Feature: “It is Sensitive” Philosophy Leaves Malawi Muslim Women’s Lives in Turmoil

The righteous woman is the pillar, cornerstone and foundation of the Muslim family. She is seen as the greatest joy in a man’s life, as the Prophet said:

“This world is just temporary conveniences, and the best comfort in this world is a righteous woman.” ( Sahih Muslim 10/56, Kitab al-rida’, bab istihbab nikah al-bikr.)

A righteous woman is the greatest blessing that Allah (subhaanahu wa ‘ta’aalaa) can give to a man, for with her htoe can find comfort and rest after the exhausting struggle of earning a living. With his wife, he can find incomparable tranquility and pleasure.

How can a woman be the best comfort in this world? How can she be a successful woman, true to her own femininity, and honored and loved, when she is mistreated by the same husband?  These questions remain unanswered in Malawi Muslim community.

Malawi Muslim women are facing many problems but fail to report to appropriate  institutions-may be in fear of losing their marriages or damaging the image of their religion of Islam. This quietness has seen them swimming in the ocean of troubles, as some of them, up to now do not realize their rights.

Some of the problems they face are that they are left home without food and if they cannot find their own means, they end up spending the whole day without anything to put on their mouth.

“Brother, we women we are in trouble and I don’t know, may be  it is because of the teachings of Islam or uyawowu (because we are Yaos). We just accept everything because when we talk, they ask us to pack and go,” says one woman who spoke on condition of anonymity.

She also said, her husband sometimes brings another woman in front of her and he married another woman without her consultation, saying because Islam allows polygamy. When she tries to ask her husband to go for Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCT) for HIV/AIDS testing, he refuses and tells her that she can go, if she found to be negative then he is also negative.

“Sometimes his movements worry me. When I try to ask him to go to VCT, he refuses and tells me that if I am negative, then he is also negative.” Said the worried woman, who applauded Malawi Muslim Official Website for allowing her to divulge her problems.

She also said that her husband refuses to use a condom and he tells her to pack and go if she don’t want marriage. Since she is a woman and helpless, illiterate, with nowhere to go, she just accepts what her husband is telling her, the thing she claims to be putting her life in danger.

In his response, Islamic Information Bureau national coordinator, Sheikh Dinar Chabulika confirmed that he is aware of such scenarios but faulted the women for making such comments to the media.

“These can be true, as Muslims we need to find a forum to address these not on the media. The other thing is that those women who disclose the kind of issues must know that it is against Islamic teachings to disclose to the public that her husband refuses to use a condom. Counselling through sheikhs is the best way,” he said on Google Talk.

Interestingly, this is another problem that our sister mentioned, that since we take everything as sensitive in Islam, that is why they are still suffering since they don’t have their word to be heard and sadly, some of them are sheikhs.

“Where should we go? Some of those who do this are Sheikhs who were supposed to be good examples. We just accept whatever comes because Islam does not allow us to complain such issues to the public and that is why are still suffering,” she said.

However, Sheikh Chabulika had his view, saying not all Sheikhs are trustworthy and that not all can be involved in such cases.

“That is true, but not all sheikhs do that. Do you want to tell me that all sheikhs are trustworthy? He asked.

If at all this is not enough, the woman went on to say, she is denied her right of knowing her beautiful religion of Islam saying her husband always not interested in either sending her to Madrassa or allowing her to work, because of jealousy.

“They refuse to send us to school or even to give us anything to do-they think if we go there, we will be moving around with other men,” she said restlessly .

But, are these things acceptable in Islam? “Obviously this is no[t] allowed in Islam,” says Chabulika

Then, what is a solution to this?

“Those husbands are not treating their wives according to the teachings of Islam. The problem is that we are all Muslims but not all Muslims know properly about their religion. My advise to those women once again to visit us and they will be counselled accordingly.

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