So, as I must've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I love, love, LOVE Riffat Hassan's views on Islam, Muslims, and women. I've a tonnn of questions to ask her, and I wish she'd reply to my congratulatory e-mail already (yeah, I told her how much I admire her and how HAPPY I am that we have Muslim women like her existing), but those will wait until I get a better hold of her, ka khairee.
In the mean time, lemme just share an excerpt from one of her writings I found online. It's from "Are Human Rights Compatible with Islam?" and cover women's rights as well (of course :D). She said it all so well that I don't need to revise it or put it in my own words. I'll paste here only certain parts of the essay, though, the parts that, in this blog post, start with ** and end with **. Interested individuals should visit the link provided to read the rest.
Note: I'm particularly interested in women's rights, under Islam, in terms of divorce and child custody. Consider what Dr. Riffat has to say about these two.
Pasting from the link http://www.religiousconsultation.org/hassan2.htm#six:
** Muslim men never tire of repeating that Islam has given more rights to women than has any other religion. Certainly, if by "Islam" is meant "Qur'anic Islam" the rights that it has given to women are, indeed, impressive....**
I LOVE this part:
**[T]he Qur'an[,] because of its protective attitude toward all downtrodden and oppressed classes of people, appears to be weighted in many ways in favor of women, many of its women-related teachings have been used in patriarchal Muslim societies against, rather than for, women. Muslim societies, in general, appear to be far more concerned with trying to control women's bodies and sexuality than with their human rights. Many Muslims when they speak of human rights, either do not speak of women's rights at all, or are mainly concerned with how a women's chastity may be protected. (They are apparently not worried about protecting men's chastity). **
Then she gives examples of Muslim women's oppression and discrimination in Muslim societies. (I did NOT know that "one of the most common crimes in a number of Muslim countries (e.g., in Pakistan) is the murder of women by their husbands."!!!)
**Even though so much Qur'anic legislation is aimed at protecting the rights of women in the context of marriage women cannot claim equality with their husbands. The husband, in fact, is regarded as his wife's gateway to heaven or hell and the arbiter of her final destiny. That such an idea can exist within the framework of Islam - which, in theory, rejects the idea of there being any intermediary between a believer and God - represents both a profound irony and a great tragedy.**
**Although the Qur'an presents the idea of what we today call a "no-fault" divorce and does not make any adverse judgements about divorce , Muslim societies have made divorce extremely difficult for women, both legally and through social penalties. **
See, I always wondered why the hell it is that we have this pathetic form of divorce called "triple divorce" (you know, the god-husband/husband-god goes, "Talaq, talaq, talaq" and the woman is divorced). Gosh. Only to finally discover that it was during the reign of Umar did it become acceptable. This was a common practice in pre-Islamic Arabia, and it's pitiful that just because Umar legalized it during his reign (and hence afterwards), it became an "Islamic" thing! Talk about Arab influence on the entire Muslim world.
On Child Custody:
**Although the Qur'an states clearly that the divorced parents of a minor child must decide by mutual consultation how the child is to be raised and that they must not use the child to hurt or exploit each other, in most Muslim societies, women are deprived both of their sons (generally at age 7) and their daughters (generally at age 12). It is difficult to imagine an act of greater cruelty than depriving a mother of her children simply because she is divorced.**
Unfortunately, though, that's what our Four Sunni scholars tell us to do during divorce. (I'll explain this in detail in another post, ka khairee, no worries. I've a lot to say on the subject.)
**Although polygamy was intended by the Qur'an to be for the protection of orphans and widows, in practice Muslims have made it the Sword of Damocles which keeps women under constant threat.**
YESSS!!! I long to write on polygamy in the Quran (I've found some seriously shocking things that our classical scholars have said about polygamy ... and a constant reading of the verse on polygamy has also made me realize something that I absolutely long to share in a blog entry some time, but heck, if I could only find some time to do that!
On Niqab/Hijab/Modesty (my personal favorite ... k, one of them):
**Although the purpose of the Qur'anic legislation dealing with women's dress and conduct, was to make it safe for women to go about their daily business (since they have the right to engage in gainful activity as witnessed by Surah 4: An-Nisa' :32 without fear of sexual harassment or molestation, Muslim societies have put many of them behind veils and shrouds and locked doors on the pretext of protecting their chastity, forgetting that according to the Qur'an, confinement to their homes was not a normal way of life for chaste women but a punishment for "unchastity".**
On Husband-Wife Relationships:
**The Qur'anic description of man and woman in marriage: "They are your garments/ And you are their garments" (Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 187) implies closeness, mutuality, and equality. However, Muslim culture has reduced many, if not most, women to the position of puppets on a string, to slave-like creatures whose only purpose in life is to cater to the needs and pleasures of men. Not only this, it has also had the audacity and the arrogance to deny women direct access to God. It is one of Islam's cardinal beliefs that each person -man or woman- is responsible and accountable for his or her individual actions. How, then, can the husband become the wife's gateway to heaven or hell?**
Gosh, TELL me about it. :S
But then again, if (authentic) hadiths tell us that women can go to heaven only if their husbands were "pleased" with them at the time of their death or if they obeyed their husbands, then who are we to argue?
Oh, no, we'll argue all right. I recently read the MOST AMMMMMMMMMMMMMAYZING book on Islam and women EVER: Speaking in God's Name by Khaled Abu el-Fadl. OMGOMGOMGOMG!! In my letter to him, I told him how I've pretty much highlighted EVERY other sentence in the book 'cause it was just THAT important and worth-remembering. Ahhhhhhhh... every Muslim, especially female, should read that book.
Yeah, so in this book, he discusses all those hadith that are SO demeaning to women that they pretty much dehumanize us beautiful women. And this hadith of wife's prostration to her husband is one of them, another being her spending her life to please her husband, especially sexually. Gosh, it's sick.
But more on that later, ka khairee :) (I know, I know, I keep promising all these things and then you don't get to see them till perhaps years later, but hey, give me time, man. I'm getting busier and busier by day. Ka khair wee, soon!)
k, lemme end this here for now. Will continue it, though, for sure.