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 itwill 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
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
taken and tried before coming to the decision
of the divorce. If the man and woman decide that they can no longer
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
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
and clothe both his ex-wife for the time the
woman suckles (the maximum being two years). After this weaning, the child
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
aducated) 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 [under necessity], 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 molarity 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 flauntigly.
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.
Taken from Hudaa magazine, Jamaica, New York.