The privately owned Egyptian TV channel, Dream2, hosted a discussion about women's rights in Egypt and the Arab world. The participants were Dr. Huda Badran, the head of the Arab Woman Association, Olfa Al-Salameh, a Tunisian journalist, Dr. Umna Nusier, professor of philosophy and faith at Al-Azhar University and Dr. Sheikh Abd Al-Qader, professor of Hadith at Al-Azhar University. Following are excerpts from the debate:
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader: I want to ask: Do we not need polygamy? Our nation has an acute need, specifically at this time, for polygamy?What must we do when a man marries a woman and he has no children?
Dr. Nuseir: That is no problem. These are illnesses?
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader: Excuse me Doctor, when I speak keep silent, and when you speak I will keep silent.
Moderator: And what must she do?
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader:: She remains a wife. She remains a respected wife, who enjoys full rights, while he marries and begets children, and this way life will be happy. And perhaps his children from his second wife will be devoted also to her...
Al-Dr. Salameh: Perhaps? perhaps?
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader: It happens a lot?
Dr. Salameh: But in most cases she is thrown into the garbage can. The first wife, who did not give birth, is thrown into the garbage can, although this condition is a test Allah puts her in? her and him?Sheikh Abd Al-Qader: Why do you say 'garbage can'? Is it appropriate to use such language on this program?! What garbage can?! Her rights are kept as long as I?as long as he holds to her.
Dr. Salameh: What if he is the reason for the fact they have no children? -This is my question too.
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader:If he is the reason, she has the right to file for divorce, and the Judge forces it on him. This is according to Islam.
Moderator: Doctor, you hold very extreme positions even in issues such as working women or women divorcing their husbands in exchange for compensation.
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader:This is what you say.
Moderator: I am sorry, but this is very extreme.
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader:: No one has ever called me an extremist. You are number one. I think you are happy being number one at something, even if it is at this sort of a thing.
Moderator:Great, I am number one at something.
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader:You are telling me that I am an extremist? How am I an extremist? I say that we should not wish that all women to go out to work and leave home. I believe that the best workplace for a woman is her home, where she brings up her children, lets her husband rest, reduces his pressure upon returning home, and preserves her serenity and happiness.
: Do you Doctor, as I do, think that this is an extremist view?
Dr. Badran: It sounds as if he is taking of a servant. A servant can also do these things; there is no need for him to get married.
Dr. Nuseir: The truth is that I am surprised that while all guns are pointed at us, we continue talking in the logic of 20 centuries ago. A woman's role is not only to sit at home and wait for her master at home, no. And when her husband dies or something happens to him, she goes to find a job and is turned away. This kind of talk has no hold in reality. Let us face reality.
Sheikh Abd Al-Qader: When women were educated according to Islam they received the best education and they progressed greatly. Whoever says that we take them 20 centuries back? I don't know what you mean. 20 centuries ago Islam did not even exist. Islam only exists for 14 centuries. To return 20 centuries back ? I don't understand what you mean by that. Islam has elevated women's status to the highest position. A woman was never unemployed. She always worked. She worked in the most sacred area, bringing up men and women, maintaining her husband's stability and happiness. I do not think those who deny this saw the painful cases of children who suffered many mental illnesses because their mothers left home?I don't represent a certain movement and I am not an extremist. I understand my religion, Allah be praised. I spent the last 45 years in Al-Azhar studying Islam. When you say that I am holding the nation back and whatever? My ideology is that which held the nation back?! What held the nation back is naked women and the spreading of children born by fornication in our society? This is what held the nation back?