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The Political Aspect

book56Any fair investigation of the teachings of Islam, and into the history of the Islamic civilization, will surely find a clear evidence of woman's equality with man in what we call today "political rights".

This includes woman's right to participate in public affairs. Both in the Qur'an and in Islamic history we find examples of women who participated in serious discussions and argued even with the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself, (see Qur'an 58: 14 ,60: 10-12). During the Caliphate of 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point, and caused him to declare in the presence of people,

"A woman is right and Omar is wrong."

Although not mentioned in the Qur'an, one Hadeeth of the Prophet is interpreted to make woman ineligible for the position of head of state. The Hadeeth referred to is roughly translated, "A people will not prosper if they let a woman be their leader." This limitation, however, has nothing to do with the dignity of woman or with her rights. It is rather, related to the natural differences in the biological and psychological make-up of men and women.

According to Islam, the head of the state is no mere figurehead. He leads people in the prayers, especially on Fridays and festivities; he is continuously engaged in the process of decision-making pertaining to the security and well-being of his people. This demanding position, or any similar one, such as the Commander of the Army, is generally inconsistent with the physiological and psychological make-up of woman in general. It is a medical fact that during their monthly periods and during their pregnancies, women undergo various physiological and psychological changes. Such changes may occur during an emergency situation, thus affecting her decision, without considering the excessive strain which is produced. Moreover, some decisions require a maximum of rationality and a minimum of emotionality - a requirement which does not coincide with the instinctive nature of women.

Even in modern times, and in the most developed countries, it is rare to find a woman in the position of a head of state acting as more than a figurehead, a woman commander of the armed services, or even a proportionate number of women representatives in parliaments, or similar bodies. One can not possibly ascribe this to backwardness of various nations or to any constitutional limitation on woman's right to be in such a position as a head of state or as a member of the parliament. It is more logical to explain the present situation in terms of the natural and indisputable differences between man and woman, a difference which does not imply any "supremacy" of one over the other. The difference implies rather the "complementary" roles of both the sexes in life.

Covering/veil/Hijaab/Khimaar

sisteronlaptopIt is to this religion's credit that not only does it point out the dangers of life, but it offers practical solutions to them. One such area is that of modesty, which in the broadest sense means humility, restraint in manner and conduct, avoiding excess and presenting an unpretentious appearance. This is the way of life taught by the Qur’an and exemplified by the Prophet. In humanity, the worst crime after murder is Zina (adultery), and the punishment dictated by Islam for adultery is equal to that meted out for murder. This indicates the enormity of illicit sexual conduct and the disgust with which Islam views this crime. The reason behind the prohibition of adultery is not to "spoil the fun" for people, but because Zina is the cause of much social chaos, upheaval and suffering for individuals, families, societies and nations. Zina destroys the moral fibre of a person, creates an atmosphere of mistrust and deceit, and leads to the birth of illegitimate children who must bear the stigma of their birth. Pornography, prostitution, rape, abortions, divorce and single-parent families are the by products of Zina, as is now all too evident in Britain and other Western societies. Families are torn apart, diseases are spread and people's characters become twisted and distorted.

To protect the moral well-being of mankind, Islam lays down laws which restrict, if not stop, the things that may lead to Zina,

{And say to the believing women that They should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that They should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that They should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small Children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that They should not strike their feet In order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain bliss.} [an-Noor [24].30-31]

The free mixing of men and women from the time they become sexually aware to the time they are no longer sexually active is prohibited. On the face of it, this may appear rather harsh, but if we examine the effects of unrestricted contact between the sexes, the person who is blessed with understanding and insight will soon see the wisdom behind this restriction. Today, in the Western world, every type of crime that results from free mixing of the sexes is on the increase, Islamic modesty encompasses not only behaviour, but also dress. It is well-known that appearances count, and that clothes can make a "statement" about the person.

Muslims are required to dress modestly and conceal their private parts. The Qur’an reminds us that after the error committed by Adam and Eve, they became aware of their nakedness and shame, so clothing was given as a means of concealing the body:

{O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, As well As to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that They may receive admonition!} [al-A'raf 7:26; also see 24:31, 33.59]. The main aim of Hijab is for the pleasure of Allah.

Secondly, restrain individuals of the opposite sex from being unduly attracted to one another. However, Hijab has numerous other advantages that bring benefits to women. It gives women their own identity and their own sphere, which exists parallel to that of men. Women are thus freed from the strain of Western-style social pressure in which women are expected to look impeccable and sexually attractive at all times, and they are relieved of the "necessity" of spending large amounts of time and money in visiting beauty parlours and applying chemicals, lotions, potions and scents to their bodies for the purposes of gratifying men. Above all, it allows Muslim women to have an identity, an ability to express their personality and intellect of their own, independently of men's whims and desires. It is not easy to find accurate figures on rape. Many incidents are not reported, and the police statistics do not include cases where the allegations have been withdrawn. It is safe to assume, therefore, that the official figures are an underestimate.

According to the British police, in 1984 there were over 20,000 cases of indecent assault and nearly 1,500 rape cases in Britain. The London Rape Crisis Centre estimates that there are between 5,000 - 6,000 rapes per year; the true figure may be much higher. Since 1984, the number of recorded sexual offences has risen at a slightly higher rate than recorded crime in general. By 1994, the number of recorded sexual offences had risen to 32,000. If we accept the higher figures, we may say that, on average, one rape occurs every hour in England. In other words, by the time you finish reading this chapter, someone, somewhere in the country, will have become yet another rape statistic. The USA, a country proclaiming the greatest freedom of rights has the World's highest rape rate. It is 4 times higher than Germany, 18 times higher than England and almost 20 times higher than Japan. In one state of Utah alone the rape rate is 44.6 per 100,000. In 1995, 2,071 Utah children under the age of 18 were sexually abused: 633 of these children were under the age of 6. In the USA, 1.3 women are raped every minute. That equates to 78 rapes each hour, 1,872 rapes each day, and 683,280 rapes each year.

Looking at such figures, the question springs to mind: who is committing these barbaric acts against women? Are these the acts of mentally disturbed characters roaming the streets? The popular stereotype could not be further from the truth. In 1980, only 2% of men convicted of rape were referred for psychiatric treatment. The reality is shocking and disturbing: over 75% of women who are raped have had some prior contact with the man who raped them.3 They are raped by acquaintances, people they know and probably trusted. A close friend or relative rapes 16%. A study carried out by the National Council for Civil Liberties showed that 38% of men use their power and position at work to rape women. A Retook survey found that 88% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work. In the UK, 86% of managers and 66% of employers had experienced such problems. The British Civil Service found that 70% of those surveyed had experienced sexual harassment. In Britain, even in that bastion of law and order, the Police service, the problem of sexual harassment is serious. Female officers with twenty-five years service in the force may be subjected to harassment. Examples of offensive incidents include being spied on while in police stations showers, being "casually" shown pornographic pictures, and being physically groped. One female officer said,

"You go into a room and three or four men will run their hands over you to see if you are wearing the 'full tackle,' i.e., suspenders. It happens frequently".

Rape has a devastating emotional, mental and psychological impact on the victims and their families. USA census reports, 1.3 million currently have a mental disorder due to rape, called Rape Related Post Traumatic Disorder (RR-PTSD). 3.8 million in USA have previously had RR-PTSD, and roughly 211,000 women will develop RR-PTSD each year.

Social Position of Western Women Today

alpenglowWomen with children are still casually abandoned, as in former centuries. Now the phenomenon is known as "single parent families". Instead of going to market to purchase a woman, men now resort to prostitution, or even rape. In by-gone times, men murdered women they had no more use for (consider the blood lust of Henry VIII, founder of the Church of England, and how he disposed of some of his wives); nowadays women are driven towards drugs and alcohol, and ultimately kill themselves. This is labelled as "suicide", and saves men from doing the dirty deed themselves. The old Spartan way of having women "inseminated" by strong men, is now replaced by genetic engineering and artificial insemination via the sperm banks, which achieve the same thing under the auspices of science and technology, the "gods" of their modern age. All of this is regarded as Progress. According to popular belief, the twentieth century has seen the greatest advancement in equality for women. In particular, the period after the Second World War, from the late 1940s until the present, is hailed as a golden era. But during this period, atrocities of all kinds against women have increased by more than 25%.

A survey into the world of government statistics reflect a true picture of the plight of women in today's world. HEALTH When it comes to health matters, women fare less well than men, especially when it comes to mental health. Single mothers, in particular, suffer poorer health than women in two parent households. General Health Survey data indicate that lone mothers are more likely to have both long standing and recent illness, and are less likely to assess their health over the last twelve months as good. In this survey, only 43% of single mothers described their health as "good" and nearly 39% reported a long standing illness. Women also suffer poorer psychological health than men. They see their GPs (family doctors) more often for mental health problems, and are more frequently prescribed drugs for anxiety and depression. Women are more unwell and unhappy than men because of the work they do and the conditions in which they do it created by the capitalist system for the acquiring of profit margins. If you were to question a randomly picked sample of the population and ask them, "Who suffers more from mentally-related disorders?" The majority will reply: women.

However, this has not always been the case. Studies from 1850 until the Second World War show that men used to be more prone to mental disorders than women. In the majority of studies prior to 1950 or the Second World War, the overall rates were higher for men. In the case of women's mental health, the findings differ sharply from the 1950s onwards, with the advent of so called equal status. A report by B P Dohrenwend in the American Journal of Sociology shows that while prior to 1950, for every 7 men diagnosed as mentally ill, only 2 women were similarly diagnosed, after 1950, the ratio changed to 22 women for every 2 men. This catastrophic reversal in mental illness statistics accompanied the rise of "women's liberation" in the West. This increased incidence of mental illness among Western women since the Second World War has occurred because "... women find their position in society to be more frustrating and less rewarding than do men .."5 The reason for this greater sense of frustration may be found in the unfair burden which is placed on the "liberated" women She is expected to display masculine traits in the workplace, but is also supposed to maintain her "femininity" - a dual burden that is too heavy for many women, who may eventually break down. Mental illness researchers have also discovered that single persons are more prone to mental illness than those who are married, and their prognosis is not as good. As early as the turn of the century, Durkheim noted that the severing of the marital tie is particularly dangerous for mental health, as indicated by a high suicide rate among the widowed and divorced. Since that time, all studies' comparing the mental health of those who are widowed or divorced with that of those who are married have also found that the rates of mental illness are higher among the former. With the rise of the divorce rate, the prospect of women's mental health looks particularly poor.

Alcohol and Smoking

smokinglungsThe Western development of the equality of the sexes has been accompanied by an increase in the vices that were previously thought to be a male preserve, namely the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. According to a recent report published in the Sunday Times, the number of women drinking more than the "recommended limit" is rising. The survey shows that the number of men exceeding this limit has fallen to 26%, whilst the number of women doing so has risen to 12%.

Smoking used to be a men's vice, as for a long time it was deemed improper for women to smoke. However, the number of women who smoke is now more or less the same as the number of men who do so. Although anti-smoking campaigns have led to many adults quitting the habit, tobacco companies have responded by targeting younger people, on the premise that if they can get teenagers or children "hooked" they will continue to have a ready market for their product. Reports indicate that more young women than young men are starting to smoke, which indicates that in the near future the majority of smokers will be women.

Pornography

The rapid growth of the pornographic industry since the 1950s has, again, mirrored the progress of "equality" in the West. Pornography does not present women as human beings with feelings and needs, but as mere available commodities to be used and cast aside. Women are led to believe that by selling their bodies, they are achieving equality, but in fact they become subordinate to men who use the idea of equality to exploit women for their own desires and financial gain. In the 1980s, a further step in the manipulation of women appeared. Sheila Jeffreys, a feminist, wrote:

"When the campaign against pornography first got underway, it was possible to attack pornography as a male product designed for male consumption. This is not true in the 1980s. Women are being told - by libertarian theorists that because 'women are equal now,' it is all right for women to enjoy pornography. This ideology serves more to defeat women's emancipation than to pander to it. The idea of selling pornography to women from the 1980s has become a more sophisticated and effective way of bolstering male power".

Pornography is the biggest media category world wide. It enters our homes via television and magazines, as well as video, film and satellite media. Globally, pornography generates $7 billion annually, more than the legitimate film and music industries combined. In the US, pornographic films gross $1 million daily, and outnumber films of other genres by 30%. In Britain, 20 million copies of pornographic magazines are sold each year, producing an annual revenue of over £500 million. In Sweden, a large "sex shop" may offer over 500 titles of pornographic magazines, and a corner shop can offer up to 50 titles. It is estimated that 18 million American men buy a pornographic magazine each month. Pornography throughout the world is becoming ever more violent and gruesome, and is spreading further via the new technology: pornography on the Internet, including "hard-core" and child pornography, is a growing problem worldwide.

The Western world is also exporting this deviant trend, which exploits women in the most abhorrent fashion, to the so-called third world. This is the state of affairs to which Western "civilization" and its Progress" and "equality" have brought humankind, where women are victimised in ever increasing numbers to vices and mistreatment that any sane person would abhor and seek to eliminate. To summarise, within the last hour the following have taken place in England: one woman was raped, eighteen people got divorced, 20 women had abortions, and 24 children were born to women without husbands. These same events will be repeated in the next hour, and in the hour after that. As you go through your daily routine of sleeping and waking, this sorry state of events will continue, and the number of victims will continue to escalate. What possible answer can there be? How can these barbaric crimes against women be reduced, if not eliminated altogether? The path of supposed equality between the sexes is only making the problem worse, and any sane person can see that the world is moving away from a civilized state towards a position of barbarity and ignorance (Jaahiliyyah). Very much like that which prevailed before the advent of Islam. In a society which considers itself to be at the forefront of civility and human concerns, how can the low standards of morality that prevail nowadays be accepted?

What are the solutions to these problems? For the people who are blessed with sincerity and understanding, there is no need to search far afield. Who better to guide, than the Creator of men and women, Allah Himself? When comparing Western practices to the values of Islam, it will soon be apparent where people have gone wrong and how Islam may steer people back on to the right path. The single most common cause of the problems discussed above is the fact that Western society encourages the free mixing of men and women. The natural modesty of one sex towards the other is regarded as backward, unfashionable and uncivilized. Any effort to retain a sense of modesty is immediately labelled as "oppressive" or "repressive". Yet considering the disastrous consequences of free mixing, from the above statistics, the appropriate course of behaviour to be undertaken is clear. Recent Psychologists reports agree that when there are two persons of opposite genders in enclosed surroundings, sexual ideas and connotations are bound to pass through their minds. The casual 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 these impulses leads to all the woes of modern society: Abortion, divorce, single parent families, suicide, rape and all the other heart breaking social ills. Fourteen hundred years ago, the Prophet Muhammad warned humanity about the hazards of free mixing and advised extreme caution. In this matter, he informed us that when a man and a woman are alone together, the third one present will be the Shaytan (Satan), working to implant mischief between the two. As stated earlier, 75% of all rapes are committed by men who know their victims personally. In the workplace, 38% of men in positions of power abuse their position to take advantage of women working with them. The most frequent cause of divorce is adultery, which is made easy by the free mixing of the sexes. The reason that children as young as 15 are getting pregnant is because the schools, which were once segregated, have become "co-educational", and are now dens of iniquity where peer pressure reigns supreme and promiscuity is the order of the day.

The abortion rate simply reflects the low esteem in which human life is held. n the Western world, equality for women has meant looking the same as men, doing the same jobs as them, and exhibiting the same behaviour and characteristics as men. Western societies have paid the price for this unnatural approach, by suffering huge losses of morality and human values. Equality of the sexes does not mean that both men and women should look the same. In a society where money, beauty and masculinity are what counts, a woman has to work, dress and behave like a man and at the same time stay pretty like a model in order to stand on equal terms with men. This is to the detriment of her moral values and feminine nature, whereas Islam has set out the unique and complementary roles of both men and women.

First, the misinformation campaign directed at most Westerners which conveys to them that Islam preaches inhuman practices and the Oppression of women need to be emphasised. Opponents of Islam usually maliciously manipulate the fact that Muslim women are required to dress modestly, and are prohibited from mixing freely with the opposite sex. A further whip is drawn to bash Islam with by distorting the facts regarding polygny. They misconstrue these Islamic teachings as evidence and portray Islam as preaching suppression of women. The West has been so successful in propagating these distorted views that even some Muslims have fallen victim to it. This should hardly come as a surprise when it is known that Muslims tend to be more familiar with Western literature than their own Islamic heritage. In Britain alone, between 1960 and 1978 over 22,000 books and 43,000 journals published material slandering the teachings of Islam. When every form of media and education such as, television, schools, teachers, friends, colleagues, books, newspapers and magazines are all conveying this distorted message that Islam oppresses women; it is no wonder that those who are poorly educated, in the facts of the matter, are so easily distracted away from the right path. To counter this tide of misinformation, a general need to educate society at large about the true Islamic teachings regarding women needs to be urgently undertaken. The Qur'an and ahadith are explicit on this matter.

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