International woman’s day was celebrated as usual throughout the world with the high cry of woman’s empowerment as the slogan of the occasion. It was celebrated in Pakistan as well and the series of functions in this connection were presided over by important personalities both from public and private forums. Most of the speakers stressed on the gender equality. Great emphasis was laid on the woman’s right to go shoulder by shoulder to man and that the dependence of the woman should no longer exist on man. Woman was required to come forward and work for her economic needs so that her dependence on her male counterpart gets minimized and she comes at par with man. We being Muslims, claim that we have some definite principles and traits which are obligatory for us to observe in every field of life. We are required to allow all the rights and privileges to our women folk as allowed by Islam. How much the better half is equal to her counterpart is to be seen in light of the teachings of Islam since we are Muslims as professed by us. We should not blindly follow the west where the woman has been so badly exploited and molested in the name of women’s liberation, women’s right and her equality to man in all fields. Let us vet the proposition thoroughly in light of the teachings of Islam and see that whether we have followed those teachings or otherwise. The subject of women’s right is related to the social sphere of life and it should be seen in combination with the other two important spheres, the economic and the political with special reference to the Western influence on these two entities. It is clear that we the Muslims have been completely dominated by the West in these two fields. All the Muslims countries are either ruled through the aristocratic agents or through the secular democracy, thereby fulfilling the pursuits of the west. Having completely dominated us in these two fields we are now chased in the social field, particularly targeting the sanctity of woman in the name of emancipation.Pakistan is very much in focus in this behalf, since we have the sanctity of Chadara and Chardiwari intact to some extent particularly in the Pushtoon belt of the KPK and Balochistan. By chance most of the traditional social customs and norms are almost in consonance with the traits of Islam.
What to the West is women’s right, is of course a converse to what is considered as the woman’s honor and dignity. The value structure that determines the right place of the fair sex in our case has been quite negated in the western society or on the yardstick of western values. The women who were to be treated as fair sex have been rendered by west as foul sex. Let’s see how Islam preserves the rights and honor of woman. It is a separate issue that we the Muslims have failed to fully recognize the rights and allow them to our women. The Quran never allows its followers to think of the woman as inferior to the man. The Islamic teachings completely negate discrimination on the basis of sex, race and creed. The Holy Book says, “You are from each other”. Both the son and the daughter have been born of the same parents and both have nourished in the same womb of the mother. The Quran terms both the male and the female on the same level equal in the spiritual field and it never considers the female as inferior to the male. She can surpass the male in earning the virtues and the beneficence through her spiritual struggle and ‘taqwa.’ The western view about the female is quite different rather conflicting to that of Islam. These two views are to be studied in light of the mindset of the West and the teaching of Islam respectively.
Islam recognizes all the human beings equal, on the basis of birth since all human race is the progeny of the same parents i.e. Adam and the Eve. Perfect equality has been guaranteed as there is no superiority for anybody on the basis of sex, race, creed or color and ethnicity. We therefore, claim that Islam gives universal recognition to the equality of human beings on the social level. Whatever superiority Islam recognizes is the one due to knowledge and ‘Taqwa.’ The Quran says, “O Mankind! We have created you male and female and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is the Knower, Aware.” (49:13) Knowledge and Taqwa (the fear of God) are two attributes one can get through personal struggle and endeavors. The things that have been bestowed on some one by Allah cannot be made the basis of superiority. They are given things and do not fall in the jurisdiction of your ‘Kasab’. Men and women are equal in human dignity and honor. The Quran says, “Lo! Men who surrender to Allah, and women who surrender, and men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard their modesty, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Allah much, Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward.”(33:35)
However, when a man and a woman are engaged in wedlock, then things become different. They do not enjoy the same status then as for as the running of the family affairs and upkeep are concerned. It is because that by this union of a male and a female an institution comes into existence, the institution of a family. This is an acknowledged fact that every institution is headed always by a single head and not two equal in status and authority. The institution having two heads with equal status cannot survive and its collapse is sure to occur. The Holy Quran has given a higher place to the male partner of the family counterparts. It says, “Men are Qawwam.”.(Men are upper hand in respect to their female partner) The man has been made responsible to pay the Mah’r or nuptial money despite the fact that both the sexes have a human need and urge for marriage. Man and woman both need each other reciprocally and that is why Allah has adorned the life of the two with the institution of marriage. It is the male who has been made responsible for the economic activity in a family system and he is the one to support and maintain his counterpart irrespective of the family affiliation to a wealthier parentage in case of wife. Man is also responsible for upbringing the children, their education, healthcare and the provision of all sorts of their needs. It is why Islam has given double share to male in the property inherited from the parents. The Islamic philosophy of life is perfectly netted and there are no voids to allow some things to remain imperfect. The right to divorce has been given to man by Islam and not to woman. However, she has been empowered to seek KHUL’a, an arrangement to get divorce through a council of elders or a court. All this Divine arrangement has been done in order to give the man a strong position as the one to head the family, comparatively with more dominance than the female counterpart. As Muslims we believe and understand that what limits and boundaries have been fixed for us in all spheres of life under the codes of our faith, are all for the betterment of the human race. Similar is the case of the family life and whatever obligations and privileges have been apportioned for male and female are in the best interest of the family unit. To give more strength and protection to the sanctity of the female and to strengthen the bonds of family, Islam has made veil (pudah) compulsory for woman to observe Satar or Hijab. Islam has proscribed free mixing of the two sexes to frustrate any possibility of illegal contacts between them. The Quran has so strongly argued the importance of Purdah that even the wives of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and those of the Companions of the prophet (pbuh) have been asked in very clear words about this important social necessity. At the same time Islam has given enough freedom to the female folk in their social life. A woman can run a business, can make property, can earn money and property and can get education both conventional and technical. There is no bar on her whatsoever. The only thing that Islam asks her to do is to observe complete Purdah and avoid free mixing.
Though it is not a legal obligation for a housewife to remain indoors, the moral obligation does call for her wholehearted attention to her indoor activities and to look after what has been termed as her trust, all affairs within the Chardiwari. All such a scheme can be made if we have a will to do and to act according to the commandments of Allah. We can establish separate educational institutions, separate small scale industry centers for females, where teachers, supervisors and instructors should be female. We can have male and female hospitals separately run, where male and female doctors and staffers should work in the respective institutions. We can give all primary education to females where they will be quite better and more fruitful results can be achieved since women happen to be more kind to the tinder children. To affirm the institution of the family further, the nearest relatives have been declared as ‘Mahram’ who are allowed to mix together with certain restrictions. The Mahrams are the ones with whom wedlock has been declared unlawful (Harm). Islam puts no bar on woman except it wants separate sphere of activities for both the sexes. We admit the argument that the today’s world is a world of economics and there is no denying the fact that the 50% of the population cannot be left as such without being involved in any sort of economic activity. An answer has been given to this argument above. The social system of Islam is quite efficient to cope with the challenges of the time. It can take care of all such things within the parameters of its own ethics. We should have a clear stand on such issues and should clearly put forward our own viewpoint in light of the injunctions of Islam, the Deen of Allah which is not only encompassing the individual life but completely adorns the collective life at all levels.
Islam takes care of the woman far better than what cosmetic claims of the women right in the name of empowerment, women liberation, gender equality etc are done by the fans of the Western culture. We should not follow blindly the west where the woman has been rendered into a plaything of enjoyment and has been exploited to the maximum. She has been taken out from her proper place and has been overburdened with extra responsibilities for which the Nature has not designed her so. We should not subject our female folk to the tyranny of the Western culture in the name of development and enlightenment. These are hollow slogans in the names of women right, human right, children right and so on. Let us ask these champions why hundred of thousands of women were killed in Iraq, Afghanistan during the war in the name of terrorism or in the name of establishing democracy in these countries? How many of the women have been put to the never ending anguish due to killing of their children, fathers, husbands, brothers and kith and kin in your war of egoism, run in the name of overcoming terrorism? How many Pakistani Muslim women have you hit along with their innocent children in the tribal areas of North Waziristan? How merciless massacre of the Palestinian woman along with her children is going on since 1948 at the hands of the Zionist Jews backed by the Americans and the evangelical Europeans, all the champions of the women right? And yes, how the women are treated in the occupied Kashmir and your sense of morality and the women right is keeping mum on these atrocities met out to them? The unfortunate situation is that our rulers, the so-called elite class and the seculars are beguiled easily by the western propaganda apparatus on these mere slogans of rights. Their only aim is that the Muslim woman sheds off all norms of modesty and honor and comes out in the open and becomes part of the nude, hedonic and libertine culture of the West which has long ago done havoc to their female folk due to the asininity of the so-called civilized man.