Women and Women's Rights

What are your thoughts about women's rights?

This is a very comprehensive subject. From one perspective it's open to debate. It's very difficult for me to summarize my thoughts on this kind of platform. In one sense we don't separate men and women. In one sense there are physical and psychological differences. In my opinion, women and men should be the two sides of truth, like the two faces of a coin. Man without woman, or woman without man, cannot be; they were created together. Adam suffered in Heaven because he had no mate, and then Heaven became a real Heaven when he found his mate. Man and woman complement each other.

If we approach the matter from Islamic perspective...

Our Prophet, the Qur'an, and Qur'anic teachings don't take men and women as separate creatures. I think the problem here is that people approach it from extremes and disturb the balance. There are differences on specific points. For example, men usually are physically stronger and apt to bear hardship, while women have deeper emotions; they are more compassionate, more delicate, more self-sacrificing. While looking for a place for each sex in society, we should consider these and other similar differences coming from birth. God created everything, from sub-atomic particles to human beings in pairs to form a unity.

Are there examples for the female role?

In the social atmosphere of Muslim societies where Islam is not "contaminated" with customs or un-Islamic traditions, Muslim women are full participants in daily life. For example, during the Prophet's time and in later centuries when the West gave women no place in society, when the West was debating whether or not women had souls or if they were devils or human beings, 'A'isha led an army. She also was a religious scholar whose views everyone respected. Women prayed in mosques together with men. An old woman could oppose the Caliph in the mosque in a juridical matter. Even in the Ottoman period during the eighteenth century, the wife of an English ambassador highly praised the women and mentioned their roles in Muslim families and society with admiration. Ertugrul Ozkok, Hurriyet daily, 1/23-30/95

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