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Article 406

Women and Islam: the real deal

By Kourosh Safavi, 

[Kourosh Safavi is a journalism junior and sports senior staff writer for The Daily Aztec-a publication of San Diego State University.]

In this day and age, it's saddening to witness people basing knowledge on stereotypes while nobody takes the time to seek the truth for themselves.

Unfortunately, since 9/11, stereotyping, mainly in regard to the issue of terrorism, has targeted Islam. But with the latest developments of the new Iraqi constitution, the public is now scrutinizing women's rights in Islam.

As a Muslim, I have no problem with people criticizing the way Muslim women are treated in the so-called "Islamic States." There's no doubt some of the laws in these countries are oppressive toward women and it's completely understandable for people to think women have fewer rights in these countries. The problem lies in the fact that - out of their ignorance - the majority of people equate these laws with the teachings of Islam.

To view a religion fairly, one must judge it solely on its founder's teachings and the way it was implemented during the founder's time. It's evident throughout history that when teachings are changed and people begin to follow what others say, the original beliefs become corrupt. This misguidance is then mistaken for truth. Examples of this include the fact that Jesus never taught the doctrine of Trinity during his lifetime. It was a doctrine invented by Saint Paul and is now something regarded as the basis of Christianity. Another example is that Buddha explicitly ordered his followers to never create statues or idols of him, yet this is a practice carried out by many modern-day Buddhists.

In this regard, there seems to be a double standard toward Islam. Most of the American public doesn't consider Christianity as a religion against African-Americans because Klu Klux Klan members call themselves Christians. Nor do people believe Christianity is a religion of terrorism after Timothy McVey, a known Christian, committed the horrendous Oklahoma City bombing. Unfortunately, people don't apply this same train of thought to Islam. Because of ignorance, people don't realize the Prophet Muhammad taught his followers to value women and that Muslims are ordered by God in the Quran to do so.

It was Muhammad who emphasized the importance of women when he said, "The best of you are they who behave best to their wives."

A man once asked the Prophet, "O Messenger of God, who is the person who has the greatest right on me with regards to kindness and attention?" He said, "your mother" three times before saying "your father," according to Sahih Al Bukhari Vol. 8, Book 73, No. 2.

It's obvious from these authentic narrations that in Islam, the woman deserves an immense amount of respect and is by no means a second-class citizen. If anything, these narrations indicate women as having a higher status than men. Furthermore, in the 1600s, the Catholic Church debated whether women have souls. A thousand years prior, the Quran revealed pure equality between men and women.

Before the rise of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabs considered women subhuman. There was no equality to men in the areas of marriage, inheritance, education, the right to own property and independent legal rights. Women were dehumanized; burying infant females became a common practice. It's safe to say pre-Islamic Arabia was one of the most unequal societies in human history.

Conversely, when Islam became the state religion, it gave women the right to inherit, to freely choose a husband and the right to own property.

In America, people feel as though Muslim women are oppressed because they wear the hijab, a garment, which covers the head and body. But nuns, who are covered from head to toe, are admired for their piety.

Americans brag about U.S. freedoms and how they are unmatched by any nation, but the idea of male/female equality is relatively new. The truth is, the most oppressed women in the world are the ones living here. Americans treat women merely as sexual objects of men's desire. From an early age, young girls are taught it's OK to reveal their body because it's socially acceptable. For women, the concept of being accepted for good character has been completely washed away by societal "values" our country has developed. I find it interesting that so many feel as though Islam is a religion that oppresses the rights of women when Islam is the fastest growing religion in America and the world, and the majority of American converts are women.

Next time the media or those around you tell you something about women's rights in Islam, do yourself a favor and seek the truth yourself. Who knows, you could be enlightened.

Courtesy: The Daily Aztec  a Publication  of San Diego State University. - Opinion
Issue: 10/6/05

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