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The Role of Women in an Islamic Society

Maryam Chaudhry, USA
The Review of Religions, August 1995

Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and women steadfast, and men who are humble and women are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him - Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward. (Ch. 33, v. 36)
The passage that has just been recited was from the Holy Qur'an, the book which Muslims believe to be the word of God in its entirety, revealed to the Holy Prophet (saw). In this verse, God Almighty tells us that by following a certain way of life, both men and women can attain to the same spiritual heights. There are no double standards in Islam, the requirements of piety are the same: submission to God, true belief in God, obedience to God, truthfulness, steadfastness in the faith, giving alms or charity, fasting, and remaining chaste. If these conditions are met in constant remembrance of God, then both men and women can achieve nearness to God and the same spiritual status. In the Holy Qur'an, God tells us:
Whoso does good whether male or female, and is a believer, shall enter Paradise and they shall not be wronged a whit. (Ch. 4,v. 125)
Before I continue, however, I want to give you a brief introduction to Islam. Being a convert who was born and raised a Christian, I realise that your understanding of Islam is either limited or contains a lot of totally erroneous information. Also, if I talk about the role of women in Islam it will make no sense without a basic understanding of the religion. I am going to ask you to put aside your paradigms for the next hour or so and to keep your mind open to new ideas. I will pose some questions and I will present to you different alternatives. We will play a game of what if? What if you are not here today by chance? What if what you hear today is the truth and could be the beginning of a whole new life for you? Bear with me patiently for a while. You have been given an outline of my speech with spaces in which to take notes or write questions. So please hold your questions until I have completed my lecture.

If you are a Christian, you believe in all the prophets mentioned in the Bible and Old Testament, don't you? Now, did it ever become a source of wonder for you that the prophets as far as you know were all Jewish? It would seem odd that God found pious people worthy of prophethood only in the Jewish nation, even though all races and people of the world are God's creation. Also, the message of Christianity was conveyed throughout the world only after Christ. Do you think it makes sense that God in His Infinite Wisdom would have let the people of Africa, of China, of Australia, of the Americas, and so forth fumble in ignorance without any guidance until the advent of Christ?

Another question which I like to pose to you is this. Why is it that people that belong to different religions throughout the world hold so dearly to their beliefs? After all, there are learned people in every community who have accepted the major religions of the world.

Now, try to visualise the world as a pie. Each segment of society or community is represented by a slice of the pie. Each group declares that their religion is true. The Christian community to which many of you belong claims that God only chose prophets from the Jewish community. I was in my early teens when I started to wonder about such questions.

As I look in front of me, you will notice that my field of vision is limited to a certain angle of this room. If I don't move my head, I can visually detect only a certain segment of the room. To me that is reality, is it not? Is it only reality? Of course, not. There are people and objects that are not within my field of vision. This is exactly the position in which followers of different religions are, including those of you who are Christians. In order to see all the reality available in this room, I would need to be standing from a different position, perhaps higher up, near the ceiling.

Islam provides the only logical and sensible answer to this problem of equity and justice. After all, we will all agree that God is Just, is He not? And to assume that God only sent guidance to one group of his creation so that during the 6000 years or so of the history of the Old Testament, only the Jews were correctly guided, does not seem to fit our concept of God's absolute justice. Now, again, I will ask you to lay aside your paradigms. Paradigms are ideas that you have always held to be absolutely true simply because you were taught those ideas from childhood. Paradigms affect our perception of reality. We filter and interpret information received through our senses and reject and do not notice information that does not confirm our paradigms. A simple illustration: If I believe that dogs are cute and friendly and a dog comes into this room and barks, I will interpret it as a message that he likes me and wants to play. If I believe that dogs are mean and vicious, I will interpret the bark as a sign that the dog wants to bite me. Same evidence, filtered through different paradigm. The world being flat was another paradigm. Another example was the advent of Jesus Christ. The Jews of the time, having interpreted the Bible literally, expected him to be a worldly king who would liberate them from Roman domination. It took twelve disciples and a handful of others who laid aside that old established paradigm and, as Jesus asked them to do, took another look at the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the advent of the Messiah, and lo and behold, they were able to accept Prophet Jesus as the Messiah.

Asking you to lay your old paradigms aside for just one hour, I will give you the following information. When Jesus gave his message, he made two important points. The first one is that the people of his time were not ready to receive the message of God in its entirety: 'I have yet many things to say unto you and you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth will come, he will guide you unto all truth; for He will not speak of His own authority, but whatever He shall hear, He will speak' (John 16: 12-13). Also, he told the Jews, 'The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits thereof' (Matthew 22: 42-43). The kingdom of God, or the gift of prophethood, was taken away from the Jews and given by God to the descendant of Prophet Abraham's first son, Ismael, that is the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) who came to bring to mankind a complete code of law, contained in the Holy Qur'an.

The Message of Islam provides the view from the ceiling I mentioned earlier because the Holy Qur'an claims to contain 'a message ... for all the worlds' (8:128) while all other previous religions specifically mentioned that their message was addressed to a specific group of people. For example, Jesus Christ declared: 'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matthew 14:24).

God explains in the Holy Qur'an that all the people of the world received divine guidance in the form of prophethood.

And there is a Guide for every people... (Ch. 13, v. 8)

And for every people there is a Messenger... (10:48)

Verily, We have sent thee (the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw)) with the Truth.

Duties to God, and duties toward fellowmen. Since we would expect Islam to provide a more refined spiritual guidance, we would expect the precepts of Islam to be also in keeping with what human beings have discovered through years of progress. To name a few, 1500 years ago, Islam declared that all men are created equal (an idea expounded by the French philosopher Rousseau around the year 1750). To quote the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw),
... Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any rights, any superiority to claim over another. You are as brothers. O men, your God is One and your ancestor is one. An Arab holds no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a White over a Black person, nor vice-versa, but only to the extent to which he discharges his responsibility to God and man. Only the God-fearing people merit a preference with God.
The pursuit of knowledge (education) was stressed for both sexes:
The pursuit of knowledge is a duty to every Muslim, men and women. (Hadith)
The Holy Prophet of Islam (saw) told the world that God had especially entrusted to him the task of safeguarding the rights of women. Islam gave women rights that the non-Islamic world has given to women only within the past 200 years: the right to inherit property (from their husbands, their parents, their next of kin), the right to own, keep, and manage their own property, the right to ask and get a divorce in case of ill treatment or abandonment from the husband, the right to remarry, the right to obtain an education. The responsibility for the maintenance of the wife and children was placed on the husband (only recently have child support laws been made and enforced in this country). Remember that Islam was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) by God 1500 years ago. In the United Kingdom, it was only in late 1882 that the first Married Women's Property Act was passed by Parliament, and before that, a woman could not hold property on her own, independently of her husband, and in Italy as late as 1919. Misconduct was accepted in English law as cause for divorce only in 1923. Abandonment was accepted as cause for divorce in New Zealand only in 1912. In Tasmania, 1919, in Victoria, 1923, in Cuba, 1918, in Mexico, 1917, in Portugal, 1915, in Norway, 1909, in Sweden, 1920, in Switzerland, 1912, divorced was allowed for various forms of mistreatment. But Islam had proclaimed and enforced the rights of women since approximately the year 600 only through revelation from God, not as a result of women having to fight for their rights. As American Justice Pierre Craibites had rightly observed:
Muhammad (saw), 1300 years ago assured to the mothers, wives, and daughters of Islam a rank and dignity not yet generally assured to women by the laws of the West.
A principle of change which has been discovered recently is that change in organisations takes place effectively only when the change is directed at the entire organisation rather than at individuals. Islam takes this very view. The dictates of Islam that have to do with men and women and children will change the entire society, not just the individual. You will agree that it is better to raise a good child in a good neighbourhood, isn't it? Would any of you want to spend a lot of time raising your child and then would you go and live in a gang-infested environment? Of course not!

Another paradigm which I ask you to lay aside at this time is that, as a society, you have all the answers. The society in which we live presently, with increasing number of broken homes, single parent homes, drugs, murder, illegitimate births, child abuse, general lack of morality, certainly lack of spirituality, should be a source of shock to all of us. Is this the ideal society? Is this the environment in which we want to leave our future generations? Are conditions improving or getting worse? If indeed we believe in God and an afterlife, is the society around us conducive to the achievement of this goal? If what you have is not so great, stop hanging on to the belief that you are the only one who can find solutions. Now, let's stop putting money into government funded programmes to prevent child abuse, use of drugs, unwanted pregnancies, murders. These programmes do not work. Listen to a different alternative, one that works.

Islam's approach is proactive (not waiting for problems to occur then trying to find solutions). Islam's approach is positive. There are more than 700 commandments of positive things to do in the Holy Qur'an and a few things not to do. Islam's approach is systematic. It addresses change in the entire society, not just in the individual. These three conditions make Islam educationally sound. Islam gives a system for producing maintaining a social climate in a society that is conducive to allowing human beings to achieve the real goal of their creation which is the worship of God (Allah is the same God that people of all faith understand to be the Creator and Supreme Being):

O ye men! worship your Lord Who created you and those who were before you, that you may guard against evil. (Ch. 2, v. 22)
The dictates of Islam create a good moral individual but in addition, Islam which is from God Who, of course, understands the nature of the humanity He has created, realises that this good individual must be placed in a very moral society so that his energies are not spent fighting off evil, but instead, are spent in progressing in nearness and communion to God in preparation of the life to come. If you believe in God and in an afterlife, then a great portion of your time should be spent in preparation for that next life. When you want to prepare for a race or a championship fight or for an exam or for getting a job, you spend years, hours in preparation, don't you? I asked someone at work what she did to prepare for the next life. She answered 'I go to church on Sunday.' Is it really enough?

For the individual, Islam prescribes a minimum of five daily prayers which progressively bring human beings closer and closer to God, and a recipe of spiritual foods contained in the Holy Qur'an. When you do weight lifting, don't you follow a strict programme of regular exercise coupled with a diet rich in nourishing foods? Islam then tells human beings how to regulate their relationships with one another within the content of the family, the society, and humanity.

The great and noble quest that, we as human beings undertake in this life in search of our Creator, must approach it as brothers.

Surely, all believers are brothers.
Human society must provide internal support for its individual members:
And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression... (Ch. 5, v. 6)
We are all in this together, all of humanity! God, in His Infinite Wisdom, has created humanity in a wonderfully, diverse and complementary manner. Men and women are diverse in their respective faculties and capacities.
Our Lord is He Who has endowed everything with its appropriate faculties and then guided it to their proper use. (Ch. 20, v. 51)

God has fashioned mankind according to the nature designed by Him, there is no altering the creation of Allah. (Ch. 30, v. 31)

Men and women are equal in the sight of God, but in view of the differences in their nature, they have been assigned different roles for the smooth functioning of the human society. Women have the unique ability to bear children and to nurture them. Men are physically stronger. Look at the cover of the latest Newsweek magazine. This article discusses brain wave research which shows how differently men and women think and feel and how different parts of the brain are affected differentially for the same mental function. Women are one segment of humanity. In an Islamic society, women can occupy three positions.

First as a daughter, her importance is such that the Holy Prophet of Islam (saw) tells us: 'He who brings up his daughters well, and makes no distinction between them and his sons, will be close to me in Paradise.'

Secondly, a woman can be a wife. The character of men in an Islamic society is established in relationship to their treatment of women. 'The best from among you is one who behaves best towards his wife.' (Hadith)

Thirdly, in her role as a mother, Islam has placed women at a higher status than men. 'Paradise is at the feet of the mother.' Islam recognizes the great role that women play in upbringing of the children and that the future of mankind and of societies depends on mothers. The paradise mentioned by the Holy Prophet (saw) refers to both the social paradise that can be achieved in Islam and the heavenly paradise. Therefore, mothers have been placed at a position of the highest respect. As a covert, I can testify to the profound respect (almost unimaginable if you are not a Muslim) which is accorded to mothers in Islamic homes.

People who sell or teach, people who aim to effect behaviour changes in others, need to fulfill three conditions in order to be effective. First they must sell themselves, that is gain trust and credibility; for example real estate sales people are told that it is not the house that they must sell to their customers, it is themselves. Secondly, they must constantly model the behaviour which they want others to adopt. As a teacher trainer, I constantly tell my staff that they must 'walk the talk'. The third and most vital condition is that the teacher must have high expectations of the learners. Therefore, in order for mothers to effectively mould humankind in the highest mould of excellence required by God, they must share the high expectations of that God has for his creation:

Verily, We have created man in the best make. (Ch. 95, v. 5)
And they must become those fortunate beings under who feet paradise can be earned.

If an organisation such as an university entrusts the training of students to teachers, would you not expect that organisation to also provide adequate training for the teachers, good schools or places for the training to take place, and also, good job opportunities after the training is complete?

You would expect nothing less from God, the Almighty Creator. The dictates of Islam that have to do with behaviour of women are the training of this crew of teachers of mankind. The family unit provides the setting for this teaching to take place, but the society which is the workforce of life where the teaching is practiced must also be regulated and maintained in the best of ways.

Teaching is not effective unless the teacher has credibility and respect. Both need to be earned. Can you respect someone who does not behave in a respectable fashion? Can a child behave well unless you accompany your teachings with good modelling? Of course not. Therefore, the high respect which God commands us to hold for women in Islam also dictates that women have to behave with utmost dignity and piety in order to become the most respected and honoured segment of our society. It is sort of the 'Noblesse Oblige' concept of the French. Those of higher nobility are under constant obligation to behave in the best of ways.

Ask yourselves this question. 'Why did nuns used to dress very modestly and cover their heads?' Because they were supposed to be very noble and very pure. In both the Old Testament and the Bible, a head covering is prescribed for chaste women (Genesis: 24:64, 65; 1 Corinthians 11:5, 6). A paradigm which comes from misinterpretation of the Bible is that Eve was responsible to make Adam sin, therefore there is an implication in Christianity that women are impure and that association with them diminishes a man. That is why priest and nuns were told not to marry if they wanted to be close to God. Islam denies the theory of the original sin, and rejects monasticism as a human invention. God tells us in the Holy Qur'an that all human beings are created pure and that both men and women are capable of achieving the highest degree of spirituality (high expectations).

Going back to the question of modest dressing, nuns dressed modestly because they did not intend to marry therefore did not want to attract the attention of members of the opposite sex. But Islam wants all women to be pure, and all men also, no double standards in Islam. What you wear affects both how you feel about yourself and how others view you. For example, at my school, which is not air conditioned, the principal always wears a suit, no matter how hot it is. Teachers and parents know that well dressed children feel good about themselves, and teachers subconsciously view them as well cared for and treat them better. Well dressed children do better in school. Many public schools are now adopting uniform policies for the students because wearing a uniform puts the student in a learning mood and makes the teachers view them as potential learners. This affects both the student and the teacher's behaviour so that the entire atmosphere becomes conducive to learning. Also, even in my childhood, women used to wear veils when they entered the church which points to the relationship between dress and attitude.

Islam prescribes modesty for both men and women in order to maintain a pure Islamic society. As a matter of fact, the responsibility to create and maintain this society starts with men:

Be chaste and your women will be chaste (Hadith).
It is a society in which the institution of marriage plays a vital part. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) says, `Marriage is my way.' The Holy Qur'an describes the relationship between husband and wife in a beautiful manner:
They are a sort of garment for you and you are a sort of garment for them.
A garment embellishes, protects, safeguards, gives dignity and honour. It's a beautiful relationship based on love and respect and characterised by grace:
Consort with them graciously... (Ch. 4, v. 20)
In order to allow women the opportunity to fulfill the challenging obligation of producing these moral individuals who will become members of the Islamic society, the responsibility for providing for the family has been placed on men. They are appointed as protectors of the members of their household.
Men are appointed guardians over women... (Ch. 4, v. 35)

Wives have rights corresponding to those which husbands have, in equitable reciprocity, though, in certain situations, men would have the final word and thus enjoy a preference. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Ch. 2, v. 229)

When you married, God appointed you trustees of those rights (of your wives). You brought your wives to your home under the law of God. You must not, therefore, abuse the trust which God has placed in your hands. (Hadith)

Just as in any system, different individuals are assigned different roles for the optimum functioning of the system, similarly, in the family unit, man is the head of the household. This does not imply superiority or inferiority in any way, just difference in roles because the functions men and women each play in the family unit are different. For example, in the school where I work we have the principal. The staff shares in decision making through committee work but the suggestions always receive the final approval or disapproval from the principal. No one would ever think of disobeying the principal because he has final accountability, therefore he must have the freedom to make the ultimate decisions. In the family unit, the men bears the ultimate responsibility for providing that pious and safe haven of love and comfort called the Islamic home within which paradise is formed under the feet of mothers during the course of the sacred task of the moral upbringing of the children. In return, men receive obedience and support from their spouse. God instructs parents to pray for the success of this sacred duty, because seeking God's help through prayer is a necessary precursor to every endeavour of a Muslim:
Lord, grant us of our spouses and our offspring the delight of our eyes and make us a model (family) for the righteous. (25:75)
Therefore, in order for a society to be a pure society, both men and women should think, dress, and behave in ways that allow pure thoughts and actions to dominate the way of life and create a social climate conducive to the achievement of the real goal of life, the achievement of communion with our God, our Creator. Physical attraction between men and women is good and pure only within the context of the sacred institution of marriage. In the Holy Qur'an, God tells us:
Of His Signs is that He has created for you of your own kind that you may find peace of mind through them, and He has put love and tenderness between you. In that surely are Signs for a people who reflect. (30:22)
To fulfill the natural need for love and comfort, God established the family unit as a safe and healthy place for the experience and manifestation of these normal needs. God also tells us how men and women should behave with people other than their immediate family:
Say to the believing men that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is Well-Aware of what you do. And say to the believing women that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts, and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-coverings over their bosoms, and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment save to their husbands, or to their fathers, or their sons, or the son of their husbands, or their brothers, or the sons of their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, (all men that are not possible for a woman to marry) or women who are their companions (decent women), or those that their right hand possesses, or such of male attendants as have no desire of women, or young children who have not yet attained knowledge of the hidden parts of women. And that they strike not their feet so what they hide of their ornaments may become known. And turn ye to Allah all together, O believers, that you may prosper. (24: 31, 32)
God asks us to follow these injunctions for our own benefit. A pure society will result not only in salvation but in prosperity. What would you choose, a society where men and women respect one another and help one another achieve nearness to God, or would you prefer the present society? Let's face reality. Women have no respect in this society. Just turn on the radio, you will hear how men talk about going to the beach to look at women, free ladies' night at the clubs; we see surveys in major magazines where more than half of American men report being sexually aroused on the job daily by the way women dress themselves; teen pregnancies, rape, youth suicide, runaways, adultery, divorce on the rise, broken homes; another survey of Time Magazine reports that men between the ages of 25 to 40 have 6 to 9 sexual partners; picture the scenes on college campuses, especially where there are dorms, is this really the society in which you, your children, your future generations want to spend the short time we have on this earth to prepare for our eternal life?

As a woman, I pity women in this society. From early childhood, they are taught that their main asset is their physical attraction (think of teen beauty pageants; there are now cheer-pom squads for girls even in elementary schools). They are made to believe that they must parade their physical beauty, spend hours working out in the gyms to shape their figures only to display them at the beaches, all this demeaning compromise so that eventually they will catch a husband. Once they do, they continue to display their attractiveness outside the home, only to be complimented by men other than their husband, or sexually harassed on the job, generally starting the slide into the path of adultery, divorce, broken homes, etc... Enough is Enough.

In Islam, a women need not compromise her dignity, her integrity, her high self-esteem at any time. She thinks, behaves, and dresses modestly. She is respected by all members of the society, particularly men. She displays her beauty for her own husband, not providing a free show for all to enjoy:

..and display not your beauty like the displaying of the former days of ignorance ... (33:34)
Here is the key word `ignorance'. If you walked in an area where prostitutes were parading, would you not feel pity for them and understand that they chose this way of life out of ignorance, because of low self-esteem learned from bad childhood experiences? The Holy Prophet of Islam (saw) tells us:
When you are contemplating a certain course of action, reflect first upon its consequences; if they are good persist, if they are bad desist.
Modest behaviour, of which clothing is only one part, is worth the effort. Why would we, as women, who are entrusted the great responsibility of teaching all of mankind the ways of our Lord, why would we ever want to cause indecent thoughts in the mind of our fellow men who are our brothers in the sight of God. In an Islamic society, men and women help each other achieve goodness, they are not devilishly tempting one another.
The believers, men and women, are friends one of another. They enjoin good and forbid evil and observe Prayer and pay the Zakat (tax for the poor), and obey Allah and His Messenger. It is these whom Allah will have mercy. Surely, Allah is Mighty, Wise. Allah has promised the believers, men and women, Gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide, and delightful dwelling places in Gardens of Eternity, and the pleasure of Allah, which is the greatest bounty of All. That is the supreme triumph. (9:71-72)
The symbolic description above refers to paradise which Islam tells us is a condition of nearness to God which can begin to be reached here on earth, the river flowing under the gardens of paradise refers to the never ending, continuously progressing nature of the quest for the pleasure of God, which is in fact, heaven.

Modest behaviour includes not only how we dress, but how we think, how we address others:

...So be no soft in speech, lest he, in whose heart is a disease, should feel tempted; and speak decent words. (33:33)
God understands that all men do not feel tempted every time they look at a woman, however indecently she may be dressed. But we have no way of knowing the inner state of morality of others.

Islam, as I mentioned earlier, takes a proactive and systematic approach to the establishment of morality in an upright society. Regulation of behaviour between men and women is only one of the preventive dictates of Islam. Others include no intoxicants at all so that human beings are always acting with a clear head and able to make responsible choices. Remember the goal is to produce individuals who eventually achieve communion with God. Of course, production of such individuals in large numbers, who would be the rule rather than the exception, can only be achieved in an upright society where spiritual thriving is the norm.

Earlier, I referred to the fact that principals in schools, bosses in organisations, always dress the part. This clothing does not make them the bosses. It is symbolic of their role in that organisation. In the Qur'an, God explains the essence of Islamic purdah or covering which embodies the attitude of both men and women and is reflected in dress, behaviour and is in turn positively affected by dress and behaviour. When, as a teacher, I see the sad consequences of immoral behaviour perpetuated by behaviours of parents learned by children, I realise that it is a vicious circle. I like to think of the Islamic system as the `pious circle'.

O children of Adam, we have indeed sent down to you raiment to cover your nakedness and to be a means of adornment, but the raiment of righteousness - that is the best. That is the commandment of Allah, that they may remember. (7:27)
The eventual goal is the righteousness of the hearts. Look around you and see morality declining and a system that is not working. Islam offers a system that works. Women play a vital part in this complex and refined system. You know that the more frequent the opportunities for social interchange between men and women, friendships, dating, parties, and so forth, the more likely chances are that the natural attraction which God has placed between them will result in relationships that are bound to endanger morality in a society. Islam restricts this free and unrestrained intermixing of the sexes. Believe me, it is a lot more of a restraint on men than it is on women. And women are protected from all kinds of molestation. Molested individuals lose their sense of self-esteem and unless they undergo lengthy therapy they are usually unable to form stable relationships.

In this society, I view women as suffering from Psychological Molestation Syndrome (PMS) because of the way they are treated as sex objects by the media, at school, on the job, and unfortunately, sometimes in their own homes. The resulting self-esteem of women is low as evidenced by the fact that they allow themselves to be continually exploited in this fashion. Therefore, unless we change the entire system and allow women to gain the self-esteem and respect God provided for them through Islam, stability of relationships between wives and husbands, between mothers and children will continue to be endangered.

When I taught High School students, I would become so saddened by the plight of those teenagers. They felt pressured by society to date. A few girls and a few boys in a class of twenty five would get all the requests. The rest would always feel unhappy, living in constant fear of not being asked out, and often I saw that girls who were finally asked would be ready to give up everything for fear of losing the opportunity. But when relationships of a more serious nature developed, most of the time, they would end up in tremendous heartbreaks, then a process of healing followed in which the teenager hardened and lost this wonderful softness which would have been so critical in forming an enduring relationship in a marriage. After a few of these relationships and ensuing heart breaks, there was nothing left of these poor souls. What would these broken hearted, mended, patched human beings have to contribute to the great task of motherhood. How would you expect individuals who had been exposed to so much to be contained in a relationship with a single partner?

Don't you see that it is the very system that you have created which contributes to the progressive degeneration of your social system? Don't you see that the divorce rate, unwanted pregnancies, lack of commitment to the institution of marriage, all these ills are increasing day by day. Women are so exposed and available that men are losing their attraction for them, and homosexuality, children molestation are becoming more and more common. Unlimited and unrestricted pleasures bring no happiness, indeed they result in unhappiness and instability throughout the entire society. It's like drug usage, the more you take, the more and stronger drug you need to get the temporary but potentially deadly thrill.

As I mentioned earlier, you cannot affect change by targeting individuals or different aspects of a system. You must create change by changing rules that govern the entire system. The rules must be proactive and preventive in nature. The dictates must be positive and include a large number of behaviours that progressively lead to the targeted change. The change proposed by God in the Holy Qur'an will produce a healthy society where goodness becomes a source of pleasure and happiness. Islam promotes strong emotional attachments in relationship between wife and husband, parents and children, siblings, extended families which provide comfort and support and result in happiness, peace of mind and heart, harmony, trust, and stability. In such a society, the natural human need to be loved and to love is fulfilled in so many chaste ways that the individual is satisfied.

A few years ago, I felt so lucky to be a woman in Islam that I became overwhelmed by my Beloved God's goodness toward me. I have, by the grace of God, pious and wonderful children, a wonderful husband, a wonderful son-in-law who is also a convert, and I can see Islam at work creating heaven daily in front of my own eyes. I cannot wait until the time that more and more Americans adopt Islam. Americans are so kindhearted, welcoming, sympathetic, generous human beings, they will, God willing, make the best of Muslims.



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