Women in Islam

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Oppressed, inferior, and unequal – for many people, these are the first words that come to mind when thinking about women in Islam. These stereotypes confuse Islam with cultural practices and fail to recognize that Islam has empowered women with the most progressive rights since the 7th century. In Islam, women are not inferior or unequal to men. This brochure presents the actual teachings of Islam regarding the rights, roles, and responsibilities of women, with a special focus on gender equality in Islam.

At a time when female children were buried alive inArabiaand women were considered transferable property, Islam honored women in society by elevating them and protecting them with unprecedented rights. Islam gave women the right to education, to marry someone of their choice, to retain their identity after marriage, to divorce, to work, to own and sell property, to seek protection by the law, to vote, and to participate in civic and political engagement.

In 610 C.E., God began to reveal the message of Islam to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), inMecca. Muhammad (pbuh) called people towards the belief in one God and encouraged them to be just and merciful to one another. In reforming the pagan Arab society, he particularly transformed their mindset regarding the treatment of women. Islam abolished the practice of killing female children and raised the stature of women in society to one of dignity, esteem, and privilege.

God devotes an entire chapter of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, to women. In addition, God directly addresses women repeatedly throughout the Quran. Islam proclaims that all human beings, men and women, are born in a pure state. The goal of every Muslim is to preserve this purity by shunning evil tendencies and beautifying their inner being with virtuous traits.

Islam further confirms that both men and women are equal in the sight of God. In the Quran, God declares, “…Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you…” (49:13) At another place in the Quran, God clearly states that all humans are equal: “To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions.” (16:97)

While Islam clearly establishes that men and women are equal, it does recognize that they are not identical. God created men and women with unique physiological and psychological attributes. In Islam, these differences are embraced as vital components to a healthy family and community structure with each individual contributing their own distinctive talents to society.

Hence, God’s rules apply to both genders, but in diverse ways. For example, God commanded women to cover certain parts of their body, including their hair, to preserve their modesty. Men are also required to cover parts of their body out of modesty, but not in the same way as women. Therefore, God commanded both men and women to be modest; yet, the manner in which they observe it is different.

Similarly, the rights, roles, and responsibilities of women are evenly balanced with those of men but are not necessarily the same. As Islam has granted individual identities to men and women, a constant comparison between the two is futile. Each plays a unique role to mutually uphold social morality and societal balance.

The following overview details a wide range of women’s rights in Islam. It addresses some common misconceptions and provides insight into the diverse roles and responsibilities women fulfill in society. It must also be mentioned here that Muslims are not always representative of Islam and may follow their cultural influences or personal interests. In so doing, they not only disenfranchise women, they also go against the clear guidelines laid out in Islam regarding the treatment of women. Therefore, their practices go against the liberties and entitlements which Islam empowers women with, as shown below.

Education

Back in the 7th century, Muhammad (pbuh) declared that the pursuit of knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim – male and female. This declaration was very clear and was largely implemented by Muslims throughout history. One of the most influential scholars of Islam was Muhammad’s wife, Aisha. After his death, men and women would travel to learn from her because she was considered a great scholar of Islam. The recognition of female scholarship and women’s participation in academia has been encouraged and practiced throughout the majority of Islamic history. For instance, al-Qarawiyin Mosque and University, the oldest running university, was funded by a woman, Fatima al-Fihri, inMorocco in 859 C.E.

Motherhood

In Islam, God clearly gives mothers a high status and elevates their position in the family. In the Quran, God mentions all the sacrifices mothers make in bearing children to remind people to treat their mothers with love, respect, and care. Emphasizing the importance of mothers, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.”

On another occasion, a man repeatedly asked Muhammad (pbuh), “Who amongst the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?” Each time, the Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Your mother.” When the man asked for the fourth time, he replied, “Your father.”

Politics and Social Services

Among the early Muslims, women were active participants in the cohesive functioning of the society. Women expressed their opinions freely and their advice was actively sought. Women nursed the wounded during battles, and some even participated on the battlefield. Women traded openly in the marketplace, so much so that the second caliph, Umar, appointed a woman, Shaffa bint Abdullah, as the supervisor of the bazaar.

In Islamic history, women participated in government, public affairs, lawmaking, scholarship, and teaching.  To continue to uphold this tradition, women are encouraged to actively participate in improving, serving, and leading the different aspects of the community.

Inheritance

Before Islam, women all across the globe were deprived of inheritance and were themselves considered property to be inherited by men. Islam gave women the right to own property and inherit from relatives, which was a revolutionary concept in the seventh century.

Whether a woman is a wife, mother, sister, or daughter, she receives a certain share of her deceased relative’s property. This share depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. While many societies around the world denied women inheritance, Islam assured women this right, illustrating the universal justice of Islam’s divine law.

Financial Responsibilities

In Islam, women are not obligated to earn or spend any money on housing, food, or general expenses. If a woman is married, her husband must fully support her financially and if she’s not married, that responsibility belongs to her closest male relative (father, brother, uncle, etc).

She also has the right to work and spend the money she earns as she wishes. She has no obligation to share her money with her husband or any other family members, although she may choose to do so out of good will. For instance, Khadija, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was one of the most successful businesswomen ofMecca, and she freely spent from her wealth to support her husband and the cause of Islam.

At the time of marriage, a woman is entitled to a financial gift (dowry) from her husband. This dowry is legally owned by her and cannot be used by anyone else. In the case of divorce, she has the right to keep whatever she owned before the divorce and anything she personally earned after marriage. The former husband has no right whatsoever to any of her belongings. This ensures a woman’s financial security and independence, allowing her to support herself in the case of divorce.

Marriage

A woman has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals and her approval is required to complete the marriage contract. She cannot be forced to marry someone against her will and if this occurs for cultural reasons, it is in direct opposition of Islam. By the same principle, women also have the right to seek divorce if they are dissatisfied with their marriage.

In Islam, marriage is based on mutual peace, love, and compassion. God says about Himself, And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy…” (Quran 30:21) Muhammad (pbuh) embodied the best character and is a role model for all Muslims. His example of being helpful around the household and treating his family with compassion and love is a tradition that Muslims strive to implement in their daily lives. Muhammad (pbuh) treated his wives with the utmost respect and honor and was never abusive towards them. One of his traditions clearly states, “The best of you are those who are best to their wives.”

Dignity and Protection from Harm

Any form of emotional, physical, or psychological abuse is prohibited in Islam and the improper treatment of women is no exception to this rule. Indeed, there is no teaching in Islam, when studied in its complete context, which condones any kind of domestic violence. Islam clearly disallows any form of oppression or abuse, according to Dr. Zainab Alwani, a leading female Muslim scholar. It cannot be stated enough times that anyone who exercises unjust authority in the name of Islam is actually doing so to uphold their own cultural influences or personal interests. All of God’s creation is dignified and protected under Islamic law.

Modesty

In an environment which constantly emphasizes the physical form through various media, women are constantly faced with an unattainable standard of beauty. Although Muslim women are falsely classified as oppressed based on their modest dress, they are in fact liberated from such objectification by the society around them. This modest appearance, which includes veiling, highlights a woman’s personality and character instead of her physical figure and promotes a deeper appreciation for who she is as a person. In this regard, Muslim women identify with Mary, the mother of Jesus (pbuh), who is known for her piety and modesty.

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In conclusion, Islam has an extensive tradition of protecting the civil liberties of women based on the guidelines set forth by God and His Prophet. Women are empowered with many rights and protections under Islamic law and are honored with a dignified stature in society.

 

 

 

39 Comments

  1. Evangelist says:

    Ok, Now my questions is. Why in the country where Islam begun Women do not have the right to drive a car where many are facing problems because of that?? That’s why this website is full of lies and trying to influence untruly concepts. I know you’ll will delete this comment because you know it is true.

    • Believer says:

      The reason they cannot drive is not a religious restraint but a cultural one. If you had a full knowledge of Islam you would know that women are held at high regard. Islamically, the role of the woman is of great importance and by the rules of the Quran the are treated justly. That is not to say that they are treated “equally” with men. There is no such thing in any society. Men and women each have an important role in society and one does not supersede the other. Your comment is a bit ignorant and is along the same lines as someone saying all priests molest little boys. Doesnt make much sense, does it.

  2. Reda Rezk says:

    Women In Islam……. ???? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ???????

  3. Zahoor Basha says:

    I am Jeddah I asked the same questions about women not allowed to drive.
    The answer was clear from Saudis they said it is not a religious restriction, we restrict because we don’t want our women to fall in unnecessarily interaction with strangers and they themselves say there are some monster in society who may harm the women when met with a accident. Also they say that Saudi is land with 8million expats and most of them living without their family and they want this rule for they safety and for the goodness of their women.

  4. Chen Shui Jing says:

    cool. AWESOME!!!!!!

  5. Sara Jama says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. I also enjoyed the references and clear statements.

  6. Muhammad (saws)
    What a year was 570 AD
    A person was born, a prophet to be
    Muhammed (saws) that was his name
    People were misguided and that’s when he came

    He would go on to leave all the idols behind
    He is an example to the whole of mankind
    Rabbi al Awwal, in it was a day
    He came to this world to show us the way

    He was born in Mecca , the holiest place
    A life full of challenges he was to face
    Abdullah, his father, had by then passed away
    Leaving Amina, his mother, in her arms he lay

    Haalima Sadia took over his care
    Until he was six, our prophet was there
    His mother then died, he was left all alone
    Abdul Muttalib, his grand-dad then made him his own

    When our prophet was nine, his grandfather died
    Abu Talib, his uncle, became his new guide
    In his 20?s,a merchant Muhammed (saws) became by trade
    Al-Amin,(the trustworthy) became his grade

    Khadija(ra)aged 40, became his bride
    He was 25, with her by his side
    To the poor, she gave away all her wealth
    A dedicated wife in sickness and health

    360 idols in the Kaaba, there were at that time
    Our prophet realised that this was a crime
    He would go to mount Hira, leaving behind his wife
    Reflecting and wondering about the meaning of life

    Whilst thinking there in the midst of the night
    He heard a loud voice which filled him with fright
    It was the angel Jibrail(as) who asked him to read
    Our prophet couldn’t and didn’t take heed

    The angel embraced him and then asked him later
    Read, Read in the name of the Creator
    Who created man from a drop of blood
    Our prophet couldn’t read but at that time he could

    Our prophet rushed to the path straight ahead
    He heard a voice from the heavens which said
    Muhammed(saws) truly you are the messenger of God
    Muhammed (saws) was scared and thought this quite odd

    ‘Praise be to God’ his wife said instead
    ”I know you’ve been chosen as God’s messenger’ she said
    And thus Khadija (ra) became the first woman of islam
    And over the next 23 years came the revelation, the Quran

    He preached to all people, every creed, every race
    Yet so many hardships he had to face
    There were fears for his life, then the hijrah took place
    He entered Medina, by the Almighty’s grace

    He was greeted by the Ansaris who were not like the others
    they treated the muhajirs like their very own brothers
    Then came the battles, fought face to face
    Then the conquest of Mecca, Muhammed (saws)’s birthplace

    An Nasr was revealed, it’s message was clear
    Muhammed (saws) knew that his time was near
    Everyone gathered to hear his last speech
    little did they know how far Allah’s message would reach

    Muhammed (saws) gave us the miracle, the Quran
    And now a 1/4 of the world follow Islam
    He is our role-model, the best of mankind
    And has left the Quran and his Sunnah behind

    Read the Quran as much as you can
    The words of Allah(swt) for the guidance of man
    And follow our prophet’s sunnah, when eating and dressing
    And send him salutations and many a blessing

    He came to mankind to show us the way
    And Insha-Allah, we’ll meet him, we’ll meet him one day

  7. Siti Rohani Ariffin Leong says:

    truth about women in islam…

  8. Marium Naz says:

    I was feeling very down becasue of the criticism on freedom of women in Islam but this post has given me relief !!

  9. Fatima Anj says:

    I think this post is for every person out there who has absolute no idea and keeps talking about women's rights in Islam. It sums everything and very informative. I am very glad I read it. Thank you.

  10. Marc 'Woody' Woodhall says:

    The original 7th century teachings are irelevent because so many Muslims do not follow those teachings, they follow the twisted up version we see so wide spread today. A version which does not integrate and follow the principles we live by in a western democracy.

  11. Up King Abdullah! What a courageous man

  12. Mary H McMahon: "We" being "We the People"? Let me tell you about "We" as I am the "We". My forefathers came over with the Mayflower. I don't remember reading of any McMahons on the boats. Anyway, to give you an American history lesson. The Puritans came to the colonies to escape religious persecution. Persecution from bigoted people like you. Then it was written in the US Constitution after we became The United States of America that all US citizens have the RIGHT to FREEDOM OF RELIGION and to freedom from persecution thereof. Yes, you have Freedom of Speech however not when you use it against another Constitutional right. In the Constitution, it was written that a right cannot impose upon any other right therein. So, you are violating the US Constitutional rights of Muslims in America when you use defamation against a religion. And if you do not like what it says in The US Constitution, I suggest you leave the US and go to a country that better fits your bigotry. May God open your eyes to the truth. God Bless America the land of the free!

  13. I didn't write that!! My account was hacked. An apology might suit. My folks came over on the coffin ships during the potato famine starving to death. I don't know how to erase the post

  14. My mother's side came over on the coffin ships as well. Well, if you didn't write it, then click on the box to the right to mark it as spam. It's less likely that your account was hacked than someone in your family using your open facebook account to make comments. See if it was one of them and teach them right. "An apology might suit"? For real woman? You add insult to injury. You should give your password to no one and close your Facebook when not using it. It is YOUR responsibility.

  15. who ever hacked my account, erase the above comment.

  16. Deane Banker says:

    Marc I think you are getting confused between what Fundamentalists believe and what the faith of Islam proclaims. Much of what you see on the news or hear about in Western politics is a reflection of the actions of a minority of Muslims who hold vastly different views than the majority. Considering that Islam is so widespread, many cultural traditions have been incorporated in other parts of the world which may not be considered democratic. However that is no reflection of Islam as a whole.

  17. Deane Banker Then the responsibility of dealing with the fanatics lies with the so called tolerant majority. The majority are far too accepting of the extremists in their midst.

  18. Muhammad did indeed improve certain things for women relative to 1500 years ago. Unfortunately, following the texts of Muhammad takes us back 1400 years.
    Muhammad said that if a woman brings charges of rape without 4 male witnesses she is to be whipped.
    Muhammad said that the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man's.
    Muhammad said that most of the inhabitants of hell are women.
    Muhammad said that the reason for the above is that women have deficient minds.
    Muhammad explicitly instructed his men to capture, enslave, rape, and impregnate pagan women, even if both she and the Muslim man are both married, and this fact is why IS does precisely what Muhammad said to do with pagan women.

    Sorry, my Muslim brothers and sisters, I know reading such statements can be personally hurtful and I wish there were some way to speak these textual truths without causing you distress, but I have not found a way to do that.

  19. Eric Clinton says:

    Islam is shit, and mohammad was a dirty pig, a pedophile, a fake prophet. he raped a 6 years old girl! muslims are scumbags, terrorists.

  20. Eric Clinton says:

    Deborah Ashlynn El Ouiaazzani muslims are scumbags and mohammaed was a dirty pig, a rapist and a fuckin thug.

  21. Uzma Khan says:

    hi b in limits ok u have urz religious and v r our v r free in our religous and not criticise on urz prphet u should also ok dont say like words

  22. Eric Clinton dog you will see your own ruined state not only in this world but the world here after as well. Bastard!would that i have been your murderer and the murderer of bastards like you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Eric Clinton dog you will see your own ruined state not only in this world but the world here after as well. Bastard!would that i have been your murderer and the murderer of bastards like you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. MJ Pete says:

    This is a bold faced LIE. For the TRUTH about what Muhammad REALLY thought about women taken straight from the Quran, read this: http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Wood/women.htm

  25. Syed Areeb says:

    ERIC EVEN I DON'T SUPPORT THE WHO KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE WITHOUT ANY REASON…THEY ARN'T THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHO A MUSLIM IS..
    THERE CAN BE DIFFERENCE IN WHAT ISLAM SAYS AND WHAT PEOPLE DO …AS IN THEY DONT FOLLOW IT WHOLE HEARTEDLY OR CORRECTLY

    JUST HAVE A LOOK AT THESE POINTS

    Opinion of historian De Lacy O’Leary.

    The best reply to the misconception that Islam was spread by the sword is given by the noted historian De Lacy O’Leary in the book "Islam at the cross road" (Page 8):

    "History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated."

    Muslims ruled Spain for 800 years.

    Muslims ruled Spain for about 800 years. The Muslims in Spain never used the sword to force the people to convert. Later the Christian Crusaders came to Spain and wiped out the Muslims. There was not a single Muslim in Spain who could openly give the adhan, that is the call for prayers.

    14 million Arabs are Coptic Christians. NEARBY

    Muslims were the lords of Arabia for 1400 years. For a few years the British ruled, and for a few years the French ruled. Overall, the Muslims ruled Arabia for 1400 years. Yet today, there are 14 million Arabs who are Coptic Christians i.e. Christians since generations. If the Muslims had used the sword there would not have been a single Arab who would have remained a Christian.

    More than 80% non-Muslims in India.

    The Muslims ruled India for about a thousand years. If they wanted, they had the power of converting each and every non-Muslim of India to Islam. Today more than 80% of the population of India are non-Muslims. All these non-Muslim Indians are bearing witness today that Islam was not spread by the sword.

    Indonesia and Malaysia.

    Indonesia is a country that has the maximum number of Muslims in the world. The majority of people in Malaysia are Muslims. May one ask, "Which Muslim army went to Indonesia and Malaysia?"

    East Coast of Africa.

    Similarly, Islam has spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa. One may again ask, if Islam was spread by the sword, "Which Muslim army went to the East Coast of Africa?"

  26. Syed Areeb says:

    It is a common complaint among some non-Muslims that Islam would not have millions of adherents all over the world, if it had not been spread by the use of force. The following points will make it clear, that far from being spread by the sword, it was the inherent force of truth, reason and logic that was responsible for the rapid spread of Islam.

  27. Syed Areeb says:

    MARC
    I SUGGEST YOU TO PLEASE READ THE QUR'AN WITHOUT BIENG BIASED
    AND TO NOT BELIEVE ON THE IMAGE PROPOSED BY THE WESTERN MEDIA

    TEACHINGS GIVEN BY GOD CAN NEVER EVER BE THE ONES WHICH GO OUTDATED
    THEY CAN NEVER BE WRONG
    WE ARE A CREATION OF GOD
    SO OUR CREATOR ONLY KNOWS WHATS THE BEST FOR US

  28. Actually we're not. There is no God. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, they are all are nonsense made up by men wanting power over other men. I could create a faith based books like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, if enough people followed those teachings then in a thousand years you would think it was real. It's all just words in a book.

  29. Eric Clinton says:

    ISIS represent Islam, point. u can't spread Islam by the sword anymore, we are in the 21st century, you ass is going to be kicked. you are talking about Indonesia and the East Coast of Africa huhhhh those are the worst places on earth and the poorest because they are controlled by Islam. tell me what Islam created? nothing, except terrorism!

  30. Ey Bee says:

    You suck eric….. you mother fucker… go to hell asshole…

  31. Eric Clinton says:

    I will go to hell after I go to Mecca for hajj and SHIT on your prophet's grave hahaha Islam is shit and muslims are scumbags. No one in the whole world respect or like muslims, people know that u guys are terrorists like ISIS……..bunch of ignorant dirty pigs.

  32. Eric Clinton says:

    Mohammad was a dirty pig, fake prophet, he was a pedophile, he raped a 6year old girl, he also use to rape goats and sheep hahahahaahha he's a scumbag like all dirty muslims huhhhhhh fuckin terrorists

  33. Eric Clinton says:

    muslims are scumbags, shit ignorant people, dirty pigs

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