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Mernissi makes the claim that "Any man who believes that a Muslim woman who fights for her dignity and right to citizenship excludes herself necessarily from the umma...is a man who misunderstands his own religious heritage, his own cultural identity" (Mernissi viii). She goes about supporting this claim by delving into the very detailed documentation of Islam history. She attributes misogyny in the past and present Muslim culture to the male elite. She gives many examples of how Muhammad and Islam have only supported equality of the sexes and also how the male elite used false hadiths and very narrow interpretations of the Koran and true hadiths for their purpose.
She begins by describing how the male elite started running things right from the onset of Muhammad's death. When a successor to Muhammad was picked, it did not involve the people of the community at all or any women. It was done by a small group of followers which were very close to the prophet, a sort of elite group. This sort of leadership in Islam continued in the same manner as only the elite were involved. This helped preserve what they thought was essential and according to the interests of the participants the essentials varied.
The fabrication of false hadiths by the male elite was probably the first and most popular way for them to protect their interests. The people governing knew how important it was to "seek legitimacy in and through the sacred text" (Mernissi 43). Mernissi talks about al-Bukhari, who methodically and systematically collected and verified true Hadiths. He was exiled from his native town because he refused to bring the knowledge of the Hadith to the governor of the town and have it corrupted. He knew that the invitation from the governor was made only for him to probably fabricate some Hadith which would benefit the politicians. Many did not follow al-Bukhari's example but allowed themselves to be bought for a price and fabricated Hadiths for the politicians. Even Companions of the Prophet fabricated Hadiths in order to promote their own personal views.
In the case of the Hadith which states, "Those who entrust their affairs to a woman will never know prosperity", Mernissi argues that this Hadith was never uttered by the Prophet and probably made up for personal reasons of Abu Bakra, who claimed to have heard the Hadith spoken by the Prophet. First, she finds out from research that he must have had an excellent memory because he recalled the Hadith about twenty-five years after the Prophet supposedly uttered it. At the same time "the caliph 'Ali retook Basra after having defeated 'A'isha at the Battle of the Camel" (Mernissi 50). This leads Mernissi to wonder if Abu Bakra made up the Hadith to give reason for not supporting 'A'isha in the fitna. Mernissi also attacks the morals of Abu Bakra and finds out that he had been found to give false testimony in a case to the caliph 'Umar. So with the improbable case of extraordinary memory and lying in other areas of his life, Mernissi gives reason to reject Abu Bakra as a reliable source of Hadith.
Mernissi discounts another Hadith made by Abu Hurayra, "The Prophet said that the dog, the ass, and woman interrupt prayer if they pass in front of the believer, interposing themselves between him and quibla." (Mernissi 64) First, Mernissi finds that when 'A'isha heard of this Hadith, she rebuked it by saying that she had seen the Prophet saying his prayers while she was lying on the bed between him and quibla (Mernissi 70). History also gives Abu Hurayra a very anti-feminine personality. He had a nickname given to him by the Prophet which he disliked because of the trace of femininity in it. This lead him to say "..the male is better than the female" (Mernissi 71). He is also an object of distrust because even al-Bukhari stated that "people said that Abu Hurayra recounts too many Hadith" (Mernissi 79). He even confessed and retracted his words completely about a Hadith concerning sex and fasting. Mernissi again uses 'A'isha's refutings and the tainted personality of the individual claiming the Hadith to reject it.
I agree and like the way Mernissi goes about the finding wrong the Hadiths that put women down. It is pretty hard to argue with her method and its validity. She finds the background to
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First Fitna, Sahabah, Arab Muslims, Quraish, The Fourteen Infallibles, Hadith, Battle of the Camel, Women in Islam, Abu Hurairah, Islam, Dua, Muhammad, false hadiths, leadership in islam, equality of the sexes, al bukhari, male elite, islam history, muslim culture, religious heritage, muslim woman, elite group, proph, sacred text, cultural identity, hadith, umma, legitimacy, muhammad, companions, followers, small group
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