Critical Analysis Of Rokeya's 'God Gives, Man Robs'

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“God Gives, Man Robs”

While Sultana’s Dream speaks about Rokeya’s educational philosophy, her ‘God Gives, Man Robs’ (1927) explains “the most important aspect of her feminist philosophy, Islamic feminism (Hasan, “Marginalisation” 189).” Rokeya (Hossain, 2006 [1927]: 491) begins the essay thus:
There is a saying, ‘Man proposes, God disposes,’ but my bitter experience shows that God gives, Man Robs. That is, Allah has made no distinction in the general life of male and female—both are equally bound to seek food, drink, sleep, etc. necessary for animal life. Islam also teaches that male and female are equally bound to say their daily prayers five times, and so on.

Here, she touches on the core of Islamic teachings that, according to her, leave no room for gender injustices which were clearly prevalent in her society. Rokeya critiques patriarchal, mainstream interpretations of Islam and re-examines them by using the hermeneutic tool of ijtihad, critical thinking and reinterpretation of the Qur’an and prophetic teachings, in order to restore the egalitarian message of Islam and to get rid of misogynist elements mixed with it in her social setting. She did not simply take the prevalent patriarchal notions of Islam as the norm. Her overly critical view of Islam was directed against its malpractices. Thus she pointed her finger at those who thought themselves the custodians of Islam and abused this position to promote patriarchal authority at the expense of women’s sufferings.

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