Say: “Come, I will rehearse what God has prohibited you from”: Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom. (6:151)
O humankind! Reverence your Lord, who created you from a single person, and from her created her mate, and from them both scattered many men and women;- reverence God, through whom you ask demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs: for God ever watches over you (4:1)
“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.” (5:32)
“O men, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have right over you. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.” (Hadith from Prophet’s last sermon)
The right to life is both a universal human right and one of the main principles of Islam. Women’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health must be preserved, especially as their critical roles in society are diverse. Not only do women act as leaders and protectors of families, communities, and nations, but they are mothers, wives, sisters, and friends.
Life is both a God given gift and a fundamental human right, and as such it may not be taken or encroached upon (Q 6:151). Despite this, people routinely prevent women from living out their lives to the fullest (denying them the right to education, family, and the ability to live as autonomous human beings). In some cases, the lives of women are threatened and endangered (Q 5:32).
Muslim women today are promoting a woman’s right to life in numerous areas, from preventing such atrocities as honor killings, to creating a ‘greener’ Earth, to protecting healthy minds and spirits.
WISE is waging a struggle to preserve women’s lives and reclaim the discourses of non-violence and peace from within the Islamic traditions. We take our responsibility as stewards of God seriously by struggling to make life on earth safe and peaceful, resisting violence in all its manifestations – violence infringes upon the fundamental right of every human being to enjoy peace and security in society (Hadith from Prophet’s last sermon), as well as tranquility in the home.
Rufayda bint Sa’ad al-Aslamiyya who lived at the same time as the Prophet (saws) nursed the wounded and the dying in the battlefield during the Battle of Badr on 13th March 624 CE.
Al Shifa bint Abdulla al-Quraishiyya al-Adawiyah was amongst the wise women of the time. She was involved in public administration and skilled in medicine. Her name was Layla but, and received the title ‘Al Shifa’ which means ‘The Healing.’
Women are meeting global challenges by leading large-scale initiatives to improve women’s health and eliminate violent practices like honor killings, and rape stigmatization.
In 2006, women religious leaders came together to address women’s health, signing the Tripoli Declaration of Women Religious Leaders in the Arab States in Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, and female genital mutilation. Another group, the International Women’s Tribune Centre, provides suggestions for using the media as an advocacy tool to tackle violence against women.
Furthermore, as counseling and social services become more available, women’s mental and emotional health is being addressed throughout the world. Louise Becker’s Cologne, Germany-based ZIF (Zentrum fur Islamische Frauenforschung, the Islamic Women’s Center for Research and Encouragement) provides counseling to women on family and marriage problems. Similarly, the Moroccan mourchidats offer counseling services to women on various social and religious issues.
A number of women are launching programs to encourage healthier bodies, minds, and spirits. Mubakarah Ibrahim, for example, created Fit Muslimah Health and Fitness Summit, a retreat program for Muslim women in the U.S. which offers interactive workshops and outdoor activities like hiking, sports, and fitness classes.
The Beautiful Women Gym Project in Australia gives Eritrean women the opportunity to exercise while respecting cultural and religious values, while the London-based Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation provides women with culturally-sensitive sports training. In Iran, women can now join the national team and attend the Islamic Federation of Women Sport quadrennial games.