Gender Equality or Absurdity

The status of woman in Islam constitutes no problem. The tone of the Qur'ân and personified by the early Muslims bear witness to the fact that women are as vital to life as man are, nor is she inferior to him nor is she one of the lower species. The status of woman was a given matter to be equal to that of man. It was matter of fact and no one, then, considered it as a problem at all. However, as a result of the impact of foreign cultures and alien influences, this question has of late become a contentious issue amongst Muslims. This issue came sharper into focus at the recent Independent Broadcasting Authority hearing where Muslims were the adversaries.
It goes without saying that the majority of human beings subscribe to the dominant ideologies promoted and duly implemented by the " Demi God " , United Nations. Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Transparency, Gender Equality are new buzzwords reverberating worldwide but understood by very few. The protagonists of Gender Equality hope to better the plight of women by ensuring that there is:
Functional equality between man and woman.
Economic independence of woman.
Free intermingling of males and females.
The disturbing aspect surrounding Gender Equality is that it is not left to the volition of the individual but rather it is a matter of Human Rights. Human Rights being the new developed " Gold Standard " must be imposed upon peoples governed by value systems at variance with it. An analysis of the proposed new order paints an alarming picture of perversion, oppression and the creation of a " third sex " between man and woman.

Functional Equality of Male and Female:
The demand for equality between men and women as humans is a natural and a reasonable demand. They are equally component parts of a whole humanity. But the demand to treat them as equal in their functions, can that ever be feasible. The question of such equality is meaningless. It is like discussing the equality of a rose and jasmine. Each boasts its own aroma, colour, shape and beauty. Each has its own features and characteristics.
As a consequence of this fundamental difference we find that man and woman are different in disposition as well as in constitution so that each is blessed with what it can suitably accomplish with its respective functions.
The Glorious Qur'ân states:
" And they (women ) have rights similar to those of men. " ( 2: 226 )
The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of man but they are not necessarily identical. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. The difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but are created as equals. Keeping this distinction in mind, one can hardly sense problems arising. It is almost possible to find even two identical men or women.
Are man and woman of the same species or are they distinct? Do they have similar or different functions in life? If the answer is no then why have both been created. If they are the same, Allah could have settled with creating only one of them. Hence they have to be different designed to fulfil different roles.
Equality between the sexes must not be understood to mean that the tasks of the two are alike. The much repeated slogan of gender equality should not be allowed to overshadow the fact that being equal does not imply a uniformity of all qualities.
Dr. Alexis Carrel says: " The differences which exist between men and women are more of a fundamental nature than is usually realised and that these differences are caused by the very structure of the tissues. " He further says: " Ignorance of these fundamental facts have led promoters of feminism to believe that both sexes should have the same responsibilities. Women should according to him " develop their aptitudes without imitating the males. " These aptitudes fall in the area of the family, household, rearing of children and making a happy home.
Islam disapproves of a social pattern in which women neglect their primary functions and plunge into a wider sphere of activity at the cost of their primary role. The civilised world has to learn that the greatest social service that can be rendered by a woman to a country and mankind at large is to bring up a healthy family, a sphere in which women are born experts and technicians. No sane individual or nation can let skilled labour fall into disuse. In a sensible society, right persons are placed in the right places. Otherwise humanity is bound to suffer.
Thus it will serve society's interest if roles are assigned in accordance with natural aptitude, disposition and characteristics. Such a view is but a confirmation of what Islam has advocated for the past 14 centuries.
The natural classification of human society into man and woman is based on the principle of division of labour. Outside his or her vocation the greatest genius may be found wanting. A civilisation that scoffs at such a division simply accelerates the demise of a stable and moral society.
Islam clearly recognises the equal potential and ability of the sexes but Allah has created them in a manner whereby men and women are better suited for differing but complementary tasks. It is erroneous to believe that equality can be achieved by adopting a male role. Women instead of recognising and cherishing their feminity, aspire to do what men do. By clamouring for such roles, they have only succeeded in relegating the female whilst elevating the male.
Women do note that women copying men is an exercise in which womanhood has no intrinsic value.

Economic Independence of Women
A woman has no financial responsibilities whatsoever. She is financially secure and provided for. If she is a wife, the husband is the provider;if she is a mother, it is the son; if she is a daughter, it is the father;if she is a sister, it is the brother, and so on.
The Qur'ân states:
" Men are the protectors , maintainers of women, and because Allah has given them more ( strength ) than the other, and because they support them from their means. " ( 4: 34 )
Marxist Feminism proposed an end to the oppression of women by introducing them en masse to the workplace. It emphasized that we are what we are because of what we do or, more specifically, what we do to meet our basics needs in productive activities. Marxist women, therefore worked towards moving the women onto the factory floor and towards earning a living of their own as a means of proving independence and equality. Marxism assumes equality between individuals in terms of financial independence. Marxism has in fact served the interest of the bosses by supplying them with a surplus of workers which makes it easy for them to demand cheap labour.
Championing for the economic independence of women, far from liberating them, they were pawns manipulated. Ones mind immediately goes to the industrial revolution and the world wars.Shortage of labour, hundreds of thousands of men killed and many more incapacitated paved the way for women and children to suffer the tribulations of labour.
As the adage goes; he who has the piper plays the tune. Women who are not economically independent are vulnerable. This is the legacy of patriarchy which serves to sustain male domination and female subordination. This leads to women without economic independence and unable to sustain themselves without a breadwinner, they cannot withdraw sexual, emotional and physical servicing from men, they cannot have an equal say in decisions affecting their lifes such as where they might live. Women who can exercise economic muscle will stamp out such subordination. Why should a woman who earns her own bread, supports herself and yet subject herself to moral restrictions and above all shoulder the responsibilities of family life.
The famous Western scholar, Arnold Toynbee laments: " In human history, the periods which have been plagued with decay and degeneration are those in which women have stepped outside their homes. "
If one has to look at the world today, this statement is absolutely true. Off course there are exceptions. Women clamouring to be independent have struck a fatal blow to family life and the moral fabric of society is threatened with disintegration. The once noble institution of the family, the guardian of culture and protector of civilization has collapsed like ninepins. Women have abandoned it. Man dislike it.
No matter how much liberal feminism tries to abolish conventional ( stereotype ) social roles for men and women, a career woman cannot escape the cage of feminity; she faces pressure to act and appear feminine as well as to succeed in her chosen career.

Free Intermingling of Sexes
1400 years ago, Nabi Kareem sallallaahu alaihi wasallam informed humanity about the hazards of free mixing and advised extreme caution. He is reported to have said: " When a man and a woman are alone together, the third person is Shaitaan. " ( Abu Dawood ). His presence is merely to induce them to evil and mischief.
Recent psychologists reports agree that when there are two persons of the opposite gender in enclosed surroundings, sexual ideas and connotations are bound to pass through their minds. (Time Magazine, June 1, 1997 )
The carefree and frequent manner in which such encounters are allowed to occur in an atmosphere of free mixing sets the stage for most of the calamities suffered by women today. Acting upon such impulses leads to all the woes of modern society: abortion, divorce, single parent families, suicide, rape and all the other heart breaking social ills.
There is no reason to doubt that the free inter mingling of sexes has brought in its wake an ever growing tendency towards nudity and sex perversion. Sexual attraction which naturally exists as a strong instinctive force between the sexes has become a powerful enslavement force which flourishes with every impetus it receives from the intermingling of sexes. In the absence of any moral restraint, this urge is satisfied without any consideration for decency and morality.
In Islam, a woman is exempted from all outdoor religious obligations. The Friday Jumu'ah is not obligatory on her, she is not obliged to go for Jihaad, neither is she obliged to join the daily congregational prayers, nor is she permitted to go on a journey without a mahram. Islam does not approve of a woman going out of her house without a genuine need. This will greatly reduce the frequency of intermingling.
In the event of women emerging from their homes on the basis of genuine need, she has to observe certain directives which are primarily designed for the observance of decency, promotion of modesty, enhancing of identity ( instead of being obliterated as is incorrectly perceived by the proponents of Gender Equality ). This code ( Hijaab - in its broad sense ) will afford a woman a level of honourable sanctuary heretofore unknown in the civilised world. It is far from being a symbol of forced silence and oppression.
However much women insist to choose what they wear, they cannot deny that the choice is often dictated by that what will make her body more attractive to men. Women cannot separate their identity from their appearance and so they remain trapped in the traditional feminine world, where the rules are written by men. True equality will only be had when women dont need to display themselves to get attention and wont need to defend their decision to keep their bodies to themselves.

The West has from time to time devised means to break the spiritual clout of the Muslims. They have on an intellectual level attempted to expose the supposed imbalances in Islam regarding women. We have no data available to assess the inroads they have made in influencing the Muslim female's mind. What we can say is that it has produced a few Muslim men and women who have become so bold to openly say that the Qur'ân must be interpreted and understood so that it becomes compatible with the modern concepts.This in turn will address the issue and such principles will emerge allowing women their rightful role in society.
To assume her rightful role, historically, she had to demand equal rights and justice to combat the oppressive laws and practises she was subjected to. With the passage of time, men in positions of power diverted Western women onto a different track. The early feminist's attack on injustice evolved into a movement in which women looked and accused themselves. So what began with a struggle to change society's (in most cases, men's) attitudes and laws ended up changing women, arguably to the delight of men.
Women do also contend that why should men defend their roles and dignity as this effort purports to do. Who can be better equipped to know their needs other than women ? Sounds very convincing and logical. All we say is that Allah chose many prophets to guide humanity, none were women but they were sent for the welfare of men and women as well. Their teachings are immortalised begging to be adhered to for a more equitable world.
Courtesy : al-Jamiat