Islam, The Misunderstood Religion


  • bookcover

  • Islam, The Misunderstood Religion


  • ISLAM AND WOMAN

     

          The East today is simmering with a furor over the- rights of woman and a demand in her behalf for perfect equality with man. The most noteworthy among the feverous champions of women's rights are those men and women who in the name of Islam rave most foolishly, some mischievously alleging that Islam has in all respects maintained perfect equality between the sexes, while others, thanks to their ignorance of Islam or negligence thereof, claim that Islam is an enemy of woman, for it degrades her and lowers her status holding her intellectually deficient and assigning her a position very much akin to that of animals. She is reduced to no more than a mere means of sensual gratification for man and a machine for the propagation of the human species which is sufficient to show how subservient to man she is in the sight of Islam with the result that man dominates her and enjoys an all-round superiority over her.

    Both of these classes of people are equally ignorant of Islam or they intentionally confuse the right with the wrong in order to deceive others and sow the seeds of discord and mischief in society so as to further their own nefarious designs and facilitate the foul game they are out to play.

    Before embarking upon a detailed discussion of the position of woman in Islam, we propose first to touch in brief upon the history of the movement for women's emancipation in Europe, for it is this very source of mischief whence all the defecting trends in the modern East Bow.

    The woman in Europe and all over the world was looked upon as a mere nonentity. She formed the theme of many a discourse of the learned "scholars" and "philosophers" who wrangled among themselves over questions such as these: Has woman got a soul or not? If yes, then what precisely is the nature of her soul, is it human or animal? Supposing she does possess a human soul then what social and human position should she occupy in relation to man? Is she born as a slave to man or does she hold a position slightly superior to that of a slave?

    This situation remained unchanged even through those relatively short spans of history when woman appears to have occupied a central position in the social set-up of the time e.g., in Greece and the Roman Empire. But all this exaltation did not mean the exalt­ation of woman u such; it was rather an exaltation of a few out­standing women inhabiting the capital cities because of some of their personal qualities which made them the life and soul of social parties. They were no more than means of diversion and entertainment for the licentious rich who applauded their appearances in public out of sheer vanity and self-conceit. But this did not signify any respect towards woman as a human being and apart from the pleasure she brought to men.

    This position of woman in Europe remained unaltered during the periods of serfdom and feudalism. She in her ignorance was blandished sometimes by luxury and license and at times was con­tent to live as animals-eating, drinking, bearing children, giving birth to others, and working day and night.

    When the industrial revolution took place in Europe it brought in its wake the worst possible sufferings for woman yet experienced by her throughout the history of mankind.

    Europe has throughout the ages exhibited such a rigidity and avarice of nature as lack both generosity and liberality. It made men undergo hardships without a promise of any immediate or remote material gains in return. However, the economic con­ditions of life during the periods of slavery and feudalism along with the prevalent agricultural milieu were such as made man responsible for the support of woman. It was quite natural and in complete harmony with the spirit of the age. The woman nonetheless at that time worked in some simple cottage industries such as are found in any agricultural society. In this way she paid back the price to men for supporting her.

    But with the industrial revolution the whole of the social scene underwent a radical change in the country no less than in cities. The family life was completely ruined, and the ties holding together its members were torn asunder when women and children were, thanks to the industrial revolution, forced to go out and work in factories. The working classes slowly and gradually left the country life, a life based on the principles of mutual responsibility and co-operation, and came over to cities wherever everybody lived a solitary life and where nobody was interested in his neighbors nor was anyone in a mood to Support others but worked and earned to support his own-self. Here, there were no more any rules of morality observed or cared for. Men and women no longer bothered about moral scruples if they but once found an opportunity to gratify their sexual urge. As a result thereof the will to marry and support a family suffered decline among these people or if it still persisted in some hearts the trend was to postpone it at least for some years longer.[1]

    We do not intend in these pages to dwell on the history of Europe. We are merely concerned with the factors that influenced the career of woman in European history. As we said above, the industrial revolution overburdened women and children with work. This weakened the family ties, which in turn lead to a complete disintegration of family life. But it was the woman who had to pay dearly. She worked harder than ever before, and lost her honor, but was still far from being satisfied psychologically and materially. Man not only shrank back from taking upon himself the responsibility of supporting her-be she his wife or mother­ but also charged her to provide for her own-self. In the factories, she was exploited most ruthlessly by the factory owners; she worked there for long hours but was paid far less than the men doing a kindred job in that very factory.

    It is needless to ask why all this happened as we know that Europe has been for ever known for its miserliness, rigidity and ingratitude. It has never been known to respect men as men, nor, to render a voluntary act of goodness while it could with impunity infect others with evils as its record of the past as well as of the pre­sent testifies; and it might as well remain unchanged in the years to come except if God Almighty should lead it to the right path and elevate it spiritually. However, weak and helpless they were, women and children suffered a mos. ruthless exploitation.

    There were, however, some conscientious men who could not silently bear the perpetration of these vile iniquities against the weaker section of the population. They struggled to put an end to this cruelty towards the children (please note, the children, not women!). The social reformers denounced the employing of children as workers in factories at an early age, burdening them with work that retarded their natural growth besides paying them scanty and inadequate wages for the burdensome and rough work they did. The protests against social injustice did not, however, go unnoticed. They bore fruit; the age of employment was gradually raised; the wages were increased, and the working hours were cut down.

    But women still remained without anyone to champion or advance their cause, as it required an intellectual refinement such as Europe did not possess. As a result thereof woman pressed on her way through this ordeal overworking herself in a desperate effort to support herself but receiving in return wages far less than those given to her male counterpart-for a similar work.

    In the first great war tens of millions of European and Ameri­can young men were killed leaving behind them millions of widowed women. These poor women suffered the worst tribulations and trials of labor. They had none to support or look after them, for the bread-winners of most of these families were either killed in war or crippled for life, or had suffered such a nervous breakdown because of fear, nervous tension or poisonous gases as had left them in­capacitated for work, or they had just been released from a prison house after serving a four years' term-and now would enjoy them­selves to regain their nervous self-composure. All such people had lost the will to get married and support a whole family, thus putting themselves to physical as well as material inconvenience.

    The war had caused so great a shortage of men that the sur­vivors could hardly supply their place. The factories could not restart their production nor could the war damages be repaired due to the shortage of working hands. Thus it fell upon women to go out and take the place of men, for if they did not, they as well as their dependents-old Women and small children-were threatened by hunger. To go and work in the factories, however, required that woman should ignore her moral temperament as well as her feminine nature which bad now become a positive hurdle in earning her living. Moreover, factory-owners did not want working hands merely; they wanted to satisfy their lust as well. The helplessness of woman now promised them an excellent opportunity of which they fully availed themselves. The woman thus had to discharge a two-fold duty: work in the factories, and try her level best to please her employer. The woman was not plagued by hunger alone; sex too claimed its share and gratification. As the number of men had fallen too low due to the war, not all the women could achieve that gratification through marriage. But the creed and religion prevalent in Europe did not allow polygamy-as Islam does-in such periods of emer­gency. Thus the woman in Europe was left at the mercy of her passions that swept her away bon gre' mal gre'. Her need for bread and the urge to achieve sexual gratification besides her love for costly clothes, cosmetics etc. were the factors that forced her to this course of life.

    Thus did the western woman persist in this course of life pleasing men, working in factories and shops and achieving the things she admired by foul or fair means. But the more she came to possess them, the more intense her passion for them grew, for the satisfaction of which she was egged on to work more. The factory-owners exploit­ed this weakness of woman to their own advantage. They paid her wages far less than those they paid to the male workers doing the same work in the same factory-a gross iniquity which neither reason nor conscience or mankind can ever justify.

    Under these circumstances the stupendous revolution that at last broke out in Europe was but inevitable. It swept away the centuries-old iniquity and gross injustice.

    But what did woman set as a result of this revolution? She was overworked physically, had lost respect as well as her woman­hood! She was denied even the natural pleasure of having a family, having children, living with them and of realizing her own true self by suffering for them and so have a true sense of well-being and magnanimity. She did, however, in place of these at last win the right to have equal wages with man, the only natural right offered     herby Europe.  

    The European man did not, however, easily forego his superiority-his egoism rather-with respect to woman. He was forced to recognize equal rights for her after a very tough and intense struggle in which all the usual weapons of warfare were fully made use of.

    In this struggle for her rights the woman resorted to strikes and non-co-operation; addressed public meetings, and employed jour­nalism to advance her cause. Then she realized that in order to set things right she would have to participate in legislation as well. So first she demanded the right to vote and then proceeded to ask for a right to become a Member of Parliament. As she had received an education similar to that imparted to man, for both were required to do similar jobs, now as a logical sequence to it she demanded an equal share in government along with men.

    Such is the story of woman's struggle in Europe to obtain her rights. It is one continuous story all the different episodes of which are intimately linked together. Whether man liked all this or not is immaterial but woman too was to realize shortly that she was as help­less as man in this new degenerated social order where she had successfully ousted man from the position of leadership and authority.[2]

    But despite all this the readers will be surprised to learn that even today in England-the cradle of democracy-women serving in government departments continue to receive less pay from the government than men do, although there are already so many honorable lady-members in the British Parliament.

    Let us take up the position of woman in Islam and see if there are any historical, geographical, economical, ideological and legal conditions such as should force woman to take up arms for her rights like her counterpart in the West. Or is it merely an inferiority complex and a result of thoughtlessly imitating the West that makes these Eastern champions of her rights declaim so enthusiastically in public meetings?

    As a fundamental principle of its system, Islam holds that woman is a human being; and she has a soul similar to that of man: "0 people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these too many men and women" (iv: I). Thus men and women are quite equal to each other in their origin, their abode as well as in their place of return and are as such entitled to similar and equal rights. Islam gave her the right to life, to honor, and to property like men. She is a respectable being and it is not permissible for anyone to find fault with her or backbite her. No one is permitted to spy on her or hold her in contempt due to her functions as a woman. These are the rights that both men and women enjoy, there being no differentiation against either of them. The law laid down about these applied to men and women alike: "0 ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former)nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, by (offensive) nicknames" (xlix: 11), "... and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their back (xlix: II). “0 you who believe I do not enter houses other than your own houses until you have asked permission and saluted their inmates" (xxiv: 27). The Holy Prophet said: "It is forbidden for a Muslim to take the life, honor and property of another Muslim.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

    The reward for both sexes for their good acts is also similar: " And their Lord hath heard them (and He sayeth): Low I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one another”(iii: 285).

    Men and women are equal in their rights to realize their material needs in the world including similar rights to hold property, and dispose of it as they should wish. They are free to mortgage, to give it in lease, or bequeath it, sell or buy it or exploit it for his or her own benefit: "Unto the men belongeth a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, and unto the women a share of that which parents and near kindred leave" (iv: 7), and "unto men a fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune from that which they have earned" (iv : 32).

    We must pause here awhile to take note of two important points concerning woman's right to hold property and use or exploit it at will. The legal systems of the "civilized" Europe till very recently did not give any of these rights to woman. She could exercise these rights only indirectly through a man, her husband, father or guar­dian. This means, in other words, that even after Islam had granted woman these rights, the woman in Europe was deprived of them for more than eleven hundred years. And when she at last secured them she did not do so easily nor could she during this hard struggle for her rights keep intact her innate character, honor and nobleness of person. She had rather to forego all of these virtues besides experiencing a gruesome chain of hard work, murders, privations and miseries in order to obtain what was no more than a mere por­tion of what Islam had already granted to women folk, not due to the pressure of some economic circumstances, or as a result of the inter-class conflict going on in the world. It was rather initiated by its desire to implement truth and justice, the two most cardinal facts of human life-in practice rather than in the world of dreams;

    In the second place, we must also take note of the fact that communism in particular and the West in general hold that human life is synonymous to man's economic existence. Thus they say that so long as woman did not hold any right to ownership or exploit freely what she possessed she had no independent existence at all and that she attained a human status only after she came to have an independent economic existence, that is when she at last came to possess the right to hold property directly and not through man and was free to use or enjoy it, as she thought fit.

    Notwithstanding the fact that we do not agree to such a narrow view of human life and its degradation to a pure economic existence we do, however, agree in principle with these people-the communists and the western thinkers-that a sound economic standing does affect human feelings and the growth of self-consciousness in human beings. Islam occupies a unique position in that it recog­nized an independent economic status of woman and gave her the right to own, use and enjoy it in her own right without any intermediary trustee or mediator. Not only this but in the most im­portant problem of her life i.e. marriage as well her independent status was established. She could not be given in marriage without her assent: no marriage was valid unless she agreed to itThe Holy Prophet says: “No widow should be married without con­sulting her; and no virgin be married without her assent, and her assent is her silence" (Bukhari and Muslim). Even after the marriage ceremony if she declared that she did not assent to it, the marriage is dissolved.

    Before Islam woman had to adopt a roundabout and crooked course to free herself of her husband who held her in a state of perfect subservience, for neither the law of the land nor the common law gave her the right to leave her husband by securing separation. Islam gave her this right in clear and unequivocal terms which she could exercise whenever she had a mind to do so.[3] Not content with this, Islam even went a step further giving her the right to propose her marriage to any man she liked to marry. The European woman obtained this right only in the eighteenth century and still it was hailed there as a very great victory for woman against the centuries old traditions of the past!

    Again it was Islam that at a period when the entire world was lost in ignorance and darkness stressed the importance of knowledge for mankind, not as a special privilege of a particular class but as an essential and unavoidable need for each and every man. Islam made it obligatory upon Muslims to acquire knowledge as a necessary condition to their being true believers in God and Islam. It also goes to credit of Islam that it was the first religion that acknow­ledging a separate and independent human status of woman impressed upon her that she could not achieve perfection without knowledge: Acquisition of knowledge was as great a duty of woman as of man, for Islam wanted the women folk to develop their rational faculties along with their physical ones and thus ascend to higher planes of spiritual existence, whilst on the other hand Europe did not even recognize any such right for woman till very recently and did in the end grant it to her only when compelled by the pressure of economic circumstances.

    What we have said above is sufficient to confute the allegation that Islam accords woman only a secondary status or that she is treated as subservient to man or that her role in life is, in the eyes of Islam, of no importance at all. For if it had been so, Islam would not have attached so great an importance to the acquisition of knowledge for woman. That it did so goes to prove that Islam acknowledges an honorable and noble status for woman in life, in the eyes of God as well as society.

    But after acknowledging a perfectly equal status as human beings for both men and women, and treating them as equals, entitled to equal rights, Islam does, however, differentiate between man and woman with regard to their special functions in life, a step that has given rise to a great hue and cry by some women organizations supported by certain writers, "reformers" and young men.

    Before we consider the points on which Islam differentiates between the sexes, let us first tackle the basic problem from the physiological, biological and psychological standpoints. After that we will take up the Islamic viewpoint.

    Do men and women belong to one and the same sex or are they two distinct sexes? Have they got similar functions in life or are their functions separate and distinct as man and woman? This is in fact the knotty point, the crux of the problem. If the women conferences, their supporters, the writers, the reformers and the young men mean to say that there is no difference whatsoever in the physical and intuitional equipment of man and woman as well as in their biological functions in life, then we have nothing to say to them. But if they acknowledge that a difference does exist between man and woman and their respective functions, we may yet fruit­fully discuss the problem together.

    The problem of equality of the two sexes, I have already dealt with at great length in my book: "Man Between Islam and Materialism". It may not be amiss to reproduce some paragraphs from it here below:

    "And as a consequence of this fundamental difference in their functions and objectives we find that man and woman have so come to differ from each other in disposition as well as in constitution that each is equipped with what it can suitably accomplish its respective primary functions.

    "It is for this reason that I am at a loss to understand how all this empty talk about an absolute equality between man and woman can ever bring it to pass. The demand for equality between man and Woman as human beings is a natural and reasonable demand. Man and woman are two equally important component parts of a whole humanity, proceeding from the one and the same progenitor. But so far as the demand for treating them as equals in their functions in life and the modes of their actual performance is concerned, can that ever be feasible? That is simply impossible even if all the women around the world should wish it, hold conferences and pass resolutions to that effect. These conferences and their resolutions cannot alter the characters of men and women, nor can they if any way transform their functions making men share those of women in conception, birth and suckling and vice versa.

    "No specific biological function can be carried out in the absence of a special type of psycho-physical disposition. This means, in other words, that the specialized functions of woman viz. conceiving and suckling, call for the emotional-cum-intellectual outfit of a special type such as prepares and enables her to discharge these most arduous duties.

    "Of course, motherhood with all its noble feelings, exalted acts, patience through a series of tribulations, besides a most meticulous perfection in consideration and performance, cannot exist in the absence of that physical constitution which befits a woman for her specialized functions of conceiving and suckling, and gives form to her psychological, intellectual as well as nervous organism. These intellectual. psychological, nervous and physical characteristics of woman-are found side by side complementing one another as well as coordinating and harmonizing themselves. Therefore, it must be a very rare exception that one of them should exist without a simultaneous existence of its counterparts.

    “And all this tenderness of feelings, intuitional impressibility, and highly susceptible disposition with which a woman is endowed show that basically she possesses an emotional character rather than an intellectual one. It is this very emotional character that forms the most lively and ever flowing spring of her motherly attributes, as the upbringing of a child calls for qualities not intellectual which may be passive or active and mayor may not successfully meet the requirements of a child, but an overflow of vehement feelings and passions such as does not allow her to meditate coolly but impels her to answer the child's call immediately without delay or slackness".

    "This in fact is the true character of woman in life. It helps her in the performance of her real functions as well as in the realization of her creative purpose".

    “Man, on the other hand, has to discharge a quite different duty for which he is equipped aptly but differently from woman. He has to engage in the struggle of life going on in the outside world, be it in the form of subduing wild beasts in jungles, or contending against the forces of nature on earth and heavens, or forming of a government, or legislating about national economy. He has to tackle all these problems to scratch a living, and safeguard his person, his wife as well as his children against oppression"

    "Man as such does not need the vehement emotional nature for the performance of his functions in life. Emotions prove harmful rather than helpful in pursuance of his duties, for they are characterized with a fickleness that causes them change rapidly and into mutually quite contradictory states of mind. They are unable to pursue a course of action for long. The objects attracting them ever change. Such an ever-changing emotional character is suitable for motherhood that has got to deal with mutually opposed and changing situations. But they are not helpful for man whose work demands of him constancy and steadfastness for long periods of time. Rather it is his intellectual disposition that proves helpful to a practical life where he has to contend against so many adverse forces. He has thus more efficiency in planning, in carefully revising the situation and taking note of all the possible consequences of his scheme before actually translating it into action. The intellect moves slowly but steadily, for quickness and rapidity of action are not expected of it as against the vehement emotions that lend color to the whole existence of woman. What is, however, expected of intellect is that it should show a most proper way to achieve its end, be it the hunting of a beast, inventing of an instrument, laying down the foundations of a new system of economy, setting up a new form of government, kindling a war, or making peace. All these activities of man depend upon his intellectual ability. Emotions creeping in cannot but spoil them".

    “And, therefore, man is well adjusted only when he is engaged in his true manly pursuits and objectives in life. This should explain the various differences found in the respective constitutions of man and Woman: why it is that man joyfully pursues the professions where he has mostly to draw on his physical and intellectual faculties whereas in emotional life he is just as mercurial as a child; and why is it that a woman is adjusted in her natural sphere of emotional activities only and derives so great a pleasure out of these, for it is through these alone that she can best realize the real objective of her earthly existence? That is also why she feels at ease in those professions only that have got an emotional appeal for her feminine nature viz. nursing, teaching or fostering. Similarly when she goes to work in a shop, it is because it has also got an emotional charm of its own for her as it enables her to carry out her search for a male companion. But all these activities are mere off-shoots; they cannot in themselves, however, satisfy her innate urge for a husband, a home, a family and children. It is natural, therefore, that as soon as she gets a chance to perform her primary functions, she leaves off her job and devotes herself exclusively to her household duties compelled otherwise by an exigency such as the need for money etc.

    "This does not, however, mean that man and woman are fundamentally and irreconcilably different from each other. Nor does it imply that all the members of a sex lack all the potentialities necessary for the functions which the members of the opposite sex alone by nature are fit to perform.

    "The two sexes are thus found mixed up, as it were, in a medley.  If you find a woman who is capable of ruling, dispensing justice, lifting heavy burdens and fighting in wars....and if you come across a man who can cook, do household chores or has got very tender motherly feelings for children or is very fickle emo­tionally and is visited by shifting moods, then you must remember that it is all natural; there is nothing unnatural about it. It is the logical result of the fact that each sex has in itself the germs of both sexes. But this does not at all prove what these misguided westerners and the discordant easterners would have u believe. The real problem stated briefly rather is: can all these extra-functions that a woman is called upon to perform substitute for her real and natural function? Does she in the presence of these no longer feel the desire for a home, children and a family? Above all, does, she no longer feel the need for a male partner (or the gratification of her sex instinct?"

    Now that we know the reality of differences between man and woman, let us return to the points that form the basis of differen­tiation between the two sexes and their function, in Islam.

    The great distinctive mark of Islam is that it is a practical system of life and is ever ready to make due allowance for the human nature never seeking to oppose or make it deviate from its natural course. It calls upon men to purify their souls and makes them ascend to such higher planes of being as approximate the realm of ideals and dreams, but in the whole process of improving and edifying men, it does not seek to alter their natures, nor does it believe that such a change in human nature is ever possible or useful for the welfare or mankind, if ever possible. It rather believes that the noblest achieve­ments of humanity are those that it achieves through and with the help of its own basic nature after its refinement and ascension to the noblest planes of voluntary virtue from being a mere captive of its material needs.

    The attitude adopted by Islam about the problem of man and woman too is quite in line with the human nature. Thus it effects equality between them where there is a natural ground for it: and differentiates between them where such a differentiation is but natural. Let us take two outstanding situations in which Islam differentiates between the sexes: the distribution of inheritance and the headship of the family.

    About inheritance Islam says: "To the male the equivalent of the portion of two females," which is quire natural and justified, fur it is man alone who is charged with shouldering all the financial obligations. The woman is under no such obligation as to spend money on anyone but her own person and toilet, except, of course, when she should head her family but such a situation is very rarely met with in an Islamic society, for so long as a woman has got a relation howsoever distant she need not take upon herself the support of her family. Can such an arrangement be termed as injustice towards woman as the votaries of feminism aver? Leaving aside these vain postulations and prejudiced claims, the problem is just one of a simple reckoning: on the whole woman gets one-third of the inherited property to spend it on her person, whereas man is given two-thirds of it to discharge his financial obligations in the first place, towards his wife (that is the woman), and secondly his family and children. As such, speaking in terms of simple mathe­matics to whom does the larger portion go? There may be certain men who are wont to spend all their money on themselves and are disinclined to marry or found a family, but such cases are uncommon. Normally it is the man who shoulders the financial burdens of his family including a woman-his wife-not as an act of grace but as a moral obligation. If a woman possesses a property of her own, her husband cannot take it away from her without her consent; he would even then have to bear her financial burden as if she had nothing in her possession to support herself with. And if he should refuse her this allowance or should he be miserly in pro­portion to his income she can lodge a complaint against him in the Court and force him to give her the sustenance allowance or get free from him. There is as such no justification to say that in inheritance woman receives a share less than that of man, as in view of his obligations it is but natural that a man should get double the share of a woman.

    Islam maintains a similar proportion in the distribution of a bequest. The law followed here is one of the fairest ones yet known to mankind: "For every person according to his need," the standard to determine the need being the social burdens that one has to bear. But so far as their earnings are concerned, there is no difference between man and woman; n or in their wages for a work, nor in the profit gained in trade, nor in revenues from land etc., for, in these matters Islam follows another law, the law treating on a perfectly equal footing man and woman with regard to their labors and the wages thereof. No injustice is to be done to either of them. The impression generally current among the common masses of Muslims and purposely spread by the antagonists of Islam that in the eyes of Islam woman is worth half of what man is worth, is false as we have shown above by a simple mathematical calculation.

    That the evidence of two women is in Islam equivalent to that of one man also does not prove that woman is not better than a half man. It is rather a wise step to secure and preserve the genuine character of legal evidence in courts through all possible means and against all possible perversities irrespective of the fact whether the evidence is for or against the accused. The woman is by her very nature vehemently emotional, impressionable and liable to digress from the real facts of the case in hand. Therefore it is wise to have another woman along with her "so if the one erreth the other will remember," for it is quite possible that the accused, against or for whom a woman appears as a witness, may be an attractive woman which may make the witness jealous and hostile towards her and so give a wrong evidence; again maybe that the accused is a young man whose sight may so arouse the mother in the witness that knowingly or unknowingly she proffers evidence that is false. But it is very rare that two women appearing before the court at once should fall a prey to such an error, both of them offering false evidences. The chances in such situations are rather that if one of them is deceived or confused about truth, her companion may correct her. It must, however, be added here that a single woman's evidence is quite dependable if the witness concerned be a specialist in female diseases and she appears as a witness in a case con­cerning these.

    Now as to the second problem, the headship of the family, it is quite clear that it requires a manager to look after and manage the affairs of the family, which represents an association of man, woman and children with the attendant obligations springing there from. Like every other social organization, the family too stands in need of a responsible head in the absence of whom a state of anarchy is bound to prevail, which may ultimately lead to a general privation of all. There may be three Possibilities as to the headship of the family: one, man is the head of the family; second, woman heads it; and third, both of them are at once the heads of the family.

    We need not take into account the third and the last possibility as our common experience is enough to show that the presence of two heads always leads to even more trouble and anarchy than when there is no head at all. The Holy Qur'an referring to the creation of the earth and heavens says: “If there were therein gods besides Allah, then verily both (the heavens and the earth) had been dis­ordered “Nor is there any god along with Him; else would each god have assuredly championed that which He created, and some of them would assuredly overcome others" (xxi: 22). If such is the case with these imaginary gods, then what about human beings who are so aggressive and unjust?

    The science of psychology bears witness that the children brought up under quarrelsome parents wrangling over the headship of the family are found to be unbalanced emotionally besides being victims to so many psychological complexes and disorders.

    There are thus only two possibilities left. Before considering these we would like to ask the question: which of the two sexes is better equipped to shoulder the responsibilities of headship of the family? Is the one equipped with rational qualities in a better position to head the family or that whose existence is characterized by emotions? The problem is resolved the moment we realize that it is the man, equipped as he is with rational qualities and a strong physical body, who is more entitled to head than woman who is by her very nature emotional, susceptible to external influences and thus ill equipped for the struggle of life as well as the headship of the family. Even woman herself does not respect a man who is a weakling and can easily be conquered by her. She despises him; nor can ever bring herself to trust him. This behavior of woman may be the vestigial remnant of the attitude of mind she imbibed over the centuries and through the training she received in the past. The fact is, however undeniable that she is still strongly drawn to a physically well-built man, as is shown by the case of the American woman. Though she has achieved an equal footing with man and has come to be recognized as a quite independent being, she enjoys subjecting herself to man, makes love to him and tries to win him over. She is moved by his strong well-built body, broad chest and when satisfied of his strength as against her own physical weakness she surrenders her person to him.

    Woman may seek leadership in family life only so long as she has no children and has no worry to educate and train them. After having children she can ill afford to shoulder extra responsibilities, for her functions as a mother are already far too great a burden upon her.

    This does not, however, mean that man should be a dictator over woman or in his house, for the leadership entails obligations and duties which can be discharged only through mutual consultation and co-operation. Success in management means a reciprocity of understanding and perpetual sympathy. Islam insists that love and mutual understanding and perpetual sympathy rather than conflict and competition should form the basis of family life. Says the Holy Qur'an: "Consort with them in kindness" (iv: 19), and the Holy Prophet said: “Best amongst you is he who is good to his wife" (Tirmizi). The gauge thus laid down by the Holy Prophet to judge a man is his behavior towards his wife. And a very sound standard it is, for no man can ill treat his wife unless he is spiritually diseased and absolutely lost to virtue or at least partially handicapped.

    But it is the "official" relationship within a family that has occasioned many a doubt that call for an explanation. Some of these doubts arise out of woman's obligations towards man and some centre around the problems of divorce and polygamy.

    Let us remark here that marriage is primarily a personal rela­tionship and, like every other relationship between two persons, depends, in the first place, on the personal, psychological, rational and physical harmony between the persons concerned. The law can hardly secure any of these by an order. Therefore if a married couple lives in perfect peace and harmony it may not necessarily be due to their meticulous observance of all the rules of matrimonial life. For, many a time it happens that consummation of love between man and wife followed their bitter bickering. Similarly, if a state of discord and conflict is witnessed in the married life of a couple it may not be due to some mistake on the part of the husband or a gross disobedience of the wife. It is just possible that both of them may be exceptionally noble as human beings, but still their temperament may differ and so they may lament the impossibility of coming to terms between themselves but still they may not be able to effect a compromise with each other.

    Despite all this the common law must, however, take note and frame rules for married life, for no system of life can claim comprehension if it does not provide for a law governing this delicate aspect of man's life. A law setting the general and inviolable, limits at least must be there, with the man and woman to work out the details of it in the prescribed limits.

    If there is love and peace between a couple, quite naturally they would not go to law as successful marriage seldom stands in need of the legal protection or verdict. But when there arises a conflict between them, they seek the aid of law in the hope that it would put an end to it.

    Of law it is expected that it should be just, should not favor one of the parties to the detriment of the other, and should as far as possible cover the widest possible range of cases. At this place I must, however, repeat that no law can possibly cover all the different cases or situations cropping up in human life, nor is its rigid, literal application to all the cases considered just or a sound precept.

    Let us cast a glance over the Islamic law with regard to the obligations of the wife in whose name all this hue and cry is being raised. With regard to her obligations prescribed in Islamic law, the follow­ing three points may be considered:

    (1) Do these obligations constitute an injustice towards woman?

    (2) Are they unilateral and carry no rights with them? and

    (3) Are these obligations perpetual, such as woman can never free herself from?

     

    Woman has three most important obligations towards her husband: (1) she should obey him whenever he should want her to go to bed with him; (2) should not allow anyone to defile the bed of her husband whose presence is resented by him, and (3) should be faithful to him in his absence.

    As to the first of these, a little explanation is, necessary to appre­ciate it properly. Its wisdom is obvious. Man's physical con­stitution is such as impels him to sexual gratification more often so as to relieve himself of its oppression and so that he may be able to perform his duties in practical life more smoothly and efficiently. He is in his youth in particular far more dominated by the sex instinct and feels the need to gratify it more acutely than a woman does, although sexually she is far more profound than he and is physically and psychologically more intensely inclined to it, but her inclination may not express itself in the physical sense alone.

    Marriage is a means to gratify this natural urge of man as well as meet the demands of his spiritual, psychological, social and econo­mical life. Now the question is: What should a husband do if on approaching his wife he is coolly brushed off by her? Should he seek to establish illicit relations with other women? No society can approve of such a course, nor can the wife herself agree that her husband should be physically or psychologically attracted by another, woman as no matter what the conditions of life be that would be too much for her.

    As to the cause of the refusal of a wife to go to bed with her husband on his inviting her, there may again be three causes:

    (1) she hates him, and so feels disinclined to have sex relations with him; (2) she loves her husband but hates the sexual act and hence refuses him-an abnormal state which nonetheless enjoys wide cur­rency in practical life; and (3) she is a loving wife, does not hate the sexual act but at that particular moment happens to be disinclined to it.

    The first of these causes forebodes a permanent condition and may thus be not confined to a particular act or period of time. In such a situation marital bond cannot survive for long. The best thing to do in such a case would be to let the man and the wife separate from each other. The woman in a sense enjoys more facilities in this respect than a man does, as we shall shortly see.

    In the second instance too the condition of the wife may bear a stamp of permanency. Its origin lies not in the sexual craving of the husband alone. It must be remedied satisfactorily and a complete harmony between the husband and the wife must be restored. Either the husband should check himself if his wife refuses him or the wife must Comply with the wish of her husband like a truly loving wife as she would not like to get separated from him. Failing this they may be separated from each other in a very gentle manner. But-so long as they live together as husband and wife, the wife must, according to the Islamic law, comply with the wish of her husband in sexual matters, as it is but natural. It dot's not necessarily imply an arbitrary authority or compulsion. It is meant to prevent the husband from being driven to pursue a course of moral perversion or entering into another marriage contract, a thing all the more painful to the wife. The law does not, however, insist on the continuance of such strained relations as make the wife feel repulsion from her husband and her love for him changes into a Positive dislike due to his insistence on having his way in sexual matters. They may in this case too better separate from each other.

    The third situation is a temporary condition and it may easily be remedied. Such an aversion to the Sexual act may be the result of physical exhaustion, weariness or occupation as her psycho-physical disposition is quite capable of overcoming these in due course of time. This form of apathy in woman may be encountered by offering gifts to her and an ingenious love-play before the actual inter-course so as to transform it into a higher spiritual union rather than a purely animal and physical relationship that it might otherwise degenerate into. This love-play may also be helpful in removing the basic cause of aversion.

    If, on the other band, a wife desires sexual intercourse but the husband is for some reason disinclined to it-a rare phenomenon among men in their youth at least-the wife is not without means to induce her husband to resume sex-relationship with her. The very law that lays the wife under an obligation to comply with the wish of her husband also sees to it that she too should get her wishes met with. It prescribes that the husband must also fulfill his marital duties if and when his wife should so desire. If the husband is unable to satisfy her, their marriage may dissolve. Thus we see that in the Islamic law both parties have got their duties as well as their rights. There is as such no compulsion or disregard of the wife implied in it.

    The second obligation of the wife towards her husband that she should not allow anyone such as is disliked by her husband to tread his bed, implies that she should not let anyone enter his house whom he would not like to enter into. (This does not, however, in any way refer to adultery as it is forbidden by law and will have to be eschewed even if the husband should happen to favor it). The wisdom of this commandment is manifest from the fact that a great many disputes between the married couples are caused by the intervention of a third person who spreads false reports, slanders and thus adds fuel-to their family quarrels. What if in order to prevent such a development the husband were to demand of his wife not to allow a certain person into his house but she disregards it? The result will be the presence of a constant source of mischief rendering the patch-up between them impossible. Thus this obligation of the wife also purports to the good of family life including the children who require a congenial atmosphere of love and sympathy for their proper and normal growth.

    It may be asked: why then did the law not also provide that the husband too should be under an obligation not to allow anyone into his house if his wife should happen to disapprove of it? In normal life when husband and wife are living in peace and love and are civilized enough no such question may arise at all, as they may feel no difficulty in reaching an understanding between themselves on all such points. But supposing that discord does creep in straiten­ing their relations and making it impossible for them to reach an agreement between themselves, they would have to go to court for a rapprochement of their differences. Now if the wife should enjoy the right to debar anyone from the house of her husband, it may make the matter worse, for we may at this place point out that the impressions of the woman are in most of the cases illogical as they are purely the reflection of her own peculiar personality rather than the outcome of any prudence. They may have sprung up from her constrained relations with the in-laws, the mother or the sister etc. of her husband. Therefore to make it incumbent upon the husband­ to obey his wife in such a circumstance would not be a judicious step; it would rather be an act of mawkish tenderness that may soon suffer a change or be completely unfounded in reality.

    By this I do not mean to say that the husband is always in the right in all that he does. It is just possible that his behavior may under certain circumstances be puerile and shifty. Nor do I mean that the wife alone is always in the wrong. She may be quite justified in hating her husband whose nature, it is just possible, may be the real cause of their constrained relations. But as the law is framed for the normal human life where man has been found to act more rationally than a normal woman does, it gives a degree of importance to man over woman. The wife is, however, free to secure a separation from her husband if she is convinced that she can no longer grin and bear with him.

       The third obligation of the woman-the guarding of her husband's property and honor in his absence-is but a natural and logical sequence of marriage such as none may dare call in question. It is, however, not a unilateral obligation but rather a bilateral one: both husband and wife must remain faithful to each other.

    Let us now take up the Case of a wire and her husband one or the other of whom turns rebellious. The fact that man is in charge and the maintainer of the woman necessitates that he should have the right to admonish his disobedient Wife as the following verse clearly shows: “As for those (women) from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them” (iv: 34).

    The reader must take note of the fact how this verse gradually proceeds with the description of the means of correcting one’s wife ending with the chastisement. We admit that this privilege may be abused by some men but so can every other right. The only remedy for such a situation lies in the spiritual and moral elevation of the people the importance of which Islam has never lost sight of. But the law laid down in the above verse seeks to preserve family life and safeguard it against disintegration. The law to be really useful or effective requires a power to deal with those who break it, for otherwise it is no more than an empty word; it loses all its usefulness.

    Marriage is an institution that aims at the common good of the married couple. It is supposed to realize the greatest possible good for all those concerned with the love and harmony that prevails at home without any intrusion from law. But in the event of a married couple being at variance with each other the consequent ill-effect may not remain confined to their persons alone; it may also adversely affect the children, the next generation.

    Now if the wife is the cause of this trouble, whom should we expect to correct her? The court? Well, the court cannot but widen the gulf between husband and wife by interfering with their private affairs. Their differences may be trivial and temporary but the interference of the court may by airing them aggravate the situation. The pride of the parties may not allow them to patch up. Therefore it is only reasonable that the court should not busy itself with the trifles of conjugal life. It may step in the important matters only when all the-other means to achieve a rapprochement have failed.

    No sensible man can ever think of taking to court all his petty grievances that he daily suffers from almost every minute of his earthly existence. It would require setting up courts in almost every home to dispense with such grievances day and night.

    It shows that there must of necessity be some local authority to deal with such cases as require admonition. It is this very local authority that is exercised by man as he is the real and ultimate head of his family. He is in the above verse enjoined upon to admonish his wife without injuring her self-respect. If she desists, the evil is mended. But if she persists in the wrong course he should banish her to a bed apart-a chastisement that is a bit severer than the first one. It also illustrates how penetrating an eye Islam has into the psychology of woman who being proud of her beauty and personal charm at times plays a coquette so much so that virtually it becomes an impudence. As such her separation to a bed apart means that the husband is impervious to her beauty, charm and coquetry. This may deflate a little her swollen pride and thus bring her back to her senses. But if all these means of correction fail to bring her round, the implication is that her impudence has advanced too far to be mended by anything save a very severe chastisement. Then it is that the husband is permitted to beat her as a last resort in his attempt to correct her conduct without intending to torment her. This is why the Islamic Jaw has laid it down that the chastisement should be of a mild severity.

    Does such rough treatment of woman degrade her and injure her self-respect? It does not. For, to begin with we should remember that it is just a precautionary measure resorted to only when all the other conciliatory measures fail. Secondly, we must also bear in mind that in certain cases of Psychological perversions chastisement is the only effective remedy. The science of psychology tells us that in normal- case the above-mentioned conciliatory measures  viz. admonishing and separating apart her bed etc. are  quite effective but in acute eases e.g. masochism, they fail, the only remedy in such cases being the physical chastisement of the persons concerned. Women rather than men are more generally the victim of this psychological malady. They derive pleasure from humiliation and sufferings. (Men are, on the other hand, commonly afflicted with “sadism” which is marked with a morbid love for cruelty). Now if the wife belongs under this class of women, clearly her correction can be effected through chastisement alone so that she might have her desired beating and then come to herself again. Strange though it may appear, it is a fact that sometimes a man suffering from sadism marries a masochistic woman and they live in perfect love and harmony notwithstanding the abnormal basis on which their union rests, Similarly the cases of a sadistic Woman marrying a masochistic brand husband and then beating him frequently to his fill are not missing, though rare. The beating restores the balance of mind of the masochistic husband and so they live on in love and harmony. But if the situation is not so seriously aggravated the beating may not be needed at all, as that allowed by law is no more than a precautionary measure. One should not on every trivial disagreement rush in and start beating his wife. The description of the corrective measures one after the other in the above Quranic verse stresses the same fact. The Holy Prophet forbade men to exercise this right except in cases where they have no other course. Thus speaking in reproof of physical chastisement he said: "Let none of you scourge his wife the scourge of a camel and then towards the end of the day have intercourse with her" (Bukhari).

    If, on the other hand, the wife should fear ill treatment from her husband the law is a bit different: "If a woman feareth ill treatment from her husband, or desertion, it is no sin for them twain if they make terms of peace with themselves. Peace is better" (iv: 128).

    Some men may on this point be inclined to demand perfect equality between men and women. But the question is not one of a fanciful and theoretical justice but of that form of it which is practi­cable and in line with human nature. No woman would like to beat her husband in return for his beating her, neither in the "civilized" West nor in the "backward" East. She does not respect the husband whom she can beat and chastise. This is why no woman has yet demanded a right to beat her husband.

    The important thing to take note of here is, however, that Islam does not necessitate that the woman should suffer ill treatment at the hands of her husband passively. She can in such a case secure a separation from him.

    We have in the foregoing pages seen that:

    (1) The obligations of a wife towards her husband are not enforced arbitrarily. They are meant for the general good of the -society of which the wife forms but a part;

    (2) Most of her obligations are balanced with similar obliga­tions which the husband has to discharge with respect to her. As to the few situations where man enjoys in one way or another a precedence over the woman rite basic consideration has been the difference between their respective dispositions. It does not at all spring from any desire to humiliate or disgrace the woman;

    (3) As against this authority given to man over woman, the latter has the legal right to leave her husband if he should ill­ treat her.

    As to the separation which has been referred to above at more than one place and which provides woman with a practical way to get her marriage dissolved freeing herself of the obligations thereof, there are three ways to secure it:

    (a) The woman may secure the right to divorce from her husband (at the time of entering into the marriage contract with him). The Islamic law explicitly allows it although few women do ever exercise it. Still the right is there which they may exercise whenever they should need it.

    (b) Or she may demand a divorce from her husband on the plea that she hates him and can no longer live with him. I have heard that some courts do not enforce this principle and do not on her demanding it decree a woman's separation from her husband, although the principle is clearly laid down and supported by the personal example of the Holy Prophet and is thus a part of the Islamic law. .The only condition for the woman in such a case is that she should give back to her husband the dowry she received from him- perfectly just condition, for, the husband too in the event of divorcing his wife is obliged to forgo in her favor all that he might have given her. Thus in order to free themselves both, man and woman have in equal manner to bear material loss.

    (c) The third course open before the wife is to secure divorce along with her dowries as well as the sustenance allowance provided she should be able to convince the court that her husband has ill treated her or has failed to give her the sustenance allowance agreed upon by both of them and furnish the necessary proofs thereof. The court shall dissolve the marriage contract if it is convinced of the legitimacy of her claims.

    These are the weapons which a woman may resort to if a situation should call for. They perfectly balance the authority man enjoys over her.

    We have heard many a gloomy tale about the miseries caused by the divorce; how the wife and the children suffered; and how the courts are crowded due to the seemingly never ending family feuds arising from divorce. It often happens that a woman who is a happy and dutiful wife doing her best to upbring her suckling besides joyfully expecting yet another one, all of a sudden is approached by a messenger handing over a bill of divorce from her husband which might have been occasioned by a sudden whim or desire of the husband. It is just possible that he has seen a woman whom he beli­eves to be more beautiful and has taken fancy to her, or it may be that he is prompted by a wish to have a change in his sexual routine, or it may have just proceeded from the refusal of the wife to have intercourse with her husband due to her sluggishness and exhaustion.

    Isn't it, they say, then desirable that this dangerous weapon with which man may in a fit of faithlessness toy so recklessness and wreck the life of a peaceful, patient woman besides darkening the future prospects of his young innocent children, should be taken away from him?

    As to these miseries we admit that divorce does lie at the root of all these, but what is the way out? Should we abolish the right of the man to pronounce divorce? If so, how are we to meet the painful situation that might as well result from such an abolition­ a situation such as we meet in the Roman Catholic countries where divorce is not permissible? Is a home wherein the husband and the wife are constantly wrangling together and are averse to any fellowship with each other worth the name, especially if the marriage be a perpetual bond and freedom from it impossible to secure? Will such a situation not be conducive to .moral crimes? The husband as well as the neglected wife might be driven to seek mistresses and friends outside the home to gratify their sexual instinct, Surely the children cannot grow up properly and develop healthy and sound personalities in such a dismal, cloudy and gloomy atmosphere, for the mental health of the children and their sound development are dependent more on the social atmosphere they breathe in rather than a mere parental care, That is whence the abnormalities met with in people's lives spring. Their roots lie embedded in the life of their quarrelsome parents.

    It is also suggested that the right of man to divorce should be restricted, that is the divorce should not take effect on the mere pro­nouncement of it by the man. Only the court should have the authority to decree the divorce after appointing arbiters one each from among the people of the man and the woman. The arbiters should thoroughly discuss the problem, trying to make the husband desist from his intention and agree to make peace with his wife. If all their efforts fail, only then the divorce should be ordered by the court, not by the husband.

    I wonder if there is any legal objection such as due to which the adoption of such a conciliatory measure to restore peace and harmony between the spouses may not be possible. But I do not think there is really any need for the court to step ill as the remedy prescribed by the Islamic Jaw is ill itself quite sufficient for the purpose. Peace and harmony between the spouses depend more on themselves and their desire to mend than on anything else, If the will be there and both wish peace, the friends and kindred may prove as useful as any court; if there is no will then not even the highest court in the world may succeed ill restoring peace between them, There are the; “civilized" nations among whom only a court may decree a divorce after admonishing the parties to exhort them to patch up relations but still large numbers of divorces do take place there. In America alone the rate of divorce is 40 %-the highest in the world.

    As to the Suggestion that divorce should take place only if the court is convinced that the fault lies with the wife and if the husband should prove that to live with her is a nuisance, we wonder what honor do these people want to bring to woman by making­ her live in the house where she is despised and where the husband ever reminds her that he no longer loves her? Should she even then stay on in his house in order to defraud him? Surely the law cannot sanction such a conduct, nor is fraud the only course of action for her that she should have to live in that house as a despised and helpless wretch.

    Should she then stay ill the house of the father of her children to train and upbringing her children? But will it be desirable and in any way helpful in the proper upbringing of children if they live in such an atmosphere permeated with abominable injustice?

    The fact is that the solution of all these problems lies in the moral, cultural, psychological and spiritual training and education of society as a whole through a long process of intellectual purgation so as to make virtue and goodness prevail ill the end providing a sound basis of social life. The husband will then realize that marital relations are very sacred and should not be disrupted in such an impetuous manner.

    Such a process of moral and spiritual elevation is, however, a very long and slow one, It requires that the social life of the community should be regulated by the Islamic law with the help of an incessant struggle and co-operation of all the social institutions­ home, school, film, radio, press, literature, religion and the general public to achieve this era, It is a long and arduous process, yet it is the only sure way to secure sound results.

    As against this, we must remember that the law is primarily concerned with administration of justice. It aims at giving both parties, the husband and the wife, their due share of it guaranteeing them the right to secure a separation in case they should find that they can no longer live with each other. In this connection, we must also remember that "of all things allowed to men divorce is most hated by God".

    With regard to the institution of polygamy we should not lose sight of the fact that it is just an emergency law, it does not at all represent any fundamental principle of Islamic law: “Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four: and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only)” (iv: 3).

    As pointed out in this verse, what is required of men is justice which bring difficult to achieve in polygamy, the injunction virtually comes to imply that men should contact with one wife only, Thus the Islamic law in normal life favors monogamy rather than poly­gamy. But there are certain circumstances under which monogamy becomes an unjust rather than a just institution. In such extra­ordinary circumstances, Islamic law leaves the door open to polygamy, for although in it complete justice is impossible to attain, the disadvantages resulting there from are far less serious than those flowing from monogamy in such emergencies.

    During wars, especially when a large number of       men are decimated, balance between the sexes is seriously shaken. In such circumstances, polygamy becomes a social necessity as it may save society from the sexual anarchy that generally follows the decimation of a large number of men with a corresponding rise in the number of women in society who have no male bread-winner. Such women may earn their living, but what about their sexual gratification?

    This may make them fall an easy prey to the lust of men. But even after this, their most innate Craving may still remain ungratified­ their Craving for children, without whom their whole existence is reduced to a dull, lifeless drudgery.

    Should then in such circumstances the widowed women be left to gratify their sex urge as best as they can without having any considera tion about the social morals? The French nation suffered this fate.

    The whole social structure was as a result of it disintegrated, and the French were jolted down from the exalted position they enjoyed in history. Such a social disintegration can be averted only if a man is         explicitly permitted by law to have more than one woman at a time provided that he should treat all of them with justice in all things             (save of course in the emotional attachment which is beyond man's control).

    In such other emergencies as the one met with during wars the same need for polygamy is indicated. There may be some men who are overactive sexually. Such people can hardly be content with one wife, nor can they check their overflowing sexual energy. They should be permitted by law to have a second wife, for otherwise they may contract illicit sexual relations with girl friends, a situa tion that can hardly be tolerated by any healthy social set-up.

       There are besides this certain other circumstances as well under which polygamy offers the only solution to many problems viz. sterility of the wife or a chronic disease which renders the sexual union impossible. In the first case i.e. when the wife is sterile we may not blame her for it, but why should her husband be deprived of issue, love for which is the strongest in human heart? The second marriage is the only sensible remedy in such a situation. The first wife may stay on with them or secure a separation. As to the chronically diseased wife let it not be said that sex is in itself a base instinct and, therefore, its gratification should not be sought after by undermining the happiness and well-being of an innocent woman. For, the problem here is not whether sex urge is base or exalted. It is rather of the practical need which none may afford to ignore. If the man will­ingly forgoes his sexual pleasure and is mindful of his wife's pleasure, it is most welcome as an act of nobleness and generosity on his part but God does not burden anyone with more than he can easily bear. Moreover, to face the facts as they are is more realistic and better than a spurious nobleness in the guise of which all sorts of infamies are perpetrated as is generally the case with a people amongst whom polygamy is disallowed.

    We must also in this connection bear in mind the situations such as render a husband unable to give love to his wile or divorce her. In this and all kindred situations polygamy provides the only answer and solution.

    Now we propose to take up some other doubts that are prevalent about the problem of woman. To begin with is the right of the woman to work and move in public, which is duly endorsed by Islam. In the early period the woman worked outside whenever there was any genuine need for it. Similarly Islam did not forbid women to go out and work in such social institutions as required their services e.g. female education, nursing, medical treatment of women etc. Their services may for these purposes be procured as those of men are procured in wars etc. If a woman has no bread-winner she may as well go and work outside. But it must be remembered that Islam limits women to go outside their houses only when there is really a genuine need for them to do so. Otherwise it does not in principle approve of women's outside activities as the West and the communist nations do. This is a mere folly which Islam does not approve of for a woman cannot participate in social activities but at the cost of her real primary function within her home by leaving which she may engender many psychological, social and moral problems.

    That woman is physically, intellectually and intuitively best equipped for her real function of motherhood can hardly be dis­puted by anybody. Therefore if her attention is diverted to other unimportant activities, humanity is bound to suffer. In such a case she becomes just a plaything in the hands of men and a slave to their foolish demands, giving way to unchecked luxury und license. Islam cannot approve of this situation which if it did it might be shorn of its chief distinctive mark of holding that mankind is a coherent entity that does not suffer a change with the changing circumstances.

    It is also said: why can't a woman be a worker outside as well as a mother inside home at the same time with a nurse taking care of children in her absence? This is a baseless assertion, for a nurse may give the children in the most efficient manner all possible physical, intellectual or psychological help but she cannot give them one thing-the love, the care of a mother and the mother her­ self-bur for which life can hardly flourish or good manners take roots.

    However hard they may try the crazy standard-bearers or civiliza­tion or the foolish votaries of communism can never effect any change in human nature. The child badly stands in need of the mother's attention during at least the first two years of its growth­ full and undivided attention and love in which no partnership is tolerated even if the partner be the child's own dear brother. How can a nurse give this motherly care and love to children? She has in most of the cases ten to twenty children to look after. The children cannot but quarrel together over their playthings and for the attention of the artificial mol her they share in common. The quarrel thus comes to stay as a permanent feature of their lives leaving their hearts cold and hard without love without any fraternal affection

    A nurse may be if there: is any genuine need for her, engaged to take care of the children. But without any such need resort to her is nothing short of foolishness.

    The crazy westerners may however, excuse themselves on the basis of their historical, geographical and politico-economic condition, of life, but what about us living in the Islamic East? Have we too got any such excuse? Are there no more male workers available to work outside so that we should require extra female workers, or have the Muslim men-fathers, brothers, husbands or kinsmen­-abstained from themselves to go out and scratch a living for themselves?

    It is also said that by working outside a woman may attain her independent economic existence which may enhance her honor and prestige in society and prestige in society. But we would like to know if Islam has denied an Independent economic position to woman? The fact is that the problem with the Islamic world is faced today is not that of a system but it is poverty due to which both men and women have been deprived of all facilities of decent living, The solution lies in stepping up our material production so that the whole of the nation may prosper men as well as women, and none may remain poor, The competition between women and men over the possession of sources of economic production is no solution at all.

    Some people also aver that by working outside a woman may help increase the income of her family, for the income of a single earning member cannot equal that of the two. This may be true in certain individual cases but if all women take to outside work, family life would be crippled leading to long separations of husband and wife which may result in moral crimes, What economic, social or moral justification is there to make the woman work outside at so enormous a price?

    Assigning the woman her natural function of nursing the human race wholeheartedly Islam had an eye to the demands of human nature as well as those of society, So man was charged with the duty of supporting her and providing for her all her requirements so as to leave her free from all irrelevant worries, besides giving her the highest respect and regard so much that when a man enquired of the Holy Prophet: "Who has the first claim to my good treat­ment?" he said "your mother", The man said "And then who?" the Prophet said: "Then your mother." The mall asked: "And then?" Again; the Prophet replied: "Then your mother!” The man once again asked: “And then?" The Prophet said: "Then your father” (Muslim and Bukhari),

    What then is all this uproar by the Muslim woman of today about? Is there any right or facility that Islam has not already given her so that she should still feel constrained to launch a campaign to win them through means such as suffrage and representa­tion in parliament? Let us see:

    She demands an equal human status, but Islam has already given this to her in theory as well as in practice before law.

    She wants economic independence and the right to participate in social life directly. Well, Islam was the first religion that gave her this right:

    She wants the right to education? Islam not only recognizes it but makes the acquisition of it obligatory on her as well.

    Does she want the right not to be given in marriage without her permission? Islam has given her this right as well as the right to arrange her own marriage.

    Does she demand that she should be treated kindly and fairly while performing her functions within the house, and that she should have the right to ask for a separation from her husband if he should fail to treat her in a just and fair manner? Islam does give her all these rights and makes it incumbent upon men to safeguard them.

    Also does she want the right-to go and work outside? Islam recognizes this right of her too.

    Or does she seek the freedom to indulge in base, degrading and humiliating sybaritic? Well Islam cannot grant this to her as it does not also allow men to degrade themselves by indulging in such depravities. This license does not, however, hang on the representation of women in parliaments. They may do well to wait patiently till the social relationships and traditions disintegrate and degenerate into anarchy. Then all those craving for this license may enjoy it unchecked.

    There are certain other people who maintain that though our conditions and values of life differ from those of the West, yet practi­cally the position of woman in the East is so low that one cannot but protest against itHer western counterpart has already won her freedom besides a high social status, so why should not the eastern woman as well following in the footsteps of her western sister, endeavor to get back her usurped rights?

    This is no doubt true. The woman in the Islamic Countries is generally backward with neither respect nor any grace. She lives a life similar to that of animals; her whole existence is but another name for mean earthly desires; she suffers privations more than she ever tastes of happiness; she is made to surrender more than she is given; and seldom rises above the level of a purely impulsive existence.

    This is also true, but may we ask: who is responsible for this state of affairs? Does Islam or its teachings have anything to do with it?

    The fact is that the miserable plight of the eastern woman is the result of the economical, social, political and psychological con­ditions prevailing in the East today. We must take note of these if we really want to reform our social life and know as to where these evils spring from.

    At the root of the present miserable plight of the eastern woman lies the wretched poverty that the East has been afflicted with now for many a generation past. It is the social injustice which makes a group of people live in luxury and profusion while their fellow-beings do not find enough to feed or clothe themselves properly, and the political repression which splits a people into rulers and ruled, the former enjoying all privileges without the attendant obligations and the latter laboring under heavy burdens with no rights or compensations in return. The dark clouds of oppression that overcast the heavens above are the result of these very social factors. It is these circumstances that are in effect responsible for the present humiliation and persecution of woman in the East.

    Woman craves for an amicable relationship of love and mutual respect between her and her companion, man. But how can this love and respect find expression in this suffocating atmosphere of bleak poverty and social repression? For not only woman but man too is the victim of these circumstances although he may seem to be comparatively better off than her.

    Man treats woman roughly and persecutes her as a reaction to that harsh and rough treatment and persecution that he himself suffers at the hands of the people around him. He is disgraced and his self pride is wounded by the rough treatment of the chiefs of the village, the police officers, and factory owners or the state. He meets nothing but disgrace and humiliation in social life but he cannot avenge himself upon all these antagonistic forces, so he comes back to his house and gives vent to his anger on his wife and children or those who happen to be near him at the time.

    It is this accursed poverty that exhausts man to the utmost limit, totally incapacitating him for love, sympathy or forbearance towards those with whom he comes into contact. Again it is this very wretched poverty that makes woman put up patiently with tyranny, cruelty and rough treatment from her husband for she knows that life without a bread-winner would be even worse. She dare not even claim her legal rights fearing that her husband taking it ill might divorce her. And what would she do if he divorc­ed her? Who will support her? For, her parents are themselves too Poor to support her. They cannot but advise her to return to her husband and bear up with the degradation and humiliation as best as she can. This is one reason why woman is so degraded and humiliated in the East today.

    Secondly, backward as it is today the East lacks ideals as well as self-consciousness and is plunged into a dark night of ignorance. It has become devoid of all higher values of humanity save one­ power and its various manifestations which it worships, and holds weakness to be in itself a sufficient justification to despise or hold in contempt anyone bearing its stamp.

    It is this self same worship of power that makes man, the sterner sex, hate weak woman. He finds it hard to honor or respect woman as a human being, for he also lacks the moral refinement so necessary for such an attitude toward the weaker sex. A woman may, how­ever, be honored if she happens to possess wealth, the key to power and authority over others.

    Similarly in a backward society such as the East at present the people sink low to the level of a purely or nearly instinctive existence. They are sex-ridden and sex colors all their views and attitudes towards life. As such they come to view woman as a means of pleasing and gratifying their lust and nothing else.[4] She loses all respect as a human being as psychologically, intellectually and spiritually she is held to be too much below man to deserve or claim it. As a result thereof the sexual union of men and women is reduced to a purely animal act where the male always dominates the female, its two distinctive marks being consciousness of the male at the time of the act of the dominance of the female over aim, and ignoring her later on.

    Afflicted as it always is with ignorance and hunger, a backward community can hardly afford to spare time or energy to achieve moral elevation and discipline, although it is through these alone that a people can attain to higher planes of humanity and rile above the plane of a purely animal existence. In the absence of such a moral and spiritual discipline or in the presence of the one that is unsuitable, the inevitable result is that human life assumes a purely economic character, power is worshipped and is measured in term of animal passions.

    It is in such a backward society that while performing her duties as a mother the woman unknowingly distorts the view of man to­wards woman. She turns her small child out as a petty dictator who is wont to command an immediate obedience. She is too indulgent a mother to lay a reasonable check on the unreasonable demands of her boy. She tries to please him no matter how unreasonable or absurd his demands are. As a result of this over-indulgence he grows up as a man solely slave to his animal passions expecting others to obey him without a demur. But when in practical life his desires are thwarted he starts venting his rancor on people, men, women and children around him.

    These are the most important factors responsible for the dis­turbance and trouble witnessed in the East today. But for these, the woman in the East would not have suffered much, nor occupied so Iowaposition. Neither of these bears any relation to Islam; they are incompatible with the true Islamic spirit.

    Poverty? Is it the result of Islam? Certainly no, for it was but Islam that had made the Community so rich that as happened in the days of Umar bin Abdul Aziz there remained not even a single man in it who was poor enough to deserve or receive alms. Islam is a practical system of life that brought about that great economic miracle in terms of practical life. It is this same system that we do earnestly seek to re-establish today. Islam as a system of life manages to get the wealth of the people distributed in a just and fair manner among the members of the community “in order that it may not (mere/y) make a circuit between the wealthy among you" (xlix: 7). It does not extol or approve of poverty; rather it would see it abolished. Nor does it favor luxury and license; it prohibits these both.

    Poverty is the most important factor responsible for the troubles of the eastern woman of today. Once it is done away with, the greatest or woman's problems will be resolved forthwith. With that she win also get back her respect, for which purpose she may not necessarily have to go and work outside (though she has the right to do so) as she too will then have her share through inheri­tance in the increased wealth of the community which she may spend on her personal comfort only. When rich she may be sure to command the respect or men and be bold enough to exercise her rights without any fear or threat of poverty.

    And what about the political injustice man is suffering from making him vent his repressed rancor on his wife at home? Is Islam responsible for that?

    Islam cannot be blamed for it either, as it preaches revolt rather than obedience to injustice. In this respect it so equitably re­gulated the relations or the rulers and the ruled that when once Omar said: "Hear and obey" a man from amongst the assembly of the believers retorted: "We shall not hear you, nor obey you, unless you tell us wherefrom have you got this sheet of cloth you are putting on?" At this Omar did not fly into a rage. He, on the other hand, praised the man and clarified his position before the assembly, so that at last the man again got up and said: "Now give us your orders. We shall hear and obey you". It is precisely this form or government we seek to establish today, so that no ruler may dare oppress people; so that the people may feel bold enough to speak their mind before rulers; and so that the relations of a man with his wife and children are based on justice, charity, love and fraternity.

    And the degeneration of higher human values, is Islam to be blamed for it?

    No, Islam has nothing to do with this degeneration of moral values. It seeks to elevate human beings inculcating in them higher spiritual values. It taught men that "the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one best in conduct,” rather than the one who is the richest, mightiest, or strongest. Once these higher values are firmly established in society, the woman will no longer be looked down upon because of her weakness. The gauge of a man's humanity in such a society is his fair treatment of his wife as the Holy Prophet said: “The best amongst you is he who is best to his wife and I am the best amongst you as regards the treatment of my wife.” Deep insight into the human psychology as this saying of the Prophet does exhibit, it also tells us that a man cannot ill-treat his wife without being a victim of psychological complexes and disorders or falling short of the true human standard.

    And the degradation of men to a purely animal instinctive level of existence, is Islam the cause of it? Surely no, Islam is not the cause of this degradation, for did it ever sanction that men should sink low to such an animal level? Far from it, it seeks to elevate men and women to such a high plane of being that they are no longer mere slaves to their instincts, nor is their outlook upon life solely molded by these. The sex relations of men and women are in the sight of Islam not purely animal relations. They rather represent their physical need which it approves of with an eye to free them from the over-domination of sex which if left to itself may thwart their creative pursuit belonging under the different realms of practice, science, arts or worship and which may in the absence of a lawful outlet drive them to adopt wrongful practices. As such though Islam does not condemn sexual relations of men and women, yet it does not approve of their being wholly taken up with them. It rather urges them to devote their energies to the higher and nobler ends of life, man exerting himself in the way of God incessantly and woman doing her best in training her children and looking after her household duties. Thus Islam gives both man and woman ideals that elevate them far above the purely animal level of needs and passions.

    Or is the defective moral discipline the outcome of the impact of Islam? The answer is a big no, for the Qur'an, the sayings of the Prophet are all fun of moral precepts that aim at the spiritual eleva­tion of human soul disciplining it to exercise self-control and observe the principles of justice and a respect for others such u one would himself expect from others.

    Are then our traditions of social life really responsible for the backwardness of the women in the East? Are they in effect that have made them live like animals, inert, narrow-minded, ignorant, as some writers would have us believe? The answer is again an

    emphatic no. Our past traditions do not forbid us to acquire knowledge, to work, or co-operate with others in social life, provided it aims at the well-being of the community and entails no adverse effects for it.

    What these traditions[5] do not approve of are such foolish and, unhealthy activities as the going out of women and walking openly and without any genuine need on the highways and roads. Surely none can dare say that the women can realize their potentiality and respect through these silly activities alone. They may in such situations fall an easy prey to the lust of the sybarite men as the experience of the enlightened, civilized western society girls does illustrate. As such the people opposing traditions seem to do so just because they do not see eye to eye with the self-indulgence, license and luxury they so earnestly crave for.

    There was in Egypt a non-Muslim writer who never lost an opportunity to disparage Islam overtly or covertly in his weekly magazine. He kept on reminding women: "Shake off your weatherworn traditions; come out of your houses and mix up with men courageously, by rushing in to take up work in factories and shops, not because there is any genuine need for it but just to get rid of your responsibilities as mothers and nurses of human race". He also said that the woman walked in the streets with her eyes down because she lacked courage and self-confidence and was over­ whelmed by fear of men. But when she through her experience achieves enlightenment she will be able to face men courageously.[6] He overlooked the history which tells us that Aysha who actively took part in the politics of her time and led armies into the battlefield used to talk to men from behind a veil. Moreover, he also forgot to mention that the lowering down of eyes was not something pecu­liar to women alone, for history also tells us that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) was more modest than even the virgin maids. Did he also not possess self-confidence, or did he lack the consciousness of being a messenger of God? How long will these writers keep on repeating and saying such silly things?

    That woman is reduced to a very low plane of existence is undoubtedly true but the way to reform this situation is not that adopted by the woman in the West who was faced with peculiar circumstances and, therefore, was subject to typical aberrations of her own Springing up from those circumstances.

    Islam and Islam alone does provide a solution to the problem of woman no less than that of man. Let all of us, men, young and old, turn towards it, strive hard to re-establish an Islamic state and enforce Islamic law in our lives. Only then shall we be able to realize in practice our beliefs and ideals. This is the only way to achieve symmetry and harmony in our life without any resort to injustice or tyranny.

     

    [1] It is on the basis of such evidence that the proponents of Materialism and Marxism claim that the economic conditions alone engender the social conditions of life and that only the economic circumstances determine the mutual relations of men, We do not deny the importance of the economic factor in human life, but it is wrong to say that it is the economic factor alone which determines the thoughts, feelings and behavior of men. The fact that the economic factor exercised such a dominating influence over European life was due to the absence of any lofty ideal such as might have-as it did in the Islamic World­-elevated Europe spiritua1ly. Thus enabling Europeans to base their economic relationship on a purely human basis. In this way it would have not only realized its economic requirements but the people all over the world would have also been spared the trouble it made them suffer due to its lust for exploitation.

     

     

    [2] It is on the basis of such evidence that the Marxists claim that the economic factor is the only real factor in life as in fact it was that very factor that determined the course of the problem or woman in Europe. As we said somewhere before, we admit the importance or the economic factor in life, but we hold that the course of circumstances in Europe would have been a different one if it had an ideology and system of lire like Islam which enjoins upon man to support woman in all circumstances and which gives woman, in case she is at all driven to woke for herself, an equal right to have wages similar to those of man, and which, to meet an emergency, provided for polygamy as a successful and clean solution or the crisis generally met with after wars making it unnecessary for woman to take up arduous and difficult jobs, satisfying her natural sexuality by resort to a foul and ugly course.

     

    [3] Such a right of woman at the first glance may appear as a mere illusion in the context of the present socio-economic conditions of life in the East but Islam cannot be blamed for acts that contradict its teachings Or bar the way to the implementation of its laws. Women did in the early period of Islam exercise this right and it was acknowledged by the Holy Prophet, the law-maker, as well as his successors, the early Caliphs. What we demand today is the implementation of all laws along with the removal of all those obstacles that intervene in their promulgation, be they economic and social circumstances, Or the un-Islamic practices followed blindfoldly in imitation of others.

     

    [4] So does the woman come to think of man with the only difference that ~use of his superiority as the in-charge of the home and his earning capacity he enjoys a lion's share of sexual pleasure.

    [5] By "Traditions" We mean the true and genuine Islamic traditions and not those transplanted from foreign nations but the writers who launch their attacks against traditions do not differentiate between these two kinds.

     

    [6] The Writer referred to above is Salama Musa. In whatever he penned his first care was to see that it in some way or other disparaged Islam, as did another Christian writer Jurji Zaidan. Both of them formed the vanguard of the enemy who is at Present as active against Islam as ever before.

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