Can we really prosper by neglecting half of our population?

Can we really prosper by neglecting half of our population?

By Insha Warsi

There is no discrimination in Islam between men and women. Allah says in Quran: “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women.” (2: 228). The holy Quran often uses the expression “believing men and women” to accentuate the equality of both male and female with regards to their particular duties, rights, virtues and merits. Islam has identified the rights of women, their dignity and honor, at par with men. Islam abolished inequality, discrimination towards women and gave a complete code of conduct for both male and female. Allah said in Quran, “Whosoever does good whatever male or female, and is a believer, shall enter Paradise and they shall not be wronged a whit.” (4:125). Contrary to the teachings of Quran, women are still not provided with the rights enshrined in the basic teachings of Islam in some Muslim communities.

A video of an event (earlier this year) from Malappuram Kerala has raised some serious question about the concept of equality between men and women. In the video, Sunni Muslim scholar MT Abdullah Musaliyar can be seen publicly scolding the organizers of a felicitation function after they invited a girl, a Class X Student, to the stage for receiving an award. The dais had several Muslim scholars, including Abdulla Musaliyar. After Indian Union Muslim League leader Panakkad Sayed Abbas AN Shihab Thangal handed over a memento to the girl, Musaliyar turned against one of the organizers. “Who told you to invite the tenth standard girl to the stage…If you call (such girls) again…. I will show you…Don’t call such girls here… Don’t you know the decision of Samastha? Did you call her…Please ask the parents to come to the stage”. This incident surely does not confirm with the teachings of Islam. Islamic teachings surely don’t teach us to confide women within the four walls of the houses and kill their ambitions and dreams in the process. Contrary to the belief of the cleric, Muslim women have enjoyed public life in various fields. Islamic history is filled with many such examples. Khadijah (R.A), the first wife of Prophet Muhammad, was a successful and esteemed business woman. Some say that her business was larger than all of the Quraysh trades combined. She was acclaimed for a reputation of fair-dealing and high-quality goods. This shows that in the early age of Islam, women were given responsibilities in leadership, educational guidance, entrepreneurship and decision-making. I

Islam has guaranteed the rights of women in every sphere of life like men and does not allow domination of men over women. In the world dominated by men, some misconceptions are prevailing regarding women rights due to lack of proper religious knowledge, lack of awareness of women regarding their rights, the prevailing customs and also for patriarchal mindset of the society. Sometimes to deprive the women of their rights men practice some bad customs and legitimize it by twisting the Islamic teachings. To eliminate prevailing misconceptions regarding women’s rights in Islam, proper Islamic knowledge and awareness amongst women is essential. However, this alone cannot succeed unless necessary changes are made to patriarchal mindset of the society.

(The author’s Fellow in Journalism and Francophone Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia. His views are personal. It has nothing to do with public records management.)

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