The End - 2000 to 2009

I have noticed a fascinating phenomena between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world when it comes to Muslim women seeking Islamic knowledge.  It is well known by anyone active in any Muslim Student Association (MSA), or institute (AlMaghrib, Zaytuna, etc.) that sisters are almost always more than brothers when it comes to volunteers, activists and the students themselves.  In fact, the majority (probably all) of the events/seminars/classes/lectures/etc. that I have attended, there were more sisters than brothers both participating and volunteering (and no the hadith about the man to woman ratio of 1:50 isn’t happening anytime soon; see population statistics).

Let’s swtich it up and move from America to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.  The top Islamic universities have little or no representation from the sisters.  Maybe it isn’t necessary for them in these countries or maybe there are dedicated schools just for the sisters and I don’t know about them.  My point is that if an Islamic university similar to the major ones in the Muslim world were to be started here, it is clear that sisters would be part of it in great numbers compared to the Muslim world.

It could be that living in this American society that our sisters have the freedom to seek knowledge but if they were placed in the socities of the Muslim world, would they be able to do the same?  Is there even a need for active sisters over there?

It’s probably easier for a sister to seek ilm in America or Canada than in Egypt or Bangladesh.

Edit: See comments.


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  • 17 Responses for "Muslim women seeking Islamic knowledge in the Muslim world vs. the non-Muslim world (Edit: See comments)"

    1. Nihal Khan March 25th, 2009 at 10:37 pm

      I know alAzhar has a “sisters’ section.”

      There’s a video out there somewhere about it…

    2. Zaynab March 25th, 2009 at 11:18 pm

      ^Yeah, Allah knows best, but I hear really good things studying in Egypt from sisters. There seem to be a lot of very knowledgable sister there teaching the people.

    3. Zaynab March 25th, 2009 at 11:19 pm

      knowledgeable*
      Ha! irony…

    4. iMuslim March 25th, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      The “Muslim world” covers a very large chunk of the Earth’s population. Are you including places like Malaysia and Indonesia?

      Even if there are fewer sisters in institutional study in some Muslim-dominated countries, it may be that they are privately tutored at home, or smaller colleges.

      It really depends on the country and culture you are referring to; they each have to be compared individually.

    5. Zaynab March 25th, 2009 at 11:58 pm

      Female scholarship in China:
      http://muslimmatters.org/2008/07/11/where-are-the-women-scholars/

    6. Mamita March 26th, 2009 at 12:06 am

      In these Muslim countries the womens voices and activism is more hushed or kept discreet than here in the US.

    7. miloservic March 26th, 2009 at 2:36 am

      Zaynab, so nice to see your referring China. 😀

      The story in the article is about Ningxia province, that’s one of the poorest place in china, and there are millions Chinese muslims.
      —————-

      And to MR’s topic, I once have read a article from Imam Suhaib Webb or somewhere, it is said in Egypt, a lot of female muslims are illiterate, althrough recite quran in the mosques.

      I think they really need muslim scholars

    8. naeem March 26th, 2009 at 3:12 am

      AA-

      As for KSA, there are many opportunities for sisters to gain knowledge here – more than anything available in the US. They have women-only institutes and study circles all over.

      The biggest difference that I see is the one I pointed out in my post here – that the social environment surrounding these duroos/lectures/halaqas in the Muslim world isn’t even comparable to the lively spirit that exists in the west.

      Another factor is the segregation issue. While in the west where Islam is in its infancy and resources are scarce, functions have to be held with both brothers and sisters. In the Muslim world, that isn’t the case as much. Thus you don’t ‘see’ sisters as active in seeking ilm.

      Just some scattered thoughts…

    9. zakat March 26th, 2009 at 4:01 am

      “…if an Islamic university similar to the major ones in the Muslim world were to be started here, it is clear that sisters would be part of it in great numbers compared to the Muslim world.” … ?

      i’m afraid you don’t seem to know what you’re talking about, my friend.

      here in syria there are a lot of talibat ‘ilm, probably more than the brothers.

      abu noor has a women’s section, there are a lot of female shari’ah university students, the ma’hads (fath, etc) have women’s divisions… there are also institutes that are women’s only, such as masjid zayd’s insitute for sisters and dar al hadith an-nuriyya. there are sisters from this institute who have memorized the six books of hadith with isnad.

      these things are on top of the halaqas in the mosques that are held for the ladies in different subjects.

      from personal knowledge, the number of female hafizas with ijaza is huge here, rivalling or outdoing the brothers. there are many sisters with ijaza in the ten qira’at. there are numerous families where every sister in the house is a hafiza and has ijaza.

      these are damascenes alone. the number of female students from countries like malaysia, indonesia, and daghestan is also numerous.

      when i was in jordan, in a small village near petra named wadi musa, the imam mentioned that 80 women from the village had received ijaza in Qur’an, which was a higher number than the men. some of them were memorizing the sahihayn in hadith.

      in pakistan and india, there is dr. farhat hashmi and her institutes, which are packed, may Allah reward all of these efforts. she probably has more female students past and present than any institute on the north american continent, perhaps all of them. she’s also started an institute in toronto.

      moreover, the level of knowledge differs. while sisters here are studying subjects in-depth, the level of knowledge in the west is generally basic – that is to say, most institutes and classes cover what is obligatory knowledge, and some go into what additional matters. this isn’t to take away from anyone’s efforts, because all of the work being done is essential and beneficial insha’Allah.

      so alhamdullilah, we have a lot of people in the west who are really keen on seeking knowledge, but i don’t think it’s the case that one can say the level of knowledge is anywhere similar, or that the opportunities are more plentiful. for anyone who wants to learn, there are enough opportunities to fill more than 24 hours a day in damascus. as for the level of the instructors: there are quite a number of women here who could teach the teachers that we have back in the west, male and female.

      in terms of eagerness or energy or love for The Qur’an, i haven’t seen women like those in syria. many work during the day and still have students come and read to them. my wife’s teacher is a full time pharmacist and mother and she has more than one student come to her pharmacy and read to her for ijaza. her daughter is a full time university student and she is also a hafiza with ijaza. besides studying and working in her parent’s pharmacy she teaches Qur’an to children at her home.

      this is one example of many.

      so, to be honest, one should probably travel and visit the communities one is speaking about before casting guesses and posting this type of stuff, or change the way one writes such things and form it as a question rather than a statement, by saying, for instance: “what are the opportunities for studying in the east like? Are there greater opportunities in the west?”

      was-salam

    10. MR March 26th, 2009 at 8:45 am

      @everyone above – Jazakallah khair for the comments.

    11. Habayeb March 26th, 2009 at 10:14 am

      As salaam wa alaykum

      I can only talk about UAE and specifically Dubai. Alhamdulilah dawah activities are on full swing here and im not going to get into whether sisters are more or brothers are more but can tell you with full confidence that many sisters are involved in dawah activities and seeking ilm here and yes most of the time its segregated but even when we have seminars with both brothers and sisters, both volunteer equally. Actually last time i checked out they had already received enough requests for volunteering at the seminar alhamdulilah. I used to feel the west had a lot of dawah activities but nope im not going to compare Dubai anymore with it since subhanallah there are oh so many centers here and such huge opportunities to learn the Deen alhamdulilah.

    12. anon March 26th, 2009 at 2:33 pm

      you should keep in mind seeking Islamic knowledge in the Muslim world tends to be free or really cheap

    13. Sincerity! March 29th, 2009 at 11:12 am

      Pakistan has alot of Madrassas for sisters only so you should do a bit more research b4 you write something..

    14. The Ghazzali Blogger March 30th, 2009 at 11:33 am

      Pakistan has great universities for sisters for secular sciences such as engineering and for Islamic Knowledge. However one thing I need to say is that some masjids do not have a sisters side. BUT World class universities such as Medinah and Umm ul Qura do not have sister’s section (however its been along time since I checked so I may be wrong).

      But IIUM (international Islamic university of malaysia)
      Al-Azhar and all it’s branches (there are A LOT OF BRANCHES)
      A Lot of Darul Uloom’s (however I duno bout darul uloom deoband and karachi, the 2 biggest ones) all have sister educations.

    15. Sis April 2nd, 2009 at 3:17 am

      ^ alHamdulillaah, Madinah University now has a women’s section:

      http://www.iu.edu.sa:80/iu_web/top_news.aspx?id=76

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