A contemporary commentator once observed that just as perversion has set in Western society, it has also taken root in Muslim society. Then how do you regard Western civilization as being wrong and Islamic civilization as being right? This objection, if we examine it, will be found to be ill-judged, because our comparison of Western and Islamic civilization makes a judgment on the basis of standards versus behavior.
The deterioration of Muslim society is the result of deviation from Islam, while the deterioration of Western society is the result of putting into practice the very principles in which it believes.
The evils of Muslim societies stem from the gap between principle and practice, whereas the evils of Western society are the result of a clash between principles and realities. The Western civilization of modern times has formed principles independent of religious principles, to govern social life, and has maintained that modern principles were superior to older principles.
Through colonization and the industrial revolution, etc. the Western nations achieved political and material domination over large areas of the world, which placed them in a position to reject the old principles of life and construct a human society based on modern principles.
This experiment in ethics has now been going on with the dominance of Western nations for more than a century, but practical experiments have failed to verify the new principles. All that has been accomplished is to effectively demonstrate that the new principles favored by the West are completely incompatible with what nature intends for humankind. The clash between ideals and reality has, in fact, given rise to ever-increasing manifestations of depravity in Western life.
While the solution to moral backsliding in Muslim societies lies in a return to the Islamic principles adhered to in the past, this cannot be said about the West. If Western society retreats to its past, this return will be a return to exactly the same principles on which it still adheres to the letter.
Those who gave credence to the concept of permissiveness, or those who insisted on the entrance of women in every department of man, or those who advocated that marriage is an unnecessary bond, if they were to return to their past where will they return?
This going back will be to the same principles, which they still observe and the disastrous consequences, which they are now facing. The solution to the perversion of Muslims lies in their going back to the path of Islamic principles, which they have left behind; while the rectification of Western society lies in renouncing its self-made principles. Here we present some examples to illustrate this point.
Time magazine, which has a readership of over 23 million, spread over 95 countries, published a revealing report on the condition of women in America. The following is the gist of the report:
Over the past 25 years, there has been an influx of women into the American job market. Some 65 percent of women of childbearing age now form part of the American workforce and 90 percent of them have had, or will have children during their careers. This has created a tremendous problem for women — the onerous task of holding down a job and having children at the same time.
One such American woman is Lillian Garland, who worked as a receptionist at the California Federal Savings and Loan Association in West Los Angeles until she became pregnant and left work to have her baby in 1982. Her baby girl was delivered by Caesarian section and her doctor prescribed a three-month period of leave. When she returned to Cal Fed, Garland found that her position had been filled. She had lost an 850 dollar job just at a time when with the birth of her child, her expenses had increased.
Garland filed a suit in the federal court against the company for having discriminated against her in terminating her employment. The lawyers of both parties entered into interminable arguments, and after prolonged litigation — five years to be exact — Thurgood Marshall, former Justice of the American Supreme Court, gave his ruling in January 1987, that the State requires an employer to provide special job protection for workers temporarily disabled by pregnancy.
This ruling triggered a tremendous controversy. On one hand, women are happy that they have secured the protection of the law for bearing and rearing children. On the other hand, serious American thinkers maintain that this ruling will harm the cause of women.
The debate over pregnancy leave has thus created a deep rift among feminists. One side argues that although pregnancy leave benefits individual women, it poses a general danger to female workers because it singles them out for special protection. Historically, they point out, such privileged treatment has eventually led to discrimination against women. Marsha Levick of the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund says: “That almost always backfires.”
Don Butler, President of the Los Angeles-based Merchants and Manufacturers Association, said that the decision “spells disaster.” To this, he added: “Larger companies can makeshift to fill a hole, but small ones cannot do that very easily. If I employ ten females, and two or more get pregnant at one time, I might as well file for bankruptcy.” Discrimination against women might increase. Many companies “just won’t hire women in their childbearing years,” says the Chamber’s Attorney Lamp.
A well-known feminist, Betty Friedan, said in support of the ruling regarding Garland’s case: “Equality does not mean that women have to fit the male model.” There is something very incongruous about this argument. When women are so different in their biological structure that they cannot “fit the male model,” where is the necessity to bring women into every sphere of life to do the same work as men, and then attempt, by passing laws, to enforce an artificial equality of the sexes.
As economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett puts it: “This decision means that there is recognition at the highest legal levels that, in order to get equal status for women in the workplace, you have to create family supporters.” This is an indirect acknowledgment of the rationality and appropriateness of the old traditional system.
The concept evolved by modern civilization that woman does not need man as her supporter implies that she should earn and be her own supporter. When this principle was put into practice, it soon became evident that a woman could not do without a supporter. The only difference was in the name. Formerly it was “husband” now it is “the company.”
In traditional society, when religion was still a positive force, men used to do whatever was required outside the home, while women took care of all indoor work. This was a division of labor, which was both practical and natural. However, modern civilization has held that this “division” is nothing but sexual discrimination. It is this view, which launched the women’s liberation movement, and encouraged women to come out of their homes in order to take up employment in offices and factories.
At an early stage it became apparent that under this new arrangement, the path to progress for women was strewn with obstacles. To remove the disadvantages implied for the woman, a law was passed granting special paid leave to pregnant women and nursing mothers.
This was the kind of law which legislators, who were far removed from the situation, could pass with no discomfort to themselves but whose implementation could not be afforded by those who have to come to grips with the everyday running of a factory or management of an office. This is a situation, which has sparked off an unending controversy.
So far, the government is supporting women in this conflict in order to maintain the superiority of its cultural principle. However, taking sides against reality is hardly practicable. If the government required the management of all offices and factories to give four months’ paid leave to women, how many establishments would be able to afford what would seem to them an unwarranted extravagance? Finding the cost of such a cultural luxury prohibitive, many employers would simply not hire women during their childbearing years, and older women would themselves opt to stay at home.
It seems very probable that such negative factors will reinforce the discriminatory attitudes, which the women’s liberation movement came into being to end.
Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamweb.net.