, by ABUBAKER A
The position of women in society is misinterpreted, misunderstood and misplaced. Women in the world – ancient, medieval or modern are the integral part of family, which is the basic unit of social life, which in turn, makes a nation. The 21st century witnesses a different type of women from those in the past centuries. It is true that men having taken advantage of the guardianship of women exploited women and utilised them for enjoyment, against the natural philosophy that women are partners in human life. Islam has granted freedom to women. However, modern educational backwardness is partly due to the situation created by the British rule in which women were not (still not) secure or safe from sexual exploitations. Islam, with its provision of polygamy under certain situations, has guarded women to a certain extent. But, people are misusing the provisions for polygamy which is meant to protect widows and children from their sexual exploitation.
MAN AND WOMAN
It is foolishness of certain feminists to instigate women to imitate man. Women have their own natural personality which can be utilised even to acquire education and earn for their livelihood in case of inevitable situation. Restrictions made by religion are in the field of illegal mixing of male and female. Man and woman are equal in many respects. Yet, as is said by Havelock Ellis, a famous scientist, “A man is a male right to his finger tips and a woman is a female right to her toe tips.” Man and woman, obviously, are different and distinct. So, are they forming even psychological equality that certain qualities are termed feminine or masculine, just as in voice?
Man and woman differ physically and biologically. He has a deep, bass voice and she has a softer voice with a higher pitch. But what is more marked is their respective individual behaviour patterns. Generally, a man is the determined, stern, calculating ‘machine’. He rarely allows his emotion to tamper with his plans. For example, as father, if he decides to impart a serious, but deserved punishment on his child – no amount of crying can move him from carrying out his punishment. Consider the woman, impulsive and compassionate, she is easily moved in cases as stated in the above example. It is often said that it is the heart that guides a woman than the head. She is affectionate, delicate and tender-hearted. He is grave, stern and protective. Very often, it is speculated that it is the rearing up that inculcates such attitudes in children.
God created man and woman, and He pronounced the laws to protect those who should be protected, for He is Just and Merciful. Nothing illogical can be seen in the Divine law, and if one could discover something anti-feminine it is just for the safety of women themselves.
God says in the Qur’ān: “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable”(2:228).
WOMEN IN WESTERN WORLD
Most of us harbour the wrong notion that in western countries women are very ‘free’ and they have equal status with men. Contrary to this, only the socially upper class women enjoy the benefit of ‘equality’ in limited fields. On grounds of racial discrimination, white women never argue for black women.
Richard Listen, in The bitter realties of being Black in Britain, says: “I had just turned the corner into my road and was altered by a raucous noise from an approaching car full of youths. It showed and I turned, to be greeted with a threatening, chorus of ‘nigger, come here’” (nigger – a term used for Blacks). After narrating his own experience, he further writes: “Discrimination takes many forms. A former girlfriend has a friend who was turned down for a job and told in confidence after the interview – presumably by someone who cared enough to pass on the information – that despite being the best person for the post she was refused employment because of her ethnicity. The black woman who runs Isis cosmetics told me of distributors who would discourage certain department stores and chain stores from stocking cosmetic products for black people because of a fear of increased shoplifting. That fear and uncertainty manifests itself in other areas. It has been my experience that some whites are positively uncomfortable with blacks, regardless of whether they are unemployed or in the fast lane of success.” (Guardian weekly, July 8, 1990)
ROLE OF FEMINISTS
The position of women in the western world is entirely different from the rest of the world, especially the Muslim world. Once completely slavish to men and at present generally licentious western women are not models to be imitated by religious women in the Eastern world. Christianity imposed them with slavery and second position. That was why many feminist books were published with titles like ‘Second Sex’. Feminists have worsened the position of women by motivating them for wrong ‘natural’ behaviour.
WOMEN AND HOME MANAGEMENT
In fact, the dignity of a family rests on the behaviour and knowledge of womenfolk in the house. Apart from safeguarding her chastity, women have to manage their family with much care. She has to work not only in the kitchen but to coordinate the working pattern of all members of the family. She has to work out income-expenditure formula for her family. The food and medicine for her children is prescribed first by a mother. She knows the needs of her earning/working husband. The whole needs of a family are equally shared on the basis of division of labour by husband and wife. In the modern context, a woman has a risky job in bringing up her children.
Hawah was created from Adam as a companion to man. The Creator has created everything in pairs and so are human beings. Male and female together make ‘man’ and from this man all human beings evolved. With the passing of time many deviations occurred due to selfishness and disobedience of people who multiplied. Many groups came into existence, and many philosophies evolved. Ruth Morris (1964), a famous sociologist who modified anomie theory, strongly suggests marriage as a solution to many social problems. She writes: “Success for women means getting married and having children. Since such goals are easy to achieve women suffer less frustration and hence commit less crime. (Quoted by Sylvia M Hale in Controversies in Sociology, p. 195, 1990, Canada).
A Muslim husband should always behave kindly and respectfully to his wife. He should look after her financial needs as well. If he is wealthy enough, it is his responsibility to engage a servant for looking after her comforts and the household chores. Some scholars are of the opinion that if he is quite wealthy, he should engage more than one servant to do the household chores and to look after her comfort.
In fact, Abu Hanifa declares in Hidaya that if the husband himself were to help her in her chores and look after her comforts he need not engage a servant at all. It is clear that a Muslim woman is not expected to smoke her life away behind blackened cooking pots – yet, one of the best aspects of marriage is the necessary sacrifices and adjustments that each spouse undergoes for the sake of the general comfort of the family. The Muslim woman often returns to the kitchen to cook food or create the homely atmosphere which only she can do properly, knowing her family’s tastes and dislikes. Though Aisha had a maid to wait upon her, it was she who undertook the cooking and cleaning voluntarily because she opposed the idea of leaving her loved ones in the family at the mercy of the maid. Islam, meanwhile, tries to protect her from being victims to anyone.
In Islam, a mother is not only a woman or a lady who gives birth to a child. Mother has certain qualities apart from giving birth to a child. Motherhood is an important turning point in a woman’s life. Islam respects motherhood. Islam teaches that one’s Paradise lies beneath the foot of one’s mother. The mother so highly praised, is the loving, ever-forgiving, supporting dearest of dears. She is patient and forbearing, affectionate and the first real school in her child’s life. She shapes and moulds as her child grows towards perfection. The high moral standard that Islam expects of a mother implies its actual respect to womanhood. A woman does not suddenly acquire those qualifications someday when she attains motherhood. There qualities are inherent in her. It expects woman to be capable of purity and spiritual depth and expense. How much, in stark contrast from other religions, does Islam uphold her?
Feminists say history has not given deserving importance to the work of women. They often speak about their part in childrearing, family development, economic growth, national struggles, struggles for independence. In other words, women’s role in social, political, cultural, economical and educational fields is not duly recognised. It is totally a misconception, for all the achievements of man are basically supported by women. A male child grows completely and achieves everything due to the support and help from his mother. Love and nursing of the mother is more important than the kind of food the child consumes.
Renowned Islamic scholar Syed Jalaluddin Umari remarks: “Islam assigns the highest rank, after Almighty Allah and His Prophet, to mother.” The Holy Qur’ān states: “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents.”
(to be continued)