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Muslim women do not receive equal treatment with men Essay

Some westerners think Muslim women do not receive equal treatment with men. In fact, the aim of Islam is quite the opposite.’ Examine and comment on this claim in the context of a multicultural society.

Why is it that western consciousness perceives Islam in such deeply flawed terms?

Why are negative images of Islam more prevalent than any others? Why is it still acceptable to say things about Muslims that would simply be deemed unacceptable of Jews, Christians, or Buddhists? That years of inter-faith dialogue have done little to advance a better understanding of the Islamic faith in the western world is an indication of how profoundly entrenched in the West misrepresentations and vulgar stereotypes of Islam are.

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The western society generally views itself as the source of women’s liberation, and feminists seem to have an obligation to broaden their rights to the eastern oppressed women. West sees the veil as a stumbling block and feels if they were to remove it would it would gain freedom for these women. These views have misunderstood the status of women in Islam and have been publicized in the media.

Britain regards itself as giving equal rights to men and women Although in Britain latest studies have shown that men are paid more than women to carry out the same task. Surveys have shown that employers would rather employ men than women with the same qualifications. There are hardly any women politicians in comparison to men but Muslim women like Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh, have ruled over 300 hundred million Muslims in the 1990s and now is currently being ruled by another women. Benazir Bhutto had been the president of Pakistan. There has essentially never been a female president in the United States till this present time.

The extent of a religion’s efficiency depends on what resolution to controversial issues like that of women is presented. Islam has provided the most practical outline of social organization, according to the natural and physical capabilities of both men and women. However other civilisations and faiths prior to Islam dealt with this matter as well, Aristotle and many other Greek philosophers argued that women were not fully human and this view was accepted in the catholic churches. St Thomas Aquinas another philosopher later put forward his view of the earlier Greek philosopher proposing that women were the traps of Satan. Every evil caused in humanity was likely from them. This idea was accepted throughout the middle ages. Men were the only ones who had rights before the law they could buy, sell and own a property.

Up to this present time male Jews still recite,” Blessed art thou our lord, our God king of the universe that I was not born a female”(Alan Unterman, Jews: their Religious beliefs and practices,1981, page 140). Also in Judaism, the Talmud states “Woe to the man whose children are female” (Ibid, Page 133)

In pre Islamic Arabia women were treated like commodities, object desire that were bought and sold like cattle. Some of them were even made to dance naked in the vicinity of the Kaaba during annual festivals. In those times a man could have as many wives as he desired and women were inherited if widowed from father to son. Arabs used to bury their female children alive at birth, and treat women as mere chattels and objects of sexual pleasure possessing no rights or position whatsoever, these teachings of the Noble Qur’an were revolutionary. Unlike other religions, which regarded women as being possessed of inherent sin and wickedness and men as being possessed of inherent virtue and nobility, Islam regards men and women as being of the same essence created from a single soul. The Qur’an declares:

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them – except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and Allah will bring about through it a great deal of good. (4:19)

O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from this pair scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah, through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and reverence the wombs (that bore you); for Allah ever watches over you. (4:1)

Spiritually men and women are equal. They are created out of identical spiritual material. (According to some old Christian’s thinkers) so therefore if women are sinful so are the men because they are identical.

In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women as far as their relationship to Allah is concerned, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct. The Qur’an says:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (2:226)

The Qur’an, in addressing the believers, often uses the expression,’ believing men and women’ to emphasize the equality of men and women in regard to their respective duties, rights, virtues and merits. It says:

For Muslim men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)

Enter into Paradise, you and your wives, with delight. (43:70)

Who so does that which is right, and believes, whether male or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life. (16:97)

The Qur’an admonishes those men who oppress or ill-treat women: The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said,

“Women are the twin halves of men.”

The Qur’an emphasizes the essential unity of men and women in a most beautiful simile:

They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them. (2:187) the ideal relationship between husband and wife is graphically described in the above verse.

Just as a garment hides our nakedness, so do husband and wife, by entering into the relationship of marriage, secure each other’s chastity. The garment gives comfort to the body; so does the husband find comfort in his wife’s company and she in his. “The garment is the grace, the beauty, the embellishment of the body, so too are wives to their husbands as their husbands are to them.”

Islam does not consider woman “an instrument of the Devil”, but rather the Qur’an calls her musanat – a fortress against Satan because a good woman, by marrying a man, helps him keep to the path of rectitude in his life. It is for this reason that marriage was considered by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a most virtuous act. He said: “When a man marries, he has completed one half of his religion.” He enjoined matrimony on Muslims by saying: “Marriage is part of my way and whoever keeps away from my way is not from me (i.e. is not my follower).” The Qur’an has given the raison d’�tre of marriage in the following words:

And among His signs is this that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them; and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (30:21)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was full of praise for virtuous and chaste women. He said:

“The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman. He once told the future khalif, ‘Umar: “Shall I not inform you about the best treasure a man can hoard? It is a virtuous wife who pleases him whenever he looks towards her, and who guards herself when he is absent from her.”

On other occasions the Prophet said:

“The best property a man can have is a remembering tongue (about Allah), a grateful heart and a believing wife who helps him in his faith.” And again: “The world, the whole of it, is a commodity and the best of the commodities of the world is a virtuous wife.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was most emphatic in enjoining upon Muslims to be kind to their women when he delivered his famous khutba on the Mount of Mercy at Arafat in the presence of one hundred and twenty-four thousand of his Companions who had gathered there for the Hajj al-Wada (Farewell Pilgrimage). In it he ordered those present, and through them all those Muslims who were to come later, to be respectful and kind towards women. He said:

“Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of Allah, and made their bodies lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them, and they have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to your means.”

“One who makes efforts (to help) the widow or a poor person is like a mujahid (warrior) in the path of Allah, or like one who stands up for prayers in the night and fasts in the day.”

These aspects were much emphasized by the Prophet (peace be upon him). He exhorted men to marry women of piety and women to be faithful to their husbands and kind to their children. He said:

“Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives, and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands. To each of such women is set down a reward equivalent to the reward of a thousand martyrs. Among my followers, again, the best of women are those who assist their husbands in their work, and love them dearly for everything,

Islam, as a religion recognizes men’s and women’s role as different but, however it certainly does not regard them as superior or inferior than one or the other. Both roles are as important as each other.

Islam has been designed to be flexible enough to be interpreted in a variety of ways to cover a variety of cultures, times, contexts, individual personalities. both men and women should dress (in public) in a manner that will de-accentuate their sexuality1. The Surah an-Nur says:

Tell the believing men to lower their eyes and guard their private parts… Tell the believing women to lower their eyes, guard their private parts and not display their charms except what is apparent outwardly… (an-Nur 24:30-31).

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters, as well as all (other) believing women, that they should draw over themselves some of their outer garments (when in public): this will be more conducive to their being recognized (as decent women) and not annoyed. But (withal,) God is indeed much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace! (al-Ahzab 33:59, Asad transl.)

The spirit of this ayat is to dress in a manner that will signal ‘unavailability’.

The reason why another ayat (an-Nur 24:60) is crucial in gaining a broad overview of the Qur’anic concept of appropriate dress is that it implies that women should wear in public more than what they would wear in private, in front of their ‘intimates’ – their families. So this leads to three basic ‘points’ in considering how to dress:

a) the universal idea of de-sexualized dress

b) the time and context specific concept of being identifiable as a Muslim

c) that before she reaches old age (and preferably after) a Muslim woman should wear more in public than she would privately in front of family.

As long as these three injunctions are met, there is a wide range of options open to the Muslim woman depending on the context of the society in which she lives and moves in public.

Today, Muslim women’s dress has been politicized and carries with it many conflicting symbols and meanings; perhaps the most visible is the use of head covering as a confrontation against western colonialism.

Muslim woman has to have the right and freedom to choose how she interprets her dress code. This fundamental acknowledgement of her instinctive ability to choose (or not) the path of Allah (swt) is more important than any type of specifics about what constitutes hijab (or appropriate covering of the body). Without this freedom to interpret Islam to the best of her ability (a part of which, of course, is seeking the informed opinions of knowledgeable Muslims in order to educate herself) she is not living up to her potential as a human being, and that is more fundamental than what clothes are being worn.

As the Qur’an says:

There is no compulsion in matter of faith. Distinct is the way of guidance now from error… (Al-Baqarah 2:256, A.Ali translation)

The queen of her house’, is the position a true believer is expected to give his wife. In contrast to these enlightened teachings of Islam in respect of women, Western talk of women’s liberation or emancipation is actually a disguised form of exploitation of her body, deprivation of her honor, and degradation of her soul!

Islam has given the highest position to women on earth, while Europe and the west were wallowing in the dregs of degradation and savagery. Islam had accorded women a position of honour, respect, safety and love, which has not yet been matched to this day, let alone being superseded and excelled.

When questioned about status one must consider Muslim women’s rights in the field of finance. A Muslim woman has the right to full ownership and disposal of wealth at will. This right was granted to her about 1423 years ago whilst Britain, women didn’t have this right untill1860s. Her father if she was unmarried must provide for a Muslim woman or by her husband if married; however rich she may be, she is not responsible for domestic expenses. This is one of many privileges given to women.

The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘The searching of knowledge is incumbent for every Muslim (male and female).Women should pursue their education as far as it is possible. One of the main aims of acquiring knowledge in Islam is to become Allah-conscious. In the history of Islam there were women who were narrators of Hadith, mystics, scholars, writers, poets and teachers, in their own right. They utilized their knowledge within certain precepts of Islam.

The west has fabricated many myths that Muslim women are not allowed to work. These myths have no basis in Islamic law. It is natural in Islamic societies for there to be a female doctors and teachers. However, she is not required to participate in trade, vocation or professions unless necessary. A woman must receive her husband’s approval in order to work, because he may feel that her work will cause her to neglect her matrimonial duties and care of the children

Muslim women just like the men are prohibited from taking on jobs that sell her femininity to make money (dancing, prostitution, modeling etc) even if her husband doesn’t mind. Apart from those jobs that are prohibited in Islam all others are lawful. A women is entitled to equal pay of equal work of equal value, this concept was established by Islam centuries ago. Although a woman can inherit from her father, children and husbands when before Islam she could not inherit at all, the rate of her inheritance is half that of a man. In order to requisite this apparent unfairness, Islam gives women many privileges e.g. dowry which is obligatory and is her own. Quran says:

“And give women their dowries as a free gift” (4:4)

A woman has the right to choose who she marries and shouldn’t be forced to marry anyone with out her wish. She can even have her marriage annulled in a court of law if she can prove that her parents/guardians went ahead with it against her will.

Yet there is a resounding silence when the issue being raised is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), honor killings, forced marriages, the unequal application of hadd punishments on women, or the denial of education to girls and women. All of these wrongs are perpetrated on women in the name of Islam. Genital mutilation for females is not allowed in Islam? Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him clearly prohibited mutilation or maiming of the body. While it is true that many of these violations occur across cultural and religious boundaries, the only action often taken by conservative Muslims is a condemnation of the action because it is “cultural” and not Islamic. Meanwhile, women continue to be murdered and little girls continue to be mutilated.

Polygamy is a misunderstood phenomenon that is more a remedial law in Islam than anything else, used only if necessary. Monotheism is a norm in Muslim societies past and present, and one must remember that prior to Islam, men could have as many wives as they desired. so much that many women were deserted for long periods of time. The verse in the quran that legitimates polygamy was revealed after the battle of uhud, when many widows and orphans were left without care. Hence at the time polygamy was the answer. Although in some extreme circumstances e.g.when the wife is a barren, seriously ill, and mentally unstable or has a bad character. In these cases a man can marry again if he feels the presence of the second wife will benefit the wife, the children or him. However Islam insist that the man treat both wives equally in every aspect possible.The quran says:

If you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with orphans, marry women of your choice , two or three or four; but if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with them, then only one” (4:3)

Islam recognizes that marriages are sacred and are a civil contract between husband and wife which should work or be dismantled if it ceases to do so. Although Islam permits divorce the prophet (pbuh) says:

“Of all the things that Islam has permitted, divorce is the most hated by Allah”. This shows divorce shouldn’t be taken lightly. Divorce is a right mainly available to men (although a woman can demand to have it in a marriage contract).

As well When Islam discusses the deficiencies of women; it is neither insulting them nor belittling them. Some men, unfortunately, do precisely that when they quote the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that women “have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion”. They take these words out of context as a means of oppressing women and putting them down.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) meant something quite different. He said: “I have never seen among those who have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion anyone more capable than women of swaying the intellect of the most determined of men.” He is actually asserting here the power of women to influence men and sway their opinion. This is one of the distinctions that women, in their natures, have.

He then went on to define precisely what he meant by these deficiencies. In the remainder of the had�th, some women asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, what is this deficiency in our intelligence and religion?” He replied: “Isn’t it that a woman’s testimony as a witness is half of the testimony of man?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “This, then, is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that when she is in her menses, she leaves off prayers and fasting?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “This is the deficiency in her religion.” Therefore to every male witness there need to be two female witnesses also because of their lack of knowledge and experience women are not preferred to be positioned as judges in Islam. There is no specific directive of the Shari`ah that prohibits a woman from leading prayers. Therefore, we cannot say that Islam prohibits a woman from leading prayers.

The matter actually relates to the general practice of the Prophet (pbuh), which was subsequently followed by the Muslim leaders that followed the Prophet (pbuh). This practice of the Prophet (pbuh) as well as the Muslim leaders, who followed him, subsequently became a part of the social traditions of the Muslims. Thus, it is not a directive of the Shari`ah, but a part of the Muslim cultural tradition that men, rather than women should lead prayers. This gender-based distinction, it seems, has its basis on a few important facts.

For instance, although the Prophet (pbuh) encouraged Muslim women to come to the mosques to offer their obligatory prayers with the congregation, yet it was not as strong a directive for them, as it was for the Muslim men. The nature and the variance of the Prophet (pbuh)’s directive has generally resulted in a lower number of Muslim women being present in mosques, as compared to men. In many places, women are not even seen (even in lower numbers) in mosques. Thus, especially when the over whelming majority of people present in mosques consists of men, it was natural that a man was appointed as the Imam to lead the prayers.

Moreover, because the Imam holds a central position in the mosque and naturally becomes the center of attention for all those who are present, it seemed a better decision that a man, rather than a woman, be appointed for this position. We obviously do not have any control over the thoughts and emotions of all those present in the mosque. Thus, to keep the minds clear of any sexual thoughts, especially in the mosques, it was felt more appropriate to appoint a man as the Imam.

These are a few of the points that have played a role in the general acceptance of this socio-cultural tradition among the Muslims. The matter, as I have stated earlier does not pertain to any prohibition of the Shari`ah.

“Women are very capable of taking on any job previously monopolized by men,” said Ms Hindi, a former English literature student at a college in Mecca, her home town.

Women not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia because of the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia was made official only in 1990 after 47 women demonstrated against what was then a customary law by driving a convoy of cars in Riyadh. They were arrested and detained until male relatives signed undertakings that they would not violate the ban again. The ban was made official by a fatwa issued by the Council of Senior Ulama (religious scholars). “Women driving leads too many evils . . . included among these is her mixing with men without her being on her guard,” the fatwa said.

“O Messenger of Allah, who is the person who has the greatest right on me with regards to kindness and attention?” He replied, “Your mother.” “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother.” “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother.” “Then who?” He replied, “Your father.”

In another tradition, the Prophet advised a believer not to join the war against the Quraish in defense of Islam, but to look after his mother, saying that his service to his mother would be a cause of his salvation. Mu’awiyah, the son of Jahimah, reported that Jahimah came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said,

” Messenger of Allah! I want to join the fighting (in the path of Allah) and I have come to seek your advice.” He said, “Then remains in your mother’s service, because Paradise is under her feet.”

The Prophet’s followers accepted his teachings and brought about a revolution in their social attitude towards women. They no longer considered women as mere chattels, but as an integral part of society. For the first time women were given the right to have a share in inheritance. In the new social climate, women rediscovered themselves and became highly active members of society rendering useful service during the wars which the pagan Arabs forced on the emerging Muslim umma. They carried provisions for the soldiers, nursed them, and even fought alongside them if it was necessary. It became a common sight to see women helping their husbands in the fields, carrying on trade and business independently, and going out of their homes to satisfy their needs.

“Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives, and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands. To each of such women is set down a reward equivalent to the reward of a thousand martyrs. Among my followers, again, the best of women are those who assist their husbands in their work, and love them dearly for everything, save what is a transgression of Allah’s laws.”

The Shari’ah regards women as the spiritual and intellectual equals of men.

The Shari’ah requires a man, as head of the family, to consult with his family and then to have the final say in decisions concerning it. In doing so he must not abuse his prerogative to cause any injury to his wife.

The word of the Prophet (peace be upon him), ‘the queen of her house’, and this is the position a true believer is expected to give his wife. In contrast to these enlightened teachings of Islam in respect of women, Western talk of women’s liberation or emancipation is actually a disguised form of exploitation of her body, deprivation of her honour, and degradation of her soul!

Manji is lesbian and has adamantly argued that the condemnation of homosexuality by most strains of traditional Islam is at odds with Qur’anic doctrine that “Allah makes excellent everything which He creates.” Her partner is Michelle Douglas, a Canadian activist.

Manji has been a vocal critic of orthodox Islam, especially that treatment of women by some Muslims. She does not wear a headscarf or chador whereas most traditional Muslim women do observe the hijab. She has criticized the Palestinian leadership and the opinions of some Muslims about Israel.

WOMEN IN THE QUR’AN AND THE SUNNAH

Prof. Abdur Rahman I. Doi Professor and Director, Center for Islamic Legal Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira, Nigeria.

In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women as far as their relationship to Allah is concerned, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct. The Qur’an says:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (2:226)

The Qur’an, in addressing the believers, often uses the expression,’ believing men and women’ to emphasize the equality of men and women in regard to their respective duties, rights, virtues and merits. It says:

For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)

Enter into Paradise, you and your wives, with delight. (43:70)

Who so does that which is right, and believes, whether male or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life. (16:97)

The Qur’an admonishes those men who oppress or ill-treat women:

The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said,

“Women are the twin halves of men.”

The Qur’an emphasizes the essential unity of men and women in a most beautiful simile:

They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them. (2:187)

Just as a garment hides our nakedness, so do husband and wife, by entering into the relationship of marriage, secure each other’s chastity. The garment gives comfort to the body; so does the husband find comfort in his wife’s company and she in his. “The garment is the grace, the beauty, the embellishment of the body, so too are wives to their husbands as their husbands are to them.” Islam does not consider woman “an instrument of the Devil”, but rather the Qur’an calls her muhsana – a fortress against Satan because a good woman, by marrying a man, helps him keep to the path of rectitude in his life. It is for this reason that marriage was considered by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a most virtuous act. He said: “When a man marries, he has completed one half of his religion.” He enjoined matrimony on Muslims by saying: “Marriage is part of my way and whoever keeps away from my way is not from me (i.e. is not my follower).” The Qur’an has given the raison d’�tre of marriage in the following words:

And among His signs is this that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them; and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (30:21)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was full of praise for virtuous and chaste women. He said:

“The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman. He once told the future khalif, ‘Umar: “Shall I not inform you about the best treasure a man can hoard? It is a virtuous wife who pleases him whenever he looks towards her, and who guards herself when he is absent from her.”

On other occasions the Prophet said:

“The best property a man can have is a remembering tongue (about Allah), a grateful heart and a believing wife who helps him in his faith.” And again: “The world, the whole of it, is a commodity and the best of the commodities of the world is a virtuous wife.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was most emphatic in enjoining upon Muslims to be kind to their women when he delivered his famous khutba on the Mount of Mercy at Arafat in the presence of one hundred and twenty-four thousand of his Companions who had gathered there for the Hajj al-Wada (Farewell Pilgrimage). In it he ordered those present, and through them all those Muslims who were to come later, to be respectful and kind towards women. He said:

“Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of Allah, and made their bodies lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them, and they have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to your means.”

“One who makes efforts (to help) the widow or a poor person is like a mujahid (warrior) in the path of Allah, or like one who stands up for prayers in the night and fasts in the day.”

“O Messenger of Allah, who is the person who has the greatest right on me with regards to kindness and attention?” He replied, “Your mother.” “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother.” “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother.” “Then who?” He replied, “Your father.”

In another tradition, the Prophet advised a believer not to join the war against the Quraish in defense of Islam, but to look after his mother, saying that his service to his mother would be a cause of his salvation. Mu’awiyah, the son of Jahimah, reported that Jahimah came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said,

” Messenger of Allah! I want to join the fighting (in the path of Allah) and I have come to seek your advice.” He said, “Then remain in your mother’s service, because Paradise is under her feet.”

The Prophet’s followers accepted his teachings and brought about a revolution in their social attitude towards women. They no longer considered women as a mere chattels, but as an integral part of society. For the first time women were given the right to have a share in inheritance. In the new social climate, women rediscovered themselves and became highly active members of society rendering useful service during the wars which the pagan Arabs forced on the emerging Muslim umma. They carried provisions for the soldiers, nursed them, and even fought alongside them if it was necessary. It became a common sight to see women helping their husbands in the fields, carrying on trade and business independently, and going out of their homes to satisfy their needs.

“Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives, and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands. To each of such women is set down a reward equivalent to the reward of a thousand martyrs. Among my followers, again, the best of women are those who assist their husbands in their work, and love them dearly for everything, save what is a transgression of Allah’s laws.”

The Shari’ah regards women as the spiritual and intellectual equals of men.

The Shari’ah requires a man, as head of the family, to consult with his family and then to have the final say in decisions concerning it. In doing so he must not abuse his prerogative to cause any injury to his wife.

The words of the Prophet (peace be upon him), ‘the queen of her house’, and this is the position a true believer is expected to give his wife. In contrast to these enlightened teachings of Islam in respect of women, Western talk of women’s liberation or emancipation is actually a disguised form of exploitation of her body, deprivation of her honour, and degradation of her soul!

http://www.allaahuakbar.net/womens/rights_of_women_guaranteed_by_islam.htm

A COLLECTION OF REFERENCES FROM THE QURAN AND HADEETH ABOUT THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN GUARANTEED BY ISLAM

Spiritual Equality of Women and Men

Allah has got ready forgiveness and tremendous rewards for the Muslim men and women; the believing men and women; the devout men and women; the truthful men and women; the patiently suffering men and women; the humble men and women; the almsgiving men and women; the fasting men and women, the men and women who guard their chastity; and the men and women who are exceedingly mindful of Allah. (Al-Ahzab 33:35)

Attitudes towards women

O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may take away part of the dower ye have given them,-except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good. (An-Nisa 4:19)

Collaboration and consultation

The believing men and women, are associates and helpers of each other. They (collaborate) to promote all that is beneficial and discourage all that is evil; to establish prayers and give alms, and to obey Allah and his Messenger. Those are the people whom Allah would grant mercy. Indeed Allah is Mighty and Wise. (Al-Taubah 9:71)

Women’s Right to Attend Mosques

Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “Allow women to go to the Mosques at night.” (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 13, Number 22)

Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Do not deprive women of their share of the mosques, when they seek permission from you. Bilal said: By Allah, we would certainly prevent them. ‘Abdullah said: I say that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said it and you say: We would certainly prevent them! (Sahih Muslim Book 004, Number 0891)

The Common Performance of Ablutions

Narrated Ibn Umar: “It used to be that men and women would perform ablutions together in the time of the Messenger of Allah’s assembly.” (Bukhari: 1: Ch. 45, Book of Ablution)

Women’s Right of Proposal

Narrated Sahl: A woman came to the Prophet, and presented herself to him (for marriage). He said, “I am not in need of women these days.” Then a man said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Marry her to me.” The Prophet asked him, “What have you got?” He said, “I have got nothing.” The Prophet said, “Give her something, even an iron ring.” He said, “I have got nothing.” The Prophet asked (him), “How much of the Quran do you know (by heart)?” He said, “So much and so much.” The Prophet said, “I have married her to you for what you know of the Quran.” (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 72)

Women’s Right of Permission

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! How can we know her permission?” He said, “Her silence (indicates her permission).” (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 67)

The Right of Women not to be Forced

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Barira’s husband was a slave called Mughith, as if I am seeing him now, going behind Barira and weeping with his tears flowing down his beard. The Prophet said to ‘Abbas, “O ‘Abbas ! are you not astonished at the love of Mughith for Barira and the hatred of Barira for Mughith?” The Prophet then said to Barira, “Why don’t you return to him?” She said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Do you order me to do so?” He said, “No, I only intercede for him.” She said, “I am not in need of him.” (Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 63, Number 206)

The Characteristics of a Believing Man

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said: a believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another. (Muslim Book 8, Number 3469)

The Education of Women

Narrated Abu Said: A woman came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Men (only) benefit by your teachings, so please devote to us from (some of) your time, a day on which we may come to you so that you may teach us of what Allah has taught you.” Allah’s Apostle said, “Gather on such-and-such a day at such-and-such a place.” They gathered and Allah’s Apostle came to them and taught them of what Allah had taught him. (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 92, Number 413)

On the Treatment of Women

Narrated Mu’awiyah al-Qushayri: I went to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) and asked him: “What do you say (command) about our wives?” He replied: “Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them.” (Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 11, Number 2139) “The best of you is one who is best towards his family and I am best towards the family”. (At-Tirmithy). “None but a noble man treats women in an honourable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully”. (At-Tirmithy).

A Husband’s Attitude

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) said that a man came to his house to complain about his wife. On reaching the door of his house, he hears ‘Umar’s wife shouting at him and reviling him. Seeing this, he was about to go back, thinking that ‘Umar himself was in the same position and, therefore, could hardly suggest any solution for his problem. ‘Umar (RA) saw the man turn back, so he called him and enquired about the purpose of his visit. He said that he had come with a complaint against his wife, but turned back on seeing the Caliph in the same position.

‘Umar (RA) told him that he tolerated the excesses of his wife for she had certain rights against him. He said, “Is it not true that she prepares food for me, washes clothes for me and suckles my children, thus saving me the expense of employing a cook, a washerman and a nurse, though she is not legally obliged in any way to do any of these things? Besides, I enjoy peace of mind because of her and am kept away from indecent acts on account of her. I therefore tolerate all her excesses on account of these benefits. It is right that you should also adopt the same attitude.” quoted in Rahman, Role of Muslim Women page 149

The Prophet’s Disapproval of Women Beaters

Patient behavior was the practice of the Prophet, even when his wife dared to address him harshly. Once his mother-in-law- saw her daughter strike him with her fist on his noble chest. When the enraged mother -in-law began to reproach her daughter, the Prophet smilingly said, “Leave her alone; they do worse than that.” And once Abu Bakr, his father-in-law, was invited to settle some misunderstanding between him and Aishah.

The Prophet said to her, “Will you speak, or shall I speak?” Aisha said, “You speak, but do not say except the truth.” Abu Bakr was so outraged that he immediately struck her severely, forcing her to run and seek protection behind the back of the Prophet. Abu Bakr said, “O you the enemy of herself! Does the Messenger of Allah say but the truth?” The Prophet said, “O Abu Bakr, we did not invite you for this [harsh dealing with Aishah], nor did we anticipate it.” quoted in: Mutual Rights and Obligations

http://www.allaahuakbar.net/womens/women_sharia_and_oppression.htm

A lot of attention has been focused on the issue of Muslim women and human rights since September 11, almost all of it by non Muslims. Once again, images of women swathed in black veils or blue burqas are de rigeur, as the media soberly reminds us that Muslim women are not considered equals to men in Islam, and that they are oppressed even by the moderate regimes in the Muslim world.

From the Muslims, we have one of two reactions. The first is the reaction of the “liberal, reformist, secular” Muslims. They believe that Shari’a oppresses women, and that we need to completely overhaul it, or toss out sections of the Qur’an that are “uncomfortable,” or institute secular forms of government that separate the sacred from the legal all together. These are the same Muslims who equate Hijab with oppression, and who support the denial of free speech rights to “Islamists” (all the while, crying for their rights to free speech in countries where it is denied). They take their political thought not from Islamic sources, but from feminism, socialism, and capitalism. Naturally, it is to these Muslims that the Western media turns when it wants a “Muslim” perspective on “Muslim issues.”

On the other side, we have the organizers of the mainstream conservative Muslims, the leaders of our civic societies, advocacy groups, and associations. When presented with instances of women’s oppression in the Islamic world, these Muslims, almost always men, respond defensively. They cart out examples of women’s oppression in the Western world, or worse, they address the issue by lecturing the questioner about the virtues of the Ideal Place of Women in Ideal Islam. In other words, they treat the ideal that we are all aspire to as the reality on the ground. Pressed into taking a stand on real life issues, they retreat in anger. “That’s culture, not Islam, it has nothing to do with me as a Muslim,” they sniff.

Who speaks for them? Most often, it is the United Nations, human rights groups, and feminist organizations, led by people who have no foundations of knowledge in Islam, and who often have a real antipathy for Islam. While the Feminist Majority Fund was selling swatches of “burqa” and petitioning the government for action on behalf of Afghan women, the leaders of our Islamic societies stayed silent. Publicly, many Islamic leaders and organizations disassociated themselves from the Taliban, but other than denying them entry into the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC), they took no action to petition the Taliban for change from an Islamic view, or form any sort of Islamic opposition.

Perhaps this is because when any Islamic organization or individual Muslim attempts to change or speak out about injustices towards Muslim women, the rest of the community circles the wagons. These lone souls are labeled “radical feminists,” and accused of attempting to undermine Islam.

Strangely, when a Muslim woman’s Islamic rights are violated, many organizations are eager to speak out and petition. For example, when Merve Kavacki was denied her seat in the Turkish Parliament because of her headscarf (and later stripped of her citizenship), Muslim groups were quick to condemn the Turkish government, as they should have. In many Western Muslim circles, Merve has been elevated to a symbol of the struggle muhajabat women face in secular societies.

Yet there is a resounding silence when the issue being raised is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), honor killings, forced marriages, the unequal application of hadd punishments on women, or the denial of education to girls and women. All of these wrongs are perpetrated on women in the name of Islam. While it is true that many of these violations occur across cultural and religious boundaries, the only action often taken by conservative Muslims is a condemnation of the action because it is “cultural” and not Islamic. Meanwhile, women continue to be murdered and little girls continue to be mutilated.

In Africa, conservative sheikhs teamed up with women’s rights advocates to educate people about the harms of Female Genital Mutilation. These people get very little mention in the Western media, which, of course, paints the “Islamists” as the opponents of an enlightened, secular minority of liberal Muslims.

About a year ago, a small band of conservative Muslim women, almost all of us from the West, came up with the idea of starting a Muslim women’s human rights group, to petition and advocate for the rights of Muslim women as they are given in the Shari’a of Islam. Although slow to start, we have managed to form a basis from which to work, and have taken up our first case.

Right now, a Muslim woman in Nigeria is under a death sentence from the Shari’a court for the crime of adultery. The situation came to the attention of the authorities when the man who impregnated her decided to confess his crime to the police, rather than pay the child support that her father asked of him. There are many glaring errors in the case, from a classical, “Orthodox” fiqh point of view. These errors (which would aid the woman) are not coming from a “reformist reinterpretation” of Shari’a, these errors are so great that any of the qadis of the past would have thrown the case against her out.

Prophet Mohammed, sallalahu aleyhi wa salaam, was mocked and assaulted because of his strong and courageous stance on the status of women. He came with a message that lifted women up and gave them dignity. Fourteen hundred years later, we have descended back into the dark pit of Jahiliya, and Muslim women around the world find themselves cast into the same slavery that the Prophet, sallalahu aleyhi wa salaam, was sent to liberate them from.

It does not make you a “radical feminist” to decry honor killings and volunteer for peaceful campaigns to educate and change laws. Raising your voice against Female Genital Mutilation does not mean you want to “undermine Islam.” To the contrary, working against these injustices in the way of Allah is a manifestation of the desire to uplift Islam and the Muslim people.

When the Taliban decided to deny education to any girl over a certain age, it is the conservative Muslims, the ones who profess adherence to “Qur’an and Sunnah” that should have spoken the loudest against this. The longer we stay silent, the more people, both Muslim and non Muslim, will begin to equate “Shar’ia” with the oppression of women.

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