"O humankind be careful of your duty to your Lord, who created you from a single soul...be careful of your duty to your Creator in whom you claim your mutual rights" (The Quran: 4-1)Copyright: http://
The issue of gender roles in Islam has been on the forefront of every attack on the religion. Human rights activist in the East and the West are especially preoccupied with the dress code that Islam dictates and has become the pinnacle of anti-Islamic propaganda that unites and dictates world view.
The level of hostility that exists against Muslim women who choose to don the Islamic garb is amazing. It seems that these Muslim women are being held responsible for all the evil perpetrated against them by every corrupt and morally bankrupt government of the Muslim world. Seemingly these critics believe that if Muslim women abandon this modest form of dress, it will save millions from poverty, domestic abuse and social tyranny.
It is true that the situation of women all over the Muslim world is far from the standards demanded by Islam, but to dismiss it merely as a consequence of male dominance is an over simplification.
In her book The Status of Muslim Women, Leema Faruqi traces the decline in the status of Muslim women to the latter part of the 19th century, which interestingly coincides with the colonization of the Muslim world and the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire and the Khilafat.
The stratagems of subjugation used by the European colonial lords in the rest of the world were not successful in the Muslim world since the Bible and alcohol were both shunned by the Muslim masses. The belief in one God was a formidable force that the colonizers could not penetrate. The strategy thus adopted to colonize the Muslims was to attack their educational and social institutions. The Mosque madrasahs (schools) were abolished in favor of European-style schools and the Arabic language was replaced by English, Italian, and French.
It was long term planning to produce generations of Islamically illiterate and intellectually enslaved Muslims. The effects of intellectual subjugation was most acutely felt when the Muslim political leaders -- the graduates of said institutions started to reject Shariah as the law of the land in favor of secular values- values that just sixty years ago did
not recognize women as persons under the law.
The rise of Islamic social activism by Muslim women living in the West who observe the Islamic garb is the wave of the future. These are highly educated women who have understood and accepted Islam as a way of life. To label them as mindless creatures who are subjugated by their men and in need of rescue is a typical response of a colonial mentality among some Muslims and an ethnocentric arrogance on part of Western society.
The Islamic world will only recognize its true potential as a leader among nations, when the Muslim women reclaim their rightful place in their respective societies as the champions of what is good and just, and to forbid what is unjust.
The aim of any civilized society is to establish harmony, equity and fair access to services. For this to be achieved exploitation, persecution and oppression must be eradicated whether it is based on race, ethnicity or gender. The Islamic faith and way of life is the only comprehensive system that offers such a just society and history attests to this fact that when Islam flourished, humanity prospered.