Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The consequences of the lower position of women in Islam

Here is a question and I have been stressing this repeatedly for a long time now. In orthodox Islam, the position of a woman is considered less valuable than that of a man, religiously and economically. What happens then when Muslims lower the bar on their women that women become a little more better than animals? (as quoted by Imam Al-Ghazali).

I've been ruminating it for awhile and I realized that Islam is pretty difficult to conjoin with different modes of society to function economically and socially. For example, in orthodox Islam women are not even allowed to go out of their homes without the permission of their husbands or to work for it is Makruh ( Not encouraged for Mazhab Syafiee, but I have heard that it becomes Haram (or forbidden) for certain Mazhabs, I need to research more on this). Now what happens when this happens in an agrarian society. As many of you are aware, at the moment there IS a food shortage and ofcourse in addition a labour shortage that can be supplemented by women's work in the fields, now how do you amalgamate these two beliefs? Secondly, the fact that Islam is an urban based religion hinders any society that lives in the jungle like the Orang Asli (or natives). Previously, it is thought that living in urban centres was better than living in rural or forested areas for Muslims but what many Muslims ignore is the protection of the ecosystem and there has been some recent studies made that the natives or the Orang Asli, CONSERVES the ecosystem through their way of life, therefore if all of humanity actually refuses to live in the jungle all knowledge of ecosystems will be LOST. As you all know, the Orang Asli cannot live in the jungles wearing habits or headscarves, they aren't able to wear thick clothes to cover all parts of their body, if they do so, they might die and become dehumidifed, there has been some reconciliations on the part in Islam whereby it is stated that man is free from the call to prayers (religion?) when they are not within the compounds of society.

The lowly economic position of women coupled with orthodoxy that disables them from fully functioning as people has its deep embedded consequences much as many people refuse to acknowledge. Women's work has become limited and poverty is lauded only towards women and women's work. Say as I have cited above in modern contemporary times, a woman is not allowed to work. Say she has three children and her husband has left her for another woman, she is divorced and not paid alimony or child custody (therefore in the part of the husband he is sinning but rarely is this punished, it is only the women who are punished, often by women themselves) how will she survive and keep her religious orthodoxy intact?

The next problem is the value of women, now she is stripped of ANY economic benefits, now this becomes similar to a Hindu problem. She is economically dependent and becomes a burden especially in terms of dowry (which at least as property bought and paid for by the husband she retains a small amount of economic standing), this burden usually results in undercare for female children, leaving female kids a lesser amount to eat (cf; Girl Child in India). And thus, for developing third world countries which view women as lower in economic status it becomes like India and China, female foetuses are aborted. Although this has not been the case in the Middle East, but it has been in Pakistan and to a lesser degree Afghanistan (often the foetuses are buried alive).

(To a larger extent, China and India exhibit a higher degree of male preference within their religion and social construct that female children are worst off treated, and both these societies strictly forbid the betterment of social status for women, it doesn't exist only within Islamic orthodoxy.)

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