O Prophet! When the believing women come to you to take the oath of allegiance, take their pledge; that they will not commit shirk with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit fornication, that they will not kill their children, that they will not give any cause for scandal which they may invent between either their hands or legs (a woman accusing another woman of an illicit relationship with a man and spreads such stories – or – a woman carrying an illegitimate child and makes her husband believe that it is his), and that they will not disobey you in any just matter, then accept their allegiance and pray to Allah for their forgiveness. Surely, Allah is Oft-forgiving, most Merciful. (Quran Surah 60, Ayah 12)
This morning my husband and I were having a discussion about Surah 60, ayah 10-11 and I had an epiphany of sorts when I came to ayah 12. I wondered how differently I would’ve viewed my shahadah (the declaration of faith I said to become Muslim) if I had felt Surah 60, ayah 12 was not only a standard of being a Muslim woman but also a requirement. I wondered how differently the Muslim community (more particularly the African-American Muslim community) would be if all the other women who accepted Islam as their way of life understood the same. What would the African-American Muslim community look like if these were the values upheld by everyone?
You may be saying to yourself, it goes without saying that a Muslim woman should not do any of the things mentioned in this ayah. However, as we all know, there are women who become Muslim and do not understand the seriousness of the oath that they taking. More pointedly, when women take shahadah, I am not altogether sure that the expectation of how they will behave and what principles they are expected to uphold are spelled out as clearly as they are this ayah. Nor is their acceptance into the Muslim community contingent upon the criteria laid out in the Surah 60, ayah 12. (I am not a scholar of Quran but also implicit in the ayah is that women who are already a part of the community- by birth or as a longtime converts -are upholding these principles as well).
It’s amazing how many times I’ve read this ayah but never came to this understanding until recently. Subhanallah…the Quran is beautiful like that.