Friday, January 21, 2011

Women's Fatwas?

I just found this while looking for something on women's authority and Islam. I was shocked by the answer that Soad Saleh, "one of the world's leading female scholars of Islam," gave to the woman who told her about her situation with her husband. Take a look. Why do you think she insists what she insists? Do you find it upsetting? Do you think it's still good that women are at least allowed to speak on public TV and issue such fatwas, even if they don't necessarily support women's empowerment?
Soad Saleh, one of the world’s leading female scholars of Islam, fields requests for religious advice each week from callers across the Arab world. Seated at a gilded table on the set of her Egyptian satellite TV show, Women’s Fatwa, Saleh provides religious rulings on a wide range of subjects. How many months can a man be away from his wife if he is working in another country? Under what conditions is polygamy acceptable? How can a financial dispute between sisters be settled? 

During one episode in late March, a young Egyptian woman named May called in. Six months ago, when she married her husband, he promised she could continue working as an engineer. Now he is insisting she stay at home. He has even locked her in the house while he is at work to prevent her from leaving. She doesn’t want a divorce, because she fears people will blame her. What should she do?
Saleh paused briefly, looking traditional but stylish in her periwinkle hijab, or headscarf, and simple rimless eyeglasses. “You probably agreed to marry this man because he is committed to his house and responsibilities,” she said.
“Yes,” May said.
“Being committed, according to Islam, does not mean you pray in the mosque and then oppress your wife at home. Being committed means that you follow Allah’s rules in managing your relations with people,” Saleh said. But she does not urge May to leave her husband, instead urging her to be patient. “You have to wait until you deliver your children,” she said, “and then, God willing, you will get busy raising your babies.”
Click here to read more.


  1. Well maybe she didn't advice the woman to leave her husband because the woman specified she didn't want a divorce? Her question was to find a way round this. Raising children isn't the solution to her problem, she isn't bored at home, she's locked in it! How to deal with such a husband should have been the solution offered, not raising a bunch of kids to keep busy!!!

  2. Well a lady here told me how her daughter's former SIL was locked in by her Pakistani husband, she did not even have a phone and was 9 months pregnant at that time she asked "What should I do if I get into labour?" and he calmly replied "Open the window and scream for help, somebody might hear you"...

  3. There is a lot of cruelty in the world, not necessarily amongst Muslims or Pakistani's but all over and in every nation, religion, culture etc.

    In view of your example, there is no point expecting a reasonable answer by such a man, if he was reasonable he wouldn't have her locked in for starts.

    It's the advice given to women by learned people is what shocks me most, moreso that those women are even asking for advice when it should be a natural solution to just leave such animals.

    Like i've said before on other occasions too, if it feels wrong, it has to be wrong by religion too, no point mulling over what the mullah's might suggest.

  4. Hellllo, my beloveds!
    Thank you for your insightful thoughts!

    Hina, it's exactly that which stunned me: She told her to just have kids and then she won't be bored anymore?! Wasn't she reinforcing the woman's subjugation by her husband? Wasn't she supporting it by saying that? It reminds me of the mentality of some women who think that if they have a child with their partner, whether married or not, then the partner will never leave them :| Like, what the heck's up with that, yo?

    And I honestly don't think anyone wants to get a divorce. I doubt anyone enters a marriage or any other form of commitment with the thought, "Well, I can always divorce her/him if I want to." I think everyone enters the commitment looking forward to, hoping for, and secretly expecting a long-term, life-long loving partner. So, in the case of the lady in the article who was seeking some advice, I think she was saying she doesn't wanna leave him just because she understood that the first thing on our mind in a marriage shouldn't be to just leave our partner. I think she was hoping to hear something that'd work for both her and her husband. But the person she and others considered a scholar simply tells her to have kids and then she'll be busy with them, so her staying at home won't bring her boredom.

    But note, though, that she specifically says she doesn't want a divorce because of what people will think. If this is why we don't wanna get a divorce, then, again, something's terribly wrong with us -- and with our society! The same society that she will be raising her children in if she takes the scholar's suggestion.

    I did like, however, that she pointed out that you don't just pray on the one hand and then mistreat your wife/husband on the other hand! If this is what we think religion is, we seriously, seriously need to re-evaluate our mutilated understanding of God and religion--especially Islam. It's called hypocrisy, and that's one of the few things that the Quran constantly reminds as a quality of those who WILL be in the hellfire.

  5. Sultana, that's not a rare phenomenon, unfortunately. Not just among Pakistanis and Muslims in general, but it occurs in every culture and every society.

    I sometimes wonder, you see, why housewives who don't have as much domestic works as a housewife who shares her home with several other families (husband's brothers and in-laws, for example) don't get together to talk about these things and consider ways to make sure that their daughters are not mistreated and that their sons don't mistreat their wives. Is it really so difficult? Perhaps it is, I don't know; and perhaps I have no right to be making this suggestion, as I'm not in these women's shoes. But still, can it be that difficult? They complain all the time to each other anyway - so why not make sure your daughters don't have to suffer and that your sons don't become the replicas of your husbands?

  6. "They complain all the time to each other anyway - so why not make sure your daughters don't have to suffer and that your sons don't become the replicas of your husbands?"

    I know. I have this friend who claims to be maltreated by her husband yet she would never divorce him because of "izzat" and "nibhana" furhtermore she firmly believes a woman cannot divorce her husband she can only ask for a divorce. She says she will never be able to re-marry because she has a child with her current husband and within our culture divorcees are not well-liked. I should point out she was madrassah-educated in UK, her family is quite extreme when it comes to Islam her youngest sister is an Alima, though even my friend's own parents said several times she could divorce she wouldn't do it for the sake of her daughter "My daughter won't get a good rishta if I'm a divorcee" know all these arguements.

    I believe people think it is more bearable to live with such an abusive idiot if you have children, but what happens if women vend out their hatred on their kids instead of their husbands? It's a vicious cycle if you ask me.

  7. Ack, this is crazy and makes me so sad! This woman TALKED to her husband beforehand, making sure she had his explicit permission to work after marriage, and then he locks her up, and all the advice she gets is have babies? Drives me crazy...

  8. Becky it's so unfortunate that men say yes to everything before marriage and after marriage every promise goes tits up.

  9. I agree with the above post, despite the woman in question specifically asking her husband beforehand and him reneging on his promise, she was told to have children in order to keep her busy. Hardly a life to look forward to. It all seems very sad to me.

  10. Hi, Nasreen! Welcome to the blog! :) Thank you for your insight. It's sad, indeed, that she had to be told to wait until she gets children. It's disturbing that it had to come from a woman scholar, apparently an adviser to other women! Maybe she said that just to avoid being harassed by the society? I don't know.

  11. Hi Serenity, very intereting blog! keep up the good work. I wouldnt be suprised if she said it in order to avoid being harrassed by society. Its testament to how much really does need to change really

  12. Her answer upset me. The husband clearly made promises to his wife before he married, she agreed to marry him BECAUSE of these promises, and since he broke those promises the marriage is void.

    I am sick of women always having to be the patient ones.

  13. Hi, Nasreen and Nahida!
    Thank you for dropping by and commenting! Bless y'all!

    Nasreen, that's a valid point. She may have done it in order to avoid being harassed, who knows?
    (P.S. Please enable access to your blog so we can view it :D)

    Nahida, girrrrl - tell me about it! That's what I always hear women telling each other: "I know things are bad in your marriage, but remember that God says for us to be patient." I have often found myself interjecting my uncalled for opinions in conversations like that held among friends of mine, and I ask, "But is patience required by God only from women? Not from men?" And then they give that same old crap about how "Oh you know how men are, you know how society is, you know how people are - women are the ones who are expected to be more patient." Um, no! This "society" you speak up comprises both YOU (women) and men, and it's comments like "you know God requires us to be patient" do nothing less than exert more pressure on women to follow the ideals you accuse "society" and "men" of expecting you to follow.


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