Woman as endowed with direct understanding (faqiha) and prayer leader (imam)
Tuesday, May 1, 2012 12:29:11 PM
the rank of Faqiha. When she surrendered to
Islam, she did not become a follower of
Solomon, nor did she submit to his guidance.
Rather, she remained free in her belief from
following an envoy or an imam, free from
She revealed that she possessed direct belief in God, exactly like that of the Envoys, when she said: "I submit with Solomon to Allah, Lord of the universes," in contrast to the Pharaoh who said: "the Lord of Moses and Aaron".
By examining Ibn 'Arabî's life, we can say that he is a man of knowledge and experience, not a man of theory who speaks about woman as an invisible/hidden being. This means that when he described woman's aptitude and acknowledged her abilities and her equality to man, he was thinking of those women he knew and not theorizing on the "issue of women". Ibn 'Arabî's statements on women are based on a broad experience of life, in which women revealed to him their powers and aptitudes. As regards equality between the sexes in the field of their competency in knowledge, he held the view that a woman could be imam, leading both men and women in prayer. He says: "There are people who permit women to lead the prayer unconditionally, for both men and women, and I agree with that."
And this is very much a contemporary issue, which no Islamic scholar in the twenty-first century would dare to agree with. I suppose the reason is that many legal authorities are trapped into passing judgments by linking scriptural passages with other passages, rather than by intermingling passages and life as it is lived.