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 the 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 the 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 restrictions 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 mosques, 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 the impression that in several Islamic countries, Muslim women are being looked upon as second-rate people compared to the 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 is a number of Muslims including women living all over the world, who understand the tenets of principles enunciated in the Holy Quran and remain 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 a considerable population of women in a few Islamic countries remain restricted. This should not be so. Certainly, Holy Quran does not want this.
The Muslims have to join the mainstream of worldly life in tune with the prevailing civilised practices in the world, which 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 goodwill for all. When Muslim women who face restrictions, see other women getting themselves well educated, taking 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 potential.
Muslim women in Iran and Afghanistan have now raised their voices demanding freedom, which should be seen as a positive trend and encouraged by the top leadership of the countries. The leadership should realise that Holy Quran insists on respect for womanhood in toto and the demand of women are in tune with the sayings in Holy Quran.
World opinion should assert itself and extend all support for the liberty-craving Muslim women in Afghanistan and 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 the 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 insistence 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.