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Are Women Inferior to Men?

Updated on January 13, 2015
m abdullah javed profile image

i love Islam, this love has resulted in a respect for other religions, these words are just to share my love with my loved ones.

Are we equal?

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One of my friends asked me “are women inferior to men by your scripture? Let me elaborate, it will be a matter of anybody’s guess.

By scripture we mean the Quran, the Divine Book, revealed by Allah on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Angel Gabriel from time to time over a period of 23 years. The sayings of Prophet, which are called Hadith, is also a part of Scripture. For anyone to judge what is right and what is wrong in Islam, scripture is the only criteria, commonly known as Quran and Sunnah. Again, from it is derived Shariah, means Islamic canonical laws based on the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. This has been prescribed for us as it has been prescribed for the earlier nations:

  • The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to you - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that you should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein…(Chapter 42: Ash-Shura-Verse 13)

So every act, be it of an individual or a society, is correct and legal only if it fits into the frame of Quran and Sunnah.

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Men & women a single entity

The issue pertaining to women’s right has its own long history. The act of differentiation between men and women arises only when they are looked upon as a different entity all together. Islam regards both as a single entity, two faces of a coin. Their union has resulted in millions and billions of human beings on earth. Look at these verses of the Quran:

  • O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain 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. (Chapter 4: An Nisa-Verse 1)
  • O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Chapter 49: Al Hujuraat-Verse 13).

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The ignorant attitude towards women

But it was not the case earlier, at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the status and dignity of woman was at its low, they were suppressed, treated as inferiors and it was a common practice to bury baby daughters alive. Look how beautifully the Quran describes their ignorant attitude:

  • 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 it on (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on?(Chapter 16: An-Nahl- Verse 58-59)

On one occasion, a few companions saw a person laughing and then crying; one after the other. They asked what reason made him laugh then cry. He said, "I remember that in the days of ignorance, I used to have this idol made of dates. One day, I became so hungry that I ate it. And then, I cried when I remembered digging the ground and burying my daughter alive. While I was putting her in, she reached up and brushed dirt from my beard. Listening to the plea the tears were rolled down the chicks of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

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The blessings of being a woman

Things have changed gradually. The status and dignity of woman reached new heights. One can say what a woman enjoys in Islam man cannot. Look at the following sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

  • Your Heaven lies beneath the feet of your mother. (Source: Nasai Book of Hadith)
  • Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her; Allah will enter him into paradise. (Source: Muslim Book of Hadith).
  • The one who has three daughters or sisters, or two daughters or sisters and he brings them up properly and fears Allah regarding their rights, then paradise is made mandatory for him. When the Prophet mentioned the blessings of bringing up three daughters or sisters, a companion asked “What if someone has only one daughter?” The Prophet mentioned the same reward for him as well, that is a place in the paradise. (Source: Muslim Book of Hadith).
  • O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Source: Bukhari & Muslim Books of Hadith).
  • The good wife is out of this world because she helps free you to concentrate on the life to come. She does that by doing her house duties, and by satisfying the husband sexually so protecting him from sexual temptation. (Source: Bukhari Book of Hadith).

Boy or Girl, What's the Choice

By and large what do we prefer?

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The horizon of women’s rights

The blessings for a woman is not restricted to her particular role, in fact her different shades, mother, sister, wife and daughter, have their own sanctity. Woman is beneficial in all her roles and a blessing in disguise. The teachings of Quran and Sunnah provide with a new horizon, her status and dignity reached new heights. The society in which women were subjugated, the same gender got a lot of reverence from their own people. Even to talk aloud with women was considered ill mannered.

According to the teachings of the Quran both women and men enjoy same status. In the matters of worship and other acts of life, both men and women have been assigned responsibilities according to their physique and psychological aspects. Both will enter into paradise. Both will get same rewards for the same deeds. What rewards a man gets for his acts of worship and charity the same is true for a woman, there are absolutely no discriminations. Look at the following verses:

  • … To men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn...(Chapter 4: An Nisa-Verse 32).
  • ….Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be the male or female: You are members, one of another…(Chapter 3: Aal-e-Imran-Verse 195).
  • 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. (Chapter 4: An-Nisa-Verse: 124).
  • Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.(Chapter 16: An Nahl-Verse 97).
  • He that works evil will not be requited but by the like thereof: and he that works a righteous deed - whether man or woman - and is a Believer- such will enter the Garden (of Bliss): Therein will they have abundance without measure.(Chapter 40: Al-Ghafir – Verse 40).

Woman in Islam has the rights varying from her personal to societal life. She has equal moral duties, economical rights, financial security, compulsory marital gift without which a man can’t take her, right to inherit, rights as mother, wife and daughter, educational rights and political rights etc. Moreover Islam provides a platform for both the genders to strive for. For building up of a vibrant family system and construction of an exemplary society, it has been made obligatory for both to strive with mutual understanding and co-operation, the Quran says:

  • And the believers, men and women are friends of one another. They enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. As for these Allah will have mercy on them, Surely Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Chapter 9: At Tauba-Verse 71)

Looking at the beneficial aspects with regard to the feminine gender one wishes to have her own. The same is preferable; no one is allowed to go for inhuman practices to curb the gender. It has been specifically warned:

  • 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. (Chapter 6: Al Anam-Verse 151).

A wish to have children finds its place in every heart, generally male child is preferred. But to have child of our own choice is purely depends on Allah’s will, this is what Quran elucidates:

  • To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan), Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He will: for He is full of Knowledge and Power. (Chapter 42: Ash Shura-Verses 49-50)

Therefore killing of infanticide has been described as a heinous crime; if this happens to be a female infanticide, the Quran place more importance to the victim and says:

  • On the Day of Judgment ‘When the infant girl buried alive is asked,’ for what crime she was killed. (Chapter 81: At Takwir-Verses 8-9).

Since men have economic burden on their shoulders, they have been bestowed with little more strength than women, the reason being their off the house activities, nothing else, the Quran says:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard…(Chapter 4: An Nisa-Verse 34)

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Woman - an architect of humanity

This is what a woman is when looked through the windows of Quran and Sunnah. The vehicle of life can have a smooth run only when both the wheels functions in harmony. This is the expected role of both the genders.

In spite of loads of efforts the position, dignity and rights of women are still seems to be a dream to realize. The pragmatic approach would revolutionize the process and speed up the efforts. One has to ensure the importance woman and her revolutionary character in different shades. The humanity at large should feel the pulse of importance of an exemplary mother, loving and caring wife, ideal sister and an obedient daughter. Our home, institutions, schools and colleges, should act as an abode for the feminine gender wherein she not only plays a pivotal role for the betterment but also nurtures the future of humanity. Islam provides a wider platform to strive for.

(C) 2014 - Muhammad Abdullah Javed (m abdullah javed)

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    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      So nice Alan Robert, your reply brought smile on my fave, let's make every day of our life a source of empowerment for woman, who in many roles provide us with means to live.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Between you, me and the doorpost, it's men's day 364 days a year. Argue that one if you can.

      Ta-ta.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Between you, me and the doorpost, it's men's day 364 days a year. Argue that one if you can.

      Ta-ta.

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Hi Alan Robert it's an honor for me that you went through the hub and put forth here valuable points, thank you so much. Yes true over the period of time we see violation of women's rights, that the reason why we celebrate women's day to bring awareness of the same but in actuality there is no celebration like men's day, ☺

      I think for a smooth progress of familial and societal lives we need to have a balanced approach towards women, the most delicate and sensitive creation of God, if not violation of rights and exploitation do crop up which add nothing but worries and apprehensions sometimes about our children sometimes about the future.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Greetings Muhammad, interesting discourse you've laid down here. Legally in many parts of the world women have the same rights as men, and had in pagan times. The interim Christian period in Europe and parts settled by Europeans as well as in Imperial Japan and China seems to have seen a general subjugation of women's legal and social rights. As a for instance, in England if/when a wealthy woman married a man her wealth became his until Edwardian times. It was only with post-WWI universal suffrage in Britain and the Empire (subs. Commonwealth) that it changed.

      In Celt, Roman, Norse and Slav societies women were entitled to own property in their own name or divorce their husbands under certain circumstances (In Snorri Sturlusson's 'Njal's Saga' of life in 10th Century Iceland, Njal's wife divorced him because she considered him effeminate - he wore a shirt with a scoop neck that revealed his nipples).

      Interestingly in Ancient Greece women weren't able to walk alone in the street, and Greece was considered to be the cradle of democracy.

      There's a saying here from times past: 'When Adam delved (worked) and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?'

      Something for you to mull over. Take it easy.

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Thank you Daniel. Its my pleasure that you liked it. May God shower His abundant mercy on you too.

    • Daniel Bassilios profile image

      Daniel Bassilios 3 years ago from Newcastle Upon Tyne

      This is a phenomenal piece of work. If only I can cite it in my academic bibliography . Well done and God Bless

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Thanks a lot for your kind words and correction ptosis. May God shower His abundant mercy on you.

    • ptosis profile image

      ptosis 3 years ago from Arizona

      on profile page immeomrial = immemorial and on this page

      the women = women, only use the "the" for a singular, 'the woman'.

      I like your writing, just need spell check. I am not very good in grammer so I check using this: http://www.paperrater.com/free_paper_grader

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Thank you sir.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Voted up and awesome. So beautiful knowledge. Thanks for sharing such wonderful thoughts.

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      thanks Michelle, yeah that's true we have a long way to go, thanks god we are on the way and the journey is in progress. if it continues, steadily, than a day will come we can have a future of our own. let us keep walking.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      You have done well to speak up for us, Javed. Still a long way to go, but we are getting there.

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Hi Devika, There should not be any animosity between the two. How can I be a wrangler with my better half or any other woman for that matter? I believe that a person treats woman like a princess only when he thinks that he himself is the son of a queen. Therefore one should look the feminine gender with such a broad mindedness, then only every role of a woman will prove to be a beneficial for him.

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Very true.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting insight to a different culture. Men and women are different their ways of life are not the same and one can learn from each other rather than be envious.

    • m abdullah javed profile image
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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Thanks a lot Froggy213 I am also honored that you are my friend, we should judge the person by his pure heart not by his faith, because it’s a fact that even among the followers of same faith do feuds occur and misunderstanding prevail. It means it is the heart to heart contact that binds us. I don't mind if you are a follower of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), what matters a lot to me that I should not be harsh on you as the Quran says: “To you be your way, and to me mine”. (Chapter 109: Verse 6). And also advise us “Revile not you those whom they call upon besides Allah….”(Chapter 6: Verse 108). In fact my faith (Imaan) completes only when I love for you what I love for myself as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says.

      Yes you are right rejection of invitation should not make us enemies. I think radicalism persists because of the inaccurate understanding of the religion, and the silence of majority has caused the situation to crash to the worst. If we come forward to build an ideal society, we can, I don't know what preventing us from coming together and sharing what commonness we have in our religions. Let us hope for a new beginning Sir. With lots of good wishes and prayers for you, May Allah showers His abundant mercy on you and your family.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 3 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Wow, my friend. I feel a unique friendship with you. I also do respect your words. If only all of your faith would have this pattern of thought; and if only all who claim Christianity would truly follow the teachings of the Word of God, then truly, you may be right, we may be able to live peacefully together.

      I must say that if we were nearer each other, I would be honored to sit and speak with you man to man; friend to friend.

      I truly wondered how you would answer this question; you did quite well.

      Again, we are back to the fact that if each people that belong to the faiths truly honored the words in their scriptures, we could truly have peace.

      Maybe there is a possibility....maybe. I will pray to God the Father, Jesus the Son through the Holy Spirit (the Trinity) as you pray to Allah that we all can be brothers and sisters in love. May you truly have a great evening my friend--great hub.

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