how did it come to this?

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I seek refuge in Allah from satan the accursed.

In the name of Allah. Most Compassionate Most Merciful.

 

Recently, I attended an all-ladies event, where I met two sisters who were basically (South Asian) Muslims turned atheist.  I was curious about how and why they chose to renounce their faith, and so engaged them in a conversation.  Their reasoning was somewhat typical of anyone who had renounced their faith.  What they understood through repeated observation of their role models about Islam was that women were inferior to men, that husbands’ rough treatment towards their wives was sanctioned in Islam, and basically other hypocritical aspects of Muslims that has nothing to do in reality with Islam, the Quran, and the Prophet pbuh.

I told them that I respected their right to choose their own life path and beliefs, but also explained how all the negative aspects that they disliked were not really part of Islam and that people who do them are going against the Quran and true sunnah.  “If it’s not really in Islam, then why do so many people do those things?” Their question left me without words as I myself wondered:  So why DO so many Muslims do things that are against reason and the spirit of Islam?

I began thinking that somewhere along the line our ummah did some things really wrong when two girls born into a Muslim family could grow up to hate their faith (and religion as a whole) so much.  I know what you are thinking. Please don’t blame the Taliban or Wahabis and think that the Muslims in the West are somehow so much better.  We’re not!  Let me further illustrate how far away from Islam our lives have really gotten.

One of those sisters in the conversation was married to a white man, also an atheist, but who she expressed as a very kind, loving, and helpful life partner.  She told all the Muslim women in our gathering how her husband often has dinner ready if he gets home from work before him, doesn’t wait for her to clean up, helps with all chores, and allows her the necessary freedom to live and choose as she wills.  So she painted a picture of an overall happy and stable marriage.  Her disclosing all this information, left a twinge of envy in all the Muslim women’s eyes.  It was as if I could hear everyone’s thoughts of, “I wish MY husband was that helpful or was that considerate to just do things and willingly try to make my life easier.”

Then to make this an even more embarrassing situation for the practicing Muslim women in the room, the sisters described how they were now “training” their dad to be more polite and caring with their mother.  They told us how they tell him to say “thank you” when she does something for him, in effect, making him realize that she did him a favor and that she is in no way there to simply serve him.  They also told of incidences when they told him to calm down and use civil words when he disagreed with any of the members in the family instead of going on rants.  They went as far as telling him to not ask their mother for a glass of water if he was standing right by the sink, advising him to instead take out a glass from the cupboard and get his own water.  How sad is it that two atheist daughters are teaching their Muslim father how to be a better husband? Please be honest with yourself, because whether you are a Muslim man or woman, you know that their father’s behavior and attitude is very typical and representative of most Muslim men, most of whom feel entitled to being catered to, but at the same time don’t feel a hint of guilt for giving back little or nothing positive to their wives.

So how ashamed should we be, when as Muslims have the excellent example of the Prophet pbuh as a kind, loving, open, and helpful husband, and yet our men are mostly trying to dominate the relationship, and twisting scripture to turn their wives into virtual slaves.  Why is it that Muslim men hold their wives to exceptionally high standards, and yet compare themselves to the most abusive and misogynistic personalities in society, grading themselves very high as a result.

How often did the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives bother and annoy him?  Often! And how often did the Prophet pbuh yell, insult, or hit his wives? Never!  How often did he force them to do something against their wills, whether it was related to their domestic, social, or religious life?  Never!  When he was home with any of his wives, how often did he help with the chores and show affection to his wives? Always!  I hope you’re getting the picture here.  For the  married men reading this post, how well do you fare when you compare yourself to this very basic picture of our beloved Prophet pbuh?  To avoid bias, it is best to let your wife grade you on these aspects.  Unfortunately, most of the Muslim men would either horribly fail in comparison to the Prphet’s (pbuh) qualities as a husband, or do very poorly.

My point is, that why is it that an ex-Muslim is happier being an atheist? When Islam came to free women and declared them independent persons capable of reasoning, arguing, and making their own choices, then why is it that there are so many of us using our beautiful and fair Islam to control women’s life choices and disregarding and suppressing their right to express their thoughts, creativity, and desire to contribute positively to society and humanity?  The Quran is filled with talk of mutual love, mutual understanding, and mutual decisions when describing marital relationships. Then why do people perpetuate the idea that somehow only husbands make the decisions in the family, and that for better or for worse, wives must quietly oblige to their men’s decisions no matter how contrary to reason or distasteful they may be?   When the Quran states openly that there is no compulsion in religion, then why do we spread the poison of telling men they can force their children to pray, that they can force their daughters to cover, and they can force their wives to obey?

All these are contrary to both faith and reason, because the whole purpose of salaah, is taqwa, and so what purpose is your child’s forced prayers when they go through the mechanics without feeling anything in their hearts?  The whole purpose of modesty in dress is to be conscious of God, so what purpose is your daughter’s hijab if she feels nothing but isolation from mainstream society?  And the main reason why Allah SWT made marriage, is so that both the husband and wife find peace and love through one another, so what use is that marriage when it only brings happiness to the man for being in control, and a lot of misery and bitterness to the woman for being treated so often like a brainless robot?  If there is even a slight similarity some of the times between you, the Muslim husband and my description of the typical Muslim husband of modern times, then have enough decency and God-consciousness to take the necessary steps to rectify your attitude and actions.  That will be most noble and “manly” of you, because I really wanted to hide my face in shame on account of your hardened hearts after I talked to those two sisters who renounced their faith.

We all must acknowledge and follow the true words of Allah SWT, Who is Just and Loving, and Who expects BOTH men and women to be partners in building strong families and prosperous societies, built upon mutual love, understanding and respect.

 

 

 

 

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3 responses »

  1. As salaamu alaikum sister,

    I am very fortunate to have a Pakistani-born husband who probably does more housework, cooking, laundry, and childcare than I do. He wasn’t always like that, though. It was only after a spiritual crisis and an in-depth study of the example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that my husband transformed into the amazing husband that he is. And he will be the first to tell you that it is a right of the wife in Islam that her husband help with household chores.

    Women can talk about this issue all day long, but how many men are willing to listen to a woman speak about how a husband should behave? The men who believe it’s a wife’s duty to be his servant are probably the same ones who believe that a man should not be taught by a woman.

    That’s why it is so important that this topic be addressed by Imams and male scholars in mosques and Islamic conferences. Dr. Altaf Hussein addressed this topic at a ICNA convention last year, and you could almost hear the internal cheers from the women.

  2. walaikum salaam Laura,

    I’m happy to know that your husband was able to not only see, but accept the truth. I think that many Muslim men in the West know the truth, but purposely ignore it, and it’s easier for them to ignore it because most muslim mothers raise their girls to do more housework and let boys off more easily. i have even heard of cases where some sisters have told me how their moms would make them stay up and warm their brothers’ food for them those nights they returned late from school or work. When our men are used to being pampered by a women from such a young age, it’s no wonder they are unwilling to let go of their privileged position in the family. No matter how much scholars tell our men how they should be behaving, it will only change once we as mothers consistently raise our sons and daughters in a more just and equal manner, where everyone is expected to help and being a boy or girl does not give anyone special status. 🙂

    • I agree with you 100%. Women cannot be let off easily on this one. I have both a daughter and a son, and I’m so they are witnessing the current division of household chores by their parents. My husband and I usually cook dinner and clean the kitchen together, which gives us an opportunity to flirt with one another as we work. More men should try it. I’ve often said there is nothing more attractive than a man washing dishes!

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