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In the spirit of Ashoura and the International Women's Day-part one

In the spirit of Ashoura and the International Women's Day (part -one)
Women in the eyes of Islam: between the humanity of religion and the backwardness of traditions.

By His Eminence The religious authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah

In the spirit of Ashoura and the International Women's Day, we must lead a campaign of change in our inner selves and in the ways through which we are confronting the outside world. We must examine the set of conceptions we are embracing in life. It appears that we have ended up loosing the true and clear meaning of these conceptions for backwardness seems to have affected them greatly, including the Islamic conception of women. Today, the 8th of March, as the world celebrates the International Women's Day, women still face lots of problems at both the human as well as the social level. Women's problems are not limited to the Arab and Islamic world; they are actually active in more than one place in the world even in the countries, which are deemed as developed and civilized ones.

Women in the West
As a matter of fact, women are facing huge pressures that weaken, abuse and exploit them. These pressures turn them, eventually and in many cases, into touristic merchandise; also called the travel of sex. In this kind of trade, young women and girls, even children are deceived by slavers, especially in Eastern European societies that undergo some heavy economic problems. Under the prevailing bad circumstances, young girls are seduced by the idea of working in Europe. And once they get there, they are enslaved and abused in the sex slavery business. That is exactly what the Americans have done in earlier times: they used to promise the Africans that they will be able to work in the new world and when they got there they were maltreated and taken advantage of.

This question raised the interest of many intellectuals worldwide and from all religions. In fact, when we look at statistics in Europe and America and in the majority of the Western countries, we find that despite of the sex freedom that the people of these states enjoy, incidents of rape have reached a disastrous level which eagerly encourages us to refute their famous saying that "the conserving society is the one that gives rise to the complex which lead eventually to abusing and raping women." By the same token, the statistics of rape incidents in developed societies represent a high percentage in comparison with the low percentage recorded in our Islamic societies. Hence, we come to the conclusion that the Islamic moral education, regardless of its various advanced or backward methods, was able to deepen and consolidate the moral values and principles, in particular the value of chastity, in the consciousness of men and women.

Women; from the authority of the father to the violence of the husband
Another problem raised by the intellectuals of this world is the problem of violence against women which takes the most important and dangerous forms at all in the physical violence. Some very important statistics, which have been recently published, show that physical violence reaches the extent of murdering wives, daughters and sisters… Actually, we might be witnessing such sort of violence in our Arab and Islamic world which does not consider women as free and independent human beings, they are rather deemed as persons who live on the margin of men's world. Therefore, we find that the most dominant mentality is that of men even amongst the pious of them.

Violence constitutes a dangerous phenomenon in our societies. The Woman, in many of these societies, has no right of protecting herself against the man's violence, was he a husband, a brother or a father, because women are always looked at as inferior beings. This is true even to the category of men that might think in a very developed or civilized way. Take, for example, this secular and non-religious man who claims leading such pattern of thinking; indeed, once he crosses the threshold of his home he turns into a tribal person who lives up to his tribal values in his relationships and attitudes. I remember having said, to one of the cultural magazines, that inside each one of us lies a barbarian tribal man saturated with tribal values, for tribalism has, in general, its own set of values. Moreover, another aspect of violence is revealed in the way girls are being married off. We, frequently, come across fathers who tend to marry their daughters as they like and not as the true concept of marriage says; that is, the personal feeling of liking and security towards the other partner. The problem lies in that the father or the mother chooses the daughters' husband and the girl's wish or desire is never listened to. As a result of this custom, our society has been living lots of negative and social repercussions and complications.

Here we would like to ask the father: when your daughter becomes mature and adult; what makes her different then from the mature and adult son? The guardianship over children endures as long as they are still minors; but once they attain the age of maturity, the guardianship over them becomes no longer valid. {Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage…}; that is, the sexual puberty which is the maturity of both of them.

With respect to the issue of marriage, religious scholars disagree. Some of them say that, in order to get married, the permission of the father or the grandfather (the father of the father) must be obtained. Some other scholars hold some reservations regarding this particular point of view. A third opinion considers that a girl should be independent when it comes to marriage decisions; however, it would be preferable that she resorts to her parents in a sought of advice and consultation. Even those who support the idea that a girl should get the permission of her father or grandfather, their opinions become worthless if they prevent her from marrying the one she deems suitable. In fact, she has all the right of getting married without asking for their permission or consultation, for the girl as well as the boy are not one of their father's or mother's belongings. Some parents force their son to marry a particular girl as an observance of their business or family interests, or something like that; well, all of that is unlawful and dishonest.

To be a father means that you must treat your children through their humanity because your child is a human being in each and every meaning implied in the word "humanity". He is a person of mind, will and awareness; he is inhabited with dreams as much as you are, and he suffers from pains as much as you do. So, he is not something that you possess like you possess furniture because; the fact that you were the reason of his existence does not make you his absolute master. Therefore, the question of enforcement in marriage inflicts the human being with more harm and sufferings than any other physical violence because you would be imposing on a mature and adult human being to live all his life with a person towards whom he feels nothing. Isn't that a real persecution and oppression!

Hence, we notice that this issue is tightly related to the question of justice. Yet, we exhort girls, at the same time, to consult their fathers, mothers and the good people; so that they won't be taken advantage of or deceived by fine words.

When we see that women are being treated violently all over the world; that means that a case of transgression is being carried out, and transgression embodies oppression in two ways: First, transgression lies in ignoring God's call, and Islam has forbidden that: "be ware not to oppress the one who have no helper against you but God". Second, many studies, in our Islamic world, show that the Islamic society is a society that persecutes women. Of course, we do not deny that there is a movement, in our Islamic reality, now trying to end this persecution; however, this needs the exertion of huge efforts and requires us to become civilized, and civilization does not mean to be externally civilized, it rather lies in respecting the mentality and the thoughts of one another, and in refraining from appointing ourselves the overlords over others. Indeed, God did not make from a human being the master over the other and that is why; fatherhood, brotherhood, or motherhood does not make you a supreme ruler. God is the holder of all powers; to Him alone we belong and to Him alone we offer our worship.