The fight within, free from our bondage

Guest post by: HindAbakar

For centuries females have been dehumanized, sold, killed and viewed as lesser humans in relation to men. Now women are changing the course, planting their feet firm and standing against this oppression; demanding for basic things like respect, equity and equality. Yet, over my short years I have heard women and girls say ridicules, belittling statements in regards to themselves without even knowing it. And it made me realise that to break this prevailing act of injustice, women have to face the inner battle first. Expecting men to be better doesn’t do much if within ourselves we still hold the derogate banner. 

These are some of the absolutely normal but deeply disturbing utterance I’ve heard.

Women should know their rights and duties 

A few months ago, I found out that it is a woman’s right for her husband to create a means of education for her, Islamically. I created a survey and out of 53 responders 22 were not aware of women’s right to education. And the remaining 31 responders reported negligence in women’s right to education. The number of times I’ve heard and seen women forced to give up their education because of their husbands is more than I can count. And nobody can stand by them because he’s the husband, “When he says do, you do. When he says stop, you stop as long as it doesn’t stand against Islam” and of course this doesn’t sound haram. Fun fact, it is your right to be educated and you should not allow yourself to be oppressed. Prejudice is haram.

In my community, a girl grows up hearing how to be the ideal wife, directly or indirectly. Everything a girl does finds a way to be sewn into marriage or a man; “wow, you’re good at this, your husband will be lucky. Is that what you would do in your husband’s house? Is that how you will treat your in laws?” 

Just recently I was scolded for being late by one of my grannies, she asked me if that was how I would act with my husband. Which I asked, “Why is everything linked to men? Don’t we women have lives for ourselves?” the reply I received got me praying, “Ya Allah, give me the Hikma to differentiate between culture and religion and give me the strength to stand against oppression.”

She said “NO! You don’t have a life, you’re life is either with your parents or your husband. And it’s religion not culture“. 

Statements like these are used to fashion girls subconsciously or otherwise to see themselves as first a woman of a man before a woman of herself. Thus, a girl’s dream is to please a man before herself, her hope is to be a wife material before a human material, her worth is been measured with whether she has a man by her side or not. Owing to that fact, girls grow up knowing the duties of a wife; respect you husband; if he says do, you do. If he says stop, you stop as long as it doesn’t go against Islam. Take care of his belongings, satisfy his needs, keep his secrets… These are tattooed into every girl’s brain cells. They don’t know that they owe it to themselves to be who they want to be, not who they ought to be. They don’t know that its ok if a man is not in the equation and if he is then they deserve as much as they give. That they shouldn’t settle for anything less than their worth and that they are worth it all. But of course, Ma sha Allah, patient they are, respectful, obedient, subservient holding the lines of duty while they kneel without rights. The right to be treated with love, compassion and kindness. The right to be fed, clothed and sheltered. The right to be corrected and educated. The right to be satisfied. The right to be respected and paid attention to. The right to be just upon if he has more than a wife. 

A heart-breaking percent of women have their rights violated and don’t know it. Most girls are built on the notion that as long as they are fed, clothed and sheltered then they have it all – “Say Allahamdulilah. Be grateful“.

Compassion and respect are foreign languages to both the man and woman, because the more you love him the more you slave away. At the end of the day he says “I love you” even if he doesn’t respect you enough to be polite or consider your opinion as important or even be appreciative. After all, you’re doing what every woman is supposed to do.

Women need to stop babying men at their own peril

High scorching sun, short lectures and long notes. It was yet another day in medical school, we were talking about finances and investment during our break and one gist lead to another and we were in polygamous marriages. Most expressed how much they were against it while others were neutral to the idea. And in the midst of our conversation a female colleague of mine said that her marriage was certainly going to be polygamous because of her career choice. I was confused by her statement so I ask what she meant and she replied that as a doctor her schedule will be tight, long shifts and all, coming back home tired and exhausted. Who would cook for her husband, take care of him and attend to his needs?

And I remember staring at her with my lips parted, confusion still plastered over my face. “I still don’t understand” I said and she went on explaining herself, talking about how she had to cook, do the chores and attend to his sexual needs but she can’t always do all of that. So, he would need another wife.

I told her to her face, “I pray I never have your kind of mentality” and I suppose I struck a nerve. She justified herself with Islam and culture, it was a heated conversation. I think she thought I was against polygamy so I had to clarify that I wasn’t. Allah gave men the right to marry up to four wives, if they can treat them justly and equally, who am I to defy that. What pest me was that she had created and accepted that her profession is the reason why her husband needed another wife and she was absolutely OK with the concept that men just couldn’t do simple chores. They have to be cleaned after and fed. Classic babies.

So what, if you have long shifts here and there, how many men are workaholics? Business trips, long office days and nights and to top off he has two- four wives. Ideally two days with each wife, plus or minus an emergency meeting in another state. Therefore, an extra two days and by the time he comes home you’re on your period. Spiking hormones and all but you can’t do anything about it, so what happens to your desires?

Or when it comes to cooking and chores. It’s your house but here’s a secret: it’s also his house. Why is it a problem in the first place for a man to help out in a house that belongs to both of you?

I recall saying that I didn’t know how I would juggle up breakfast before I go to work, in my head already creating a menu of oatmeal, custard, bread, cereal and indomie; simple things that even the kids can help themselves to. And this same person said she couldn’t give her husband indomie because she doesn’t think it is “husband appropriate”. And I ask “Is it the same indomie that men eat like it is the most decent food that has ever existed?”.

Granted, we all have preferences so, I suggested she cooked variety of meals and refrigerate and her responds was that some men don’t like food that isn’t fresh and I lost it. I might have thrown an insult to the image of the man she had in her head. Astagafurullah.

This is the mentality that girls have and we allow it to prosper, I have never seen a man who does not eat refrigerated food as a bachelor but in their houses, with their wives since they’re kings then by all means their wives should slave away instead of being queens. I’ve heard of men who wouldn’t eat from a food warmer, so their wives can’t cook an hour ahead of time. And the sad thing is people like this girl don’t see it as a problem. She doesn’t know any better except to roll over and be submissive. By all means cook for you husband, spoil him, treat him as the king he is but make sure you do it as a queen not a slave.

What happened to compassion and kindness, what happened to partnerships? How hard is it to clean after yourself, fold the cloths you wore instead of leaving them on the floor, or take your plate to the kitchen and do the dishes, or sometimes tell your wife, working or house, to take a break.

Women need to stop blaming themselves and accepting fault for every problem in their marriages

A friend of mine said that she wouldn’t divorce her husband if he cheated on her because it might have been her fault. That wasn’t my first time hearing that. We are humans, we are bound to make mistakes. Some are forgivable, some not so much. At the end of the day it’s up to the people involved. 

The problem here is that women constantly blame themselves for whatever misfortune befalls their families. Whether you choose to forgive your spouse for whatever wrong they might have done is nobody’s business. But to put blame on yourself for something you’re not accountable for is illogical. It’s the same idea when a woman catches her man cheating but somehow, she ends up fighting the woman instead of her man.

I’ve heard people, mostly females say, “what did you do?” insinuating that it’s the woman’s fault or “Well, he’s a man” “At least he gives you everything you need and want” “Men will always be men” are all used to justify men’s incompetent impulse control. Why do we put ourselves through this much stress and trouble? Blaming ourselves for the mistakes our children make, taking responsibility for our husbands’ immature tantrums or their inability to use a fragment of their dominance unto their bodies?

I asked my friend why she thought it could be her fault and she told me it might be something she did, maybe she wasn’t satisfying him enough. It was bothering to say the least but it’s not her doing. She, like many females out there, had been influenced by society’s infantile norms. 

Your partner cheating on you cannot be your fault! You’re not satisfying him? You did something wrong? Is not a justification! He should talk to you. 

Never, ever blame yourself (man or woman) for a spouse who doesn’t love, respect and appreciate you.

These derogatory attitude towards women has gone on for so long that women see it as the only way. Our expectations of men are that they spend on us and love us. That is the heights of it, money and love. The sad part is that we know it’s not enough, we know we deserve the respect we give them, we deserve compassion, we deserve to be treated as people not as possessions, we deserve that our rights are upheld just as we uphold theirs. But we would never say it out loud, how dare we? And the few times some build the courage to whisper, they’re been hushed by women, because God forbid you be the girl that brings shame onto her family. You would think that after all we’ve gone through, after how trapped and undervalued we felt, we would raise our children to be better; to be humans of good character, respectful and kind, accountable and dutiful regardless of their gender. But I suppose we are shackled by culture and half-baked religions quotes. 

To stand against this prejudice we have to stand against our cracked core mentality. Women are not inferior to men, we are not less intelligent or weak. Allah created us peculiarly, a man is the head of his household yet the rank of a mother is three times higher than that of the father. In other words, both genders are just as important in the society. And with Allah our importance is based on our good deeds.   

About the author:

HindAbakar is suppose to be symbol, just like Batman. The person behind it doesn’t matter, what matters is what the person says- their words, their actions. What matters is that they make a good impact, that is the idea; to make even the slightest possible positive impact and believe the ultimate reward is with Allah. It hasn’t been easy, especially with medical school, because supposedly the only time a medical student has should be spent on revising, or at least that is what she has been told. Which contradicts the fact that watching movies is her hobby.
HindAbakar has written over 16 articles, some have been published on medium publications like A corner Gurl, The Heart Of Quran, Be Yourself, Productive Minds which she co-owns and on Message Arewa– a northern Nigerian blog. She also has a medium series exploring her experience with mental illness called Limbic Writer. This series has made her rethink her initial unobtrusive format. For a person who calls on to people to embrace their struggles and not be afraid to talk about mental health it felt hypocritical that she didn’t want to be known as the face behind the
name, that in fact HindAbakar is Ummu Salma Rilwanu.
HindAbakar’s work is centered on her experiences with life; mental health, being Muslim, a Nigerian, a female and a medic. She writes on uncomfortable depths and about cultural norms that society has chosen to ignore. She started writing as a coping mechanism, but later on she felt compelled to reach out, to remind and to share her story and what she’s learnt.
Focusing on her final years of medical school, she’s learning to juggle writing, her cooking passion and her movie hobby despite being told countless times they just couldn’t.
She wants to specialize in Islamic psychology, be a certified chef, an author/ writer and public speaker amongst other things.

Medium: HindAbakar

https://medium.com/series/limbic-writer-f6d24d68255d

Wattpad: HindAbakar

Twitter: @HindAbakar

Productive minds: https://medium.com/one-house/self-development-good-character-and-productive-relationships-48aebd342d83

23 thoughts on “The fight within, free from our bondage

Add yours

  1. This is an excellent article. I especially appreciate the concept of having compassion and respect. These are essential I believe for any marriage, regardless of the couple’s background. And as an older western male, from my view we do see alot of culture in the lives of Muslims. Sometimes it is difficult to discern where culture ends and faith begins. I have read the Quran several times and I appreciate teachers that point to it to point out cultural issues.
    I also appreciated your observations about women blaming themselves and that it needs to stop. Excellent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jazakallah brother, I really appreciate your feedback.
      Indeed, teachers really need to point out cultural norms but sadly, atleast around here I know so many teachers that are too culturally conservative that they find a way to merge them together.
      May Allah grant us the ability to stand against our oppression.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Masha Allah… one of the most conflicting things is letting culture over shadow religion that we take culture as religion. Islam in its purest form is not contradictory, it comes with ease and it is light.
    May Allah guide you through this good movement and may it serve as an enlightenment and libration to who ever comes across it. Jazakallah bi jannah

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakhatuh Sister I wish I could write like you🥺. It’s not easy turning ideas into sentences and sentences into a beautiful piece of writing,so when you do , you have the ability to affect a person in an incredible way. You pointed out several things that I will remember for years to come.
    You have a gift for discussing in truthful yet amusing ways. It seems I can always identify experiences around me with those you describe.I look forward to reading your next write up😁

    Liked by 2 people

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