By Dr Raheeq Abbasi

Gender inequality is a common accusation made against Islam and a disparity in educational opportunities between men and women in many Muslim countries is often cited as a primary example of this. Education is seen as one of the pivotal factors in determining the economic, social and political advancement of a society and if, those making up over fifty percent of that society, are denied such a basic fundamental right then needless to say human rights activists will seek to find reasons for this disparity. Religion, particularly Islam is cited as a major stumbling block for women’s advancement. Studies have shown that in many parts of Africa and South East Asia women’s acquisition of knowledge is either fervently opposed; regulated to secondary importance as compared to men or encumbered with so many restrictions as to make it almost impossible for female students to acquire a decent standard of education.

In today's day and age many people think they are authorised to speak for Islam. The printing press, television and internet have disturbed the natural order of seeking knowledge which was not merely from books and speeches but rather by sitting day-in-day-out, years on end, at the feet of the learned authorities who were themselves well trained intellectually and spiritually by their predecessors. This process continued from the time of the early Muslims who were adamant on ensuring that the true Islamic teachings were correctly transmitted to the coming generations. The chain of transmission was by them introduced to carefully scrutinise who is transmitting the truth and who falsehood. Each and every aspect of the people in the chain were carefully scrutinised to identify the authenticity of that knowledge conveyed; to identify who is an authority in relating faith. A scholar was recognised not merely by the information he had but rather the chain from where he is connected and from where he received his intellectual and spiritual training therein. When the teacher qualified the student - he was now ready to be a torch-bearer of knowledge; a true inheritor of Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him). The significance of Isnad (chain of authority and transmission of knowledge) is fundamental to understanding that who is an authority in Islam. Below are 40 points from the book al-Minhaj-us-Sawiyyi-Minal-Hadithin-Nabawi by Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri which demonstrate its shari' basis:

Below is a translated extract by Mohammed Iqtedar from the Urdu book ‘Tafsir Surat-al-Fatiha awr Ta’mire-Shakhsiyyat’ by Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri.

From the dawn of humanity, people have been the victims of a variety of errors in matters of belief which is often due to ignorance in the following fundamental truths:

  • Tawhid (belief in the oneness or unity of Allah)
  • Risalah (belief in the Messengers of Allah)
  • Akhirah (belief in life after death)

By Shahid Mursaleen

The tragic events of 9/11 have changed the world scene and the gap between Islam and the West has widened further. Radical Islamists have been held responsible for the horrific events and once again due to flawed journalism, anti-Islamic sentiments have been promoted in the West. Consequently Islam is now one of the most misunderstood religions and furthermore the contribution of medieval Islam on which modern western civilisation is based on is being ignored.

Interestingly Prince Charles in his lecture at Oxford University also recognised this fact and said, “If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilisation owe to the Islamic world. The medieval Islamic world, from central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society, and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history."

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