Illusion or reality?
We have all grown up listening to the oft-repeated catch-phrase ‘It’s a man’s world”. All through the period of the Industrial Revolution and the emancipation of women from their homes and families, this cliche never seemed to really go away, and this was indeed ironical. Then, more recently, we started reading about how women in corporate America still earn much less than their male colleagues, sometimes inspite of their superior ability and qualification. Many activists even inside our community, regularly lament of how appaling the state of our women has been in matters of leadership and governance. In many places in the world, this cavil has even gone out of proportion such that it will soon start falling on deaf ears, and become a ritual like so many other social movements.
Nonetheless, Islamic code of practice about women’s rights is pretty clear and the demonstration in the life of the Holy Prophet (SAW) of how women should be treated, is a powerful and lasting teaching that he left us, but one that we the Muslims took the lead in discarding as we all went back to our cultural values, so to speak, to what our forefathers practiced. This inadvaertently resulted in the mistreatment and (mis)appropriation of the womenfolk in families and societies, where they were considered nothing more than property of their rightful masters. Indeed, we still read about how the Sheikhs of Arabia still having this big issue and the simmering rebellion that they find in the hotchpotch.
Many actions and social events that are labelled as female empowerment sometimes just seem to be designed to misinform or at best to garnish as an act of unwillingness, for amongst the rights of women, many of these things may already be guaranteed by the creator, but for the worldly master, who has interpreted old ways, as the gospel truth. Even in societies where women are considered more outward and liberated, the fact is that they are now held up to male standards and made to go through male-centered processes of life, without regard to their own social and emotional needs. Which should really lead one to conclude that this is indeed a man’s world, who designs how much of the leash to release and to what length, to hold back.
As Muslims, we must not be caught up in this ridiculous argument. If we are male, we must remember of our role as custodians, leaders and guides and not as oppressors, kings and sadists. If we are women, let us remember that Islam has pretty much solved the problem of exploitation of women by charging our fathers, brothers and husbands for our well being and protection, and that we are leaders in many things, not just those in which males are dominant, but much much more. And so, in principle, there is no dispute that what we see today are Muslim men and women who have adopted others’ fights as their own, especially exacerbated in situations rife with segregation and discrinimiation, that we may as well have inherited from medieval Indian culture. In the end, these complementary genders are supposed to help each other elevate to the high point from where communion with good and the ultimate return, must be an illuminated and enlightened pathway, something that cannot take place amidst this chaotic environment. Or perhaps, noise was the actual reason someone somehere created this rift so as to distract men and women of faith from remembering their role? An illusion made to look like a fair seeming reality?