﴾O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee above the women of all nations. ﴿[Holy Quran: Al-i-Imran 3:42]
God's Pure Religion
The revered religion of Islam fundamentally differs from other religions and schools of thought in all areas. The Shiite school of thought is actually Islam interpreted by the Household of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) and the rightful successors to the Noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household). The Orthodox Islam has been expressed in the words of the Impeccable Imams. It differs greatly from all other schools of thought, cultures and religions in regards to its views on and description of monotheism, the Day of Judgment, the angels, the Prophethood, the religious leadership (Imamat), the Quran, the individual, the family, the society, materialistic and spiritual affairs, moral and practical matters, woman, man, offspring, business affairs, training and education, governmental issues, etc.
What Islam states in this regard is pure fact and measures which are in accord with the physical world and our inner being. In short, Islam's viewpoints are in line with the facts which exist in God's Knowledge and the real world. What is expressed by the interpreters of truth in the religion of Islam is the product of their pure knowledge and divine insight, and is extracted from the depth of the Quranic verses.
The issues existing in this religion originate in the Glorious Quran. The Holy Quran starts with the description of Mercifulness, Beneficence and Sovereignty of God. The interpretation of these facts originates in the angelic, divine heart of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his household); and continues in the statements of the Immaculate Imams starting with Ali (peace be upon him and his household), the son of Abu Talib: It ends with the twelfth Imam's statements.
"Merciful" (Ar-Rahman) is one of God's especial names, and is not meant to be used for others; however, "Benevolent" (Ar-Rahim) can also be applied to others. Both adjectives have the same root in Arabic "rahmat" implies when translated that God is Merciful. Some interpreters of the Quranic verses hold the view that "Merciful" refers to God's general Mercy for all people, whether they are good or bad; while "Beneficent" refers to God's especial Mercy for his obedient, pious servants. His "Mercifulness" is to be manifested in this world, but His "Beneficence" will be granted in the Hereafter.
One cannot, however, see any difference between the two in the Holy Quran:
﴾But My Mercy extendeth to all things﴿. [Holy Quran: A'raf 7:156]
It is noteworthy that this divine attribute can be realized in the creation of all creatures, in provisions for their sustenance and their security against catastrophes.
Man's supplication, using these two attributes, results in a mystic state and an especial spirit and joy. This will in turn result in God's attention and favor to his servant. It has been noted in the Islamic literature that God said:
I am ashamed of not responding positively to man's request should he invoke me through my Mercifulness and Beneficence.
The creation of people and providing for their sustenance is the realization of His Mercifulness, and their guidance and prosperity is the product of His Beneficence. God has commended His Mercifulness in other forms in the Glorious Quran in phrases such as "the Best of the mercifuls", "the Most Merciful of the mercifuls" and "Possessing Mercy."
Even though figures cannot be used to express God's Mercifulness, the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) has tangibly explained the matter to help people understand it:
There exist one hundred of God's Mercies. God distributed one of these over the seven Heavens and the Earth. He grants all people whatever they deserve with just that one mercy; and the people are loving and merciful to each other with what they gain from that one mercy. He has kept the other ninety-nine with Him so that on the Day of Judgment He add them to that one and distribute them amongst the obedient believers.
Sovereignty implies ownership since God's Ownership spans over all creatures and worlds and is irrevocable. He is an Owner who has full power over the growth and development of all creatures. The connection between His Ownership and plans for all existing particles is real, eternal and intrinsic. Therefore, it is not reasonable for man to choose another Lord or Owner, or accept any plans or laws other than His.
Real monotheism can be really demonstrated in all aspects of life if man wholeheartedly submits to His Ownership and Plans and rejects any other ownership or claims thereof. He must reject any culture or school of thought which oppressively intends to grasp a hold on man's life. The delightful phrase "There is no God but God" carries exactly the same meaning in all aspects of life.
Verily Gods' Mercy and His Light of Sovereignty encompass man's whole physical and spiritual needs, and God's Plans, Benevolence and Favor guarantee man's prosperity in this world and the Hereafter.
The Supplication of the Divine Prophets for God's
Sovereignty and Mercy
All divine Prophets rejected all lords and owners, plans, mercy and favor other than God's. They considered themselves to belong to Him and be the objects of His Lordship and worshippers of the Worshipped at all times. They carried out an all-out war against undue claimants to Sovereignty. Some of them lost their lives to safeguard this monotheistic culture and God's Sovereignty and Mercy forever. They would always implore God's Sovereignty and Mercy at times of hardship and need. Adam (peace be upon him and his household) stated:
﴾Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If Thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost.﴿ [Holy Quran: A'raf 7:23]
Noah in his prayers to free the believers and himself and to uproot oppression, said:
﴾O my Lord! Leave not of the unbelievers, a single one on earth!﴿ [Holy Quran: Nuh 71:26] Abraham (peace be upon him and his household) used to pray like this:
﴾O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House; In order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular prayer.﴿ [Holy Quran: Abraham 14:37]
Moses implored God during a time of hardship at the town gates of Madin and said:
﴾O my Lord ! truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that Thou dost send me!﴿ [Holy Quran: Qasas 28:24]
The Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him and his household) said:
﴾O my Lord ! Thou hast indeed bestowed on me some power, and taught me something of the interpretation of dreams and events-O Thou creator of the heavens and the earth! Thou art my protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Take Thou my soul (at death) as one submitting to Thy Will (as a Muslim), and unite me with the righteous.﴿ [Holy Quran: Yusuf 12:101]
﴾O my Lord ! leave me not without offspring, though Thou art the best of inheritors﴿. [Holy Quran: Anbiyaa 21:89]
God taught His Noble Prophet to pray like this:
﴾O my Lord! grant Thou forgiveness and mercy! For Thou art the Best of those who show mercy!﴿ [Holy Quran: Mu-minun 23:118]
God narrates that His Saints and Lovers stand in prayer in the darkness of the night saying:
﴾Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this!﴿ [Holy Quran: Al-Imran 3:191]
The word "Lord" (Rabb) has repeatedly been uttered in the prayers of the Immaculate Imams: namely; Dua i-Kumail, Abu-Hamzeh, Arafeh and the fifteen supplications of Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him and his household). The supplication of the Prophets to their Lord and the repeated occurrence of the word "Lord" in these prayers is a clear manifestation of the importance of this issue and its influence on all aspects of man's life. Those who prayed not only implored God's sovereignty and Mercy in words, but also this encompassed their entire life, all their beliefs, actions and morality - both theoretically and practically.
The Grand Status of Worshipping God
Men and women are essentially similar to each other. They are not any different in the way they develop towards perfection, show signs of humanity, and attain spiritual status. They will be saved from being entrapped in selfish desires and being slaves to false deities, if they accept God's Sovereignty. They can do this by following their inherent inclinations; and by benefiting from wisdom, Prophethood, religious Leadership (Imamat), sympathetic teachers and qualified trainers. Thus, they will accept God's Sovereignty, Plans and Guidance in all aspects of life and remain secure from satanic cultures and wrong schools of thought. In this way they will benefit from belonging to the True Owner and will attain a lofty angelic status.
In their outward appearance and natural disposition, men and women are an example of God's Mercifulness, Beneficence and Sovereignty. This fact is expressed in the verses of the Holy Scripture1 and there is no room for doubt. Woman is human possessing spiritual talents and aptitude. In the logic of divine revelations, woman has the same identity and essence as man. She is divine Mercy and a sign of God's Sovereignty.
The following are all evil results left over from oppressive cultures, Pharaohs of the past and claimants to man's ownership: belittling and attacking her; not respecting her rights; not satisfying her legitimate wants; considering her to be a weak human; unjustly divorcing her and discrimination between the two sexes. In the old days when some fathers had a daughter in Italy, they became really happy.
They thought that they had received new property which they could sell as an aid thirteen or fourteen years later meeting their household expenses. At times, they burned women in a big pan of frying olive oil when they got angry with them. Women were used as maids or sex objects and are still deprived of many of their due rights. But in the logic of revelations and in God's religion, women are considered as having a high status with spiritual essence and are full of divine powers and lots of talents.
If women recognized their own position and protected their human status and if they benefited from the excellent Islamic teachings for their training and development, then they would be able to reach the position of holy Mary, the noble Khadijah and the esteemed Zaynab. Thus, they can reach a status which ensures their nearness to God. Otherwise they will earn nothing but eternal damnation and worldly degradation, if they do not appreciate God's blessings just as some men do.
Woman in the Logic of Revelation
We read in the great commentary called Majma ul-Bayana [v.8, p.358]
Esma, the daughter of Amis, and wife of Jafar, the son of Abi Talib, went to visit the Prophet's wives upon returning from their divine emigration to Ethiopia which was done to safeguard the religion. She asked them if there existed any verses in the Holy Quran regarding women. They answered no. Then she rushed to see the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) and told him that women were in despair and at a loss. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) asked the reason. She answered men have been favorably mentioned in the Holy Quran.
God the Benevolent revealed
For Muslim men and women, - for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God's praise, - for them God has prepared forgiveness and great reward. [Holy Quran: Ahzab 33:35]
It is clearly stated in this verse that women, just like men, can attain ten angelic spiritual positions and attain God's forgiveness and a great reward in the Hereafter:
1- Islam (submission to God);
5- Patience and perseverance;
6- Humbleness and fear of God's Glory and Punishment;
7- Benevolence and charity;
9- Self-control of carnal desires and
10- Remembrance of God.
Esma, the daughter of Yazid Ansary went to see the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) when he was with his companions. She said: "May my parents bestow their lives upon you. I am a representative of other women. No woman in the East or the West disagrees with me. You are appointed to men and women by God. We have faith in you and God. However, women are really restricted to the house. They submit to their husbands to satisfy their lust and will be pregnant for a long time. However, men can freely attend the congregation and Friday prayers; visit the sick; attend burial ceremonies; go on pilgrimage several times; and most important of all, fight in the way of God. While men go on pilgrimage or to guard the country borders, women guard their property, sew their clothes and raise children. What do we earn from this partnership?"
The Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) asked his companions if they had ever heard of anything better than what she had said in regards to her religion. They said they did not think she had discovered such realities so properly. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) addressed her and said: "Go and admonish all other women that if they are good wives for their husbands, and if they seek to please their husbands, and if they are complaisant with their husbands regarding daily affairs, then their reward equals all that their husbands can earn through all the acts you mentioned." The woman departed happily chanting:
"There is no god but God. He is the Greatest"2.
The eighth Imam has narrated his forefathers quoting the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household):
In the presence of God the believer is similar to the nearest angels. Verily a believer has a higher status than angels. Nothing is better liked by God than a repenting believing man or woman.
* THE ISLAMIC FAMILY STRUCTURE, cHAPTER 6. By Husayn Ansarian.
1 - The Holy Quran.
2- Mizan al-Hikmat, v.9, p.96.