31 May 2003

Equality in the Arab World

Women have finally achieved equal rights in the Arab World. Women are now officially allowed to blow themselves up on homicide/suicide missions. Congratulations to all! One of the leading Muslim scholars has issued a ruling permitting women to carry out homicide attacks.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the dean of Islamic Studies at the University of Qatar, has issued this statement in response to the suicide bombing last week in Israel by a Muslim woman. “Women’s participation in the martyrdom operations...is one of the most praised acts of worship. Also, the act is a form of martyrdom for the cause of Allah, and it entitles them, inshallah, to the same reward earned by their male counterparts who also die in the cause of Allah....This obligation reaches the extent that a woman should go out for jihad even without the permission of her husband, and the son without the consent of his parents.” Qaradawi also added that Muslim women can violate Islamic traditions by traveling without a male relative and without having to wear a veil while carrying out an attack if without it she will be able to blow people up more effectively.

Let us analyze this wonderful statement of equality. The issue here is the question about what women will receive in the afterlife. According to this scholar, she will receive what her male counterpart suicide attacker gets. As we know from the Hadith (Islamic tradition) the afterlife caters to male fantasies. So what is it again that the female homicide bomber will get?

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi allows for Islamic tradition to be broken in order for a homicide bombing to go forward. Look at the exceptions to the rule: A woman can go out without a male relative escorting her, and she can remove her veil in order to carry out an attack. Wow, good for her. I wonder if the Sheikh will allow her to even drive a car in order to carry out the attack. Hey, it’s a start. Let us not impede progress.

If this is the beginning of the Equality for Women movement in the Middle East, we should probably look into other issues such as: the right to free speech, the right to marry who the woman wants (not only who the father wants her to marry), the right not to be murdered by a family member to save family honor, the right to have an education, the right not be handled like a piece of property, and maybe just maybe the right to vote (but perhaps we are looking too far ahead).

It is about time that equal rights for women creep into Middle Eastern culture. We need to keep in mind that equal rights for one means death and terror for others, but let us not be spoil sports about all of this. Let us cheer on Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and support him in his struggle for equality. Women homicide bombers are one small step forward for Arab women and one giant leap backward for mankind.

Jerusalem Post, Women May be Terror Suicide Bombers, Muslim Scholar Rules, by Khaled Abu Toameh May 25, 2003

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