Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hadrat Khadija (ra) was the Exception, not the Rule

Someone mentioned on twitter how if Hadrat Khadija (ra) was the prototype of pre-Islamic women, then Muslim women today are worse off then the women then.

It makes a number of general assumptions which are used to support its absurd comparison.

First, not all Muslim women are oppressed today; certainly, many women in villages in Pakistan/Afghanistan or more dictatorial societies like KSA or Iran are oppressed but in the same societies, you'll find many women from feudal families or families w/ big businesses or political pull who have a lot of wealth, education, and freedom and many don't even practice hijab. In the west, you'll find even more professional women, hijabi and non-hijabi, who are middle class, independent, and educated. Similarly, to just assume off of one individual that all pre-Islamic women were better off w/o Islam is downright ignorant and insensitive to those women who suffered before Islam and suffered at the hands of pre-Islamic people for joining Islam. There were women who were given an opportunity thanks to wealth, status, good men, etc. and were free but many women were also quite oppressed as they are today in Muslim countries.

Second, the baseless assumption here is the Islam practiced today by Muslims everywhere is practiced the same way it was 1400 years ago. The reality they ignore, and probably why they left Islam, is that much of the oppression stems from cultural practices of pre-Islam. You look at the abusive nonsense they do in Pakistan for example, it's very similar to what Hindus or Sikhs do but no one would ever assert their religions made them worse off than before. Even how KSA implements Islam can be traced back to the restrictive bedouin roots of the House of Saud. That in itself shows that the state of Muslims around the world but mainly in the Muslim countries has not remained stagnant and has in fact reverted in some places to pre-Islamic practices. In India and Pakistan for example, some people abort their babies while in the womb b/c they find they are girls or they feel shame from having a girl; before Islam, they would wait for them to be born, then go out back, and then bury them.

Third, why would the woman who had it all before the advent of Islam stick with the man who taught the faith that was allegedly more oppressive than pre-Islam? She still had her business and family to fall back on and if the society was so enlightened, they'd have helped her b/c a good bulk of them already hated Muhammad (saw) for preaching Islam. Yet, she pushed for him to preach Islam and carry out the message for 9 long years in which she gave birth to many children.

On a final note, I'd like to take a moment to discuss how a woman like Khadijah (ra) may have come into the position she was in. She had a lot of wealth and property and she was a widow so it's possible her husband may have been a good natured person who loved his wife. Alternatively, he may have been a Christian and not have believed in the super patriarchal culture of the Arabs; after all, she had a cousin named Waraqa and perhaps have had no issue w/ differences of belief, something which may have gotten her in the position she was in.

Other women in her time whom were prominent were the wives of the uncles of Muhammad (saw), some of which not only led and incited the persecution of Muslims but after many joined Islam, they became very active amongst Muslims. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan who at one times was the greatest enemy of Muhammad (saw), pre-Islam had a slave assassinate one of Muhammad's (saw) close uncles and then had his body mutiliated; post-Islam, she forced the return of retreating Muslims to battle.