Words by Rikki Knight
Islam came down in order to liberate women, men were ordered to cease the practice of killing their daughters, a limitation was put on the number of wives a man was allowed to have and woman were given rights to inheritance. Modesty was for her protection and her status as a mother was raised towards a gateway leading to Jannah (Paradise): The beauty of which many of us cannot comprehend. All of this, yet we see very little action to uphold the liberation of our women today. More so the advice that has been given has been manipulated to cause her stagnation.
Love has often been replaced with control, and that control has been justified as Love. Stroking the male ego has become praiseworthy, an act of a dutiful wife, alongside a detachment from self aspiration.
After speaking with many women who reiterated the same woes, I was stuck with the question why? Why was this mentality so common? Why were so many women being penalised and fed with a misinterpretation of their faith?
Maybe it was due to a lack of understanding, which was rarely tackled and which benefited a lot of the men in our community patriarchy. Maybe it was due to the way we have been raised and the ideas that have been instilled in us about our roles in relationships and society. Whatever the reason I began to realise that deep down a lot of men see the empowerment of women as a threat to their manhood.
You see, generally speaking, the man is the provider: He is supposed to offer support and protection: He is supposed to be the leader. So, the moment he sees that his wife can support herself, or has been given the opportunity to widen her prospects: he begins to feel that his role could be replaced.
The whole idea is a complete misconception. To empower women is to empower a nation. The woman raises and cultivates the next generation, so if the woman is broken it will soon be reflected in society. Respect and love is achieved through support and the efforts given to empower one another. Surely one of man’s tasks is to be mindful of his privileges and ensure that he acts justly with what Allah has given him responsibility over. The growth of your spouse, sister or daughter should be admired, encouraged and valued.
This should be the case even when the growth doesn’t look as you expected it to. Another factor that plays a role in stagnating female progress is fear; fear that if given enough choice or freedom the female will lose herself. The truth is that enforcing your wants onto another human being which causes restrictions, is likely to make those fears a reality, especially when it comes to marriage; it is important to remember that your spouse is not your child.
Many times we hear of the qualities, role and responsibilities of a righteous wife, in depth. We’ve been raised upon these narratives, educated from a young age, to the point it is embedded in our being. This guidance is not for us to forget but it is now important that woman should also feel fulfilment. It is essential for true harmony within the household, and for constructive growth in our community.