You never hear the question of a man’s rights in Islam. The question has always centered on the woman’s rights, her roles and how she is treated. It is a controversial topic around the world.
The fact is, Muslim women live in a different way, in a structure that is different to the Western model. We have our own structure, a set way as ruled by Allah that is everlasting – we live by the Shariah. The Shariah gives us rules, it dictates the ways that we act, we drink, we eat and dress. This translates into how we behave. Unlike the Western world which constantly changes by each passing generation, the Shariah does not change.
The most controversial and most discussed topic is: our outward appearance. Why does the woman have to cover her hair and sometimes her face? Why does she have to dress a certain way? Why must she cover up? The answer is – because Allah said so. Allah the most high, the Supreme creator of all things in his infinite wisdom instructed us the hijab. What most people fail to realise is that men are also told to dress in a certain way and not to wear certain things. For example, men are not to wear gold, men should wear eyeliner e.t.c.
Another hot topic is the woman’s role/ position in Islam. A ‘Muslima’ in Islam is held in a high position as a wife and mother. Men and women in Islam are equal in rewards and punishment. But the fact is, we are different beings – males and females are not the same, so our duties are not the same. The duties we have are tendered to the qualities we possess in the gender we are born in.
The issue we now have as Muslim women is that we are pushed into a world where money rules the way we live – within a capitalist structure dominated and led by the West. It is forcing us to be outside, interacting with the opposite sex in a world where sometimes women have to work in order to contribute to the household. If both of the adults in the household do not work, the family is generally limited to a set working class standard of living in most societies. This then raises the question of what the woman’s role is today, where both males and females have to work. The simple answer is: it changes nothing.
As previously alluded, the Shariah will not change to fit a model that is not our own – our actions are always set within the instructed guidelines given to us by Allah. However, there are rulings in Shariah that tells us that a woman can earn, but this should not get in the way of her primary duties of taking care of her family. If working is a necessity, the husband should then be required to help the woman in the household duties as well. There are different guidelines depending on whether the woman is working for leisure, because she wants to or if it is a must.
Yes, men are the head of the household, they are the leaders and they can marry more than one wife: upto four – most of the discriminatory perspective on Islam is headed by this. Fist thing to say is, there are standards to abide by when it comes to our actions, everything we do is recorded and we will all be held accountable to them. A leader of any kind, holding whatever position, is answerable to Allah as he carries out his role, whether it is corruption, abuse of power, misleading your family or causing pain to anyone. The Shariah gives us the rule on how to behave as leaders.
When it comes to marrying more than one wife – it is an opportunity for the Muslim community to provide the man with worldly sexual pleasures without abusing the parameters of the sanctity of marriage. This prevents rampant sexually transmitted diseases and children without fathers. In fact, the husband will be rewarded by Allah should he marry a widow and the wife will be rewarded by Allah if her husband was to marry an additional wife. Again, this is subject to the Shariah ruling that says the man is permitted this only if he can do justice to his wives. If he fails in this by e.g. favouring one over the other, mistreating one wife, building a house for only one of them, showering only one of them with gifts e.t.c. he will be held accountable and he will be answerable to Allah.
Other than the controversial headline topics, when it comes to the Shariah and the model the Muslim’s live by, a lot of them are not alien to the lay non-muslim person. Some of the rulings can be found in Christianity, Judaism and even within the democratic laws that binds Western civilisations (as of course they were historically built on Christian beliefs). Non believers may view it as archaic and be scared by the mere mention of the word ‘Shariah’ but Muslims believe it offers the ideal human standard of living.