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The Status of Women

By

Issa Ahmad Khalid
(A new convert from Italy)

 

 

THE STATUS OF WOMEN

 

The topic I would like to address in this discourse, Insha’Allah(God Willing), is that of women and their status all through history. As a Muslim, my reason for bringing up this subject is in order to shed some light on the negative publicity Islam has received and the false statements of the media as portraying Muslim women as oppressed. The media paint the Muslim women as being oppressed and under suppression by the Muslim male. Now, before I go any further, I would be an ignorant hypocrite if I failed to mention that in some parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan as well as Arab countries, women are treated as second class citizens, not being able to go out in public as well as have the opportunity to do menial tasks like driving a care, however this is a cultural issue and not an Islamic issue. Islam should not be blamed for the cultural opinion of a certain race of people in regards to their treatment of women. If this were the case, we could blame other religions like Christianity, for example, for the mistreatment of women in western countries. Mistreatments such as spouse abuse, neglect, infidelity, etc…I wish to prove that this is not a teaching of the religion of Islam. In Islam, women have equal rights to that of men and have played a vital role throughout Islamic history. Women have the right to own property, the right to marry and initiate a divorce, the right to a personal identity, etc…Allah(swt) has made Himself clear in The Holy Qur’an on the subject of women;

 

"...I will not suffer the work of any worker from among you to be lost whether male or female, the one of you being from the other."  Surah Al-Imran:195

 

"O you who believe, it is not lawful for you to take women as heritage against their will. Nor should you straiten them…."   Surah Al-Nisa:19

 

These are just two examples of many. There are also many beautiful Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad(saas) in regards to women, especially of mothers;

 

“…the world lies at the feet of mothers.”  Prophet Muhammad(saas)

 

“O’ ye men. Fear Allah and treat your women with kindness.”  Prophet Muhammad(saas)

 

Also, in the farewell pilgrimage of Prophet Muhammad(saas), during his farewell speech, he implored men to be good and kind to their women and to deal with them justly. Where else would one find a religious book which dedicates an entire Surah (chapter) to the subject of Al-Nisa (women) in the most respectful terms other than Islam? The answer is nowhere.

 

One of the tools used by the western media in portraying Muslim women as being under subjugation by their male counterparts is the “HIJAB”. What these ignorant minded media moguls fail to realize is that these Muslim women choose to wear the Hijab, with no compulsion. That is the True Islam. Today, we have Muslim sisters in France fighting for the right to wear the Hijab in the face of that government’s law that bans them. It is noteworthy to mention that while France claims its reasons to ban head wear stems from its claim to be a country void of religious affiliation, it proved just how Catholic it was after the death of Pope John Paul 2, where flags where flown at half mast, Catholic churches becoming the centre of attention and all in the government and media referred to the Pope as “His Holiness”. Hypocritical indeed. As for the Muslim sisters fight for the right to wear Hijab, does that not account for anything in the eyes of the western media? Obviously not.

 

In Ontario, Canada, a Muslim sister was expelled from her college because she refused to remove her Hijab. Does this sound like someone who is being forced to wear something that she does not want to wear? It most certainly does not. Up until the advent of Prophet Muhammad(saas), women were considered of no value. The act of infanticide against female babies was practiced in abundance in the time of Prophet Muhammad(saas) and it is an evil that is still practiced in some parts of the world even today. Now, the biggest critics you will find, in regards to the treatment of women in Islam, are the Christian Evangelists. It is for this reason that I will draw a comparison between Islam and Christianity as far as the status of women is concerned, with a slight mention of Judaism. Now please keep in mind that my comparison is drawn from the opinion of the established Christian church and not necessarily the Christian individual, although sadly, this teaching and opinion seems prevalent in the thoughts of most of the Christian lay people, at no fault of their own. We can only hope and pray that Insha’Allah(God Willing), our Christian brothers and sisters will open their minds and hearts and see the truth for what it is. Perhaps the greatest display of mockery on the part of the Christian church towards Islam is polygamy. Christian Evangelists never cease their ridicule of Islam because of their misinterpretation of the following Ayah (verse) found in The Holy Qur’an;

 

"…marry such women as seem good to you, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you will not do justice, then marry only one…"  Surah Al-Nisa:3

 

This Ayah (verse) was Revealed to Prophet Muhammad(saas) after the battle of Uhud, were many Muslim men were killed. Because of this, many women and children were left without husbands and fathers. Prophet Muhammad(saas) and his companions(ra) took to marrying these women in order to take care of them legally in the Eyes of Almighty God. They became husbands to the widows and fathers to the fatherless. Allah(swt) makes it clear, however, that if a man cannot deal justly with more then one wife, then he should marry only one. Nowhere in any religious book is the command given to marry only one wife. Even the Bible condones polygamous marriages;

 

i)                    Abraham(as) had three wives. Sarah(ra), Hagar(ra) and Keturah(ra).

ii)                  Solomon(as) had 700 wives and 300 concubines as found in 1 Kings 11:3

 

These are just two examples from the Bible. Considering the plight of the world today, where the population of women exceeds that of the men, would a polygamous marriage be so wrong if a man can afford to take care of more than one wife? If the city you lived in had a population of 1 million more women than men and you take into consideration how many of those men are sodomites (gays), then you are left with a surplus of women who are unable to find husbands. Does Christianity or the Bible have an answer to this problem? The answer is no. Also take into consideration the infidelity of today’s husbands and wives. The Christian church can accuse the Muslim of polygamy, but the Muslim can accuse the non-Muslim of “Adultery” in return. If a Muslim does indeed have more than one wife, it is still considered a legal marriage in accordance with Islamic Shari’ah. So, what the Muslim calls a marriage, the non-Muslim calls an “Extra-Marital Affair”. What the Muslim calls a wife, the non-Muslim calls a “Mistress”. So, on the issue of polygamy, the Christian Church is not one to throw stones. On that note; Islam, unlike Christianity, does not hold women responsible for the so-called “Fall of Man” as is related in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Genesis 3: 1-24. Islam does not shift the blame, meaning every individual is responsible for their own actions be it male or female. I will not dwell on that point, however, as that is not the topic I am dealing with. Needless to say, Islam, unlike Christianity, does not blame women for the sins of man. In Islam women have rights equal to that of men. This goes back over 1400 years and was indeed unprecedented and unheard of during the time of Prophet Muhammad(saas) as well as up to modern times. It was only in the past century that women were given the right to vote in North America, a right that Muslim women have enjoyed for over 14 centuries. In Canada alone, prior to 1929, women were not even considered persons and had no rights, nor where they given the right to vote. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, whose influence on western culture is still adhered to up to the present day, once stated;

 

“Women are not to be considered full humans”. 

 

This opinion of women, as stated by Aristotle, is also the opinion of Christianity and the western mentality. Up until the 1800’s, in the Christian church, women were considered to be without souls and had no rights of inheritance. They were given no respect as is proven in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 of the New Testament of the Bible;

 

“….for it is a shame for women to speak in church…”

 

As I stated above, it is no secret that Christianity blames women for the so-called “Fall of Man”, for the so-called “Original Sin”. Christianity believes that it is the woman’s fault as to why she gives birth in great pain. This has been the teaching of the Christian Church, regardless of denomination, for over 2000 years and many fundamentalist Christians still adhere to this belief to this very day. This is not the teaching or belief of Islam. The Catechism of the Catholic Church consider divorced women to have destroyed their covenant of salvation and that her children will become scourges on society. Personally speaking, coming from a broken home (divorced parents) growing up, I take offence to this. I take offence on behalf of my mother and other divorced women as well as their children. I recall watching the Pope of the Catholic Church on television, during his Christmas sermon of 2003 from Rome; state that, “…divorced women cannot partake of the communion…”. In the Catholic Church, the communion is considered the most important part of the faith and liturgy, and yet divorced women were disqualified from partaking in this ceremony. How disrespectful is that? Divorced women are condemned by their own church, the church that they support. In The Holy Qur’an, Allah(swt) has made Himself very clear in regards to divorced women;

 

"And for the divorced women, provision must be made in kindness. This is incumbent on those who have regard for duty."    Surah Al-Baqarah: 241

 

Unfortunately for Christians, they prefer to take the words of man over that of Almighty God. Let us now ponder over the words of “wisdom?” of Christian leaders over the centuries;

 

i)                    Voltaire and Rousseau stated that women are not like men and are not up to the capacity of men.

ii)                  Tertullian stated that women are the devil’s gateway and the “decenter?” of the divine law.

iii)               St. Thomas Aquinas, whose influence on western society is still visible to this very day, stated that women are a trap of Satan and went even further in describing them as “Defective” and “Misbegotten”.

 

These teachings are nowhere to be found in Islam. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunn’ah of Prophet Muhammad(saas) are completely void of such vile and vulgar statements and beliefs in regards to women. Curiously, the words “Vile” and “Vulgar” are the same words that Rev. Franklin Graham, a noted Islamaphobe, used in describing Islam. Perhaps Mr. Graham should ponder over the teachings of his own religion before condemning another.

 

Judaism is much the same as Christianity in regards to their opinion of women. In the book of Deuteronomy 25:11 of the Bible, a lesson is related that if a man fights with another man and one of the man’s wife assists him when things are not going well for him in that fight, then her (the wife’s) hand should be “Cut Off”. Obviously, gratitude is not a fundamental belief in Judaism and Christianity, according to their book that is. In Islam, the women have always fought alongside their men and have been encouraged to do so. There is an Orthodox Jewish Prayer which every Jewish male recites that goes as such;

 

“Blessed be God, King of the Universe that Thou has not made me a woman.”

 

In light of this, it is hard pressed in understanding how Christianity and the west (non-Muslims) can accuse Islam of what they themselves are guilty of. This has been going on for centuries, for example, the Christian church claims that Islam was spread by the sword, however, there is no historical evidence to support this other than the evidence that they themselves fabricate. History does show, however, that it was the Christian church that was the guilty party of spreading their religion by the sword. Case in point, the “Crusades” as well as the “Inquisition”. However, that is off topic and will be discussed at another time. For now, we will only stick to the topic of women.

 

In Islam, women are not considered a “Liability”; rather, they are considered an “Asset”. Muslim women have enjoyed all the rights that western women are just coming to know and realize. The western world is playing catch-up with these opportunities, while Muslim women have had them for over 1400 years. In the western Christian culture, when a woman marries, she looses her identity, meaning; she gives up her name and takes the name of her husband. In Islam, women keep their own names and identities. While the Christian west portrays the Muslim woman as oppressed, it is the western woman who is indeed oppressed and enslaved. A Muslim sister wearing the Hijab is a free woman. She is free because she chooses to cover herself and treat herself with dignity and respect. In the western culture, women are slaves to the latest fashions. They “MUST” wear Tommy Hilfiger jeans, she “MUST” shop at the most trendy of clothing stores, spending an exuberant amount of money on the latest “BRAND NAME” fashions or risk being ridiculed and looked down upon by other women in society. They have become slaves of their own society. The western woman feels she must parade around half naked in order to be liberated and looks down upon the Muslim sister who chooses to obey Allah(swt) and cover herself. The western woman subjects herself to exploitation when they appear half naked on beer commercials as well as car ads and let us not forget the “STRIP BARS” and so-called “MESSAGE PARLOURS”. The west feels it is necessary to have half naked women on ads selling anything from potato chips to soda pop, telling the western male, “If you want women who look like this, then buy our products and brands”. All the while, the western woman believes that she must look like these advertisement women because she feels that she is in competition with them for the attention of their men. Let us not forget the “PRIME TIME” television programs that further promote this perversity. Where in the Islamic Shari’ah do you find this type of behavior? In the True Islam, this is nowhere to be found. The women’s liberation movement of the west is merely a by-product of the Islamic Shari’ah as it pertains to women, only now it has been distorted to suite the western mentality.

This is why the western media machine propagates lies about the Muslim woman whose only wish and desire is to treat herself with both dignity and respect in accordance with the Will of Allah(swt) and the Sunn’ah of Prophet Muhammad(saas). This desire of self respect of the Muslim woman only serves to threaten the western culture’s desire to exploit women. The west claims to be built on Christian values, however, one should ask if these values is to exploit women in the name of capitalism and free enterprise. My point is this, before the Christian west points fingers at Muslims and falsely accuses them of mistreating their women, they should take a good long look at their own behavior towards women and learn what the suppression and oppression of women really is. Exploitation, whether imposed by others or self imposed is a sin that is most prevalent in the western culture and does not appear to have an end in sight. The only cure for this malady is Islam, Alhamdulillah(Praise be to God). I myself have been witness to some of the most scandalous modes of dress worn by women in their very own churches, showing a complete lack of respect for themselves, but more importantly, showing a complete lack of respect for Almighty God in His House of worship. With this in mind, non-Muslims should think twice before “throwing rocks in glass houses”.

 

In conclusion I would like to say, while it is true that there are Muslim men who do indeed mistreat their women, this is a cultural issue and a personal issue which is outside the Religion of Islam. There are many Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc…in the world who also mistreat their women, however, it is wrong to blame that person’s religion for their wrongful actions. Women in Islam share a status that is unknown and unheard of in other faiths, a status of equality, dignity and respect.

 

May Allah(swt) guide us all to the truth, Insha’Allah(God Willing).

 

 

 

Back to Women in Islam Vs the Bible.

Articles by Issa Ahmed Khalid.


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