Women and Economic Independence
By Dr. Arshad Ahmed (India)
Hazrath Asma (RA) will, for ever remain a role model for all striving women of lesser economic ranks.
The winning of the Nobel Prize by Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh is indeed a significant moment for our community. This event also gives us a chance to appreciate the rural peasant women of Bangladesh, essentially Muslims, of poor socio-economic status who have endeavoured to improve the lives of their families.
The striving of Hazrath Asma binte Abubakar (RA), bears resemblance to the lives of these Bangladeshi women. Upon migrating to Madinah, like many other immigrants, Hazrath Asma’s family was thoroughly impoverished. She used to work essentially as an agricultural labourer in a farm land allotted to her family for a living. She raised her children too. The upbringing of her children by itself is so exemplary that one of them, Hazrath Abdullah bin Zubair (RA) grew up to become a potential candidate for Khilafath. In the evening of her life, Hazrath Asma became visually challenged, but yet remained a leading light for her grown-up sons. The sons too, on their part, remained most obedient to the mother, a reward which every mother would be delighted with. Hazrath Asma will, for ever remain a role model for all striving women of lesser economic ranks.
During the days of her struggle, Hazrath Asma and her family were under the benevolent guidance of the Prophet of Allah (Pbuh) himself. It is reported in one Hadith that once the Prophet passed by Hazrath Asma returning from her farm, with a head load of farm produce. Upon seeing her, the Prophet stopped his camel and offered to give her a lift. That she did not accept the offer is another matter, but this incidence signifies that her venture as a working woman had the tacit support and encouragement by the Prophet himself. We hope, the present day religious leaders, especially of the Indian sub-continent, follow this example and support such women folk of our community who are struggling to bring about an economic improvement in their lives. Instead, the Fatwa-happy scholars should not incapacitate these women by insisting they wrap themselves up from tip to toe in a cloak, not even permitting them to see with both their eyes when outside their homes; as one English translation of Quran by Mohsin Khan, published from Saudi Arabia, while translating the verse 59 of Surah Al Ahzab on the subject of “veil” mentions in parenthesis “(i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way)”.
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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