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Men Are in Charge of Women

Updated on April 16, 2017
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Muhammad Helmy studied Islamic Sharia in the Faculty of Law. He is currently studying the Qur'an in depth.


Adam and Eve were living in the Paradise when Allah warned them of Satan.

"Don't let Satan be a reason for taking you out of the Paradise so you would suffer.", Allah said to Adam in verse 20:117.

In English, we use the pronoun "you" in both singular and plural forms. In the translation of verse 20:117, the pronoun "you" is mentioned two times. In which form are they? Are they in the singular or the plural form?

Does this make a difference in our approach?

Yes, it does.

In "Don't let Satan be a reason for taking you out of the paradise.", Allah was speaking to both Adam and Eve. Both Adam and Eve are at risk of getting out of the paradise.

In "... (so you would suffer)", Allah was speaking to Adam.

Allah warned Adam in the above-mentioned verse that suffering the main consequences of leaving the Paradise would be for him only. In other words, Allah promised Adam - in verse 20:118 - that in the paradise they would not to be naked, hungry or thirsty. And he warned him in verse 20:117. When he and Eve leave the Paradise, he will endure the hardship of securing food and clothing for himself and Eve.

So, while living on earth, Adam was in charge of Eve.

To Eve, Adam was:

  • A protector.
  • A maintainer.
  • A moderator.
  • A custodian.

That was his job. He was dedicated and committed to it. Keeping this job for Adam was a privilege to Eve. Similarly, keeping the same job for men is a privilege to women. Islam gives the right given to Eve in particular to all women in general. Verse 4:34 mentioned that women have the right to be cared for by men.

In This article, the reader will learn:

  • About the meaning of the phrase: men are in charge of women, by explaining the meaning of the Arabic word Allah used in verse 4:34.
  • The rationale of putting the same responsibility on men.
  • The way Islam intended to benefit women from the same.
  • About the limits of men's authority over women in Islam.
  • The duties of women in exchange for the protection of men.
  • The answer to the following question:

Do Muslim men violate the rights of women while implementing verse 4:34?

The meaning of the phrase: men are in charge of women.

We understand from the introduction the way Adam was in charge of Eve. That was her right. Allah preserves the same to all women on earth until the doomsda

Understanding of the job assigned to men:

Verse 4:34 tells us that men are in charge of women. To gain a better understanding of the job assigned to men, we better take a closer look at the Arabic word Allah used in verse 4:34.

The Arabic word Allah used in verse 4:34–which translators translated to in charge of- means:

To take full responsibility of handling the daily life issues or tasks for someone or a group of people restlessly.

In addition to that, the man in charge - in Islam- monitors the modesty of the woman–he is in charge of- in public.

Do the words men and women refer to husbands and wives only?

No, they don't.

A lot of people think that the word men means husbands and the word women means wives in particular , which is wrong. The accurate understanding of the sentence includes the following concepts:

  • A father is in charge of his wife and daughters.
  • A brother is in charge of his sisters.
  • A son is in charge of his mother when the father dies.

The type of responsibly depends on the nature of the kinship.

Furthermore, the way a male is in charge of a female or a group of females depends on the nature of the kinship between them.

Real life examples:

1. The man of the house:

A husband takes care of the family. He takes/assists in taking decisions related to them.

2. An assistant:

  • In the morning of an Indian village, a seven-year-old orphan boy goes to the government office to submit a form for his mother. In the afternoon, he goes to the grocery shop to buy some items. This boy is in charge of his mother and elder sisters playing the role of an assistant.

3. A protector:

  • The son watches over his sister for his dad.
  • The brother watches over the wife for his brother.
  • The male nephew watches over his female cousin for his uncle.

The rationale of putting the same responsibility on men:

Allah gave two basic reasons for making men in charge of women:

  1. Men take care of the financial needs of women in Islam.
  2. Allah gave men abilities that didn't give to women. He gave women abilities that didn't give to men as well. However, the abilities Allah gave to men qualify them to be in charge of women. But the abilities Allah gave to women doesn't qualify them to be the protectors of men.

In addition to the same:

  • Allah gave men characteristics that help them in working hard to secure food and clothing for the family. On the other hand, women's responsibilities are an extension to their characteristics. The two groups of characteristics balance the life of men and women living together.
  • Although, a man and woman enjoy each other in their marriage sexually. The consequences of the same pleasure are on the shoulder of the man, not the woman.

He pays:

  1. For the marriage expenses.
  2. The dowry in two parts:

- The first part is before the marriage.

- The second part is after the divorce.

3. The alimony for the divorced wife.

  • Finally, no one can force a rich wife to help her husband financially.

The way Islam intended to benefit women assigning men to be in charge of them:

Islam's intention is to protect a woman financially and morally:

  1. Financially: They have the right to keep money and make more money for themselves while they are married to a husband who takes care of them financially.
  2. Morally: Allah assigned men to guard and serve women. A woman -whether she is a daughter, a nephew, an aunt, a half-sister, a stepmother, a wife, a cousin, a sister, a divorced woman, a widow- is always guarded and protected by the man in Islam.

In some places, women find strangers who protect them in public. The stranger protects the woman because he used to play the role of the protector in his family.

An example of taking care of women morally:

In a village in Saudi Arabia, a man walks in the neighborhood. His eyes fall on a platter in front of the door of a house. The same is full of dough that is ready for baking. Everybody in the neighborhood can recognize the house owner of the platter from the decoration on its lid.

The man understands that the man of the house is not there to send it to the baker. The man takes the platter and gives it to the baker. After the baker does his job, he puts the platter in front of the door of the bakery.

Another man in the neighborhood recognizes the house owner of the dish from its lid. He takes the platter and put it in front of the house, knocks the door and leaves before the woman of the house opens. She finds the platter full of hot bread. She takes it. When her husband returns, he pays to the baker.

Men in the villages of Saudi Arabia are a great example of taking care of women.

About the limits of men's authority over women in Islam.

  1. A man has to be just with the woman when he is in charge of her.

  2. A man should not use his powerful position to take away the rights of the woman.

  3. A man should not be abusive.

Striking women:

Verse 4:34 allowed the man to strike the arrogant woman when all his attempts to fix her attitude fail. However, the verse didn’t explain the way a man should strike a woman.

In such cases, we learn the details from the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. The prophet was not abusive to his wives. He never hit a servant as well. However, he hit Aisha with a toothpick lightly.

We take this as the way of sticking a woman. Muhammad PBUH told in a Hadith that the beating should be light.

Furthermore, Qur'an teaches us that the man has to try to fix the attitude of the woman before hitting her lightly through the following suggestion mentioned in verse 4:34:

  • First, to advise the woman.

  • Second, to forsake her in bed.

In addition to the above, between men and women who are not married, the only valid attempt to reform women's attitude is giving an advice. Light beating is not an option. Because a man is not allowed to touch a woman, who is not his wife. We can't say that using a stick is a replacement to the man's hand.

The duties of women in exchange for the protection of men.

  1. To know their rights. A woman can go to the nearest police office to report any physical abuse done to her by any man in the family, including her husband.
  2. When the woman 's intuition tells her that the man cares about her, she should listen to him.
  3. A wife shouldn't allow someone her husband doesn't like to enter the house.
  4. The wife should take care of the needs of her husband. She should:

- Protect his money.

- Keep his secrets.

- Take care of his food, drink, and sleep.

In conclusion, Islam intended to protect women by keeping men in charge of them. This is not the role of the husband only. Furthermore, Islamic parenting encourages the male to play the role of the protector. He starts to be in charge in an early age.

Do Muslim men violate the rights of women while implementing verse 4:34?
Yes, the majority of them do.

Although the Qur'an pays enough attention to women's rights, Muslim women still suffer.

Please share your opinion through the following poll:

Who is responsible for violating women's rights in Islam?

See results

© 2017 Muhammad Helmy


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