The revival of Islam is increasingly evident in all forms, present in almost every society and reaching even remote areas that are devoid of Islamic life. Most surprisingly to Western civilisation, this revival is taking place amongst women.
Women whose background is middle class, young and non-Islamic are embracing the pure ideology of Islam.
In today's Western (un-Islamic) society, the role of the woman has been debated to exhaustion, with no real solution being put forward. Since the early founders of feminism arising from the feudal society in the 18th century such as Mary Wollstonecraft, to modem day feminists, the Western woman is still in a dilemma as to her role and purpose in life.
The Western women have engaged in a long and enduring battle to obtain their rights and recognition as a citizen. It took three generations for the British women to win the most basic rights - that to education, keep their own earnings and to vote. Voting was secured as late as l9l8. Women underwent arrest, humiliation, hunger strikes, protest marches, and societies were very hostile towards them at this time, regarding them as deviants. Economic and political opportunities arose only due to World War II as the men went to fight. As late as 1970, women were still struggling to gain recognition. For example, that year on August 26 hundreds of women marched down Fifth Avenue, New York City. Placards read "Housewives are unpaid slaves! State pay for Housework! Oppressed Women! Don't cook dinner, starve your husband tonight! Washing nappies is not fulfilling!"
Today, women are fighting the jungle of media illusions, male domination and society exploitation. The sexual revolution has created a wave of oppression on a mass scale, creating a beauty war where young women are under increasing pressure to fit info society's image of the perfect female - thin, tall, fair and young. As a nation, British women spend a massive £100 million a year on eve-makeup, £43 million a year on nail products alone, £111 million on shaving accessories, £265 million on hair dyes, and an amazing £500 million a year is spent on cosmetics, toiletries and perfumes - a figure that increases dramatically every year. In fact the Western economy thrives on the cosmetic industry.
But of 200 years of the women's movement what has been the outcome? Today, women comprise approximately 59% of the world's population; they perform two-thirds of all working hours, have fewer professional posts, and make up the vast majority of casual workers. A woman's role has changed from the traditional housewife to one of being a commodity, to be exploited for commercial means. With all this, it is no wonder that Western women are adopting the ideology of Islam.
Society is understood by Islam to be the main contributor to governing the way we live, our ideas and the viewpoint on life we carry. The aim of Islam is to protect the fabric of society, in doing this the human race, mind, honour, private property, religion, security and state are protected. These ideals are not subject to change and punishments are assigned in order to preserve these aims. These objectives are basic rights enjoyed by both women and men.
Islam has come to deal with the issues concerning the whole of humanity, not just women. However the role of women (and men) are clearly defined and therefore there is no such debate on 'equality'. Their nature is understood to be different, yet complementary to each other. Unlike the problems today caused by man legislating, laws in Islam are not set by man or woman, but rather by the one who fashioned us. Therefore, women are neither slave to man, woman, society, nor any other false idol. Any system that has come from man (existing ideologies are from man) is subject to disparity and contradiction since man's thoughts are also influenced by the environment in which he lives.
The economic system of Islam ensured that women were given the right of ownership and inheritance 1400 years ago. During the Islamic state, women were at accomplished in professions such as medicine and Islamic law. Some of the most learned scholars were women. She even had the position of judge. All this was at a time when the rest of the world, including the West, was in its dark ages. Women entering employment was unheard of let alone women with economic independence! During the khilaafah (Islamic state) women had the right to participate in public affairs and political rights such as the right to vote. There are many examples of women who participated in serious discussions and argued even with the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) himself. These rights arose at such a time when women were not even advocating them, there were no demonstrations, no protests or hunger strikes and the Arabian pagan women were known to be the most oppressed before the advent of Islam.
Western civilisation has been cruel to its women. On one hand it wants her to be a mother, while still insisting that she is not successful until she has a career. Islam however has proved to be a real protector of the woman, viewing her as part of creation. Subservience is to the Creator only. She has a complete understanding of her role and aim in life and thus living by the comprehensive criteria of Islam she can hope to achieve ultimate tranquillity. She has the choice to work if she wishes. Muslim women themselves are not surprised by the number of Western women converting. Those who understand Islam know that the security, honour and dignity it provides are unsurpassed. The ideological identity bestowed upon women is unique to all other cultures, religions and ideologies. There is no other way of life that provides for all aspects of life and guarantees her not only rights but also honour and dignity.