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World opinion must assert itself, extend all support for liberty craving Muslim women

By NS Venkataraman* 

Woman as mother commands great respect in Islam. The Holy Quran speaks of the rights of the mother in a number of verses. It enjoins Muslims to show respect to their mothers and serve them well. The Prophet states emphatically that the rights of the mother are paramount.
The ongoing protest in Islamic Republic of Iran by Iranian women against the country’s strict rules on Muslim women wearing hijab head scarfs has caught the attention of the world community.
It is reported that more than 75 protesting people including women have died in the Iran government’s crackdown after the death of woman activist Mahsa Amini, on September,16, following her arrest for allegedly breaching the country’s strict rules on hijab head scarfs. . This news has made many ardent admirers of Islamic religion think whether the noble thoughts of Holy Quran on respect for women and their sentiments have not been adequately understood by section of menfolk belonging to Islam religion.
The underlying cause for protest against the insistence on Muslim women wearing hijab headscarf is that this compulsory use of head scarfs by women amounts to restricting the rights of Muslim women to lead a life of their own choice in appearance and public movement.
In Afghanistan, Muslim women are not permitted to go to schools beyond 6th Standard. A year after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, teenage girls are barred from school and women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public , with only their eyes showing. Hard liners appear to hold sway in the Taliban led government There have been reports of many Afghan women tearfully protesting against such restriction on women’s education.
There are so many other practices by which the rights, liberty and sentiments of Muslim women are not recognised by the clergies and religious heads of Islam in some places. There are practices such as Muslim men being permitted to become the husband of several women at the same time, the practice of triple talaq where a husband can disown his wife by repeating this word three times, property rights for women, dress code for women and even driving licence being denied to Muslim women in some places. Even with regard to offering prayers in mosque, there are some restrictions on Muslim women.
What is noteworthy here is that while so many restrictions are imposed on Muslim women which are insisted by menfolk, there is practically no restriction on the behaviour and practices of Muslim men.
Such situation gives an impression that in several Islamic countries, Muslim women are being looked upon as second rate people compared to menfolk.
Of course, it is very necessary to point out that there are a few Muslim countries where such restrictions on women are not enforced anymore in letter and spirit but this is not so in all Muslim countries as seen in Afghanistan and Iran.
There are number of Muslims including women living all over the world, who understand the tenets of principles enunciated in Holy Quran and remain as religious people, even as they involve themselves in professional and social activities in different walks of life and enjoy liberty and freedom. But, they can do so, only in regions where they are permitted to do so.
All said and done ,one cannot but admit that liberty and freedom for considerable population of women in a few Islamic countries remain restricted. This should not be so . Certainly, Holy Quron does not want this.
The Muslims have to join the mainstream of worldly life in tune with the prevailing civilised practices in the world , that are gradually getting fine tuned over the years in tune with the scientific and technological development and progressive social thoughts , that insist on harmony with everyone and good will for all. When Muslim women who face restrictions , see other women getting themselves well educated, take up jobs, involving themselves in business pursuits and occupying top positions in government and politics, they too naturally aspire for such conditions when they can realise their potentials.
Muslim women in Iran and Afghanistan have now raised their voice demanding freedom, which should be seen as a positive trend and encouraged by top leadership of the countries. The leadership should realise that Holy Quran insist on respect for womanhood in toto and the demand of women are in tune with the sayings in Holy Quran.
The world opinion should assert itself and extend all support for the liberty craving Muslim women in Afghanistan Iran. and other places The leadership of these countries should recognise and respond to the women’s sentiments positively.
It is now gratifying to hear that Taliban deputy foreign minister in Afghanistan has called for reopening schools for girls in Afghanistan, saying clearly that there is no valid reason for such insistance One is not sure, whether Taliban government leadership has reacted positively to the suggestions.
The ball is clearly in the court of Islamic leadership and they have to recognise the ground realities and move with time and restore the glory of womanhood , as proclaimed by the Holy Quran.
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

Comments

All residents of our Planet are equal in terms of getting access to and oportunities for fulfilling their aspirations.They should do so without snatching away similar opportunities from others.Thus there is no justification on any descrimination on any basis be it religion,caste,the place of birth and the language they use and the gender the person thinks ine belongs to female,male or trans or ny other.I am always for equal rights for ALL.Respecting everyones Rights is the only way...Peace is the only way.....In solidarity with All struggling for Right to self determination and active participation in decision making.......Suhas Kolhekar,NAPM,India

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