Muslim women have explicit God-given rights

Article Last Updated: 02/23/2007 06:59:31 AM PST

THE British publication "The Economist" published a
story Feb. 8 titled "Dark Secrets." Ayaan Hirsi Ali is
a Dutch-Somali politician who rode to parliament,
perhaps opportunistically, on the wave of
anti-immigrant sentiments, presenting herself as an
oppressed Muslim woman. She actually came from a
westernized and educated Somali family. 
According to "The Economist," the Dutch media suggest
that she built her career on portraying herself as a
victim of fanatical Muslims. Her portrayal hardly
bears out. She blames Islam for the miseries of the
Muslim world. Her new autobiography shows that life is
too complex for that simple explanation. 

When the truth about her life started to come out, she
left the Netherlands. She has now been adopted by the
conservative American Enterprise Institute. The
institute has helped her publish a book in England and
the United States called "Infidel." It was called "My
Freedom" in the Netherlands. It shows that her life,
like those of other Muslims, is more complex than many
people in the West may have realized. But the West's
tendency to seek simplistic explanations is a weakness
that Hirsi Ali has been happy to exploit. 

This all sounds too fictional and like movie material,
so I will stick to the basics. 

Trying to be a practicing Muslim, I can share the
following from the Islamic traditions, what Quran and
traditions of the prophet Muhammad recommend in
regards to women. 

In a truly Islamic society, women have the  following
rights (starting 1,500 years ago): 

-It is not only a right but also a duty to obtain

-The women have the right to own independent property.
They may share with husband and family if they wish. 

-They have the right to work to earn money if they
need it or want it, with the condition that it does
not disrupt the family and is in consultation with the
family unit. 

-Equality of Devine rewards for equal deeds. 

-The right to express their opinion and be heard.
However, indecent speech and false testimony is
prohibited for both men and women. 

-The right to provisions from the husband for all her
needs and more. A man cannot ask the same from his

-The right to negotiate marriage terms of her choice,
within the commandments of God. Marriage is highly
encouraged for both men and women. It is, however, a
contract and not a sacrament. 

-The Right to Mahr (a marriage gift of her choice) or
right to waive it. 

-The women have the right to vote in public and
political affairs. 

-The right to lead organizations for women and the
women's political wing. 

-The right to obtain divorce from her husband, even on
the grounds of serious discontent. Divorce is deeply
frowned upon and should be the last resort. 

-Custody of their children after divorce except in
very rare incidences. 

God has assigned roles and duties to each gender
according to their physical and psychological
structures. This means that they have complementary
roles, with equal reward and responsibilities for
their deeds. 

For further understanding, I am helping organize the
following educational event in the "Know Thy Neighbor,
Love Thy Neighbor" educational series. 

The event, "Women of Islam," is a talk and
question-and-answer session by a panel of Muslim
women. It will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10
at the Tracy Public Library, 20 E. Eaton Ave., Tracy.
Please attend and pass the word. 

Riaz Hasan is a former director of outreach for the
Tracy Islamic Center. He is now active in Islamic
Outreach in the greater Bay Area and San Joaquin
County. For more information, call (209) 830-6286 or


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