In a society of ignorance, there is a silent, unnamed power that directs all the people. From the moment he is born, a member of such societies submits himself to this power, and orders his entire life according to its edicts. This power dominates this member of the society of ignorance, to such an extent that he does not depart from its laws, even though they go against his own desires and expectations; and, come what may, he remains loyal to it.
What is this power, then, to which the ignorant are so attached, and which commands them so absolutely?
As we have said, it does not have a name; it is the totality of the false laws that the ignorant refer to as “tradition.” It is not known who formulated these laws and determined whether or not they were valid. No one, however, would dare to question or alter them. Anyone who attempts to question these traditions is despised, and attempts are made to prevent any who are thought to be violating these laws or disrupting the established order.
Members of this society are firmly devoted to the rules they have adopted; if one wanted to tell them that these rules may be wrong, they would reply that they came down to them from previous generations and, therefore, cannot be abandoned. They do not dare to examine what they do, or why they do it, because their forebears did the same. In the Qur’an Allah describes this distorted point of view characteristic of a society of ignorance:
When they are told, “Follow what Allah has sent down to you,” They say, “We are following what we found our fathers doing.” What, even though their fathers did not understand a thing and were not guided! (Surat al-Baqara, 170)
The character and way of life required of a member of a society of ignorance has been predetermined according to the false and formalistic nature of tradition. Take, for example, a child: No matter how mature he may be, he must act like a child. There are specific expectations as to his behavior, mode of conversation, and other every day matters. Any type of behavior that does not conform to these expectations is regarded as strange.
So, in the same way, the “female character” is defined by the characteristics regarded as acceptable for women in the society. The society of ignorance has accepted a mode of behavior for women, and they are not permitted to venture beyond these parameters, and must develop their own personalities within it. However, the kind of behavior prescribed for women by an ignorant society is rife with corruptions.
Surely, the worst form of corruption is the belief that, because women are physically weaker than men, they must also be weak of character. Girls are brought up from a very early age with this idea instilled in their minds. Women in a society of ignorance accept, without question, this notion imposed on them and, as a result, develop a feeble sense of identity. They believe that they cannot match the power and endurance of a man. Great majority of women never think of themselves as one who can protect and care for others; since their childhood, they have always been the ones who were protected and looked after. They think it normal for themselves to be emotional, to cry and become angry as they are “weak“ in character. This character type has been accepted as extremely natural in the societies of ignorance. Some women have accepted this model, without considering its validity, and the detriment it causes them, and, thereby, do not recognize the need to reform themselves.
Compared to this convoluted understanding of the society of ignorance, the way revealed by the Qur’an is simpler and far more straightforward. A Muslim does not make any distinction between the character of a man and that of a woman. Therefore, a woman is first of all a Muslim, and then a woman. Her identity is not determined by her sex, but according to the morality proclaimed in the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, Allah describes only a one type of character. Man or woman, all are held responsible for aspiring to this character. Accordingly, a female believer, who is aware of this, develops fortitude, balance and superior character.
When the character of a Muslim woman and that of a woman which has developed under the sway of ignorance are compared, the superiority of the character molded in the light of the morality described in the Qur’an becomes apparent.
Indeed, the Qur’an is the unique source that all people, regardless of their gender, should refer to, as our Prophet (saas) also indicated in his following tradition:
“The Qur’an is a strong rope of Allah, meaning that it is a reliable means of linking with Allah and a firm charter of guidance. It is the straight path. The Qur’an is the clear truth that keep thoughts from straying.” (Tirmidhi)2012-01-20 21:13:55