Discrimination between men and women is still a major problem in developed countries as much as in developing ones, and more important is the way it is regarded as normal. Women are literally regarded as the shadows of men in many societies, and this outlandish notion has settled across the world, regardless of levels of education.
Sexual discrimination is usually defined as women being deprived of essential services in society, living under unequal conditions with men, suffering from violence or being under-represented in politics and work. This means women being completely excluded from social life. In order to change this inequality, women have to assume as much responsibility as men, and we need to work together to eliminate discrimination.
In order for that to happen, it is essential to increase educational opportunities across the world, abandon demagogic talk, and to remind people of the importance of equality, love and being human. What needs to be done to eliminate discrimination, which even women themselves in Islamic countries in particular have signed up to, is to explain the importance of Quranic moral values.
Allah created human beings to be equal. Superiority, as revealed in verses and the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), lies only in piety, meaning a good nature and good behaviour. Yet in the eyes of people with a fanatical mindset, a woman is supposedly deficient, with half a mind, or even a cursed entity needing to be kept under control.
Women are sometimes regarded as such a threat by this mindset that even their very existence is regarded as dangerous, for which reason these people imagine the best solution is to shut them up at home. Some go even further than that, making suggestions that stretch the bounds of credulity, so much so that they propose that windows and even cracks through which women might see outside must be blocked off and all contact with the outside world severed.
The great majority of such harsh attitudes to women are drawn from the sayings that were never spoken by the Prophet (PBUH) and fatwas by certain Islamic scholars that are incompatible with the Quran. This has condemned half of the Islamic world to darkness for hundreds of years.
Yet in the Age of Felicity, women and men appeared together in every area of social life. Female companions included traders, doctors and poets. Following the migration to Medina in particular, female companions played a great role and made great sacrifices in the foundation of a new Islamic community.
The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) emphasised equality between men and women, and even encouraged women to be more in the forefront in many areas. He also attached great importance to women’s education. Women came to the mosque and listened to the Prophet’s conversations and took part in the holiday prayers. It is thought-provoking how women were so valued in the time of the Age of Felicity yet the situation is the exact opposite in Islamic countries in particular today.
Women are entirely excluded from social life in many Islamic countries today. In many countries, women have no right to vote or stand for office, or even drive. They cannot go to libraries and can only withdraw a book from a library if a man does it for them. Many women do not even possess identity cards.
There is no doubt that a massive educational campaign is needed in order to prevent women from being treated as if they were of lower status, especially in Islamic countries. Both women and men being educated and living by the moral values of the Quran will be the definitive solution.