On Tuesday this week, days after the Taliban stormed Kabul and effectively sealed the control of Afghanistan, the spokesperson of the terror organisation made pacifying comments to help tame growing fear among the residents and as a part of a broader campaign to present a more moderate face to the world.
The terror outfit declared an “amnesty” across the country and urged women to return to work, in a bid to reassure the wary population fretting over their fate under the Talibani regime.
“A general amnesty has been declared for all…so you should start your routine life with full confidence,” a statement issued by the Taliban said.
Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, tried to allay fear among Afghan residents by asserting that the Islamic Emirate, the Taliban’s term for Afghanistan, doesn’t want women to be victims. “They should be in the government structure according to Shariah law,” he said.
Speaking on women’s rights under Taliban rule, the terror outfit’s spokesperson said, “The rights of women in Afghanistan will be respected in accordance with the Islamic Sharia law.”
The Taliban reportedly said that women were the main victims of the crisis in Afghanistan for over 40 years and they don’t want the women to be victims anymore. Samangani said the Taliban wants to provide women with an environment where they can work and study and even join the government “as per Islamic law and our cultural values”.
While the Taliban assured the nation that it respects women’s rights and want them to return to work, the assurance was neither absolute nor unconditional. Instead, it came with a caveat: women’s rights would be respected but only in conformity with the Islamic Sharia Law.
It seems like the Taliban has come of age and evolved as per changing times, shedding its offhanded demeanour and embracing a much more machiavellian and diplomatic approach to control the narrative. Accommodating women’s rights but within the framework of Islamic Sharia Law was a testament to that fact.
Let’s try to understand if women’s rights under Islamic Sharia Law even exist or is it just a chimera that the radical Islamists try to use in their attempt to glorify Sharia and provide a cover for the atrocities that are routinely carried out by Islamists against women and girls.
Sharia allows women to work but with stifling terms and conditions
Hate preacher Dr Zakir Naik, who is hailed by Islamists as one of the most reliable authorities on Islamic teachings and the Holy Quran, has uploaded several videos that debunk the myth about the rights of women under Sharia and brings forth the ugly reality of how the law accords women the inferior status and relegated them to a secondary position.
In a video uploaded in 2017, Naik said women don’t possess absolute rights to work at the place of their choice as the Islamic Sharia. He added that Muslim women don’t have a financial obligation to earn for their family and it is the prerogative of the male family members to look after the family, including lodging, boarding, clothing and other financial requirements of women members of the family.
Naik, however, added that Muslim women can work but by being under the purview of Islamic Sharia. Elaborating on his assertion, Naik said women are allowed to work if they dress suitably—meaning they wear hijab to their workplaces and provided, there is no intermingling of sexes at such places. Naik said Muslim women are permitted to work at places where there is segregation of sexes, with women working along with fellow women and men with their male counterparts. In case there ain’t segregation of sexes at places, wearing a hijab is an absolute must for women, who are also advised to maintain a certain level of purdah or veil at the work.
Discrimination in inheritance: Islamic Sharia ordains half the share of inheritance to women as compared to double to male siblings
Islam always had a troubled relationship with gender equality. This is most glaring in Islamic inheritance jurisprudence. The Islamic Sharia Law allots women half the share of inheritance available to men if they inherit from the same father. For example, where the decedent has both male and female children, a son’s share is double that of a daughter’s.
Even this apparent discrimination and subjugation of women was intellectualised and rationalised by hate preacher Zakir Naik in one of his videos. Naik said since according to Islam men bear the financial responsibility of their family, be it father, or brother, before the marriage of the girl child, and after marriage, the woman’s husband, therefore, it is appropriate that women receive half the inheritance of what men receive.
“As per Quran, son gets double that of a daughter, wife gets half that of husband…The logic behind this is that since the man takes the financial burden, he has to look after the family with the amount he inherits. On the other hand, all the amount that women inherit goes into saving as they are not obligated to spend on the family…If Allah had given an equal inheritance to men and women, I would have had to talk on men’s rights in Islam,” Naik said.
Testimony of a woman is considered half of that of a man
In yet another example of women rights under Islamic Sharia being no more than a sham, the testimony of a woman is considered half of that of a man. In other words, the weight of two female witnesses is equated to the weight of a single male witness, which effectively means that women are not considered “wise enough” or “intelligent enough” or as compared to men to have equal standing in terms of testimony.
And as expected, Zakir Naik has a defence for even this perversity. The Islamic hate preachers says the verse in Quran which equates 2 female witnesses to 1 male witness is exclusive to only financial transactions. He then goes on to resort to the same old refrain that he keeps using to deflect allegations of gender discrimination in Islam. Naik said since in Islam men bore the financial burden of the family and women are not obligated to work, a man is considered to be more financially aware as compared to a woman and therefore, the Holy Quran suggests having 2 male witnesses or 4 women witnesses for overseeing a financial transaction.
Wife-beating in the Muslim world is not necessarily a bad thing
Another contentious provision in the Islamic Sharia Law that runs counter to the modern-day rights of women is the law that allows domestic violence against a wife by her husband. In civilised societies, domestic violence is considered a menace that is a punishable offence. But that is not the case in societies where Islamic Sharia reigns supreme. In such societies and countries, women continue to be treated as second-class citizens, and atrocities against them are sanctioned by the rule of the law.
In another video, Zakir Naik explained the rules governing the disciplining of a disobedient wife. “When your wife does not listen to you, you should warn her. If yet, she does not follow your instruction, you should refuse to share a bed with her. And if she still does not listen to you, you should beat her, though it should be symbolic beating,” Naik said while defending wife bashing as ordained under the Islamic Sharia.
Muslims have the right to have sex with their female slaves
Another Islamic law that deprives women of their dignity and degrades them as mere objects tramples is the provision that allows Muslims to have sex with their female slaves. Islamic literature from medieval times suggest that there were female slaves sold in markets for the specific purpose of meeting the sexual requirements of Muslim men. They were called “slaves for pleasure” or “slave-girls for sexual intercourse”. Many of the female sex slaves became concubines to their owners and bore their children. Others were discarded after the owner had enough sex with them or had grown weary of them.
Zakir Naik had earlier said that Quran allows Muslim men to have sex with female slaves. “The Quran says a man can have sex with his wife and what his right hand possesses. During the time of Prophet, war used to take place and females from the opposite side were taken as captives and made sex slaves,” Naik had said.
He had even cited a verse in Quran, which allowed Muslim men who did not have the means to marry women to have sex by marrying sex slaves and providing them with their freedom. “In this way, Muslim men incapable of marrying women could have sex and even the sex slaves were given their freedom,” Naik said.