Articles/Submissions > Who Needs Women?
Who Needs Women?
Submitted by ShiaSisters.net
(by Muallima Ummulbanin Merali - www.radio.fatima.com)
The female role in organized religion.
When given the title ‘Who needs women?’ I was bemused to say the least, and my first thought was – must have been devised by a man preparing for the World Cup.
Before I begin, I must warn you that I am not an expert nor a religious scholar. I am speaking from my personal convictions as a woman and hence a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother.
One of the most fashionable issues of our time is the growing interest in the role of women in various spheres. After many years of male dominated hierarchies I wonder whether the sudden interest is because men feel threatened in a way that they never have before.
I would like to define religion as I understand it – religion is life transaction – it is the divinely guided code of practise that one believes will take one to one’s full potential – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual…..
It is with this definition that I would like to proceed to define a woman’s role in Islam as taught by Muhammad (p.b.u.h.).
He taught that both genders were created for the same purpose – the recognition of their Creator and therefore the realisation of their full potential but have been given different tools with which to fulfil their common goal. Their physiological, emotional, and psychological differences are a result of their divergent spiritual mandate therefore they are not identical – Equity but not sameness……
By nature men are physically stronger; he is more aggressive and outdoor orientated. In dramatic contrast a woman embodies the ideal of inner dignity. Society sometimes mistakes this subtlety as a weakness but in truth it is more formidable than aggressive physical force. The actualisation of ideas is done by women who are better at harnessing and nurturing spiritual and emotional energy.
The mandate of a Muslim woman is clearly defined. Her primary role is to build the basis of the structure of a society. By this I mean that it is she who is to provide the invisible foundation of a nucleus from which all human beings build their lives. To appreciate the strength of this foundation, we only need to see a situation in a home where this foundation did not exist. Unfortunately, we do not need to look very far. The right foundation within a family translates into harmony and stability between families and communities and ultimately nations.
For this role Islam demands that she is educated. By education I do not mean merely learning the skills to make a living…..The ‘why’ of education must precede the ‘how’.. If women are to be the hands that rock the cradles that rule the world then we need to put aside limited human subjectivity and act on the master plan laid out by God.
Before I elaborate Let me clarify that I do not mean that a woman should not pursue a vocation – far from it – and if in your minds you are conjuring up a picture of a docile subsurvient domesticated slave for man then you cannot be further from the truth –
A woman’s role is to be a reformer – one who shapes and inspires without compromising the role of daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother… making an impact whose ripples continued to motivate.
Islam provides a complete package of tools to fulfil this mandate:
Guidance on upbringing, education, relationships, laws of inheritance, ownership…. Let me give you some examples…..
A daughter; Muhammad said was a mercy; when his daughter entered the room he would stand for her in respect…..
Education is incumbent – not a choice for both genders –
A woman is not owned in Islam - In secular societies even today if a woman marries, she changes her name. A name is significant - she does not possess sufficient value or credit to keep her name In Islam you keep your name.
Her wealth is her own in marriage – maintenance is the husband’s responsibility despite her wealth…
As a mother Muhammad said that Paradise lies under her feet and one who does not respect the womb that bore him/her will never reach his/her full potential.
The hijab or this covering which provokes a range of emotions from subservient slave to terrorist is a tool to allow a woman to work in the public arena as who she is rather than what she look like placing sexuality where it belongs – in the confines of a loving divinely blessed relationship….
To illustrate this I turned the pages of history in a quest to look for role models; I looked for women whose courage was apparent to spread ideas where they were needed but not necessarily welcomed – they pushed for reform where it went against entrenched and powerful interests – it takes immense courage to go against the ‘bone of the bone’ and the ‘flesh of the flesh’……
From the Qur’an I found to name a few - Hagar – the black woman slave who populated the valley of Bakka with her faith and truth,
Aasiya the wife of Pharoah who stood up against an establishment which had succeeded in oppressing a whole people. In her case it happened to be her husband,. Her conviction shook him. He had to resort to silencing the very woman he loved
Mary who demonstrates the disregard for what the world thinks. Her faith when facing the townspeople as an unmarried mother has no match in the history of humankind.
From the life of Muhammad – his wife Khadija; the most successful business woman in Arabia – she employed him and found him to have the most ethical business values – proposed to him and married him - to
His daughter Fatima who stood up to the establishment when they confiscated her land
Zaynab the sister of Husayn who spoke out against oppression
There was Bintal Huda in Iraq who empowered women with education in Iraq and was killed with her brother in 1980 as a result by Saddam
Nana Asmau in Nigeria (1865) who began the Yan Taru movement educating village women – the movement still continues.
More recently Pakistan has 30,000 women councillor, the chief designer of aircraft in Indonesia is a veiled Muslim woman, a hospital in Tunisia runs entirely by women for women, the women’s university in Makka is run entirely by women for women…18 women stood up for parliament in Bahrain, 6 ministries in the recent interim government of Iraq are headed by women, 62% of Iranian women attend university; the most successful bank in Bangladesh is run by women for women – news items that will never be published because the media is run by men for men who say who needs women?