“The Qubaysiyat are Feminists,” by Serene Taleb-Agha

The Qubaysiyat are Feminists
by Serene Taleb-Agha
For Syria Comment
October 4, 2010

Serene Taleb-Agha hiking near Swaida in spring when the poppies and dandelions are in bloom

Last week you posted an interesting contribution entitled, “Women and the Rise of Religious Conservatism.” I disagree with the claim that religious women, and the Qubaysiyat in particular, are only out to perpetuate traditions of female subjugation. I believe your audience deserves to hear another side of the story.

The author of the article chose to publish anonymously. Living in Syria myself, I can see why one might want to keep their name out of the limelight. At the same time, all of us bring our own experience and inevitable bias to this issue. I’m going to take a different approach and be frank about my own background.

I’m a Syrian woman, raised in America in a practicing Muslim family – I don’t say a conservative family because that means something different, but I am getting ahead of myself. I’ve lived in Syria for several years and have dabbled some with the Qubaysiyat. Several members of my family have gone beyond dabbling with the Qubaysiyat. If that does not qualify me sufficiently to speak about them, we will just have to wait for a Qubaysiya to defect from the higher ranks of the organization and speak openly to the media. This has yet to happen. Their secretiveness is well known.

I will agree that among the Qubaysiyat, there is social pressure, there is conformism, and submission to a strict code imposed by the “anseh” with little encouragement for discussion or dissent, though that may vary a bit depending on the temperament of the particular “anseh”. What I contest in the previous article written by anonymous is the suggestion that the Qubaysiyat espouse patriarchy. They are actually quite feminist, even if that feminism doesn’t always fit Western norms.

The mere fact that the Qubaysiyat is a completely woman-run organization attests to this. In more traditional religious organizations, the leader is a male shaykh. But the Qubaysiyat always look to a female to guide them. Furthermore, they are now writing their own religious books – you could call them their “text books” – to study from, whereas in the past they used to rely exclusively on male authors. They encourage their members to pursue higher education, to work outside the home – particularly in education or professions such as medicine.

When it comes to matters of Islamic law, they are mostly traditional, but I believe it is a matter of time before they begin to contribute their own opinions on legal matters. And ultimately, law doesn’t cover everything. They espouse giving to their husbands what is their due, but doing their other activities when he’s not around. At one gathering, I heard an anseh mention, “You don’t need to tell your husbands that you come to these gatherings.” In fact, one big clue to how anti-patriarchal they are is that so many of them, particularly the ones higher up in the organization, do not marry, and that a lot of conservative Damascene men do not like the Qubaysiyat. They view them as a threat to their control over the family, because their wives are perceived to have another allegiance outside of the direct family unit.

If you want to talk about true conservatism, it is the old model of the wife, who simply stayed at home in ignorance, cooking, taking care of her children, and relying completely on her husband for knowledge about the world and religious matters. The Qubaysiyat are a step above that. And it’s not just the Qubaysiyat who reject patriarchy. One non-Qubaysi religious teacher I heard at a mosque told her audience, “We are always lecturing our daughters about how they must prepare for marriage and what they must do once they’re married. The result is that they begin to worship their husbands instead of God.” Patriarchy is more a result of ignorance than religion.

Incidentally, I’ve met several Syrian women who have removed their hijab against their family’s desires, and none ever used feminist reasoning to argue their actions. Instead they “want to appear modern” or “want to find a husband” or think the hijab looks ugly. Conversely, when women choose to adopt the hijab, It is not a valid assumption that they have turned their backs on secular feminism. More likely, they have turned their backs on a conservative life that is only adorned with a modern veneer.

I have also met many Syrian women who have put on the hijab against their family’s desires (and their family’s reasoning also tended to revolve around “beauty” or “being modern”.) Oftentimes the women who do so are members of the Qubaysiyat. Subjugation and societal pressure works both ways.

The Qubaysiyat are not without their weaknesses. The primary problem that the Qubaysiyat and almost all other religious groups in Syria have is with their relationship to authority. The older scholars, living and dead, are seen to be practically infallible. Instead of going back to the original sources of Islamic law – the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet – they defer to the authority of one scholar or another. But I’ve come to see that this problem with authority is not just a symptom of practicing Muslims, but of Syrian society as a whole. Whatever institution you go to, whether religious or secular, one invariably encounters a boss. Around him are arranged his underlings who are powerless and have absolutely no say. They are submissive and too afraid to think for themselves. I’ve seen this kind of relationship between students and school teachers, between employees and business owners, between government clerks and officers. In my opinion, submissiveness to authority is one of the biggest social ills we struggle with.

The solution for Syrian women, Qubaysiyat and others, is to return to the sources of our respective religious traditions. We must bypass the many generations of scholars — almost all of them male — through which our religion is filtered. Then we will have a much more dynamic and independent society. We might not endorse all the options of Western secular feminism – and it is our right as an independent nation not to do so.

I will not reply extensively to the other poster’s claims, except to point out his or her errors concerning the codification of the Quran. It is a matter of historical record that the Quran was written down during the lifetime of the Prophet, and if it was not brought together in one volume until a later date, that only points to the nature of the Quran. It is meant to be constantly on the tongues of its followers. It is to be dipped into and consulted depending on the need or current circumstance, rather than a book that is read from beginning to end.

Serene Taleb-Agha

Comments (48)

Ghat Al Bird said:

Ms. Serene Taleb-Agha’s commentary was not only informative/educational but eruditly written. Many thanks to SC for publishing same.

October 8th, 2010, 12:46 pm


American Muslim said:

Well said. I was actually disappointed with last week’s article, because I look to this website to see a more open minded and considerate view of the world. Last week’s article truly bothered me because the Qubaysiyat have done such an amazing job educating women and empowering them to change the world around them. Without them I would have never properly learned my religion and instead fell prey to the chains of many degrading trends that I face every day in a an elite graduate school where sadly alcohol is rampant, many suffer depression, and many are confused about life in general.

The Qubaysiyat teachers call for self-respect, confidence in knowledge, and dealing with others in the most kind way. No one is perfect, but they definitely know how to help a lost soul like myself. They made me feel whole again and proud of my identity. I couldn’t ask for more.

October 8th, 2010, 1:39 pm


Averroes said:

Good article. Especially the notion of Feminism, which I think has a lot of merit.

No one side is all-right or all-wrong, but I do believe that the Feminism note is spot on, although not to my particular liking, and I will state my reasons.

The sort of Feminism promoted by the Qubaisiyat, is not too dissimilar from the Feminism exhibited by non-religious circles of people in Syria (oh .. and Lebanon for sure) that tend to be well-off and financially comfortable, yet only superficially cultured. In simpler words: new money, easy life, many maids, lots of spare time, mostly technical education, superficial and shallow understanding of Humanities, Culture, and History.

The Feminism I’m describing is of a confrontational and rivalry attitude. It has the prejudice and rage against men that one could see in the West in the 1920s and 30s, and it’s almost always practiced by women who do NOT want to give up their special treatment as “women” in a society that gives them preference in occupying a busy elevator, a seat on a bus, or in a line at the bakery.

I, for one, cannot but notice some striking trends of what may be called a rejection of the more traditional feminine trends in attire, appearance, attitude, tone of voice and choice of words with the Qubaysiyat, for instance. And I don’t want to get into any graphical details.

Living for an extended time in Saudi Arabia, I never accepted the male-only mentality that prevails over there, where you could go to a TV program or a sports event and one hundred percent of the attendants were male .. and dressed uniformly. By the same token, I think there’s something not quite right about organizations that are all-female .. and also have a strict dress code.

October 8th, 2010, 2:48 pm


EHSANI2 said:

The author makes the implicit assumption that those who choose not to wear the hijab are rarely “secular feminists”. They are instead adorned with what she calls a “modern veneer”. In other words, they are shallow and hardly genuine true seculars.

Second, just because the organization is all female, it hardly qualifies for being an island of feminist enlightened thinkers. Frankly, they could just as well qualify as a cult. As for the comment of our “American Muslim” friend, isn’t her personal experience and “confusion about life in general” precisely the ideal atmosphere where cult-like organizations recruit their new members?

October 8th, 2010, 4:12 pm


Elie Elhadj said:

Dear Serene Taleb-Agha,

Thanks for this article.

You said: “We must bypass the many generations of scholars — almost all of them male — through which our religion is filtered. Then we will have a much more dynamic and independent society”.

I agree with you. Ulama’s control must be ended. The ulama are supposed to be merely learned scholars on religion, not the representatives of God on the Earth. However, as I discussed in “Why Reforming the Hadith is so difficult” on SC on July 3, 2010, the ulama’s success in enshrining the Sunna traditions as a source of law equal to the Quran thrusted themselves into the tiniest details of Muslims’ daily lives.

Interestingly, Muslims, the followers of a supposedly non-church-based religion became controlled by the ulama class, just like Christians were before the Lutheran Revolution, while Christians, the followers of a church based order liberated themselves (a sizable proportion of Christians that is) from the yoke of the clergy as a result of the Lutheran revolution (the rest of Christians separated their states from religion). A Muslim Martin Luther is needed to liberate Muslims from the yoke of the ulama.

You said: “It is a matter of historical record that the Quran was written down during the lifetime of the Prophet, and if it was not brought together in one volume until a later date, that only points to the nature of the Quran.”

It would be significant if you could kindly reveal the “historical record” you refer to.

To my knowledge, there is no Quran that dates back to the time of Uthman, let alone the time of the Prophet. The earliest copy of the Quran goes back to about two centuries after the death of the Prophet. The belief that Uthman collected the standard text of the Quran requires a great deal of faith.

In comment 18 on Sept. 30, 2010 “Women and the Rise of The Religious Conservatives” by Anonymous:

I wrote:

The historicity of the Quran is far from clear. According to The Encyclopaedia of Islam, the development of the Quran took place in three main stages: The collection and ordering of the text from both oral and written sources, the determination of the final consonantal text, and the process by which several readings, (various ways of vocalizing the text), were accepted as canonical or ‘revealed.’ Each stage is challenging to reconstruct and date scientifically because evaluating Muslim sources is difficult (The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume V, pages 400-432).

Studying the historicity of the Quran scientifically is a touchy subject. Outside the traditionists’ religiously driven reading of history, scientifically articulated theories are condemned by the ulama as kufr.

Approaching the Quran in a manner that sees the Muslim tradition surrounding the text as grounded in the dogmas of later centuries, Prof. John Wansbrough concluded that the Quran was written down in the third-century Hijri, not during the reign of Uthman. In reaching his conclusion, Prof. Wansbrough subjected to scholarly analysis an entire body of literature attributed to the first four centuries of Islam that stands as a witness to the rise of the Quran to the position of absolute authority in the Muslim community (John Wansbrough, Quranic Studies, Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation, Prometheus Books, New york, P. xii).


October 8th, 2010, 4:52 pm


Averroes said:


It is well known that a major effort was made at the time of Uthman to collect the mushaf into one scripture, assuming one Reading (the Quraish dialect), and discarding (burning) anything else that remained. Uthman then made four copies, had them sent to Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and kept one for himself. That’s the common knowledge that I’m aware of.

What you’re saying of Wansborough’s studies is entirely new to me. Would you elaborate a little please? Are we talking about further processing after what was done during Uthman’s time, or are we saying that what we know of Uthman’s efforts is not true, or not scientifically provable. Thanks.

Anyway, I think the author is a devout and a progressive Muslim, and you know that I totally agree with you on the absolute need of a sweeping Islamic reformist movement, which I think we can assume is coming. The question is when and where. My vote is 1. Egypt – 2. Arabia – 3. Syria in that order.

October 8th, 2010, 5:19 pm


jad said:

It seems that many of us has already lost their compass and become detached from [Reason] which should be the ultimate tool we have to use when we lose direction.

Ms. Taleb-Agha
First of all, thank you for the article.
Second; it truly saddened me to see a woman mixing up the purpose of the “Feminism” movement with the ‘politico-religious’ movement of ‘Qubaysiyat’ who doesn’t promote anything with a value for all Syrian women.

‘Feminism’ by definition in the Wikipedia “refers to movements aimed at establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.[1][2][3] These rights include legal protection and inclusion in politics, business, and scholarship, and recognition and building of women’s cultures and power.”
“Feminist theory emerged from these feminist movements[4][5] and includes general theories and theories about the origins of inequality, and, in some cases, about the social construction of sex and gender, in a variety of disciplines. Feminist activists have campaigned for women’s rights—such as in contract, property, and voting—while also promoting women’s rights to bodily integrity and autonomy and reproductive rights. They have opposed domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. In economics, they have advocated for workplace rights, including equal pay and opportunities for careers and to start businesses.”

Please explain to me and others what did the ‘Qubaysiyat’ do in the terms of equality for women, protection of women, even in the education sphere you wrote about?
Since when concentrating any effort toward very specific ‘class’ and ‘sect’ is promoted as a general movement as ‘Feminism’?
Why didn’t you or the ‘Qubaysiyta’ work for all and every Syrian woman regardless of her ‘sect’ ‘financial background’ ‘family’s status background’?
Your ‘Qubaysiyat’ didn’t try to change, get involved (with the right side) or even challenge any item we have in our justice system against woman, where are they when ‘A’ Syrian woman need them, when a Syrian woman is slaughter like a cattle in the middle of a village square or inside her house with the name of honor? Where is your existence in women’s prison educating those in need, or in an orphanage? Where is your hot line for women or children? Where are you publicly promoting the equality for Syrian women? Where and where and where?????

What education and what medical doctors you are referring to that the ‘Qubaysiyta’ promote and helped to achieve? Doesn’t that girl who studied very hard to get into the medical schools deserve the recognition and not the ‘Qubaysiyat’? Besides, is a Woman MD hiding in her clinic and behind her education is what Syria wants?
How mixing education with knowledge and trying to open women’s eyes toward their society and rights to become equal to men has anything to do with studying in medical or engineering school when ‘your’ ‘woman’ ‘teacher’ tells those ‘MD’s what to do, what to say and take away the freedom of taking decisions away from them? Education is a great tool but it becomes a curse when it is used against the sole purpose we want it to achieve.
Brain washing of ignorant is bad enough but it becomes a disaster when we brainwash educated women in a way to influence the whole society.
I’m sorry but I’m not buying this idea of comparing ‘Qubaysiyat’ to ‘Feminism’ it doesn’t match. You and the ‘Qubaysiyat’ need to work for Syria women’s equality, rights and personal freedom before you can call your organization’s members ‘Feminists’, you are not.

October 8th, 2010, 5:25 pm


Off the Wall said:

Good article, creative and fresh attempts to look at this cult fron a different perspective. Jad made one part of the question, i will make the other around Ehsani2’s point, but let me first state that I did not buy the argument that this cult is a feminist movement despite of the commendable efforts and eloquence

How are the Qubaisyat different from any dogmatic cell where one person has too much control over the lives of others. Whether this control is given willingly or coerced by charm and charisma, it is dangerous for society, for family and for the nation.

The argument that an anseh tells her obedient followers not to tell their husbands that they are attending her lessons is a sign that Qubaisyat are feminists is self deceiving. This is not liberating women, it is merely replacing one master with another and replacing one voice of dogma with another. The author’s recognition that power of the anseh over the lives of her “subjects” depends on her own temperament is just a sign of the dogmatic, cell structure of this cult.

Encouraging followers to work as teachers and/or in medicine is a mere parroting and reinforcement of the patriarchic structure of the society. IT is no different from the traditional, allowable role for women. Off course they want their followers to be teachers, because teachers in a class rooms can easily favour and encourage those girls who are recruitable. As for medicine, it is allowed so that a woman can only be treated by a woman. Where is feminism in that?. What about engineers, machine operators, bus drivers, (i remember a tower lift operator during the construction of hamdaneih suburb in Aleppo, and SHE was the best of them).

That said, I agree with the need to bypass generations of scholars. Excellent point

October 8th, 2010, 6:37 pm


Nour said:

It appears to me that the author is assigning the “feminist” label on the qubaysiyat for the mere fact that it is run by women. In other words, if a woman tells another woman to obey her husband, then this can be qualified as an act of feminism strictly due to the fact that a woman gave such a command. This means that a woman’s organization that promotes and fosters traditional, patriarchal attitudes and behavior, it should be considered a “feminist” organization regardless of its views on women’s rights and women’s status in society.

It’s funny that the author herself admits that women in the Qubaysiyat are instructed to give “to their husbands what is their due, but doing their other activities when he’s not around.” So what exactly is the husband’s due? And why must a woman do her “other activities” only in the absence of her husband? Moreover, instead of instilling in women a sense of confidence in themselves and encouraging them to require their husbands to respect their wishes, desires, and thoughts, they are instead told to keep their meetings secret in order not to arouse the possible disapproval of the husband.

In addition, the Qubaysiyat admittedly do not allow for freedom of thought, as they discourage discussions and dissent. Instead, women are to merely listen to the instructions of the “anseh” and obey them blindly. This sounds like anything but feminism to me.

October 8th, 2010, 6:37 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:

The link cited below starts with a statement attributed to Sigmund Freud that s intended to warn Americans that: “Sexual morality is contemptible. I advocate an incomparably free sexual life….If only Americans know, (we) are bringing them the plague”.

The readers of the link will as I have wonder about the varied interests of “western societies, the role of women, men, families and beliefs and the socail structure of humans”. We all do indeed live in differen worlds.


October 8th, 2010, 7:58 pm


Norman said:

What do you think that this means , Is it a call for a revolution ,or rebellion ,how do you understand that statement ,

(((( In my opinion, submissiveness to authority is one of the biggest social ills we struggle with )))).

October 8th, 2010, 9:31 pm


Joshua said:

I am posting this for Zoubaida Alkadri, who cannot figure out how to post on SC, alas.

I am the only one left of all my friends who hasn’t put on the hijab. I guess that is because I don’t live in Damascus, where the pressure to wear it is so intense. But my friends who now wear the hijab have the same background and beliefs that I do. I have a great deal of respect for the Hijab and am not against it, but what is going on in Damascus is outrageous. I think unfortunately the Kubaysiat are driving Syria backward. They use religion, and people are scared to speak out to resist their influence and pressure.

When growing up in Damascus, I joined the Qubaysiat’s networking web in and out for years and decided after years of trying to comply and understand, to run and never go back after the Anyssa (the leader), embarrassed me at my last meeting by saying her only goal and purpose in life was to correct me and see me wear Hijab.

I respect the decision to wear Hijab if it is for the right reasons. I was not going to wear Hijab just to please a bunch of ladies wearing dark blue from head to toe. My mom and sister both decided to wear Hijab shortly after 9/11 as they felt responsible as many other women to protect Islam. But since then, every time I visit Damascus in the summer, I see more and more of my family members and friends getting covered. Until this last summer when my best friend decided to wear Hijab and I became the only woman in my extended family, and friends not covered. My best friend told me, she was the last one in her group and needed to do it to belong.

See the Qubaysiat’s recruiting engine targets girls and women in Damascus with certain qualifications. You have to be rich, modern, from a powerful and good family and mostly you would be well- dressed, visit hairdressers, pools and you would be not covered. Then it will be their mission to win and ” convert” you. Most meetings will take place in the old-money part of Damascus and of course a feast should be in place for leaders after the sermon.

This isn’t what our religion is all about. Many girls are not getting married because of this brain washing institution. Of course the Qubaysiat try to look like they are freeing women from the authority and slavery imposed by men and it is a noble intention. But the problem is now women are under a different kind of slavery and mentally pressured and brain washed. So basically women in Syria could be freed from men but enslaved in their own thoughts and choices. It is very sad and dangerous. Everywhere I go, I get lectured about my appearance and pressured about Hijab.

This is not right. And I love my religion and adore the Prophet. But all this is not right. This isn’t what Islam is all about. In his last speech, the prophet made it clear how important it is for women to be free and well taking care for. It is because I love Syria, love the Prophet and love our religion that I am saddened and outraged by all this.

October 8th, 2010, 10:39 pm


Norman said:

That was interesting , thank you , how are these women reaching others isn’t gathering banned in Syria , Why doesn’t the government and the religious leaders stand up to this intimidation ,
It looks that this organization is trying to replace men Ula ma with women ones ,

I just hope that one day people will understand that religion is not a goal , the goal is to live and let live in harmony ,

And that is my take ,

October 8th, 2010, 11:21 pm


Norman said:

Read this in Arabic about the movement ,

عبد الرحمن الحاج: الغد
08/ 10/ 2010
“الأخوات القبيسيات” حركة دينيّة إسلامية نسوية دولية تمتد من سورية إلى الأردن وفلسطين ولبنان والكويت ومصر وصولاً إلى فرنسا وانكلترا والدول الاسكندينافية وإلى ما وراء البحار حتى كندا والولايات المتحدة، أثارت بعملها في الظل قصصاً وحكايات تصل إلى حد الأسطورة، وجذبت شبكتها العنكبوتية الممتدة في طبقات الأثرياء والأمراء والمسؤولين اهتمام الأجهزة الأمنية والسياسية،وسببت أفكارها وانتماؤها الصوفي حفيظة السلفية والتوجهات الدينية الراديكالية وحركات الإسلام السياسي الجهادية.

اهتمام إعلامي وأعمال درامية
بقي تنظيم القبيسيات خارج الضوء طوال عقود، وباستثناء الهجوم الذي شنته جماعات السلفية(في الكويت والأردن) وجماعة الأحباش(في لبنان)؛ فإنه لم يظهر اهتمام فعلي بتنظيم الأخوات القبيسيات – الذي تأسس في سورية- إلا بعد تولي بشار الأسد منصب الرئاسة خلفاً لوالده عام 2000، وذلك مع ازدياد انتشارهن وتأثيرهن في المجتمع السوري، وظهر الاهتمام به إلى حيز الإعلام عام 2002 على شكل مسلسلات كوميدية ودرامية ناقدة على شاشات التلفزة المحلية السورية والقنوات الفضائية العربية؛عندما خصص المسلسل السوري “بقعة ضوء” (كوميدي) إحدى حلقات للأخوات القبيسيات مركزاً على اختراق القبيسيات لطبقة الأثرياء الارستقراطية واستغلال العمل الدعوي – بحسب المسلسل- لتحقيق مصالح اقتصادية شخصية.
وفي عام 2004 عرض مسلسل “عصي الدمع” نقداً لأفكار القبيسيات وتصوراتهم الدينية (التي عرضها المسلسل باعتبارها تصورات منغلقة)، ثم مؤخراً (رمضان 2006) عُرض مسلسل “الباقون” الذي أخرجه “نجدت أنزور” ثلاث حلقات بعنوان “البرزخ” سلط فيها الضوء على الأسلوب التبشيري الذي تتبعه القبيسيات لتعزيز انتشارهن، والتصورات الفكرية التي تنتشر في أوساطهن.
وإثر الاهتمام الذي أولته بعض الأجهزة الأمنية بشكل واضح لتنظيم الأخوات القبيسيات بدأت الصحافة في آذار2006 بكتابة تحقيقات صحافية تحاول التعرف على هذا التنظيم، فكتب إبراهيم حميدي في صحيفة الحياة تقريراً مطولاً بعنوان “يرتدين الحجاب الكحلي ويملكن شبكة تدريس ونفوذ واسعة: (الآنسات القبيسيات) يباشرن في سورية انخراط النساء في الدعوة الإسلامية بموافقة السلطات”، وكتب “شعبان عبود” (صحيفة النهار اللبنانية) تقريراً صحافياً بعنوان “رجال العمائم أكثر حضوراً من المثقفين” ركز فيه على الاهتمام الأمني لظاهرة القبيسيات، ومنذ ذلك التاريخ صار بإمكاننا ملاحظة اهتمام الصحافة العالمية مثل نيوزويك ونيويورك تايمز وغيرها بهذه الظاهرة – على شكل تقارير مطولة أو بشكل إشارات- كلما تم الحديث عن الخطر الإسلامي والإسلام السياسي في سورية.
البدايات.. منيرة القبيسي
بدأت “منيرة القبيسي” (مواليد 1933) “الشيخة الكبيرة” بتأسيس تنظيمها في الستينيات عندما كانت الحركة الإسلامية في سورية في أوج نشاطها، وذلك خلال تدريسها مادة العلوم الطبيعية (البيولوجيا) في مدارس دمشق، ومع تعاظم نشاطها دخلت كلية الشريعة بدمشق لدراسة العلوم الدينية دراسة أكاديمية في الوقت الذي كانت فيه قريبة جداً من أفكار مفتي الجمهورية الراحل الشيخ “أحمد كفتارو”، ومنحتها شخصيتها الكاريزمية القدرة على ضم نخبة من النساء الدمشقيات إلى حركتها والانخراط في العمل الدعوي الإسلامي على طريقتها.
ولا يبدو مفهوماً لماذا كانت الشخصيات التي انخرطت معها من الطبقة الغنية ومن العائلات الدمشقية والحلبية العريقة(من أمثال عائلات: جحا، وقويدر، والشيشكلي، والطباع، والغباز، والكزبري، وتسابحجي، والزايد)، غير أنه حتى يكون لأي حركة دينية تأثير قوي وفعال في المجتمع فإن عليها أن تنتشر أولاً في وسط الجسم الاجتماعي المديني، وهذا بالضبط ما قامت به الشيخة القبيسي. ومهما قيل في تفسير ذلك فإن انتشار الدعوة القبيسية في الأوساط الغنية وذات النفوذ ساعد هذا التنظيم على الانتشار في الوسط النسائي المديني من جهة، ومن جهة ثانية سمح ذلك بالاقتراب من نساء المسؤولين وذوي النفوذ القريبة من الطبقات الغنية، الأمر الذي جعل أجهزة الأمن(على حد تعبير الصحفي “شعبان عبود” نقلاً عن ضابط أمني سوري) ترى في القبيسيات “يمثلن عقبة أمام الأجهزة الأمنية؛ نظراً لامتدادهن وعلاقتهن العنكبوتية الواسعة… وقد حصل أكثر من مرة أن وجدت الأجهزة الأمنية صعوبة بالغة في استدعاء إحداهن إلى أحد فروع الأمن؛ نظراً لكونهن من النساء، وما يترك ذلك من آثار وسمعة سيئة ضد هذا الأجهزة وسط المجتمع والأهالي”، فغالباً ما يتم التدخل من قبل جهات عليا استفساراً عن سبب استدعاء إحداهن على حد تعبير الضابط.
رؤية من “الداخل”
بلغ اتباع القبيسيات عشرات الآلاف، وما يزال إلى اليوم وبعد أربعة عقود من انتشار الدعوة القبيسية خلاف حول: هل تمثل الأخوات القبيسيات تنظيماً أم جماعة دينية نسوية إحيائية فحسب؟ فثمة تراتبية هرمية بين الأخوات القبيسيات تتجسد بألوان الحجاب، وثمة قواعد وجداول عمل يكون على أساسها الانتقال بين المراتب، وهناك برامج تثقيفية وتعليمية محددة ومتدرجة حسب الدرجة الهرمية تشكل إطاراً فكرياً خاصاً للأخوات القبيسيات، كل ذلك يمنح الأخوات القبيسيات شكلاً تنظيمياً حقيقياً، وأياً ما يكن الأمر فإن هذا الشكل التنظيمي ساعد الأخوات كثيراً على الاستمرار والانتشار.
تحمل الأخوات القبيسيات بالأساس تصورات دينية تقليدية لكنها على درجة من المرونة منحها إياها انتشارها في الوسط الاجتماعي المديني في قلب المدن الكبرى، فالأخوات يمتلكن صالات مسرحية وفنية واستوديوهات للإخراج الفني، ولا يجدن حرجاً في الفنون الغنائية والتمثيلية التي عادة ما يستثمرنها من أجل زرع القيم الأخلاقية الإسلامية المحافظة، ومنتجاتها الفنية على ضآلتها تحقق انتشاراً واسعاً للغاية، ويقمن حفلات مدفوعة الثمن في مناسبات اجتماعية ودينية عادة ما يذهب ريعها إلى مؤسسات خيرية تنموية وخدمية يشرفن على نشاطها.
سمعتهن الطيبة وعملهن الجاد والدؤوب مكنهن من الإشراف على عدد كبير من المدارس وفي سورية بشكل خاص،(40% من مدارس دمشق الخاصة مثلاً)، وأثبتت الأخوات أنهن يستطعن استخدام الأدوات التقنية الحديثة ووسائل التربية والتعليم الجديدة في نشر دعوتهن، ويجدن الاستثمار في مجال التربية.
صحيح أن القبيسيات يستندن إلى التصورات التقليدية للدين إلا أنهن لا ينحزن إلى مجموعات دينية ضد أخرى، ولا إلى مجموعات سياسية ضد أخرى، ولهذا السبب فإنه -كما يقول بعض الباحثين- “كل طرف من الجماعات الدينية في البلاد يقول إنها تابعة له أو قريبة منه” (مثل: الدكتور البوطي، الشيخ عبدالفتاح البزم، الشيخ أحمد كفتارو، الشيخ عبدالكريم الرفاعي)، والواقع أنها قريبة من الجميع، وبعيدة من الجميع في آن واحد.
الخطاب بين الديني، السياسي والاجتماعي
في شهر آذار 2007 حاولت إحدى القبيسيات ترشيح نفسها لانتخابات مجلس الشعب نظراً لنشاطها الاجتماعي الواسع، لكن(الآنسة الكبيرة) رفضت ذلك رفضاً قاطعاً؛ فمن جهة الابتعاد عن المجال السياسي كان مبدءاً قبيسياً حمى الأخوات في أحلك الظروف التي مرت بها سورية والمنطقة، ومن جهة ثانية فإن معنى خوض انتخابات مجلس الشعب من قبل إحدى الأخوات أن التنظيم يمارس عملاً سياسياً مبطناً في وقت كانت الاتهامات من قبل الأجهزة الأمنية وبعض الأصوات العلمانية المتطرفة تخوف من القبيسيات باعتبارها تنظيما سياسيا سريا، ولو سمح لهذه القبيسية خوض الانتخابات لكان ذلك بداية لتدهور الحركة، في ظل ظروف محلية وإقليمية ودولية لديها حساسية غير عادية تجاه التنظيمات الدينية وحركات الإحياء الإسلامي السياسي.
مجموعة من الأفكار الإحيائية الأخلاقية العامة والبسيطة تمثل الإطار الفكري والعملي لحركة الآنسات الأخوات، وبساطتها منحتها هذا الزخم والقدرة على الانتشار، لا تملك الأخوات تصورات دينية معقدة ولا أفكارا دينية تجديدية، ما يمتلكنه هو قيم أخلاقية إسلامية تدعو إلى الالتزام، وتستند إلى النصوص الكريمة وسير الصحابة والصالحين في صدر الإسلام، لهذا السبب فإن الكتب التي يتداولنها(عقيدة التوحيد من الكتاب والسنة، رجال حول الرسول، نجوم في فلك الصحابة، مختصر فقه العبادات، تفسير ابن كثير، الجامع في السيرة النبوية، المتاح من الموارد والأناشيد الملاح، مجلس النور في الصلاة على الرسول، وغيرها)، لا تتضمن تصورات ومعارف دينية معقدة كما لا تتضمن اجتهادات نسوية في فهم الإسلام على غرار ما قامت به جمعية “الأخوات المسلمات” في ماليزيا مثلاً، والمسألة برمتها هي مسألة إحياء ديني محافظ ومعتدل يفسر لنا سر الاهتمام الفائق بالداعية المعروف “عمرو خالد” الذي تصفه القبيسيات بـ”مجدد الدين”.
حول السمات الاجتماعية
ليس غريباً أن تتضمن بعض السلوكات وأشكال الأذكار طرقاً معهودة في الأوساط الدينية الصوفية المحافظة مثل بعض الأذكار والأدعية المأخوذة من الطريقة النقشبندية على وجه الخصوص(ربما لأن الشيخة الكبيرة “منيرة” تأثرت بالشيخ أحمد كفتارو شيخ الطريقة النقشبدنية).
وبالرغم من أن العزوف عن الزواج يمثل ظاهرة في قيادات الأخوات القبيسيات، إلا أنه قد يكون من قبيل المصادفة حصول ذلك، فالعديد من الأخوات القبيسيات يبررن ذلك بالتفرغ للعمل الدعوي شأن ما هو معروف في التاريخ الإسلامي ظاهرة العلماء العزاب التي ألف فيها “الشيخ عبدالفتاح أبو غدة” كتاباً بعنوان “العلماء العزاب”، وقد تكون ظاهرة العزوبية هذه مسوغاً للبعض كي يقارب حركة الأخوات القبيسيات بالرهبنة المسيحية، لكن ذلك لا يبدو وارداً؛ فالأخوات القبيسيات يمتلكن مؤسسات للتزويج!
معظم الأخوات القبيسيات يحزن شهادات جامعية في مختلف الفروع العلمية، وتحرص الآنسات الكبيرات على توجيه “تلميذاتهن” على حيازة شهادات في فروع علمية بحيث يتكامل مجموع المعارف التي تمتلكها الأخوات لتغطي مختلف الفروع العلمية، وكثير من القبيسيات حزن شهادات عليا من مستوى درجة الدكتوراة، والملاحظ أن المستوى العلمي ودرجة الانفتاح الديني تبلغ ذروتها في دمشق ثم بيروت والكويت، وعموماً كلما ابتعدت الأخوات عن المركز دمشق(“الكعبة المعنوية” للأخوات) انخفض المستوى التعليمي ودرجة الانفتاح، ومستوى النشاطات كذلك.
معظم تلميذات(الآنسة الكبيرة) في الطبقة الأولى يتمتعن بحيوية ونشاط كبيرين، وهذا يفسر انتشار الدعوة القبيسية خارج الحدود، غير أن حياة (أميرة جبريل) أقرب تلميذات الشيخة الكبيرة، وخريجة الجامعة العربية(في بيروت) والمنحدرة من أسرة سياسية فلسطينية معروفة بالتوجه اليساري تتمتع بكاريزما أكبر من زميلاتها الآنسات في الطبقة الأولى؛ فقد كان لها الفضل في نشر الدعوة القبيسية في لبنان والكويت ودول الخليج، ولديها ما يؤهلها لتكون العقل المفكر للأخوات القبيسيات، ومن الطبيعي والحال هذه أن تكون الأوفر حظاً بخلافة الشيخة الكبيرة التي قاربت الخامسة والسبعين من العمر، في وقت سيكون موضوع خلافة الآنسة الكبيرة سؤالاً يضع تنظيم الأخوات القبيسيات على مفترق الطرق.
العلاقة مع السلطة
خلال ما يزيد عن أربعة عقود عملت الأخوات القبيسيات للدعوة للإحياء الديني والأخلاقي بالسر والعلن، تبعاً للظروف الأمنية والسياسية المحيطة بالبلاد، تنقلت الأخوات بين الدروس في المنازل والبيوت والمساجد والمدارس، وخلال القرون الأربعة لم يسجّل على الأخوات القبيسيات أية مشاركة علنية في الحديث السياسي؛ سواء في تأييد النظام أو رفضه، وبذلك استطعن تجاوز محنة الثمانينيات التي شهدت صراعاً بين الإخوان المسلمين والنظام، ومع ذلك يرى بعض الكتاب أن تنظيم القبيسيات هو “تنظيم يهدف إلى إقامة إمارة إسلامية على غرار دولة طالبان”! وأنهن “يخترقن الطبقات العليا في المجتمع لينشئن شبكة تخترق صفوف صانعي القرار”.
إلا أن هذه المبالغات – التي تأتي غالباً من أصحاب توجهات أصولية(يسارية في الغالب) متطرفة- لا تدعمها المعطيات في الواقع؛ ولأن هذا الكلام لم يقنع الأجهزة الأمنية والمسؤولين – فهو لا يعدو أن يكون استغلال المخاوف الأمنية والسياسية من التنظيمات الإسلامية الجهادية عموماً- فقد سمح للقبيسيات رسمياً بالعمل الدعوي في المساجد وفق شروط معينة؛ ذلك أن هذا التنظيم لم يثبت أنه يشكل أي خطر سياسي، بل على العكس فقد لعبت الأخوات القبيسيات دوراً مهماً في الخدمات الاجتماعية والالتزام الأخلاقي بما يسهم في استقرار المجتمع ويقلل من حركة الاحتجاج، إلى الدرجة التي أقنعت الحكومة بمساندة بعض نشاطاتهن الاجتماعية، في وقت تدخل الحياة في سورية – والمنطقة العربية على وجه الخصوص- تغيرات عنيفة تمس بنية المجتمعات على نحو عميق.
آفاق المستقبل القريب
ستدخل القبيسيات في وقت قريب أزمة خلافة للشيخة الكبيرة، وهي الآن تجتذب الفضول الإعلامي لتوضع تحت الضوء، وبالتالي سيكون أمامها الكثير من التحديات، وحتى تبقى مستمرة في عملها فإن عليها أن تتجنب الخروج للإعلام، وأن تحمي نفسها بالبقاء دائماً تحت ظل القانون، وأن تستمر على حيادها الصارم تجاه أي عمل سياسي، وأن تحافظ بشدة على الإطار النسوي للتنظيم، وفي المقابل فإن عليها أن تتخلص من بعض الممارسات والتصرفات التي تمثل مآخذ سلبية على الأخوات وتعطي انطباعاً بالكهنوتية والمقاربة بالنظام الكنسي المسيحي، وأن يحظى التوجه الانفتاحي على العصر بدعم أكبر من الآنسات، وأن يفكرن جيداً بخلافة الشيخة الكبيرة،فهذا السؤال سيواجههن حتماً في يوم من الأيام؛ ولأن التنظيمات التي تقوم على شخصية كاريزمية واحدة غالباً ما ينهار التنظيم برحيلها.
الأخوات القبيسيات حركة إحيائية دينية نسوية ربما هي الأولى من نوعها في العالم الإسلامي، فهي لا تضم في صفوفها سوى الإناث، وذلك على خلاف معظم حركات الإسلام السياسي التي تضم كلا الجنسين، وهي ليست مجرد جمعية ولا مؤسسة نسوية تدافع عن حقوق المرأة، هي حركة إحياء ديني لم يشهد في عالمنا الإسلامي والعربي من قبل، وإذا ذهب البعض إلى أن سبب انتشارها وحركات الإحياء الديني في المنطقة يعود إلى سقوط المشروع القومي وإخفاق مشاريع التحديث في المنطقة، فإن ذلك – إذا صح- يجعل لهذه الحركة النسوية دوراً إيجابياً في تماسك المجتمع النسائي أمام عواصف التغيير وأمام الهزائم والإخفاقات تلك، خصوصاً وأن هذه الحركة لها موقف إيجابي جداً من العصر.
هل يعني صعود حركة الإحياء الديني ضعف الهوية الوطنية؟ بالنسبة لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط هو يعني ذلك بالضبط، وما يحصل في العراق ولبنان يجعل الانتماء الديني قبل الانتماء الوطني وهو أمر مخيف، وسيكون الأمر مخيفاً فعلاً إذا كانت حركات الإحياء الديني حركات سياسية تقتات على ضعف الهوية الوطنية، لكن حركة الأخوات القبيسيات هي حركة دينية إحيائية اجتماعية تنموية محافظة عابرة للحدود لكنها لا تستثمر الدين لعمل سياسي، وبذلك هي لا تقتات على الهوية الوطنية، وسيكتب لها أن تلعب دوراً إيجابياً في تنمية المرأة في العالم العربي إذا بقيت على الحياد السياسي، واستمرت في تطوير نفسها وعلاقتها مع معطيات العصر وتقنياته بشكل خلَّاق
Comments أضف جديد بحث

October 8th, 2010, 11:44 pm


Averroes said:

I think I probably have a somewhat different understanding of feminism than most commentators here. The word stirs bad feelings in me, and I do NOT associate it with women’s struggle to gain their rightful rights, but with a tendency of being biased against men. I see it similar to racism, sexism, sectarianism, all of which signify an unfair bias toward one’s own race, sex, or sect. It is in that light that I agree to the description of the Qubaisyat movement as having feminist aspects to it.

To be clear, by no means do I see the Qubaisy movement as one that is moving in the right direction or that is doing anyone any good. I agree with Zoubaida that they keep nagging and nagging on the single issue of Hijab until they break the recruit, and then everybody feels good about themselves as if they’ve made an accomplishment. The focus on the dress code is another sign of sexism that I do not agree to. I too, see more covers popping up every time I travel there.

This trivialization of religion, however, is manufactured on purpose by Saudi (and other Gulf) money. But I have to say that this very trivialization seems to suite all Arab rulers because it keeps people occupied with apparently harmless concerns, keeps them working toward that elusive goal of ever more perfection of trivia, and thus keeps them from thinking of matter that have more substance. How much energy is spent perfecting the attire, the beard (for men), the clothing, the eating manners, the toilet manners, the color and transparency of a woman’s socks, and the million and one other little things. I once attended a gathering where the sheikh stood up and lectured everyone for ten minutes because someone dared say “good evening” Masa el kheir to the gathering, arguing that the kheir was an idol in Jahiliya, and that we should not use that greeting.

When you have so many thousands of details that you have to worry about, how much time and energy do you have left to do useful work? I have yet to see one of those groups (Qubaisis or others) that is volunteering time toward anything that cannot be classified as trivia.

October 9th, 2010, 12:14 am


Elie Elhadj said:


Nice hearing from you. Hope you are well.

The Uthman account you refer to is the traditionists’ account.

John Wansbrough was Professor of Semitic Studies. His whole academic career was spent at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. He was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1928. He came to Britain in 1957. He died on 10 June 2002.

The following is excerpted from The Independent Obituaries on June 28, 2002.

Professor Wansbrough moved expertly in the fields of Semitic language and religion. The history of the written word was the common thread that ran through his work, from his early studies of the treaties concluded between the Italian city states and the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt, to his analysis of the composition of the Koran and its implications for the origins of Islam, to his last book, Lingua Franca in the Mediterranean (1996), on the evolution of official documents from the Bronze Age to the end of the Middle Ages.

In his seminal work Quranic Studies (1977), he concluded that the text of the Koran had been finalised some 200 years after the death of the Prophet in 632, at the time when the written sources for the early history of Islam first appeared, and the book was defined as the Word of God. The conclusion that the Koran, like the Jewish and the Christian Bible, was the product of a long period of composition, was thus at variance with Muslim belief and its accepted corollary, that it was a text that dated from the time of Muhammad as the foundation of the religion he preached.

It is a finding that has attracted strong criticism, and will inevitably be subject to refinement and modification; but the detailed argument has not been refuted, and it is safe to say that the scholarly study of the origins of Islam will never be the same again.

In The Sectarian Milieu (1978), the sequel to the work, Wansbrough himself argued that the composition of the Koran was part of a long polemic in which the followers of the Prophet elaborated their faith in opposition to those of Judaism and Christianity, the older religions in the biblical tradition of monotheism. The result was a distinctive version of that tradition, on the same historical and theological footing as its predecessors, and entitled to the same measure of respect as well as criticism. While showing how this had been intellectually achieved, Wansbrough refused to go beyond the material to a reconstruction of the underlying events, which he regarded as out of the question.

Instead, he turned from Arabic to Hebrew and the ancient Semitic languages, where he became fascinated by the stylisation of both language and script for the purpose of political and commercial communication, from the cuneiform tablets of Bronze Age of Syria onwards. In this way he came back to his early work on the treaties of the medieval Islamic world with Europe, glamorous documents which were tokens of authority as much as agreed wordings for what had been concluded. The same might be said of his own writings, couched in an inimitable style which is the sign of his distinctive scholarship, the hallmark of a formidable intellect.


October 9th, 2010, 1:49 am


Elie Elhadj said:


Your comment 15 is insightful. Needless to say that it is the deviousness of Arab kings and presidents who drafted the palace ulama to trivialize religion in order to keep the masses intoxicated with trivia and to obey the Muslim ruler as a form of piety.

That the anisa replaces the male a’alem in her control of women’s minds is as destructive to the individual and society as the male a’alem.

Serene Taleb-Agha will not produce a “much more dynamic and independent society” if she bypasses “the many generations of scholars — almost all of them male”. She will have replaced one class of debilitating mind controllers for another.

As EHSANI 2 said: “they could just as well qualify as a cult”.


October 9th, 2010, 2:51 am


majedkhaldoon said:

To say that Qubaiseyat is a cult,we have to remember that cult imply believes and practice that is strange, it has derogatory and negative sense, for that I would not consider Qubaiseyat as a cult,they reinforce believes that are well accepted by other scholars,there is nothing strange about them.
About John Wansbrough, he theorize ,but his ideas ignore pruven fracts,for that his works and ideas were condemn by many,he said that the prophet Mohammad did not exist , it was fabricated image,he said that Quran was the result of 200 years of fabrication, he completely ignore the facts,there is Quran in Tashqand dated to the seven century, the denial of this was based on idea that Kufie scripts did not exist in the seven century,where infact there is inscription in Kufi script present at the dome of rock in jerusalem dated 96 hijri, and there is inscription in kufi script in HijaZ THAT DATE to 17 hijri this proved that kufi script was present before the prophet, this ,he completey ignored by him.
there is Quran in Yemen that date to the seven century,it was discovered in 1972, which is exactly what we know about Quran now, also Uthman ordered the copies of Quran, and produced four of them, one was sent to Damascus and was kept there till 1892 when it was burned by fire ,by then several copies of Quran was made and every house has one or more copies of Quran
memorizing Quran was and is well known,at the time of the prophet there were over forty who were scribes for Quraan,even today there is three million individual who memorize Quran by heart from first page to the end,all correlate exactly as those Qurans which are found in yemen and Tashqand and with Damascus copy of Uthman that was sent by Uthman.
No one should expect the original copies,made of papers manufactured 1500 year ago to last this long, with all the wars that ensued.

October 9th, 2010, 11:21 am


SimoHurtta said:

Interestingly, Muslims, the followers of a supposedly non-church-based religion became controlled by the ulama class, just like Christians were before the Lutheran Revolution, while Christians, the followers of a church based order liberated themselves (a sizable proportion of Christians that is) from the yoke of the clergy as a result of the Lutheran revolution (the rest of Christians separated their states from religion). A Muslim Martin Luther is needed to liberate Muslims from the yoke of the ulama.

The reformation of Christianity by Martin Luther was used put in practice mainly by the ruling elite in Northern Europe and Britain. It was put in usage not because the illiterate masses then wanted it. It was deployed to transform the religious “apparatus”, which at that time was a more ore less rival political power lead by foreigners (= Rome), to a control, education and information “department” of the central power in the country (Sweden, Denmark, Britain and part of German kingdoms).

The Lutheran reformation did not reduce the power of the local priests and “ulama”, it transformed who in the end controls the church and gives “religious” orders to be spread around using the church. The church was turned to a mechanism to deliver earthly briefings and priests were forced to act like other king’s civil servants. The church offered in 16th century the fastest and only way to spread orders and commands through out the whole country. Still in Lutheran churches in Finland is in the service prayer said “God protect the Authority”. Martin Luther saw the earthly authority as servant of the God and put in place by God. Surely Luther changed the societies in North and Central Europe in many ways, but he did not create a secular, equal and liberal system where the clergy is less important.

The general education level rising and close “civil servant symbiosis” of the Church and the State have lead in the past decades to a loss and sharp decline of the Church’s moral authority. In Finland the main church has relative little to say, the different conservative and more extreme branches of the church have more media visibility. But this is only a period in history, when times become tougher the role of religion will increase.

I suppose that if Christianity and Islam as political and social forces are “compared” the discussion must focus to the question how the earthly “power” takes control of religious establishment and how and for what the religion is used. The Lutheran revolution was more a “correction” in the mastery order and less in a theological sense. The Nordic Lutheran or Anglican “order” in Muslim countries would mean that the president (or king) is the leader of “church” who nominates the leading religious figures and the religious “system” is totally subjected to the earthly rulers. That could in theory be done without a theological figure like Martin Luther.

October 9th, 2010, 11:32 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

Came across the following comments that may add to the discussion.

The word CULT defined: “An organized group of people, religious or not with whom YOU disagree” (As quoted by RAWSON).

CULTure is defined as “The collective customs and achievements of “a” people.

October 9th, 2010, 11:51 am


EHSANI2 said:

The Oxford English Dictionary defines cult as:

“A particular form or system of religious worship; esp. in reference to its external rites and ceremonies”

October 9th, 2010, 12:11 pm


jo6pac said:

Not to make light of this and thank you all for your comments, its always good to learn something about others on the little blue sphere hurtling through space.

I am posting this for Zoubaida Alkadri, who cannot figure out how to post on SC, alas.

Thanks but I think this is the most thoughtful comment and to me I watched the mooneys in Amerika do this same thing. It’s about controlling some else’s life and this not an improvement to me. Please be strong Zoubaida and may be in the future others will see you and other were right.

October 9th, 2010, 4:56 pm


Elie Elhadj said:


You said: “About John Wansbrough, he theorize ,but his ideas ignore pruven fracts,for that his works and ideas were condemn by many,he said that the prophet Mohammad did not exist…”

Could you please tell me where Prof. Wansbrough said that the Prophet did not exist? Please reveal your source, book, or paper including the page number.

As for his attackers, that would be expected. Would it not? The question is, however, the basis of the criticism.

The Yemen copy is still under examination. Thus far, early results do not corroborate the conventional text.

As for the other ancient copies, there is not scientific proof that they date to the seventh century.


October 9th, 2010, 8:06 pm


Maysoun said:

Dear Serene: can you please provide one source to back your statement that the Quran was writen during the time of Muhammad?

Also by covering yourself you are degrading yourself from a person to an object of sexual being that needs to be covered, you are a person that should stand and look a man in the eye as his equal, why should men not cover up and women walk the streets as if the owned them.
تسمعهم حينا يقولون أن النساء في الشارع يلبسن لباسا غير محتشما ويثرن غرائزهم ولا يرحمون شباب المسلمين من “فتنتهم”.

بالله عليكم أي دين هذا الذي يقول لكم أهتكوا أعراض النساء والرسول محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم قال أن زنا العين هو النظر طالما أنكم تعرفون هذا فلماذا لا تغضون أبصاركم وتلتزمون قول الله تعالى (وأما من خاف مقام ربه ونهى النفس عن الهوى فان الجنة هي المأوى) صدق الله العظيم

October 9th, 2010, 9:25 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

If you google john Wansbrough,and go for Wansbrough who what where and when you will find what I said.
you asked if there is scientific evidence of the date, to your informations I assure you that history is relayed to us by books and words of mouth ,we were not taught about history by scientific evidence, you are christian and you believe that jesus is son of God is there scientific evidence that he is son of God, is there scientific evidence that Soloman or Moses did ever exist ?.is there scientific evidence that Moses split the sea,or are we to believe that Christianity or judaism are inventions of people and they are nothing but lies.

October 10th, 2010, 12:48 am


elie Elhadj said:


John Wansbrough did not say the Prophet did not exist. The writer on the website you referred to (I have no idea who he is or his qualifications) talks “within” the “context” of Wansbrough’s theory.

Wanbrough’s theory is not different from Taha Hussein’s theory re. Jahili poetry. On this, pls. read my previous comments on SC.

You said: “we were not taught about history by scientific evidence, you are christian and you believe that jesus is son of God is there scientific evidence that he is son of God, is there scientific evidence that Soloman or Moses did ever exist ?

In answer, you ought to know by now that I believe in scientific evidence only. I reject dogma in all its forms. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. In the hands of the men of God, religions, all religions, are like opium.


October 10th, 2010, 9:02 am


majedkhaldoon said:

I agree that the mind is great thing to waste, my question do you have scientific evidence that the Yemeni quran or Tashkand Quran or Damascus Uthman Quran do not belong to the seven century?
And is what you say means that you do not believe with Jesus, how do you reconcile this with your believe of Christianity, or do you not believe in God?.
In court witnesses are brought to say things and what they say is considered evidence in court, or do you not believe in court system?
please answer directly.and thanks

October 10th, 2010, 11:01 am


majedkhaldoon said:

Elie, please give me your E-Mail so we talk directly, and this way we do not bother the other readers of SC with our discussions, and meanwhile I urge the other readers to completely ignore mine and Elie comments.

October 10th, 2010, 11:20 am


norman said:

I do not know why you argue about Authenticity of the Quran , Bible or any other book , Every religion believe in his own book , good for all of you , and in every religion there are people who are bad and good and any of you will not befriend anybody else even from his own religion if he is bad , so let us just jump from what we believe to how we use what we believe in our daily lives , Let women be equal , wear what they want as long as they are not forced or intimidated to do so and prosecute offenders to the woman freedom to chose , Employers and private businesses can have a say on the dress code that they want their employees to wear , government can decide what it’s employees can wear or not , , young women who are forced to wear what they do not like can seek protection from the government , and the police ,
Women or men who do not like what their employers want them to wear can have another job ,

Many of these questions are also there in Israel but do not seem to divide them , only we who are divided from looking under the microscope on religion while everybody else is making something out of their country , this is the same debate that was there in the seventies and the eighties , and nothing came out of it , forget religion , let everybody believe what he or she wants and as long as they do not impose on other GOD Bless them ,

October 10th, 2010, 1:59 pm


Elie Elhadj said:



I’ll be away from London for the next 10 days.
It’ll be a pleasure to communicate upon my return .


October 10th, 2010, 3:32 pm


Majhool said:

Great article. Thanks

October 10th, 2010, 3:36 pm


Innocent Criminal said:


while your piece is well written I disagree with it so much that i dont know where to begin. so I will stick the main point of your article.

There is NOTHING and i mean absolutely NOTHING empowering or femenist about what the Qubaysiyat are doing. just because one ‘anseh’ is telling the other women to be sheep doesn’t mean she isn’t also sheep. The whole time i was reading your piece i kept thinking how empires rule other countries by brainwashing and then placing puppet leaders to do their dirty work for them. In this case the male clergy have been replaced by a female figurehead with little or no individual thoughts. sad and pathetic really.

October 10th, 2010, 4:00 pm


Norman said:

IC ,
Do you think that it might be good for Syria that this movement is Syrian born and controlled not like the Wallabies, from KSA or the MB From Egypt , That it can be a way for Syria to influence the women and lift them after this movement spread around the Arab world,

October 10th, 2010, 5:05 pm


ahmad said:

set yourself free Serene. You are smarter than belonging to a cult that imposes on women a uniform and a second class status.

October 10th, 2010, 5:39 pm


Alex said:

There was an interesting article about the the Qubaysiyat by Katherine Zoepf at the New York Times:


Also (different topic) Interesting opinion piece by Mamoun Fandi at Asharq Alawsat


He wrote that in hindsight, the Arabs today who are worried about Iranian influence in Lebanon should recognize that perhaps they made a mistake when they cheered for Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon… that withdrawal transferred Lebanon from the control of an Arab state to being under the control of two non Arab states… Iran and Israel.

مأمون فندي

خروج العرب من لبنان!

هل خرج العرب من لبنان الخروج الكبير؟ الصحافة اليوم منشغلة بزيارة الرئيس الإيراني محمود أحمدي نجاد إلى لبنان، كما انشغلت من قبل بحرب إسرائيل على لبنان عام 2006.. لكن المنعطف الحقيقي في تاريخ لبنان هو الخروج السوري منه عام 2004. فبعد الخروج السوري أصبح لبنان ساحة تنازع «على المكشوف» بين إسرائيل وإيران. ولهول الصدمة نجد من بين العرب، سواء في لبنان أو خارجه، من يصفق لإيران، والبعض الآخر، ربما نكاية في الفرس، قد يصفق لإسرائيل.

كثير من العرب هللوا للانسحاب السوري، بل كان موضع شماتتهم أحيانا، غير مدركين أن الفراغ الذي سيخلفه خروج دولة عربية بحجم سورية من لبنان سيكون جاذبا للأطراف غير العربية الإقليمية لملئه. ليس هذا وحسب، بل السوري نفسه تحالف مع أحد أطراف الصراع غير العربي في لبنان وهو إيران؛ فبالطبع لن تتحالف سورية مع إسرائيل التي تحتل الجولان السوري. وحتى لا أفهم خطأ، أنا لست مع أي خطوة تنتقص من سيادة لبنان أو سيادة أي دولة عربية، ولكن خصوصية العلاقة السورية اللبنانية وما يمثله لبنان من عمق استراتيجي لسورية ووجود الجارة الإسرائيلية غير الودودة الممتدة على حدود لبنان الجنوبية وتنامي حزب لبناني داخلي بميليشيا تتعاظم وتمد له إيران يد العون والدعم بلا حدود، كلها معطيات خطيرة كان يجب أن تؤخذ ببالغ الدقة والحذر عند التعاطي مع الوجود السوري في لبنان.

ولو أن أحدا قد نام منذ ستينات القرن الماضي، حين كانت فكرة القومية العربية تسطع كالنجوم في السماء، وصحا اليوم لندم على صحوته.. العرب منقسمون مثلما ينقسم جماهير كرة القدم، يصفقون للاعبين ليسوا منهم، كأن ترى مثلا أطفالا في القاهرة أو دمشق أو الرياض يضربون بعضهم البعض في لحظة حماس بعد مباراة لبرشلونة وريال مدريد، لا هذا فريق مصري ولا ذاك فريق سوري ولا سعودي. فقط عندما لا يكون لديك فريق في الملعب تصفق لمن تريده أن يكسب المنازلة، والمنازلة اليوم في لبنان بين إسرائيل من ناحية وإيران من ناحية أخرى. والأسئلة المنطقية هنا: لماذا يشجع العرب هذه المنازلة، هل يظنون في لحظة توهم أنهم جزء من اللعبة؟ كيف يحاول العرب في عالم السياسة أن يتوسطوا من أجل بقاء استقرار معادلة الوجود غير العربي في لبنان؟

قد يظن المصفقون للفريق الإيراني أنني أكتب هذا بدافع كراهية لإيران أو غير ذلك. أقول إنني لا أكره إيران، بل أحترم الحضارة الفارسية، وأحب إيران وهي باقية داخل حدودها غير ممتدة بأذرعها ومطامعها في بلداننا.. الوضع في لبنان غير مقبول أبدا، ولكنني وبكل أمانة قابلت من اللبنانيين أنفسهم من هم غارقون في تفاصيل المباراة الدائرة، ناسين أنه لا يوجد فريق للبنان في مباراة مقامة على أرضه؟ كيف أصبح اللبنانيون مغيبين إلى هذا الحد، وأي أنواع «البانجو السياسي» يدخنون؟

وصل بنا الحال في عالمنا العربي أن يكتب الكاتب مقالا كهذا ولا يدري أي الدول العربية سوف تمنعه من دخول أراضيها؟ لم نعد نعرف نحن مع من وضد من عندما ندافع عن الحق العربي. البعض يفضل أن يدافع عن الحق العربي بشكل انتقائي، أي يدافع عنه عندما يكون العدو قادما من الغرب أو إسرائيل، أما عندما يأتي العدو من الشرق، فهذا على رأي النكتة المعروفة: «دا ما يبقاش عدو.. دا يبقى حبيب»، ما دمنا مشغولين بمواجهة إسرائيل وأميركا فلا بأس أن ينهب عدو الشرق أراضينا في الإمارات، وفي لبنان، وفي أي مكان آخر. مشغولون بالمواجهة من الأمام، أما الخلف فقررنا طواعية أنه لا عيب فيما يحدث هناك.

طبعا العرب فعلوها من قبل، أي تحمسوا لمعركة ليسوا لاعبين فيها، حين أيدوا هتلر ألمانيا في الحرب لأن بريطانيا وفرنسا تحتلان أراضيهم، كانوا يظنون أنه إذا كسب الألمان الحرب فسوف يمنحونهم الاستقلال، وخسر الألمان، ومنح الإنجليز العرب الاستقلال، ليس من باب الكرم طبعا ولا حتى رضوخا لضغوط المقاومة، بل لأن الإنجليز قرروا فك المستعمرات، بدأوا بالمستعمرات الكبرى في الهند، ثم جاء دور الشرق الأوسط، ولكن جماعة «البانجو» روجوا لقصص أخرى غير واقعية عن الاستقلال.

حكى لي مصدر موثوق أن أحد الصحافيين «الثوريين» سأل الشيخ زايد رحمه الله في يوم اليوبيل الفضي لاتحاد الإمارات العربية المتحدة، قائلا: «سيدي الشيخ، هلا أخبرتنا بملحمة مقاومتكم للاستعمار؟» فرد الشيخ بعقلانيته المعهودة: «لم تكن هناك مقاومة ولا يحزنون، جاءنا الإنجليز ذات صباح وقالوا (نبي نسير) (نريد أن نرحل)، فقلت لهم ولماذا ترحلون الآن ونحن نحتاج إلى خبراتكم في استخراج النفط وتنمية بلدنا؟ حاولنا إقناعهم بالبقاء، لكنهم ساروا». لم يكن هذا الكلام الواقعي هو ما يشتهيه الصحافي «الثوري»، كان يريد تهويلا وتضليلا. الشيخ زايد كان واقعيا، ورؤيته صافية إلى أبعد الحدود. وهذا ما يعيدني إلى قصة لبنان، بعد هذه الانعطافة التي لا يفوت مغزاها على القارئ النبيه.

لبنان يحتاج إلى أناس لم يغش الضباب عقولهم كي يروا الأمور بوضوح، وليدركوا أن الفريقين المتنافسين اليوم على مصير لبنان لا تعنيهما مصلحة لبنان وأمن أهله وتنمية اقتصاده، على العكس تماما فهما يريدان هدم لبنان على رأس أهله. في لبنان نثر بعضنا حبات الأرز وبراعم الورود على دبابات شارون، وقبل آخرون أيادي الرسل القادمين من إيران، في حين «كسرنا جرة» (كما نقول في الصعيد) خلف القوات السورية المنسحبة، والتي نظرنا إليها بعد حالة من الشحن العاطفي وكأنها المحتل الأول والأخير للبنان. كيف حدث هذا؟ وهل كان الخروج السوري مقدمة لخروج الدور العربي كله من لبنان؟ هل غسل العرب أيديهم من لبنان؟ هذا هو سؤال أوجهه للمجتمعين في سرت.

October 10th, 2010, 11:02 pm


Averroes said:


Sorry for the delay in writing back, and thank you for your detailed responses above.

I have to say that I do not see the basis that John Wansbrough has based his theory on. Maybe there’s a lot that I don’t know about the subject, but I also know that there is a number of sources that all point to Uthman’s time as the time that the Mushaf was collected into its current form.

I think that had it not been done at that time, there would probably have been more than one version. The assumption just opens a lot of questions that do not add up. What would this empire that stretched those vast distances have for two centuries? What about all the scholars during the first two centuries, would they have no Mushaf to read from? I just do not see the grounds for such a claim.

As for the Qubaisiyat issue, I think we’re in agreement there.

October 11th, 2010, 9:50 am


Averroes said:

Serene Taleb Agha,

I think that I’d be speaking for a number of the commentators here if I say that I’m interested in hearing (reading) your interaction with the comments posted so far.

Criticism of what you wrote is not an attack on you, so please do write and elaborate on your point of view.

October 11th, 2010, 9:53 am


Serene Taleb-Agha said:

I’ve been busy and am just catching up on the comments. First of all, perhaps I didn’t make this clear enough. I am not a Qubaysi. I have attended some “entry-level” classes and gatherings. I have several friends who do belong to them. That is all. I have the same reservations about the blind following of the “anseh” that many of you have expressed. I also believe that men and women need to work *with* each other and not separate themselves off into their own independent organizations. So their feminism is odd in that way: instead of making men their equals, they make them irrelevant (unless they are a scholar dead for 800 years.) Not, in my opinion, terribly healthy for a society.

But I think it is important to understand why they are so attractive to so many women. Women want to know that their lives have meaning. They want a goal higher than keeping the floors free of dust or gabbing away for hours with their neighbors. Religious organizations fulfill both their spirits and their needs for a supportive community. And frankly, the Qubaysiyat have steam-rolled the competition. They have provided a setting where women can do their own thing instead of being afterthoughts to the men’s event planning. They are energetic and active. Their focus on educating children means that many people grow up associating the traditional blue scarf and coat with an institution to turn to when they feel lost. To those of you who can’t stand them I say: stop complaining and provide an alternative.

As for liberating myself. What is being liberated? It is to do what you believe in, fearing neither family nor friends nor future discomfort. How many of us here, men and women, are by that definition truly liberated?

October 11th, 2010, 4:00 pm


Serene Taleb-Agha said:

I forgot to respond to the Qur’an authenticity issue in my earlier comment. An in-depth discussion is beyond the scope of this comment board, but those of you who are interested can check out the article at http://www.ilaam.net/Articles/AuthenticQuran.html. Note that many Orientalists uphold the view that the Qur’an has been preserved intact since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. I also have to second Averroes’ comment: it is inconceivable that the early Muslims were not in agreement about the contents of the Qur’an at the death of the Prophet. There was no shortage of other conflicts (e.g. the caliphate), evidence of which does appear in the primary sources. But for the Qur’an to have gone missing and then subsequently forged without a peep out of anybody? That strains belief.

October 11th, 2010, 4:14 pm


Majhool said:

For once, I agree with Norman (Comment 29)

October 11th, 2010, 11:13 pm


EHSANI2 said:

Dear Serene,

That a woman in our culture “wants a goal higher than keeping the floors free of dust or gabbing away for hours with their neighbors” is indeed just an example of how our societies have marginalized nearly half their population. Most (not all of course) women seem to follow a similar script:

Be a good girl and abide by what your parents tell you till you find yourself a husband (hopefully as early as possible) and, once you do, be obedient to your husband to avoid the family any trouble.

Given how early most women marry, they seem to move from one strict, boring and unadventurous life into another. The fact that their husbands have a relatively easy time divorcing them makes it nearly impossible for them to live as equal. Indeed, society places a premium on subservient women who are usually referred to as “habbabe, hakime and idariye”. Women who do speak up are referred to as “safihas”.

The Qubaysiyat movement fills in some of this void. After all, the men cannot protest as the women are involved in a religious association that most men encourage their wives to do. In sum, this phenomenon derives its attractiveness from the very unattractiveness of the majority of women’s lives in our society. The more men seem to want to dominate society, the more women look for an outlet, any outlet to get away.

October 12th, 2010, 8:32 am


why-discuss said:


“The more men seem to want to dominate society, the more women look for an outlet, any outlet to get away.”

We can say the same in the opposite direction: the more women empower themselves, the more men close ranks and get away in alcohol, drugs, addictions, abuses, casual sex, and wars.
It seems that men in a society where women are changing their roles, are not equipped to adapt as fast.
Divorce rate, drug addictions, Aids victims, are booming in countries like Iran where women, after the revolution, have educated themselves to become more present in the society ( 60% of students in iranians universities are women). Is it a coincidence?

Adjustment of men to a new role for women is not without problems, especially that I think men are not educated to be introspective and are always threatened to appear weak..

Yet as long as this women’s liberation is confined to religious groups, I believe middle eastern men would not feel threatened, in the contrary, they may ironically feel reassured.

October 12th, 2010, 11:22 am


Anonymous said:

Dear Serene: You seem to miss the point of my post: the main point is that increase orthodoxy is dangerous for women. the qubayssiat (not free to wear what they want), in Gaza (cant smoke in public), go a step further to Saudi Arabia (can not drive or mingle with men)and then a step further to the Taliban (can not go to school).

Also the main point about the Quran is that it was not intended to be literal or a law for the following reasons:

1. Neither Jesus nor the Prophet Muhammad ever wrote any religious texts. There are no records of that, nor are there accounts of either one ever having done so.

2. In fact even Abu Baker, the man who succeeded Muhammad as the leader of the Muslim community, is said to have been ambivalent about collecting all of Muhammad’s revelations in writing, in one book.

3. The most credible Islamic tradition states that it was the third Muslim Khalifa, Uthman (644-655), who commissioned Zayed bin Thabit to undertake the task of compiling a standard text.

None of the above argues against the authenticity or truth of the religious text. In both the case of the Quran and the Bible, people made a faithful effort to record the words of Jesus and Muhammad and create a singular religious text, but in neither case were these people commanded by Jesus or Muhammad to do so.

4. Islamic tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad could not read or write, and Muslim scholars consider the revelation of the majestic words of the Quran though Muhammad as a miracle, and liken it to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. This again could be interpreted as an indication of God’s intention. God chose Muhammad as his prophet, a man who could not write and appeared to him though the angel Gabriel; he told him to recite not to write: “Recite: in the name of thy lord who created, created the human being of a blood clot”. Had God intended for the prophet Muhammad to write, it certainly was within God’s mean to bestow this ability on the prophet, but God chose not to.

5. Arabic on the other hand was primarily an oral language at the time of the revelation of the Quran, and did not develop into a written language until much later than its Aramaic predecessor. The earliest written form of Arabic appeared in 512 AD, a few years before the birth of the prophet Muhammad and at the time had only 22 letters, the use of the dots was latter added to the Arabic alphabet to make up today’s Arabic 28 letters. The earliest surviving document that definitely uses these dots dates back to 643 (11 years after the death of the prophet Muhammad) and did not become obligatory until much later. According to the traditionalist Muslim historical account, the original Quran was written using the earlier version of the Arabic alphabet, the text was later given vowel pointing and punctuation in the seventh and eighth centuries. So While God chose for Jesus a language destined to become extinct, in the case of Muhammad, God chose a fluid language that was not yet fixed in its final written form.

6. If a lawyer today were to write a legally binding document, a law, he or she would refer to the dictionary several times to examine the spelling and exact meaning of the word used, whether it is being used in the right way and the proper place. A legal document often includes defined term in it as an addendum to the text. One can only imagine how contentious a legal battle can be over any vagueness or double meaning of words.

7. The meaning of the words used in the Quran could have changed by the time their meaning was defined in dictionaries. Before dictionaries codify a language, it is written and spoken but it is not really defined, not fixed. Language, by its very nature, evolves. Words evolve and their meanings change depending on the context in which they are used, and also with time. The first Arabic Language dictionaries were compiled between the 8th and 14th century, that is when the meaning of the Arabic word was beginning to get fixed and well defined. So it is humans many years after the death of the prophet Muhammad that fixed the meaning of the words God chose for Quran. Again this does not argue against the authenticity of the text, rather that it was not the intention of god to codify religion into text, otherwise God would have chosen in the case of Christianity an enduring language and in the case of Islam a well established one.

God’s aversion to the written religious law seems to date to the days of Moses. According to the Jewish Torah, the Ten Commandments were spoken by God and written by Moses on two stone tablets during his 40 days atop mount Sinai. The Stone however later broke, as the aging Moses came down from the mountain and threw these tablets to the ground, angry at the site of the Israelite worshiping idols. All three monotheistic religions report a similar version of the event, and all three religions hold that God is supreme, creator of everything seen and unseen, God they hold is all-knowing. So one has to wonder: if God wanted a religious law written in his name and in stone, why would God not have made available to Moses a more durable stone?

October 12th, 2010, 12:42 pm


Anonymous said:

Dear Serene:

the status of women in Islam:

1. A man can marry as many as 4 women. There is no equal provision for women.
2. Females are allotted 1/2 the share of their male siblings of the family inheritance.
3. Restrictive dress code that limits their ability to compete in sports.
4. A man can divorce his wife a lot easier than the other way around.

the list goes on and on… so any reinforcement of religious orthodoxy reinforces discrimination against women

October 12th, 2010, 12:57 pm


norman said:

What is the opinion of the organization about the equality of women as in 44,
Do you know the goals of the organization ,

October 12th, 2010, 1:36 pm


Norman said:

It look as if the friendship between Syria and Turkey is going to suffocate Israel , I wonder if Israel will reach a peace agreement and be part of prosperous Mideast before it it is too late ,

China is rising and they have no AIPAC,

October 12th, 2010, 10:20 pm


Nada said:

ما كتبه عبدالرحمن الحاج هو أكثر المقالات إنصافا للقبيسيات ، والأقرب إلى الواقع

February 28th, 2011, 2:03 pm


Zoubaida alkadri | Myactorstore said:

[…] Syria Comment » Archives » “The Qubaysiyat are Feminists,” by …Oct 8, 2010 … I am posting this for Zoubaida Alkadri, who cannot figure out how to post on SC, alas. I am the only one left of all my friends who hasn’t put on … […]

February 12th, 2013, 3:11 am


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