In this climate of anti-Islamic vitriol under-girding a patriotic zeal for so-called Western freedoms, the scribes are busy producing literature, movies, lyrics and other art forms that breathe life into charges of sexism in Islam. Although sexism is not unique to Islam–for it has permeated all religions and all strata of society in most cultures–the criticism has taken a decided fixation on Islam and Muslim culture. But we must not be fooled to think that the West is any more concerned about the status of women in the East than it is for the status of women in the West, struggling to survive, rear their children and advance their families all under the duress of second-class citizenship.
Another truth is that tribal Arab values often get confused and infused into the practice of Islam in the East and the historic imbalances between the male and the female already existing in Western countries also have taken root in the leadership and scholarship of Islamic leaders in the West. Before Prophet Muhammad of Arabia began receiving the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, Arab fathers were burying their female daughters alive in the sand because they wanted heirs in their sons. This hatred of the female is reflected still today in the lack of property rights, education, access to credit, health care and other basic civil actions like driving or going to the mosque in many Muslim countries.
The name of Prophet Muhammad, Islam and Qur’anic verses are used as a shield for such dirty practices, similar to how the Bible and Jesus was used to justify the slave trade. But this is not Islam and Allah (God) is not pleased with the oppression of His Creation. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan remarked in a lecture that perhaps Allah (God) allowed the Taliban to be removed from Afghanistan by the West, because He did not want that interpretation and practice of Islam as it relates to the oppressive treatment of women.
This does not excuse the wicked machinations of western governments and their lust to control natural resources, but it should make all believers in Allah (God) mindful that our practice may not be acceptable regardless of the label we put on it. And even though Western leaders and organizations may co-opt the movements for justice of Muslim women that have erupted across the globe, the legitimacy of the rights of women must not be obscured.
We do not become holy and acceptable through the rituals of our religion; our rituals should prepare our minds and hearts for the practice and fulfillment of the principles contained within the rituals to bring about the Kingdom of God here on earth. We must seek loftier ideals for our rights than the ability to wear a miniskirt or dance in a club, for no matter how free and powerful Western worlds may portray their societies as a way of working against the power of Islam in the world, these so-called freedoms have not given them the power to negate the Presence of God’s existence nor abrogate His Will.
We do not have to abandon the standards of our religion to embrace freedom and prosperity, for Islam and women’s rights are not incompatible. As women in Islam, we must look into, through and beyond the rituals in order to understand, attain and elevate our rights in all communities, in all societies, in all nations. The responsibility is ours, for if we don’t, we are no better than the Arabs who buried their girls in the sand.