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What's Wrong With Muslim Societies: A Critical look at how we treat women

By Samana Siddiqi

If there is one issue amongst others which sets off alarm bells in the minds of Muslims and non-Muslims, it's the status of women in Islam. While Western media, and more recently, secular feminist lobbies of the West and their sister lackeys in the East consistently attack the position of Muslim women, Muslims respond with anger and emotion. There is usually little said or done to address the real issues facing Muslim women in Muslim countries.

The problems of Muslim societies in the current context are numerous. Mostly corrupt elite run these societies. Most laws in these countries are based on a mix of western models with some cultural element. They lack values which Muslims cherish. The result is that law and those who are responsible for upholding the laws do not command respect of people. Weak people of all types, therefore, face oppression of one sort or the other in Muslim countries. These weak people include majorities like women. Here are some of the problems which Muslim women face.

Favoring boys over girls

Islam clearly came and wiped out this problem, condemning female infanticide and even condemned the attitude of unhappiness at the birth of a baby girl.

Yet today, the preference and favoring of boys over girls is still in swing. Not only are many baby girls simply unwelcome. They have to be reminded of this regularly, through attitudes and preferential treatment of their brothers.

Although the reports of the abortion of female fetus, common in China and India, are not found in the Muslim world, the attitude of preference could still be documented.

Access to mosques

During a visit to Karachi, Pakistan in 1992, it was time to do Maghrib. My brother, myself and my cousin were stepping out of the car when my cousin told me to wait because he had to "ask" if I would be allowed into the mosque. He came back after asking and told me he was sorry, but I would have to pray in the car. This was in a city where women can freely go to shopping malls, movie theaters, amusement parks. But the mosque, at least this particular mosque, no. This is a small example, but it's a significant one. Similar situations are played out in the Muslim world daily, where many women think going to the mosque is for men alone.

Literacy

Statistics point to the low level of literacy of Muslim women in Muslim countries. This is a shame for the people who claim to follow Islam, a religion which has made it a religious obligation on both sexes to seek knowledge. Women's literacy, and in turn ignorance of Islam is a danger to Muslim societies and their stability. What kind of quality of life will an illiterate woman have? And what kind of children will she raise?

The core of the issue: Culture

These problem clearly stems from cultural attitudes that have been given precedence to Islam. The culture, by the way, is not only the "traditional" one, but also the new, neo-imperialistic Western one, which seeks to impose one vision for all women, with scant attention to the right of Muslim women, for instance, to maintain their own vision of rights and responsibilities within an Islamic framework.

Where do we go from here: women have to take control

Muslim women, in Muslim societies and abroad can no longer sit passively by as their rights are usurped, whether it is by ignorant "traditional" individuals, or bodies like the United Nations. They must clearly reeducate themselves, not on the basis of a secular, feminist agenda, which is alien to the essence and core of Islamic teachings.

Rather, we need to not find out exactly what the Quran and Sunnah says, and live it. Then share it, then be willing to really fight for our rights. The change has to come from within. As long as Muslim women, especially in Muslim countries, passively accept the agendas of those whose interest are not Islam but anti-Islam, whether it is cultural practices or secular agendas, the problems will worsen.

 


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Your Comments

mike lip, buffalo - wrote on 3/18/2011 2:34:56 PM
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Comment: we have freedom too chose whatever religion we want they dont which is wrong and if u chose 2 be cristian they will kill u religion is about being happy and islamic people (not saying all) but it seem all they want 2 do is destroy and kill why???lwhen the firt commandment is thou shall not kill just dont get it all about being happy not destroying what u think????????? thank you


frank, taylor michigan - wrote on 2/9/2011 5:59:48 AM
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Comment: sara durby . being a towel head is wrong these people are fools and backward they should be removed from this earth


ahmed , islamabad - wrote on 11/19/2010 3:05:38 PM
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Comment: islam is the religion which offer adequate rights to the women.it seems inappropriate because you people do not have knowledge about the societal science.no doubt society is composed of men and women but if men and women allowed to mingle freely then the outcome will be disastraus as you people have seen in the american and european societies where there is no family system ,morally these societies are corrupt and these people are always in search of lady to whom they fuck and after somedays search for the newone what kind of relation is this.............think about it and answer........... islam never forbid women from coming to mosque...... it is the molvies who make their own islam. islam is the religion of tranquality and peace............. further islam gives more security to women in terms of money matters to women than men as she can receive her proper right from husband as well as from father side............. just read the islamic text and then comment plz it is the request to u poeple........


ahmed , islamabad - wrote on 11/19/2010 2:10:06 PM
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Comment: islam is the religion which offer adequate rights to the women.it seems inappropriate because you people do not have knowledge about the societal science.no doubt society is composed of men and women but if men and women allowed to mingle freely then the outcome will be disastraus as you people have seen in the american and european societies where there is no family system ,morally these societies are corrupt and these people are always in search of lady to whom they fuck and after somedays search for the newone what kind of relation is this.............think about it and answer........... islam never forbid women from coming to mosque...... it is the molvies who make their own islam islam is the religion of tranquality and peace............. further islam gives more security to women in terms of money matters to women than men as she can receive her proper right from husband as well as from father side............. just read the islamic text and then comment plz it is the request to u poeple........


ahmed , islamabad - wrote on 11/19/2010 2:09:38 PM
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Comment: islam is the religion which offer adequate rights to the women.it seems inappropriate because you people do not have knowledge about the societal science.no doubt society is composed of men and women but if men and women allowed to mingle freely then the outcome will be disastraus as you people have seen in the american and european societies where there is no family system ,morally these societies are corrupt and these people are always in search of lady to whom they fuck and after somedays search for the newone what kind of relation is this.............think about it and answer........... islam never forbid women from coming to mosque...... it is the molvies who make their own islam islam is the religion of tranquality and peace............. further islam gives more security to women in terms of money matters to women than men as she can receive her proper right from husband as well as from father side............. just read the islamic text and then comment plz it is the request to u poeple........


Magasvery, Minneapolis - wrote on 4/29/2010 11:49:13 PM
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Comment: Muslims seem crazy because that's what journalists and editors want to focus on. Hindus, Buddhists and atheists to stupid and crazy things too. You just won't read about them because: 1. Those parts of the world do not involve American political interests directly, so they get less media attention. 2. Stereotypes about crazy, sexist, violent Muslims have been perpetuated by Christians in the West since the Crusades. It's so easy to just believe this lie rather than challenge because it takes too much mental energy. Read books like: Covering Islam by Edward Said (who was not a Muslim) to understand the media's deep, deep bias against Islam. There are many good books about women in Islam nowadays that will clear up the idea that Muslim women are lazy and don't want to challenge their oppression. There are many groups of Muslim women, scholars and activists, who are working to change the way women are treated in Muslim societies based on the primary sources of Islam, the Quran and Sunnah. They understand that unfortunately, what passes for "Islam" in many Muslim countries is a mish mash of some Islam, but primarily local culture or custom. For instance, women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive. This is the only Muslim country which has made this rule. No other country, even neighboring Kuwait has it. This, however, is cultural, not Islamic. Women in Indonesia, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Mali and every other country in the world drive (if they can afford a car). The point is, if you want to look deeper, you can. There are enough resources in books, online and even in colleges to learn more about women in Islam. If you want to be intellectually lazy then go ahead, tune it to Fox News and enjoy the show.


jen, albany - wrote on 4/22/2010 4:36:48 PM
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Comment: I don't think that u being a muslims bad , but u have to admit that they seam alil crazy. No offense or anything, any religion that treats people like that can't be that great of a thing.


James, Savannah - wrote on 4/4/2010 11:20:14 AM
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Comment: Using your religion as an excuse to treat people badly IS wrong. Christian, Muslim, whatever. Islam is guilty more so than Christianity and they pretend there isn't a problem because the women don't take up for themselves and the men don't want to lose there power.


sara, derby - wrote on 2/16/2010 3:44:21 PM
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Comment: being a muslim is not wrong allah (god) is there for you if you have done something wrong pray to allah (god) then he might forgive you BEING A MUSLIM IS NOT WRONG!!!!!!!


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