The plight of women’s rights in Muslim societies and the need for reforms is again surfacing in the national and international media. This widespread anguish highlights the fact that Muslims will have to revise many areas of their prevailing social polity to grant women their due social, economic and legal status in society. It is imperative that this question should be handled with maturity, scholarly precision, and dispassionate appraisal and without any slogan mongering.
Our tragedy is that amalgamation of regional and tribal values is ignorantly identified with Islam.
Barnard Shaw said, “Islam is the best religion but Muslims are the worst people.” Actually highlighted the unfortunate dichotomy that exists between the religion of Islam and its practice. The crux of the problem is that the social dilemmas faced by Muslims are mostly culture-based.
Eminent scholar of Islam Akbar S. Ahmed has highlighted the same phenomenon in his book “Islam under Siege”. Can the self-professed guardians of religion inform us about the percentage of women in our country who get their rightful share in their ancestral property according to the teachings of Islam? Is this not a fact that even today many women surrender their share to their brothers after the state apparatus has duly transferred their property in their names in accordance with Sharia?
This act of non-religious sacrifice is the cultural yardstick for a woman’s goodness in the rural areas of Pakistan but it is a blatant negation of Sharia laws.
The mainstream Muslim women on one side face the clergy and the patriarchal feudal male mindset and on the other side, shouting for their rights are the secularists and the well-groomed begums with whom an overwhelming majority of the Muslim women cannot identify.
Hence refusing to choose between both these extremes and waiting for a more plausible middle of the road option, the mainstream Muslim woman has chosen to hide in her cocoon, suffer her plight in quiet and is inadvertently being forced to support the status quo. The cause of the Muslim woman needs serious intellectual appraisal and the NGO’s and their representatives cannot win this race by mere rhetoric.
The key to emancipation of Muslim women lies in the acquisition of knowledge and in opening up for them the fields of thinking and Islamic epistemology. Let the Muslim women study Sharia laws and Ahadith concerning them and let them decide their own social position in their societies and demarcate their own legal rights without the men acting as the vigilantes.
Already the signs of positive developments are becoming visible and winds of change are gaining momentum.
—Maimoona Asad Raza
Source: The Nation