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One thing for sure, I really admire women empowerment, girl power, girl-child education, women working together across boundaries and beyond all limits to make a difference and the kind of powerful vibe successful women send off. It’s a beauty really. I mean, for once we don’t have to hate on each other on who’s got longer hair or a better husband, right? Trust me, all women relate to these scenarios, especially the times they almost had cat fights with their frenemies. You know, those ladies who go to work out at the same gym because its the trending thing, give each other those big ‘aaawww nice to see you’ hugs yet wanting to stab one another anyway. Don’t worry, we women have weird relationships. So, I mean for a change we get to hear women working peacefully for more than 24 hours. That’s close to a miracle yo! Okay, maybe a miracle is such a hard word. We do have several aggressive, intelligent women who do work together in a civilized manner and collaborate perfectly, its amazing. And at first, to me, this is what feminism was all about; creating the best out of women; beating stereotypes, elevating one another, appreciating one another, helping one another and of course, being successful together. But then ladies got too excited about it, things escalated and feminists started being radical. It became a competition.
Suddenly we wanted to prove to the world that women are better than men, that we can do without the men, that men are literally useless in our lives, and that yes, women have a right to be an equal to man. Now feminism is quite a wide concept and many feminists are inclined to different definitions of it. I’ll just talk about this one that amuses me; the one where ladies use up a lot of their energy to prove their worth being above the man. The idea which shifted their entire priority from what they should do to what they want to show the world they can do.
Someone once said that women were not created to do what a man can do, rather, what he couldn’t do. I mean, wasn’t our mother Hawa (Eve) created to give company to our father Adam and not the vice versa? Doesn’t that show that a man actually does need a woman after all. He needs her a lot. It can be a mother, a sister, a wife…whichever female role she owns, a man needs her and that’s undeniable. Just let these men live alone for a week without any woman at all and see how he loses his calm and become the male version of Harley Quinn.
When the prophet p.b.u.h got his first revelation, whom did he run to if not his wife Khadija (R.A.A) to give her comfort? Why then would a woman go beyond limits to prove her worth and status yet the religion already puts her in a very high place?
The ayah in surat Nisaa goes like this, “Men have authority (are protectors and maintainers) over women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard.”
Also in a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Umar, the Prophet (saws) said, “Everyone of you is a guardian and everyone of you is responsible (for those under your ward). A ruler is a guardian and is responsible (for his subjects); a man is a guardian of his family and responsible (for them); a wife is a guardian of her husband’s house and she is responsible (for it), a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible (for that). Beware! All of you are guardians and are responsible (for those your wards).”
Our religion hasn’t made us equal because we can never be. Each of the sexes was designated with specific power and roles yet it never made a woman any less valuable than a man. In fact, she was raised in status more than she ever was in the pre-Islamic societies.
The Qur’an’s basic stance is that Muslim women are first and foremost Muslims, the religious equals of men (e.g., Q. 33:73).i.e.in regards to punishment and reward for their deeds, no one will be favoured. It refers to women and men as one another’s “protectors.” (Q. 9:71). Muslim marriage is described in terms of love and mercy (Q. 7:189; 30:21), and the Qur’an describes spouses as “garments” for one another (Q. 2:187).
A woman and a man were meant to partners, associates, each other’s better half. And don’t get it wrong, women are allowed to be vocal, to stand up for their rights, and to be as strong as they desire so long as it doesn’t go beyond the limits of religion.
There is the incident when Umar (R.A.A), the second khalifa of Islam, one day delivered a sermon against the practice of settling large sums as Mahr (dower-money), it was a woman who stood up and objected, saying: Oh Ameerul Mu’mineen, how dare you oppose the Qur’anic dictate that even a heap of gold may be settled on the wife as dowry? Umar did not resent this, but on the contrary showed appreciation for this woman’s courage of her conviction and right to freedom of speech. He exclaimed: “The woman is right and Umar is wrong.”
Also in the story of Khawla bint Tha’labah and her husband Aws ibn al-Samit as is narrated by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud and quoted by Ibn Kathir in his tafsir at the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah.
“By Allah, concerning me and Aws ibn al-Samit, Allah revealed the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. I was married to him, and he was an old man who was bad-tempered. One day, he came in and I raised a particular issue with him again. He became angry and said, ‘You are to me as the back of my mother.’ Then he went out and sat for a while in the meeting-place of his people. Then he came back, and wanted to resume marital relations with me. I said, ‘No way! By the hand of the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khuwayla (i.e., Khawla), you will never get what you want from me after saying what you said, until Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) decide between us.’ He tried to force himself on me, but I was able to resist because I was a young woman and he was a weak old man. I pushed him away. Then I went to one of my (female) neighbors and borrowed a cloak from her and went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). I sat before him, told him what my husband had done to me, and began to complain to him about my sufferings because of my husband’s bad temper. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘O Khuwayla, your cousin is an old man, so fear Allah with regard to him.’ I did not leave him until Qur’an was revealed concerning me. He was overcome as he usually was when Qur’an was revealed to him, and when it was over, he said: ‘O Khuwayla, Allah has revealed Qur’an concerning you and your husband.’ Then he recited to me:
[Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with you concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah: and Allah (always) hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things)….to the end of the ayah (Qur’an 58:1-4)
Again in another instance of Khawlah, She met Umar (R.A.A) one day outside the mosque, when al-Jarud al-‘Abdi was with him. ‘Umar, who was the caliph at that time, greeted her, and she said to him, “O ‘Umar, I remember you when you were called ‘Umayr in the marketplace of ‘Ukaz, taking care of the sheep with your stick. So fear Allah in your role as khalifah taking care of the people, and know that the one who fears the threat of punishment in the Hereafter realizes that it is not far away, and the one who fears death fears missing some opportunity in this life.” Al-Jarud said, “You have spoken too harshly to Amir al-Mu’minin, woman!” ‘Umar said, “Let her be. Do you not know that this is Khawla, to whose words Allah listened from above the seven heavens? By Allah, ‘Umar should by rights listen to her.”
There is so much beauty in a woman being tender, being feminine, being polite and humble, being motherly and caring. It’s for all this a woman is a woman. It’s for this she is regarded as the queen of this universe. Never underestimate a woman who stays at her home taking care of her kids and home. You may call her uneducated, unsophisticated, unclassy but the role she plays in her home is one that is priceless. We can never repay our mothers for the dedication they put on us. Same way we shouldn’t underestimate that ‘housewife’ just because she doesn’t have a well paying job like you do. And if you do have a decent job then go for it honey. Work hard, earn well, help your family, help fellow ladies, treat yourself, own that car you want, go for your dreams, no one will stop you. The religion doesn’t stop you so long as it doesn’t go against Allah (S.W).
We have so many examples to look up to. As one of the few Sahabiyat (female companions) who physically fought in battle in defense of the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and an advocate for Muslim woman’s rights, Nusaybah bint Ka’ab was not only renowned for her courageous efforts on the battlefield, but was also as a loving wife and mother. Aishah (R.A.A) for example was an educator and a renown teacher and Khadijah was a famous business woman. Khansā’ bint ‘Amr bin ash-Sharīd as-Sulamiyya, Rady Allāhu ‘Anhā (Tamādir bint ‘Amr in other texts) She came with her tribe to the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam to accept Islām. She was a famous poet whose Diwān (collected poetry) has already been translated into French. The list goes on and on and on.
Being submissive and obedient to your father/husband/brother doesn’t mean you should be a door mat. It doesn’t mean you should accept oppression or violation of your rights. Fight for your rights when need be, otherwise be obedient. Because yes, a man has authority over you. Not unless you want to fight God for that too?
If we look back into history, we see the good example of how men executed authority on their womenfolk.
Al-Aswad reported: I asked Aisha, “What did the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, do when he was with his family?” Aisha said, “The Prophet would do chores for his family and he would go out when it was time for prayer.”
Narrated by Aisha, Allah’s Messenger (saws) used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, searching his garment for lice, milking his sheep, and doing chores. [Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5822]
“It is reported that a man came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radia Allahu anhu) to complain about his wife’s ill-temper.
While he was waiting for ‘Umar to come out of his house, he heard ‘Umar’s wife scolding him and ‘Umar quietly listening to her, and not answering her back.
The man turned around and started walking away, muttering to himself: “If that is the case with ‘Umar, the leader of the believers, who is famous for his uprightness and toughness, then what about poor me?!”
At that moment, ‘Umar came out of his house and saw the man walking away.
He called him and said, “What is it you want of me, O man?”
The man replied: “O leader of the believers, I came to complain to you about my wife’s bad-temper and how she nags me. Then I heard your wife doing the same to you, so I turned around, muttering to myself, ‘If that is the situation of the leader of the believers,then what about me?’”
‘Umar replied, “O my brother, I bear with her because of her rights over me. She cooks my food, bakes my bread, washes my clothes, breast-feeds my child… and yet none of these are her duty; and then she is a comfort to my heart and keeps me away from forbidden deeds. Consequently, I bear with her.”
The man said,“It is the same with me, O leader of the believers.”‘
Umar said: Then, O my brother, be patient with her, indeed this life is short.
Men is this the kind of authority you have over your women? If indeed men were kind and compassionate enough as our role models were, we wouldn’t even be talking about radical feminism right now. It wouldn’t exist. If indeed men and women collaborated hand in hand as it originally was, if men supported their women achieve their goals and dreams and genuinely appreciate their talents and skills, if they sincerely helped their wives and the vice versa, we wouldn’t be so focused in this tag of war on who can do what better. At the end of the day, we all need one another. Work on being a better you without competing on who is bringing more on the table. Thank God for the table instead.
Hey ladies, keep empowering each other, keep working hard, keep fighting against rape, body-shaming, stereotypes and all the negativity around. Keep working for your rights without having to prove your value. You are enough. You always have been. If the man was a house, you’d be the pillar. If he’s the CEO you’d be the managing director. If he was the body you’d be the spinal cord. You might think you are being left behind the scenes, that you need to stand out for you to be appreciated but really,you always play a major role no one can defy that. So don’t waste up your precious energy trying to out-smart or out-do or be a man-hater. You don’t have to call yourself a ‘S-hero’ for you to actually be one. You are better than doing that.
Respect the men. They’ll respect you back. At least some do.
I am not sure if this relates to all women but at least for Muslim women, take note of this: Islam has always uplifted the status of the woman and given her the elevation she needs.
P.S Women were never caged in the first place for them to need freedom. Don’t get it twisted honey.