Reflection and Commentary continued on Qur’an 30:21 & 30:22
(30:21)And from his indications, divine works and direction, he originated companions for you from your own souls in order that you can have ease. He invented desire and mercy between you. Indeed in that are signs to men and women that practice and understand. (30:22) And from his indications, divine works and direction, he originated the celestial and the terrestrial bodies and your various forms of communication and your differences of every kind. In that are signs for men and women who practice and understand.
Topic: Is Scripture Chauvinistic?
In my early years studying scripture, I struggled to understand where I stood as a young dominant woman who couldn’t identify myself based on my current understanding on the Quran’s description and references to a woman’s roles and responsibilities. I knew that the creator of all the worlds didn’t create revelation for the entire world in a way that put a man over me as more significant. I couldn’t avoid wondering why all of the prophets were referenced as men and why most of the scripture seems to be speaking to men. It wasn’t until I truly understood that when the Qur’anic Arabic reveals that the creator created both men and women from one single feminine soul, it is saying that this one single soul must somehow produce both masculinity and femininity, otherwise it would have to be two separate souls (one masculine and one feminine). I also realize that the creator didn't create women before men. This made me want to find out what this “femininity” was. All of this studying begged several questions, “Who decided to give the perception that scripture is saying that the creator made us two separate creations and that one sex is over the other? Was the Qur'an referring to the creation of Adam as an individual, leaving the woman as an after-thought? and many others.
The fact that the Qur'an characterizes the human soul as feminine in its nature tells us that femininity was created before any human being ever existed. This should give us a clue that the concept of femininity cannot be referring to just women. We have to study scripture to find out what is referenced in order to get an idea of what femininity was really intended to be. We would also have to examine the differences between the social perception of femininity vs the Qur’anic concept of this idea. The social perception of femininity is a mix of everything from being thin, caring, dainty, sweet, sassy, subservient, flowery, physically and emotionally flamboyant, motherly, earthy, talkative, naive, etc. The Qur’anic references are much more specific. It characterizes femininity as the ability to care, be compassionate, be patient, have character, to persevere, be charitable, have morals, to develop, bring new life into the world and much more. None of these attributes exclude men. Based on this, we can see that men obviously carry these feminine attributes. This should change our perception of a what should be seen as feminine in a man.
This original feminine soul carries the character of the human being and what is associated with it. If this is in good shape, the thinking will be in good shape. This is the same as saying that if the heart is good, the mind is good. The feminine soul feeds, guides and sets a foundation for the thinking, just as the heart feeds, guides and sets a foundation for the mind. When studying Qur'anic concepts on the heart, I have found a direct association with the feminine soul.
None of the feminine concepts include the ability to rationalize or calculate. This is where masculinity is referenced within scripture. This is what I believe is meant in the Qur'an when it states that the male is not like the female. It is not talking about men and women because we know that men and women are extremely alike. This is saying that the role and responsibility found in our feminine nature is not like the role and responsibility found in our masculine nature. The part of us that rationalizes and calculates is responsible for our maintenance and protection. A good example of this can be seen in the heart. When it is compromised, the entire body is compromised. When our soul is compromised it does not have proper protection and maintenance. If left exposed, a human being can become another form of creation referred to as the “jinn” in the Quran. Our masculinity is ultimately responsible for maintaining and protecting our good human nature.
I have concluded that the reason scripture speaks much more often to our masculinity is because it is associated with our thinking and rationalizing and therefore our ability to maintain and protect ourselves and others. This was the job of all of the prophets. In the creators infinite wisdom, he uses symbols in scripture in order to transcend all languages, cultures and even time itself. For this reason, it makes sense that the prophets were physically male in order to protect the symbolic meaning.
The misunderstanding of this beautiful idea has made many men think that they are superior to women and has caused havoc throughout history. They have separated the male and the female into two separate creations and have attempted to make themselves 100% masculine, leaving the female as an after thought. This misunderstanding has also led to many women taking on unnecessary, subservient roles to men to the point of abuse. I believe that this great misdirection has created more turmoil and devastation to humanity than we can ever imagine. No one is all male or all female and never will be. To simplify this even more, we know that there are numerous women that bypass men in their ability to think as well as numerous men who show much better character than women. This reality alone should toss out this caveman idea.
With this understanding, I can now read my Qur’an and understand that when it is referencing masculinity, it is speaking to my rational mind and when it references femininity, it is referencing my character and the attributes of my heart.
After all, as a woman, how can I be like Muhammad, Jesus, Adam, Moses or any male role model in their thinking, without recognizing this?
To answer my initial question, Is scripture Chauvinistic? The answer is, of coarse not.
Heaven and Earth
Written by Nimat Bilal
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