Aasifa Rahmath Hameed, Chennai, India
Turning the pages of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns was difficult at times as the author had weaved a story that seemed too real at times. Being a literature student at that time, I had to tell myself that they were just fiction and nothing more. Looking at A Thousand Splendid Suns from the feminist perspective was one way to deal with the trauma that was depicted in the novel but how much we try, those stories never leave us and the Taliban invasion in Kabul is a testament to that.
While the major powers are busy evacuating their citizens stranded in Afghanistan, one cannot help but notice the articles that depict the fear of women who are the citizens of the country (www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58191440). People scrambling to get themselves seated on an aeroplane to fly out of Kabul is their one last attempt to safeguard their personal rights
Women all over the country have claimed their rights to get educated, to build a career and to have a life and identity of their own but the recent invasion has already threatened their choices and basic rights of being a woman. Women were asked to leave the jobs that pertained to law, healthcare, banking and journalism as the Taliban seized power. (www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/8/16/as-the-taliban-seized-cities-they-sent-women-packing-home).
It is ironic to see how an organisation that claims “to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law” (www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11451718), has not really understood what Islam says about the rights of women.
In fact, Islam is the first religions to uphold the rights of women in every aspect of life while all the other religions were far behind in providing women with a sense of safety and identity. Even a short glimpse of the lives of the women who lived during Prophet Muhammad’s time is enough to understand how learned they were. Some women had more knowledge than men and they even helped them during wars. (www.alislam.org/articles/role-of-women-in-an-islamic-society/). So to push women backwards by denying them basic rights like safety, education, career prospects and healthcare, is synonymous with going back to the times before the advent of Islam where women were not treated with respect.
Prophet Muhammadsa expounded on the rights of women and highlighted the importance of education for women. The first wife of the Holy Prophetsa, Hazrat Khadijara was a successful, highly educated businesswoman. We also find instances in history where the male companions of the Prophetsa listened to the lectures given by Hazrat Ayeshara – the wife of the Prophetsa. (www.alislam.org/articles/islam-restoring-womens-rights/).
In one hadith, Hazrat Anasra ibn Malik reported that the Holy Prophetsa said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” (Sunan Ibn Majah). The first revealed word of the Holy Quran also commanded the believers to “Read!” (Surah al-Alaq). This shows that Almighty Allah has made it an obligation for women also to seek education.
The Khulafa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have illustrated the rights of women countless times. In an address, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, Khalifatul Masih V gave at the opening of the community’s mosque at Marburg, Germany, he said:
“It is important for any person, male or female, to gain an education and to use it to serve their nation. However, it is of even more significance for a girl to be educated because in later life she will then be able to educate and raise her children in the best fashion.” (www.alislam.org/press-release/ahmadiyya-muslim-community-mosque-in-marburg-germany/)
One is able to understand that when a woman is educated it serves not only her but helps the future generation as well. In another address to the Ahmadi youth, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa made it clear that, “[…] education was imperative and that it was completely wrong to suggest that Islam discouraged females from attaining a high level of education”. (www.alislam.org/press-release/head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community-addresses-muslim-youth-events-waqfe-nau-ijtemas-in-london/)
Unlike how the majority perceives Islam to be an extreme religion, the true teachings of Islam have made education mandatory because it is the first step in asserting one’s rights and identity which otherwise could be exploited by such forces.
Even during the latest Jalsa Salana UK (2021), while addressing Ahmadi ladies, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa reminded everyone extensively regarding the rights of women that Islam has provided (www.alhakam.org/true-emancipation-through-the-everlasting-teachings-of-islam-english-translation-of-huzoors-address-in-ladies-session-of-jalsa-salana-uk-2021/)
Therefore one needs to understand that Islam provides women with the right to be educated and if extremist organisations tell otherwise and curb the rights of women, then it is only a man-made machination. Let us sincerely pray and hope that the version of Afghanistan that Hosseini portrayed does not become a reality soon.