Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Women's Freedom of Choice

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The events surrounding the World Trade Center attacks have drawn national attention to the suppression of the Muslim women and the immoral acts committed against them. Freedom of choice is a constitutional right guaranteed to American women. Unfortunately, Muslim women continue to be suppressed, being held captive to silent thoughts of their fundamental rights, and denied their equality.

The legal system and religious culture in a society have a dramatic impact on women’s rights. The population of the United States is a melting pot of nationalities, religion, and politics. As we conduct ourselves within our moral and religious teachings, we live together in a democratic society, under the guidance of the US Constitution, knowing it protects out individual rights, and protects our freedom of choice, within the Bill if Rights.

The Constitution of the United States, states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances” (Amendment I Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, Petition), (171).

We are granted our individual rights to practice the religion we choose, our freedom of speech, and to protest to enact change in government policies, regardless of sex, creed, color, or national origin. Whereas, in Afghanistan, their laws and daily lifestyle are influenced more by the religious teachings of the Quran, than the passive form of government that exist there from the years of social unrest and take over of the country by the Taliban.

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Because of the social unrest in Afghanistan, in 14, a militant group, we know as the Taliban began to impose their own laws on the people of Afghanistan, based on their interpretations of the Quran. And, as a result, they literally tore the country apart. These same misinterpretations were the basis for the inhuman treatment, suppression, and enslavement of Muslim women.

The Coalition for the defense of Human Rights; Taliban, systematically forced their way into Kandahar, captured it, and killed the president after he had taken refuge in the United Nations compound in Kabul in 14. In a public display, after he was beaten, he was shot, and hung (Taliban).

Their warriors chant this verse from the Quran, and because of it, they believed they were doing Allah’s work;

When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take pray and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful (Surah 5).

The interpretation of the Holy Scripture’s should be an individual one. The Quran is the bible of the Islamic religion, like the Holy bible is to the Catholic and Baptist religions in America. The Quran contains chapters, or Surahs, just as the holy bible contains the Old Testament and New Testaments. In the Islamic religion, Allah is God, and Muhammad is his messenger (http// Whereas, in the Holy Bible, God is almighty, and Jesus his son, and Moses is his messenger. Although they are similar in ways, they are very notable differences. In America, we use the teachings of the bible to enhance our every day lives, but in Afghanistan the Quran is viewed as the laws their culture must comply with.

In lieu of both their holy contents, equality of the sexes is a women’s right, in the Quran, as well as in the scriptures of the Holy Bible. The Quran states that men and women are to have mutual rights and that women are to be respected because of their ability to bear children. Yet, they continue to be held captive to their husbands and the male dominate society in which they live.

O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; -reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you) for Allah ever watches over you (Surah 41).

The Holy Bible contains similar words regarding the treatment of women as individuals, and notes their ability to bear children. However, because we encompass a more refined culture than the one in Afghanistan, women are respected as equals and have the same rights as men.

The scriptures further state, “Marriage is a union of two equal partners”. Women are not to be treated with harshness. Women are to be lived with in kindness and equal footing. “ It is required under Islamic religion, that women are given a gift before marriage, and that its ownership is solely to her”. Yet, native Muslim women are enslaved by their male counterparts, their rights to property for which they are entitled are stolen, and they are beaten and killed if they speak against or rebel against their husbands. In America, we are taught that the acceptance of God, and the Holy scriptures will guide us to a better life of love and understanding of one another. We are taught to honor one another, as stated in the Ten Commandments (Surah 41-176).

Another misinterpretation in the Holy Scriptures concerns the birth of a child. Reference is made in the Quran, and the Holy Bible regarding a woman’s ability to reproduce. The Quran states that women are to be held in the highest regard because of Allah’s creation of the womb in a Muslim woman. Instead, they are judged because of it, based on the sex of the child they bare. A daughter is a disgrace; because she is weak, but a son is celebrated because he is a future warrior. Muslim men are revered by the number of sons they have. This is why they take several wives. In America, a birth is a celebration, because our children, regardless of gender, are the windows to our future. In America, women are viewed as beautiful objects, sometimes illuminating, because they carry a child in the womb. Moreover, men are respected for being good fathers, not creating armies.

Religion travels different avenues in matters of divorce. According to the Quran, a woman has a right to request a divorce from her husband. It further states, she is entitled to a portion equal to one half of their marital property. The Quran contains the following provisions regarding the collapse of a marriage and offers the following

(1) Admonish them, release them; () Refuse to share their beds; () Beat them; (4) Appoint two arbiters, of they desire peace, the Allah will grant it.

As stated by Muhammad (Women in Islam vs. Judaeco-Christian Tradition. The Myth & The Reality). The harsh reality is they are not given any choices. Instead, they are beaten into submission or killed. Fortunately, in America, we have a legal system with set guidelines regarding divorce, and separation of marital assets. In America, we have the option to seek marital counseling from a minister if we choose, but it is not required. We instead, in most cases, turn to our legal system and divorce laws for guidance in these matters. Our system provides for a judge, or arbitrator to be appointed and to decide an equitable division of marital property based on factors such as income, custodial parents of a child, and the total amount of the marital assets, should the parties be unable to come to a mutual separation of these things on their own.

What role does male domination have in our societies? In America, because of the passing of laws regarding women’s equal treatment, equal opportunities, and sexual harassment laws, any woman can easily remove herself from a situation in which she is being harassed and abused. However, in Afghanistan, male domination continues to enslave Muslim women because these women have no access to a legal system that will protect their rights as we do in America. A Muslim woman has no hope of intervention by family, or other members of the community, for fear of retribution. In America, since the burning of bra’s, in a demonstration for women’s equal rights, and equal pay, women are no longer treated socially, financially or professionally inferior to men.

Because of this, emphasis is placed on education. For Muslim women emphasis is placed on continuing to deny them an education. It is feared that if Muslim women were educated they would be unmanageable, and rebel against their husbands. Knowledge of their equal rights would result in their constant struggle to break free from their male counterparts, and change the structure of their society. Fortunately, in the United States, education is a focal point in politics. A traditional family unit in the United States is a “one parent” family. Because of this, it is imperative that we continue to educate ourselves so we may care for the children of our future. Our government places emphasis on education by making available to everyone, affordable loans and grants to allow both men and women to continue their education if they choose to.

In addition, because of male dominations, women are treated as possessions. According to the Quran, a woman is to dress moderately. But, they are ordered to cover their bodies completely and wear veils over their heads so that only their eyes can be seen. If she reveals her flesh, she disrespects her husband, and will be severely beaten or killed. Muslim women are shown no respect. They are traded for goods, and bequeathed as property to their husband’s brother at the time of his death. They are enslaved just as the blacks were many years ago in our U.S. history. Muhammad says

“The widow’s consent to this marriage is not required. The widow is treated as part of her deceased husband’s property whose main function is to ensure her husband’s posterity. This Biblical law is still practiced in today’s Israel [48]. A childless widow in Israel is bequeathed to her husband’s brother. Should the deceased husband’s brother refuse to marry her, she is set free and can then marry another man of her choice. It is not an uncommon phenomenon in Israel that widows are subjected to blackmail by their brothers-in-laws in order to gain their freedom”(1)

Today, in America, this type of treatment is appalling. This is very apparent by the outrage felt at the viewing of the news broadcast and the media that surrounded the treatment of the Muslim woman after the World Trade Center attacks. Even though, in the history of the United States, people at one time or another have been enslaved, suppressed and based on their appearance, sex, or disability alone, have been discriminated against, we, as a nation, have worked diligently to overcome all the barriers of racism and discrimination. Although, we still have hurtles to overcome, when we look back, it is then we realize just how far we have come.

In the future, it is my sincere hope for those women; whose plight for freedom and equality, had been placed in the center of the media attention because of the World Trade Center attacks, that through the intervention of the United States since the attacks, they find peace, comfort, and strength knowing that we will extend to them a hand, a home, and a better way of life should they find the strength and courage to reach for it.


1. Muhammad, Sheriff. “Women in Islam vs. Judaeco-Christain Tradition. “The Myth & the Reality”. 05 May 00. [Online web site]. Available www.

. Marsden, Peter. “War. Religion and the New Order in Afghanistan”. (Taliban). Zed Books. 0 May 00. [Online web site]. Available

. “Quran”. English translation. Surah4(1-176). 08 May 00. [Online web site]. Available http//

4. “The Constitution of the United States”. Amendment I. 10 May 00. [Online web site]. Available http//www.


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