Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says:

  • When a woman gives birth to a girl, seven angels come to the house with lights in their hands. Girls are wonderful gifts given by Allah.
  • Women are flowers and men are gardeners. Gardeners have the duty and responsibility to take care of the flowers.
  • Women are kind; they are mothers, sisters and wives. So treat them with love.
  • If you want to be respected by your wife, treat her with respect.
  • If you want your wives to obey you, obey them.
  • The key to Janat (paradise) is in your mother’s hands. If your mother is satisfied with you, you can go to paradise. If you sadden your mother, you will never get through.
  • Never beat your wife. If you get angry, just throw a flower toward her. Don’t harm her, because Allah will punish you for it.
  • Men and women have equal rights to an education.
  • When a family asks your daughter’s hand for their son, you have to ask your daughter if she if agrees to the marriage, because she has the right to choose her life partner. Never force your daughter to marry a man chosen by you.

Islam supports the rights of women. According to Islamic legislation, when we have a question about how to behave, first we have to refer to the Qu’ran. If we can’t find a proper solution in the Qu’ran, then we have to refer to Hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s words). If still we can’t solve the issue, then we have to refer to Ejtehad (Islamic recognized leaders). This means cultural traditions or beliefs can never play a role in resolving issues. In our culture, women had been considered a second sex. Afghans say: “We should always send our sons to schools. Since girls will marry, it is not necessary to send them to school.” Women who work outside the house are not appreciated in our society.

I have two daughters. They attend an American school, which is very expensive. One of my educated friends who was my classmate in the Faculty of Law asked me: “Why are you spending so much money on your daughters? At the end of the day, they will marry, and they will not be able to work.”

“As a Muslim, if your wife or daughter gets sick, what do you prefer, that she be checked by a male doctor or a female doctor?” I asked him.

“Of course by a female doctor.”

I laughed. “Fine. If we don’t spend money on our daughters to send them to school, who will be the next female doctor? But, my dear friend, my daughter doesn’t want to be a doctor. She wants to become a politician to change you and others who think like you. She will be the next president of this country so that we can prove our ability and knowledge to dark-thinkers like you. And I am going to support her and will be always there for her to achieve her aims.”

Even my daughter says most of her classmates are boys, and their families don’t want to send their girls to the American school. Forty years ago, the mentality was different. I grew up in an Islamic family. My father was Maulana (a high Islamic rank). He always said, “Education is the power of a woman. If you have one strong pen in your hand, it means you have 100 armed soldiers around you.”

If our religion gives us so many rights, why do we Muslims forget Islam’s rules and act in accordance to cultures, not according to Sharia (Islamic law)? Are we against Sharia? Is culture more important than Sharia?

The big reason is a lack of education. Many educated Afghans emigrated to Western countries and now 95 percent of our people are illiterate. They hear a part of the story—like, for example, that Islam permits men to marry four times—but they don’t understand the conditions under which this act is allowed. Most Afghans inherit Islam and never gain an understanding of the rules of Islam.

We have to establish a system for those people. The first step would be to provide them with an education. With this in mind, I am always trying to learn more. I will learn so I can teach others. I learned to speak Dutch and work on a computer in my late thirties.

When I was in Holland, I was keen to come back to Afghanistan to work for my people who suffered during 30 years of war, especially women, who lost their men, their breadwinners, and didn’t have a chance to think about themselves and their rights. They were always busy taking care of their families, sometimes even by begging on the streets. As a woman, I understand their feelings. When your child is hungry and you don’t have any food to feed him, when your child is sick and you don’t have any money to buy medicine, when your child is dying in your arms and you can’t do anything, you don’t think about your rights. It might be unbelievable for Westerners, but we face issues like this daily. People who are living in tents die of hot weather in the summer and cold in the winter. I go to the tent encampments to donate money and food. I see children in the winter with bare feet, thin clothes, shaking with the cold. I see elders, sick dying kids, trilling because they don’t have proper clothes and enough energy. When I return home from those horror scenes, I can’t eat or sleep properly. Talking about these shocking scenes are different than facing them. Watching a movie is different than being in that situation in reality. When you see people suffering in life, your heart goes out to them. You wish you would be the president so you could help poor people by providing them with homes, education, health facilities and peace.

Who can solve these problems? Of course, the government. Who can help government? Of course, we Afghans must start taking action. I make a friendly request to all educated Afghans who live in Western countries to take the initiative. We need educated Afghans to come back to their motherland and help those helpless people. I know life is terrible in Afghanistan. The West is full of luxuries. Afghanistan is a poor country. The lifestyle is underprivileged. But we have to sacrifice for something we adore. If we want to create a safe life for the next generation, we have to sacrifice to come live among our people, take their hands and show them the right way. We have a saying in Afghanistan: “When you are stable and secure, take the hand of the one who has fallen and help him/her to stand up.”

This is what I did when I left Holland and returned with my teenagers to Kabul. People asked me: “How will you manage your daughters’ life in a country like Afghanistan?” I told them my daughters and I are not better than the Western women who came to help Afghanistan, either with their children or leaving them back home. I even know a Dutch mother who gave birth to her child in Kabul. They came here to help our people. It would be a huge shame for me to enjoy Western life and forget my helpless fellow citizens. I was born in Afghanistan, I was taught by Afghan teachers in Afghan schools. Now it is my turn to teach Afghans.

I will never give up. I will work hard for other women. And my daughters say their goal is to study in the United States and then return to Afghanistan to help our fellow citizens.

By Elay