FAQ (Frequently Argued Qualm) against Islam #1
This is the first of a series of FAQs that I’d like to dedicate to the bloggers I’ve been discussing with in the recent past. I have already touched upon some of these in the discussions and posts, so please excuse any repetition, but as I keep hearing similar responses (as if mass culturing has been taking place in the online world), I thought it’d be easier if I just put them all in one place for all to see. Once again, honest debate welcomes discussion.
1. Women don’t have equal rights in Islam as men make the rules.Men don’t make the rules in Islam and neither do women. From the Islamic perspective, the rules have been revealed to human beings via the Messenger of God (Prophet Mohammed) and all rules come from God. Some apply to men, some to women and some to both. There are rights of parents, rights of children, rights of families, rights of neighbours, rights of non-Muslims amongst many other rights for other categories of people.
The common misconception is that just because women have to conform to certain rules whilst men don’t, the rules must have come from man. It is understandable that non-Muslims make this assumption, as throughout history women have been oppressed by men. However, just because some rules are different for men and women, doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that they come from man. It just means there are different rules. If men did make the rules, then ALL the rules would have been in favour of the man, and there would be no rights at all for women or rules imposed on men. An honest study would reveal there are many rights for women in Islam.
I’m sure those who wish to attack can find evidences in Islam where men are allowed to do certain things that women can’t. But before you are tempted do that, please bear in mind the point I am trying to make: if men made the rules, why did they give some rights to women? and why did they make somethings obligatory upon themselves?
The trouble in understanding this also stems from the west measuring the woman’s status by using man as a yardstick (aka equality). Whatever the man is able to do, the woman should be able to do too, period. Feminists have been struggling to get the same rights as men throughout history. In Islam, women don’t chase after the rights of the man for status and nor do they submit to man. They submit to what they believe is God’s law and their rights are given to them by Him, not man. It is also based on an understanding that men and women have been created differently and therefore require different rights catering for their respective characteristics and needs.
It’s also worth considering that the simple concept of equality doesn’t necessarily provide solutions. For instance: which parent must give up their job to stay at home to look after the kids? When a woman wishes to have an abortion who’s right is greater: the mother’s, the father’s or the child’s? In case of divorce, who has custody of the children? Islam provides answers on all these circumstances and other complex scenarios where the simple ‘equality’ equation doesn’t.
Finally, if non-Muslims are still not convinced that Islam did not come from man, they should note that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are happy to take these rules as fair and just, including the vast majority of Muslim women. Why are people in the west bent on imposing what they regard as ‘equal rights of women’, upon the Muslim world?