ten years, it will be (grace) from thee. But I intend not to place thee under a difficulty: thou wilt find me, indeed, if Allah wills, one of the righteous." [Qur'an 28:27]

[edit] Asiyah, Wife of the Pharaoh
The wife of the Pharaoh, known in some traditions as Asiyah, is mentioned in the Quran:

And Allâh has set forth an example for those who believe; the wife of Fir'aun (Pharaoh), when she said: "My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir'aun (Pharaoh) and his work, and save me from the people who are Zâlimûn (polytheists, wrong-doers and disbelievers in Allâh). [Qur'an 66:11]

[edit] The Queen of Sheba (Bilqis)
The Quran speaks of the Queen of Sheba, also known as Balqees:

"I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a magnificent throne. [Qur'an 27:23]
"I found her and her people worshipping the sun besides Allah: Satan has made their deeds seem pleasing in their eyes, and has kept them away from the Path,- so they receive no guidance,- [Qur'an 27:24]
She said: "Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest thus do they behave. [Qur'an 27:34]
"But I am going to send him a present, and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) ambassadors." [Qur'an 27:35]
So when she arrived, she was asked, "Is this thy throne?" She said, "It was just like this; and knowledge was bestowed on us in advance of this, and we have submitted to Allah (in Islam)." [Qur'an 27:42]
She was asked to enter the lofty Palace: but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she (tucked up her skirts), uncovering her legs. He said: "This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass." She said: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds." [Qur'an 27:44]

[edit] Wife of Imran
The wife of Imran (father of Mary), and thus Isa's grandmother is not named in the Qur'an, but referred to in narratives. In Judeo-Christian tradition she is identifeid as Hannah. According to the Qur'an, Imran and his wife were old and childless, and she invoked God for a child:[3]

"How the wife of ʿImrān said, O my Lord, I have vowed to thee what is in my womb. Now accept [this vow] from me, thou art the hearing, the knowing. And when she had given birth to the child, she said, O my lord, I have given birth to a female child... and I have called her Maryam".[Qur'an 3:31]
"Behold! a wife of Imran said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things." "When she was delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!"- and Allah knew best what she brought forth- "And whatever no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from Satan, the Rejected." [Qur'an 3:35-36]

[edit] Mary (مريم)
A key female character in the Quran is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The name of Maryam frequently appears in the Qur'an alongside that of Isa (Jesus) in the format "ʿĪsā Ibn Maryam" (meaning Jesus the son of Mary).[4] surah 19 is named after her:

When she was delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!" - and God knew best what she brought forth - "And not wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected." [Qur'an 3:34]

God sent Gabriel to Mary to give her tidings of a son:

Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah; [Qur'an 3:45]

The Qur'an also states that the conception of Jesus by Mary was miraculous:

She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: God createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!"' [Qur'an 3:47]
"Mary the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)." [Qur'an 66:12]

Mary is especially revered by many Muslims, and she is praised much by the Quran:

"Behold! the angels said: 'O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee - chosen thee above the women of all nations.'" [Qur'an 3:42]
And Maryam, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her of Our inspiration and she accepted the truth of the words of her Lord and His books, and she was of, the obedient ones. [Qur'an 66:12]

[edit] The woman who complained to Muhammad
The Qur'an speaks of her in surah 58 (She that Disputeth), her name being Khoulah bint Thalabah.

"Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah: and Allah (always) hears the arguments between both of you: for Allah hears and sees (all things)." [Qur'an 58:1]

The verses that follow are to restore her rights (as well as those of any other woman in her position), when the husband does a specific pre-Islamic tradition.

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