This time we are discussing an important subject, women empowerment. Though the topic is quite popular but its practical implications have always been marred with hindrances. The questions dealt here pertain to the gamut of the same, its need, role of men, development of society, disadvantages etc. Let us take a look at the true concept of women empowerment and the ways to materialize it to the precision.
(29) What is the need of women empowerment?
It’s a fact that empowered women can cause healthy changes in a society by discharging different responsibilities in different roles. No society can achieve sustainable progress with a minimal or negligible role of women.
If one delves with the wide and deep angles of the roles and responsibilities, a necessity of fine tuning them would certainly pop up. For instance, no daughter is born with the required manners to behave well with her parents; no woman becomes a wife with a full knowledge and understanding of how to live with her husband, kids and in laws. So, regardless of her roles, she needs a comprehensive training to excel.
By empowerment of women we mean the moral, educational, intellectual and cultural development by virtue of which a woman not only understands her status and the spirit of her roles but also know how to discharge the responsibilities in different circumstances.
The success of the process of empowerment depends on mutual cooperation, both within and outside the four walls. The society should feel its importance and facilitate with all possible modes to ensure a smooth and productive process of all round development.
The crux of the spirit of women empowerment is to help her understand the roles and discharge the responsibilities to the perfection; the saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) elaborates the same:
الْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ عَلَى بَيْتِ بَعْلِهَا وَوَلَدِهِ وَهِيَ مَسْئُولَةٌ عَنْهُمْ
A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and his children and shall be questioned concerning them (Muslim).
(30) How to empower a daughter?
You can empower your daughter by means of some pragmatic ways. There can’t be a short cut or fast track method to teach her what actually you want; you just need to stay focused. The process of empowerment fairs better if it runs on the principle of slow and steady. The following ways can be helpful:
- Let her understand what her persona is.
- Let her know about Allah and the ways to worship Him.
- Teach her how to invoke Allah and the ways to remember Him.
- Relate her sense of understanding with the teachings of Quran and Sunnah.
- Help her memorize the Quran and some portions from Hadith.
- Develop her personality with high moral and spiritual values.
- Suggest some good books to read and help her understand the important parts.
- Let her always stay focused on acquisition of knowledge.
- Teach her to engage in productive work.
- Advise her to make optimum use of time.
- Teach her an art of strengthening her strengths.
- Teach her an art of articulating her weaknesses into strengths.
- Tell her about the things that she wants to understand.
- Specify the things with which she plays.
- Tell her to do small things on her own.
- Encourage if she takes any initiative.
- Encourage her to take decisions related to her day to day affairs.
- Never discourage if anything goes wrong.
- Inspire her with motivating stories.
- Read out story books for her.
- Advise her how to make friends and how to maintain friendship.
- Let her know that she is the best guard for herself, and protection of chastity and dignity is her prime responsibility.
- Let she accompany you when you are with your friends at home.
- Let her know the responsibilities she is going to be entrusted.
- Encourage her to understand what she studies from her syllabus.
- Develop helping nature and advise to help her friends.
- Introduce yourself and let her know how you have lived.
- Let her know the likes and dislikes of her parents.
- Help her set lofty goals.
- Review her day’s activities before going to bed.
(31) What is the role of men in women empowerment?
Men should be ardent supporters and facilitators of women empowerment. It is their religious and moral responsibility. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
الرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْهُمْ
A man is a shepherd over the members of his family and shall be questioned concerning them (Muslim).
Imam An Nawawi has beautifully explained this Hadith of Sahih Muslim:
الراعي هو الحافظ المؤتمن الملتزم صلاح ما قام عليه ، وما هو تحت نظره ، ففيه أن كل من كان تحت نظره شيء فهو مطالب بالعدل فيه ، والقيام بمصالحه في دينه ودنياه ومتعلقاته .
The shepherd is a designated guardian who is loyal to the righteousness of everything he is in charge of and whatever is under his possession. Therefore whoever is under his dependency is entitled to get justice from him and the assurance of benefits with regard to its Religion (Deen) and the World (Dunya) and everything related to that.”
The spirit of empowerment should encompass the benefits of both Deen and Dunya, therefore it’s an obligation on men to:
- Understand the need of empowerment.
- Consider the feminine gender as a companion not a competitor.
- Help in specifying the areas of development.
- Help in the determination of targets.
- Lend helping hand in achieving the targets.
- Help in solving the problems.
- Provide ample space for her to exercise the due rights.
A woman has to strive on her own for the overall development as she has been bestowed with liberty and rights. However it is desirable to get in touch with men of her family to get their help as required.
(32) How Empowerment of women help in the development of a society?
Empowerment of women helps in the development of society in many ways. In true sense, a society is considered to be developed only when both the genders contribute in accordance with their potentials.
A society develops:
- Morally when a woman as a mother and wife plays her part to the perfection.
- Materially when the able women entrepreneurs contribute in business and commerce sectors.
- Educationally when the feminine gender shines both intellectually and academically.
- Culturally when womanhood ensures their effective role in and off the house.
- Spiritually when a mother, a daughter, and a sister adhere to moral values and cause dynamic changes.
- Politically when women leaders take charge of the affairs within their specified jurisdiction.
- Ethically when children reflect the character of their mothers, and when a husband enthusiastically performs due to inspiration from his better half.
In this process of development, a woman is expected to associate herself with a joint struggle:
وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُولَئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
The believers, both men and women, are allies of one another. They enjoin good, forbid evil, establish Prayer, pay Zakah, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Surely Allah will show mercy to them. Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise (Ch 9 – At Tawba: 71)
(33) How can wearing a hijab be empowering?
The question has validity, how come a burqa clad woman can achieve success in a highly competitive world? So, wearing a hijab may or may not be empowering, it all depends on the individual, the way she wears, and the way society responds.
A hijab becomes an obstacle if practiced with exaggeration by crossing all the limits. If it is not the case, progress is for sure. You can call hijab as a protective cover that facilitate women to walk confidently and gracefully on the path of progress and development.
By empowerment we mean a continued process of progress and development of the feminine gender which in turn ensures effectiveness of all her expected roles.
With a hijab a woman in no way gets deprived of her due rights. She is entitled to do whatever she wants to but in view of certain norms. Islam has presented a detailed discussion on woman’s rights, status and dignity that clearly indicate a horizon of progress and achievement.
Let me remind you, hijab doesn’t mean covering even hands with glows. Nay; it’s just a dignified covering of the body, the way it has been mentioned in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is graphically cleared from the following:
Hazrat Asma (may Allah be pleased with her), the beloved daughter of Hazrath ABu Bakr (r) came to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wearing thin clothes. When the Prophet (pbuh) saw that, he looked away and said, “Oh Asma’, if a woman reaches puberty, she should not show anything from her except this and he pointed to his face and his hand.”
In explanation to this Hadith from Abu Dawood, Imam Abu Hanifah included the feet to this exception because it is more difficult to cover the feet than the hands. It means the hijab must cover the body completely from top to bottom, except face and hands as mentioned above. However a few Scholars have favored the covering of face.
(34) What are the Disadvantages of women empowerment?
Not only empowerment every act with an imbalance approach will have certain disadvantages. No matter whether it is men or women empowerment, anything that goes against the essence of development will have its own repercussions.
I strongly favor women empowerment; rather it’s their birth right. A woman born with all her rights and duties that make her an empowered by birth, all we have to do is to provide her with a compatible atmosphere and all possible facilities for smooth progress and development.
As said, in case of any exaggeration, imbalance approach or unhealthy trends, the women empowerment will have some disadvantages and they are:
- A woman may not be able to discharge her natural responsibilities like nurturing a child, taking care of her husband etc.
- The society may notice an undeclared competition between the two genders.
- There may be an imbalance of roles to be played by men and women according to their potentials.
- Lack of precautionary measures may lead to cultivation of negativity, like jealousy, animosity, harassment etc.
- Excessive work and over involvement will exert unhealthy impacts on physical and mental conditions.
- Rise in crime and sexual exploitation.
- Children’s moral standard and academic performance will have adverse effects.
- The family system will collapse.
- A society runs and progresses smoothly if the balance of roles, statuses and responsibilities of both the genders is maintained, if not, the inequality between the rights of genders may pose threats.
We can put the discussion in a nut shell, that women empowerment is nothing but an attempt to ensure the rights and dignity. Allah has blessed them with the required skills to accomplish the task of overall development.
In this process, man need to lend his helping hand with a noble thought that the feminine gender is in no way a competitor rather apparel if she happens to be his wife and a source to enter in Paradise if she is his daughter. As far woman’s other roles, the following Hadith excellently summarizes the true spirit of men being at the helm of process of empowering women.
Abu Hurairah (r) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
أَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِيمَانًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ خُلُقًا
The most complete of the believers in terms of Iman is the one with the best character among them. And the best of you are those who are best to your women. (Tirmidhi).
© Muhammad Abdullah Javed – April 2016
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