Islamic Versus Western Feminism
Written By: Ataulhaq Yusufzai
Feminism is the name of struggle that demands equal rights for women in every corner of life. The concept of feminism originated in late 19th century but it got momentum in early 20th century and since then many organizations are working for the protection of women rights. Western feminists after succeeding in securing some rights for women in west soon began criticism on Islamic cultural values and principles about women rights. After raising many baseless objections on Islamic teachings they demanded rights for Muslim women on the pattern of western values. Before analyzing western feminists’ objections and their demand of equality, it is important to look at the history of Islam in this regard.
When women in west were demanding the right of vote, inheritance, property possession and legal separation from husband, the Prophet of Islam had granted all these and similar rights to women some 1300 years ago. Islam, long before the West, granted all those basic rights to women which every person, on the basis of humanity, must possess. If on the basis of biological differences and difference in capabilities between man and woman, Islam put some restrictions on both of them, it never means that Islam is seizing somebody rights.
Before Islam, both man and woman are equal and both they have same rights but this concept of equality of Islam should not be mixed with sameness. Due to biological differences, Islam has both granted some additional rights and imposed some restrictions and responsibilities on each gender. Both western and some liberal Muslim feminists criticized Islam for this division of rights and responsibilities between man and woman. Such feminists actually failed to recognize main reasons behind this division.
Modesty Rule For Women: This is one of the most objected principle of Islam. Feminists called it an oppression of women and declared it one of the most inhuman principles of Islam. Though the Islamic rule of modesty is same both for men and women but nobody talk about it. Unfortunately some Muslim feminists argued that the rule of covering the whole body is not present in the body but they failed to realize that the primary sources of Islamic Shariah are both Quran and Sunnah. In most of the cases Quran has given an implicit order which was then explained by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Today we see that hundreds of women are sexually exploited in every single minute in west. It is that West which is criticizing Islam for the principle of modesty. One of the noted major reasons behind the high rate of sexual harassment in the west is the nonexistence of any space between men and women and the culture of immodest dressing of women. Muslim feminist also failed to note that if the west has given freedom of work to women, it has increased women problems rather than decreased. Professional women in the west have both to work in the office as well as in the home. If Islam has detained women from work in public it at the same time has put the burden of earning on the shoulders of men and thus has shielded women from the burden of earning. Similarly distorted social and family structure and increased sexual harassment cases in offices are some of the additional problems west is facing due to the lack of the principle of modesty.
Inheritance Law Of Islam: Islam gave inheritance rights to women some 1400 years ago. According to the inheritance law of Islam, in father’s total property, daughter gets as much as half of the size of her brother’s property. There are many reasons behind this difference in inheritance ratio. In Islam the burden of earning money and fulfilling family needs lie on the shoulder of father and hence woman/mother is exempted from earning burden. Secondly as the needs of a married daughter are fulfilled by her husband so she needs property less as compared to married brother. In case of unmarried daughter, still her needs are less than that of brother having family. Thirdly woman has also inheritance right in her husband property after his death.
Islam has never and will never favor any such actions and customs that led to the exploitation of women’s basic rights such as the right of inheritance, property possession, knowledge acquisition and the right to get married on choice. If any person or a group of people or a nation is doing so it does not mean that Islam has ordered them to do so.
The above post is written and submitted to Askedon by Ataulhaq Yusufzai. Ataulhaq is a freelance writer. You can contact him at …