Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I have rights!!!!

I am often approached by non Muslims who assume i am oppressed because
1. I'm a Muslim woman
2. I wear Hijab and Abayah

Therefore they conclude that i must be Arabic (majority of non muslims assume that every woman in a hijab is arab), i dont speak english (i have had men and women approach me and speak slowly and with elaborate hand gestures even though i speak english fluently...i should since i am american and was born in america!) and im uneducated. They also assume that i am a slave to my husband and i live and breathe each day to serve him and cater to his every need, neglecting my own needs......

The first question i am usually asked is in reference to my Hijab and abayah. When i wear black I am usually approached by non muslims because they assume i am a nun. On a few occasions i have had both men and women approach me stating that their sister is also a nun and asking which convent i am with. When i state that i am not a nun they look puzzled and take in my hijab and abayah and that is when their expression changes. The realization that i am not a nun but instead a muslim dissapoints them and that is when the questions begin.

Had i been a nun, no one would question if i was oppressed. No one would question why i wear a hijab and abayah....Along with the topic of hijab comes the question of women s rights. There are a lot of cultural muslims who unfortunately ruin the beauty of Islam for the rest of us. Cultural men who deny their wives their rights and oppress them.

What i have done is compiled a list of a Muslim womans rights, rights she is intitiled to, reglardless if she is married to a man who tries to tell her otherwise.

In a truely Islamic society women have the following rights in Islam:

1. The right and duty to obtain education.
2. The right to have their own independent property.
3. The right to work to earn money if they need it or want it.
4. Equality of reward for equal deeds.
5. The right to express their opinion and be heard.
6. The right to provisions from the husband for all her needs and more.
7. The right to negotiate marriage terms of her choice.
8. The right to obtain divorce from her husband, even on the grounds that she simply can't stand him. (pls note that God deeply frowns upon divorce as a solution unless there is hardly any other alternative but it does not mean that men have more right to divorce their wives than women do.)
9. The right to keep all her own money (she is not responsible to maintain any relations).
10. The right to get sexual satisfaction from her husband.
11. custody of their children after divorce.
12. to refuse any marriage that does not please them
and more...

Nor are women expected to do the housework. If they have not been used to doing it, the husband is obliged to provide domestic help within his means, and to make sure that the food gets to his wife and children, already cooked. The Prophet* himself used to help with the domestic work, and mended his own shoes. How many times do we see cultural men ordering their wives to cook, clean and cater to their every need. They make fun of their food, complain that its not good enough and throw tantrums if the woman doesnt bring it to him right away. Women are not even obliged in all cases to suckle their own children. If a divorcing couple mutually agree, they can send the baby to a wet-nurse and the husband must pay for the suckling. If the mother decides to keep the baby and suckle it herself, he must pay her for her trouble!
This is laid down in the Qur'an itself, (2:233):
The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term, but he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms...If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay what ye offered on equitable terms ...
What basis does all this leave for the male attitude that women are only fit for maternal and household duties?

Husbands are expected to treat their wives kindly during marriage and even during and after divorce. Allah says in the Qur'an:
... Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them, it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.
Qur'an 4:19
The Prophet* said:
The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.

Then there are the contemporary women of the Prophet's household, his wives and daughters. One of his wives, Umm Salamah, complained to him that the Qur'an was addressed only to men, and then a long passage was revealed to the Prophet* addressed clearly to men and women in every line, which states clearly the equal responsibilities and rewards for Muslim men and women.
For Muslim men and women - for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God's praise - for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward.
(Qur'an 33:35) Aishah, his youngest wife, caused a scandal when she went out into the desert to look for a necklace she had lost there and got left behind by the caravan. She was rescued by a young man and came back with him and rumours spread that she had been dallying with him. This caused great pain to her and to the Prophet and it was a long time before they were relieved by another revelation (24:4), demanding that people making such accusations against chaste women must produce four eye witnesses to the act or suffer a flogging themselves and have their evidence rejected ever after.

Islamic law makes no demand that women should confine themselves to household duties. In fact the early Muslim women were found in all walks of life. The first wife of the Prophet, mother of all his surviving children, was a businesswoman who hired him as an employee, and proposed marriage to him through a third party; women traded in the marketplace, and the Khalifah Umar, not normally noted for his liberal attitude to women, appointed a woman, Shaff'a Bint Abdullah, to supervise the market. Other women, like Laila al-Ghifariah, took part in battles, carrying water and nursing the wounded, some, like Suffiah bint Abdul Muttalib even fought and killed the enemies to protect themselves and the Prophet* and like Umm Dhahhak bint Masoud were rewarded with booty in the same way as the men. Ibn Jarir and al-Tabari siad that women can be appointed to a judicial position to adjudicate in all matters, although Abu Hanifah excluded them from such weighty decisions as those involving the heavy hadd and qisas punishments, and other jurists said that women could not be judges at all. The Qur'an even speaks favourably of the Queen of Sheba and the way she consulted her advisors, who deferred to her good judgement on how to deal with the threat of invasion by the armies of Solomon. (Qur'an 27:32-35):
She (the Queen of Sheba) said, `O chiefs, advise me respecting my affair; I never decide an affair until you are in my presence.' They said, `We are possessors of strength and possessors of mighty prowess, and the command is thine, so consider what thou wilt command.' She said, `Surely the kings, when they enter a town, ruin it and make the noblest of its people to be low, and thus they do. And surely I am going to send them a present, and to see what (answer) the messengers bring back.'

So, to conclude, these are the ideals to which Muslim women can aspire and frequently have done in the past. In a truly Islamic society, they are guaranteed
- personal respect,
- respectable married status,
- legitimacy and maintenance for their children,
- the right to negotiate marriage terms of their choice,
- to refuse any marriage that does not please them,
- the right to obtain divorce from their husbands, even on the grounds that they can't stand them (Mawdudi),
- custody of their children after divorce,
- independent property of their own,
- the right and duty to obtain education,
- the right to work if they need or want it,
- equality of reward for equal deeds,
- the right to participate fully in public life and have their voices heard by those in power,
and much more besides.
What other religion, political theory, or philosophy has offered such a comprehensive package?


NoortheNinjabi said...

Very well written, mashaAllah. And I love the picture that it starts with!

Thirst For Knowledge said...

Thank you! A lot of people are quick to judge muslim women and say they are oppressed. However, if you lined up a practicing jewish woman, a nun and a muslim woman one will notice that they all dress similiar. All wear a head covering and long, loose modest clothing!