In order to understand and appreciate what the Taliban brought to women, it is important to know that all they did was implement Islamic laws to the best of their understanding and ability. If one does not possess a proper understanding of the Islamic principles and the wisdom behind these laws, then it will be difficult to get a clear picture of the situation and to remove misunderstandings. It is hoped that the following account will, God-willing, serve to make the larger picture clearer and help the readers realize why and how the Islamic laws that the Taliban implemented for women were a blessing for women and far from being oppressive.
First: let it be very clear that Islam�s view on women�s rights is very different from the practice prevalent in the West. It springs, not from an underlying hatred of men, and is propounded, not by hurt and angry women, (who have actually landed once again in the paws of money-hungry and sex-thirsty men), but by Allah, The Creator and Sustainer of both men and women, The One whose Love and Mercy for both men and women knows no comparison. The Islamic view on women�s rights springs from a larger worldview, which is completely contrary to the Western worldview. Women, like men, form part of a larger system set in place by Allah. This system, like any system, works best when all the components play their respective roles. Thus, the roles, responsibilities, rights and duties of men and women are all clearly defined in Islam and do not keep changing based on the whims of the men in power.Thus, in order to understand how women fit into the Islamic worldview and what their rights are in the context of an Islamic system, it is imperative to first fulfill the following prerequisites. After all, one who has not even taken a basic medicine course cannot be expected to treat a cancer patient, and one who doesn�t even know basic Physics cannot understand, let alone apply, the Quantum theory. But it seems that the West, with its zero knowledge of true Islam, thinks it has veto right over all women�s issues in Muslim lands � especially the very land of Islam, Afghanistan!
1. �Because the West thinks so� does not make it right nor provide a justification for condemning something.
It is important to not use a foreign yardstick to judge Islamic values -- Islam has its own yardstick and standards, and does not need to be judged based on subjective and ever-changing man-made views. Islam�s standard of a liberated woman is much higher than the West�s. Islam does not set a male standard for women to try to achieve. What the west considers �emancipation� is considered a form of slavery in Islam. What the West practices as �women�s rights� is considered the worst form of oppression in Islam.
A free and emancipated Muslim woman, as defined by Islam is one who has submitted herself to her Lord, Allah to the point where she is content with the will of Allah, with all His commands, and will place no human being above Allah�s command. She will obey and disobey, be friendly or turn away, all based solely on the commands of Allah. Once a woman (or man for that matter) achieves this total submission to Allah, she reaches a state of peace and tranquility that truly liberates her from the worries of this world and from bondship to any human being. This, truly is liberation, and does not involve a woman trying to do what is beyond her ability.
Allah has not commanded anyone to do anything beyond their natural abilities. They are respected and honored for fulfilling their roles within what is natural and easy for them.
Motherhood as an example:
In the West, motherhood generally is looked down upon. Mothers as such have very little respect. People will look down upon a mother who chooses to stay home and take care of the children rather than have a multi-million dollar career. Islam, on the other hand, raises the status of mothers so much that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that paradise lies under the feet of mothers! The mother in Islam is three degrees more important and deserves that much more than the father. Thus, Islam has its own standards of what is considered honorable and what is not, and the West has its own. They are poles apart. So stop using Western standards as THE standard and stop judging Islam using the West�s subjective yardstick.
2. Consider the context -- know that Islam is a complete system.
3. Know the Islamic worldview, and know that it is poles apart from the Western worldview.
4. Don�t be a loser -- defeated by the West�s psychological warfare against Islam and those who try to implement it.
The media has been involved in open warfare against Islam and has been following the �all is fair in war� principle when it comes to reporting about Islam, Muslims, and anyone who seeks to implement Islam in its entirety, including the Taliban. It is important to keep this in mind before believing anything the media reports. For Muslims: never forget the following Qur�anic principle:�O you who believe! If a liar / wrongdoer comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful of what you have done.� [Qur�an, Surah Hujuraat, v.6]
Islam is not a religion to be limited to one�s personal life, it is a complete system of life that encompasses all aspects of life -- individual and collective. It has its own complete social, political, military, judicial, and economic system. There is no room in Islam for fitting imported components of foreign systems. All aspects of Islam are interwoven and complement each other. One aspect cannot be fully appreciated unless put together with the rest of the system. For example, while a while piece of chalk will write on a white wall, its true value will only be appreciated if it is placed in its proper context, i.e. used on a black board. Taking small components of Islam (such as the veil and inheritance system) and analyzing them out of context is like judging the utility of the chalk using a white wall without a blackboard.
The Veil as an example:
Consider the veil as an example of how aspects of the Islamic system work together.
Women are commanded to wear loose outer garments that cover their body including their head, but men are also commanded to lower their gazes and not look at women unless they are their mahrams (close relatives such as sister, mother, wife, aunt etc.).
Along with this, while women are allowed, they are not expected to do any chores outside of the home, unless absolutely necessary, so the outer covering will not impose a hindrance. The covering is not required inside a woman�s house. The man is responsible for the family and for taking care of all issues that involve leaving the home. The woman is responsible for her husband�s home and his children. The man is also expected to help at home. As men are responsible for doing the heavy manual and leg-work outside of the home and inside as needed, and the fact that men usually are not made sex-objects, the covering requirements for men are accordingly lesser than those for women.
Note that going out and working is an added stress and burden, from which Allah�s system has relieved women. Having to work outside the home, and face lustful gazes, catcalls, and other forms of harassment is even worse, so the cover protects women and grants them the respect they deserve as human beings.
When women will cover their beauty in front of non-mahram men, and men will not look at non-mahram women, and when these restrictions are lifted in marital relations (in fact, a woman is encouraged to dress-up and look nice to please her husband), and when the wife is not stressed out from working outside the home, then the result will definitely be a more loving, lasting, and stronger relationship. The wife will be something special, even if she has many faults, because the faithful Muslim husband will never turn towards another woman to fulfill his desire. Temptation is minimized when women are not encouraged to go out, and when they do, to do so in a proper cover. A stronger marital relationship will have many positive effects on the children, which, in turn, will reflect in the entire society.
Moreover, with less distractions, men (and women) at work will be able to work better and focus on their job instead of on what his colleague is wearing (or not wearing). This will lead to greater productivity, and a healthier work environment. It is no secret that one of the major problems in work-environments in America is sexual harassment, which will inevitably result when men and women mix in the way they do in the West.
Nakata Khaula, a Japanese revert to Islam clarified the Western view which equates the veil with oppression. She said, "It is an error of judgment to think that a Muslim woman covers herself because she is a private possession of her husband. In fact, she preserves her dignity and refuses to be possessed by strangers. It is non-Muslim (and "liberated" Muslim) women who are to be pitied for displaying their private self for all to see.
Observing the hijab from outside, it is impossible to see what it hides. The gap, between being outside and looking in, and being inside and looking out, explains in part the void in the understanding of Islam. An outsider may see Islam as restricting Muslims. In side, however, there is peace, freedom, and joy, which those who experience it have never known before. Practicing Muslims, whether those born in Muslim families or those returned to Islam, choose Islam rather than the illusory freedom of secular life. If it oppresses women, why are so many well-educated young women in Europe, America, Japan, Australia, indeed all over the world, abandoning "liberty" and "independence" and embracing Islam?
A person blinded by prejudice may not see it, but a woman in hijab is as brightly beautiful as an angel, full of self-confidence, serenity, and dignity. No signs of oppression scar her face. "For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts within the bosoms, that grow blind," says the Qur'an (Al-Hajj 22:46). How else can we explain the great gap in understanding between us and such people?"
Additionally, epidemics such as AIDS will be almost non-existent, as will be the numerous other deadly sexually transmitted diseases, leading to a healthier happier society.
Thus, the veil, when enforced in an Islamic society, is a great blessing -- far from being a restriction. It fits beautifully in the system of Islam.
Compare this with the case where women are encouraged to �take it off�, are forced to work and earn money (a growing number of American women don�t want to work, but have no choice). Men and women are encouraged to mix any and everywhere, and extra-marital relationships are commonplace. Wherever a man turns, he will see semi-naked women walking and talking in an enticing manner. Men have no restrictions and will look to their heart�s discontent at these women. The sense of loyalty of women and men can be judged from former President Clinton�s affairs, the details of which have been broadcast widely-- too widely, to the dismay of some parents. The results of this �freedom�: divorce rate is more than 50%, children are lacking a sense of direction and are �affection-starved� with many psychological problems. They turn to any and everyone -- boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. -- for the love and attention their working mother never gave them. Many turn to drugs and alcohol (America is the most lucrative market for drugs), and many simply are lost to the television set or are caught up in the web. If there was a societal fabric to begin with, surely it is in complete rags now.