Home Family and Marriage The balance of responsibilities between men and women

The balance of responsibilities between men and women

?Why is it that Islam does not task woman with the same duties of man as it is in the West?

?When a woman take on the same responsibility of a man; she will definitely be obliged to drift away from their motherhood because she would, then, be expected to work extremely hard in order to allow this responsibility to flourish, to be worthwhile and to give it the chance for expansion. All of that hard work would be simultaneously accompanied by the heavy burdens of motherhood; and that will have a great effect on her role as a mother, on the family and on the society as well. Since the fatherhood of the male does not lie in his physical structure as a man unlike the woman whose motherhood is based on her body as a female; this simple fact makes it a lot easier for a man to be a father than a woman to be a mother. And it is natural that motherhood, although it does not cancel all the abilities of a woman, burdens the mother heavily both physically and emotionally even in the early stages of pregnancy; and it is also natural that it will exhaust her at least in ways that won’t ever exist outside the framework of motherhood.

Accordingly, when there is a newborn and the mother does not want to fulfill the requirements of the household, she must then rely on the aid of a babysitter or a maid who is hired to perform the job instead of her. However, this would be an unjustified twisting and distortion of woman’s role as a mother, not to mention that it will harm the woman when it deprives her of the maternity characteristics that represent a significant part of her personality, as it will equally damage the child by depriving him of the affectionate fostering that he needs.

As a matter of fact, when the woman assumes the responsibilities of man; she would then be considered as behaving mannishly something that takes her femininity away. And once she does so, she doesn’t become a man nor does she return to her status as a woman. The opposite too is exactly the same, when the man behaves femininely, he will never return to be a man nor will he become a woman. Life works on preserving things in their intrinsic natural qualities and manners, so that they would be a fruitful yield to life in thoughts, efforts, projects, humans, or whatever.

When we examine women’s actual state of being in the western society that oriental people aspire to, we find that the psychological crisis, the marriage problems, and the complicated emotional situations had succeeded in wasting a considerable part of woman’s humanity in exchange for the financial or social gains she had acquired which, in fact, will never be able to compensate her for what she had missed.

We don’t actually want to divest woman of work, and of social and cultural activities; however, we want to say that we should strike a balance between these sought gains and preserving the personality of the woman as a female, as a wife and as a mother. What is more, when we talk about the man and his function in life; well, that is not to cancel his responsibility as a father, as a husband and all what accompanies these commitments.

Women and the right to education

?some people believe that the important role of a woman as a mother calls for a main concentration on imparting to her the education that serves exclusively this role; so, does Islam have the same standpoint regarding this issue?

?Islam regards knowledge as a general human value and a scale of preference between people. This is how the Qur’an as well presents knowledge in its saying: {Are those who know and those who do not know equal?}(The Troops, Throngs; 39:9). {It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition}(The Thunder 13:19). Knowledge is a merit for man and woman equally, and the importance of acquiring it is identical to both of them. Imam Ali (a.s) says: “The value of a person lies in what he masters” and that indicates the knowledge and experience he possesses. Therefore, when God (s.w.t) motivates man to seek out more knowledge :{ but say, "O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge."}(Ta-ha; 20:114) and to contemplate: {and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth.}(The Family of 'Imran: 191), He is not actually addressing men only even though the Qur’anic words are in the masculine gender. More correctly, He means both men and women because, first of all, Islam considers that each human being, man or woman, is responsible of reaching his own belief in God and the last day independently from others, given that belief is beyond the question of traditions. And since acquiring belief requires thinking and seeking knowledge in order to expand the horizons of reason and awareness, a woman has the same needs as a man to develop her mental abilities through education. Secondly, because Islam considers that the man and the woman have the same human role in life - as we have mentioned earlier - and that they are equally responsible in life and of life; there is no justification then to give priority to one over the other in the level of education they can reach or even in the nature of knowledge they are receiving.

In fact, the saying that a woman is as responsible as a man before God, the most exalted, constitutes an actual admission of her independence as a person; of her freedom of thought as well as her freedom of will. Moreover, it is an admission that she needs to develop the power points of her personality, to vanquish her weaknesses, to protect herself against deviation and against the threats of the outside world. And knowledge can play a great part helping the human being, man or woman, to accomplish these aims.

The emphasis on the role of a woman as a mother does not mean to tie down her life and her education to this role and to deprive her of learning anything that goes beyond its limits as some people may say. As a matter of fact, the woman, as a human being, needs all the offerings of knowledge and not only some selected things of it. Hence, the claim that the physical and the mental abilities of a woman are limited is an unfair and an inhuman statement.

God, The most exalted, created the man and the woman to complete one another in life with the distinguishing characteristics each one possesses. But at the same time, He made them both responsible before Him independently from each other. And this responsibility necessitates that both of them would make sure to have the possession of the strength and the freedom of will, thought, and comportment as we have pointed out previously. And if the motherhood of a woman requires maturing some of her personal capabilities in this respect, the fatherhood of the man needs developing some of his own too. However, those two particularities do not preclude from making the two of them ready for sharing their roles mutually in the future on this level. Consequently, there is no justification for any discrimination between men and women regarding education, neither in the material of knowledge they are receiving nor in the level they are allowed to reach.

?Outside the framework of the Islamic viewpoint towards women’s education, there are, actually, some objective hindering blocks that stand in women’s way of moving further in their education. These obstacles lie in the unacceptable fact that they would be mixing with men for one thing, and the unacceptable fact that they may travel abroad alone for another; and sometimes, proceeding in education may depend upon such matters. So, what is the standpoint of Islam towards this issue?

?On the whole, socializing with men is not forbidden unless it leads to deviation. Accordingly, it does not make a hindrance that obstructs women’s educational progress. Nonetheless, there must be some regulations that will act as a protector for both men and women in case such a thing happened.

As for traveling abroad heading for studying and specializing, there is nothing that can legally forbid it, exactly like nothing prevents man from traveling abroad pursuing education. Furthermore, the woman and the man are allowed to travel under one and the same ground rule which is that each one of them would achieve in his educational, political or social expatriation the capacity of preserving his/her religious and ethical commitment so that he/she would assure himself/herself the protection against any religious and ethical deviation… Subsequently, nothing can practically hinder the woman from seeking to advance her education if she wanted to….