Saturday, July 21, 2012

Equality of Genders

Islam is not a religion for men only. The universe is not created for the enjoyment of men only. The divine commandment inviting people to explore the creation is not for men only. The divine guidance inspiring people to explore the beauty of the universe is not for men only. Yet, in the name of God, men have remained the main beneficiaries of the divine blessings spread in our material world since time immemorial.

Women are assigned a reproductive role coupled with the responsibilities of raising and grooming babies. Men are considered superior on the basis of their financial contributions to their families.
Despite the fact that divine guidance promotes equality of genders, women, because of their financial dependence upon men, have played a secondary role in society. They were denied education and even the right to choose their own spouses. They were denied the right to work, even though, the clergy never objected to their hard unpaid labor in fields and farms as domestic servants for the rich and wealthy.
They were denied entry into masajid, because God is more pleased with the presence of men in the houses built in His name. Even though, in the House, known as the first House dedicated to one God, men and women stand shoulder to shoulder without fearing each other. Yet, the clergy placed restrictions on their entry to masajid elsewhere.
And when the women visited the markets as they had no place in masajid they were condemned by the same clergy.  Their place in the views of the clergy was home, where they must remain confined like a prisoner for 24 hours waiting for the permission of men to go out if they had to. When out in public, they must be wrapped so that no one can look at them, in case their iman slips away from their grip.
Often, it did not matter whether they were healthy or sick because their job was to take care of the needs and desire of their husband. The importance of the husband was so much glorified, that women were even told that the angels would curse her if she did not sexually satisfy her husband at night. Men were given the privileges to keep four wives at one time with no restrictions on divorce. The privileges were extended to rich and resourceful if they could afford, they were allowed to have concubines with no limits. Of course, not content with these privileges, the clergy came up with the practice of temporary marriage from a few hours of unspecified time, wherein the name of God and his prophets a woman’s body was put at the mercy of sexually starving men to please the divine. What a profanity was committed in the name of God who was projected by the clergy to be deeply concerned about the sexual needs of men.
Adding insult to injury, women were told that if God had permitted prostration to anyone other than him, it would be the husband because even if a woman licks the open and leaking wounds of her husband, she would not be able to express her gratitude to him.
It was the right of men to correct their wives by hitting them as long as it did not cause lead to severe injuries. Emotional and psychological scars as a result of this act were not even calculated.
Women were considered the daughters of Satan, temptress, and seductress. Their presence in the Masajid was an act of profanity.  If they used perfume while visiting the Masajid, they were no different than fornicators, whose prayers would be rejected for forty days by the merciful and the compassionate.  In some societies run in the name of God, they were and are still considered a threat to God and His guidance if they were found behind the wheels driving the 19th-century invention.
Women were advised to cover from head to toe so no man can ever be closer to sins. After all, in the minds of clergy, God was more concerned about the religious purity of men as they had to be kept away from the daughters of Satan.
Despite the fact that in our world today, almost all rapes are committed by men, women are held responsible for seducing me to commit sin. They are either stoned to death or flogged and humiliated in front of people by the clergy that reminds people to cover the secrets of others as God would cover theirs.
So passionate and forceful were the arguments that men and women both got convinced that God could be served only when the superiority of the male is recognized and established in the family and society.
Women accepted this role. They had to. In a world dominated by violence and power, where they had less exposure to the universe of Allah, where the doors of education were always closed or selectively opened and where they were financially dependent upon men, they had no alternative but to be a shadow of men.
Even in our world today, they are not viewed as equal. They are still considered objectified to please men. Their intellect and their abilities to contribute to the progress of human society are still unrecognized. It is a male chauvinistic society that still passes judgment on their lifestyle regardless of what it is. It is the male the superiority that is the will and desire of God, regardless of the fact He is also the creator of the other gender.
No one usually thinks in the above-mentioned terms when describing the mother, daughter or sister, but when the discussion is about wives or women in general, all that is said above becomes acceptable.
We have relegated 50 percent of our population to a status of nonentity. We have denied them the role that the creator of the universe had assigned to them, the role of an active participant and an equal partner in constructing a human society and civilization in every aspect of life.
History has proved that we have not been just to them totally, because we have not been. Despite all that we quote from the scriptures or from the life of Prophet Muhammad, we are still unfair to women and we justify our injustices in the name of God and His messengers.
We still all have our male chauvinistic attitude dominant in our thinking. How could we accept them as equal when they are dependent on us financially? How could we trust them with their own life and character, when we are the one assigned the role to be the leader? We have to be their guardian and gatekeepers; otherwise, they would be tumultuous in our world and would lead us to hellfire? What an irony, in the hope of saving ourselves from hellfire, we have created a hellfire for them and for us in the world, something that God warned us about:
O you who beleive1 Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stone. (66:6)
This is what our clergy promotes in general.
The only way this attitude towards women would change when both men and women de-learn what they have been traditionally told about the status of women and through dialogue and open communication, develop a realistic understanding of the divine guidelines for both men and women within the guidelines of the divine message and in the authentic narrations on the lifestyle of the Prophet.
The true change would come when women would become economically independent when a man would not be able to exploit their financial dependence to deny them the right that God has given them. When true understanding of the divine message for men and women would become clear, men would not view women as an object created to satisfy them or seductress or weak and unequal. They would view them as equal with unrestricted rights to explore this universe, to contribute to human progress, to be inventors, to be scientists, to be rulers, to be judges and to be activists in every aspect of life and to be leaders of even men. Didn’t the creator of the universe tells us:
 “And their Lord has accepted of them, and answered them: “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: You are members, one of another…” (3:195)

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