Prior to beginning my lecture, I would like to propose some practical suggestions. Speaking about women’s rights, women’s personality and Islam’s view of women differs a great deal from the realization of the actual value which Islam gives to human beings, and to women, in particular. Most often we are satisfied by pointing out that Islam gives great value to science or establishes progressive rights for women. Unfor- tunately we never actually use or benefit from these values or rights. We could benefit from these if we were to act according to the understanding which we acquire from them.
A great many people are acquainted with Islamic views of society, social relations, women’s rights, children’s rights and family rights, but these same people then actually follow non- Islamic, ancient cultural traditions and do not dare to base their lives upon Islamic values. That is, they do not practice what they preach. Thus we always remain at the level of talk- ing.
We must complete Islamic views and intellectual discus- sions with practical solutions. We must find a way whereby we reach these values and rights in practice. After proposing my views, the question should be asked as to how we can actually put them into practice?
Throughout history the problem of women’s rights and their role has always been considered to be an intellectual problem. Thus, various religious, philosophical and social systems have reached varying views in this respect.
From the 18th through the 20th centuries (particularly after W.W.II) any attempt to address the special problem of the social rights of women and their specific characteristics has been seen as a mere by-product of a spiritual or psychic shock or the result of a revolutionary crisis in centers of learning or as a response to political currents and international movements. Thus, traditional societies, historical societies, religious soci- eties, either in the East or in the West (be they tribal, Bedouin civilized Muslim or non-Muslim societies in whatever social or cultural stage of civilization they may be) have all been direct- ly or indirectly influenced by these thoughts, intellectual cur- rents and even new social realities.
Unfortunately the crisis of the problem of women and their liberation which began in the West and has been strengthened by the ruling superpowers in the 20th century has influenced all human societies, even closed traditional and religious soci- eties. There are only a few cultural, traditional and even reli- gious societies which have been able to properly stand against this flood.
Such societies have frequently been confronted by a peculiar modernism which they have adopted, under the guise of libera- tion of women, either by rejecting old traditions or by under- taking blind struggles. None of them have succeeded in stand- ing against this attack.
In such societies the newly educated class, the pseudo-intel- lectuals, who are in the majority, strongly and vigorously wel- come this crisis. They themselves even act as one of the forces that strengthens this corrupting and destructive transforma- tion.
In traditional religious societies, including Islamic commu- nities, neither group could stand against the attack of the mod- ern view of the liberation of women as announced by the West. The pseudo-intellectual and modern class of Islamic and non- Islamic societies in the East considered the modest dress to be the symbol of modern civilization, progress and awareness. The old, traditional group passed through and confronted this crisis with non-scientific and illogical tactics due to their lack of expe- rience. It is a general law that when there is a fire resulting from a spill of oil, if someone tries to hurriedly and unskillfully put the fire out, it only spreads more rapidly and more vigor- ously!
Thus such unskilled struggles against the West have fre- quently been performed in a manner that has created complex- es and various reactions inside such societies. In this way they have paved the way for acceptance of Western ideas and inno- vations. There are very few societies who have been able to stand against, to adequately resist, and to show an effective reaction to the modern West by consciously selecting their man- ner and form of lifestyle.
One of the most important factors that can assist Eastern societies in confronting and standing against the intellectual and cultural attack of the West (as it relates to the view of mod- ern woman) is to have a rich culture and history full of experi- ences, values and ideas. It is important to have progressive human rights and, in particular, to have perfect and complete human models in the religious history of those societies and communities.
Fortunately from this point of view (although they have not been able to consciously stand against the colonial attack of the West), Islamic societies have cultural power and possibilities, have a very progressive history, value system and religion and are in this way very rich. Thus they can, by relying on these val- ues and sources and by reviving and progressing towards the high humanitarian values existing in their culture and their past history encourage their new, young generation to stand and resist the West’s attack.
The most effective weapon to confront Western values and the most important factor for creating a conscious struggle within the new generation of our Islamic societies against the West’s seduction is to hold up very high, distinguished and characteristic symbols, real personalities of Islamic history. If the lives of such personalities are known in detail, are shown precisely, are revived and introduced properly, scientifi- cally, consciously, are scholastically recognized and presented to our societies, the young generation will sense that there is no need to accept the seductions of the West, no need to decline in the guise of modernism. Rather, they will sense that there are very high, elevated symbols in their own history and religion to be followed and to be considered as models for self-reconstruc- tion.
It must be taken into consideration that all matters related to women, to science, to life-style, to class relationships, to scholastic understanding, to one’s world viewyall have been designed, described and discussed in Islam. We have only to solve our present difficulties, to answer the intellectual chal- lenges, and to reduce our sensual needs. How can we under- stand our values? How can we use and obtain actual results from them? Our essential aim must be to solve the problem of proper understanding and recognition.
The members of the Prophet’s family, in the view of all of the intellectuals of Islamic countries (who possess a more distin- guished image of them) have always been the manifestation of the most elevating and liberating humanitarian and Islamic values. These values are not limited to a particular tribeyor even to all Muslims. Thus, all of the people of the world can eas- ily see and understand these symbols and examples which have come out of a small house which is greater than the whole of history.
Anyone who believes in the values and virtues of humanity will admit that the symbolic role of the members of this fami- lyyin various dimensions and fieldsyis beyond historical val- ues of class or tribe. They are rather the highest, meta-histori- cal, meta-tribal values. They are permanent symbols and exam- ples of humanity.
Thus, anyone who is a human being respects them. Anyone who is aware of the values of humanity, any committed intel- lectual in the world, will admit the values and virtues which this small house created within the arena of human history.
Therefore, when we describe the biography of Fatima, as one of the members of the Prophet’s family, we must learn lessons from her personality, her role, her social, mental, and political status and use them to guide our livesyin our groups and in our societies.
The problem of proper understanding is the most important and essential problem of our time. At the present time, the struggles of the committed Muslim intellectuals should be directed to a proper understanding and recognition of Islam’s history and religion. This proper understanding, including the proper understanding of Fatima, is the key to our salvation. After W.W.II, the problem of woman was designated as being the most important and sensitive problem in the West. The war itself was the main cause for family relations to be split and destroyed. Traditional religious values such as ethics, morals and spirituality collapsed. Also, due to the war, crimes, cruelty, aggression and plunder increased.
From the intellectual and ethical point of view, it had a very diverse effect, causing decline upon the post war generation. Its inauspicious effect after a quarter of a century [since W.W.II] can be seen in the spirit, thought, philosophy and even the art of the present time.
Those who have seen France, Germany, England and even the USA [the last of which was far from the actual field of bat- tle], prior to the war and visited those countries after the war, can clearly see that, although it seems as if centuries have passed, actually the cultures collapsed within one generation. Therefore, the fall of ethical values was one of the natural results of the war, and woman was its bearer.
But the point must be noted that prior to the war, the West had already started a multi-dimensional fightyfrom the vari- ous philosophical, mental, social, productive and cultural points of viewywith the Catholic religion, the ruling religion in the Middle Ages, and thus had unconsciously destroyed all of the ethical, intellectual and ideal values, as well as the restrictions and limits which the church had defended in the name of reli- gion.
One of the values which the church defended in the name of religion was women’s rightsywomen’s values, both spiritual and social. This defense combined with the declining, anti- female traditions, bonds and limitations.
But after the Renaissance and the development of the bour- geoisie, the bourgeois revolution, the bourgeois cultureywhich is the culture of individual libertyydefeated the church and consequently, with this victory, the rule of the church over moral, spiritual, scholastic and legal values was abolished. Thus, all of the restrictions and values concerning women which the church had defended and supported in the name of religion, succumbed to the rise of the bourgeoisie and its cul- ture.
Then suddenly the problem of sexual liberation appeared. Women realized that through the slogan of sexual liberation, all of the anti-human limits, restrictions, and bonds which restrained them could be destroyed. Women welcomed this change vigorously to the extent that sexual liberation entered the arena of science!
What is normally designated as scientific understanding of religion is not a pure scientific and scholastic understanding. It is rather a bourgeois cognition. After the Middle Ages, science which had been in the service of religion and the church, was made to serve the present ruling bourgeois system. If nowadays science appears to oppose religion and moral values, it is not really science that opposes these, but it is the ruling bourgeois which does soyjust as in the Middle Ages, it was feudalism which defended aristocratic social-moral traditions in the name of religion. It was Christianity which was, in fact, defending feudalism, and now it is science which, in fact, defends the bourgeoisie. It is intellectualsythose who believe that econom- ic and materialistic social foundations are the basis of all social transformationsywho will more easily accept my argument and logic.
Up to the appearance of Freud (who is one of the agents of the bourgeoisie), it was through the liberal bourgeoisie spirit that scientific sexualism was manifested. It must be taken into consideration that the bourgeoisie is always an inferior class. Although feudalism was an anti-human system, it, neverthe- less, relied on an aristocratic elite and their moral values even though these moral values led to a decline. Bourgeoisie mental- ity negates all of the high, ascending human values and believes in nothing except money.
Therefore, a scholar or scientist who lives, thinks and stud- ies during the bourgeois age, measures collective cultural and spiritual values (the sacrifices of mankind, the martyrdoms, struggles, literature, art etc.), with only the scale of naked econ- omy, with production and consumption and with nothing else. One who studies psychology or anthropology, looking at all the dimensions and manifestations of the mystic spirit of human beingsythat which religion believes to be the spirit of God and the manifestation of metaphysical virtues sees only unsatisfied sexual appetites. Belief, culture, mental illnessesyall are relat- ed to the struggle to release an imprisoned and condemned sex- ual complex. The bourgeois social scientist looks at all of the delicate human sensations and feelings (even a mother caress- ing her child, the worship of the beloved by the lover and all other issues) in relationship to sex.
Freud, a modern bourgeoisie, armed himself against all moral and human values, against all high and ascending man- ifestations of the human soul and called it realism. Freud’s “realism” was not that of the bourgeoisie, but rather of the sci- entist, scholar, philosopher, psychologist, and anthropologist who serve the bourgeoisie classyfor all of these bring the human being down to the level of a sexual and economic animal! Thus, the bourgeoisie, by alienating all values and virtues, made only one religion, one school, one temple and one messen- ger for all miserable men of this age for whom all must be sac- rificed.
This messenger was named Freud. His religion was sex. His temple was Freudianism, and the first one who was sacrificed on the threshold of this temple was woman and her human val- ues.
We who live in the East always speak about Western colo- nialization, but I would like to explain that this does not mean that Western colonialization only colonizes or exploits the East. It is a world-wide power and class that exploits and colonizes both the East and the West.
If I had the opportunity, I would explain that this power has alienated the European masses even more than the Eastern masses. The European has been captured by colonialization’s legacy of unemployment and misery and will continue to be so in the future. They will continue as victims of anti-colonialism. This ruling colonial power influences Eastern people in many waysysuch as, emphasis upon unimportant, sensational and emotional matters; rumors, discrimination, and hypocrisy; and sowing discord and pessimism to keep Easterners occupied with mundane and unimportant issues. By these means Easterners are kept in a state whereby they are unaware of what Western colonialization is doing to them, unaware of their fate and destiny. These conspiracies, then cause young Europeans, likewise, to become alienated and destructive, and perform more tricks and crimes. All of these acts are performed in the name of colonialization in Eastern countries without the Easterners realizing it.
For example, we all know about the widespread interna- tional police network and the extensive intelligence services which observe even the minutest movement anywhere in the world. And yet, there are tons and tons of narcotics which are freely transferred from the East to the West. They are distrib- uted and sold by huge international organizations and trans- ferred through their factories, planes, ports, ships and offices. Why is it that the international police cannot prevent the distribution of narcotics among the younger generation of Europe and the U.S.A. Why? Because ruling powers prevent the young generation from understanding what is going on in Europe and the U.S.A.? Ruling powers prevent them from car- ing about who rules the destiny and fate of humanity. This is a the same ruling power which colonizes both West and East only its methods and relations differ. At any rate, in both East and West, human beings are victims of this anti-human world- wide power.
One of the most important means that has been created by this ruling power from the intellectual, social, economic and moral point of view, is Freudian sexualism. This has become the common social spirit of our age and has become the substitute for all values, virtues and liberties.
It is not accidental that Freud’s view of sexuality came to prominence after the second world war and became the funda- mental basis and foundation of art. Most motion pictures are based on only two elements: violence and sexuality. Both of these are legacies of the war. Motion pictures are one of the most important examples of the relationship of art to Western capitalism because film production is the only art which cannot | exist and develop without the aid of capital. Thus it differs from the arts of painting, literature, poetry and music. A poor painter, writer, poet or musician can create the greatest work of art, but a film producer must have capital of millions of dollars to create a saleable film. Thus, this art is unconsciously sup- porting capitalism.
The pseudo-intellectuals and pseudo-scholars of the third and fourth worlds suppose that Freudism is really the science of the present age. Modern scholars research and record Freud’s works in a special way.
It is interesting that in underdeveloped countries, under the guise of intellectuality and modern scientific psychology, schol- ars and scientists serve these universal powers free of charge. In the name of science, they freely propagate anti-human ideas among the intellectuals and younger generation. How miser- able are these thinkers and intellectuals who serve the capital- istic ruling powers! They really believe that they are serving humanity, freedom, liberty and science!
Thus, in order for the superpowers of bourgeois scientism to dominate, both the East and the West must be sacrificed. They must become the victims of narcotics as well as Freudianism. >From scientism’s point of view, every young person who is still human and who still shows sympathy and sensibility towards the destiny of his or her nation and other nations, must be caused to deviate, must be made indifferent to his or her des- tiny and the destiny of others. In order to accomplish this, any means is permissible and advisableywhether it takes the form of science, art, sports, literature, history, tradition, or religion. It does not make any difference. One must be amused by any form. One must be removed from the scene so that one takes notice of nothing. The best way is scientific and mental stupifi- cation and the strongest factor, particularly among the younger generation, is sex!
Why sex? Because it can be logically explained. It is new. It can easily and freely be accepted. It is the most important point that can attract the young generation, who, in turn, are the most important victim of Freudianism.
Thus all of intellectual, human, artistic, social, political and financial investments must strengthen this school. It is not strange to see how rapidly it progresses and develops.
It must be noted that there is another group who co-oper- ates, albeit unconsciously, in a most effective way with this world-wide power to achieve the aim of attracting the younger generation, particularly women, to Freudianism, and to sex. This group unskillfully fights Freud’s innovations by relying on old, strict, illogical and anti-human traditions create restric- tions and complexes in the young generation, particularly, women. You may want to know how they co-operate in this inauspicious endeavor. They co-operate by pushing the young generation towards pessimism.
While Freudianism invites woman out of the house, this old group tries to hold her inside by creating bonds, obligations, and restrictions and depriving her of all her human and reli- gious rightsythus unconsciously preparing the way for Freudianism. It is in this way that they co-operate with Freud. Statistics show that the insidious invitation of Freudianism has been most successful in traditional societies and countries where women have been most deprived. Thus we cannot fight and confront this universal illness and danger only by relying on ancient traditions, customs, restrictions, bonds, etc. which deny rights to women. There is only one solution: to give human and Islamic rights back to women.
Yes! This is the only way! If the human and Islamic rights of women are given back to her, you have armed her with the weapon whereby she can personally resist and confront Freudianism. But if you deprive her of her rights, you insure that this satanic invitation will capture her. You have pushed her towards it.
The essential and important problem which we have con- fused is the distinction between culture and religion. Culture and religion have mixed with each other throughout history They make up the collection of ideas, tastes, behaviors, feelings; customs and legal relations which are sacred and honorable to a society.
For example, in Islamic societies, Islamic rights, values, precepts and laws relating to the economy, the family, the com- munity and even the social system have been mixed with local and tribal traditions formed over the centuries. These are cer- tainly not related to Islam. They are only ancient tribal and local traditions and customs supported and protected by society. Thus an intellectual wishing to be released from such ancient and local, tribal traditions must fight a combination of religion and custom in order to be free of both.
Thus both groups (whether they defend religion or do not) must defend the mixture of ancient customs. Those who fight against traditions also confront the living and ascending values of Islam. None of these groupsyneither the progressive mod- ern intellectuals nor the old traditional religious groupycan distinguish between religion and culture. Why should they be separate and distinct from each other? Because we Muslims believe Islamic rights and laws are derived from the essence of humanity and the essence of nature and are made by the Will of the Creator of the laws of nature. The laws of nature are sta- ble and never grow old. Thus laws which are based on the gen- eral dignity of creation never grow old. On the contrary, social traditions based on production and consumption (on cultural systems which are not fixed laws) have to change.
Religion, a living, permanent phenomenon which could be effective in the present age, can no longer play an effective role in the social life of a community, a society or a generation because religion has been captured by ancient, declining, solid- ified, deviated traditions and thus can no longer effectively con- front the danger of the superpowers.
An aware intellectual is a historian, traditionalist, Islamologist, chronologist and sociologist whose most important cultural mission and responsibility is to distinguish Islam as a living faith from the old traditional mouldsywhich are not Islam but rather tribal customsyand to put the real Islamic ideas and faith into new moulds matching the necessities of the present age. The everlasting, living, moving, progressive Islamic contents must be protected and put into new moulds which meet the challenges of each age.
Based on my own experience I have to announce that even the most progressive, intellectual, rebellious and revolutionary thinker when confronted by pure Islamic values and virtues (once these values have been separated from inherited, tribal, ancient, ignorant customs) will be attracted and submit easily to them.
The visage of Fatimaythe visage of the woman who exist- ed, who spoke, who lived, who played a role in the mosque, in society, in the home training her children, in her family’s social struggles and in Islamya woman whose role should be made clear in all its dimensions to the present generations (not only to Muslims but to any human being, man or woman who has human feelings, who believes in human values and who is faith- ful to real freedom) should be accepted as the best and most effective model to be followed by the present generation.
I myself have experienced this. I have seen so-called reli- gious histories which lack religious feelings, which have no idea about religion, which even negate and oppose religion. When a proper picture of the Prophet’s family, all of whom showed humility and submission, emerges we feel that they are really living personalities.
When I say that Islam is living, I mean it is a collection of living thoughts and ideas. It is alive because of its living social laws and rights. It is alive because model, living personalities have been trained by it.
When the beautiful image of Husayn is presented, which no human society (no matter what form of production it may have, no matter what social system it may use, no matter at what cul- tural stage it may be) can deny his unique and exceptional per- sonality. No one can deny he is an eternal human symbol who should be followed, admired and praised. All accept him.
Remember Zaynab at Karbala! She had withstood the diffi- cult task of seeing martyrdom after martyrdom in her captivity in the Kufa bazaar and in the courts of Ibn Ziyad and Yazid.
What woman of whatever class, at whatever stage of life in whatever system of particular tribal, religious and social ideas, who believes in the eternal values of womanhood and ascending values of the feminine, does not accept Zaynab as a permanent everlasting symbol of the social, human and progressive leader- ship of women?
Such people are living. They are symbols of Islam. To be alive means to be effective, to show the right way, to guide humanity in whatever stage it may be, in whatever land it may occupy, to whatever race it may belong.
But, unfortunately, customs and religion have been mixed together. This mixture of customs (which are changeable and vary from one social, tribal and local system to another and are related to and produced by economic and social relations and Islamic valuesywhich are unchangeable, eternal and related to inspiration, revelation and the prophetic mission) is defended in the name of religion.
The intellectual, seeing the deprivations and abuse of women on one hand and the appearance of social freedom, class advantages and sexual liberty on the other hand, becomes con- fused.
When the religious group of a community (who are acquainted with religion and believe it), are unable to distin- guish between the religion and the local, tribal, cultural cus- toms, how can we expect young, modern intellectuals (willing to fight against ancient customs) to make a distinction between religion and customs?
If the distinguished scholastics of Islam, who are acquaint- ed with Islamic truths, do not perform this task, what organi- zation, what power will do so?
The Prophet of Islamysuch an elevated personalityyone before whom history is humiliatedywhen he entered his home was kind, lenient and gentle. When his wives quarreled with him, he left his home and made a place for himself in the stor- age area without showing any harsh reaction against them.
This behavior of the Prophet of Islam must be considered as an Islamic criterion rather than the behavior of a supposedly religious but really abusive man. Such un-Islamic, abusive behavior was based on an ethnic, cultural tradition. Therefore, distinctions should be drawn between ethnic, cultural custom and an Islamic religious command.
The Prophet’s behavior was so human that it amazes us. For example, some of the young girls of Madinah showed interest in participating in the Battle of Hunayn, a place between Makkah and Jeddah. There is a distance of more than 600 kilometers between Madinah and Makkah and then an additional distance from Makkah to Hunayn. This journey took several months.
Nevertheless, the Prophet of Islam took a group of fifteen young girls along with the fighting caravan so that they could assist in the war effort.
In the Mosque of the Prophet in Madinah, there was a porch used for social affairs. Each corner of it was devoted to a social purpose. At one corner was the tent of Ruqiya who, according to the Prophet’s command, had established a tent inside the Prophet’s mosque Islam’s place of prayeryto hospitalize, care for, and nurse the war’s wounded. Sad ibn Maaz (the Islamic chief officer wounded in the Battle of Khandaq with a spear) was hospitalized there. This tradition of looking after the sick patients and nursing them continued for many centuries after- wards in Islam.
I personally read about this in Ibn Yamin’s book in which he praised Aladdin, the governor of Sabzevar, and mentioned that Aladdin built a hospital in a very large paradise-like garden in a village near Sabzevar. Describing the hospital, Ibn Yamin says that there were beautiful girls, like angels, who looked after the patients and nursed them.