Sunday, October 24, 2004

Equality Only in Due Rights and Responsibilities

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi,

MBC anchor Somia Alshibani asked me in a live interview for Panorama FM: What do I think of sex equality. I said there was no such equality.
In Islam, women have more rights in many aspects. Mothers are given triple what fathers are given from children because they do a harder job.
Male children, on the other hand, are given double the inheritance of their sisters because they have to take care of their families.
Therefore, equality should not be universal, except in due rights and responsibilities. Arab women are getting less of their rights when shouldering greater share of responsibilities. That is not fair.
Some male callers agreed, others vehemently denied my claim.
I told them, I am not saying let’s be modern and give women what they are getting elsewhere.
Instead, I ask we go back 1400 years, to the time of the Prophet, when women could ride and drive, trade and fight, judge and rule in legislation and government.
Men, then, didn’t feel bad about it. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) worked for his merchant wife, Khadeja, and told his companions to consult his other wife, Aesha, in their religious affairs. Women argued with him and his Caliphs in public.
When women were right, great men like the second Caliph, Omar, admitted their mistakes and revised laws accordingly. As for fight, we owe a great woman warrior the life of our Prophet. She was the one who defended him in the battle of Ohud when most men ran away.
How come after fourteen centuries of progress we still don’t have women ministers, ulemas, or even Shoura members? Why can’t Saudi women run their own businesses, argue cases before courts and officials, or drive their cars?
Why can’t they travel a couple of hours in an airplane alone, or work with men in the same environment, or join security forces?
If, after decades of education and development, women are not mature enough to drive, as a caller suggested, then, our society has failed miserably and must change base and ways.
Examples of women’s unjust treatment are plenty. Not thoroughly and efficiently checked, denounced and punished, domestic violence is maiming many of our better halves.
In many cases, inheritance is not claimed, because many segments of society denounce women who do.
Mandatory male agents and managers for businesswomen are stealing and mismanaging their businesses.
My fellow men, it is high time we treated our women like adults, trusted and respected them, and allowed them their overdue Islamic rights.
We don’t need the West to tell us that, Allah and his Prophet did so long before.

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