Should women be educated? (Part 1) [Archives:2008/1163/Community]

May 12 2008

By: Maged Thabet Al-kholidy
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Compared to many other Islamic and Arab nations, Yemen is considered a conservative country with Islamic laws and systems. However, numerous social conventions play a great role in its people's daily routines and behaviors.

Women's education has been taken up as an issue, calling on Yemeni families to send their female members to educational institutions. However, some don't take this matter seriously because they don't know the true significance of why women should be educated.

Some say that, “Educating women is an aspect of imitating the West.” Such people look at the call for women's education as a system imposed by Western nations or by the United States, as some insist, adding that its true purpose is to destroy Islamic societies.

All in our society must respond to such an unreasonable claim, pointing out how Islam honors women, granting them the right to learn. Allah implores all humans to “learn, from childhood to death” – and he doesn't exclude women. Moreover, the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) taught his own wives, as well as teaching other women the religion of Islam and the Qur'an.

At that time, Islamic society wasn't weak; to the contrary, it suddenly emerged as a great society in civilization. So, how can such people claim that educating women destroys Islamic society? In my opinion, it certainly does not.

Some families restrict their female members from studying after a certain age, justifying that it's time for them to be responsible for household duties. They say, “A female must be like a servant, taking care of the home.”

Believe it or not, this really does occur in many families – in both villages and cities. For example, a father has three young daughters, whom he keeps at home to maintain the house and tend to its duties.

However, such duties could be done by one daughter – or divided among the three – as it would take each no more than an hour to do all of the work. Thus, they could perform their tasks and study at the same time.

In reaction to this belief in necessary housework, it's reasonable to say that all families have housework and duties, which many households manage to perform while at the same time sending their daughters and sisters to receive an education.

Nevertheless, some families refuse to educate females, claiming that they'll be introduced to the larger world where they'll learn many things that may negatively affect their morals. “Universities are mediums through which women get a chance to think and then to do immoral behaviors,” some fathers say.

Actually, when responding to such people, one should draw their attention to how their daughters were raised at home under the education of the parents. If parents raise their daughters in the right way, the medium of education at schools and universities can't harm or affect them. But if their home education isn't good, they may be affected by such environments.

Additionally, there are thousands of educated women who can be taken as models for morality and good behavior. Therefore, it's not the fault of education if some exceptional women indulge in immoral things; rather, it's the fault of the family itself.

Moreover, some claim that women have nothing to do in society except keep house, protesting, “Why educate women since they'll be in the home forever?” Thus, instead of wasting money and time in vain, it's better for them not to study at all.

Such people are aware of women's role in society, which includes the affairs of the home, involving everything from cooking, cleaning and washing to raising children – which I believe is a supreme duty.

I'd like anyone of these people to contrast how an educated and an uneducated woman run their homes. I think this would provide a clear picture of how much better the educated woman runs her house and raises her children than the uneducated one.

These are just some views on how we should respond to those who are against women's education. In part two, I'll shed light on other viewpoints found within some families.

As usual, your responses and views are heartily welcome in expanding this topic for further objective discussion.