“Women’s rights” is one of the most important and controversial issues in the world. Today, many people believe that social laws are against the rights of women and should be changed.
The western world has experienced lots of social revolutions and movements till now including, Marxism, Communism, Abolitionism, etc. Usually, in these movements, people of a lower social class try to fight against the tyranny and oppression of a higher social class. One of these controversial movements has been Feminism which falls into three eras in the western world.
The first era dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries when the movement was against the Patriarchal culture in the west. As a matter of fact, women supporting Feminism in this era, wanted to be considered respected members of society and that the society understood that sex and gender was not the proper index for making the designation “lower or higher social class”. In other words, the first era can be considered as a philosophical view that indicates the physiology of humans doesn’t put them in a lower or higher position in the society and women should be recognized and respected as humans just like men.
Politicians, scientists and people gradually accepted Feminism in the first era but after a while, the Feminist movement approaches its second phase when feminists intended to be not only respected or considered the same but they also wanted to gain the same position in social activities and have the same jobs just like men.
Feminism in the second era is/was after equalizing the rights of men and women in the community i.e. women can do the same as men even in some complex jobs like Municipal services.
Nowadays, the whole world is facing the third phase of the movement which is called “Modern Feminism”. If we look more precisely into Feminism in the first and second eras we may notice that the main concepts of these two are justice and equality but in the third phase the core concept of modern Feminism is power. Feminists in the first and the second eras were defending (women's rights) against men but in contemporary Feminism they attack! and no one gets to complain; because if you disagree with this phase of Feminism you will be accused of being one of the cruel men who deprive women of their legitimate rights. In the third phase, Modern Feminism wants to create a new world where men are subordinate to women. (1)
Women and Religion
“Unto the woman He (God) said: 'I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”
One of the most important causes that made women start the fight for their rights was religion in the west. In the Bible, Eve (The First woman ever) was the one who tricked man into eating the (Forbidden) Fruit of the tree in midst of the garden. In Judaism and Christianity in which the sin of Adam and Eve is considered an important turning point, women are so blamed and should be ruled over by men because of their sins. The Bible has so many bad (negative) views about women:
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
(The Bible, 1 Timothy 2:11 to 14.)
“And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine. Jesus said to her, Woman! What have I to do with thee?”
(the Bible, John 2:3&4)
Women in Islam
“And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves (husbands and wives) that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you. There are indeed signs in that for a people who reflect.” ( The Quran, 30:21)
In ancient Arab culture, women were all considered slaves and servants of men. Having a daughter was considered a great shame for Arabs so they would cruelly kill their daughters by burying them alive. In this regard the Holy Quran says:
“When the girl buried-alive will be asked (on the Judgment Day) for what sin she was killed?” (The Quran 81:8&9)
In this very harsh and dark atmosphere for women, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) rose and by bringing the Message of Islam, which was Justice and Equality, made clear to everybody that women are the same equality as men. We even can consider Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as one of the first and true messengers of Feminism.
In Islam, Allah, The Almighty does not differentiate between His pious servants, whether they are men or women.
“O mankind! Indeed, we created you from a male and a female…... Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you.” (The Quran 49:13)
“We have enjoined man concerning his parents: His mother carried him through weakness upon weakness (the difficulty of pregnancy) …. Give thanks to Me and to your parents (both father and mother)” (The Quran 31:14)
Therefore, Feminism in the first and second phases are mainly accepted in Islam but there is a point to notice: In the Islamic view, men and women are equal but different. In the sight of Allah, the duties of men and women in society are not the same.
“And the male is not the same as female” (The Quran 3:36)
This is a sentence said by the mother of the Holy Mary (SA) in the Quran. She was after sending her lovely daughter to a place full of men and to a work which mainly men did (serving and working in the temple of Jerusalem). The Quran quotes this sentence to point out that males and females are different and cannot live in a society exactly like each other. For instance, both males and females are obligated to follow a rule named Hijab, but in different ways (The clothes that Muslim women should wear are different from what men should). However, men and women can both participate in social activities as the Holy Mary (SA) did in the temple of Jerusalem. Actually, the rule of the Hijab is for simplifying the communication between men and women in society while women are also safe from bothersome men. So as you see, men and women are the same in the sight of Islam but with different duties.
This is true about the social laws of Islam too. The Holy Quran says:
“Men are the managers of women” (The Quran 4:34)
“They (men) have a degree (in social activities) above them (women) ” (The Quran 2:228)
In the Islamic view, men are responsible for (taking care of) women and should financially support them and because of this, they have a degree in social activities above women but women have no such responsibility while they are also free to have jobs or properties of their own. This is because women are not created to work hard or face the difficulties and the hideousness in society or be responsible for the financial affairs of their families, but they are created to be the emblem of affection and mercy.
Imam Ali (AS) says:
“Female is a beautiful Flower, not a servant or hard worker”2
But the third Phase of Feminism which the whole world is facing now is not accepted by Islam. By equalizing the social duties of men and women and even by giving women many difficult responsibilities in society, Modern Feminism destroys the very souls of women that Allah created in the first place.
The last point to note is that how Muslims treat women in some countries like Saudi Arabia, has nothing to do with the teachings of the Quran and Islam. The way they act is actually the opposite of what the Holy Quran says.
Consequently, Islam accepts women as respected and valued members of the community and men and women are equal and Allah does not differentiate between them because of their gender. But in the Islamic view, Modern Feminism is actually against the rights of women and is not accepted at all.
- Women and Family’s Socio ـ Cultural Council Quarterly , vol.9 , Asghar Eftekhari
- Nahj al-Balagha, letter no.31