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The Problem: Women have been working for their liberation for quite some time now. And considering what their objectives are, I think they’ve been pretty successful. Women have carved a successful niche for themselves in daily news – no newspaper today is complete without reports of female foeticide, forced abortions, bride burning, dowry harassment, molestation and rape. Women are everywhere today – driving cabs and trucks, working at petrol pumps, in mines, on patrol duty, even working as bodyguards (for men!) – they are everywhere, except where they ought to be. The societal structure of most modern nations today has been successfully demolished because woman, the axis of a complete family, now doesn’t want to have a family at all.
Women today are involved in a mad race, which to me appears a blind desperation to prove yourself someone you are not, and can never be – not even if you change your entire genetic/ physiological makeup. I pity these sisters of mine who are forced into obsession with ideas of ‘equality with men’, ‘strength’, ‘immunity’ and ‘invulnerability’.
Underlying all the injustices against womankind, I see one root cause: the world is unable to respect woman as she naturally is. It is precisely this ‘naturalness’ that the world has always loathed, and by pushing her into unnatural situations, consistently made her unhappy, emotionally tormented, and as confused as a lost child. The media is constantly adding to this pressure, by glorifying the ‘imitation men’ who are a dismissible number in the world of women.
The question is: how can someone, who was born in a desert over 14 centuries ago, understand the complicated situation of women in today’s society – far less offer a solution? Surprise – Allah’s last Messenger to mankind didn’t just have a solution – he had the solution. May Allah bless and greet him.
Fourteen hundred years ago, when great civilizations were still debating if women had a soul or not, Islam bestowed on women innumerable birthrights, which have remained unequalled throughout history in their appropriacy and wisdom.
As a Muslim woman, my most basic right is the knowledge that I never have to ask or demand or fight for my rights which are guaranteed by Allah Himself.
In every other creed, in every other social system that has ever governed earth, women have always been ridiculed and abused because of their feminity. It is only Islam that accords respect to woman in all of her natural roles – she is glorified foremost as a mother, as a wife, she is respected; as a sister, she is cared for, and as a daughter, she is cherished.
Here we present to you a few snapshots from the life of the greatest personality in all history, with respect to his treatment and respect for women. Who said, “Women are the twin halves of men.”
Muhammad (may Allah bless and greet him) presented a vivid picture of peace and true happiness in his family life, which goes to show that he didn’t just preach or sermonise; he practised what he said. When he said, “Paradise lies at the feet of the mother,” he would spread out his cloak for his foster mother to sit on, whenever she visited him. He forbade his companions to go on military expeditions if they had an ailing mother to look after. And our modern day attitude is: old age homes.
Previous civilizations considered woman an ‘instrument of the devil’. The Qur’an refers to woman as ‘Mohsana’, a ‘fortress against the devil’. Because when a woman marries a man, she is helping him to safeguard his iman.
The Prophet (may Allah bless and greet him) also said: “The most perfect of the believers are those that are best in character and behaviour, and those that are best to their family and their wives.” Listen men of the world – when his wives argued with him or answered him back, he would listen to them patiently instead of ‘showing them their place’! He had time to talk to and laugh with them, he consulted them even in political matters; and took care of their education so that Aishah and Safiyah turned into renowned scholars who taught other scholars! And how do we show our wives what they are worth? By practising wife-swapping.
Forty-six million abortions take place worldwide every year, the bigger chunk being exclusive female foeticide. The Qur’an states that both boys and girls are an equal blessing from God: “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whom He wills and bestows male children to whom He wills” (42:49).
Muhammad (may Allah bless and greet him) said, “Anyone who brings up two daughters properly and takes good care and brings them up with love and affection, will enter Paradise.” He was so particular about treating children equally that once he reprimanded a man who kissed his son but not his daughter, both of whom were sitting with him.
He was himself such a model of perfect love and affection, that images from his life have the power to overwhelm you. His daughter Fatimah was so dear to him that whenever she visited him, he – the leader of an empire – would get up with a smile to receive her, kiss her forehead, and seat her in his place. Allahu Akbar!
Contrast this with the people whom the Qur’an describes so graphically: “When the news of the birth of a daughter is conveyed to one of them, his face grows dark with fury; and he hides himself from the people because of the evil of that which is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it in the dust? Surely evil is the choice they decide on.”
Foeticide is a heinous crime in Islam; and female infanticide, doubly so. Allah’s wrath upon those who eliminate their baby daughters is sketched so forcefully in the Qur’anic verse: “(The day) when the female child will be asked, what crime was she (punished) killed for?...”
If the world heeded Muhammad’s warning of the Day of Judgement, the disastrous imbalance of the male/female ratio would be solved in an instant.
The Messenger (may Allah bless and greet him) commanded us to protect our eyes from wandering and gazing upon sights that doom our morality and arouse the baser instincts. Imagine if all of humankind took up just this one little action, it will be enough to ensure a society free from evils and crimes targeting women.
As the world gears up to ensure women’s safety, we call upon the men (and women too!) to just lower their gaze instead of “involving men in efforts to eliminate violence against women”, raising slogans of “increasing awarnesses”, “protecting, advocating and defending women’s rights”...!
In Islam, we don’t need to talk about empowerment. Women are already empowered; we just need to wake up to the limitless opportunities and start implementing the position of respect that has already been conferred on us by our Creator. But this implementation requires some background work which women themselves must do. Women need to realize their true worth: we can change the world by shaping the minds of the future which is born and nurtured in our arms. But we need to realize first that we hold such power in our hands; and then that, as is true of all real power, this task requires hard, unacknowledged years of toil.
Each time humanity has left the natural course of life, it has suffered devastating results. When sodomy became widespread, the world was hit by a disease that is so surprisingly universal in its appearance, causes and fatality that it can serve as an Aayah (Sign) of the Almighty. AIDS – unpreventable, incurable. Isn’t the message clear? You went horribly wrong somewhere; you need to backtrack immediately. With pollutions and emissions spiralling out of control, global warming has already caused some hair-raising climatic changes. Snowstorms in deserts? Britain under water in the next 50 years? You crossed the threshold; step back before it is too late!
The world must wake up to the single biggest truth that the Messenger to mankind, Muhammad (may Allah bless and greet him) presented to us:
The universe is running along the lines of a pre-determined natural system. Human beings are just one tiny bit, one miniscule part of this gigantic machinery. If a bit tries to go against the grinding march of the entire machinery, it instantly gets crushed. It is best for the bit to work in tandem with the rest of the system, to ensure its survival and well being. This is called submission. We call this Islam.