The terminology of jihad although seems more synonymous with men, women however have their fair share in their roles and contributions in defending and fighting for their homeland from any foreign invasions. The proof lies in the historical warfare of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) that saw involvement of women hand in hand with men although within the scope that was certainly different from that of men. The question is, to what extent women in Islam are permitted to participate in jihad. This paper therefore aims to examine the role of women in jihad by analyzing the hadiths of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) which talk about their involvements in the series of the Prophet’s (p.b.u.h) war. Therefore, in order to achieve the objectives, this qualitative study shall engage library research method in procuring relevant data, primarily by referring to the respectable major hadiths compilation books namely
Jihad is not an alien term although derived from an Arab word, this terminology has been widely adapted, globally across nation and national borders. In this context, Sharif (2011) states that the word jihad has permeated into many major languages of the world. He further opines that the term is difficult to understand. Typically, jihad is often touted as an activity that involves weaponry and violence committed by individuals aspiring to achieve honorable positions in the hereafter. Unfortunately the limited understanding of the concept of jihad has left negative imprints that tarnished the connotation of jihad; not only in the Muslim community itself, but extends to the non-Muslims. In addition, Darajat (2016) is of the opinion that jihad is the most misunderstood terminology there is by the orientalists and the muslims alike. In furtherance to the above observations, Cook (2015) shares the same standpoint that views jihad as the most biased and misconstrued terms to date. In view of this distorted image of jihad, Majali (2010) sees the confusion of certain individuals in understanding the true concept of jihad in accordance to the Islamic perspective.
In terms of language, the word jihad is derived from the word
In the context of the understanding of jihad, on the broader and more comprehensive scope, Ibn Taimiyyah defines the essence of jihad (Qurashi, 2010) as maximum exertion in achieving anything that pleases Allah for example having faith and doing good deeds while simultaneously rejecting whichever displeases Allah the likes of disbelieving, committing sins, and disobedience (Ibn Taimiyyah, 2005). This implies that the description of jihad in Islam has a very broader meaning, not exclusive to the jihad in the battle fields per se (Rahman, Kashim, & Pitchan, 2017).
Furthermore, from the aspect of the role of women in jihad against the enemy, Qaradawi (2014) opines that generally it is unfit for women to be involved in jihad. This is justifiable by the fact that jihad cause requires physical efforts which are always challenging. This decree is in line with the justice of Allah and His wisdom in creating women as tender beings, thus making them unsuitable to carry out the mostly challenging jihad endeavors that men do. The basis of this dissuasion is that Allah made women as mothers with physical bodies that need to undergo the phase of pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding and caring for the children. All these natural roles have absolved women from any more extra role of jihad in the battlefield which would otherwise require them to deal with difficult and dangerous situations. This consideration has been the order of the day that throughout history, the world of warfare is synonymously that of men. However, according to Qaradawi (2014), this does not mean that women are ultimately prevented from working together with men in a war. In short, jihad is not compulsory upon women. Their participation is restricted to certain sectors which are deemed as supporting to the war efforts, in line with the nature of their creation, ability and life experience (Purnamawati, 2015).
From the viewpoint of law on women participating in jihad, Qurashi (2010) divides the views into four, namely women are not obligated to partake in jihad; women are permitted; permission is subject to the consent of the husbands; and subject to availability of
The involvement of women in jihad cause is nothing out of the ordinary seen from their participation in war efforts circa the time of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), thereby displaying undisputed contributions of the women in the past. This statement specifies that women are not strictly prohibited from being involved in the battlefield. However though, jihad is not obligated upon the women as opposed to the men. The roles of women in jihad are rather supplemental in nature in which sense no arms wielding alongside the men. This is the popular view since long. However, according to Lahoud (2014), from the standpoint of jihad ideology that which excludes women from combat, in spite of its classical stance that makes it compulsory upon women to defend their country as well as their faith.
Apart from the above, there is another opinion that says the main jihad for women is not in the battlefield but precisely referring to jihad in the form of performing hajj and umrah which view is sourced from an authentic hadith of the Prophet (p.b.u.h). There is yet another interpretation that women’s jihad lies in the obedience of their husbands. The above variance of opinion indicates that the concept of women’s jihad is wide and diverse. In the context of the roles of women in the jihad battleground, in line with time, there has been a paradigm shift in positioning their roles, in particular, with the advent of a few pro-jihad movements in recent times that saw the increasing number of women participating and assuming a more active roles beside men in battlefield combat; a sheer contrast to the understanding of the traditions that limit their roles to a certain scope within jihad cause (Inch, 2017).
The discourse on women’s jihad although have been addressed by both the Islamic and western scholars, there is still room for further discussions, particularly so from the aspect of their roles as the key combatants alongside the men in the battlefields, is still open for debate to date. The majority of the writings of Islamic scholars are more suggestive towards the general role of women in jihad as researched by Qurashi in
How far women are allowed to shoulder roles in the battlefield?
Are women allowed to engage in arms combat in the battlefield from the perspective of the hadith of the Prophet (p.b.u.h)?
Purpose of the Study
To study the real roles of women in battlefield.
To analyze the hadith pertaining to women wielding arms in battlefield
The whole qualitative study was carried out based on data collection methods conducted through library research. Data were collected from the major hadith compilations i.e.
In addition to that, a few more literary works that deliberate on women’s jihad were referred to, for example the works of Qaradawi and a number of western scholarly writings that discourse on this subject. The data were analyzed based on inductive and deductive approaches.
The role of a warrior in a battlefield is not the main goal in women’s participation in jihad. This statement stems from the time of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) when women were involved in wars such as Uhud, Khandaq, Hunayn, Yamamah and Yarmouk who took arms with the intention to defend themselves and others from the onslaught of the enemy which occurred in a pressing situation that compelled them to use arms. This signifies that the women who went to the battle with the Prophet (p.b.u.h) were ready and equipped to join forces against the enemy when the situation compelled them to. This is evident in the Uhud war whereby the Muslims were almost defeated, Umm Umarah was found to have been wielding arms to protect the Prophet (p.b.u.h) that resulted in her sustaining injury even though her initial intent was to join other women in offering drinks to the fighters and nursing injured soldiers (Qurashi, 2010)
But the role played by Umm Umarah as quoted by Qurashi (2010) in her works
In the context of the hadiths of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), from the observation of the researcher, there exists a hadith that clearly illustrates the involvement of women in the battlefield against the enemy and also few hadiths that speak about the Prophet (p.b.u.h) not forbidding them from taking arms as what was evidenced by Umm Sulaym in the battle of Hunayn. Among the hadiths is one narrated by Muslim as follows:
From Anas that Umm Sulaym brought a machete with her on the day of Hunayn battle and witnessed by Abu Talhah and he said, O’ Messenger of Allah, Umm Sulaym always carries the
Nawawi (2014) when discussing this hadith does not comment on the role of Umm Sulaym in the war, but only mentions that Umm Sulaym brought a
Apart from that, there is a hadith narrated by Bukhari which implies that women are not barred by the Prophet (p.b.u.h) from joining the jihad against the enemy, as follows:
From Abdullah b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Ansari said that he heard Anas said: the Messenger had met Milhan’s daughter and leaned beside her and laughed. And she asked why are you laughing, O’ Messenger? The Prophet (p.b.u.h) answered there are those among my people wandering in the green sea in jihad in Allah’s cause, they are like kings above their thrones. She said O’ Messenger of Allah, do pray to Allah that He may make me among them. Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h) said: O Allah, make her from among them. Then he resumed laughing. Thus she asked like before or why the Prophet (p.b.u.h) laughed. Thus the Prophet (p.b.u.h) explained like before. And she again said: pray to Allah that He made me among them. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said: you will be the first and not the last (Bukhari, 2015).
The above hadith regarding the participation of Milhan’s daughter is cited in the Sahih al-Bukhari between chapter al-Du‘a’ bi al-Jihad wa al-Shahadah li al-Rijal wa al-Nisa’, chapter Fadl man Yusra‘fi Sabilillah Famata Fahuwa minhum and chapter Ghazw al-Mar’ah fi al-Bahr. However, according to Ibn Hajar, the daughter of Milhan refers to Umm Haram binti Milhan who is the aunt of Anas bin Malik, as described in the latter’s other narrations (2013). This hadith gives an impressions that there were women at the time of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) who were concerned about the involvement in jihad for Allah’s cause. Not only that, Umm Haram also had the desire to fall as a martyr in the battlefield. Qaradawi (2014)when deliberating this hadith observes that this hadith clearly indicates the aspiration of women at the time of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) to be involved in warfare in spite of having difficulties and challenges but then the irony was the Prophet (p.b.u.h) did not forbid it.
Although the above hadith is neither able to associate the involvement of Umm Haram as a weapon wielding heroin in the battlefield, nor denying it, but it is clear that she showed a keen desire to die a martyr; with which a grand reward awaits those who strive for the cause of Allah (Qurashi, 2010). Although Umm Haram died from a fall off her ride on her way home from a battlefield, she was considered a martyr though according to a few narrations that say whomever dies in a journey to and from a jihad is recognized as a martyr. Ibn Hajar (2013).views that this hadith entails that it is permissible for whomever desires to die a martyr including women.
The hadith on the subject of Umm Haram goes under critical review of Cook (2005) who claims that this is a strange narration in light of the intimacy between the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and Umm Haram who was a wife of another man while her husband was not present then. As such, this hadith is contradictory to Islamic law which emphasizes on limitations on social relationship between a man and a woman of non-mahram. The issue raised by David Cook is indeed able to impair the holy image of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) while in reality, Umm Haram is the paternal aunt of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), thus making her a mahram to him. There is also a view that says Umm Haram is one of the Prophet (p.b.u.h)’s mahram by reason of nursing him when he was a suckling baby (Qurashi, 2010). Meanwhile as for the claim that Umm Haram was the wife of ‘Ubadah bin al-Samit is also incorrect as their marriage took place after the war as per highlighted by Ibn Hajar (2013). Cook (2005) further opines that this hadith upholds the notion that women are allowed to engage in jihad warfare and thereby die as
To counter Cook’s opinion (2005), Ibn Hajar (2013) produces a hadith narrated by ‘A’ishah concerning the hajj as women’s vehicle of jihad. This in essence gives rise to an understanding that it is not obligatory for women to participate in a warfare jihad in view of other religious requirements which demand compliance from the women; among others namely the strict observation of ‘
There is no denying that the hadiths associated with the involvement of women in jihad lead to the roles of helping the men at war such as treating the wounded and giving water. Among the many, the following hadith fits the description above:
From Anas said: Verily I saw ‘A’ishah binti Abu Bakr and Umm Sulaym walking fast that their anklets were showing while carrying
Ibn Hajar is of the opinion that this hadith which is categorized under a chapter of Women in Wars i.e
From the above discussions, it is clear from the hadith of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) the women did join the war together with the Prophet (p.b.u.h), however, their involvement did not exceed the role of rendering assistance like offering drinks and food as well as providing treatments to the wounded soldiers who took up the leading role in the battle zone. This goes to show that women were not the key players who employed weapons in the fight off because the duty to go to war is accounted for on the shoulders of men, befitting their greater strength and energy to the women who are endowed by Allah with grace and gentleness.
This work is part of USM Short Term Research Grant: 304/PHUMANITI/6313200 which has been allocated for the researcher for research between 2015-2017 under the title The Study of Women’s Rights and Roles according to the Perspective of Hadith: Focus on Women’s Development in Malaysia.
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23 September 2019
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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, literary theory, political science, political theory
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Shamsudin*, R., & Yusuf, M. Y. (2019). Women In Jihad: An Analysis From The Perspective Of Hadith. In N. S. Mat Akhir, J. Sulong, M. A. Wan Harun, S. Muhammad, A. L. Wei Lin, N. F. Low Abdullah, & M. Pourya Asl (Eds.), Role(s) and Relevance of Humanities for Sustainable Development, vol 68. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 208-215). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.09.21