Saturday, February 07, 2015

Female Scholars and Female Education in Islam

Here's some images from my new book, Teaching Kids the Holy Quran - Surah 71: Nuh (Noah).

The scholar in my last book was a male character. This time around, I decided I would include the character of a female scholar, because frankly, I feel that is something being ignored in the Muslim community.

I was very happy to see pictures of a workshop (attended by both men and women) at the S. Khadija Centre mosque featuring Dr Ingrid Mattson (on February 6, 2015).

This is in sharp contrast to one leading Islamic academic group in North America, which for the first time featured a female scholar teaching a class, but only to female students. Why? We have multiple examples of female scholars throughout history (starting with our mother Ayesha) teaching classes comprising of both male and female students. Many of us have grown up and attended high schools where we were taught by female teachers. As some of you may know, my mother was a teacher herself.

Now the question is why. Why do we ignore the capabilities of 50% of our population (this is really handicapping us!) and why have we accepted this status quo. It is interesting that one of the names and characters who appears in almost every surah is Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him). He was the manliest of all men, and Allah recounts his story numerous times in the Quran. And he was surrounded by powerful women whom he learnt from and benefitted from. His own mother, his second mother who was the wife of the Pharoah, his sister, and his own wife and her sister.

Some one told me that my book could portray that the only scholarship available for women is religious learning, otherwise they should just stay home and not go to school (in some parts of the world this is the predominant view and people shoot girls going to school). Now I don't of course subscribe to this view - knowledge is the lost property of every believer, said my Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). And every believer includes both male and female.

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