The glory and magnificence of God and indeed the glory of all mankinds, can only be obtained through ones faith and knowledge. As is documented in the Koran:
"…God will rise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted (mystic) knowledge" (QS. 58:11).
Likewise, a person's faith and knowledge can only be obtained through their social conditions and surroundings, desires, livelihood and ability to work hard in all areas.
"That man can have nothing but what he strives for" (QS. 53:39)
This is the education process. Every person has the right to receive an education. At present, those that have control over education and resources in general have an obligation to help others. This means, parents are obliged to educate / help their kids, the rich the poor and most importantly the state to its people.
Although education is an equal right to all persons, the reality is quite different. Often, the less fortunate or lower status groups of society are not given the same opportunity to education, as those people of a higher status. If we look at women for example, because the social position of women in Indonesia is considered lower than that of men, their ability to access education is more restricted. This is despite the fact that the female population is greater than the male population. Statistics collected from BPS (the Central Bureau of Statistics) between the year's 1980-1990, show that the average rate of females attending school is much lower in comparison to that of males.
What's more, it seems, the higher the level of education, the smaller the number of females attending. If we look at results from primary school through to senior school, males dominate the education system in Indonesia. For primary school children, figures comparatively concerning females and males attending school were: 49.18% and 50.83%, junior high were 46.64% and 53.56%, while senior high were 41.45% and 58.57% and at university level 33.60% and 66.40%. It is apparent that the number of females attending university or having the opportunity to attend university is very low.
The lack of opportunity for females to attend school and access an education impacts heavily on their position within the social, political and economic spheres of society. In parliament, only 8% of parliamentary members are female. This is the same in the regional parliaments, for example, in Malang there are only 4 women out of a total of 45 members of parliament, and in the city of Cirebon there is not one female representative in parliament (see Journal Perempuan, no.23, 2002, p7-16).
The lack of opportunity for females to obtain an education is a factor contributing to the imbalance of females and education. Another imbalance is the stereotype concerning the education granted to females and, what is even more concerning, is the continuation of the use of these unjust educational materials. These gender imbalances thus become the responsibility of all people, especially that of the nation state to its people. The male dominated society in Indonesia bares the responsibility for continuing the injustices and imbalances concerning women and education. Religion and its teachings are also a major element contributing to the responsibility of gender imbalance. Religious texts thus need to be addressed frequently, especially the text of the Hadith.
Several texts from the Hadith hinder the activities of females to acquire an education. These teachings and historical narrations must be stopped immediately. Moreover, texts written within the holy books, as well as, that in teaching curriculums should be criticized and corrected regularly by those knowledgeable on the issues. The Hadith for example, says that women must stay in their houses to look after and care for their husbands. At present, several religious scholars also use the text of the Hadith as a tool for obstructing or prohibiting women from obtaining or entering higher levels of education. This has already been documented by Syekh Muhammad al-Ghazali in Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah (1992:51). Several famous religious teachers have copied and adapted the text of the Hadith, but it must be noted that these texts degrade the position of women, which can not be justified.
Texts of the Hadith like this will prevent women from obtaining knowledge and an education. Texts of this type need to be criticized on a regular basis. An example of this is the prohibition of women to be involved in activities in the mosque. When women are forbidden or restrained from taking part in praying at the mosque they are being denied the right to access and obtain knowledge, education and information as well as their right to participate in religious ritual. Evidence of this is revealed in the text of the Hadith when the prophet expressed:
"It is better for women to pray in their houses rather than to pray in the mosque"(Riwayat al-Baihaqi,Sunan al-Kubra, juz III, hal 132)
Although this text is a chronological outline of history like that clarified by Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban, al-Haytsami and as-Suyuthi, it is in contrast with the texts of other Hadis that are considered more powerful and even in contrast with certain historical facts. In other texts for example, that narrated by Bukhari, Muslim and at-Turmudzi, the Prophet said:
"What's more, if your wife asks permission to go the mosque in the evening you should not obscure that"
"Don't obstruct of hinder a woman who wants to go to God's mosque" (see Ibn al-Atsir, juz XI, pg 467, Hadith no 8698).
With arguments like these, and the presence of many other arguments similar to these, Imam Ibn Hazm az-Zhahiri has said that the Hadith and its act of banning women from going to the Mosque is not only a weak justification but cannot be justified fullstop.
Education Rights for Women
Everyone has the right to an education both females and males. According to the Hadis:
"Every Muslim person has an obligation to demand and obtain knowledge" (Riwayat Ibn Majah, al-Baihaqi dan Ibn Abd al-Barr)
Al-Ajluni had documented that religious scholars' opinions differ greatly concerning the status of the Hadith. Ibn Abd al-Barr says that many of the texts are weak, while al-Iraqi and al-Mizzi