Men and Women: A Serious Study
Theoretical Wisdom in Men and Women
Men's theoretical wisdom is stronger than women. Men can understand a series of facts by means of acquired knowledge, whereas women intuitively get a picture of some facts. Women seem to have intuitive knowledge about others' life, whereas men's knowledge should be gained. In other words, women see the truth of life in their own nature, but men have to use their senses and purely theoretical wisdom to do so. Such photography is not limited to life. As Jalal-addin Mohammad Molawi (Rumi) says:
تا بدانــی کآسمانهــای سمـیهســت عکــس مدرکات آدمـــی
گر نبودی عکـس آن سرّ و سُــرورپس نخوانـدی ايزدش دارالغـــرور
(So that you may realize that the high skies are reflections of man's internal cognitions and perceptions. Don't you know that God has called this world the House of Deceit? The reason is that everything seen in the outside world is a picture, a reflection, of what goes on inside man.)
Men may have oceans on knowledge about the phenomenon called life and all of its characteristics and developments, but as we all know, that is quite different from getting a taste of life itself.
Women can intuitively understand other people's lives like their own. That is why history has been full of bloodthirsty tyrants like Genghis Khan, Nero and Attila, but very few of them were women. One exception was Cleopatra, who took pleasure in putting needles into her maidservants.
When a woman loves a man, she is ready to sacrifice her life for him, but when a man loves a woman, he will not do such a sacrifice, no matter how great his love for her may be. That is where women are greater than men. Women are deeper in the context of life; on the other hand, men have stronger purely theoretical wisdom. That is not a human value. Abstract activities do not convey a value.
Men and Women in the Family
There are several possibilities about the role of men and women in the family:
1-Both man and woman manage the family. Each of them can have full authority and responsibility. This, however, is not acceptable, for it will cause disturbances and disorders in family life.
2-The woman can manage the family. This is also unacceptable, for the family has a lot of contact with the society, the adjusting of which is not possible considering the incapability woman have in dealing with some problems.
Menstruation, pregnancy, nursing children and the necessity of making them familiar with the real taste of life – which women are extremely better at than men – are issues of crucial importance. These engagements cause serious problems if women are to be the sole leader of the family and deal with the problems outside the family.
3-The man can rule a patriarchy, a total dictatorship. This is wrong too, for it will ruin the woman's values, and the children raised in such a family will never get a taste of real life.
4-The family can be managed through group brainstorming and consultation accompanied by the supervision and management of the man. This seems to be the most logical form. This is possible, however, provided that all family members act on piety and justice. The decisions made through consultation are undertaken by the man to carry out.
In the following verse of the Koran, the word "qavvam" refers to the fourth possibility mentioned above:
الرجال قوامون علی النساء بما فضل الله بعضهم علی بعض و بما انفقوا من اموالهم فالصالحات قائنات حافظات للغيب بما حفظ الله
"Men are overseers and maintainers of women because God has made one of them excel to the other, and because the husbands provide the living. Therefore, righteous women are obedient and guard in their husband's absence what God orders them to guard." (Women, 4:34)
Let us consider several points in order to interpret of this verse:
a)Here, "qavvam" does not mean “having custody and responsibility” in its legal or jurisprudential concept, which refers to someone who is liable for another person’s life and belongings, like having custody of a child, or an insane person. Thus, men do not have custody of women, for women are free from all economic, moral and religious aspects of their lives, and even socially, provided that they do not violate men’s rights. Women must be responsible and accountable about the duties they have toward men. Likewise, men must also observe and fulfill the duties he has in regard to women.
b)"Qavvam," considering the great deal of verses conveying the equality of men and women, means management and carrying out what is to the benefit of the family. The fact that the man must manage the family is due to man's resistance against the ups and downs of life and disturbing factors. If a woman rules a family and the man is completely marginalized, the man's potentials are downtrodden; this leads to serious disorders that will cause profound mental problems in the children. Absolute dictatorship on the man's behalf also disables the potentials the woman and the other family members have. If the family is managed through consultation and group thinking, however, in which man has the executive responsibility, no rights will be violated; the man will see himself as part of the woman's character, and vice versa.
c)The word "fazl" in this verse does not convey that men are superior to women; it means that men are stronger built, and are more resistant against problems.
d)The verse points out women's human values. It points out that proper women are in constant contact with God, and safeguard God's commands in the absence of the man. They do not tarnish the man's character. Such women are guardians of the institution of the family. It is an experienced principle that if the woman in a family is a complete human being of reason and piety, all family members will almost definitely be happy, prosperous people, from the adult to the child. If the woman ignores human values, piety and good decision-making, however, the man will have little effect on the family, no matter how great a human being he may be.
The verse then discusses cases in which women show disobedience and what should be done about it:
و اللاتي تخافون نشوزهن فغظوهن و اهجروهن في المضاجع و اضربوهن فان اطعنكم فلا تبغوا عليهن سبيلا
"And of those women you fear may be rebellious admonish; [if that does not work] banish them to their couches, [and if that proves also ineffective] warn them [and beat them very lightly]. And when they obey you, look not for any other way against them."(Women, 4:34)