Understanding gender

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By Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph

Only a Meranaw

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


EVERY individual is born unique and different. This is the reason why in the eyes of God, we’re all equal.

As a person coming from an open-minded family, I observe how differences in gender are observed and respected.

As a product of this family, I have imbibed the values of mutual respect and kindness regardless of gender.

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This doesn’t contradict the values introduced by Islam to believers like us.

In fact, the religion forwards that women in Islam should be treated with kindness.

I am thankful that last May 16 and 17, I was able to attend a training on Gender and Development and Gender, Culture and Islam held at the Maria Christina Hotel, Iligan City led by Paz Y Desarrollo (PYD) and MSU’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH).

In the event, Atty. Norma Maruhom-Barra of the MSU Center for Women Studies delivered her enlightening lecture regarding women in Islam, while Prof. Yasmin Tagorda of CSSH shared thoughts about Gender and Governance where she introduced Dr. Jamal Badawi’s article on gender equity in Islam.

Badawi’s research was indeed worth reading. He emphasized the relevance of women in society along with men.

He mentioned four major aspects (spirituality, economic, social and legal or political) where gender equity in Islam has to be understood with a liberal mind.

Since I am no scholar to remind my readers regarding gender, let me use Badawi’s studies and his own research in the Qur’an and Hadiths in reacting to some observations that I have had.

Some time ago, there were young Meranaw women who were deprived of having education due to their being ‘women.’

Priority is given to the sons who are assumed to be bringing the clan’s name.

This is an example of misinformation on the part of the families.

Let me quote some lines in Badawi’s article when he said, “Education is not only a right but also a responsibility of all males and females.”

He forwarded the fact that even in the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw), peace be upon him, he has already treated seeking knowledge as a mandatory act for every Muslim.

Badawi emphasized that the word "Muslim" in the Prophet’s saying is used here with a generic meaning which includes both males and females.

Therefore, if one Meranaw lady wants to seek education, her family has the obligation to allow, support and treat her with kindness.

Another observation is the bias given to women wanting to be leaders.

Some Meranaws are puzzled with the idea whether a woman is allowed to lead or not.

In the same research of Badawi, he emphasized that “there is no text in the Qur'an or the Sunnah that precludes women from any position of leadership, except in leading prayer due to the format of prayer.”

In other words, Islam is not a religion that condemns women in leadership.

This means that Meranaws and any other Muslim should not be afraid of possible leadership position but rather be conscious of their ability to lead and serve a community.

This means to me that if one wants to lead, whether he/she is a man or a woman, must be conscious even more on his or her capability as a leader and not be worried of his gender.

As a Meranaw woman, I cannot help but appreciate my belief.

Most Meranaws if not all are followers and strong believers of Islamic religion.

This means that values in Islam must be practiced and religiously observed so us not to oppress anyone, be he/she a man or a woman.

[E-mail: sorlatipyusoph@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 20, 2014.

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