There's a really cute story in the Washington Post: Egypt women stand for equality in the square.
Though the reporter was reporting from the demonstration on Friday, there was no mention of Sheikh Qaradawi's views on gender equality. There was some really good stuff in this article, but this part is priceless.
Abdel Ibrahim Hassan, a man who came to Tahrir Square on Friday to celebrate the revolution with untold thousands of his fellow citizens, argued that women have an enviable standing already and that Western prejudices should not assume they need change.Does the reporter, Kathy Lally, realize how absurd this sounds? First to have a husband claim women are respected then to describe how completely his wife and daughter are covered?
"Islam respected the role of women before any other culture," said Hassan, a math teacher. "Before Islam women were bought and sold. But men and women are not equal, a woman is a weak creature. She cannot bear arms."
His wife, Samah, bearing an Egyptian flag and wearing a black niqab covering her face with only small slits for her eyes, spoke up - strongly. "I'm hoping our young people will be able to develop a democracy," she said, as she photographed the square with a sleek cellphone. "Men and women will play an important part in the elections."
Their 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, her face and hands the only parts of her body visible from her enveloping black garments, interrupted.
"We demand seats in parliament for young people," she said, "men and women. Women will play an important role in society after participating in the revolution of January 25th."
Though Qaradawi's views on gender equality are not discussed there, I did find a fatwa that is very revealing. (No pun intended.)
Q: I would like to ask about the ruling of Palestinian women carrying out martyr operations. Fulfilling this mission may demand that they travel alone, without a mahram, and they may need to take off their hijab, the matter which may expose part of their 'awrah. Would you please comment on this? I'd prefer Dr. Qaradawi to answer this urgent question, if you please.Women are allowed to reveal their hair when they are about to murder infidels. How enlightened!
A: The martyr operation is the greatest of all sorts of jihad in the cause of Allah. A martyr operation is carried out by a person who sacrifices himself, deeming his life [of] less value than striving in the cause of Allah, in the cause of restoring the land and preserving the dignity. To such a valorous attitude applies the following Qur'anic verse: "And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah; and Allah hath compassion on (His) bondmen." (Qur'an, 2: 207)
...As for the point that carrying out this operation may involve woman's travel from [one] place to another without a mahram, we say that a woman can travel to perform Hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca] in the company of other trustworthy women and without the presence of any mahram as long as the road is safe and secured. Travel, nowadays, is no longer done through deserts or wilderness; instead, women can travel safely in trains or by air.
Concerning the point on hijab, a woman can put on a hat or anything else to cover her hair. Even when necessary, she may take off her hijab in order to carry out the operation, for she is going to die in the cause of Allah and not to show off her beauty or uncover her hair. I don't see any problem in her taking off hijab in this case.
To conclude, I think the committed Muslim women in Palestine have the right to participate and have their own role in jihad and to attain martyrdom.
No doubt Sarah will be able to serve in Parliament, as long as she remembers her place.