Rafed English

A Woman's Place is in the Home

However, man has been made guardian of woman, because of his strong physical and intellectual powers and because he is responsible for maintaining her. It is for this reason that the wife is obliged to obey her husband.

The Holy Prophet has said The most honoured women before Allah are those who are obedient to their husbands and remain within the boundaries of their homes. If the women remain within their natural boundry and, by obeying the husband, fulfil the duties imposed upon them by the Creator, they would discharge their responsibilities, and surely would deserve to be called, "The most honoured women."

I know the exponents of the equality of sexes will oppose this straight-forward principle. But in the domestic affairs as in all societies an authori tative leader is a MUST. No association or institution can function without a leader; even sports clubs need a President and a Secretary. Is it not strange that it is only the domestic institution, the hub of all success and prosperity, which is considered so unimportant as not to need any authority?

It has been explained above that a man has a natural ability to become that leader, while a woman requires a man to bring out her natural abilities. In the words of the poet Igbal: The virtue of man shines out without any outside help; but the virtue of woman is dependent on an `other' (i.e., man) to bring it out.

Anthropologists tell us that the first stage of womanhood was when the "family" was not an established institution. Woman, in that period, was free from all bonds, and was absolutely her own master. But, in that very stage, she was absolutely without any honour and had no respect. sitution began to change. Coming within the circle of family the woman lost her freedom and was obliged to submit to many restrictions. But, at the same moment, she acquired a high prestige and honour which was undreamt of before.

An interesting question has been asked by an author on this very subject. He asks that if the advance of civilization and human perfection only means that woman attains complete freedom and is not obliged to obey her husband, then, why is it that primitive tribes are not acknowledged as the guardians of highest civilization in the world, as males in those tribes are content to sit idle and it is the woman who is "free" to do all the jobs.

The "emancipation" has compelled many a woman in western countries to shun marriage. In words of a western social worker, these women abhor the fundamental factor of the civilization, that is `matrimony '. They have completely lost the urge and feelings which are naturally found in the women of their age-group. Now they are neither man nor woman; they have developed into a neutral "sex"! They are not `man' because they differ from man anatomically, and they are not "woman" because their activities and feelings are opposite to that of a woman.

A person cannot embark in two boats at the same time. If a woman is devoting her time in earning her livelihood, she is depriving her children of their natural rights of "maternal love and care". In 1971, the Sunday News (Dar-es-Salaam) carried an article under the heading IT IS HARD ON THE MOTHER. The following paragraphs give a fair picture of this deep-rooted problem "Take the example of a mother working in an office. Her first worry before she takes up her appointment is about her children.

"She must make sure that she has hired a suitable nursemaid for the children, which is often a dream because these are becoming unbearably expensive. But someone warm-hearted and generous, with a lot of love to give in mothering the children in her absence: that is the kind of maid servant she wants.

"A mother observes that parental love for a child is actually irreplaceable and is vital to its development. A child has to grow with it. "But, as we have seen, who will pay for the nursemaid or the baby-sitter? The question is difficult enough for a working married mother." Again he writes "But their main concern is their children. As they have to give time to their job, they have to do the same to their children.

"For example, a woman teacher is a mother of two children. Teaching needs many hours of devotion and some extra hours of preparation at home. "A woman teacher who is also a mother has to be very careful in planning her time. Home preparation interferes with the time allocated to chatting and playing with her children, since she has been away for the whole day.

"Some children are naughty. They have to be taken care of with tender toughness. And yet there are teaching lessons to be prepared. She literally has to divide herself into two persons! "The majority of mothers enjoy cooking, so they prefer doing it for themselves even if they have cooks. After office hours, therefore, they pass by the market to do proper grocery, and so to make a meal of their choice - to please sweet teeth of their husbands.

"But the reality of their office or factory jobs means that they are doubling, not to mention that some women do not necessarily love cooking." Above the article, the following words were printed in bold letters: "Children are becoming a problem for the modern working mother in Africa."

In the end the writer dutifully suggested this interesting cure "The question we pose here is: Does a Tanzania husband help in the cooking or any other household chore which in the old days was meant for women?

"If a man and his wife are both career people, the dictates of socialism demand that both of them must work equally in the household. Since this is not the case, what it means is that socialism has not reached home ... where it should have begun in the first place."

But the question is this If the parental love is irreplaceable then how can a nursemaid provide that love and care? If the emancipation of women and "socialism" mean that the woman has to do double duty (motherhood and wage-earning) and also the husband has to do double duty (wage-earning and cooking), then is it not far better and less back-breaking to let both of them do their own natural single duty without interfering with the other's responsibilities? This will have the added benefit of reducing the number of juvenile delinquents ... because children will grow up under kind and understanding mother's love.

We may sum it up with the following words of Kenneth Walker "Not only in her physical but also in her psychological make up everything in a woman is sacrificed to the function of motherhood. In the same way a man is psychologically, as well as physically, specially equipped for the task of seeking out the woman and protecting her and his family.

"(A woman's) aptitude for physical and intellectual exertion in the primitive struggle for existence is less than that of man. Occasionaly she may possess these more masculine faculties, and by her own exertions succeed in establishing for herself a place in the world, but this is not her natural role. Biologically speaking, the woman who tights her own battles has moved out of the sphere for which nature has equipped her and trespassed into another that does not by right belong to her. The fact that she often succeeds in making good in the new sphere into which she has wandered does not affect this principle. Emotionally and physically she is dedicated to the career of maternity, and it is on the man she was meant to rely not only for her own support, but also for that of her children."

The Urdu poet, Iqbal, has pointed to this fact in these words If western education means the death of `motherhood' then such an education, in the eyes of thinkers, is DEATH.

This subject has been dealt with at some length in order that readers may fully understand the wisdom and virtue of the restrictions put up on women of Islam. Thanks to these regulations, Muslim women have been enjoying their lives quite peacefully and naturally for the last fourteen centuries. They have remained safe and immune from the degradations to which other women were subjected upto the end of the last century. We are sure that by following the rules of Islam they will remain safe from present day excesses as they saved themselves from the shortcomings of the past.

Adopted from the book: "The Family Life of Islam" by: "Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizivi"

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