Women's rights: Between God's laws and Implementation by mortals....

I've always followed Dr Asri's blog, and now that i have my own blog I can now comment on his articles here! Well, who am I to comment but i will try to summarise the jist of this article in English for the benefit of my non-Malay speaking readers.The full article can be found here. Disclaimer: I am no scholar nor am I an Islamic studies student so I am very prone to errors. If I am wrong please correct me.Otherwise, please practice any of the good points from this article. better still, please read the original article without my comments in it.

The coming of Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is a mercy to women. He fought for and defended women's rights. Imagine in a time when society denied women of their rights even mocking the very notion of such a thing, suddenly a person called Muhammad son of Abdullah rose with a divine revelation to defend their rights.

I hope I did justice to translate that intro to the article on Dr Asri's blog entitled: "Hak Wanita: Antara Hukum Tuhan dan Pelaksanaan Insan". This article is as much interest to me as I do believe that a lot of Islamic practices in our daily lives are not really true to the spirit of the divine law and also maybe lacking in terms of the implementation. Ofcourse this is only my view and it may differ from yours but this is MY blog so i can say what ever i want.

The article starts off by portraying the setting of the time and the type of practices of ancient civilisations pertaining to women. The Babylonians he said a woman can replace her husband for the death sentence if the husband committed murder. In Greek society, women were inferior to men and prostitution was the norm in Greek and Roman society. Ancient Egyptians regarded women as the symbol of the devil whilst the ancient arabs inherited the tradition of burying their female babies alive. According to him, the Hindus were worse and women were burnt alive with the husband's body if the husband died. This continued until the abolishment of the Hindu code in India. (Wahidudin Khan, Women Between Islam and Western Society, page. 46.)
There are many clear hadith (prophetic traditions) on issues relating to women's rights. The first one, I don't fully understand but it roughly goes like this: 

Urwah bin al-Zubair narated that Aisyah the prophet's wife told her that a woman came to her with two of her young daugters asking for food whilst Aisyah had no other food but one date. She gave the woman the date and the woman split the date and gave them to her daughters. She then stood up and left. When the prophet came in, Aisyah told him of the incident and the prophet replied (roughly, in my own words): "those who take care of their female children and do good onto them, let it be known that their deeds will be a barrier for them from the hellfire." (al-Bukhari 5/2234 dan Muslim 4/2027).
This was in a time where baby girls were often buried alive not long after birth.
Narrated In Abbas, a virgin girl came to meet the prophet to tell him that her father married her to a man that she did not like. The prophet gave the girl two options: whether to proceed with the marriage or decline.(Abu Daud dan Ibn Majah, evaluated sahih(authentic) by al-Albani).
This led to the inclusion of the Iza Zauwaja Ibnatahu wahiya karihah fanikahu mardud (When a father marries away his daughter, whilst the daughter does not like the man, deems the Nikah void) chapter in the Sahih al-Bukhari.
Women's rights

The writer laments that even though there are alot of evidences in the al-Quran and al-Sunah about women's rights, it i surprising to hear that women are still complaining of their dissatisfaction with the Sharia courts or the Religious offices. He sarcastically remarks that in cases of beatings of wives by their husbands, the weren't any "Special response teams" or "moral police" quickly acting to prevent the injustice of a man beating his wife but these people are willing to stake out patiently to catch people doing "Khalwat" behind closed doors. Whilst the beating of a woman is an injustice that is clear, no need to stake out to catch them red handed. he further lamented on the 'unfriendly' management of the religious offices.     

The writer continues with the issue of Talak (divorce) and how delays in sharia court proceedings still happen till this day. Whatever reason given he says, is an injustice to women. Until it seems that it is very difficult to separate the unhappy couple. He sites a hadith, the wife of Thabit bin Qais came to meet the prophet and said: Oh messenger of God! I do not question the akhlak (mannerisms) and faith of Thabit bin Qais. But i hate kufur (disbelief) in Islam. The prophet replied: Would you like to return his garden?. She replied, Yes. So the prophet said to Thabit: "Take back your garden and divorce your wife". (Hadith al-Bukhari)

I think, i might be wrong here this means that if she is afraid that she would wrong her husband by unable to fulfill her obligations to her husband, by wronging him in any way then she has the choice of staying in the marriage or continuing. 

The writer continues by explaining further the laws of divorce where by the prophet forbid the the divorce of women during her period or women that have been "touched". He explains the hikmah (wisdom) behind this.
The writer then reminds us, esp the rights activists that about the balance in Islam. Al-Tawazun atau al-Wasatiyyah is one of the special features of Islamic law. It means "taking the middle ground". When Islam defends the rights of one party, it is imperitive the this does not affect the rights of the other party. In this context, the rights of women must be defended but not at the expense of the rights of men. The prophet (PBUH) always made sure the rights of men were taken into account when defending the rights of women.
The rights of Muslims
The writer affirms that the same approach should be taken when defending the rights of muslims. One must be careful to deprive the rights of others, non-muslims included. Justice in Islam is for all, not just for Muslims.
This point agree with strongly. To me Islam is inclusive and is not only for Muslims. Islam will never be accepted by the mainstream if muslims have the mentality that "I am better than you solely because I'm muslim." No, what will guarantee that you die in Islam?  

The writer recalls the words of a famous scholar, Syeikh al- Islam Ibn Taimiyyah (728H): (roughly translated by yours truly) "verily the religion of God is the middle ground between those who are of the extremists and those who do not observe it. God does not order his servants with a decree unless Syaitan (the devil) will bare it with these two ways. Syaitan does not bother whether he succeeds in any of the two ways that is by ifrat (Extremism in religion) or tafrit (negligence in religion )." (Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu' al-Fatawa, chapter 2/pg. 236).
In the story of Abu Darda that did not want to sleep at night because of his want to do ibadah (acts of worship). Salman, his friend advised him saying: (again, roughly translated by me) "Verily your God has his portion of your responsibility towards him, you have a responsibility towards your body and you have your responsibility towards your wife. Please make sure that your responsibility towards each is fulfilled." When the prophet heard what Salman said he said: You are right Salman (al-Bukhari).
The writer then closes the article by saying that defense of rights that is not balanced tarnishes the beauty of civic order and the beauty of the sacred teachings of Islam.

Phew... I intended that to be a short one but i guess i got carried away. Bottom line, or my take on this is, don't be and extremist nor do not be unobservant. Think about your actions and it's impact whether you are fair to all and whether only fair under certain circumstances. What ever it is, one must learn to agree to disagree as long as there are no Nas or strong reliable evidences to support an argument. Wallahu'alam.