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Cry of Muslim Women

The sexism in our society is a problem that many of us recognise and despise. The sexism in our society is a problem that many of us recognise and despise. Unfortunately, it also seems that our male 'elite' do not agree with the scientific facts in front of them that show them men and women are equal ---- and more importantly, the facts stated in the Quran.

We have two major types in our Ummah that have these feelings; firstly, the woman who realises that her innate nature is not of one of submission to her husband, regardless of what her husband may say, and secondly, the man who is intelligent enough to realise the same.

I share completely in the feelings in our brother Bilal; too many women in our Ummah have been subjected to severe abuse due to the 'elitist' attitude of many male Muslims. The Quran began a 'revolution' in which women were given rights by Islam and unfortunately, many of even those rights have been disregarded by male Muslims, due to their own egos and desire to run the world. They should recognise that God alone is the Master, and they have only married their wives in His permission.

We have to stop thinking that any rights due to women have to be 'given' by men. It is completely self-defeating; the woman is only taking back what is rightfully her's. The man is at fault, and the return of the woman's rights should never be construed as one of pity but more of shameful guilt on the man's part.

I will take this opportunity to answer the points raised by Brother Bilal, and God willing, this will add to the drive in our Ummah to give back to to women what is rightfully theirs. Let the men know; they are NOT superior to the women; they are EQUAL.

"-Why is that they should not demand their rights that they are being denied BY MUSLIM MEN ALL OVER THE WORLD!!"

Because many Muslim men are afraid that they will lose their place as the dominant sex. But lose it they will, for the spirit of the woman is just as strong as that of men, and in many instances, stronger.

"Why are they told to "sit at home and pray"??!!!"

I speculate that VERY few Muslim men say this out of love for their wives, fearful of what may happen to them when they step out into the street. But women are not children. And far often than not, this attitude takes place upon those men who believe that women are inferior to them.

"Did not the Prophet say in his last sermon "Do not oppress and do not be oppressed"?? But of course, this only applies to men?"

The brother has a very good point. Remember this well, male members of our Ummah; who knows, maybe the Muslim women of our nation will rise up in a world-wide revolution and demand that the men back off!

"The great muslim men who beat their wives"

Against Muslim law. The prophet personally rejected any corporal punishment on any his wives, and told the Muslims that the best among them were the ones who were best with their wives. Some ignorant Muslims have taken it upon them to interpret verse 4:34 as a weapon to attack their wives; but any learned Muslim will know that this does not permit wife beating (which is actually a great crime). Some people are of the view that this refers to a symbolic flick of a towel, or fan or any other similar instrument that does not leave any physical harm at all but serves as a sign that the marriage is in grave danger. Others hold this refers to crimes that a woman may do (drinking herself into a stupor, etc) and affirm that similar punishments are applicable to men. Still, such a punishment would not involve any physical anguish.

There are several authentic traditions that clearly forbid the beating of wives; this one is the most blatant:

"Never beat God's handmaidens."

The prophet stipulated in his farewell pilgrimage, as scholars such as Muhammed Asad are quick to point out, that the 'beating' if resorted to at all should not be more than symbolic, and even then only when the wife has been exceedingly blatant in immoral actions.

Should the man be guilty of similar actions, punishment should also take

"force their daughters into marriage"

THIS IS AGAINST ISLAM. The story of the girl who was forced into a marriage is well known to the people of Islam. She went to the prophet and complained. The prophet said,

"Very well; since you were forced into this marriage, you are free to annul it."

"don't take care of their kids"

Again, the duty of raising their children is an essential part of man's life. The responsibility does NOT lie on the woman alone; the father has a duty to participate. If he doesn't, however, it is his own loss; he will be the loser, as he will realise when he is old and grey and realises that he has missed out on his children's childhood.

"do not lend a hand in house work?"

These people follow the prophet? Do they forget that he always helped in the household chores?

""Oh, but you see, the men who do these things are not muslims at all!" What a nice response. But what should the women do in these situations?"

It is unfortunately a dilema. Of course, the men should not act in this way, but if the women do not come forth, how are the authorities supposed to react? However, real pressure should be applied upon the authorities to listen to the women and the religious learned people should demand from their male followers that they follow Islam in these regards.

Sister 'philosophia' brings up the question of polygamy. Let us remember that polygamy, contrary to many Muslim and non-Muslim opinions, is not the norm, but rather the exception, and that monogamy encouraged, not discouraged.

She also brings up the issue of feminism. Personally, I have gleaned much more about Islam by reading 'feminist' Muslim writings, and 'Western' Muslim writings. Because they have found the courage (and believe me, it is courage, not blasphemy in spite of what many may think) to break free of cultural restraints, and have delved into understanding the religion of Islam, rather than simply adhere to the letter of the law.

'Feminism' is a fundamental part of Islam; it was when the last prophet started to preach his message, and it still should be today. I am sure that the early Muslims also had these 'problems' with Muslim 'feminists'. They at least had an excuse and a remedy; the excuse was that they were living in the era just after the time of ignorance, and they had the prophet to enlighten them. We, on the other hand, have no such excuse, since it is almost universally recognised that man and woman are equal, and we do not have the same remedy; the prophet is not among us to guide us.

All we have are the Quran and the hadiths, from which we should be able to identify many concrete principles of equality. And of course, we have our own human heart. Brother Bilal is understandably upset at these developments in the 'Muslim' world. I recall reading an incident during the Bosnian war when a woman on the front line was ordered by a foreign Arab man to get off the battle field. She shot him in the foot.

I do not know about you, but I personally chuckled approvingly at that. I'm not saying that all Muslim women should shoot their husbands in the foot (although, in some cases, this would be better than worse!), but men should get rid of their mentality that they are superior to women, seizing upon short-sighted interpretations into a tiny number of verses in the Quran. Let them take the Quran as a whole, and recognise, regardless of their tendencies, that women are completely equal to them.

However, I have to disagree with one point that the honourable sister made: she said that we had passed through the Islamic Golden Age. I believe that we have yet to come that far.

The best, insha'allah, is still coming.


Peace be unto you all

Hisham Zoubeir

20 March 1998.

[Currently, he is at the University of Sheffield undertaking a multi-disciplinary degree in law. He has lived in Abu Dhabi, Cairo and London. His main interests delves into peace, equality, righteousness and spirituality.]

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