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Imam Khamenei's View of Women's Role and Rights in Society

The issue of women and how they are treated in different communities is an issue which has been discussed among different communities and civilizations for a long time. Women always constitute half of the world's population. Life in this world is as much dependant on men as it is on women. Naturally, women shoulder the greatest responsibilities in the world. They do essential things such as giving birth to and educating children. Therefore, the issue of women is an important issue and has been discussed in societies among intellectuals for a long time.

Having an Appropriate View of Women

One should have a high regard for women in order to understand their rights and freedoms. In order to understand women's rights and freedoms, one should look at them as human beings who can be a resource for society by helping to educate moral humans. Women should be looked upon as the main element in the formation of a family. Although families are made up of both men and women, and both men and women play a role in the formation of a family, the peaceful atmosphere inside a family is due to the existence of women and their womanly nature. One should have such a view of women in order to understand how women can move towards perfection and what their rights are.

Historical Oppression Against Women

Throughout history, women have been oppressed in different societies. This is due to the ignorance of human beings. Whenever there is no use of force, the more powerful people tend to oppress the weaker ones. This force may come either from within humans - strong faith - which is very rare, or from outside - force that is exerted by the law. This is part of the nature of ignorant humans.

Unfortunately, women have always been oppressed throughout history. This is mainly due to not recognizing the true position of women. Women should find their true position, and they should not be oppressed just because they are women. This is something very bad. Women have been oppressed in many ways. Sometimes certain things have been done in regard to women which may not be called oppression, but they are in fact a type of oppression. A case in point would be directing women towards luxury, consumerism, wearing make-up, extravagance, and becoming an object for use. This is a great oppression against women. One can possibly claim that this is the greatest oppression against women because it will completely prevent women from achieving their goals and ideals and will lead them towards petty and worthless goals.

The Issue of Women in the World

Despite all its claims, all the efforts made by committed and sympathetic people, and all the cultural activities that have been done in regard to the issue of women, humanity has so far failed to find an appropriate solution to the issue of women - as a result of which the issue of men is raised too.

In other words, extremist measures, deviations, and lack of proper understanding of the issue have resulted in oppression, violation of rights, psychological shortcomings, family problems, and problems about the way men and women should interact with each other. These are among the problems which humanity has so far failed to solve. In other words, human beings who have made numerous discoveries in materialistic issues, in astronomy, and in the bottoms of the seas and who claim to have in-depth knowledge in the field of psychology and social and economic issues - they have truly made progress in many of these fields - are unable to solve this problem.

The Role of Hijab in Society

In Islam, there is a distance between men and women. This does not mean that women live in a different world than that of men. This is not the case. Men and women live together in society and in workplace. They interact with each other in many places. They solve social problems together. They solve the problems of war together. They manage families and bring up children together. But that distance is maintained outside home and the family environment. This is the main point in an Islamic model. If this point is not observed, the same corruption which is prevalent in the west will happen here too. If this point is not observed, women will no longer be the pioneers of moving towards values - as they are in Islamic Iran.

The issue of hijab is not intended to isolate women. Those who have such a perception of hijab are mistaken. The purpose of hijab is to prevent men and women from interacting with each other without observing any boundaries. Such an interaction would be detrimental to society and both men and women - particularly women. Hijab helps women reach the lofty moral position they deserve and prevents them from moral deviation.

Any effort to defend women should be based on safeguarding women's morality. Morality is a means which brings about honor and respect for women in the eye of others, even in the eye of licentious men. Morality brings about respect for women. Islam stresses the issue of women's morality. Of course morality is important about men too. It is not limited to women only. Men should also maintain their morality.

In places where women are encouraged to ignore hijab and immodest clothes are encouraged, women's security will be undermined in the first place. Then the security of men and youth will be undermined too. Islam has introduced the issue of hijab to help men and women carry out their duties in society.

The Role and Duties of Women

In an Islamic society, men and women enjoy sufficient freedom. Islamic works which exist in this regard and the equal social duties which Islam has assigned to men and women bear testimony to this fact. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh&hh) said: "One who spends a night without caring about the affairs of Muslims is not a Muslim." What the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hh) said is not limited to men only. Women should also feel responsible towards the affairs of Muslims, the Islamic society, the world of Islam, and everything that happens in the world. This is an Islamic duty. Hadrat Fatima (s.a) was present in all the events which happened in Medina - which was the center of all political and social events of that time - after the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hh) immigrated from Mecca to Medina. This is a model for women to follow and is indicative of the role of women in an Islamic system.

According to an ayah in Sura Al-Ahzab [ayah 35], men and women are equal in regard to being faithful, obeying God, being humble and truthful, fasting, being patient, guarding their morality, and remembering God. Women's activities in society are completely appropriate and acceptable. They should be active in society by observing Islamic limits. Women constitute half of society's work force. When both men and women are educated, the number of society's educated people will be doubled compared to when only men are educated. When women are also involved in teaching professions, the number of teachers will be doubled in society. There is no difference between men and women with regard to construction and economic activities and in planning the affairs of a country, city, village, group, or family. Everyone is responsible and should play a role in these fields.

The Basis of Women's Social Movements

Every social movement will only succeed if it is based on wisdom, thought, and logical and appropriate bases. Similarly, every movement that is intended to defend the rights of women should be based on the same criteria. That is, every movement should be based on wisdom and understanding of the realities of this world - understanding the nature of men and women, duties and responsibilities of men and women, and what can be shared by both men and women. Nothing should be based on imitation. Every movement that is based on imitation or blind decisions will be harmful.

The Role of Women in National Development

If a country intends to engage in reconstruction in the true sense of the word, it should focus its attention on its human resources. When one speaks of human resources, it has to be noted that half of every country's population and human resources is comprised of women. If there is a misconception about women, reconstruction cannot be done in the true sense of the word or in a comprehensive manner. Women should be aware of the issue of women from an Islamic perspective in order to be able to defend their rights on the basis of Islamic principles. Similarly, men as well as all other members of society should be aware of the viewpoints of Islam in regard to women, their presence in different arenas of life, their activities, their education, their working, and their social, political, economic, and scientific activities. They should be aware of the role of women both inside and outside the family.

The Necessity of Acquiring Knowledge

Women can receive academic education. There are some people who think that girls should not receive education. This is a wrong belief. Girls should study in fields which are useful for them and which they are interested in. Society needs educated girls in the same way it needs educated boys. Of course the atmosphere in which they study should be healthy. Ignoring the moral principles about the relationships between men and women is not a prerequisite for education. Rather, it is possible to acquire knowledge and reach high positions by observing these principles.

One of the basic things that should be done is to encourage women to read books. An innovative way should be figured out to encourage housewives to read books. Books are a source of knowledge for humans which help them think about and understand matters better. They also help us introduce innovations and adopt better positions.

Knowledge is a valuable thing. I support the idea that in an Islamic society there should be female scientists in all fields. There were some women who thought that women should only study gynecology and childbirth. This is not the case. Women should pursue their studies in different technical fields of medicine - cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, etc. This is both a religious and a social duty.

Women's Employment

Islam is not opposed to women's employment. Not only is Islam not opposed to employment of women, it considers it as necessary as long as it does not prevent women from fulfilling their most basic duty which is educating children and safeguarding the family. No country can afford to dispense with women's services in different arenas.

There are some people who have extremist views. There are some women who believe that they should not engage in social activities because it will prevent them from caring for their husband and children and dealing with household affairs. There are also some women who believe that they should not care for their husband and children because they prevent them from engaging in social activities. Both beliefs are wrong. They should not miss any of the two for the sake of the other.

Of course the issue of employment is not of primary importance for women. Although Islam is not opposed to the employment of women - except in specific cases, which may or may not be agreed upon by all Islamic jurisprudents. The main issue regarding women is what has now been completely destroyed in the west, that is, the feeling of peace and security and having an opportunity to show their talents without being oppressed in society, in the family, or by their husbands and fathers. Those who are active in the field of women's affairs should make efforts in this regard.

Part two: The role of women in the family

Islamic Education of Women

If an Islamic society can educate women according to an Islamic model, women can reach their true position. If women can acquire knowledge and gain the moral and ethical virtues which Allah the Exalted has specified for all humans - both men and women - they can educate their children better and the family atmosphere will become warmer and more pleasant. Also in this case, society will make more progress and problems of life can be solved more easily. Therefore, men and women will have a prosperous life together. Islam does not intend to pitch men against women. The purpose of Islamic teachings is not to cause a fierce competition between men and women. The goal of these teachings is to help women reach the same position as men by doing the same things as they do. In Islam, this is possible and has been done before.

One of the most important things is to teach women the right methods of treating their husband and children. There are some very good women who are very patient. But they do not know the right methods of treating their husband and children. These methods are tried and true. Over the years, these methods have improved as a result of the experience of humans in this regard. There are some people who possess useful experience in this regard. The ground should be prepared so that these people can instruct women in these fields.

The Right to Choose One's Husband

As a spouse, women have been given special attention by Islam from various perspectives. Firstly, it is the issue of choosing a husband. From an Islamic perspective, women are free to choose their husband and no one can impose his or her opinion on women in this regard. This means that even a woman's brothers or her father - let alone the more distant relatives - have no right to impose their opinion on a woman in regard to who she should marry.

Of course there have been some wrong habits in Islamic communities over the years. But what some ignorant Muslims do should not be attributed to Islam. These are wrong habits. Ignorant Muslims do certain things based on their wrong habits which have nothing to do with Islam and its holy principles.

Two Examples of Ignorance in Marriage

If anyone forces a girl to marry her cousin, they have done something wrong. If a boy prevents her cousin from marrying another person because she did not marry him, he has done a haram act, and those who help him also do a haram act. These acts are against Islamic Sharia and there is no difference of opinion among Islamic jurisprudents in this regard.

If two tribes decide that a girl from one of the tribes should marry someone from the other tribe in order to settle a dispute and they do not ask for the girl's consent in this regard, they have done a haram act. Of course if they ask for the girl's consent, then there is nothing wrong with doing that. There might be a girl who is willing to marry a boy from another tribe and to solve a dispute too. In this case, there is nothing wrong with doing so. But if the girl is made to marry someone, the act is haram from an Islamic perspective.

A place for Peace

Peace is one of the most important things which humanity needs. Humans need to be away from anxiety and emotional turmoil in order to achieve prosperity. Peace is a feeling which one can only get from his family. This is the case for both men and women. There is a Quranic verse which says: "And of His signs is this, that He created mates for you from yourselves." This means that God created men for women and women for men. "From yourselves" here means that men and women are the same as one another. They have the same position. They are the same entity and have the same nature.

Of course men and women are different with regard to some of their characteristics. This is because they have different responsibilities. Then the verse continues: "That you might find quiet of mind in them". This means that the creation of two sexes among humans is aimed at a lofty goal, which is to bring about peace of mind for them. This is to help women find peace beside their opposite sex in the family. For men, living in the calm atmosphere of a family beside a kind, loving, and sincere wife is a means for finding peace. For women, having a man who loves them and whom they can rely on is a type of prosperity. It will bring about a sense of peace and prosperity to them. A family can bring about this feeling for both men and women. Men need women to find peace in the family and women also need men in the family to find peace. "That you might find quiet of mind in them." Men and women need each other in order to find peace.

The Importance of Women in a Family

In fact, it is women who manage the family. Women, and not men, are the main element in a family. There might exist a family without a man. If in a family, the man is not present or has passed away, the woman can maintain the family if she is wise and cares about her family. But if the woman is taken away from a family, the man cannot maintain the family. Therefore, it is the woman who maintains the family.

The reason Islam has stressed the role of women in a family is that if a woman is committed to her family, cares about the education of her children, breast-feeds them, brings them up under her support, and feeds them with cultural food - Islamic principles, Quranic and instructive stories - as well as food for the body, then the different generations of that society will become successful. This is a special skill for women and is not in contradiction to education, teaching, working, entering politics, and similar things.

In all social plans, the family should be considered as the basis. The issue of being a mother or a wife as well as the issue of the family are very basic and vital issues. This means that if a woman is the greatest expert in any field but is not a good wife at home, then this is considered a weakness for her. The woman should be like a master in the house. This is a principle. If we are allowed to make an imperfect comparison, a woman can be likened to a queen bee.

Natural Influence of Women

Women naturally have a special influence on their husbands, except in special cases. Of course this does not mean that if a woman is dominant on her husband, we could say that she is influential on him. What I mean is their God-given power. Ultimately, I consider women to be stronger than men. This is my belief. In a confrontation - if the confrontation lasts for sometime - the person who wins will be the woman. This means that women will use the tools and powers which God has given to them and will overcome men. This is one of the beauties and mysteries of nature. Apart from their role in society, women can also play a role in encouraging men to fulfill their roles.

Men prefer to let their wife and children stay at home and fight alone. For instance, we were present on the battlefields, but we did not like to take our wives with us. We told them to stay and that we would go to the battlefields alone. But when women go to a battle, they take their husband with them and send them ahead. Women are like this. This characteristic, natural influence, and prominent role in the battlefields should be preserved.

The Center of Kindness

The divine nature of men and women cause a relationship between them which is based on kindness and love.

A good relationship between men and women should be based on kindness, love, and friendship. They should like each other, show love towards each other, and treat each other kindly.

A family is a place where kindness and emotions should be promoted. Children should be treated with kindness. The husband, who is a man, and is in certain cases more fragile than women needs his wife's kindness. This is the only thing that will soothe a man. Sometimes even a mother's kindness is not as influential. For an adult man, his wife does what a mother does for her baby. And women who are accurate know this point. If these emotions and feeling were not dependant on the existence of a main element in the family - which is the woman - then the family would be a meaningless unit.

Sharing theDuties

Men and women have got different natural characteristics. Inside the family, women should not be expected to do the same things that men do or to have the same characteristics as men. Similarly, men should not be expected to have the same characteristics as women either. Men and women have each got different natural and emotional characteristics. It is to the benefit of humanity and society that the emotional characteristics of men and women be taken into consideration in the family. If these characteristics are observed, both men and women will feel happy. But men and women do not have the right to oppress or try to dominate each other. There are some men who think that women have to do all the things that are related to them. Of course in a family a man and a woman who love each other will quite willingly do anything for each other. But doing things willingly is different from feeling or acting in a way as if women have to act like a servant in the house. Such a notion does not exist in Islam.

Prioritizing the Housework

There are some women who work outside the house. They do surgeries, visit patients, do scientific jobs, develop plans, and teach at universities. They do all these things. But they should think of the housework too. Of course like all other things, the quantity of the housework can be sacrificed at the cost of its quality. This means that the quantity of the housework can be reduced. The presence of women at home twenty four hours a day is one thing. It is quite another thing if the number of hours is reduced but the quality is increased. If women feel that working outside home has a negative effect on their household duties, they should do something about it. This is a basic and important issue, unless in exceptional cases. In all cases, there are necessities which are outside the scope of rules and what is common. For women, the most important thing is educating children and raising the spirits of their husband for entering important arenas.

Educating Children

Educating children is one of the duties of women in a family. Women who avoid giving birth to children because of their activities outside home act against the human nature and their womanly nature. God will not be pleased with doing such a thing. Those who give up their duties towards children, educating children, breastfeeding children, and bringing them in an atmosphere of kindness and passion in order to do things that are not dependant on them are doing something wrong. The best way to bring up children is by showing them motherly affection. Women who deprive their children of this God-given gift do something wrong. This is harmful to themselves, their children, and society. Islam does not allow such acts. One of the most important duties of women is to bring up their children with kindness and educate them properly and carefully so that they are emotionally healthy when they grow up and do not suffer from any emotional complexes or the problems which currently afflict European and western youth.

Because western women did not care about the education of their children, western societies have now reached a position where millions of corrupt teenagers are now involved in criminal acts in European countries and the US under the shadow of their materialistic civilization, their tall palaces, atomic bases, multi-story skyscrapers, and their scientific and technological advances. There are thieves, assassins, drug dealers, and addicted people among their teenagers. What is the reason? This is because western women did not value the family.

The Story of the Flower and the Gardener

From an Islamic point of view, men are supposed to protect women like a flower in the family. There is tradition which says: "Women are flowers". This is not related to political and social arenas or the arena of acquiring knowledge. This is related to inside the family. "A woman is a flower and not a servant at home". By saying this, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hh) has falsified the claim made by those who think that women have to work like a servant at home. Women are like a flower which needs to be taken care of. If you wrestle with a flower, its leaves will fall off. If you treat a flower like a flower [delicately], it will bring about beauty and will be noticed. Women who are emotionally and physically delicate should be viewed in this way.

In Islam, the womanly nature of women, on which all the needs and emotions of women are dependant, has been taken into consideration. That is, women are not forced to think, work, and act like men while they are women. This means that the womanly nature of women which is a natural characteristic of women and the basis of all their emotions and efforts has been taken into consideration by Islam. In the mean time, according to Islam, women are free to be present in such arenas as gaining knowledge, spirituality, piety, and politics. Islam has also encouraged women to acquire knowledge and be present in different social and political arenas. Islam has also ordered men that they do not have the right to impose their will on women or to ignorantly force them to do anything. This is the Islamic perspective on women.

Oppression to Women in the Family

Throughout the world, women suffer from numerous incurable problems. Women generally suffer from problems on two fronts: Inside the family and in society. These problems are prevalent in European countries, the US, and countries which follow their model. These problems are more severe in some places as compared to others. In families, the rights of women are violated. That is, men sometimes oppress their wives. The greatest oppression towards women on the part of men is that they do not consider women as their partners in life. They do not allocate all their emotions and time to women. Outside home, men pursue their carnal desires. Inside home, there is a cold atmosphere which lacks kindness. This is sometimes accompanied by a bad temper and different kinds of pressure. The most important point in a family is the point of interaction between a woman and her husband. One brings up a girl by tolerating many hardships and by showing her kindness and affection and teaching her to be kind towards her parents. That girl reaches her youth, and while she is still considered a child by her family, she gets married. Then they expect her to understand everything and to be able to do everything. Therefore, once she makes a small mistake, she gets criticized. This should not be the case.

If men have a feeling of possession in the family and look upon women as servants, then they have oppressed women. Unfortunately many men oppress women in this way. This is true about outside the family too. It is a type of oppression against women if they are not provided with a secure atmosphere for studying, working, earning money, and resting. It is a type of oppression against women if they are not allowed to receive education and gain knowledge. It is a type of oppression if women cannot focus on their ethics and faith due to work pressure or other kinds of pressure. It is a type of oppression if women cannot use what they possess freely and in the way they like. It is a type of oppression if a husband is imposed on a woman, that is, if the woman has no role in choosing her husband. It is a type of oppression if women are not allowed to benefit emotionally from their children either when they are living with their family or when they are divorced from their husband. If women are not allowed to show their talent - for instance a scientific, political, or social talent or a talent for making discoveries - then this is a type of oppression too.

* www.tebyan.net

1228 View | 07-05-2014 | 14:56


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