Answered by Umm Khalil
Question: I would like to ask you brother what is your input into fight for women’s rights? And what do you think are the most important issues that should be addressed?
Answer: Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
Wa salla Allahu ‘ala Sayyidina Muhammadin wa ‘ala alihi wa sahbihi ajmaìn
Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
The most important issue for any believer to address in his or her life is to recognize that the period he will spend on earth is limited, and that before he knows it, he will be meeting His Lord. Once this fact is recognized and accepted, it is then his duty to figure out what it is that he owes Allah so that he will not face disappointment and unredeemable loss on that Day.
Alhamdulillah, our Lord is Merciful, and he did not leave us to fend for ourselves with regards to this critical task. We can know what we owe Allah, in the most important and most trivial aspects of our lives, by looking to the beautiful example of Rasulillah salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Through his example, and through his interaction with and instruction of his family, wives, Companions, and all those around him, we can gain important lessons for how to best live our lives, and how to improve ourselves, our families, and our communities in a way that brings us in line with what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants from us.
Like any individual or subgroup who is facing oppression or a difficult situation on earth, when a woman is facing a challenge she must first turn to her Lord. She must pray, ask for His Help, and have hope that He will indeed turn her affair for the better.
While doing this, it is important for her to seek knowledge. What duties are incumbent upon her, say in a marriage, or as a member of her family and her society? What rights are owed to her by those around her? Not only will this knowledge-seeking help her in procuring her rights, it will also help her see what kinds of internal attitudes and external action is required by her to help her in the process. If her intention when seeking to improve herself is solely to gain the pleasure of her Lord, there will be immense baraka in her effort, baraka that could lead to changing her marriage, her family, her community, even her oppressors.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
“Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel [evil] with what is better, and you will find the one between whom and you there was enmity now your intimate friend and protector.” (41:34)
Our Beloved Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told us:
Kana Allahu fi ‘awn al-‘abdi ma dama al-‘abdu fi ‘awni akhihi.
“Allah is the Helper of the slave as long as the slave is the helper of his brother.”
In light of the above, the most important issues that must be addressed in order to counter the oppression or neglect of any individual are:
1) Place Allah and His Messenger at the center of one’s own social, political, intellectual, and activist focus.
2) Seek knowledge in order to know one’s rights, and perhaps more importantly, what duties are required of one.
3) Practice what is required of one to the best of one’s ability, as this is the key to bringing about the favor of Allah and His Protection.
4) Maintain connections with family and community for the sake of Allah, and with the intention of service or khidma, such that if God forbid one were to ever need help, the believers around one would come to one’s aid.
5) Not lose hope when facing a serious period of trial. As our Beloved Prophet told us: “How astonishing is the matter of the believer, for everything that happens to him is for the best, and this is true of no one besides the believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks, and it is best for him; while if something bad happens to him, he is steadfast, and it is best for him.” (Muslim, 4.2295: 2999)
This is mostly on the level of the individual. On a societal level, it is the duty of those in positions of strength and influence (e.g. scholars, leaders of communities, the wealthy), to be aware of the states of the people around them, and call out wrongdoing and oppression wherever they see it.
As Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala quoted Sayyiduna Luqman in the Qur’an:
يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا أَصَابَكَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
“O my Son! Establish the prayer, enjoin what is just, forbid what is wrong, and bear patiently with whatever befalls you. Verily this is from having steadfastness in [one’s] affairs.” (31:17)
If those in positions of strength do not call out oppression, they will necessarily be asked about the neglect of this communal duty, and they must fear Allah in leaving a duty that He has made obligatory on them.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani