Wear the Hijab, Suppression or liberation?
Why wear the hijab?" "Suppression or liberation?" These questions are ones which are asked by Muslims and non-Muslims occasionally. The answers to these questions are very simple and clear. Muslim women observe the Hijab because Allah (SWT) ordered them to do so. "O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed…" (Qur'an 33:59) A Muslim woman who covers her head is making a statement about her identity. Anyone who sees her will know that she is a Muslim and has a good moral character. Many Muslim women who cover are filled with dignity and self esteem; they are pleased to be identified as a Muslim woman. As a chaste, modest, pure woman, she does not want her sexuality to enter into interactions with men in the smallest degree. A woman who covers herself is concealing her sexuality but allowing her femininity to be brought out.
Moreover, the womanʼs position in Islam is valued and respected. Before the prophets (PBUH) message about Islam, women were placed below animals in the chain of existence. While men in Arabia treated their women as objects of pleasure and considered them necessary for the growth of population, men outside of Arabia were not any better. Women were always considered weaker and less intelligent. Yet with the coming of Islam, women got the right to life, to education, to respect, to choice of spouse, to inheritance and to business. The laws that protect women are present everywhere in the laws of Islam known as the Sharia. However, these rights any country can bring to womankind. Hence there is more to the message of Islam for women. He named us, gave us a rank and placed us in society with a set of rights and also a set of duties. He gave us the same goal that he gave to men that is to gain nearness to God, and allowed us the freedom to be individual people, each and every one of us, in our own right.
The Quran has much to say both about women, and to women. One Surah is called `Women', another is named after Maryam the mother of Jesus (pbuh). Women appear in many other parts. In stories of the prophets we have
- Hawwa (Eve) the wife of Adam, no longer the temptress who leads Adam to sin but a partner jointly responsible with him and jointly forgiven by Allah soon afterwards.
- There is the wife of Nuh (Noah) (pbuh) who betrays her husband and is held up along with the wife of Lot as an example of a disbeliever (66:10-11).
- There is the wife of Ibrahim, who laughs at the news the angel brings, of the baby she is to have in her old age;
- the wife of Pharaoh, who saves the infant Musa (Moses) (pbuh) and, along with Maryam, mother of Jesus, is one of the two female examples of the good believer held up in Surah 66:10 & 11.
- The wife of Aziz, who tried to seduce Yusuf (Joseph), is nevertheless treated with some sympathy, when she shows her friends how handsome he is and they all cut themselves with their knives because they are distracted by his beauty;
And there are more women besides. In the list above, some examples are of believers and some of disbelievers who were married to prophets of Allah (SWT). In neither case do these examples show the traditional picture of the `submissive' woman. Furthermore, the works of male and female are of equal value and each will receive the due reward for what they do. It says in the Quran, "Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any one of you, male or female…" Qur'an 3:195. In another verse, "Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will we give a new life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to their actions." Qur'an 16:97.
Islamic law makes no demand that women should confine themselves to household duties. In fact the early Muslim women were found in all walks of life. The first wife of the Prophet, mother of all his surviving children, was a businesswoman who hired him as an employee, and proposed marriage to him through a third party; women traded in the marketplace, and the Khalifah Omar, not normally noted for his liberal attitude to women, appointed a woman, Shaff'a Bint Abdullah, to supervise the market. Other women, like Laila al-Ghifariah, took part in battles, carrying water and nursing the wounded, some, like Suffiah bint Abdul Muttalib even fought and killed the enemies to protect themselves and the Prophet; and like Umm Dhahhak bint Masoud were rewarded with booty in the same way as the men.
Hence, in a
truly Islamic society, women are guaranteed personal respect, respectable
married status, legitimacy and maintenance for their children, the right to
negotiate marriage terms of their choice, to refuse any marriage that does not
please them, independent property of their own, the right and duty to obtain
education, the right to work if they need or want it, equality of reward for
equal deeds, the right to participate fully in public life and have their voices
heard by those in power, and much more. What other religion or political theory
has offered an inclusive package??
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