“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A Perfect Woman, Nobly Planned

                PERFECT WOMAN
                    by: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
      HE was a phantom of delight
      When first she gleam'd upon my sight;
      A lovely apparition, sent
      To be a moment's ornament;
      Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
      Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
      But all things else about her drawn
      From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
      A dancing shape, an image gay,
      To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
      And now I see with eye serene
      The very pulse of the machine;
      A being breathing thoughtful breath,
      A traveller between life and death;
      The reason firm, the temperate will,
      Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
      A perfect Woman, nobly plann'd,
      To warn, to comfort, and command;
      And yet a Spirit still, and bright
      With something of angelic light.


  1. It is not enough to conquer; one must know how to seduce. ~ Voltaire


    The Qur'an lays down the code of conduct for women in the following words:

    And play your role by being in your houses and do not keep exhibiting your beauty and decorations like what used to happen in the Jahiliyyah period (before Islam). (33:33)

    Abu Bakr al-Jassas says in explaining this verse, "This verse points out the fact that women are ordered to play their role in the house and are forbidden from loitering outside of their houses."

    It was revealed when the Muslim ummah was being formed in Madina as an example for the coming generations of Muslims. It sought to put an end to the Jahiliyyah practices of the pagan Arabs.

    'Umar radi Allahu anhu remarked: "By Allah, we did not give any position to women in the Jahiliyyah period until such time that Allah sent His command in respect of them and apportioned for them the role that was to be theirs." (Muslim)

    Under this apportionment women were given the role of making their own homes the centers of their attention rather than going about exhibiting their physical charms and worldly possessions. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the following type of women constitute one of the categories of the dwellers of Hell: "Those women who seem naked even when dressed and those who walk flirtingly and those who plait their heads like the humps of camels, thus inviting people's attention, will not enter Paradise nor will they smell its fragrance even though its fragrance can be smelt from a very long distance." (Muslim).

  3. [If we look at this hadith closer- "who seem naked when dressed" and apply it to ourselves. Meaning, we must not wear clothing that show the shape of our bodies such as tight fitting skirts, pants, or jackets. what is the point of wearing hijab when a man can see the shape of our body?

    The hadith also says "those who walk flirtingly". This needs to be looked at even closer because the way we dress these days "walking flirtingly" may not be intended. The invention of high heels goes all the way back to the history of european fashion. High heels were originally developed for men, so that their gait would seem flirtatious. It then carried onto women, whose purpose was for the women to have a "flirtatious gait", precisely HOW women DO walk on high heels. Sheikh Uthiemeen has ruled wearing of high heel shoes as undesirable for health reasons as well as its deceptive outcome of making the woman look taller than she really is.]

    Islam, however, does not prohibit beautification (zinat) on the part of women as long as it is not done in a way that injuriously interferes with the limbs or the body OR is displayed outside the home.

    In ancient times there were many kinds of defacement practiced on the bodies of men and animals, partly on account of superstition or pagan custom and partly on account of the craze for fashion and display. Examples of this were tattooing, sharpening or spacing the teeth, shaving or plucking the hair, wearing hair pieces, etc. Many of these practices still survive and are, in fact, getting more and more refined. Since all these practices change or seriously interfere with the natural creation of Allah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed those who indulged in them for the purpose of mere beautification.

    One report says, "The Messenger of Allah cursed women who tattooed, and those who got themselves tattooed, those who engaged in sharpening the teeth (as a mark of beauty) and those who had their teeth sharpened." (Bukhari and Muslim) The Messenger of Allah cursed women who had spaces made between their teeth in order to increase their beauty, thus changing the creation of Allah.

    A third report says, "The Messenger of Allah cursed the women who plucked hair and those who were employed to pluck the eyebrows." (Abu Dawud)

    This method of beautification would include the modern practice of shaving the eyebrows and then painting on new ones, or shaving certain hair and leaving the eyebrows to look like two inverted crescents. However, if a woman has some obtrusive hairs on her face which are a problem and embarrassment for her, she may remove them. When 'A'ishah was approached by the young wife of Abu Is'haq who wished to remove her facial hairs in order to look beautiful for her husband, she advised her to do so. (Reported by atTabarani) Imam alNawawi opposes removing the hairs on a woman's face because he considers the practice similar to plucking hair.

  4. A fourth report says: ''A'ishah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed women who wore hair pieces and the women who aided in this practice." (Bukhari) This method of beautification would include the modern practice of wearing wigs. It consists of using a plait of one woman's hair or artificial hair and joining it to another woman's hair with the object of making the woman's hair appear very long and beautiful.

    Mu'awiyah, while holding a plait of such hair in his hands during his address to the Muslims, castigated the 'ulama: "Where are your learned men gone? (meaning why did they not stop women from using such hair) I heard the Messenger of Allah stop them from using this." He also said, "Undoubtedly the Israelites destroyed themselves when their women adopted such things." (Bukhari)

    The Shari'ah also requires women to abstain from displaying their "decorations" except to a restricted circle of people. The Qur'an says: And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty save to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands' fathers, or their sons, or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical desire, or small children who have no sense of sex; and that they should not stamp their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O believers! Turn all together towards Allah, that you may attain bliss. (24:31)

    Thus, the following people fall in the exceptional category to whom decorations can be displayed by a woman: Her husband. Her father, including maternal and paternal grandfathers. Her husband's father. He is also like her own father. Her son, including grandsons from her son's side or her daughter's side. Her husband's son by another woman, provided that he is staying with her, and she is looking after him as her son. Her brother, whether full, consanguine, or uterine (that is to say, real or step). Her brother's son. Her sister's son. Muslim women of good character. Her female slaves or servants. Children who have not yet developed sexual feelings. Her uncle, whether paternal or maternal.

    It is noteworthy that the above verse of the Noble Qur'an does not mention uncle, but uncle is included in the exceptional category on the basis of a tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet said, "The uncle (maternal or paternal) is of the same degree as one's father." (Muslim)

    Let us here give a little more consideration to the women to whom another woman is permitted to display her finery. These are the women with whom she has blood or family relations. It should be borne in mind that the foregoing Qur'anic verse implies only women of good character. Other women who may not be well known to her or who are notorious for their evil ways or who may be of doubtful character are excluded from this permission, because contact with them might easily lead to disastrous results.

    That is why the 'Umar radi Allahu anhu wrote to Abu 'Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, the Governor of Syria, to prohibit the Muslim women from going to the baths with the women of the Ahl al-Kitab (the People of the Book). (At-Tabari, Ibn Jazir) According to Ibn 'Abbas too: "...a Muslim woman is not allowed to display herself before the women of the unbelievers and non-Muslim poll-tax payers (Ahl al- Dhimmah) any more than she can display herself before other men." (At-Tabari).

  5. This distinction between women on grounds of character and religion is intended to safeguard Muslim women against the influence of women whose moral and cultural background is either not known or is objectionable from the Islamic point of view.

    It is important to note that permission to display zinat does not include permission to display those parts of the body which fall within the female satr. Thus zinat covers decorations, ornaments, clothing, hair-dos, etc. that women are by nature fond of showing in their houses.

    The Shari'ah further requires a woman not to stamp on the ground while walking, lest her hidden decorations should be revealed by their jingle, and thus attract the attention of passers-by.

    "O you who believe! Do not enter the Prophet's house until leave is given you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation; but when you are invited, enter; and when you have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet. He is ashamed to dismiss you, but Allah is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth. And when you ask his womenfolk for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen; that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs. Nor is it right for you that you should annoy Allah's Apostle, or that you should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is an enormity in Allah's sight. (33:53)

    This view seems to get support from a tradition of the Prophet in which he said: "...a woman who freely mixes with other people and shows off her decorations is without light and virtue " (At-Tirmidhi)

    Hence we may conclude that no Muslim woman should display her zinat (decoration) before others intentionally, but she is not held responsible for something which cannot be helped e.g. her stature, physical build, gait. etc. nor for uncovering her hand or face when there is a genuine need to do so and without any intention of attracting men. In such cases it is the responsibility of Muslim men not to cast evil glances at women with the intention of drawing pleasure from them. The Qur'an ordains: Say to believing men to lower their eyes. (24:30)

  6. Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
    Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.
    Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
    Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
    Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.
    Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
    Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
    Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
    Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.
    How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
    Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
    A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
    Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
    Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
    A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
    Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

  7. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't make a good Muslim.

    I'm doomed to be a hell dweller.

  8. Also? Women don't pluck their hair. We tweeze it.

  9. I am at 1st internet somethng or other -

    A fair woman without discretion
    A golden ring in a sow's snout

    Let us never forget this timeless wisdom.

    I just rented our last apartment to a white ditsy broad and a Saudi student. He offered, jokingly, to pay in Saudi money, which he had a fistfull of, but I declined. Kinda neat looking money though, the glance I got of it. Looked like it had some fat old dude in a white robe on it.

    I'm pushing past them the lease that says we can enter anytime, unannounced. :)