A Few months ago I went, with my wife and daughter, to London to attend a lecture about the Prophet Muhammad organised by the Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage.
The topic focused on the status of this messenger and how we are supposed to stand up and defend his name, especially after the recent events of slandering by the Danish cartoons in February 2006.
The speaker, a Muslim scholar, also condemned all violent demonstrations, whatever the reason was, that occurred in some countries as a return of the insult.
When we reached our destination by taxi, just before paying the fare, the driver asked: "Where are you from?". I replied: "Kuwait". He then laughed and said: "Oh, that's why your wife is covering her head?" I said: "Yes, we are Muslims." I then took this opportunity and asked: "Do you know what Islam is all about?" He said: "Yes" and he pointed towards his radio.
I wanted to let him know that the media is not always an authoritative source but instead I offered him a booklet I had written entitled: "A proposal for you: What do you actually know about Islam?" Later on I reflected on his comments, especially his initial comment about the Muslim head-covering enjoined on women's dressing code (hijab).
In Islam, both men and women are exactly equal in front of their Lord. They are equal in terms of their tasks and responsibilities and their rewards or punishments in return as the prophet has said: "Women are the twin halves of men." But they are not the same. They are different in several aspects including physiological, psychological, and behavioural differences.
"O Prophet. Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested (annoyed). . . " (Quran 33:59).
What did Allah (Almighty God, in Arabic) mean by 'molested'? And is such a concept alien to our modern world? Let's refer to the statistics available from the Home Office. Two women every week in England and Wales are killed by their partner or ex-partner.
One in 20 women in England and Wales has been the victim of rape since the age of only 16. On a daily basis there is a total of 167 rapes (around seven rapes per hour) and strangers were only responsible for eight per cent of the rapes.
Please bear in mind when looking at these terrifying figures that the Home Office estimated 80,000 prostitutes in the UK and around 50 per cent of them were just under 25 years old. The Quran enjoins decent treatment of the wife by the husband: she is to be honoured and treated kindly.
Imagine that I had an expensive and unique pearl, where do you think I should keep it? You would agree with me that it should be kept in a secure place and condition. Well, to Muslims, their mothers, wives, daughters, sisters etc are more precious to them than the most expensive jewellery in the world.
The basic requirement of the Muslim woman's dress applies to the Muslim man's clothing as well with the difference being mainly in the degree.
The hijab and other regulations in Islam were never meant to enslave or restrict but to liberate, liberate and preserve women from evil and lust.
In Islam, the women's status is so profound and eminent: it is not acceptable for a woman to be a tool for advertisement or to act as a sex object. We can easily remove misconceptions about Islam if we realise that Islam intends to maintain and preserve the dignity of mankind and not the opposite. Shall we not then ask ourselves: what is the best, most beneficial and more protective system for the honour, dignity and pride of women?
This issue is usually misrepresented in the media. The British feminist Karen Armstrong wrote: "In such a primitive world, what Muhammad achieved for women was extraordinary. The very idea that a woman could be witness or could inherit anything at all in her own right was astonishing." She also said: ". . . Muslims were horrified to see the way western Christians treated their women in the Crusader states, and Christian scholars denounced Islam for giving too much power to menials like slaves and women".