Women … Between two cultures
By Dr Tariq Abdelhaleem
It has been long suggested that “Eastern women, under Islamic culture, are oppressed by men, through the practices of Islam”, while “Western women are liberated, flourished and scoring high in every aspect of life”.
These two statements are examples of wrong, misleading, biased and ill-informed conceptions in our recent history of human race.
In order to evaluate the rightness or falsehood of a statement, one has to examine the premise of that statement, omitting any pre-conceptual understanding, which might cloud the judgement, and looking, objectively, to the source of the concept, examine the positive and negative applications of the concept, study its development historically, without holding pre-judgement of “old” versus “modern” arguments. Lastly, provide the right answers to relevant questions, that needs to be clarified, without prejudice.
How the Western Culture treats women
It was up to World War1, women in the West used to be non-working family member. Married women had a job of taking care of the husband, house and kids. However, the radical change had happened after the War, as lots of men were killed. The need for cheap labor in the market, and the hardships that was created by the loss of the bread maker, pushed women to go out to work. Another factor was the influence of the lords of money, as they saw the chance to hire cheap female labor, instead of more expensive male workers.
Since then, and with the help of the multi-billion entertainment industry in Hollywood, owned and operated by US Jews, the Women Liberation movement took a big step out of ordinary and crossed the boundaries.
Ordinary acts mean what had been the case since dawn of mankind on earth. The main job of women, all over history had been to be take care of the family affairs inside the house, while the man takes care of the family affairs outside. Aside from the exceptions of odd cases, that was the case, universally.
However, Women, as the physically weaker gender, had faced lots of hardships and had been subjected to many difficulties, such as cruelty and unjust, over history. That treatment was never exclusive to the East. It was much worse in the West, which is Europe, and later in the USA. In the European dark ages, women were often accused of being witches, prosecuted and burned! When the Roman empire adopted Christianity in the beginning of the forth’ century, Church made it harder on women, claiming that it was Eve who lured Adam to eat the apple, and made the first human sin. Thus, they were treated as a “commodity”, not as a “person”, until April 1928, in Canada! This is only 90 years ago. Britain and the USA supreme courts turned down the ruling but was forced to accept it some years later.
That kind of humiliation have been going on for centuries in the West, as we mentioned before. Women were not capable of having any rights, as a person. They were allowed to work as cheap labor, but were stripped off their human status, as a ”Person”.
It seems that racism against “the weak” is embedded in the DNA of Western white man, not only for women and blacks but also for other minorities. It is important to mention what the European Jews have suffered from religious condemnation, and had to flee to the Islamic empire, where they were treated fairly and settled safely, just to betray the favour and stab the Muslim world in the heart of its existence, Palestine! We should not, in this context, forget about the brutality and savageness of Christopher Columbus, the Western criminal “hero”, in killing black slaves and native Indians, by the thousands.
It is obvious that the history of white man, treating women, or other minorities for that matter, is not so great after all! It was shameful, inhumane and brutal.
The West have realized that man can benefit from “Liberation of Women”, in so many ways, politically, economically, socially and sexually related affairs. Cheap labor, spending power in beauty and fashion and entertainment industries, sex toys, abused wives, political members of congress and senates that are easier to manipulate, are few of those benefits.
The “Modern Western Culture” has changed the way women were created to serve, as a member in the family unit, which in turn, form the fabric of society. It scarified the basic instinct, implanted by the Creator in women to be wives and mothers, without being less than the man, to a new twisted and distorted nature of not being satisfied by being a “Woman”, to be a “working and career seeking “Woman”. That changed the face of civilization, and how society function, completely.
Recently, a brave convert Canadian lady, who has been a Muslim for decades, sent me those very precious and truthful words, which describe the crisis Western women faces. She said:
“We were raised to be an enemy
To NEVER allow a man to tell us what to do
To hate the housewife and place our careers and independence above all else
We were taught in school to pity our mothers who slaved after our fathers and served us, to not even respect their sacrifice, to see them as oppressed and too weak to fight back.
It's difficult programming to unravel. It is deeply etched in our psyche.
As much as I understand this, I still struggle to be patient and humble. To put 100% into my daily duties, distracted by so much outside.
So much need to "be somebody".
As an old woman, I am finally letting go and accepting I am just a woman and need to be comfortable as a woman
I want the Haqq (truth) in my own heart, the Haqq (truth) that was stolen from me as a child. To be proud to be just a wife and mother.
Only because I am now too weak to fight it anymore
I can't be a soldier. I can't fight the criminals or gangsters in our community. I can't be a doctor, I can't run a company.....
I am a wife and a mother. But I still need to be a better wife and mother. It's a disease I will never find a cure for, only rehab.
I had hoped that my own insight into a convert's psychology might have helped you to understand the challenges of convert women and might have helped you to understand xxxxx, that it's not her alone who has these issues, but I can see that there is more to the divorce than misunderstandings and struggles.
There seems to be a pattern amongst us to use the Canadian court system against ex-husbands. In custody and division of wealth, etc.
I no longer recommend marriage to converts, I've seen too many leave Islam altogether.
All that nonsense forms the history and story of women in the white man world.”
These great and truthful words describe the exact environment in which “Western” women are raised to be, no matter what their religion might be. The culture teaches women, from childhood, phrases such as “I have to peruse my career” or “I have to find my self!” or “I need to know who I am!” …etc. which are promoted by teachers, movies and every community gathering. They call it “empowering Women”. It is rather empowering the negative force which divide and split families and turn life into a constant struggle.
Religion, including Islam, has little impact on the deeply rooted cultural habits. Those habits never leave or change. There will always be remanence which take a woman, no matter what she claims to be, back to her own culture. To be the enemy of the man she lives with, if he asked her to perform her main duty, in taking care of kids, home and himself! Resentment arise and divorce happens, without a shred of understanding of the root cause of the problem.
In a nut shell the “modern” civilization of the West has completely twisted and distorted the essence on which the division of labor has been made by the creator of the human race.
The consequences are incredibly devastating. A lot of badly risen kids, lots of baster kids in society, fading of the border of family unit, dis-respect, and even hatred, between the two genders…and so on and so forth.
An example to be made here, the concept of boy friend/girl friend in the West has created enormous amount of problems, and humiliation to women. Many young women were taken advantage of, by not having a guardian to look after their affairs. They were abused, beaten, stolen from by men who took advantage of their weak inherited nature. And yet, they call it “liberated women”!
The irony is that they, in the West, recognise the huge problems they have and its consequences on their society, without being able to deliver the right solutions. It is enough to watch some of the TV series which signifies such relationship corruption between the two genders, “Little Big Lies” or “The Handmaid’s Tale” for example. An example of the twisted the wrong doing of some female teenagers is to sell their “Virginity” online, either for financial gain, or for a “Nobel” cause! To that level those future mothers and wives are lost!
Identifying and knowing exactly what the problems are, is not the main problem. The main problem is that, they always, with no exception, provide wrong answers to the question of “How we fix it?”! they keep tying different recipes, but it all either fail, or make it worse. That is because all those answers are all man-made. Man kind will never see the whole pictures across time and space, and Law makers will never be free of human desires and twists.
How Islamic Culture treats women
Before the light of Islam arose from the East, Women in Eastern civilizations, in general, were not treated as brutal as they were treated in the white man civilization. They, more or less, were performing the duties they were created and equipped to do.
There was mistreatment and abuse in many places in the Eastern civilization to women. But in no way even close to what was happening in the West.
In Jahiliyah (the era before the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) had been treating women very poorly. Islam was born and sent with the message of Allah swt to all humanity. There were bad tribal habits in the Arab peninsula at that time. Female born were considered a shame to the father, and hence he often had to bury the female baby! That was brutal. Also, marriage was allowed with unlimited number of women, together. However, women then, contrary to women of the West, were still had entitled to invest in trading and growing their own wealth.
When Islam prevailed, Quran forbid, in very strong verses, the sanctity of the female life, and condemned the tribal habit of being ashamed of female newborn. It says, descrying the mind state of the doomed father:
“وَإِذَا بُشِّرَ أَحَدُهُم بِالْأُنثَىٰ ظَلَّ وَجْهُهُ مُسْوَدًّا وَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ (58) يَتَوَارَىٰ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ مِن سُوءِ مَا بُشِّرَ بِهِ ۚ أَيُمْسِكُهُ عَلَىٰ هُونٍ أَمْ يَدُسُّهُ فِي التُّرَابِ ۗ أَلَا سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ” النحل 58-59
“And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief.
(59) He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide” Al-Nahl 58-59
It was Islam who restored the dignity of women. It limited the number of wives a man is “allowed”, not obligated, to have, to four, instead of the unlimited number that was. It made it hard for man to take more than one wife, as it required being fare to all as humanly fare as possible and treat all in absolute equality. Allah swt said “
"فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَعُولُوا" النساء 3
"But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]". Al-Nesaa 3.
Being practical religion, sent to humans, it recognized the basic need of men to have more than one woman. Thus, it allowed those who are capable of meeting the conditions to take more than one wife. However, it had been and still is a very small fraction of the Muslim population perform polygamy. It is much better and respectful for a woman to be recognized as a second wife, rather than a mistress. Children born in polygamy marriage are not Bastards and have the same rights and inherence of the kids from the first wife. It is just a clean relationship in the open, not secretively.
Islam, in its correct and straight application, has created a very strong family ties, that matches the nature of the two genders, and recognition of each gender’s limitation, without prejudice.
The rate of divorce in the Muslim world was so little until the West started to intervene in its affairs, military, politically and economically, by both physical and cultural occupation, which started in the beginning of the 19th century and completed its goals after World War I.
However, all in all, the Muslim world is much less corrupt, in gender treatment than the West. There are, indeed, many cases of abuse, and there will continue to be cases of abuse of power, position or superiority in each field of human life. But, by comparison, the Islamic world, let alone Islam itself, offers better relationships within its family’ based society.
However, there is always false accusations, because of the ignorance and media influence which introduce Islam in a very dark way to Westerns, for political and economical purposes.
The main misleading and ill-judged concept, in the West, is oppression of women in Islam. For vast majority of Muslim population, this oppression is simply do not exist. It is mere demonising of Islamic practice to promote the Western culture, that is completely damaging the core nature of the humans, male and female.
Oppression means “someone is imposing certain behavior on others, against their will”. The most known examples used in this subject are woman Hijab or Niqab, working women, and forced marriages.
To understand the nature of the problem, is not to have an initial stand that “women are free to wear what they see fit, regardless of any consequences of such behaviour on society”. This is not liberalising and modernising women. This is destroying the society. It is ignorant to think that a basic instinct in all created man, is to be suppressed voluntarily, just because women want to wear bikini, or mini skirts! Instinct have always and will always prevail, no matter laws or precautions the society imposes to prevent the grief consequences of such reckless behaviour; such as rapping, abuse at work or subways, single moms, child moms, children conceived or born out side the fold of marriage (busters). Such society is simply self-destructive. Such civilization will, as Will Durant put it – be defeated from within.
Society put precautions, ask women to carry sprays, learn karate, not to be alone late. All solutions that are not tackling the core of the problem. It signifies a society who accepted such consequences but try to minimize it!
Islam does not take such approach. It has the correct answer to the question in hand “how we, as a society can prevent such consequences from happening, without tying to block the basic instinct in every man’s DNA!”. The solution is to restrict women from wearing provoking cloths. Making women cloths cover their body and hear, which automatically will block the imbedded lust from working.
Some will say: but you now put restrictions on women, and none on men? The answer is: No, we make both carry their fair share of the solution. The source of the problem is women’s body being exposed as a piece of meat in a market window shop. Logic dictates that the proper action is not to do so. And, to make punishments on those men who go beyond the look, to invade the sanctity of the woman.
This is exactly like having the famous quote “don’t drink and drive!”. So naïve and stupid. Islam provide the right answer to the massive driving fatal accidents “Don’t drink.” Period.
The western societies live in denial. They want to have the cake and eat it too! Very hard task to achieve.
Islam has always been accused of being a “bloody religion”. This is so wrong, and here is why. Let us look who is attacking who? Who is invading who? Who has thousands of troops and tanks and jet fighters and carriers, attacking the other’s land, under the pressamsious cause of fighting “terrorism”? who caused around two million deaths of men, women and children in the last two decades only? Who used WMD to kill millions in Japan, and Napalm in Korea and Vietnam? What does the American troops do on the Afghani’s soil? Someone will say it is a “preemptive attack” or “preventive measure”. So, this is what is called Jihad in Islam. So, does the name change the fact that the West is launched his own Jihad against Muslims, in their own homeland? And still you will find those who dare to say Islam is a bloody religion!
If the measure of how bloody religion is by how much killing they do to other people, Christianity would be the bloodiest religion ever been on Earth. If it is measured by how much deceit it inflects on other nations, Judaism would be the worst ever.
However, the message of prophet Jesus (Isa MPBU) is not the horror which Christians are doing now. The message of prophet Moses (Musa MPBU) is not what the Jews are doing now. So, as Islam, but in much smaller scale. Some Muslims misbehave or misrepresent Islam in some aspects of it. But that does not condemn the whole religion as “Bloody”. Whatever in Quran verses regarding fighting the aggressors, is to be found in every single constitution or Laws made by man, to protect its nation.
Islam is a way of life, of thinking, of behaving, of acting, of fighting, of all aspects of human life. It is what the little Bush used to say “our style of life“. And it should be yours too.
Dr Tariq Abdelhaleem
August 14, 2019