Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Al-Azhar Scholars have welcomed the publication of the first Interpretation of the Quran [tafsir] written by a woman, saying that it confirms the equality between men and women in Islam.
Kariman Hamzah, the author of this Quranic interpretation and a former presenter of an Islamic television program in Egypt, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Interpretation is the culmination of her 35 years working in the media. The Islamic Research Academy, the highest authority at the Al Azhar University, approved the printing and distribution of the first Quranic interpretation written by a woman, and which will appear in local bookstores soon.
Sheik Mohamed Al Rawi, head of the Quranic Interpretation Committee of the Islamic Research Academy stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that any work dealing with the Holy Quran must be subject to careful review, and is not approved until it is examined letter by letter and word by word, and has to be approved by all the scholar in the field of Quranic studies and Quranic interpretation. Therefore Muslims can be assured of the authorship of any interpretation approved by the Islamic Research Academy, and need not hesitate in accepting what has been written.
Sheik Abdul-Zaher Abu Ghazala, Director of the Islamic Research Academy’s Research, Translation and Publication department revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the academy had approved a 20-part Quranic Interpretation by Kariman Hamzah, and that there were no inconsistencies between this Quranic interpretation and Islamic Shariaa Law. He confirmed that Kariman Hamzah’s Quranic Interpretation was carefully reviewed before it was granted approval.
Sheik Abu Ghazala added that Kariman Hamzah’s interpretation of the Quran is fully consistent with previous Quranic interpretations, and that it contained no inconsistencies or contradictions with Islamic Shariaa Law. He denied that this is a new Quranic interpretation providing a female point of view, emphasizing that this interpretation addresses men, women, the youth, and children, just as the Quran itself speaks to all. Therefore there is no such thing as a “male interpretation” or a “female interpretation” of the Quran; he said that “what is important for us is that the interpretation is consistent with the Quran itself, and does not contradict Islamic Law.”
Sheik Abu Ghazala concluded by revealing that the Islamic Research Academy had recently approved a number of Quranic interpretations by women including one written by a pediatrician Dr. Fatin Al Faliki, and one by Mrs. Fawqiyah Ibrahim of Alexandria, Egypt.
Sheik Mohamed Al Birri of Al Azhar University welcomed Kariman Hamzah’s Quranic Interpretation, saying that it shows the awakening of Muslim women, and their emulation of the female Companions [of the Prophet]. He added that the Quran makes equal between men and women in every way, including religious education, as well as the task of spreading the message of Islam.
Dr. Mustafa Al Shakaa, a member of the Islamic Research Academy of the Al Azhar University said that Al Azhar’s approval of Kariman Hamzah’s interpretation shows the equality between men and women in Islam, and confirms the women’s right to religious education in Islam is the same as a man’s. He added that Islamic Shariaa Law gives Muslim women the right to be religiously educated and make religious decisions in the same way that the female Companions [of the Prophet] did in the time of the Prophet (PBUH), and this refutes the rumors and slander which describe the Islamic religion as a religion that restricts the freedom of women, at the fore-front of this a woman’s right to education.
The author of the first Quranic Interpretation to be written by a woman, Kariman Hamzah, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this work is the culmination of 35 years of work whether it was presenting religious programs on television, or writing Islamic articles in newspaper or magazines, and which allowed her to witness a large proportion of Islamic culture. She emphasized that the object of this undertaking [of writing a Quranic Interpretation] was to serve Islam and spread its message.
Kariman Hamzah said that although she is not a graduate or Al Azhar, or another religious institute, her love for spreading the message of Islam has called her to enter this field [of Quranic interpretation]. She said that in writing her Quranic Interpretation she relied upon simplicity and clarity in the explanations and interpretations, and an easy and accessible language, in order for it to be understood by both the young and the old. Her Quranic interpretation is entitled “A Clear Interpretation of the Quran for the Youth.”
She added that she relied upon a number of essential sources in order to complete her Quranic Interpretation including; Al Muntakhab Quranic Interpretation which is a selection of Interpretations by Al Azhar scholars, Sayyid Qutb’s “In the Shade of the Quran” and “A Thematic Commentary of the Quran” by Sheik Muhammad Al Ghazzali, as well as “Mukhtasar Al Qasimi” by Salah Al Din Ergodan, and the Quranic interpretation by the former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheik Hassanayn Makhluf, amongst others.
Kariman Hamzah added that her Quranic Interpretation was written for all ages, but especially for young people, who she is keen to address. Her interpretation, which is a series of 20 books, will be published soon.