Distorted Image of Muslim
a former non-Muslim, Sister Naasira bint Ellison
Since the height
of the feminist movement in the late 70's there has been a magnifying
glass placed over the status of Muslim women. Unfortunately, the
magnifying glass that has been used is an unusual one. Unusual in
the sense that it is very selective about which items it will magnify;
other items it will distort to such a degree that they will no longer
look familiar. I remember once reading in an "in depth" article
about the lives of Muslim women.
"explained" that at any time a man can divorce his wife by simply
stating "I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you". This article
can lead anyone ignorant of the Islamic ruling regarding divorce
to believe that in less than five seconds the woman is left with
no husband and is left to care for herself (and possibly children)
by any means necessary. The question that immediately popped up
in my mind was, "Did the author innocently write that out of sincere
ignorance or was it another of the many attempts to degrade the
religion of Islam and its followers (Muslim's)?" It may be my own
paranoia, but I tend to believe it was the latter of the two.
The truth of
the matter is that Islam has the most humane and most just system
of divorce that exists. Firstly, many options are taken and tried
before coming to the decision of the divorce. If the man and woman
decide that they can no longer live together successfully as a husband
and wife, the husband (in most cases, not always) pronounces the
divorce by saying "I divorce you". At this point the waiting period
begins. The waiting period lasts for three menstrual cycles to assure
the woman is not pregnant. This period allows the couple time to
think about what they are doing and if this is what they really
want to do. There are no lawyers involved to antagonize an already
In the case
that it is realized, that the woman is pregnant, the waiting period
lasts the entire time she is pregnant. During the waiting period
(whether the woman is pregnant or not) the man is obligated to provide
food, clothing and shelter to the woman as he did before the divorce
pronouncement. If the couple carries the divorce through to the
birth of the child and the woman suckles the baby, the man is obligated
to feed and clothe both his ex-wife for the time the woman suckles
(the maximum being two years). After this weaning, the child will
be provided for by the father until he/she is no longer in need
It is quite
ironic that in such an "advanced society" as America, there are
divorce cases in which women are being forced to pay alimony to
their ex-husbands. Can this and many other things we know about
the American system of divorce compare to the Islamic system of
I have also
read stories wherein it is stated that women are forced to marry
men without their consent. This in no way resembles the marriage
system in Islam. In Islam the woman marries the man of her choice.
She may even marry someone that her mother and/or father objects
to. The point is that it is the woman who makes the final decision
as to whom she will marry. Once the man and the woman decide that
they are interested in one another for marriage, a dowry is decided
upon. A dowry is not a bride's price but, it is a gift from the
groom to the bride. They agree upon a gift that is affordable by
the groom. In the time of the Prophet (sas), often things such as
livestock and money were given. This is a wise decision in the event
that a woman becomes divorced or widowed, she has some financial
security to fall back on even if it is for a limited amount of time.
Once the man and woman are married, the man is required to clothe,
feed, shelter and educate her (or allow her to be educated) in the
same manner as he does himself.
The last distorted
image that I will cover is that of the Muslim women's dress. The
western influenced media portrays our dress to be outdated and oppressive.
Needless to say however, I differ with these adjectives. Our dress
code does not hinder us from doing anything productive in our lives.
Muslim women maintain a variety of jobs, none of which are devalued
nor hampered due to their dress code. And as for the timing of Muslims
women's dress during these contemporary times, it seems most appropriate
due to decreasing morals in the world today.
For those who
say that Islamic dress is outdated, they speak from great ignorance.
The decreasing molarity and trials of this time makes hijab even
more in need. More than ever before sex crimes are rampant. Although
this society tells women they can wear what they want to wear, anytime
a rape occurs the woman is the one put on trial an one of the first
questions is, "What were you wearing?" This concept seems as though
it is a set up directed against the so called contemporary woman.
Also there is a direct correlation between the respect a man has
for a woman and the amount of her body her body she displays flauntingly.
I hope this article helped to clear up some distorted/misunderstood
aspects of Islam and women. Women in Islam are respected and held
in high regard. We will never find success and/or solutions to our
problems until we realize that Allah knows best and that this disbelieving
society will ruin itself.
Taken from Hudaa
magazine, Jamaica, New York.