During the 8 weeks spent in the Soliya program* I met new people from different parts of the world . We discussed several subjects (religion, discrimination, economic issues), and the one that we were interested in the most was the rights of women and in particular those who live in Islamic countries.
Most of my friends did not know the real status of women in these countries and they were satisfied with what the media show: “Muslim society discriminates against women and girls”.This subject really disturbed me and I decided to concentrate my final project on this subject. I am Ouiam, I am Moroccan, Arab and Muslim and I decided to talk about “women in Islam and their true status in Islamic society”.
At the time of “Al Jahiliya” (before the arrival of the Islam) the Arabs were ashamed when their newborn was a girl and used to bury their daughters alive. Islam came to correct the odious behavior of ancient civilizations and religions towards women, proclaiming that the woman was an integral human being. In Islam, women have the right to a dignified life by teaching (the Prophet (PBUH) says that the pursuit of knowledge is a mandatory duty for all Muslims). She has the right to property, property management, marriage, child welfare, inheritance, work and social recognition. With regard to the legal, civil and political rights of women, Islam has given women the absolute right to manage their wealth, to manage the affairs of their justice, to prosecute anyone, including their husbands, before the courts of justice, give testimony and consult it. The Muslim woman participates in all social activities. She has the right to exercise all the functions of which she is able to gain power in the same way as the man.
However, all these beautiful truths are neglected in the media. The media show the world that the Islamic religion is a religion that crushes the rights of women who treat them as sex objects and terrorists’ wives. The media shows the wrong side of the news and the biggest misfortune is that people believe in that information. According to an article on the site “The Guardian’’ Of the 2,420 people interviewed in the US and western Europe, nearly half said TV documentaries had a strong or very strong influence on their views of Arab Muslims. For television news, the figure was 41%, while 36% of respondents said the same about newspaper coverage. Around 37% of respondents said they had very limited exposure to news and information about Islam, while nearly three-quarters said the media depicts Arab Muslims and Islam accurately only half the time. The study was unveiled at the NewsXchange conference in Amsterdam last week. “The image of Islam has been hijacked by extremists and it is time to take it back,” Chris Yalounis, one of the authors of the report, told the conference.**
I interviewed foreign friends about their views on Islam and its relationship to women’s rights. Two of them said that according to their research on the Internet and television shows, they think that this religion does not respect women, that it is unfair to them. Two think the contrary, that Islam is a good religion and respects the value of women and the last person has no idea about it. After asking some of my friends from Soliya about their society’s point of view about Islam and women’s rights, I noticed that their opinion was tough on these stereotypes. It’s devastating to see the media, that are supposed to tell the truth, actually lying to the world.
In some Islamic countries (where the number of Muslims is the largest percentage) women’s rights start seeing the light of day. Indeed in Morocco, Following independence from France in 1956, Moroccan women were at the forefront of knowledge production and artistic expression—all of which nuanced the conception and perception of a post-colonial Moroccan identity. Fatima Mernissi, for example, emerged as a critical figure in the knowledge production on gender studies in Morocco. Laila Lalami has also become a popular figure in literature of Morocco, being the first Moroccan author to publish a book of fiction in English***. In Indonesia, there is also no limitation on women in constitution for their right to education, livelihood, freedom which is guaranteed same as man. There is also law in constitution that guarantees women in parliament even though it is still in small numbers compared to men. As women’s right to education is equal to men’s, there are even departments at universities that prioritize women or have higher female student percentage like nursing faculty, accounting, statistics, etc. There is also sometimes a faculty that prioritizes woman like machine majors which usually has very high percentage of male students.****
Finally, I invite people not to believe what the media is saying and to learn to connect with different people to know more about other cultures, learn to ask people questions instead of judging them in advance. Buy books to learn other things and be tolerant. Let’s all fight together the monsters that break the bonds between cultures, which creates hatred between humans. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, so let’s be tolerant !!
*Soliya is an international nonprofit organization preparing the next generation with the skills, attitudes, and commitment to engage with difference constructively. It operate at the intersection of technology, peace-building, and global education to foster local awareness and global perspectives.
**The media has an anti-Muslim bias,The Guardian
***What is the state of women’s rights in Indonesia?, Quora
****Women in Morocco, Wikipedia