Rehmat is a forty year old lady who has developed symptoms of depression. She has been married for over twenty years and her husband now plans to get remarried. Her fault: she has borne him three daughters and no son. He, now, desperately wants a son and believes, and his parents believe too, that a second wife will most certainly produce one for him. A relationship of twenty years with all the emotional investment that Rehmat Bibi has made in it over the years is soon going to end. Her daughters, who are now grown up, can sense the tension at home. When they see their mother crying they hold themselves responsible for her misery. Is it a crime to be a daughter?
Fazilat is another lady showing symptoms of anxiety. She was married at the age of twelve to a man no less then forty years her senior in age. This was because her father died when she was still a child and the mother faced with the burden of other children could not afford her upbringing. She ultimately found a solution by marrying her daughter to a man old enough to be her grandfather.
The above are true case stories. Only the names have been changed. There are numerous other tragic experiences that scream of the misery that women suffer in our society. Most suffer silently accepting it as a part of their destiny, others unable to cope, break down after a period resulting in physical and psychiatric symptoms which are too frequently misinterpreted by the family as being the result of possession by the evil spirits. They are then taken to various quacks and faith healers who further confirm this belief. The type of unimaginable tortures that the poor souls are then subjected to in the name of 'treatment' is altogether another sad story.
We all rejoice at the birth of a son whereas the birth of a daughter, especially the second one and almost always the third one, is considered an unbearable tragedy. The family mourns the loss of the expected son that did not arrive and if that was not sad enough they also mourn the arrival of an unwanted daughter who places heavy burdens on them. She happens to be, sadly, a useless 'investment' in our society. We must admit that we parents are basically very insecure and selfish. We welcome the birth of a son because in our later years we can make use of him as a crutch to provide us support and security. We happily invest in his education and upbringing because we can count on him to provide for us in our old age and look after us when we are sick. This, of course, does not apply to a daughter in our culture. She is sooner or later, going to be married leaving her parents to become part of another family. Right from early life she is constantly brainwashed about being in a 'strangers house' and a burden on the family. On the day of marriage, she is repeatedly reminded and warned in different ways that under all circumstances she has to put up with her in-laws and that it is only her dead body that should ever leave their house for good. In this manner, the honor of the family is considered upheld.
The rules whereby marriages are arranged and conducted in our society are, to say the least, preposterous. We witness these everyday, and have done so for decades, but somehow seem little perturbed by them. What would we opine about a marriage custom in a society where the groom's family and friends, running into hundreds, arrive at the bride's place on the wedding day, have a sumptuous feast at the expense of the bride's family and later return taking with them almost everything; the bride, a lavish dowry and of course the groom. The girls' family is left with little more than prayers. Yet this is precisely what we observe and practice in our society and despite all our education and 'enlightenment' fail to perceive the irrationality involved in the whole affair.
For many daughters, moving in to live with their in-laws is the start of a never-ending nightmare. The issue is not who is more at fault, the girl or the in-laws. The problem lies with the setup. The newly wed girl, who till recently, was doted on by her parents, is suddenly, overnight, thrown at the deep end. She is now instantaneously expected to assume roles and responsibilities, which she has never experienced before. Not only that she is also expected to perform impeccably with no room to make mistakes. She is under a constant psychological surveillance by the in laws who would leave no stone unturned to detect even the slightest fault and make a mount Everest of it. Jealousy, unrealistic expectations, intolerance, rigidity, and many other factors ultimately lead to a constant power struggle. In most cases, the girl realizing that she has little choice is forced to give in. The choice is not hard to make. Being financially and socially dependent on her husband's family, (almost abandoned by her own) and regrettably having little personal identity to permit survival in this cultural, she settles down to a life of perpetual suffering. She then pins all her hopes on her children, particularly the sons. She eagerly awaits the day when they'll get married, as if magically, this would bring and end to all the misery that she has been going through from the day of her own marriage. The new daughter-in-law however becomes another scapegoat; a fresh arrival to face the wrath arising from the mother-in-law's own unfulfilled emotional needs and in this way the whole cycle starts again.
Can this pathetic system change? I believe it can, but not by any act of parliament. We have enough of these already but with little results.
The first step and I feel the most important one is to bring about a change in the way we think and believe. To give one example, let us try to look for security in other support systems apart from desperately searching for it in the birth of a son. Everywhere we hear so much talk about faith, and trust in God but deep down, especially when getting in touch with our real selves, we discover that we have more faith in our male offspring than God Almighty. In other words, we need to confront our own internal insecurities. Once we succeed in changing our collective thinking, the social system we live in will slowly start changing as well. We must stop blaming the 'system' or 'society' for all the ills that face us including the way we treat our daughters. This 'system' has not descended upon us from the heavens. It is a product of our faulty attitudes and patterns of distorted thinking. The tragedy is that we have allowed ourselves to become psychological slaves to something that we have created ourselves.
Another thing that requires urgent attention involves laws relating to women. A lot has been said and written about this. I sometimes wonder if the resistance to change may be attributed to the fact that the majority of our representatives dealing with the process are males. When it comes to laws involving the rights of women they do so with the image of a wife in their minds and therefore have a strong tendency towards not being too generous in granting them much liberty and freedom. If men when dealing with laws pertaining to women could visualize their own daughters, sisters and mothers being affected by it, I am sure the outcome would be very different, particularly in the area of marriage and divorce.
We also need to review the traditional interpretation of our religious commandments. Any one who cares to study the Quran in a rational and objective approach would soon discover that there is a wide gap between the kind of true Islam as conveyed by the Quran and the 'traditional' Islam handed down to us from the pulpit. The latter is unfortunately the 'second hand religion' fully contaminated by prejudices, narrow thinking and the limited knowledge of those who have been left to interpret it for us. Most of them originate from the underprivileged and deprived section of society where a woman especially a daughter or a wife enjoys little respect and status. The socio-cultural background very much influences the way they evaluate and interpret the status and rights of women in our religion. Sadly, such biased and corrupted views are thrust rather totally blind, in religious matters to confront such views. It is ultimately the victims, our daughters, who suffer, being left at the mercy of fate. I know of so many mothers who ever since their first daughter's birth, spent their lives praying and hoping for the unrelenting fate to be favorable.
Ours is a ailing society. The cure has to come from within. We are all, in one way or another, at one level or another, responsible for this. Particularly the so-called 'decent majority' who 'prefer' to remain silent are contributing in a major way in perpetuating this ailment. Our apathy and our tendency to blame others for all the ills that face us shift control. In this way, we succeed in obtaining psychological relief as the burden and responsibility of bringing about a change has been conveniently shifted elsewhere.
It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness. We need to realize that until we stop ceaselessly blaming others and instead take on the responsibility to bringing about the required social change upon our own selves, the birth of a daughter will continue to strike as a calamity in many homes, some parents may reluctantly accept it, the others may not, but the pain will be there all the same.
If confronted with the fact that Khadijah, (Peace be upon her), wife of the prophet had only surviving daughters, and that indeed, ultimately Muhammad (peace be upon him) had no male offspring, what does that say to this tradition? Is there not also a hadith that a person who has 7 daughters is blessed? These things should show us the better way of equality and appreciating all things male and female.
Just see how our uneducated people destroy lives. I am thankful to this author who has brought this topic into light so every one could understand that now it is time to bring change in our lives, in form of true Islamic values and Prophet sayings. In the end I pledge to a muslim man please follow Quran for women rights not your traditions or what your mother says. Please open the book of Quran and read and find the truth and Allah's mercy so shall we make a descent society.
agree wholeheartedly that we strayed away
from Islam in the manner we treat girls and
women. However, it is important to
differentiate culture from religion. the idea
about dowry from the women's family and her
family paying for a feast is not within my Arab
culture. The reverse has always been true--a
man pays the dowry and all expenses of a
wedding. Although this is just one point
made, i emphasize it because at time swe like
to present a unified view of Islamic culture and
in so doing we ignore that there are vast
differences between Indonesian, South Asian,
and Arab ways for example.
This was an excellent article which should make all Muslims redouble our efforts to confornt the curse of the mistreatment of our sisters. Much of the cause or problems associated with the mistreatment of women in Muslim countries is a result of gross ignorance and cultural norms, which has nothing to do with Islam as the author pointed out. I believe Muslim Americans are in a good situation to present the best picture of Islam and the treatment women to the world.
And to bring your attention to another fact, when the end is coming, the ratio of women to men will be 50:1. Let us think about this.
And men should be thankful for what The Merciful Lord have given them. Here in Singapore, we don't see such attitudes towards daughters, not yet but maybe in the near future. Families and especially men should really dig deep and ponder upon the two above facts.
it is a very serious issue, the ultimate unfairnes is being done every minute toward our half of society, Dear Layla you mentioned that it was not meant to be like this in Islam but remember: you are only 'Half Good' in heritage, in being a witness(it take two women to equal a man in a court) and other things, the soceity needs a major rethinking and change to be fair to women
well i think it is a good article, but i think the muslims need to be more proactive in things. it is not enough for you recognise a problem but you also find a way of eliminating the problem. for instance i think muslims should be seen in the vanguard of helping humanity rather than seen as terrorist.
well my own response to this article is that the problem is more of cultural than religion. And the only way i think it can be solved by educating and empowering the less priviledged in the society.
From what I've read, only one person has objected to this article sister Layla, and Alhumdulillah that is a great sign. I am simply indifferent b/c the article itself does not state the the very Qur'anic objection to the misery inflicted upon women, not just Muslim women, of South Asia. Let's get that clear that the article does not state what the Qur'an states that the male is totally responsible for determining the sex of a fetus. As science proves this point as many others have stated previously as well, XX (female), and XY (male) chromosomes, so yes the Y can only come from a male and therefore only Males can provide that information and a fetus turns into a male. That being said, I don't disagree with this article. As you can see, not one person has said they disagree with this article, only some are indifferent, like myself, b/c of what I stated earlier......May Allah give us taufeek and hidayaat to guide us towards the path of the Ones Brought Near, who learn by way of proof and experience, and rid themselves of blameworthy attributes, and gain praiseworthy ones. Ameen. Ya Allah save us from our self-righteous inhibitions, Ameen.
As for the preaching from the pulpits, we as Muslims should be, need to be and have cause for optimism. We are seeing and hearing more and more the true Islam being preached from the pulpits. Our optimism is rooted in the truth, the mercy, the promise of the Koran. I believe what we need to do (as the article suggest) is study and understand the Koran as best we can and then begin to apply this knowledge in our lives. In sha'Allah the situation will improve. In the meantime we should all pray for the Islamic Umma. Let's not forget the power and necessity of praryer. Let's pray for each other and guidance for all Muslims. The Koran teaches us that "If my worshippers ask thee (Muhammad) about ME, then I am near. I respond to the supplicant's prayers if he prays to me. So they should respond to me (my calls for worship and prayer) and have faith (Iman) in me that they may
And Allah Knows Best. I can only contribute what little knowledge I have. Seek the knowledge for yourself in the Koran, its translations and explanations (tafseer) and interpretations. That in itself has in sha'a Allah a great reward.
Sadly, people don't understand what women go through after/during the marriage life-where these men oppress women & also don't let them perform religious duties ,which they are not supposed to stop their wives in any circumstance!This is just one sad example. May Allah GUide all & May we follow the path of Our Habib Prophet S.A.W..ameen. Ramadhan Kareem.
Malik reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He, who brought up two girls properly till they grew up, he and I would come (together) (very closely) on the Day of Resurrection, and he interlaced his fingers (for explaining the point of nearness between him and that person).
The subjugation of women in SOUTH ASIA is going on for centuries. THE WOMEN NEED TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS. NO ONE IS GOING TO SPOON-FEED THEM THEIR RIGHTS.
Lets see... XX (female) * XY (male)
If baby is a daughter, it's XX - and IT'S HUSBAND'S FAULT, TOTALLY, SQUARELY, COMPLETELY, absolutely. WHY IS THE WIFE THEN BLAMED???? ONLY WHEN MEN GIVES HIS Y THEN HE WILL GET A SON.
....SEE!!! HOW POWERFUL KNOWLEDGE can be...So OH HUSBANDS OF SOUTH ASIA, PLEASE READ/SEEK KNOWLEDGE IN THE NAME OF THE GOD WHO CREATED YOU FROM THE SHUFFLING OF X AND Y. PLEASE BE HAPPY WHETHER YOU GET XX OR XY.
Very Sad!!! People!!! PLEASE! PLEASE!! PLEASE!!! EDUCATE YOURSELVES and OTHERS AROUND YOU.
If that is correct, I am thinking that Sister Rehmat's husband is inviting the frustration reportedly experienced by Henry VIII in that English monarch's "historically significant" attempts to sire a male heir to the throne. I would speculate even further on what our brother and his parents are attempting to discover - possibly about relationships - but this is probably not the best time of year for sharing such predictions (insha'Allah).
Muslim women, should be as unfetered as those of any religion.
Islam, as a great religion, should (and probably does) see that ill treatment of women will cause the religion to die. This cannot be a good thing for Muslim or non muslim.
Our mothers, regardless of religion, were all women and are desearving of respect that even I cannot say that I gave to mine.
Please, give respect to your Mother.
First, I've noticed many people writing that people who deprive our sisters of their due rights which are guaranteed in Islam do so as a result of ignorance and not following the Quran and Sunnah. On the contrary, I know from personal experience women are oppressed through the misinterpretations of the Quran and Sunnah, the medieval taliban type, village mullah doesn't understand what we are talking about. This fact is most apparent in the Asian community, where you don't see sisters as active participants in the mosque.
Secondly I'd like to address the point about Islam being culture free, this is really a sad way of thinking where anything outside the sunnah and pre Islamic is considered "jahiliya", Could we please open up our hearts and minds, just a little bit? There is so much beauty in the different cultures around us, why not embrace all things beautiful as long as they don't violate the basic guidelines of the Quran and Sunnah. Let us continue to remind ourselves "Allah's mercy overlooks Allah's rath" so why can't we be kind, gentle and merciful to each other.
As I stated earlier, Allah (swt) says in Al-Qur'an al-Kareem:
"Now let man but think from what he is created!
He is created from a drop emitted-Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs>."
"Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!"
Surah Al-Mu'minun, Verses 14-15
Therefore we know clearly that the male's (father's) qualities are used in determining the sex of a fetus in the mother's womb. There is no dispute in this, as it coincides with current scientific knowledge of childbirth.
Education of Islam and scientific knowledge are the only ways these problems can be resolved. That is a step forward in the right direction.
My father loved my sisters equally without any regard for their gender. He would lovingly refer to my sisters as his sons. He always said that Allah had blessed him with these daughters.
His example still carries on to this day as a legacy because my sisters and other relatives treat their daughters the same way.
My father was the first one to send his daughter to college even when it was not fashionable. Others in our family have done the same.
Having sisters and a daughters is a blessing. I was spoiled and pampered by my sisters. I miss that because Allah has blessed me with three sons. I wish I had a daughter like my sisters.
What we do in our societies is not Islamic but a reflection of customs and traditions which are rooted in ignorant societies. Our ceremonies are rooted in paganistic traditions and values, therefore,the thinking is clouded and not Islamic at all.
We must love our children equally whether they be a male or female and we must provide the equal opportunities to be successful in life and the hereafter.The dowry system needs to go away. Marriages that are not compatable must stop...younger woman married to much older men without a choice.
It will have to start with understanding Islam first in all its facets.
I commend you for having written such a wonderful article. I do agree with you that it is high-time we have repudiated what the pulpit had to say. I am personally tired of the backwardness of those who keep preaching "filth" to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Many of those who preach in mosques have no clue about how the world should be run, no clue about Allah's encouragement for the acquistion of science, no clue about Allah's encouragement for equality between men and women in their respective roles, etc. It is they who have robbed millions of us of the right to pursue knowledge and progress. As a Muslim of peace and understanding, I resent their filthy work. They have always misrepresented our religion and made a mockery of it. The result is our incessant suffering not only in the Middle East but also in the West. Can't they stop preaching hate and start encouraging enlightment and education? Allah will not change our lot in life until we change what is contained in our hearts. It is mentioned in the Koran and we know this, yet millions choose to retain their old and out-of-place mentality.
I agree w/ Akbar Khan, this is cultural islam and not exclusive held by muslims, this occurs in other cultures as well. Traditional islam should not be blamed for this for there is no traditional islam just islam. The Quran clearly states that this pattern of thinking is forbidden, explained in the story of Mary, (may Allah be pleased w/ her)mother of Jesus(pbuh). This is a result of ignorance and not reading the Quran and following the Sunnah. May Allah guide us on the right path.
A man as a father, brother, friend and a husband needs to be an educated especially in Quranic knowledge to bring a change in women life.
Once he will aware of quarns rules and rights for a woman, he will definitely stop evil acts and unfairness toward a women in our society, only if he fears Allah.
This topic is very important for all of us. I am a mother of three daughters. I am trying my best to educate them both morally and spiritually so they can stand on their own feet and can fight for their rights.
I pray to Allah to save all of us from evil acts and guide us amen.
Also, why don't they invest money into educating their daughters since women-- even in SE Asia-- can get jobs and work and support their families, if that is a real issue?
but studying islamic culture, this was exactly what I
found when I went to arabic countries!
Jazak'Allahkhair for your efforts to promote discussion.
First of all this is a very important article, for me as a woman(daughter).It is so much treu that daughters are so pressured, and again I mean pressured into a marriage first of all where a daughter has not given her word but actually is been given away in marriage, and that is not allowed in Islam In the Quran. Not what many say "thats our tradition" So actually traditional Islam should not even be described together. Islam is pure, tradition goes back to the time before the Quran has been revealed and that time people lived in ignorance(djahilija) and people had traditions in that time and when Islam came it no longer was valid or that a person can say it's my tradition. Islam is moderate and does not speak about tradition. Many people deny this fact that the Qur'an is moderate and has no tradition because it's now a way of life. People can't accept that even if they are saying I'm a muslim but their identety is made traditionally made by their parents.
When Islam came we Woman had been given a high status in life. For AllahSWT knew the way daughters were treated and wifes, when a woman gave birth of a girl the husband felt ashamed and humyliated and buried it under sand and Qur'an says that was not allowed and a huge sin.
It is Allah that decides wether it is going to be a girl or a boy, and if they acan't accept that then they are actually not accepting Allah's will.
And i specifically says in the Qur'an about the rights of woman, And it has been stated by Muhamamad The PropethSaws;'The best are those who treat their wifes best and equill and AllahSWT made everything equill and loves equilty.Why can't woman go and work and later on thake care of family?Many are doing it now. those who say that they can' they themselves have pressured woman and told them that they can't work. A woman can as long as it is with no man and something honourable and a woman has many rights.
Walaikumsallaam Your sister in Islam.
I agree with you whole-heartily. We must look inside ourselves and practice the true Islam and the message of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) Its odd to see the people who pray five time a day and fast but reject there wife and daughters and deem them to be "Useless", Surely prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) greatest asset was his wife and daughter (Bibi khatija and Bibi Fatima-ul Zahra). As a society we can be more successful with the help of our wives and daughters. Your essay is a step in the right direction of dialogue.
"Now let man but think from what he is created!
He is created from a drop emitted-Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs>."
The male's semen is the drop emitted that determines the sex of the fetus. A man's seed is the quintessence of his body. "It is therefore said metaphorically to proceed from his loins, i.e., from his back between the hipbones and his ribs. His backbone is the source and symbol of his strength and personality. In his spinal cord and in the brain is the directive energy of the central nervous system, and this directs all action, organic and psychic. The spinal cord is continuous with the Medulla Oblongata in the brain."
From THE MEANING OF THE QURAN, pg. 1632
Dear Brother Malik who wrote this article needs to make it clear that this is not TRADITIONAL ISLAM. The preference of having boys over girls is not part of Islamic tradition, history of the past. Islam came to abolish such abominations. For a father to have daughters, is a blessing, for Muslims; Allah (swt) gives fathers success in the afterlife, if he raises them to obey Allah, and obey them, the parents.
This is a serious problem in South Asia and such practices must be abolished. They HAVE TO RECEIVE EDUCATION!!! Teach them that it is the male that determines the sex of their child, not the female...as medical science and the Qur'an clearly state....Fathers are responsible for having a daughter or son, not the mothers!
INTELLIGENCE was the first creation of Allah (swt). It's time we started using it at higher than current levels. This phenomenon of favouring to have boys over girls is a cultural stamp over not only Muslims, but many castes of Hindus, Sri Lankans and other groups as well....I am not making an excuse for this behaviour, I am just pointing out that Islam itself is not to blame for it. Muhammad Mustafa (SAAW) worked to stop this behaviour. This has nothing to do with Islam its
We should give our sisters all the rights that Islam promises. We should as society hold in high esteem motherhood and love and respect our mothers so that it is not something women are ashamed of, or feel a lack of accomplishment about, however the choice should be left to women to choose whatever path is to their liking, if they feel that they are valued and treated with dignity as mothers they will choose motherhood or they will make a different choice. There should be no force in the matter, people should choose the right path through their free will.
Let us make the Islamic way a beautiful reality, of love, mercy, compassion and justice.
In parting let us remember the oppressed where-ever they may be, Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq. Let us keep in our prayers the prisoners in Guantanamo and all prisoners in the world held and tortured unjustly. Let us remember the poor and the suffering. Oh! AllAH, may the oppressors see their error and lighten the suffering of the oppressed.