World Womens Day
The Republic of Turkey Presidency of Religious Affairs Press and Human Relations Office PRESS RELEASE MARCH 8, WORLD WOMENS DAY
Human rights, and more specifically the rights of women which count for a large part of human rights, is not something that has only recently come on the agenda. The fact that as a human being one is entitled to certain fundamental rights is one of the basic values that makes up the message encapsulated in Islam. In Islam, the rights of humans, all honorable creations worthy of respect, to live among others enjoying all the same basic rights are seen as being immutable, entrusted to us by God.
It is a not only a religious duty, but also our duty as human beings to take advantage of the universal message and basic teachings of Islam in order to help prevent violations of basic human rights in society and to inform others of the same, striving to prevent all examples of such negative behavior in our society.
The so-called moral or honor killing is only one of the problems faced by the women in our country. There are many more problems faced by women, be they in Turkey or in Western Europe. These problems do not arise from a religious source; they are caused by social, cultural, economic reasons, in addition to their being historical or geographical factors at play. A large factor that plays a role in the honor killings is the patriarchal attitude that puts the rights and property of men to the fore. This perception, which does not place a true human value on women, sees them, from the time they are born, as being inferior to men and as being a different being altogether. The Quran, as well as acquainting us with He who created men and women as separate but equal individuals, also openly condemns such a perception (Nahl 16: 58-59; Zukhruf 43: 17-18; Takwir 81: 8-9)
The fact that fourteen centuries after the Quran was revealed to us women still face discrimination, a matter that was censured by Almighty God, is saddening and thought provoking. Can we say that as parents we follow the example of Prophet Muhammad? He was an extremely close, tender and merciful father to his daughters. He never tolerated any one to beat, forcefully marry or look down on women or young girls. He gave the glad tidings that fathers who educate their daughters gain Paradise.
Despite all the warnings found in the Quran and the examples set by Prophet Muhammad, the education and development of girls and women at the start of the 21st century imposes on us all a myriad of responsibilities. Perhaps the most distressing aspects of this problem that needs to be focused on here is the negative concepts created by a section of society where a patriarchal attitude rules, concepts such as the honor killings of wives and daughters, domestic violence, and educational and sexual discrimination.
Although the concept of good name, a concept in which is included ideas such as chastity or honor, actually has a much wider scope, taking in a persons thoughts, intentions and all their actions, it has become limited to the physicality of a woman and set in a much narrower frame. To see this concept as only referring to women feeds another misconception that has been created by the mentality and traditions of society.
Almighty God has not just given us life and death; He has also bestowed rights on human life. The rights of human rights are more important and take precedence over all other rights. Individuals, independent of official or legal bodies, do not have the authority to judge or punish. If a crime has been committed, a person only has the right to take legal recourse in order to make a complaint or to seek restitution. No familys mores can be seen as being above the law of the land. In no way, can such crimes be justified with religion, they cannot be legalized. People who commit such murders are seen to be guilty both in the eyes of society and according to Islam as taught to us by God.
The moral or honor killing is one of the three most common types of violence that is practiced against women. This is why we have to face up to and struggle against the violence around us now. But we must realize that this is a long, hard struggle. The state must cooperate with institutions and womens groups to delineate the fundamentals, dimensions, and solutions of these problems, and the struggle against violence should become part of government policy. Everyone should participate in this, from educators to sociologists, from civil organizations to the media. To develop motifs that condemn the violence carried out in the name of honor, tradition and local culture is of the utmost importance.
At the Ministry of Religious Affairs we must be aware of the problems that are faced by women and take on an active role in the solution, developing and adopting lasting policies. To put these decisions into practice we need to get together with the relevant societies and womens groups. It is essential that we eliminate the concept of our religion as something that approves of violence against women; we must bring the correct understanding back into the light. We need to strive to live together in peace, to respect and love one another as human beings, teaching the lessons given to us by Islam in a lasting and structured manner.
We pray that World Womens Day, 8 March, brings everyone, women and men, happiness and peace, that it make us more actively aware of human rights and sexual discrimination and that it may act as a new starting point.
Prof.Dr. Ali BARDAKOĞLU
President of Religious Affairs