Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Woman Recites Qur'an to Open a Session at ISNA for the First Time

I was recently sent an inquiry by a pious student of knowledge regarding a buzz on the internet hailing the first time a sister had been given the opportunity to recite the Qur'an at an ISNA Convention, this year. I figure that many others have the same question, so I have reproduced the question and answer below I added a few comments to this post that were not included in my letter to the young brother:

RE: Question about listening to a non-mahram's voice

Salaam Shaykh Hamzah,

I hope you are doing well, it was nice to see you this past weekend.

In light of the recent event of the sister reciting Qur'an at ISNA, there's been a lot of discussion going around relating to the permissibility of this. I was wondering if you could explain the Maliki position on this topic? And also if you knew the position that allows for its permissibility? I've had a hard time finding much information online, other than people saying its haram lol.

Jazak Allah Khair!

From: Hamzah Wald Maqbul

RE: Question...

Wa'alaykumussalam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
The voice of a woman is haram for a man to listen to if it will be a cause for fitnah for him, except in specific circumstances based on dire need.
Likewise, if a woman knows that her speaking to someone or in front of someone will cause a fitnah she is prohibited from doing so, except in specific circumstances based on similar need.

[Such a fitnah is taken for granted from a young attractive woman.]

The opening recitation of Qur'an for an ISNA session is not such a need, and given that the young lady in question (whom I have met in the past) is almost surely to have caused some impropriety by having recited in front of a mixed gathering, I am not terribly excited about what happened. Often times Muslims in the west behave like they have something to prove to others, and they thereby misplace their priorities and values. I don't believe by her having recited, that the honor of Muslim women increased, and if we feel that by putting women in positions traditionally discharged by men is somehow progress, then we ourselves are admitting two things: one is that women will not be honored until they are encouraged to behave like men, and two, that centuries of intervening Muslims society and scholarship have been mired in a patriarchy that has barred them from being fair to women, until ISNA's enlightened conference organizers elevated them to that status that our `ulama were hitherto unable to accord them.
As for those who would argue that only the most extreme pervert would be put into fitnah by a Qur'anic recitation, I propose that only one who lacks basic fitrah would not be at least charmed by an attractive young lady reciting something as beautiful as the Qur'an. I did not listen to the recording, but assume she recites well. [The fact that a beautiful voice is reciting the Qur'an does not negate the possibility of fitnah, rather it compounds the sin therein, as it causes something that is sacred to be violated rather than something mundane like normal speech.]

Anyone who sat in our tasawwuf class, or classes like it from the past 14 centuries knows that the pathways to the enlightening or destruction of the heart cross through the eyes and ears. To fail to vigilantly guard over those gateways to the heart is to slacken in defending one's deen and will ensure that one is robbed of the maqam of ihsan
I'm not saying that this sister is evil or that whoever listened is surely going to hell. [In fact, I have much respect for her efforts to serve Islam, as do I for the good intentions held by those who wished to benefit from listening to the speeches of various community leaders at the conference.]
I'm just saying that all of the `ulama' I've ever studied with would be mortified by the prospect of young women reciting in a mixed gathering, and that fear is not based on bigoted patriarchy, but on the firm principles established by the sunnah. [Din is nasihah or sincere advice. If we didn't care or have some hope for good, we wouldn't have wasted our breath.]
The fact that this event is being touted as an achievement of something betrays an attitude that until we behave like them, we are backwards, otherwise I am sure that many other people recited Qur'an at other venues this weekend, and if all things were equal, those recitations would be received with acclaim. I am happy with the way of the old mashayikh of dar al-Islam and never felt that they were in need of the philosophies of modernity or western feminism in order to rectify their attitudes which are based on an usuli understanding of the sunnah.
... and Allah knows best.


Mohammad Rahman said...

Beautiful, ml. Hamza (mujib from duny)

umm-abdillah said...

Baarakallah feekum.

San Chi said...

Was looking for someone that discussed this matter. Alhamdulillah i came across this :) JazakAllah shaykh. May Allah guide us and keep us away from that is doubtful and that which is haram.

Minhaz Siddique said...

MashaAllah.. May Allah save and protect us

Minhaz Siddique said...

MashaAllah.. May Allah save and protect us

Just Muslim said...

I'm surprised ISNA did not invite Miley Cyrus. Oh well, the days are not far off when Muslims will have their own version of a Miley showcased by none other than ISNA. First the Quran recitation. Then the the Hijabi doing nasheeds. Then the non-hijabi singing nasheeds. Then the full blown musical instrument playing Muslim version of a Miley. I give at least ISNA five years to accomplish this ground breaking amazing feat!

Hajirah A said...

Truly loved this answer. We women do not need to pursue positions held by men, or traits practiced by men, rather, we are honored as we are, as Allah (swt) has made us to be. We seek honor through Him, and when we seek it in other than Him, we are humiliated.

Asad Ba-Yunus said...

Sh. Hamza, Jazakullahu khair for your reasoned opinion. May Allah (swt) shower you with His Blessings and increase you in His knowledge. I do have a question, however. Doesn't your opinion require one to assume that every male member of the human species, with the natural fitrah that our Creator has put in us, would always, necessarily, and implicitly be put into fitnah by the mere voice of this sister reciting Allah (swt)'s words? You noted the opposite view being meritless (that one would have to be a pervert to be put into fitnah by recitation of the Qur'an), and I agree with you. But there are many many who would not. I was there in the room when this sister recited, and until I looked at the podium, I thought it was a child reciting - simply because of the tone of voice. I was not attracted to her voice, but instead closed my eyes and listened to the amazing Words I heard.

It seems that the bigger fitnah that comes from a sister reciting Qur'an is the vehement support and the sharp condemnation that erupts from both sides.

One brother asked me an interesting question just after we started discussing this issue at the convention - that doesn't a particularly beautiful male voice have the potential to (and may actually) put a Muslim sister in fitnah? Does it matter that there may be sisters who are captivated by the voice of a Muslim man singing a nasheed or reciting Qura'n? My own wife told me that one of the reasons she married me was because she liked my recitation - which surprised me. So doesn't the argument go both ways? If not, why not?

If you could educate us on these issues, I am sure that many of us would gain a better understanding and be able to more actively deal with these issues as they arise.

Naveed Shaikh said...

Whats shaykh hamza yusufs view on this matter

Naveed Shaikh said...

Whats shaykh hamza yusufs view on this matter

Gharib! said...

Many people have asked the question, what if a man's voice is a fitnah to women. The answer is that she is obliged to save her deen and honor by not listening to him, if that is the case. In fact, if a man's voice or appearance is a fitnah to a man, he must do the same, for that matter.

Nowadays, we consider fame, power, attention, and being exposed to the world to be desirable. Often times, many rulings of our holy shari`ah don't make sense, because each and every one of those things so desired nowadays were considered by our salaf to be spiritual dangers, and undesirable to the salik on his journey to Allah, be they a man or a woman.

This is part of the fitrah-warping reality of the global pop-culture we live in, that it forces women to behave like men in all things including sexual morality. If they do that, they will be logically disadvantaged, thus the need for universal availability of abortion, contraceptives, bizarre and unnatural hormone therapies, and the like, to compensate for the unnatural turn of activity, but like many misguided ventures, the compensation not only fails to compensate, it makes the entire situation worse.

This is relevant to our discussion because, it is the men who are generally subject to the fitan of public exposure, whereas women are not responsible for the public welfare, for them to not participate in such forums is not such an issue, whereas for men, it is a necessary evil. If a woman wishes to assume the dangers of being a man, it is to her own detriment, as it would be for a man to assume the difficulties of being a woman.

Naveed Shaikh said...

May I email you a question shaykh
Do you have an email adress

Adeel said...

MashaAllah ....Maulana you wentt easy on this one...

Anonymous said...

Assalaamu `Alaykum Shaykh.

I was looking for maaliki `ulamaa, and a friend of mine directed me here saying that you follow the maaliki madhab Shaykh.

Do you perhaps have whatsapp or email or some means of contacting you if i have questions on the maaliki madhab?

Shaykh can reach me via email on: if Shaykh doesn't want those details posted in public.

Jazaakallaahu khayr.

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