This is a Guest Post by Fatema Murtaza
Right from day one women have had everything they needed within themselves. Although the world seems to believe the opposite, I strongly believe that women are empowered because they are born as WOMEN!
Women empowerment is a highly discussed issue these days and like many other misconceptions, some anti-social elements tried to portray a vague image about the Dawoodi Bohra community that the women of the community are suppressed and compelled to stay away from mainstream education as well as professions.
Feminists demand women to be treated equally to men which has often led to scenarios that have often caused more trouble then good to the gender. Equality and equity here are the two terms that are confused very often. Equality may be termed to being equal where as equity can be defined as the quality of being fair and providing according to one’s needs. The Bohras emphasize on equity rather than equality when it comes to justice and fairness between Men and Women. Being a female myself some feminists would not like this idea due to their own reasons which need not be discussed rather I would simply pen down my own thoughts.
The world today has made immense progress in the field of science and technology but just because something is coming from the so called progressive media and liberal or capitalist ideologies does not make it right nor justified. Feminism, another synonym being used for women empowerment and mainly supports the idea that women are equal and they should take a stand for their rights. Being maltreated or being abused is definitely not tolerable but flowing with the flock of feminism without doing any research within our religious, cultural and traditional values is not an option either.
We all believe that everything in this world has a purpose to serve. Therefore what men do is unique but then women are equally capable of doing things that are none the less amazing. Is all the appreciation, love and joy in doing things for your loved ones any less of a recognition for women?? Why do we think that only being an extrovert by working and supporting their family will prove our worth? Such visions and mindsets itself are results of inferiority complexes created by feminist groups otherwise being a woman itself provides enough contentment.
The problem is that we start comparing our success to the amount of money we make. Having career goals and ambitions is not at all wrong. The 53rd Dai al-Mutlaq al-Fatemi Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS has always encouraged Dawoodi Bohra women towards educating herself, acquiring skills and putting them to use as a clear means to emphasize that educating a man is educating a person while educating a woman is educating an entire generation. Hundreds of Schools and Madrasas were erected for the sole purpose of educating the community while the community’s most prestigious academy Al Jamea tus Saifiyah boasts the finest education for women with hundreds of women graduates every years from all four of its worldwide branches. Hundreds of Bohra Women have memorized the entire Quran and many more are doing so across the world through distant learning.
The Dawoodi Bohra Community Women Entrepreneurs working from home find a lot of opportunities for growth and development. Cottage industry today plays a vital role in the success and growth of a society. Staying at home has never been a draw back to a woman’s success. Today we have so many examples within the community to look at; there are so many women who are successful business persons. Rida and topi making have become a huge business. Catering is another emerging trend among the Bohra community. While there are no less numbers of professional Bohra women within the community who add to the prosperity and growth of the nation.
Having said that, we Dawoodi Bohras still believe that above all a woman is a home maker. People often tend to view HOMEMAKING as a list of chores like cleaning, washing and cooking of course. This concept needs to be rebuilt. Home making is all about making a HOME. All these chores are physical part of the job but we do need to touch the emotional side of it.
Doctors, engineers, artists everyone have a specific job but what a homemaker is capable of doing is most creative and worthwhile. Bringing a child into this world and grooming him to be that individual who would grow up to be a doctor, engineer or an artist and contribute to the well being of the society. Bringing up children, providing and fostering to the needs of the family while maintaining a peaceful and happy home is indeed a huge task. It evolves around knowledge and is a result of the home science education that she has had be it in whatever field of study, be it commerce, medicine or even engineering.
Some might argue that what good is a degree or education if it’s not put to use. Well that is absolutely true, but why do we think making money out of it is the only way to put it to use? If you are passionate enough to do it I believe you can be anything and do anything irrespective of the place. Let’s say you have a degree in food and nutrition, try planning out healthy meals everyday for your family putting your skills and talents to use! It might not provide you a paycheck at the end of the month but appreciation and love from your loved ones provides much greater satisfaction and there is no better sight than seeing your family healthy and happy. Majors in economics can help you manage your monthly budget and you could adjust your expenditures accordingly and maintain a budget accordingly and efficiently. Fashion designers, Interior designers, painters, artists have an entire house at their disposal to utilize their creative juices. And every education or knowledge hence can be put to use. Happiness comes from within. If we cannot be happy within our homes and within our own families, chances are very few of us being happy elsewhere.
Those who say the Dawoodi Bohra women are deprived are absolutely wrong. The reason I say this with such conviction is because I am a living example of it. We enjoy all liberties to its truest essence. I, in my entire life, have never ever seen discrimination within our household. My parents have supported me in everything that I have ever wanted to do because that is how we have been groomed by our beloved Maula, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. From pursuing career goals of my choice to traveling on my own and taking decisions within the precincts of my Deen, I have enjoyed independence to its core.
We as a community firmly believe that success is measured not by money but by happiness. His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS always guides that whatever we may do; it should be done out of love. A woman, a mother, is the epitome of LOVE, so why not find joy doing what we were created to do! If man is the king, his lady is the king maker! A Woman I believe is a binding force of the family and has the capability to keep everything intact.
We all want to be leaders; we all want to be pioneers. We want to be better than we were yesterday and in the end we all want to change the world in our image.
Change begins when we take a stand, when we are courageous enough to change ourselves.
Ilya abu Madhi says : كن جميلا ترى الوجود جميلة
‘Be yourself beautiful, you shall see all existence as beautiful’
Self awareness is being aware of what traits make you who you are. Knowing who and what makes you is the first step to become beautiful – the first step to change the world; to change our world.
Children are elements of change. The birth of a child changes a couple to a family. We look to the innocence of a child as hope for the future of the world. Even as they grow, they are so innocent as to forgive us for dropping them off a flight of stairs. They strive for change so hard that they stand and fall as many times as it takes if only to move one step. They strive to grow, they strive to change from fumbling bumbling toddlers into people whom we look up to.
At first, this child has to acknowledge that sleeping all day is a hazard and that instead of wailing he should be more self sufficient like the other towering humans. This raises the question of whether the child needs another human at all – and unsurprisingly a research on a real ‘Tarzan’ child, Lyokha, in Moscow, who was raised by wolves has proved the necessity of a human to be true. A teacher in the form of a human is needed for the child to emulate their movements and gain the correct posture. This is the first step of change for any human but even then we need help.
Allah TA states : علم الانسان ما لم يعلم – سورة العلق اية ٥
“(He) Taught man that which he did not know”
Seeing our need to copy the actions of our predecessors, it’s given that the first man would have needed to be taught in order to survive – otherwise we may have never attempted to change from our fetal position.
Concluding that we would need someone to emulate lets us ascertain that change is not possible without someone and that we are in no way ‘independent’. We need a brother to help us change, we need a parent, a teacher or a mirror to show us where we are wrong and support us through our change.
Rasulullah SA states:
المؤمن اخو المؤمن لا يظلمه ولا يشتمه
‘A Mumin is a Mumin’s brother; he neither wrongs him nor insults him’
المؤمن مرآة صافية
‘A Mumin is a mirror to another Mumin’
The child needs someone willing and caring to show him the ropes. He needs love to nurture because fear of the parent teaches very little to the child. Fear fosters hate; while love can teach anything, hate cannot. Love can change, hate cannot. Even today, as we grow up and learn – love teaches where hate will never manage to do so.
المؤمن للمؤمن كالبنيان يشد بعضه بعضا
‘A Mumin for another Mumin is like a structure whose various parts support one another. ‘
A family loves one another, a family strives to become better together. Brother helping brother, sister trusting sister and child emulating the parents. More than blood, it is love that joins us together which makes us stronger. Love for Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS joins every Mumin together – and we are all family. We uplift one another for Maula TUS. Together, helping one another by helping just one brother like little mirrors, teaching and emulating, we can be the best. We CAN change the world.
As Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA states
وواس الذي حبا يواسي اخاه في
امور حيوة موسعا لقلائل
(O Allah TA) Come to the aid of the Mumin who, out of love and affection, assists his brother in all matters of his life and fulfils his needs.
He also states:
كل عمل بالاخلاص – و ان كان صغيرا- يأتي بالاجر الموفور
Any act carried out with unwavering faith, even if small, merits plentiful reward.
Maula TUS wants us to be our best, together. As Maulana Ali states:
من ظن بك خيرا فصدق ظنه
If someone thinks well of you, then ratify his thoughts in you.
So shall we not change and become better? Shall we not become the best family? Shall we not emulate until we change our worlds?
May Allah TA grant our Maula, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, a long happy and prosperous life as long as the rivers of knowledge flow. Ameen.
There have been certain allegations by the Media as usual to gain better ratings and profits either out of paid content publishing or advertisements. Such allegations are generally everyday news to sensationalize any issue but the irony is that the mass sometimes consider the information therein as encyclopedic. The Dawoodi Bohra Community is made up of law abiding citizens with a literacy rate of 100% all over the globe. The Bohra leadership has been elected for the Chancellorship of the Aligarh Muslim University for three generations and awarded several honorary degrees by prestigious institutes of learning as well as civilian honors by several nations as well, for contributions towards the community and humanity on the whole.
It is historical that anti-social element provoke unhealthy discussions and portray incorrect images to create incorrect illusions using the profit hungry media mechanism to tarnish communities and its leadership for reasons better known to them. Recently such elements have taken up the issue of FGM to tarnish the well disciplined community of the Dawoodi Bohras. Often the Bohras do not retaliate to such allegations nor do they deem it necessary. The said issue has been raised to such an extent that it is being published by newspapers every now and then through paid content and therefore a Dawoodi Bohra, who is an example of Bohra Women empowerment, has blogged about the issue and is worth the read. These my Words by a Dawoodi Bohra.
Some more insight . Apparently nicking may not be considered FGM, finally making sense. Also watch suggest ‘nicking’ as compromiseBBC Hardtalk