Rafed English

My Position as a Woman

As a Muslim woman I experience the full benefits given to me by God as a member of the human race. I am responsible only to God for how I live my life, and how well I fulfill my duties to Him. The most important right which I enjoy by benefit of being a Muslim woman is the right of equality before God. Among the other rights which are detailed for women in Islam are the right to earn and keep our own money, to retain and/or dispose of our own property, the right to inherit, the right to initiate and contest a divorce, the right to an education, the right to retain our own name after marriage, the right to participate in choosing our own mates, the right to custody of our children.

However, as Islam is a just and fair religion, along with my rights come my obligations. All levels of Islamic society-including the individual and on through the relationships of husband/wife, parent/child, employer/employee, and the society/societal member-are firmly connected by interlocking and mutually reciprocal rights and duties. A right does not exist without a corresponding duty; a duty does not exist without a corresponding right. As an example: it is one of my rights as a wife to be financially supported by my husband-that is his obligation. Among others, my obligation is to try and live within his financial means without complaint, derision, or greed, and to care for his property and assets in his absence. My husband is obligated to treat me with courtesy and respect, and I am obliged to do the same for him. As a member of a society, I am obliged to help my fellow members, and they and the societal bureaucracy at large are obligated to help me in my times of need. There is much misunderstanding on the part of non-Muslims (and some Muslims) regarding the absolute inter-connectedness of rights and obligations-they come as a unit and cannot be separated out to be viewed separately without losing their essential qualities.

I feel no apprehension about my position as a Muslim woman in my marriage. I do not feel that there are any areas of private or public endeavor that are closed to me. I do have concerns regarding the status of some women in those societies and within those marriages where there is ignorance of or misunderstanding of the teachings of Islam. There exist many Muslim societies where deviations from the Islamic norms regarding the status and role of women (as well as other issues) have resulted in a constriction of the role of women. "Cultural Islam" very often is at variance with Islam. Verses from the Qur'an and Hadis of the Prophet (pbuh) are often taken out of their context of revelation or transmission and used to support patriarchal cultural viewpoints. Both, men and women are often uneducated as to the true meanings of Islamic injunctions and, by default, follow the standard cultural practice of their societies.

Adapted from: "Daughters Of Another Path (Experience of American Women Choosing Islam)" by: "Carol L. Anway"

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