Due to the regime of Taliban in Afghanistan, our minds were fed with the Idea of the women being oppressed in an Islamic society. We saw they suffering in the hands of their relatives, husbands and fathers who were supposed to protect them instead of punish them in cruel ways. We saw the number of studied and well educated women decline. Before the regime of Taliban, women were 40% of the doctors and 60% of the university professors in Afghanistan, unfortunately, after the regime, only 20% of the women were literate.

Was the initial idea of Taliban was to implement an Islamic system, we all stick with the idea of Taliban as being an Islamic group, but what not everybody know is that Taliban not only adopts the Islamic culture but mix it with the Pashtun culture. Taliban is not only an Islamic groups, but also a nationalist group, although it might sounds contradictory and in fact really is.

Many concepts adopted by Taliban came from Pashtun traditions and many of them aren’t in accord with the Sharia law (the Islamic law). One of these concepts was of the role played by women in the society, and regarding their education. Pashtun tribes keep a restrict and close culture, women indeed don’t have a huge interaction in the society outside their homes, in the tribal culture women were very often deprived of education and ended up marrying really young. Taliban brought back this concept thus limiting women’s access to education.

What is not truth though. Is that Islam promotes this kind of limitation. Studying the Islamic history and the history of the first Muslims, we see women well educated playing different roles in the society, as mentioned in the book Great Women of Islam by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar:

“They were as active in religion as in politics, as courageous in war as in the peaceful and persuasive propagation of the teachings of Islam. These noble selfless women could be found in the battlefield among the foremost ranks of those taking part in Jihad. They were to be found in the political arena, in the field of education, in the courts of Islamic jurisprudence, in the interpretation of Sharia, in trade and commerce, in agriculture, in medicine and in nursing. In short there was no sphere that did not benefit from their intellect, their wisdom and their gentle yet firm strength of character.”

As it can be noticed, since the beginning of the age of Islam, women have taken part in most of the field available. This, of course, demands knowledge, that can only be acquired due to deep studies.

As examples, we can quote that’s of Safiyyah, who displayed a brilliant military strategy in the battle of Ahazab against Jews. Shifa bint Abdullah who was highly valorized by Khalifah Umar for her political intelligence and insight, he used to consult with her. Later he gave her the responsibility of running the state’s affairs regarding to trade and commerce.

In the sphere of education, we have lots of examples of female companions who had a vast knowledge regarding the deen. The Mother of the Believers Aisha was very often consulted by companions regarding to matter of the Quran and Hadith.

Some of the women companions had skill and abilities in other field of knowledge as well, Asma bin Yazid bin Sakan was an expert in making speech, while other companions like Aslaimiah Umm Matta’a, Umm Kabshah, Hamnah bint Jahash had good skills in medicine. Rufaida Aslamiah for example, had a tend close to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah which contained all the necessary instruments for surgery.

 

In the sphere of art we can mention lots of poetesses, such as Sa’adi, Safiyah, Atikah and the most famous of them Khansa. Women were also found in the sphere of commerce and business, some working with perfumes, others with leather, the biggest example is Khadijah, Prophet’s first wife, she was a successful businesswoman and used to send trading caravans to different countries.

Another thing to point here is that even during the dark ages people were facing, many women still managed to literate themselves. Some could write others could read at least.

All these examples given by the people of the past, don’t fit this imagine we have today of education of women in an Islamic society, which make us realize that this issue is not really related to the religion of Islam, but to a tribal cultural tradition carried during the ages.

 

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Published by Pashtun Cat