Muslim Women's Perspective
on Women's Plight in Afghanistan

From the Muslim Women's League Homepage

The Taliban have forced Women to cover themselves from head to toe. Even the face is covered; this is in direct contradiction to Islamic Law!

Today, in Afghanistan a woman's basic right to vote, to pursue an education, and to join the job force, is threatened by Taliban, a political group that has recently gained control of the country. Taliban's insistence on secluding women from public life is a political maneuver disguised as "Islamic" law. Before seizing power, Taliban manipulated and used the rights of women as tools to gain control of the country. To secure financial and political support, Taliban emulated authoritarian methods typical of many Middle Eastern countries. Taliban's stand on the seclusion of women is not derived from Islam, but, rather, from a cultural bias found in suppressive movements throughout the region.

Once Taliban seized power, a classical pattern that has been observed in some Muslim countries repeated itself. In this scenario, political instability coexists with an extreme and oppressive ideology regarding women. Some members of Taliban have been quoted as saying that these actions are temporary and that women's rights will be restored once the government is more stable. One must bear in mind that, as history has amply demonstrated, other Muslim countries have committed the same atrocities and the result is that women within their boundaries continue to be oppressed, politically and otherwise. To maintain control over the people, radical groups such as Taliban divert attention away from political and economic crises by oppressing half of the population.

Such a view has no basis in the Qur'an, yet it has been promoted by Taliban as "Islamic." This situation is very distressing considering that women were given rights in the Qur'an to contribute to the economy by owning and selling property 1400 years ago:

Men shall have a benefit from what they earn, and women shall have a benefit from what they earn. (4:32)

This verse emphasizes the equality of men and women in the economic growth of a society. In the earliest Muslim community, women carried out business transactions and participated in battles without restriction. The Qur'an and the examples of the first Muslim society give the Muslim Women's League a voice to state that the current manipulation of women to serve geo-political interests, in Afghanistan or elsewhere, is both unIslamic and inhumane.

November 1996


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