Reviewed by ASIF ANWAR ALIG
Women in Islam: Exploring New Paradigms, by Moin Qazi, Notion Press, Chennai – 600 005 (India), 141pp, Indian Rupees199, Soft.
he book Women in Islam: Exploring New Paradigms by Dr. Moin Qazi breaks misconceptions, myths and maneuvers on the Islamic concept of women rights. A new addition in the literature on Islam religion and women’s rights it confronts several misunderstandings. Perceptive response to the biased perceptions on Islam that often portray this faith erroneously instead of describing its ascent—a religion with the history of first being foremost advocator of women emancipation—it has ample insights.
Islam is usually denounced in the pretext of few common Muslims’ misbehavior with the fairer sex to judge its women rights. Referring to the verses of Holy Qur’an and examples from Prophet Mohammad’s (peace be upon him) relation with his wives, this book is seminal for readers’ awareness om women rights and their social status in Islam. The verses describe women’s role for mankind’s sustainability.
This book breaks the myths with sufficient argument. It initiates debate for awareness about Islam as the only religion in human history which inspired women to attain best positions spiritually, economically, socially and politically through their equal participation. Women willfully enjoyed their rights in the Arab world some fourteen centuries ago while world’s rest cultures treated them mere inheritance objects.
References from Holy Qur’an enrich this book as an authentic account of facts. “Men and women have the same spirit, there is no superiority in the spiritual sense between men and women” [Qur’an 4:1, 7:189, 42:11]. Thus Qur’an confronts sexual discrimination and defines moral and spiritual duties of men and women from worship to human needs with an exception of specific concessions to females in biological contexts. It takes into account women’s feminine factors, health issues and greater role of childbearing.
Dr. Moin Qazi points out that so called women emancipation and freedom in Western World had the heights of hypocrisy until few centuries ago. Islam offered freedom to women in everything including economic rights as equal partners to shape human the societies fourteen centuries ago. West recognized women as human existence to be granted equal rights several centuries later in around 19th century. Until then women hardly had any rights to own properties in the Western World. They remained the deliberate ‘objects’—as male properties.
Unlike West, Islam enforced the rights of women with this freedom to lead life with respect as partners for human sustainability in the light of Qur’an and Hadith. Islam didn’t coerce women from involvement in businesses besides their primary roles of homemakers. It propagated societies to develop strategies to ensure that their women have presence in all professions to enjoy equal pays and in the meanwhile they also maintain self-dependence in whatever roles they play. Furthermore, their financial security was also assured. Such concepts can be best understood from Qur’an and hadith.
The book highlights women’s rights in Islam on issues like marriage, childbearing, divorce, rights to inherit parental properties and et al. Holy Qur’an demarcates the rights which men and women enjoy and also focuses on the respective duties of husbands and wives as partners with mutual responsibilities to balance family concept. It this assures for the emergence of humane societies. Such rights are understood in the context of women’s biological being that they won’t have the identical duties like men. Their totality is of fulfilling respective responsibilities with the rights they enjoy.
The messenger of Allah repeated his followers in the last command in farewell pilgrimage in Makkah: “I command you to be kind and considerate to women.” He conveyed that “it is only the generous in character who is good to women, and only the evil one who insults them.” Isn’t it vivid explanation of Islam propagating the rights which women deserve as equal participants in mankind’s growth?
Muslim women are often questioned for specific attires. Holy Quran directs them as committed women to dress virtuously in the respective societies. Their dresses mustn’t incite any sexual attraction. Attires should reflect intellectual and spiritual being instead of provoking diverted attention to other’s sexuality.
This book has the examples of Muslim women’s participation in several public affairs like battlefields during the early years of Islam. Even prophet’s wives volunteered for such roles as the ideals for future generations. The Holy Qur’an gives this right to women to choose their spouses with freedom. Parental forces to the Muslim daughters to go into conditioned marriages with somebody are cultural practices. Such practices don’t have any connection with the Islamic values and therefore denounces them.
With profiling history’s twenty renowned Muslim women and their towering contributions to shape the destinies of future generations this book concludes with an appealing message for introspection. They were inspiration for everybody, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, as great women in Islam. By devoting their lives, they defined women rights in Islam in the true spirits for centuries.
Islam projects women as partners for the growth of human race. Ironically, biasness against this religion by those not aware of this faith questions women rights in this faith. This book breaks several myths with arguments to come out of various such misunderstandings.