28 March, 2015
On March 21, many countries in the Arab and Muslim
world celebrated Mother’s Day with special TV shows, radio programs, newspaper
articles and public events that highlighted the sacred role of the mother and
her continued sacrifice for and dedication to her children.
It was very heartening to listen to special songs
written in gratitude to every mother who has ever spent sleepless nights and
endured hardships to provide comfort and love to her children.
Hopefully, this media campaign will raise public
awareness about the sacred role of the mother. The media can certainly play a
bigger role in influencing change and addressing the negative mindset toward
women in Muslim societies.
“Heaven lies under the feet of the mother,” is a
well-known saying in Islamic tradition. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)
stressed the importance of duty and respect for mothers.
Many verses of the Holy Qur’an forbid any reproach
against mothers in particular. Yet many Muslims today continue to pay lip
service to the divine teachings that urge them to show kindness and
appreciation toward women who are the mothers of every generation.
Muslim mothers continue to suffer due to the lack of a
consensus on the legal rights of women and the marginalization of their role in
The conflict between the hardline imams and
progressive Muslim scholars is the reason why many Muslim communities continue
to discriminate against women.
Hardline scholars refuse to integrate Islamic
teachings with universal human rights and the modern role of men and women
The present laws that govern the lives of women in
Muslim communities do not accurately reflect the teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
In Saudi Arabia the social debate about the role and
status of women continues among religious scholars and reformers.
Current political and civil laws that are applied to
govern the lives of women can no longer be justified in our present age.
The existing laws and regulations openly discriminate
against women. The imposed guardianship rule keeps women under the control of
the men in a family.
A woman is expected to be totally obedient and
subservient to the male guardian who makes all of her decisions for her.
She is treated as a minor and has no power to take
decisions that can affect her life and the future of her children.
Sadly many people in our society are influenced by
distorted interpretations of Islamic teachings that view women as unwise
individuals who need constant guidance and advice.
Women are labeled as intellectually, physically and
morally inferior. Society remains male dominated; men are given absolute power
and they form the basic framework for thought and action.
This situation is unacceptable to the modern,
well-educated Saudi woman who is intelligent, capable and financially
Accordingly, many have refused to accept any abuse or
maltreatment by domineering men. Today our society suffers from a very high
rate of divorce and the average Saudi family is deprived of a healthy
environment which is very detrimental to the progress of society.
We live in the 21st century and technological and
industrial advancements have revolutionized our way of life. There are many challenges facing the average Saudi family.
Economic necessities and social responsibilities
dictate the need for many mothers to work in order to be able to provide a life
of dignity and comfort for their children.
Economists affirm that investment in women is the most
effective way to eliminate poverty. Women need more job opportunities and
better wages to be able to survive and support themselves and their families.
When women suffer, the entire family suffers. It is
time we catered to the welfare of Saudi
families and created a less stressful
environment in all homes.
Women members of the Shoura Council were expected to
push for the elimination of the guardianship rule and amend the laws that
discriminate against women.
Sadly, social injustice against women continues in the
absence of appropriate and effective codified Shariah laws so that women can be
aware of their legal rights.
How long do we have to wait for decision makers to
implement the true teachings of Islam and influence change within Saudi
society? We cannot afford to waste more time in ending the discrimination
Muslim scholars are called upon to publicly reclaim
Islam’s spirit of justice and respect for women who are mothers and to remember
that God has placed Heaven under their feet.
Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer
Very well said. The path to change does not begin with laws
(it ends with them). It begins with respect and change in our daily lives. I
see a lot of urban women who are educated and earning at par with their
husbands. but while they have joined the bread-winning force of the house, they
are still not in the decision-makers club. They are still known (literally) by
their husband's names and live by their husband's wishes for the most part. We
don't even stop a second to think about rituals like "kanya-daan"
(giving away the daughter in marriage).