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Last Updated: 2008/06/30
Summary of question
What is the role of women during the reign and in the government of Imam Mahdi (as)?
What is the role of women during the reign and in the government of Imam Mahdi (as)?
Concise answer

In addition to the great changes the world has gone through since the time of Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood till today, the role, importance and rank of women has also entered a new stage in which can never be compared to the past. In different societies, before the dawn of Islam, women were merely looked at as a means of fulfilling men’s sexual desires, getting house chores done, reproduction, nursing children and lactating. They were seen as workers in the home with no free will, no freedom of choice and no individual rights, in which would be transferred from one house to another as one’s belongings that were inherited and would become a worker for the new family. At one time and era, they were even buried alive at birth. Islam came with an equal look at both man and woman, considering them both of high personality and giving both the same respect. It was made mandatory for the man to grant the woman the dowry they had agreed on prior to marriage. Also, the woman’s expenses and sustenance became one of the man’s religious responsibilities. Not only wasn’t she part of his wealth put to inheritance after his death, but now she was his partner in life, inheriting from his estate. She was allowed to take part in religious, cultural, and even financial and military events and activities (given that she observed the rules pertaining to her), thus achieving high peaks and perfection. The best examples for such women are Lady Fatimah (as) and Lady Zainab (as) who were role models for other women in both family and social issues.

As with the period in which the prophet of Islam was chosen to be prophet, the time of Imam Mahdi (as) will also be followed by many changes and women once again will enter a new stage, finding their true value, in contrast to what we see today. Today, women have been sent back to the Jahiliyyah (referring to the ignorant times before Islam) and have once more lost their true value, but in a modern way and a new look. As for what political posts some of them who are qualified might be assigned, we aren’t sure and don’t know, and judging before that time comes is difficult. That is because all that we know about concerning that era, comes from the verses of the Quran and traditions that we have at hand, while both have been quiet regarding these issues.

Detailed Answer

Today, women have been sent back to the Jahiliyyah (ignorant times) of before, but this time with deceitful words and concepts such as “the equality of men and women”, “freedom of choice”, “human rights” etc., once again becoming cheap instruments without any goals for men, and victims of politicians, thus distancing from their true value. Even if the modern civilized woman today reaches any political posts, she is still a victim of politicians and rulers. Today, the woman’s modesty and personality, no matter what rank she is in, are prone to the misusage of those out there with evil intentions.

With the woman falling to low levels and losing her true value, the family and roots of society will also begin to decline. Hence, in order for mankind and especially the woman to reach their true perfection, a revolution like that of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is needed. From his time and on, Shia have always had faith in his and the Quran’s promises, waiting for the vowed revolution. A revolution in which will affect the entire world, restoring the woman’s true status, in contrast to what is going on in the world today.

The holy Prophet (pbuh) granted new life to the woman in his time. Back then, during the Jahiliyyah (referring to the era prior to Islam; jahiliyyah literally means ignorance), the woman lacked any rights and was hardly considered human, to the extent that since at one time she was even looked at as a disgrace and embarrassment, was buried alive at birth. The Prophet of Islam (pbuh) declared her as equal to man, with certain rights that are the responsibility of the man. Instead of her being part of one’s wealth and belongings, thus sometimes being gifted to others or being inherited by one’s children, she became an independent person with her own rights, owning her own property and inheriting from others rather than being inherited.

Islam raised the woman’s status to the degree that even the Prophet (pbuh) would do bey’ah with her (pledge allegiance) and she was allowed to take participation in battles against the non-believers as a nurse, teacher, encourager for the soldiers to follow and fight for the Messenger of Allah (swt), or as one who trains righteous individuals. The Muslim woman is a reviver of Islam and its defender in all fields, entering high ranks of humanity as a result, thus, going higher than angels and heavenly hooris (the women in heaven). This is because of the fact that in addition to all of the abovementioned, she is also the one who maintains the family’s modesty, personality and holiness and somewhat plays a more important role in life than the man. She is a human who creates and trains humans and as the late Imam Khomeini puts it, “She is the one who man ascends from the lap of (towards the heavens)”.

However, during the course of history, the woman has been deprived of her human rights in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies. Some imprison her in their homes, denying her to mentally, culturally, and financially grow; others separate her from her family, sending her behind steering wheels, plane cockpits, heavy machinery, and the depths of mines while others…

The global revolution of The Promised One (Imam Mahdi [as]), as its name shows, will be followed by great changes, bringing the whole world under the flag of Islam and its true teachings, in which will result in the restoration of the woman’s true position.

Our predictions and judgments regarding the events of that era have all been obtained from the traditions on Mahdawiyyah (doctrine of Imam Mahdi (as)and the issues pertaining to him) and evidence from the advent of Islam. In some senses, the changes seen in Iran and the world after the rising of Imam Khomeini, and the great changes in the female society of Iran after the establishment of the Islamic government there, can be considered a small example of the changes that are to take place after the revolution of Imam Mahdi (as).

Some of the traditions that have spoken about women during the reign of Imam Mahdi (as) are as follows:

Ja’far al-Ju’fi reports that Imam Baqir (as) said: “Imam Mahdi (as) will rise…and 313 men along with 50 women, will gather without any previous planning, they will reach each other the same way scattered clouds combine, and some will follow others, and that is meant by (verse 148 of surah Baqarah) that says: “…wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together; surely Allah has power over all things”. Then they will pledge allegiance to Imam Mahdi (as) between the Rukn and Maqam (a section of the Kaaba in which is extremely sacred and that is very recommended to pray in) and Imam Mahdi (as) will start his movement from there.”[1]

Abdullah ibn Bukair quotes from Hamran that Imam Baqir (as) said: “…during his time wisdom and knowledge will spread thoroughly, to the extent that the woman will judge in her house according to the Quran and the tradition of Rasulullah.”[2]

Most of the traditions related to Mahdawiyyah either speak of how one can prove his being imam, and the events that will take place during and after his appearance and none of them have gotten specific on the distribution of responsibilities or the gender of his various agents etc.

However, as was said before, the Islamic Revolution can be a small example of how it will be like then, and the role of women in the continuation and survival of the revolution during it and afterwards, can somehow clarify what role in that era women are to play. In relation to this matter, Imam Khomeini says: "Islam wants both men and women to grow and perfect, Islam has done the woman big favors, has saved her from the things that used to be during Jahiliyyah, God knows that Islam hasn't favored men as much, you have no idea what the woman was before Islam and what she improved to be afterwards."[3]

He also states: "Not only doesn't Shi'ism deprive the woman of social life, but it places her in the high position of humanity that she is supposed to be. We accept the many developments the West has had in different fields, yet we reject their corruption that even they themselves are complaining and crying out about."[4]

Imam Khomeini also says: "From Islam's point of view, the woman plays an important role in the establishment of lslamic society, and Islam has raised the woman's status in a way that she is capable of obtaining her true position as a woman, and rather than being just a mere "thing" (as she was before), if qualified, she can even be of certain posts and responsibilities in the body of the Islamic government."[5]

While addressing a crowd of Iranian women, the leader of the Islamic revolution says: "Both religious and political insight can be found among Iranian women, and (as a result of the Islamic Revolution) we no longer have the problems that wouldn't allow you to take part in political and religious activities, (therefore) I hope that all of you will reach a point in the near future, allowing you to train others."[6] Yet, playing the role of a mother is the most important of all: "One good child that you submit to society is better for you than the entire world. I cannot bring into words how honorable it is for you to train only one child...the laps of mothers are where true human beings are made."[7] "Therefore a nation in which is striving in the front line for Islamic goals will never see any harm, a nation in which its women are present in the battlefields against superpowers and the evil, before the presence of their men will surely be victorious. A nation who has both male and female martyrs, and both men and women in it adore martyrdom and long for it, will surely never see any harm."[8]

If one follows the logical course of the sayings of Imam Khomeini mentioned above, he/she will find it easier to predict and comprehend the woman's role during and after an Islamic revolution like that of Imam Mahdi (as).

[1] Biharul-Anwar, v.52, pg.223, chapter: The Signs of (Imam Mahdi's) Reappearace, hadith 87.

[2]   Ibid, chapter: His Behavior and Traits, pg. 352, hadith 106.

[3] Sahifeye Noor (A collection ofImam Khomeini's sayings), v.3, pg. 82.

[4] Ibid, v.3, pg. 159.

[5] Ibid, v.3, pg. 101.

[6] Ibid, v.17, pg. 211.

[7] Ibid, v.7, pg. 76.

[8] Ibid, v.13, pg. 31.

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