On the front this seems like good progress, but if we look at the bigger picture, aren’t we missing something? A society full of female workers- will it be an Islamic society? Or a balanced one? Even the broad minded West had reservations to the Feminist movement launched for equal rights of working women. In an Islamic country where a woman cannot head an organization, a female leader was elected PM twice and same goes for Bengladesh, but do we see such an example in US or UK elected govt.? Let’s dive deep into the pool of emancipation surrounded by an Islamic state.
The Story ~!~
Most girls pass out of their Grad schools, studying in co-education, confident and focused about their careers and future life. Since a lot of money has been spent on their graduation expenses, they want to make it up to their parent’s financial efforts, atleast before their marriage. They strive hard for a job and quickly land a reasonable one. With the first 3 salaries, comes a brand new mobile, a drastic change in wardrobe, from the push-cart stock to branded cotton, and the drawing room furniture goes on the verge of a make-over to invite office colleagues. After the firstyear the girl decides she can no longer wake up early for office van or come back late in taxis. A new 800CC car is brought on installments. 2 years pass by and the girl starts investing in bonds, certificates and plots etc., to rent or buy later. The fulfillment of her small dreams, keep egging her to pin hopes on higher ones.
2 more years down the road and she starts having status clash with the residents of her middle class locality. A flat in the posh district becomes her target. With the easy house-financing offered by banks and a bank balance of 4-5 lacs she could actually sell their house and start living in a flat. And then one day they move out, never to look back to their locality or neighbors - sometimes even relatives. Everything becomes a ‘story of the past’.
She is now 26. The proposals start flooding in and her mom starts getting conscious of her age factor. The girl however, had been dreaming of a grand living and a status uplift by marrying in a higher class, but their family was still shackled by their backgrounds and the posh proposals could sense the difference just by talking to her parents and eventually backed out. Soon she got married to an upper-middle family, against her wishes. The guy earned slightly above her pay-scale and owned a family car. From a flat that she owned with the master bedroom to herself she went into a joint family system with a double bedroom as her only property! Feeling claustrophobic and pressurized, she now applied for a better job. Backed by her experience, she started earning more than her husband. Their status difference became more conspicuous and so did her frustration for not getting her dream life. They could not yet afford a maid and she did not have time for household chores after her very demanding new job. She expected her husband to help her with it or atleast look after his personal things himself.The joint family pressures were building up from all around as eyebrows got raised at the couple’s division of homework. They decided to move out. Another apartment bought on lease by her after selling out the property she had been investing in since the past 6 years. This meant total rule on her part. She owned the house and the bills were shared.
Five years down the road, 2 kids had bounced in their lives and life took an ugly turn when her husband lost his stable yet non-managerial job, as a result of downsizing. She was however progressing gradually, becoming the HR manager of her company, being offered a brand new 1000CC car and other fringe benefits. On the other hand, while going on job hunts through websites, her husband became a domestic father. In the absence of an all-time available mother, the children became more attached to the father and also spoilt to some extent. She considered herself almost free of child rearing duties as she was financially supporting the household and expected her husband to adjust to this role-reversal.
After 2 long years, he finally got the job. From then on, they never had a good night’s sleep. Who was to look after the children? Who would provide pick and drop? Look after their studies? Who to leave them to? She had become pretty dominating by then. The children grew up seeing a passive decision power of their father, which earned him their sympathy but little respect. While the dominating and alienating attitude of their mother earned her neither their respect nor sympathy- even though she toiled each day as a woman in a man’s world only for them.
A woman who had to face office politics at work simply because she was hard-working and intelligent enough to take the managerial positions from right under the nose of senior colleagues;
A woman who compromised her femininity by choosing to be a daughter who supports her father and family;
A woman who traded her dreams by marrying below her expectations; A woman who lived in a joint family system, supporting her husband financially and still opting for motherhood.
Yet, a woman who only lapsed on the designated duties of a full-time mother? What went wrong?
Who was to lose and how much? What was there to lose in the heavy bargain?
A girl who compromised the best days of her to life to secure a bright future, got what in return? A domesticated husband, detached children and her own frustrated soul? Was this the future she dreamt of?
As Muslims, we all claim to keep away from the forbidden boundaries of ‘haram’, but what about the ones that are not so clear that are left at our discretion? Man and woman were not created equal and are not designated with equal tasks by the Almighty. It is not forbidden for them to work shoulder to shoulder with men (as the wives of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did help the Sahabas in gathering Ahadith and Sunnah). But at the same time it is not preferred. That boundary is left to us. Extending it, stretching it by emphasizing that Shariah does not forbid it “It’s not haram”, “It’s the need of the hour for a working couple to live in times of recession”- is actually playing with the boundaries given to us to accommodate our needs and wants.
Humans- male or females- are drawn towards the luxuries of life; grand living, freedom of choice. We are also prone to greed and corruption, mentally and monetarily. When Islam talks about or promotes a woman working safely in the boundaries of her home, it actually promulgates a satisfied female who is apt for this job more than man; a woman who is the Queen of her Empire- everyday, not getting disrespected by males in the ugly world outside.Islam talks about the woman’s whole life. It does not emphasize temporary pleasure, in this case, the facilities she enjoys as a happily earning female, working shoulder to shoulder with men and changing her future lifestyle to accommodate her aspirations.
One woman, 10 women and then 60% of the population is enough to bring about women revolution in the country that has promoted a hi-fi culture ranging from club memberships to mobile late night packages for women, lawn extravaganzas, shopping malls, face uplift treatments, brand culture, kitty parties etc. to flaunt your stuff at. It has also promoted freedom of youth in a negative way because of unattended upbringing and high media influence. One woman, one mother and one thought changes all!As Napoleon Bonaparte says, “Give me a good mother, I will give you a good nation” and “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. A mother plays a great role in shaping the future of a nation. It is also said that, ‘if you educate a mother, you educate the whole nation’.
I am not against an educated, working mother, but doing job for the sake of your careers and actually believing that focusing on child nurturing will rust away your talents; reasoning that quality time wins over quantity time while thinking your kids will be cared for by their nannies till you return home is sheer folly! The channels they switch on, the mobiles they have, the feelings they hide when moving towards adolescence can only be monitored with your undivided love. Remember, you give birth to your children not your products or services. Your parent company can fire you, but you can’t abandon your kids. Your job evaluation gives you an A+ rating, but your children judge you negatively in the long run. Is that all worth it?