THE PRACTICE OF GENDER EQUALITY IN ISLAM AND WESTERN WORLD (A CASE STUDY OF MAIDUGURI METROPOLITANT COUNCIL)

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ABSTRACT

The overview of this beautiful work will result in analyzing the practice of Gender Equality in both Islamic and Western perspective from within the Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Borno State. In practice, the concept of absolute gender equality does not exist, never existed and perhaps will never exist. Even if it exists only Islamic low recognized the equality of man and woman mainly in the spiritual area (man-God relationship).    Islam while treating both man and woman as human beings has taken their natural differences into account in differencing roles each can play and alleging functions to each sex. Therefore, to talk of equality between man and woman is not even realistic.

CHAPTER ONE

 1.0  INTRODUCTION

All praise is indeed due to Allah (S.W.T) the lord of Mankind and Jinns and all that exist in the heaven and the earth.

May the peace and salutations of Allah (SWT) be unto our noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who was sent as mercy to all mankind, peace be unto his household and to his companions (Sahabas) (RA) and unto those who followed their footsteps in guidance and righteousness. (Ameen).

This project has been written on “the practice of Gender equality in Islam and Western World” (A case study in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council). Islam being the religion of justice, fairness and equality, teaches that all people are equal before God and that each will be honored by the level of his piety without regard to race or gender. As Allah (SWT) said in the Holy Qur’an

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other, verily the most honored of you in the sight of God, is the most righteous among you. And God has full knowledge band is well acquainted (with all things).”

Any reasonable person in Islam will understand that the ways to which the western countries particularly the United States of America, England and the rest crying out their voices, taking the wrong notion concerning Islam, that Islam is abusive to the rights of women. This is not true, taking into cognizance on how Allah the Magnificent for told to us in many verses concerning the equality of gender based on how He (Allah) created them (i.e. man and woman). Allah created man and created woman so as to create love and affection not hatred and enmity. Allah says:

“وَمِنْ آَيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَودَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآَيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ”

“And among his signs is this, that He created for you females from among yourselves that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and he has put love and mercy between your (hearts) Verily, in that are signs for those who reflect”1

 يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

 “0 mankind be conscious of your Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like) seeds countless men and women, Reverence God, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and reverence the womb that (bore you) God watches you”2

Therefore, Islam pleads for justice and equity (fair dealing) to all people in general and to woman in particular.

Without doubt men and women are compliment to one mother; none of them can live without the other. The woman has to know that her rights are not manmade; it was conferred on her by her creator (Allah SWT). Just by quoting a remark made by “William Chittick” in his translation of the “Risalat”

“Islam views the individual in his total context, which means that it considers first his relationship with God, then his relationship with God’s creatures, what is important for the individual in his relationship with God is that he attain to salvation or in other words that he followed God’s guidance, which is based upon mercy and directed towards his own best interest. In short, Islam devalue the individual’s perspectives, since human beings on their own can see no further than their immediate interests during life. But this devaluation of individualisms is not a devaluation of the individuals, On the contrary, it raises him to the ultimate pinnacle of importance, since everything is directed toward his happiness in the next world. Islam merely recognizes the ignorance of human beings and their inability to perceive their own ultimate goals without divine guidance. Then it sets about to undermine and destroy individual ignorance, a process which involves depleting the ego an eliminating all self-centred desires. As a result, the Human self or soul (nãfs) has few ‘rights’ but many duties and responsibilities or rather, the soul has only one true right the rights to salvation.”

Therefore, in Islam, the affirmation of fundamental equality does not, however, translate into an advocacy or social equality. Men and women are not accorded equal rights according to Islam law because Allah has made men the protectors and maintenance of women, that is why he is having the power of saying regarding protection and maintenance.

Allah says:

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ

“Men are the protections and maintains of women, because God has given one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. . .”3

However, for instance in the law of retaliation, women and men, free men and slaves are distinguished. Many western missionaries, the United Nations, also many women in different part of the world even among some of our Muslim reformists sometimes accept western ideals of social equality with the claim that similar ideals can be found to be expressed in the Qur’an and Hadith.

Insha’Allah, in course of this projects, we will see how Islam protects, safeguards and adore women but not in the same pattern with their male counterpart, every party will share according to what its deserve. And what they were given is the best of what they deserve. Therefore, this work constitutes an account on “the practice of gender equality in Islam & Western World” particularly in (Maiduguri Metropolitan Council).

1.1   BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

On this, the recent phenomenon of human awareness rekindled word interest in “Gender Equality” in the Islamic and western point of view. Among history’s great reformers and thinkers have either failed to take notice of women or have viewed them with contempt Muhammad (SAW) was the only who seriously heeded the fate of women, and bestowed upon them human respect and social rights. (Islam’s) conferment of the right of individual ownership and economic independence on women while simultaneously obligating men to secure all her materials needs to an extend that women can demand remuneration for nursing their own children, and committing man to pay the wife the Dower (Mahr) though an idea rightfully rejected today are indicative of a woman’s personality (and rights in Islam).

Ali Shari ati in his Book.

“Women in eyes and heart of Muhammad” stated this:

Muhammad endeavored not only theoretically, but practically to confer upon women the dignity and right Islam has prescribed for them. He extracted allegiance from women as well as from Men (to pay allegiance: voting i.e. socio-political commitment on the basis of one’s own ideological school, and included women among the rank of his companions.4

Islam only wants to protects women from partaking in any work that will bring harm or tarnish her reputation, or to partake on heavy work (like searching for goods, becoming a leader, taking part in Jihad etc) all these are meant for men to undertake. The most excellent acts of woman is to safeguard her matrimonial home and her chastity that is why Allah stated.

“وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآَتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا”

“وَاذْكُرْنَ مَا يُتْلَى فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ مِنْ آَيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ لَطِيفًا خَبِيرًا”

 “And stay quietly in your houses and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former times of ignorance; and establish regular prayer, and give Regular charity, and obey God and His Apostle. And God only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the family, and to make you pure and stotless”

“And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes of the signs of God and his wisdom for God understands;

The finest mysteries and is well acquainted (with them)”. 5

Therefore, I may say at this juncture, that the Islamic point of view in gender equality is the most soundable solution and a way to bring out our women from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from hardship to ease and from degradation to higher level.

Like Allah stated in the Book of Wisdom (Holy Qur’an):

“ذَلِكَ وَمَنْ يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ…..”

“And whoever holds in honor the symbols of God (i.e. keep the duties of Allah) in such is an act of piety of Heart”6

Then Allah says in another verse:

“…….وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ”

“So, fear God and He teaches you, for God is well acquainted with all things”7

“اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ…………”

“God is the protector of those who have faith He will remove them from the depths of darkness and lead them into forth on to light….”8

From the above three verses we will come to realize men and women in Islam have gone in compliance with what and how Allah ordained his rules to them, going by the following analysis:

1.     Whoever favors Allah’s command will surely attains piety.

2.     Whoever attains piety will surely be enlighten by Allah (SWT)

3.     And whoever is been enlightened, will surely be removed from darkness to light.

4.     And whoever is been removed from darkness of Western misconception will surely recognize and appreciate that of Islam.

The above forms the background of the study.

1.2   HYPOTHESIS

In line with the objectives of this research work, the below hypothesis will be tested. .

–       Today, developed; developing and underdeveloped countries of the world, including countries where Islamic law is applicable like Pakistan, the Sudan and some parts of northern Nigeria are being faced with a global challenge by women advocates for equality of opportunities for women without any discrimination.

–       And that the call or challenge for equal rights for women and men in such countries is based on the United nation’s convention on the elimination of forms of discrimination on the bases of sex etc.

–       Much has already been said on this issue (Prophet Muhammad approach to the issue of woman) and much still remains unsaid.

THE PRACTICE OF GENDER EQUALITY IN ISLAM AND WESTERN WORLD (A CASE STUDY OF MAIDUGURI METROPOLITANT COUNCIL)