Like secularism, capitalism and democracy, woman’s rights also flows from the West to the rest. The various tentacles of the UN are dedicated to propagate woman’s rights as universal values. But where is the universality when nations are, cajoled and/or bullied into compliance! The issue (woman’s rights) is predominantly raised to attack Islam and Muslims, even though it may be more applicable to other religions and cultures – indicating the ulterior motive behind the issue is one of making political gains against adversaries and not the furthering of the welfare of womankind.
In response to the attack, the Muslims in general have responded in a defensive mode, argued that the women in Islam do have rights that are comparable to secular societies, which is an admission of defeat as the secular values are made the real arbiter. Consequentially, this has helped to foster an apologetic mindset whereby the continuous apologising for Islam manifests in reinterpreting its laws and values to satisfy the secular criticisms. So the Muslim response is always from a defensive posture. In the name of Ijtehad (Scholarly exertion to interpret Islamic texts and deduce laws) and various other pretexts, even the established Sharia rules are being slowly rendered subjective and moulded to meet the secular standards.
Listed below are some of the points frequently raised by the western intelligentsia to undermine the Islamic laws and values pertaining to women while promoting the alternative secular panacea: woman’s rights. It also gives us a glimpse of the real politics behind the issue.
a).The Islamic Veil (Hijab) or the Bikini
Post 9/11, the firepower of the West was going to be a liberating force for the women in Afghanistan. However, the honourable women of Afghanistan did not strip their veils for the miniskirt. In frustration, the media attempted to kick-start the process of ‘liberation’ by parading a semi-nude US-based Afghani woman in a human cattle market, i.e. a beauty contest. Further inducement would follow in the form of a Hollywood blockbuster where the all American hero would seduce an ‘oppressed’ Muslim woman out of the veil into an adulterous relationship, symbolising her ‘liberation’!
What is the underlying principle here? If stripping your clothes off to appeal to the male gender is a symbol of liberation, then surely the lap dancers, strippers, porn actresses and the likes must epitomise the concept of a liberated woman. Accordingly, if the US forces managed to replace the Mosques in Kabul with strip joints, lap dancers and brothels entertaining their soldiers that would have symbolised ‘liberation’ of the Afghan women.
Such arguments tend to indicate that woman’s rights are always tied to her ability to appear in scanty revealing clothes as opposed to her education or other achievements in life. This is usually followed by the ludicrous argument of denial that the women appear in revealing clothes because it feels good and nothing to do with the agitation of the male instincts. So, high-heel shoes must be more comfortable than flat shoes, scanty clothes in freezing temperature must be better than baggy warm clothes, tight clothes more comfortable than loose clothes! It does seem ironic that ’emancipated’ women spend most of their energies trying to titillate to the opposite sex in their clothes, makeup and diet; – thus emancipation it seems has only increased their dependency on the male gender!
Now that we know a woman is described as ‘progressive’ and ‘liberated’ for replacing the veil with the mini-skirt then why draw a line with absolute nudity. The female emancipation barometer seems to be measured by how much she is willingly to strip off but the going beyond the bra and bikini is considered indecent. So, how did one conclude that is where the border of decency and indecency lies? After all, we were all born naked and we will also leave this world naked. Thus, the most pertinent question is; – why the minimum dress code enforced by the secular societies any more correct than the limits imposed by the Islamic Sharia?
b).Polygamy or Sexual Freedom (Promiscuity)
Polygamous relationships pre-dates Islam, it existed in Judeo-Christian traditions and most other religions and cultures. Therefore, why target Islam specifically on this issue of polygamy. I do find it astonishingly hypocritical for the West to incessantly argue against polygamy when one would hard pressed to find a virtuous monogamous man amongst them! Do they seriously think that the upright ‘monogamous’ West is on some sort of moral crusade confronting the ‘depraved’ polygamous Islam? Only the arrogant hypocrite would refuse to see the contradiction of criticising legalised polygamy with its detailed rules setting out the rights and obligations while permitting all sorts of sexual activities using the license of: ‘sexual freedom’!
From high school or earlier, the competition is fierce amongst boys to bed many females as possible in the West. Night clubs, parties, holidays, TV shows are the dedicated places of learning, where the boys and girls maximise their fun and gain experience. A direct consequence of sexual-freedom has been constant expansion of the boundaries of sexual taboos, permitting and encouraging sexual activities that involve multiple partners in the form of open relationships to sordid orgies and the likes.
So the secular critics do endorse polygamous relationships and much more but as long as it is not a marriage with legal obligations. When a celebrity manages to engage several women in one night it becomes a selling point for tabloids, an example for the new generations, earning the envy of most men. Even more, a man can make an appearance on a national TV-show announcing that he has boyfriend to his wife or that he is literally in love with his dog or any other forms of perversion as long as it is not a second wife! Such sensitivity reminds me of how the Romans found no issue with the exhibition of the male genitals as long as it was not circumcised!
Power of propaganda is so immense that many of the Muslim apologists have started to deny the existence of a restricted practice of polygamy in Sharia laws. A classic and an idiotic argument to deny Polygamy is that they say: Islam has obliged you to give equal treatment to all your wives and since this is not possible, a task beyond human capacity, hence, Polygamy is only a theoretical possibility. I do not understand why God would permit Polygamy if it is beyond the ability of the male gender! Why GOD would pronounce such meaningless statements? I guess you have to have the ‘wisdom’ of the apologists to understand such pronouncements or neo-Ijtehad!
c).Freedom of Choice and Enforcement
Muslim women are imprisoned, denied choices under the Islamic laws while the emancipated Western women are free, having endless choices. But what are those choices and what is the implication for the society if the individuals are given those choices. Choice is not intrinsically a virtue, it can bring chaos, and if incorrect choices are made than it causes more harm than good. As an example, from an Islamic perspective the huge flesh industry made up of porn and prostitution is viewed as exploitation and degradation of women. The West would reply by stating that those women decided of their own free will to pursue a career in that industry.
There is no doubt woman’s flesh sells, it makes money like any another commodity in the free market economy. The business of porn and prostitution by its nature is exploitative and degrading regardless of how it is produced, by choice or compulsion. It is predominantly produced to satisfy the lust of the male gender, making the woman a sexual servant while wrapping her with ‘freedom’. The long term effect on society is that it inculcates a certain mentality and psyche amongst the youth. Implications are huge, and it contributes towards the growth in sexual crimes, single parent families, drug dependencies etc.
In any case, no society endorses absolute freedom or choice. Every society enforces a certain laws and values to maintain order and stability. The restrictions applied to Muslim women are equally applicable to Muslim men, as the laws regulate the behaviour of male and female. If you separate the female from the male, the male too is separated from the female and imprisoned. But no one is interested in the restrictions applied on the Muslim men because the real focus is on the access to Muslim women, removing the traditional barriers. Why, because we know flesh sells!
d).Gender Equality or Gender Harmony
The Gender Equality is a one-dimensional view focusing primarily on the relationship between two adult peers engaged in a marital relationship. What role does it play between father and daughter, mother and son, uncle and niece relationships? Furthermore, why is the standard of equality measured by referring to the male gender as the base line? Consequentially, women are increasingly pushed to imitate men in every sphere to symbolise emancipation and equality. Surely this is the biggest insult to womanhood as it assumes her to be unequal until she does what men do!
Also, are there any limits of gender equality? Should the gender differences become totally immaterial in determining the laws and values? If so, eventually, the concept of moms and dads, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives etc. would become meaningless. Similarly, the distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationship would also vanish. In the name of gender equality should we reach a point where the only distinction remaining would be the bodily organs?
In my previous article  I cited evidences from the three Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) highlighting the absence of ‘gender equality’ as espoused by the current secular trends. Also, I elaborated and provided corroborative evidences from history and human nature confirming the fallacy of gender equality. Throughout human history, the two genders have generally functioned to complement each other particularly in a husband and wife relationship as opposed to acting as adversaries competing in every sphere. Islam in line with human nature espouses for harmony between two genders and not a full scale war.
Who are the chivalrous knights of woman’s rights?
Apart from the idea of woman’s rights it is important to get glimpse of those, in particular the male gender as to how the uphold such lofty values. Men in the West are caught in between by a culture that constantly agitates their sexual instincts and also demands ‘respect’ by complying with certain legal/political standards that is supposed to manifest a non-sexist world.
It is the constant agitation of their sexual instinct that will always be the dominating factor in their behaviour. Their macho minds are filled with a culture of porn with images of women as sexual object transmitted by the lewd pop-fashion-film industry: pieces of flesh to consume. Consequentially, nominal respect shown by the men is due to the fear of being subjected to the laws of sexual harassment and very little emanates from the hearts and minds. They showed their inner traits when they can get away with it. Rape in the Western society is constantly on the increase, it also prevalent within the army. That is why many of the soldiers raped in Iraq as given the opportunity they will shed their mask as soldiers of woman’s rights.
At night they hunt in the clubs and parties for women’s flesh. There is even sex-tourism organised so that the flag bearer of woman’s rights, routinely raid the cheap and poverty stricken flesh market in the Far East! When these men are drunk, see how they regard the opposite sex as they reveal their traits losing their inhibitions, their discussion barely rise above the waistlines. At this point the liberated woman would definitely feel least secure being amongst these chivalrous knights. These are the men who are going to teach the Islamic world about the merits of virtuous monogamous relationship! It is laughable and absurd as the criminals like Bush, Blair and Sharon talks about lofty values as peace, morality and now eliminating poverty.
If there was genuine enthusiasm towards woman’s rights in general, then all women would be treated with respect. An elderly woman in the West is rarely treated with respect as a motherly figure but often a subject to mocking, the familiar term of the old bag, witch etc. Because her youth has passed, she is no longer a valuable commodity in the free market and quarantined into the old peoples home.
Genuine respect is fostered by an environment where the two sexes relate to each other by values that are not driven by their carnal desires and whims. In a permissive culture one loses real respect for women and men, the loss of sense of shame and modesty, the notion of honour of a woman becomes meaningless. Sexual crimes have become trivial so that is why lenient punishment is dispensed for it. In contrast Islam prescribes the most sever punishment. Why? Because Islam places value on the honour of a woman and if that is violated there will be a heavy price to pay!
The old clichÃ©, judge them by their fruits, shows that ‘liberated’ societies with emancipated women and men have not attained greater levels of happiness and stability in their relationships. In fact the trends show the opposite, breakdown in family life, soaring divorce rates, increasing dependencies on drugs. Rape, domestic violence to all sorts of social crimes is constantly in the increase.
Recently, a TV documentary referred to the Turkish producers of porno films not as “Turkish pornographers” but as “Muslim Pornographers”. It is truly amazing that even the most non-practicing, westernised liberals who are engaged in the most un-Islamic acts are coloured with the Muslim brush. Another vivid example is the Kurdish father who killed his young daughter for engaging in an adulterous relationship was immediately identified as an act of a Muslim. However, the entire Kurdish population in Iraq have been labelled only as Kurds rather then Muslims from 1991.
In general every effort is made by the media to link to Islam as an underlying factor to the unpleasant incident and knowing that it is contrary to the teachings of Islam. Likewise the cultural baggage the Muslims carry that often leads to un-Islamic practices like honour killing, forced marriages, unfair denial of education are all linked with Islam by the media rather than the absence of Islam. It is not Islam but the chauvinism of some Muslims that deny women their rights in marriage, access to education, work and contribution to spiritual life of the family and community. Worse than this is the liberal application of Islamic laws to men in their errors, and the extreme discipline applied to females, often excessively outside the Islamic laws.
The media deliberately shows the punishment given out to the adulterous woman (not the man) to reinforce the image that Islam only prescribes punishment for women. That is why the picture of the Taliban punishing the women who was already convicted in a court was shown frequently in the western media whose audiences have already been brainwashed. In reality the women prisoner of the Taliban included the famous Western journalist Yvonne Ridley who later embraced Islam testified otherwise. The real rapists are in abundance within the Northern Alliance. Also in Iraq, it is the ugly US soldiers that are deliberately raping and killing women in Fallujah, Baghdad and Abu-Ghraib. Where as all the women prisoners at the hands of the Muslims from Private Jessica Lynch to the Italian journalists were freed unharmed, they were treated very well according to their own words. Actions always speak louder than the words, especially when the words emanate from the slimy tongue of the mass media.
What Islam Says
The Islamic perspective is clear: women are not equal to men and men are not equal to women. Neither party are inferior or superior to each other. Their positions are defined with a set of rights and responsibilities. A husband may have rights over his wife but the husband is subordinate to his mother. Similarly, a mother may have rights over her son, but she is in turn subordinate to her father. The relationships between the two genders are complex and multifaceted. It is the Islamic laws that shape the relationship in terms of designating rights and obligations between the two genders at various positions.
It is only rational and consistent to protect the rights of everyone including women by invoking the Islamic laws instead of resorting to secular arguments that are rooted in feminism. If secular values are the criteria then it makes little sense to interpret Islam to fit into the secular garb but far greater sense to simply abandon it. Why go for secular compatible Islam instead of pure secularism? It simply makes no sense. Unfortunately there are even feminists in Hijab along with their male apologists in leash, many of whom are also disguised as Islamic scholars with their beards and robes, are using Islamic texts to promote non-Islamic ideas like woman’s rights, gender equality as Islamic, wittingly or unwittingly. If a man or a woman has been denied their rights, we invoke the Islamic laws as remedy instead of viewing the problem as though it is rooted in gender differences.
Had Islam and Muslim men been the real oppressors of women, the feminist movement would have arisen from within the Islamic societies. Indeed, the origin of such movements perhaps reflects where the real oppression of women existed and still exists! No one can explain why Islam supposedly anti-Woman continues to attract more women than men. Both, logic and Islamic texts dictates that woman’s rights have no place in Islam, those who speak in its name has the worst track record in violating the rights of womankind. It is a political tool like the UN resolutions, employed selectively against opponents. Otherwise we would have seen it deployed in a consistent manner.
In response to the issue of women’s equality being pressed into the face of Islam, we as Muslim’s have to set our own agenda and not be baited by mischief makers who have a malignant intent towards Islam and Muslims. With this self inspection we must face truths about the broad experience of Muslim’s across the world and the variable application of the Islamic laws, which is causing problems.
. Idiocy of Gender Equality: The Case of the Woman Imam – http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/13833/