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Monday, June 4, 2012

"Is this what Islam has brought us?"

Recently, my special friend Atefe, who lives in Tehran, Iran, shared a frustrating experience with me. It was a very hot day and she was on her way to buy a special present for Father's day. Sitting on the crowded bus, Atefe began to sweat profusely and wanted desperately to remove her hijab in order to be comfortable in the sweltering heat. Looking around the bus, Atefe watched the men sitting on one side of the bus separated from her and the other women by a horizontal bar. Annoyed by the heat and  oppressive conditions of her culture, Atefe asked herself a very important question, "Is this really fair? Is this what Islam has brought us?"
Atefe's question is a question that must go through the minds of many women living in Iran."Is this really fair? Is this what Islam has brought us? I have a question. What has Islam done for the rights and dignity of its women?
When I chat with my Iranian friends online they tell me of the horrors and humiliation the Ghaste Ershad does to women. If a woman has on nail polish, she will be confronted and fined or arrested. If her sunglasses are inappropriately placed above her headscarf or she is revealing too much skin, the Ghaste Ershad can fine or arrest her. My friends have told me in tears that in some situations, they have witnessed the Ghaste Esrhad physically beating women!
What kind of society would allow its "morality police" to physically abuse women in order to enforce an Islamic dress code?
I have a question. In observing my culture and looking in the Bible, "What has Christianity brought us? What does it do for the freedom and dignity of women?"
When I look through the pages of Scriptures, I see Jesus showing compassion and respect to the Jewish women of his time. He traveled into Samaria, a city despised by Jews, and sat down and talked with respect to a woman who was considered an unclean outcast by her piers. On one occasion Jesus confronted the religious leaders who were ready to stone a woman caught in adultery and declared, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone!" Everyone dropped their stones and walked away.
Jesus healed a woman with an issue of blood, raised the dead brother of his dear friends Mary and Martha, and showed kindness and respect to those despised by a male-dominated culture.
"What has Christianity brought us?" Love and forgiveness, respect and freedom! It is easy to see why so many women are attracted to the character of Christ and are leaving their religion of oppression to find true freedom and self-worth in Jesus.
Atefe's question is one of the most important questions that every person, both male and female, need to ask themselves living in Iran. "Is this what Islam has brought us?"
How do you answer that question?