In a training  of the female ulemas, KH. Husein Muhammad expressed his criticism on the hadiths  which are quoted from the Book ‘Syarh ‘Uqud Lujjayn Shaykh”  which was written by Syekh Nawawi Banten (1230-1314H/1813-1897M). Ummi Dzikriyati, a young muballighah or female preacher who became a participant from Meulaboh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam felt hurt when she heard these un-gender friendly hadith texts and express her disagreement on  the exposure of these hadiths.  According to her, these kind of hadiths should not be disseminated or exposed anymore to the public, need not be discussed or disclosed.  Eventhough including in the models of  criticism discourses.  She suggested to go directly to the texts which strengthen the community, including the scholars, preachers and muballighah with hadith texts that place women on an equal position with men, empowering and ennobling. “It’s more inspiring us”, Ummi ended her comments KH Husein Muhammad’s presentation.  

This view represents the majority voices of Muslims against the circulation of hadith texts that do not empower women. Besides, another voices still keep choosing to learn those hadiths, critically and scientifically. Study on the hadiths text is necessary to distinguish between a hadith which can be justified  and vice- versa, and to separate the understanding of hadith texts  which is compatible with the Islamic principles  from the interpretation which reduce the main message of Islam. Science of Hadiths, since the beginning was formulated to perform testing of the texts that spread as a hadith (tradition); the extent to which these texts can be environmentally responsible. Through this test, then the hadith texts are sorted, as a saheeh (correct), hasan (good), dha’if (weak), and a mawdhu ‘(false). All these texts have been spread in the community  as Hadith texts. 

Hadith scholar had worked hard to make this separation, though still just a lot of scholars who still rely on the hadith texts that are weak, not even a little too fake. Hanbali school , one of the major schools of thoughts  in the Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) has a rule on the sources of texts (qa’idah ushuliyyah) to prefer a   weak (dha’if) hadith text rather than the logical ratio (qiyas). The reality of this kind of situation are often make some difficulties for us to find the spirit of women empowerment in the hadith texts. The book entitled Syarh ‘Uqud al-Lujjayn is one of book which contents advices about the relationship between husband and wife  was consisted of  hadith text collection which are not accountable.  Based on the analysis of  Forum Kajian Kitab Kuning (FK3)  or the Learning forum on the Yellow Books  for example, it was stated that there are  more than 20 percent of the hadiths which has no basis (la ashla lahu) of the whole text of the hadith which are delivered in this book. There are about 30 percent weak hadiths (dha’if) and the other  hadiths ranged from good (hasan) and valid (saheeh). 

The expose of those  hadith texts which don’t have strong basis  and considered as weak, in the context of the relationship between husband and wife, was an interpretation and ijtihad  which was done by Sheikh Nawawi at the past time.  So, could be a possibility that he was influenced by the knowledge that developed and spread in the community. As M. Quraish Shihab stated, that Sheikh Nawawi could be going to change the view of his ijtihad if he lives at the present time and experiences what we experience, as well as to follow the development of science as we follow. (See: FK3, Flower Setaman Marriage; Critical Analysis of the Book ‘Uqud al-Lujjayn, p.: xxi).

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazali (1917-1996) is part of one of al-Azhar scholars who criticize harshly the circulation of weak (dha’if) hadith texts, which are almost related to various topics of the daily life. Starting from the problem of belief, worship, as well as social issues and customs. In his book Assunnah an-Nabawiyyah bayn Ahl al-Fiqh wa Ahl al-Hadis, for example in terms of eating habits, he strongly criticized the scholars who disseminate hadith texts concerning the prohibition to use a knife when eating, having to sit on the floor while eating, eating from one vessel in a congregation and the good use of the hand rather than to use spoon and fork. And it also including the hadith texts about women which is consisted too much dha’if (weak) text also and  those  had been criticized by Sheikh al-Ghazali because those text are still propagated by the some ulemas (Islamic scholars). Like the Hadith text, which is narrated by Anas bin Malik.: 

There was a woman became a wife of a man. One day, the father of the woman ill. Then she come to the Prophet and said: “O, Messenger of God,  my father is ill seriously, but my husband did not allow me to go take care of him”. Messenger of Allah. replied: “Obey your husband.” Then the old man died. The woman asked permission to her husband once again to visit and to pray for him, but she is still not allowed. She once again went to Rasulllah Peace Be Upon Him. and answered: “Obey your husband.”  She came home and followed her husband’s orders not to go to pray for her father’s body. Then the Holy Prophet. said: ‘Allah has forgiven your father’s sin,  by your obedience to your husband. ” 

Even the text of this hadith is  considered as dha’if (weak), but it is often spread by the ulemas (clerics) to ban women altogether to leave the house and asked  them to obey their husband’s  requests totally.  Moreover, some scholars ask women to not go out at all, for any business except in three things: ‘get out of the womb, go out to move into her husband’s house, and out into the grave. According to al-Ghazali, this is a false doctrine, misleading and contrary to the principles of Islam that are scattered in various texts of other  hadiths that are valid. There are many authentic hadith texts that   tell us  about the women’s activities in the Prophet’s era, such as to  join the hijrah (migration) to Ethiopia and to Medina,  to go to the mosque, to go to the garden, to go to the market, even to join a battle in the war. In addition,  there are some hadith texts which requires  everybody– including women – to have a good relationship with parents, neighbors and nation. (See: Muhammad al-Ghazali, Assunnah an-Nabawiyyah bayn Ahl al-Fiqh wa Ahl al-Hadis, p.. 51). 

Inter Text Criticism 

In response to the hadith texts about women, especially those that seem contrary to the spirit of women empowerment, several scholars approached with study of sanad criticism. By looking at the paths of narration starting from the era  of  Prophets friend (Shahabat) till the era of codification and publication of the  Hadith books in the third and fourth century of the Hijriyah. From this study, segregation of the the false and weak hadiths from good and valid hadith are done . But there are also  many ulemas (scholars and intellectuals) who conducted a study among the text.  By using this approach, some hadith text can be considered as not valid (saheeh) hadith or weak (dha’ief), if it is contrary to other hadith texts or other more powerful sources, like the Koran or other hadith texts which is considered as more valid (saheeh) and more popular. This is called inter-text criticism, or inter-textuality. 

Aisha bint Abi Bakr ra., Beloved wife of the Prophet PBUH Muhamnmad., is one of the scholars who uses the inter-textuality method  in criticizing among the texts  to response the hadith that degrades women. Although it could be that the  hadith has a valid (saheeh) sanad history.  Like the Hadith of Abi Hurairah ra. which states that women become one source of bad luck.  Women can cancel somebody’s prayer if she passes in front of him, a good woman will go to hell just because they do not feed the pet cat. Another example from the hadith of Ibn `Umar. about the necessity of women when to perform obligatory bath (gusl) to parse all the braided hair, and others. These kind of hadith texts were rejected by Aisha, by presenting the verses of Koran and other hadith texts which she witnessed (from the Prophet) herself. 

This method is also used by Riffat Hassan, an intelectual Muslim feminist from Pakistan, in rejecting some of the misogynistic hadith texts.  Such as the Hadith texts about the creation of woman from a crooked rib. This refusal was based on the Koran that is more explicit statement, that the human creation is from a single entity (nafs wahidah), both men and women (Surah An-Nisa, 4: 1). In addition because of the hadith texts related to the issue, different from each other sharply. Riffat Hasan ensures that the traditions of the creation of woman from the men’s rib, must have been influenced the history of the Jews. Or what is referred to as israiliyyat

The approach of inter-textuality, usually also reinforced by historical approach by looking at the background of the narrators of friends, and political background of social life and civilization on the development of these hadith texts. With this approach to history and intertextuality, Fatima Mernissi also rejected the text of the hadiths on the failures of women’s leadership; the most famous texts which became reference by many scholars  to ban and to prohibit women to become leader at any kind of contexts, at the home or outside the home. 

We can take the example of the hadith texts on the issue of the creation of woman from the rib. Note the hadith texts as follows: 

  1. From Abi Hazim from Abu Huraira, the Prophet said, “I ask you to  treat well to women because women actually created from a rib and indeed the most crooked rib is the top. If you straighten it, you will break it, and if you left it, it will remain crooked. Therefore, let the woman intestate. “( Narrated by : Bukhari). 
  2. From A’raj from Abu Hurairah, the Prophet indeed. said, ” Woman is like a rib, if you try to straighten it, you will crack it. So, if you want to benefit from it, take pleasure to her and keep her crookedness.” ( Narrated by : Bukhari). 
  3. From Abi Hazim from Abu Huraira, the Prophet. said, “He who believes in Allah swt. and the Day of Resurrection, do not hurt his neighbor and behave to women. In fact, they were created from the rib, something most crooked part of the bone. If you want to straighten it, it will crack, and if you let him, he remained bent, therefore, let the woman intestate. “(Reported by Bukhari). 
  4. From Ibn Musayyab from Abu Hurairah, the Messenger of Allah. said, ” Woman is like a rib, if you try to straighten it, you break it and if you let it, you will get benefits (pleasure) from him, and in him still there crookedness.” (History: Muslim). 
  5. From A’raj from Abu Hurairah, the Messenger of Allah. said, “Verily, the woman was created from a rib and you will not be able to straighten it in one way. If you want to take advantage of it, take advantage to her and bent her still exist. And if you try to straighten it, you will crack, to cracking it means divorcing her. ” (History: Muslim). 
  6. From Abi Hazim from Abu Hurairah, the Messenger of Allah. said, “People who believe in Allah and the Last Day, when people were watching some problems, the person must say the term is good or be careful. Ask to behave to women because women were created from a rib, and it is the most crooked section at the top. If you try to straighten it, you will crack it and if you let it, the bent will remain. Therefore, let intestate against women. “(Reported by Muslim). 

With the study of inter-textuality, especially on the sentence given a bold mode, the idea of ​​the creation of woman from the rib can be rejected. First, because one text with another text is contradictory. Second, because it is inconsistent with the statement of the Koran (4: 1), and third because the idea was just perfect with the statement in the Book of Genesis of the Bible as mentioned in the following text: “Then the Lord God caused the man to sleep soundly; when sleeping Lord God took the ribs, and closed up its place with flesh. And the Lord God rib taken from man, built Him a woman, and brought him to the man “. (Book of Genesis, chapters 21-22). It means, the idea on ‘​​the  creation of woman from the rib’  is not the idea which taken from ​​Islamic sources, but from previous sources (israiliyyat), which may  influenced the narrators of hadith. Therefore, the idea of ​​creation from the rib portion of the text referred to in the hadith, is not valid. Thus, the text hadist is also deemed to be invalid, or not valid content (Matan), not a chain (Sanad). (See: Nurjannah Ismail,  Perempuan dalam Pasungan, p.. 265). 

Appreciating  By Doing the  Re-Interpretation 

Some scholars and thinkers prefer to receive the text in a chain of authentic hadith, but then they do reinterpretation, to eliminate meaning that contrary to the principle of equality of men and women. In the hadith texts example of creation from the rib above, Quraish Shihab, Zaitunah Subhan, and Nurjannah Ismail – scholars of women from Aceh-  interprete that the text not in textually meaning. With the approach of inter-textuality, in the same time, they chose a metaphorical meaning that means a message  to the men in order to treat women well, soft and not rude. 

In the 2nd and 4th texts  clearly  described that it is a parable  and is not a statement about the creation  from the rib. From both these hadith texts, the  metaphorical meaning is developed. Nurjannah Ismail,  the female ulema (scholar) from Aceh declared: “The main message of the hadith is  for the husbands to treat their wives well, to correct the mistakes or errors which is  done by his wife gently and wisely, and do not be left alone wife guilty. Then Prophet utilizes the parable on the creation of women from the bent ribs are to explain that how a man should be careful and wise to treat women when  he want to correct mistakes. Because when women’s mistakes is corrected, it is like straighten the crooked bones, if not careful so it could cause bone fractures. On another occasion, the Prophet also reminded the husbands for not behave negatively to wives, such as slapping the face of his wife, to hurt his wife, the isolate his wife  from  the social relation outside the house, telling wife’s secrets to someone else, miserly in giving a living, and others. ” (Nurjannah Ismail, p.. 268). 

According to him, meaning as it does not contradict with the verse An-Nisa (4: 1) and it is precisely in line with the commands of Islam to another. Both exist in the Koran, nor the Hadith texts. Like the verse wa ‘asyiruhunna bil-ma’ruf (and do good unto you the woman / wife), QS, An-Nisa, 4: 19 and paragraph ath-THALAQ, 65: 6, namely wa’tamiru bainakum bil-ma’ruf (and discuss of you husband and wife about all things either way.) One of the hadith texts are in line with the above interpretation is the text of the hadith of Imam at-Turmudzi: “akmalul mu’minina imanan ahsanuhum khuluqan, wa khiyarukum, khiyarukum li-nisa’ihim / best believers are those who best ruqyah , and the best of you are those who behave to his wife. ” (Nurjannah Ismail, p.. 269). 

Advice and do good command addressed to men, because in a patriarchal culture construction, they are in control of women’s lives. Therefore, they should be warned and invited to give attention to women. This is an effort Prophet. in overhauling the structure of culture, to increase the degree and dignity of women by ordering men to apply good, fair and wise to women. While many think to educate women by way of hitting, the Prophet. insisted to declare: “Do not hit women”, and also stigmatize those who are still hitting women as people were not elected (laysa ala’ika bi-khiyarikum). (Reported by Abu Dawud, see: Ibn al-Athir, Jami ‘al-Usul, juz VII, p.. 330, no. Hadith: 4719). 

Prophet himself, in any differences and quarrels with his wives, never did any beatings media. Prophet PBUH preferred to give an advice, to get out of the house, or if it can not be met the Prophet gave  an option to his wives to  choose to continue living with him or to  separate in a good  way. (See Surah al-Ahzab, 33: 28-29). Therefore, Aisha bint Abi explicitly Bakr ra., When asked whether the Prophet. never hit his wife, he declared: “The Messenger of Allah. not at all battered women, nor the servant or slave.” (Reported by Abu Dawud, see Ibn al-Athir, Jami ‘al-Usul, juz XII, p.. 23-24, no. Hadith: 8780). 

To internalize the values ​​of equality in the context of a patriarchal culture, the Holy Prophet. also gave an example in everyday life in the household, as those who actually serve his wife and doing some  domestic work themselves. As narrated by A’ishah., “That the Prophet. at home doing work for the family, when it comes time to pray, will be rushing out to pray.” (Reported by Bukhari, no. Hadith: 676). In recent history, more clearly stated, that the Prophet was also to sole house slippers, sewing clothes, patching the vessel, squeezing milk and serve the family. (Reported by Ibn Hibban, 5 / 47, no. Hadith: Ahmad ibn Hanbal 5579 and in his Musnad, no. Hadith 2579). 

Returning to Ummi Dzikriyati’s statement at the beginning of this article, if people still give a large role in men, probably exactly what it proposed to promote the Hadith texts that empower women, through various media culture in the community. Such as good advice, sermons, lectures, poem, song, or  the other. This approach will be easier to encourage the creation of life more fair, equitable, empowering women and girls are not outraged. And Allaah knows best.

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