Bismillah, so this is kind of a prelude to the Fiqh of Women’s Clothing. Just a brief talk on gender roles – and most importantly womens’ roles – in the world. They are not all Yasir Qadhi’s words. Some are mine, and some are from a lecture series I attended by Yasir Birjas (I think a CD set was made on it as well).
Never in the history of humanity have the gender roles been as they are today, especially in the western world – America. Read books even 100 years ago, the roles were much different. The fact that we have to compromise is a given. You cannot live in a eutopic land when there is not a eutopic land around you.
Before talking about the Islamic side – we are going to look at the western side.
The Road to Now
Late 19th century – 1920s: woman’s right to vote and have her voice heard.
After world war I – the 60s: women had to take up the roles of men, working in factories, etc because the men were shipped off to war. Check out the “We can do it!” poster depicting a woman as masculine as possible.
The 70s bougth about the free expression of sexuality for women and the freedom to pursue an education. 80s – now: opportunities for women at the work place. Percentages of women working shot way up. Also, the idea that they should do exactly what the men do, such as female clergies, etc.
What is Equal?
The President of Harvard said in a speech: for some reason, men seem to have an aptitude for engineering more than women, and women seem to have an aptitude for humanities more than men. This caused such a huge national outcry that he had to resign from his post – and the comment wasn’t even derogatory! People are a little too zealous with the whole “gender equality.”
What do people mean when they say “gender equality”? Do they mean that we should be treated equally or that we are equal in every regard? Because, obviously, we should definitely be treated equally in terms of our taqwa and how we are judged as human beings. But what about our strengths and weaknesses? Our physical capabilities, areas in which we tend to excel or not?
Men and women are not the same. Allah created us differently. “The man is not like the woman.” (3:36) There is no comparison or competition. As mentioned before, in terms of taqwa and morals, one does not automatically have a degree over the other. We do, however, have different strengths and different primary roles.
Men are the Protectors of Women
“And men have a daraja over women.” (2:228) Daraja means a degree – the smallest degree. In certain regards, men have privileges. For example, in regards to divorce. Also, my husband points this out often –
The fact that they have more responsibilty in certain regards is actually a disadvantage to men.
Why? Because they have more to be held accountable for before Allah. So if a man is just, then that will be in favor of him, and if he’s not…well, that would seriously go against him because his wife and his children are a trust that Allah has given him. He is responsible, and if he doesn’t fulfill that responsibility, then he has a lot to answer for.
“Men are qawwaam over women because Allah has preferred the [one] over [the other].” (4:34) Qawwaam means they are the care taker; they are obliged to take care of women. The woman should not have to ever worry about paying rent or getting food, clothes, etc. That is not her responsibility.
Also, in regards to this ayah, men are responsible, at the end of the day, for what the sisters, wives, etc do. The men must advise them and keep them from doing things against Islam. If they don’t, then they(the man) may be punished for it! They have a sense of responsibility over women, more so than women have over men.
Hijaab in the Bible
Regarding Hijaab, Shaykh Yasir showed this video of Ahmed Deedat. He was asked by a non Muslim woman about hijaab. It’s not very long, so please watch. It’s funny too 🙂
Covering the Head is from ALL Abrahamic Religions
“Every man w ho prays or prophesies with head covered dihonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved, she should cover her head […] Judge for yourselves: Is is proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not th every nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice – nor do the churches of God. (Corinthians)
Nuns, of course, all of us have seen (well, all of us in the US are familiar with…), with their modest head coverings and clothes.
Even orthodox jews have to cover today. Within the orthodox jews, they are different levels – there’s the snood (kind of a big cap), the tichel (looks like a Muslim scarf tied behind your neck), and the wig. The only condition for the wig is it not come from the hair of a Jewish woman.
Let’s face it – the women who cover their hair of other religions are very few. But Muslimahs – ah by the thousands and millions. MashaAllah 🙂 I love that when you’re out and you see another hijaabi – you know you’re looking at a sister. Instant unspoken kinship.
True feminity comes from a woman’s hayaa` (modesty). If Muslim women fail up to this responsibility, to reclaim their true feminity, then there is no hope for humanity. May God keep firm the Muslimahs of the world 🙂 Ameen.