Let me describe a recent incident that angered me very much, among other things.
My dad was recently invited to this prize distribution ceremony for those students- boys and girls- who had passed their 10th and 12th grades with an A+ in every subject (they never end :P). Next door, in another building, the same event was taking place, this time conducted by an orthodox muslim organization and get this: they invited all the boys and then asked the girls’ fathers to accept the prize on their behalves. What? WHAT? Seriously? These people have the most limited of communications with females- they don’t talk to a female unless they’re wives or daughters. And even then, the wives and daughters are required to sit at home and do as they’re told, because apparently women shouldn’t have any form of freedom (they aren’t allowed into mosques either!) There was this one girl from an orthodox background at my cousin’s hostel, who wanted to pursue physics as a college degree but her family insisted she either do medicine or do nothing at all. Women shouldn’t have ambition either.
I don’t know about them, but the religion I follow teaches me that women be given the respect and freedom they deserve. Why, the prophet(PBUH)’s first wife was a successful businesswoman, far richer and educated than the prophet (PBUH) himself. Another wife, Aisha (RAW) used to teach religion to the public (people from across the world used to come to her to get to know more about Islam) and even lead a war! It has also been reported that she took part in a foot race against the prophet (PBUH) once and won!
Oh look! A side of women in Islam, the bearded, all-wise scholars don’t want the society to know!
There’s more. Let me give you some insight into where women stand in Islam.
- Both men and women alike are encouraged by Islam to educate themselves to widen their horizons and broaden their perspectives. Because Islam recognises that women are, in principle, wives and mothers, the acquisition of knowledge in fields which relate to these social roles is emphasized.
- A married woman is called ‘Rabbath-al-Baith’ in the Qur’an, which translates to ‘queen of the house’.
- A woman, according to Islamic tradition, does not have to give her pre-marriage possessions to her husband, and should receive a mahr (dower) which she then owns. Furthermore, any earnings that a woman receives through employment or business, after marriage, is hers to keep and need not contribute towards family expenses (whereas a man’s earnings should). The Qur’an grants inheritance rights to wives, daughters, and sisters of the deceased and the Muslim community was the first to grant inheritance rights to women. I bet you didn’t know that.
- Marriage cannot be forced upon a woman. Both she and her parents need to approve of the spouse. Within the marriage contract, the bride has the right to lay down her own conditions.
Yup. A majority of the Muslim community have no idea about these or if they do, the males pretend they don’t exist and come up with more excuses. I’m not kidding. These are the same people who conduct their Friday khutbah (speech) in Arabic because the prophet (PBUH) did so too. Like how many brain cells do you need to figure out that Arabic was their mother-tongue and maybe yours is not? I don’t know why people even bother attending the speeches if they can’t understand a thing. That defeats the whole purpose of a speech and especially a khutbah (since it is to be utilized to give good advice. There are mosques in western countries where they repeat the qutubah in different languages so that people from different lands may understand it!)
Another example: non-Muslims aren’t allowed to touch/read the Quran or enter mosques. Okay brother. Then tell me, how on earth do you expect a non-muslim to learn about Islam when the holy book and the place of worship are both out of bounds. Umar (RAW) was a non-muslim when he read the Quran, leading him to embrace Islam! And the Prophet (PBUH) always encouraged non-Muslims staying at mosques. He utilized mosques not only as a place to pray, but also to teach, conduct meetings and meet delegations, all of which included non-Muslims.
Study the history you have so nicely memorized and locked away. The answers are right under your very own noses. SMH.
And it doesn’t stop there. Coming back to women, a lot of people still believe a woman shouldn’t travel alone because the Prophet said so. Let me stop you right there, before you go on grossly misinterpreting everything. Yes. The Prophet did actually say that on one occasion; while he was traveling through the desert. The journey was already dangerous for men, and for a woman it’d be even more dangerous (note: this was 4500 years ago, not yesterday). The Prophet (PBUH) also said, later on, that he envisions a day when even women will be able to travel alone to Makkah to offer prayer, safely, without barriers. So, the conclusion to be made here is that women can travel alone when the safety risks of the travel are low. If it is a difficult, perilous journey, such as through a desert, then she should be accompanied by a close male relative.
And this, my friends, is why context is extremely important in interpretation.
An alarmingly large number of scholars (and their blind followers) simply refuse to think on a practical and logical level. They still haven’t gotten around to accepting that the times have changed. They like creating new problems of no significance and fight over them. How do you expect such a society to ever prosper and progress? Just recently I heard my relatives talk about a new political divide among two religious organizations over their differing views on the afterlife. Maybe you could strive to reach heaven instead of bickering about it. Or if you’re desperate for answers, remember, the Quran and Prophet (PBUH) have given you all the answers you need to excel in life. How about you follow them, instead of your holy, narrow-minded scholars? (While you’re at it, please stop worshipping these people. They’re simply humans-like all of us. Do NOT put them above God or his Prophet (PBUH)).
So to the non-muslim here, if somebody tells you something about Islam that sounds stupid (I’m running out of adjectives here) and illogical, look it up. It is very likely that what you heard was false. Don’t let misinterpretations and low IQ mess up your views of this beautiful, beautiful faith. (Also Arab does not equate to Muslim :D).