Islam era of instability in the world since the

Islam has been the subject of much attention in recent
years. Much has been written about Islam especially in the past two decades
throughout worldwide media. This religion has been widely criticized and still
is by a large part of the global population. What are the main reasons for this
relentlessness? The first and most important one is the upsurge of terrorism in
the West in recent years. Indeed, the famous September 11, 2001 attack marked
the beginning of a new era of instability in the world since the Cold War (Malley).
Formerly, the monster to shoot down was communism; today Islamic extremism is
at the centre of attention (Malley). Not to mention the latest waves of attacks
in Europe from 2015. All those events forever upset the image people had of
Islam and have marked the rise of Islamophobia. The second reason is the strong
instability still prevailing at all levels in some Muslim countries and the
condition of Muslim women in these countries, especially in the Middle East. However,
that does not mean that these are related. It is not because some terrorists
are “Muslims” that all Muslims are terrorists because to commit such
acts, either they did not make the effort to read the Quran or they have
extremely misunderstood it. Extremist interpretations of the Quran’s verses,
often taken out of context, play a chief role in creating the misconception.  As for the countries where the living
conditions of Muslim women are to be deplored, it is not because Islam has
ordered it. This is because men rule these countries for their benefit by using
religion as a tool to oppress women and satisfy their needs, as it is the case
in Saudi Arabia. It is not Islam that must be blamed, but only certain
“Muslims” who have unfortunately not understood this religion.
Indeed, if people look at what the holy book of Islam, says about the status of
women, they can see that women enjoy a place of honour in this religion and
that they have the same rights as their male counterparts. This essay will shed
light on the ambiguity of women’s condition in Islam and will provide a clear
answer regarding the rights that Muslim women have. In addition, this work will
be based on two articles. The first article is “This Is How Islam Led the World
with Women’s Rights” by Rayana
Khalaf, a student in law. The second
is “Change and Muslim Women” by Rajaa Aquil, an Assistant Professor of Arabic
at the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Modern Languages.                                                                                        In
her article “This Is How Islam Led the World with Women’s Rights” Rayana Khalaf
says that women in pre-Islamic Arabia had no “basic human and civil
rights” (1). They were considered as commodities and as men’s property.
With the advent of Islam in the sixth century, the status of women has improved
considerably (Khalaf, 1). During the pre-Islamic era, men used to bury undesirable
female new-borns alive. Islam put an end to female infanticide and prohibited
it. Unfortunately, nowadays in some Muslim and Arab societies, there are still
parents who are saddened by the birth of a girl (Khalaf, 2). The author raises
a question: why are women in the Muslim world less well regarded today? Revolutionizing
the Muslim women’s condition, the Prophet Muhammad was undoubtedly the first known
feminist in history. For the first time, women had the right to own and
inherit property. He encouraged women to seek knowledge. He also encouraged
them to work and earn a living giving them the right to a fair remuneration
(Khalaf, 2). According to many verses from the Quran, the relationship between
a husband and wife must be based on both love and friendship, categorically
excluding the delusional idea that Muslim women are their husbands’ household
drudges. The author argues that men are compelled to show respect to their
wives and to be nice to them under any circumstances (3). Moreover, the wives’
consent is a sine qua non in order for marriage contracts to be legitimate in
Islam (Khalaf, 1).                                   The second article deals with the
thoroughgoing change that Muslim women experienced with the advent of Islam in
the sixth century. Before the advent of Islam, during the age of ignorance also
called “al jahiliyya” Rajaa Aquil explains that women could not
inherit because they did not take part in wars and were not strong enough to
carry swords. In the pre-Islamic era, many barbaric customs were practiced within
Arab tribes and among them, infanticide was a scourge. The author confirms that
some explanations for this unspeakable act are the following (Aquil, 23): Men
did not want to have girls because they feared poverty. Indeed, in that period
of time wars between tribes were raging and when a tribe lost a war, they had
to offer all their possessions including women and girls to the opposing tribe
to become their partners and sex slaves. Such humiliation was so inconceivable
to men that fathers preferred to kill their daughters. Their honour and that of
their tribes passed first and foremost. Another explanation is that girls were
killed because certain tribes thought they were angels of God and that it was
better for them to join their God than to stay on Earth (23). Fortunately, the
Quran brought infanticide to an end by condemning the feeling of shame that fathers
felt and even by deeming the birth of a girl to be a blessing. With regard to
marriage, Aquil explains that in the age of ignorance women were auctioned as
slaves. In order to marry a woman he desires and avoid paying the dowry, a man
could give any woman from his family, even his mother, to another man (24).
Adultery and incest were also commonplace. Rajaa Aquil describes that as it
happens a degrading practice called “marriage of pleasure” (24) allowed
men to have sex with women for some time until the man decided to end his
contract. A man could also have sex with his stepmother if his father has died
as women were considered inheritance (Aquil, 24). In this article, it is also
reported that the Prophet Muhammad encouraged both men and women to seek
knowledge. He said that it is a duty for all believers. Contrary to popular
belief, Muslim women are not confined to being housewives. Islam considers
maternity to be only a biological distinction between men and women, but
insists that both men and women must meet the
needs of their household (Aquil, 26).                                                                                     Islam
has made tremendous changes to the condition of Muslim women in comparison with
the so-called age of ignorance. Before Islam, half of the earth’s population
was treated as second class, living in fear and submission. But the advent of
Islam spelled the end of many barbaric and misogynistic practices that women
were victim to and brought them peace, serenity and above all rights. Starting
with the right to live, infanticide is now forbidden, as are temporary
marriages as well as all forms of violence and injustice. Women can now
inherit, learn and work without ever risking being treated like commodities. Islam
was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century which means that
Muslim women have enjoyed rights that most women in the West did not obtain until
the eighteenth century, despite the fact that Islam is the youngest of the
three major monotheistic religions (Garrison). It was the first to grant women
the right to inherit property and the right to seek divorce.  However, people might wonder whether Islam
was a pioneer in the field of women’s rights in the seventh century, why is the
trend now reversed? The separation between customs and religion has faded away
with the centuries, which gave rise to patriarchal societies. Traditions were
often mistaken for religious duties (Khalaf, 4). Men have taken the opportunity
to redistribute gender roles and establish their dominance over women, like in
Saudi Arabia as said earlier. They also seized key positions including those
concerning the teaching of Islam in order to interpret the holy book to satisfy
their objectives and establish discrimination including on issues relating to
inheritance, the right to work and dress code. It is no coincidence that most
Muslim scholars are men. This is the reason why it must change; it is necessary
to raise awareness. However, do not expect the change to come from men, it has
to come primarily from women themselves because only they will be able to take
back what is rightfully theirs. Knowledge is a weapon and women should not be
afraid to use it.  

 

 

Bibliography

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Adeel,
Ghulam Hossein. “Status of Women in Islam: A Critical Analysis on the Matter of
Equality.” The Muslim Vibe, 13 Jan. 2016,
themuslimvibe.com/muslim-lifestyle-matters/women/status-of-women-in-islam-a-critical-analysis-on-a-matter-of-equality.

 Aquil
Rajaa. “Change and Muslim Women.” International Journal of Humanities
and Social Science , vol. 1, no. 21 Special Issue, Dec. 2011, pp.
21–26., ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_1_No_21_Special_Issue_December_2011/3.pdf.

“English
Dictionary, Translations & Thesaurus.” Cambridge Dictionary,
dictionary.cambridge.org/fr/.

Garrison,
Jim. “Muhammad Was A Feminist.” The Huffington Post, 28 Oct. 2016,
huffingtonpost.com/jim-garrison/muhammad-was-a-feminist_b_12638112.html.  

Malley, Robert. “Ce que le 11-Septembre a
changé.” Le Monde.Fr, 10 Sept. 2011,
lemonde.fr/idees/article/2011/09/10/ce-que-le-11-septembre-a-change_1570346_3232.html.

Rayana,
Khalaf. “This is how Islam led the world with women’s rights.” StepFeed,
8 Mar. 2017,
stepfeed.com/this-is-how-islam-led-the-world-with-women-s-rights-0090.

Zaimeche
Salah. “Education in Islam: the Role of the Mosque.” Foundation for
Science, Technology and Civilisation, edited by Al-Hassani Salim and Alp
Talip, publication ID 4015, June 2002, pp. 1–9. 4015,
muslimheritage.com/uploads/ACF2C23.pdf.

 

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