Why Are Women Accountable for All the Fitna in the World and Men Are Not?
Question: Why is it that scholars these days hold women to account for all fitna. I’ve heard from people that even though a women’s voice is not `awra (nakedness), she should refrain from talking in public or covering her face since people ‘might’ be attracted to it even though it’s not `awra. I heard that a woman is not supposed to seek higher education since it is ‘mixing with men,’ but men are not sinful for mixing with women. Doesn’t Islam hold everyone equal in education, or is this all true?
Thank you for your question. I recommend that you take your Islamic knowledge from reliable and correct sources of knowledge, such as Seekers. Please don’t fall into the trap of believing everything that you hear from anyone.
It is acceptable for a woman to speak publicly, as long as she is covered correctly. This is not because she is blamed for all fitna (temptation/affliction) in the world but rather because this what Allah and His Messenger have taught us. A woman who covers her hair, head, and neck and wears loose clothing will only benefit herself in this life and the next.
Covering the face
There is a difference of opinion on the obligation of covering the face according to traditional scholars. Generally, even those who encourage covering the face don’t encourage it if living in the West. Once you know the ruling, you don’t need to be upset about what you hear. Act on the knowledge that you know. Please see the details here:
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim, […]“ [Ibn Maja] A Muslim, man or woman, is never prevented from seeking knowledge in our religion, but one should be avid to learn his obligatory knowledge alongside or before his secular education. One should always follow the shari`a in his personal and professional life and never forget one’s priorities according to one’s position in life, as a spouse, mother, father, or child.
Who is to blame
There is no question that fitna, or temptation in the land, is caused by both parties and can only be remedied by both parties. Men and women alike need to restrain their gazes and protect their private parts, as Allah told us in the Qur’an:
“˹O Prophet!˺ Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their chastity. That is purer for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, guard their chastity, and not reveal their adornments except what normally appears. Let them draw their veils over their chests, and not reveal their ˹hidden˺ adornments except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those ˹bondwomen˺ in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness. Let them not stamp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments. Turn to Allah in repentance altogether, O believers, so that you may be successful. [Qur’an, 24:30-31]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.