It is a serious tragedy that there are several customs in supposedly Islamic societies, which actually ignore, misinterpret or deny the rights given to women by Islamic Law, and it will take very brave Muslim women to get the situation pure right. Five customs are particularly significant, and have caused many Muslim women untold suffering, deprivation, lack of fulfillment, and boredom.
First and foremost comes the practice of ‘purdah’ or the seclusion of women; secondly the attempt by some men to restrict or women; secondly attempt by some men to restrict or prevent women from going out, even to the Mosque. Thirdly, some very strict Muslims have tried to insist that the voice of a woman should be include amongst her ‘awarah’ or ornaments, and therefore be forbidden to a stranger. Fourthly sometimes daughters are being given in marriage without their consent. Last but not least, Muslim women in certain parts of the world are circumcised as children, sometimes in appalling conditions.
The first three restrictions were presumably based on the following Qur’anic passage – which was given specifically to the wives of Muhammad devout Muslims ladies seek to follow their example, even though they were not given the command. It is a matter choice and preference and not compulsion. In Islam, nothing should be done out of compulsion, only for love of Allah – a genuine love.
‘O wives of the Prophet! You are not like ordinary women. If you fear Allah, don’t be too casual in your speech, in case someone with an unsteadfast heart should be moved with desire… and stay quietly in your houses, and do not make a worldly display as in the times of ignorance; establish regular prayer and give regular charity, and obey Allah and His Apostle.’ (33:32-33)