Islam And Women

Posted on November 9, 2015

The Great Revolutionary Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), is considered across the world to be the greatest personality in the history ever born. In other words, neither before his coming to this world nor after him has this world seen such a personality having those beauties of character which made him character wise umparalleled. He brought revolutionary changes to the world and led humanity in the right direction.
This revolution aimed at rooting out the evils of the existing scheme of things. Muhammad, the Holy prophet of Allah and the herald of a great revolution for all mankind, had come to uplift mankind out of the moral stagnation into which it had sunk to the highest plane of enlightenment and dignity.

He was such a model of character that even the infidels and his erstwhile enemies were highly impressed by him, although they were not prepared to accept him as a prophet.

In the midst of the darkness that surrounded the world, the divine revelation echoed in the desert of Arabia with a  noble and universal message to humanity: “O Mankind, keep your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate (of same kind) and from them twain has spread a multitude of men and women” (Quran 4: 1).

It is believed that there is no text, old or new, that deals with the position of  woman from all angles with such amazing brevity, eloquence, depth, and originality as this divine decree does.

Highlighting this noble Heavenly conception, the Quran states:

It is He (God) who did create you from a single soul and therefrom did create his mate, that he might dwell with her (in love)…(Quran 7:189)

The Creator of heavens and earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves …Quran 42:1 1

And Allah has given you mates of your own nature, and has given you from your mates, children and grandchildren, and has made provision of good things for you. Is it then in vanity that they believe and in the grace of God that they disbelieve? Quran 16:72

1. The Spiritual Aspect

The Holy Quran categorically declares that woman is completely equated with man in the sight of God in terms of her rights and responsibilities. The Quran states:

“Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds” (Quran 74:38). It also states:

…So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another …(Quran 3: 195).

Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the their actions. (Quran 16:97, see also 4:124).

Woman according to the Quran is not blamed for Adam’s first mistake. Both were jointly wrong in their disobedience to God, both repented, and both were forgiven. (Quran 2:36, 7:20 – 24). In one verse in fact (20:121), Adam specifically, was blamed.

In terms of religious obligations, such as the Daily Prayers, Fasting, Poor-due, and Pilgrimage, woman is no different from man.

2. The Social Aspect

Despite the social acceptance of female infanticide among some Arabian tribes, the Quran forbade this custom, and considered it a crime like any other murder.

“And when the female (infant) buried alive – is questioned, for what crime she was killed.” (Quran 81:8-9).

Criticizing the attitudes of such parents who reject their female children, the Quran states:

When news is brought to one of them, of (the Birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance) and contempt, or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on? (Quran 16: 58-59).

Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her, God will enter him into Paradise. (Ibn Hanbal, No. 1957).

Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he and I will come in the day of judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together).

A similar Hadeeth deals in like manner with one who supports two sisters. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 2104).

The right of females to seek knowledge is not different from that of males. Prophet Muhammad (P.) said:

“Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim”. (AlBayhaqi).

Muslim as used here including both males and females.

The Quran clearly declares that marriage is sharing between the two halves of the society, and that its objectives, beside perpetuating human life, are emotional well-being and spiritual harmony. Its bases are love and mercy.

Among the most impressive verses in the Quran about marriage is the following.

“And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect.” (Quran 30:2 1).

According to Islamic Law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent. Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad (P.), and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice . . . (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it). (Ibn Hanbal No. 2469). In another version, the girl said: “Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right (to force a husband on them)” (Ibn Maja, No. 1873).

Islam specifically decrees that woman has the full right to her Mahr, a marriage gift, which is presented to her by her husband and is included in the nuptial contract, and that such ownership does not transfer to her father or husband. The concept of Mahr in Islam is neither an actual or symbolic price for the woman, as was the case in certain cultures, but rather it is a gift symbolizing love and affection.

The rules for married life in Islam are clear and in harmony with upright human nature. In consideration of the physiological and psychological make-up of man and woman, both have equal rights and claims on one another, except for one responsibility, that of leadership. This is a matter which is natural in any collective life and which is consistent with the nature of man.

The Quran thus states:

“And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men are a degree above them.” (Quran 2:228).

The status of a woman in Islam is in fact more important than that of a man. For instance, the woman is exempted from the daily prayers and from fasting during her menstrual periods and forty days after childbirth. She is also exempted from fasting during her pregnancy and when she is nursing her baby if there is any threat to her health
or her baby’s. If the missed fasting is obligatory (during the month of Ramadan), she can make up for the missed days whenever she can. She does not have to make up for the prayers missed for any of the above reasons. Although women can and did go into the mosque during the days of
  the prophe, attendance at the Friday congregational prayers is optional for them while it is mandatory for men (on Friday). This is clearly a tender touch of the Islamic teachings for they are considerate of the fact that a woman may be nursing her baby or caring for him, and thus may be unable to go out to the mosque at the time of the prayers. Islam very sympathetically takes into consideration the physiological and psychological changes associated with her natural female functions.

Muhammad (PBUH) granted  the woman her rightful place in human society, raising her from the position of possession and just a personal property of the opposite gender and granting her a respectful place in the society. She was given the right to education, the right to hold property in her own right, the right of inheritance and, above all, the right to vote, the legal right for a free expression of opinion or choice. Human history fails to give that honour which Muhammad (PBUH) gave to women. His words “Paradise lies under the feet of mothers” make mothers proud of having this dignified position.

In Islam, it is the woman who is in charge of the family—–the society on a small scale.She is the first person responsible for bringing up the new generation. The Muslim women, as opposed to the Western women, is always honoured and respected as a mother, sister,wife and daughter and her own natural disposition as a woman is neither denied nor ignored. Unlike in the West where there is a gender war going on between men and women vying with each other and competing to be better, in Islam, the Shari’ah (Islamic Law) makes a distinction between the roles men and women based on their own natural abilities, instincts and disposition. Hence the man is obliged to provide food, clothing and shelter for his wife even if she has her own wealth and he is obliged to defend and protect her honour whereas the Muslim woman will look after the wealth and children of her husband. Her basic role is to maintain the household thereby creating a harmonious and efficient atmosphere in the home. This will enable both men and women to pay all the other roles that they have within society including being educated to the highest standards and being statesmen and stateswomen carrying Islam to the world.
The Muslim woman takes the criteria of her actions solely from the revelation, as ordained in the Holy Quran and through the actions and sayings of the Messenger Muhammad(PBUH) which are all divinely inspired. Hence, the way that a Muslim woman dresses or behaves are based on the commands and prohibitions of her Lord,Allah, and not the dictates of men. This reality elevates a woman to a status which Western women can only dream of. Many of Western women are subservient to men through the cosmetics and fashion industries .Western women are victim of prostitution and pornography, which are legal in most Western societies but are strictly forbidden in Islam. The Muslim woman is respected for her intellect and qualities of heart and mind as opposed to being treated as a sex-object. In Islam anything that outstrips a woman of her honour is strictly prohibited.
Dr Ali Ahmad
Email : [email protected]
9 November 2015