There is a misconception against the status of the woman in Islam. It’s said that the Moslem woman is degraded, insulted and oppressed. It’s a false claim. The woman in Islam is given her full rights as a human being who is exactly equal to the man. This equality is indicated in four aspects:
1- The Status of Woman in Islam in Spiritual Aspect:
She is completely equated with the man in the sight of God in terms of her rights and responsibilities. The following verses from the Glorious Qur’an show that:
Every soul, for what it has earned, will be retained.” [Qur’an 74:38] (1)
And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killed – I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from Allah, and Allah has with Him the best reward.” [Qur’an 3:195] (2)
Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” [Qur’an 16:97] (3)
But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, “Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time.” [Qur’an 2:36] (4)
As for the religious obligations and rituals, the woman, as the man, performs them; such as the five daily prayers, fasting, Zakat and pilgrimage.
More Advantages for the Woman
In some cases, indeed, the woman has certain advantages over the man. She is exempted from fasting during her menstrual periods and forty days after childbirth. A Muslim woman is also exempted from fasting during her pregnancy and when she is nursing her baby if there is any threat to her health or to her baby’s. If the missed fasting is obligatory (during the month of Ramadan), she can make up for them whenever she can. She does not have to make up for the prayers missed for any of the above reasons. Yet Allah gives the full recompense on those days on condition that she does her duties quite well towards her husband and her children. Also, establishing prayers at the mosque for women is not obligatory, but desirable and well-liked even if she is not busy.
2- The Status of Woman in Islam in Social Aspect
As a child or an adolescent
Islam forbids infanticide and considered it a crime like any other murder. The Glorious Qur’an states:
And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked. For what sin she was killed.” [Qur’an 81:8-9] (5)
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? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.” [Qur’an 16:58-59] (6)
Islam requires kind and just treatment for the girls. Females, as well as males, have the same right to seek knowledge.
As a wife:
In Islam, marriage is considered as a sort of sharing between the halves of society. It aims at perpetuating humankind (life) and keeping emotional well-being and spiritual harmony. Marriage is based on love and mercy. This is shown in the following verse:
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility 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] (7)
According to Islamic law, women can not be forced to marry anyone without their consent. The following Holy Hadith states: Narrated Abu Huraira: the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! How can we know her permission?” He said, “Her silence (indicates her permission)” [Hadith] (8)
In Islam, it was decreed that the woman has the full right to her dowry (“Mahr” in Arabic) (marriage gift) which is presented to her by her husband and is written down on the nuptial contract. Such ownership does not transfer to her father, her brother or even her husband. It is a gift symbolizing love and affection. Both the husband and the wife have equal rights and claims (duties) on one another except for responsibility that is leadership (maintenance and Protection القوامة). The Glorious Qur’an states:
…And due to them [i.e., the wives] is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable…” [Qur’an 30:21] (9)
Kind Treatment and Companionship
The husband should treat his wife kindly. The following verse states:
…and live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” [Qur’an 4:19] (10)
The Moslem woman has the right to seek an end to an unsuccessful marriage. Certain steps should be observed by men and women seeking a divorce. It should be brought before the judge to keep the stability of the family life and to protect it from hasty decisions under temporary emotional stress. Like the man, however, the woman can divorce her husband without resorting to the court, if the nuptial contract allows that.
More Social Rights for Women to End Unsuccessful Marriage
Women can also resort to (khula) which is the unilateral ending of the marriage where women must return the dowry and renounce any future financial support from husbands. (verse 229 in Sura 2 illustrates that item of the law). There are many traditions of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) that denote that too. (such as the tradition of Thabit Ibn Quais). In case the construction of the marriage relationship is impossible for any reason, men are still taught to seek a gracious end for it. The Glorious Qur’an states about such cases:
And when you divorce women and they have [nearly] fulfilled their term, either retain them according to acceptable terms or release them according to acceptable terms, and do not keep them, intending harm, to transgress [against them]. And whoever does that has certainly wronged himself. And do not take the verses of Allah in jest. And remember the favor of Allah upon you and what has been revealed to you of the Book [i.e., the Qur’ān] and wisdom [i.e., the Prophet’s sunnah] by which He instructs you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Knowing of all things.” [Qur’an 2:231] (11)
As a Mother:
Islam considered kindness to parents next to the worship of God. These verses from the Glorious Qur’an show that:
And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an 31:14] (12)
Also, the Glorious Qur’an has a special recommendation for the good treatment of mothers.
And your Lord has decreed that you worship not except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” [Qur’an 17:23] (13)
This wise saying of the Prophet (PBUH) refers to that recommendation:
Abu Huraira reported that a person came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said:
Who among the people is most deserving of a fine treatment from my hand? He said: Your mother. He again said: Then who (is the next one)? He said: Again it is your mother (who deserves the best treatment from you). He said: Then who (is the next one)? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Again, it is your mother. He (again) said: Then who? Thereupon he said: Then it is your father. In the hadith transmitted on the authority of Qutalba, there is no mention of the word” the people.” [Hadith] (14)
3- The Status of Woman in Islam in Economic Aspect:
In Islam the woman has the right of independent ownership; that is, she has the full right to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her property before and after marriage. According to Islamic Law, the woman is not, by any means, minor or inferior to the man because she is a female.
As for the right to be employed, Islam considers her role in society as a mother and a wife as the most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor babysitters can replace a mother’s role as the educator of her children. Such a noble and vital role can’t be regarded as idleness.
Yet whenever there is a necessity for her work, especially in jobs that fit her nature such as nursing, teaching (especially for children and girls) and medicine, she can get the job.
Some women have special talents in certain fields, so why not employ them?!
According to Islamic law, the woman has the right to inheritance, Her share is completely hers and no one can make any claim on it, including her father, brother or even her husband. This verse denotes that right:
For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much – an obligatory share.”[Qur’an 4:7] (15)
Her share in most cases is one-half of the man’s share. By no means this does not mean that the woman is worth half the man. Yet there are cases in which the woman inherits the same as the man such as the brother or the sister from the mother. She can sometimes inherit more than the male such as the husband with his two daughters or with his only daughter as heirs. She may even inherit, and he doesn’t. In short, inheritance in Islam is not related to the difference in gender as males or females but to the degree of blood kinship (relationship) and other considerations.
Woman’s Possessions and Maintainance
Moreover, according to Islamic law, it is the man who undertakes the full responsibility for the maintenance of his wife, his children, and in some cases, his mother and sisters. The wife’s wealth is neither waived nor reduced by her husband or even her brother whatever the sources of her wealth were; from work, rent, profit or any legal means. The woman’s possessions are always secure before marriage or after it. She keeps her maiden name after marriage (unlike in America or Europe). She has no obligation to spend on her family out of such properties or out of her income after marriage. In marriage, she takes a dowry from her husband as a gift. If she is divorced, she may get alimony from her ex-husband.
4- The Status of Woman in Islam in Political Aspect
In Islam, the woman has the right to vote in elections as well as the nomination to participate in public affairs. Women have the right in AL-Shura (consultation) and accounting. She can also participate in governing the state. She can hold ministerial positions, members of the parliament and other important leading positions. For example, Umar ibn AL-Khattab, the second Khalif (May Allah be pleased with him) let AL-Shafa’ bint Abdullah AL-Adawyah hold the position of weights and measures control as well as price control in markets. This system serves as enjoining good and forbidding evil in the markets, and its name is “Hisbah” in Arabic.
Another example is that of the Mother of the Believers, Umm Salma, the wife of the Messenger of Allah(PBUH). When the Prophet (PBUH) complained to her about the reluctance of his followers to slaughter sacrificial animals and get shaved to come out of ihram (objecting about the treaty of Hudaibiah), she politely advised him to get out and do as planned. He did and all his followers followed him. They all set out towards Madinah. Thanks to Umm Salma who solved the problem.
In short, all members of the nation (males or females) are responsible for carrying out the Shariah (Law of Islam) if they are able to. The woman in Islam, as well as the man, is responsible politically for the good of the nation; the woman as a member of the nation. The status of the woman in Islam is highly observed in four aspects of life: spiritual, social, economic, and political. Eager for knowing more about the status of the woman in Islam? Start a chat with our team now!