By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
Although the heading here refers to the world in general, the issue of imbalances of equality let alone of equity as related to female gender is significant though in all cultures and communities but more so among Muslims; and especially those who take refuge in religious dogmas to justify this imbalance.
The Muslims, pride themselves for being the followers of the Faith as given in the source Book Quran, which they maintain as having given the ‘entire womanhood’, unprecedented and dignified status with equality and equity above all others cultures, and that it was fourteen centuries ago.
They believe that the faith had divinely coded for them to follow in practice. However in the practice the main ingredients are left out. These being not only equality- equal in balance-Adal, but equity-Qist and kindness and compassion-Ehsan so as to complete the package called justice.
Their practices today do not synchronise with that claim. In fact the opposite is true. Hence the often staged demonstrations by females against these malpractices!
In their religiosity Muslims display some of the extreme forms of misogynistic and male- centred parody of their Faith. The status of the women under the aegis of the various self-made dogma (1), is odd, as those are falsely applied under the canopy of the source Book. It is the most perplexing enigmas that beset the Muslim women.
The highly restrictive and authoritarian over-lordship of men leaves no room for women to manoeuvre in the society as equal partners in what constitutes half of the population of humanity on earth. This is the direct result of application, practices and contrary interpretations of that code (2).
Apart from the fact of physical strength of the male compared to the female and their biological constraints as constructed in nature’s design as explained in the code; the additional disadvantages are the dogmatic practices. And as was and still largely it is in all cultures, the responsibility imposed upon men(3) to provide financial support to female, puts it even further at a disadvantage by being wholly dependent upon men for survival.
This stems from the contradictory and selective interpretation of the spirit of the Book. The main contradiction lay where the Book gives dignity and honour (4) to ALL mankind which obviously includes the female gender, to be treated equally with dignity. But selectivity is practiced to maintain the male control.
In the context of all the commands dealing with women’s rights, the male takes refuge in religious dogmas to escape the obligations and responsibilities and thus to avoid putting it in practice in full.
The most effective tool employed is to brain wash all through dogmatic grooming (5). This strategy results in utter humiliation (6) of the weak as secular knowledge then becomes non-existent and female particularly is the victim!
But in the Book, in full recognition of women’s natural disadvantages, men are expected to compensate her socially, economically and ethically with extra-nominal benefits, from men’s share to be just and fair.
The operatives of the churches, being the male elite, professionals and considered the learned, are fully aware of Europe’s obsession since sixteenth century that knowledge is power. To then ensure the permanence of their positions, the elite endeavour to keep the masses ignorant of the knowledge.
The practical step taken in most of the Muslim world is that this strategy is adopted by the governments also. In collaboration with the churches; they provide grossly minimal secular educational facilities to restrict intellectual development. The largest group then to suffer from this strategy is of course the female!
Under the tutelage of churches, religious fungi culture is practiced to keep them in the dark like mushrooms. It is impressed upon girls that to be a ‘good Muslimah’, they must accept men as divinely superior. Apocryphal gospel is enforced also to treat husband somewhat as the earthly god (7)!
Hence ostensibly, the mothers of the nation though venerated as a ‘queen bee’, bulky and weighted down with reproductive responsibilities but very lean intellectually to be able to cradle and educate the nation as expected.
Unpleasant as it may be for the elite and privileged to accept this fact, yet this is undoubtedly the general scenario in the Third and Muslim world in particular.
A few ladies, though themselves not falling in this category, to their credit do take the cudgel to protest the plight of their sisters languishing in misery in many parts of the Muslim world. For that they are rewarded with threats to their lives!
Such defiance by women infuriates the pious men and they resort even to commit murders to protect their ‘honour’.
Rather than looking in the mirror to realise that what they see is the duality of their Self and the Believer of the Book. However, according to poet Warsi the poor soul looking in the mirror (8) can hardly be blamed as it too is shackled in the traditions handed down by their forefathers.
But as stated above, the politicians are in cohort with priests for their own existence and survival.
It was this nexus when broken, where the two groups went their separate ways, was when the West made huge progress in many fields that we see today including knowledge of natural sciences.
Some argue that on religious grounds this divorce is not for the good, as secular education has morally corrupted the female. Yet the same people having restricted secular education then wonder why there is no ‘Muslimah lady doctor’ for miles for them to attend to their wife’s medical problems!
The political authorities in Muslim countries must realise that secular education system; system that teaches free-mind inquiry of all issues and sciences on the workings of nature is ordained (9), at many places in the source Book. This is the tested and tried system for the progress and development of Humanity. Tried and tested it was even in the past Muslim history, that they are proud of.
It is an abrogation then of their duty therefore not to correct the imbalance and take practical steps to put it right; as much as it is incumbent upon the public to obey the authorities as well(10).
Therefore extraordinary investment, –Ehsan--both monetary and intellectual capital is required under the present circumstances to reverse the deteriorating educational and social conditions for the female in particular, as a matter of urgency.
Such thoughts go against the churches and their operatives and authorities, for they fear they will then be challenged to give answers to many of the illogical, shameful, humiliating and contradictory edicts that they propagate in the name of their religions.
There appears there is a simple reason for this. To them Bani-Adam means Adam’s progeny and Adam was only a male. Eve, the poor female soul does not feature in Quran, except in their voluminous religious corpus and that too negatively!
1) al-Quran 2-79, Then woe to those who write the books with their own hands and then say ‘this is from God…’
2) al-Quran 3-78, There is among them a section who distort The Book with their tongues (as they read) you would think it is part of the Book, but it is not… it is they who fabricate a lie against God, and well do they know.
3) al-Quran 4-34, Men are protectors and maintainers of women because God has given the former more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means…
4) al-Quran 17-70, WE (The All-mighty) have dignified the progeny of Adam…
6) Tujhey Mazhab Mitaanaa Hee Preygaa ru-e-Hasti say=you will have to get rid of your religion from the face of the earth,
…..Terey haathon’ bahut toheen-e-Adam Hoti jaati hai=(Oh priest) at your hands mankind is being grossly humiliated! –Anandrai Mula
7) Wikipedia, Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 285“Narrated by Abu Hurayrah-The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Had it been permissible that a person may prostrate himself before another, I would have ordered that a wife should prostrate herself before her husband.”!
8) Meyraa aks hai sarey aainah, pasey aainah koee oar hai.= It is my reflection in front of the mirror, (but I see) someone else is in the mirror.-. Muzaffar Warsi
9) al-Quran 2-164, Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alteration of day and night; in the sailing of ships through the ocean for the benefit of mankind; in the rain that God sends down from the skies and the life which He gives through it to the earth that is dead; in the beasts that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds and the clouds that they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth, here indeed there are signs for nations that use their enquiring wisdom.
10) al-Quran 4-59. Oh you Believers, Obey God and obey the Messenger -the Authority of the divine system, and those whom the system has appointed as the office-bearers among you to implement it…
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is An Australian-Indian retired Engineer