Behind The Veil
Islam is the eternal divine message of Allah, the Almighty and Exalted, to all mankind, delivered by Muhammed, the Prophet and Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him).
Islam declared that all human beings are dignified and honored more than other creatures of Allah, as He (Allah) stated in the Glorious Qur'an:
(And indeed we have honored the children of Adam, and we have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with lawful good things, and have preferred them above many of those whom we have created with a marked preference.) [Surah17:Verse70]
Allah (The Almighty) also declared another major principle: that all men are created equal in terms of original creation. He stated in the Glorious Qur'an:
(O mankind! Be dutiful to Your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created many men and women; and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (i.e. kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.) [Surah4:Verse1]
Based on the previous principles, all men and women are equal in terms of humanity and basic values, obligations and responsibilities. All men and women are created equal in the sight of Allah. Their differences in race, language, livelihood and geography etc., have no relationship to increase or decrease this honor. The true distinction among them is based on their piety, commitment to Islam, the revealed religion of Allah, and their level of practice and application of its principles in their own daily lives. Allah (The Almighty) stated this in the Glorious Qur'an when He said:
(O Mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the Sight of Allah is the one who is most pious and righteous. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.) [Surah49:Verse13]
Woman in Islam
Nowdays, people think that women are liberated in the West and that the Women’s liberation movement began in the 20th century and the Muslim woman is oppressed and maltreated by the religion of Islam. Actually, the women’s liberation movement was not begun by the west, but was revealed by Allah to a man in the seventh century, this man is Muhammed, and may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, the last Prophet of Allah. What we are going to say is not sophistical words or a defense, but they are facts derived from our Holy Book (Qur'an) and Prophet Muhammed's Sunnah (His sayings and deeds).
Since men and women both came from a single source, they are equal in their humanity.So women cannot be a nature of evil, (according to some religious teachings), or then men also would be evil also. Similarly, neither gender can be superior because it would be a contradiction to equality.
Allah, the Exalted and Almighty, states that meaning in the Glorious Qur'an:
(O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women...) [Surah4:Verse1]
Allah also states in the Glorious Qur'an:
(Does man think that he will be left neglected without being punished or rewarded for the obligatory duties enjoined by his Lord (Allah) on him? Was he not a mixed male and female discharge of semen pouring forth? Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned (him) in due proportion, and made him into two sexes, male and female. Is He not able to raise to life those who are dead?) [Surah75:Verse36-40]
In Islam, woman has the basic freedoms of choice and expression based on recognition of her individual personality; Women are encouraged in Islam to contribute their opinions and ideas. According to marriage, the Muslim woman has the freedom to accept or refuse the man who proposes to her and to choose the one suitable to her.
Prophet Muhammad said: “Seeking knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim (male and female).” (At-Tirmidhi)
This includes knowledge of the Quran and Hadeeth (sayings of Prophet Muhammed) as well as other types of knowledge. And if the Muslim woman has the skills to work outside the home for the good of the community, she may do so as long as her desire and her family social requirements are met, but still her bringing up and educating her children and providing support to her husband are highly regarded roles for the Muslim woman.
Also Islam recognizes and fosters the natural differences (Physical, Physiological, Biological, etc.) between men and women despite their equality. Some types of work are more suitable for men and other types for women. This in no way diminishes either’s efforts or benefits because Allah will reward both genders equally for the value of their work, though it may not necessarily be the same activity.
Concerning motherhood, Prophet Muhammad said:
“Heaven lies under her feet.” (An-Nasai)
This implies that the success of a society can be traced to the mothers who raised it. The first and greatest influence on a person comes from the sense of safety, affection, and the training received from the mother. Therefore, a woman having children must be educated and conscientious in order to be a skillful parent.
A right given to Muslim women by God 1400 years ago is the right to vote in social issues. In any public matter, the Muslim woman gives her opinion, votes and participates in politics.
Generally, the role of woman in the history of the world is demonstrated in the story of "Belquees", the Queen of Sheba. See Surah27:Verse22-44, Allah (God) gave us her history in the Quran, to set a precedent that a woman in a political leadership is not offensive to God.
She represented a democratic ruler who consulted with her people
before making important decisions (Surah27:Verse29). She visited Solomon, talked to him and made decisions for herself and her people.
After witnessing the great kingdom that God provided to Prophet Solomon, she submitted to the will of God and followed Solomon and became a believer (Muslim), while still the Queen of Sheba.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
"She was asked to enter the lofty palace: but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she tucked up her skirts, uncovering her legs. He said: This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass. She said: O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I submit, with , to the Lord of the universe." (Surah 27: Verse 44).
Here a witness of a woman whose story was told by Allah in the Qur'an. Queen of Sheba was mentioned in the Qur'an as an example of the good leader. Sheba's history provides us lessons that Allah has placed no restrictions on a woman in a leadership role.
In Islam, Allah created men and women with unique roles, functions and skills. As in any society, where there is a division of labor, so too in a family, each member has different responsibilities. Generally, Islam upholds that women are entrusted with the nurturing role, and men, with the guardian role.
The Quran states:
“Men are the maintainers of women because God has made some of them to excel others and because they spend of their wealth (for the support of women).” (Quran 4:34)
This guardianship and greater financial responsibility given to men requires that they provide women with not only monetary support but also physical protection and kind respectful treatment.
Muslim women have also the privilege to earn money, the right to own property, to enter into legal contracts and to manage all of her assets in any way she pleases. She can run her own business and no one, including her husband, has any claim on her earnings.
The Quran states:
“And in no wise covet those things in which God hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others; to men is allotted what they earn, and to women, what they earn; but ask God of His bounty for God hath full knowledge of all things.” (Quran 4:32)
At a time when the rest of the world, from Greece and Rome to India and China, considered women as no better than children or even slaves, with no rights whatsoever, Islam acknowledged women's equality with men in great many aspects. The Quran states:
"And among His signs is this: that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest and peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Certainly, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect." [Quran 30:21]
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manners and kindest to his wife." [Abu Dawud]
Humanity has taken a very long time to understand the true position of women. The social system of Islam brought about a revolution in establishing this position. It started by recognizing woman as a free person, capable of and entitled to excelling spiritually and materially in all fields and functions of life, like her male counterpart.
Despite many important distinctions between the genders for the enrichment of human civilization, in the Islamic law, a woman is equal to man and is just as liable for her actions. There is no gender differentiation in rewarding for good work either:
"… whoever does right, whether man or woman, and is a believer, will enter Paradise…" (Qur'an, 40: 40)
In every epoch of Islamic history, the Muslim women were engaged in every profession that suited them, from a battlefield combatant to a court judge. Caliph Omar employed a woman, "Shifa' bint 'Abdallah", as an inspector in the market at the capital Madinah. The same woman had taught Hafsah,the wife of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), how to read and write.
Most recently, Muslim women have been prime ministers and presidents of their respective Muslim countries. Of course, Islam demands that a woman should remain within defined guidelines. On the other hand, it does not expect her to become either an angel or a demon.
Women worldwide demand equal rights. There is not a system of law that preserves, maintains and protects what are truly women's rights, as much as Islamic law does, whether in the past or in modern times. This will be verified and substantiated in the following points of view:
· Sir Hamilton, the well-known English thinker and philosopher, stated in his book on Islam and Arab Civilization:
"The rules, regulations and verdicts concerning women in Islam are clear, frank and open. Islam capitalizes on the complete care that should be given to the protection of a woman against anything that may harm her personally, or cause ill-fame to her reputation or character."
· Gustave Le Bon, the well-known French thinker stated in his book "The Arab Civilization, [p.488]":
"Islamic virtuous deeds are not limited to honoring and respecting women, but rather, we can add that Islam is the first religion to honor and respect women. We can easily prove this by illustrating that all religions and nations, prior to the advent of Islam, caused much harm and insult to women."
He also points out:
"Matrimonial rights which have been stated and illustrated in the Glorious Qur'an and by the interpreters of the meanings of the Glorious Qur'an are far better than European matrimonial rights for both husband and wife." [p.497]
· Henry Makow, the inventor of the board game Scruples, and the author of a Long Way to go for a Date, gives his views on the Burka (Hijab, veil) vs. the Bikini. He talked about two different beauty contestants, wearing nothing but a bikini. He said:
"The role of woman is at the heart of any culture. Apart from stealing Arab oil, the impending war in the Middle East is about stripping Arabs of their religion and culture, exchanging the burka for a bikini.
For me, the burka represents a woman’s consecration to her husband and family. Only they see her. It affirms the privacy, exclusivity and importance of the domestic sphere.
The Muslim woman’s focus is her home, the “nest” where her children are born and reared. She is the “home” maker, the taproot that sustains the spiritual life of the family, nurturing and training her children, providing refuge and support to her husband.
In contrast, the bikinied American beauty queen struts practically naked in front of millions on TV. A feminist, she belongs to herself. In practice, paradoxically, she is public property. She belongs to no one and everyone. She shops her body to the highest bidder. She is auctioning herself all of the time."
In addition, he finalized his article by:
"I am not advocating the burka but rather some of the values that it represents, specifically a woman’s consecration to her future husband and family, and the modesty and dignity this entails".
Among the many topics of interest to non-Muslims, the status of Muslim women and the theme of their rights -- or rather, the perceived lack of them – seems to be foremost. The media’s portrayal of Muslim women, usually outlining their “oppression and mystery” seems to contribute to this negative perception.
The main reason for this is that people often fail to distinguish between culture and religion -- two things that are completely different. In fact, Islam condemns oppression of any kind whether it is towards a woman or humankind in general.
By Somaia Mohamed Badry