Gender/culture issues in islam: interview


Interview with Mr. F.Muhammad on Gender/culture by Ms. Ammaara Uddeen


Questioner: Mr. Muhammad, today there are much talks about women liberation and emancipation. Would you consider this a ‘sham’ or simply an outburst/outcome of the male dominance in the past?


R Ah! [smile]. Well, this question certainly needs a good and objective reflection. As a man, I may not have pondered upon the inward sufferance of women in general, be it in the past or actually. However, I do believe that these congress or conferences and marches have contributed largely for the liberation of women’s entrapment and enslavement. Nevertheless, this situation cannot be attributed unjustly to men. The latter is a victim of the society in which he lives in just as those women who are struggling for justice. According to me, if you don’t mind, the real question should be: who is responsible from the very beginning for this society structure that has raised man against woman and vice versa.


Questioner: Then according to you, are women right to fight for their rights?

R Definitely. But they have to understand fundamental issues about the nature of man and woman before indulging in any fight. Maturity and objectivity are important cues for the success of our endeavors since men and women are different…


Questioner: What do you mean by different? Do you consider them to be equal or not?


R  Different in nature. Equal in rights. If we observe a woman’s body, for instance, it has been created in such a way that she can conceive and give birth to a child. Later, she can breastfeed her baby if she feels like it. Can fighting change that? No. Let’s take another point. Women menstruate and during this period they are mentally and morally affected if not physically. Furthermore, they have four different humors within a month which are according to their hormones whereas men are stable and by nature are physically stronger. I am not talking about exceptions. 


Questioner: Today women in several parts of the world can take jobs as well as men. They act like man: standing in the bus, are drivers or ticket receivers, technicians, pilots…What are your views?


R [smile]. These are exceptions! Can every woman, pregnant or not, proudly stand in the bus? But all men can. Can every woman be driver or ticket receiver? But all man can. What I want to point out is that there is no need to fight about such unfertile issues. Differences exist between men and women because they bring compatibility else there would have been total boredom. Do you imagine a whole population in trousers and shirts and everybody doing only men’s jobs?


Questioner: Mauritius is a multi-racial and multi religious society. It is also a fast moving society in terms of cultures, values, behaviors and attitudes. Is this change alarming or is this simply a natural outcome of modernization which we should peacefully accept?


R Well, it depends on people’s perception of life. I cannot answer for each and every individual. However, change is inevitable. Time and space change the context of things. People need to live naturally. If we consider all the technologies, life should improve with them but conversely, see the number of infant death, drug addicts, suicides, early dating, violence and so forth. Then it is more than alarming. The training should begin deep down inside: who are we? What is the purpose of life? We are not robots to imitate people in their cultures and ways. Words like fashion or trends are only words. They come and go and bring no peace or harmony. Besides, people have no time to meditate and ponder over their miseries. They become worse than beasts through overeating of junk food and listening too much of pop and rock music. By losing our folklores, we are also losing our inner harmony. Simple living brings happiness and harmony in the heart. And this, I have read from your own book!!! And allow me to congratulate you for your ideas. Women can go a long way if they could apply your methodologies, I would say….


Questioner: thank you, brother Muhammad for giving your precious time and your honest replies of course!!!


Interview held by Ms. Ammaara Uddeen for Journal At Tahrir


Gender in islam

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