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
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
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
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
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.