No gender discrimination in Islam, says scholar
The Nation, By Rauf Arif, 21/6/2002
ISLAMABAD – In Islam, there is no discrimination of male and female sex as the teachings of Quran show that God has created all human beings in the same way and at the same time and the women have equal rights as men.
These views were expressed by Dr Riffat Hassan, the Feminist religious scholar and Theologist, Professor of Religious Studies and Humanities at the University of Louisville, Kentucky USA, while addressing a seminar on “Gender Equality and Gender Biases:
Underlying Religious and Cultural Factors,” organized by SDPI here on Thursday.
Many intellectuals, students and other religious scholars participated in the seminar. Dr Riffat Hassan said that Quran, Sunnah and Hadith are the three primary sources of Islam and out of them the statement given in Quran is supposed to be definite as these are authentic and so it applies strictly.
“Hadith can never ever supersede the verses of Quran as hundreds of Aladith are not authentic, but unfortunately it had been happening in our society, which created several difficulties in understanding our religion.”
She said, “Again there is the issue of interpretation of Quran and as a matter of fact the Holy Book was given to us but its interpretation was not provided. Almost all the texts of all major religions were interpreted mostly by men, which created several biases among men and women due to gender.
The eminent scholar said “first of all we would have to find out the idea, which supported
man‟s superiority to woman.”
She discussed all the stories of the creation of „Adam and Eve‟ and quoted the “Rib Story,” which was mentioned in Bible. She said that the Rib story was mainly responsible for the discrimination of gender biases, among all other religious stories. “The word “Adam” does not mean male person, but there was no mention of male or female, however, „Adam‟ only stands for human beings.”
“Whenever the issue of Islamisation comes whether in Iran, Afghanistan or any other Muslim state, its primary talk is always related to the issue of women and the second step is punishments, which are also more or less related to women,” she said.
She said, “In the present age, Muslims as a whole are greatly challenged by modernity or westernize and the situation has become even worst after the incidents of 9/11th. So this is the time to tell the whole world that Islam is a religion of peace and humanity and Muslims are peaceful nation.”
Responding to a question, she said that Islam has ordered its followers in two ways, one is prohibition and the other is restriction, so when we talk about „Hijaab‟, (veil) it is related to the prohibited orders.
In this respect, the male religious scholars give the reason that women if not wear Hijaab, become the cause of sexual sensation, she said adding that “But nobody thinks that why men should not be able to control their sexual sensations?”
Without interlinking the issue of religion and society, we would not be able to handle such problems, she maintained.
While talking about Hadood and Zinna Ordinance, she said that such laws, which have been made in the name of Islam, have to be challenged in the name of Islam. But this would be starting of a war and unfortunately neither government nor politicians of our country have the courage to start it.
The prominent scholar added that no distinction in this respect has been made between Zina and Zina-bil-Jabar, which is a big crime itself.
To another question of gender discrimination in Pakistan Dr Riffat said, “The only hope
for Pakistan in respect of women issue is that the campaign of awareness has to be started at grass root level. We have to come forward with very sound base and have to prove the people that such violations against women are not the part of our religion and also are against human rights as well as Islam.”
“Despite of street protests, there should be a forum in Pakistan to challenge such wrong concepts and make this issue as an international issue,” she added.
Talking about the teaching mechanism of Pakistan, the religious scholar said that “it is a dilemma of Pakistan that Islamiyat and Pakistan Studies, the two most important subjects, are not being taught in a proper way and so our coming generations are quite unable to understand our history.