By Azizur Rahman,MM News,
Since long there has been a debate over “Rights of Women in Islam” sparing no efforts in making the people believe that Muslim women are considered mere slaves by their men and kept under abject subjugation. I would like to assert that this accusation is completely false and Islam guarantees equal rights to women treating them with the highest degree of respect and honor.
To make the readers well understand my forthcoming points, I would like to state categorically in the very beginning that Islam is not a man-made religion else it is a heavenly one. And, Qur’aan is not a book authored by our Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as believed by the likes of Tavleen Singh, but it is a divine book revealed onto him by Allah. Muslims are bound to lead their lives in accordance with Qur’aanic injunctions and Hadith (traditions) of the Prophet (pbuh). Islam is not a religion started by someone and evolving with the passage of time. It is from the Almighty, and has such a compact set of principles and guidelines that it provides solution to anything under the sun. And hence the demand by many pseudo-intellectuals to issue this and that fatwa as per their whims and fancies is illogical. Fatwa is not something that any lay man can come up with. Upon request, the learned muftis are entitled to issue fatwas strictly in the light of Qur’aan and Hadith and not depending upon their likes and dislikes.
Moreover one should bear in mind that Qur’aan clearly states “There is no compulsion in adopting the religion”. Hence, once anyone chooses Islam as his/her religion, he/she should abide by its injunctions in its entirety and not cry foul for special relaxations seeking cheap publicity. One is always free to practice whatever he/she wants or even can abandon Islam if he or she finds it difficult and suffocating. The matter would entirely be between them and Allah. The absence of basic understanding of Islam is the real reason that results in making people believe that clerics have the authority to change things accordingly, while on the contrary everything in Islam is governed by the holy Qur’aan and the Hadith. If something is allowed or prohibited by Qur’aan and Hadith, none can change them. In the event of things not being specifically mentioned in Qur’aan or Hadith, competent scholars will thoroughly judge them in the light of defined principles and come up with a solution.
Having clarified the above let me begin with taking up one example to show as to how the lack or absence of basic knowledge of Islam can actually lead to serious misconceptions and conclusions about women’s rights in Islam. A few weeks ago, I happened to watch the NDTV talk show “We The People” titled “Stop Sexism. Period: Why Should Menstruation be a Taboo” (http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/we-the-people/stop-sexism-period-why-should-menstruation-be-a-taboo/392827) published on 29th November 2015 on NDTV site, moderated by Barkha Dutt and conducted in the wake of Kerala’s Sabrimala temple board chief and Congress leader Prayar Gopalakrishnan’s statement “The day there will be a machine to detect ‘right time’ for women to enter temples, that day women will be allowed in the temple.” that sparked huge outrage under the hashtag #HappyToBleed going abuzz on the virtual world. And since Muslim women have also been reportedly denied to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah, two Muslim panelists: Miss Zakia Sonam from Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and a Mufti from Haji Ali Dargah committee as well were included in the debate. This was the program that actually prompted me to pen this article.
Now, let us see how misinformed about Islam are Zakia and Barkha? While opening the debate Barkha says “Across cultures and across religions there still continues a taboo around menstruation. Muslim women for example are often told that they should not offer Namaz or keep Roza during their menstruation. Why we have so many orthodoxies between religious rituals and worship. Even at Haji Ali Dargahah we are fighting for entry. There are many many questions where the women want to embrace the religion but find themselves stopped by the orthodoxies”.
And asked by Barkha “Are Muslim women told during Roza if you have your period don’t keep the Roza or don’t offer Namaz in those days”?, Zakia painfully replies “No Roza no Namaz and the Haji Ali matter.. that is how that happened why we were forced to file a PIL because we grew up going to Haji Ali. Throughout our childhood we have been there and as late as 2011 all of us as a woman group. Last time we went there in 2012 and were told that you can’t come inside because you are woman and we told that we have been coming here. They are telling because you are women and you are dirty you have to be kept away from the sanctum of Dargah”.
Here, I would like to examine the observations made by Miss Zakia. As far as ban on women’s entry to Haji Ali Dargah’s sanctorum is concerned, I categorically state that in the first place there is no concept of Dargah itself in Islam let alone the question of menstruating women being barred or not, from entry, making offerings or performing prayers there.
For men visiting a grave is desirable as it reminds of the Hereafter and reaffirms fear of Allah. They can also pray Allah for the departed soul’s forgiveness. However, packing up and travelling only for making a visit to a grave is not allowed. As for women, they have been prohibited from visiting graves to prevent wailing over the deceased and any unethical happening due to possible mingling with men. This does not mean that they are encouraged to go anywhere else without any restrictions. Unfortunately, dargahs like Haji Ali and Ajmer have been so deceptively glorified and commercialized that many people across all religions tend to believe that all the nuisance that happens there is very much Islamic. I would like to enlighten our ignorant brothers and sisters that the activities taking place on these dargahs are absolutely un-Islamic.
Now the question may arise that if not dargah, then what about women entering the mosque. So, answer is that women are very much allowed to go to mosque and offer Namaz if there is proper arrangement of purdah and they are safe. However, while going to mosque they should not flaunt their beauties and expose their features, should wear full and covering attire and not use any perfumes. And the menstruating women, due to their being almost half-sick and uncomfortable with daily routine activities, have been given special relaxation of absolutely quitting Namaz throughout the period and postponing Roza to a later convenient time to be performed in days when not menstruating. As far as the entry of menstruating women to a mosque is concerned, most of the Islamic scholars in the light of Qur’aan and Hadith, are of the opinion that they can enter it and even sit in case of extreme need, if there is no chance of the mosque floor being dirtied. However it should not be a habit. It is so, purely because of some requisite set of rules pertaining to Namaaz and mosque, and not because that Islam considers women themselves as dirty.
There are some certain Islamic terms like “Paak” and “Napaak” which equally apply to both men and women. For performing certain prayers, one has to be compulsorily “Paak” for instance to offer Namaaz. Thus a woman in her period is technically considered as “Napaak” and hence she enjoys the privilege of not offering Namaz during the entire period. Likewise, the men can’t offer Namaaz post-ejaculation caused by any means unless they take a bath and become “Paak”. Apart from the above, there are many other things which make one “Napaak”. But, in the event of being “Napaak” due to reasons other than menstruation, both men and women can attain “Paaki” immediately and offer Namaz. For example, if one spills some urine on his/her clothes, can immediately wash it and part of the body that has got wet, and then can offer Namaaz. While in case of menstruation, the woman in considered “Napaak” for the entire menstrual period.
So, the matter of women having been forgiven of the obligatory Namaz during their entire period and asked to postpone Roza to non-menstruating days is really a privilege and special relaxation granted to them in keeping with their biological requirement. However, the pseudo-intellectuals like Zakia craving for cheap publicity, term it as something tantamount to snatching away of women’s rights. I feel pity for her extremely pathetic knowledge of very basic things about Islam. As I heard her opine with extreme anguish that “No Roza No Namaz” during period, I was taken aback by her absolute ignorance of something as basic as the do’s and don’ts of Roza and Namaz. She seemed to imply, that despite her being extremely mad for Namaz in love of Allah, that too during her period, people did not let her offer Namaz out of their patriarchal mindset. But, I doubt whether she would have ever done a single Sajda (prostration) so far.
Zakia and the likes of her, only long for publicity and since they are well aware of the fact that any tactic denigrating Muslims and their practices, is the most sought-after spice for the media, they spare no efforts in capitalizing even on the slightest chance of earning name and fame at the cost of defaming Islam. I would humbly advise her not to indulge in cheap histrionics and embrace any other faith that suits her requirements or humbly adhere to her current faith without holding her own assumptions, and terming them as patriarchal, anti-women and un-Islamic.
This is how these ill-informed self-styled intellectuals help spread baseless and wrong information about Islam. Consequently, in absence of the right person to respond, the outcome of the talk show, was the endorsement of the perception held by Barkha and Zakia towards Islam that it treats its women differently. The reason why the channels do not invite well-informed scholars is that they don’t want to let the fact come out lest it counter their own assumptions foiling their attempts to malign Islam.
It would be pertinent to understand as to why the entire world is hysterically interested in Muslim women’s affairs. The only reason of this obsession is that they can’t tolerate Muslim women remaining in the four walls of their home only getting out in hours of need unlike women from other religions who are free to roam around anywhere as they wish. Islam considers women as the most sacred, precious and foundational pillars of a healthy society. It firmly espouses the Idea that when a man becomes a righteous person he corrects only one generation while when a woman treads on the right path, it does shape the lives of generations. Islam does not tolerate women being considered as a mere toy being played with by human wolves and slaves of desires. It regards men and women both as the whole and sole property of whom he/she is legally married to. It cannot tolerate her modesty being desecrated by dirty flies.
While this is the case with women in Islam, it is just opposite on the other side. It pains the sex-obsessed west and its followers the most, that why all Muslim women are not there out in the market for their pleasure at a time when the world is fast adapting to their dirty culture. This is the reason why the entire west is hell-bent on bringing Muslim women out from their homes in the name of hollow women emancipation and empowerment. I would say that the current approach of struggle for women’s rights is less of empowerment and more of bringing both sexes’ genitals closer.
Contrary to this, Islam obligates women for observing purdah, instructs them not to flaunt and expose their beaties, asks the believers to lower their gazes, instructs both sexes not to mingle freely with each other without proper precautionary measure in place, wants its women to travel only with a “Mahram” (one to whom marriage is not allowed), forbids two “Ghair Mahrams” (one to whom marriage is allowed) to be in absolute solitary. Islam expects the faithful to take care of all these things because first it principally seeks to stop all the lesser evils that could lead to bigger and heinous ones. However, ironically all these remarkable measures to protect the very sanctity and chastity of women are denounced and termed as draconian. They present a few deviated Muslim women fallen prey to their propaganda, as role models to bring out our majority of women who happily live like queens in their homes.
Let me expose the hollowness of the kind of women’s freedom being sought by so called women rights’ activists and advocates. When these votaries of women’s rights believe that a woman can’t enjoy absolute freedom until and unless she is not there in the market on display to serve as eye delight, they must admit that in this case, the women would naturally be expected to be as responsible in affairs of home finances as the men are and this is not an easy task for the weaker gender. They won’t be able to just enjoy roaming around and will have to be as responsible bread winner as the men are at any cost.
Having worked in corporate for more than six years, I myself am aware of women employees’ plight where along with myriad of other problems, they are extremely prone to sexual harassments and abuses as well. I used to feel pity for them while listening to their miseries of managing home and office and particularly their sufferings in the event of their being mothers. The greater curse of this fake and deceptive right to freedom is so damaging that these working women are even compelled to abandon their infants daily for 10 to 12 or more hours mainly feeding on the readymade milk and most importantly being deprived of mothers’ care and affection when they need them the most. Apart from this, being women they go through various biological problems during their periods, pregnancies and still slog in offices reeling under immense work pressure, coping with both things at the same time while they should actually be at home. And all this is inflicted upon them just because of that cheap and hollow freedom of roaming around. It is so sad that they end up with gaining too little at the cost of losing too much.
These are the reasons why Islam did not put the burden of breadwinning upon women, and instead assigned to them the task of homemaking so that they could give their full time to raise and prepare a good generation. Now, imagine whether the Muslim women absolutely free from the responsibility of earning livelihood are fortunate to enjoy real freedom and quality rights or the Non-Muslim ones. Any unbiased person can well imagine that by not tasking women with the responsibility of earning livelihood and making it the sole responsibility of men, Islam has bestowed women with the greatest right that no other right could be worth it.
Some other important rights being enjoyed by women in Islam are as follows:
Women are entitled to get “Inheritance” be they daughter, mother or wife.
If there is any genuine reason, they have every right to seek “Khula” (separation sought by women) same as their husbands have right to Talaaq.
They have not been made responsible to look after people other than their husbands and children and it is entirely upon their goodwill if they wish so.
Islam cares for women’s rights to such an extent that if they wish, they can even charge their husbands for breastfeeding their children.
One thing among the most-criticized is the triple Talaaq. In this respect, I would like to enlighten the readers that as per a Hadith “Talaaq among the allowed things is the most hated one to Allah”. Apart from this, most of the scholars are of the opinion that giving three Talaaqs at one time, should be avoided as far as possible. However, if given, it will be held as valid, so that people do not make Talaaq a matter of fun and think hundred times before uttering the unfortunate word. Those who criticize Islamic method of Talaaq, do not bother to see their co-religionists changing wives like clothes.
Where is the injustice now? If non-observing of purdah, absolute right to roam around in the market, becoming eye-soother for men in films, TV programs and shows, dancing in clubs, pubs and bars, wandering in malls, showrooms and shops, serving as receptionists, hostesses or working anywhere making most of their sexual appeal to maximize business, are the only parameters of equal rights, so be it, our women are happy in their homes with their honor and chastity intact.
I would like to conclude by requesting the likes of Barkha and Zakia, not to pass judgments on sensitive issues without proper knowledge, because this leads to grave misconception. If the TV channels are really concerned, instead of inviting the likes of Zakia to vomit out the nonsense, they should invite highly learned scholars on the subject for debate so that the real perspective comes to fore.