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Jesus and Muhammad Attitude toward Women
All the passages below are taken from Mark A. Gabriel’s* book “Jesus and Muhammad” published in 2004.
Even as a child growing up in Egypt, I chafed at the way Muslim society treated women. As I studied the Quran and Islamic history, I could see how the many restrictions placed upon women came directly from Muhammad himself. Again, this put me in a position of wondering whether the true God of heaven would treat people this way.
My purpose in this chapter is to simply show you Muhammad's attitude toward women and his personal relationships with women in his life. From this you will be able to see how the traditions of Islamic society developed.
We will also look at Jesus' attitude and personal relationships regarding women.
This chapter is divided into three parts:
• Their teachings about women's character
• Their teachings about marriage
• Their personal relationships with women
MUHAMMAD'S TEACHINGS ABOUT WOMEN'S CHARACTER
We have a tremendous amount of information about women both in the Quran and in the teachings of Muhammad recorded in the hadith.
Muhammad makes clear distinctions between women and men. Unfortunately, many of his comments about women are unflattering.
Are women evil?
When Muhammad visited paradise and hell (during the Night
Journey), he reported:
The Prophet said, "I looked into Paradise and found that the majority of its dwellers were the poor people, and I looked into the (Hell) Fire and found that the majority of its dwellers were women."1
In Muhammad's day, women had to be careful not to walk by men who were praying.2 That's because Muhammad said that if a woman walked by a man who was praying, his prayer would be cancelled out and he would have to start his time of prayer from the beginning again. Muhammad's second wife, Aisha, reported this teaching, along with a mild protest:
The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people)." I said, "You have made us (i.e. women) dogs."3
At another time Muhammad described women as an "evil omen" or bad luck.
Evil omen was mentioned before the Prophet: The Prophet said, "If there is evil omen in anything, it is in the house, the woman and the horse."4
Women were considered impure during the time of their periods (menses), and Muhammad said they could not pray or fast on those days. Muhammad said this also put women in a negative position in Allah's eyes.
Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) .... Then he passed by the women and said, "0 women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, 0 Allah's Apostle?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "0 Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion.”5
Are women inferior?
Did Muhammad believe that women are inferior to men? The Quran says that it takes the witness of two women to equal the witness of one man:
Get witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her.
Muhammad explained the reason for this teaching this way:
The Prophet said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind."6
Women also received a smaller share of inheritance than men.
Allah commands you as regards your children's (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females.
Women required to be covered
Many people have questions about the covering for Muslim women. In the beginning of Islam, when Muhammad was living in Mecca with only his first wife, he did not ask Muslim women to wear veils. After moving to Medina, something happened that prompted a new revelation regarding women.
Muhammad began to marry multiple wives, and Muhammad typically hosted a feast after each wedding. After the feast for Zainab bint Jahsh (I will tell you more about her later), several people lingered in his house after Muhammad left.7
The next day one of Muhammad's most trusted followers made this suggestion:
Narrated Umar: I said, "0 Allah's Apostle! Good and bad persons enter upon you, so I suggest that you order the mothers of the Believers (i.e. your wives) to observe veils." Then Allah revealed the Verses of Al-Hijab.8
That same day Muhammad received revelation through the angel Gabriel that Muslim women should wear veils.
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies... .That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed.
SEE ALSO VERSE 33 AND SURAH 24:31, 58FF
So women began to cover themselves. Muhammad's second wife, Aisha, commented on how the women followed this new revelation:
Aisha used to say: "When (the Verse): `They should
draw their veils over their necks and bosoms,' was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces."9
So Muhammad's intention regarding the hijab was clear, and the Muslim women of his day covered their faces. Conservative Muslims today follow the Quran literally, and the women also cover their faces. Liberal Muslims choose to wear modern, but modest, clothing rather than a full covering.
Women as spoils of war
Whenever a village or tribe resisted Muhammad and his army and they were conquered, the Muslims had permission to take the women and children as slaves. Chapter 29 in book 8 of the hadith of Muslim actually has the following title:
It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a captive woman after she is purified (of menses or delivery). In case she has a husband, her marriage is abrogated after she becomes captive.
The hadith goes on to explain when this ruling was made.
At the Battle of Hanain Allah's Messenger sent an army to Autas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allah's Messenger seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allah, Most High, sent down regarding that: "And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess (iv. 24)" (i.e. they were lawful for them when their Idda period came to an end). 10
Not only do hadith contain this ruling, but the Quran itself also makes reference to captive women being at the disposal of their masters, even if they were currently married (Surah 4:24).
Muslims had the option to release the women from slavery and take them as wives if they chose to do so.
Muhammad's care for women
Despite some of his comments and actions toward women, Muhammad also made sure that Muslim women were taken care of, especially the poor and the widowed. (The Islamic community had a significant number of widows due to the practice of jihad.) He supported them from the spoils of war and the charity tax (zakat) that he collected from all people under Islamic authority.
JESUS' TEACHING ABOUT WOMEN'S CHARACTER
Jesus did not make any specific comments about the character of women being different than the character of men. However, we can learn about his attitude toward women by seeing how he treated them. The Gospels describe Jesus praising women for their faith, healing their illnesses, casting out their demons, and forgiving their sins---just as he did for men.
Praising women's faith and healing them
A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years saw Jesus in a crowd. She touched the edge of Jesus' cloak, and he felt it. "Who touched me?" he asked. Trembling with fear, the woman knelt at his feet and told him what she did. She was afraid because according to Jewish law her bleeding made her unclean and she should not touch anyone. Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" (Mark 5:21-34 NIV).
So Jesus praised her faith. His comment stands in contrast to Muhammad's teaching that women are "deficient in religion."
Jesus also praised another woman for her faith. This was a Gentile who persistently begged him to cast the demons out of her daughter. Jesus told her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted" (Matthew 15:28 NIV).
Jesus even said that a widow's offering could be more valuable than a rich man's offering.
As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." [LUKE 21:1-4 NIV]
Jesus' attitude contrasts sharply with Muhammad. Remember that Muhammad urged a group of women to "give arms" to make up for their deficiency in intelligence and religion.
Casting out their demons
Some of Jesus' followers were women whom he had delivered from demons.
The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others.
-LUKE 8:1-3 NIV
Jesus also healed a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years because of a demon (Luke 13:10-13).
Forgiving women's sins
As Jesus and his disciples were traveling through Samaria, they stopped at a well outside of a city. Jesus was tired and rested there while the disciples went into town to buy food. A woman came to draw water, and Jesus began to talk with her. The fact that Jesus talked with her was remarkable in two ways: (1) she was a woman, and (2) she was Samaritan, who were considered impure by the Jews.
After a while, Jesus surprised her by gently pointing out that she was living with a man who wasn't her husband. Amazed that Jesus knew about her life, the woman ran into town and told everyone about him. Jesus stayed there to teach them for two days, and her testimony encouraged many Samaritans to believe on him (John 4:1-42 NIV).
Instead of condemning the woman for her sin, Jesus gave her the opportunity to follow him.
Jesus was approached by another woman as he was eating a meal in the home of some religious leaders. A woman who was known for her sinful life entered the house and threw herself at Jesus' feet, sobbing. As her tears flowed, she washed his feet and dried them with her hair. Then she took an expensive bottle of perfume and anointed his feet with it. The religious leaders whispered, "If this man were a prophet, he would know this woman is a sinner."
Jesus responded by saying, "Yes, this woman has sinned much, but her love for me is great as a result." Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:36-50 NIV).
Jesus also intervened in the case of a woman who had been caught in adultery and was about to be stoned by the religious leaders. Jesus told her accusers: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. When they all left, Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you.... Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11 NIV).
Muhammad's teaching on women in marriage
Keeping in line with his general attitude toward women, Muhammad described a marriage relationship where the man was superior and the woman needed to be submissive. Regarding the husband, the Quran says:
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means.
In the same verse, the Quran says regarding the wife:
Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard ... (e.g., their chastity, their husband's property).
The second half of this verse gives the husband liberty to punish the wife for bad behavior:
As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance).
Women were cursed if they refused to sleep with their husbands:
The Prophet said, "If a man invites his wife to sleep with him and she refuses to come to him, then the angels send their curses on her till morning."11
Divorce was accepted as a part of life in Islamic culture. A man could divorce his wife by saying three times, "I divorce you."12 But he can choose to marry her again. However, if he also says, "You are like my mother to me," then this is a permanent divorce and he cannot marry her again unless she marries another man and is divorced from him. After that second divorce occurs, the first husband is free to marry her again if he wants (Surah 2:226-232). However, a wife was not permitted to initiate a divorce nor could she stop her husband from divorcing her. (This practice is based on Surah 4:34.)
In the Islamic world today, where Islamic law is being applied, women still are not permitted to initiate or resist a divorce (in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan). More secular countries, however, are giving women divorce rights. For example, Egypt passed a law in 2003 permitting women to ask for divorce under specific conditions, such as a husband's infidelity.
Many different scenarios for divorce, compensation, and the waiting period before remarriage are described in the hadith. Islamic law allows divorce under many circumstances, even for very small things. It is up to the attitude of her husband. He can divorce his wife just for being difficult to live with.
The Quran allows a man to have up to four wives if he is able to support them.
And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls then marry (other) women of your choice, two, or three, or four.
Muhammad, however, was permitted to have more than four wives, as you will see later in this chapter.
Jesus' teaching on women in marriage
In contrast to Muhammad, Jesus taught that divorce should be restricted.
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
"What did Moses command you?" he replied.
They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."
"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God `made them male and female.' `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."
-MARK 10:2-12 NIV
Jesus gave marriage a high spiritual status. Jesus supported the teachings of the Old Testament that say God ordains the bond between a man and a wife. This bond is so close that it is described as two people becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24 NIV).
Jesus did not give any other specific teaching about marriage. However, his followers did make further comments regarding marriage and divorce, which are recorded in the New Testament.
Now let's look at the role of marriage in the personal lives of Jesus and Muhammad.
MUHAMMAD'S MOST FAMOUS WIVES
Just as Muhammad's attitude toward nonbelievers changed after he moved to Medina, so did his practice regarding wives. Let's look at his first wife and then at the twelve other women he married in Medina.
Khadija, the first wife
When Muhammad was a young man of twenty-five, he married his first wife, Khadija, who was forty at the time. She is described as offering him great emotional support as he received revelations and experienced resistance from the people of Mecca. He remained married to her alone for twenty-five years until her death.
Aisha, the child bride
About one year after moving to Medina, Muhammad chose a wife that was surprising even by Arabian society standards. She was the six-year-old daughter of one of his most loyal followers, Abu Bakr.
The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death ).13
More than just a perplexing story about a child bride, Aisha became a key figure in Islamic history. She narrated thousands of hadith describing Muhammad's life and teachings. She was also involved in an incident that seriously threatened the credibility of Islam.
When Muhammad led his army in a battle, he always chose one of his wives to go with him. In A.H. 5 he took Aisha with him on a raid against beni Mustaliq, a Jewish tribe. She would have been about eleven years old at that time.
This is the story according to Aisha. Aisha rode in a special covered compartment on the back of a camel. At night the raiding party stopped, and Aisha left the group to use the toilet in the desert. On her way back she realized she had lost her necklace and went back to look for it. By the time she returned to the stopping place, everyone had left, thinking she was in the riding compartment on the camel's back. She waited in the desert until a Muslim soldier came by and recognized her. He brought her back to Medina the next morning on his camel. 14
Some people accused Aisha of having an affair in the desert with the young Muslim soldier. Muhammad was unable to prove that she did not. People began to say, "How can this man be a prophet if he doesn't know what happened to his wife?" For more than twenty days this standoff continued. Finally Muhammad received a revelation from Gabriel that cleared Aisha of wrongdoing and condemned those who had been accusing her (Surah 42:11-18).
The repercussions of this incident did not end here. One of Muhammad's cousins with whom he grew up, Ali ibn Abu Talib, had urged Muhammad to divorce Aisha. Aisha heard this and carried a grudge against Ali for the rest of her life. After the death of the third leader of Islam (Uthman), Ali ibn Abu Talib was elected to become the next Islamic calipha. But Aisha refused to recognize him as the leader, and she gathered an army of supporters and marched against him. In the ensuing Battle of Camel, ten thousand Muslims were killed. Ali ibn Abu Talib was killed, and his son became his successor until he was poisoned by Muslims.
So Aisha, the child bride, is a major figure in Islamic history. Let's look at another one of Muhammad's most interesting wives.
Zainab, the wife of Muhammad's adopted son
Muhammad went one day to the house of his adopted son Zaid Bin Harithah. When he arrived, he found out that his adopted son wasn't home, and that his son's wife, Zainab, was home alone. As she came to the door, his eyes met hers, and Muhammad said, "Praise be to the one who changes the hearts and the sights." He felt her love in his heart. She became aware that he had a certain desire for her. When her husband came back, she told him what had happened. There were two problems with this situation. First, Zainab was married, and second, her husband was Muhammad's adopted son. Islamic law forbids a man from marrying his son's wives.
However, from that day on, Zainab mistreated her husband by showing him she was not interested in him any longer. Every time she would do so, Zaid would go to Muhammad and complain about his wife and tell him about the abuse he was getting from her. And every time Muhammad would tell him, "Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah" (Surah 33:37).
After this continued for a while, Zaid apparently gave up on the marriage and divorced his wife.
Islamic history says that Muhammad then decided to ask Zainab to marry him, even though this defied Islamic law about a man marrying his son's wives. Oddly, Muhammad sent Zaid to deliver the proposal. Zaid went to his ex-wife's house and found her preparing flour to make bread. Zaid said of the moment, "When I saw her, I could not even look on her face because I still loved her." But he dutifully delivered the message from Muhammad. His ex-wife replied, "Allah must tell me to marry him." She told Zaid that she was going to the mosque to pray. So Zaid went back to Muhammad and told him what had happened.15
While Zainab was still at the mosque, Muhammad reported a new revelation from the angel Gabriel.
Behold! you said to one who had received the grace of Allah and your favor: "You retain (in wedlock) your wife, and fear Allah." But you hid in your heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: you feared the people, but it is more fitting that you should fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to your: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah's command must be fulfilled.
There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty.
-SURAH 33:37-38, ALI TRANSLATION
This revelation specifically said that Allah commanded Zainab to be married to Muhammad. The verse also pointed out that this marriage would help other Muslims by showing them that it was permissible for a man to marry his adopted son's former wife if the marriage had been properly dissolved.
Muhammad also received a revelation that abolished adoption. "Allah has not.. .made your adopted sons your real sons" (Surah 33: 4). As a result, Zaid was no longer considered Muhammad's son, which also served to legalize Muhammad's marriage to Zainab.
In the end, Zainab agreed to marry Muhammad and became his fifth wife (A.H. 5). Her former husband died three years later while fighting in jihad.
Zainab was quite happy with how things turned out for her. The hadith record:
Zainab used to boast before the wives of the Prophet and used to say, "You were given in marriage by your families, while I was married (to the Prophet) by Allah from over seven Heavens." 16
Let's look at one more specific example of how Muhammad obtained one of his wives---this one as a prisoner of war.
Safiya, the Jewish beauty
By A.H. 7 Muhammad had already routed most of the Jews out of Arabia. There was one village remaining---Khaybar. Muhammad and his army surrounded the village at night and attacked while the people were still asleep. He killed most of the young men and adults, and the women and children were taken as prisoners. 17
Muhammad noticed one of the prisoners, a beautiful girl named Safiya. Her father was the leader of Khaybar, and she was still a new bride. Both her husband and father were killed by the Muslims that day. Muhammad asked his men, "Whose prisoner is that woman?" They replied, "She belongs to Qais bin Thabet Al-Shammas."
Muhammad gave this man Safiya's two cousins and took Safiya for himself. She traveled with Muhammad back toward Medina. During the journey, after her period (menses) was over, Muhammad married her.18
The night Muhammad consummated his marriage with Safiya, one of Muhammad's followers stayed up all night walking around the tent with his sword at his side. In the morning Muhammad asked him why he did this. The man replied, "I was afraid for you with this woman for you have killed her father, her husband, and her people, and till recently she was in unbelief, so I was afraid for you on her account."19
MUHAMMAD'S OTHER WIVES
Each of Muhammad's wives had a story behind her, and I have told you the most significant and interesting ones. The complete listing of wives is as follows:20
1. Khadija bint Khu-walid (He was married to her in Mecca for twenty-five years until her death.)
2. Aisha bint Abu Bakr (She was young, jealous, and caused trouble, but she was the favored one, daughter of Muhammad's closest friend, and first successor to Islam.)
3. Hafza bint Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (She was the daughter of one of Muhammad's fiercest warriors.)
4. Umm-Habib Rumleh bint Abi Sufyan (She was the daughter of the leader of Quraysh tribe in Mecca who converted to Islam just before Muhammad conquered the city.)
5. Zainab bint Jahsh (She was first the wife of Muhammad's adopted son. They divorced and Muhammad married her.)
6. Umm Salama Hend bint Abi Ummayah
7. Maymuna bint el-Harith al-Hilleliah
8. Sauda bint Zema'a el Amawiya
9. Juwayriya bint al-Harith (She was a Jewish girl taken as a prisoner of war in the raid on beni Mustaliq, which incidentally was the same raid during which Aisha was accused of adultery.)
10. Safiya bint Ho-yay (She was a Jewish girl taken as a prisoner of war during the raid on Khaybar.)
11. Ra-hana bint Shumahon
12. Maria bint Shumahon
13. Umm Sharik
As you remember, the Quran only allowed Muslims two, three, or four wives, but Muhammad was an exception. Muhammad reported a revelation that defined the women he was permitted to marry:
0 Prophet! We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have paid their dowers; and those whom your right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to you; and daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of your maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makkah) with you; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;---this only for you, and not for the Believers (at large).
-SURAH 33:50, ALI TRANSLATION
When Muhammad died he left nine living widows. Muhammad prohibited any of them from remarrying after his death (Surah 33:6, 52).
Muhammad's other women
In addition to his wives, Muhammad had another group of women at his disposal. These were the female slaves whom he had purchased or acquired as prisoners of war. All slaves, whether male or female, were referred to in Arabic as milkelimen. The male slaves would serve Muhammad by doing chores such as taking care of Muhammad and his wives, their houses, and their animals. They would prepare food and bring the water for washing before prayers. Forty-three of these male slaves are listed by name in Islamic history.21
The female slaves performed chores as well, but Islamic law also permitted Muhammad to use them sexually without being required to marry them. Any resulting child would not carry the name of Muhammad or take any inheritance from him. The child would be a slave to Muhammad, not his son, and Muhammad had the right to keep him or to sell him. (Islamic law allowed milkelimen for any Muslim man). Twenty-three of these female slaves are listed by name in Islamic history.22
MUHAMMAD'S GENERAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS WIVES
Muhammad's social life was always full of struggles between him and his wives and among the wives themselves. Islamic history records many details about these skirmishes. One time Muhammad's wives were persistently asking Muhammad for money, and he said that he had none to give them. In exasperation, he separated himself from them for one month (twenty-nine days). Then he offered each of his wives the option to be divorced from him. He told Aisha, his child bride, that she may want to consult her parents in this matter. All the wives conceded to remain in his household.23
In order to manage his relationships with his wives, Muhammad assigned each wife a day to spend with him. But when Aisha caused him trouble, he would take another wife's day and spend it with her. One wife complained about this situation, and Muhammad threatened to divorce her. Because she was old she conceded, "Don't divorce me. I will stay with you and give up my night to Aisha."
JESUS AND THE WOMEN WHO HELPED HIM
There is no record in the Gospels or Christian history that Jesus ever married or had a wife. He is described as having a good relationship with two sisters, Mary and Martha, and he ate meals at their house (Luke 10; John 12 NIV).
The Gospel writers also mention that a small group of women traveled with him and the disciples and helped them.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
-LUKE 8:1-3 NIV
These women were loyal followers, and they stayed with Jesus through his crucifixion.
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.
-MATTHEW 27:55-56 NIV
After Jesus' body was removed from the cross, two of the women followed after Joseph of Arimathea and watched as he placed the body in a tomb and rolled a large stone in front of the entrance (Matthew 27:57-61 NIV). Then they went and prepared spices with which to anoint the body after the day of rest (Sabbath) had passed.
These were the women who were the first people to see Jesus after his resurrection.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
-MATTHEW 28:1, 9-10 NIV
So we can see that women followed Jesus and helped him. Jesus even gave women the privilege of being the first to see him after his resurrection. We have no indication that Jesus had sexual relations with them. Jewish society would have condemned such behavior.
What have we learned about the attitudes of Jesus and Muhammad toward women?
Muhammad described women negatively. Jesus treated women the same way that he treated men.
Teachings about marriage.
Muhammad described a relationship where the woman needed to be subject to the man and where it was acceptable for a man to divorce a woman under many circumstances. Jesus spoke of marriage as a union ordained by God that should only be broken by a spouse's unfaithfulness.
Relationships with women.
Muhammad had many wives and experienced many challenges with them. Jesus never married but had a group of women who traveled with him and helped him.
Again we see the differences in the personality and character of Jesus and Muhammad. It is especially interesting to observe how these differences play out when they faced similar challenges. The next chapter describes four surprisingly parallel events in their lives and how they responded. [166-184]
1. The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 8, bk. 76, no. 456. Narrated by Imran bin Husain.
2. The Correct Books of Muslim, bk. 4, no. 1032. Narrated by Abu Dharr.
3. The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 1, bk. 9, no. 490. Narrated by Aisha.
4. Ibid., vol. 7, bk. 62, no. 31. Narrated by Ibn Umar.
5. Ibid., vol. 1, bk. 6, no. 301 Narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri.
6. Ibid., vol. 3, bk. 48, no. 826. Narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri.
7. Ibid., vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 317.
8. Ibid., vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 313.
9. Ibid., vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 282. Narrated by Safiya bint Shaiba.
10. The Correct Books of Muslim, bk. 8, no. 3432. Narrated by Abu Sa'id al-Khudri. See also Sahih Muslim, vol. 2, pt. 2, no. 3608.
11. The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 7, bk. 62, no. 121. Narrated by Abu Huraira. See also Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 3608.
12. For example, see The Correct Books of Muslim, bk. 9, no. 3527.
13. The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 7, bk. 62, no. 88. Narrated by Ursa.
14. Ibid., vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 274. Narrated by Aisha.
15. Ibn Kathir, The Quran Commentary (Mansura, Egypt: Faith Library, 1996), vol. 3, pt. 6, p. 239.
16. The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 9, bk. 93, no. 516. Narrated by Anas.
17. Ibn Jarir, The History of Messengers and Kings, vol 3, p. 25 1. See also The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 2, bk. 14, no. 8.
18. The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 4, bk. 52, no. 143 and Ibn Ishaq in English, p. 511.
19. Ibn Ishaq, p. 517.
20. Ibn Kathir, The Beginning and the End.
23. The Correct Books of Muslim, bk. 9, no. 3498 and 3506. See also The Correct Books of Bukhari, vol. 6, bk. 60, no.309.
*Dr. Gabriel was born in Egypt. When he was five-years-old, his uncle, who was an Imam, worked with him to memorize 2-3 verses of the Quran in classical Arabic, almost on a daily basis. By the time he was 12 years old he could memorize the complete Quran.
Dr. Gabriel's academic credentials in Islamic scholarship include:
· Bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in Islamic History and Culture from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt
· Graduating second in his class of six thousand students for his bachelor's degree. This ranking was based on cumulative scores of oral and written exams given at the end of each school year.
· At 28-years old, he was one of the youngest lecturers ever hired at Al-Azhar University. He started lecturing after he finished his master's degree and was working to finish his doctorate.
· Traveling lecturer. The university sent him to countries around the Middle East as a lecturer in Islamic history.
· As a scholar, he spent thirty years studying Islam and the life of Muhammad.
Al-Azhar University is the most respected, authoritative Islamic university in the world. It has been in continuous operation for more than one thousand years.
In addition to his academic training, Dr. Gabriel had practical experience, serving as the imam at a mosque in the Cairo suburbs.
After Dr. Gabricl became a Christian, in his mid thirty, he pursued a Christian education. His credentials in Christian education include:
· Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission in Cape Town, South Africa.
· Master's degree in World Religion from Florida Christian University in Orlando, Florida (2001).
· Doctorate degree in Christian Education from Florida Christian University in Orlando, Florida (2003).
· Induction as a fellow in the Oxford Society of Scholars, September 2003.
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