Fatwa against Working Women
For Favour of publication
Recent controversy over Muslim women’s participation in public life and working in offices to support family is highly unfortunate and, if continued, may harm the interest of whole Muslim community. Recent fatwa in this regard from Deoband Seminary must be opposed by intellectual Muslims vehemently. By these fatwas , narrow-minded clerics try to keep common Muslims shackled.
Historians, both Muslims and non-Muslims, rightly claim that long back Islam brought about liberation of woman from bondage and gave her equal rights and recognized her individuality as a human being. Under Law, based on Quran and Sunnah, her status was greatly improved in Islamic Societies. Well known historian, William Montgomery Watt explains: “At the time Islam began, the conditions of women were terrible – they had no right to own property, were supposed to be the property of the man, and if the man died everything went to his sons. Prophet Muhammad, however, by instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education and divorce, gave women basic safeguards”.
As a result of rather revolutionary laws for women, early Islamic societies saw Muslim women being involved in diverse occupations and economic activities. They worked in Hospitals as physicians and nurses. They were employed even in Secret Services (part of Postal Department) during the period of Abbasids and Islamic Spain. Maulana Mohammad Akram Nadwi has compiled biographies of 8,000 female jurists during Islamic Rise. Orientalist Ignaz Goldziher estimated that 15 percent of medieval hadith (Prophetic Traditions) scholars were women. Women were also important Transmitters of Hadith compiled in Sahih Sitthah (Six Collections of Prophetic Traditions).
After fifteenth century, things started changing in the Islamic world against the interest of women. Harsh restrictions on women and general violation of human rights began. Local culture and patriarchal constraints played instrumental roles in restricting Muslim women’s educational and economic participation. This was the period of Decline (Fall) of the Islamic World. Now the situation has gone so bad that many people believe that Muslim women are highly oppressed in Islamic Societies. But one must understand that these oppressive practices do not come from Islam.
Recent claims of Mr. L.K. Advani and Mr. Jaswant Singh that Mr. Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a secular leader, may not be correct. But it can not be denied that Mr. Jinnah and his sister Fatima always promoted the cause of oppressed women. It was in this context that Mr. Jinnah, in his speech of 1944 (March 10, AMU, Aligarh) lamented, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live”. At another occasion (March 25, 1940 ) he said, “I have always maintained that no nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men”. (Websites)
Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi
(Dr. M. Iqtedar Husain Farooqi)
Retd Deputy Director, NBRI, Lucknow/Secretary, Sir Syed Scientific Society, Lucknow
C / 3-2 Shahid Apartments, Golaganj, Lucknow – 18
Tel.: 0522-2210683, Mobile: 9839901066
p.s: Got this as a mail..
Everybody Loves A Bad Fatwa
Posted: 14 May 2010 03:33 AM PDT
Everybody loves a bad fatwa. And why not? It fills column space for newpapers; It brings in viewers for Television channels; it plays into the image of Muslims as a backward community for communalists; and it gives activists a chance to reinforce their secular credentials. Never mind that this fatwa will not change the lives of millions of Muslims and text of the fatwa could be not what has been reported or maybe the said fatwa doesn’t even exist.
Fatwa is nothing but a religious opinion from a religious scholar to a question asked by a Muslim on a particular situation that he or she may be facing at the time or might face in future and doesn’t know what should be an appropriate way to act in light of Islamic teachings. A mufti then issues a fatwa or opinion based on his understanding of the question and Islam. Just as different medical doctors will have a difference of opinion regarding a diagnosis and treatment plan, it is common for different muftis to give different opinion for the same question.
At least once every year, on a slow news day, some enterprising journalist finds a fatwa that will fit the stereotype about Muslims being backward or Muslim scholars being ignorant or out of touch with the real world or all of the above reasons, and will publish a news story based on this ‘prized’ fatwa. Let’s take the example of the fatwa issued by Darul Uloom Deoband that is making the round in news cycles this week.
The fatwa in question was issued more than a month ago and one can ask the question, why is there a sudden interest by the media in this particular fatwa? A fatwa that is only a sentence long has had numerous newspaper column space and hours of airtime devoted to it. The media bosses have decided that it is an important fatwa because it has all the right keywords to keep the attention of readers & viewers, and therefore will keep a flow of revenue coming in.
One has to question the motive of the major media regarding the publicizing of a fatwa. There is more to this than meets the eye when the Indian media that is obsessed with breaking news and exclusives these days picks up a fatwa that was issued more than a month ago. Within 24 hours of this news being flashed on NDTV on May 11th, 2010, all major media networks of India had reported it. And every new report had added information that was not even there. Let’s look at the fatwa first.
Question number 21031 to Darul Ifta (house of fatwas) of Darul Uloom Deoband asked by someone in India states: “Asalamu-Alikum: Can muslim women in india do Govt. or Pvt. Jobs? Shall their salary be Halal or Haram or Prohibited?” Answer published on April 4th, 2010 simply answers it as: “It is unlawful for Muslim women to do job in government or private institutions where men and women work together and women have to talk with [to] men frankly and without veil.”
Now let’s look at some of the headlines of news reports about this fatwa:
- Fatwa against working Muslim women: NDTV
- Fatwa to working Muslim women: Don’t talk to male colleagues: NDTV
- Women’s earnings haram, says Deoband: The Times of India [Print edition]
- Deoband fatwa: It’s illegal for women to work, support family: The Times of India[Online]
- Don’t talk to male colleagues: Darul Uloom’s fatwa to all working women: DNA
- Muslim women can’t work: Deoband: Samay Live
- Darul Uloom says Muslim women can’t work in public: India Today
- Now, fatwa against working women: Indian Express
- Women Working with Men Un-Islamic: Deoband: Outlook
- Fatwa against men-women proximity at workplace: Zee News
In case you ever wondered why there isnt a successful supermarket tabloid in India, here is your answer. There is no need for one because major media houses in India do that job very well.