The Impact of Nationalism
The ideas of Qasim Amin reflected those who closely linked the emancipation of women and rejection of veiling to national movements for independence. For this group, the changing roles of women in society were important ways to convince the overseas colonial rulers that their subject nations were ready to govern themselves. Women were encouraged to be symbols of the new state. Those who resisted these ideas of social progress were mocked. Turkish elites, for example, mocked women covered in black, calling them "beetles." Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who began to build a secular nation-state in 1923, denounced the veil, calling it demeaning and a hindrance to civilized nation. But he did not outlaw it. Shortly after, in Iran in the 1930s, Reza Shah Pahlevi did, issuing a proclamation banning the veil outright. For many women, this decree in its suddenness was not liberating but frightening. Some refused to leave home for fear of having their veil torn from their face by the police.
Male leaders of nationalist movements encouraged women to join them and appear more freely in public. Slowly some women did. In 1910, a young Turkish woman attracted attention by daring to have herself photographed. At about the same time, educated women in Turkey began to leave the house unveiled, but still wearing hijab. The most dramatic public unveiling was undertaken by Huda Shaarawi in Egypt in 1923. Following suit were Ibtihaj Kaddura in Lebanon, Adila Abd al-Qudir al-Jazairi in Syria, and much later Habibah Manshari in Tunis. Moroccan scholar Fatima Mernissi remembers the fight her mother had with her father about replacing her heavier traditional veil with "a tiny triangular black veil made of sheer silk chiffon. This drove Father crazy: 'It is so transparent! You might as well go unveiled!' But soon the small veil, the litham, became the fashion, with all the nationalists' wives wearing it all over Fez - to gatherings in the mosque and to public celebrations, such as when political prisoners were liberated by the French."
Women's organizations also played an important role in transforming dress, although this was a minor issue in their struggle for women's political rights and for legal reforms. It should be stressed that for many women it was not the fact of wearing the veil that was the issue, but that the veil symbolized the relegation of women to a secluded world that did not allow them to participate in public affairs...
Part of the problem dates to Muhammad. Even as he proclaimed new rights for women, he enshrined their inequality in immutable law, passed down as God's commandments and eventually recorded in scripture. The Koran allots daughters half the inheritance of sons. It decrees that a woman's testimony in court, at least in financial matters, is worth half that of a man's. Under Shari'a, or Muslim law, compensation for the murder of a woman is half the going rate for men. In many Muslim countries, these directives are incorporated into contemporary law. For a woman to prove rape in Pakistan, for example, four adult males of "impeccable" character must witness the penetration, in accordance with Shari'a.
Women in Islam have rights and are not oppressed.
Family law in Islamic countries generally follows the prescriptions of scripture. This is so even in a country like Egypt, where much of the legal code has been secularized. In Islam, women can have only one spouse, while men are permitted four. The legal age for girls to marry tends to be very young. Muhammad's favorite wife, A'isha, according to her biographer, was six when they wed, nine when the marriage was consummated. In Iran the legal age for marriage is nine for girls, 14 for boys. The law has occasionally been exploited by pedophiles, who marry poor young girls from the provinces, use and then abandon them. In 2000 the Iranian Parliament voted to raise the minimum age for girls to 14, but this year, a legislative oversight body dominated by traditional clerics vetoed the move. An attempt by conservatives to abolish Yemen's legal minimum age of 15 for girls failed, but local experts say it is rarely enforced anyway. (The onset of puberty is considered an appropriate time for a marriage to be consummated.)
Women in Islam essays Women play an important role in any society
Women's rights are compromised further by a section in the Koran, sura 4:34, that has been interpreted to say that men have "pre-eminence" over women or that they are "overseers" of women. The verse goes on to say that the husband of an insubordinate wife should first admonish her, then leave her to sleep alone and finally beat her. Wife beating is so prevalent in the Muslim world that social workers who assist battered women in Egypt, for example, spend much of their time trying to convince victims that their husbands' violent acts are unacceptable.
Essay on the Women's rights in Islam - CSS Forums
Women activists in the Muslim world are less preoccupied with what women wear than with securing other freedoms such as access to education, better health care for their families, or wider opportunities for work. Commonly they argue for women's rights under the supposition of a culture-specific struggle, focusing on the implementation and activation of human rights claimed to be granted by Islam. Feminist consciousness and action may indeed exist in greater measure with the wearer of Islamic dress than with one who wears up-to-date Western style clothes!
Islams Women - The Status of Women in Islam
Rather than offering unasked for advice, non-Muslims might educate themselves with regard to local customs and religious belief, and offer support when it is requested by people within the culture itself. Following is an excerpted essay from a section in the curriculum unit . The essay provides an historical look at Islamic dress. The section contains primary source accounts on the topic from a variety of times and places.