By Fatemeh Ebrahimi Varkiani, Faculty Member of the Department of Women and Family Studies, Alzahra University

Based on the innate and natural talents bestowed upon them by God Almighty, women have certain personal, family, and social rights and responsibilities, and, based on them, they have three individual, family, and social roles.

As a leader, thinker, and Islamic scholar, Imam Khomeini (RA) always paid attention to these three aspects in his talks and speeches. By giving examples of great women of the world such as Hazrat Fatima Zahra (SA), Hazrat Khadija (SA), Hazrat Zainab (SA), and Hazrat Maryam (SA), he always elaborated on the dignity and high position of women in the society and explained the value and status of women in the family, especially their role as mothers in the upbringing of the next generation.
As regards the role of Islam and the Holy Prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (PBUH) in changing the Pre-Islamic false belief of the Arabs of the Jahiliyyah era who deprived girls of their right to life by burying them alive, the late Imam had said: “The great Prophet of Islam held the woman’s hand and saved her from the Jahiliyyah attitude towards her and the history of Islam is a proof of his great respect that the Messenger of God had for Hazrat Fatima Zahra (SA) to show that women have a special status in society and that she is in no way inferior to man. Therefore, the birthdate of Hazrat Zahra is the day of commemorating and honoring women’s great role in society.” (April 24, 1981)
In another speech of his, by referring to Verse 42 of Surah Aal-e Imran which says “And when the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah has chosen you and purified you, and He has chosen you above the world’s women” and by giving the example of Hazrat Maryam (SA) the Imam had specified that there is no difference between men and women with regard to gaining closeness to God Almighty, and both of them have the capacity and possibility to attain excellence and the status of a perfect human being, and by choosing a perfect model, their motivation and hope to grow in the path of real excellence and avoiding deviations becomes manifold.
Imam Khomeini (RA) asked noble women to choose and continue the path of divine women and reach the highest Islamic goals. He considered Hazrat Zahra (SA) a role model in whom all the divine characteristics and qualities of a dignified woman have been manifested and she is the perfect manifestation of divine spirituality. The late Imam (RA) had categorically stated that: “Hazrat Fatima Zahra (SA) was a perfect human being in every sense and believed that the movement towards perfection from the level of nature to the level of the unseen is possible for every woman.”
Imam Khomeini has emphasized many times that Islam wants both men and women to grow in their essence. He had also emphasized that Islam does not exclude women from having a social role. (November 9, 1980)
The late Imam (RA) believed that “a woman should be involved in her own destiny” and emphasized the social and political presence of women. The appointment of Ms. Harirchi as one of the members of the delegation to the Soviet Union for political negotiations and for delivering his message, as well as her selection as a military commander, is proof of his belief in the ability of women for undertaking social affairs.
Imam Khomeini believed that “if human-raising women are taken from the nations, the nations will face failure and degeneration.” (March 4, 1979) This is what can be witnessed in the course of the war against the nations. He further emphasized: “When the human-raising role of woman is reduced in her eyes and her status is degraded to the level of an object, away from the path of human perfection, the nation is bound to fail because it is the woman who raises women and men of honor. And if a nation does not have respectable and wise men and women, it will be destroyed.” (May 5, 1980)
From the point of view of the late Imam (RA), the family is the first and most important pillar of society; a place of human upbringing and the place where human emotions emerge. If women can attain knowledge and spiritual and moral perfections that God Almighty and the divine religion of Islam have considered equally for all humans, the upbringing of children will be better, the family environment will be warmer and purer, and society will progress more.
Imam Khomeini attributes the disorders and upbringing problems of society to the separation of the child from the mother and the emergence of complications caused by it. He considers the root cause of most crimes and social corruption the result of not getting mothers’ love and being deprived of it and says: “Children who are separated from their mother’s lap and do not experience her love, develop (psychological) complexes that become the source of all or most of the corruptions that occur in human society; the wars, the thefts, and the betrayals (which are experienced).
One of the most beautiful and thought-provoking statements made by Imam Khomeini (RA) is that “man ascends to the heavens from a woman’s lap” (referring to the way of upbringing by mothers). According to the late Imam, “From the point of view of Islam, women have a sensitive role in building the Islamic society, and Islam upholds women to such an extent that she can regain her real human position in the society and get out of the limit of being an object, and in accordance with such growth, she can assume responsibilities in the structure of the Islamic government.” Of course, the presence of women in social activities is bound by the condition of observing chastity and away from the objectification of women.” In the words of the Imam: “In the Islamic system, a woman can, as a human being, actively participate with men in activities of the Islamic society, but not as an object, (because) neither she has the right to degrade herself to such an extent nor men have the right to think of her like that.” But unfortunately, in the modern era and in neoliberalist societies, instead of giving women their real status and honoring their dignity, we are witnessing increasing abuse and violence against them, in the name of equality, freedom, and defending women’s rights.
Regarding the political participation of women, Imam Khomeini emphasized: “In terms of human rights, there is no difference between men and women and women have the right to participate in activities that determine their fate.” Elsewhere, the Imam had said: “Women should, along with men, participate in social and political activities, of course, by observing Islamic laws. Women should perform their social duties by observing their religious duties and maintaining public chastity.” (May 19, 1987)
While valuing and appreciating women’s roles as wives and mothers, the late Imam expressed pride about the women who are present in the cultural, economic, and military scenes and work alongside men, or even better than them, for the cause of Islam and the objectives mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.
Imam Khomeini’s belief, thought, and practices were truly unique. His views regarding women and family and his family lifestyle as well as his attitude towards his respected wife and honorable daughters show his determination and serious belief in promoting the role and position of women and family in the Islamic Republic of Iran; as a symbol of religious rule. By the grace of God Almighty, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, who assumed the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the sad demise of the late Imam, has, in continuation of this correct approach, which is based on Islamic teachings, always paid special attention to the issue of women and family, and has considered it as one of the country’s most important issues.

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