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A Futile Race: The Role of Women in Society

Khawla Hadi

Views expressed in this piece are the writers own views
and do not represent that of the Editorial Board

On Friday 18th March 2005 a woman named Amina Wadud became the first woman to lead the Friday prayers in congregation.

She was celebrated in the news. Hailed as a flag bearer of equality and progressive values. Though this story was published in a positive light but it in turn fanned the flames of aggression towards Islam and Muslims who do not conform to such progressiveness.

Because all she did was just lead the Friday prayer, right?

If men can do it then why can’t women?

Isn’t this just a simple question of equal rights?

We live in a society where such questions are unending.

It is one of the biggest phenomenons of the 21st century. The fight for equality by the modern day feminist. It is one of the key human rights issues in the world today.

Why can’t women be like men?

I am sure many of you just read the last comment and thought to yourselves, wait.. what?

So let me repeat it just in case any of you missed it.

Why can’t women be like men?

This sounds like a really illogical statement to make, right?

But the truth is if we sincerely analyse the problem at hand, this statement perfectly describes the irony behind the modern feminist movements.

Let me explain why.

To understand this very simple yet complicated scenario we must first ask ourselves a question. Is being able to do what a man does, in fact, result in liberation and the establishment of a woman’s value in society?

The simple answer to this question is that if the objective of our life is to worship men, then this would definitely be correct. However, even a cursory study of the Holy Quran will show us that this has never been the case. As a woman my declaration of faith is the exact same declaration a man reads – that is that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. That if there is anything or anyone who is worth embodying then it is God and God alone.

Even more simply put, God has honoured both men and women by giving them value in relation to Himself not one another. A woman’s value is not determined by how similar she is to men; rather, how similar she is to God Himself. There is no discrimination in this regard.

In the Holy Quran, God Almighty states: So set thy face to the service of religion as one devoted to God. And follow the nature made by Allah — the nature in which He has created mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah. That is the right religion. But most people know not. [30:31]

Meaning, we have all been endowed with distinctive qualities, a nature which has specifically been created by God. Therefore if we want to truly understand our own value we must understand it in relation to God not other creatures. If there is any true standard with which we can judge our value it is God.

The problem with today’s society is that God is being rapidly taken out of the picture; and women are being left with only one standard – that of men.

We are being compelled to find value in relation to men!

But, why?

Because that is the only standard which has been set by society – the standard of a man.

In the name of progress women are being shown a false picture of liberation and freedom, by forcing them to believe that a woman can never become a full human being if she is not like a man. What we fail to realise is that God has dignified us according to our distinctiveness not our sameness to men. We must understand that if a man works to earn a living that does not make him superior to us in any way.

If we wish to understand our true value and attain the liberation that God has intended then we must understand that He has honoured us by revealing commandments which are particular to the unique attributes that God has granted to us. According to the Holy Prophet of Islam heaven lies at the feet of a mother. This is something which is completely out of reach for a man and impossible for him to imitate. Yet, this is not deemed to be unfair. The Holy Prophet emphasised 3 times to a companion the supremacy of a mother over a father. Yet, this is not deemed to be gender discrimination. God Almighty has honoured us based on our nature as females in relation to Him but despite these incredible statements many of us are too busy finding our own self worth in the standard set by society that is: men.

We completely undermine the honoured status that awaits us with our Creator for being a mother. Women are so affected by the standard set by society that the honoured status of a mother is looked down upon by society. Often a woman who chooses not to pursue a career but looks after her family instead, is considered a doormat by societal standards.

Women are misled into believing that a successful woman is she who has a successful career like a man. Yes, there is no restriction in Islam for a women to pursue a career. However, forgetting that God’s actual pleasure lies in being a successful mother, many women today completely undermine what gives us true value as women and blindly pursue what men have never stopped to think that what we have is better for us.

We do not need to degrade ourselves by imitating men, as our value lies with God. Do we not know the example of the beloved wives of the Holy Prophet of Islam? They were the mothers of all believers. They were women who were promised heaven and are honoured till this day because they understood their self worth in relation to God. Did they try to imitate men in their lives? Hazrat Khadija alone after marrying the Holy Prophet of Islam handed over her whole business to him to look after their home and children.

The Promised Messiah (as), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community states:

“No one can claim a higher status than that of the wives of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Yet they performed all domestic chores and swept their chambers… One part of a woman’s worship is to discharge her duty to her husband and the other is to offer her gratitude to God.” (Malfuzat, vol. 6 p. 53)

A modern woman may have the so-called rights that she has been fighting for, but she is mentally enslaved to worship man and imitate him. But as Muslims we have been freed from mental enslavement and the worship of anything else but God.

In the end, the current Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper) states:

“Any rights granted to women in recent times have been the result of necessity, rather than any deep desire for progress and also as a means for the men to fulfil their own selfish desires….. Yet, from the very outset, Islam established the rights of women based upon their role in society and keeping their best interests at heart. Thus any believing women in today’s society should always remember that our true purpose is to please God and if God is pleased us just by our duties as a wife and a mother than we shouldn’t run behind the false notion of equality that the society has set for us that our true liberation lies in being like a man. The liberation of a woman lies in accepting her role as prescribed by God and fulfilling it accordingly not by striving to reach a standard that has no value in the eyes of God.

Further, in the establishment and development of any nation or community, the women play a fundamental and vital role, as the responsibility of training of the future generations lies in the hands of the mothers.

They are the nation builders!”

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