Imam Nahe’i: A Wife is Neither Just A Helper Nor  An Assitant

By: Isthiqonita

I tent to be labelled as ‘liberal”, although I feel that I am not liberal, because I still stand on the Islamic classical texts,“  said Imam Nahe’i.  The man whose nick name is Nahe’ i is one of  commissioner in National Comission on Anti Violence Against Wolmen since 2015 until he was appointed again as comissioner in the second period. “I learned  gender issue since 1997, when I was introduced to  Perhimpunan Pengembangan Pesantren dan Masyarakat (P3M) or Assosiation of  Pesantren and Community Development, Fahmina Cirebon and also Rahima Jakarta.” But, actually prevously when he was a student in Pesantren Salafiyah Syafiiyah Situbondo,  exactly in Ma’hadAli Situbondo,  Nahe’i had learned  a lot on several Fiqh or Islamic Jurisprudence perspective including issues related to women.

Imam Nahe’i was born on 12 Pebruary 1970 in Malang, East Java. In 1990 he learned as a student in Pondok Pesantren or Islamic Boarding Schoolof  Salafiyah Syafiiyah Sukorejo Situbondo.  Beside he learned in the pesantren, he also studied in the university which belongs to the pesantren. After garaduating  his  Bachelor program, he continued to the post graduate program of UNISMA  in Malang, by taking the Islamic Law consentration. His deep involment to the religious studies brought him to he national learning fora,  among them was the Pendidikan Kader Ulama Majelis Ulama Indonesia (PKU MUI) or the Education of Ulama Caders of Indonesian Ulama Council.

In 1990-th, Islamic thoughts in Indonesia was warmly discussed. Various contemporary Islamic discourses filled the areas of Islamic thoughts in Indonesia. The progressive thoughts from the world Islamic thinkers such as Al Jabiri, Nashr Hamid Abu Zaid, Mohammed Arkoun, Hasan Hanafi,  Ahmad An Naim, and other thinkers were loved by the Islamic studies enthusiasts in Indonesia. The issue of religious pluralism, secularism, the offers of contemporary of Islamic texts reading, hermeneutics, and including gender issues. “Among those menu of  thoughts, gender issue becomes very interesting things. Probably because Iwas introduced and involved intensively in the seminars and gender training workshops,” said the man who graduated from Ibrahim University (S1), Unisma Malang (S2) and  UINSA Surabaya (S3).

Another reason thar make him interested in gender issues is because in Ma’had Aly, the Ushul Fiqh Method as the texts reading methods were learned notjust to know, but to be implemented as much as possible. The Ushul Fiqh taught the critical reading of the texts including the results of ijtihads of the ulamas. But, unfortunately these gender issues were not touched by this Ushul Fiqh studies. “It is possible what makes me challenged to read the issue related to the relation of men and women  in the classical books by the Ushul Fiqh approaches,”said the man who was born in Malang 50 years ago. Then he started to be more involved in the discussions of contemporary Islamic texts reading related to gender issues.  

Applying Equality in the Family

Since he got married and have not introduced with gender issues, Nahe’i never perpetuated violence against his wife under the reason that as a manhe must protect women. After understandingthe gender issues, he got another perspective. Now, his good treatment to his spouse are based on the perspective that his wife has the same position (musawah), has the same human dignity (al-karamah al-insaniyyah) as man that must be recognized, and also has the same responsibility in this world as khalifah fil-ard. “The last perspective only can be found if somebody learns deeply and transforms the concepts of gender equlity and justice.”

He perceives that learning gender issues is not only useful to prevent from any kind of violence against women, including wife and children. But also to change the perspective in seeing woman, wife, and children. “First of all, we have to consider that the wife is not just a helper neither nor an assistant. Second, a husband also should belive that the human dignity of the wife is equal (musawah fi-al-insaniyyah), they have the same access to God (musawah fi al –akramiyah ) and has the differet roles related to the contexts of situation  and  condition as well as the change of era. Putting woman/wife in this  position is a very important thing, This will become the basic of mutual and reciprocity actions in the household,” he explained.

From the such basis perspective,a husband will start from the tiny simple thing, such as involving woman in decision making process how small it is. In addition to that, the division of labor in the house hold should not be based on gender stereotype work.  Bathing the children, sweeping, cooking, washing the clothes, ironing, or to change the diapers, are not merely woman’s work but the duty of both parents. If probably the wife has more access to work in the public area so the husband should do the domestic work; and vice versa. The main point is the duties must be share proportionally.

.Nahe’i’s statement was affimed by his wife, Puput Khoirul Mahfudhoh. The domestic affairs we done by both of them since they got married. “There is no different between the husband’s work or the wife’s work that must be finished,” Puput said. Even though Nahe’i  had the work in the public, he still remain to help his wife to figure out the domestic work.

This also happen in nurturing the children, the parental works were done by both of them together. “He used to carry out our children by the sling cloth. But now, because he often stays in Jakarta for his work, we are help by a nanny to take care of our youngest baby,” said Puput.  And Nahe’i’s attitude gained some respond from their neigbor, especially the women neighbour who said that Lucky for Puput to have a husband wo really understands her need. When Puput were studying for her  Post-Graduateeducation, and Nahe’i was on duty in Jakarta, they still cooperate each other. The reading materials books for the lecture are often prepared by his husband. For both of them, in living a family  there must be a reciprocity and mutual cooperation.  To finish the domestic affairs,  to take care of the children and educate them, should be done together and must be equal. Also in the decision making process, both of them consider each other, pray for each other, and support each other. {}

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