Some time back, I read a post from Judy at Lifelessons. What I read affected me so much that I commented on it and re-posted her story. If you’d like to read her story click here. My comment inspired Judy to refer a movie to me. She then went on to create a post that invited all her readers to watch the movie as well. She did this with the hopes of creating some awareness and possibly some dialogue. Even though I watched the movie within days of her referral, I did not get a chance to comment on it. Until now.
The movie, “The Patience Stone,” is based on the book of the same name by Atiq Rahimi. It is set in an undisclosed Muslim location, where a woman is shown caring for her comatose husband. At first, the wife conveys, to her husband, her concerns. She says things like “I know you can hear me,” and “You can’t leave me.” As the movie progresses, the one-way dialogue becomes more and more revealing. The wife discloses things, to her husband, which she has suppressed since before they were married.
Although the wife seems to liberate herself with each new disclosure, she still retains her role as the subservient wife, who is loyal to her husband. She frequently apologizes to her husband for the things she has done. She also prays to her God for her supposed wrongdoings or for even thinking about “these horrible things.”
I think that was the one thing that upset me the most about this movie. Muslim women are forced to endure a submissive role in their society. Unfortunately, they have no choice in the matter. From birth, they are regarded, by every male they come in contact with, as a lesser form of human. What’s even worse is they are taught to believe the same of themselves.
At one point, the wife recalls when her sister, at the age of 12, was sold off by their father in order to settle a lost bet. This is unsettling, but in reality, this sort of thing is commonplace in many cultures.
It’s also disturbing to see how the wife can go about her business inside the house with normal attire. Yet, she is forced to wear a burqa when going outside. A burqa, as defined by Wikipedia, “is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public.”
In my opinion, a burqa is just another way to keep these women suppressed. How can these women ever gain any sense of dignity or self-confidence if they are hidden away in a full body pouch? These women are simply made to be invisible.
In many Muslim countries, their sacred text is riddled with male dominancy, and their laws are established from their sacred text. Is there any reason we should wonder why Muslim women are submissive to men? It’s part of their religion/culture and ingrained in their laws.
The problem is, most of these laws are based on medieval interpretations of the Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam. In my opinion, this is very similar to the way fundamentalist Christians operate.
One of these interpretations is the Qur’an’s Sura 4, verse 34, which states:
Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” (source)
This interpretation of verse 4:34 gives men certain rights. Since, there are many other interpretations, these rights vary in practice from country to country, but can include the right to:
- a greater share of an inheritance
- grant or withhold permission to female family members to travel, open bank accounts, register land in their names, marry, divorce or travel
- decide if women can use contraception and when they have marital sex
- control the citizenship, education, healthcare and marriage of children
In some Muslim countries, they follow Sharia Law. Sharia Law also comes from the Qur’an, which Muslims consider the actual word of God, similar to how Christians view the bible. Sharia Law is also based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as well as interpretations of those teachings by certain Muslim legal scholars. Some of these countries apply all, or a majority of the sharia code. Under Sharia Law, a woman can be punished if she is raped. Some punishments consist of incarceration, beheading, flogging, and stoning. In 2008, Aisha Duhulowa, a thirteen-year-old girl, was stoned to death after she was raped.
I understand this is their custom/religion. I would never condemn anyone for their beliefs. I’m a firm believer in freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the like. However, I also believe, that if given the opportunity to see things from a different perspective, people can change their minds. There’s just one problem, patriarchy.