The position of women in Islam is an issue that has always been perceived differently by different individuals. For instance, the western world has always believed that Islamic women are oppressed and mistreated. The west believes that Islamic women are not given a chance to realize their potential as human beings but instead they are perceived as vulnerable people who are supposed to be shielded from external forces.
However, the truth is that things have changed since Islamic women do virtually all the things done by men although this does not change the way the western world perceives them. The west still perceives them as victims of oppression. This article by Lorraine Ali attempts to prove to the Americans who view Islamic women as voiceless and helpless people that indeed they are not helpless.
The west judges Islamic women wrongly by only citing extreme cases of Islamic women under oppression. For instance, people from the West sample cases of women oppression in countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. In these countries, women are ordered to cover themselves while others are denied a chance to go to school.
This should not be used by the western world to make a generalized opinion of Islamic women. Just because there are extreme cases of women oppression in some countries does not mean that every Islamic woman is doomed and helpless. People from the west should also focus on the positive side of Islamic women rather than focusing on the negatives always and concentrating on them to depict Islamic women as oppressed people.
Despite the fact that the west looks at Islamic women as oppressed and voiceless individuals, the women have proved their worth in countries like Egypt, Jordan and Syria where they have ventured in male dominated professions like law, the police and medicine. As a result, they have considered themselves strong people who should be given the chances given to men. Despite the fact that it is good for women to be engaged in productive careers, empowering them might also cause problems.
Gender and equality should be addressed cautiously because some women become rebellious and uncontrollable once they succeed in their careers. In her work, Leila says that however restrictive the environment is in Islamic religions, women should not be prevented from achieving their goals. The restrictions on women Islam religion upholds should not be aimed at silencing them. The religion should control women in other ways other than restricting them from doing what they want to do.
Since the main message of the article is that women are strong and that they are not what the west perceives them to be, the article should have concentrated on the positive efforts of women in trying to prove that they are not helpless. The article presents exceptional cases of women who have defied all odds to take their position in the society. However, it does not portray strong will of women to constantly fight for themselves.
Once the strong points of women are highlighted, they are followed by their fears. For instance, the article explains the determination of women to assert their position in society regardless of the restrictive nature of the society. But this is followed by the assertion that Muslim women nevertheless consider themselves pawns in a political game. Despite their resolve, the article presents Islamic women as people who are never sure of gaining the freedom and independence they look for.
The views that the western world express towards Islamic women are not driven by fair judgment or accurate knowledge of what the women go through. Instead, the Western world uses the situation of Islamic women to paint a bad picture of the Islam religion in general. Muslims are fully aware that the western world sees them in the eyes of the Muslim women but in the article, the Muslim society does not seem to defend itself against the negative perception by the west.
One would have expected the entire Islam religion to be on the defensive to prove that Islamic women are not helpless. By mentioning that this is an age-old problem, the article seems to acknowledge that the perception of the west that Islamic women are helpless cannot be eliminated. In a way, they admit that women Muslims are indeed helpless.
The article explains the apparent success with which the west used women issues in the past to attack Islam. It is not explained whether the Muslims attempted to change the situation or not. By showing that people from the west succeeded in using women issues to demonize Islam, the capacity of the Muslims to fight for their religion when it is under attack is weakened.
Although Islamic women suffer from the manipulation of the Jihadists and the intervention of the west, they seem to have largely contributed towards their problems. There is an underlying way of thinking among the Muslim women that it is difficult to get what they want because men dominate the society.