Women in Africa, particularly Muslim women are at a cross road.
They are at a point of clash of civilisations, weak faith, modernism and Islamic beliefs or global western value orientation. A time that questions deeply held values and identities. A time when the socialising agents compete for the mindset, from parents to schools, peers and internet. A time of crime and criminality as well as terrorism.
Muslim women are at a time when confusion has set in trying to make sense of the cacophony, of messages from extremist ideals, western liberalism and the reality of their own direct and vicarious experiences. All these within a reality of subjugation, denial of rights and privileges and fewer access to alternative comforts.
A time when marriage meets materialism, love meets lust and hype equals illusion. Its a time when difficulty sets in while attempting to separate the chaff from the grain of male and female relationships. A time of deep betrayal and disloyalty. A time of illusory beauty, perfection and change. Yet for many Nigerian women, its also a time of poverty, semi and low literacy, squalor, hunger disease and want. Its a time of hopelessness misery and helplessness. Yet a time of hope.
And now its a time of high rate of marriages that deploy lots of glamour and resources but too frequently end up in conflict and painful separation.
How did we get to this point and what can we do about it?
For a start:
We as Hausa Fulani Muslim women have to reorient ourselves. We need a redefinition of identity and status. We need to decide if we are keeping to our faiths or other alternatives. ( God forbid) If we must remain within the faiths, then we need to learn its rulings and regulations. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge of our rights , and privileges. We need to redefine our status in the light of Islamic faith and its provisions. Islam confers on the woman a lot of rights and privileges yet we hardly ask for them or demand what is right. We often dwell so much on our backward, archaic and old fashioned traditions which are most times at odds with Islamic injunctions. For example we emphasize the wedding trosseau( kayan lefe) but deemphasise a woman’s right to be taken care of by a husband who divorces her until she completes her waiting period ( iddah) and her right of protection and care from male relatives.
Islam and the Sunna of the prophet emphasizes patience, tolerance and kindness to women. In fact the Holy prophet Muhammad SAW stated that the best among men is he who is kindest to women. But we women forget about these hadiths and would rave and rant until men give us aso ebi money or wedding gifts etc but when he insults our daughters or call her names in the name of marriage, we look the other way in the name of “ he is a man and a woman must show subservience”.
A man flagrantly displays his romantic relationships which are haram to his wife. Yet we advise our daughters to look the other way because he is entitled to 4 wives. We forget to remind them that he is entitled to 4 wives within marriage not 10 girl friends outside wedlock. But we the women accept the dummy some men like to sell us whenever we catch them misbehaving. The truth is that our men have taken the legal proviso allowing polygamy in Islam as a convenient shield which they use to justify amorous tendencies and subjugate women’s rights.
Yet, we women tell our daughters don’t look into his phones, don’t ask him silly questions don’t complain of how he spends his time. Why? Because we justify that he is entitled to four wives. But what exactly does that entitlement entail? Haven’t we forgotten about the conditions governing that entitlement? Is it legal to date and sample multiple ladies outside the home on the pretext that you wish to add wife? Is it proper to shout on denigrate and insult your wife on the pretext that you are marrying another one? Or even divorce a wife just because you are done with her and need a new one? That is untapped untouched and fresh? Is this the type of polygamy bequeathed by the Sahaba to us?
That is why we must go back to our real identities. Claim our rights within Islam. We the mothers must begin to emphasize the tangible things which are respect, decorum in marriage and decency in gender relations at all levels. We should place less emphasis on material love and more on sound relationship ideals.
It is better for a man to respect and cherish your daughter than to give her the world and insult her because of it.
A man can take another wife decently and within a peaceful environment by carrying the whole family along. Seeking advice and counselling, reassuring the senior wife, being fair and equitable and having solid grounds for marrying beyond the lustful desire of a younger person. A wife will always become less exciting as time goes and boredom sets in. There will always be the desire for a fresh blood or new face, if men allow those considerations to guide their actions, there will always be conflict in the home. Particularly from those women who feel discarded. Marriage should have greater meaning, be self sustaining and strategies must be used to reawaken dying relationships by injecting fun excitement and nice gestures into existing marriages.
The contrary to all the above is to revert back to the treachery of using polygamous rights as chains to suffocate women into silence. To break homes and denigrate and lower women’s self esteem until they resort to all manner of self annihilating acts such as joining Boko boys, drug abuse, prostitution, cultism, or competently adopt western values as moral compass that guide their personal choices even while remaining conditional Muslim wives. Rebellion happens.
Our society has a choice. Give back to women their humanity or risk dealing with their animalistic sides. Every man and woman is born a superior animal with inalienable and fundamental rights especially right to exist and prosper in happiness and fulfillment. Once you remove those rights, you are left with the stark animal
Our society must change especially the way it treats women and more so its handling of all form of gender relations. By Binta Suleiman Gaya