This is a guest post by Miss Shabina Shafi
The word “Islam” means submitting to the will of God. Islam is a religion that promotes peace and harmony in every sphere of life. It is a way of life for every Muslim, and its teachings are based on the foundations of “balance”. Before engaging in the discussion of Islam and feminism, it is important to refer to the sources of the Islamic tradition, as there is a lot of confusion regarding the term “Islam”. Islam like other major religions does not derive from a single source. To understand it completely one has to refer to more than one or all of the following sources to derive information: The Quran (the Holy book of Muslims), Sunnah (the acts and practices of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh), hadith (the sayings of Prophet Muhammad), fiqh (jurisprudence) and Shariah (the code and conduct of muslim life).
Islamic feminism is a form of feminism that is concerned with the role of women in Islam. Its main purpose is to promote complete equality of all the Muslims, in public as well as their private life, and irrespective of their gender. Islamic feminists promote women’s rights, social justice and gender equality that are firmly grounded in an Islamic framework. Even though they are embedded in an Islamic system, the feminist movement’s pioneers have also used secular and European, or in other words Non-Muslim feminist dialogues to establish the role of Islamic feminism as a part of a combined global feminist movement.
As far as the question of equality between men and women from an Islamic perspective is concerned, discussing it makes no sense. It’s just like comparing a rose and a jasmine. Both have their distinct perfume, color, beauty and shape. Both are special in their own way. Similarly, men and women are not the same; each has its own special features and characteristics. “Women are not equal to men, neither are men equal to women”. Both have been assigned certain rights and duties that go with their nature and constitution.
Man enjoys certain privileges like social authority and freedom, but in order to enjoy these, he has to perform various heavy duties. It is his prime responsibility to support his family even if his wife possesses great wealth. A man has to support his whole family and sometimes close relatives as well. A woman on the other does not have to worry about these financial obligations. There is always a family structure where she can take refuge from all the social and economic pressures. But in return of these privileges, she also has many responsibilities, of which the most important is to provide a home for her family and bring her children up properly. Therefore, the Shariah encourages the roles of men and women being complementary rather than competitive. The Muslim men and women who are able to shoulder their responsibilities well and create a well knit family are responsible for creating a strong Muslim society.
The verse in the Holy Quran clearly says that men and women are created from one single self, to act as each other’s guides and fulfill the mutual obligation of “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong”.
The Moral corruption and social degradation is at its all time high today. Feminist approach degrades humans lower than animals. The feminists wish to eliminate all those characteristics that make man “Human” and weaken the foundation of all his social ties and kinship. The outcome of this would be “suicide”, not only of some people but of the entire humanity.
Feminism is an unnatural, abnormal and artificial outcome of present social disintegration, which is an unavoidable result of the rejection of all moral and spiritual values. It results in the collapse of home and family, loss of authority of the father and ultimately results in the fall of the nation. A uni-sex society, as proposed by feminists constitutes a society that makes no social or cultural differentiation between males and females, a society that claims women’s so called “Liberation”, a society without marriage, home or family, where motherhood, modesty and chastity are rebuked, does not represent “progress” but worst kind of degradation. The end result being: pure confusion, anarchy and absolute chaos.
A majority of feminist movements in the Muslim world are about protecting women from some practices and empowering them. But, what they miss is that they are already FREE. The un-Islamic societies have created this illusion. Feminism is a revolutionary idea that demands choices in women’s rights to be recognized. And more importantly, the choices that they make hold true value within the society. Feminism is rather about improving the quality of people’s lives, rather than continuously challenging the theoretical models. Voices should be raised against inhuman treatment against women, not against simple social inequalities that are justified quite well in Islam.
The Author is an Engineering Graduate with Masters in Business Administration and Teaches management at one of the colleges in J&K