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Status of women in Islam

The status of women is neither a new issue nor is it a fully settled one. The position of Islam on this issue has been among the subjects presented to the western reader with the least objectivity.

This paper is intented to provide a brief and uthentic exposition of what Islam for in this regard. The teachings of Islam are based essentially on the Quran (God's revelation and the Hadith (elaboration by Prophet Muhammad).

The Quran and the Hadith, properly and unbiasedly understood, provide the basic source of authentication for any position or view which is attributed to islam.

Historical Perspectives
The experiences of Muslim women vary widely between and within different societies.[1] At the same time, their adherence to Islam is a shared factor that affects their lives to a varying degree and gives them a common identity that may serve to bridge the wide cultural, social, and economic differences between them.

Among the influences which have played an important role in defining the social, spiritual and cosmological status of women in the course of Islamic history are Islam's sacred text, the Qu'ran; the Ḥadīths, which are traditions relating to the deeds and aphorisms of Islam's Prophet Muḥammad;[2] ijmā', which is a consensus, expressed or tacit, on a question of law;[3] qiyās, the principle by which the laws of the Qu'ran and the Sunnah or Prophetic custom are applied to situations not explicitly covered by these two sources of legislation;[4] and fatwas, non-binding published opinions or decisions regarding religious doctrine or points of law.

Additional influences include pre-Islamic cultural traditions; secular laws, which are fully accepted in Islam so long as they do not directly contradict Islamic precepts;[5] religious authorities, including government-controlled agencies such as the Indonesian Ulema Council and Turkey's Diyanet;[6] and spiritual teachers, which are particularly prominent in Islamic mysticism or Sufism. Many of the latter – including perhaps most famously, Ibn al-'Arabī – have themselves produced texts that have elucidated the metaphysical symbolism of the feminine principle in Islam[7]

There is considerable various as to how the above sources are interpreted by orthodox Muslim, both sunni and shia- approximately 90% of the worls’s Muslim population- and ideological fundamentalists, most notably those subscribing to wahhabism or salafism, who comprise roughly 9% of the total.[8]

One major objective of this paper is to provide a fair evaluation of what Islam contributed (or failed to contribute) toward the restoration of woman's dignity and rights. In order to achieve this objective, it may be useful to review briefly how women were treated in general in previous civilizations and religions, especially those which preceded Islam (Pre-610 C.E.). Part of the information provided here, however, describes the status of woman as late as the nineteenth century, more than twelve centuries after Islam.

Woman In Islam

In the midst of the darkness that engulfed the world, the divine revelation echoed in the wide desert of Arabia with a fresh, 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...[9]
  • Give the orphans their property, and do not exchange the corrupt for the good; and devour not their property with your property; surely that is a great crime.[10]
  • If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial.
  • And give the women their dowries as a gift spontaneous; but if they are pleased to offer you any of it, consume it with wholesome appetite.
  • But do not give to fools their property that God has assigned to you to manage; provide for them and clothe them out of it, and speak to them honourable words.
this verse states:
It is believed that there is no text, old or new, that deals with the humanity of the woman from all aspects with such amazing brevity, eloquence, depth, and originality as this divine decree.

Stressing this noble and natural conception, them Quran states:
he (GOD) it is who create you from a single soul and therefrom did create his mate, that he might dwell with her(in love)…[11]

The creator of heavens and earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves[12]

and Allha 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?[13]

The Spiritual Aspect
The Quran provides clear-cut evidence 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[14]

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... [Noble 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 their actions.[15]

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.[16]

The Social Aspect
  1.  As a child and an adolescent: 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.[17]

    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?[18]
  2. As a wife:
    The Quran clearly indicates that marriage is sharing between the two halves of the society, and that its objectives, besides perpetuating human life, are emotional well-being and spiritual harmony. Its bases are love and mercy.

    The Quran thus states:
    ...And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men are a degree above them.[19]
  3. As a mother: Islam considered kindness to parents next to the worship of God. And we have enjoined upon man (to be good) to his parents: His mother bears him in weakness upon weakness...[20]
Moreover, the Quran has a special recommendation for the good treatment of mothers: Your Lord has decreed that you worship none save Him, and that you be kind to your parents... [Noble Quran 17:23]

A man came to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) asking: O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, Your mother.

The man said then who else:
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? Only then did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say, Your father. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Man in Islam is fully responsible for the maintenance of his wife, his children, and in some cases of his needy relatives, especially the females. This responsibility is neither waived nor reduced because of his wife's wealth or because of her access to any personal income gained from work, rent, profit, or any other legal means.

A famous saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is:
Paradise is at the feet of mothers.[21] It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.

This surely find a clear evidence of woman's equality with man in what we call today. It is more logical to explain the present situation in terms of the natural and indisputable differences between man and woman, a difference which does not imply any supremacy of one over the other. The difference implies rather the complementary roles of both the sexes in life.
However, Status of women in Islam is thus not concluded, but they gave a proper manner to women to live their own life in their own way.

  1. Women in Muslim Societies: Diversity Within Unity. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 2–3
  2. The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam. London, England: Stacey International. pp. 141–143.
  3. The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam. London, England: Stacey International. p. 182.
  4. The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam. London, England: Stacey International. p. 325.
  5. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2004). The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity. New York: HarperOne. pp. 121–122.
  6. In Turkey, Muslim women gain expanded religious authority. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 10 June 2015
  7. The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought. Albany: State University of New York Press. pp. 188–202.
  8. Professor S Abdallah (2015). The Muslim 500: The World's 500 Most Influential Muslims, 2016.
  9. Noble Quran 4:1] Surat-ul-nisaa (the women) verse no.1 /chapter -4
  10. Surat-ul-nisaa (the women) verse no.1 /chapter -4
  11. Noble Quran 7:189]
  12. Noble Quran 42:11]
  13. Noble Quran 16:72]
  14. Noble Quran 74:38]
  15. Noble Quran 16:97, see also 4:124]
  16. Noble Quran 2:36, 7:20-24]
  17. Noble Quran 81:8-9]
  18. Noble Quran 16:58-59
  19. Noble Quran 2:228]
  20. Noble Quran 31:14] [See also Quran 46:15, 29:8]
  21. In An-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad

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