Surah 33: Al-Ahzab, The Confederates

‘O Prophet! Say to your wives, “If you desire the life of this world and its finery, then let me compensate you, and release you kindly.”’ (v.28)

Islam has such a reputation for oppression, compulsion and lack of freedom. Yet we read the Qur’an and realise that it is a Book of liberation, of freedom, standing against oppression and killing. Those who are outside the faith see its violent shadow side and Christianity has its own abuses, literally, unfortunately, for which it is known both historically and in contemporary society.

Looking at the selected verse this addresses not just, potentially, Muhammad’s wives wishing to leave him (with his blessing) but also leaving the humble and modest practice of Islam, and God encourages their departure, if they wish. I expect that you have heard, like me, of the mistreatment of those who leave their faith, both those who leave Islam and also those who cease to be Christian. God says, ‘Be kind to them’. Yes, of course this is what a loving God would say and highlights our own very human difficulty in being loving and inclusive. Don’t write off the Book and the religion if you haven’t read it with an open heart, remember that this blog series began with the Qur’an as the book of openings. Being closed is a big problem, whatever that means for you or the associations that it has. People have told me that mosque doors are closed and that non-Muslims can’t go in — it ain’t true. A religion of openness keeps its doors open and welcomes the stranger.

I described two of my earlier blogs (3: Al-Imran, Mary’s Family and 4: An-Nisa, Women and Equalities) as feminist blogs, that emphasis on equality continues in this surah:

Muslim men and Muslim women, believing men and believing women, obedient men and obedient women, truthful men and truthful women, patient men and patient women, humble men and humble women, charitable men and charitable women, fasting men and fasting women, men who guard their chastity and women who guard, men who remember God frequently and women who remember — God has prepared for them a pardon, and an immense reward. (v.35)

It is very striking how there is no distinction between women and men and that they are addressed equally.

Dedicated to Saira Mir.

Read Surah 34: Sheba

#Howtoreadthequran @julianbond12