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Women and education

Women and education

Question:  Can women attain the position of mujtahid?[1][1]  Would you please elaborate.


Reply:  It is possible for a woman to become a mujtahid, however she cannot become a marja’ -i taqlid[2][2] for others.


Istifta’at Vol. 1, p. 21.



The men and women of Qum are exemplary in their learning and their willingness to act, as are the men and women of Iran on the whole. (107)


17 May 1979  (27 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)



If you are in a position that requires you to educate small girls, educate them well.  If you are in a place where your position is to propagate, then do so well.  All segments of the population in whatever post they may occupy must carry out their duties well. (108)


13 September 1979  (22 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)



One of the most significant effects of this movement is the change brought about in all of you, in the ladies, in the brothers and sisters alike.  That change is the sense of duty that we all now feel, a duty to our country, a duty to educate, to educate people in those things that will be useful to them in religious and worldly affairs. (109)


16 September 1979  (25 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)



All those who are illiterate should rise up and embark on a campaign to learn, and all the literate brothers and sisters should rise up to teach them.  The Ministry of Education, with all the facilities it has at its disposal, should also take action in this regard, not allowing bureaucracy and administrative formalities to get in its way.  Brothers and sisters in faith!  You must mobilise yourselves in order to eradicate this painful shortcoming.  Teaching and learning are forms of worship which God the Blessed and Exalted has called on us to perform.  The congregational prayer leaders in the provincial towns and villages should invite the people to this task.  Those who are literate should teach reading and writing to the brothers and sisters who are not in the mosques, in other religious centres and even in their homes.  They should not wait for the authorities to take action.  For their part, the illiterate people should not shrink from this task. (110)


28 December 1979  (7 Dey 1358 AHS)



The women of Iran today are committed, lion-hearted individuals, who shoulder-to-shoulder with our dear men are busy rebuilding their beloved country, just as they are busy rebuilding themselves through learning and education.  You will not find a town or village without cultural or scientific centres composed of dedicated and honourable Muslim women. (111)


5 May 1980  (15 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)



I hope that the teachers, the brothers and sisters, wherever they may be, in whatever capacity they may be teaching, whether as trained teachers, as students or simply as scholars with a knowledge to pass on, consider themselves to be both teachers and students.  Teachers to call the people to the straight path of guidance of the prophets, and students as they themselves tread that path. (112)


30 August 1980  (8 Shahrivar 1359 AHS)



Elderly men and women too can learn.  They too can receive an education.  They should not give up on themselves. (113)


27 December 1980  (6 Dey 1359 AHS)



I hope that the sisters and brothers busy with their studies and propaganda activities at the Shahid Mutahhari (may God grant him peace) school of higher education are mindful of the fact that this school was named after a martyr who was very beneficial to Islam and whose teachings serve as instruction for our youth, as well they should.  You sisters and brothers who attend this school should arrange your daily programme in such a way that other Mutahharis or another Mutahhari will emerge from your midst.  Resolve to see this happen, direct your attention to God and let everything you do be for God the Blessed and Exalted alone.  Strive to pursue your studies well at the school, and even more importantly, strive to achieve moral edification.  Be Islamic, and as you complete your Islamic studies, so too perfect an Islamic spirit in yourselves.  Alongside your studies be serious about observing Islamic decrees and striving to purify yourselves Islamically. (114)


1 March 1981  (10 Isfand 1359 AHS)



Endless greetings to the committed women who are presently busy throughout the country educating children and illiterate people and teaching the rich culture of the Qur’an. (115)


24 April 1981  (4 Urdibihisht 1360 AHS)



Women who in the past were deprived of an active involvement in society, have, over these past few years, praise God, entered the arena.  And they have done so in a fitting manner, with shari’a rules being adhered to.  They are now active in the areas of education and propagation. (116)


13 January 1982  (23 Dey 1360 AHS)



Praise God, those shackles that once bound our beliefs have today been cast off.  Today, all segments of the nation are engaged in education, including the ladies.  Today, ladies are among the theological students in Qum and other places; wherever they are in the country, they are busy with education.  And this is something that has materialised in this revolution.  Previously, the ladies were confined to such an extent that they did not even have the right to join a group of ten people and discuss scientific or religious matters.  Today, however, while observing Islamic precepts, they can go and speak anywhere in the country, even abroad.  In these matters we were very backward, today we must make up for that, we must redress the failings. (117)


6 September 1983  (15 Shahrivar 1362 AHS)



I ask God, the Blessed and Exalted, to grant you ladies and sisters success both in your educational endeavours and in your ability to take action and to purify yourselves morally.  For just as knowledge alone is to no avail, so too is blind purification.  It is knowledge and purification together that will take man to the stage of the true human being.  I ask God the Blessed and Exalted to grant you ladies, indeed all the sisters throughout the country and the brothers, success in advancing these two aspects, which are learning and action, together with Islamic morals, so that Islam can be put into practice in Iran in a way that pleases God the Blessed and Exalted. (118)


8 April 1984  (19 Farvardin 1363 AHS)



Now the situation is such that the women, shoulder-to-shoulder with the brothers, are studying mysticism, philosophy, all branches of science, and, God willing, of industry too.  At that time they used to say that the half of Iran’s population in veils could not do anything, not that they wanted them to be able to do anything for they prevented the men too from being productive.  No, they simply wanted to get them to enter society adopting the style that they, their friends and adherents had adopted, and thus drag society into corruption.  God, however, did not want them to succeed.  Today, you ladies are a source of pride, for along with your brothers in the theological schools you are busy studying and teaching or pursuing other Islamic activities; and I hope you will prove to be even more active than they are.  Still you must be careful and act contrary to what was expected under the former regime.  They wanted to destroy Islamic values and put European values in their place.  Act contrary to this so that some of those who were deceived, and are still to be found in Iran, may be influenced by you and adopt your style instead. (119)


8 April 1984  (19 Farvardin 1363 AHS)



Sciences without exception, and particularly Islamic sciences, are not the preserve of any one section of society.  The respected women of Iran have proved throughout the revolution that shoulder-to-shoulder with the men, they can render valuable services to Islam and the Muslims in political and social activities, and be the spearhead of the movement to educate the great community of women (in Iran).

Praise God, currently an institute is in the process of being built in the holy city of Qum, the city of learning and struggle (jihad), for the education of the respected ladies.  It is hoped that through the efforts of the learned `ulama and the teachers at Qum’s theological schools, may their blessings continue, this Islamic goal is achieved and proves to be an effective step towards the intellectual development of women and the blossoming of Islamic learning among them.  Therefore, I appoint their excellencies the Hujjat-ul Islams Hajj Shaykh Ali Meshkini, Musawi Ardabili, Hajj Shaykh Ahmad Jannati, Hajj Shaykh Muhammad Fazel, Hajj Shaykh Muhammad Ali Shar‘ei, Hajj Shaykh Muhammad Riza Tavassoli and Hajj Shaykh Hassan Sane‘i, may their blessings continue, as the organising committee for this institute so that they can take the appropriate steps to appoint the managerial board, prepare the articles of association, determine its name and see to its other affairs.  It is hoped that with the assistance of Almighty God and the prayers of Hazrat Mahdi, may our souls be sacrificed for his coming, this institute will render a valuable service to the community of revolutionary Muslim women of Iran. (120)


22 August 1984  (31 Murdad 1363 AHS)



God be praised, you worked hard, you suffered and were steadfast in every stage (of the movement).  Iranian women were actively involved in all affairs, from the cultural to the economic, and today a large number of them are involved in agriculture, a large number in industry and still others in the educational arena in the areas of literature, science and the arts.  All of these efforts are commendable in the eyes of God the Blessed and Exalted, and you are all in God’s care; as long as you remain committed, God the Blessed and Exalted will assist you. (121)


12 March 1985  (21 Isfand 1363 AHS)



Strive to acquire learning and godliness, for learning is not the preserve of any one person, learning is for all, godliness is for all, and striving to acquire learning and achieve godliness is the duty of us all.

I hope that the state organs will help you and will meet your needs in all areas, and in your educational activities will adequately provide you with the things you need.  I hope that you will be assisted by God and will be successful in everything you do.

The Iranian ladies have brought Islam to the stage it is now at by sacrificing their lives, their youth and their time, and I hope that from now on it will be advanced even further.  You can be sure that as long as you remain active and committed to Islam, as long as you are ready to give your young ones for the cause and are willing to train them properly, then Islam will progress and will sever the hands of the enemies of religion from this country, and all Islamic countries, allowing happiness and goodness to follow, God willing.

I hope that Muslim women wherever they may be will imitate you dear ones who are striving to elevate the status of women and to make up for the injustices, which were perpetrated against you in that era. (122)


12 March 1985  (21 Isfand 1363 AHS)


Islamic dress (hijab)


Question 1:  If a lady does her daily prayers (namaz) dressed in modest attire such as a baggy manteau, trousers and a large scarf or miqna’a,[3][1] is this permissible or not?


Question 2:  If a lady doing her prayers at home wears a thick, long chador while underneath she has on a sleeveless top or dress and wears no socks, are her prayers invalid?


Reply 1:  There is no problem.


Reply 2:  Her prayers are not invalid.


Istifta’at Vol. 1, p. 137.



Question:  What are the rules governing the viewing of TV films which sometimes show unveiled women, and listening to a musical instrument being played?


Reply:  There is no problem concerning the viewing of foreign films in which the actresses are not known and which do not have a corrupting influence.  Dance music is forbidden, but there is no problem with other types of music.


Istifta’at Vol. 2, p. 17.



Question:  I am a woman working as a hairdresser for Muslim women who observe the Islamic cover (hijab).  I work in an environment closed off to men.  Could you please state your esteemed opinion of income earned in this way?


Reply:  Based on the conditions set out in the question there is no problem, and income earned in this way is religiously legal.


Istifta’at Vol. 2, p. 32.



Women are free to choose their activities, their destiny and also their manner of dress, providing it complies with the rules.  Present-day experience in the action against the Shah’s regime shows that women have found more freedom than ever before in the mode of dress which Islam stipulates for them. (145)


1 November 1978  (10 Aban 1357 AHS)



Question:  For a long time now Your Holiness has been criticising the Shah’s policies, to what extent will your policies, with regard to the following, differ from those of the Shah:  Social issues, will Islamic laws be put into effect and what difference will they make to daily life in comparison with the present laws?  ‘Beneath the banner of Islamic government’, could Your Holiness explain more precisely what this means?  Will women have the right to freely choose between the veil and Western dress?  Will cinemas continue to exist?  If so, what kind of films will be selected for viewing?  Will alcoholic beverages be banned?  Finally, will Iran become another Saudi Arabia or Libya?


Reply:  The implementation of penal laws in Islam depends on many conditions first being fulfilled and involves many preliminaries.  Many aspects must first be justly considered and Islam must be implemented fully.  If these conditions exist, it will be seen that Islamic laws are not as harsh as others.  Women are free to choose their activities, their destiny and also their manner of dress, while complying with the rules.  Present-day experience in the action against the Shah’s regime shows that women have found more freedom than ever before in the mode of dress which Islam stipulates for them.  We are opposed to cinemas whose programmes corrupt our youth morally and subvert Islamic culture, but we approve of programmes which educate society and which contribute to its healthy, scientific and moral development.  Alcoholic beverages, alcoholism and other narcotics, which are harmful to society, will be banned.  The Islamic republic government that we have in mind will not be like any of the regimes mentioned (i.e. Saudi Arabia and Libya). (146)


1 November 1978  (10 Aban 1357 AHS)



Question:  Some of the Islamic customs, such as the mandatory veil, have been abandoned.  Will the veil be once again enforced in the Islamic republic?


Reply:  The veil, in the form we commonly understand it to take and which goes by the name Islamic hijab, is not opposed to freedom.  Islam is against indecency.  We invite the women to accept the Islamic hijab.  Indeed, our brave women are tired of the calamities that the West, in the name of civilisation, has brought upon them, and they have turned to Islam. (147)


28 December 1978  (7 Dey 1357 AHS)



In Islam women must dress modestly and wear a veil (i.e. have hijab), but that does not necessarily mean she has to wear a chador.  Women can choose any kind of attire they like so long as it covers them properly and they have hijab. (148)


28 December 1978  (7 Dey 1357 AHS)



Women must not enter the Islamic ministries improperly dressed.  They can work there, but they must have hijab and must observe shari‘a principles. (149)


6 March 1978  (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)




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