Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Distorted Image of Muslim Women

The Distorted Image of Muslim Women

By Sister Naasira bint Ellison, a convert to Islam

Hudaa, Jamaica, New York

Since the height of the feminist movement in the late 70's there
has been a magnifying glass placed over the status of Muslim women.
Unfortunately, the magnifying glass that has been used is an unusual
one. Unusual in the sense that it is very selective about which
items it will magnify; other items it will distort to such a degree
that they will no longer look familiar. I remember once reading
in an "in depth" article about the lives of Muslim women.
This article "explained" that at any time a man can divorce
his wife by simply stating "I divorce you, I divorce you, I
divorce you". This article can lead anyone ignorant of the
Islamic ruling regarding divorce to believe that in less than five
seconds the woman is left with no husband and is left to care for
herself (and possibly children) by any means necessary. The question
that immediately popped up in my mind was, "Did the author
innocently write that out of sincere ignorance or was it another
of the many attempts to degrade the religion of Islam and its followers
(muslims)?" It may be my own paranoia, but I tend to believe
it was the latter of the two.

The truth of the matter is that Islam has the most humane and most
just system of divorce that exists. Firstly, many options are taken
and tried before coming to the decision of the divorce. If the man
and woman decide that they can no longer live together successfully
as a husband and wife, the husband (in most cases, not always) pronounces
the divorce by saying "I divorce you". At this point the
waiting period begins. The waiting period lasts for three menstrual
cycles to assure the woman is not pregnant. This period allows the
couple time to think about what they are doing and if this is what
they really want to do. There are no lawyers involved to antagonise
an already delicate situation.

In the case that it is realised, that the woman is pregnant, the
waiting period lasts the entire time she is pregnant. During the
waiting period (whether the woman is pregnant or not) the man is
obligated to provide food, clothing and shelter to the woman as
he did before the divorce pronouncement. If the couple carries the
divorce through to the birth of the child and the woman suckles
the baby, the man is obligated to feed and clothe both his ex-wife
for the time the woman suckles (the maximum being two years). After
this weaning, the child will be provided for by the father until
he/she is no longer in need of support.

It is quite ironic that in such an "advanced society"
as America, there are divorce cases in which women are being forced
to pay alimony to their ex-husbands. Can this and many other things
we know about the American system of divorce compare to the Islamic
system of divorce?

I have also read stories wherein it is stated that women are forced
to marry men without their consent. This in no way resembles the
marriage system in Islam. In Islaam the woman marries the man of
her choice. She may even marry someone that her mother and/or father
objects to. The point is that it is the woman who makes the final
decision as to whom she will marry. Once the man and the woman decide
that they are interested in one another for marriage, a dowry is
decided upon. A dowry is not a brides price but, it is a gift from
the groom to the bride. They agree upon a gift that is affordable
by the groom. In the time of the Prophet (sas), often things such
as livestock and money were given. This is a wise decision in the
event that a woman becomes divorced or widowed, she has some financial
security to fall back on even if it is for a limited amount of time.
Once the man and woman are married, the man is required to clothe,
feed, shelter and educate her (or allow her to be educated) in the
same manner as he does himself.

The last distorted image that I will cover is that of the Muslim
women's dress. The western influenced media portrays our dress to
be outdated and oppressive. Needless to say however, I differ with
these adjectives. Our dress code does not hinder us from doing anything
productive in our lives. Muslim women maintain a variety of jobs,
non of which are devalued nor hampered due to their dress code.
And as for the timing of muslims women's dress during these contemporary
times, it seems most appropriate due to decreasing morals in the
world today.

For those who say that Islamic dress is outdated, they speak from
great ignorance. The decreasing morality and trials of this time
makes Hijaab even more in need. More than ever before sex crimes
are rampant. Although this society tells women they can wear what
they want to wear, anytime a rape occurs the woman is the one put
on trial an one of the first questions is, "What were you wearing?"
This concept seems as though it is a set up directed against the
so called contemporary woman. Also there is a direct correlation
between the respect a man has for a woman and the amount of her
body her body she displays flauntingly.

In conclusion, I hope this article helped to clear up some distorted/misunderstood
aspects of Islam and women. Women in Islam are respected and held
in high regard. We will never find success and/or solutions to our
problems until we realise that Allaah knows best and that this disbelieving
society will ruin itself.


No comments:

Post a Comment