ZAHID JAMIL addresses many issues confronting women and provides solution to them in the light of Islamic teachings.
Many Muslim sisters living in western countries are deeply disturbed and show much concern about the atrocities on women in many parts of the Muslim world. It should certainly be a concern of all right minded Muslims, men or women. However, some sisters tend to blame such practices on Islam, which is certainly not true. Islam has only liberated woman from ancient evil practices and has given woman the respect, the honour and the love which woman rightfully deserves.
It is certainly very disturbing that many tribal practices in Muslim societies are somehow attributed to their faith while in reality such practices are totally against the teachings of Islam. Honour killings in many Muslim societies around the world need to be confronted by force and if any local Mullahs somehow justify it, action should be taken against them. The perpetrators of heinous crimes such as rape and honour killing should be brought to justice, and the men and not the women should face Shari’ah pronouncement. It is heartening to note that voices are being raised and heard on this front. However, I am little disappointed as such voices are being raised by modern women liberation movements and not the Islamic movements.
I tend to disagree with modern women liberation movements on many fronts, as they in an attempt to try to be the champion of equality and human rights, have created social imbalance. They demand equality in physical sense ignoring that nature has made us all different. Woman is different to man physically and emotionally. The two cannot be made equal in what they may or may not do or achieve. Women have to bear children, which men cannot do. They are made by nature to better serve in their roles rather than trying to do what basically men should be doing. Achieving the right balance is more important than achieving physical equality for social peace.
While education is equally important for both sexes, care must be taken in the roles given to women at workforce and it should not only match their physical and emotional needs but also the work environment should ensure their protection. Not only eve teasing or any form of harassment be not allowed, the problems related to free association of men and women should be addressed. High rate of divorce in western countries can be greatly attributed to men and women having extra marital affairs with their work colleagues. Such a phenomenon is unavoidable in modern work environment, given the inherent human weaknesses.
We need to reassess if family peace should be sacrificed in the name of modernity and equality. Also, working women in western countries, in an attempt to enhance their work careers, opt not to have children at all or delay it till late thirties, which is resulting in rapid fall in birth rates and threatening the maintenance of population levels. Obviously, the modern trends promoted by women liberation activists have raised serious problems in societies, which cannot be ignored.
I also wish to question these campaigners of women lib in Muslim countries, that while they take their campaign of harassment of women in Muslim societies to international platforms, they do not seem to seek attention towards the plight of millions of women around the third world countries in petty brothels where young girls are brought in by purchasing them off their poor parents and then exploited miserably.
Islam preaches moderation, as humans tend to fall to extremes all the time. In the name of protecting women, regimes such as Taliban sought refuge in Islam by wrong interpretation of the Qur’n and hadith and deprived women of the basic freedom while they, in reality, wanted to carry on with their medieval tribal traditions. In the name of modernity, the current movements are destroying the family peace and social structure. We again need to find the right balance and Islam, if followed properly, provides an answer.
Let us follow the Prophet’s traditions. He sought employment with a businesswoman and worked as her subordinate. Even after marrying her, she continued to be his boss in business. After being declared prophet of Islam at the age of forty, he did not order her to limit to the four walls of his house. She became a perfect companion in spreading his message. The scholarly attributes of Prophet’s last wife Ayesha were such that not only ordinary but also scholarly men came to her to seek advice and clarifications in the matters of faith, knowledge and wisdom. Prophet’s daughter Fatima was a great example of human perfection. If such were the credentials of the women in prophet’s household, how can Islam be described as an ideology, which oppresses women and deprives her from attaining education and work? Women, in the hour of need, even accompanied men to war. However by disallowing unnecessary bodily exposure and promoting moral values, Islam secured their honour and protection.
In many western countries a campaign is being run against the wearing of hijab by Muslim women as it is considered against western values. Couple of brothels in a corner of each and every western suburb where young girls sell their bodies to hungry men is totally acceptable to these campaigners of western values. Such acts are not hidden but are openly advertised in local community newspapers. Certainly, those who formulated such values seriously lack human intellect.
Coming back to Islam, if it was an ideology as is presented by the moulvis of past couple of centuries and movements such as Taleban, it would not have spread like wild fire and then ruled the world for several centuries. So, let us read the Qur’n and understand Islam, let us use our own intellect to free ourselves from the dogmas and conservatism of medieval traditions and also free ourselves from the obsessions of modernity. Let us seek guidance from Allah. Let the Muslim woman be a great friend of her Lord and the Holy Prophet, a great mother, a great wife, a great worker, a great business person who is most proud of being a woman, a great companion of man, recognising her role and drawing maximum satisfaction from her life.
Let us also forget and reject those so-called Islamic movements that have so often promoted non-Islamic conservative dogmas and superstitions. Let us do the right thing. We, Muslim women and men, old and young start using our own intellect, read the Qur’n, consult each other for clarification and follow the right path (sirat-e- mustaqeem). We, Muslims, better educated or not so educated, living in western countries or those living in Muslim or non-Muslim Asian/African countries, can bring that change which our future generations will be proud of. Then, we will not look to the modernity of west but they will look to us, their Muslim neighbours, the Muslim community and the Muslim nations and they will try to follow us as we would achieve so much more on all fronts, InshaAllah.
[The writer is based in Sydney, Australia and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]