Before Islam, the conditions for women in the Arabic world were horrendous. They had no right to own property. All material possessions belonged to the men and if the men were to die, everything they owned passed automatically to their sons. In the 7th century, “the early days of Islam” women were afforded rights, primarily due to the Islamic reforms brought about with the creation of the Holy Qu’ran. These rights were set and included inheritance, marriage, divorce, education, work etc.
Ibn Abbas once recounted that a girl came to visit the Messenger of God, Muhammad and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. Muhammad gave her the choice between accepting the marriage or invalidating it. (Ibn Hanbal No. 2469).
Under Islamic law, marriage is viewed as a contract, in which a woman's consent is an obligation. Thanks to Islam, women were finally given inheritance rights, property ownership, the right to administer her own wealth, the right to work, to attain an education, to divorce, all of which have helped raise women’s status in society. The Holy Qu’ran and the Hadith do NOT state that women must be housewives but rather that they have the right to administer the wealth she brings into the family or has earned by her own work.
However and considering the amount of sharia’s flexibility, Muslim countries give women varying degrees of rights in marriage, divorce, dress code etc.
In Tunisia where we, the women, were relatively free even under Ben Ali’s dictatorship, are still far ahead of all other Arab Muslim countries in terms of women’s rights.
If we look back at Islamic history, women including Aisha, Ume Warqa, and Samra Binte Wahaib took part in political activities. Other historical Muslim female leaders include Razia Sultana, who ruled the Sultanate of Delhi from 1236 to 1239 and Shajarat ad-Durr, who ruled Egypt from 1250 to 1257.
Since 2002, Afghanistan is surprisingly one of the most progressive Muslim countries, with the highest number of female politicians, which means we Tunisian women, still have a lot to do J
A year after the Tunisian revolution, women are facing a real threat in the name of Islam as we see the Salafis Jihad, an old and long underground Islamic Brotherhood movement resurfacing in numbers since the deposition of Ben Ali’s regime.
Amazingly, The Tunisian Government, a predominantly Islamist party, is showing no signs of taking things in hand to control this brotherhood. Neither are they making statements condemning the brotherhoods attacks on journalists and their assaults on uncovered women (either verbally or physically). Also, with the governments knowledge and with no objections on their part, Mr. Wajdi Ghoneim (a highly controversial Egyptian Muslim figure) visited Tunisia on February 11th, 2012 where he “LECTURED” on his extreme beliefs in several cities.
In one of his more shocking lectures, he advocated for female genital mutilation. In this lecture he also stated that according to his beliefs and to the beliefs of the salafi jihady , democracy is against God’s Law (Islam).
The dark age is back !
A few months ago, tension escalated in several Universities in Tunisia when girls wearing the niqab tried to attend classes, despite the fact that progressive Tunisian Law does NOT allow it. The reason it is forbidden is simply because they need to verify their identities (before exams) or even during the class course.
Throughout the years, Non-Muslim women have benefited from more progressive laws while the opposite is true for Muslim women. For example, polygamy flourishes and in the case of divorce, child custody is hugely biased towards the fathers as opposed to shared-custody etc.
In conclusion, this indicates that we Tunisian women have a lot to do, inspite of ths new “Islamic Brotherhood” government, who actually had nothing at all to do with the Tunisian revolution, when you consider the fact that the majority of the members were living abroad or in jail at that time. The other ugly face of democracy J
Where there’s FREE WILL, there’s HOPE!!!