As the former president of the United States, Barrack Obama once said: ‘’A change is brought about because ordinary people do ordinary things‘’, prophets, philosophers and thinkers bring change where there are stagnant unfruitful ideas. A power of any critic is in his ability to speak of matters that are good and dangerous to the establishment of human dignity and equal rights. This egalitarian message of women’s rights may sounds so foreign to many people among our ignorant friends, and they may think that it was imported from the West.
This is one of the greatest enigmas of our times. It is our duty to refresh the memories of our Muslim brethren. We love our Islamic North and the people within. It is out of love for the society that we want it to move to another level. When Plato was criticising his society he weighed it with the egyptian civilisation and showed that his lovely Greek was not as civilised as the old Egypt. He went on castigating his dear republic. Shall we stop criticising ourselves just because happy? No! Let’s keep on criticising ourselves. Let the likes of Hajara Bukar be in abundance. Nobody feels our pain. We know the pain and we are to cure it. If we stop criticising we will move to nowhere. The basis of any meta-ideological struggle is in self-criticism.
We don’t care about the dangers and name-callings. Self-criticism is one of the main pushers of societal progress. Philosophers known for changing the course of history based their philosophy on criticising the societies they came from. Plato criticised Athens for educational degradation during the heydays of the intellectual Greek. One may wonder, with the pure rationalism the state enjoyed, what was it to be criticised? But greatest thinkers want to see perfection in everything.
The chemical reactions in the billions of neurons within their brain is working to see wrong where common men see right. Socrates, the teacher of Plato, moved his society forward by criticising the sophists and their sophistry. With the power of his dialogues, he changed the meaning of sophists from wise men to stupid ones. When Aristotle wanted to refute his teacher, Plato, he said : “Plato is dear to us and truth is dear to us, but the latter is dearer to us than the former”.
However, none , and I repeat, none of the societal movers we celebrate today was left scot-free in his time. Ibn Rushd, one of the greatest Islamic philosophers and maliki jurist, was cursed by the old Islamic Spain and forced to exile after burning his books when he challenged the tyranny of the given. Contrary to the prevalent narration, the Sufi, sage and gnostic Abu Mansur Alhallaj was not killed for blasphemy; he was killed for political reason after he called for justice and equality. None of the game changers was spared. Gazzhali was called an atheist (“zindiq” not “mulhid”) despite his tremendous work on Islamic theology (see: “Lawaqihul Anwar, 1/22” by Abdulwahab As-sha’arany). Abu Hanifa was excommunicated (see: “Tarikh Baghdad, 15/524” by Khatib Albaghdady). Elkiyya Alharrasy was said to be sent by jews to destabilise Islam (see: “Tabaqat Shafi’iyya, 7/232”). At the time of Imam Malik, people asked government to kill him for blasphemy (see: “Al-ilal, 1/539” by Ahmad bn Hanbal). Don’t talk about philosophers like Ibn Sina, Alkhawarizmy, Jabir bn Hayyan, etcetra! Ibn Khaldun is still considered by many as deviant and heretic.
We are living amidst the stakeholders of injustice. We practice many types of Islam ranging from political Islam, business Islam and spiritual Islam. Many of the religious leaders, especially in political and business Islam, have vested interests in the type of Islam they want us to practice. They want silence the oppressed. They don’t want women to be educated so as not revolt against the tyranny. Why do we find many Muslim men saying that women should not enjoy human rights? What is the meta-ideological grounds do they based their claims? None, I think. They are simply betting on the ignorance of many Muslim women on the history of the past. As one Islamic feminist pointed “they can never convince anyone with an elementary understanding of Islamic History”. Read the books of Islamic History by reputable Islamic scholars and historians such as Attabari, Ibn Hisham and Ibn Sa’ad.
Go back to the books of Hadith, you will find that Muslim women at the time of the Prophet and his companions enjoyed rights far better than what our sisters and mothers enjoy today. They participated in politics and war (Read the history of Aisha). They used to be appointed as leaders at some places (Umar appointed woman as a market leader and head of hisbah). They used to participate in public prayers (Prophet warned that no woman should be denied access to a mosque). Ample historical evidences from the primary sources I mentioned above portray women in the Prophet’s time in Medina raising their heads from violence, slavery, coercion and injustice to claim their right to join, as members of Muslim society and equal participants, in the making of great and ideal society. Why do we want silence a woman wailing from her inner self? Why do we hide behind religion to attack and oppress women? Muhammad Abduh and Jamaludden Afghani fought for the liberation of women suffering from the religious interpretations of misogynists.
I will bear it. I know I will not be spared from that harsh comments of the “defenders of Islam” and “fighters for Islam” but with little or no knowledge of Islam from the primary sources. One of the worst argument techniques is calling-names (“mulhid”, “zindiq”, “kafir”, etc), ad hominem arguments and running away from refuting the focal point. There are billion reasons why I don’t want engage with emotionally clouded minds with little or no knowledge of what “really” Islam is. Islam, according to these religious manipulators, is nothing beyond bushy beards, short trousers, extremisim and excessive literalism. This is why they are busy slaughtering any ideology that deviate from their boyish interpretations.
You cannot talk on Women’s Right in Islam and go scot-free. People are not reading and don’t want to read. They prefer to read secondary sources from uncountable websites online. I once posted on my Facebook account that: with free PDFs from various websites of “those concerned for the future of women in Islam” on the internet, one will not conduct a herculean task to download many volumes supporting misogyny and covering it with false traditions. With a data bundle of less 100 naira (0.3 dollar) one can download “Kitab Ahkam Al-nisa” (Statutory Provisions Concerning Women) by Ibn Aljawzi. Some chapters in the book include : “The Benefits for the Women Who Opts for the Household”, “Evidence Proving that It Is Better for a Woman Not to See Men” and “Advise Women Againts Going Out”. With these kinds of titles and subtitles, people could vividly see how participation of women in public prayers were stopped by those who fear them despite an authentic call from the prophet that no woman should be denied access to the mosque.
Muhammad Hassan Alqannuji in his “Husnl Uswa” with his astonishing ignorance of sexology and women psychology he covered weak and fabricated traditions and showed “women’s great sexual appetite” (p. 52) and “everything that was reported to us about women’s inability to reason, their lack of ability in all matters concerning religion” (p. 365) and he finally calculated “the number of women among the population of hell” (p. 331). The culture of misogyny is deeply rooted in the ideology of our ignorant friends who think, with their little or no knowledge of Islamic history, that advocating for women’s rights are about europeanising Islamic state of Northern Nigeria.
To be continued
Mr Aliyu is on twitter at: @aliyussufiy