Celebrating Women Through Islamic Caligraphy

Oh, good! Our Celebrating Women Through Islamic Caligraphy calendar arrived!

If we’re being precise about it, we never technically ordered a Celebrating Women Through Islamic Caligraphy calendar, but here one is anyway, courtesy of a kindly charity. This will help us remember all the important Islamic dates in 2013. Sorry, I mean 1434-1435.


Our New Calendar?

There’s the beginning of Safar and of Rabi’ al-awwal… “Columbus Day /  Day of Arafat”… the birth of Jesus…

Wait, go back to that last one. Christmas? And Christmas Eve? Is it possible that Christmas has become some kind of secular holiday, available to people of all faiths? Unthinkable!

I’m also a little confused about the quote on the cover. The calendar is titled Celebrating Women Through Islamic Caligraphy, so each page features an inspirational quote about women. For example, March features this quote: “The best of Life’s enjoyment is when one is blessed with a righteous wife.” And a righteous wife I have!

But the cover’s quotation reads “اتقوا الله في النساء” which they’ve translated as “Fear Allah in all dealings with women.” The “all dealings” translation seems a little loose from what I’ve read. But more importantly, that quote comes from a passage of Sahih Muslim #2803 that’s historically been used to justify beating women. One translation of the full passage reads (emphasis mine):

Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have right over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner.

But in other sources, “chastise” has been translated more harshly to various synonyms of “hit” or “beat”.

I certainly don’t mean to imply that the calendar’s authors intended to convey that message — nor, for that matter, does it seem Imam Muslim did. But the choice still strikes me as peculiar for the cover of a calendar specifically celebrating women.

The moral here, if there is one at all, is to avoid sending these calendars to non-believers with a Google account and a couple hours to spend on research. In related news, I imagine I can expect Google’s advertising for me to be a little off-target for a while.