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Woman in Islam

Education for Woman

But a more important question which requires our attention is, ‘Does a woman, who has been entrusted with such a delicate and sensitive task, require any education or training herself?’

I think she requires it more than the outside worker, but we practically give no attention to this important issue. The parents try to give her the best of secular education, but do not impart upon her any religious knowledge. Her brothers feel obliged to protect her and comfort her, but fail to realise their obligation to teach her about religion.

Similarly, the husband would leave no stone unturned to keep her happy and comfortable; he would give her abounding love and every good thing in the world - except religion. Finally, when she becomes a mother, her children would respect and serve her affectionately, but they too would not speak of religion with her. This attitude actually stems from a notion, deeply embedded in our subconscious, that she is an inferior being … by creation.

When the mother of holy Mary vowed to devote her child to the service of God, she was, in fact, expecting to deliver a son. Such a practice was allowed in their religion. However, when against her expectation, she gave birth to a daughter; she was extremely worried about the fulfilment of her oath. The Quran refers to her anxiety by saying that she did not know that her daughter was far superior to many sons and had a high status with Allah. Her life was an explicit illustration of Divine greatness and power, and a source of guidance for mankind. According to the Quran, anyone (be it man or woman) who fulfils their assigned duty is better than the one who doesn't - in the sight of Allah.

Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his wives

About three quarters of human life relates to personal and private affairs and is usually spent within the four walls of one's home. If the chapter relating to specific feminine concerns is also added, it assumes an even greater portion of the religion. As such, the greater part of religion was narrated by the blessed wives of the holy Prophet. He married eleven times and when he passed away, nine of his wives were still alive.

Those who feel embarrassed at the criticism about his marriages have really not studied his life. Had he married for the sake of marriage, he would have married during his prime, his youth. But he passed his entire youth with Hadhrat Khadijah who was much elder to him. After her death, when he remarried, he was over fifty years of age. Hadhrat Aishah was the only virgin, his remaining wives were either widows, divorced or freed captives. Some had brought their children from previous husbands and they were also looked after by him. His holy wives were the only source to convey a major portion of the religion to us. In their absence, the private life of the holy Prophet would have remained obscure and concealed forever.

Equality

Islam has neither allowed the use of a woman as a model for advertisement (as in the West) nor has it allowed for her to be treated as a worthless captive slave (as in Hinduism or the Far East). On the other hand, Islam considers a woman to be a human being worthy of every honour and respect. Both men and women are equally good creatures of Allah, duly responsible and accountable for their actions, although both have different capabilities and duties.

The Islamic concept of human equality is that a man should do his duty and a woman should shoulder her responsibility. Both should do their duty and enjoy their rights and privileges. If she is compelled to exceed the charter of her duties, this is not equality but cruelty and injustice - such is the Islamic teaching. However, in the sight of Islam, all feminine excellence, honour and greatness depend upon only one virtue - purity.

Women in Today's world

During the present time, there is considerable hue and cry about women’s rights and equality; all the while the press and media are playing a vital role in setting this issue ablaze. Accordingly, the advocates of the feminine cause engage in violent processions. But the standard of this equality has already been defined by the Holy Quran and illustrated by the holy Prophet (PBUH) during his life. We should look towards Allah and His holy Prophet (PBUH) and not towards the West or the East for the best solution to this issue.

There is a visible paradox in our approach towards women.

  • On the one hand, we have allowed them to participate in every worldly activity. They may visit clubs for entertainment, play all sorts of games, watch movies in theatres and go to the market for shopping where they may talk and bargain with men during all of these activities. We tolerate and accept this normal routine of life.

  • On the other hand, if they go out to learn about religion, we are infuriated beyond control.

We have yet to see any religious verdict prohibiting women from roaming the markets without Hijab, bareheaded, even though each one of these acts is prohibited in the Shari‘ah. Nobody is bothered where they go or what they do. But if you guide one of them from a movie theatre to a mosque, there is an immediate reaction against it, everybody starts objecting to their religious activity.

In our country (Pakistan), a woman can do anything and everything she likes; she can contest elections and rule the country. Many renowned religious scholars have gathered around our present female Prime Minister, and none has decreed that she cannot participate in politics. But, if the same lady starts remembering her God, there would be an instant uproar from the religious quarters that she is doing wrong.

Conclusion

The Book and the Sunnah have not imprisoned a woman in her home. During the time of the holy Prophet-saw, women participated even in battles, such as in the battles of Badar and Uhad. They supplied water to the wounded, dressed their wounds and took care of them; they even fought battles with the sword. But during the whole activity, they kept themselves separate and did not mix with the men.

The point to ponder is, ‘Did they learn to ride and use the sword from some instructor or were they born with these qualities?’ During that blessed era, they received their education and training separately and performed their duties separately from the men - that is the rule even today. They should remain within their Pardah and achieve every bit of excellence that men can attain to. They have a greater need to learn the basic essentials of the Religion.

“And the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much, Allah has promised them forgiveness and immense reward.”

Allah has equated them with men in the frequent performance of Zikr; but, how would they do it, if they don't learn it? This is the standard laid down by the Divine Book. She is neither a caged bird nor a showbiz model, there is a middle way for her. She should know and realise her responsibilities and acquire the ability to fulfil her requirements honourably. She should neither become a dependent beggar nor a free-lancer to rub shoulders with men.

May Allah grant us the capacity to understand properly and act accordingly! Ameen!

 

Article Contributed by: itsIslam Staff



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