Think. Learn. Act. Remind.
Have you ever wondered why we sometimes hang onto cultural “values” as though our life depended on it?! Do we stop to question our automatic reactions, our biases and prejudices, all of which are based on cultural “norms” that we have imbibed from society?
I wonder about these things all the time. Especially when I have frustrating conversations with people who refuse to follow true Islam and who think an act based on sunnah is tantamount to a sin just because it is taboo in their culture!
It has come as a shock to me that it is women who treat other women the worst! Take the relationship of a typical mother-in-law with her daughter-in-law! The bride is chosen based on her potential as a money-maker for the extravagances of her in-laws!! If she chooses to exercise her free will and decides against working, she is, either directly or indirectly, insulted and her flaws (actual or invented) broadcast to all who’d care to listen!
She herself is treated with scant respect, her every move judged and criticized. She suffers oppression at the hands of her in-laws in every possible way!
And what makes matters worse for her (and her spouse) is when the poor girl’s husband decides to follow the Quran and Sunnah and treats his wife with respect and love, helps her out at home with everything from washing the dishes to changing the children’s diapers! That’s when the already fuming in-laws step up the oppression!
I wonder what goes on in their minds? “How dare our son marry this good-for-nothing girl! First she comes into our house and becomes a burden, living off of our son’s earnings, and then she has the nerve to make him serve her!” I wonder if those are the thoughts in their heads because their actions at least lead to this conclusion!
Should not a God-fearing woman be happy that her son is upon Islam and the beloved Prophet’s (SAW) sunnah when he helps out at home and treats his wife with respect! A God-fearing mother would feel proud of a son like that! And if at times he neglects some of his duties (towards his parents or other people), that God-fearing mother would gently remind him of them, out of love for him and concern for his Hereafter.
She will not try to sabotage his Hereafter by interfering in his life to the detriment of his relationship with his wife and children, or letting him make mistakes in his religion when he chooses culture over Islam! And she would certainly not speak ill of him behind his back to other people!
From the stories that I hear of women in so-called Muslim families, I am really beginning to believe that people are more concerned about this dunya (world) than the Hereafter. Perhaps they doubt the fact that there will come a Day when they will be brought to account for their deeds. And if there is any doubt in their hearts about this Accountability, then they are not true Muslims, for Allah says in the Quran about the believers,
(2:4) “… And who have certainty in the Hereafter.”
The word used for this belief in the Hereafter is not “Yu’minoon” meaning ‘to believe’ but “Yuqinoon” meaning ‘having Yaqin (certainty)’. There is NO ROOM FOR DOUBT!
So as believing mothers we have to raise both our sons and our daughters well. It is our responsibility to ensure that we make every effort to inculcate the love of the Quran and Sunnah in the hearts of our children and explain to them that the best people are those who have the best character.
We have to ensure that they know their responsibilities and duties as well as their rights …. and because we are raising our children in a society where cultural “values” take precedence over everything else, we have to ensure that we teach our sons about their duties and our daughters about their rights!
Because our culture takes away the rights of our women (contrary to what Islam teaches us about justice and being fair) and looks the other way when men demand their rights but ignore their responsibilities. And mothers raise their sons to lead this kind of life and, despite being women themselves, become the greatest perpetrators of the injustice that is meted out to women under their care!
How can we prevent this victimization of women?
Teach your daughters to be assertive and teach them about their rights and responsibilities as laid down in the Quran and sunnah. Teach your sons to fear God and follow the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) in everything that they do, teach them to respect women (right from the time when they are growing up with their sisters), teach them about balancing responsibilities, teach them that they must fulfill their duties before they can ask for their rights!
And to those women who are suffering oppression at the hands of their in-laws, I will say that they need to be wise in dealing with their husbands … If the man in their life is God-fearing then the task is easy. The first step is to encourage him to follow true Islam and appreciate everything that he does as a consequence of this. And at the same time, speak assertively about what Islam tells us whenever they encounter bigotry … Comments such as “look at the women these days! All they care about is themselves … Look at how they do this and this…” can easily be countered with a comment like, “I see the men doing the same! How come you are not commenting on that?”
May Allah guide us in our endeavors to be true Muslims who truly fear accountability on the Day of Judgment. Ameen.