United Nations 



Historical Women figures and the role of Women in the 21st Century viewed from an Islamic, Spiritual and Historical Perspective




Copyright 1998 Nadine Sultana d’Osman Han

The 13th Century Sufi philosopher, Mevlana Jalahuddin Rumi, wrote in regard to women:

—“The Prophet said that women dominate men of intellect
and possessors of hearts,
But ignorant men dominate women, for they are shackled
by the ferocity of animals.
They have no kindness, gentleness, or love,
since animality dominates their nature.
Love and kindness are human attributes,
anger and sensuality belong to the animals.
She is not your ‘sweetheart’,!
She is the radiance of God.” —
_Jalaluddin Rumi
The Prophet (PBUH) also said that — “The World was at the feet of the Mother”.— 
The Words of the Prophet (PBUH) confirm what every Mother knows; that Motherhood is the basis for any civilized society and the power behind the well-being of the family unit, which in turn shall be reflected upon the society itself. 
Furthermore, the Prophet (PBUH) set an example for us to follow when Khadija, a mature educated business woman, was chosen to become the spouse of Hz Prophet Mohammad.
Hz Prophet Mohammad never suggested that a woman should be kept in ignorance.  On the contrary, the Prophet, by his example, showed that it was advisable for a husband to seek the advice of his wife.  We are told that the Prophet Himself freely discussed his anxieties and visions with Khadija and respected her advice.
The civilization coming down from Eve, was based on the matriarchal principle.  At the time of the Neolithic Age, the matrilineal clan system was very strong.  It is a fact that the rule of Mother-right was followed almost everywhere in the World, from Pharaonic Egypt to the American Indians!
The very word marriage as used today, derives from the word matrimony that means inheritance property in the maternal line.
This is supported by thousands of recorded history.  The annals of Ashurbanipal said that Arabia was governed by Queen, for as long as anyone could remember. 
The most significant revolution in Greece was the transition from matrilineal to patrilineal succession, which in turn brought the destruction of clan loyalties.  This reversal of order became more and more widespread, as time separated us from our origins and its teachings, bringing with the passing of time the chaos of our present societies.
The PAST is the compass of Life Destiny.  Therefore, it seems logical to turn back to the GREATEST WOMAN of all: EVE, who was of course Mother of All Living.  Motherhood being inseparable from Womanhood.
It is undeniable that EVE was the first teacher of knowledge, and it is supported by countless expressions, trickling down to us, as well as many pre-historic oral traditions and writings.  No culture can emerge without a Maternal language.  A Native language is usually called the maternal language or mother tongue, never the paternal language.  This is because knowledge is transmitted to us from Eve. 
To be sure, Eve’s knowledge was considered, much later in history, as a sin.  This view is quite incomprehensible, since Eve received knowledge from the Divine.  Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon Him) reminded us of this Divine’s fact, with the words: —“The World is at the feet of the Mother." —  This is reflected in the words of the philosopher, Aeschylus, who said that —“Memory is the Mother of all wisdom." —
Eve was also blamed for our mortality.  In reality, humans were unaware of mortality, much as the animals.  Hence, we owe to Eve, the Divine awareness of Life and Death, as well as the emergence of civilization with all its ensuing responsibilities.  Responsibilities accrue in proportion to the knowledge acquired.  Ignorance satisfies itself in laziness.  We could use the cliché that knowledge is the food of the mind and ignorance its junk food.
In the history of Assyria, we find the remarkable Queen Sammu-ramat.  Upon the death of the King of Assyria, his spouse Sammu-ramat became Regent for her son Adad-nirari III.  In the short 4 years of her regency, the Queen became a legend for posterity, through her outstanding mental attributes, in spite of the masculine order of the Assyrians.  The Queen so impressed her people, that her fame reaches distant lands, and the Greek immortalized her in the name of Semiramis.
Sammu-ramat or Semiramis, was so important that she has a memorial Stele at Ashur, along with those of the Kings and High Officials of Assyria.  She is even mentioned along with the King in a dedication inscription.
Legend or fact, Semiramis remains to all, an extraordinary warrior as well as the builder of magnificent buildings in Babylon.  We owe to her the famous suspended gardens, inspired no doubt by the Ziggurat of the Sumerians whom themselves got their inspiration from Mount Ararat, in memory of the landing of Noah.
Sammu-ramat teaches us that no obstacles are too great for a very confident woman.  She is a superb role model for the capabilities and potentials of women.
The Ottoman Sultans were extremely conscious of the importance of respect and good manners, this was the foundation of the Ottoman culture and it is one of the reasons that it did endure for so many generations.  It is well to remember that the Sultan’s Mother had the supreme authority in the harem, and her ruling Son would always show her proper respect.  The Ottoman Sultans were always mindful of the example set by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
In the Ottoman Empire, several spouses of the Ottoman Sultans wielded enormous political power.  When you consider that they came to the Palace as uneducated slaves, this is a remarkable achievement for these women.  They had the determination and self-confidence that permitted them to educate themselves, and to have an influence in an environment that did not permit women's freedom.
By marrying Khadija, The Prophet did set an example encouraging the education of women.  The Ottoman Sultans did follow this example, for contrary to popular beliefs, the women in the Ottoman Palace were educated of course in the subjects appropriate to their era.  In fact, most Sultans did praise the intelligence of a concubine over her beauty, and of course we must not forget that it was the Mother of the Sultan who chose the girl who was to be presented to her son, so, her choice tended toward a well educated girl.  In the latter years of the Empire, foreign languages were very much a part of this education.
The technologies of to-morrow will not tolerate ignorance, and we can be assured that the men of to-morrow will not accept the burden of ignorance that they have imposed on women.  Therefore the education of girls should be encouraged as it is encouraged for their brothers.  The complexities of tomorrow make this a priority.  While all girls may not become businesswomen, it is most important for a girl to become a self -confident woman who can advise intelligently her husband, and provide a sound education for her children.  This also reinforces the mutual respect which is the sound basis for any healthy marriage.  Let us not forget that the stability of the family-unit is one of the foundations of any civilization.
The women of yesterday had always had an influence on the world of men, they often did this in the shadows, today this influence must be acknowledged in the open.  The woman of the 21st Century will need to stand side by side with man in an equal partnership, as it was in the beginning of time with Adam and Eve.  Eve, far from being ignorant was the teacher of knowledge.  Undoubtedly, the woman of the 21st Century will have to be exceptionally strong, because her responsibilities are going to increase, not decrease.  This, in turn, requires self-sacrifice, much greater than in the past, but it is essential for the survival of humanity.
Above all, I want the women of the 21st Century to remember the children .  They must never be sacrificed.  It is the duty of women to protect, love and educate them.  The women of to-morrow will need to unite to enact effective International Law for the protection of childhood worldwide.
Therefore, we must redefine the role of Motherhood in the World of Today, a role somewhat lost in the challenges of the 20th Century’s pursuit for material gain and the rediscovery of the self.  The greatest assets of Womanhood are flexibility, endurance and again self-confidence in one’s ability to cope with the unexpected and the challenges of daily life.
The role of Women in regard to the upbringing of children is a most important task, since children eventually grow up to become adults, hence the makers of to-morrow’s laws and lifestyle.  We must realize that certain truths transcend time and that we must now and then look back in order to advance.
This understanding is very important since the early experiences of the child will determine his actions later on, regardless of the modifying influences to which the child will be exposed to as he enters adulthood.  The importance of the Mother in the life of the young child cannot be overestimated.  The Mother must provide both love and the security of proper discipline for the healthy development of her child.  Any neglect, abuse or unstable environment will be retained in the subconscious of the child, regardless of future success in life, and this in turn will affect negatively his judgment and actions in relation to the society at large, which will show up as corrupt politicians, abusive police men, unscrupulous businessmen, insensitive doctors, immoral scientists, and under-achievers. 
The woman of the 20th Century opened the door of material opportunity and independence for women.  The woman of the 21st Century will need to open the door to serenity for a gentler world, free of war and crime.  Hence, women need to have a greater participation in National and International policies and politics, but without cloning masculine personalities!  They must stand side by side with men in an equal partnership, with mutual respect for their gender.  Men were (and still are) conquerors by nature.  Women were healers and they must retain this quality, for the 21st Century needs HEALING, not conquering.
As the 13th Century Persian poet, from Shiraz, Sa’adi wrote:
Quote “Human beings are like parts of a body,
created from the same essence,
When one part is hurt and in pain,
the others cannot remain in peace and be quiet.” Unquote
“Historical Women Figures” Speech by HIH Nadine Sultana D’Osman Han
IIUC 98, Aug.7th
“Women & the Upbringing of Children” Speech by HIH Nadine Sultana d’Osman Han, for Kalimat  at IIUC 98