- Religion and Philosophy
Women in Islam: the truth
Women in Islam
People have so many misconceptions about women in Islam – mainly that they are oppressed. This, what people fail to realise, is a cultural issue, not a religious issue. Women in Islam are in fact very highly regarded and this is a non Muslim woman writing here!
In contrast with Christianity and Judaism, Islam does not regard Eve as the one responsible for the sin in the world. The Quran, contrary to the Bible, places equal blame on both Adam and Eve for their sin. It is never even implied that Eve tempted Adam. Also, according to the Quran, God punishes nobody for another’s sin; therefore neither Adam nor Eve is responsible for suffering such as the pains of child birth.
“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, 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 all has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward” (33:35 Al Quran).
“The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another; they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil, they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity and obey Allah and his Messenger. On them will Allah pour His Mercy for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise” (9:71 Al Quran)
These quotations from the Quran are quite clear in the fact that both men and women are equally deserving of Allah’s love; the important thing is their qualities.
The Quranic view of women is no different than that of men. They are both God’s creatures whose purpose in life is to worship God, do righteous deeds, and avoid evil. Rightly so, a woman is expected to do righteous deeds just like a man and both will be judged accordingly.
During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, namely Pre-Islamic Arabia, female infanticide was a common practice as females were seen as a burden and males as a gift. When God’s word was revealed to Muhammad it condemned this practice and Muhammad significantly decreased how much this tradition was practiced. In fact, people were taught to be delighted at the news of a baby girl!
Important things to note:
1. The first person Allah chose to help and support Muhammad after the Quran was first revealed to him was Khadijah, his wife (who was in fact a very successful business woman and supported Muhammad in times when others refused to support him). Allah could have easily chosen a man to be the first.
2. The first person to hear what was revealed to Muhammad was his wife, and therefore it is logical to presume (and agree with the scholars) that she was the first person to become Muslim.
3. The Sirah reveals that the person who spent the most wealth in the path of Allah in the early days of Islam was his wife yet again.
4. At a time of stress for her husband, Khadijah took the initiative to solve the problems and chose to consult the best and most authentic authority. This shows a woman’s intelligence and initiative
These things all show how much importance Allah placed to women.
But, the Quran has stated that men are higher than women, right?
Yes, in a sense. “Women have rights similar to what they owe, in recognised manner… though, men have a degree above them. And Allah is Mighty, Wise” (2:228). This is full of logic however, that even I can see. Obviously, in general, men are physically stronger than women and less emotional, hence, they are given the position of head of the house. Women still have rights and can make decisions, but men are considered more rational in times of distress, and it is their duty to care for and protect women. I know, despite being a very individual woman, than I can get emotional and wouldn’t mind a man to protect me! This is not oppressive. It is for the merely utilitarian purpose of enabling the smooth running of human activity in the world. After death however, there is no recognition of these degrees. Plus, while the man is the leader, he is not allowed to be oppressive as a good leader is seen as someone who is compassionate, loving, and respectful.
There is so much more to say and I am going to update this hub soon! The important thing to note however is that Islam is not oppressive to women; women are actually elevated in Islam and many converts are women because of this!!