Monday 20 September 2021

Love thy neighbour...


The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “(The angel) Gabriel kept recommending to me to treat (my) neighbors in a kind and polite manner, so much so that I thought that he would order (me) to make them (my) heirs." Sahih Al-Bukhari

The Prophet (pbuh) also said: "By God, he does not believe! By God, he does not believe! By God, he does not believe!" When he was asked by the people who he was referring to, the Prophet (pbuh) said: "That person whose neighbor does not feel safe from his (or her) evil." Sahih Al-Bukhari

When asked what the rights of the neighbor are, the Prophet Mohammed answered: “The least of a neighbor’s rights on him is that if he asks him for a loan he should grant it to him. If he asks for help, he should help him. If he wants to borrow something from him, he should lend it to him. If he needs him to donate something to him, he should do so. If he invites him, he should accept his invitation. If he gets sick, he should go and visit him. If he passes away, he should attend his funeral procession.” [Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, v.2, p.79]

“One who spends the night with a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry, has not believed in me. One who spends the night clothed, while his neighbor has no clothes, has not believed in me.” [Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, v.2, pp.78-79]



Monday 13 September 2021

Spread of 'sexual terrorism' seen in Pakistan: Report


With Pakistan reporting a number of incidents of rape and sexual assaults, the country is undoubtedly witnessing the spread of "sexual terrorism" according to a report published in Friday Times.

Nazeer Arjio, writing in the Friday Times said: "The Minar-e-Pakistan tragedy on Independence Day has not only brought national embarrassment but also reaffirmed that the Pakistani society is full of sexual predators and their supporters. Man has crossed all limits when it comes to unleashing sexual atrocities, while the state watches on."

The psychological, social, and practical baggage emanating from sexual assaults is immense. But the victim of the Minar-e-Pakistan assault is just the latest to be left helpless, Arjio said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan last month stated that sexual crimes are rising in the country due to misuse of mobile phones, according to local media.

His remark came after, a Pakistani TikToker, on August 14, was captured being "brutally attacked" by hordes of men in Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan even the country celebrated its Independence Day and for a while, the incident was among top hashtags on Twitter #minarPakistan and #400 men were among the hashtags being used by outraged netizens who expressed their shock and disgust at the violence against the woman.

Following the Minar-e-Pakistan incident, women's studies professor Shahla Haeri said, "Rape in Pakistan is often institutionalised and has the tacit and at times the explicit approval of the state."

Citing the few incidents, Arjio wrote, "In Thatta, a dead body of a 14-year-old girl was raped. In Khairpur, a 14-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped by an influential money-lender owing to her father's failure to repay borrowed money. Earlier this month, another 14-year-girl was raped at gunpoint in Khazan."

"In June, an elderly woman was held hostage at gunpoint and subsequently subjected to sexual assault by influential people in Muzaffargarh, to avenge her son's love marriage," Arjio said, adding "Pakistan is undoubtedly witnessing the spread of sexual terrorism."

"Women's struggle against sexual victimisation will not end until the mindset that sees woman as an object of sexual pleasure is changed. While establishing true gender equality would require time, right now it is pertinent that the state declare a sexual terrorism emergency to protect its women," Arjio added.


Friday 10 September 2021

Lost History of Women Scholars in Islam


It surprises people to learn that women living under an Islamic order could be scholars, that is, hold the authority that attaches to being knowledgeable about what Islam commands, and therefore sought after and deferred to.

The typical Western view is that no social order has (or aspires to have) more 'religion' in it than Islam. The more "religion' a society has in it, the more restricted the scope in that society for women to enjoy agency and authority. Behind that is the assumption that religion is 'really' a human construct, done mainly by men and therefore done to secure advantages for them at the expense of women. Muslims, of course, do not share this view.

In the Quran and Sunnah, Muslims believe they have a framework of guidance that is strictly impartial and sufficient because God's knowledge and mercy encompass all beings and all their pasts and futures. Any human derivation from and within that framework is subject to revision, but the framework itself is not. Accordingly, in the Islamic tradition, to say 'God says in His Book' decides the argument.

Where it is not certain how the guidance of the Quran is to be acted upon, Muslims look to the example of how God's Messenger acted in the same or a similar situation. The record of his example (Sunnah) is now, for all practical purposes, conveyed through a body of texts, known singly and collectively as hadith (lit. 'saying). A man who becomes an expert in knowledge of the hadith is called a muhaddith; a woman, muhaddithah (plural, muhaddithat).

The Quran rebukes the people of the jāhiliyyah (the Ignorance before Islam) for their negative attitude to women. When news is brought to one of them of [the birth of] a girl, his face darkens, and he is chafing within! He hides himself from his folk because of the evil he has had news of. Shall he keep it in disdain or bury it in the dust? Ah - how evil the judgment they come to! (Quran, 16:58-59)

The costly prospect of bringing up a daughter (a son was expected to enhance a clan's military and economic potential) perhaps explains this negative response to the birth of a girl. Burying infant girls alive was a custom among some (not all) of the Arab tribes of that time. The Quran warns of retribution for this gross atrocity on the day When the infant buried alive shall be asked for what sin she was killed (Quran, 81:8-9)

Human rights and duties indicated in the Quran are pegged to two fundamentals that are the same for men and women - namely they being creatures and slaves of God, their Creator, and Lord, and they being the issue of a single human self. God has said in the Quran;  O humankind, be wary of your Lord who created you from a single self, and from it created its pair, and from the pair of them scattered many men and women. Be wary of God, through Whom you ask of one another [your rights and needs] and close kindred:! God is ever-watchful over you. (al-Nisa 4:1) And (al-Araf, 7:189): He, it is Who created you from a single self, and made from it its mate, so that he might settle at rest with her. Male and female are created for the same purpose: I have not created jinn and humankind except so that they worship Me (al-Dhariyat, 51:56). The Quranic term 'abd signifies both 'worshipper and 'slave' in relation to God.

The duties owed to God, and the virtues that ensue from the effort to do them, are the same for men and women. This is affirmed in a well-known Quranic verse. The verse and the occasion of its revelation are recorded in this hadīth, narrated by Abd al-Rahmān ibn Shaybah:

I heard Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ say: I asked the Prophet ﷺ Why are we [women] not mentioned in the Quran as the men are mentioned? [...] Then, I was alerted that day by his call on the pulpit. [...] At that moment, I was combing my hair. I gathered up my hair and went to one of the rooms; I listened hard. I heard him saying on the pulpit: O people, God says in His Book: The Muslim men and Muslim women; the believing men and believing women; the men who are obedient [to God] and women who are obedient [to God]; the men who are truthful and the women who are truthful; the men who are persevering and patient and the women who are persevering and patient; the men who give alms and the women who give alms; the men who are humble and the women who are humble; the men who fast and the women who fast; the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, and the men who remember God much and the women who remember God much - God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward. (AL-HAKIM, al-Mustadrak, ii. 416. The verse cited is al-Ahzab, 33:35)

Having 'the knowledge' and the conscientious preserving, transmitting and understanding it is the strong basis for the public authority that learned Muslims, men and women, were able to command. Sometimes there were different opinions on the import of the knowledge people had. Still, the differences were not settled based on the gender or the tribe, or socio-economic class of the person who conveyed it.

A striking case is that of Amrah bint Abd al-Rahmān, the great tabi'iyyah (Successor), muhaddithah and faqīhah, who intervened in a court case in Madinah to prevent a miscarriage of justice. It is remarkable enough that she knew that the case was in progress and the circumstances of it and what sentence the qādī had passed but not yet carried out. Many famous men jurists were residents and active in the city; none of them intervened. What is astonishing is that she did intervene, and no one questioned her right to do so. The defendant was a non-Muslim, not known to Amrah except as the defendant in this suit, in which she had no personal, private interest. The qãdi reversed his decision and released the defendant only because he could have no argument against the authority of the hadith she was able to cite. He did not know or remember it, or simply failed to bring it to bear when reaching his judgment. Once he knew the hadith, he did as a Muslim should – he acted upon it.

The Quran speaks about women in general and specific terms. It does not associate womanhood with inferiority or deficiency of any sort, any primordial sin, or any disposition to sin not also found in men, or any disposition to induce sin in others not also found in men. It does not regard women as an appendage of men but as distinct beings, each called individually, just as are men. The language of the Quran, Arabic, like many others, uses masculine forms to mean women also unless the context expressly excludes them. The grammar does not require women to be expressly included; therefore, when that explicit inclusion occurs, it is all the more striking. The above verse 33:35 enumerates the virtues, distinctly for men and women. Starting with the next verse in that sūrah, here are a few more examples:

It is not for a believing man or believing woman when God and His Messenger have decided a matter [...] (al-Ahzab, 33:36).

Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, male or female (Al Imran, 3:195).

Whoever does righteous deeds, male or female, and is a believer, him We shall enliven to a good life, and We shall pay them certainly a reward proportioned to the best of what they used to do (al-Nahl, 16:97).

Whoever does righteous deeds, from among the male or the female, and he is a believer, those will enter Paradise [...] (al-Nisa, 4:124).

The believing men and believing women are protecting friends (awliyā') of one another, they bid to good (al-maruf), and forbid from evil (al-munkar); they establish the prayer and give the alms (zakah) and obey God and His Messenger (al-Tawbah, 9:71).

The Quran and Sunnah are replete with examples that give women the right to attain high rank in all spheres of knowledge. 


Thursday 2 September 2021

Victim Blaming


Over the past few years Pakistan has witnessed a phenomenal rise in rape, assault and abuse cases. Some cases are reported by the victims or their families while most of the cases remain unreported. The reason behind that is pressure from the family and society. Also a big reason that stops victims from reporting is the lack of trust in the judicial system. However the reported cases are mostly pending in courts and the culprits get away due to weak prosecution.

Pakistan is a country with an approximately 49 percent female population. Here, women play a vital role in the economy and progress of the country be it in the fields of politics, journalism, business, education, or others,  but this is one side of the picture.

The other side has been quite horrific and devastating. On 14th August,  a mob of 400 men openly abused and assaulted a female TikToker, who was filming a video in front of Minar-e-Pakistan which happens to be the national monument of Pakistan.

A stable and balanced society is built only when women are safe, respected and honoured by all. There should be no space for misogyny in our society. Pakistan needs to work on creating awareness and implementing strict laws to punish the culprits and encourage the victims to report any sort of assault. The impact of recent horrific assault cases will be severe on women and children of our society. They need a safe and protected environment to live and most importantly there should be an end to victim blaming once and for all
Nobody came to rescue the victim from the mob of vultures. There was rage in social media for her justice, and many influential political leaders like Bilawal Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto raised their voices immediately for the victim and demanded justice for her. The civil society, human rights activists, and social activists, have largely condemned the barbaric act but unfortunately in this same society  there are some sadistic minds who believe in blaming the victim for being assaulted, this was one of the many cases that infuriated the society.

Noor Mukaddam, a 27-year-old girl, was recently beheaded brutally in Islamabad by an acquaintance who is currently under trial; the civil society and the entire nation condemned this barbaric act but as usual some insensitive souls started to blame the victim by giving bizarre reasoning and justification for the murder.  This polarization in our society is somehow suppressing humanity and haunting the victims and their families who need support and healing after being traumatised. This is the reason why most of the rape cases are not reported; the problem lies is the justice system and disturbing social behaviour for the victim.

Prime Minister ImranKhan in an earlier interview had blamed victims of rape for wearing skimpy clothes; and that it had an impact on men unless they were robots. This statement backfired and later he had to take a U-turn on this, but the damage was already done. Such an insensitive statement coming from the head of government was a shock for the nation. Also, his earlier statement gave a feeling to the assaulters that they could get away with any sort of molestation or abuse as the Prime Minister himself had put the burden of assault on the victim’s shoulders.

Recently a horrific case of necrophilia wrenched the hearts of the country when some beasts dug up the grave of a 14-year-old girl who had died of natural causes and raped the corpse.

Such  incidents show the ugly side of the society we live in. The victims are never at fault, rather they are the ones who need empathy, care and respect from the society and especially from the government.

Any insensitive comment can cause them extreme psychological trauma as they suffer isolation after assault, it is important for the society to treat the victims with the same honour as they treated them before and not isolate them.

A rotten theory is advocated by some misogynists that wearing provocative clothing stimulates sexual aggression in men. This theory must be dumped in the garbage bin as no victim ever asks to be abused. Even the victim of the Motorway rape case that sparked national outrage was blamed by a senior police officer for not chosing a busy road and not checking her fuel.

Victim blaming and judging a woman’s character is a deep rooted dilemma of our society which needs to be removed. If the society acts responsibly and the justice system solves such cases on priority basis then many other women who face domestic violence would get hope to register cases against the assaulters.

A stable and balanced society is built only when women are safe, respected and honoured by all. There should be no space for misogyny in our society. Pakistan needs to work on creating awareness and implementing strict laws to punish the culprits and encourage the victims to report any sort of assault. The impact of recent horrific assault cases will be severe on women and children of our society. They need a safe and protected environment to live and most importantly there should be an end to victim blaming once and for all.