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.