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Sunrise      05:39

Dhuhr      13:15

Asr      18:24

Maghrib      20:50

Isha      22:10

Jamaat     Fajr       -

Sunrise         -

Dhuhr         -

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Isha      22:10

SalatFajr - 06:31Sunrise - 08:06Zuhr - 12:00Asar - 14:04Maghrib - 15:52Isha - 17:22
JamaatFajr - 07:00-Zuhr - 13:25Asar - 00:00Maghrib - 15:52Isha - 20:00

Status of Women in Islam

To understand the status of women in Islam, we first need to understand Human Equity in Islam:

In the midst of the darkness that engulfed the world, the divine revelation echoed in the wide desert of Arabia in the seventh Century with a fresh, noble, and universal message to humanity:

1) According to the Holy Qur’an, men and women have the same human spiritual nature:

“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women.. (Qur’an, 4:1, see also 7:189, 42:11, 16:72, 32:9, and 15:29).

2) God has invested both genders with inherent dignity and has made men and women, collectively, the trustees of God on earth (see the Qur’an 17:70 and 2:30).

3) Men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. Each human being shall face the consequences of his or her deeds:

“And their Lord responded to them (saying): Never will I allow to be lost the work of (any) worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another…” (Qur’an, 3:195, see also 74:38, 16:97, 4:124, 33:35, and 57:12).

4) The Qur’an is quite clear about the issue of the claimed superiority or inferiority of any human, male or female. The sole basis for superiority of any person over another is piety and righteousness not gender, colour, or nationality (see the Qur’an 49:13).

The Economic Aspect of Women in Islam:

(1) The right to possess personal property: Islam decreed a right of which woman was deprived both before Islam and after it (even as late as last century), the right of independent ownership. The Islamic Law recognizes the full property rights of women before and after marriage. For this reason, Muslim women may keep (and in fact they have traditionally kept) their maiden names after marriage, an indication of their independent property rights as legal entities.

(2) Financial Security and Inheritance Laws: Financial security is assured for women. They are entitled to receive marital gifts without limit and to keep present and future properties and income for their own security, even after marriage. No married woman is required to spend any amount at all from her property and income on the household. The woman is entitled also to full financial support during marriage and during the “waiting period” (iddah) in case of divorce or widowhood. A woman who bears a child in marriage is entitled to child support from the child’s father. Generally, a Muslim woman is guaranteed support in all stages of her life, as a daughter, wife, mother, or sister. The financial advantages accorded to women and not to men in marriage and in family have a social counterpart in the provisions that the Qur’an lays down in the laws of inheritance, which afford the male, in most cases, twice the inheritance of a female. Males inherit more but ultimately, they are financially responsible for their female relatives: their wife, daughters, mothers, and sisters. Females inherit less but retain their share for investment and financial security, without any legal obligation to spend any part of it, even for their own sustenance (food, clothing, housing, medication, etc). It should be noted that before Islam, women themselves were sometimes objects of inheritance (see the Qur’an

4:19). In some western countries, even after the advent of Islam, the whole estate of the deceased was given to his/her eldest son. The Qur’an, however, made it clear that both men and women are entitled to a specified share of the estate of their deceased parents or close relatives.

(3) Employment: With regard to the woman’s right to seek employment, it should be stated first that Islam regards her role in society as a mother and a wife as her most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor baby-sitters can possibly take the mother’s place as the educator of an upright, complex-free, and carefully-reared child. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as idleness. However, there is no decree in Islam that forbids women from seeking employment whenever there is a necessity for it, especially in positions which fit her nature best and in which society needs her most.

The Social Aspect of Women in Islam:

A) As a Daughter:

(1) The Qur’an ended the cruel practice of female infanticide, which was before Islam. God has said:

“And when the girl (who was) buried alive is asked, for what sin she was killed.” (Quran, 81:8-9)

(2) The Quran went further to rebuke the unwelcoming attitude of some parents upon hearing the news of the birth of a baby girl, instead of a baby boy. God has said:

“And when one of them is informed of (the birth of) a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Certainly, evil is what they decide.” (Qur’an 16:58-59)

(3) Parents are duty-bound to support and show kindness and justice to their daughters. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him[pbuh]) said: “Whosoever supports two daughters until they mature, he and I will come on the Day of Judgment as this (and he pointed with his fingers held together).” -demonstrating the elevated status of the parent who raises their daughter.

(4) A crucial aspect in the upbringing of daughters that greatly influences their future is education. Education is not only a right but a responsibility for all males and females. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim.” The word “Muslim” here is inclusive of both males and females.

(5) Islam neither requires nor encourages female circumcision. And while it is maybe practiced by some Muslims in certain parts of Africa, it is also practiced by other peoples, including Christians, in those places, a reflection merely of the local customs and practices there.

B) As a Wife:

(1) Marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love, and compassion, and not just the mere satisfying of human sexual desire. Among the most impressive verses in the Qur’an about marriage is the following:

“And of His signs is: that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought” (Qur’an, 30:21, see also 42:11 and 2:228)

(2) The female has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. According to the Islamic Law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent.

(3) The husband is responsible for the maintenance, protection, and overall leadership of the family, within the framework of consultation (see the Qur’an 2:233) and kindness (see the Qur’an 4:19). The mutuality and complementarity of husband and wife does not mean subservience by either party to the other. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) instructed Muslims regarding women: “I commend you to be good to women.” and “The best among you are those who are best to their wives.”

(4) Should marital disputes arise, the Qur’an encourages couples to resolve them privately in a spirit of fairness and probity. Indeed, the Qur’an outlines an enlightened step and wise approach for the husband and wife to resolve persistent conflict in their marital life. In the event that dispute cannot be resolved equitably between husband and wife, the Qur’an prescribes mediation between the parties through family intervention on behalf of both spouses (see the Qur’an 4:35).

(5) Divorce is a last resort, permissible but not encouraged, for the Qur’an esteems the preservation of faith and the individual’s right -male and female alike- to felicity. Forms of marriage dissolution include an enactment based upon mutual agreement, the husband’s initiative, the wife’s initiative (if part of her marital contract), the court’s decision on a wife’s initiative (for a legitimate reason), and the wife’s initiative without a cause, provided that she returns her marital gift to her husband. When the continuation of the marriage relationship is impossible for any reason, men are still taught to seek a gracious end for it. The Qur’an states about such cases:

“And when you divorce women and they have fulfilled their term (i.e. waiting period), either keep them in kindness or release them in kindness, and do not keep them, intending harm, to transgress (against them).” (Qur’an, 2:231, see also 2:229 and 33:49).

C) As a Mother:

(1) The Qur’an elevates kindness to parents (especially mothers) to a status second to the worship of God:

“Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If one of them or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them. And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, “My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small.” “ (Qur’an, 17:23-24, see also 31:14, 46:15, and 29:8)

(2) Naturally, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) specified this behaviour for his followers, rendering to mothers an unequalled status in human relationships. A man came to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and said, “O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?” The Prophet (pbuh) said: {Your mother.} The man said, “Then who?” The Prophet (pbuh) said: {Then your mother.} The man further asked, “Then who?” The Prophet (pbuh) said: {Then your mother.} The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet (pbuh) said: {Then your father.}

D) As a Sister in Faith (In General):

(1) The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught kindness, care, and respect toward women in general: {I commend you to be good to women.} It is significant that such instruction of the Prophet was among his final instructions and reminders in the farewell pilgrimage address given shortly before his passing away.

(2) Modesty and social interaction: The parameters of proper modesty for males and females (dress and behaviour) are based on revelatory sources (the Qur’an and prophetic sayings) and, as such, are regarded by believing men and women as divinely-based guidelines with legitimate aims and divine wisdom behind them. They are not male-imposed or socially imposed restrictions. It is interesting to know that even the Bible encourages women to cover their head:

The Legal and Political Aspect of Women in Islam:

(1) Equality before the Law: Both genders are entitled to equality before the Law and courts of Law. Justice is genderless (see the Qur’an 5:38, 24:2, and 5:45). Women do possess an independent legal entity in financial and other matters.

(2) Participation in Social and Political Life: The general rule in social and political life is participation and collaboration of males and females in public affairs (see the Qur’an 9:71). There is sufficient historical evidence of participation by Muslim women in the choice of rulers, in public issues, in Law making, in administrative positions, in scholarship and teaching, and even in the battlefield. Such involvement in social and political affairs was conducted without the participants’ losing sight of the complementary priorities of both genders and without violating Islamic guidelines of modesty and virtue.

Conclusion:

The status which non-Muslim women reached during the present era was not achieved due to the kindness of men or due to natural progress. It was rather achieved through a long struggle and sacrifice on woman’s part and only when society needed her contribution and work, more especially during the two world wars, and due to the escalation of technological change. While in Islam such compassionate and dignified status was decreed, not because it reflects the environment of the seventh century, nor under the threat or pressure of women and their organizations, but rather because of its intrinsic truthfulness.

If this indicates anything, it would demonstrate the Divine origin of the Qur’an and the truthfulness of the message of Islam, which, unlike human philosophies and ideologies, was far from proceeding from its human environment; a message which established such humane principles that neither grew obsolete during the course of time, nor can become obsolete in the future. After all, this is the message of the All-Wise and All-Knowing God whose wisdom and knowledge are far beyond the ultimate in human thought and progress.

Taken from Women in Islam, compiled by Mostafa Malaekah, from Dr. Jamal Badawi’s The Status of Woman in Islam and Gender Equity in Islam.