I have edited and provided below the details of Women's rights in Islam. This is for your information. I will send you something else on how to deal with non-muslims when they criticize you on the topic of Women in Islam.
All talk of women’s liberation in the West is actually a disguised form of exploitation of her soul.
The Western society while claiming to improve the status of women has actually degraded them to the status of concubines, mistresses and society butterflies, who are employed as mere tools at the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketers hidden behind the colourful screen of art and culture.
Islam believes in equality between men and women. Equality does not mean identicality: it means equity. Islam presents the roles of men and women as complimentary roles and not contradictory or conflicting roles; the roles of partners with a common set of goals and objectives and not roles that conflict with each other with each of them having the objective of striving for supremacy.
We shall in this publication discuss the rights of women in Islam under six major headings;
I. Spiritual Rights: (Seven basic points)
The greatest misconception that Westerners have is that paradise in Islam is only for men and not for women. This can be easily disproved from the Qur’an.
1. a. Surah Al-Nisa (Chapter 4) verse 124 (4:124)
“If any do deeds of righteousness be they male or female and have faith, they will enter heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them”
b. Surah Al-Nahl (Chapter 16), verse 97 (16:97)
“Whosoever performs good deeds whether male or female and is a believer, we shall surely make him live a good life and we will certainly reward them for the best of what they did.”
2. a. The Qur’an makes it clear that both men and women have the same spiritual nature; Surah Nisa (Chapter 4), verse 1 (4:1)
Oh Human kind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord who created you from a single person and created of like nature his mate.”
b. In Surah Nahl (Chapter 16), verse 72 (16:72)
“And Allah has made for you mates (and companions) of your own nature. And made for you out of them sons and daughters and grand children.
c. In Surah Araf (Chapter 67), verse 189 (7:189)
It is He who created you from a single person and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love)
d. Surah Al-Shoura (Chapter 42) verse no.11 (42:11)
(He is) the creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you pairs from among yourselves.”
Human race has been created to be or to serve as the trustee dignified the human race consisting of both men and women.
a. Surah Al-Isra (Chapter 17) verse 70 (17:70)
“ We have honoured the children of Adam and conferred on them special favour”.
Here Allah has honoured the children of Adam, both men and women.
Very important from Christian point of view: -
The Qur’an does not blame Eve for tempting Adam to eat the forbidden fruit or for the downfall of man, as has been done by the Bible and other scriptures.
In Surah Al-Aaraf (Chapter 7) verse 19-27 (7:19-27)
Here both Adam and eve are addressed together more than a dozen times and both Adam and Eve are said to have disobeyed Allah and later, both repented and both were forgiven.
There is not a single passage in the Qur’an that only points to Eve. However there is one verse in the Qur’an from Surah Taha chapter 20, verse 121 which specifically puts the blame on Adam (Pbuh).
Christianity puts the complete blame on Eve for the fall of man and for the ‘original sin’. It holds Eve responsible for sin’. It holds Eve responsible for sins of humanity.
According to the Bible in Genesis Chapter 3, Eve tempted Adam to have the forbidden fruit (apple). Genesis Chapter 3, verse 16 states “unto the women he said, I will greatly multiply your conception. In sorrow you shall bring forth children and your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you.”
Unlike the Bible, which degrades pregnancy and considers labour pains of the mother during child birth as a punishment for eating the forbidden fruit, the Qur’an does not degrade pregnancies. In fact the Qur’an states that child-birth further uplifts the status of women.
a. Surah Luqman (Chapter 31) verse 14 (31:14)
“And we have enjoined on a human (to be good) to his parents; in travail upon travail did their mother bear them, and in years twain was their weaning.”
b. Surah Al-Ahqaf (Chapter 46) verse 15 (46:15)
“We have enjoined on humans kindness to their parents. In pain did their mother bear them and in pain did she give them birth.”
A Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) mentions that if a mother dies during delivery of her baby she is considered a martyr which in Islam is the highest degree of stature any person can achieve.
a. Surah (Al-Hujurat Chapter 49) verse 13 (49:13)
O human kind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into Nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (Not that ye may despise each other).
Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things).
Sex, race, colour or wealth do not make a person superior than the other. Righteousness is the only criterion before Almighty God for judgement.
8. The spiritual and moral duties for men and women are essentially the same. In fact there are certain concessions given to women. Pregnant ladies and menstruating women need not fast during such days, but later compensate for the same.
The reward and punishment of Allah is in no way connected with the gender.
a. Surah Al-Imran (Chapter 3,) verse 195 (3:195)
“Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you be it male or female. Ye are members, one of another.”
More than 1,300 years before the west gave economical rights to women, Islam recognised the rights of adult women. Any adult woman has the right to possess or to own or to dispose any of her own property in any way she feels fit irrespective of whether she is single or married. The first time that rights of married women was recognised in the West whereby she could own and dispose of property without the control, approval or consent of her husband was in 1870s in England under the “Married Women Property Act”. This Act was later amended in 1882 and 1887.
a. Woman is considered as a Home maker in Islam and not a housewife because she is not married to a house.
She can also work and is entitled to get equal pay if she does the same job as that of a male. There is no text in the Qur’an or the Sunnah which makes it unlawful for women to work or to do any lawful job or profession (provided it is within the modesty level and within the purview of the Shariah). If she is married she should take the permission of her husband.
b. She cannot take up jobs which are based on exhibiting her beauty and body such as modelling, dancing, acting in films, etc.
c. Many jobs which are forbidden for women are also forbidden for men, for example serving liquor, working in gambling dens, dealing in corruption and dishonest businesses, etc.
d. A true Islamic Society should have some women as professionals such as women physicians (doctors), women nurses, women teachers, etc.
e. Women have no financial obligations in Islam. It is the duty of the man in the family to look after the financial aspects of the family. Therefore under normal conditions a woman need not work and is not required to earn her livelihood or that of her family. However in certain genuine cases due to financial crisis in the family where both ends do not meet, she has the option to work with the permission of her husband Even in such conditions no one can force her to work and if she takes up a job it is by exercising her own free will.
Women have no Financial Obligations
Islamic law gives more Financial Security to women than to men.
i. A Muslim woman has the option of not working to earn her livelihood. The responsibility of maintaining her falls on the shoulders of her father or brother if she is not married, and on her husband or son if she is married. It is also the duty of the relatives and the state to look after her. She is entitled to full support if she opts not to work. But at the same time she has the right to possess or to own or to dispose of any of her own property in any way she feels fit, without seeking anyone’s consent whatsoever and irrespective of whether she is single or married.
ii. During marriage, she is entitled to a marital gift (Meher) from the husband which is entirely hers and she does not have to give this gift to her husband or father and she can do anything lawful with it.
In Surah Nisa Chapter 4, Verse 34 (4:34)“Give the women (on marriage) the dower as a free gift”.
This marital gift (Meher) symbolises, love, affection and commitment.
Women do not have to give any dowry to men and men do not have any right to ask or demand dowry from women.
If a woman earns any income from investments or works or engages in business during her marital life, the income is entirely hers and she is not entitled to spend a single penny on the household. She can spend it in any legitimate manner as she may desire.
Regardless of the wealth or income of his wife, the responsibility of maintaining her lies on the husband even if he is poorer than her and this responsibility includes providing for her needs pertaining to food, clothing, lodging, boarding, medication, etc., in short everything she needs. She need not spend anything. She has complete financial security. The husband’s responsibility to fullfil her needs and not her unreasonable demands and wants beyond his financial limits.
v. In case of divorce or widowhood there are certain financial guaranties for women like complete and full support during the waiting period and thereafter; if she is pregnant, then till childbirth. If she has any children she is entitled to child support.
Socially Islam gives women four different status:
1. As a Daughter
2. As a Wife
3. As a Mother
4. As a Sister
i. Islam prohibits infanticide or killing of female infants. This is considered a serious crime of murder.
Surah Al-Takvir Chapter 81, Verses 8 and 9 (81 : 8-9)
“When the female (infant), buried alive, is questioned, for what crime she was killed.” (17:31), (6:15)
Islam not only prohibits female infanticide, but it forbids all types of infanticide, irrespective of whether the infant is a male or female. It is mentioned in Surah Al-Anam chapter 6, Verse 151 (6:151).
“Kill not your children on a plea of want. We provide sustenance for you and for them. Come not near shameful deeds, whether open or secret. Take not life which Allah has made sacred.”
A similar guidance is repeated in Surah Al-Isra Chapter 17, Verse 31 (17:31).
“Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.”
Islam not only prohibits female infanticide but also rebukes the thought of rejoicing on the news of birth of a male child and not rejoicing on the news of the birth of a female child.
Surah Al-Nahl (Chapter 16), Verses 58 and 59 (16:58-59)
“When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkness, 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 it on (sufferance) the choice they decide on?”
In Islam the girl child is entitled to support, and upbringing and good treatment.
According to an authentic hadith related in Ahmed, Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said, “Anyone who brings up two daughters properly they will be very close to me on the day of Judgment.”
According to another hadith whoever brings up two daughters properly and treats them kindly and justly shall enter paradise.
i.a. Islam does not consider “Woman as an instrument of the devil” as considered by the Bible. But rather the Qur’an calls her “Mohsana” - i.e. a fortress against Satan, because a good woman by marrying a man helps him keep a straight path in life.
In Surah Nisa Chapter 4, Verse 19 (4: 19)
“Oh! You who believe, you are forbidden to inherit women against their will!”
The rights of husband and wife are equal in all respects except in the aspect of leadership in the family.
In Surah Al-Baqarah Surah 2, Verse 228 (2: 2228)
“And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable but men have a degree of advantage over them.”
Here a degree higher does not mean in superiority but refers to responsibility.
The Qur’an has stated in Surah Al-Nisa Chapter 4, Verse 34 (4 :34).
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given one more (strength) than the other because they support them from their means.”
The Arabic word used is “Qawwam” which many a time is mistaken for superiority but is actually derived from “Iqama” meaning to “stand up for” in the same fashion as Iqama is given before prayers that is “standing up for prayers.”
Therefore men are not one degree higher in superiority or dictatorship but one degree higher in standing up for responsibility.
Even if there is lack of affection or liking between husband and wife this is not a justification to be unjust and not compassionate.
In Surah Al-Nisa Chapter 4, Verse 19 (4:19)
“Live with them (wives) on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing Allah brings about through a great deal of good.”
There is a system of divorce in Islam which is to be applied only in extreme cases where the problem between the husband and wife is too grave to be solved and the continuation of married life would be counterproductive. The method of divorce is clearly spelt out in the Qur’an in Surah -Al-Talaq in Chapter 65 and in Surah Al-Baqrah Verses 227 to 242.
According to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), among the permissible things in Islam, the most hated in the sight of Allah is divorce. It is as though the heavens shatter (metaphorically).
There is a great deal of misconception and myth about the system of divorce in Islam, not only among the non-Muslims but also amongst the Muslims, who think that men have the exclusive right to give divorce.
Following are the ways of dissolution of marriage in Islam.
a. By the unilateral will of the husband.
b. By the unilateral will of the wife (if the marriage contract so specifies).
c. By the judgment of a Muslim judge (Kazi). After a reasonable complaint lodged by a wife against her husband on grounds such as ill treatment, lack of support, etc., or any other legitimate and satisfactory reason.
d. ‘Khula’ where even if the husband is not at fault and if the wife does not like staying with the husband. She need not specify the reason for seeking a ‘Khula’. An incident of Khula had taken place during the time of Prophet (Pbuh) where he commanded the husband to give divorce.
e. Many westerners have the misconception that Polygamy is compulsory in Islam and that Islam ordains that all Muslim men should marry four wives.
The true fact is that monogamy is what is preferred in Islam. The Holy Qur’an is the only religious book on the face of the earth which has the following phrase in its directives to men, “marry only one”.
1. In Islam, obedience, respect and love for parents is next to the worship of Allah. It is mentioned in several places in the Qur’an that one should to be kind to one’s parents.
In Surah Al-Isra Chapter 17, Verse 23 and 24 (17 : 23-24)
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, And that ye be kind to parents. When one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour (17 :23).
According to several authentic hadith “Paradise lies at the feet of the mother”. It does not mean literally, for example that if a mother walks on the road and steps on filth and dirt, it becomes paradise. It means if you respect your mother, obey her, love her and take good care of her, you will Insha Allah enter paradise.
According to another hadith narrated in Bukhari and Muslim by Abu Huraira, the Prophet was once asked who amongst all the people was the most worthy of his respect and compassion . The Prophet (Pbuh) replied “your mother”; the man wanted to know who should be next, the Prophet (Pbuh) said “your mother”. The man enquired, who next?, the Prophet (Pbuh) replied for the third time “your mother”, again the man asked who next? The Prophet (Pbuh) replied “your father”. This means that 75% of love and respect goes to the mother and 25% to the father; that the better 3/4th goes to the mother and the remaining 1/4th to the father; or to put it in another way the gold medal goes to the mother and the father gets a consolation prize.
1. In Surah Al-Taubah Chapter 9, Verse 71 (9:71)
“The believing men and believing women are protectors, one of other”. Here the Arabic word used is “Auliya” which does not mean friend but supporters or helpers or protectors; this means that all believing men and women are protectors of one another like brothers and sisters unless otherwise stated.
The Prophet (Pbuh) said women are “shakaat” of men. Shakaat has two meanings, sisters or halves. Therefore women are sisters of men or women are halves of men, that is society is made of two halves, one half women and the other half men.
“I recommend you to be kind to your women”
Men and Women are overall equal.
A woman has her right to religious education from her husband so that either her husband should teach her or allow her to go elsewhere to acquire it. If this matter is taken before a judge, he must compel the husband to fulfil her demands in the same way that he would in wordly matters.
According to Sahih Al-Bukhari, the women at the time of the Prophet (Pbuh) had become so keen to acquire more knowledge that they came to the Prophet (Pbuh) with the following proposal, “You are always surrounded by men for imparting knowledge so appoint a day for us.” The Prophet (Pbuh) promised to do so and went to them and taught them. He also sent representatives with messages to enlighten the Muslim women.
Women, who till only a few years before the advent of Islam, were looked down upon as mere chattels unfit for education, became among the most learned figures of their time and started offering guidance to others in educational matters.
Men and Women are treated equally in Islamic law.
1. The Shariah protects the life and safety of both men and women.
a.i. If any man murders a woman, the “Hadd” punishment of Qisas will be applied to him and he will be put to death as a punishment for his crime. Likewise a woman murderer will also be put to death. This law of equality is mentioned in Surah Baqarah Chapter 2, Verses 178 and 179 (2:178 -179)
If a man kills a woman, he is to be killed. Similarly if a woman forgives the murderer of her husband by accepting “Diyah” nobody is entitled to reject her decision. If the guardians of the murdered person differ in accepting diyah and forgiving the murderer, the other relatives are prevented from taking his life. It is immaterial if the person forgiving happens to be a man or a woman.
In Islamic law woman is accepted as a witness. This right was given to a woman 1,400 years back by Islam at a time when most of the societies rejected the evidence of a woman.
Even till as late as 1980s Jewish rabbi were debating whether to allow women as witnesses or not.
b. In Surah Noor Chapter 24 Verse 4 (24:4)
"And those who launch a charge against chaste women and produce not four witnesses to support the allegation, flog them with 80 stripes and reject their evidence ever after for such men are wicked transgressors."
Islam takes utmost care as regards chastity and modesty. For a minor crime two witnesses are sufficient. But if anyone accuses a woman as regards her chastity he should produce at least four witnesses to support the allegation. In most of the societies we find men abusing women in public and calling them obscene names such as prostitutes.
In Islamic law, if a person accuses a woman and cannot produce four witnesses or after he produces four witnesses if any of them falters, all of them excluding the person who has produced the false charge will receive 80 lashes each.
3. In the western society a woman adopts her husband’s surname after her marriage. In Islam a woman after her marriage has an option of either adopting her husband’s surname or continuing with her maiden surname and you can find several examples in Muslim Countries where women continue with their maiden name and surnames.
1. Both men and women are allowed and should participate in public affairs in the interest of society.
In Surah Al-Taubah Chapter 9 Verse 71 (9:71)
"The believing men and women are protectors of one another."
They are protectors and supporters to each other not only in social affairs but also in public affairs.
2. In Surah Al-Mumtahinah Chapter 60 Verse 12 (60 :12)
Oh! Prophet (Pbuh) when believing women come to take the oath of fealty to thee..
The Arabic word is “Baiaan” which is not equivalent to modern election but is much more than that.
The Prophet (Pbuh) was not only the messenger of Allah but also the head of state and the women confirmed the allegiance to him which is equivalent to choosing him as the head of state.
3. Women participated in law-making.
Once Hazrat Umar was discussing about regulation of Mehr in the Mosque. They were considering putting restrictions on the Mehr as some people discouraged young Muslim men from getting married. A lady from the back-seat of the Mosque objected, giving Qur’anic reference. She said none has the right to introduce this. " When Allah has not put restrictions on the Mehr then who are you to put restrictions to it." Hazrat Umar humbly replied that the woman was right and Umar wrong. In Political terminology, the women’s objection will be called objection to the breaking of the law of the constitution as Qur’an is the constitution for the Muslims.
4. If the need arises, women may participate in the battle field: Muslim women took part in battle fields. There is a whole chapter in Sahih Bukhari regarding participation of women in battle field.
a. Many Muslim women helped in the battlefield by providing water and giving first aid to the soldiers.
b. During the battle of Uhud, a lady by the name Nasiba was among the people who protected the Prophet (Pbuh) and while doing so she received several wounds and injuries for which the Prophet (Pbuh) appreciated and praised her.
A. As I mentioned earlier equality does not mean identicality. In Islam Women are over all equal but not identical in each and every aspect.
I would like to conclude my talk by giving an example:
In an examination, two students "A" and "B" both obtain the first rank by scoring 80 out of 100. The question paper contained 10 questions each carrying 10 marks.
In question No. 1 Student "A" obtained 9/10 and student “B” obtained 7/10.
Student "A" gets higher marks and is better off than student “B” in question No.1.
In Question No.2 Student "A" scores 7/10 and student "B" scores 9/10.
Therefore in question 2 student "B" gets higher marks and is better off than student "A".
In question 3 both "A" and "B" obtained 8/10 i.e. in Q.3. both are equal.
When you add up the grand total of all the ten questions, both obtained 80/100. Therefore both the students "A" and "B" are overall equal. In some questions "A" has higher marks than "B" and in some questions "B" has higher marks than "A", while in other questions both are equal.
To take the analogy to practical terms, Allah has made man physically stronger than woman. Suppose a robber enters your house, will you talk about women’s right and say men and women are identical and equal and hence tell your mother, wife, sister or daughter to go and fight the thief? It is but natural that your answer is "no"! Concerning physical strength, men are at an advantage as compared to women and it is their duty to tackle such problems first. If required, in some circumstances, the womenfolk too can help.
On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, in Islam, a child gives three times more love and respect to his mother as compared to what he gives his father. Here, when it comes to children giving love and respect to their parents, women have more advantage as compared to men.
In the same fashion men and women ln Islam are over all equal, but in some aspects men have a degree of advantage (and the related responsibility) and in some aspects women have a degree of advantage (and the related responsibility), while in other aspects both are equal.
B. This, in brief high lights Women’s Rights in Islam as based on the Qur’an and Sunnah.
However, in respect to these, whether Muslim societies in different parts of the world now and in the past have behaved or misbehaved is a different story. Many Muslim societies did not give woman the complete rights because of wrong interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Western Society has done so much harm to women that some Muslim societies have become over-cautious, and deviated from the Qur’an and Sunnah by going to the other extreme; yet others have blindly imitated, aped and followed the western society without analysing the rights given to women in Islam.
If they had analysed and understood the Qur’an and the Sunnah they would have realised that women’s rights are modern and not outdated.
David had six wives and numerous concubines (2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3) and Solomon was said to have had as many as 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Solomon's son Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21).