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Women in the Eyes of Ayatollah Khamenei

The typical image of women at home is the image of a creature of secondary importance who is responsible for rendering services to others, this image is the exact opposite of what Islam has mentioned.

The issue of women is an important issue. The best people who can follow up and solve this issue are women themselves. We do not suffer from a lack of educated, broad-minded, talented, literary and artistic women. Thankfully today, there are many such women in our country. As I mentioned before, we had never had such a large number of educated, knowledgeable and outstanding women in the history of our country, neither in seminary nor in academic environments. We had never had so many woman writers, poets and researchers in different fields of study. Fortunately today, we have such women thanks to the Islamic Republic. These things have been achieved in the shade of Islam, the Islamic Republic and Imam’s (r.a.) enlightening outlook towards the issue of women. This was pointed out in the statements of the lady who delivered a speech as well. We had never enjoyed such a condition in our country. We should thank God for His blessings and we should ask Him to increase these blessings. We should thank Him for these blessings and the way to thank Him is what I pointed out in this meeting. We should look at the divine guidance and forget about the materialistic views which are promoted today by westerners and the Americans. They are very vile and they make extravagant claims. Besides, they have a propagandist outlook. If someone speaks against them, they launch a propagandist attack. But you should not pay attention to their propaganda and, by Allah’s favor, you should move forward.

A basic principle in analyzing women’s rights: Equality is not tantamount to Justice

If we want our outlook towards the issue of women to be healthy, reasonable and precise, the first condition is that we should completely clear our minds of the statements that westerners make about women – about their employment, management and sexual equality. One of the greatest mistakes of western thoughts about the issues of women is this sexual equality. Justice is a legitimate concept, but equality is sometimes legitimate and sometimes illegitimate. Why should we separate an individual who has been built for a particular domain – in terms of one’s natural make up, whether physical or emotional – from that particular domain and drag her towards another domain which Allah the Exalted has built for another make-up? Why should we do this? What reason do we have for doing so? What kind of sympathy is this? Why should women be entrusted with carrying out male tasks? What kind of honor is to have women carry out male tasks? I am sorry that sometimes women and ladies themselves show sensitivity over this issue. They ask, “What is our difference with men?” Well, there is no difference between men and women on many issues. Islam looks at men and women as human beings. There is no difference between men and women on the issue of humanity, spiritual positions and the many intellectual and scientific talents that they have. But they have two different molds. Each of these molds is shaped for a particular task. Of course, there are certain common tasks among them. Is it a service if we separate either of these two molds from their domain and put it in another domain? This is what westerners are doing. Many of their international conventions result from this outlook.

Equity vs. equality: justice-based discrimination

The issue of women’s employment is not among the main issues. Of course, we are not at all opposed to women’s employment. I myself am not at all opposed to their employment and their management as long as it does not clash with these main issues. If there is a clash, then the main issues have a priority. Naturally, one of the tasks that should be carried out in this third area is that we should see what jobs are suitable for women’s characteristics. There are some jobs which are not suitable for women’s make-up. Therefore, women should not pursue such jobs. One of the tasks is that we should not impose on women those fields of study which lead to these jobs. Some people want to create uproar by saying that there is discrimination against women over the issue of universities, education and other such issues. Well, such discrimination is not bad in some areas. Discrimination is bad when it is against justice. Imagine that in a football team, you tell one player to play in attack, you tell another to play in defense and another to keep goal. Well, this is discrimination. If the player whose duty is to defend plays in attack, the team will naturally lose. If the forward is entrusted with goalkeeping – which is a task he does not know how to carry out – then, the team will naturally lose. This is discrimination, but it is justice-based. In such discrimination, you entrust different tasks to individuals. Therefore, we should see what fields of study are suitable for women by paying attention to the lofty goals that have been specified for them. We should prepare the ground for women to study such fields. We should not force them to study certain fields just because of their performance and their grade in the entrance exam.

Women should enjoy freedom to develop their talents

In my opinion, the main issue – or let us say, one of the main issues – is the issue of home and family. The basis of the issue is women’s security and opportunities in the family environment and their home-making is for cultivating their talents. Nothing should prevent them from studying, reading, learning and writing. Of course, this is related to those women who are interested in such things. The ground should be prepared for them to carry out these tasks.

Women are not of secondary importance and are not servants

The typical image of women at home is the image of a creature of secondary importance who is responsible for rendering services to others. This image is shared by many people. Some people openly express it and some people do not, although they believe it in their hearts. This is the exact opposite of what Islam has mentioned. I have repeatedly quoted this well-known hadith: “Women are like flowers. They are not servants” [Nahjul Balaghah, Letter 31]. The Arabic word “ghahraman” means one’s employee or servant. One example is: “He said to his ghahraman to do such and such a task” [Speaking in Arabic]. Another example is that a person who has many properties and lands orders his ghahraman to carry out such and such a task. This is the meaning of ghahraman. This hadith says that we should not think women are the servants of the house and that they should only do household chores. This is not the case. Well, notice that this is one of the several chapters about women: the issue of respecting women’s work at home. They are not obligated to do household chores and their work can be bought. That is to say, they can receive money for the work that they do at home. These are the things which exist in Islam and Islamic fiqh. As the lady who delivered a speech in this meeting pointed out, our fiqh is really advanced and outstanding. Some people highlight some aspects of it and forget about the rest. Besides, they completely distort certain aspects of it in order to make it compatible with western deceitful and fallacious thoughts. We have witnessed this as well.

We should clear our minds of Western approach on the issue of women

Westerners misunderstood the issue of women. They acted in the wrong way and they promoted this misunderstanding and these wrong, deviant and deadly actions throughout the world like common currency in a country. Besides, their propaganda apparatus, which is very broad in scope, does not allow those individuals who have different opinions from theirs to express them. If you want to find a correct solution on the issue of women and accompany it with its major requirements and if you want to move forward and achieve results in the long run, you should clear your minds of western thoughts about the issue of women. I am not saying that we should be uninformed about their ideas. This is not what I am saying. We are not advocates of ignorance. I myself am an advocate of knowledge and familiarity, but we should completely reject the authority of these thoughts and ideas. Western thoughts and opinions on the issue of women cannot be a source of happiness and guidance for human societies at all. First, their thoughts are based on materialistic and non-divine epistemology. Well, this is wrong. Any knowledge-based and intellectual school of thought which is based on materialistic understanding and belief is naturally wrong. The outlook towards the truths of creation should be known, understood and followed up together with the outlook towards divine epistemology, belief in the existence and power of God and divine presence and authority. Therefore, because the basis and root of western thoughts are materialistic, they are wrong.

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