We Global History lovers grow up awe-struck underneath shadows of great men and women who went down in history as 'first's and 'best's, revolutionaries and anti-conformists who changed the world for the better. They were the figures fasting for the cause they believed in, sitting for it, standing for it, fighting for it, imprisoned for it, marching, singing, riding, writing, crying, bleeding for their cause. They had a mission, a conviction which they knew needed them to act as a vessel of change. Otherwise, change would never come. Their children would suffer the same condition they mourned over. They were activists. Naturally, I always assumed I'd be one of them; not for the sake of the glory or legacy, but we are a generation desperate for change. I always assumed that God gave me two arms, legs, eyes to see, and a mind to calculate so that I could assume my position among those who have changed the world for the better. Then I met my husband, who wasn't thrilled about my idea of becoming the next Rachel Corrie... he convinced me that the best thing I could contribute to a society would be a healthy family. "After all", he said, "How many healthy, wholesome families are left in the world today?" We were married and children came, and for four years, I've not stopped struggling with my decision to 'settle down' and slowly slip out of the bustling world to dwell in my home. Not that I don't leave the house, but you can't very well bring infants to political conventions, and rarely do rallies and protests have the organization to tote along porta-potties, and even then its not worth the hassle changing diapers or breastfeeding therein. Plus what do I look like carrying a diaper bag and a huge protest sign...? It just aint happening.
Its only been a struggle for me to accept my most honorable place because frankly, the post-Industrial Revolution/feminist West doesn't honor it. I'm always hesitant with a hint of shame to admit to friends or family that no, I'm not working outside the house, and I'm probably not going to continue University for a while. Older women understand because I suppose they have the hindsight to appreciate the role of a mother in the lives of the children and household. I'm not saying that if you have ovaries, you stay in the house. I mean, if it weren't for the kids, I'd probably be out 'activising' or whatever it was I wanted to do so many years ago. But God gave me the ability to bear and nurture my babies who really do need ME. Not just any knucklehead in a daycare.
I'd like to quote Khalid Baig, as his book was an inspiration in a time when I struggled with feelings of insufficiency and self-doubt. In his chapter on Motherhood, he describes the ideology I've circumstantially embraced. Describing the Clinton Administrations' plan to create a mentoring program for at-risk adolescents involving adult volunteers, Baig questions the notion and cause for the plan, asking, "What happened to their parents?...Mothers left their homes to 'realize their full potential'... A society that belittled the task of homemaking lost the homemakers...(They circulate the ideas that) Life is fun. Homemaking is dull. Children are a burden. Now 15 million of them are a burden on society." He then quotes Mikhail Gorbachev (1987) who mentioned that this phenomenon is simply the "paradoxical result of our sincere and politically justified desire to make women equal with men in everything." Baig continues,"Not only is this an all-important task, but only women are uniquely qualified to do it. It is not an accident that pregnancy and nursing are purely feminine tasks. Allah Most High has given women the special physical and psychological make-up needed to take care of children. There is no substitute for mothers milk or mothers love..Unfortunately, in Muslim and non-Muslim communities, 'professional' women enjoy a higher social status then the 'mere housewives'. Mothers are the silent workers who are indispensable for building the character of the next generation." In the chapter entitled Gold and Glitter, he talks about feminism and womens history in the west in comparison to the role and rights of women in Islam. He says,"The gold standard for women's status in society has been developed by the west. And everyone must now comply...It is true that there has been a lot in history for women to revolt against. In the 1860s, a married Englishwoman did not exist as a legal person. Upon marriage she entered a condition called "converture", effectively making her a possession of her husband. Her name was changed to indicate the new ownership, a practice that continues to date. She could not own property, make a contract or will, or get custody rights for her own children. The 1632 English law declared: "That which the husband hath is his own. That which the wife hath is the husband's." Worse, she had no rights to get out of a miserable marriage. Until 1857, divorce was obtainable through the passage of an Act of Parliament.Her second-class status was widely believed. :"[man] is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man" [I Cor. 11:7]. So we see no respectable leader in the West in the 15th through the 18th centuries challenging these ideas. Here, for example, is the great reformer Martin Luther: "If they become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there."The works of Mary Wollstonecroft (1792) and John Staurt Mill (1869) are presented as the first voices of revolt. But these were controversial people who were rejected and ignored by their contemporaries. Both would be re-discovered in the second half of the 20th century because they provided a justification for the later developments.The scene begins to change in the 19th century, not under the force of any moral argument, but because of pressures generated by the industrial revolution. The juggernaut of industrial revolution destroyed the old handicraft based economy and forced the workers to move to the sweat shops in big cities. They demanded, in vain, "family wages" so a man could support his family on his income. The capitalists would rather have the family also come to his service if it wanted to eat. There was no option but to send the women (and children) to the factory to make ends meet.Later, the opening of clerical jobs needed millions of other women to come out of their homes and become sales girls, typists, secretaries, waitresses. Cheap labor. The process was given a moral purpose by the language of the feminist movement. It measured their "progress" by how many had been driven out of their homes. It labeled the social upheavals caused by the industrial revolution as women's emancipation. According to its convoluted logic if a woman serves food to her husband and children, it is slavery. If she provides the same service to total strangers in a restaurant or aircraft, risking their never ending advances, that is emancipation! The destruction of the home is a direct result of this progress.
Islam, on the other hand, gives her her God-given rights without forcing her out of the home. She has rights of property ownership, and inheritance, She has rights in her marriage similar to the rights of the husband. Far from the non-adult she is depicted to be, she is responsible for effective management of the home and the upbringing of the children, a most challenging job.The paradise of her children lies at her feet; the righteousness of her husband is to be judged by his kind treatment to her; to bring her up in a loving caring manner, assures her father protection from hell.
And here's the part that struck home to me, people!! : "In a way, their role is like that of the archers in the battle of Uhud. It looked less important but it was key to the fate of the entire army. If women hold on to their front, the entire army will succeed. If they leave it for the 'greater action' elsewhere, everyone will lose."
Mr. Baig, JAZAKUM'ALLAH KHAIRAN for that nugget of inspiration and that beautiful metaphor, so fitting I can't help but to think it was meant to be.
And as for me, I pray not only to whole-heartedly embrace this logic, but come on! I have to be more of a forward-thinker! Lord willing, my life wont end after my 20's are gone and my kids are off in high-school! I can always go back to school... bring them to all my nerdy 'causes' and 'concerns' when they're old enough to understand. These are just the few, mundane years of diaper-changing and mess-cleaning I need to buckle-down and perform some self-sacrifice for the sweethearts I've been blessed with. After this, its pie... I hope ;) (???)