The name Eve bears resemblance to an Aramaic word for “snake”. In Genesis, Eve is associated with a snake. Whereas Hawwa has its origins in the Arabic language, meaning “a lively woman & giver of life”
Eve is the first woman mentioned in the Bible. Here it was Adam who gave her the name Eve. Eve lived with Adam in the Garden of Eden during the time which Adam was described as having walked with God and Eve as understood for the ‘fall of man’. The pair were removed from the garden because Eve was encouraged by the serpent to eat the fruit from the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ of Good and Evil. A bad introduction for a ‘woman’. The first thought that would come to a layman’s mind would be ‘Eve as Evil (although in the Old Testament she is addressed as ‘Hava’ but “Eva” in the New Testament)
Islamically Hawwa is not blamed for enticing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, and nor is there a concept of original sin. As a matter of fact, the Quran indicates that Adam initiated the eating of the fruit but Allah simply blames both of them for the transgression as they both ate the fruit. The Quran never blamed Hawwa for the sin that they both (Adam and Hawwa) committed together and to condemn all the women in the world for a sin that Hawwa committed is against the basic teachings of the Quran.
“Then Satan whispered to him (Adam); he said, “O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate? And Adam and his wife ate of it, and their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred.” (Quran – 20:121-122)
Now that we have 2 introductions of the same first ‘Woman’, there is another issue to be resolved. Let analyze whether she is made from ‘a crooked rib bone’, and does that mean that she is ‘crooked’ and hence ‘lower’ in position. To understand this argument we firstly need to be remind ourselves the biological structure, that Adam did not have a womb and there was no woman – no womb (a place of rest) to receive it. Adam was the one emitting the sperm. Secondly how do we apply this to the formation of Hawwa? The ribs formed the part of Adam’s bone structure so by taking a rib from him, the All-Powerful Creator could then, “clothed (it) with flesh; then developed out of it another creature”.
“O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his zaowja (wife/mate), and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women” (Surah 4-:1).
It is evident from the above Qur’anic verse that a woman was created from a man, and definitely not by the natural process that women would give birth. Her creation is significant, and a 3 part phenomenon of human creation. First was the creation of Adam, a human being who was made out of nothing, using only water and earth; second the creation of a women (Hawwa) as explained above, and third, the creation of a man called Jesus / Isa (AS) – out of a women without the participation of a man. All three creations are on the same footing in being unique & evident reasons for faith in Allah. I have no clue from where a man got the arrogance to take a role of a ‘dictator’ rather than a companion. Can we for once ponder over the balance and dignity given to mankind by Allah; a Quran as a gift for those who can understand each others position and rights. It’s not as if she has to do all her rights and he is there to constantly remind her of them, while he is absolutely oblivious to his duties, rights & responsibilities. A woman is an ‘Amanah’(trust) given by Allah to parents, husbands and her care-takers. Keep it in mind that you are accountable for every little physical & mental abuse that you do her. Do not take it wrong; by no means is the Quran, the Prophet (SAW), the scholars or the learned or I as a layman saying that on the other hand women can transgress or become the authoritative bodies and do not take charge of their duties. The advice goes to both. It’s just that in most cases the woman and orphans are victimized and mistreated, the Quran and the hadiths of the Prophet(SAW) come as a warning for men who transgress. There are many verses in the Quran that directly advice men and women to live with mutual understanding.
Back to the topic of a ‘rib-created woman’. It should be interpreted positively using the Divine purpose behind Hawwa’s creation as the basis. Although, it is unfortunate, especially when you see Muslim men define woman in a negative tone. Those are the men who fail to comprehend the intensity of emotions and desires which is necessary for the proper discharge of a women’s duty as wives and mothers. This ability has been Divinely fixed by the Creator, thus making them “crooked” which means that due to her multiple tasking character she can get vulnerable at times. To straighten women involves trying to force them to go against their Divine given nature, “breaking” their nature by removing from it that which is the source of “benefit” to men and which makes women good wives and mothers – ceasing to be such can only mean divorce which will follow as a direct consequence.
Men who require such a negative interpretation of the word ‘crooked’ are evil and unjust. In fact in most cases have justified woman to cover up their evil by transgressing the laws of Allah and backing out from their duties and responsibilities.
“forgive and overlook and cover up their (women’s) faults” (Surah 64:14) and
“do not treat them with harshness… on the contrary, live with them on the footing of kindness and equity” (Surah 4:19).
I was hearing a lecture of Dr. Farhat Hashmi (Exemplary Woman), where she talks about the status and the multitasking nature of woman. She says, “Where does the milk come from? It’s a cow, although the cow functions like a factory; where yogurt, cream, milk etc are made from the same milk too. We get vegetables, fruits, flowers etc from soil but what does the soil require? A little water & nourishment”.
In the same way a woman is like a field or a property. You have to take care of her just in the same way you would take care of your property. Or else that property will not be able to give good crop and will lead to a famine or drought. Allah made so many comforts for us. We should be thankful. The reason Hawwa was created is to give support and companionship. The woman must not live with a man who cannot comfort her physically and mentally. I have witnessed cases where women who lived with such men, and as a consequence became psychologically sick. Man must see her as a trust and gift given by Allah and live like a companion and give her the status and rights. This action in itself will show his gratitude and gratefulness to Allah. It’s not a ‘talking shukr’; it’s a ‘action shukr’. They preach that woman can be a Fitna (test & trial) for a man and for sure there is no disagreement on it, but by no means those woman examples can be used to justify in pressurizing or changing a righteous woman from what she is by nature. All woman cannot be put in the same basket.
Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The world is provision and the best provision in the world is a righteous/pious woman.” (Sahih Muslim-1467)
I as a woman fail to understand men. Men who have been given such a gift from Allah as a mother, daughter, wife, aunts, grandmothers, treat them with so much of harshness and disrespect. Have you forgotten that along with your life, their lives are also a Amanah (trust) of Allah? This is just a reminder for such men as I am a people’s person, I interact and move around in different communities and what I am hearing is sad and a shame for me to even mention it.