In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
OF MUSLIM WOMEN
[Shamim A Siddiqi,
CAIR and other sister organizations deserve appreciation to ventilate the legitimate rights and privileges of Muslim women in its well publicized brochure. There is nothing that can be termed as un-Islamic or contradicts the provisions of the Qur’an or the “liberal” practices of Rasulullah (S) while dealing with womenfolk during his (S) benevolent life time. Women must have the right of accessibility to our Masjid. It must be opened for all times for women as for men, if necessity warrants like that. There should be no discrimination on account of gender gap. They should have equal opportunities to run their own educational, Dawah, Tarbiyah, social and community programs in Masajid. They represent more than 50 % of our community. Equally, there should be no denial to represent their force in governing the affairs of the community at Masjid level. When Allah is treating them at par with men in all respects as Verse 33 of Surah Ahzab ordains, who then we are to restrict their different activities of life that are within the frame work of the Qur’an and Sunnah and curtail them. Do we claim that we know Shariah better than the Shareh Himself? It is the responsibility of Muslim Ummah to facilitate our sisters to come forward and demonstrate their moral, intellectual and natural politeness in running our affairs more efficiently and gently at least upto Masjid level.
The Action Plan detailed in CAIR brochure on pages 14 to 17 are practical, feasible and has the potentials to improve the working quality of Ummah through our Masajid. But it lacks in defining certain points that might be [I presume] in their minds as Muslims and Muslimah as without these precautions, their entire effort will fall flat. They should have given clear warning at the very outset and should have qualified their program, recommendations or advocacy to avoid creating any misgiving in any quarter. :
1. All the activities must be free from “free-mixing” at each and every level. The principle of “Ghasse-Basar” will be strictly observed by each gender even while working or discussing face to face.
2. Islamic decency and decorum will be observed by all and sundry in manners, ethical standards and rendering help to each other while in Masjid or outside.
3. There will be no display of “Zeenah” [decoration] at all as ordained by Allah in Verse # 31 of Surah Al-Nur [# 24]. Sisters participating in joint program will keep themselves fully covered with Hijab at every stage. Modesty is the essence of the life of Muslims and Muslimah and it cannot be sacrificed at any cost. That is the only quality of character that distinguishes the Muslim women from the womenfolk of the so-called liberal or the Feminist movements both of the West and the East.
4. Preservation of family values and the paramount responsibility to children should be the upper most in the minds of our sisters. All their activities must be governed and subordinated to their onerous responsibilities as “Mothers”, the “care-takers” of Ummah’s future and its growth as “Ummatun Wasata” and “the Best of Nations”. Rather this should have been written as the “Preamble” of their just Charter of Demand’. The CAIR brochure should be reincarnated in the light of the foregoing suggestions. It would then carry greater weight, be more respected and convincing.
But the matter does not end here. When the CAIR and many sister organizations have undertaken the “crusade” to fight for women rights, they should have taken a few steps more and study the position of Muslim women in the light of our socio- religious, economic and political needs and perspective. When Muslim women are at par with men and are the integral part of the Ummah, these institutions should come up and urge: what important role our sisters can play in the emergence of Muslim Ummah in various other fields of life. Masjid is only one forum to display their wisdom and talents. The brochure has taken well care of that field. But what about factories, modern offices, different labor fields and laboratories? They are equally challenging for us as Masajid have become “points of depressions” due our own “conservatism” or “cultural-fanaticism.” How our sisters can work and contribute their might in these fields, keeping the life pattern envisaged by Islam and enumerated briefly as above.
This is a burning question for Muslim Ummah and its leadership has to resolve it lest it becomes too late. We will have to put to work the inexhaustive source of talents, capacities and wisdom of our sisters but in a “mixture” that is acceptable to Allah (SWT) to the extent that Ummah gets His continuous blessings. That is what I earlier suggested to the Editor of “Muslims” Br Jawed to arrange for a conference of Muslim “scholars” including our sisters and thrash out this paramount issue in its parlies. These are very delicate issues and must be resolved forthwith. If CAIR can take initiative along with other Muslim organizations, it would be fine. Both ICNA ISNA and other sister organizations can participate in breaking the ice of “Jamud” [stagnation] that is frozen for centuries together. Time has come to prepare the ground of revival of Muslim Ummah. Let CAIR brochure be its prelude. Allah will bless our efforts if they are sincere and are sought for His pleasure and for the better interest of the Ummah.
Shamim A Siddiqi