1014 words, approximate reading time 8 min
1. There is no doubt that men and women are different -be it from physical, spiritual, psychological as well as perceptional and epistemological aspects- from genetic and existential aspects, although this difference has no value with respect to the pretext of excellence and honor of men over women and vice versa.
This difference in creation, to a certain extent in some areas, is the reason for the difference in the comprehension of men and women, in their reading and studying -specifically their encounters with religious texts- of different subjects, yet there is an understanding that men and women share in their comprehension of religion such as equal treatment in benefiting from justice, good morals or regression of oppression and violation, but at the same time, in other concepts they have different understandings even to the point of contradicting each other.
2. Women similarly men, must come to the junction of knowledge with more earnestness as well as their study and understanding of Islamic texts should be presented by women themselves, because the comprehension of men with that of the comprehension of women, namely male jurists and interpreters of verses and narrations – with no bad intention, rather merely due to the manly psychological, spiritual and epistemological dominance – is different and sometimes opposite!
Therefore, women must become jurists, mystics, philosophers, theologians, interpreters, experts in Hadith and in a word religious scholars and should present their different understanding of religion alongside men – at least in some areas and subjects- against the understanding of male scholars and bravely say with precision that us being women, have understood Qur’an and narrations in this way and you being men, have misunderstood certain content pertaining to the issues and rights of women.
Of course, care should be taken so that this attitude does not lead to any kind of false contrast, long lasting quarrels and contention against men and women rather it should create a scholastic space for scientific competition while observing humane standards, morals and convention between men and women. Scholastic
3. Achieving a female comprehension from the religious texts, has at least two benefits and important effects that make the necessity of attitude apparent.
First benefit: fulfilling women’s rights
The first positive effect to be mentioned regarding women’s earnest study of religion is that the women’s community can easily explain their own needs and rights- instead of via the words and means of men- in their own words and can confidently say that the jurists’ understanding of a particular right or issue pertaining to women is incorrect and it should be corrected and changed according to our understanding for which we have proof.
The women’s scientific society must join male jurists at a scholastic junction of knowledge, not sit in the margins while male scholars and jurists interpret religion according to their own understanding- of course without intending any enmity towards women- and extract rulings from the smallest issues to the greatest affairs regarding this life and the hereafter of women which will only result in the silent emotional complains of women. Rather they should write hundreds and thousands of comprehensive books on philosophy, mysticism, Quranic interpretation, jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence, they should prove their scientific ability and power to create their own history in the valley of science and thought, they should present their scientific findings and abilities as well as their managerial skills before men, although as mentioned previously and will again be repeated, whilst observing ethics and without creating weighty grudges, unhealthy competition and subversion between men and women. Careful attention must be paid to the prevalence of ethical and beyond gender prospect in all stages.
Second benefit: Men’s complete and comprehensive understanding of religion
The second benefit and positive effect of women’s study of religion is that it deepens and gives completion to men’s understanding and study of religious teachings, meaning neither are men independent of women’s religious studies nor is the intellect and intelligence of women less than the intellect and intelligence of man, rather male scholars are in need of women’s study and recognition of religion from religious text, as well as from their own study and understanding of Quranic verses and narrations they may expand and complete their knowledge!
In other words, an interactive and evolutionary approach in marital relationships should as well be found for extension of religious knowledge, if not, the mere comprehension of women as well as the mere comprehension of men will be utterly incomplete.
Throughout the history of knowledge profound and accurate religious recognition, has been the result of the collective understandings from religious texts of male and female scholars. If one side multiple women become jurists, philosophers and interpreters, and contribute towards the production of science and thought (for example in the western culture, lady Linda Zegzebski in the field of «Virtue Epistemology» and lady Hannah Arendt in the field of «Philosophy of Politics» ), on the other side male jurists, philosophers, Quranic interpreters and theologians, do not perceive themselves to be needless of the contributions of women to religion, and must also consider, read and understand their studies and findings, overall and ultimately the epistemic system and theology of the Islamic community, as well as discover significant change and growth.
4. Based on this, religious scholars should not only be in support of the words and opinions of women, but they should voluntarily move toward embracing women’s understanding of religion and respect their intellect and intelligence, therefore due to the crucial, important and valuable differences between women and men in terms of understanding and perceptual and epistemic devices, the understanding of men and women can be different, complimentary and increased at the same time. This theory, is another one of the quintessential and foundational differences with the popular viewpoints in the fields of knowledge related to Islam which has had dominance and governance throughout history and is still prevalent today!
Extracted from the lectures of Ayatullah Haydari with the title “Women’s Jurisprudence, an Attempt to Present a new perspective”