Friday, November 18, 2016

Woman of Honor

"….I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are an honorable woman."  Ruth 3:11b

Ayesha is a widow who has worked hard caring for her four children. Besides her full time job she teaches the Quran to children every Saturday and faithfully visits needy Muslim women.  Ayesha is known as an honorable woman in the Muslim community.

Muslim women deeply desire to be viewed as honorable which I, from outside observation, would define as wearing modest dress, being chaste and pious, and doing good deeds. Hmm…wonder what defines an honorable Christian woman? It would make for an interesting conversation! 
Being an honorable woman can certainly become confusing to a Muslim woman moving to a non-Islamic majority country.  Some women in the west will forfeit being empowered or refrain from using their rights to convince others that they are honorable women. Much is at stake for them if there would be any hint that they are not acting honorably.  A sense of shame would be unbearable if anything would be in question.  She carries a huge burden to ensure that the reputation of her husband, their family name, and Islam are honored. Unlike Ayesha, Shazia came to Canada disempowered. Her primary responsibility was to enhance and enlarge her husband’s reputation, meaning:  handle no money, ask permission for everything, not learn to drive, phone calls monitored, and even hold back in going to English classes. There should be no independence. An independent woman is dishonorable in his understanding.  In essence it meant that her husband should have complete control over her. Little by little she is coming to understand this really doesn’t have much to do with being an honorable woman, but a controlled woman.

Muslim women(and believers)need to understand what God considers honorable, how much responsibility they have to carry for everyone else’s reputation, how to make use of her rights in the west and yet not unduly dishonor her husband and how to proceed toward becoming empowered wisely and gradually.  How independent should she become and how fast?  Being an honorable woman can mean one thing culturally and religiously in an Islamic setting while in a western setting – or in following Christ – something different.  What would convince our Muslim women friends that we are honorable Christian women? It might be helpful to ask your friend what it means to her personally to be an honorable woman? What does it mean for you? Is there something we might learn from a Muslim woman or she from a Christian woman?

After reading the Biblical story of Ruth to Layla, a new believer, she remarked that the favorite part of the story was in 3: 11 where Ruth was known by everyone as an honorable woman. When a Muslim woman chooses to follow Jesus as her Savior the subject of being an honorable woman can become complex. That decision can mean she is no longer a woman of honor in her community but one who brings dishonor.  Changing allegiance to following Christ does not eliminate the pursuit of being an honorable woman but rather there will be a purifying and sanctifying of the concept and lifestyle.

Dear heavenly Father, enable me to model being an honorable woman for Your honor and glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.