Women in Islam – Are Women Inferior to Men? Part II: Role Of Community

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Change is inevitable.

Change does not necessarily take us off-course though it has the potential to. Change then can be thought of as a test – an inevitable test – as we shift from childhood into youth, from living with our parents to marriage, from illiteracy to literacy, from birth to death, etc., striving and struggling towards Falah (falah: success, happiness, well-being; Falah: the ultimate success, happiness, well-being – Paradise).

Along our lifelong struggle towards Falah, we encounter many situations which we either recognize and label as ‘obstacles’ or ‘opportunities.’

Change in living situation or community is one such struggle. Some of us leave our homes in search of ‘opportunity’ and others are forced to leave due to ‘obstacles.’ All sorts of cultural shifts come into play and some who leave for ‘opportunity’ may find themselves encountering ‘obstacles,’ while those who flee ‘obstacles’ may encounter ‘opportunities.’

But enough of that… what about women? Well, imagine this scenario: life in an environment rich with family relations and support – perhaps living under the same roof with extended family, perhaps living close but apart. Life in an environment where friends and neighbours value each other’s rights – caring for one another, making sure one does not go hungry and is not left needy, sharing the sustenance and other things provided by Allah Ta’ala, all for His pleasure.

Enter instability. Some families are shattered and torn apart. Either by force or by choice, some families move to distant lands where family support is unavailable, friendships take a long time to form, and people do not know the names of their neighbours.

Government and support agencies try to take on the roles left vacant by lack of family and friends. Social services, violence helplines, counseling services, and women’s shelters are born.

Were women free of abuse and neglect prior to this? Likely not however, the support system was maintained by large groups of people (not just 9am-5pm employees) and the entire community and individual members grew stronger in their struggles. Are women free of abuse and neglect now? Certainly not though many are given the impression that they are, that they receive assistance and are freed from oppression – the community absolves itself of any responsibility over individual members, shifting the responsibility totally onto the shoulders of individual women and agencies; meanwhile, many individuals are weakened by various exchanges and often feel like they must fend for themselves.

Now, layer this situation over top of the world economy and observe the complexity. Families and communities have gradually changed to also keep pace with the economy – of striving and struggling for success with a small ‘s’ (falah), for stuff and the false hope of freeing ourselves from the burden of debt. Our days are consumed by thoughts and actions of acquiring more stuff and more debt, while our nights are consumed by fitful dreams of freedom from debt.

We’ve gone off track… a loooong way off!

Women – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – fare far worse in ‘modern’ societies where some lack proper social supports and community, and are left to fend for themselves – struggling to keep from drowning in debt and oftentimes taking wrong turns, veering dangerously off-course.

On this issue, a Muslim brother suggests communities come together as jamaats. Here is an excerpt from his post on Sunni Forum:

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1) Traditionally Muslims did not live as isolated nuclear families with no contact with neighbours and the wider community. Women had a social support structure from other women. Without this we would just have depressed and isolated women at home, not good for anyone. Maybe we should try to do something together as a jamaa.

2) Economics. We are today forced to use bankers fiat money, to get loans, our governments take out loans…we pay the interest with blood sweat and tears…it requires both men and women to work, we are exhausted and stressed….instead of campaigning to change things, doing things as a jamaa to make the economy Islamic and halaal we waste our energy in useless arguments designed to make us all into consumers and workers, and to lose our true focus. Muslim men need well informed, focused and strong Muslim women, and Muslim women need strong, masculine well focused men who will guide and be gentle and wise. Step up to the plate make our lives extraordinary and great for the sake of Allah and the benefit of the ummah.

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Until next post, peace to you all.

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