Reviewed By KAMRAN SHAHID ANSARI
MUSLIM WOMAN MYTH AND REALITY
D-307 Dawat Nagar, AbulFazl Enclave, Jamia Nagar, Okhla, New Delhi - 110025
Reviewed By KAMRAN SHAHID ANSARI
False propaganda, anti-Islam campaigns, misunderstandings and misconceptions have made the innocuous piece of cloth worn, by women as a part of their faith, as a symbol of oppression, enslavement, inequality and gender biasness. There have been massive campaigns all across the globe, not just at local level but at state or national level to ban the burqa in the name of equality and freedom. It is quite ludicrous of the countries which themselves are reeling under debt, economic crisis and other challenging issues, sidelining the main problems and focusing their attention just on burqa which is worn by only a handful of women in their respective countries.
The masses are also being indoctrinated in such a manner that they also begin to develop a feeling that somewhere it is only the burqa which is hindering their progress and responsible for tearing the social and cultural fabric of the countries. Besides veil, a plethora of other issues are also projected by the media which makes people believe that Muslim women have no rights at all, they have no political rights, civil rights, legal rights, etc.
It is high time that these wrong notions or myths regarding Muslim women that are being propagated should be dispelled and a clear, just and pristine picture and position of a Muslim woman, which has been given by Islam, be presented before the world.
Muslim Woman Myth and Reality by Ms. Maijabeen Choudhary is one such attempt which aims at lifting up the veil of misconception that has enveloped Muslim women. It argues that it is a veil of prejudice which obstructs the vision and hinders the correct perception of Muslim women. The book, although consisting of 32 pages only, deals lucidly and eloquently with many facets of this prejudice and presents a correct Islamic view of women.
The first part of the book drives the discussion towards the inability of a man in comprehending all the spheres of his life as he is facing the power that is beyond his control. The corollary of which is to accept and submit to the all-powerful and follow His guidelines without questioning.
The institution of family is the basic unit which forms the whole nation and if the basic unit is intact and free from any corruption the whole nation will remain un-corrupt. The book quotes Fulton Sheen, who says, “Family is the barometer of the nation. What happens in the family will happen later in the Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. Every country gets the kind of Government it deserves. As we live in the house, so shall the nation live….”
The book further talks about the insensitive and utterly obnoxious ways in which the women were seen in the days before the advent of Islam. Excerpt:
“Romans enjoyed ‘Flora,’ a popular sport in which naked women competed in running contests. Chinese scriptures call women ‘waters of woe’ that wash away all good fortune. Buddhism ruled out Nirvana in the company of women while Judaism placed women under eternal divine curse – of the woman came the beginning of sin and through her we all die. Christianity too dubs her as unclean thing.”
It was Islam which gave women their just rights and gave them direct access to the divine and set no limits to her moral progress. Islam recognises and acknowledges the difference between man and woman and hence grants them equal but not identical rights. In other words, we can say Islam believes in equity and not in equality and puts the burden of responsibility on woman by acknowledging her individual personality. Excerpt:
“It (Islam) does not seek to make a ‘he-woman’ or ‘she-man’ of her. Shouldn’t this be hailed as a victory for womanhood? If women’s rights take off from this proposition, a lot of ‘feminist frustration’ can be avoided.”
Islam endows woman with many other rights which were something alien to the prevalent society at that time. It talks about civil rights; it gives immense respect and reverence to mother in comparison to father, it brings with it the notion that before charging a woman for adultery one must produce four witnesses, or else those who had levelled the charge would be liable for punishment.
For the first time in the world it was Islam which gave woman political rights. Excerpt:
“What America could achieve only in 1920, was provided voluntarily by Islam 14 centuries ago. The Holy Qur’ān (60:12) directs the Prophet to accept the oath of the believing women when they come to swear allegiance i.e. they were given the right to select their leader and publicly declare so.”
Another right that the book deals with is the economic rights of women. It makes a statement that Islam gives a unique right to women which is “right not to earn,” as it is incumbent upon her husband to provide full financial support for her. Excerpt:
“A career woman is doubly burdened…Insensitive to her delicate sensibilities, she is expected to ‘Look like a woman, behave like a lady, think like a man and work like a dog’ (Times of India 2-8-1993)”
The book is a good read for all as it includes interesting statistics and important discussions in a nutshell. The book touches almost all the issues and projects a strong and sensible discussion.
However the book is full of mistakes. There are plenty of proof-mistakes. The book needs to be thoroughly edited and released afresh.