The value, social position and status of women have been controversial
issues throughout the history. Women, having been referred to with a
diversity of statuses and faced different practices in the historical process,
continue to be a subject of various teachings, ideologies and scholarly disciplines
as well as religions.
Described as “heroines of compassion”, identified with the concepts of
“respect, love and patience” and made prominent with their “kind and gentle”
nature in the Risale-i Nur Collection, women’s social and familial significance
as mothers and spouses, their obligations in their individual and
social lives, their attitude towards unnatural meanings and functions and finally
what kind of path they are going to tread are among the questions of
debate in many platforms and scholarly disciplines.
Women are mothers, in the first place. Revered to the extent that Heaven
is laid under their feet due to being mothers and, as such, treated with
great respect in various faiths and societies, women are also the chief architects
of family, the building stone of social structures. Women have assumed
the responsibility of transmitting socially vital values to their children
and other generations and their attitudes towards social changes and
deterioration have been influential on all layers of society and have probably
led to irrecoverable problems. In this context, how the new definitions
and practices relating to women’s identity within the process of social
change should fit the social structure is an important question.
In the course of history, women have been sanctified by matriarchal societies,
but given mostly a second-class treatment by patriarchal ones and
granted almost no value or rights in some cultures. In this sense, what is increasingly
gaining importance is the status that Islam offers to women in
individual, political, legal, social and economic spheres and their position
according to other religions and teachings.
In today’s Muslim world, it is possible to say that women’s movements
have been shaped on two different grounds, one of which, ignoring Islamic
values, aims to change women’s individual and social position. Along with
the legal ground which supports the Western-type modernisation, women
are encouraged to follow the requirements of this process. One of the impasses
of this movement is that it brings social degeneration. On the other
hand, the second movement emphasizes the adherence to Islamic values,
supports the abandonment of traditional thoughts and practices, and highlights
the need to improve women’s social and legal status through changes
as a result of new concepts and needs. The conflicting points as well as the
consequences of these two movements deserve a thorough investigation.
Another worth-studying aspect is the significance that modernity ascribes
to women. Though they have found the opportunity to improve their
statuses and freedoms, they have not been able to escape from becoming
some sort of commodity in capitalist societies. The modernisation process,
which has led to serious traumas in the Eastern societies copycatting the
Western modernisation and being estranged from their own values, has
brought distinctive problems related to women. Setting out with the discourse
of gender equality and freedom, women have assumed too much
burden through some social responsibilities besides housework and this has
caused critical transformations and problems in family structure. The image
of intellectual, educated, well-groomed, successful and ambitious modern
woman, who defers the duty of motherhood, has been increasingly replaced
by unhappy, depressed and lonely woman. Contemporary women, shaken
with the heavy bombardment of consumerism culture, may leave themselves,
their families and societies into the grip of incurable afflictions in order
to realise the imposed image. Among the questions awaiting for a reply
are how to recover the social structure from this affliction which has infected
even some Islamically sensitive women and how women can be the architects
of their homes, how they can come back their homes and be introduced
with their fundamental duties and finally how they can be retrieved
from being a commodity to being respectable individuals.
Having considered all these points, we have determined the main subject
of our 156th issue as “Women.” Previously we held an essay contest on
the same topic as we covered in the 113th issue. We are publishing essays
ranked in the first few places along with other articles.
“What are the current problems faced by women in the world and in
our country? What is the significance that the Risale-i Nur Collection attribute
to women? How can we evaluate the approaches in the Risale-i
Nur Collection regarding this subject in terms of modern women and their
problems? How should we consider the women’s movements in the modernisation
process? What is the place of women in the concept of family
which forms the foundation of social structure? How women as mothers
should be considered? What value does Islam place on women? What
are the causes of different practices and conceptions regarding women in
different cultures and regions in the Muslim World? What is the place
of women in Christianity and Judaism? What is the meaning of gender
equality? What is the approach of Islam to this issue? What is the status of
women in Islamic jurisprudence? What are women’s rights? How should
we regard the fact that this concept has been frequently debated during the
modernisation process? What is the importance and reason of the veiling
when considering the social diseases damaging the social structure such as
obscenity, exhibitionism and unchastity?” These are the questions we have
searched answers for in the essay contest and it should be noted that we especially
showed favour to young academicians and prospective writers.
We would like to thank the researchers for the contribution they made
for the journal of Köprü. Before welcoming you to the articles, we hope to
present you the next issue on “the Supreme Sign”