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Women’s status in Islamic World

A basic hurdle in the development of Arab states is lack of involvement of women in political and economic life as reported by the United Nation (UN). It is fact that women are discriminated against both participation in politics as well as at the workplaces in accordance with The Arab Human Developemtn Report first published in 2002. It has been observed that disseminating of awareness is needed in the Islamic world also. Modernization is necessary if the Muslim world is to meet the challenges of globalization. The meaning of Technical developments, improved communications and economic globalization is that the state cannot divide itself in anymore.

Those who work for the rights and the status of women by conventional Islamization are facing strong criticism and they are blamed of reproducing Western feminism. Anyhow, those who work for the status and rights of women in third world countries in general, and in the Islamic countries in particular have to face many difficulties against the task. It is very surprising that one side the Saudi government retain women to drive cars. The other side Iran government permits to start Taxi services to be run by women. In Iran, a woman is not only allowed to drive a private car, but also is a taxi driver. In this way, Kuwait government refuses to give the right of vote to its women, but a lot of Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran and others allow the women to cast their vote even some countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have accepted the role of women as Prime Ministers.

The contradictory practice is being made by different countries. The question arises; either they have different Islam comprising different approach towards women? It depends on the social setting of that country or on political requirement as explained above. It has also come to the knowledge that Muslim women enjoy differing degree of rights in various Islamic countries. The emperor of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (1881-1938) established secular Swiss Code through which equal rights have been granted to both men and women and the other side overall limitations are in Saudi Arabia. Rather, others Muslims countries as Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria etc. women have freedom in respect of their rights comparatively. The reason is that the head of these states is more liberal towards women.

So it is not Islam, which confines women and forfeits their rights. Further, the very rigid attitude of men regarding women is not in accordance with Islam. But these men in various Muslim countries raise the name of Islam to stop the flood of the women’s movement. For example, in Pakistan when Fatima Jinnah attempted to fight for the office of President against Ayoub Khan, the conservative ulama granted a fatwa in favor of Ayub Khan in which it was declared that a woman cannot become a head of the state22. Unfortunately, in Islamic countries, all political actions are taken in the name of Islam rather than giving rights to women as admissible in a modern democratic society which are according to the knowledge of the Qur’an. The majority of the Muslim women in Islamic countries is irritating against discrimination and is crying for their Islamic rights and status.

The regime of the Taliban in this regard was very much delinquent. Because they not only imposed the rigid Saudi laws, but also put more limitations rather than Saudis do. Taliban was the product of the tribal area and followed tribal norms justifying in the name of Islam. Women were not permitted to go out for education in their era that was against the famous hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon Him that knowledge is mandatory for the both men and women duly spelled out in the Qur’an (Wadud 1999). It is surprising that no democratic system has existed in any Muslim country even Pakistan.

Government system is being run by a controlled democracy or monarchy or military dictatorship. Anyhow, modernization is rising speedily and no emperor of a Muslim country is in a position to retain modern education among women. Actually, modern education among women and society is a source of democratization, awareness of rights produced between them and they ask for their rights and actual status from the government either on Islamic or secular grounds.

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