Lecture presented by Hajjah Afaf Hakim- in Beijing Conference
Allah has honored the human being without any distinction between me and Women. Islam has come as a revolutionary law hich secured the dignity, the rights and the role of Women. It responds to all the inspirations of humanity in progress and development for it did not suppress any individual or collective potential nor did it hinder any capability in any human being whether a male or female.
It enhanced all potentials and strengthened all abilities while at the same time maintaining the balance between the movement of the individuals, the family and the society.
It has been proved by the various experiences, the nations have undergone so far, that this path Allah ordained, is a program for the delivarence of this world, that provides all what is good for man’s future and his march towards perfection.
An objective view of the position and the role of the Women in Islam would make us see how much effort and time we could save to achieve our inspirations and that of humanity as a whole.
The Women’s position:
Islam has based all its concepts and laws that govern the relations within the family and the Women’s relationship with the man on a scientific and practical rule. This rule is based on the belief in the unity of mankind who belong to the same origin and share the same fact being members of humanity. There is no difference between an individual and another because the soul is neither masculine nor feminine. In this respect Allah’s call is quite evident: “… have fear of your Lord, who created you from a single soul”.
“Men, we have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that might get to know one another”.
The women’s Role:
Generally speaking, Islam does not have separate laws for men and women, except with respect to their nature. For Allah has made both men and women His viceroy on earth, and not differentiate between men and women, who were both asked to pursue the same common path and role.
“The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: They enjoin the good and forbid the evil”.
Enjoining the good, as the jurists defined it, includes conveying the message and establishing justice in all fields.
On the other hand, forbidding evil means to fight all Kinds of corruption Such a big responsibility was given to the women who were given an equal role to men in controlling and running the social, economic, cultural and political levels.
Such was how Allah,s teaching dealt with woman, freeing them from their limited role as females to the broader role as human beings who are responsilble, just like men, for the welfare of themselves and humanity in general:
Women have to develop themselves so that they become strong and capable. They are also responsible for developing their society so as to create the suitable atmosphere that enable the nation to become powerful.
The woman in Islam enjoys a legal personality that is independent from both the father and the husband as well as any other human being. She has equal rights with man except those related to her physical nature.
In this respect, the dominant view in the West and in some other countries that the women in Islam do not have any rights is a view that has resulted either from a lack of knowledge of Islam or a misunderstanding of Quranic texts.
The women in Islam is free, with few exceptions, to choose her work, her husband and her political stands. She also has the right to Learn, work, own, inherit, and keep her maiden name… She also has the right to travel alone, to trade, buy and sign commercial contracts. Neither the father nor the husband have the right to exploit her or to benefit from her earnings that belong solely to her. She does not need the guardianship of a man in all her legal transactions.
1- The right to learn and teach:
This right was demanded from women and men alike. And the religious texts are a case in point;
The Holy Quran says:
“Are the wise and the ignorant equal?”
“Allah will raise to high ranks those that have faith and knowledge among you” The prophet (P.B.U.H) said: “Learning is the duty of every Muslim”
“Seek Knowledge from birth to death”.
As Islam emphasizes the duty of learning upon every man and woman, it also asks every man and woman to develop all their skills and powers. Those who teach or discover medicines or plant crops, are all performing what Allah has demand whether they were men and women.
2- The right to work:
Women as Men have the right to perform any lawful work. Sharia does not make any difference in the field, but due to the commitments of the women as a wife and mother she might have to discuss the matter with her husband.
The political field:
Islam has allowed women to be active in all political fields, including the establishment of political parties and organizations. They also have the right to be ministers, members of the national assemblies, etc…
Nevertheless, the posts of the heads of states and judges are left to men because of certain differences that do not imply any advantages.
3- The right of Ownership:
Islam has abolished all what the women used to be deprived of either of their right to own or to ménage her properties.
It is known that in Islam, the man has no right in the money of his wife or her work. He can not order her to do any work. If she happens to work and earn some money, the man has no right to use her money without her consent.
Contrary to what Europe has known, the married women in Islam is not under guardianship of her husband both in their business deals and legal relations. She is totally independent and free in her dealings.
The right to Inherit:
The Holy Quran has faced those who denied the right of the women to inherit:
“Men shall have a share in what their parents and kinsmen leave, and women shall have a share in that their parents Leave, whether it be little or much. It is legally theirs”.
And although Islam has made the woman’s share as half of the man’s, because man has to pay the dowry and the alimony, etc… It did not make this a general rule. For sometimes her share reaches half of that of the man’s.
“A male shall inherit twice as much as a female”, but there are other times in which she will inherit an equal sager: (share)
“but if there be one only she shall inherent the half”.
Thus, Islam did not deny the women any of her rights in inheritance.
The right of divorce:
In Islamic jurisprudence the women does not have a natural right to divorce, but it could be limited to certain occasions (like when the man marries another women, hurt his wife, or stay away for a certain time) or it could be an absolute right.
Therefore, what is said about the right of divorce being exclusive to men only is not correct according to Islamic jurisprudence.
In this respect, it is worth mentioning that equality between men and women does not necessarily mean similar rights. For the basic issue here, is the equality in value and not the similarity which could be unfair to the women in certain cases. And this is the main difference between the Islamic view and the sectarian views towards the issue of women.
These sectarian views sometimes call for the “equality” of men with women without any regard for their uniqueness while others like the former Russian president Gorbatchev call for the women’s “return to their feminine role”..
Moreover a women’s organization in a European country has called for the forming of a party to rehabilitate the women’s right to work at home.
Islam has left no room for such a confusion or going astray when it sought to preserve the women’s personality and value, by calling for the safeguard of their moral and material life, through a process of a delicate balance between equal rights that do not have to be similar.
For although, Islam has called for the women’s rights and independence including the right to keep her own maiden name: as what is practiced in most of the countries of the world (Islam has even give her the right according to the Shia sect to travel alone).. Yet, Islam in giving the women their freedom did not drive them towards rebellion, nor did it reduce the women’s respect to their parents or husbands. It did not undermine the family nor the men’s or the women’s view towards family life.
In view of all what has been said some might ask:
If the women’s position in Islam is as great as it was explained and if their rights were fully acquired 14 centuries ago, why does not the existing rea of the Muslim women reflect this view? And why does not the Muslim woman practice their civilizational role in a comprehensive and correct way?
The backwardness of the Islamic women has nothing to do with Islam and its concepts… For the current social economic and political situation is not a product of Islam… Therefore a distinction should be made between the women’s situation in all Islamic societies and countries and their status under Islam.
Furthermore, if we turn to the Islamic upheaval and to the impact of Islam on the Women’s movements in more than one Islamic country… Like the role of the women in South Lebanon, we will find a model Islamic experience for the women in South Lebanon, we will find a model Islamic experience for the contemporary women who are taking part in building the future of their homeland.
Statistics show how active are the women who have adopted Allah’s path… They all show the vast difference between their status before the Islamic awakening and after it…
When individuals and families adopted the straight path of religion, the women’s involvement in learning, working and voluntary contribution have already increased: The percentage of women students in vocational schools and universities increased and many women enrolled in illiteracy eradication schools so as to read the Holy Quran… These facts could be noticed from the following statistics:
The women’s Educational Status 1974- 1995
The women’s work
As for the involvement of women in the voluntary work to attend to the needy, the handicapped and the orphans, it has reached a very high ratio that can’t exist in any other atmosphere.
The women’s understanding of their position and their position and their enjoyment of the rights Allah has ordained to them have urged them to carry the burden of their historical role, in this climate history has witnessed a level of sacrifice that has been rarely seen whether from the mother, the sister, or the wife.
Lebanon, this beautiful and peaceful country whom the Israeli enemy, who has occupied our lands and suppressed the land of Palestine, has exploited every point of weakness to practice all sorts of aggression against our country… has changed completely after the Islamic awakening.
For the Islamic resistance that was produced by the coherent Islamic society, has become a school that teaches pride and dignity…
In this respect, the role of women in the South was so important… we have female martyrs just as we have male martyrs… And we have women prisoners. To illustrate this point further we provide the following statistics:
The number of the mothers, wives and children of the martyrs in the battle field has reached 2135 women.
Number of mothers: 1107.
Number of wives: 443.
Number of children: 526.
While the number of civilian martyrs:
This means that there are 2135 mothers who lost their sons, and most of them have encouraged their sons and helped them to perform their duties… Most importantly, there are about 90 mothers who have offered two or three martyrs.
As for the prisoners, the number has reached:
Prisoners taken from their homes and places of work:
The number of women prisoners has reached 300 prisoners.
Among them, there are 175 active prisoners.
17 prisoners whose ages are between 17 and 70.
20 pregnant women.
25 women who were captured with their children whose ages are between wo and five months.
Despite all the pains, dislocations, destroying of hundreds of villages by the aggressive and occupying Israeli army, the women in the South today are playing their role in securing a stable family, a healthy society and a new history.
Any comparison between the previous conditions of many families and our status today that is characterized by educational and ethical purity shows how bright is the picture of the struggle of Muslim women and their ability to change.
Lastly, we have to emphasize the following points:
1- To support the struggle of women in certain Islamic countries, to restore their rights, that were ordained by Islam… and to help them to create a state of intellectual upheaval especially regarding the researches and studies that relate to the issues of women… to reach the stage of the women’s contribution in overseeing the measures of implementation.
2- Those who deal with the women issues should not demand similar rights between men and women because similar rights do not necessarily mean equal rights.
The steps that are taken should take into consideration the women’s particularities and the needs of family stabilities.
3- To concentrate on the women’s humanity and not their feminity and especially by the mass media so that we can break the impasse which had made women and the society as a whole the spiritual and psychological stability.
4- To concentrate on the issue of the human rights in general, and to express the women’s cause as a part of a bigger problem. For to isolate the women’s cause is a result of a profound misunderstanding that poses the problem as a struggle between men and women, and ignores the fact they are both victims of the injustice, the crashing of human rights…
5- The women should adopt the slogan of returning to Allah. The negative view towards religion have cost the humanity a very big price… The time has come for the tired man in this world to review his beliefs so that he would not be running after a marriage.
The women of our contemporary would that is full of catastrophes, should be the first to take the initiative towards a great humanistic achievement that would turn the sufferings of humanity to a feeling of security and tranquility, so that we will not turn-even without knowing-into false witness of the daily crimes and violations of rights.
Let us make the calamities and tragedies the women and children in Bosnia, Palestine, Lebanon and any other place where oppression is dominant in this world, the beginning of a countdown that will bring back the whole human kind to Allah.