Imam Khomeini and women’s rights

We inherit many shared values and family stories that shape our lives. Just as we have family heritage, we also have a faith ‎heritage. As Muslims, we remember the great Muslim people who lived their lives in exceptional ways.

Most often, their lives ‎inspire us to follow their footsteps. It can be encouraging and empowering to reconnect with our ‎roots and recall the lessons learned through the lives of those important to us.‎
However, undoubtedly the most towering figure in recent Muslim history, the man whose thoughts and leadership effectively ‎gave birth to what we now know as the global revolution, stands to be the late Imam Khomeini (RA), the thirty-fifth anniversary of ‎whose demise is going to be commemorated this year.‎

Despite his demise 35 years ago, his statements and actions continue to inspire both Muslims and non-Muslims across the world. ‎

But there is a new generation of Muslims now who are too young to have more than a vaguest recollection of his impact on the ‎world in the late 1970s and 1980s; not to forget that even many of those who are old enough hardly know him and his contributions ‎made to the world of Islam.

Therefore, this occasion provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon his life. ‎In my opinion, this year’s anniversary of the late Imam’s demise is a moment to reflect, though briefly, on some of the more ‎salient aspects of his thoughts and ideals. The importance of values in influencing human behaviour and actions is universally ‎acknowledged.

Imam Khomeini worked out such values with respect to women, as he could motivate humanity to respect and ‎honour them. An extensive look at history shows that various social communities imposed a lot of cruelty and injustice on women, in ‎one way or the other.‎

The pure Islamic revolutionary school presented by him, Imam Khomeini preached that a woman is a divine being who is imbued ‎with special and distinguished status.

In his own words: “The role of the women in society is more important than that of the men, ‎for, in addition to being active members of society themselves in all fields, the ladies also raise active members. A mother’s service ‎to the community is greater than that of a teacher, and indeed that of anyone else”.‎

Islam came at a time when the Arab society, like so many patriarchal societies at that time, was rife with abhorrent practices ‎against girls. It came with a message of liberating women and girls in every walk of life; education being a prime aspect.‎

Imam Khomeini strongly believed in and put into practice these lofty teachings and used to pronounce that, in the Islamic system, ‎women will have the same rights as men; the right to education, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to vote, the ‎right to stand for elections.‎

The late Imam taught that Islam obligates both men and women to acquire education. It is the duty of every Muslim.

Education in ‎Islam is not divided into sacred and secular, and the implication of these sayings of the Prophet, in modern terms, is that every ‎Muslim boy or girl, man or woman, should pursue his or her education as far as it is possible.‎

He also said: “The rise and fall of a society depend on the rise and fall of women of that society.” The Prophet has stated that “A ‎parent who educates his daughter well, will enter Paradise”. Yet another tradition states that “A mother is a school. If she is ‎educated, then a whole people will be educated”.

‎In Islam, therefore, both men and women are credited with the capacity for learning and understanding and teaching, and one of ‎the aims of acquiring knowledge is that of becoming more conscious of God.

‎It is considered in Islam that the more a person, male or female, is educated, the more he or she becomes conscious of the ‎Creator, the Power who made and sustains the Creation.‎‎

Values as such promoted by the Holy Qur’an help solve the problems faced by the girl child. It is through such values that a ‎revolution can be brought about and the girl child can receive her fair share of dignity, respect, and rights.‎

The Imam believed that women should have a hand in determining their destiny and that they should not be tossed from hand to ‎hand like an object or a commodity.

Islam wants women to get involved in all affairs as men do. Women should guard against ‎corruption in the same way as men should.‎

The Islamic revolution led by the great Imam in Iran transformed the status of women in society profoundly. After the Islamic ‎revolution, not only did the presence and cooperation of women in various fields improve, but we are witnessing their increasing ‎contributions to various areas.‎

The victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran under Imam Khomeini’s leadership offered a different viewpoint towards women. And ‎this is what the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) wanted; women to be people who train society and bestow upon the community lion-‎hearted men and women.‎

The 10-year-long superb leadership of Imam Khomeini caused the accessibility to his opinions to go beyond pure theories; making ‎practical examples available to everyone. The approach adopted by Imam Khomeini (RA) in this regard makes his thoughts superior ‎to the thoughts of the other Muslim thinkers and connoisseurs.

Truly, Imam Khomeini revived the Islamic gender equality and women’s rights in every sphere of their life and guaranteed the ‎rights of men and women to an equal degree and without any discrimination between them.‎

The Imam believed that women should have a hand in determining their destiny and that they should not be ‎tossed from hand to hand like an object or a commodity. Islam wants women to get involved in all affairs as men ‎do.‎

Majid Kamrani is the Cultural Consular of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Nigeria.