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Colors of Empowerment

Painting a portrait of respect for women
12:00 AM Mar 08, 2024 IST | SHAHID ALI KHAN
colors of empowerment
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Wujood-e-Zan Se Hai Tasveer-e-Kainat Mein Rang,

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Issi Ke Saaz Se Hai Zindagi Ka Souz-e-Darun.          

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                                                            (Allama Iqbal )

As the global community joins hands to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, it becomes a special moment to reflect upon the significant empowerment that women possess—the power of respect.

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Respect, a key part of empowerment, is more than just noticing someone; it's about recognizing the true value of women in the complex picture of life. It's like celebrating their role as people who make positive changes, take care of communities, and preserve traditions. To understand this empowerment better, let's take inspiration from the wise teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

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In the grand narrative of life, respect serves as the foundation of women's empowerment. Allama Iqbal's words invite us to ponder why respect is so crucial; it's a timeless idea. Let's take a journey of thought to understand how respect deeply impacts women's empowerment and discover the beauty woven into the fabric of their lives.

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Allama Iqbal, in his poetic thoughts about women, says they add colors to the universe's picture, called "Tasveer-e-Kainat." This is like saying women make the world more beautiful. Respect, in its truest form, isn't a gift; it's understanding how valuable each woman is. It's like celebrating the differences and energy they bring to life, making it rich with various experiences, views, and contributions.

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Starting from these thoughts, we go to what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught and the sweet stories shared by Ayeshah (may Allah be pleased with her). Imagine how the Prophet treated his daughter, Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her). It's a big example of respect that goes beyond time and culture.

Ayeshah (may Allah be pleased with her) tells us a special moment from the life of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). When Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) came near, the Prophet (peace be upon him) warmly welcomed her. He stood up, kissed her, brought her inside by holding her hand, and let her sit in his own spot. In these simple but strong actions, the Prophet showed the highest form of respect for women.

This example teaches us that respect isn't just about saying kind words; it's about doing things that show deep care for the dignity and importance of each woman. The Prophet's actions with Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) remind us of how crucial it is to notice and honor the women in our lives, whether in our families, communities, or workplaces.

Respect, shown by the Prophet (peace be upon him), becomes a powerful force for women's empowerment. When women are treated with the respect they deserve—when their thoughts matter, their voices are heard, and their contributions are acknowledged—it sparks a positive change. This empowerment isn't just about one person; it spreads across communities, shaping how societies think and creating an environment where everyone is included and can progress.

The Prophet's deep respect for Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) represents a bigger idea of respect in Islam towards women. This respect is found in the teachings of the Quran, which emphasize treating men and women fairly and understanding their important roles in society. The power of respect isn't limited by cultural or geographical boundaries; it's a universal principle that stands the test of time.

In the pre-Islamic era of Arabia, women faced the harrowing practice of female infanticide, wherein some families, driven by fear of poverty or societal shame, resorted to burying their newborn daughters alive. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stood vehemently against this cruel tradition, expressing deep distress when a man confessed to such an act.

His commitment to justice and compassion led him to actively work towards eradicating these inhumane customs. The Prophet's teachings, emphasizing the dignity, value, and protection of women, played a pivotal role in transforming societal attitudes.

His efforts significantly contributed to the eradication of practices like female infanticide, supported by the Quran's condemnation of killing newborn girls. This historical example showcases the Prophet's dedication to empowering women, fostering justice, compassion, and protection for the vulnerable. His influence helped establish a more humane and equitable society, particularly in the context of women's rights and dignity.

As we joyfully celebrate International Women's Day, putting respect at the heart of empowerment, it prompts us to think about the diverse experiences of women. Just like Iqbal's verses paint a picture of a vibrant universe, women from all walks of life add their unique colors to the canvas of humanity. The true beauty of respect is seen in its ability to embrace this diversity, recognizing and honoring the many roles and identities that women carry.

Respecting women means breaking down stereotypes, challenging unfair practices, and creating an environment where every woman feels empowered to follow her dreams. It's an ongoing journey that needs everyone to work together, shaping a world where respect is the usual way of treating each other, not just an exception.

Respect acts like a bridge, connecting different viewpoints and encouraging unity and collaboration. When women receive the respect they deserve, their potential is set free, turning them into powerful forces for positive change.

This ripple effect doesn't stop there; it travels into the future, molding the values and attitudes of society and paving the way for a world that is fair and empowered. Imagine empowerment as a garden and respect as the nourishing soil that lets the seeds of women's potential grow.

International Women's Day is a strong reminder to celebrate, appreciate, and empower women. It's an opportunity to create a culture of respect that doesn't last just for a day but becomes a natural part of how we think and act together. By nurturing the seeds of respect, we help build a world where every woman can spread her wings and reach new heights, truly embracing the essence of empowerment.

In the many aspects of life, let the colors of respect come together to create a beautiful picture that honors and lifts every woman, forming a strong landscape of empowerment that lasts through the years.

Shahid Ali Khan, an academic, currently holds the position of Cultural Officer at the University of Kashmir.

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