Excerpted from Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination and Roadmap
Dr. Javed Jamil
Men and women are equal in most respects, so their rights and duties are almost identical in most matters. They are however different in certain respects, so their rights and duties are different in certain areas corresponding to their strengths and weaknesses in those areas. It is therefore natural that Islam grants an overall equal status to men and women, granting both of them certain privileges in differentareas. Man is duty-bound to earn and maintain his wife, children and dependent parents; woman has the right to earn if she so wishes but is also entitled to receive her maintenance from her husband in return of her duties as wife. Man has the primary responsibility to arrange for financial requirements; so he receives a larger share in inheritance. It goes to the credit of Islam that it was the first religion of the world to grant women rights of inheritance. She has share in all the property left by her husband, both parents and children in case they die in her lifetime. While distributing shares, Islam is not affected by emotional considerations, but judges on the basis of the respective needs of men and women. Unlike several other religions, a Muslim woman enjoys the same status in religious affairs as a man. If she obeys God in the prescribed way, she is as much entitled to Paradise as her father, husband, brother or son. As mother, she commands respect several times greater than man does as father. She has right to choose her spouse, reproductive rights, right to remarry as a widow or as a divorcee, right to seek divorce and in case of any defamation she can demand punishment to the offender. She is as much exhorted to earn knowledge as man. If there are places where man seems to be a little more privileged there are a number of places where woman seems to be more privileged. A woman is privileged in many ways. For instance, she is exempt from services in military though she can join it if she so wishes. She is entitled to economic benefits though she can earn if she wants to.
There are certain basic criteria in Islam for granting rights to and enforcing duties on men and women. First, Islam recognisesnatural strengths and weaknesses of men and women, and designs its laws in accordance with them. Second, Islam does not tolerate any form of exploitation. Third, it aims to form a society without sexual crimes, sexual abuses and illicit relationships, which endanger all the three components of Grand Peace, namely Individual’s health, family peace and social order. Fourth, to ensure the above, it promotes legal marriages. It would purposefully create such conditions as would minimise the number of unmarried persons in society; for it understands fully well the dangers that the herds of unmarried men and women can create for society. Fifth, it would ensure social and economic equality(not uniformity) between men and women.
Modern world treat women as commercial beings
The modern world can boast of giving rights to women; but it has hardly cared for their safety and security. The result is that the “freedom” of women has opened innumerable ways for their exploitation; and a strange kind of chaos prevails in society. Freedom has in truth proved to be nothing but a ploy to ensure a growing availability of women in market. Sex has not only become one of the biggest global markets; it has also become perhaps the greatest tormentor of humanity. It is killing people (AIDS, suicides, murders), destroying families and disturbing social harmony; women and children become its biggest victims. In contrast, while giving them rights Islam also ensures their safety and security. A woman in a true Islamic system cannot become a victim of the sex market (for commercialisation of sex cannot have any place in a civilised society). She runs minimum risk of assault on her modesty (because Islam severely and in an exemplary manner punishes such crimes). She has an added satisfaction that her husband cannot drink, gamble or have sex outside marriage, which also safeguards her against several life-threatening sex-related diseases. All these are big security concerns for women, and Islam attends all of them with perfection.
Let me clarify at the outset that I am one of those who have always respected, even campaigned for women’s right to all kinds of education, reproductive rights and right to earn through their own endeavours – of course within the parameters of Islam. But what has pained me is that these very rights have been and are being used to exploit humankind in general and women in particular. In a world dominated by market economics, “rights” are always a ploy used by the forces of economics to exploit weaker and vulnerable sections of society. The truth is that almost all the human society except a very few has become vulnerable. What further pains me is that women in general and the “feminists” in particular have allowed their “right to work” to have been severely misused by the market to the huge loss of mankind.
The unfortunate thing on the part of women is that they mostly think and behave the way men want them to. And men always make them feel that this is what is best for them. Before the onset of Industrial revolution, women normally behaved the way the leading men of the family – fathers and husbands — wanted them to. After the onset of Industrial Revolution, which led to increasing commercialization of human weaknesses, the role of the family was taken by the market; and women started behaving the way the bosses of the market, mostly men, want them to – obviously in the interest of market, which caters to the demands of men by exploiting women. The increasing economic independence of women is men-given for their own benefits. Why should women cater only to the desires of husbands, why not for the benefit of as many men as possible?
Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map” and “Qur’anic Paradigms of Sciences & Society” (First Vol: Health), “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. Read more about him at http://www.worldmuslimpedia.
com/dr-javed-jamil. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ javedjamil2015; also http://javedjamil.blogspot.in/ . He can be contacted at [email protected].