WOMEN EMPOWERMENT (ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE)
Empowerment is the process that enables an individual to know what she/he wants, express it, try to get it, and fulfill their needs, choices, awareness, enhance her/his confidence, mobility, control over resources, and power of taking decisions. In today’s world, woman empowerment is one of the most debatable issues in the development circle. Women empowerment has been progressively recognized as an important policy goal for improving not just the well-being of women themselves but also for its positive impact on the family.
In Pakistan, women participate in household activities. In rural areas of Pakistan, they also act as part of the labor force in the agriculture sector but still, their importance is not recognized by our government. The feudal system is still being followed in many regions of Pakistan and those areas, women are treated badly. They are not availed of their rights and their proper share in income. This needs to be understood by following the principles of Islam about women’s respect and dignity.
Islam has given women a respectable place about 1400 years ago but now again Muslim women are least respected and empowered due to the lack of proper Islamic knowledge and basic understanding. In Surah Taubah Allah says;
“And (as for) the believers, both men, and women – they are friends and protectors of one another: they [all] enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and are constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto God and His Messenger.” (Al-Taubah 9:71)
Islam is the religion of balance, the balance between family and society, the balance between work and worship, the balance between religion and ecosystem, and the balance between earning and economy. Any imbalance leads to disruption of the ethics of religion and society. Islam guides man to keep the balance between home and society. It helps in the development of a good etiquette society. According to Islam, any disruption in this balance is considered an injustice. Allah addresses both man and woman in Quran which has proved their equality. In a Surah Ahzab Allah says;
“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women who are patient, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise – For them all has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.” (Al-Ahzab 33:35)
Islam has specific limitations, responsibilities, and guidelines for men and never degraded the woman. Islam has given a woman an honorable place in society. In Islam, the reason for being valuable and respectable is not physical strength, position, prosperity, intelligence, nor beauty, but only one’s Allah-consciousness and awareness (Taqwa). Both men and women are equal in Islam and have no priority over one another. Both are pillars of a family. If a man is a guardian, the woman is the caretaker. If the man is taking responsibility for earning, then the woman is undertaking household responsibilities. Allah, in Surat Hujraat, says;
“O mankind! Verily we have created you from a single (pair) of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other.” (Al-Hujraat 49:13; of.4:1)
Allah almighty has never bound women to the boundaries of home. They are free to go anywhere like men. Woman, in Islam, is only ordered to be in Parda and then can go anywhere they want. The Muslim woman has given roles and rights about 1400 years ago. These responsibilities and rights are given for balancing society. But today’s woman has forgotten her rights and wants freedom only. This is because they have started following west. In this era, Muslim women need to maintain their values. This male dominant society is not giving them their basic rights. Domestic violence is increasing day by day which is also disturbing women mentally. How a woman can be treated brutally in an Islamic society when Allah has given equality to both. Islam has given an honorable and dignified status to women. The freedom and dignity Islam gave to women 1400 years ago are not still given to the woman of the West. In this era, Muslim women’s empowerment is also one of the key issues in Islamic countries. It is because Muslims are not following Islamic rules and have forgotten their ethics. They need to learn that they are not the glory of gathering but are the beauty of the house.
Women empowerment faces many challenges mostly in developing countries like Pakistan. Although Pakistan is an Islamic state, yet still no proper Islamic rules are flourished here which has caused the moral illness of the society. Pakistani society is highly patriarchal and women are considered third-world individuals. A girl child is grown up while obeying and serving man. Her life decisions like education, selection of life partner, etc. are taken by male family members and she is not even allowed to argue on those decisions.
Islam is against domestic violence. It does not allow men to be prior and then become unjust with their women. Women are recognized as equal partners of men in the procreation of mankind. If the man is a father, then the woman is a mother and life is impossible without both. Allah says in Surah Baqarah;
“They are your garments and you are their garments.” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)
The holy prophet (P.B.U.H) also gave various examples regarding the dignity of women. His Hadiths also reflect that Islam has given a dignified place to women. The holy prophet (P.B.U.H) said;
“Whoever has a female child and does not bury her alive, nor holds her in contempt, nor prefers his male child above her, God will make him enter into paradise.” (Abu Dawud)
There are a lot of examples in which the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) instructed to respect women and to be kind to them. But nowadays, multifaceted factors have contributed to the subservient role played by women in Pakistani society. It has led to a conservative society and perpetuated a vicious cycle of poverty and a low level of education amongst Pakistani women. Due to lack of Islamic knowledge, our society again needs to study and follow Islamic rules and regulations as it will surely empower women again and gender equality will be retained as per Islamic rules.
The empowerment of women requires different improvements in society such as awareness of basic rights, equal ownership of productive resources, improved standards of living, better health care for women and their children, higher literacy level and education, increased partnership in commercial and economic sectors, achievement of self-respect, self-reliance, and self-confidence, personality development, contact with the outside world, and promotion of women wings and activists will give sustainable power to to women in society.