“Culture Is Not Religion” by Mohamed

When applying for the MJC, male participants were highly encouraged to choose the ‘Women in Religion’ committee and, after attending the workshops throughout the week, I personally found the wisdom behind it. If I believe that women should be given full rights, then I shouldn’t remain silent and I must spread the message as much as I can!

On a personal level, nothing has changed with regards to how I view women. I have grown up with a Muslim mother who has outstandingly performed the role of mother, wife, daughter, business woman, citizen, and all the roles she could take, and I would like to take this occasion to pray to God, the One, the Eternal, to bless our mothers and fathers, all of them.

By coming to the committee, my aim was not to find out whether or not religion has given women full rights, because I know that Islam fully promotes the role of women. On the contrary, during the committee sessions, I have learnt new things that have strengthened my position.

As someone who grew up in a country where the culture is patriarchal, I have witnessed women treated unfairly because of the culture AND NOT AT ALL because of the religion. This difference between religion and culture seemed to be the most talked about in our committee.

So if as a person, I identify and differentiate between culture and religion-what’s left to do? It’s a good question. Whereas the ladies in the committee have gathered around projects aimed at promoting women’s leadership through the idea of organising a conference that discusses this matter, myself and the other gentlemen in the committee had difficulties finding a project to launch before the conference ends. So, we were advised to blog instead!

Hearing the stories of these ladies, about all the difficulties some women face, was heart-breaking and I cannot tolerate women being mistreated and religion being used as a mask for such behaviour! To come back to my previous question-what is the solution? It is education: I know it’s a broad term! Societies which tend to be patriarchal should introduce women’s rights into their educational program and families should also educate their own children because if every family educates children on gender respect, then the whole society will be fixed. It really starts with the parents. It is our duty, men and women, to bring back respect to women. On the one hand, women must not accept that they are victims of the culture and must work hard to change this culture. I am not saying it is an easy task, but it’s a must do task. If the society sees successful women, then these women will impose respect on the society! On the other hand, It is also the role of every man to respect women: his mother, the one who gave birth to him, is a woman, his wife is a woman, his daughter is a woman, his sister is a woman, his school teacher or the one who taught him how to read and write is a woman, and I can give lot and lots of other examples. So how can he not respect this individual?

I personally think that culture is not religion and these are two different things: culture is constructed by humans throughout the years and is a set of traditions; so it is us who can also change this set of traditions! The more educated people become, the less gender inequality will be, and if you look at illiteracy rates in patriarchal countries; it tells us a lot! Though you may find a man with 300 degrees, he does not respect women; therefore, it is a matter of educating on respect…

If each one of us plays their part, then all will be fixed!

– Mohamed, London