Yaya wrote:I think you must step out of the Western frame of mind to understand this concept, step away from the notion that breadwinning is superior to caretaking or homemaking, to understand the Islamic marriage contract. Islam does not place separate values on these roles. The 'new' West, however, does. Hence, the reason in the past ten years that women feel an impetus to take on breadwinning.
I really don't see how it is 'the Western frame of mind' to realise that the concept of 'breadwinning' envisages a far greater degree of personal freedom (and thus individual development) than 'homemaking'. At the end of the day, all you've got to do in the former role is make money. There are innumerable ways of doing that, and of combining that activity with, say, one's passions, artistic inclinations, ethical concerns, political ambition, business acumen, outgoing personality, etc, etc, etc. Think of all that being a surgeon means to you outside of simply fulfilling a religious obligation (I'm assuming there's a reason you chose that path over others).
The flexibility or verstility of a role in society is not necessarily directly proportional to it's value or importance. Nor would I say that taking on tasks that fall under the category of "homemaking" or "child-rearing" restricts the development of a person. To define a person's worth by the role or job they play in society is shallow (not saying you do this). Rather, I find the worth of a person to reside in what kind of person he or she is, how that person treats others, are they selfish or selfless, etc. A role is simply that: a role. It's something you do
, not something you are
Stemming from the above logic, one could do the opposite and make the argument that the proper rearing of children, with compassion and attention, is more important than bringing home a pay check, as the former is laying the foundation for future generations so they might best be competent in bringing home the bacon, thereby producing a more stable and healthy society in general. If I had to choose, based on logic and reason, I might go with this logic instead.
But let me again stress here that in Islam, the women's role of being a mother and a wife are not intended to confine her to these things. There is no such stipulation that a women cannot move beyond
these things, only a stipulation that she must do
these things. Islam permits the women to vote, engage in politics, to take up employment and even run her own business. But not
at the expense of those certain duties required of her.
One might say such an approach is restrictive of intellectual development, but it was Islam that freed the women from the clutches of mindless ignorance, for it became mandatory
upon every Muslim, male and female, that they seek and acquire knowledge. In fact, it is considered the Islamic right
of the individual, male and female both, that the state provide ample educational facilities and resources to it's citizens. Herein American, such a thing is considered a privilege, not a right.
Compared to that, what freedoms are afforded to the homemaker? Whether to cook a roast dinner or order a take-out. Whether to clean the bathroom or do the laundry first. What to put on the shopping list. Whether to buy new curtains. It's an outrageously limiting role"
Again, limiting only if one limit's themself to these things.
In reality, the Islamic wife has more time on her hands to pursue other endeavors and hobbies than the Muslim man. In Islam, for example, it is not
the duty of the women to cook for the husband, and the women has the right
to a servant or maid at the expense of the husband. Not really a right in the Western sense, is it? Not sure if cleaning falls into the designated responsibility of the wife in Islam, so I'd have to look that up.
You say that someone is lucky if they have a 'stay-at-home' wife. If, say, by divine intervention, the roles were reverse - if God said, "OK, we're half way through humanity's course - switch around time" - would you think that man equally lucky? After all, the balance achieved is the same. Would you honestly say that if you understood your God to be asking that of you, you'd give up surgery with no regrets or feelings of emasculation, of having had something that defines you taken away?
If I knew that God was asking this of me, I would do it. Regardless of my personal opinion on the matter, I would do it. Why? Because Jack, the impetus for doing what a Muslim does is not to satisfy one's own personal desires and fantasies based on one's own logic. Here is where I think the biggest misunderstanding resides between a Muslim who is living within Islam and the non-Muslim who is looking from the outside of it. And that is, all things done, all rights and responsibilities carried out, all laws that are followed, are a means to seek the favor and pleasure of our Creator. It is only through His Mercy that I am not being asked by Him to do something harmful to myself or others. I support my wife because that's what God wants me to do. I give her her rights (and I get screwed over by her for it) for the sake of God. There is something to be said of the contentment that comes from knowing you are doing something out of obedience to the Creator. This is why a Muslim man can so easily accept his role and a Muslim women can so easily accept hers, irrespective of one's personal desires and inclinations. Liberation comes for the pleasure of God and the recognition that, no matter how intelligent we think we are, we know close to nothing next to His knowledge.
Islam comes from the root word aslamah
which, through the beauty of the Arabic language, has two meanings that are at first seemingly unrelated but in reality are fully intertwined. One meaning is "submission". Aslamah
means "to submit". But if one studies the root word further, we see that from aslamah
comes the word salaam
, which means "peace". Therefore, what is Islam? It is but "peace through submission." That really is it in a nutshell. That is why we do what we do.
I think, had I been an atheist, I would also have approached things from a perspective perhaps similar to your own. I mean, why follow rules that I don't, by my own logic and desire, want to?
"But the Costa story featuring Starscream? Fantastic! This guy is "The One", I just know it, just from these few pages. "--Yaya, who is never wrong.