Islamic law gives due rights to Muslim women. It is another thing that most Muslims are not obeying these laws in letter and spirit.
Almost every one of us knows today that a woman is not a mere thing. She is not a mere property. She is a human being like us. She is our part. She is our mother, sister, daughter or wife. She is one among us. The biological differences do not necessarily mean her inferiority. In certain cases, she may be inferior to a man and in other cases, the man is inferior to her too.
We hear much about women empowerment and women emancipation nowadays. National and international days are held time and again to spread the importance of women empowerment. From the West to the East there are many who talk about the emancipation of women. Still, there are many people who take the women empowerment slogans as offensive. Many men feel it is an attack on their so-called manhood. Many feel it is Western propaganda only. Some say that women are already empowered. The others believe that they do not need any emancipation. Everything according to them is perfect.
It is true that the movement of women empowerment has gained more popularity in the West. There are many thinkers in the Western world who wrote in favour of women emancipation. For example, J. S. Mill; the modern political thinker, wrote a full book on the subject and named it “The Subjugation of Women”. In that book, he gave a number of logical answers to refute the subjugation of women. In short, he believed that if women have remained inferior to men in certain cases it is mainly due to “socialization.” He advocated equal rights for women in every field. There are many other scholars in the West who put forth the same ideas. After this grew the popular feminist movement in the West which was largely led by women authors and thinkers like Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf, etc.
In the East many people in general and the Muslims, in particular, took these movements as offensive and are having still a lot of doubts about such ideas discussed above.
However, some brilliant Muslim minds have supported the idea of women emancipation and equality too. For example, if we read Alama Iqbal’s world-famous masterpiece “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” more carefully, we shall know that Iqbal supports the Idea of women empowerment and women equality in Islam too. In this book, Iqbal shares Ziya Pasha’s views on women empowerment although, he presents some of his reservations too. Ziya Pasha was a nineteenth-century poet and statesman from Turkey. Iqbal quotes him a number of times and supports some of his ideas about the need for women empowerment in the Muslim communities particularly.
Pasha according to Iqbal believes that men have treated these beautiful creatures as despicable beings. Women’s equality is a must for a model family life which in turn is indispensable for a proper national life. Ziya believes that her equality is chiefly necessary for three things – in divorce, in separation and in inheritance. He says that we have to provide proper justice to our womenfolk. We must not leave them at the mercy of our schools of thoughts only.
Therefore, there is more in the above-mentioned masterpiece than one or two verses in his poetry which Iqbal wrote in favour of womanhood and which we recite everywhere during such gatherings.
It was not Iqbal or Ziya only who spoke against women’s suppression. The holy Quran itself guides Muslims to treat women carefully. we interpret it properly, it teaches us to treat women equally and never to suppress them. Alama Iqbal who certainly had a better understanding of this holy book interprets a verse from the second chapter of the Quran, in these words, “And for women are rights over men similar to those for men over women (2:228). Iqbal believes that in the case of inheritance, the Quran has already decreed in favour of women. He further believes that Islamic law gives due rights to Muslim women in case of divorce too. It is another thing that Muslims in general are not obeying these laws in letter and spirit now.
Quran is perhaps the only guide which ordered men to give a fixed part of their inheritance to women. It is another thing that most Muslims nowadays disobey this teaching and still believe that they are the real followers of this great faith.
Thus, women empowerment must not be taken as an offence by anyone. It is the fundamental right of women to be treated as women and nothing else. Women empowerment is not against anyone. It does not preach subjugation of men. It preaches the rise of women to their rightful status.
It preaches to free them from their suppression. It preaches that everyone must let them grow.
Hilal Bukhari is a teacher at GHS Kralweth