– Shabnam Begum writes – If a woman is educated, her offspring is educated. If she is prepared, the progeny is ready.
Upbringing is crucial in our lives. It is the foundation of our existence and the bedrock of our happiness. In the context of societal development, prioritising the upbringing of women is essential, as raising women equates to raising the society. If we go back to the Arabic translation of the word upbringing, then it is تَرْبِيَة (Tarbiyah), and we find that the root letters of ‘tarbiyah’ are رَبَا (rabā). The letters rā and bā are present in the word رَبْ (Rab) as well, signifying “Lord”. We understand from this that sound upbringing can only be in a divine way, and there is no doubt that divine upbringing includes various points, but I will focus on the two most essential points in this article.
1) The first of them is respect. We have become accustomed to focusing on educating our daughters and sisters, investing significant effort and energy into it. However, it is essential to respect them first. As commanded by Allah Almighty, the Holy Qur’an provides divine guidance on how to interact with women, with numerous verses detailing the appropriate ways to treat a woman at every stage of her life. If she is a wife, then keep her with مَعْرُوفٍ (m’arūf). If she becomes a mother, provide and clothe her with مَعْرُوفٍ (m’arūf). If she is divorced, then provide her with مَعْرُوفٍ (m’arūf). Thus, Allah Almighty commanded to deal with her with m’arūf, and the word “m’arūf” carries various meanings like compassion, fairness, sincerity, mercy, gift, grace, celebrated, and many others.
2) The second of them is development. In the pre-Islamic period, women faced significant challenges. They had no legal rights, couldn’t inherit property, and were regarded as possessions subject to inheritance during tribal conflicts. Disturbingly, there were prevalent instances of lethal abuse towards women and girls, considering them a burden, even extending to the killing of female infants and burying them alive. After the advent of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), the light of Islam dawned, and the darkness of oppression set. The teachings in Islam emphasise the sanctity of life and the fair treatment of all individuals, regardless of gender. Allah’s guidance, as revealed in the Quran, condemned the killing of innocent beings, including baby girls.
“Whenever one of them is given the good news of a baby girl, his face grows gloomy, as he suppresses his rage. He hides himself from the people because of the bad news he has received. Should he keep her in disgrace, or bury her alive in the ground? Evil indeed is their judgment!” [Quran, 16:58, 59]
Allah Almighty commanded to grant the fair distribution of inheritance between men and women, and these guidelines are explicitly laid out in the Holy Quran. As a result, the hearts of oppressors softened, and those vulnerable women transformed into steadfast companions and warriors. They gained ownership of property and businesses and secured rights in inheritance. This represents a sound upbringing, leading women from obscurity to enlightenment.
Over time, the teachings of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the divine commandments of Allah diminished, leading us back to a state resembling the pre-Islamic era—an era marked by oppression. There is no distinction between the era of oppression and our present. At that time, girls were buried alive. Today, women’s rights, knowledge, desires, needs, and aspirations are buried metaphorically. Hence, it is our responsibility to prioritise the upbringing of women in alignment with divine teachings. This involves enhancing their knowledge and honing their skills, as there is no superior way to nurture and empower women than by adhering to the divine commandments.
If a woman is educated, her offspring is educated. If she is prepared, the progeny is ready.
She is akin to a flower. When she blossoms, the entire society blossoms.