In a recent interview between the BBC and Dr. Akram Nadwi, a scholar and an influential reasearch fellow of Oxford University. Some startling and somewhat shocking statements were made. Millions of people, both muslims and non muslims alike, would be taken-a-back by the new boundaries set on the discussion of segregation in Islam. Dr. Akran Nadwi claims that the early sources of Islam do not advocate or specify any notion of a ‘segregation of the sexes’. The BBC programme ‘Divine women’ aired a number of days ago, dealt a new blow to those seeking formulated assurances of segration in muslim communities. Bettany Hughes – the author, historian and presenter of ‘Divine women’, reveals the hidden history of women in religion. Primarily the programme, focused on the roles of women in religious circles who in many areas shaped, formed and in some cases were instrumental in the spread of its message. Secondly, the programme sought to highlight the defining female figures who helped make a ‘world religion’ become a ‘world religion’. It is in part 3 of the programme where the new claim made by Dr Akram Nadwi, is unleashed on the millions of people both muslims and non-muslims. For the non muslim, he/she would see Islam as no alien to the idea of it being surrounded in controversies and headlines. But, the startling revelation is bound to make many within the islamic religious communities reel with disgust and anger.
In the Wikipedia page dedicated to the Dr, the following is attributed:
Nadwi says he does not advocate unrestricted mixing between the sexes, but acknowledges that Muslim societies and families often limit the potential of their girls and women. He compares this limitation to the “live burial” (i.e. female infanticide) practised in pre-Islamic Arabia. He attributes to the “decline of every aspect of Islam” an insecurity and weakness which leads to these restrictions on girls’ education and women’s rights
Although the quote is self-explanatory, in and of itself it is evident the very liberal and open attitude Dr. Akram Nadwi harbours. The idea of having a physical barrier erected to segregate the genders is non-existent in the scriptures of Islam, according to the scholar, who is apparently an authority on the subject of female scholars in Islam. As absurd and barbaric the claims may seem, these ideas are finding root in the up-coming ‘practicing’ muslims, not to mention in the islamic events organised within university campuses. Where the notion of a physical barrier to segregate the genders is fast becoming a thing of the past!.
I am in no way seeking to tarnish his pious name. Or, seeking to slander the reputable man. But, when it comes to the truth being highlighted and mentioned, i will not hold back in calling a spade a spade!
From the endless ulema and scholars of traditional leaning i have dealt with, learnt from, and had the good fortune of sitting with. They are all clear that despite the mother of the believers, Aisha (ra) being one the fundamental figures of spreading the islamic teachings. She taught behind a veil and the students (whom were male) would sit on the other side of the vial. This is a physical barrier which was in existent long before we had pseudo-scholars in the ummah trying to advocate the eradication of physical barriers! We have a set of standards set by the sharia, which is eternal and does not need to be ‘fine-tuned’ as it were, or changed to suit an era. It is the era and time in question which has to mould into the standards set by the sharia. It is suffice to say, the post 9/11 era has had a dramatic effect on the english speaking scholars of the western world. Those that think our way out of this turbulent times will only be viable if we forsake or even leave behind some of the principles by which we stand!
It is also appropriate to note, Dr. Akram Nadwi is also the person who famously said it is not a sunnah to wear a hat to cover the head whilst in prayers. That, it was an innovation imported from other cultures in which muslims once again threaded this idea into an act of piety. He is a man who seems to be the epitome of the word controversy. When a person seeks to undermine the sunnah by demeaning the practices of Islam. Wether that it is the subject of segregation of the sexes or the practices of the sunnah. One thing is for sure, the end of that individual would not be a very blissful one. As he or she may want it to be. When the doors to sin and evil are left open or in fact removed entirely, we will have situations like this arising: (Astagfirullah!)