I have often felt dejected at the way the foreign media projects the status
of women under the banner of Islam. Whereas Islam enjoins perfect equality
between men and women, it is heralded to the world as a faith that
suppresses women, confines them within the four walls of their homes and
alternately, looks down upon those who set foot outside the custody of the
house. I have however, stumbled upon the fact that neither the foreign media
nor the non-Muslims are to be blamed. It is really a matter for men who
profess to be Muslims to look beneath their skin, into their blood with
which they asphyxiate the breath of Islam and choke the life out of it – in
effect, portraying it as a cruel faith.
Men of one faith will understand the other faith vis-à-vis the way it is
practically witnessed by them because not all will delve into original
sources with utmost devotion in order to realize the true spirit of the
other. Consider the following illustration.
Being alien to the religion of Islam, I walk into the village of Juffure
(somewhere in West Africa) with a friend. I am told that the natives there
follow the religion of Islam. I shall easily be led into interpreting Islam
as defined by the ancient customs of tribes inhabiting the region.
Consider another illustration.
Being somewhat alien to the religion of Islam, I walk into the city of
Lahore – not to mention, a relatively developed and education-oriented
region (somewhere in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan). I am told that a
vast majority of the area’s residents are Muslims. I, thus, understand Islam
in the spirit of activity of the locals. I have been briefed. According to
which, Islam is a tolerant faith. It grants equal status to men and women
and it enjoins peace. But…
Alas! My observance runs
averse to all pre-conceived notions. Islam does not enjoin the treatment of
women in perfect likeness to men. Quite on the contrary, in fact. My
discovery owes itself to a chance affiliation with a local family. The man
sets out to work. The lady of the house stays at home. She is not supposed
to be involved in any intellectual exhibition since that is not an option on
her side of the ‘equation’. Rather, she is supposed to stay at home, cook
and keep the house clean. It takes an hour or two. Then what? Can she move
out for – if nothing else – air? Not at all. Her religion requires her to
stay inside her house and wait for the hard-working, deserving individual to
return. Eleven hours in the office and he has earned the day’s worth. It
would only be fair if he were allowed a couple of hours to chill around with
friends. Ten would be a good time to get back home. Dinner would be ready by
then. Surely, its on the table. In the follow-up – and being human – it is
only understandable that he gets a bit drowsy. The wife must not ask for any
simple talk time, for Islam enjoins on the woman to allow her husband to
relax since he is obviously providing her with food, clothes and shelter.
She need not and should not demand more. He does his share of the work and
goes to bed. She does her share of the work and must go to bed to rise again
early morning and prepare breakfast for hubby dear. For surely, he has a
tough day ahead of him. The weekend finally approaches and she welcomes it
with open arms. A tough week, full of chores at home and zero interaction
leaves her exhausted. But then, he deserves rest too. It would be a better
option for her not to get used to the bed linen and get a wonderful
breakfast-in-bed prepared for her man who obviously, deserves getting used
to the linen. She feels tired and short of sleep but she must wear the best
smile to please him. He has obviously been labouring throughout the week for
her sake. He approaches her to acquire the one pleasure he must obtain. She
can not decline because her religion forbids her to. She must understand
her. He doesn’t need to…. end of story.
And then we raise our voices arguing about how dare they defame Islam?
The mentality of superiority that prevails among men of our societies is a
shameful incidence. Professing to be Muslims and wanting our women to be
protected from the predatory eyes of other men is good, and we must not be
apologetic about it. But suppressing her under the man’s nauseating demands,
depriving her of any enjoyment, stealing her right to feel and to express
and giving her the sole symbol of being the answer to man’s lascivious
desires is not good – least of all, something to be proud of.