Rebuttal – Coach – Pa Samba Jow’s statement that; “religion has been the biggest problem of Africa because it has far too long subjugated and marginalised woman”.
I want to begin by confessing the profound respect I have for my brother – Coach for his level of maturity and meticulous choice of words even when debating his opponents. However, my love for him demands that I rise up to the challenge to rebut his recent statement allegedly attributing “the biggest problem of Africa to religion because it has far too long subjugated and marginalised woman.” Certainly this utterance is purely out of ignorance and misunderstanding of religion and being impressed by the attitudes and ways of the 21st century so-called civilisation which I believe many have unfortunately fallen prey to. I am rather going to limit my counter argument to just one of the Abrahamic faiths – Islam where I feel I am better disposed and qualified to prove to my learned brother that this statement is utterly incorrect and blasphemous. Islam is sanctioned and ordained by God for the salvation of mankind in both worlds and thus such a statement is tantamount to blaming God for the problems of Africa. The root cause of this misconception is the propagation of the idea of separation of state from religion which I believe is an illusion and agnostic doctrine. Religion is a way of life which includes every bit of a persons life but that is not within the scope of this rebuttal.
Contrary to what many erroneously belief, Islam has given more right and respect to women than all the religions combined. For example, Islam enjoins that pleasing ones mother is worship and that paradise lies under her feet whiles the so called civilised world (west) reduces women to old folks home and total isolation when they need help most. The following points elucidate how Islam has uplifted and honoured women:
Ibn Majah reported that Mu’aawiyah Ibn Jaahimiah al- Sulami (may Allah be pleased with him – (RA)) said he had come to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) intending to join him in jihad (battle) seeking the pleasure of Allah and the hereafter. The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Woe to you! Is your mother alive?” He replied in the affirmative and the former said, “Go back and honour her.” He then approached the Prophet (pbuh) from the other side and then in front of him with the same question and for the second and third times he was told “Go back and honour her for there is paradise”..
Al-Bukhaari (5971) and Muslim (2548) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (RA) said: A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who is most deserving of my good company?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Then your father.” Again only after the third time was he told his father and therefore our scholars deduced from this hadith that the mother is entitle to three times of whatever is given to the father. Hence for many centuries it was unheard of for a mother to be left in an old folks home or for a son to kick her out of the house much less to spend on her.
In Bukhari and Muslim the Prophet (pbuh) said; “I urge you to treat women well”.
In Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah the Prophet (pbuh) said; “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.”
Islam also honours women as daughters, and encourages us to raise them well and educate them. For example, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood, he and I will come like this on the Day of Resurrection,” and he held his fingers together. Narrated by Muslim, 2631.
Ibn Maajah (3669) narrated that ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Prophet (pbuh) say: “Whoever has three daughters and is patient towards them, and feeds them, gives them to drink and clothes them from his riches, they will be a shield for him from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.”
The only non prophet mentioned by name in the Quran because of her righteousness is Mary (pbuh) – the mother of Esa (Jesus) (pbuh).
One of the greatest scholars of our religion who was thought by the Prophet (pbuh) himself was his wife Aisha who also doubles as the second highest narrator of hadith.
Space is of the essence but these few narrations are enough to proof that its inconceivable for anyone to believe that Islam subjugates and marginalises women. I am cognisant of the inherent limitations of women which most womens right activists tend to ignore and thus equating men and women in the literal sense. Yes, men and and women are equal in many things but not all; women are better placed to perform than men in some aspects and vice versa. Allah (God) who created both men and women knows us better than ourselves including our strenghts and weaknesses and as such is the only qualified being to set user manuals for us. Going against His user manual is dangerous and deadly as it is in our mundane worldly life for a vehicle driver or pilot to operate without the manufacturers manual.
Needless to say that other civilisations some of which the world is dirting towards have not given women as much right and honor Islam gives them. For example, theologians even gathered at the Council of Macon to discuss whether a woman was merely a body or a body with soul. They thought that it was most likely that women did not have a soul that could be saved, and they made an exception only in case of Mary (pbuh).
The French on the other hand held a conference in 586 CE to discuss whether women had souls or not, and if they had souls, were these souls animal or human? In the end they decided that they were human! But they were created to serve men only.
Until 1805, English law allowed a man to sell his wife, and set a price at six pennies. In the modern age, women were kicked out of the house at the age of eighteen so that they could start working to earn a bite to eat. If a woman wanted to stay in the house, she had to pay her parents rent for her room to pay for food and laundry.
In the area of economic rights, we have to remember that in Europe until the 19th century, women did not have the right to own their own property. When they were married, either it would transfer to the husband or she would not be able to dispense of it without permission of her husband. In Britain, perhaps the first country to give women some property rights, laws were passed in the 1860’s known as “Married Women Property Act.” More than 1300 years earlier, that right was clearly established in Islamic law.
Furthermore there is no restriction in Islamic law that says a woman cannot work or have a profession, that her only place is in the home. In fact, by definition, in a truly Islamic society, there must be women physicians, women nurses, women teachers etc. And if she chooses to work, or if she’s married with the consent of her husband, she’s entitled to equal pay, not for equal work, but for work of equal worth.
How can these civilisations including the western/21 century civilisation offer women better rights and status than Islam? I humbly refer my noble brother Coach to go down memory lane into Islamic history to learn how much islam honours and profers rights upon women as conspicuously manifested during the glory days of Islamic civilisation.
On a finaly note, I sincerely apologies if I come across short in civility and substance. I do hope this would be an apetizer for us all to learn about our religion in order to appreciate its comprehensiveness and immaculateness. Make no mistake all these isms and cisms that are been presented as the solution to the worlds problems are in fact the cause of our degeneration.