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 Osman Riaz

The Objection: It is claimed that it is wrong to excessively praise the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon Him). It is claimed that the ways and means of expressing ones extreme love and praise of the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon Him) leads to shirk (idolatry) as it means placing too much emphasis on his person. So the attitude of excessively praising the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon Him) should be curtailed. This is done by saying it is 'over the top' and leads to shirk.

Answer: Praise is a natural expression of love. The lover praises the beloved. The two are identifiably linked. Expressions of love can vary; it is the sincerity which is pertinent. The one who aims to stop high praises reflects his own lack of sincerity towards the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon Him). To entertain The Objection it begs to be asked: Do the sources of Islamic Law command Muslims to have extreme love towards the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon Him)? Does Islam justify high praises and expressions of love for the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon Him)? How true are the allegations of The Objection? What has been the practice of the pious predecessors? The true Islamic perspective will be sought through Quran, Hadith, and sayings of religious authorities:

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