Rafed English

What is the Status of Woman inside Family?

Adopted from the book "Woman" by : Mahdi Mahrizi

After making clear the religious perspective of marriage and family, it is recommendable to observe what is the position the woman has within these subjects. Do the woman and man represent the origin and branch in the family? Or do they have equal and equivalent position? Or is the responsibility of woman greater than that of the man? And if the woman's responsibility is greater, what does that mean?

Attention should be given to the fact that the woman and man have two dignities and two roles, one being partnership in marriage "spouse" and the other being fatherhood and motherhood, both of which need study and discussion. About this subject also many incorrect views and wrong beliefs are there, that it is proper to refer to them first before elaborating on the subject in as dully as possible.

1. Abul­Aswad Ad­Du'ali once has gone with his wife UmmAwf near Ziyad laying before him the disagreement between them in respect of a son. Each one of them claimed the son to belong to him/her:

Abul­Aswad said: I am more entitled to have the son than her, I bore him before her and laid him before her. Then UmmAwf said: You have laid him "put the sperm into the ovary" out of lust and pleasure, while I have delivered him with difficulty and constraint "kurh", and you bore him when being light while I conceived him when being heavy.

Ziyad then said to UmmAwf: You are right, and more entitled to have the son. And he handed the child to her.

2. Al­Ghazaali in Ihyaa Al­Oloom and Mawlana in Fihi Ma Fih and others maintain less important role for the woman within the family "and marriage". In Ihyaa Al­Oloom, when expounding the five goals of marriage and particularly in explaining three instances of them, Al­Ghazaali delivered a speech in a way indicating as if the man being the origin and the woman being like a parasite and an uninvited person, since he said:

Al­Junaydi said: I am in need of the woman in the same way as I need food and sustenance. Hence woman is a food and cause of heart purity. 97 And because of marriage the heart becomes free from housekeeping and engagement in cooking the food, and tranquil for reserving knowledge and manners, the tasks that can be undertaken by a pious woman. 98

In the same manner man, on his way to earn of halaal "lawful" business and family guardianship, undergoes so many hardships and exerts efforts which are in themselves laborious struggle "jihad" and self­discipline.99

Mawlana Jalaal Ad­Deen Balkhi, in his book Fihi Ma Fih, was also involved in this sex dilemma, whence he says:

"Day and night you strive and exert endeavour, seeking edification of woman's morals, purifying uncleanness of your wife with yourself. You would rather purify yourself through her than purifying her through you, and you should edify yourself through her, listen to her and obey whatever she says, though this request may be impossible to achieve on your part. Abandon jealousy and zeal though it be one of unavailable qualities of men, but through this good quality bad and abominable habits may characterise your behaviour. For the sake of this meaning the Prophet"S" is quoted to have said: There is no monarchism "rahbaniyyah" in Islam, as the friars chose seclusion from people, living inside the mount, separation from women and abandoning the worldly life; confining God in a narrow passage and raising doubt about Him and the Prophet. They never bother themselves to court a woman as it is something tiresome, and they hate to hear the impossible demands of the women, or going here and there to meet their needs, considering themselves to be well­educated. 100

As it is observed that the woman on one part is regarded as a lust container for the man and on the other as a plantation for the man to cultivate and harvest. That is she is regarded both as a wife and unseen mother.

These were samples of incorrect views in this subject. But reviewing the religious texts especially the holy Quran reveals the falseness of these deductions and inferences, viewing equivalent role for both woman and man with giving superiority to the woman in some respects. This equivalence or superiority, is noticed in both the dimensions as a spouse and as a mother.

Allah commands Adam and his wife Eve to live in the heavens:

· "And O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, so eat ye two from wherever ye two desire..." "7:19"

· "And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely "of the fruits" thereof where ye will..." "2:35"

He also reminds Adam and his wife that the Satan being their enemy: "Then said We: "O Adam! Verily this is an enemy unto thee and thy wife; therefore let him not drive ye both out of the Garden for "then" thou shouldst be put to toil." "20:117"

Also in time of dissension He addresses the wife and husband thus:

· " "And God" said: "Get down hence ye two, all together..." "20:123"

Yes the woman has, as a wife, an independent identity equal to the man, having a share and exploiting all privileges of marriage and family. Also the woman, like man, has choice right in marriage "choosing the husband" and it is not allowed to force or impose any thing upon her.It is reported that Khudham, the father of Khansa' has coerced her to marry someone. When the Messenger of Allah"S" became aware of this, he annulled the marriage contract declaring:"Whoever wants to get married in this way, has got married to the father of Lubalah too. 101

One day a girl came near the Prophet and said to him: My father has coerced me to get married to his brother's son. The Messenger of Allah"S" authorised the girl to accept or refuse, when the girl said: "I have permitted the doing of my father "accepted his wish", but I intended to let the women realise that fathers have no authority to do what they like or interfere in this affair in particular. 102

Ibn Abbas is reported to have said: A daughter reluctantly approached the Prophet"S" and exclaimed: My father has coerced me to marry someone unwillingly. The Prophet then gave authority and choice to the daughter to agree or disagree. 103

Also inside the house no one can be a leader over her, as the woman is a partner in life not a captive. And the family is formed through a contract accepted by two parties with its effects and essentials including both the wife and the husband, with the same extent.

Likewise, the woman constitutes, as a mother, a pillar of the family like the father, and rather it can be said that the woman as a mother has a position superior to the father.

In surat al­isra' Allah gives a comprehensive commandment in regard of the father and the mother:

"And commanded thy Lord that thou shalt worship not "any one" but Him, and goodness to parents; if either or both of them reach old age with thee, utter not unto them "even so much as" "fie" nor chide them, and speak unto them a generous word. And lower unto them the wing of humility out of compassion, and say thou: "O My Lord! Have mercy on them as they cherished me when I waslittle." 104

In this verse, after "God's" recommending the children to show kindness to parents and abstinence from irritating and annoying behaviour toward them, Allah calls the sons and daughters to pray to God to have mercy on father and mother who undertook their fostering and nourishment from childhood.

In other verses a recommendation to be grateful and thankful to the parents was given:

"And We did enjoin upon man concerning his parents; beareth him his mother in weakness upon weakness and his weaning taketh two years "and" saying: "Be thou grateful unto Me and unto thy parents; "and remember thou that" unto Me is the ultimate return "of all"." "21:14"

So also the holy Quran leaves determination in respect of period of suckling of the child to consultation between the father and mother:

"... and if both "the father and the mother" decide on weaning by mutual consent and "with due" consultation there shall be no blame on them..." "2:233"

The position of the mother is also described so highly and considerably. It is reported that the Messenger of Allah"S" said: "Had Jarih Ar­Rahib been a faqeeh and knowledgeable man he would have conceived that responding to the request of his mother being verily more preferable than worshipping his Lord." 105

In another hadeeth doing goodness and kindness to the mothers is counted among signs of wise sane men. 106

To sum up, it should be said that the woman inside the sphere of family traverses the second arena of development and enjoyment of profits of life, and it is not true that she becoming cause of maturity of another one. The woman is in fact, a partner in all prerogatives of living, both as a wife and as a mother. So every planning and sketching of rights of woman in the family should be laid down on the basis of this independent and equivalent character of woman. No one can regard the role of woman as a wife to be tantamount to role of husband, but the right to divorce and guardianship "custody" being totally entrusted to the men. And as it is improper to elevate the status of the mother up to the Divine Throne, it is not for us to deprive her of the right of custody and correlation with the child.

On the other hand, the family in perspective of Islam has no chief, and all kinds of predominance "siyadah" of father or of mother or child being deviation from the natural and instinctive path of the family. Rather every and each member of the family has certain rights that should be fulfilled and certain duties that he/she should undertake and be held responsible for.

It is true that there should be a manager in the Muslim family, but he/she should not behave as a master and mawla since the other members are verily not slaves or subjects. Further the manager should, according to qualifications and authority, undertake the function of administration, never being a despotic ruler or a sensualist.

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