Jan 22 2012
Yesterday I stopped. There was a lighthearted discussion between friends about life in general and then talk about testimony in a disagreement. Someone said jokingly “is it enough to have two female testimonies to prove you wrong?” Something in that direction. We all knew the history of that ruling and it was a joke after all!
How did it come that things are in such a bad shape today in many Muslin countries especially with women rights and tolerance? And why is it that they are backward in many areas despite the immense material wealth under their feet in oil, minerals, gas etc.? One could argue that this wealth have been contributing to that fact, the reasons for it are open for discussion. Why is it that some Muslim countries with very little natural wealth have progressed better in areas of human rights and social welfare than those with riches? This could be a very interesting research topic for a student thesis!
The birth of Islam 1400 years ago was a beacon light for humanity: no racism (all are equal before God), equal rights for all and caring for the less fortunate. For instance the ruling that two women’s testimonies are worth of that of a man was revolutionary for the pagan Bedouin tribes of Arabian Peninsula. At that time in Europe people were living in deep superstition despite of their Christian faith. And still 1100 years later witch-hunt and burning suspect (mostly women) alive authorized by the Church was common practice.
Christianity wrong understood by the religious elite. There were virtually no women rights at time in Europe. Only in the last couple of centuries women have reached through long campaigning equal rights, although they often still do not get the same salary for the same job done even in the most advanced countries.
Why is it that in too many Islamic countries that should be in the forefront in this battle of humanity backwardness and intolerance is dominant? And women in the most conservative corners of societies are less fortunate in many ways than in the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh). Not necessary to mention that the first wife of Prof. Mohammed was a confident businesswoman and his employer and after his death his wife Lady Aisha was an accepted Islamic scholar and became active in politics.
How can it be that today some scholars argue that women have no right to express their opinion, no rights in many ways when it is Clearly ruled in the Quran and no believing Muslim can argue against it? In my opinion the reason can be found in the overemphasizing of the Hadith’s, memorized stories from the lifetime of the Prophet and the years thereafter that in some Islamic rulings overrun clear statements of the Quran.
As the late Dr. Lila Fahlman (Founder of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women ) once wrote: “Man-written Hadith’s have ruined Islam”.
Islam introduced women rights concerning her own property, inheritance and the right to choose her husband. Please read on the right panel Topic No. 8 “Women and Islam”, too. For example
Qur’an 2:228 “Women shall, in all fairness, enjoy rights equal to those exercised against them.” (This statement occurs in the context of divorce.)
Qur’an 2:282. “O you who believe! When you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things.”
Arab women gathering at the Town wall, by American Orientalist painter Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928)
Wishing you a happy, healthy and spiritually rewarding 2012 and hoping that this little drop in the ocean could initiate some small scale awakening to the realities of the modern world!