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Islamic respect for women

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

There is a general perception that Islam oppresses, disrespects women and relegates them to a second class status. Many people may have reached this mistaken conclusion simply by looking at the actions of some of the Muslim community around them.

Therefore there is a need to separate between the teachings of Islam and the practices based on the cultural norms, traditions and customs of some societies. It is also true that there are many people who have either been raised or brought up in a ‘masculine’ society, as a result, are unable to differentiate the difference between local custom and religion.

Women’s status and rights in Islam should be judged according to Islamic sources such as the Quran and the teachings and practices of Prophet Muhammad PBUH – not on what the Muslim individual or society does. Because of the phenomenal growth of Islam one person in every five of the world’s population is Muslim, the result is that it brings together a plethora of different cultures, customs, regional and social norms that people tend to confuse with Islamic practice/ culture

In the Qur'an Allah frequently addresses both the man and the woman. In one passage Allah reveals:

"For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women who are patient, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise – For them all has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward." (Quran 33:35)

O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it its mate and from them both have spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and towards the wombs (that bore you). Lo! Allah has been a Watcher over you." (Quran 4:1)

In many cases where some Muslims who have been brought up in different cultures may appear to oppress women, it often reflects local customs that are inconsistent with, if not contrary to, Islamic teachings. A Muslim is expected to uphold the rights of women, to protect their social status and prevent their degradation in any way. In Islam women are equal to men in their origin, their humanity, their honour and their accountability before Allah: ‘And they (women) have rights similar to those of men over them, according to what is equitable’ (Quran 2:228)

There are many verses in the Quran that express the value of women that show that in the eyes of Allah men and women are equal; they have the same spiritual nature as well as the same obligations of belief towards their Lord and will be judged accordingly. The only criterion for judgement is ‘Taqwa’ – God consciousness, piety or righteousness. "O mankind! Verily we have created you from a single (pair) of a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other."…….And the most honoured in the sight of Allah is the one who is most righteous. (Quran 49:13)

"And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquillity with them, and He had put love and mercy between you; Verily, in that are signs for people who reflect." (Quran 30:21)
Here are some of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him:
 "It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.": "Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.": “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”: “The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best and kindest to his wife.”: “This world is nothing but temporary conveniences, and the greatest joy in this world is a righteous woman”

The Holy Quran says: ‘And among His Signs is this , that He created for you spouses from among yourselves that you might settle with them in comfort, and He put between you love and mercy between your hearts. Surely there are signs in this for those who reflect’. (Quran 30:21)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, ‘When a husband and wife look at each other with love, Allah looks at both of them with mercy’. ‘The most perfect of the believers are those who are best in character and behaviour and those who are best to their family and their

The greatest respect in Islam is for our mother: Islam respects this Divinely given responsibility and most important role for childbirth to women. Women are uniquely qualified to do this all important task it is because they have been given those special talents and the psychological makeup needed to raise children. There is no substitute for mother’s milk or mother’s love – no one can extract and bottle motherly compassion.

The key ingredient in any child’s upbringing is a mother’s patience, kindness, willingness to sacrifice her own comforts, and her natural empathy for children. A mother understands and can uniquely sense their physical and emotional needs even if they cannot express them. That is what makes them so extra special. As the Quran says ‘in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in the years twain was his weaning’’ (Quran 31:14).

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked ‘who requires the maximum love and respect’. He replied ‘your mother’. Who is next? He replied again ‘your mother’. Again asked ‘who is next’ the reply was ‘your mother’. On the fourth time he answered ‘your father’. This shows that a mother gets the maximum respect and love – ahead of the father. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said ‘Heaven lies at the feet of the mother’ meaning that if you fulfil your duties of respect for, being kind to and honouring your mother you will by Allah’s grace enter Paradise.

Islam treasures the role of the mother – I recently read a very simple line that captures and encapsulates beautifully this high regard for mothers: this is real gold, why should anybody trade it in for glitter? I hope that these few examples that I have given will help dispel the notion that Islam degrades and tramples on the rights of women and relegates them to the back seat. Islam does not do this; often these are the cultural, social and other customs and practices that people apply; or is it maybe,  just maybe as a result of the chauvinistic attitudes of some of us hiding behind the cloak of religion?

The Quran says: ‘O Mankind, reverence your guardian Lord, Who has created you from a single person and created like nature his mate’ (Quran 4:1). Further in the Quran there is a verse that says: ‘For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women…….. who are patient and constant, who give charity, who fast and deny themselves, who guard their chastity, who engage much in Allah’s praise……for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and an ample reward (Quran 33 : 35)

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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