Today, in a large part of the Islamic world, especially in the MENA region, an understanding of religion prevails which has largely diverged from the essence of the Qur’an, its basic commandments and its teachings. This understanding is different from the religion explained to us in the Qur’an, and it even incorporates many practices which are in complete contradiction with the Qur’an. This religion, erroneously practiced in Islam, is actually a religion of superstition, “a religion of bigotry”, produced by people over time.
God clearly informs the believers in the verses that they are only responsible for what is written in the Qur’an, and warns those who follow a source other than the Qur’an (Qur’an, 68: 36-37) (Qur’an, 43: 44). Islam, as explained in the Qur’an, is a single religion that does not contain any contradictions, controversy or discord. The bigoted mentality, on the other hand, is divided into different groups and sects in itself that disagree on almost every subject and has produced hundreds of different micro-religions, for lack of a better term. (Qur’an, 6: 159) Some of those who advocate and practice the bigoted mentality are strongly opposed to compliance to the true religion God revealed in the Qur’an. For hundreds of years, they have shown a meaningless determination to blindly obey the made-up religion that they inherited from their ancestors without thinking, questioning, or doing research (Qur’an, 2: 170).
Bigotry is a satanic system that generates thousands of prohibitions and restrictions on every subject and alienates people from the blessings, beauty, and convenience God created for us. The biggest sufferers of this system are women. The system of bigotry alienates women from the world and social life, condemning them to a stunted, bleak and painful life in their homes, existing as little more than slaves of their husbands. This system reinforces every kind of discrimination and inequality against them and condones the oppression and ill-treatment they are subjected to. In order to make this unfair system enduring and lasting, the bigoted people have invented countless commandments in contradiction with the Qur’an, which allows for the oppression and exploitation of women, usurping even the most basic human rights of women.
Farhana Qazi is a Pakistani academician, writer, debater, political analyst and counselor living in the US who has a large number of scientific studies on ‘women in the Islamic world’. In an interview, Qazi points out that in Pakistan, culture trumps religion. Qazi describes Pakistan as “a country with patriarchal norms, age-old customs, and traditions, most of which deny girls and women their basic rights in Islam”.
The fact is, Qazi’s description doesn’t only apply to Pakistan alone; regretfully, the vast majority of the Muslim world fits the same description. From Libya to Afghanistan, the state of women is not so different except for some exceptions. For instance, in Afghanistan, women are not allowed to use their given names in official documents or even on tombstones, let alone enjoying basic human rights. It is considered inappropriate, even insulting, to address women with their own given names. An Afghan woman is left to the mercy of the men in her family in all facets of her life, such as education and marriage.
As a matter of fact, Qazi describes the Islamic world in general as a broken mass of billions blinded by age-old customs, traditions, and patriarchal norms steeped in ancient cultures. She also states that Islamic societies are destroyed by splinter groups, religious fanatics, and hardline conservatives issuing fatwas that oppose women’s rights.
Those with radical mindsets certainly do not hesitate to force women into the front lines when it serves their purpose while maintaining their status as undermined, oppressed and second class individuals in social life whose all basic rights are denied. Terrorist organizations, the true practitioners of radicalism, frequently utilize women in all kinds of militant missions, conflicts, terrorist acts, and suicide bombings.
As it could be seen, the bigoted radical mentality offers for those women whose identities they crush and destroy in social life a twisted opportunity to stand out and acquire a so-called identity in an environment of terror and violence. In such practices, this distorted belief system in question reveals once again its insincerity.
The radical mindset that prevents women from engaging in social life and civilization, and denies them even the very freedom of thought and action, is, in fact, striking a lethal blow to themselves, to their society, and to future generations. Children who grow up in a family where women are oppressed, deprived, imprisoned and left uneducated grow up as the inheritors of this ancient, stunted model, which is reflected in their education, their health and their physical state, as well as their mental and spiritual development. Islamic societies could not avoid being labeled as “backward”, “underdeveloped”, or a “third world country”, in any period.
Today, it would be erroneous to expect societies that shackle women – who constitute approximately fifty percent of almost any given population – to develop, progress, and become a strong, successful and a leading country in the world. To achieve all this, Islamic societies need to return to the very essence of Islam, the true Islam as it was revealed in the Qur’an. It is necessary for the societies in question to recognize the high value placed on women in the Qur’an and to reorganize their way of life accordingly. Societies in which women are considered as inferior have never achieved progress; they have, without exception, always been oppressed and forced into the background. The Islamic world should look into itself and recognize that the spirit of stagnation, conflict and exhaustion so prevalent among them today – and take urgent and necessary measures against it. The first measure to be taken in this regard should address the status of women. Breaking these heavy shackles on women will be a glad tiding for the good days to come for the Islamic world; it will lead to great changes in Islamic societies, and with the elimination of this bigoted mentality, the Muslim community will be living in the most developed, peaceful and fair system ever conceived.