28 Agustus 2007





By: Farid Ma’ruf*

As I mentioned in my previous article entitled “Gender and Islamic Teaching” that there are still people who have been resistant to the issue of gender. Gender, to them, is a western ideology that contradicts with Islamic teaching and is introduced to liberalize women so that they will no longer obedience to their husbands. Women are supposed to respect and obey their husbands in all situations; their obedience is part of the ritual to their God. The ironic thing is that such statement was raised by a woman during ask and question session in a discussion on Child Protection Law in Central Jakarta on May 30, 2007. To them, introducing gender is also to poison people way of thinking that lead them to oppose the sacred revelations from God, She stated that by ratifying CEDAW, Indonesia is to invest hatred feeling between husbands and wives, and then she also questioned why marriage under age is prohibited while government provides condom in the name of HIV/AIDS prevention, and then she proudly ended her statement by citing phrase no. 30 of surah al Anfal “wamakaruu wamakarollahu wallaahu khairul makiriin” meaning that they are going to do fraud but God is going to do fraud against them because God is the best in doing so’

That is the real misunderstanding about gender, gender has been perceived as misleading human ideology, and it will not be a good vehicle for human being to reach a better situation and condition, and only to God teaching we have to subject to. They believe that God had already given us a complete and detail prescription for our best. In deed God only provide us generic norms for us to follow instead of detail technical guidance for every thing. If we follow her paradigm, seem to be that there is no area for human creativity (ijtihad) at all, and no societal correlation in interpreting God statements, all depend on the God willing just like fatalistic (jabbariyah) way of thinking.

To me, such a way of thinking is a partial and misleading understanding about Islamic teaching. If every thing is belong to area of ta’abbudy, no human creativities will exist in our lives. In the gender context, we, as human being, are supposed to implement the legal maxim (qawaidul ushuliyyah) of “al-ashlu fil mu’amalaati al iltifaatu ila ma’aniha” meaning that “in the area of human interaction we have to find the right meanings” that are fit and beneficial for goodness of human being. When God says that marriage (nikah) is a strong or permanent agreement between a man and a woman in the phrase 21 of surah Al-Nisa, God and the Prophet had never given us detail on how to technically establish and maintain such strong agreement in accordance to current condition.

Umar bin Khattab, for instance, had once ordered that someone who decided thalaq 3 must be implemented even though qur’an says that no thalaq 3 at once time as Allah says in surah al-Baqoroh phrase no. 229. In this context human being has opportunities to do some creative things in interpreting such God-statements, Ulama saw that establishing t’aliq talaq is one way of maintaining the strong or permanent agreement (nikah). Later we also aware that it is impossible to have such strong agreement between a man and a woman without consent like a marriage with under aged child. Therefore we agree that marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman of full age, and since children are under age and are perceived to have no consent, they are not eligible for marriage, that is why chapter 26 article 1 of the Act no 23/2002 on Child Protection prohibit parents to arrange marriage of children under age.

Violence against women is one of universal predictors for an imbalance relationship between men ad women whether in public or private sphere that generally ends up in disadvantaged condition for women and demoralizes them too. Should we let this situation continues, and will God be happy witnessing such condition. We continue witnessing horrible cases where women are physically abused, or mentally intimidated by their husbands or partners. We believe that women deserve an equal and fair treatment in the community, and they also have individual rights before law and before God as well. Therefore we have to respect their rights by providing equal access to public services, and protection against any evil and unfair treatments.

Subordination is a form of jahiliyyah heritages in the name of male privileges over women. Women are perceived to be weak, unable to do war against enemies. Having a female baby was a stigma for a family because women were not as prestigious as having a male baby on that time. Women can only do some supportive things and domestic works not in public arena. To end my article, it will be good for a women like the one I mentioned in the first paragraph to learn more about Islamic law philosophy as well as qawaidul fiqhiyyah that are extracted by ulama from the Qur’an and the prophet traditions, not simply do some hit and run way of thinking. Accusing that other people perception is not true and claiming that only his or her point of view is the absolute right is one thing that we have to avoid from because such arrogance would bring us into difficult situation. Once Rasulullsh Saw. said that ”al Islam mahjuubun bil muslimiin” meaning that Islam will be hindered by Moslem themselves (because misunderstanding and misleading behaviors. However, what we understand about God-revelations or the prophet traditions is not something absolute, that is why we should always end our statement or comment by saying “wallahu a’alamu bimuradihi” meaning that God is the one who know the exact message and meaning of the texts.

Islam is actually very tolerant and opens to differences even it urges all Moslem to be a broad minded community, tolerant to people pint of views. Claiming that the only point of vies of one group of people is the right one, and blaming other group people point of view as bad is truly a big mistake. In this context Allah says in the surah al hujurat phare no. which means “ oh the believers please one group not to look down other group of community, who knows that the group they look down is in fact better than their group”

* Kementrian Pemberdayaan Perempuan RI

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