The Islamic Veil - Page 6

A woman has the capacity of being a mother which means that she has the capacity of providing spiritual and physical nourishment. So the real aim of her staying in the house is to nourish spiritually the members of the family and to train the younger generation. The women represent the body of the community and the body is the mother of the soul. Therefore, the main duty of the women is to prepare the spiritual food and present it to the community. This is a great and sacred responsibility, which has been entrusted to women. To teach them how to discharge this great task, God has mentioned the example of the bee in the Holy Quran where we read:

And thy Lord revealed to the bee: 'Make thou houses in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which they build.

Then eat of all manner of fruits, and follow the ways taught thee by thy Lord and which have been made easy for thee.' There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is healing for mankind. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect. (16:69-70)

Allah praise belongs to Allah, the Gracious. He has created many things in the universe to teach human beings great points of wisdom. From the example of the bee, both men and women can learn many important lessons. In these verses God has given some directions to the bee, which in reality should be observed by human beings also, as hinted by the words:

Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect.

God has directed the bee to find itself first a suitable house, then it should eat from the fruits or the nectar of the flowers and follow the paths that God has made easy for it, so that it can produce the drink or the honey which is described by the Holy Quran as: Therein is healing for mankind.

There is a strong similarity between the duties of a bee and the duties of a woman. In the life of bee, we can see the picture of the true role of woman in society. First a woman should protect herself by belonging to a house. The spiritual house is the divine religion because it provides the spiritual shelter to the person. So here the woman learns that she has to first search for the true divine religion and find it. Then she should eat from its fruits or, in other words, she should herself follow the teachings of this religion and reap the good results of doing this. When she will have successfully followed the straight path that leads to her Creator, she will have become a good example for others to follow and she will be able to give others the advice and guidance that can help them reach the same destination as herself and this is how she will be able to produce the drink that can cure others and guide them to this right path as well.

To enable women to discharge their great and sacred trust, God gave men the following orders:

O ye who believe! enter not the houses of the Prophet unless leave is granted to you for a meal, not waiting till it is cooked. But enter when you are invited, and when you have had your meal, disperse, without seeking to engage in talk. That causes inconvenience to the Prophet, and he feels shy of asking you to leave, but Allah is not shy of saying what is true. And when you ask them - the wives of the Prophet - for anything, ask them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it behoves you not to cause inconvenience to the Messenger of Allah, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him. That indeed, is a monstrous thing in the sight of Allah. (33:54)

The apparent aim to this verse is to teach the Muslims some ethics and rules of conduct regarding their day to day life. But this verse also manifests the sanctity of the status of women in Islam. The wives of the Holy Prophet and his houses are mentioned in this verse as one and the same thing.

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