Questions related to women’s issues are an important and significant theme in the Fatwa Sectionof Al-Dawah (The Call) Magazine, as they exceed in number all other Fatwas related to Copts, politics and art. It is quite possible to distinguish between two main types of these Fatwas:
The first is related to issues of female nature that do not affect and are not affected by her public affairs, such as juristic rulings on sharing in breastfeeding and its impact on intermarriage; the Zihar oath; the inheritance provisions; and divorce and so forth. In fact, Muslim Brotherhood agrees on the rulings of such issues with a range of other Islamist movements or recognized Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Academies in the Arab and Islamic worlds alike.
The second type, which we are interested in here, is the social status of women today, and the consequent rights and duties necessitated by the vicissitudes of life and the evolution of the age. This type also encompasses a range of new concerns emerging under the new family system, in addition to the demand for women to work, up to her political participation and engagement in public affairs and her right to hold senior positions in the state.
There is no doubt that the formation of a vision on these issues is governed not only by religious or juristic views, but many other factors interfere with it, including the political, intellectual and social status of women, which we are trying to observe in this chapter.
By reading Muslim Brotherhood’s Fatwas – particularly on women’s issues, one is spontaneously led draw an important number of intellectual underpinnings that govern the group’s attitude towards women and its limited understanding of her role in family and society at large.
The first of these pillars is that the woman, as the Brotherhood thinks, is the main culprit for the corruption and moral breakdown of society. They see in her “decadence, unveiling and mingling with men” a sole cause for the moral collapse, which controls the general behavior, as if their limited understanding does not consider man as her partner and equally responsible with her. Man is considered by Muslim Brotherhood as a victim of Satan’s seductive temptation exercised by the fairer sex. As such, man has no option but to succumb to her constant temptations. In this context, Muslim Brotherhood are clear in their obstinate attitude towards women; she is a inferior element in society, has no rights or human will, barred from serious positive participation, and deprived of senior positions in the state. Her house is a permanent settling place, she is responsible for corrupting, tempting and contaminating youth. All woes and ordeals are blamed on her, the torment in the afterlife is her destiny, and the positions of the state are denied to her, once and for all.
Indeed, Muslim Brotherhood subjugates the woman out of her social and human rights; her position in the marital home, her sexual pleasure, her physical and psychological health and self-care; the clothes she wears; the way she talks or walks; and the work she may need and cannot do without. They do not really see any right for her and impose unlimited duties upon her. The rigid monotonous misconception of women in the modern age is inseparable from the Brotherhood‘s general views; as they suppress religious minorities, believe in the monopoly of political power, and delve too deeply into rejection of fine human arts that refine the soul and keep the conscience alive. Therefore, It is logically expected that women do not survive what everyone is exposed to and suffering from.
 . Fatwa means a religious or advisory opinion.
. Zihar (Muslim Law): means a husband telling his wife: “You are to me like the back of my mother.” if a husband utters these words to his wife, it is not permissible for him to have sex with her unless he atones by freeing a slave.
Dr. Abdel Rehim Ali, an Egyptian Journalist and Member of Parliament, is an expert on Islamist Movements and political Islam. This essay is adapted from his book “Muslim Brotherhood & Misogyny,” which will be published later this month.
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