Women And the Taliban

Al-HewarBy Azizah al-HibriMarch 15, 2001A couple of summers ago, I traveled to the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderto meet with Afghani women and men. One of the women was a former judge,religious and well-educated. She had sad eyes. She could not fathom thepossibility that her daughter will be one day much worse off than her.Deprived of higher education, the daughter could not be a lawyer, letalone a judge.

The group briefed me on the situation in Afghanistan. They said thatthere had been some improvement in the education of women, but that itwas far from adequate. They had lost many generations of progress inwomen's rights. Members of the group also complained that while thingsin Afghanistan were terrible, the Western press had not reported thesituation accurately. It has instead sensationalized it and used it asan opportunity to attack Islam. The Afghans were thus twice victimized,and placed in an impossible position. As victims of the Taliban, theywanted the world to help them, but as good Muslims they did not want tobe used by Western media to defame Islam.

This attitude is widespread among Muslim men and women living underoppressive regimes. Some recent immigrants also experience it; they findthemselves caught between the malaise in their old homeland and thepressures of rejection and prejudice in their new one. For centuries,Islam was presented to the United States through Orientalist eyes. Evenin the days of Jefferson and Madison, our Prophet was called "theImposter"; and Muslim slaves were forced to convert. Now that AmericanMuslims have finally been brought under the constitutional umbrella, thetime has come for us to state in our own voice what Islam, as a religionand not a political tool of corrupt leaders, is all about.


The Qur'an, which is the basic source of Islamic law, states that menand women were created from the same soul. Eve is not held responsiblefor the fall of Adam; they were equally responsible. The Qur'an assignsMuslim men and women the same spiritual rights and obligations.

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