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New Muslims Reflections

How a Convert Woman Sees Their Status in Islam

 

Thompson was drawn to Islam because of what she calls the ‘peacefulness’ of the faith as well as the personal nature of Muslim religious practice

Thompson was drawn to Islam because of what she calls the ‘peacefulness’ of the faith as well as the personal nature of Muslim religious practice

Converting to a new religion is never an easy thing. There’s a lot to learn and, of course, the issue of how to break the news to family and loved ones. Things can be even more complicated for non-Muslim women who convert to Islam … most of the time.

‘I feel really blessed because my family reacted much better than other families I’ve heard about.’

Sarah Thompson is a native of Noblesville, Indiana. She grew up in what she would call a Christian household but says she always felt like something was missing and eventually left Christianity. It wasn’t until she began exploring Islam that she says she felt like she found a spiritual home. Thompson converted a few years ago after taking several months to learn about the faith.

A Family’s Reaction

‘My mom was like, ‘Okay, great, this is wonderful; what can I do?’ Thompson says of her mother’s reaction. ‘And she went out and bought me like fifteen scarves. I mean, she was just amazing.’

Although not everyone has been amazing, some of her family did have a difficult time understanding Thompson’s decision. Her father and stepfather, in particular, began to take it hard once they realized ‘just how real’ Thompson’s conversion was.

Most of her close friends were also supportive of her decision, although Thompson says she did have a few who thought she was crazy.

Feminism and Islam

‘I’ve always been a really strong feminist, so when I say they thought I was crazy, that’s what they meant,’ Thompson says.

‘They have a very limited idea of what Islam is. It is the woman in the hijab and it is this woman in the veil that’s being oppressed and that’s sort of the image (they have).’

The funny thing is, Thompson says, that she feels more liberated as a Muslim woman than she ever did as a Christian one.

‘I didn’t feel oppressed, but I didn’t necessarily feel liberated in Christianity,’ she says. ‘I definitely feel more liberated, and more free, in Islam. The way that some women are treated in other countries is more cultural and it’s definitely not Islamic. In the Qur’an it says ‘men have this right and women have this right’ and it’s the same right.’

The Beauty of Islam

Thompson says she was drawn to Islam because of what she calls the ‘peacefulness’ of the faith as well as the personal nature of Muslim religious practice.

‘It is a community religion but it is really focused on you and your relationship with God and you making your prayers every day and your intent being right every day,” Thompson says. “Only He knows what you’ve done.’

Thompson says that, in many ways she feels she’s the same person she was before the conversion. The big difference is that, instead of just saying she’s putting her faith in God, as a Muslim Thompson’s actually doing it.

_________________________

Source: Muslimvoices.org

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New Muslims Society

Islam & Legal Rights of Women

Are women degraded in Islam? Do women have rights in Islam? What legal rights do women have on the ground, and where does Islam stand from rights of women?

Are women degraded in Islam? In what way does Islam talk about the rights of women? Do women have rights in Islam? Do women have a right to participate in public life? Do women have a right to inherit?

What legal rights do women have on the ground, and where does Islam stand from this?

Do you know that during his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad took counsel with and encouraged over 600 female scholars, warriors, nurses, businesswomen, teachers and students?

Rights of Women in Islam

From her main areas of experiences and practices in criminal defense, international law and legal issues, Sultana Tafadar, who is a barrister, talks about rights and status of women on the ground and How Islam helps her do her job…

To know the answer to these questions, watch this show of Inspired by Muhammad campaign in which Sultana Tafadar focuses on women’s rights.

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New Muslims Worldview

Women Before and After Islam

Did you know not that in the Christian France in 586 AD a conference was held to discuss whether women are humans with a soul or not? And if she has a soul, is it of a human or of an animal nature? And is her soul equal to that of a man or not?

Do you know what did they agree on then?

How did the Romans and Arabs before Islam treat woman? How was woman looked upon and considered before the advent of Islam?

Did you know not know that in such eras women was often treated worse than animals?

So, what did Islam come to give her? Besides, what about the widely held belief that Islam suffocates women’s rights, treating them as property?

The documentary here provides a factual record of the issue:

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New Muslims Worldview

Women through the Eyes of Islam

For centuries, Muslim women in all corners of the world have been aware of the liberation that is achieved by adhering to the concept of hijab. Current world events have once again brought the issue of women’s liberation in Islam to the forefront of people’s minds.

Islam sees the liberation of women as essential and considers modesty, good character, and manners to be the way to achieve such liberation.

Islam sees the liberation of women as essential and considers modesty, good character, and manners to be the way to achieve such liberation.

Can a Woman Who Adheres to Hijab Be Liberated?

Can a religion that considers morality to be a part of faith clearly define the equality of men and women and their rights and responsibilities?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.  In a day and age when the basic tenets of Islam are being questioned by Muslim and non-Muslim alike, we must be cautious when evaluating Islam.

The general picture that is painted by the media is biased and unsubstantiated. The impression that some Muslims give to the world is often not a true reflection of the religion, one that is the completion of all religions.

Islam, the religion for all people in all places and times, takes the equality of men and women very seriously. It sees the liberation of women as essential and considers modesty, good character, and manners to be the way to achieve such liberation.

Too often, the image of a covered woman is used to represent what much of the world views as oppression. Her very existence is described in terms that convey ignorance and unhappiness. Words like ‘beaten’, ‘repressed’ and ‘oppressed‘ are bandied about by the Western media in a desperate attempt to convince the readers that women in Islam have no rights.

Descriptive and intrinsically oppressive terms such as ‘shrouded’ and ‘shackled’ are used to portray an image of women who have no minds and who are the slaves or possessions of their husbands and fathers.

In the 19th century, T. E. Lawrence described women in Arabia as ‘death taking a walk’, and from that time forward, the true status of women in Islam has been shrouded by misunderstanding. The truth about women and Islam is far from this melodramatic portrayal.

Over 1,400 years ago, Islam raised the status of women from a position of oppression to one of liberation and equality. In an era when women were considered possessions, Islam restored women to a position of dignity.

In order to gain a true insight into the real and lasting liberation that Islam guarantees women, we must first examine the concept of liberation as viewed by the West. In Western countries where liberation encompasses unlimited freedom, many women are actually finding themselves living lives that are unsatisfying and meaningless. In their quest for liberation, they have abandoned the ideals of morality and stability and found themselves in marriages and families that bear little resemblance to real life.

What is liberating about working all day and coming home at night to the housework? What is liberating about having babies who, at six weeks old can be deposited in childcare centers to learn their behavior and morality from strangers?

Girls as young as 6 years old have been diagnosed with eating disorders, teenage pregnancy is rampant, and women who choose to stay at home to raise their families are viewed as old fashioned or unemployable.

Women in the West are liberated: liberated to the point that they are no longer free to choose the life that is natural for them. They are free only to choose from the selection of consumer goods offered to them by their masters. The so-called liberated women of the West have become slaves. Slaves to the economic system, slaves to the fashion and beauty industries, and slaves to a society that views them as brainless machines, taught to look desirable, earn money, and shop.

Even the career woman who has managed to push her way through the glass ceiling is a slave to the consumer society, which requires her to reside in a spacious house, to wear only the latest designer clothes, drive a luxurious car, and educate her children at the most exclusive and expensive schools.

Is This Liberation?

The natural inclination of women is to please, comfort, and support their men: their husbands, fathers, brothers, or sons. The natural inclination of men is to protect, support, and provide for the women lawfully in their lives: wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.

Islam, the only true religion and infallible guide to life, requires that we follow such natural inclinations. It allows us to abandon ideas that are intrinsically foreign to human nature and supports us in developing and sustaining natural family relationships that spread out to form part of the wider Muslim community.

A Muslim woman knows her place in society and knows her place in the family infrastructure.  Her religion is her first priority; therefore, her role is clear-cut and defined.

A Muslim woman, far from being oppressed, is a woman who is liberated in the true sense of the word. She is a slave to no man or to any economic system; rather, she is the slave of God. Islam clearly defines women’s rights and responsibilities spiritually, socially, and economically. Islam’s clear-cut guidelines are empowering; they raise women to a natural and revered position.

Women in Islam have no need to protest and demonstrate for equal rights. They have no need to live their lives aimlessly acquiring possessions and money. With the perfection of Islam as the natural and only true religion came the undeniable fact that women and men are equal, partners and protectors of one another.

So their Lord accepted from them; Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be they male or female. You are of one another; so those who emigrated or were driven out from their homes, who suffered harm in My cause, and fought and were killed, I will verily expiate from them their evil deeds and admit them into gardens under which rivers flow: a reward from God; and with God is the best rewards. (Aal `Imran 3:195)

And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a true believer in the Oneness of Allah, such will enter paradise; and not the least injustice, even to the size of a speck on the back of a date stone, will be done to them. (An-Nisaa’ 4:124)

Women in Islam have the right to own property, to control their own money or money that they earn, to buy and sell, and to give gifts and charity. They have formal rights of inheritance. They have the right to an education; seeking and acquiring knowledge is an obligation on all Muslims, male or female. Married Muslim women are completely free from the obligation of supporting and maintaining the family, yet may work if they wish too.

They are in no way forced into marriage, but have the right to accept or refuse a proposal as they see fit. Women in Islam have the right to seek divorce if it becomes necessary, as they also have the right to save their marriages.

Islam teaches that the family is the core of society. In Western cultures, the fabric of society is being torn apart by the breakdown of the family unit. It is in these crumbling communities that the call for the liberation of women arises. It seems to be a misguided and feeble attempt to find a path of security and safety. Such security is available only when the human being turns back to God and accepts the role for which he or she was created.

Liberation means freedom, but not the freedom to do as one pleases. Freedom must never be at the expense of oneself or of the wider community. When a woman fulfills the role for which she was created, not only is she liberated but she is empowered.

The modestly dressed or covered woman you see in the street is liberated. She is liberated from the shackles that have tied the feet of her Western counterparts. She is liberated from the economic slavery of the West, and she is liberated from the necessity of managing a house and family without the support of her husband or the help of a wider community.

She lives her life based on divine guidelines; her life is filled with peace, happiness, and strength. She is not afraid of the world, but rather embraces its tests and trials with patience and fortitude, secure in the fact that true liberation is only achieved by full and willing submission to the natural order of the universe.

Oppression is not defined by a piece of material, but rather by a sickening of the heart and a weakening of the mind. Oppression grows in a society that is crumbling because its members have lost sight of the true purpose of their existence.

Liberation arises and takes root in a society that is just, cohesive, and based on natural order and divine guidelines. Islam is such a society, and this is what makes a Muslim woman is liberated.

_________________________

Source: islamreligion.com

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Family New Muslims

Wife Beating

Are women inferior to men? How can understand verse 34 of Surat an-Nisaa’? What about wife beating? How did the Prophet deal with his wives? Did the Prophet ever beat them? Watch Yusuf Estes answering these questions and more.

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Family New Muslims

The Appeal of Islamic Family Life

By AbdurRahman Mahdi

In Islam, considering the well-being of the “other” instead of just the “self” is a virtue so rooted in the religion that it is evident even to those outside it.  The British humanitarian and civil rights lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, a non-Muslim, stated: “What I like about Islam is its focus on the group, which is opposite to the West’s focus on individuality.”[1]

Individuals comprising any society are tied together by related group bonds.  The strongest of all societal bonds is that of the family.  And while it can be justifiably argued that the basic family unit is the foundation of any given human society, this holds particularly true for Muslims.  As a matter of fact, the great status that Islam affords to the family system is the very thing that so often attracts many new converts to Islam, particularly women.

“With laws for almost every aspect of life, Islam represents a faith-based order that women may see as crucial to creating healthy families and communities, and correcting the damage done by the popular secular humanism of the past thirty or so years, several experts said.  In addition, women from broken homes may be especially attracted to the religion because of the value it places on family, said Marcia Hermansen, a professor of Islamic studies at Loyola University in Chicago and an American who also converted to Islam.”[2]

 

Nowhere is this trend of a people who value traditional family values as they embrace Islam more prevalent than in North America’s Latino or Hispanic community.  As one of Florida’s Muslims observed:  “I have seen an increasing rate in Hispanics converting to Islam.  I think the Hispanic culture itself is very rich in terms of family values, and that is something that is very prominent in the religion of Islam.”

So, what are the particular values or traits of Islamic family life that so many are finding so appealing?

At a Columbia University Islamic event, Hernan Guadalupe, an Ecuadorian-American: “spoke of the cultural similarities and family values inherent to Hispanics and Muslims.  Typically, Hispanic households are tight knit and devout, and children are reared in a strict environment – traits that mirror Muslim households.”[3]

And in another recent newspaper report, it was also observed how: “Family values play an integral role in the formation of a Muslim community.  Because of those family values, there are a lot of other norms that are consistent within the Hispanic community and Islam; for instance, respect for elders, married life and rearing children, these are some of the traditions Hispanics have in common with Islam.”[4]

Some ordinary American converts also have had a say about real life experience, and some of these are collected in a book by the mother of such a convert; Daughters of Another Path by Carol L. Anway.  One woman, quoted in the book[5],  spoke about her change in attitude towards marriage and family life after converting to Islam.  “I became cleaner and quieter the further I went into the religion.  I became highly disciplined.  I had not intended to marry before I was a Muslim, yet I quickly became a wife and then a mother.  Islam has provided a framework that has allowed me to express belief, such as modesty, kindness and love, that I already had.  It has also led me to happiness through marriage and the birth of two children.  Before Islam I had had no desire to have my own family since I hated (the thought of having) kids.”

Another woman speaks of her acceptance into the extended family in the same book.  “We were met at the airport by a lot of his family, and it was a very touching moment, one I will never forget.  Mama (her mother-in-law) is like an angel… I have spent a lot of time in with tears, because of what I see here.  The family system is quite unique with closeness that is beyond words.”[6]

In Appendix C of the book, a 35 year old American convert, at that time 14 years a Muslim, wrote about the family of her husband and their values relative to her own American values.  “I have met all the members of my husband’s immediate family and some members of his immense extended family… I have learned a great deal from my in-laws.  They have a wonderful way of relating to their children, a way that engenders respect for others and great amounts of self esteem.  It is interesting to see how a child-orientated and religious orientated culture operates.  My in-laws, by virtue of being a contrast to American culture, have given me a great appreciation for certain elements of my American cultural identity… I have seen that Islam is truly correct in saying that moderation is the right path.”[7]

From these quotations, one from a non-Muslim intellectual, others from converts and reporters, and some from quite ordinary American women who embraced Islam, we can see that family values in Islam are one of its major attractions.  These values stem from God and His guidance, through the Quran and the example and teaching of His Messenger, Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, who indicates the family unit as being one of the mainstays of religion and Islamic the way of life.  The importance of forming a family is underscored by a saying of the holy Prophet himself, who said:

“When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear God regarding the remaining half.”[8] (al-Baihaqi)

 


Footnotes:

[1] Emel Magazine, Issue 6 – June/July 2004.

[2] “Islam’s Female Converts”; Priya Malhotra, February 16, 2002. (see http://thetruereligion.org/modules/xfsection/article.php?articleid=167).

[3] “Some Latinos convert to Islam”; Marcela Rojas, The Journal News (http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051030/NEWS02/510300319/1028/NEWS12)

[4] “Islam Gains Hispanic Converts”; Lisa Bolivar, Special Correspondent, September 30, 2005 (http://thetruereligion.org/modules/xfsection/article.php?articleid=405)

[5] Daughters of Another Path, 4th printing, Al-Attique Publishers, p.81.

[6] Daughters of Another Path, p.126.

[7] Daughters of Another Path, p.191.

[8] A narration from the Prophet, by Anas b. Malik, his personal servant; collected in and commented on by Imam al-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman (Branches of Faith).

inting, Al-Attique Publishers, p.81.

[6] Daughters of Another Path, p.126.

[7] Daughters of Another Path, p.191.

[8] A narration from the Prophet, by Anas b. Malik, his personal servant; collected in and commented on by Imam al-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman (Branches of Faith).

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Conversion Stories New Muslims

Islam: The True Emancipator of Women Converts

True Freedom

Contrary to the sneering stereotypes of some sections of the press, British women converting to Islam do not enter the realm of the socially immobile and culturally policed.

Many may think that, being a new female Muslim is so riddled with fault lines, but it’s not really. My recent interviews with Muslim converts offered a rare glimpse into the lives of three women who would flatly reject such comparisons. And they’re all buzzing with spiritual ecstasy, retelling what caused them to Islamize their wardrobes and dress codes.

“Being Muslim keeps me from wanting to impress others and gives me more personal confidence,” says Chantelle, a 19-year-old Muslim convert from Hackney.

Today, she goes by the name Khadija, as a sign of respect for Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) first wife and insists there’s more to British women trading bare midriffs for `abayas (Islamic outer garment) than what meets the eye.

“I wear the hijab because I want to. Because it is between me and Allah. It’s not a fashion statement. Yes, I do not go to clubs and do not sleep around. It gives me a comfort which I know so many of my friends would love to have.”

One of those friends is Monique, who recalls how Chantelle’s embracing Islam inspired a raw honesty and emotion in her, helping her sense power and security in a head-to-toe cover-up:

“I can’t really say for certain that I became Muslim because I read the Qur’an. But in a weird way, I felt Chantelle had more freedom than I did by covering herself, instead of letting it all out like me. I thought to myself ‘this was worth trying’. I can’t say I do not miss our clubs and parties, but I’d rather live like this. We still do what other girls do but it’s more toned down if you catch my drift. I haven’t looked back since.”

Aspirations & Challenges

Both girls were gearing up for a lifetime of prostration, meditation and single-sex socializing and offered gleaning insights into how their lives had taken a better turn from the moment they embraced Islam. As we entered deep into our discussions, they also took a moment to discuss the challenges which lay in their wake.

We talked about everything from relationships, sex and family, and it was clear the prospect of love and marriage lingered heavily over their heads. Chantelle spoke candidly about some common anxieties with converts: “It’s not just what friends and family are going to say. ‘Oh my God, why are you dressing like that, etc.’ I do not care about being unpopular. But I do wonder what my chances of marrying a native Muslim will be. I guess I’ll have to stick to another convert”.

Similar emotions skittered across Monique’s face when I asked her the same question. Despite being saddled with the weight of conversion, theirs was a genuine humility and grace with which both accepted their “good fortunes” of becoming Muslim and as Chantelle put it, “Women who can at last be themselves and please themselves and not men”. Neither of them was borne of any resignation, and were at pains to convince others that their new identities hadn’t sapped their career ambitions or aspirations in the slightest.

Contrary to the sneering stereotypes of some sections of the press, British women converting to Islam do not enter the realm of the socially immobile and culturally policed. Like those I interviewed, they’ve found a new lease of life as teetotalling Brits, dragging women from under the voyeuristic yoke. If Chantelle and Monique are anything to go by, then sex doesn’t have to sell for women to compete on the same terms.

Then there was 32-year-old mother of two, Jessica. Defiant, unrelenting and unapologetic, she sat before me, niqab-clad.  “I’m just so thankful to Allah that I’ve left everything behind; the hangovers, the guilt, the promiscuous sex. Basically, I feel completely transformed and hate to be reminded of my past because that was me then, and this is me now”.

She claimed becoming Muslim was a “welcome distraction” from her previous, unspiritual lifestyle and was relieved to be confronted by a siege of female converts after she took her Shahadah (Testimony of Faith). There was a lot of frenzy surrounding her conversion, not least from her family: “My mum dismissed it as a case of teenage rebellion,” says Jessica, who spends much of her spare time buying and selling the intricate embroideries and jewel works of hijabs and jilbabs (wide long dresses).

True Freedom

As I probed a little deeper, I realized the reason why she, like some other converts I’ve met in the past, came across as a lapsed Briton, cut off from their indigenous culture: “No one from our politicians to our newspapers are doing anything to fight the prejudice against women. Our culture has become so sex obsessed, its making parenting tougher than I thought”.

We spoke in length about the misogynistic gaffes served up by the media, and the recent description by The Daily Mail of an eight-year-old as a ‘leggy beauty’ unwittingly added fuel to her fire. “You see that’s exactly my point. My decision to become Muslim was a safety net from all this filth. My children are not going to grow up without realizing that although we’ve got a lot of things right in Britain we’ve also messed a lot of things up, especially when it comes to respecting our girls”.

For Jessica, accepting Islam was a way of her silently reproaching the cultural failure to improve the lot of women: “Why do you think so many women are becoming Muslim in this country? Because the ‘wonderful’ freedoms in the West have only enslaved us.”

As interesting as it was hearing these converts share memories from the past and express delight at their leap of faith, I was looking more forward to interviewing native Muslims who had grown up in British Muslim families, to find out what they thought about their convert sisters in faith.

Spiritual Bonus, Spiritual Guidance

Like me and Shanna Bukhari, the documentary’s presenter, Fatima felt converts to Islam claimed an ambiguous spiritual advantage: “Seeing them offer voluntary prayers and study the Qur’an led me to a lot of soul searching and reflection. They’re much better at being Muslim than I could ever have imagined”, she says.

For practicing Muslim Lutfa, the no-nonsense hardline exteriors of some converts bring a certain noise and colour to the religion which she feels can only be good for the faith.

“If you look at Islam from a historical point of view, then you will see that we really owe a lot of our genius to the energy of converts”.

I couldn’t agree any more. Among my Muslim friends, we’re often left feeling that converts have seized the initiative and run with it and to keep apace, we’ve got to step our God-game up so to speak. Lutfa also agrees that women converts offer Muslims a refreshing change of pace: “convert sisters are definitely setting a standard for others to follow”.

Whatever we may think of these converts, their decision to become Muslim may be a powerful indictment of some women’s lives in the west. That’s the impression they all left me, especially Jessica who would repeatedly ask whether feminism had delivered on its promise.

So amidst all the everyday sexism and cultural creepiness hounding British women, is Islam somehow squaring their circle?  Are burqas, niqabs (face-veils) and hijabs breathing soul in the lives of girls which desperately lack a higher calling, helping them reclaiming the watchwords of feminism? Does the conversion to Islam among British women bode healthily for Britain’s future?

For Chantelle, Monique and Jessica, the answer to these questions is a resolute yes.

_________________________

Source: independent.co.uk.

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FEATURED New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: The Emancipator of Women’s Rights

In the seventh century Arabia women didn’t have a ranked status or any rights. After Islam, and because the Prophet’s intervention they were treated as equals, given rights.

He (peace be upon him) is a raw model for all Muslims around the world, including women.

The Inspired by Muhammad campaign was designed to improve the public understanding of Islam and Muslims. It showcased Britons demonstrating how Muhammad inspired them to contribute to society, with a focus on women’s rights, social justice and the environment.

In this video, Shaista Aziz, a writer and journalist, talks about how the Prophet’s significant contribution to women’s rights inspired her…

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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

Women’s Rights and Status in Islam

Women’s rights, responsibilities, and choices have been the subject of books, articles, essays, and lectures. Sadly however, convincing the world that Muslim women are not oppressed by Islam is a message that is just not getting through.

Women’s rights

Islam raised the level of women, they were no longer chattels being passed from father to husband.

Media headlines scream oppression and the words Muslim, women, and oppression seem to have become inextricably linked. Fourteen hundred years ago Islam gave women’s rights; rights that could not have been imagined by European counterparts. Bold words!

It’s the words that have been spoken repeatedly, especially in the last two or three decades by Muslim converts, and Islamic writers, academics and educators across the globe.

No matter what Muslim women do or say to try to convince the world otherwise, words like hijab (veil), burqa, polygamy, and Shari`ah (Islamic Law) seem to do little but convince people that Islam oppresses women. Even educated, articulate women fulfilling the modest conditions of hijab can do little to dispel the myths.

Women who conduct themselves with decorum and grace and function effortlessly in the modern world have their achievements and successes celebrated. However, if a woman wears a scarf that covers her hair or puts her religion above worldly pursuits she is immediately labeled oppressed.

One wonders if this is the case for women of other religious persuasions. Are modest religious women of all faiths labeled oppressed? Alternatively, is it just Islam?

The most visible sign of a Muslim woman’s faith is the headscarf or hijab; it is also the garment that leads people to believe that Islam oppresses women. Although Islamic scholars unanimously agree that modest dress and head coverings are obligatory in Islam, for the majority of Muslim women around the world, to cover, or not to cover, is a freely made choice.

The women who chose to wear hijab view it as a right, not a burden and many describe wearing hijab as liberation from the need to conform to unrealistic stereotypes and images dictated by the media.

Against Oppression

What exactly do Muslim women say about themselves in relation to the issue of oppression? In 2005, a World Gallup Organization Poll, entitled ‘What women Want’:

‘Listening to the voices of Muslim Woman, revealed that the majority of women polled, in predominantly Muslim countries resented lack of unity among Muslim nations, violent extremism, and political and economic corruption. The headscarf or hijab, or any garment covering the face and body, often depicted as a tool of oppression was not even mentioned.’

The report concluded that ’…most women in the Muslim world are well aware that they have the same capabilities and deserve the same fundamental rights as men.  Majorities of females in each of the eight countries surveyed said they believe women are able to make their own voting decisions, to work at any job for which they are qualified, and even to serve in the highest levels of government.’

Islam raised the level of women, they were no longer chattels being passed from father to husband. They became equal to men, with rights and responsibilities that take into account the nature of humankind. Unfortunately across the globe, Muslim women are victims of cultural aberrations that have no place in Islam. Powerful individuals and groups claim to be Muslim yet fail to practice the true principles of Islam.

Whenever the media reveals unconscionable stories about honour killings, genital mutilation, forced marriage, the punishment of rape victims, women being confined to their homes or women being denied education they are revealing a tale of men and women who are ignorant about the status of women in Islam.

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the bridal money you have given them. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and God brings a great deal of good through it. (An-Nisaa’ 4:19)

Honoring-women Religion

women's rights

The women who chose to wear hijab view it as a right, not a burden.

The religion of Islam demands that women be treated with respect, honour, and justice. It condemns oppression of any kind. In Islam women, like men, are commanded to believe in God and to worship Him. Women are equal to men in terms of reward in the Hereafter.

And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a true believer in the Oneness of God, such will enter paradise; and not the least injustice, even to the size of a speck on the back of a date stone, will be done to them. (An-Nisaa’ 4:124)

Women in Islam have the right to own property, to control their own money to buy and sell, and to give gifts and charity. It is not permissible for anyone to take a woman’s wealth without her consent. Islam gave women’s formal rights of inheritance. Women in Islam have the right to an education; seeking and acquiring knowledge is an obligation on all Muslims, male or female.

Muslim women have the right to accept or refuse marriage proposals as they see fit, and married women are completely free from the obligation of supporting and maintaining the family. Working married women are free to contribute to the household expenses, or not, as they see fit. Women have the right to seek divorce if it becomes necessary.

The Prophet &  Women’s rights

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.” The people asked: “O God’s messenger!  How can we know her permission?” He said: “Her silence (indicates her permission).” (Al-Bukhari)

A women was given by her father gave her in marriage when she was a matron and she disliked that marriage. So she went to God’s Messenger and he declared that marriage invalid. (Al-Bukhari)

The religion of Islam declares that women are worthy human beings deserving of respect, and the right to be free from oppression. Women have the right to a decent life, without facing aggression or abuse of any kind. They have the right to pursue a life that is pleasing to them within Islamic boundaries. Nobody has the right to force women to be less then they want to be. The true teachings of Islam, declare that women should be held in a position of high regard.

Sadly, it is true that some Muslim women are oppressed, but across the globe, some women are treated badly by some men, of all religious persuasions and ethnicities. It is possible to say that such and such a government oppresses women, or that Muslim men in such and such a country think it is acceptable to beat women, however, it is not correct to say that Islam oppresses women.

If women were given their God given rights, as set out in the religion of Islam, the global oppression of women could be trampled into oblivion.

Prophet Muhammad said: “None but a noble man treats women in an honourable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.” (At-Tirmidhi)

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Source: islamreligion.com

 

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Rights of the Muslim Woman: The Daughter and the Wife

By Dr. Jamal Badawi 

Woman as a Daughter

1- The Qur’an ended the cruel pre-Islamic practice of female infanticide(wa’d):

Rights of the Muslim Woman- The Daughter and the Wife

Parents are duty-bound to support and show kindness and justice to their daughters.

When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned for what crime she was killed…. (At-Takwir 81:8-9)

The Qur’an went further to rebuke the unwelcoming attitude of some parents upon hearing the news of the birth of a baby girl, instead of a baby boy:

When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame he hides himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance and) contempt or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on! (An-Nahl 16:58-59)

3- Parents are duty-bound to support and show kindness and justice to their daughters. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

Whosoever has a daughter and does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her, Allah will enter him into paradise. (Ahmad)

Whosoever supports two daughters until they mature, he and I will come on the day of judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together). (Ahmad)

4- A crucial aspect in the upbringing of daughters that greatly influences their future is education. Education is not only a right but a responsibility for all males and females.

Prophet Muhammad said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim”. (Al-Bayhaqi and Ibn-Majah)

(The word “Muslim” here is inclusive of both males and females.)

As a Wife

1- Marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love and compassion, and not the mere satisfying of human sexual desire.

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts); verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (Ar-Rum 30:21)

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Ash-Shura 42:11)

Marriage and Divorce

2- The female has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals.

Her consent is a prerequisite to the validity of the martial contract, according to the Prophets’ teaching. It follows that if an “arranged marriage” means the marrying of a female without her consent, then such a marriage may be annulled if the female so wishes:

Ibn `Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of Allah, and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice… (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it. (Ahmad)

Another version of the report states that the girl said: “Actually, I accept this marriage, but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right to force a husband on them.” (Ibn-Majah)

3- The husband is responsible for the maintenance, protection, and overall leadership (qiwamah) of the family, within the framework of consultation and kindness. The mutuality and complementarity of husband and wife does not mean “subservience” by either party to the other. Prophet Muhammad helped with household chores although the responsibilities he bore and the issues he faced in his community were immense.

The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear.  No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child. A heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If you decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you offered on equitable terms. But fear Allah and know that Allah sees well what you do. (Al-Baqarah 2:233)

Prophet Muhammad instructed Muslims regarding women,

“I commend you to be kind to women.” (Al-Bukhari) He said also, “The best of you is the best to his family (wife).” (An-Nawawi in his book Riyad As-Saliheen)

The Qur’an urges husbands to be kind and considerate to their wives, even if a wife falls out of favor with her husband or disinclination for her arises within him. It also outlawed the pre-Islamic Arabian practice whereby the stepson of the deceased father was allowed to take possession of his father’s widow(s) (inherit them) as if they were part of the estate of the deceased:

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the marital gift you have given them, except when they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary, live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a thing through which Allah brings about a great deal of good. (An-Nisaa’ 4:19)

4- Should marital disputes arise, the Qur’an encourages couples to resolve them privately in a spirit of fairness and probity. Under no circumstances does the Qur’an encourage, allow, or condone family violence or physical abuse.

In extreme cases, and whenever greater harm, such as divorce, is a likely option, it allows for a husband to administer a gentle pat to his wife that causes no physical harm to the body nor leaves any sort of mark. It may serve, in some cases, to bring to the wife’s attention to the seriousness of her continued unreasonable behavior  (refraction), and may be resorted to only after exhausting other steps discussed in endnote.

If that mild measure is not likely to prevent a marriage from collapsing, as a last measure, it should not be resorted to. Indeed, the Qur’an outlines an enlightened step and a wise approach for the husband and wife to resolve persistent conflict in their martial life: In the event that disputes cannot be resolved equitably between husband and wife, the Qur’an prescribes mediation between the parties through family intervention on behalf of both spouses.

5- Divorce is a last resort, permissible but not encouraged, for the Qur’an esteems the preservation of faith and the individual’s right – male and female alike – to felicity. Forms of marriage dissolution include an enactment based upon mutual agreement, the husband’s initiative, the wife’s initiative (if part of her martial contract), the court’s decision on a wife’s initiative (for a legitimate reason) and the wife’s initiative without a “cause” provided that she returns her marital gift to her husband (khul` or divestiture).

6- Priority for the custody of young children (up to the age of about seven) is given to the mother. A child later may choose the mother or father as his or her custodian.

Custody questions are to be settled in a manner that balances the interests of both parents and the well-being of the child.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s “Gender Equity in Islam: Basic Principles”.

 

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