By: Kawa Gharji
Some people are keen to interoperate verses of the Quran by using demagogy. But even these individuals can’t deny the level of institutionalized violence elevated against women based on their interpretation of the Quran. Slowly, their deed troops in a culture that forms the so called fundamental Islam. Therefore it is obvious that even after the collapse of Islamic regime in Afghanistan, the struggle for equality will not see an end.
We read in An-Nesa verse 34: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”
The level of progress and prosperity in a society is interdependent with the level of socio-cultural growth in that same society. The level of involvement of women is also a key issue in the process of social development. Despotism of religious dogma in Afghanistan prevents more than half of the population from taking part in building their country. Hippocratic morality based on religious tradition doesn’t allow men to accept the concept of gender-based equality. As a result, women are facing more hardship in a war-torn country that continues its struggle for survival. The factors affecting criminal activities in Afghanistan include: war, produce and smuggle of drugs, instability, warlordism, shady economy. These factors, above all other parameters, are worsening the life of women more than men and therefore create challenges that significantly affect the life outside homes. On the other hand, the patriarchal system of living inside families leave no chance for self-realization even in the framework of a modern family.
Institutionalized misogyny has even changed a woman’s point of view about herself. Women have low self-esteem because they have accepted their value to be less of a man and thus they are not important to the society or to their families. Men are superior, in their mind, this is a fact. Women from early ages are thought to look at themselves as a second hand category of humans. School, education, scientific, social, cultural, economic and political carriers are only for men. Common belief is that only those families with low degree of honor let their daughters go to school. According to Islam, men are responsible for taking care of financial aspects of their families, thus having a carrier for a girl is something unnecessary. Women’s natural desire of self-realization transforms into a desire for luxury, expensive jewellery, etc. Upon entering a wedding party, you will often see women with one-kilogram jewellery or more on them.
Is it possible for such women to rise a new generation full of imagination and creativity; Women who themselves accept false concepts that are based on backward religious costumes? Family is the first place (the cradle) where we are educated. Our moral principles, our mentality, our concepts of good and bad and our knowledge of the world as it is, get shaped in our families. Mothers are the first educators that, by their own behaviors, shape our personalities. That is why educated and liberal mothers are so needed in our families.
Not too long ago, there were some publications written by Muhaqeq Nasab and Latif Pedram about women rights. Both of them were brought to court soon after the articles were published. We have plenty of organizations that are registered as human/women right protectors but none of them took action to defend Muhaqeq Nasab and Pedram partially because the female managers in these organizations did not find the matter worthy or themselves brave enough to interfere. It is not a secret that most of these organizations are merely to show case and demonstrate loyalty of the government and its positive achievements to the international community in Afghanistan.
Criticizing the misogynistic habits and discriminative laws is not enough to equalize the rights of Afghan citizens regardless of their gender. We need to either reform Islam as it was done in some other religious, for instance Christianity, or propagate for critical rationalistic approach towards religion and tradition since most of these customs and laws are based on religion and tradition.
The struggle for equality for women and men puts us in a confronting position against God well, Quran verses and religious beliefs. Consequently, the struggle for equality can be interpreted as a battle against Islam.
One can find a great number of verses in Quran that are against human rights. The life of any ordinary woman in Afghanistan is a good illustration of the cruel violence against human, particularly women in the name of God. Girls are often not allowed to go to schools due to the belief that “If a girl can read Quran then she has enough education”. Soon after, she is forced to marry someone she doesn’t know and live with him her entire life. Religious based costumes practically leave no options for women who don’t want to live with their husbands- a husband that she has not even chosen. As a result any effort towards institutionalizing the women rights in an Islamic society can be considered as an infidel act.
Here are some verses of the Quran that are controversial to fundamental concepts of human rights for women:
O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.
And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.
And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.”
Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment. And it is not lawful for you to take anything of what you have given them unless both fear that they will not be able to keep [within] the limits of Allah . But if you fear that they will not keep [within] the limits of Allah , then there is no blame upon either of them concerning that by which she ransoms herself. These are the limits of Allah , so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah – it is those who are the wrongdoers.
And if he has divorced her [for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterward until [after] she marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there is no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to each other if they think that they can keep [within] the limits of Allah . These are the limits of Allah , which He makes clear to a people who know.
There is no blame upon you for that to which you [indirectly] allude concerning a proposal to women or for what you conceal within yourselves. Allah knows that you will have them in mind. But do not promise them secretly except for saying a proper saying. And do not determine to undertake a marriage contract until the decreed period reaches its end. And know that Allah knows what is within yourselves, so beware of Him. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.
And if you divorce them before you have touched them and you have already specified for them an obligation, then [give] half of what you specified – unless they forego the right or the one in whose hand is the marriage contract foregoes it. And to forego it is nearer to righteousness. And do not forget graciousness between you. Indeed Allah , of whatever you do, is Seeing.
O you who have believed, when you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a scribe write [it] between you in justice. Let no scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him. So let him write and let the one who has the obligation dictate. And let him fear Allah , his Lord, and not leave anything out of it. But if the one who has the obligation is of limited understanding or weak or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses – so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her. And let not the witnesses refuse when they are called upon. And do not be [too] weary to write it, whether it is small or large, for its [specified] term. That is more just in the sight of Allah and stronger as evidence and more likely to prevent doubt between you, except when it is an immediate transaction which you conduct among yourselves. For [then] there is no blame upon you if you do not write it. And take witnesses when you conclude a contract. Let no scribe be harmed or any witness. For if you do so, indeed, it is [grave] disobedience in you. And fear Allah . And Allah teaches you. And Allah is Knowing of all things.
All these verses are from one Sura Baqara. One can find lots of them especially in Sura Noor, Al ahzab and Al nessa.